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Late bloomer, not a loser. (I hope) 500hats.com
583 points by moses1400  3 days ago   186 comments top 57
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simonsarris 3 days ago  replies      
Well he's not a late bloomer to the vast majority of people.

I think no matter your lot in life, if you're competitive, you get the feeling that you missed out on a lot that you could have accomplished. Stories of kids learning programming at 6, or starting companies at 16, etc, feed into this.

Even I feel like I would be much farther "ahead" if I had only started programming before high school, if I had been more gung-ho about college, if I had gone to California in 2010 after graduation instead of remaining in New Hampshire. I don't even know any programmers in person outside of my work. My "network" isn't something to put on a pedestal.

And yet by all accounts I live an extremely comfortable life, I wrote enough to get noticed and get a book deal just two years out of college, my friends think I'm of superhuman intellect, I'm able to walk to work every day, etc.

I think the kind of worry in this post is a response to the world born out of hyper-competitiveness, and I don't think its a healthy one. It's not a positive message, and the events that could turn it into a positive message for this person, the qualifications for "not being a loser", should never involve anything five or six sigma from the norm.

Look around you and relax. You've probably already won.

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michaelochurch 2 days ago  replies      
I've come to the conclusion that success in business is like the game Rochambeau (Rock, Paper, Scissors). People will argue to death whether it's a game of luck or skill, and often it gets very emotional, with people who've had success attributing it to skill and the rest attributing their lack of success to bad luck. In reality, it's neither. It's a game of strategy in the academic, game-design sense (interaction rather than individual skill as the driver of outcome) but often with very little information that would indicate what the good strategies are. Rochambeau has no randomizer (no dice or shuffled cards) and is a skill game if you can predict the other guy's moves. Iterated, it becomes somewhat of a skill game. Same with business. Iterated, both become games of making choices, often with no idea what good and bad choices are, because useful information is so thin on the ground. Business is obviously not "random" in a true sense, but it's obviously not a pure-skill game because so many idiots get lucky and a lot of really talented people (like DMC) don't. It's a game of making iterated choices, often with little or no information that would inform them, and the luck factor comes out of the opacity.

How does this relate to OP? DMC is a highly talented person, but he's in his mid-40s, he's worked in the supposedly meritocratic startup sector (and, as with trading, the definition of success in VC-istan is making money; if you've been in VC-istan for 2 decades and haven't made fuck-you money, you haven't won) and his net worth (as he admitted on Quora) is less than $1m. Given that, it's fair to say that he probably hasn't played his cards right. That doesn't make him unskillful or weak or "a loser"-- far from it, and I'm sure that none of those are true. It doesn't make him any less of a person, or any less smart, than the more successful people. It just makes it a good bet that if he could rewind to 20 and play from there again, he'd have a lot more success.

And ultimately, the reason why many of us are sitting here not being rich and outlandishly successful when people of similar or inferior talent smash $500m+ exits is that, when faced with a thousand identical-looking doors, one with a pot of gold behind it, they had the "insight" to pick door #467 while we picked #822 or #134 or #915. Some of us pick #467 at the next opportunity but, of course, the next time the pot of gold is behind #719.

I think the best thing to do is to back away from the VC-istan insanity, and pretend all that garbage doesn't exist. As long as I'm growing my skillset by 20 to 25% per year (which is not hard to do, because returns from increasing skill in technology are exponential) I feel like I ought to be happy with that. It can be difficult to be satisfied with this (first world problems) when you see unqualified idiots getting funded in enormous amounts, and then getting acquisitions and EIR gigs as welfare checks because they have powerful friends... so it takes some discipline and maturity not to be annoyed... but sanity is worth it.

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neilk 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, I sure do hope he finally does that one thing that nobody, absolutely nobody can deny is important -- something as big as, say, a Twitter knockoff for the enterprise. Then he'll never have any nagging doubts about himself ever again.

Hey, far be it from me to criticize someone who's trying to make a mark in the world. I myself am just past 40, a former child prodigy, not very successful in Silicon Valley, and still feel I have some creative works in me which are yet to be realized.

Where I have sincere worries for Dave is that he doesn't seem to have a specific idea of what would count as success -- other than, maybe, it would be big enough and impress enough people that it would silence his demons. I don't know Dave, but I have a strong suspicion that this is also what led him to slack off at university -- rebelling against this idea that if he isn't the smartest and most successful, he's nothing. Because it makes every minor setback a bitter failure, and even success turns to ashes in your mouth.

His mission statement shouldn't be that he wants a better epitaph. Other people get to write his epitaph, and by that time he'll be fucking dead. It's out of his control. What is in his control: whether his life was meaningful to himself. Did it express his unique talents, did it give him and others joy, did it help others? Did he make his own rules about how to evaluate his life or was he a slave to the caprices of fame and fortune? And this is about so much more than just a career.

I think I'll just leave this here. A clip from The Wire.

"The job will not save you."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b54EEpdv9q8

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andyl 2 days ago 1 reply      
So @Dave isn't Marc Andreesen or Larry Page. So f-ing what. The only tragic thing is that he hasn't figured out yet that work != life.

I'm in a similar demographic as @Dave, live in palo alto, near his age. Had some really good successes 10-15 years ago, and nothing since then.

My big activities for the past decade have been climbing, skiing and raising my kids. Some of my friends kept working and now have vineyards and foundations. And sometimes it stings that I don't fly private jets or have anything really impressive to brag about.

But I had years of board-meetings, soaking up the one-upmanship. Once you become conscious of the non-stop compulsive attention seeking, there is a certain emptiness to it. So I stepped away from that, and I wouldn't trade a vineyard for the experiences I've had.

Now I'm starting on a new company, working very hard with high confidence. But if this company doesn't see a monster outcome, I won't feel like a loser. My prime motivation is the products, the people, and the competition, all of which I love.

IMHO we are in a golden age of software. To me it feels like being in the major leagues where everyone who participates is lucky as can be.

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Timothee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh, rundmc is Dave McClure? I missed that on the first read. Even though I know he's behind 500Startups, I just didn't even think that he could consider himself a failure. I started to write a comment saying that "the author" was far from being that, but now that I realize who the author actually is, I'm thinking "what?! are you high?".

Anyway, I related a lot to the first few paragraphs (maybe until he was about the same age I am now actually, which makes me hopeful :) ): I was good in school, got accepted in the best French engineering school where I discovered as well that "hard work and regular, consistent effort was also required". I did not really produce that hard work and consistent effort.

The thing is that I hadn't really thought about what I wanted to do at that point: HS students that are good in Math and Physics go to Engineering schools and that's just what I did. Check. But now what?

So I went for Computer Science a bit after eliminating the other options. Then moved to the US still without thinking in terms of career and what I really wanted to do. This has lead to taking jobs in tech but without enough consideration to where it would lead me.

So now, after a few years of jobs as "not a developer but something else" and years doing programming as a hobby after work, I realize that maybe I should just find a job as a developer. Problem is that companies look at my resume and it doesn't quite "match" what they're expecting for someone who is that many years after his master.

Long story short: I, too, feel like a late bloomer that hasn't filled his expectations from earlier successes. However, I don't run a fund, haven't worked for successful startups and am not friend with Sean Parker. Does that make me a failure? No, but I know I can do better. The good news is that I have 15 years to catch up with you, Dave!

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alexkearns 2 days ago 2 replies      
At 33, I was single, penniless and back living with my parents. I had spent my twenties partying and getting drunk, somehow managing to carve out a career as a middling journalist during the sober bits. Journalism does not pay well and I was always teetering over the edge of my overdraft limit.

In my early thirties, I sobered up a little and noticed that my career was going nowhere. I decided to sack in my reasonably secure job in publishing and move from Manchester (a provincial city in the UK) to the capital London. Big mistake. I struggled to get a job, got into debt and, eventually, in desperation, asked to move in with my parents.

So there was I - a guy who had always valued his independence, who had on several occasions even mocked people who lived with mum and dad - staying in a tiny room in his parent's house. I was the epitome of a loser.

I am now nearly 40 and my life situation has improved immeasurably. I am married to a wonderful lady, I own a house, I have a couple of reasonably successful projects-cum-start-ups that pay the bills and free me - hopefully forever - from having to work for someone else. I am not a mega-success on the world stage but, compared with where I was at 33, I am in a very good position.

I suppose what I am saying here is that one can bloom at anytime, early in life or late in life. I would also add that being a programmer (I got a job as a web developer a couple of years after leaving my parents house) gives one a far greater chance of financial and business success than if you are involved in most other professions. Try doing a start-up if all you know is nursing or stacking shelves.

So we are lucky in that we have a skill that can turn-around our lives at potentially any time.

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prophetjohn 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is kind of inspiring. As someone who wrote their first line of code at 25 and won't be able to shed the "intern" title until I graduate at almost 28, it's really easy to feel like I screwed myself over by not being where I am now 5+ years ago. Especially so in an industry where the younger you are the better and there are stories of people in their 40s having a problem finding work.

The real kicker is that I actually consider myself a pretty good programmer, at least for my experience level. As stated, I've been programming for about 2 years and I'm the primary contributor on a project that is deemed to be the "number one priority" for our application. But how good of a programmer would I have been had my parents bought me a computer when I was a kid? Or even when I was a teenager? I didn't even really know I liked computers until I was around 21 and even if I knew what the hell programming was then, I definitely wouldn't have been able to afford college.

So I guess there's still a decent likelihood that I'll need to be transitioning out of programming less than 15 years into my career, but hopefully there's still plenty of other opportunities for me to do great things for the next 20 or so years after that.

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prayag 3 days ago 2 replies      
Dave's dilemma is far too familier to a lot of people in the tech scene in general, and bay area in particular. Bay area attracts the brightest minds from across the globe. All of them have been at the top of their high school classes. They have all been told from a very young age that they are destined to doing something great in life. They not only expect themselves to do better than themselves but pretty much demand it.

But when you have so many smart people trying to be more successful than their peers the definition of success changes. The bar rises and just building and selling a successful company doesn't seem good enough. You have to start the next Facebook, or the next Twitter.

IMHO, the best measure of success is not absolutes but a relative one. Compare your current self with your self from 2 years ago and ask if you are a better, more successful person.

By that measure Dave has done exceptionally well in the past few years.

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jonmc12 2 days ago 0 replies      
Silicon Valley is a funny place, a lot like Wall Street where the big winners are viewed to have the absolute qualities of success. In reality, even once you reach a threshold of competency and capability, its still a big gamble and the big winners are the lucky benefactors of Black Swan events. Of course, I'm referring to Nassim Nicholas Taleb's reflection of uncertainty and randomness as it applies to success in investing.

On the other hand, Silicon Valley creates a dynamic where things change rapidly and some of the smartest people in the world are constantly pushing the limits. This creates an opportunity where if you are honest with yourself you have to say "I need to get better" - and this self-perception is a gift to be cherished over and over again. No losers when you look at the game this way.. just people who will grow and grow and others who won't.

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paraschopra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Life is not about winning or losing, life is simply an existence where we have to spend time without getting chronically bored. For some it may be startups, for others it may be spending happy times with the family. If you consider anyone else more "successful" than yourself (say a founder of a recently IPOed company), do you think s/he is happier or more satisfied than you are? How about if you get to know the founder recently went through a bitter divorce and also that his board doesn't have faith in him and is actively planning to fire him. Different levels of so called "success" are simply different modes of living, each mode bringing its own nuances or subtleties. From media or personal stories, all we hear about other "successful" people is better parts of their lives. The boring or bad events are seldom talked about.

Once you are beyond basic poverty, your basic self (and happiness levels) more or less remains the same (no matter what you do or where you go). It's a myth that "success" _should_ be had and a worthwhile life is the one in which something worthwhile (as defined by the society, and not you) was achieved.

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tptacek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dave McClure is a Get for Dustin Curtis' Svbtle network.

It's fun to watch this thing develop.

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unimpressive 3 days ago 1 reply      
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imposter_syndrome

Pressure to succeed in ones youth is ubiquitous in certain industries.

I think this song about the music industry pretty much sums it up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9GJ6mMxLw

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davidandgoliath 2 days ago 1 reply      
This I think is a trap we arrive at when we compare ourselves to others. It's safer for one's emotions to compare and contrast yourself to yourself in years prior.

The least usable fuel in this industry is depression. Don't subject yourself to it and ignore everyone else. Support them in their endeavors, high-five them in their success but do not compare yourself to anyone else otherwise it won't take but a few days to arrive at the bottom of $some-random-vice and you'll be writing blog posts like this one second-guessing yourself.

(I second guess myself daily and often wonder what the hell I'm doing pretending to be a CEO of an IT firm of all things. Yet have managed to remain in business as long as I have -- and help all sorts of people pay their mortgages, support their families and challenge themselves daily in the work they do for me. That's something I derive sheer joy from.)

Admittedly the remainder results from my faith, but that's another post altogether.

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Vivtek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shit, except for all the cool places he's worked in the tech industry and all the people he's met, and all the success he's had, and of course the fact he has a lot more money than I do, this guy is me.

I hope to God I'm a late bloomer, too.

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fromdoon 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wired.com: How do you maintain your optimism?

Musk: Do I sound optimistic?

Wired.com: Yeah, you always do.

Musk: Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we're going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I'm hell-bent on making it work.

Whatever the odds you face, there is nothing in life you cannot achieve, if you have committed yourself wholeheartedly to the cause.

Old/Young. Experienced/Inexperienced. Adept/Inept. Knowledgeable/Ignoramus. Prodigy/Late Bloomer.
Nothing matters in the end.

Cause when we are done and dusted and look back at our time, we will find that it was a journey that couldn't have been any other way. We made it what it was and it lies their for us to cherish.

So don't hold yourself back. Nothing in this world is to be done or not to be done. The conscious/unconscious/subconscious rules that we follow every day were not there to start with and they are neither eternal.

Go out there and change your world. Become the Newton. Become the Napoleon. Become the Buddha. Become the Gandhi.

Remember, there are no rules and there never will be.

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freshfunk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that part of the issue here (that I haven't really seen mentioned) is that when you're so close to others who've been successful but you aren't as successful as them, then it's easy to feel like a failure of some sort.

In short, it's easy to feel like an ugly girl when you're standing next to the prettiest girl in class.

Dave seemed like something of a child prodigy. Like he said he didn't get an advanced degree. He was around people at PayPal who went on to create $1B+ companies. He's worked with Sean Parker. Those are achievements in themselves. But when you keep that kind of company and you haven't done what they did, it's easy to feel like you're lagging.

My old manager from my first job was one of the founders (and current CTO) at Gilt. One of my old college buddies who was also a coworker (under that same manager) went with him early on to build Gilt. Today I consider both of them incredibly successful. In comparison to them, they've achieved way more than I have.

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vidarh 2 days ago 0 replies      
We compare ourselves with our perceived peer-group. But we tend to self-select peer groups that are not too far from our own level. On the other hand, most of us looks to role models, which are pretty much by definition more successful than ourselves.

We rarely compare ourselves to the people we consider we've already firmly surpassed. We might hang out with existing friends that we feel we're more successful than, but we're trying to meet that new potential employer that's above where we think we'll go next; we're trying to hook that huge important client; we're more eager to network with people we see as hugely successful; we want to learn from the people we consider smarter than ourselves, and so on.

Not only that, but outside our own circle, the successful people are far more visible. For every successful founder there are hundreds that failed, gave up, never even got a company funded, and so on that we will never hear about.

I've been through several startups. Some I co-founded. Others where I was the first guy or first 2-3 people brought in, on substantial equity. Been involved in a number of VC deals. But no big exits. Nothing enough to retire on. Not paid of my mortgage.

It'd be easy for me to write a similar post about my career. Lots of companies that could've, should've made it big.

Yet, years ago I realized that the moment I founded my first company, I was more successful as a founder or "startup guy" than most people - most people who want to start a company never even try, and fewer succeed. Each subsequent one, I've left some mark or other. So I've not founded another Google. But I've done enough. I want to do more. Lots more. But I've still done enough that I have plenty to be proud of without feeling a need for everyone to know about it.

(though he things I'm the most proud of these days no longer have anything to do with my work at all)

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richardw 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see a few knocks on Dave. What he should be valuing more, why he should(n't) consider himself successful, what other smart people think about what he said from their own perspective.

Well, he opened himself up. In a world where opinions about others are far more numerous than people standing up and saying "this is my story, from the heart. these are my faults and failures, and my dreams". I find that more valuable than 100 posts blowing their own horn. It's the most basic story of all, shared by many, and one of the hardest to write.

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vaksel 3 days ago 1 reply      
someone needs a reality check.

if he considers that kind of life "failure", he is going to lead a very depressed life unless he wins a few lotteries

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waterlesscloud 3 days ago 1 reply      
The irony is that to 95% of Americans he's led a very successful life.

Not that I don't understand the point. It's all relative.

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jroseattle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this post, it resonates with me as well. I have parallels with Dave's story -- mostly figuratively, but still felt like I've been along the same ride with him.

The fact that Dave is still going strong at 46 and trying to make a difference shows there is much more substance to him than many others I know in this business. If there is one thing I've observed, it's how the perceived "lack" of success in those who expected great things of themselves have knocked so many people off their perch.

Good job, Dave. In my book, the very fact you recognize this in yourself qualifies you as successful.

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ygmelnikova 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are these things the compass to success? That's rather depressing.

I can relate a little. I dropped out in grade 11. Built N. America's first fully graphical ecommmerce site (1992), Canada's first Windows IIS webserver (sorry), country's first 56K internet access, $10M IPO in 1998, client list includes Eckhart Tolle and Oprah.

So what.

I recommend you learn success from those that who mastered it over the eons, and they don't live anywhere near Silicon Valley.

Here's one example;

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" -- Jesus Christ

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welcomebrand 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a totally different world these types of people live in to mine. I read the blog post, it was nicely written and a seemingly heartfelt reflection of a mans own position in life but I guess it's difficult to feel he's been anything other than a success already.

Perhaps it's all relative and compared to Sean Parker's bank balance he's a dismal failure but to reach 40 and have "a little under a million" in liquid assets and to have been able to dabble in angel investing for several years just doesn't seem that bad a life.

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bluedanieru 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why are none of the sentences capitalized? It makes it difficult to read (so I didn't finish it).

What I did read wasn't very interesting anyway, so no big loss.

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logical42 2 days ago 0 replies      
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

-- Teddy R.

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drewcoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
@Dave: You will never be the person you thought you could have been. You will only be wildly different. And often, wildly, differently . . . successful, as you've shown the world. The same is true for all of us - we're never what we thought we'd be but we dream up new stuffs along the way. Retrospect and all that. It's too easy to look back but all the action is in the future. Look forward and be there.

I find I have the same self-crisis about once a week and maybe more often now. Nobody on HN knows me. I haven't shaped anything in the industry. Even if I'm ultimately successful by my own standards, nobody will probably know. I don't care. My stealth agenda won't make me rich or famous or even worth noticing. I just want to fundamentally change the way we test software and the way we think about quality ("the 'q' word" - ugh). Nobody's gonna care about that until a change happens that nobody now thinks is worth pursuing. It doesn't mean that it's not worth accomplishing, though. But that's who I am.

You, sir, are not I. You are known and have accomplishments. You're already living the dream. Well . . . some dream. Not mine and I guess not yours. But the point is that you're already doing your thing. Damn the torpedoes! Go as fast and as hard and as broadly (and as whatever you like) as you can in the way you'd like to most. Nobody's going to lift a finger to stop you. People will likely complain one way or another after the fact but at the end of the day all you have left is your life and your loves and there's no other way to measure your success than those things you hold closest to you.

Don't give up!

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dctoedt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Feeling like a (comparative) failure can help one to sympathize with people who really are less fortunate --- you start to realize that maybe it's not entirely their fault.
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51Cards 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow... late to this article but can only add one thing. The OP is me... (not literally but figuratively in every way). 42 in a week... a whole lot of 'shoulda/coulda' behind me and feeling like an unaccomplished elder in a field of successful kids. His article hit me pretty hard. At the minimum it makes me feel a little less alone in my thoughts. If the OP reads this please feel free to touch base if you would like a fellow late bloomer to chat with.
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gavanwoolery 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm only 30, and I feel like I've made a million wrong turns. There are many people, who at my age, have already created their own billion-dollar company. However, I only work on what I believe in (aside from the mundane work I do to pay the bills), which I readily acknowledge is probably the worst route to traditional (i.e. monetary) success. There are many ways to flip a worthless company for a profit in the software world, but history does not remember people for their wealth, or even (temporary) fame. If I die poor and unknown, I still consider myself a success, because I spent my life doing things that I perceived as meaningful. Find interesting, unsolved problems (not necessarily in software), and pursue them to the end. You will remain a "late bloomer" so long as you live life passively.
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tvbuzz 2 days ago 0 replies      
In 2008, Gladwell wrote an excellent article on this same topic:

http://www.gladwell.com/2008/2008_10_20_a_latebloomers.html

An excellent quote from the article:

"The Cézannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition."

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mcormier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is not capitalizing the first word in a sentence the thing to do now?
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kposehn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow.

As in "holy shit that was inspiring."

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dctoedt 2 days ago 0 replies      
See also "The importance of being prolific" [1], also posted here yesterday [2].

[1] http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ae-0624-proli...

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4212680

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joering2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Boy I felt like reading my own story, except I hadn't had brilliant parents that would give me good genes for a start and force me to be productive instead of lazy (so I wasn't working for huge corps like OP).

But regardless this post made me think that if you treat your body well (healthy food, gym, as little stress as possible) and you hadn't had some genetical disadvantages then your brain stay quite young forever, and you are like a fine wine: you age well and gather wisdom all the time. Truly, the only thing stopping OP from learning from his mistakes and trying again, learning and trying again and again is his approach that I may be too old. You are not! How old you are only matters whether you will personally make a big deal out of it or not. Don't let it stop you from trying again.

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radley 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm confused. In my mind Dave is already a success.

I guess he's just in a rut. I read a great book called "How High can You Bounce?" It's all about if you've taken a downturn how can you spin it to your advantage so you rebound better off than where you were before the fall. Knowing this is possible is simply the first step.

Think Dave just needs some bounce.

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soup10 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love the optimism and ambition. It hurts to read how hard you are on yourself, but I hope you achieve your goals and relax a little :). Good luck with your incubator.
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rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read this article about people who made a bit of money in the first dotcom boom, lost it, and were seeking more again in 2005:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/magazine/05RATPACK.html?_r...

Interesting to note how many of them have become billionaires in just a few short years. Peter Thiel, Mark Pincus, Reid Hoffman, ...

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nedwin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great post Dave, and somewhat inspiring for someone nearing the end of their twenties who feels like he's only just hitting his straps now.
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gonzo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doc Searls (who enjoyed a lot of success in the late 90s) once said that nobody knew him for anything he did before he was 50.
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joshmlewis 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm almost 19 and I feel like I'm not moving fast enough sometimes. I've already worked for two successful startups and am in an accelerator program as a designer cofounder. I love what I do and I can honestly say I have one of the best jobs in the world and the people I've met are amazing, I'm just scared of losing out on time.

This really made me see that I don't have just a few year window to do well, but it's a life long thing. I would have never guessed I'd be doing what I'm doing now a year ago, and I have no idea what I'll be doing a year from now, but I figure if I just keep doing what I love and building awesome products, I'll always be happy.

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hathaway 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure this guy has much to complain about - wife, kids, money, intelligence, plenty of opportunities. Maybe he just enjoy his life instead of wishing he was some hot shot.
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lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 0 replies      
You sound like a man who has found his centre - even if you still Want to go find it somewhere else. I, and many others here appreciate the honesty, and I certainly feel the same way on a daily basis.

I wish you good luck with the business, but much much better luck with your family.

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big_data 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds to me like he is suffering from a social comparison bias. A few peers may have done better than he, but I am sure there are those out there that would say he has done pretty good.
44
justanother 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly, this individual's problem isn't that he hasn't found Shangri-La, it's that he needs a new compass. Dave, Samuel Taylor Coleridge was just hallucinating. Kublai Khan's pleasure dome is right next to you every morning, and she's [presumably] gorgeous. The sun still rises on the bankrupt, and many of them do absolutely fulfilling things with those days, even if it's beating an old game or learning to catch more fish.

Or to speak more plainly, cash is but one axis on the graph of success, and often it is the very worst of them. Winning is having the strength to disregard it.

45
rgbrgb 1 day ago 0 replies      
But maybe self permanence is not so important. Perhaps it would be more accurate not to associate yourself with your past so much.
46
mvts 2 days ago 0 replies      
So you're a loser now when you have a bachelor degree, a job and good health? Times have changed.
47
blu3jack 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not quite sure what the point of this blog post is. I guess it's to re-start his blog, and restarting a blog often lacks a good hook, and may be heavy on the backstory. Hopefully this is a starting point, not a destination.
48
dools 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fellow failure here. Anyone want to kick off a #failaholics hashtag on twitter?
49
rockmeamedee 2 days ago 0 replies      
For all the self-deprecation in the post, I think we can all empathise, at the very least with:

> and so here I am: still standing in the arena, in hand-to-hand combat with demons mostly of my own
> making, aiming to make a small dent in the universe. nowhere near a great success story, yet
> fighting the good fight and perhaps helping others to achieve greatness as I attempt a bit of my
> own.

50
eliben 2 days ago 0 replies      
"[...] before I ended up with just a broken spirit and a comfortable life."

Loved this quote.

51
AaronStanely 2 days ago 0 replies      
How exactly does his position equate to being a "late bloomer"? Even if he hadn't done everything he did in the last 10 years, he would still have achieved more than 99.99999% of the world population. Think about that to get some perspective. I think he's being ridiculously harsh on himself.
52
jasonspalace 3 days ago 0 replies      
things can sometimes feel so daunting as we toil away night and day for years without end on our hopes and dreams, reading his honesty and admission helps (at least me) put it in perspective that we still have time to keep going relentlessly while we force our dreams to come true (i hope).

as long as we are so lucky to be here another day to keep going.

53
keeptrying 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually see this as Dave's backwards way of saying:

"Whatever your situation right now - its okay. Keep working."

54
raheemm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Compare and despair. Gotta watch out for that!
55
elssar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was with you when I read the title, I was with you upto the point you mentioned that you weren't ready for the consistency & hardwork college requires, and then you went from "someone like me" to "someone who hasn't done as well as the people around him".
56
mathattack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good luck!

A modern Robert Frost....

57
lewisflude 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm 19 yet I feel I can relate in some way.
3
A file that's both an acceptable HTML page and a JPEG (view source on it) coredump.cx
530 points by mcfunley  4 days ago   128 comments top 32
1
eschulte 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the same thing done with a compiled executable using the padding bits in an ELF file.

http://cs.unm.edu/~eschulte/data/webpage.html

download webpage.html and it should run on any 64-bit linux machine as an executable printing out the same text shown on the web page. Here's the C file used to compile the original executable, nothing exciting...

http://cs.unm.edu/~eschulte/data/webpage.c

2
greyfade 4 days ago 6 replies      
If you think that's cool, look at Daeken's Magister: http://demoseen.com/windowpane/magister.png.html

A PNG that's interpreted as HTML and loads itself as compressed JavaScript!

4
eric_arrr 4 days ago 4 replies      
You can also use this trick to launch cross-site script attacks against sites that allow you to upload images.

Step 1: upload the "image" to the site. Let the site do whatever it does to ensure it has received a valid image. Nine validators out of ten will happily accept the file; the case that is likeliest to shoot you down is if the site modifies the image by cropping, resizing, or watermarking it.

Step 2: point your victim back to the uploaded "image" as though it's actually a page, and presto!, it's a page -- a page with malicious javascript in it.

Step 3: profit!

5
petercooper 4 days ago 0 replies      
On slightly tangential lines, it's possible to manipulate D's compiler to output object code that renders as a graphic: http://h3.gd/ctrace/
6
joelthelion 3 days ago 0 replies      
>Pretty radical, eh? Send money to: lcamtuf@coredump.cx

Would have been smarter to put a bitcoin address :)

7
achal 4 days ago 3 replies      
I've always wondered how the site snag.gy does something similar. Take this link, for example (you'll have to disable AdBlock if you want to see the ad): http://i.snag.gy/0obAy.jpg ignore the image itself; it was one of the first to pop up in my history)

The source is just the image, and you can embed the image, but there's an ad under the image. Also, right click -> view image or copy image location point to the same URL.

8
jonny_eh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess the HTML renderer skips the JPEG information and the image renderer skips the HTML information. Smart!
9
gcb 2 days ago 0 replies      
trick summary:

enter in you jpeg comment field: "<html>...your page...</html><!--"

then the "image" will look like:

   @^PJFIF^@^A^A^A^A,^A,^@^@000^Cr<html>...your page...</html><!-- rest of garbage

to the browser this is just the same as:

   \n
\n
\n
<html>...your page...</html>

10
rescripting 4 days ago 3 replies      
Perhaps I don't know enough about how this works, but couldn't you use this to inject runnable javascript in to a page? If this is possible it's pretty scary as it would allow you to upload a hidden payload in to an otherwise innocent looking image.
11
mrb 4 days ago 0 replies      
My browsers, Chrome 19.0.1084.56 and Firefox 13.0.1, on Linux, both render it as a bunch of garbage characters. This does not appear to be valid HTML to them.

However I can download the file, rename it to .jpg, and view the image just fine.

12
mmahemoff 4 days ago 1 reply      
I call such things "chameleon files"

JS and PHP is also possible
http://tantek.pbworks.com/w/page/19402872/CassisProject

JS and HTML
http://project.mahemoff.com/josh/
(also demonstrated by Tantek Çelik earlier on in a project that eentually led him to Cassis.)

13
ams6110 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks more like a chipmunk to me.
14
habosa 4 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone explain what is going on here?
15
naugtur 4 days ago 1 reply      
There's a practical side to that trick. I have altered a posterous template to make my posterous a working JSONP response. http://zbyszek.posterous.com
16
sold 4 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of this story (JPEG and ZIP as one file):

http://www.reddit.com/comments/arc79/reddit_i_got_the_best_p...

17
xamuel 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I saw this, the first thing I immediately thought was: why don't webcomic authors use this to fix the problem of people linking directly to their images instead of the pages their images are on? This could revolutionize how webcomics and social aggregators interact.
18
mathias 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't have GraphicsMagick installed on this machine, else I would try this:

    $ gm convert http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/squirrel/ -comment '' x.jpg

…and…

    $ gm identify -format '%c' http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/squirrel/

19
goblin89 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apparently OP uses some JPEG feature to create custom header (EXIF?). It allows to embed HTML close to the start of the file. HTML ends with <!--, which saves HTML parser from choking on actual image data that comes afterwards.
20
jbee 4 days ago 0 replies      
This trick does not work correctly in IE9, due to the unclosed comment tag.
21
scintill76 4 days ago 0 replies      
> No server-side hacks involved

Well, the JPEG file doesn't have the correct mime-type. Chrome warns, "Resource interpreted as Image but transferred with MIME type text/html" in the console. Apparently in the context of an <img src=""> URL it figures it out though.

22
erichocean 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's stuff like this that makes me smile at humanity.
23
mzangula 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hello everyone, i appreciate the great solution that this is but i have a similar problem that could be solved by this solution but has not been solved.

My problem is that i want to publish a series of JPEG images as a Kindle book, but i can't, since the reader slices some of my images and puts padding around them. I would prefer that the images render like the cover page, in full screen, but this is impossible to achieve despite saving the images in 600 * 800 like the cover page.

How can i use this great wisdom to create an .epub file that then becomes a Kindle book.

PS; The scans are a business book that is made up entirely of mindmaps, which are like spatial roadmaps on paper. The book has been written to teach newbies in business the most important things and all the trade-offs involved in this important things.

I think that that sort of thing would do very well on the Kindle platform but i am unable to do it.

24
ImpressiveWebs 3 days ago 0 replies      
He should do it with his 404 page, too:

http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/squirrel/404.html

:)

25
adandy 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty scary on Windows Phone 7. Anybody else getting chunks of video memory all over the page? (HTC Arrive).
26
seanconaty 4 days ago 2 replies      
Any practical use for this or just for fun?
27
CoryG89 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is what Dropbox needs to do to get everyone to stop complaining about dropping the public folder.
28
fish2000 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. It's been a long time since I was blown away by an HTML hack but this blew me away. Yes!
29
kevinburke 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does it work?
30
conroe64 4 days ago 0 replies      
Using firefox, right click on the image in that page and select "View Image"
31
tubbo 4 days ago 0 replies      
lol "send money" for discovering an idea that is at least 15 years old? gtfo.
32
bluesheep 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is just more evidence that we should strive to do everything in a browser. Or an app that functions like one. It is more secure. Details should not be exposed to the user.

Remember there is no file system. In fact, there are no files.

We hid them so they do not exist. Out of sight, out of mind.

There's no such thing as binary. That only existed when you were younger. Now it no longer exists. The numbers are gone. They do not exist.

What's really important is how good fonts look. The javascript, the CSS, the browser!

No user cares about content like text, audio and video, they care about window dressing: html and browsers. They care about what you can do with javascript. What can you do? Show me some tricks.

Content alone is not enough. Who wants to read a story or download a video clip? You have to present it; you must entertain and you must persuade, by trickery if necessary. It's not the content, silly. It's the webpage. No javascript, no dice. Don't just deliver the content, entertain me for a few minutes first. Tell me about something else.

No one cares about TV programming. They care about the TV's setup screens and onscreen channel guide. They want these menus to come to life. They want their TV's to become "intelligent".

A webpage without javascript is like a lifeless onscreen TV channel guide that does not track what you watch and report it to marketers, or make automatic suggestions on what you should watch, or display animations while you sit and wait for seconds while the TV's software is "Loading..." in response to your last button push. Boring.

Users want books, newspapers, radios and TV's that have "artificial intelligence". They want others to know what they are reading and watching and they want advertisers to address them by name. Let's get with it. Bring us the future.

4
Github Raises $100 Million wsj.com
507 points by jakebellacera  1 day ago   218 comments top 47
1
courtewing 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm a little surprised by all of the anti-VC sentiment in this thread so far, especially from this community. I'm perhaps even more surprised by the "what do they need 100 million dollars" sentiment that is being floated around.

Github is an impressive company that has, so far, blown away its competition in many aspects. The fact that they have been self-bootstrapped up until this point and that they are profitable to boot is a testament to Tom's incredible leadership and their absolutely exceptional team.

Tom has made it abundantly clear that he is not against venture capital. He just thinks it is starting off on the wrong foot if you try to build your company with the expectation of relying on venture capital from the start.

So he's taken Github to profitability, and in four years they've all managed to transform the way most of us collaborate online. That is a profound achievement, but those responsible for such a radical change aren't generally the type to sit idly by on the backs of their previous accomplishments.

They want to do bigger and better things with Github. They're not quite done trying to change the world. Now they are not only profitable, but they have substantial capital to invest in further innovations.

With 0 dollars, a couple of guys built something amazing. I can't wait to see what they can do with 100 million.

2
jammur 1 day ago 3 replies      
I have to imagine that a chunk of that money is to provide liquidity to the founders, which they very much deserve.

I don't really see how this is a bad thing. They were very much profitable, and were likely able to dictate the terms of the deal. Also, the money came from one of the most, if not THE most, reputable and respected VC firms.

3
jbarham 1 day ago 6 replies      
I can't help but think that this investment marks the Pets.com point in this investment cycle.

GitHub is essentially a web interface to a single open-source DVCS. The switching costs to using another DVCS such as Mercurial (which I personally prefer) or another Git hosting provider are minimal. There are no barriers to entry since Git is and always will be free. There are very few network effect benefits to using GitHub for paying customers who by definition want to keep their code private.

GitHub is a good service and I use it myself, but I'm now increasingly cautious about using it since GitHub are now under serious pressure to deliver pretty spectacular returns to their investors.

In the end I think this investment has less to do with GitHub and more to do with the fact that e.g. yields on 10-year Treasuries are currently under 2%. Investors are desperately looking for any decent returns on their money and throwing it a company like GitHub is just a Hail Mary pass.

4
yuvadam 1 day ago  replies      
I hate to crash the party, but this is a very odd move for an awesome company and a service that I use and <3.

Github has always been against taking money. Actually, TPW has used some very harsh words criticizing startups that choose to take VC money.

Now, Github raises 100 gazillion dollars? How the f*ck do they plan on spending that wisely? Sure, it's nice to have that sum in the bank. But, in all honesty, someone has to explain how this is a reasonable move, because I simply don't get it.

5
leftnode 1 day ago 1 reply      
https://github.com/blog/1189-investing-in-github Straight from them. Congratulations on building such a great business.
6
siong1987 1 day ago 2 replies      
Many people do not realize that Github has an enterprise product called github:enterprise. Aside the money they raised for this round, there are also help comes together from the VC, Andreessen Horowitz in this case.

I don't have any experience in enterprise sales. But, from what I know, enterprise isn't a market that the best product always wins. Yes, Github definitely has one of the best products out there. But, they definitely don't have the required experience to push their enterprise product to the market(look at the developers heavy team). The VC will definitely help in this case.

Now, look at another similar product in the market, Atlassion, which raised about 60 millions almost two years ago from Accel. That was also after years of bootstrapping from Atlassian itself. 2 years ago, the funding market was definitely not as good as the funding market today. Yet, Atlassian managed to raise 60 millions. So, the 100 millions Github raised today seems reasonable to me.

7
zorked 1 day ago 1 reply      
So Linus Torvalds has created two billion-dollar industries in his spare time?
8
rabidsnail 13 hours ago 0 replies      
SharePoint makes Microsoft billions of dollars per year of revenue (the only concrete number I could find was $2B, but it was from a blog that didn't cite sources). If github can pivot from code sharing to general work sharing, $100M doesn't seem like quite so much money.

Edit: $800M/yr in 2007 http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2007/jul07/07-26SP...

9
maxko87 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can't read the full article without an account. Try this:

http://gigaom.com/2012/07/09/github-finally-raises-funding-1...

10
mrkmcknz 1 day ago 4 replies      
"Little-known social coding start-up".

Got to love the WSJ.

11
nirvana 1 day ago 1 reply      
Damn, github seemed like the perfect model for bootstrapped, they were growing like a weed, seemed to not lack for money from income, etc.

In these situations, I'd really love to know the details-- did they go shopping for investment (love to see that deck!) or did A19Z pursue them and talk them into it?

Probably perfect timing, too, because I think things are going to cool down in 2013.

Anyway, couldn't happen to a nicer company, but I do lament the loss of a bootstrapped example to point to.

FWIW, can't read the wsj article because it is already behind the paywall.

12
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congratulations GitHub!

I'm a bit surprised given their previous stance on VC...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4VtBcmbbSs

http://37signals.com/svn/posts/2486-bootstrapped-profitable-...

13
brown9-2 1 day ago 1 reply      
CEO Tom Preston-Werner said the company hopes to develop new features but also improve existing ones, such as web applications for different operating systems.

"web applications for different operating systems"?

14
oldgregg 1 day ago 2 replies      
What a great way to ruin a perfectly awesome company.
15
richardv 1 day ago 1 reply      
"finally" raises funding.

In my mind the $750M valuation is still actually pretty consevative. GitHub has a long long way to go and I see so many great things ahead for the team, but I don't understand why they would raise $100M?

Is this a deal for the founders to take some money off of the table? I don't see what benefits $100M will have for them.

(Don't shoot me for my opinions on this one), but I think it's also really only a matter of time before the legacy systems move from SVN/Mercurial/CVS onto GitHub. Some people use BitBucket (I guess because Atlassian makes some other great software). SourceForge (past it's sell-by-date), and Google Code isn't really suitable for anything other than hosting specific release candidates or tags..

16
swombat 1 day ago 2 replies      
WTF? Why? What for? What are they planning to do with so much money?
17
herval 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Little-known social coding start-up GitHub Inc. has raised $100 million in its first round of funding, in a sign of how big investment bets are continuing in Silicon Valley"

this "little-known" probably has more revenue than a lot of "well-knowns" out there, and the "bet" here is probably a lot safer too...

19
SethMurphy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am a paying customer and quite torn over what to think.

On one hand I feel like my favorite indie band just got signed by a major record label. I will lose the intimacy, or cool factor, I felt as I first enjoyed them. However, isn't it better for all to enjoy them? Especially if they have been signed by the best record company of the bunch? I really have no reason to find this analogy a bad thing.

On the other hand I think, why does every company feel the need to take over the world? Can't you be satisfied? At what point have you done enough? I already see Github as a success, and I fear for the founders that true satisfaction will never come. For the most ambitious it probably never does. I do not see this as a good sign for the future of Internet businesses in general. I would rather see more small businesses than fewer large. I think many aspiring hackers have lost a role model today, and VC's everywhere are cheering as a big game trophy has been reeled in.

20
blhack 1 day ago 9 replies      
Okay, a question:

I have a github (http://github.com/blhack -- nothing too interesting there), but only use it in the "free" way; saving my javascript stuff, and keeping track of some arduino projects.

"Github" and "money" in the same thought here triggered me wondering about maybe buying a monthly plan from them, and letting them host all of my code for work, play, etc. (stuff I'm too embarrassed to release, ha)

Maybe I'm just naive, but how large are most git repos?

You can get a full pizza box, in a rack, with power and data, and plenty of storage for $50/mo.

You could get two redundant linodes for $40/mo.

What are people getting out of github that they are willing to spend as much money as some of these plans cost?

(What I mean is: if this was $5/mo for unlimited repos, I'd have a plan now. But $7/mo for 5? That seems steep)

21
wavephorm 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why can't a company worth nearly a billion dollars just go public? There are thousands of public companies worth less than a billion. So why sell your soul to a VC who could push you into a situation that could make you implode, rather than raise money on an open market and give up less control?
22
xpose2000 1 day ago 0 replies      
They deserve every penny. And I am sure their revenue has been increasing over time (at least I hope so).

They are a great blueprint on how to spend money wisely and develop features people care about.

Off the top of my head: Company Github accounts, many desktop Github redesigns and performance tweaks, Github for Mac, Github for Windows, and a Github Android App.

And this is only in the past 12 months or so. Amazing company.

23
CoryMathews 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I hope they can at least make the watch button work in Opera, maybe even the rest of the BASIC functionality.
24
base698 1 day ago 1 reply      
They certainly deserve it. They have a clear business model that makes money now and a gorgeous product. Look forward to seeing more Octocat in SOMA :
25
franzus 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's time to move away code from github. Now a VC has insights into all private repositories ... a VC that possibly is funding competition.
26
DigitalSea 1 day ago 1 reply      
So much negativity here regarding the capital announcement. Github got to where it is now from now investment and you want to know the reason why they accepted such a large amount of capital (it's rather simple), Github are wanting to infiltrate the corporate sector because that's where the money is. Lets be honest the $10 per month I pay for my Github account isn't making any difference, a corporation paying $1000 per month to exclusively use Github to manage their code? Now that's making a difference.

To expand you need cash, take this as a sign that Github is going to expand heavily in every direction. As an avid Githubber I am ecstatic about this, it's a testament to the product and a good sign Github is never going anywhere.

27
richardv 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got five words into that article and hit back to find a different source.

> "Little-known social coding start-up GitHub..."

Really?

The Gigaom is a much better read.

http://gigaom.com/2012/07/09/github-finally-raises-funding-1...

28
dantheman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Github - great project, great team. Good work, can't wait to see what's next.
29
rmoriz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe the startup in inhouse-incubator developping new apps in small teams. They clearly have all the required skills to launch a couple of commercial interesting apps per year.

However a burn rate of 25m$/year " The VC wants 100 times the return of his investment. That's imho not doable with the current "monolitic" github business model.

30
tocomment 1 day ago 0 replies      
I actually forgot github was a business. I'm going to hate to lose their services when they get bought by yahoo or whatever is going to happen :-(
31
vlad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rumors first circulated in May:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4006017
32
tubbo 1 day ago 2 replies      
2 months ago github was all "we don't need VC funding we're completely profitable"...
33
modarts 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, Github taking on some capitalization in order to spur growth in enterprise markets is apparently seen by many on this thread as Github "not keeping it real." (to borrow a "street" analogy.)

What exactly would the individuals complaining about this action do differently?

34
statictype 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope this doesn't mean everyone now gets free private repos but now with ads served up.
35
qntmfred 1 day ago 1 reply      
$750M valuation!?
36
andyfleming 1 day ago 0 replies      
My suspicion is they are going to be putting a lot of effort towards continuing to develop the GUI, for the lack of a better term, for git. IMO, that's what has helped them be successful in the first place. Git is complex and a bit unfriendly at times. They have made it more accessible and it sounds as though their hope is to increase overall engagement in git and version/source management tools.

Who knows, they could be working on their own flavor of git.

37
arrowgunz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Okay, I think now is the time for GitHub to shut up about being Bootstrap and Bullshit. I think it's high time. I absolutely love the service but this is so lame. Bunch of hypocrites.
38
cschmidt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Their RSS feed has new hires almost every day. I suppose they need to pay all those hires. I wonder why they need quite so many people.
39
perfunctory 19 hours ago 0 replies      
> GitHub tries to become the standard in software coding

Standard. Really?

40
shocks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Now they can make more font icons.
41
zeruch 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Little known..." ? Granted, Github isn't eBay, but its hardly obscure, especially within its domain space.

The article is otherwise fairly flat about why it might be valued so high. I'm not saying it's fully justified, but the writer clearly did not seem to understand what he was actually writing about.

42
curt 1 day ago 0 replies      
They could be moving into "other" markets as well. Version controlling for design? Think that'd be a huge market especially with a simple interface.
43
zeppelin_7 1 day ago 0 replies      
"little known" is actually the reality of how the rest of the world sees the tech startup domain. I am sure I can find people even at HP/IBM who will ask "whats a github"?
44
rgenzon 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Why raise money? I love Github. But this bothered me. I believe they can pretty much earn a lot from their current subscription plans. Why raise? Githuubbb!
45
andrew_wc_brown 1 day ago 0 replies      
With all that money they could buyout their competitors.
46
meta8609 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the percentage the founders are pocketing?
47
zashapiro 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just happened to be on their About page today and I noticed they'd taken down the "VC money raised - $0.00" section.

Congrats to the fine folks at GitHub!

5
Show HN: fontBomb - Stylishly destroy the web ilex.ca
477 points by plehoux  4 days ago   85 comments top 22
1
patio11 4 days ago 3 replies      
Very, very nice movie. (Watch it with the sound on.)

That sense of timing would improve a lot of e.g. paid-for product demo movies.

2
wickedchicken 4 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks for making your site wacom-friendly. A lot of sites don't have any denoising for clicks, so if you try to click with a tablet it ends up dragging a tiny amount instead (twitter's lightbox is REALLY BAD in this respect).
3
valgaze 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is an impressive one as well (basically a big snowball that grows bigger picking up page elements): http://kathack.com/

I've always wondered if these sorts of tools could be a useful gimmick for traffic-generation

4
plehoux 4 days ago 7 replies      
I'm the author, it works best in Safari and IE 9. Use the bookmarklet to destroy any website.

Source is here: https://github.com/plehoux/fontBomb/tree/master/src/coffee

5
plehoux 4 days ago 1 reply      
Tks HN! fontBomb is getting viral! I'm now getting the same amount of traffic from others sources then HN. Have a look :

http://min.us/mEKGlLMaB

Really exciting! I feel that the week I invested in making it, is really paying off. At least in self-confidence!

By the way, tks Github for hosting it free of charge!

6
dazbradbury 4 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent demo and smart implementation! Thanks for sharing.

It's a shame the code can't all fit in the bookmarklet though, rather than having to download an external source (which is subject to change). This is meant as a comment on large bookmarklets generally, rather than fontBomb in particular.

7
ZenJosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Worth noting - Chrome auto-translates from 'French' to 'English', turns:

  Click anywhere on this page to plant bombs. To blow up other websites, drag and drop this link fontBomb to your favorites bar

into:

  Ctheick hasntherewhere on this phasge to pthehasnt bombs. To btheow up other websites, ofrhasg hasnof ofrop this theink fontBomb to thereour fhasvorites bhasr

which, while hilarious, is probably something you want to check out. Other than that, its a fun little hack, nice job!

8
dev1n 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found something similar to this a few months back... very cool trick.

http://kickassapp.com/

9
9k9 4 days ago 0 replies      
Combine http://kickassapp.com/, http://kathack.com/ and font bomb for hours of fun.
10
plehoux 4 days ago 0 replies      
Inception time, try fontBomb on fontBomb code! http://fontbomb.ilex.ca/js/main.js
11
jonny_eh 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant. I will never surf the web the same way again!
12
ya3r 4 days ago 1 reply      
This things works nicely on the iphone!

Kudos

13
eragnew 4 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't watch the movie, but I think the functionality is awesome :)

Would love to see a gallery of what people have come up with.

Is it possible to see source code?

14
loeschg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook is bomb proof.
15
potatohead23 4 days ago 1 reply      
Serious question here, I see incredible stuff like this being done with JavaScript all the time, but I have never come across a tutorial or anything of the sort that even touches on things like this, where do I start learning how to use JS to manipulate webpages in this way???
16
septerr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sweet. I am eager to go through the source code.
17
songgao 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's so cool. The music adds much more fun to it. Great job!
18
coreycollins 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome!
19
lechat0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fun stuff right there. Any particular reason for choice of poem as demo?
20
kaybe888 4 days ago 0 replies      
So cool, Good work Phil
21
hkon 4 days ago 0 replies      
It did not entertain me. Sorry. Nice work though.
22
arrowgunz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is so much fun to play with.
6
PHP: The Right Way phptherightway.com
374 points by bencevans  3 days ago   214 comments top 26
1
rickmb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Straight, simple and to the point. Nice.

Missing test and QA tools though. Probably an oversight, since the author does suggest following Derick Rethans and Sebastian Bergmann.

And another one: read up on the SPL library before you start re-inventing that wheel.

2
nikic 3 days ago 3 replies      
I like the general idea of this, but think that it is nearly useless in its current form. It's way too superficial. To teach newbies how to do things right it doesn't suffice to link to a few resources and hope that they'll read them (hint: they won't). Instead one needs more concrete code examples, etc. Which would obviously be too much for one page :)
3
aw3c2 3 days ago  replies      
curl -s http://getcomposer.org/installer | php

is creepy. Never ever run other people's code without at least giving it a glance.

4
postfuturist 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a part-time PHP hater who often has to work with it professionally, I believe this is a fantastic resource. The bit on databases in particular is something that all PHP devs should read.

That said, it is difficult to bring a legacy code base in line with modern style, though you can improve it over time.

Also, this could benefit from some other gotchas, extremely surprising behavior and best practices for avoiding common pitfalls.

5
gbog 3 days ago  replies      
PHP with these guidelines looks like JAVA to me, but without the relatively sane foundations.

It is fun how much a very old moralist sentence by Confucius applies well to PHP. He said ...本亂而末治...否矣 which can be translated, in software language development context, as "Build a nice, reliable language on shitty definition? Bullshit!".

(The word-by-word translation is "your - root - messy - and/but - leaves/result - governed/orderly - have ? not - hey!")

This sentence also resonates with the odd Turkish encoding PHPbug recently reported here: if you have so many wrong architecture decisions in the core of your product, no amount of patching and "under the rub" filling will save you.

Edit: added word-by-word translation + typo fixes.

6
kingkilr 3 days ago 6 replies      
One point in and its already dead wrong, you never filter input, only output.

Edit: Everyone talking about databases: paramaterized queries, check them out.

7
lukifer 3 days ago 1 reply      
While PSR-1 has pretty good universal guidelines, PSR-2 goes too far in insisting on subjective preferences (spaces over tabs, 80-char lines, bracketing styles). We should not pretend that there is a "correct" answer to these choices, just as long as they stay consistent on a per-project basis.

All told, I love site, and I hope it keeps iterating. PHP may be ugly, but it's powerful, and most of its bad reputation comes from good coders having to pick up the pieces from bad coders.

8
TylerE 3 days ago 2 replies      
Something to consider mentioning - there are some in PHP these days that take this sort of stuff a bit too far. Drives me nuts to see people writing classes to encapsulate a 3 column database result. So much overhead and boilerplate.
9
jimmytucson 3 days ago 3 replies      
I didn't understand this:

    4.2. Properties

This guide intentionally avoids any recommendation regarding the use of
$StudlyCaps, $camelCase, or $under_score property names.

Whatever naming convention is used SHOULD be applied consistently within a
reasonable scope. That scope may be vendor-level, package-level, class-level,
or method-level.

4.3. Methods

Method names MUST be declared in camelCase().

10
socratic 3 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any good books (or other resources) on modern PHP?

I last used PHP back with PHP3 (and then went C++ => Java => Python => Python/JavaScript => Ruby => Python/R), but a bunch of code I want to read at work uses PHP (with Zend). I no longer remember most of what I learned about PHP3, though obviously the PHP syntax seems to be at least somewhat readable as a sort of amalgam of Perl and C++ syntax and idioms. What does, e.g., Facebook use to get engineers who don't know PHP (but might know C++ or Python) up and running?

12
xd 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hey, nice work. Wouldn't a wiki platform work better however, instead of git?

Edit: also might be worth adding a bit about steering clear of phpclasses.org as well as w3schools, they bother contain far more bad, than good code.

13
gabordemooij 2 days ago 0 replies      
I dont agree with the article all the way but it's certainly refreshing to see people trying to improve PHP coding practices instead of just complaining. Very well done.

That being said... Every language has its strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with PHP (except maybe that if you look at it it's not a very exciting language, even a bit boring). Security for instance has nothing to do with the language itself. And as for PHP syntax, it's a blessing compared to some other languages; at least we don't have a semicolon debate in PHP land ;-)

14
aichi 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Why the hell is required space indentation instead of tabs? Don't you know how to setup your editor? Don't you know that there are coders with special needs and they would like to setup another indentation, because they are using e.g. font size 20px to see your code?
15
_ikke_ 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm wondering why a specific code style is 'enforced' while it has nothing to do with interoperability.

Libraries with different code styles can be used together without problems. It seems like they are using the PSR to declare they're own style as superior.

16
ObnoxiousJul 3 days ago 3 replies      
Right way to write PHP indeed. Sometimes I wish PHP itself was written this way.

Oh! The guide does not mention the case: if a class contains only one static method, please, use a function. It does not look as educated, but it's obviously a function.

Not PHP specific, I admit.

17
etanol 3 days ago 3 replies      
The comments about namespace are somehow ironic: is it very common to find developers that know what classes are but not namespaces? The namespace concept is much simpler than class. Which makes me wonder: who is the target audience?
18
btbytes 3 days ago 2 replies      
I suggest that you open up the doc source on github so that you can attract contributions from people while still maintaining editorial control.

A good example is: python-guide.org -- http://docs.python-guide.org/en/latest/index.html

19
pjmlp 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very nice guide for everyone that has to work with PHP.
20
countessa 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is great stuff - I'm a casual php hacker and this is just the sort of thing I need to help me out when I'm working in the language - saves me from having to be deeply embedded in the culture of a language I don't use "all day every day"....so thanks!
21
sneak 2 days ago 0 replies      
PHP: Not even once.
22
wseymour 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think that Lithium (www.lithify.me) would be really great to mention under the 'popular frameworks' section.
23
leke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice read. TIL I should be doing some things differently in PHP.
24
kaolinite 3 days ago 2 replies      
Really hope they fix the formatting. Unreadable for me, the font is way too big.
25
erikb 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like it. Would be smart to add some kind of picture for sharing Facebook is more successful if people not just see text.
26
BadCRC 3 days ago 3 replies      
These guidelines won't save you from some bullshit PHP "rules", such as:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5810168/php-foreach-by-re...
7
Bringing Craigslist Back padmapper.com
295 points by ericd  1 day ago   359 comments top 37
1
trotsky 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think it's perfectly fine if you want to play games dancing around what's legal and forge ahead against Craigslist's wishes. There's a long history of that kind of behavior in information services and they may or may not be able to stop you.

But making a big deal out of being some kind of ux hero is pretty tacky. At the end of the day, no matter how small you are you're still a commercial enterprise gaining benefit at another commercial enterprise's expense. You're bidding on eyeballs with an offer of time savings.

A vast majority of the web deliberately degrades their user experience in order to achieve business goals. Ads are almost always at least somewhat distracting, retailers stretch out checkout flows for up selling, sites "recommend" their high margin items ebay requires paypal and facebook sabotages their privacy management so you're less likely to bother.

If CL was to build a bunch of sweet vertical specific apps for their sections they'd need a ton more developers, designers, testers, project managers and so on. To compensate for the greatly increased burn rate they'd need to monetize a lot better which almost always means features, content or policies that negatively impact the user. Or maybe they'd have just taken too much VC to pay for it and gone under in '02 when the bottom fell out.

So by all means jockey away it's healthy for the industry. But crowing about it is a bit like taking a shit on the guy whose shoulders you're standing on while bragging about how tall you are.

2
ilamont 1 day ago  replies      
The founder of 3Taps posted this on Quora last year, in response to a question about disrupting Craigslist:

... the postings in question are public facts about exchanges. Just as any price/supply/demand in a marketplace is open for any and all to notate and republish, so too is the entire set of Craigslist data -- as these offers between seekers and providers are clearly in the public domain. Historically, Craigslist has attempted to block access by others to the comprehensive use of this data. They block many 3rd parties who try to gain access to the data, and sometimes threaten to sue and bankrupt others as if they themselves created the underlying data and hold copyright like property rights over the same.

But public facts are public property. And while some think that predatory Terms of Use demanding that you hand over the Brooklyn Bridge in liquidated damages if you don't comply with some obscure (and potentially constitutionally void) constraint will stand in court -- such absurdities will break if exposed.

A fear, uncertainty,dread approach over access to data breaks down in a world where Google already indexes all of Craigslist data and caches that information all over the internet (for search performance results). If its possible and legal for Google, then why not for any and everyone else to also index and offer access to the same data. In short, Google doesn't get special secondary property rights to privatize public data to the exclusion of anyone else. Equal access to exchange data and search data is a principle in parallel to the notions of net neutrality.

The points above are not a theoretical discourse. Look at 3taps.com/developers to see the execution of this concept. And look at what a 3rd party application (craiggers.com) can do in recreating the whole of Craigslist in a format that gives access to data in a way that is not remotely possible in the legacy Craigslist offering. Craiggers is a perfect example that the function of displaying Craigslist data (rather than gathering it) is a totally distinct (and competitive) marketplace, even if there are still huge network effects in the gathering of Craigslist postings.

Note, Craiggers does NOT disrupt the existing Craigslist revenue model for Craigslist. It simply opens up the field (along with any other developer building on 3taps assisted access to Craigslist data) that wants to build on top of (rather than compete with) the network effects of Craigslist. Think Kayak and Indeed, but now for the whole body of data covered by Craigslist accessible, rather than just a single vertical.

http://www.quora.com/Craigslist/Why-hasnt-another-product-di...

3
phillmv 1 day ago  replies      
>I've been wrestling with whether to bring back Craigslist listings in the search results. I've found a way to include them that I'm told is legally kosher since it doesn't touch their servers at all, but it still seems somewhat dickish to go against their wishes in this, and I've always had a lot of respect for what they've done for the world. Also, who wants to waste their time in court?

>But then I did some back of the envelope estimates of how much of people's time and effort it would waste if I didn't, and it became clear how much less nice it is to waste the time of millions of apartment hunters out of stubbornness or some clearly inaccurate assumption about the will of the community.

Christ, what an asshole.

Translation: "We found a loophole that lets us get around the spirit of what was communicated to us so we could continue to build out our product. I'm going to conveniently step over the moral grey lines of using someone else's data without their consent by claiming my service is better."

4
raganwald 1 day ago  replies      
Cartographers, encyclopedicians, and dictionary aggregators have always included some false data as a honeypot: An alleyway might not really exist. An obscure word might have been made up. A famous person might be entirely fictitious. The goal is to catch people copying their books. If you use “original research,” you'd never say that Braythwayt Street runs parallel to Rhodes Avenue in Toronto, you must have copied our map data without permission.

I'm curious as to how padmapper intendeds to solve this problem. If Craigslist seed their listings with something false, that something is entirely craigslist's copyright. It isn't a “fact.” They don't have a right to reproduce it. Lawyers, please chime in.

5
glesica 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how CL can even exercise this kind of control. I'm not a lawyer, of course, but it seems reasonable to me that apartment listings would be considered "facts", just like baseball statistics.

So then the CL terms of use are the only obstacle, but can you really be held to those if you didn't read them and weren't somehow forced/encouraged to do so? Perhaps so, but then I would find that a little scary.

Just seems like a bad situation all around, but in my mind Padmapper has the moral (though perhaps not legal, again, not a lawyer) high ground, at least relatively speaking.

6
heyrhett 1 day ago 5 replies      
Can 3taps get me the content of the NY Times website via indirect means, so I can publish it on my website? I did a back of the envelope calculation that a lot of people are losing time by having to go somewhere else to get that content, and it's pissing me off.
7
dpcan 1 day ago 5 replies      
I think everyone should just step back and look at the big picture.

This guy is finding any means necessary to add Craiglist data back into his application and Craigslist does not want him to. I think the "gray" area is pretty black and white. Craigslist said no. He's doing it anyway - even if indirectly.

Here's how I see it:

Me: Don't go in my house.

You: But you left the back door unlocked by accident, so I thought I'd just come in and eat your food.

In the real world this would not be acceptable.

Even though we are talking apples, bananas, and oranges, the same ethical perspective should be employed. Craig said no, so we respect his wishes. It's the RIGHT thing to do. If he adds an API someday, then he's sharing the key to his house with us, until then. Doors are locked, too bad, move on.

8
colinsidoti 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can't help but think you played this poorly.

It sucks CL isn't going to let you get their data, but I really don't think this workaround is going to change anything (although kudos for the neat Google cache hack from 3taps).

I imagine your development efforts would be better spent by leveraging the small but dedicated following you clearly have. There must be ways to take advantage of it without opening yourself up to more litigation.

9
SlyShy 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone apartment hunting in NYC I appreciate this. If I wasn't my feelings would be pretty mixed.
10
eli 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's funny how many people are demanding that Craigslist sell out its user-generated content. I understand why people want this, but isn't CL being incredibly respectful of its users by allowing their data to be used only for the specific purpose for which it was posted and that's it?
11
mootothemax 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain to me how this works legally? It seems a bit too convenient that you can ignore someone's T&Cs and use an unlicensed third-party service instead.
12
lancefisher 1 day ago 0 replies      
I appreciate that Eric is doing this in the open. The moral argument could go either way, but he is letting everyone know what he is doing and why. He deserves credit for inviting feedback on it. Personally, I hope padmapper does well.
13
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
For all the people mis-interpreting CL's TOUs: "You automatically grant and assign to CL, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant and assign to CL, a perpetual, irrevocable, unlimited, fully paid, fully sub-licensable (through multiple tiers), worldwide license to copy, perform, display, distribute, prepare derivative works from (including, without limitation, incorporating into other works) and otherwise use any content that you post. You also expressly grant and assign to CL all rights and causes of action to prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post)."
14
dredmorbius 1 day ago 0 replies      
Eric's confusing method with goal.

Craigslist's past method was to claim TOU violation on the part of PadMapper, denying PM ready use of its content.

Its goal is to maintain market position as the dominant classifieds listing service. TOU is just one way for CL to enforce its market position, and as a commercial entity, it's very likely it will continue to do so.

There's very little reason CL couldn't create an alternate legal claim based on content (the cartographic watermarking example comes to mind) to make multiple infringement claims against PM, which would invoke a whole host of copyright remedies ranging from injunctions and monetary damages to DMCA takedown notices (which could comprise the entire service depending on how construed by PM's hosting provider(s)). There's also the notion of a compilation copyright, in which a collection of CL postings could have standing. While Feist v. Rural Electric holds that a simple compilation of facts doesn't meet the minimal authorship requirements of copyright, a compilation of postings with some level of curation to CL might. I'm not aware of relevant caselaw here.

My own suggestion would be that PM pursue a dual strategy of coming to a business agreement with CL (PM's interface is vastly superior) while curating its own set of rental listings independently (CL is ripe for disruption here).

Disclaimer: I'm a long-time CL user and fan of much of its philosophy. I'm also a recent fan of PM. I hope the two will either work something out cooperatively, or manage to improve apartment and classifieds search by competitive means. I don't particularly care which.

15
hornbaker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bold move. Curious if CL's next step will be to add noarchive tags to prevent google cache content from being crawled.
16
jmduke 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a satisfied padmapper user, I'm glad to see this, but somewhat troubled at the same time.

The original hubbub about Craigslist pulling padmapper's access, regardless of your stance on Craigslist's actions, was to me a cautionary tale about building apps around external APIs. (See the Twitter drama of the past weeks.)

What happens next if Craigslist does the same thing to 3taps?

17
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for doing this. My only problem with it is that you're rewarding craigslist for being obnoxious tools, but ultimately it's better for the users, so that's an acceptable sacrifice.

3taps is pretty awesome. I wish they'd do an AMA or something.

18
kefs 1 day ago 0 replies      
The last few places I've acquired we're through padmapper aggregation of CL posts, so when PM got the C&D, I felt compelled to email CraigsList asking them to implement a fee-based API as it would be a win-win-win for everyone involved. Sadly, no reply.
19
grabeh 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's obviously a big fat indemnity clause in 3Taps' terms which means you're on the hook for claims made by third parties against 3Taps for loss arising as a result of the usage of the service.

Having said that if CL provides access to 3Taps on terms which allow third parties to take data from 3Taps, then this may be permissible. It of course depends on the terms of 3Taps' access though (I admit to not being completely familiar with the ins and outs of 3Taps' service though).

The problem of course is that CL have already shown a dislike of Padmapper's methods and as a result this workaround is unlikely to meet with CL's approval. Common sense would suffice to tell you that.

Having said that, it's a real shame CL aren't open to discussions over licensing data (maybe they are of course but the price is too high).

20
stcredzero 1 day ago 3 replies      
After reading the post and discussion, my conclusion is that Craigslist is making a policy mistake.

They should make the same calculation of public good that ericd made and license 3rd party websites that add value to Craigslist, provided the 3rd parties do not harm the Craigslist infrastructure or business models. Doing otherwise is just holding up progress, and is a losing game in the long run. Facilitating value to users would be a win for them, as it was in the past.

21
mmanfrin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling there will be another C+D soon, but since I'm looking for an apartment at this moment, great.

I am annoyed that CL hasn't uttered a single peep about all this. They killed a great app, and didn't even respond to the outcry. A simple 'we don't want to support competitors' would have sufficed, but their silence damns them.

22
csmajorfive 1 day ago 2 replies      
So does 3taps gather data with humans or what?
23
etrain 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Certainly by the time you read this." Code isn't live yet, at least for me, ericd - is this conversation giving you pause about deploying the new feature, or is it standard ops issues?

Also, this couldn't come at a better time for me. I love padmapper and am moving to the bay area in 3 weeks, I need this, man!

24
bambax 1 day ago 0 replies      
How do 3taps do it? Some comments say they "use Google cache", which doesn't explain much:

- Google is notorious for fighting bots pretty aggressively, how do 3taps avoid this?

- even if 3taps found a special access to Google cache, it would be trivial for CL to prevent Google or anyone else from caching its listings, thus cutting off the rest of the food chain that feeds on caches; why don't they do it?

Is it possible that 3taps use another method, such as "manually" copy-pasting listings with Mechanical Turk?

25
jgh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Padmapper is awesome, way way better than using Craiglist to apartment hunt, even if the data ultimately comes from Craigslist (among others).

Maybe craigslist should buy padmapper instead of getting all lawsuity and take advantage of just how good their interface is for apartment hunting

26
IanMechura 1 day ago 2 replies      
I see some very interesting comments on this thread. I remember not long ago lots of people where upset that people where scraping stackoverflow and getting a higher ranking in google results. This was a threat to S/O's business model model and it made lots of people on this board uneasy.

How is Pad mapper any different? How does the fact that this site has a better UI design somehow give them a pass to use data a company has spent millions of dollars gathering and feels is being used in a way that is a threat to their business model?

27
seagreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about a service that lets you post to every barter site at the same time, not just craigslist. Has that been tried? If you could get people to use it (through better UI and more exposure for what they're selling) you could break craigslist's hold on the marketplace.
28
rjsamson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not sure if this has been asked, but a philosophical question for Eric: if someone decided to start a padmapper competitor tomorrow, would you be okay with them using your data for free?
29
rprasad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Consider, if the situation was reversed, and Craiglist was taking Padmapper's data without permission, would everyone on HN would be supporting Padmapper attempting to block Craiglist from reposting its listings?

In such a scenario, Craiglist reposting the Padmapper listings would be a net gain for user's and posters (even though the posters never gave Craiglist such permission) because the listings would be exposed to an exponentially larger viewership.

Being a startup is not a license (pun intended) to ignore other people's rights. Padmapper is in the wrong here, and if they proceed down this path they could face a ruinous (and fully justified) lawsuit.

30
Spooky23 1 day ago 6 replies      
My question is: Why are people using craigslist?

Fortunately for me, I purchased a home before all apartment ads migrated to CL. For the life of me, I don't get why it's so popular.

The site is awful in at least a half dozen different ways.

31
Zakuzaa 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://traffic.alexa.com/graph?w=400&h=220&o=f&c...;

Traffic took a great nosedive from the day they announced "bye bye" to CL.

32
whyenot 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, instead of directly scraping CL's data, they are now using an API that scrapes Google's cache of CL's data? That seems kind of sleazy.
33
declan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I posted a look at the legal issues on Google+ here:
https://plus.google.com/112961607570158342254/posts/HcCuHVG7...

Here's an excerpt from the post:
Eric's blog post today says that "using 3taps just makes it so it's not a TOU issue." The problem is it doesn't. Craigslist's lawyers already thought of this, which is why the TOU also prohibits the "display" and "derivative use" of "any content posted on craigslist," which PadMapper is clearly doing. As Craiglist's lawyer is likely to put it in the next C&D, assent to the TOU is still implied. [...]

If 3taps is in fact scraping Google's cache, they're also violating Google's terms of use, which prohibits any effort "to access [search results] using a method other than the interface and the instructions that we provide." Anyone want to bet on how long it will be before Google blocks them through technical countermeasures, or sends its own C&D? And if 3taps is in the business of the TOU-prohibited "distribution" of Craigslist data, which it appears to be, it should expect to get a C&D from Craigslist too.

34
duked 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really, really stupid. I mean pretending you want to help people find apartment to justify you're action is ridiculous. You're running a business, be honest about it. Now craigislist do what they want with their data, you are just trying to build a service that "adds value" on top of someone else infrastructure( I mean "add" because I am one of the few who actually like the way cragislist display posts no bloaty js, no ugly pics no maps ... fast and simple).
35
egillie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would a client-side padmapper be less morally gray?
36
Baba_Chaghaloo 1 day ago 1 reply      
>I've always had a lot of respect for what they've done for the world

Did I miss something? What has Craigslist done for the world besides put newspapers out of business?

37
tubbo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dear PadMapper,

We hate your app and you can't use our API.

Sincerely, Craigslist

+ + +

Dear Cragislist,

Fuck you.

Love, PadMapper

9
Software Inventory by Joel Spolsky joelonsoftware.com
280 points by moobirubi  1 day ago   64 comments top 20
1
lmkg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Everything that Joel says is true, but keep in mind: having inventory or backlog has a cost, but everything that clears it also has a cost. Inventory is always bad, but sometimes it's less-bad than the alternatives.

Anecdata: My company has a client with a large budget and a large appetite for change on his website. The project manager intentionally chosen to throttle back the rate of change and build up a backlog. The intention is the rate of work is about enough to employ 4 people full-time, and we'd rather have that be consistent rather than just an average. Were he to clear the backlog as it came in, the flow of work would be very uneven, and that would necessitate all sorts of other overhead costs. During boomtimes, onboarding new people to the project; during busttimes, finding other work for the 4 current people; during the transitions between the two, juggling obligations from 2-3 projects as people get transfered from one project to another.

TL;DR project management is hard. Reducing inventory is a Good Thing and you should do it, but it has a cost, so don't be cargo-cultish about it.

2
raganwald 1 day ago 3 replies      
Joel's 100% correct about limiting the size of the backlog. It doesn't matter whether you're using a kanban system, SRUM, a bug database, Github issues, whatever. The team's attention is a finite resource, and stuffing items in there wastes it.

Limiting the size forces you to throw items out as you go along, and each one of these “We're never going to do this” decision helps sharpen the design and prevent over-architecture.

3
codinghorror 1 day ago 4 replies      
One easy way to limit the size of the backlog is to let the community itself vote on which bugs and features you should be working on, then add a little editorial selection and take the top (n) to work on. That's what we do at Stack Exchange, anyway:

http://meta.stackoverflow.com/?tab=bugs
http://meta.stackoverflow.com/?tab=requests

I find that the community appreciates being involved in these decisions, and often (but not always†) has good ideas of what you should be prioritizing and what issues are true pain points.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/02/listen-to-your-comm...

4
benjaminwootton 1 day ago 2 replies      
This isn't really a new idea.

For anyone interested in 'systems thinking' and associated optimisations, check out the 'Implementing Lean' book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Implementing-Lean-Software-Developme...

Or The Goal for something slightly different:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Goal-Process-Ongoing-Improvement...

I have to say, there's way more wisdom in the more mature 'lean' world than there is in the trendier 'agile'.

5
MattRogish 1 day ago 1 reply      
A couple of years ago we did "Bug Bankruptcy" at my old gig. We then instituted a policy: either a bug was worth fixing RIGHT NOW (or reasonably close to it, say after you finish working on your feature) or NEVER. Bugs that were re-reported by users we would move up our mental immediacy list. I like it because it didn't require a fancy software solution - just the group memory. It worked really, really well, and we continue to use it today.
6
jdlshore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't help but feel a bit irritated about this post of Joel's. It's rehashing some very old Agile ideas as if they were somehow fresh and new, all in support of yet another project management tool. (As if we need another one of those.)

Anyway, I'm glad he's helping to spread these ideas. I just wish Joel had been a bit more forthcoming about the rich history he's drawing from, and would give people the opportunity to read up on it in more detail.

(Relatedly, if you're interested in how these ideas apply to multi-team development, I did a talk at Philly ETE earlier this year about applying the Lean and Kanban to large-scale Agile development. Here's the video: http://vimeo.com/43956744 )

7
debacle 1 day ago 1 reply      
> A lot of the ideas on the backlog are bad ideas, and you merely wrote them down to avoid hurting the feelings of the people who thought them up.

I love how candid he can be sometimes. In my experience, this is true of about 30% of the backlog.

8
SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 1 reply      
Decreasing time between deployments is not guaranteed to always be a good thing unless you really do "work on deployments", which may not be best for your product.

Consider Firefox moving to six-week deployments and the negative impact it had. That could have been mitigated by a "work on deployment" that added value to a product.

Many enterprise software packages are painful to deploy. Having worked on these, I can tell you it is because hooking up a dozen systems is just complex. You could conceivably have a way to make that turnkey, but that "working on it" probably would not be good for your product as enterprise customers understand (and usually appreciate) the slower pace.

Somebody else said don't go cargo cult with this. I couldn't agree more, but certainly think about it, understand where it is wasting you money, and fix it.

9
d4nt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This concept reminds me of "Technical Debt" in that its a way of expressing what the software development world has found to be best practice in terms that an outsider/business-person would understand.
10
gruseom 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the story in Chuang Tzu about an old man who loses his memory. Various cures are tried to no avail. Eventually a learned doctor is brought in who after much effort succeeds in curing the man. In a flash, all his memories return. Immediately he proceeds to beat the doctor with a stick, saying "How dare you? I was doing great and now you've ruined everything!"
11
gearoidoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish Joel would go back to blogging about software dev in general rather than writing what I consider plugs for Trello.
12
michaelfeathers 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Joel is saying what the lean-manufacturing inspired people have been saying for years. I think it is a mis-mapped metaphor.

When you diligently draw the parallels between manufacturing and software development you end up with the notion that the whole of your code base is inventory:

http://michaelfeathers.typepad.com/michael_feathers_blog/201...

13
mcherm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rather than emptying out the bug database, I prefer keeping two different "levels" of bug reports. There's the "current" bug database, which you try to keep small and which you clean regularly and work from. And there's the "deep backlog" which winds up being pretty much a collection of random junk. The "deep backlog" is rarely looked at (so it doesn't become a waste of time and attention), but you also don't throw it out wholesale, because it costs almost nothing to keep around. Occasionally you'll try to data-mine the deep backlog. You may also go through every year or two and do a mass cleanup; or you may allow a sort of "voting" process to identify items from the deep backlog that are worth considering for the "real" bug list.
14
grecy 1 day ago 4 replies      
> That means on the average day you have 150 metric tons of wheat flour in stock. At today's prices, you've tied up $73,000. Forever.

What's so bad about having that money tied up in inventory?
Once it's in there, you can just forget about it, and it has no impact. If you reduce your inventory and "free up that money", you're just going to spend it on something else, and then be on an endless quest to forever reduce inventory, because the money you "free up" kind of looks like revenue, which you are obviously trying to increase. Continuing down this path has no future.

At some point you can't reduce inventory any more (lets even say you get it to zero with JIT), at which point your "revenue" will "fall" compared to last year/quarter and everything looks bad.

15
damian2000 1 day ago 2 replies      
Good read. I think reducing deployment cycles into weeks for large/complex software could only work though if you have a decent set of automated tests.
16
donmcc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wherein Joel espouses an agile software development methodology and invokes the Toyota Production System.

And pictures of Taco the Husky are always appreciated :-)

17
neves 1 day ago 0 replies      
18
marcamillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
> (PS No, this is not “waterfall.” No it isn't. Is not. Shut up.)

I love Joel's writing style.

19
kinleyd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Going off-topic here, but that was a cool dog. Looks like a huskie. :)
20
Sherlock 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks about right for any kind of business, not just software development.
10
DC "Uber Amendment" would force sedans to charge 5x more than taxis techcrunch.com
279 points by Shenglong  1 day ago   195 comments top 30
1
jtchang 1 day ago  replies      
These are the kinds of battles that break out when your business model is truly disruptive.

The price of taxis is held artificially high and really it is a loss for the consumer. We are left paying the higher prices for what should be a relatively free market.

2
wallflower 1 day ago 0 replies      
This great story "Why You Can't Get a Taxi" about Uber in the DC metro area got buried a while ago.

> “I want to get a license to drive a limo,” I told him.

“There's a moratorium,” he said, and pointed to a memo posted on the wall.

I'd like to tell you exactly what the memo said, but the commission wasn't giving out copies"“We had some, but we ran out,” said the security guard, and no wonder, given that the “temporary” moratorium has been going on for years. The gist was that there would be no new limo licenses until the commission decided to hand them out.

“Take a picture with your phone,” suggested a nice driver who was waiting for an appointment in front of the desk.

“No pictures!” said the guard.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/why-you-...

3
ahelwer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it wrong that I can't wait until taxi companies are pulverized into dust? From credit/debit machines that always seem to be "out of order" to being put in a caller queue in order to tell someone "come get me at this location", interaction with the industry somehow never seems to be the highlight of my night.
4
geekfactor 1 day ago 2 replies      
The headline here is totally sensational and factually incorrect. Has anyone actually read the linked article?

The proposed amendment sets the minimum for a sedan at 5x the flag pull rate on a taxi. So, in DC this would mean that the minimum rate for a sedan is $15 bucks. While I'm against government creating arbitrary and anti-competitive laws like this, it hardly seems as bad as forcing sedans to charge 5x more than taxis.

5
peterwwillis 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I lived in DC for the past year and a half and never heard of Uber. Considering my tech-minded friends i'm surprised at the lack of advertisement.

Look at this Washington Post article from 2006, before the fare system was changed from zones to meters: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06...

On the old zone system:
""Last night, I had to go to a dinner, and the cab that brought me back charged me twice as much as the cab that took me there," he said as he waited for another taxi outside his downtown hotel. Well, maybe not quite twice as much, he amended, but $12 vs. $19.50."

And on meters:
"But opponents of the meter say it would bring unwanted changes to D.C. taxi service: Residents traveling from poorer outlying neighborhoods in Southeast or Northeast probably could not afford a meter ride, they say, because it could add up to much more than a zone fare. Another reason fares could rise is that the meter would not stop clicking when the cab is idling in one of the city's infamous traffic jams." and "If they get the meters, the only cab you'll see in this town will be at hotels, like the other major cities," Wright said. "You won't find them anyplace else. You won't find them in the neighborhoods."

The regulation on fares forces taxicabs to pass up many people who want to go outside areas with heavy foot traffic or deep pockets because they aren't going to be able to find a return fare. As such, there are "taxi deserts" all over the city where you might see one taxi every 45 minutes, and they've already got a fare, or their meter is off. Slugging through a 1.5-hour bus ride is often the most reliable form of transportation for these areas.

In order to maximize their payout, plenty of DC taxis will take zig-zagging routes, go slower than the speed limit, and ride their brakes. A 5.6-mile ride from the Atlas District up to Petworth may cost the same as an 8.5-mile ride from Columbia Heights up to Bethesda, using the meter system. Take a cab from outside the district and you'll find your trip takes significantly less time.

There's probably still a market for an Uber service, even with this brazen attack on (what seems to me as fair) competition. But don't expect the taxi lobby to roll over in a town where it took 75 years just to introduce meters.

6
nchuhoai 1 day ago 4 replies      
First of all, I love Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. I really think that they are the future of transportation.

That being said, it's not that easy to just blame the public officials for all the chaos. It is a reasonable danger to these services, there are so many unknowns. The reason why the cab business is regulated in the first place was for public safety, so that cab drivers wouldn't just ask for exorbitant prices, take your luggage hostage etc. Remember, you are still just jumping into a stranger's car. Regulation was introduced to remedy these concerns (I'm not saying they are effective)

Airbnb shows how regulation is a reasonable concern. Once you go beyond the early adopters, there are so many things you have to deal with like insurance, liability, cleanliness etc. We can't just expect the world to change in an instant and naively believe everyone in the world does good.

7
rdl 1 day ago 2 replies      
From my reading, this also makes Uber, Inc. non-regulated by the taxi commission itself.

What I'd do as a special DC-specific hack is charge the 5x rates, but then have Uber rebate some percentage back to the user. So if the goal is to charge $15 for the ride, charge the $50 required under the law and then the taxi company pays Uber $35 in "Special fuck-DC licensing fee" and then Uber pays $35 to the user in "DC victim's compensation fund".

8
justinsb 1 day ago 2 replies      
However you feel about it, this is entirely expected. The government has chosen to regulate taxis; there's a whole bureaucracy around that; there are a bunch of providers operating within the system. Uber enters and claims the rules do not apply to it, and threatens to replace the regulated market entirely. The regulators are now faced with the choice between ending all taxi regulation, regulating Uber like a taxi, or simply excluding Uber from the market entirely. If they do nothing, they know that Uber will likely replace taxis, leaving an unregulated market. If they wanted an unregulated market, they wouldn't have regulated it in the first place.

When your business is based around regulatory arbitrage, you have to know that you will only enjoy that advantage for a limited window.

9
saurik 23 hours ago 0 replies      
A ton of people in this conversation are making a ton of assumptions about the reasons for taxi medallions and the effects that they have on the ecosystem and marketplace. Given that I doubt any of us run cab companies, this seems silly: more homework is needed. ;P

It seems like there is a a whitepaper that, in three parts, went into some detail on the situation in NYC, examining the causes and pulling apart the proposed solutions, for various of the complaints people have about the system.

http://www.schallerconsult.com/taxi/taxi1.htm "Factors of Production in a Regulated Industry: New York Taxi Drivers and the Price for Better Service"

http://www.schallerconsult.com/taxi/taxi2.htm "Villain or Bogeyman? New York's Taxi Medallion System"

http://www.schallerconsult.com/taxi/taxi3.htm "Fixing New York City Taxi Service"

10
dantheman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Standard government corruption and central planning. Why do we need the government to manage taxis? Self driving cars are going to further destroy this industry.
11
paulsutter 22 hours ago 0 replies      
What can we do to help? Something concrete, I'm at a loss, ideas appreciated. Bitching about it here is just preaching to the converted. Maybe someone from über can make suggestions?

I love using über. I like to be able to relax at the table finishing my coffee as I wait for the car to arrive. I hate standing on the side of the street in the rain with my hand in the air wondering when a cab will show up. I hate paying for a driver of a pre-ubercab car service to wait outside for four hours while I have a drink with friends. Uber eliminates all this crap.

I'd like to help, love to hear a constructive suggestion on what I can do.

12
guynamedloren 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Can someone please explain why government intervention is necessary here, or how any of this proposed legislature is even legal? When new competitors are forced to set prices to 5x the incumbents, who is winning? How does that benefit the customers? I thought the government was supposed to serve the people, not dying taxi companies that refuse to innovate...
13
malandrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
What they can try to solve this if it passes is to give forward credit to future rides.

e.g. if a ride costs $7 dollars, charge the user $15 and give them an $8 discount off the next ride. This gives users an incentive to use Uber again and again since they will always have credit with Uber.

If a user consistently uses less than $15, do something where they get entire rides "comped". You can't charge less than $15, but I bet this law has a loophole for "free rides" because no charging is involved.

Either way, some creative thinking with payments + loyalty benefits should help them get around this if this law eventually passes.

14
joshu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Competition between brokers and reputation systems thereof replace the need for certification/regulation by the government.

This behavior by the govt is pressure exerted by the desire for homeostasis of control. Shameful.

15
untog 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not surprised that this has happened- vested interests are hardly something new in government lobbying. But I am amazed at how brazen it is- even calling it the "Uber Amendment". I suspect that they will get a rude awakening of the new realities of open government soon enough.
16
esonderegger 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like the Council tabled the matter until november.

https://twitter.com/SegravesWTOP/status/222696651620483072

Does anyone know if this means Uber gets to operate Uber X in the meantime?

17
noarchy 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As we speak, Chicago taxi drivers are protesting the fact that fares haven't gone up in seven years, while their expenses have.

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/13500/the_7-year_itch_...

That's right, they can't even set their own fares. Taxis are regulated to astonishing degrees. I don't know why they aren't simply brought on as full-fledged government employees in many of these cities. They'd almost certainly be getting paid better.

18
greghinch 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When I lived in LA, I heard many times that the taxis there were run by the Russian mob. I wonder how Uber will fare against them. Russian gangsters arent really a group I'd want to be the one to "disrupt"
19
DigitalSea 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait, wait just a minute. I thought a free market meant you were free to charge what you wanted? /sarcasm. This is ridiculous on so many levels, sounds like Uber needs to fight back and do a little lobbying of their own. The real issue here is that Uber has proven to be both cheaper, faster and more reliable than any NYC taxi service let alone any taxi service anywhere in the world. Perhaps instead of lobbying maybe these taxi super-lobbyists should be lobbying their own companies to pick up their acts. Then perhaps they wouldn't feel the need to resort to dirty tactics as opposed to doing what they should be doing like most people in business do when they feel threatened by a competitor: undercut the competitors offering.

Sounds like they've got plenty of cash to lobby that could be better spent improving NYC taxi services.

20
andrewpi 1 day ago 0 replies      
DC's taxis are really the worst, so it's not surprising that they are fighting back so hard to kill a perceived threat to their monopoly. Still, I haven't used Uber much due to the high prices compared to taxis, but the new lower-priced UberX could be a real game-changer if it isn't squashed by the government.
21
gpcz 1 day ago 1 reply      
If the amendment is passed still titled as the "Uber Amendment," would the law be considered a Bill of Attainder against Uber? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_of_attainder )
22
delinka 1 day ago 0 replies      
If taxi services would keep up with technology and allow the market to make and break companies, Uber would not be able to eat their lunch. Same story, different industry.
23
grumps 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So I've scanned the article...

As a DC resident,and one who has a partner that's a social worker.

The "corruption" that is blocking your business maybe partially fueled by the taxi drivers who don't want to become unemployed. Almost all drivers fall below the poverty line and rely on social services to support them and their families.

I'm not really sure how the cab companies do with revenue and profit, but you'd probably be best off appealing to hiring the drivers to circumnavigate this issue.

24
wolframarnold 1 day ago 0 replies      
Elected officials should be ashamed of themselves. What are they going to do when Side.cr or Lyft arrives in D.C. ? Ban private car ownership?
25
robryan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this the same as New York where taxis are overpriced but the money is all flowing to the rich license holders?
26
louischatriot 20 hours ago 0 replies      
We have the same kinds of problems in Paris, where it is impossible to try to increase the number of licences (hence making the price of the licenses held by current cab drivers go down) without a city-wide strike that paralizes the city.
27
alan_cx 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Using law instead of tax dollars amounts to the exact same thing: State control and interference. Reminds me of the bad old days of socialism.
28
technotony 1 day ago 2 replies      
"First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win." M. Gandhi
29
bjornsing 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Straight out of an Ayn Rand novel... :)
30
repsilat 1 day ago 0 replies      
This only affects residents of the city of Washington D.C.
11
MPAA/RIAA lose big as US backs copyright "limitations" arstechnica.com
264 points by mtgx  2 days ago   40 comments top 6
1
rickmb 2 days ago 4 replies      
I find the notion that the SOPA protest woke up us previously apathetic Europeans somewhat insultingly US-centric.

Prior to SOPA, resistance against increasingly insane copyright legislation was considerably more widespread than it was in the US, partially triggered by events like the trial against the Pirate Bay, Sarkozy's three strikes sell-out etcetera.

There's a reason why we're the ones with the Pirate parties. We didn't need major corporations like Google campaigning to wake us up. Yeah, the defeat of SOPA was a major encouragement and inspiration, but the fight was already on.

2
ericd 2 days ago 4 replies      
I want to thank the European Parliament and its constituents for giving me back some faith that the state of the government of the world isn't monotonically degenerating into a corporate oligarchy, and ArsTechnica for consistently raising the bar on technical and technical/political reporting in a sea of mostly superficial blog reporting. What's the best way to throw money at Ars?

Edit: RE Money Throwing, never mind, there's a big orange Subscribe Now in Ars' nav.

3
fiatmoney 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, it's almost as though they're proposing limited Times for copyright, restricted to protections that actually promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.
4
DigitalSea 2 days ago 1 reply      
This couldn't have happened to nicer people. Every time the MPPA/RIAA lose big a thousand kittens die and another lobbyist pushes for another draconian copyright law over a dinner table at a $10,000 per head benefit dinner. While it might feel like we've had a few wins lately with ACTA and whatnot, this is only the beginning the stupidity of the entertainment industry will never cease, more laws will be proposed and eventually I believe one of them will get through and once we get one law it opens up the floodgates for more bad laws, don't you just love the world?
5
pvnick 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anybody deserves to lose big, it's the MPAA/RIAA.
6
jacobt 2 days ago 2 replies      
So, what are the limitations exactly?
12
If you run a contest as a startup, don't be dishonest. JPEGmini scammed me. dropbox.com
261 points by massarog  1 day ago   86 comments top 24
1
rosser 1 day ago 7 replies      
You know, I'm generally a fairly sympathetic guy. I've been screwed over enough times in my life to know how it feels, and to be able to feel for the next poor sod who gets screwed over in his turn. That said, I'm starting to get really tired of people trying to leverage HN into being their grievance du jour fixificator.

Sometimes, it's appropriate, as the people who could do something about the problem are here, or reachable quickly through here. The prospect of being shamed before the HN community is probably a very effective motivator for companies who've been engaged in hinky behavior to clean up their acts, too.

But the simple fact is, HN isn't your mommy, and it isn't the police; we aren't here to hold your hand, and we aren't here to fix your problems for you. People are coming here, crying that "someone on the internet was naughty!" over increasingly trivial bullshit like this, and I, for one, am finding it more and more a waste of time and bandwidth.

2
sequoia 1 day ago 8 replies      
They had a contest, you didn't win, he-said she-said and you post it to HN. I'm sorry you didn't win but I don't really see what the point of this post is- shaming this company for... what? Giving away a camera? Without more solid proof you should withdraw your accusations. How do I know you didn't tweet more than once?

More importantly, how did they "scam" you? Did you lose money in this transaction?

Shame on the HN community for piling on this company (which I've never heard of) based on such scant evidence.

4
zmoazeni 1 day ago 3 replies      
OP has explained his side, which is compelling. JPEGmini tweeted "You have only seen one side of the story" https://twitter.com/jpegmini/status/222433391025459200

At what point does he-said/she-said matter for a company? How much is negative publicity worth to an early startup?

1) OP is completely legit, which paints JPEGmini in a bad light. Give him a camera and let it go quietly, and get some kudos for giving out two cameras.

2) OP is not legit, which with his compelling argument will still have people thinking something is fishy. Give him a camera and let it go quietly, and get some kudos for giving out two cameras.

For $850, I think winning the kudos would be far more important than a company trying to prove somebody wrong. Sounds like pride is getting in the way here. Chalk up the the drawing as a lesson-learned and figure out a less ambiguous way to deal with the next one.

5
dasil003 1 day ago 2 replies      
My guess is the person who "won" was somehow affiliated with the company so they didn't actually have to give one away.
6
dfxm12 1 day ago 0 replies      
The other lesson here is if you are going to run a "dishonest contest", decide the winner via a "random" drawing and not something objective.
7
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish people didn't used Twitter for contests, it's not transparent and you can't audit it. You can just have a bunch of bots retweet you, or anyone can claim you delete a tweet, etc.
8
mparlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
JPEGmini is oozing with professionalism. "Save disk space with JPEGmini for Mac, tweet you savings".

I would honestly stay clear of such a company, and not just based on their scammy contests.

9
brown9-2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is the "retweet" count on the bottom of Twitter's web UI authoritative?

The company's response makes it sound like they also counted some other kind of retweet, which maybe was quoting someone's tweet instead of pressing the Retweet button.

10
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I won't offer any sympathy to people who spam their followers with companies' advertisements.
11
DarrenMills 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry this happened to you, but I don't think the power of crowd sourcing should destroy a small start-up based on what still may be a misunderstanding.

Hell, perhaps this will gain them some needed attention.

12
mrpollo 1 day ago 3 replies      
that's pretty much why i dont enter any contests online, they all seem dishonest to me
13
hullo 1 day ago 3 replies      
There's absolutely zero evidence in your post that you were "scammed". At worst they don't seem to understand their own rules, which is far from uncommon & not a "scam".
14
danvideo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I noticed something odd on the JPEGmini homepage. They have a before/after scan over, as illustration of what the product does, but in the source it looks like they are linking to images of the similar size.

Here are the files and sizes referred to in the source:

272K preview-rolands.lakis.jpg
247K preview-rolands.lakis2.jpg
248K preview-rolands.lakis2_mini.jpg
276K preview-rolands.lakis_mini.jpg

I suppose they could have just screengrabbed both images, but that seems to defeat the point...

15
corkill 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I have a feeling it has something to do with the fact that the winner has 130k+ followers and I have only 84."

Lol if you had put that at the very start of the article, not the very end would of being obvious why they screwed you/tried to get some more publicity, front page of hacker news now.

Funny thing is they sound like lame people, but there product sounds useful. So in effect your probably helping them now, much more than those 15 retweets did.

16
kkt262 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should write a blog post or something and get some SEO juice on there so when people search for them they will find out how shitty of a company they are.
17
KenCochrane 1 day ago 0 replies      
What do that say "There's no such thing as bad publicity", I guess this company is going to JPEGmini, is about to find out. They are getting way more publicity then they thought, but the wrong type.. Too bad, looks like a nice camera.
18
rwhitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sigh, if only you knew how many startup sweepstakes have no actual prize...
19
cstrat 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to the rules you were supposed to add a few words to the default tweet which you didn't...

I still think it is unfair that they weren't honest - the least they could have done was post a ladder with ranking so you could where you sat. It might have cleared the air a bit? If they say you were disqualified then you would have realised much earlier...

20
hub_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
All of this for a Nikon camera.... The cheap one.
21
ernst3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ok, how does this makes sense? The relative savings are interesting, not the absolute.

Tried the open source PackJPG ( http://www.elektronik.htw-aalen.de/packjpg/ ) I just ran on a few images. It says avrg. comp. ratio : 78.28 % . And the author answers (my) emails and didn't scam me.

/edit: ok, i don't get what their software does. It is not a new codec, so is it possible that their software is superior to imagick convert -quality 85 ? Any technical details? The whole product seems highly dubious. The PackJPG thing is "lossless" as it does can restore the original jpg.

22
alincatalin90 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guys tried to promote their product with a "fake" contest! I really hate this types of "startups"!

As somebody already wrote - use their competitors insead!

23
massarog 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you legitimately win something and then are scammed out of it you would be pretty upset too. It's no longer about the camera for me though, I'll never get it. It is more about the integrity of the company.
24
TheAmazingIdiot 1 day ago 1 reply      
Massarog: People regularly shit on me. So what you didn't get a camera for a tweet. Leave it alone and go find something more important to do with your time.

CublicleNinja: No, I do not. It's a damned contest. He lost. A guy who runs his own advertising company can easily afford a camera. Note I am not running around wising his pain.

13
What Powers Instagram: Hundreds of Instances, Dozens of Technologies instagram-engineering.tumblr.com
262 points by zio99  14 hours ago   65 comments top 10
1
timaelliott 12 hours ago 2 replies      
> For our geo-search API, we used PostgreSQL for many months, but once our Media entries were sharded, moved over to using Apache Solr. It has a simple JSON interface, so as far as our application is concerned, it's just another API to consume.

Does anyone have particular insight to share on this? Last I checked, Solr's geospatial searching methods are rather inefficient -- haversine across all documents, bounding boxes that rely on haversine and Solr4 was looking into geohashes (better but have some serious edge-case problems where they fall apart).

Meanwhile PostgreSQL offers r-tree indexing for spatial queries and is blazing fast.

Am I missing some hidden power about Solr's geospatial lookups that make it faster/better than an r-tree implementation?

2
japhyr 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I love that companies like Instagram are happy to share this kind of information. I don't have the problem of scaling yet, but it's reassuring to know that when I do, there are good models like this one to follow.
3
alpb 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a fairly old blog post and it is posted to HN by Kevin Systrom " he's co-founder of Instagram. Here's his post:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3306027 (223 points, 220 days ago) so I'd like to say this is a repost. Though, I have no idea how the same link can be reposted to HN.

4
mistercow 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure that "dozens of technologies" is a meaningless thing to say. Instagram is powered by thousands of technologies; it's just that a few dozen of those happen to have trendy buzzwords attached.
5
yumraj 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't see Amazon SimpleDB in this list, rather Postgres and Redis.

Can someone who knows more about various DBs opine on this. Is it better to run your own DB as Instagram seems to be doing or is relying on SimpleDB good enough if you don't need such high performance.

Also, as happens with many startups, how easy/difficult is data migration when startups try to scale and need to scale fast.

6
rurounijones 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Do they have any application monitoring stuff a la NewRelic? I saw stuff like munin but that isn't really the same.
7
peterwwillis 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't feel very good about the idea of DR just being duplicate servers in a different zone. You don't know what kind of problem could ripple out and affect more zones, or all of them. A completely different host/cloud/colo provider seems like a safer bet.
8
vegas 12 hours ago 1 reply      
To sum up: it's gonna fall over at any minute without a continuous injection of money.
9
dclowd9901 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Color me surprised: No NoSQL? Instagram seems to be a prime candidate for such a storage method.
10
Naushad 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Well explained, and an awesome way to say "We are hiring a DevOps"
14
The rotten heart of finance economist.com
258 points by bcn  3 days ago   141 comments top 13
1
cletus 3 days ago  replies      
I read things like this and by fixing LIBOR they're treating a symptom rather than addressing the cause.

My belief--and many seem to disagree with me on this whenever I've brought it up before--is that we erred in allowing investment banks to incorporate.

IMHO investment banks need to act like law firms: as partnerships with unlimited liability. Currently there is no incentive to not pervert the system and manage risk because:

- no one is going to jail for criminal acts committed in these financial crises (eg loan documentation fraud and illegal foreclosings in the subprime fallout);

- there is no financial incentive to act responsibly because if you go bankrupt this year last year's bonus is already banked;

- central banks have been perverted into being welfare for investment bankers as a so-called "lender of last resort". Ostensibly they are ensuring the function of the financial system. In practice they are giving investment banks an unhealthy appetite for risk. Banks and funds need to be allowed to fail; and

- governments are complicit in this.

2
Spooky23 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is why when you hear politicians bleating about de-regulation, you need to read between the lines to figure out what they are actually saying.

Conduct of markets so critical to our society need to be done in the open, in an publicly accessible exchange. Banks will not fix themselves, they need to be compelled to do so by strong regulation. For all of the hand-wringing over high-frequency trading of equities, at least you can ultimately figure out what is doing on.

Bankers used to be boring people whose primary job qualifications were looking distinguished and having the ability to follow instructions precisely. We need a regulatory environment that brings that kind of banker back to the mainstream.

3
tom_b 2 days ago 0 replies      
Benford's law strikes! I was all set to read about crazy, complex data analysis that detected this, but instead check out the abstract below:

"With an eye to providing a methodology for tracking the dynamic integrity of prices for important market indicators, in this article we use Benford second digit (SD) reference distribution to track the daily London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) over the period 2005 to 2008. This reference, known as Benford's law, is present in many naturally occurring numerical data sets as well as in several financial data sets. We find that in two recent periods, Libor rates depart significantly from the expected Benford reference distribution. This raises potential concerns relative to the unbiased nature of the signals coming from the 16 banks from which the Libor is computed and the usefulness of the Libor as a major economic indicator. "

Abrantes-Metz, R. M., Villas-Boas, S. B., & Judge, G. (2011). Tracking the Libor rate. Applied Economics Letters, 18(10), 893-899. doi:10.1080/13504851.2010.515197

4
haberman 3 days ago 3 replies      
What blows me away about this story is that, as far as I can tell, the entire financial world is built on this rate that is calculated by taking completely unverified estimates from a handful of enormous banks who have every incentive to manipulate those estimates. How on earth is such a conflict of interest allowed to parade around out in the open? And why should we have any reason to believe that there aren't other similarly absurd structural problems with the financial system? The whole thing sounds like a house of cards.
5
cs702 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Banks, as presently constituted and managed, cannot be trusted to perform any publicly important function, against the perceived interests of their staff. Today's banks represent the incarnation of profit-seeking behaviour taken to its logical limits, in which the only question asked by senior staff is not what is their duty or their responsibility, but what can they get away with."[1]

[1] http://blogs.ft.com/martin-wolf-exchange/2012/07/02/banking-...

6
lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 1 reply      
Imagine a slightly sweaty central banker dancing on stage:

  Transparency, transparency transparency, transparency ...

So much of the problems since 2008 arise because it was not known what others were borrowing or lending or from whom at what price.

The LIBOr rate is set by asking not what rates do you borrow at, but what rate would you like to borrow at!

Sorry folks, commercial confidentiality is a fig leaf too far now. Publish and be damned.

7
ntharani 3 days ago 2 replies      
I say this as an outsider to the industry, but the 'large' £290m penalty appears to be a joke and the media are either complicit or too thick to realise. Annual profits for Barclays were £5.9 billion to Q1 this year. May not be appropriate for comparison purposes, but if over a year the financial penalty Barclay's paid was the same basis as the penalty for dodging a £2 tube fare in central london - the fine for being caught would be just south of a whopping 10 pence! Simple incentive theory here. At that rate I'd dodge the fare every. single. day. The fine (reputation damage be damned as I'm not sure there is a honest broker to take my business to) is off by at least 2 orders of magnitude.
8
Confusion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Robert Reich[1] in http://robertreich.org/post/26708840314:

  And it would amount to a rip-off of almost cosmic
proportion " trillions of dollars that you and I and other
average people would otherwise have received or saved on
our lending and borrowing that have been going instead to
the bankers. It would make the other abuses of trust we've
witnessed look like child's play by comparison.

Sad to say, there's reason to believe this has been going
on, or something very much like it. This is what the
emerging scandal over “Libor” (short for “London interbank
offered rate”) is all about.

[1] Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.

9
Avitas 3 days ago 1 reply      
This long-term fraud is one of the better cases for which there are likely to be thousands of individuals who should be held criminally and financially responsible. It is clear that many financial institutions will be held responsible.

If the thousands or even perhaps tens of thousands of individuals involved are forced to pay restitution damages in addition to punitive damages, would this further the cause of justice? I am of the mindset that it will. Do the world's prosecutors and politicians have the balls and/or resources to do it?

10
lifeguard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Manipulation of the LIBOR would impact all the variable rate mortgages that are indexed to it. In California, home loans with a 0% interest rate for the first year and very low rate for next few years (negatively amortized) were very popular and pushed by Washington Mutual and other banks. But these loan's interest rates were tied to the LIBOR. A lot of foreclosures were do to these types of loans where the payment will increase 10 - 20%. How often does ones income increase 20% in a year or two?

The economist article is not exaggerating IMO.

How these banks are dealt with by our governments will illuminate the extent banks have corrupted our governments.

11
brunorsini 2 days ago 0 replies      
Public companies should just be forbidden to do speculative prop trading at all. If one does and is lucky for a couple of years, then all others need to follow suit to achieve compatible profit levels... And that gets everyone stuck in a stupid rat maze that benefits society just as much as ebola or scientology.
12
awayand 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just like any group, organization, family, company, establishment: A fish rots from the head down.
The system has to be setup in such a way, that the heads of an organization are least likely to start "rotting":
- checks and balances
- personal liability
- transparency
13
tomrod 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the outrage at this particular practice will fuel politicians?
15
What We Should Have Said To PG rocketr.com
236 points by drupeek  1 day ago   214 comments top 50
1
pg 1 day ago  replies      
"And most importantly, drive."

This advice is disastrously wrong. That's not how YC interviews work. They're interviews, not presentations. We want random access to your thoughts, not to listen to a single path through them, prepared in advance.

When people walk into the room with a predetermined pitch that they're determined to stick to, things usually end badly.

2
pkteison 1 day ago  replies      
Opening with "Rocketr is a bottom-up approach to knowledge management" - this is an entirely useless fluff sentence, tells nobody anything, doesn't provide a useful frame of reference for what's coming next... I feel like the story here is that Mr. Peek needed a harsher critic when he was practicing. It's surprising how rarely we encounter good critics in our lives, everybody is focused on supporting and validating and has little practice at really challenging, reviewing, evaluating.

I don't really see a problem with PG driving, I see a problem with not being ready to clearly and concisely differentiate. How is it different from Evernote and how is it different from Wikipedia should be completely anticipated ready-to-handle followups with great one-sentence answers that focus on the customers.

I really don't like the alternate suggested approach because I'm not willing to grant the premise. Does work get done using team based tools? Work gets done to a shocking degree with email, excel, individual text editors, powerpoint... none of which are really 'team based'. My first thought is to go with something like "We help individuals collaborate by [whatever it is this thing does]" simply because that gets me a frame of reference faster and gets to talking about the interesting part sooner. But I'm still not sure what the interesting part is... so far this sounds more like Google Wave than anything else, and that alone might be enough to pass on backing the idea, under the "will fail because it's too hard to convince people they need this" category.

3
ErrantX 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmm, my analysis (writing as I go):

- Too much "fluff"; his response sounds like a marketer not a builder

- In the opening two answers he basically contradicts his description; "co-authored notebooks" vs. "one author for a given note, and a threaded conversation around it". It's confusing.

- The alternative opening is even worse; I still have no idea what problem your solving. You just gave me a marketing pitch..

- The alternate answer for "Who needs what you're making?" is better - but immediately begs the question "how are my labels necessarily effective for both myself, and the YC alumni" and "How do you know the YC alumni don't have their own tag system which they apply as they read emails" or even "sounds handy, but how are you overcoming the convenience factor associated with email"

- Any sensible listener will realise that a) and b) are not the only choices (this is a variation on my last bullet point) and be concerned that you are limiting yourself to only those outcomes.

- It also seems risky to pitch such a personal use case on a supposition. The "problem" might already have been effectively resolved for YC's communications.

All in all it reads a lot like a business person pitching to an engineer. One that is attuned to the problems of "gloss", and is looking for disruption and good engineering rather than a glossy pitch. I get that all the time and it is off putting. It strikes me that the key problem is you possibly don't speak the same language as pg.

As with other commentators; even with the revised answers, I'm still not sure what Rocketr is beyond a note taking app with social features.

4
btilly 1 day ago 1 reply      
People say that hindsight is 20/20. No. Hindsight is speculation with the benefit of never being able to be proven wrong.

Having read this "what we should have said" article, I'm suspicious that if they had done everything differently like they suggested, that they would have still come out to the same result.

Why? Because the idea of an article with a revision tree and multiple current versions is naturally confusing to users. No matter how nice the formalism is. Until you can start to think about and present things in terms that the users can "get", you're going to have a serious UI problem that limits adoption.

And even once you have that version, you still need to be able to compare and contrast it to things that people are familiar with so you can talk to people who don't "get" it yet.

5
lambda 1 day ago 0 replies      
I stopped reading once I hit "action every idea immediately."

This entire thing drips of the kind of marketing speak that he says he ripped out because YC demands it. Did he think that YC demands it just to be arbitrary and capricious? This style of presentation turns me (and likely many others) off immediately.

The real problem is that he's trying to sell a product that solves a problem that most people don't have. People have tons of ways to write down, organize, and sort ideas. They can stick it in a wiki, in a Google doc, in email, in a bugtracker. All of these have ways of sorting and labeling content. I have seen nothing, in either you original or "what you should have said" version, that answers the question of how what you are doing is better than all of these things that people already have access to.

What problem are you trying to solve? What does your tool do that other tools don't? If you can't answer these questions in 10 minutes, nor at your leisure afterwards when writing a blog post about what you should have said, nor in all the time you spent setting up a slick website with a "sign up to try us out" form, I have to ask whether you actually have a product or are just a bunch of empty marketing.

6
debacle 1 day ago 2 replies      
While this is a good piece in theory, and provides some good HN publicity for rocketr, I'll play devil's advocate for the other side of the coin: maybe you just weren't good enough.

I'm not saying that's the case, knowing nothing about the batch that made it in ahead of you or the rocketr team, but the startup scene right now is like a track meet.

Making the YC interview is like making nationals - you're the fastest sprinter across several states, and you were born to do it. But at the nationals, so is everyone else there. You can do better than your best and still lose. That doesn't mean you're not faster than 99% percent of the population, it just means you're not the fastest, and YC is looking for the fastest.

The analogy breaks down in a few places - running is purely objective, choosing who to fund is much more subjective. YC will always make mistakes, and timing ideas is important, but I think the core takeaway is that just because you didn't make it doesn't mean you're not fundable.

7
sachingulaya 1 day ago 0 replies      
“Rocketr is a bottom-up approach to knowledge management. We connect people through their notepads. Basically, people take notes and decide how to share them. The primary mechanism by which they share them is through co-authored notebooks."

"2. I stripped out so much of the marketing jargon (a YC rule)"

No, you didn't. I couldn't understand what you were talking about. "Knowledge management" is jargon."Connecting people" is jargon.

"Rocketr is about having one author for a given note, and a threaded conversation around it."

I thought Rocketr was about "co-authored notebooks"(your words). So we co-author notebooks but not notes?

"Rocketr bridges two worlds that could not be further apart right now how we capture information (using personal tools), and how we get work done (using team-based tools). We're betting that these worlds will converge, because if they don't, it will get harder and harder for teams if they can't collaborate at the speed that information is changing around them. Oh and the medium we use to facilitate all this, is note-taking something we all know how to do."

That still doesn't tell me what Rocketr does.

"Organizations need this to drive innovation" = Marketing speak that says nothing.

I still have no clue what Rocketr does or how it works after reading your blog post. Keep it short and simple.

8
rexreed 1 day ago 0 replies      
I you have to carefully wordsmith and "spin" so that others who don't have much time for you get it, then I think you really are in a tough spot.

Forget PG for a moment. What about your customers? If THEY don't get it in a short amount of time and you have to carefully control ("drive" as you put it) the conversation just so they understand it (nevermind actually buying what you're selling), then you really are in a tough spot.

I think PG called this right - your product has to be intuitive to the point that someone understands what you have and how you compare to the rest of the universe without verbal jousting. Now, whether or not they agree or buy into the value proposition is another matter. But you got hung up on the "what are you doing and how does it relate to what I know" part.

9
olliesaunders 1 day ago 4 replies      
Reading this I find myself in the same position as PG: I know nothing about the app and trying to “get it”. The later explanations are more enlightening but I still don't get what this app does.
10
shimon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can a YC-accepted startup confirm that it's possible to drive a PG interview? In my experience we had a story and demo but these were immediately declined in favor of PG-driven questions.

I'm trying to figure out if I could have driven -- perhaps I'm just not a good enough pitchman -- or if this is just the YC interview style and rather than perfecting a story you'd be better off steeling yourself for the inevitable barrage of tough questions.

11
parfe 1 day ago 1 reply      
He thought you were making a wiki and you countered with "No no no! We're making another threaded forum!"

How does rocketr differ from the news.yc interface we're all using to comment? We're collaborating right now, are we not?

12
nl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've read both the version you told PG, and what you say you should have said a number of times and I still don't get it.

It sounds like Google Wave. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it sounds like you are having the same problem they had: explaining what the hell it does.

When I tried to explain Wave to people I said it was a combination of the ideas of Wiki, email, chat and a forum, designed to make accomplishing shared work easier. It's still not great, but I don't think it's an easy thing to communicate.

13
Udo 1 day ago 1 reply      
After reading this I have no idea what Rocketr actually is and what it really does, and from that I infer that nobody in the room understood it either.

I see a lot of statements that apparently should be prefixed with "our vision is" or "we want to" - statements of intent. I don't get the impression that the team actually knows how to build this thing.

Just out of curiosity: are product demos allowed at these meetings? If so, was it done in this case? I think sometimes all it takes is one minute of actual UI presentation to determine whether there is anything of substance behind the idea or not.

14
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
After reading that, I still have no idea what they're actually building, who would use it, or why.

"Driving" is horrible advice, too -- even in sales. The best introduction to sales is SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham; in short, "consultative" vs. "slimy used salesman", where you work with the prospect to develop needs and then show how your product addresses them.

In the 10 minute YC format, I wouldn't put more than 30 seconds into developing needs (i.e. getting buy-in that a certain problem exists and is worth solving), since I'd assume the YC people are both informed and generally biased towards accepting that problems exist. If they don't believe a problem exists, having a few great datapoints to justify your position is worthwhile ("medical transcription is a $10b/yr industry, and 0.1% of people are killed by iatrogenic errors traceable to mis-transcription every year. We want to make billions of dollars and save 50k lives per year with our direct neural interface for doctors, and we're the team to do it because we've each earned MDs and started 3 fortune 500 companies in the past 5 years...)

15
nopal 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't like the part about using people's names.

I personally don't like it when someone I don't know uses my name unnecessarily. It strikes me as odd and makes me think they're trying some psych 101 tactic on me. It's completely counterproductive because it makes meh mind jump off topic.

It's fine to show that you know someone's name (like at the end of a call), but if you wouldn't throw a friend's name into a sentence, don't inject a stranger's.

16
pclark 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why people do not just speak like humans when it comes to marketing. Succinct and explicit. It is as if people are embarrassed to speak in simple terms and feel the need to big their product up with verbosity.
17
jakeonthemove 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still don't understand what Rocketr does :-).

It's like a shared notebook, right?

I've been using the OneNote WebApp lately for collaborative work (mainly sharing ideas/notes) and while it's not perfect, it's better than Google docs IMO.

Does Rocketr do something like this?

18
dsrguru 1 day ago 1 reply      
gbattle's comment in the article is gold, possibly the single most useful thing I've ever read on making pitches. For those who didn't read it yet, gbattle provides a strict template for wording one's mission statement in a highly descriptive yet highly concise manner. The point isn't that your optimal mission statement should use the exact wording of the template, but rather that if you're unable to produce a mission statement using the exact wording of the template, either you don't understand your product well enough to bring it to market or your product has serious issues that need to be addressed immediately.
19
jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think if I'd been PG I would have said "So, it's like Google Wave?"
20
danielpal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read your whole blog post and I still don't understand what you do. My advice, when pg asked So what is Rocketr? You should have just answered the question with a straigh, no BS answer.

PG: What is twilio? Twilio is an API for developers to build apps that use SMS and Voice.

PG: What is Google? Google is a search engine.

PG: What is twitter? Twitter is a social platform were users can send small messages and others can suscribe to them, so they can read those messages.

21
Maro 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would ask how it's different than Evernote, and how it will compete with Evernote.
22
CookWithMe 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you don't want PG to drive - then why are you applying for YC?

You don't trust him to ask the right questions for HIS understanding. Judging from your blog post, you don't seem to trust his judgement in rejecting you - the only reason you came up with (in your blog) is that your pitch/answers were badly delivered. Maybe they were fine, but you have been rejected for other reasons (e.g. UVP not strong enough, market crowded with strong competition, customer segment too small, ...).

I guess the real value of getting into YC is to get great, personalized advice. (You can get great, non-personalized advice from books or blogs). For that, you need to let your advisers drive. If the need your input at a turn, they will ask you - otherwise let them go wherever they want to. You need to understand why they are driving the way they do. In the end, you can and probably will take a few different turns than them (because you [should] have more domain knowledge). But by understanding where they would want to drive, you learn a lot from them.

You may ask yourself, why PG was driving the interview the way he was. Maybe because he questions your UNIQUE VP (So what is Rocketr?), thinks there is strong competition solving this problem already (So it's like a wiki?), or that your customer segment is too small (Who needs what you're making?). Maybe because of completely different reasons.

Comparing your two answers for "Who needs what you're making?", it is the same content, but wrapped differently. While there is definitively value in making your message as clear as it can be, I think a good adviser will be able to get to the content. And then give you the same advice, no matter how the content was wrapped.

Think about it: Would you really want to take advice from someone who would reject you with the first answer, but not with the second answer? I wouldn't.

Anyway, good write-up nevertheless. I still think it is worthwhile to try to make a message as clear and easy to understand as possible.

23
drupeek 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to say that this comment thread is far beyond what we expected when publishing our post.

Our original intention was to start a discussion around honing your pitch, telling your story - and to demonstrate how costly it can be when you don't do that well. By no means do we feel that we are "there" yet, but at the time of the post, we felt there was some progress from when we had interviewed.

Interestingly, this thread has now provided us with a tremendous amount of additional value (for much less of a cost) which we intend on putting to use in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all those who took the time to read the post, sit with it for a moment, and then carefully and compassionately construct their feedback in an honest and direct way.

We genuinely appreciate it.

24
eddmc 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a suggestion for your value proposition:
Collaborative notetaking made simple.

I actually started with a more complicated sentence [Real-time collaborative editing made simple] but then I saw Helen's comment below your blog post and think she has a more concise description.

I suggest you follow this up with a way (such as a story) of how a customer uses your product. This is where you can use the phrases: notetaking, realtime, and capturing ideas.

I understand why you're trying to steer people towards "notes" and "notebooks". You might not like the fact that people are going to assume your competition is [strike]Google[/strike] Apache Wave or Wikipedia (ok - I mean wiki software) or Evernote, but you need to come up with good answers to those questions and this is where you can focus on important features that you have. It doesn't matter who you think your competition is - it matters what your customers think your competition is. Keep in mind that people are familiar with Wikipedia, and understand the idea of editing a wiki. Use this to your advantage. You need to paint the picture of how this affects them by making it real to them i.e. zero in on their pain point - they may not even know that they have it.

Hope this helps

25
sopooneo 1 day ago 2 replies      
The phrase "...the questions of an impatient (if not, widely respected) mind..." implies that Paul Graham may be neither patient nor widely respected. Also, the comma in the parenthetical is unnecessary. I have never read any of PG's code, but I've read his essays, and he would not make those mistakes.

Edit: While I stand by the above correction, my tone is obnoxious. It's a good essay and I enjoyed it and learned from it.

26
ekianjo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting story. This is something I can relate to as I have seen in a number of occasions people presenting new projects/products without being clear about the end user benefit.

There's several ways to do it, but the "classical" one is to first talk about WHO your users are, and WHAT problems or needs they are currently facing without a reliable solution. Then, you bring your product, and you need to explain HOW it will modify their condition and solve their problem. Then, explain what your users will feel, what actual or perceived benefit they will get through it.

It's the basis of Marketing: Framing, framing, framing.

27
drupeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
We actually did make mention of them later in the interview and are now running a pilot with a class at University of Toronto.
28
sgdesign 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but can't you just do a demo of your product during these interviews?
29
grout 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Rule of thumb: If any part of your pitch sounds like Microsoft marketing, you're not ready.
30
demachina 1 day ago 0 replies      
Focusing on your blog post more than your pitch, do you think it really adds value to your message to use gratuitous language like "shit the bed" and "f*cking". Dave McClure and Brad Feld have made it in to an art form but they've already made it. It doesn't add any value to your message but does distract from it. Your blog post suggests you haven't learned to carefully focus the words you use in your message for maximum positive impact.
31
macspoofing 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having read the amendment, I still don't know what the product is, or rather, how it's different from something like Evernote.
32
perfunctory 21 hours ago 0 replies      
> Organizations need this to drive innovation

The ability of a note-taking app to drive innovation is highly overrated.

33
devgutt 1 day ago 0 replies      
I´d love to hear from PG whether what the OP thinks that is better, is really better.
34
robot 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Rocketr bridges two worlds that could not be further apart right now " how we ..."

This is also an entry that is trying to sound nice to the listener. Use wording that doesn't try to look nice, only give facts straight. it will sound more pro (because shows you only care and focus on facts) also you will get a more candid discussion. (because your entry was candid in the first place, without adding an artificial tone)

One of the VCs that I talked to had the harshest comments about my presentation but his tone was so candid, it felt like he is the one that cared the most, gives the best advice, and I also thought he was a really cool person to know.

35
dangrover 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great advice. I screwed up a PG interview the same way!
36
clarky07 1 day ago 0 replies      
Still not sure if this helps me, but as others noted it sounds like Wave. If it actually is, I'd pay for it today in a heartbeat. While wave didn't reach the critical mass google wanted or needed, I suspect there are enough users that a small startup could make a few bucks with it.
37
ricardobeat 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry to interrupt this lively discussion, but I still have no idea what Rocketr is. Could somebody please explain? Is there a video, screenshots or mock-ups somewhere?
38
Tichy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if YC keeps statistics about coffee consumption. I can't imagine how much coffee I would need to make it through so many interviews.
Is there a kickstarter for a coffee machine that keeps track already? Would be a fun graph for any company...
39
dgurney 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read that entire blog post and I still have no idea what the product does...
40
mnl 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Probably you should have said what exactly does your product do, which real problems does it solve, and what is your USP. Just answer, leave 'drive' to the one with the money.
41
larrys 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like your idea and would like to know more about it. I'd consider angel investing in it (and I'm not an angel investor currently throwing money at the fan). If you are interested get in contact with me.
42
raheemm 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is one of the best post-portems of a YC interview. Thanks for being so open. And also, solid advice!
43
slyrus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your WWSHS version suffers from two major problems. First, it identifies (arguably, muddily) a pain point while offering no solution. I need a robot that does my dishes in a big way, but I doubt your startup has a product that addresses that need. Second, you're suggesting that a VC needs your product as a customer, not as an investor. What VC's really need is to make money for their limited partners (PG is perhaps an exception here, but that's beside the point). A gold-plated golf club cover that measures wind speed (oh and makes a damn good cup of coffee on the side) might be needed by a particular VC, but it says nothing about whether or not that's likely to be the basis of a reasonable investment thesis.

What you describe sounds like a big hairy problem and you haven't even begun to address how your product/offering/team are going to tackle the problem.

44
perfunctory 21 hours ago 0 replies      
no matter how you prepare your “benefits” pitch it's hard to sell a wiki.
45
engtech 1 day ago 0 replies      
has anyone used rocketr vs asana?

I've been using Asana for a 16 person team and enjoying the experience.

46
millions 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not related to the article, but you have a very solid front end designer on board. Beautiful front page.
47
orph 1 day ago 0 replies      
How is this different from Hackpad (YCW12)?
48
alttab 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Trello
49
derek1800 1 day ago 0 replies      
A great book to read in regards to this is: "Made to Stick"
50
maxcameron 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why are so many of the commentators entirely missing the point of @drupeek's article? Folks - this isn't about screenshots, whether to blog or not, grammar, or market segments. I know Andrew, and he's really not in need of most of the advice being offered to him in this post.

His point is about pitching, breaking through the noise, and controlling the frame while you have ten minutes with an type-A personality. We all need to learn how to deal with this, and Andrew's making a valuable contribution. A lot of Andrew's advice reminds me of a book called Pitch Anything - I highly recommend you read it.

The book is mostly about two things: using stories to capture and excite the most basic parts of the basic human brain, and controlling the frame of a conversation in order to make sure your story is heard by an audience which is naturally hostile. I believe anyone who's pitching deals should take a look.

In conclusion, please stop patronizing Andrew, and contribute something meaningful to the conversation.

16
Illegal Engineering timhunkin.com
230 points by bowyakka  4 days ago   48 comments top 10
1
danso 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great piece (or at least what I skimmed through). However, I think this hypothesis is not well-founded:

> I suspect the main reason for the disappearance of the craftsman criminal is simply that there are fewer and fewer people with the practical skills and confidence to even try to break into a safe. Engineering apprenticeships have been decimated, and even the old metalwork shops in schools have gone, replaced by ‘craft, design and technology', which seems to mainly involve making things of cardboard.

As he mentions later in the piece, the rewards just aren't that great. Moreover, I think surveillance technology has reached a point where getting access to the safe is harder than cracking the safe itself. And that if you have the means to bypass the surveillance, then you have the sophistication needed to bypass the safe's physical locks without traditional safe-cracking.

2
pja 4 days ago 3 replies      
Love a bit of Tim Hunkin. Anyone reading HackerNews would probably enjoy his television series from the early 90s: The Secret Life of Machines. Details, including links to download locations (bittorrent for preference I'd imagine) here: http://www.timhunkin.com/control/n_tv_index.htm
3
cafard 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the past week I have been reading _Essays Ancient and Modern_ by Bernard Knox. In the autobiographical introduction, he writes of being trained for infiltration behind German lines in WW II, including a class with a master safe cracker, then an inmate of Pentonville Prison. Knox flunked, as having insufficiently sensitive fingers, and the safe cracker advised him to stick to dynamite. As matters worked out, Knox never had the chance to practice burglary, though he saw a good deal of action.
4
killa_bee 4 days ago 3 replies      
What is the "DT" mentioned in this article? I have no prior knowledge of that acronym.
5
rdl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was shopping for safes a while ago. It's pretty amazing how bad the low-end safes (gun safes, in particular) are -- 12-16ga steel with some concrete. You can open one (destructively) with a heavy ax or sledge in a few minutes. Even when the door is something semi-acceptable (1/4" steel plate), it's often the only part, with the body of the safe being much lighter.
6
hk_kh 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the article there are some references to medieval locks.

I was impressed to see early roman (Pompeian and Herculaneum) era locks. If anyone is interested this query served me https://www.google.com/search?q=ancient+%22roman+OR+pompeian...

7
perlpimp 3 days ago 0 replies      
"In the last twenty years, the craft of safe cracking has tragically declined."

No kidding, bank accounts with proliferation of various ways money is transferred and stored - budding criminals and kids who want to play mischief - look to the internet now. Cracking safes is so quaint.

8
roryokane 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the title “Illegal Engineering”, I thought this would be about titling yourself a “Professional Engineer” in Canada and similar countries, where calling yourself that without a professional engineering license is illegal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_and_licensure_in_eng...

I don't mind reading about safe-cracking, but it's a little disappointing that the article never talks about when safe-cracking is illegal, or how specifically it relates to engineering. The title doesn't fit.

9
devopstom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hadn't previously seen this video, but it's a great insight into his slot machines. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9mkhI-KB_U
10
jedahan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else read it aloud in his voice, pauses and all. Occasionally picturing him blowing himself up while setting the charges and all that?
17
How tiny wasps cope with being smaller than amoebas discovermagazine.com
229 points by mike_esspe  4 days ago   69 comments top 12
1
cs702 4 days ago 5 replies      
Wow: with only 7,400 neurons (compared to 340,000 for the common housefly and 850,000 for honeybees), this wasp can somehow fly, search for food, find the right places to lay its eggs, etc.

That ridiculously tiny neural network is one freakingly efficient computing device!

2
colanderman 4 days ago 0 replies      
On the opposite side of things, here are some of the largest single-celled organisms:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophyophore
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caulerpa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valonia_ventricosa

3
kjhughes 4 days ago 1 reply      
I find the implied range of cell sizes to be amazing. (Informally, it's tempting to view all microscopic biological entities as being similarly small; they're not.)

Here's a cool visual of relative cell sizes and scale:

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/scale/

4
raldi 4 days ago 7 replies      
What are the major technical barriers before we can identify the input and output channels to this insect's brain and start iterating through all possible input values, recording the corresponding output values? And once we can do that, could we use that data to fly a virtual insect around a virtual world?
5
knowtheory 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, this is really just an allegory about Minimum Viable Products, right?
6
patdennis 4 days ago 0 replies      
The wings are amazing. I'd really like to see a video of one of these in flight, although I imagine that would be a difficult thing to capture.
7
dllthomas 4 days ago 0 replies      
The headline is a bit misleading, though. Amoebas seem to be just used as a reference point, where I kept expecting more salience - some adaptation of the wasp to deal specifically with the fact that it was smaller than an amoeba in particular, rather than just with the fact that it was small. Nevertheless, confusion aside, it's fascinating stuff!
8
riffraff 4 days ago 1 reply      
this is rather cool but just to nitpick "one single cell" does not always imply "small" there are a few which are visible to the naked eye (think eggs)
9
robrenaud 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how the nucleus destruction happens? Is there any analogy to regularization/sparsification in machine learning? Is there some kind of process that destroys the nucleus of the least useful neurons?
10
latch 4 days ago 2 replies      
Badly worded paragraph. I re-read it many times before I understood.

The "both" refers to the Paramecium and the amoeba. It's saying that despite having all those other organs (and neurons), the wasp is actually smaller than the single-celled amoeba and paramecium.

EDIT: Don't delete your comment. You won't be the only one with that question..it'll help others!

11
nemo1618 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, these little guys are incredible! I had no idea such complexity could evolve at that scale. I think these species deserve a mention in science classrooms.
12
Apocryphon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is that wasp truly really small? Or is that amoeba just really big?
18
Everybody Hates Firefox Updates evilbrainjono.net
221 points by krakensden  4 days ago   190 comments top 41
1
smacktoward 4 days ago  replies      
I think the takeaway from this should be slightly different than the one the author found: don't fight users' expectations of what your product is.

When Chrome came out, it was a new product; users had no expectations of "what Chrome is." So Google could do with it essentially whatever they wanted.

Firefox was in a completely different position. When Mozilla moved Firefox to rapid release, the product branded "Firefox" had been in users' hands for seven years -- nine if you count pre-1.0 versions. Over that time, users' expectations of what a product branded "Firefox" was settled into a particular place.

Rapid release was painful because it broke those expectations. Suddenly Firefox didn't behave like people expected a product labeled "Firefox" to behave anymore. It's like opening a bottle labeled "Coke" and having orange juice pour out. "But orange juice is better for you!" Yeah, but that's still not what I expect to get when I open a Coke bottle.

There's a simple way Mozilla could have avoided this: just call the rapid-release product something else. Create a new brand, and put it on a version of the browser that receives updates every six weeks. Call it Fastfox or Frequentfox or really anything other than Firefox. Then encourage users to start moving from Firefox to the new hotness. Make the new product compatible with Firefox extensions, but don't do the version-number compatibility check that Firefox does, so users aren't constantly being prompted to update working addons.

(Yes, both products are the same code under the hood. That doesn't matter. The important thing is that you communicate to users that this is a thing that is something other than Firefox, which resets their expectations.)

Eventually you'd have most users on the new product, since that's where the cool new features that get users excited would be showing up. Curmudgeons and enterprises would stay with boring old Firefox, but that's OK, because you make "Firefox" just a periodic snapshot of Frequentfox development. "Firefox" becomes a legacy brand, maintained for those who care about it. But the new brand is clearly established as the new hotness.

This lets you move your users without violating their expectations. They expect the new product to behave differently, because it's a new product. It's got a different name and everything!

Violent changes in direction for an established product, on the other hand, always tick off users, because they do violence to those users' expectations of what that product is.

It's better to send your well-loved legacy brand gracefully off into the sunset, in other words, than to try and shock new life into it with electric paddles.

2
mbrubeck 4 days ago 3 replies      
Hey pg (or other moderators), it would be nice if you could unban jono_x who is the author of this post and signed up to respond to comments: http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=jono_x

(For now, you can read them if you set "showdead" in your HN profile.)

3
dredmorbius 4 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of agreement. Some disagreements.

Yes, frequent updates, especially those that break plugins, suck massively. Each update is a huge leap of dread into the "well, what's going to break this time" sea.

The biggest single fault I've got with Firerfox (running FF13) isn't updates, it's memory usage. It still leaks massively, and pretty much requires a daily restart. State preservation is good enough that this doesn't matter a whole lot, but the change I'd like to see is one in which a small handful of tabs (I may easily run over 100) are considered "current and active" (foreground, pinned apps), and the rest function more as a stateful bookmark. Which, given that on crash recovery I tend to leave tabs unrefreshed until I actually open them, they largely are.

State-tracking in browsers really sucks. I've begun using the vimperator plugin, and it does a hugely awesome job of helping with this, mostly in the close/undo mode that handles history, and in being able to do partial matches and tab-completion (based on history and bookmarks) when opening new tabs / navigating to a page.

Chrome isn't all that hot. It's fast, it offers a different broken memory model (groups of tabs run in isolated processes, but consume much more memory on a per-tab basis), and it plays well with Google's own Web properties.

But it lacks the extension flexibility Firefox has (especially UI tweaks such as Vimperator, Tree-style Tabs / Tabkit (sadly incompatible with recent releases), and Remove it Permanently) which I find highly useful,

As for updates: call it old age, call it maturity, but I prefer things not change, especially UIs. Much of the greatest frustration and outcry on Linux has been over desktop UI metaphors (GNOME and KDE especially), and Microsoft is rapidly heading into the same fray. As much as I dislike actually using the Mac interface, I have to admit that Apple have kept it highly consistent for the 11 years of OS X. Yes, we can eventually get over it, but big changes should happen very infrequently, and then be left alone for a goodly while. If you need a sandpit to play in, fork a conceptual project, and realize that your userbase for this will be very different from the mainstream, though it may provide some valuable insights.

Frequently interrupting my workflow really, really, really sucks, more than you can possibly imagine. It's one of the joys of running on Debian GNU/Linux -- so long as you're on stable, big changes are infrequent and small changes are all but invisible. Best of both worlds.

IF you are going to rely on a plugin architecture, THEN get the damned baseline worked out and keep it stable. Screwing with APIs pains everyone. It screws your users and your developer community.

I'm becoming of the opinion that we want a bifurcation of the browser. There's an app platform, for Web 2.0 stuff, where it's really necessary. And there's something closer to ePub / Readability / Readability Redux / Instapaper, which presents deep textual content in a format that's both device-appropriate and highly nondistracting. When I find myself using Chrome with the Developer Tools window open, editing page and style elements as I go, something is very, very wrong with the Web.

4
breadbox 4 days ago 4 replies      
The takeaway quote:

"After years of aspiring to improve software usability, I've come to the extremely humbling realization that the single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often!"

I wish I could ink this command onto the right hand of programmers (and program managers) everywhere.

5
Legion 4 days ago 0 replies      
What killed Firefox for me wasn't just the plugin breakage on updates, but the unnecessary plugin breakage.

For most of my broken plugins, the immediate solution was, "edit the XML file inside the .xpi, and update the maxVersion to include the latest version of Firefox."

Firefox 10 changed this behavior, making plugins assume to be compatible by default, unless set to a strict mode by the plugin author. But Firefox 10 released in January of this year, by which point I had long since moved to Chromium.

6
azakai 4 days ago 0 replies      
1. The download/restart takes forever and interrupts your work with a bunch of intrusive dialog boxes.

This is a valid complaint. Firefox did rapid release before it perfected the update process to be fully automatic and silent, that definitely caused some users issues. Mozilla has recognized that publicly and taken responsibility for that decision - and meanwhile fixed the update process as well as launched an extended support release version of Firefox that updates far less frequently.

2. The update may break stuff that you counted on, either by removing features you were using, or by breaking compatibility with other software you use. Maybe the developers never tested your use case, or worse - they tested for it but decdided it didn't matter because only 2% of users used it. Tough luck to you if you're one of those 2%.

This point is ironic - because the claim is that users are switching to Chrome, which is the inventor of the 6-week update process. Chrome's 6-week updates can break websites or features that you rely on (I heard devs complain about breakage in the plugin interfaces for examples), just like Firefox's 6-week updates can.

When you update software every 6 weeks, and you make those updates real updates (not small security updates), then you risk breaking stuff for users. If you don't like that, you can't use either Chrome or Firefox. You might prefer IE, Safari and Opera which are slower-updating (there is also the Firefox extended support release as mentioned before).

So yes, the Firefox implementation of rapid release did not begin 100% smoothly, issues were admitted and worked on. But if you argue against the principle of rapid release, then you can't say in the same breath that users are leaving one rapid release browser (Firefox) for another (Chrome).

Side note, there is definite anecdotal evidence for users leaving Firefox for Chrome over rapid release. But there is also anecdotal evidence of users moving in other directions. Looking at the browser market share statistics, Firefox has declined a little and stabilized, with most of the previous decline coming from users of Firefox 3.6, not the modern rapid release versions. Of course the anecdotal stuff could still be right - perhaps 3.6 users move to the modern version, and some modern version people leave for another browser. But it's hard to differentiate that from people just leaving 3.6 directly (and people on modern versions being happy and staying), the data is hard to interpret.

7
larrik 4 days ago 3 replies      
"There's no UI better than one you already know, and no UI worse than one you thought you knew but now haver to relearn."

This just isn't true. In a web browser, sure, the UI barely matters. Going through the menus in Firefox or Chrome is rare, enough so that Chrome tends to look different every time I do it.

But for real programs, the UI defines the workflow, and that should be optimized, even at the expense of familiarity. Just be sure that it actually IS better.

So yes, the quoted advice should probably be considered and possibly adopted by FireFox and maybe Chrome. But desktop software shouldn't accept it without a huge dose of salt.

8
CrLf 3 days ago 0 replies      
"All software sucks. Users would be a lot happier if they had to use a lot less of it."

I think this is the single most important thing in this article and cannot be stressed enough.

Anybody that has ever had to interact with users knows this, but for developers this is very hard to believe, they choose not to see it.

Most people see software (i.e. "computers") as a tool to get some work done, or to get some entertainment. The work and the entertainment are the goal, and if it were possible to achieve it without using any software, they would do it.

Even technical-types think about software this way, not even knowing that they're doing it. Think about this: we mostly put up with complicated software and in-your-face software that's not contributing to our work or entertainment because we are learning something. Learning is just another goal that's not really the software itself. Once we notice that we aren't learning much anymore, the aforementioned software becomes a pain to use.

Or maybe it's just me...

9
chalst 4 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent article, with one quote in particular that seems to make a well-grounded, broader point:

> I have another theory, too: When software companies get to a certain size, they start taking their users for granted. They start treating their users as pawns in a battle against some other company. Faceless millions. Gotta copy everything the other company does, or risk falling behind. So they end up doing everything the other company does whether the users want it or not, and probably doing a crappy job to boot.

> In our case, we started thinking of everything in terms of the battle against Google Chrome. Oh no, Chrome is doing such-and-such; we'd better do something equivalent or we'll fall behind! We thought we needed a rapid update process like Chrome. We were jealous of their rapid update capability, which let them deploy improvements to users continuously. We had to "catch up" with Chrome's updating capability.

> Credit where it's due: the way Google handled Chrome updates was very, very smart. They recognized that updates are one of the hardest things to get right, so they solved that problem first, before releasing version 1. The first release of Chrome was little more than an empty box of a browser, but it was wrapped around an excellent updating system. This let them gradually transform that empty box into a full-featured browser, without the users ever realizing they were getting updates.

> Firefox did not do such a good job with rapid releases. I've written before about the specific mistakes we made, so I won't go into detail again. To summarize: we did the updates in a very intrusive way, requiring lots of user attention, which made people annoyed because it happened so often. When people restarted after an update to find no visible difference, they wondered what was so important about that update. (Remember the rule that the benefit of the update needs to outweigh the pain? We broke that rule.) Worse yet, we didn't do enough to preserve add-on compatibility, making the updates extremely disruptive to people who depended on certain add-ons; and we kept going with our old version-numbering scheme even though the meaning of the numbers had changed completely, leading to mass confusion.

This reminds me of certain OS races: Microsoft trying to upgrade its 16-bit, cooperative multitasking Windows 3.1, and then ditching it for a new model based on NT, while Apple flounders with the Mac OS's 6 to 9, until it finally got a reasonable architecture with OSX - leading to Microsoft floundering with Vista. But the problem here is the opposite - the difficulty in competing is the same, but the two companies were reluctant to recognise the edge the competitor's system had on theirs until it was costly to fix.

10
jpxxx 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is easy to say as someone who has never managed a product, but I feel silent self-update is table stakes for consumer-facing products at this point.

Requesting permission to update throws a significant amount of users. They're typically not capable of determining if the request is legitimate or not, they're fearful of updating things they rely on, and god help them if it's not a one-click update.

11
cheeaun 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's what I think Mozilla/Firefox should have done before starting the rapid release cycle:

1. Migrate all extensions to restartless/JetPack. Extensions for Firefox are very powerful but may sometimes break when new versions are released, which then the compatibility check feature is introduced to "solve" this. Before the rapid release cycle, I've already seen some users reluctant to update and would wait for extensions to be updated first before updating to new version of Firefox. So now with this cycle, it just annoys them further. If all extensions were done in a more standard (and simpler) extension API first, this would have reduce the impact on the upgrading process. Users don't have to worry so much if the extensions that they depend on, would break.

2. Remove 3rd-party themes and embrace the 'Personas' (simpler themes/skins). Or at least improve theme development into something more standardized like JetPack. Since the Mozilla days, theme development hasn't change much. Extensions have JetPack, but themes have nothing (Personas is entirely a different thing). The case with themes is exactly the same as extensions. I know some users wouldn't upgrade to Firefox because the theme is not updated yet. I'm not sure if anyone still install custom Firefox themes, but themes played a decent role in attracting users (from IE?) in the early days.

3. Implement Electrolysis (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis). From my observation, the real problem with Firefox is not the memory usage but its slowness. When users notice that the browser is getting slower (slow startup, slow tab-switching, slow UI response), they probably look at the number of tabs, try to find out the problem and saw that huge GBs of memory used. Firefox is now better at memory management, but the problem is still there. I'm not 100% sure about the implementation details; I'm thinking that if Firefox has Chrome-like multi-process architecture, the interface would be more responsive and memory management would be even better.

So, after this, implement rapid release cycle, enabled by default for new users/installs and prompt existing users to optionally opt in. Make the update process unobtrusive and it would be a win-win situation for everyone.

(I created one of the first 3rd-party themes for Firefox, since the Phoenix days.)

12
city41 4 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I've not seen anyone bring up in the comments here is Chrome updates just as often as Firefox does. Chrome might even update more often than Firefox does. I don't know because Chrome solved the rapid update problem exceptionally well. Chrome could update every hour and I probably wouldn't even notice, let alone care. Rapid updates in and of themselves are not the problem here.
13
samspot 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Your users do not "love" your software. Your users are temporarily tolerating your software because it's the least horrible option they have -- for now -- to meet some need."

This is the hardest lesson, and what I need to remember most. As a developer I really do like to tinker with new software (most of the time), but as a rule users do not and we had best not forget it!

I knew the firefox updates annoyed me but I had no idea they bothered the general population just as much. I actually switched to chrome because of the memory leak in firebug so I didn't have quite the same experience.

14
zobzu 4 days ago 1 reply      
So its been a few month without bashing firefox and thus its that time of the year for that again?

Except it has better memory management than any other browser now.

Except its the fastest browser on Android now.

Except the upgrading no longer break addons as they're compat by default now

Except upgrading is now silent (no dialog box, no UAC prompt, no "welcome to the new firefox tab" - yes; on windows)

Except if you need a Firefox that doesn't change version at all, you can use Firefox ESR.

Cause it's not having things fixed now that matters. Nope. Never!

15
Geee 4 days ago 1 reply      
The problem isn't about 'rapid release cycles', but about the UX design of the update process. Even before the rapid release cycles, Firefox would check for add-on updates every time it was started. Chrome's update mechanism is completely seamless and invisible and requires zero user attention.
16
ck2 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have not had an extension break since FF7 (now on FF14)

Firefox has come a long way and I as a developer I don't like how Chrome hides everything.

It's also super easy in Firefox to turn off automatic updates and only update manually when you are ready (help -> about firefox)

17
bengoodger 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be funny if people were switching to Chrome because they were tired of updates. Chrome updates _all_the_time_. Also no one gives a hoot about version numbers. I don't think people hate the updates, they hate the nagging popups. There's not really much difference between a browser notification and one of those annoying "I see you've been on my site for 23 seconds, take my survey!!!11" screens.

I wrote about this at length last year:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/105636695715347097518/posts/G9hb...

A prerequisite to a non-annoying rapid release cycle IMO is silent update. It's why we spent the time to get that part of the technology stack working first. I predict user frustration with Firefox will decrease now they've implemented this.

18
samspot 4 days ago 2 replies      
I hate firefox updates because I use it infrequently enough that I have to update just about every time I open it. Also on this list is my Playstation3, which wants me to do system update and a software title update on the rare occasion I try to use it. Makes me not even want to turn the thing on.

So, note to developers: Frequent updates drive your infrequent users crazy.

19
edanm 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a lot of analysis when the answer seems very simple and is hidden in the article: Firefox Updates weren't done as well as Chrome Updates, which is why they weren't popular.

I've been using Chrome for years (after using FF for years). With Chrome, I never realize there are updates. The idea of updating Chrome just doesn't enter into my consciousness. So the fact that they update all-the-friggin'-time doesn't matter to me - it never registers in my mind.

With FF, every update I would realize it. So even if the updates were just a popup "hey, we've updated", doing it once every two months will cause me to acknowledge their updating once every 2 months. Which I don't want to do, because I don't care, at all about Firefox updating. I just want to browse the web.

20
Tloewald 4 days ago 1 reply      
The big problem with Firefox updates for me, and this predates the rapid release BS, is that they occur when you launch Firefox, wasting your time precisely when you're in a hurry. If they just waited until you were idle and then updated in the background they'd be hugely better. (Extra points for figuring out if compatible versions of plugins are available yet first, downloading them too, etc.)
21
josteink 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who converted from Firefox to Chrome, I think this mostly sums it up pretty well. Especially the part about being community-driven and then not listening to the community.

I see others have also mentioned memory-usage and that is also a fair point. At some point, Firefox would have memory leaks so huge that it spent most of its CPU time constantly trying to GC, slowing to a complete halt.

And then, just like with the updates, you had to restart. Restarting Firefox was a pain. But somehow restarting Chrome when updates come along is not. Why is that?

My desktop is a quad-core system with hyper-threading. That's 8 logical cores for the machine if utilized correctly. By Chrome having a process-per-tab model and Firefox not, everything else being the same Chrome can reduce its startup times to 12.5% of that of Firefox. It's an order of magnitude improvement.

You don't care about restarting Chrome because it just takes one second and you are back where you started. Firefox takes almost 10. That's way beyond annoying your users.

When you are the browser spending ages doing a restart, you're not in a position to force updates on your users.

Another thing which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere, which has been broken in Firefox since the very first releases is the add-on and add-on compatibility checking. It's retarded and I cannot believe it hasn't been fixed yet.

The typical Firefox update process goes like this: 1. Firefox informs you there is an update and you need to restart. 2. You accept a restart 3. Firefox shuts down, updates, and restarts. 4. upon restart after the update has been installed, it checks if your addons are compatible. WTF?!?

Usually that works out fine, but every now and then it doesn't. And then it's too late. That's retarded.

Why on earth would you check compatibility when it is already too late to do something about it? The process should be re-ordered. Compatibility checking should be done first. Then Firefox could say "There is an update and all your add-ons are compatible. Would you like to update now?".

A simple re-ordering of things it already does would have solved one of the two biggest issues people have with the update-mechanism. Why hasn't this been done already?

I'm a Chrome convert now, but I keep coming back to Firefox to see if things have improved, because I really believe in what Firefox stands for and what it represents. Unfortunately, I keep coming back to Chrome because for me, it just feels like a better browser.

23
jbk 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Ironically, by doing rapid releases poorly, we just made Firefox look like an inferior version of Chrome. And by pushing a never-ending stream of updates on people who didn't want them, we drove a lot of those people to Chrome; exactly what we were trying to prevent.

To me, this is the most important. Usually, people prefer the original to the copy...

IMO, trying to catch up with (or just copy) Chrome all the times gives the messages to the users that they should use the original...

24
tsotha 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with everything he's written. I was a diehard Firefox fan. The plethora of releases was annoying in itself - it's a damn browser, fer chrissake. Mature technology. Removing all the buttons so it looks like Chrome isn't improvement, it's just change.

But even then I stuck with it until they managed to break it completely. Loading a page with a lot of external links would take, literally, five minutes. I tried disabling all my plugins, disabling javascript, etc, etc. No joy. Finally I gave up and downloaded Chrome.

I still use Firefox at work, but only because I'm using an OS for which there's no Chrome.

25
smsm42 4 days ago 1 reply      
Never had any problems with Firefox updates. Switched to Chrome because Firefox leaked memory like crazy and because unusable after less than a week of work. I use browser quite intensively and keep tens of tabs open at all time. Firefox seems to be unable to deal with it. I suffered for years but once Chrome got decent extensions that was it.
26
DigitalSea 3 days ago 0 replies      
The number one issue with Firefox is the fact the developers who make the changes and the people who tell the developers to make the changes do not listen. It's the same issue with the Wordpress development team as well, both open source projects being led in the wrong direction ignoring absolutely everything the community asks for.

Firefox used to be completely about open source in the sense of the meaning; change what users want changed, add in features the users want added in, but then Firefox got popular and didn't have to try as hard to impress people any more and the downward spiral continued.

I'm one of those people that switched to Chrome. I only switched about 6 months ago because I had hope that Firefox would come to their senses and fix their damn browser, but it never happened. Chrome has it down-pat in terms of backwards compatibility for plugins and themes and no memory issues.

The number one complaint I had with Firefox is the plugins I needed to do my job and keep myself entertained were being blamed for the memory issues of Firefox when it has been a known problem in Firefox for sometime. Every few releases the Mozilla team touts new memory optimisation fixes that will make the browser more stable, but the browser still feels clunky and buggy.

Fair enough the developers of Firefox addons should be doing their part in terms of proper memory management (releasing memory when not needed, etc) but seriously addons are Javascript, HTML and CSS mostly and Mozilla should have worked out a way to effectively auto manage memory even for really bad plugins. I know the Aurora channel supposedly has a fix for the bad plugin behaviour issues, but the whole poor addon memory management issue has been an issue with Firefox since the really early days (around version 1.5 I believe). For years Mozilla denied any memory issues with the browser, it wasn't until a little while ago when the market share started dropping of Firefox that they started feigning interest in the memory management issues.

27
melling 4 days ago 0 replies      
I get a Firefox update every single day because I'm on the Nightly. If people would quit complaining and embrace the rapid upgrade cycle, we can advance the web at an accelerated pace. Almost half the people on the Internet are getting an upgrade every 6 weeks. The next three years could see as much change as the last 10, for example.

Btw,yes I understand we have legacy browsers and they won't get the full experience, but when they finally do, they'll get that better browser.

28
benthumb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I'm in the minority in that I liked the updates: it was like getting a suprise gift ... but the incompatibility w/ the latest version of flash has forced me, unfortunately, to move on.

It's not even necessarily Mozilla's fault, but my other browers don't have this issue. I'm trying out Opera for the umpteenth time ... it always eventually disappoints, but I'm going to give it another go.

29
technojunkie 3 days ago 1 reply      
The top three reasons I switched to Chrome:

1. Memory bloat on Firefox. It's ridiculous that I have to restart the browser every day or more often just to get back more memory.
2. Plugin breakage. I'm sure it's better now but too little too late?
3. Separate processes for each tab and speed. Chrome FEELS faster even if it might not be, but it's amazing that if one tab crashes the whole browser doesn't.

#2 appears to be much better, but if Mozilla implements #3, then #1 won't see so bad and I would definitely consider using it again more often.

30
human_error 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm still trying to figure out why the "add-ons" you install appear in "extensions" window and what's the difference between an extension and an addon. I can search and install Firebug but can disable/remove it from extension section.
31
comex 4 days ago 1 reply      
Site seems to be down. It would be very nice if someone made a service like Mirrordot for HN.
32
its_so_on 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not me, I think it's great. For once you can run firefox, as opposed to some specific version you downloaded eons ago - the 90's model of software.
33
kraemate 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or is firefox's update system completely broken? I am using some firefox 3.x version because the software-updater never finds a new version (and i do not wish to download a new executable). This is on OSX. On ubuntu, because updates are controlled via apt, i'm again forced to use ancient firefox versions.
The last time i had a successful update was during the 1.5 days.
34
brownbat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I went back to Firefox for a bit when Ubiquity was under active development. I've never seen a new drop-in user interface add so much to my productivity...

I've never fully understood why it was shelved.

35
yaix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rapid release cicle: Good.

Changing extention APIs or UI: Bad.

36
lelele 3 days ago 1 reply      
The worst thing about Firefox updates is that... they didn't work for me. On my Debian box, I had to manually download and install each new version. That, and Firefox crashing several times a day without giving me a clue about what happened, what I could have done to fix the issue and the bug-report process always failing to submit reports, made me think that Firefox's days as a better browser had long passed. I'm a happy Opera user now. Opera's update system is integrated into Debian's.
37
gwillen 4 days ago 0 replies      
jono_x: For some reason your account appears to have been banned from the moment of creation. Nobody can see any of your comments.
38
csaba 3 days ago 0 replies      
I mostly use windows 8 now, and firefox there simply does not works! Maybe it is only on my machine, I don't know, and I don't really care anymore. I really wanted to test the new non-memory eating firefox, but if tabs are disappearing, and flickering in a weird way (some random image appears instead of the tabs), than I can't use it.
39
nwmcsween 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chrome uses courgette, now if it actually became a standalone project that could be used outside of google (you need to jump through their frankly stupid build system) I'm sure it would see adoption.
40
drucken 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is a reason many people still use Firefox 3.x and it not's just for legacy or development reasons.

I cannot stress smacktoward's astute post enough.

41
halfninety 3 days ago 1 reply      
A bug report from last year on the plugin compatibility problem:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=691336

No one ever cared.

19
Freelancing: A 6-Month Retrospective github.com
220 points by llambda  2 days ago   118 comments top 24
1
skrebbel 2 days ago 5 replies      
Guys, a question about this: reading HN, I have the feeling that in USA freelancers are a pretty common phenomenon in software. Where I work (Netherlands), all freelancers I know are working full-time 2 year projects anyway, not at all getting them the flexibility articles like these refer to. They mostly get paid more than the employees, in exchange for less job security and having to invest in education themselves.

What do US freelancers do? Are these people who make websites for local bakeries? Can you do a 20-hr a week freelance job actually coding something? And how long do employers expect such projects to last? What kind of employers look for freelancers like that?

Any personal anecdotes or whatever will be most appreciated!

2
nolok 2 days ago 12 replies      
I've always wanted to turn to freelancing, mostly because my girlfriend has visa issues and it would allow me to go live with her full time and take better care of my family, but my biggest drawback and what stopped me was that I didn't know how to start getting decent projects.

I'm a webdev, I mostly feel confident to start with PHP where I have lots of experience and worked on websites with millions uniques and things like that; and am able to setup/debug most part of the stack, but every single time I find that either I can't find any good opportunities, or people want to see "previous experience" and they don't consider what I did at my jobs as counting because it's not websites I did from top to bottom.

When I ask on various websites, people tell me to compete on the various freelancing sites but it feels like so much bullshit with all those 20$ offers getting the upper hands even if it's obvious it will fail ...

Does anybody on HN have any idea on how I can help myself in that area ? I have absolutely no design skill so I can't just do dummy websites by myself, or they would look terrible.

(for the sake of the question, please just assume I know how to do my job well and my problem is mostly image/marketing myself)

3
theoj 2 days ago 2 replies      
>> So as an example, a $100K salary, which corresponds to roughly $50 per hour working 40 hours a week, requires a freelancing rate of $56-58/hour to pay for healthcare and time off.

Cringe -- this is bad advice for setting your consulting rate. In the US, the full cost of an $100K employee is not $100K. It's $100K salary + paid vacation time + employment taxes paid by employer + healthcare + office space & pro-rated related expenses (like cleaning of said office space). This metric is called the "fully loaded cost" of an employee and ends up being 1.3x-1.5x of the salary.

But even this calculation fails to capture the flexibility advantages that your clients get from hiring short term. It ignores the fact that as a consultant you are hired only when you are needed and are 100% utilized, while a yearly employee may not be fully utilized every day of the year. Essentially, an employer that hires a full time employee agrees to "buy in bulk" and pay for time that may or may not be fully utilized. By necessity this means that your rate should be higher to account for the additional value provided plus provide cushion for those in-between project times when you are looking for work or doing proposals.

Two quick and dirty metrics I have seen for determining rate per hour are 1) yearly salary / 1000 and 2) 2x full time employee hourly rate. Both of these converge on about $100/hr. Un-official data from HN seems to confirm a median freelance rate in that range (about $90/hr):
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3420203

4
LVB 2 days ago 2 replies      
These posts are always both inspiring and wrenching for me. I'm mid-career and come from the mold where getting a good fulltime job out of college is what one does. That's simply the way it was, at least in my circles (college, family, etc), and I never considered working for myself. Fast-forward 15 years. Corporate life has actually been pretty decent to me. I've not been jerked around too much, had some opportunity to travel, and have been compensated reasonably well. My wife and I have had a comfortable life so far.

So, what's the problem? LACK OF TIME OFF. I've been stuck behind antiquated US corp vacation policies for a long time, and having had my vacation "reset" due to a job move is weighing on me a lot. 3 weeks total time off (which includes sick leave). I'm almost 40 and have a young family, and more and more I think the current PTO situation is BS. I actually don't mind working in an office 5 days a week, but I would like some more time out of the office.

So it's great to read someone achieving that, but I'm also incredibly jealous. Yes I could "just do it", but that would go against very deep and well-set views of how I need to provide for my family. I'm not able to stomach the risk (and unfamiliarity) at this point. I suspect that it will need to get worse (i.e. my job goes to shit), and that will force my hand and it could get much better.

5
bedris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Earlier this year in the Harvard Business Review, Jody and Matt Miller wrote about a phenomenon that is similar in spirit to that of freelancing hackers, which they dubbed supertemping:

"Supertemps are top managers and professionals"from lawyers to CFOs to consultants"who've been trained at top schools and companies and choose to pursue project-based careers independent of any major firm."

It is pretty interesting to see freelancing become a "first-class citizen" in the high-skilled employment world, whereas previously it wasn't widely accepted beyond a few select occupations.

URL: http://hbr.org/2012/05/the-rise-of-the-supertemp/ar/1

6
jagira 2 days ago 1 reply      
A well written introspective piece. I left my job a few months before you did (Aug '11) and have a similar experience.

Here are some of the things that I've learned -

a) Set your working hours. Try to follow them, but not religiously. Having a batch of hours as free time is much better than being occupied throughout the day even for a 4 hour gig.

b) Get a small long term (ongoing) project. Few hours every month. Use the income from this project to pay the bills and perform other chores.

c) Any conversation with a random (or known) person about your profession can turn into a lead. You need to be in sales mode more than before.

7
pacomerh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Biggest aspects from my experience:

- Follow your work times rigorously.

- Just because you own your time that doesn't mean you should spend it reading articles all day. (I personally look through HN in 1min, then save my interests into the pocket app and read them at night)

- Communicate with your clients a lot, sometimes all they need is to know how you're doing, they will appreciate it.

- BIG one, learn to automate tasks. If you code, get an application like codebox or something, stop re-coding the same stuff over and over.

- About the money, don't work for free, charge upfront percentage, the separate account thing is a good idea, I do that.

- Be an expert of your area. Basically, 'skills will set you free'

8
sneak 2 days ago 2 replies      
This guy knows what he's talking about.

He omitted the part about not having to put on pants to go to work, though. That's worth $25k/year to me, easy.

9
autarch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Without knowing what his income goals are, it's hard to know how well this would work for others. Most people can't easily charge more than $100 per hour for consulting, unless you have niche, in-demand skills, or are notably above-average in skills and you can back that up somehow (like you wrote a major FS/OSS tool that people know about).
10
zupatol 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have an idea what kind of programming jobs lend themselves best to part-time work? The author doesn't mention the kinds of projects he works on.

I'm unemployed since last week and I've been trying to find a part-time programming job for more than three months in Geneva, Switzerland. Part-time freelancing sounds great, but I have no idea where to look for clients.

11
blu3jack 2 days ago 1 reply      
Would love to hear the follow up after a couple of years. I did freelancing for six years & the benefits and drawbacks both become a lot more starkly drawn -- & somewhat different -- over time.
12
ZanderEarth32 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice look at making the move. I freelance on the side now, but I might look to do this in a couple of years if things go (or don't go) well with my next move.

Health insurance wise, we're you able to get coverage for yourself, or are you participating in a COBRA plan from your previous employer? To be honest, health insurance is probably the one thing that would keep me employed in regular salaried position. The fear of having a medical emergency and it wiping out my savings is a scary and totally realistic possibility.

13
kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally i didn't like freelancing from home all that much.. i did it for 3 years but overall you feel quite lonely sitting at home most of the day without coworkers to talk to.
Work life/private life gets really mixed up and sitting around in your undies until noon wasnt really all that exciting after a while. Be careful to not isolate yourself too much!
I love freelancing, but today i share an office with other freelancers and try to separate work/private life more clearly. Made me happier, YMMV
14
MattRogish 2 days ago 1 reply      
You know, you don't have to give up the "safety and security" of a full-time gig to have the freedom and control-your-own-schedule benefits of a freelancer. The "Results-Only Work Environment" (http://www.gorowe.com) is trying to merge the stability and benefits of a full-time job and the flexibility and freedom of freelancing.

If more gigs embraced ROWE, perhaps folks wouldn't have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Not saying that freelancing or consulting is bad, just that I think there's a viable alternative. I don't know what the future looks like, but I certainly hope the "40 hr salary work-week" goes away.

15
Alan01252 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm almost at the end of my second month freelancing (post to come soon) and find this inspiring.

My biggest struggle at the moment is what to aim for, yes working three days a week and getting similar money to what I was earning full time is great. Yet at the same time I'm not sure if this is enough for me personally. In fact when I start talking to my friends in full time jobs I kinda feel guilty!

Maybe I need some more hobbies, but at the moment the draw of earning more money by working harder is far too appealing. It seems I just can't say no to money.

16
wyclif 2 days ago 4 replies      
What specifically is he using for a healthcare plan?
17
42_huh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is it that I do not see people in India freelancing? I do not know of a single person who freelance in software development and I live in Bangalore, touted as the Silicon Valley of India.

Is it that the developers here are not good enough, or not trustworthy enough. Or is it that they are unwilling to take the plunge into the unknown. I do think there surely is an inertia factor to it. But that's true anywhere else.

Maybe I just haven't looked well enough.

18
Rodeoclash 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking to freelance in Australia (specially Melbourne) then please reach out to me at sam@dragonflylist.com - specially if you're a front-end developer or mobile developer.

We don't take a percentage of your earnings (we charge a subscription to the agencies instead) and we have WAY too many requests for positions for us to fill at the moment.

19
yen223 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any freelance jobs which aren't web-related?

I am a software engineer specializing in robotics systems, and I find it really hard to find contract work that doesn't involve Javascript/PHP/etc, let alone one that involves engineering systems.

20
shocks 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently trying to get into the freelancing gaming. This article and the comments here have been very helpful! Thanks everyone. :)
21
dsirijus 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are the best sources to get freelance jobs?
22
wqfeng 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there some online sites to get a freelance job?
23
RawData 2 days ago 2 replies      
Where do you find work? Is I just word of mouth?
24
osxwm 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does freelancing relate to consulting?
21
Google Open Sources Collaborative IDE plus.google.com
216 points by spoon16  2 days ago   51 comments top 16
1
bane 2 days ago 2 replies      
Bigger news?

After nearly 7 years, Google decided to shut down its Atlanta engineering efforts.

That's a relatively old shop to shut down. Anybody know how big it was?

2
jakubw 2 days ago 0 replies      
3
Maro 1 day ago 0 replies      
How does it compare to Cloud9 IDE or Beanstalk in terms of the collaboration functionality?

http://c9.io

http://beanstalkapp.com

4
zbowling 2 days ago 2 replies      
It uses Google Wave. Well I guess it's not totally dead.
5
maratd 2 days ago 2 replies      
Any demo sites, videos, or screen shots?
6
timkeller 2 days ago 3 replies      
/me reads features...

Awesome!

/me reads Java 7 requirement...

Sadness.

7
bpyne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty excited about the new wave of IDE's in the browser: Cloud9, Eclipse Orion, and Collide. Just having them available, with my last setup, from any computer with an internet connection and a browser makes my life easier. Collide looks like it's using one of the internet's big plusses: collaboration. Kudos and keep going.
EDIT: grammar
8
majke 2 days ago 2 replies      
Oh, they use vert.x, cool!
9
musashibaka 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was really excited to look at the new collaborative IDE, unfortunately the requested link returned a 404 error. Bummer...
10
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does this have the same mechanisms for dealing with multiple concurrent edits that Google Wave? (http://www.waveprotocol.org/whitepapers/operational-transfor...)

OT: SLOCCount reported 61k lines of Java and 1k XML. That's quite a lot of code IMO.

11
jderick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems cool, but isn't sharing a VNC with a real editor like emacs/vi better?
12
Daviey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Temporary example, showing OpenStack Nova tree.
http://collide.daviey.com/
13
ThePinion 2 days ago 1 reply      
How is this IDE vs the other (few?) IDEs that can be used "in the cloud?"
14
kellegous 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jaime Yap (donjaime_hn) wrote a Google+ post explaining more about the project: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107037260910017774154/posts/f2Rv...
15
wangweij 1 day ago 1 reply      
At least it should allow one person selecting a block of text and make it also highlighted in the other one's window?
16
heathkit 1 day ago 2 replies      
Doesn't Google only open source projects when they don't want to spend any more time working on them?
22
Introducing BitTorrent Torque bittorrent.com
213 points by Empro  4 days ago   33 comments top 11
1
nostromo 4 days ago 2 replies      
> Simply put, it allows anyone to utilize our powerful technology to create completely fresh and new experiences for users with just a couple lines of code.

Worst use of "simply put" I've seen in a while. This page actually puts it simply: http://torque.bittorrent.com/labs/

> Turns all torrents links into regular downloads. No torrents to manage. Just content.

2
runn1ng 4 days ago 2 replies      
Can you translate to me what this is about?

Is it a javascript bittorrent client? Access to local bittorrent client? Access to remote bittorrent client?

I don't want to sound ignorant, I am just confused :(

3
sltkr 4 days ago 2 replies      
> OneClick: Turn your torrent downloads into normal in-browser downloads.

This has been possible in Opera out-of-the-box for half a decade.

Apparently with Torque I have to manually install a third-party plug-in, and that plugin only works on Windows. Great progress there. It's like replacing HTML5 with Adobe Flash: from native browser support back to a proprietary plug-in.

4
CodeCube 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't know why, but I had a visceral reaction to the browser prompt to install the extension in the paddleover demo. This is despite the fact that I'm a developer, and I'm well familiar with bittorrent. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I feel like I have to be keenly aware of what my BT client is doing at any given moment. The thought of letting a BT client run unchecked in my browser is disconcerting ... am I completely off base here?
5
btown 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty awesome. I can see this technology displacing CDNs in the future... everybody is a edge node!

The plugin downloader is still a large barrier to entry, though.What I'd really like to see is a parallel protocol to BitTorrent that's basically BitTorrent over WebSockets. Consider an update to Vuze, uTorrent, Transmission, and all the other clients, that added a simple WebSocket server. Now, Alice's web browser will never be able to connect to Bob's web browser directly (at least in the foreseeable future), but they could conceivably both connect to Charlie's full client if Charlie was running this server. And the trackers would need to be updated to serve Charlie's address to Alice and Bob (or HTTP proxies to the trackers would need to be developed), but then Alice and Bob could start building the DHT in their LocalStorages. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of technical challenges, but I think this might be feasible.

6
vessenes 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is crazy, crazy good. And, it would be nice if it were javascript only; you could then get people to upgrade for better features. I wonder if packaging it for site admins rather than browser users is the right plan?
7
maxko87 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great move to make BT more mainstream and remove the boilerplate cost of installing a client, etc.
8
k33n 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like it requires a plugin. That's a shame.
9
themgt 4 days ago 1 reply      
As soon as WebRTC hits, it will be possible to do pure-JS bittorrent clients (and there's already some projects on github)

I'm not sure why they spent the time on a plugin

10
StavrosK 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, so I can create a web app that runs without a server... I can just post a link to a simple JS page that will start downloading the app and execute it in the background.

I don't see a use for this, though. It's not much different from just downloading the code and running it, although it'll be much simpler to install.

11
alainbryden 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't like that I can't see how paddleover would work without installing the plugin. I bet you're losing a lot of visitors on that page.
23
Three NSA Whistleblowers Back EFF's Lawsuit Over Government Spying Program eff.org
198 points by d0ne  2 days ago   36 comments top 7
1
btilly 2 days ago 3 replies      
Rule of thumb. If ever the government claims state secrets, they are playing their, "We did something wrong, and would like to get out of jail free" card.

I know of a number of cases where state secrets was claimed, then later it was proven that there was no actual state secret proven. (Including the very first case where state secrets were used as a defense in a court room.) I know of no cases where state secrets were claimed, and then there turned out to be an actual state secret at issue.

2
suprgeek 1 day ago 1 reply      
I sincerely commend the EFF for taking a stand to slow down the descent along the slippery slope of a 24x7x365 survelied society.

At this point however, it is probably a safe assumption:
No matter what the NSA/NRO/CIA/DOJ or anyone else says, the US gov. in one form or another is monitoring every single Phone call, E-mail, Chat, Skype and any other form of electronic communication into and out of the USA. Also the location data that your cell phone leaks pretty much makes physical surveillance superfluous.

The Technology has been too cheaply available and the temptation too great for the truth to be anything else.

What the EFF should also be doing is launching a campaign to make end-to-end encryption the default everywhere. Every e-mail you write /Chat session/Skype session should be encrypted in transport for every one. Make the cost of doing this mass-surveillance so expensive that the Govt is forced to prioritize on the actual targets.

3
ajtaylor 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish the EFF good luck with this case. They are certainly going to need it! The change in US government attitudes regarding spying on its own citizens (at least publicly) during the last 10 years is chilling to say the least.
4
sneak 2 days ago 2 replies      
If they manage to get the NSA off the backbones and repeal PATRIOT so the feds can't review my entire digital life in realtime with no warrant, I will move back to the USA.

(But of course not NYC where you are subject to illegal search just riding the subway.)

I ain't holdin' my breath. :(

5
thechut 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that this case brings new facts to lights. This stuff is too scary to be kept a secret.
6
codehotter 2 days ago 1 reply      
If they think this is necessary, then at the very least the legislative branch of government should sign this into law - just doing it is not how a democratic government is supposed to work.
7
blackaspen 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the case of "We did something illegal, but it was really effective in treating X, so we should make it legal now."
24
Preparing Yourself for Modern JavaScript Development codethinked.com
195 points by Tenhundfeld  4 days ago   69 comments top 10
1
ender7 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is a nice, gentle introduction, but if you're going to start using modules you might as well go slightly farther and use something like RequireJS (http://requirejs.org/) or Browserify (https://github.com/substack/node-browserify).
2
wickedchicken 4 days ago 3 replies      
I always find it odd that the same developers who deride PHP look at things like IIFE and think "wow, JS is a cool, modern language!"

Thanks for the article though, if I ever need to write some JS this will help keep me a little more sane.

3
Xcelerate 4 days ago 1 reply      
That was a well-written article that has a pattern that should work well for a lot of people. But I think it can be improved.

One cool fact is that Javascript has first class functions. This means you can bring a lot of development patterns from the functional realm into your web development.

There is a trend of languages moving away from the concept of mutable state. The article does a good job with the first steps (by wrapping everything in its own function scope), but Javascript lets us go further. The article seems like it attempts to shoe-horn the concepts of classes and sub-type polymorphism into a language that has better options.

4
beambot 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a Javascript developer... but that IIFE syntax strongly reminds me of LISP.

(function(){//do some work})();

5
TimJRobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of article I really needed to read 18 months ago instead of fumbling my way through it by myself.

It's amazing how few tutorials there are out there that fill in that gap between being a traditional web developer versed in .net / php and knowing the basics of javascript to being an actual javascript coder.

Most articles and tutorials around the web seem to target the beginner while most hacker news front page pieces target the advanced coder who already understands closures / prototypes etc and there seems to be very little in between.

6
pgambling 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here are a couple book recommendations for those of you looking to improve your JavaScript:

"JavaScript: The Good Parts" by Douglas Crockford
"JavaScript Patterns" by Stoyan Stefanov

7
bazzargh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be interested if one of these articles on modularity also addressed testability. For example, the IIFE pattern in the article:

(function(window, $, undefined){
//do some work
}(window, jQuery));

If instead of immediately executing this function, we kept a reference to the function, then reference it, the function can be supplied with mocks for testing.
Obviously there's an issue that you'd pollute the global namespace with this named function. So what's the best practice there?

8
aymeric 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is the difference between using the prototype technique shown in the article and this?

var Person = function (){
this.Save = function() { … };
};

var person = new Person();
person.Save();

9
SonicSoul 4 days ago 1 reply      
great post, thanks.

i also highly recommend using popular frameworks and libraries, since lots of them use the tricks mentioned in your article.

Another thing that's worth noting is the JSON Object Notation:
http://www.hunlock.com/blogs/Mastering_JSON_(_JavaScript_Obj...

very readable form of declaration.

10
MatthewPhillips 4 days ago 2 replies      
> Spy.prototype = new Person();

Don't do it that way. If the Person constructor assigns any data, for example an array, that data will be shared with all instances of Spy. Most likely you don't want that. Instead call the Person constructor within the Spy constructor:

  function Spy() {
Person.apply(this, arguments);
}

Spy.prototype = Person.prototype;
Spy.prototype.constructor = Spy;

26
Divine intervention: Google's Nexus 7 is a fantastic $200 tablet arstechnica.com
194 points by Yoms  2 days ago   150 comments top 14
1
earl 1 day ago  replies      
The nexus 7 will be sabotaged by google's crappy customer service.

I bought one at 10:37 am the morning they were available. It's 11 days later and there's no communication and no status on when it will ship. For status you are instructed to click through to google wallet. That site also has no status, no expected ship date, nothing. So that's strike one.

Second, I moved this weekend and need to update the billing address for the credit card. The google "contact support" page displays their usual FOAD customer service. You have to click through to yet another page to contact customer support. Of course, they're too incompetent to forward your 37 character order number. So after you compose a message, you realize you have to hit backspace to get the order number. And of course, they clear the message you carefully composed. These people supposedly understand web applications. How the hell does the link from inside google wallet to google customer support not know who I am and my fucking order number?

I still haven't gotten through to customer support and I anticipate spending at least 30 minutes on the phone tomorrow. I'll update, but I imagine that there's another ipad in my future.

2
phaus 2 days ago 3 replies      
Google seems to be getting all of the credit, yet the device's manufacturer, Asus, has consistently made the best Android tablets all along.

The Transformer tablets have all enjoyed an excellent build quality, great design aesthetics, and cutting edge hardware. They aren't perfect, but what tablet is?

3
crag 2 days ago 5 replies      
Google's biggest fail point is support. What happens if the device needs service?

Google did a terrible job at servicing (customer service) their phone. Trust me, an email address isn't enough. People want to call someone. And people want to take it someplace to get it fix or swapped out. The same day. A tablet/phone isn't the same as a PC. No one wants to overnight their phone for a replacement next week. ;)

4
thechut 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can anybody comment on when us regular folk will be getting our hands on the Nexus 7 if we pre-ordered it? (Other than 2-3 weeks)

Bloggers get to have all the fun...

5
monkeyfacebag 2 days ago 6 replies      
"Paired with a keyboard, the Nexus 7 could easily serve as a mobile work solution just as the iPad can."

I'd really like to believe this (and thus justify getting one), but I can't picture it. How would one prop up the screen? What keyboards are available and are they any good?

I feel like Apple has reached a local maximum with the iPad as a consumption-oriented device and I'm just waiting to see who delivers the first tablet geared towards getting things done. MS appears to be promising this with Surface, but it remains to be seen how successful they are.

To anyone on HN who has used an Android tablet for productivity purposes (writing, coding, etc), how has it gone?

6
mtgx 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author says that Chrome won't come pre-installed to JB devices if the manufacturers don't want. If that's so, that's pretty dumb. Google should force manufacturers to get Chrome together with the Play Store and Gmail. This will actually improve the situation of the web browsers on Android because Google plans on updating Chrome every 6 weeks on Android as well.

On the other hand, the developers at Google I/O said it will come pre-installed on JB, so I'm confused:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGJbPPjANKA#start=0:00;end=62...

7
mitjak 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to say, in case the author hangs out here, that I very much enjoyed her writing style. Very funny and informative.
8
Steko 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting to compare AnandTech's benchmarks:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6054/google-nexus-7-mini-revie...

9
nollidge 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The keyboard is not quite as snappy as the rest of the Nexus 7 experience. It seems to occasionally miss letters, or have to catch up after a series of letters are typed, especially right after waking.

Sorry, that's unacceptable. Small UI hiccups are death by a thousand pinpricks, in my view.

On a related note, I think people vastly underestimate how much UI responsiveness is responsible for Apple's continued success.

10
lloeki 1 day ago 1 reply      
> At 216 pixels per inch, it's no The New iPad™, but the density is close to the recently-released retina MacBook Pro.

Okay Ars author, while the Nexus 7 screen looks fantastic, I don't know what you were thinking as this sentence above doesn't make any sense. There's no point in comparing a tablet's DPI to a laptop's DPI†, especially in that way. It makes it sound like one is really wanting the thing to be Retina when it is not, and that actually detracts from the fact that it looks like a great screen nonetheless.

†The closer I use my laptop is (give or take a few inches) the farther I use my tablet.

11
espeed 2 days ago 5 replies      
Unless Google has a magic PDF reader, reading PDFs on it is going to suck. Other than that, I think the 7 pads work.
12
ableal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Discretely tucked away near the end of page 4 (emphasis mine):

"Unlike iOS and previous versions of Android, Jelly Bean's speech recognition system doesn't have to relay snapshots of the user's recorded speech input to a remote server for processing. Speech recognition can now be done entirely on the device."

13
krsunny 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Selling hardware cheap"in hopes that more money can be made elsewhere"is not a new game." This has been my thought all along regarding this tablet. I wonder if it actually cost Google more than $200 to build.
14
tomhschmidt 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why are they running benchmarks on a tablet?
27
Trello is now half million strong trello.com
190 points by Brajeshwar  1 day ago   65 comments top 19
1
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love Trello and am a huge fan. I'm finding that I don't use it as much as I thought I would, though.

The missing feature for me is the ability to share a column between boards. This would let me work with other people. Work is hierarchical. I make big decisions and then those big decisions get split up and consumed by other folks. I can't have everybody controlling boards at every level. So when I drop "clean room" to my "Stuff my son is handling" column, I don't care or know how he breaks that up and does it. All I care about is that once he's broken up that work and completed all of it that he passes the card to my "done" column. I create and track the task at a high level. He does the same at a lower level. My big task breaks up into a bunch of small tasks for him. The same kind of scenario plays out in lots of things: refurbishing a house, planning for a summer vacation, tending to landscaping around the house, and so on.

Everything can't be flat. There has to be some kind of hierarchical structure. Having one column appear in multiple boards would allow that to happen. Might be some other solutions. Don't know. You could get into some kind of parent-child thing, but that's butt-ugly. I think just letting one column exist on multiple boards would solve the problem without creating a complexity problem.

That's the one thing preventing me from active use. If they could fix that, and somehow figure out the hosting/privacy issues many companies have, it'd be a perfect app. Keep up the awesome work, guys!

2
lubos 1 day ago 4 replies      
The title is misleading. Signups are not really what matters. I wonder how many users actually log in at least once a week.

I have Trello account and tried to use it when it launched but eventually I reverted back to my good old pad and pen once again.

3
AndrewO 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love Trello. I've been using it to plan my wedding. At first my fiancee was worried that it would add too much overhead. (She was never overly concerned that it was spectacularly nerdy to be using a software project planning suite"and that's a sign I found a keeper.) It's really shined with the guest selection/invitation process.

We created a couple of lists to group and sort guests into Definite, Good to Have, and Maybe lists and used labels to relations to whoever wanted them, which really helped with the friends and extended family that the other didn't know. We used checkboxes to track addresses that we were waiting on, who's save-the-dates have gone out, etc. I've used the API to total up people for the headcount (since cards we often for "Jack & Jill Smith"). If we were doing assigned seating, we'd probably make lists for each table and move the cards around. Thankfully, we decided to go for heavy hors d'oeuvres.

The thing's versatile: very few things feel like they're driven by the project planning domain (e.g. voting for cards). I'd love to see some kind of ability to embed scripts and save some checklists as templates that I could apply to cards with one or two clicks, but the API access suites my needs right now (and I know some people are using Greasemonkey scripts).

4
bonaldi 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think Trello is fantastic. It's a game-changer for development and project management, even if you use it solo. My only problem is I can't use it at work due to our privacy and regulatory requirements.

Fog Creek: A version we can host ourselves, please! We would pay fogbugz-levels if not more.

5
qeorge 1 day ago 0 replies      
We implemented Trello, along with daily working/billing about a month ago, and I don't think we'll ever go back. Working on one project per day instead of trying to do 100 things at once cut my stress in half and doubled my productivity.

Trello makes it easy to see what's getting done by whom, and who is available to work on the next item coming down the pipe. Client work gets done faster, and we have more time for internal projects. We have one board for invoices, one for leads, and one for projects. Its a great system.

So, we owe a huge thanks to the folks at Fog Creek, and I can't understand why we can't pay them. But also to Ryan Carson and Thomas Ptacek, for their strong recommendations of Trello[1] and daily billing[2], respectively.

[1] http://ryancarson.com/post/24884883426/how-i-manage-40-peopl...
[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4101802

6
bane 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really love Trello, I think I could use it in so many facets of my life...but the nonstatements on its future (is it going to be monetized? is it even going to be around in six months? etc.) make me hesitant to really commit to it.
7
pgambling 1 day ago 3 replies      
I started playing with Trello a week ago. It's beautiful and I see huge potential using it for my daily todo list. One thing I really want is a dead simple way to add new items to an "Inbox" list, which I sort later. (Thinking GTD)

An Android home screen widget and maybe a Chrome extension for this would rock. This is how I currently use Remember The Milk on my phone because you can specify a default list for all new items.

Is something like this in the works? If not, looks like I should be able to cobble something together using the Trello API.

8
nmridul 1 day ago 1 reply      
The problem with closed source and hosted options like Trello (even if free) is that couple of years later the company could close down the product. You have seen it with Google and Google is even larger and more reputed than Fogcreek. And the reason you always hear is that they want to focus on core areas.

You will now be left with an XML dump of you data (if the provider even gives you access to your data) and the burden to code a half decent alternative for you to use the data.

That is why I would normally prefer services that has their code open sourced like teambox. It gives you the comfort that if you can get hold of your data, you could run with it from the very next day since you have all the tools already with you.
https://github.com/teambox/teambox

9
marquis 1 day ago 0 replies      
We just tried this out for hiring and it worked amazingly, we could all see at a glance who the obvious candidates were and kept a nice collection of votes for us so we didn't have to send out an annoying email every day.
10
mey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Trello on a semi-regular basis, for what may be a unique thing. Use it on a monitor for a D&D initiative board. It's great for shared viewing, shared editing of sequence. It's scale-able for display on external monitors, and easily color coded.

Not it's intended use, but it's been a great improvement over a small whiteboard and magnets.

11
danielweber 1 day ago 0 replies      
Read the whole thing without being told what Trello was. I have no idea. It could be a porn-site for all I could tell.
12
devindotcom 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been pumped about this since I first saw them at Disrupt. I wasn't able to get TC signed up, but maybe I can get MSNBC...
13
loceng 1 day ago 0 replies      
If Trello implemented what DanielBMarkham said (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4219109) and what pgambling said (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4219092) then I would start using immediately for my day-to-day task management, and people I hire would be using it then too.
14
K2h 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use Trello on the side for project planning and was looking just the other day for a way to pay fog creek for Trello

(1) just so I can say I've paid them and have some minor commitment to maintaining my data and account

(2) and because I think it is a great product that I'm happy to part with a few bucks as a way of saying thank you.

15
samspot 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks like a tool I love called AgileZen Has anyone who has used both got an opinion?
16
didip 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just signed up to trello not too long ago.

It's hard for me to differentiate it from PT. is there any killer features that stands out? It looks as cluttered as PT.

17
tastive 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the great product, guys.

I use Trello to keep track of my work tasks, personal tasks, and game dev tasks. It's heavenly.

18
rshlo 20 hours ago 2 replies      
What languages is Trello based upon?
19
eragnew 1 day ago 0 replies      
congrats! i've been meaning to try this out
30
So, That's It For Thunderbird techcrunch.com
186 points by hornokplease  4 days ago   190 comments top 28
1
ChrisNorstrom 4 days ago 6 replies      
I've been a HEAVY user of Thunderbird for 8 years now and I am very saddened by this decision but I do support it. :(

One part of me saw this while reading the letter: "Google Chrome is whooping our FireFox browser's ass and we need all men at their battle stations, including people from the Thunderbird team. We've been neglecting Thunderbird for so long that it's not like anyone's going to notice. After all, it took us 10 years to get Sunbird (Mozilla's Standalone Calendar Client) to version 1.0."

And the other part of me saw this while reading the letter: "The era of desktop software is coming to an end. Most people have smart phones, multiple computers, and use web-mail to keep it all in sync and accessible across all of their devices. Desktop email client users make up a small percentage of users and there's no reason for us to keep spending money and resources on something that will one day be emulated by a web interface."

=== Things Wrong With Thunderbird That Will Probably Never Get Fixed (too expensive / not worth it) ===

- The biggest problem with Thunderbird is that it tries to be a bare-bones email client with poorly integrated functionality in the form of third party add-ons. What really makes email clients shine is when a lot of usable features are tightly integrated with a very intuitive and snappy interface. Thunderbird out of the box comes with so few features that it can't compete well with web mail and when you do add on much needed features, they just get generically "bolted on" to the interface. Sometimes in ways that just seem unintuitive and backwards. And every time you update Thunderbird, ALL of your add-ons are rendered useless and you have to wait days/weeks/indefinitely for the addon to be updated. This is the biggest downfall of Thunderbird in my eyes. You'd have to redesign Thunderbird and that isn't happening, it isn't worth it.

- By default Thunderbird tries to send all my outgoing mail through 1 smtp account. This alone causes so many problems. Each email account should send emails from its own stmp. Not doing so can mark your "from" field incorrectly (has happened to me many times), trigger red flags (happened to me before) and make other email clients mark your email as "Gmail thinks this message is a scam".

- The SPAM filter in Thunderbird is A.W.F.U.L. Let me repeat that A-W-F-U-L. Despite training it for years it routinely misses the same spam, with the same title, and the same content, while sometimes marking very important emails as junk.

- The time and date selector for Lightning is just atrocious to the point where I hate having to use it. It FORCES me to set everything in military time and makes date selection more cumbersome than it needs to be.

- The tasks todo list for Lightning has never worked for me. Never.

- Thunderbird is stuck to one device (desktop). Technically you can have Thunderbird across a lot of computers by using IMAP instead of POP3 but that slows down and cancels out a lot of your speed benefits.

=== Why Mozilla Should Fix Them ===

- Originally I had typed up a HUGE list of things that desktop email clients can do that web mail clients cannot. Upon further inspection I found that a LOT of those features, everything from multiple accounts being displayed in one stream and searching across multiple accounts is now available in gmail.

- Email Clients allow me to have full control over my email inboxes and contacts without having to feed them into gmail.

- Email Clients give me a lot of options in how I can display, index, read, and write email.

- Email Clients allow me to search emails and contacts from across ALL my email accounts (gmail currently has a limit of 5 accounts).

- Email Clients allow you instant one click access to all your email accounts with powerful and expandable features, an intuitive and lightning fast interface, and god-like control over massive amounts of email accounts. For business people, entrepreneurs, assistants, community organizers, and domain owners email clients are a necessity.

- The same way power-users like using Seesmic for twitter and facebook, and people like downloading and using native apps over web based ones, the speed and control of software is what's keeping me with Email Clients at the moment.

- As soon as you have more than 5 email accounts to manage on a daily basis, the speed of an Email Client wins out. Gmail only allows 5 multiple accounts to be imported into your stream.

=== Why Mozilla Will NOT Fix Them And Instead Leave Thunderbird ===

- Everything I mentioned above is slowly getting emulated by web mail. At the moment gmail is the winner when it comes to email client emulation but in a few years I can see an elegant php+mysql web based email client that not only does exactly what Thunderbird does, but does it across all your devices. And without breaking all your addons after every update.

TLDR: The end is near for Outlook + Thunderbird + Mail + Evolution + The Others...

2
Silhouette 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not sure why this is a problem, really. E-mail is e-mail, and the great thing about it is that it's been e-mail for years and it will still be e-mail in many years' time.

Thunderbird is a decent native e-mail client. It does its job well enough already. IME, it's been stable and robust for a while now. Lightning is fine for basic calendar needs these days, too. Mozilla have hardly done anything significant to this whole area for a long time anyway, and short of some new protocol being developed or something like signed/encrypted mail becoming the norm, I don't see that the tools require a lot of ongoing development either.

I'd be far more interested in improvements to Firefox or, if we're talking about messaging, in having some kind of lightweight Exchange replacement with the same kind of ease-of-use so I don't have to configure a million text files on a Linux box to get a basic mail/calendar/contacts store set up. Personally, I trust the likes of Google (or any other data-driven/ad-funded freebie service) about as far as I can throw them, and they'll host my e-mail when they pry the keyboard from my cold, dead hands. :-)

3
StavrosK 4 days ago  replies      
I just noticed today that Thunderbird was using 300 MB of my RAM, and was surprised at how bloated it had gotten. I was going to blog about how my 2012 computer feels as snappy as my 2002 computer because of these sorts of things, but I didn't get around to it.

There must be a good case to be made about light, responsive software. From the other posters here, I take it there's no light alternative to Thunderbird, and I'll keep using it, but 300 MB of RAM for an email client is a bit ridiculous.

4
recoiledsnake 4 days ago 3 replies      
Thunderbird is(was?) pretty good for what it did and was a good competitor for Outlook about 5 or 6 years ago, but the POP and IMAP protocols and the servers that implemented them were no good and never came up to the level of Exchange.

Thunderbird simply didn't have the other half of the equation, Exchange clones failed to live up to their promise and Thunderbird floundered with the introduction of Gmail.

With a powerful Exchange replacement on the server side, it could've flourished as the client of choice.

Not to mention that Thunderbird did not have a source of revenue like Firefox did.

5
dredmorbius 4 days ago 1 reply      
Long live mutt :)

In the "who's the user, whose the product" dynamic, I'm a bit confused over what's what in the Mozilla empire. And while no, I wasn't a user, Thunderbird's among the better and more complete email clients out there, I don't see this as a good thing.

6
codesuela 4 days ago 6 replies      
Ihmo there isn't so much left to innovate in an email client and Thunderbird is already a solid client so personally this message won't deter me from using it
7
mrich 4 days ago 1 reply      
Funny, after a couple years of webmail I have just installed Thunderbird again today since I wanted to have more powerful features. I was positively surprised that it had improved quite bit.
8
jcurbo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad really, but probably coming for a while now. I use Tbird on Windows (and Mail.app on OS X) with my email hosted at pobox.com. I have a gmail account but I've never been a fan of webmail at all.

I miss Eudora :( Now that was a simple, fast, clean email client.

9
ecaron 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is rather interesting, given that Mozilla had recently adopted the lead developer from the Mozilla-based IM client Instantbird to incorporate chat into TB15. Knowing the software is deadpooled, I wonder in hindsight if that was a last-ditch effort to stay relevant or if that effort helped highlight the inevitable decline/futility of desktop-based email.
10
wslh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Our article about exporting e-mails from Thunderbird to Outlook has been one of the most successful blog posts since 2009: http://blog.nektra.com/main/2009/04/14/export-messages-and-f...

What triggered the article was the unresponsiveness from the Thunderbird team about ugly bugs we reported and they removed!

11
ABS 4 days ago 2 replies      
someone please explain to the author what Open Source means and why Mozilla pulling their own people off an Open source project doesn't prevent that project from continuing
12
lifeguard 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's fine, Thunderbird is complete. Great features like labels, filters, and tabs.

As an added bonus of FOSS, the code base can be forked into a new project and continued by those who are interested.

13
beagle3 3 days ago 0 replies      
The thing that has kept me with thunderbird are the AdBlockPlus and VirtualIdentity plugin. Does mail.app / opera mail / any other Linux client have something comparable?

(Virtual Identity is a godsend when you have a domain; it lets you set up identities on the fly while writing an email, and manages them beautifully and helpfully for you)

14
ww520 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a good web-based email client? Like a html/javascript email client that can talk POP3 & SMTP or IMAP. It's like a Thunderbird on the web.

Note I don't mean Gmail/YahooMail/Hotmail. Just a web-based email client that can talk to multiple accounts using standard protocols. Some light server storage support for buffering the POP3 mails would be great.

15
corford 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well that sucks :(

I've used Thunderbird exclusively for all of my IMAP accounts (8 of them) for years. I cache all my mail locally so I can get to it with or without an internet connection and if I'm on the road and haven't got my laptop with me, I can still get to all my mail via a web interface. It's the perfect setup.

I will be a very unhappy bunny if Thunderbird dies on the vine and all I'm left with is Outlook or Windows Mail (neither of which have decent IMAP support).

Damn you Mozilla!

16
TimJRobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
So what do you guys use for managing multiple email accounts well? I love gmail.com but it still doesn't have an easy way to add multiple accounts to the same interface so I'm stuck with the problem of constantly switching between 3 google accounts just to read my email.

I used thunderbird for a while but it doesn't show or work with conversation threads as well as gmail and it's search functionality is terrible (I always had to open up gmail to find old email)

17
larrys 4 days ago 0 replies      
Highly recommend this and one reason I'd be super upset if Thunderbird ever vanishes:

http://extensions.hesslow.se/extension/4/Quicktext/

Allows you to do all sorts of templating within emails. A huge time saver. Great for customer service any any type of standard replies.

(Anyone know of any other way to do this should TB ever vanish? Can you write extensions for other email clients?)

18
madrona 4 days ago 12 replies      
Bah. What's a good alternative native email reader?
19
jvdh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this will open up some breathing space for serious open-source mail client alternatives.
I'm hoping for a revival of Letters.app (https://github.com/ccgus/letters)
20
damian2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
Damn. I just finished importing 18,922 messages from my old email app (the dire windows mail). I've been running Thunderbird (Portable Apps edition) for the past week... it's been excellent so far.
21
mosburger 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure Postbox (http://www.postbox-inc.com/) is based on Thunderbird's source, no? I wonder that this means for them?
22
nyar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad, all the Thunderbird features they've been implementing have been really positive. I can't say the same for Firefox...

Last time I tried the nightlies Thunderbird was coming together as a great "Messaging" client - with IM, IRC, Facebook, GTalk support, filelink for sending big files with dropbox.

It's just too bad, I don't find any of the new features in Firefox nearly as exciting as those. Without addons it is still set up and functions pretty much like phoenix does the way I have it configured. I never liked insert tab after current - which is copied from chrome, never liked tab previews which slow down ctrl+tabbing, despise the autoupdate service firefox installs now - they're pretty much jamming firefox with all these useless and copied features and stopping true innovation with Thunderbird.

23
simonbrown 4 days ago 5 replies      
Is there a good free/paid webmail service that can be used with a custom domain and has good security? As far as I know, GMail can only be used with a custom domain if you convert your account to Google Apps, which prevents you from using some Google services.
24
conradfr 3 days ago 0 replies      
We use it at work.

For sure, there are bugs never fixed and some features that would need polish. I hope support will continue for some time.

25
malkia 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's my favourite newsgroup reader. What are the other alternatives (I'm using it on OSX, Windows and Linux)
26
jpswade 3 days ago 0 replies      
* CampaignMonitor[1] reports just 1.21% usage

* litmus[2] reports 2.4%

Not the huge market share that you'd expect.

[1] http://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/will-it-work/email-...

[2]http://litmus.com/resources/email-client-stats

27
webwanderings 4 days ago 0 replies      
As an average user, there's just too much overhead in maintaining the desktop client for personal email.
28
ssheth 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I will have to shift to Postbox .. which is a private variation on Thunderbird.
       cached 11 July 2012 04:11:01 GMT