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1
Textmate2 Goes Open Source github.com
736 points by evilduck  1 day ago   292 comments top 40
1
LoonyPandora 1 day ago 3 replies      
It doesn't appear to be a code-dump to GitHub, which would be indicative of fading interest on behalf of the original developer.

The ReadMe, build process, and licensing instructions all point towards this being a well planned Open Sourcing of a product.

I'm pleased with this, and hopefully it will spur development of TM2, allowing it to truly compete with the up-and-coming Sublime Text 2.

2
batista 1 day ago  replies      
If we are completely honest, Textmate was always a sub-par editor.

No Vim or Emacs style brilliantness, no BBEdit style tons of features and mature engine, no IntelliJ like, er, intelligence, no ST2 comprehensiveness, etc etc.

Plus, the Textmate 1.x text engine was probably a mess too -- I remember the very first versions being laggy (and that's coming from someone who doesn't find even Eclipse laggy). That he couldn't easily fix the one-character-undo is another pointer to that (and, for all I've seen, the 2.x engine is not that better).

It's main saving grace was the many extensions it had, and looking half-decent and native on OS X. Basically, it caught on because it appeared on the right time, and appealed to OS X users like web programmers etc, that wasn't old-time unix buffs, and wanted something native looking without forking for BBEdit (which itself was/is Carbon based and with a custom text display widget).

I don't think Textmate deserved all that success --it should have happened to a better editor.

3
thejerz 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't want to pick on Allan Odgaard, but I think the way he's handled the TM2 project is pretty bad.

Allen is a great guy and I love TM. However, here are some facts. TM2 has taken SIX YEARS. It was "90% done" 2009.

This is a living, breathing case study in why quick customer-driven releases are better than "big upfront plans" and "giant system rewrites." Anyone who has developed a major application knows what I'm talking about. These "big rewrites" almost always take much longer than expected, as has clearly happened here.

I have learned to listen to what your customers want, and just build it. Develop it in a few weeks, release it, and then ask again what your customers want. Some people call it "customer-driven development" and I think that's a good way of phrasing it.

4
emehrkay 1 day ago  replies      
I've been using Textmate 2 for the past week or so and I still prefer 1 + missing drawer. For me, the only thing Textmate 1 is missing are split views (something 2 is missing as well).

I wonder if there is still enough interest in the app where people will contribute all of the community's desired changes -- I hope there is.

Am I one of the only Textmate users who feel that Sublime isn't the right "upgrade"? I much prefer Chocolat or Vico as they feel more like native OS X applications.

5
albertzeyer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I created a binary from the current source, if anyone is interested:

https://github.com/downloads/albertz/textmate/TextMate-2012-...

6
willurd 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't understand the negativity being shown towards TextMate in this thread. This thread is about an extremely popular editor going open source, something people have been asking for for a long time and something we should all be THRILLED about, regardless of whether we use it.

Can we save the editor wars for another thread and maybe, just maybe, actually talk about the code?

7
umjames 1 day ago 1 reply      
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powerslave12r 1 day ago 4 replies      
Awesome! Can someone comment on how probable it would be to port it to linux (and windows)?
9
podperson 1 day ago 4 replies      
I stopped using TM1 for one reason: undo (which is one. character. at. a. time.) TM had a lot of fans, but no-one liked its undo (some didn't dislike it that much).

TM2 alpha didn't fix it. Gave up.

10
drivebyacct2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Found a build from today.

Not sure why this is supposedly so much better than ST2. I've got a Go(lang) bundle installed and a theme that I prefer over my current ST2 theme, but I like the file browser, tabs and menu layout better in ST2.

11
chmars 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am not sure how to read the statement by Allan Odgaard. It does not include any hint on the future of Textmate: Has Textmate become open source abandonware or does Allan Odgaard intend to lead the future development of Textmate as an open source?

The latter would of course be great, the former rather sad from a user perspective since most former closed source apps do not survive for long after a switch to open source.

12
DTrejo 1 day ago 0 replies      
TextMate 2 tarball for your downloading convenience: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/10047/TextMate2.tbz Binary uses latest source. [I compiled and tested, works on Lion at very least]
13
bostonvaulter2 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm confused as to how he could ever sell Textmate2 if he's linking against ragel, a GPL library. Well of course he could sell it but he'd have to release the source.
14
MikeKusold 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is going to be a mess initially. So far there has been a pull request changing the license, and issues such as "Improve syntax highlighting performance. It sucks much compared to Chocolat or Textmate 1 currently."
15
xentronium 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one surprised by total lack of history in the repository?
16
briandear 1 day ago 1 reply      
The best part about TextMate is that it led us to Sublime.
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rigelstpierre 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this was something a lot of people had seen coming. Really at this point it was only Hardcore Textmate users left. Most people in our office use either Sublime Text 2, BBEdit, Emacs or Vim. Sublime has made the change from Textmate really easy.

It's good to see that they are sharing their hard work with the community but it's sad to see a legendary text editor basically die!

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chucknelson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Uhm...is it strange that comments are no where to be found in the source?
19
kposehn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Textmate2 needs one thing for me to use it prime-time again: split screen in OS X full screen mode (just like Sublime Text 2).

Now I can code that myself (oh joy :)

20
happywolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am cloning it right now before it is too late!
21
obilgic 1 day ago 1 reply      
where can i download the precompiled app?
22
electic 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is the right move. In my opinion, TextMate is not that great to ST2 or some other editors. Hopefully, it being open-source can get it closer to being on par. All I can say is thank god I never bought previous versions of TextMate and went with great alternatives.
23
drivingmenuts 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally, if I could combine the TM modules into BBEdit (which uses Applescript for scripting), I'd be perfectly happy.
24
premist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unexpected. Just awesome.
25
mjackson 1 day ago 0 replies      
So awesome. Thank you Allan.
26
debugging 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't imagine this was because Textmate isn't selling well enough.
I could be wrong but I always looked at Textmate as an example of an app that must be making a killing.
27
barbs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else keen to add vim keybindings?
...anyone?
28
nsomething 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe now I can add my own "replace" button in the Find Dialog of TextMate 2. The only button there for me is "replace all"

Does anyone else have that issue?

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lr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Where can I donate???
30
sswezey 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is the motivation for this? Is the developer losing steam / is support for it not strong enough? Either way, this is pretty cool.
31
rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can it be ported to run on GNUStep?
32
tuananh 1 day ago 0 replies      
a very unexpected news for today! certainly i hope allan won't abandon it but keep leading this open source project.
33
agos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just got a tweet from @macromates, they say they'll still charge for binaries
34
shell0x 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's great :) I mostly use vim on the command line, but Textmate is great for dealing with Rails applications. I know, there is the nerdtree plugin for [Mac]vim, but the Textmate folder view is much better imho. Also, it's a nice tool for beginners, because you have zero configuration, but a really powerful editor.
35
owenjones 1 day ago  replies      
Is it wrong of me to be a little miffed that I paid $50, admittedly a long time ago, for Textmate?
36
joewee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Time to go bug hunting...
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rjzzleep 18 hours ago 0 replies      
another victim of the second system effect?
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owaislone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linux (QT/Gtk) port.. Anyone? Anyone?
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ved_a 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Alas, there is no linux port.
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SmileyKeith 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well TextMate was cool while it lasted. Good thing I switched to Sublime Text 2 a week ago.
2
Design Tip: Never Use Black ianstormtaylor.com
732 points by ivolo  2 days ago   210 comments top 44
1
incongruity 2 days ago  replies      
As someone with professional experience in photography and a masters in design " I think this piece is seriously lacking.

First " the photo that is used as "evidence" caught my eye quickly because it is clearly poorly processed/improperly exposed. There is no black point and that's a bad thing for the image; which leads me to say " you can't make the sweeping generalization that black is always bad. It's not " and the work of one pop art painter and a bad bit of photography isn't substantiated proof.

If you want to actually make something meaningful out of this, you'd actually push hard on the idea that too much contrast is a bad thing. Black isn't bad. Heavy contrast can be. Instead, get down to the root reasons that we have issues with contrast " in short, we're wired to notice differences in color or brightness than we are for absolute values of color or brightness. As such, it's not about one color, it's about the contrast.

Check out Jeff Johnson's Designing with the Mind in Mind: http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Mind-Simple-Understanding-In... or Colin Ware's Visual Thinking for Design: http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Thinking-Kaufmann-Interactive-T...

Both of those do a much better job at explaining the hows and whys of the average person's visual perception.

2
dsr_ 2 days ago  replies      
Unless, you know, you want highly readable text. In which case there's nothing better than pure black, as your text color or as your background (but not both at once, please.)
3
danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
The best design tip I've picked up in the last five years was that sometimes, in your CSS definitions, you can use #555 or #777 or even #333, and not just black.

I don't mean that I didn't know you could enter hex numbers for colors, I just didn't realize that when I wanted a "black" border, #888 makes for a much less jarring border than #000...and this is critical if you have a lot of bordered elements.

4
hnriot 2 days ago 5 replies      
This comes up often on hn. Using painting, especially Wayne Thiebaud's as support for the argument is very weak. He's a pop art painter that is known for using exaggerated colors, it's part of the pop art movement's signature style.

I would agree that when painting a shadow, you will likely find if you look carefully that it is not black, but in web design color is different and design has different goals to painting. The former is about clarity and function, the latter is expression and feeling.

In rebuttal to the argument, there are several hundred years of printing that seemed to have moved western civilization forward quite nicely that was black on white.

5
rlpb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure that this argument works.

#000 on my screen isn't black either. It's dark grey.

Doesn't this mean avoiding #000 for design aimed at screen display cause you to avoid pure black twice, and thus just reduce contrast? Perhaps that's what you want, and what looks better. But it isn't because #000 is pure black, because no screen can achieve that.

6
gallerytungsten 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article suffers from a bit of confusion over the difference between art and design.

Art: don't use the color black (or build up to it.) Good tip from "childhood art teacher." Another way of putting it: don't use black unless you know what you're doing.

Design: black is the strongest color. (The three strongest colors in design are black, white, red.) However, don't use a black background with white text (or any other color text on a dark background; bad readability). If your design isn't working in black and white, it's not working.

7
dholowiski 2 days ago 0 replies      
NO. This is how we end up with dark gray text on light gray background, on a web site.

If you're building something that people will read, make it easy for them to read.

8
artursapek 2 days ago 1 reply      
My painting teacher at RISD told me that when he paints an outdoor scene he always mixes a tiny bit of blue into every color he uses, because the color of the sky is reflected off everything. It's a real skill to see color arbitrarily as it actually is, without attaching labels to it.
9
kadavy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Avoiding black definitely causes you to make color choices that add more dimension and realism to your interfaces. Interfaces, after all, are representations of reality.

One helpful tip: "warm" colors jump out at you, and "cool" colors recede away from you. You can use this to your advantage when designing buttons, or even when working with typography.

More detail in this article, "Why Monet Never Used Black": http://www.kadavy.net/blog/posts/d4h-color-theory/

10
highace 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good read. I came to this exact realisation myself not too long ago too. A hint of blue in your greys makes them much more appealing than pure grey.
11
PaulHoule 2 days ago 4 replies      
how about "never use white?"

rgb(255,255,255) is the brightest color value you can have on the screen and colors like rgb(255,0,0) don't really pop against it because they're dark in comparison.

12
mynameishere 2 days ago 1 reply      
Okay, don't use black. I can just go to Tools -> Web Developer -> CSS -> Disable Styles -> All Styles to fix your bad design with a superior non-design.
13
michaelpinto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Paul Rand (who was perhaps the best graphic designer of the 20th Century) would disagree with that "tip"
14
chipsy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disagree with the concept. I would recommend studying pixel art for examples of really strong color usage - most modern styles work within an economical palette, just like in graphic design. Black is commonplace, it's how it's used that matters. The scene as a whole has similar considerations for contrast and weight as graphic design, even though the individual elements tend to emphasize detail and lighting.

Enormous pixel art thread: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=167.0

15
localhost3000 2 days ago 0 replies      
anyone else have this experience: reading this article on an iphone only to notice that the thing in my hand - perhaps the most successful consumer electronic device in the world - was as close to jet black as anything else I'd seen today? :\ ... what about black turtle necks - are those OK?
16
lsdafjklsd 2 days ago 3 replies      
Learned about this in my motion graphics class, no such thing as pure black in nature.

Also, all of the articles on your website link to this story. Great reads.

17
Raisin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also stop using grey http://stopusinggrey.com/ add just a bit of colors to you designs.
18
duaneb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure this applies to user interfaces and digital design, where style is a huge aspect. The starkness of true black on true white is stark, and sometimes that's what you're looking for, especially for minimalism. For example, see http://whatthefuckshouldimakefordinner.com/. I would think a design student would recognize that not everyone wants to have the same look and feel as other people, and there is a place for black. Just not in his sketching class at RISD.
19
esolyt 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find this approach too extreme. Black is sometimes needed. You may choose to use true black and maximize the contrast when you need to improve readability, especially for accessibility reasons.
20
mischov 2 days ago 3 replies      
In case you're curious, the text you are reading now is #000.

Which is not to say that #222 wouldn't be easier on the eyes.

21
poppysan 2 days ago 0 replies      
It really depends. I am not a fan of the tip because it is a bit misleading. The reason there aren't many true blacks in representational art is due to reflection of light into the shadows.

Also, given the overall temperature of an image, it can be just as high-contrast to use a color on the opposite end of the color wheel.

Either way, these are style decisions, which are highly subjective.

22
icoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, black is not black, it is simply the darkest color your medium (paper, screen, etc) can display. Not using it would effectively reduce the dynamic range of your medium.
23
kstenerud 2 days ago 0 replies      
shpoonj your account has been hellbanned as of 11 days ago here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4305877
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runemadsen 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing to think about is that many users have auto-dimming screens, which means that your dark-grey color will appear black anyway. What tends to happen with these low contrast, analogous color schemes is that they result in a mid-gray soup of colors. I tend to use higher contrast on the web than in print. Itten's seven color contrasts is a great way to learn how to create contrasted color schemes that still survive dimmed screens, even without using the light/dark contrast.
26
alexanderh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldnt disagree with this article more. I'm frustrated with how little webpages use black.

In all my development environments where i'm coding for hours on end, i always find black background with white text to be far superior in terms of readability. I wish everyone had AMOLED screens (even on our desktops) so using black had more of a real purpose.

27
D9u 2 days ago 2 replies      
While the article is well presented, and contains many good points, I must take issue with a few of the ideas set forth.

1.) I'm not taking "design tips" from someone whose site takes so long to load on a slow connection.

2.) Obviously the author has never been in a cave and turned all lighting off. Cave darkness is a complete and total absence of light & color save for black. This color IS NATURAL!

3.) In the spirit of the "green" movement, doesn't the use of black equate to less power consumption? (Remember http://www.blackle.com/ "energy saving search?")

That said, I'm sure that the author is vastly more artistically talented than I, as I can't even color within the lines in my grandchildren's coloring books!

28
pizza 2 days ago 1 reply      
Never use black because it's too strong to always be used? If you want something strong, use black. If you don't, don't. That's about it.
29
jasonlingx 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Erm... The "absolute black" on your screen isn't absolute black either...
30
swah 2 days ago 1 reply      
Little experiment: I changed text from black to #130F30 on a website and couldn't notice the difference..
31
ehutch79 1 day ago 0 replies      
to all the commenters arguing against the point... this article isnt for you. it's for people who just through everything up as #000 and #FFF.

It's for the people who desperately need things like bootstrap.

32
markbnine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Except for movie posters Clockwork Orange. Aliens. Star Wars. Love the black.
33
rio517 2 days ago 2 replies      
Now someone needs to tell this to the people who redesigned http://salon.com recently. It's virtually unreadable.
34
novalis 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Why does the Facebook Mobile interface feel so nice?"

I didn't know that, looks horrible to me.
But either way a somewhat good read in general.

35
ClintonWu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny to see this ranked right above Pulse's post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4360756
36
swasheck 2 days ago 0 replies      
How do I reconcile this with "Always Bet On Black?"
37
azylman 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really hoped that this was going to be a joke about how, if you use black, Apple will sue you for patent infringement...
38
rjzzleep 1 day ago 0 replies      
op obviously not as knowledgeable as he thinks he is. but as some here mentioned theres nothing better than light on dark for eye comfort.

otoh if you take antialiased font it will NEVER be really black anyway. and people who use bitmap fonts for long hour coding sessions just because it feels better, causes less headaches etc. will tell you that you can take your advice and ... ;)

39
lovskogen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unless, you know, you want to make images or video pop out with great contrast.
40
codegeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
funny thing for me is that I had a hard time reading his blog since the font color is too light for me. It could just be me though.
41
electic 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a lot of black on HackerNews and I love HN:)
42
synor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ansel Adams disagrees.
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hakanito 2 days ago 0 replies      
Totally agree.
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dzenn 2 days ago 1 reply      
its funny how most people here dont know anything about design .. i totally agree never use black .
3
ToS;DR " TL;DR for Terms of Service and Privacy Policy tos-dr.info
576 points by hugoroy  3 days ago   118 comments top 31
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pilif 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd be very careful counting the requirements for cookies as a bad thing (as seen in the github section):

First-Party session cookies are a totally valid use of cookies and actually help improving the security in that a session-id in a cookie will never be copy & pasted by accident (it happens to URL-based session-id's at times) and cookies can be marked as both httponly and secure, making it more difficult to impossible (depending on browser) to XSS the session-id away.

As such I would actually go as far as to prefer a site that requires (first-party session) cookies to one that doesn't.

2
aresant 3 days ago 5 replies      
Great concept and smart execution.

A suggestion - rather than rating "A" through "E" why not change to the more recognizable (for US audience at least) scale of "A through F" (A/B/C/D/F) which we're all mercilessly trained to recognize through years of school grades?

"E" as your worst rating confused me at first glance - could be interpreted as "Excellent"

3
lhnz 3 days ago 3 replies      
An API and chrome addon would be very nice. I wouldn't check the site, but I would like warnings when I accessed the registration page of a bad website.
4
jasonkester 3 days ago 4 replies      
Seems a bit biased in places. One of the example sites has a big scary red X next to "Deleted images are not really deleted", despite that being an important feature for any site that lets users delete their own content.

It's one of those tradeoffs you make where you trade a tiny fraction of risk (e.g., that somebody might break into your system and steal the exact cat photo that one high profile blogger was embarrassed to have uploaded) so that you can have an easy fix for the dozens of emails you get each month from people who accidentally deleted the wrong photo and can't believe you deleted it even though I told you to and I'll sue you because that's ILLEGAL!

Definitely not worthy of a big red X against your site, since it's the only sensible choice.

5
rmc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Suggestion: Include a "Under EU Data Protection law: all/some/none" category.

Companies in the EU, are required to do various things under EU data protection law. E.g. they are legally required to protect your personal data, they can only use the personal data for things you agreed to, they must tell you what data they keep on you if you ask, if they are wrong and you tell them, they are legally required to update the data, there is a national body that is legally empowered to tell a company to stop doing a thing/delete data if they are in breech of data protection law, if they suffer a data breech they are legally required to inform users, etc. All of these things are good for users.

Some companies (e.g. those entirely in the USA) are not bound by these. Some companies (e.g. those entirely in the EU) are bound by this. Some companies (e.g. Facebook) say "If you're in the US or Canada, you're under US law, if you're anyone else, you're under EU law".

6
kibwen 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems idealistic, but a service like this would be incredibly insightful. I only "read" (read: skim) the TOS of a select few companies (Apple, for one), so the high-level summaries shown on this landing page are immensely valuable (though the scoring system seems obtuse). Of course, now one has to worry about the objectivity of the summarizers.
7
milesskorpen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic to have. It is really hard for companies to offer simply legal terms, since any simplification starts to undermine the actual detailed terms. Awesome to have this from a third party.

I imagine this would be particularly valuable as a browser extension.

8
beernutz 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like a VERY good idea! Even when i take the time to read the TOS on sites (granted, it is rare), i come away unsure that i really understand it.

This seems like an excellent way to deal with this issue too!

Thanks ToS;DR!

9
sp332 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some of these are a bit too terse. e.g. 500px says "Ownership". What does that mean? And why is it less worrying than twitpic's "Takes credit for your content"? (And how does that make sense? Twitpic puts the username of the uploader on each page, no?)
10
Flimm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I understand that the project welcomes contributions, but who has the final say on the rating of a website? Are there any gate-keepers, and who are they?
11
BobPalmer 3 days ago 3 replies      
Given the purpose of the site and it's broad potential reach (and the fact that it's not a domain that requires pushing the envelope in terms of rich user experience), I was pretty suprised to see that the entire 'Rated Services' section was a giant white block in Internet Explorer 9.

I could understand lack of support for IE7 (or perhaps crappy formatting), would raise an eyebrow at lack of support for IE8 (given the nature of the domain and that there's no compelling reason for a lack of graceful fallback in this case), but lack of IE9 support is a bit... suprising.

I certainly hope the team plans on addressing this, otherwise you're cutting a large chunk of browser users out of the picture for (from what I can see) no compelling reason related to the technical requirements of the kind of content you are delivering.

12
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those who have decent experience in machine learning (and NLP) and its theoretical foundations...isn't there enough examples of TOS and conventions of the "art" that a classifier could be built to determine restrictiveness and such? Not completely accurate, but even something that's 60% right would be a huge help to services like the OP's
13
grabeh 3 days ago 0 replies      
This has the potential to be a great educational tool and hopefully in time will reach a wide audience.

If enough people are aware of the terms it will exert pressure on providers to be more open and reasonable with their terms.

Of course whilst many free services might argue they have more leeway in imposing stricter terms, this still doesn't justify certain treatment of users.

Providing a summary of terms in a standardised manner will also make it much clearer where one particular service deviates in an unreasonable fashion.

In particular, user data and usage of third party cookies would be two categories where it would be good to get visibility.

14
brador 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love the color coding, makes it easy to see at a glance.

What's the plan as terms of service change over time? Some greens might become redundant.

15
maxko87 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a very convenient service for the users, but it might raise some issues if any of these terms are ever argued in court. Defending that you read the ToS;DR and not the terms of service might not hold much water.
16
ldayley 3 days ago 1 reply      
I attempted a similar feat in 2010 with the now defunct tosgrok.com. This is a very needed service!

Edit: Take the domain and put it to good use, I no longer own it and it beats tos;dr!

17
allardschip 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great initiative. Can the mere length of a TOS and it's complexity be a factor in the rating too? The crowd here may be able to somewhat grasp the legalese in a TOS. It's not fair to expect that from any normal visitor.
18
kno 3 days ago 2 replies      
Gravatar: No Right to leave the service. Really?
19
ajhai 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have been thinking about doing something similar for quite sometime now. Specifically I wanted to build a browser extension that highlights only the important parts of agreement. And the important points will in turn be decided by the community of users with the system keeping track of different versions of agreements and data of interest in it.
20
biftek 3 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't read through all the comments but standardized and unbiased copy writing would really benefit the site. "Promise to inform about data requests" gets a plus while "No transparency on law enforcement requests" get a minus.

Both labels could be changed to "Notification of data requests", and a user would have the benefit of knowing you were comparing the same thing across multiple sites.

As it stands it's hard to compare a sites rating.

Another (possibly more prominent) example: Github has "You don't grant any copyright license to github", right below that SoundCloud has "You stay in control of your copyright", and below that 500px simply has "Ownership".

Assuming those all refer to the same thing (owning your data/copyright), a simple, "Copyright ownership" would be much clearer and unbiased copy.

21
joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! It would be cool if this could be turned into a browser plugin so you could see what class site you're visiting.
22
jonny_eh 3 days ago 1 reply      
While checking this out I wondered whether there exists a service for generating ToS. Does that exist?
23
tomrod 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a side topic related (so sorry for the threadjack!):

Does anyone else think TL;DR is a terrible replacement for "Abriged:" or "Summary:"?

24
chrismonsanto 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given how open source projects are increasingly using GitHub as the canonical repository, I'm a bit disappointed that they can refuse you service for any reason at all. I want to believe that the GH guys are good people and were just lazy here.

So, +1 for tos-dr for letting me know, and a potential extra +1 if they help us get GH to change this policy. I'm going to let them know this matters to me, I hope others here will as well.

25
shock3naw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea and the layout is nice.

That being said, use the same categories for each company, don't re-write the description based on how good/bad it is. It would be far more useful for creating a table (which would also be a great way to organize this information, businesses looking to improve the transparency of their ToS would need only look at top scored candidates to find inspiration).

26
elmindreda 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yay! This I have been waiting for.
27
XiZhao 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea - similar to my website that got frontpaged a few weeks ago (www.tldrlegal.com). Very well done; I will definitely be using this in the future.
28
alpine 2 days ago 0 replies      
My preferred ToS:

Be nice.

29
ringe 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome.
30
wildtype 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too long introduction; didn't Read
31
solsenNet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Still don't want to read it.
4
Wikipedia Redefined wikipediaredefined.com
534 points by troethom  3 days ago   288 comments top 85
1
tptacek 3 days ago  replies      
You'd probably want any redesign of Wikipedia to start with the understanding that the front page of the English Wikipedia isn't WWW.WIKIPEDIA.ORG, it's EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG, and that that page is dominated by content --- most notably the WP Featured Articles, which are a core part of the Wikipedia community.

Draw the pretty colored lines after you grok the concept.

It goes downhill for me as they try to get more technical, redefining the way the encyclopedia is edited and organized. Drag and drop reformatting of article layouts? Really? Don't the best Wikipedia articles tend to be conformant to template layouts?

Wikipedia is not Digg. It does not have, as its primary goal, the delight of random web users. They are doing something bigger than that.

I'm also not a fan of the branding idea. First, they've confused Wikipedia with The Wikimedia Foundation. The two aren't the same thing. The branding they propose makes sense only for the latter. Second, they're trying to do that organic living logo thing that has become ultra-trendy lately (just read Brand New Blog to see it done well); "as Wikimedia evolves, the little lines in the logo will change". Well, maybe, but the relationship between Wikimedia top-level properties doesn't change all that regularly, nor does it meaningfully change depending on the context. Nor does the aggregate set of lines between properties draw an appealing or meaningful picture.

Also the capital "I" in the font they're using is killing me.

2
neilk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Every now and then a designer comes along and says they're going to fix Wikipedia. And those of us who've tried either are polite or roll our eyes....

However, this person has some legitimately great ideas. I love how the design is far more reader-centric. I'm not sure why I need a history of articles that I read (browsers do that very well these days), but the 'highlighted' text is a cool idea. You can start thinking about the site as helping you research things, keep a scrapbook of snippets. I love it.

The front page redesign: believe it or not, the multiple languages are the most important thing to highlight. Wikipedia's global audience often uses that system to navigate between encyclopedias. They also often use Google to find the English article, and then look for an 'inter-wiki link' in the margin to an article in their native language.

It looks like there's a lot of cruft in the design, and maybe someone needs to be very bold and piss off a lot of users and force a new interaction pattern. But this stuff is all there for a reason. The 'random article' button is actually one of the most popular features. Really!

As for the proposed branding: first of all, the ideas presented here are not very good. It reminds me of the generic brands at the supermarket. The gossamer rainbow graph wouldn't even reproduce properly at small sizes (and if projects are added or eliminated, then what, do we change the logo?)

But more importantly - the thing which the designers rarely understand is that Wikipedia and its sister projects are not products to be sold - they are communities. And they came to consensus on those logos. They're more like sports team logos than a unified branding system to sell something. That said, there is a system, of sorts; when new logos are made, they try to make variations on the red dot and blue and green shapes.

Also, don't get me started on making color meaningful for navigation. It works for subway maps and it sucks everywhere else. Very bad for accessibility (color-blind people). And very bad for maintainability. The Russian Wikipedia is currently the fastest growing site; you can expect it to change position in the rankings soon. Then what, add another color? Should it change colors, surprising the user? Swap the colors in the rainbow?

Lastly, this designer isn't even addressing the biggest problem we have today, which is how to modify Wikipedia for the mobile web. Reading articles is getting better, and we've been using the Wiki Loves Monuments annual contest as a way to drive the development of mobile photo submissions. But there's still no clear vision of how anyone does serious editing on a mobile device.

As for the part where they offhandedly remark that we should make the site live-editable... HA HA HA. You have no idea what you're up against. I worked on this myself for a while. We made some interesting demos but they weren't something you could deploy.

If we were making Wikipedia from scratch today, of course we'd do that and more, but the thing is, there are multiple challenges, and a whole lot of legacy to support.

Technically: it has to serialize to wikitext and be uploaded as discrete changes to sections. So if you want live editing you need bidirectional parsing and serialization in the browser. Wikitext is unlike any other regular language and has a complex macro system, which consists of... other wiki pages. Stored in the database. Which means you need heavy database I/O just to render HTML. Or at least, a very extensive cache of page fragments. You also can't cheat with a simpler parser in the browser, because wikitext was basically designed to indulge whatever shortcuts the community wanted, and be extremely forgiving. Most wiki pages exploit at least one of the weird quirks. You can't even cheat by regularizing wikitext as you go, because then you're causing spurious changes that the community can't easily police. The current team is solving this with a radical approach to parsing that leverages HTML5's standards and a Node.JS based system. So eventually the parser on the site and in the editor might be very similar.

Operationally: Wikipedia is a cheap site to run because it's basically a static site that you can serve from cache. But changing an article can be monstrously inefficient. There are some articles, like "Barack Obama", that would take minutes to re-render if the caches were empty. When you start changing the basic database model to be more 'live', the costs start to explode.

But rather than drown in negativity, let me just say that whoever this is - thank you for throwing your ideas out there. Assuming this isn't just a resume-building exercise, get in touch with the MediaWiki developers. They need designers.

3
languagehacker 3 days ago 5 replies      
I work at Wikia, which means I work with MediaWiki every day. I was kind of offended by how naive New is New is being. I don't think they have any grasp on the sort of massive scope changes like this would require. Wikipedia is not MediaWiki's only consumer. A lot of communities that use MediaWiki are extremely conservative about the UI, so some of the conservatism is by design. The WikiMedia Foundation is working on a lot of the more feasible features already, such as the visual editor.

I think it's obnoxious that a design team would spend two months on something without taking any time to consider implementation detail. The MediaWiki project is very transparent, and if New is New cared to learn about what features were in the works, they could have easily found them on the right wiki -- design mockups and all. Whoever would hire these guys to do work for hire will be paying for an intractable mess of a design with a hearty helping of scope creep.

And don't get me started on the proposed Wikipedia logo. It looks like the Wikia fractal with way less nodes.

4
mbrubeck 3 days ago 3 replies      
Proposed Wikipedia logo: http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/4.png

Actual WordPress logo: http://s.wordpress.org/about/images/logos/wordpress-logo-sta...

(It's not just that both are W's -- they also chose a typeface with a similar distinctive swoosh.)

5
ilaksh 3 days ago 3 replies      
The biggest problem I have with this sort of thing -- actually probably the whole field(s) of UI/UX design -- is that there is no actual prototype but it seems like they are implying that the programmers didn't include any of those features because they didn't think of them, and that now the real work for the 'redesign' has been done. As if the hard part was making a bunch of pictures.

So this whole thing really irritates me.

Having said that, I think that modernizing Wikipedia or MediaWiki is a an interesting idea (although probably not a priority), and this is actually a decent starting point for discussing how many of the new (mainly, but not entirely, stylistic) UI/UX trends (principles in a few cases I guess) could be applied.

I mean obviously their nav takes up more space than necessary and we don't need Wikipedia's logo to look just like WordPress's, but the minimalism, alternate typography of some sort, monochrome icon widgets, etc. are apparently now required in order to qualify as contemporary design. And the connection clouds and highlighter quote idea is cool. And it probably wouldn't hurt to remove one or two of the buttons on the editor or move them to an advanced section, or spend an hour or two making the editor looking more contemporary.

In case anyone actually reads this, I have a question. Is the thing where buttons and controls are monochrome icons (and usually with no 3d appearance), is that going to stay? I mean, is there a reason you can't have multiple colors in icons now? Also it seems a lot of times you don't get labels on buttons anymore (I know, tooltips). How much of this stuff is likely to stick for the next 5, 10 years, or is it just a short term fad? I mean I coded a UI recently for a component platform thing I am building (actual functional software platform, not pictures) and it had multicolor traditional icons on normal 3d buttons with labels. This UX guy saw that and said I was 'completely out of touch'. So I took the labels, 3d and colors off the buttons.

6
flixic 3 days ago 2 replies      
Oh dear...

New! is a fairly... new.. advertising agency from my country, Lithuania. They are trying to become better known, so this is without a doubt a targeted publicity stunt ("Look how well it worked for Dustin Curtis to redesign American Airlines! I guess we can do something similar!")

And as that, it's pretty bad. Not only did they showed poor design (in a sense of "how it works") skills, but also left a bad impression as a studio.

7
Katelyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wikimedia Foundation's Senior Designer, Brandon Harris, had a lot of insightful, interesting feedback[1] regarding the 'redesign,' (of which I happen to agree with):

-It's completely impractical and does not take into account some of the most basic ideas that Wikipedia is and depends upon. I don't think it's very well thought out or researched, and serves mostly as a hypothetical portfolio
piece for a design firm.

For example, the fact that Wikipedia is available in multiple languages is quite possibly its most important feature. The idea of burying language selection within an incomprehensible color band (that will only work on non-touch devices) boggles my mind.

- Many, many important principles are tossed away. Why do the designers change the meaning of the "history" button? Burying the revision history is counter to all things that wikis stand for.

- Research into the Foundation projects would tell you that storing a user's browsing history is against the privacy policy - so why include that?

- > "Sharing functions will be the same so no change is necessary" - except that there are no sharing functions.

- The most basic principle of product design is "Know the product," and these designers do not.

And finally,

This is to say nothing of the exercise in 'brand manipulation.' The most powerful brand that Wikipedia has is the wordmark itself ("wikipedia"), followed by the distinctive "W" logo (crossed "v" characters), followed by a single puzzle piece, followed by the puzzle globe. The brand rework here throws ALL of these things away and replaces them with a stylized "w" glyph that is almost but not quite exactly like the logo used by Wordpress."

But that's just my opinion"

"If you want to have an idea of what the Wikimedia Foundation is thinking with regards to the future of Wikipedia, you'd be better served by reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/20...

[1] Brandon full response to the design: http://www.quora.com/Wikipedia/Wikipedia-What-does-the-Wikip...

8
kristianc 3 days ago 4 replies      
The front page of Wikipedia works remarkably well for discovery - go to en.wikipedia.org on any given day, and you are guaranteed to learn something new.

Deciding that users want to see your overbearing minimalism and your 'sound-great-in-concept-meetings-but-shit-on-paper' designs instead of you know, actual information on the front page of an encyclopaedia strikes me as an astonishing act of hubris.

The one piece of information given on the front page (the languages bar) is a nice curiosity, but utterly useless after about one visit. I'm sure the Swiss, the Swedes, the Danes, the Indonesians would also be delighted to find that their languages have been relegated to 'rollover' status.

As for the article pages, too much white-space, nowhere near enough information density. Did it not strike the authors, "Hey, hang on, the article is almost invisible on this page after all the crap we put in?" http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/27.png

9
patrickmclaren 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sent this email to them:

" Absolutely terrible; increasing the signal/noise ratio, in addition to increasing unnecessary white space were extremely bad design choices.

The purpose of Wikipedia is to share information. The changes that you proposed impede that goal by the addition of a step where the user has to "understand" the design, before they can begin to use it.

You should have reviewed mathematical and scientific journals before you begun your sketch work. Those types of publications succeed at transmitting a high amount of information, very quickly. Bare HTML pages also succeed at transmitting technical information at a very fast rate.

Rather than just stating that Wikipedia is in need of a redesign, state your reasons. The design of Wikipedia is not simply an aesthetic designer's problem, it is a problem that has to be approached from an engineering point of view: maximise the information communication rate whilst keeping the design aesthetically pleasing, not the other way around."

10
citricsquid 3 days ago 3 replies      
copying my comment from reddit:

If a user doesn't recognise the word "English" then they are not going to have any idea what language select. The reason the languages are all listed on the page without any interaction needed is so someone can look at the webpage and recognise their language and select it without having to understand anything else. How do I access the main page of a wiki?

This isn't redefined, it's just a redesign with some bad, some good, aesthetic changes.

11
jasonwatkinspdx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Design starts with constraints. If you don't understand the constraints, a redesign is just a fantasy.

Wikipedia is heavily constrained by one thing: the existing mediawiki markup. That presents a huge challenge to implementing this redesign.

Large mediawiki installs become brittle because users have a natural tendency to use the markup for presentation, not structure. Combined with the in markup template mechanisms, the tendency is toward a tangle of interdependent markup. Wikipedia's community does far better than most in fighting this with policy and consistency, but it's still an issue.

Implementing this redesign would require not just working with some of the more difficult parts of the mediawiki code base, but also a laborious effort to rewrite a sizable fraction (if not the majority) of all wiki foundation content. That just isn't going to happen.

But that doesn't mean design improvements on wikipedia are impossible, just that any attempt needs to work in alignment with the constraining forces.

12
FuzzyDunlop 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know where they got the idea that a serif 'W' is the most recognisable 'W' on the net (as Wikipedia). I first thought of Waterstones (a UK bookstore chain), and then Wordpress.

Even after that, how does it then make sense to actually change it to something else, thus removing what identity there once was? It's not like the replacement (with the Adobe-esque abbreviations that are meaningless to people who don't already know them) is an actual improvement.

Otherwise, I don't really get the purpose of it. Wikipedia's not there to look fancy or show off designer skills, and I'd argue that anything that isn't pure content is just completely unnecessary for it.

13
derleth 3 days ago 3 replies      
Too much space is taken up by navigation in this scheme. There's a reason Wikipedia's design is dominated by text.
14
dsr_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wikipedia doesn't need a redesign. It just needs to have an easy preferences setting for "I am a deletionist" vs "I am an inclusionist" or whatever the current preferred designations are.

The deletionists get pared-down, guaranteed notable content, and the inclusionists get the mess.

15
jameswyse 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone else find the font used on that page really distracting? What's with the I looking like a J?
16
runjake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see some Wikipedia people commenting, so I'll mention I MUCH prefer the existing Wikipedia over this design. It's simple and it loads quickly.

I find this design gaudy and the gradient bars reminds me of mid-2000s ASP.net design style, which I have a particular adversion to.

Just because a design has been around awhile doesn't mean it requires an overhaul.

17
shalmanese 3 days ago 1 reply      
For a look at what Wikipedia is actually of thinking of designing over the next 3 years, check out Project Athena: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/20...
18
dgreensp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this Adobe-like visual branding strategy of "we have so many properties/products, let's just make a rainbow period table" dies a slow and horrible death.

See: http://thoughts.shawncheris.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/c...

19
vosper 3 days ago 1 reply      
Typical "creative agency" - not proofing their own copy. I've seen this kind of thing so many times, and it baffles me that it's allowed to slip through to production sites.
20
dimitar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its awful. It reminds me of the Gmail redesign. I hate these simplified, 2d websites.

Why do you have to ruin every website?

21
bherms 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a big fan of the reimagining of how people interact with the site.. I think that's a major step forward, but I was very displeased with the redesign. I definitely agree a redesign is in order, but I wasn't a fan of nearly any of the design work presented here. So the take away from this is: these guys rock at interaction design and UX, but still have a lot of work to do in the actual design dept. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, however, and is entirely subjective.
22
dmazin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure Wikipedia needs a rebranding, and tell me if I'm the only one, but I use Google to get to specific Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia's actual search and search results need to be re-implemented, but I don't agree about redesign beyond that.

That leaves the actual articles. I like the way they are designed here, except for the monolithic nav bar.

If anything, this is a nice theme for articles - and theming is a feature that has existed on Wikipedia for a number of years now.

23
juddlyon 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a smart idea by these folks, it's generating buzz for their firm and likely helped them improve their branding chops as they thought through this.

I found the way they presented it deferential and respectful enough, why trash their effort? Of course these fantasy redesigns are naive and mostly impractical, but there may also be some decent/helpful ideas being suggested. Do you think Wikipedia is worse off for all of us discussing how it might be improved?

I like unsolicited redesigns so long as the people behind them aren't snide or arrogant in the way they present them (I can see why the NY Times redesign irked people).

24
cmelbye 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome. I'm not on board with everything (as someone else pointed out, the navigation is huge and overshadows the content), but it does a good job of rethinking how users interact with Wikipedia by making it easier to use for research. Unfortunately, I can't see anything like this ever happening due to inertia and the direct democracy system that Wikipedia generally employs when making changes.
25
netmau5 3 days ago 0 replies      
"We hope you will find it interesting."

Why the guillotine on these guys? I think they contributed something meaningful to the discussion. You don't have to like it to be respectful.

26
waqf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't even have the patience to read their own page because of their poor design choices (mostly, waaay too much scrolling).

I'm glad I don't have to read a Wikipedia designed by these people.

27
egypturnash 3 days ago 0 replies      
J kinda thought this started out on the wrong foot wjth the chojce of fonts for the body copy. Jt only went downhill from there.

J'm really not hot on the rebrandjng of everything as "wX". Thjs js almost as unjnspjred as Adobe's CS-era brandjng. Jn fact J wouldn't be surprjsed jf jt turned out that whoever made thjs page js a fan of that abomjnatjon.

Oh and thjs gets even better: you know how thjs "redesjgn" seems to be all about makjng Wjkjpedja's multjple languages completely obscured? The people who djd thjs are from Ljthuanja. WHAT. http://newisnew.lt

28
calvin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the use of colors in the redefined design, but will it work for people with color-blindness?
29
figital 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:User_style

(also ... the content is open .... ripe for anyone else to give this a go)

30
jrockway 3 days ago 0 replies      
It basically looks like a copy of Google's current design. Black bar with other properties at the top, then a big white page full of whatever. It's a fine interface, but I don't have much trouble with en.wikipedia either.
31
lubujackson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Agree with all the critiques. Interestingly, while reading through the redesign, I thought some of the new functionality they added (highlighting, mapping link connections, etc.) were kind of interesting.

But then I remembered designers aren't supposed to develop new features.

32
fusiongyro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Overall, I think it's gorgeous, especially the page layout stuff. I don't like the logos especially, but having a "branded house" approach makes a lot of sense for uniting the disparate sites.
33
correctifier 3 days ago 0 replies      
The sub section branding with the small w and the large first letter looks really awkward. Wiktionary is represented by a wT, but having a T represent a dictionary makes no sense, and there is a similar problem with wikiversity. They also tried clarifying the Species and Source by adding more letters on the latter which is isn't very visually appealing and shows the limitations of this scheme.

I also think that they add too much focus on the site wide navigation stuff at the top, which takes away the focus on the data.

34
testdfsg 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The homepage of current Wikipedia is overcrowded with display of languages, which overshadows the main functionality"the search area.

The main functionality of wikipedia.org is not search, but showing a list of Wikipedia language editions.

> Rolling over the top right corner reveals more options for languages.

What the hell is this? Why would you use JavaScript dropdown? That's not how websites work. Just look at 99% of websites. They don't require putting mouse over something to view hidden content.

> Quote serves as a felt pen. It can be an easy way to highlight the best parts of an article, just like in text books.

This functionality is better done as a web browser plugin. Because then you can save quotes from other websites too, not only Wikipedia.

> http://www.wikipediaredefined.com/img/26.png

Where Research, Edit, Talk buttons disappeared?

> Basically, there are two reasons to visit Wikipedia: to read or to contribute. Reading function is Research and contribution is called Edit.

This layout is bad for reading. Article text starts at half of screen, not at top. On most popular resolutions (1366x768, netbook 1024x600) it's even worse, article text would start at the bottom of screen.

35
moe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, got to cut them some slack for effort.

But the result is atrocious.

This is exactly the kind of stuff you normally get when BigCorp meets CI-agency.

Every single detail gets backed by an elaborate, esoteric justification, so everyone has their asses covered. Nevermind the horror that is the end-result. What matters is that "we made the button bright pink and 2 pixels tall because studies have shown bright pink catches attention and small click-targets invoke natural curiosity"...

36
BasDirks 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't take designers seriously when they use a font with that such an unreadable "I", and input boxes big enough to park a truck in. Get the basics right when you make proposals that are supposed to represent your skills and vision. There are too many cute ideas in this redesign like the upside-down "w" for "meta" and the LSD spiderweb logo.

Do the colours indicate language or specific wiki? Can't have both, sorry.

The designers have huge problems with proportion both typographically and in their whitespace. Even if they are just mock-ups, they can use some more care.

37
akandiah 3 days ago 0 replies      
That 'W' that's being used here looks awfully similar to the 'W' used by the company 'Westfield'. There may be issues with the trademark.

http://www.westfield.com/

38
mgurlitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's hard to say what's going on with the font. Works fine on Mac 10.8 Chrome 22.0.1215.0 (http://i.imgur.com/QMfte.png), but not in Safari, Firefox or Chrome iOS (http://i.imgur.com/8FruE.png).
39
mehulkar 3 days ago 0 replies      
J don't really care about Wikipedia looking nice or being more navigatable. J rarely go there to browse. J google a term and append it with 'wiki', click on the first link and 3 minutes later J'm done.
40
jcfrei 3 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't care less about a proposed redesign of wikipedia by a random design agency. but I do gotta give props to their marketing department.
41
kleiba 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm using a netbook. I think without "Readability" I woudln't have been able to make it through most of their post because I kept hitting space about twice per second. From looking at their redesign for an article page (didn't care much about anything related to the wikipedia homepage, I never use it), it seems like they don't care too much for people with small screens either: about half of the available screen estate available to my browser would be covered by their menu thing at the top.

I guess people with netbooks would be worse off.

42
andrewfelix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wikipedia's current design has never impeded my ability to consume its content. It works.

I would love some a image browser and lightbox style reference pop-ups. BUT I imagine the current build runs great on old machines, making it accessible to a wide audience.

43
javert 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please just KISS. Why would we want to make Wikipedia clunky and overstylized?
44
dinkumthinkum 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that's ugly. When did minimalism and copying Google's get mistaken fir creativity?

I'm kinda over the whole "hey. we're all cool people. let's get together and do stuff." design aesthetic. It was cute for a time but let's move on.

45
cabalamat 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the redesign, the body of the pyramid article starts halfway down the page. In the original, it starts 1/4 way down the page.

This is not an improvement.

46
EternalFury 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where is the Wikimedia theme/skin described in this showcase?
47
damian2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice effort, but they don't understand one of the fundamental things about content heavy sites the size of wikipedia - the vast majority of users never even need to go to its home page - they get to the content via direct links from search engines like google. Many these days prefix their google search with "wiki" as well in order to look on wikipedia.
48
MisterMerkin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Just wow. The Microsoft redesign that was submitted a month or so ago was.. okay. But this is absolutely horrid. When they got rid of the nod to all the other languages it couldn't be saved.
49
yitchelle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is wikipedia __really__ broken that it requires a redefinition?

I think what these folks did was a new UX/UI implementation. Redefinition would imply a new way of how wikipedia handles with the data. Not in terms of displaying or presentating the data but in terms of providing better analysis tools for the data (among others).

What this folks did was more of a PR exercise to showcase what they are capable of..

50
jblock 3 days ago 1 reply      
This redesign assumes that Wikipedia needed simplification. I think that if the brand and experience needed simplification, people wouldn't use it or would be more vocal about changing it.

The designers clearly have some layout and visual acumen, but this redesign doesn't fully grasp the magnitude of Wikipedia. Every layout is modular, and every pixel has to be fully thought out. The result here looks more like the-new-Digg than it should.

51
hessenwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
To me, it is obviously just an experiment in design concepts. I enjoyed reading it. I don't agree with almost everything, and the changes to wikipedia they make are, in my opinion, fuck-ugly, but I don't know why we need to be so harsh on it!! It's not like they were trying to replace Wikipedia, just play with 're-imagining any website'.
52
cantrevealname 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tip to anyone looking for a link to the Redefined Wikipedia so you can actually try it out: it doesn't exist.

What they did is a design -- i.e., a document explaining their ideas. There is no working prototype that you can try out. (I was looking forward to trying out the Connection Cloud.)

It wasn't obvious to me that they had a discussion about design but no actual implementation.

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wishfulcoding 3 days ago 0 replies      
> ...and decided to eliminate, ahem, everything except... …the letter W, which is/could be the most famous W in the whole web.

Wikipedia is available in 275 languages, and the current logo at least acknowledges that there are other writing systems and that this is not just an English encyclopaedia.

Changing it for a W is a complete disregard of the significance of Wikipedia as a multilingual reference work.

54
shmerl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Design looks somewhat "tabletized" with oversized controls intended making usage of capacitive touchscreens easier. Desktop version of the site doesn't need such oversized controls - they don't look pretty and unnecessary eat useful space. It's nicely done though for the mobile optimized version.
55
mvzink 3 days ago 1 reply      
Agree or disagree with their design decisions, I do hope they are right that "the discussion begins". Does anybody know of internal/official Wikimedia efforts/discussions wrt redesigns?
56
rotskoff 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like this redesign invests in exactly the sort of brand-ism that wikipedia opposes. These changes seem to do little to improve the actual interface, instead introducing an intrusive menu and pasting a logo wherever possible.

That said, the connection explorer is quite neat and the efforts to ease editing have their heart in the right place.

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TomGullen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the proposed design from the point of view that I'd be casually browsing it trying to find interesting information and learning things for no reason.

But for finding out information I need to find out for whatever reason, it's just going to slow that process down.

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karlherler 2 days ago 0 replies      
This design forgoes my second biggest usage of Wikipedia (and I suspect it's a big use case for other multilinguals). (My primary usage of course being reading and enjoying the vast content.)

I often use Wikipedia as a high quality word translator. I study at a Swedish speaking university which requires that a lot of the written material I produce is of course in swedish. Whenever I'm writing a comp sci text and I wonder what in gods name a "morphism" is in swedish I just look up the english article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphism) and hover over the swedish language in the sidebar and voilà I've got a peer reviewed translation (peer reviewed because it probably has sources in both languages, in most cases).

59
justin_vanw 3 days ago 0 replies      
OMG, they think it might be a good idea to do a minor frontend redesign of wikipedia!

More about this story as it breaks!

60
laconian 3 days ago 1 reply      
My Page Down key melted from being pressed repeatedly so many times. Fucking designers.
61
werdnanoslen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Agghhh, it's like they're making it web-3.0-y with all the giant logos/buttons and a massive toolbar. I already hate sites enough that cram a whole load of fat things above the actual content. Especially sharing buttons. I KNOW HOW TO COPY A URL DAMMIT!
62
umairsiddique 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad Wikipedia is nothing remotely like that.
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johanneswagener 2 days ago 0 replies      
I did a very similar project a couple of weeks ago. You can see the results on http://ency.cl/opedia

This post sums up some of my thoughts about it: http://lolcat.biz/post/27368236760/ency-cl-opedia

64
amirnathoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love it. Ignore them.
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maximveksler 2 days ago 0 replies      
This feels hugely like an attempt to make Wikipedia look like a google.com side project.

Bottom line: Personal Taste: I don't like it.

Wikipedia is not Google, it does not crawel and select the best content, it hosts and distributes the most valuable content crawled by wetware during their life time.

66
dt7 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting proposals, but like Andy Rutledge's NYT re-design (http://andyrutledge.com/news-redux.php) limited by the practicalities of implementing them. I don't think the Wikimedia foundation has the resources to do any kind of major re-design, at least not quickly.
67
sonier 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would really love to be able to highlight and bookmark snippets. Unfortunately, it would likely be a huge back end change for Wikipedia and their servers would likely melt.

It would be great if there was an external site that used content from Wikipedia and had these features.

68
rafudu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Worth reading:

http://www.quora.com/Wikipedia/Why-doesnt-Wikipedia-innovate...

Some interesting technical (and also 'philosophical') aspects.

69
sazpaz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously, Wikipedia is an extremely useful educational resource, and I think it's even more powerful in developing countries, which usually lack of academic materials. Making changes that rise the technological barrier of entry for many users doesn't seem adequate to me.
70
radicaldreamer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Clever is the enemy of simple.
71
iansinke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who finds a capital "T" very non-intuitive for "Dictionary"? Likewise "V" for "University"? That part of the whole logo branding I found unnecessarily concise.
72
countessa 2 days ago 0 replies      
The single W just looks like they want to be Wordpress.
Not my cup of tea.
73
ekianjo 3 days ago 0 replies      
WOW. That must be the laziest logo redesign EVER.
74
mikecane 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant redesign. They should adopt it.
75
MichaelMcQuirk 2 days ago 0 replies      
LOVE IT!!!
Had the feeling Wikipedia was starting to look old. Now it's starting to look more of a 21st century web site ^_^
76
jbranchaud 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think they copied the W from the label on the can of cashews I am currently munching.
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thowar2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Criagslist needs their help more than wikipedia!
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phmagic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Flat. More space. Focused on typography. Typography.

I think designers are moving further away from form follows function.

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hk__2 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is that font? “I” and “J” have same glyph!
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fiatjaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, now the logo of Wikipedia will be the same of a thousand other W companies.
81
Honzo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't someone just make this into a Chrome Extension? I'd be happy with that.
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sajithdilshan 3 days ago 0 replies      
functionality wise much more better than prevailing wikipedia. But still seems like a lot of clutter is there. And sister sites could use different icon (logo) scheme. Using a letter as an icon (or logo) can be confusing sometimes.
83
padrian2ss 2 days ago 0 replies      
yeah sure, you almost got me fooled, microsoft. this kind of remake is just a microsoft stunt to foul people to adhere to their ridiculous UI from windows 8.
84
hexo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sick of these bloated designs which tries to solve an issue which doesn't exist in a first place!

Please go away.

85
jermaink 2 days ago 0 replies      
Add a share button to your site :)
5
Coding Horror: I Was a Teenage Hacker codinghorror.com
443 points by Anon84  1 day ago   117 comments top 50
1
zbowling 1 day ago 10 replies      
I remember in high school, the computers where running windows 95. They used this shell hacking "protection" software called Fortress. It worked by hiding buttons and menus and trying to prevent you from opening up various apps or clicking certain files in common dialog boxes.

My first "hack" was just a boot disk that simply copied fortress.exe to another directory (a little choice.exe with autoexec.bat magic).

The second hack came later. The computers were upgraded to Windows 98 and my autoexec.bat trick stopped working because of a BIOS password. Thankfully the machines came with Word which had nice shinny feature called Visual Basic for Applications. Most of the shell was hacked to hide menues still in Fortres 2.0 but good old VBA was still accessible. Using VB I could call Win32 apis and it was just a few calls to enumerate and kill the startup entries for fortress in the registry.

The best part of this was that it was all sanctioned activities sort of. The IT department was in a central building downtown (30 minutes away from our school) and who was always a pain to work with for the teachers. Their gradebook apps failed under fortress and even their teacher passwords failed to disable all the shell hacks. Shutting off fortress was the only compatible way to get things to run correctly for the teachers.

At first when the local IT department found out, they laughed, but then later got upset when the disk of my magic word document spread. It was making it's way across the district via email lists.

At some point in the school year I got accused of spreading 'a virus' to other students that allowed them to download 'warez' on school computers. Apparently fortress was the only thing preventing kids from using WinPopUp and windows NT messenger to send broadcast messages to all desktops across the network.

I tried to fight it and explain exactly how the thing worked and the silliness of shell hack in the first place. It didn't work. The Principal said I was hacking regardless and suspended me. After getting the suspension (and after they called my parents who knew before I did and were very upset already), I quickly called the computer programming teacher (who knew knew C++ and VB and had previously been an assistant for in my sophomore year). He called the principle and super and explained that I was not hacking and that I was 'improving productivity' and that the IT department's policies were hindering teachers. I got out of the suspension by the super the next day but no apology was given. Just a stern "stop hacking" the next week when I got back.

I was later voted most likely to succeed by my class. Apparently in a class size of 1200+, I was well known for my exploits.

2
T-hawk 1 day ago 2 replies      
My high school rascalry:

This was from 1993 to 1996, on MS-DOS 486 machines in the computer lab. I had found a program on some local BBS that could resize a hard disk partition. So on a few of the machines, I shrank C: by a few dozen megabytes and created my own D: drive and copied games into it.

How to hide that D drive? With Norton DiskEdit, I figured out how to manipulate the partition table manually, setting the partition type to a null value so that DOS wouldn't see it. Next I figured out how to read and write that disk sector in assembly language. Soon I had a command-line executable that would hide or unhide my private partition with a single command. Best of all, DOS would only read the partition table on boot. So I could boot with my partition enabled, then hide it, and play games knowing that any reboot would render the partition hidden again.

The last thing I needed to cover up was the missing space on the C drive, which could be revealed by the DIR command. So I wrote a memory-resident program (assembly again) that constantly scanned for the string of "bytes free" in video memory, and patched in a larger value.

Okay, now the MEM command might reveal the existence of my TSR. So I named my program as VSAFE, which was the name of a memory-resident antivirus program on each of these machines. I had my program output the same text as the real VSAFE did on startup, and overwrote the real VSAFE executable with my own.

So I had a pretty well concealed partition, that would have required some heavy duty skills to find and remove. "format c:" would not affect it, and even FDISK would just show the space as empty, not a partition. Never got caught for any of it; the computer lab supervisor and other students knew I was up to something but never found any of the hidden stuff.

Man, I could have had a career as a malware author...

3
zoul 1 day ago 0 replies      
My story: We used to learn Pascal in my high school programming classes. Each Pascal program ends with an “end” keyword followed by a full stop (“.”), at least if I remember correctly. I wrote a resident program that would monitor the keyboard and screen and when it detected a full stop inserted after the “end” keyword, an animated critter would appear (made of custom characters inserted into the ACII table) and eat the dot, thus making the listing impossible to compile. I didn't write the viral code, so that it took some social engineering to run the program on my classmate's account, but boy it was fun when he started complaining to the teacher that he can't run the source code because of some creature eating his dots :-)
4
a3_nm 1 day ago 2 replies      
In college, the machines in the computer labs had no speakers, but I found out that by logging on the TTY you could make the PC speaker beep at an arbitrary frequency. You could only play one note at a time, though... except if you used several machines. So I wrote a daemon and a script that would take a MID file and dispatch the various voices to all machines in the room (the daemon used NTP to ensure that everyone started at the exact same time).

The sound quality was awful, but the spatial effect was pretty cool because the sound came from everywhere at the same time. I got cool results with Mario, Pokemon, Tetris, but also some of the Goldberg variations or the Art of Fugue... But this was December, so I dug out a few Christmas tune MIDs and set them to play at random intervals until Christmas. As it turns out, a song triggered during a class once: a lot of people thought the sound was coming from their machine and freaked out, and the teacher spent some time trying to figure out from which machine it came before he understood what was going on.

At some later time we found one computer with sound, so we set up a daemon to monitor logins on all the machines in the room and had a GLaDOS-like voice blurb out a personalized greeting to newcomers. Fun times :)

5
petenixey 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's something amazing about programming in that regardless of whether you're a 100-year tree in the forest like Jeff Atwood or a hapless sapling stumbling about on Codeacademy you can still add value both as a developer and a community member.

I've been coding for 10 years now and have reached the point where I'm reasonably handy but I look at a post like this and the sedimentary layers upon layers of experience that Jeff has and feel like a total novice. And yet I can still build stuff that's useful. I can still help people on StackOverflow and I can still learn from the giants above me.

I had no idea when I got into it but in retrospect it's pretty awesome to have chosen a career with such an updraft for newcomers and where everyone at almost every level can meaningfully teach, learn and contribute.

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jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
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shawnee_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
In high school, I became yearbook editor and was entrusted with keys to certain parts of the school (darkroom, computer lab, etc). In the late 90's, yearbooks were all done manually: film was loaded into cameras with heavy lenses, pictures were burned into photo paper and stop bath. Some of the work in putting it together was done on a computer, enough to justify being on the computer after hours. We'd print out pages with blank rectangles and squares for the photos, glue the manually-developed pictures onto the pages that had printed text, bind together the book, and send it off to the printer at the end of the year. Being yearbook editor was great, always an excuse to be working on something creative.

I also had a key to the computer lab. Problem was, the part of the building where the computer lab was located was not accessible after hours -- there was a gate which was locked during off school hours. (Meaning it was designed such that I could get into the room with the computers during regular school hours, out during off-hours, but not back in after hours). This lab had about 20 computers, and live Internet access. More than enough reason to find a way.

While none of my "breaking into" that part of the school during off-hours was done with malicious intent to steal or deface school property, it probably wasn't exactly the most lawful thing a 17 year old could have been doing. My good student status probably helped for those rare occasions when one of the janitors or teachers would "catch" me in that part of the building at times when I shouldn't necessarily have been there. "Research for college", was a good excuse at the time (and actually pretty close to the truth).

8
dsr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pushing systems to their limits is what hackers do.

Figuring out when it's appropriate is what adult hackers do.

It usually takes a while to go from one to the other.

9
noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
My indescretion was a boot sector virus that would randomly seize control of the computer long enough to beep the theme song to "Cheers". Oh and spread to the boot sector of any disk inseted. To be diabolical it randomly chose to play the song or simply silently reinfect others each time it spread.

They (at my highschool computer lab) were still battling to eradicate it years after I left. I am ashamed. Somewhat.

10
TazeTSchnitzel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got in trouble for a bunch of things. I wrote a utility that was supposed to cover up the "system tray" clock (with an identical one with context menu) so I could run command line apps on school computers, but the system thought it was a virus. (I guess Delphi 3 apps named iexplore.exe are suspicious? :P)

Then I embedded the Game Maker installer in a Powerpoint presentation, since it was one of the few ways to be able to run a foreign exe (along with zip files, but they are more obvious targets and they're more likely to inspect them).

Then I exposed (didn't exploit) a serious XSS issue in the school's VLE, which of course they gave me a final warning for.

Edit: The School's IT policy, previously a single A5 page, became two-and-a-half A4 pages thanks to me.

11
brc 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is all very amusing, but I have the other side of the story. A close relative of mine was the systems administrator for a large high school. The amount of grey hairs that sprouted in the few years they were in the job due to wannabe hero high school hackers is testament to how hard it is to keep a stable system running when you've got scores of hormonal hackers trying to outdo each other.

While this page tells of succesful hacks, it doesn't mention all the screw-ups whereby the payload didn't work but caused major problems with the school computers. Nor does it tell of the systems admin getting chewed out by school management for failing to play whack-a-mole properly.

By far the most common route of hacking was getting a teachers password, which was usually either easily guessed, or worse, written down in a notebook in the drawer.

As for me, I found that in university we had computer-based testing for weekly lab classes. When you submitted your answers, it printed the results and showed you where you were wrong.

We found that if we yanked the power cable on the workstation after the print job was submitted and the printer started, the results didn't commit to the database, you'd get a printout of the answers but your score wasn't saved. So then you'd just take the test again, using your printed answers as a guide.

12
cdcarter 23 hours ago 0 replies      
My high school latin course used these silly HTML/JS (probably at the time called DHTML) quizzes and exercises. They were a significant portion of the grade and truly pure JS hooked up to good ol' Matt's FormMail to submit scores.

I slowly developed little bookmarklets to make things ...easier. Reveal the hint without taking a score deduction. Decoded the answer obfuscation to just pop up the correct answer. Auto-select the correct answers for that page. Eventually I sat down and read the source of the quiz all the way through and realized all I needed to do was

> javascript: submitScore("name",100).

13
statictype 1 day ago 2 replies      
At college, we had AIX Unix terminals that ran in character mode. I wrote a program to simulate the login screen. It would record your user/password to a file and then throw an 'Invalid Login' error and then actually logoff and give you the real login screen. So no one suspected anything.

After I was done with a terminal, I'd run this program and leave (knowing full well, that someone could Ctrl-C to terminate the program and get access to my account though no one ever did)

I got more than a few passwords with this. But didn't actually do anything with them. I felt bad and deleted the program and passwords after some time.

14
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about the flip side of this, which is catching and dealing with the hooligans who screwed up school lab machines? It involves trojan horse programs and hex editing DOS binaries, too. I wrote about it not too long ago.

http://rachelbythebay.com/w/2012/06/13/lab/

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AsylumWarden 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah, the memories...

Like most I started early with programming in assembly, C, pascal shudder and then discovering unix.

I remember starting off by hacking the computer lab computers in my school. The lab staff had to log you in so they would know who was using which machines. I learned the pattern through a little social engineering and it wasn't long before I never had to talk to the staff. I also bypassed many of the tools that locked those machines down and even locked the lab techs out of a few of my favorite machines that I used for long running processes. I even had my own primitive form of RDP using screen captures and email. Eventually I learned to crack the passwd file on my schools mainframe and then I had access to everyone's accounts including the teachers. I then discovered those passwords also worked on most home dialup accounts, outside email, irc accounts, etc. Fun! I used to dominate the east coast irc back in the day, at least in my little world, but I kept my head real low so I wouldn't be noticed.

You know the best way to pick up a girl from Scandinavia? Easy, hack her email and irc accounts, knock her boyfriend off of irc and impersonate him, erase her boyfriends incoming emails and, spoofing his email address, bully her a little and tell her to stop seeing guys like yourself. Somehow it worked like charm. Man was she hot! First hot girl I ever dated.

My downfall? I gave some "goobers" some irc scripts to perform netsplits and become admin of their favorite channels. The idiots got caught making life threats against an irc admin that banned them and, in a stroke of self-preservation, they turn me over as their "ring leader". No hacking your way out of that one! Real sweet, eh? My parents were not very happy having the local police, the FBI and the NSA knocking on their door. I lost computer privileges (still went to college and got my degrees though) and now I just hack my own private network of pcs, laptops and cellphones at home.

Ahhh, the memories....

16
gghootch 1 day ago 2 replies      
Oh, high school and the semi-malicious innocent things you do. If only the IT department was more competent and didn't leave everything open. Perhaps instead of playing Quake all day, some of us would have gotten into real hacking a lot earlier.

Then again, teaching the entire year how to use NET SEND to send direct messages to every computer on the network was fun. So simple, yet total chaos soon followed. Imagine hundreds of Windows popups with messages such as: "Hi i79, did you know that miss Lengstein is wearing a thong today?". Every single person behind a computer in the building had to click through all these messages individually when they booted up their machine.

We thought it was amusing, especially the invidivuals who could not figure out what the hell was going on. As was the moment when the horrible miss from the library shouted 'WHAT IS THIS, HELP! I'M BEING HACKED!!!'.
The resulting crackdown started out fairly scary at first but became outright hilarious when every single authority figure started their frowning speech with "I am sure you have been punished enough". (Never punished, parents did not even find out, IT department just told me 'whenever you figure someone else out, please do not tell the rest').

I took that advise to heart and told only a select few when I uploaded mugshots of every single person in the school to photobucket. Fairly sure no one every found out, even when we hung pictures of other kids with drawings on their faces around the school and got busted they did not even stop to think about where we got those pictures. To think this all played out in a top five high school makes me smile like I am up to no good again.

17
ynniv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've grown to love my own bad judgment. It's led me to the most fascinating places.

This appears to be the root of all that is self-taught.

Trust your technolust.

18
ry0ohki 1 day ago 0 replies      
My first hack was in typing class in 6th grade (1990?). They had the PCs (running DOS) locked down so you could only run the designated typing programs, but one of the programs let you open a text file, and in the root of C: I found a file with the passwords for admins to go straight to the DOS prompt. Turned out there were all sorts of games installed as well, I was the class hero. Ironically, I got terrible grades in that typing class even though I type over 100wpm now...
19
TomGullen 1 day ago 0 replies      
This isn't really a hack (I wasn't that smart). My earliest memory of playing round with computers was at primary school when I was very young, it asked me to enter my name so I typed in 'poo'. I then showed my friend and he laughed and hit his fist onto the keyboard really hard and the computer froze with the word 'poo' frozen onto the screen.

I got into big trouble as the teachers thought I'd crashed the whole computer, they shouted at me pretty hard!

I still think it's quite funny to enter your name as 'poo'.

20
mgkimsal 1 day ago 0 replies      
High school - 1985 or 1986, I wrote an interpreter (in BASIC) that looked and acted like the BASIC we'd boot up off the shared drive (some odd TRS-80 networked set of workstations). The BASIC interpreter that I wrote worked mostly like the regular BASIC, but would give some random extra output. Came in to class early and booted everyone in to that BASIC, and watched as people took forever to type in their code, then run it, and have it not work - things like 5+7 came up as 3. The teacher was flummoxed, and we essentially wasted the class that day.

Looking back, it was quite a jerk move. I was trying to be clever (well, I was clever), but it didn't get me any more status with anyone - basically just reinforced the geek status I had (which wasn't a good thing to have in 1985). I was bored, but that's a pretty lame excuse. I think I ended up with a C- in that class ("intro to computers I"), mainly because I never flowcharted anything.

21
mumrah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since we're all reminiscing about high-school geek antics: In my Physics class, we had semester long ongoing assignments that were markedly harder than the nightly homework. You could turn in the problems at your own leisure. They were mostly applied problems that involved some math we hadn't learned yet (like calculus). The problems were the same for each student, but we all had different parameters, so our answers would be different.

After figuring them all out a few weeks into the semester, I started writing up some BASIC programs on my TI-86 that would take in student's parameters and spit out solutions. Long story short, I ended up selling answers to some jocks and got caught (I guess the teacher was suspicious when C students were getting these hard problems correct). End result was: made my teacher simultaneously proud/disappointed, earned a few bucks, learned about corruption/greed.

All in all, it was a good learning experience and I don't regret it (though giving away answers for free would have been more altruistic I guess)

22
bcl 1 day ago 1 reply      
For some reason I never paid much attention to the phone bills. I was long distance from every BBS, but I had an after school job and mom made me pay every month. That is until the $1200 bill (this was 1987) arrived. My modem got put away until I could pay off the bill, and we never did tell dad about that. I blame it on the Hayes 1200bps modem, it made it sooo much easier to redial busy BBS's than the Atari 830 modem I started out with.

For a while there the first program I wrote for a new computer was a War Dialer. Just like everyone else who had seen War Games.

23
sneak 1 day ago 2 replies      
Doesn't everyone have stories like this?

I remember when my parents (in Michigan) got a call from Norway after 14-year-old me owned a bunch of some large ISP's nameservers and proceeded to launch broadcast amplification attacks against a bunch of IRC servers.

I guess now that the Internet is for normal people, stories like this are news again.

24
cantankerous 1 day ago 1 reply      
"And there's more, so much more, but I can't talk about it yet."

Sounds like the statute of limitations hasn't expired yet. Should be interesting when it does!

25
dbecker 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me how lucky I am to be relatively successful as an adult. I could easily have spent time in juvenile detention for something stupid, and who knows how that would have turned out.

I suspect a lot of people on this board did the same (illegal) stuff as kids... We're lucky that we had the good luck to grow into productive adults. I like to think society is also lucky that it let us grow into productive adults.

26
diggum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I graduated high school in '92 and since my systems at home were better than what we had in our labs, I gravitated toward exploring the local University networks. You could dial in to a terminal and then connect to any of the local machines. Most were VAX/VMS or Ultrix systems. The VMS systems all had open GUEST accounts that were limited, but allowed you access to BITNET. I managed to chat with Taran King, who was co-editor of Phrack at the time, a few times over the BITNET chat protocol which was great fun.

However, my actually hacking life started on the Ultrix systems. I don't remember how I first had access since I don't think it allowed Guest logins, but I discovered a great hack: all of /dev/tty* was word-readable until someone fully logged in to a particular port at which point it was only readable by the user logged into that port. so every few hours, I'd just "cat /dev/tty* >> passwords.txt" and harvest logins for everyone who logged in during that time. I had some fun with one of the admins for awhile having unknowingly logged into his account. We chatted a bit and he was a good sport about it, but the hole was patched a few weeks after. I never knew if it was already a known issue or if I was actually the only one who found it.

A friend wardialed a system that appeared to be a Dept of Transportation front-end to the brand-new digital readerboards along the Interstate. Let's assume we never actually changed any text, but I cracked the password, TRAFFIC, on the 3rd or 4th attempt. Good one, guys!

Exploring random address on TELENET dialups was a blast as well. Most were very secure since they'd been well-picked, but every so often you'd find some interesting terminal and start poking around figuring out what it responded to and how to navigate deeper.

Don't get me started on the first 2600 meetings in Seattle. Some very prominent people in the tech/hacking space now were pretty sketchy back then.

Fun! Memories!

27
abalashov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone actually even worry about how much voice calls cost any more, to anywhere in the world? This, my friends, is progress.

As someone who works in telecom and VoIP, and deals with the financial and regulatory aspects of a lot of jurisdictions that continue to be locked down by PTT monopolies, I think this is a silly question. :-) It's only domestic long distance that has really crashed.

My high school exploits mostly revolved around bypassing the school district's proxy servers, since they blocked pretty much everything I wanted to do, including legitimate stuff. I did this via tunnels of various sorts (but predominantly SSH) out to my home machine. Oddly enough, they didn't do anything to stop us changing the proxy settings in the browsers, they just broke outgoing HTTP(S) with firewall rules. No problem, I just sent the traffic to a box running Squid, reached via my home cable modem.

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sp332 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Hackers for Charity program is to find bored kids with budding computer skills, and get them experience while helping charities. This helps them build their "legitimate" resume, and hopefully keeps them interested enough that they don't have to resort to trivial illegal things like this.
29
richardw 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I was working as a restaurant manager part time while at uni. One of the other managers thought it great fun to staple the back of my shirt without knowing, so when I got home I had a torn shirt.

That weekend, I fired up a 286 someone had given to me, coded up a mock-DOS environment, got the main manager on-side and left it set up for the next morning. Next day...:

Start computer, get coffee. Type "win" (for Windows). Get 2000 random ascii characters with an error message. Typing "dir" produced an empty C:\ drive called "F* You Francois". Anything you did pretty much got you "bad command or file name". Your manager (who is in on it) is shouting at you to get the computer going because his restaurant is starting up. You're typing out "F* You Francois" as a password, looking for bits of paper around the office, trying to restart the computer but having the autoexec.bat put you back into it.

After about 2 hours, main manager types "fix", and the rest of your day continues, but with much added mockery.

It wasn't particularly sophisticated, but I truly loved that :) Lessons were learned.

We did something similar at school. Mocked up the Turbo Pascal UI with menus and everything, but was a bit...uh, erratic. Unfortunately the teacher knew exactly who it was and came storming into our next class :)

30
jordanthoms 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was poking around on the school computers and I found a (world readable) script for joining the AD (these were macs, so there was some black magic going on), with an username and password in it. Turns out that username and password was the administrator account on almost every server in the school, which were all accessible through remote desktop.

Yeah, that was a good time.

31
DisposableMike 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I have fond memories of "hacking" in high school. The school system I went to used Deep Freeze to protect their Win98 computers. You could format the hard drive, change all of the settings, etc, and upon reboot, the image would return, unchanged. Naturally, this led to deep investigation into how it worked. The system administrators weren't stupid but were severely undermanned, and had left the Deep Freeze program slightly vulnerable. A little command line work and you could remove the protection mechanism for the given session, allowing you to persist changes. So, I did things like edit the shell in HEX and change "START" button to say "FARTS", lame things like that. The suspense was that supposedly the maker of the software would fly anyone who could crack their system out to New York to demonstrate. Despite finding the above hole, I was never able to totally eradicate the software, and could persist only certain changes (changing the startup image, playing funny .WAV files on boot, etc).

My biggest mistake was sharing this knowledge with my classmate, who used it to do a great many annoying and potentially harmful things. After doing things like sending "I 0wn j00!" to 11,000 computers on the network (via NET SEND), crashing the shared network drive with millions of blank text files, etc, he finally got caught after badly damaging 3 of the computers in our lab using my hack method that I'd written a batch file to accomplish and given him the disk.

I was called to the computer lab by my awesome programming teacher, who informed me that he had to leave the building in 45 minutes, and if the computers weren't back to their proper state by then, we'd both probably be suspended. The other kid just sat there, while I furiously reversed the changes and got out with a few minutes to spare.

Naturally, the next year, him and a couple of my other classmates were suspended or expelled for repeatedly crashing the entire 11,000 network with advancements on my initial script. I was thankful that there was apparently no ties left to me in the program's execution, but that was warning enough to focus on productive things for the remainder of my high school career.

32
topbanana 1 day ago 0 replies      
At school we had a network of Acorn Archimedes machines. We all had space on the file server, which the grumpy admin would search through regularly. There was an autorun feature in RiscOS which allowed a hidden script to execute on opening a folder, eg my network folder. It just so happened that passwords were stored unhashed, so I had everyones passwords appear in my folder one day. I must have been 12 or 13, as my family relocated when I was 13.

At the new school they had the same machines, so I put my knowledge of the platform to good use. I wrote an app which played a sound sample of a loud obnoxious burp at random intervals during class.

At college they had a Novell network. The login was a simple text prompt, which I discovered called in to a novell DLL. I wrote my own substitute login command which also saved the password to local disk somewhere, and replaced the default version on a few machines.

In both cases my reaction was the same on discovering my password hacks had actually worked. I crapped my pants and covered my tracks!
By the time I had started uni, I had largely grown out of that stuff. But something triggered a latent interest I had neglected for too long... the campus accommodation was based in tower blocks, with an entry intercom system. I noticed 4 very quiet dtmf tones whenever buzzing my friends apartment. I can't remember how I did it, but I found a way to get a dial tone and to my delight, 9 for an outside line worked fine using the type of handheld dtmf dialer banks used to give out.

33
lurkersmirker 1 day ago 0 replies      
The details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember a certain computer lab of mac classics on an applets network. We installed some extension that let you send messages to other computers, and even put it on the teachers computer, which was connected to a projector. In retrospect photoshopping his head onto a playboy centerfold and resediting it into the extension and removing the reply button, and then sending it to him during class on the projector, well that was probably a bit much.

They tried several types of lockdown software, nothing ever actually worked. You can't stop kids from playing games.

34
joshaidan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hmm... I'm somewhat bothered by how the word hacker is used in the article, where it's used to describe criminal activities. Or am I misinterpreting it? I know in one part he uses the term 'cracker,' and in another part he says that perhaps his utility should have used 'preaking' instead of 'hacking,' but in general I think he's using the term hacker to describe breaking into a system.

I know the word in society has a double meaning. It could mean breaking into a system, or engineering an innovative piece of software. I personally wouldn't really care, except nowadays I'm finding myself promoting a hackerspace or a hackathon on the radio, and usually every time I start an interview I have to begin by saying "We're not criminals." It gets tiring after a while. Once we were trying to form a partnership with an organization, and the guy immediately threw us out of his office when he heard the word hacker. He wanted nothing to do with us.

35
digisth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun thread. My first computer mischief experience was in "Computer Class" in first grade. The computers were running DOS 3.0 (IIRC) and the class was for teaching computer basics, which mainly consisted of "Introduction to programming" using Basic (with a gentle introduction to I/O, variable assignment, and flow control.) The way the class worked was: an assignment was printed out and handed out to all the students. You followed the steps and at the end of class, the teacher would look at your output to see if you did everything correctly. I finished these assignments pretty quickly, so I used the time to figure out how to exit the editor, find the "hidden" games stash, play them for a bit, and then get my work back up on my screen before the end of class. Pretty soon I was being asked by all the other students how to perform this feat on their own computers. I showed them, and so every time the teacher would leave the room, everyone started playing the games.

We also never got caught. Wild times in first grade, let me tell you.

36
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was very stupid when I didn't know better, in the days script kiddies were empowered by Backorifice I would play with random folks, mess with their kayboard and mouse.

Other nonrespectable "hacks":

- "net send *" to importunate colleagues

- wrote mIRC scripts to win at the IRC trivia games (this was actually funny for a little while)

- would call collect to my dial-up provider, learned to dial on rotary phones by "switch-hooking" -

- would connect portable phones to disabled payphones just to see if it was a regular line what I could use (it was)

- would "paint" the backside of payphone cards with graphite to fool the machine into thinking I had more credits.

- wrote a little "ringer" program and passed to my colleagues so we all ran it together and made the teacher crazy (oh the regret).

- used IDKFA in Doom.

Those are my earliest, lamest memories.

37
at-fates-hands 1 day ago 1 reply      
Its interesting I never got into computer hacking until later when I was in college. In high school, I had a neighbor who was really big into phone phreaking. We had hours of fun building black and blue boxes, getting free long distance and calling people in random countries.

Probably the coolest thing was my neighbor somehow managed to get his hands on two master keys for the high school. He had a buddy at a local hardware store duplicate them (highly illegal) and we spent many nights prowling the high school, opening doors nobody could and exploring every inch of that place. Thankfully we never got caught, but I look back fondly at it as the start of my career hacking stuff.

38
munin 1 day ago 0 replies      
and if this had happened today, he would have been put in prison for five years! hooray
39
imjared 1 day ago 0 replies      
My highschool "hack" involved downloading the contents of our school's website hosted at ourschooldistrict.com domain, buying the same name at ourschooldistrict.us, and then rehosting so we could put up any press releases we wanted. We wrote up a press release saying that two district high school names were changing to honor our very-hated superintendent. Then we started sending it to friend on AIM saying "omg have you seen this."

Within hours, everyone on my buddy list had their own "petition" in their away message and after checking traffic, we found we had thousands of unique hits.

Most of the credit goes to my friend who actually executed the tech part and was temporarily suspended when the inundation of angry emails supposedly hurt the school board's server.

Just checked and the school district still does not own the .us domain so this "hack" would be reproducible.

40
Zenst 1 day ago 0 replies      
1983 I was in College (one year course right out of high school) and we has access via a teletype terminal pool to a ICL 2903 running George. The operator console had a journal file and discs back then were the drum type and rotated to spread the wear and tear. These were not zero erased and you could create a file specifiy the size in buckets of all values how large and zeroing the space was optional. With this knowledge you could basicly go fishing, creating large files and looking to see if it was anything interesting. I was able to get the admin(aka root) password which was 5588. So I did chuckle when I saw the film Hackers and dumping the garbage file on the gibson.

Though I also had great fun with the spv command on george and knowing all the terminal ID's, but thats another story.

41
jayfuerstenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's cool to see Jeff Atwood could take his skills and contribute so much later on.
42
joshschreuder 1 day ago 0 replies      
In high school, we had laptops provided by the school and imaged by the IT department, who had logged into them. All we had to do was use a tool to recover the Windows password (yeah I know, skiddie, etc.) and we could login as IT admins on any computer on the domain.

Was pretty innocent about the whole thing, changed a few backgrounds remotely, and sent messages and shutdown people's computers in class remotely. Unfortunately I changed a default Windows background image, which meant it showed up something unsavoury for everyone who logged in, and got caught, copped detention and a many, many page letter about how I shouldn't do it.

43
stratos2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember hacking the Novell netware setup at my school, and being surprised to see how poor all of the teachers passwords were. Almost all were children's names or street names. And the system admins super password? The name of a well known department store :)
44
aurelianito 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I must confess I've grown to love my own bad judgment"

This quote is amazing. I see myself in it.

45
X-Istence 1 day ago 1 reply      
The thing I got in trouble for ... is not something I should be writing in a public forum yet :P
46
gdc 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was 7 or 8, my Dad had a fancy new digital safe -- must have been one of the first -- type in your PIN on the keypad, and open it up.

Took me 15 minutes to try the number on the Social Security card in the desk beside the safe! Presto!

47
systematical 1 day ago 0 replies      
I never really did much "real" hacking when I was younger, but did fish for passwords and do social engineering back in 96 when I was roughly 11. Gained access to lots of peoples sites and emails that way.
48
andy_boot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Taking Eliza. Editing the answers to make it raunchier then leaving it running in the computer lab.
49
rogcg 1 day ago 0 replies      
such a cool history/experience!
50
mmphosis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Jeff Atwood is cyborg
6
Jack Dorsey: Today Starbucks Signed up for Square squareup.com
424 points by mynameisraj  3 days ago   185 comments top 23
1
faramarz 2 days ago  replies      
This announcement makes me happy, for Square and Jack Dorsey as a young business leader. I love everything about the business idea, execution, design and tone of the overall strategy.

Noteworthy points from the press release

  The partnership terms include:
- Customers will be able to use Pay with Square, Square's payer application,
from participating company operated U.S. Starbucks stores later this fall, and
find nearby Starbucks locations within Square Directory;

-Square will process Starbucks U.S. credit and debit card transactions, which
will significantly expand Square's scale and accelerate the benefits to businesses
on the Square platform, especially small businesses, while reducing Starbucks
payment processing costs;

- Using Square Directory, Starbucks customers will be able to discover local
Square businesses -- from specialty retailers to crafts businesses -- from
within a variety of Starbucks digital platforms, including the Starbucks
Digital Network and eventually the Starbucks mobile payment application;

- Starbucks will invest $25 million in Square as part of the company's Series D
financing round;

- Starbucks chairman, president and ceo Howard Schultz will join Square's
Board of Directors.

https://squareup.com//news/releases/2012/square-starbucks

2
abalone 2 days ago 3 replies      
Here's what's in it for Starbucks: Square's cheaper.

Square loses money on transactions below $6. The reason is for the sake of simplicity they waive the per-transaction fee that Visa/Mastercard charges them and just charge a flat percentage of 2.75%. But even though this is a relatively high percentage, it's not enough to recoup the cost of the per-transaction fee at low transaction sizes.

Take a $2 coffee charged to a Visa credit card. Visa charges Square 1.76% + 6 cents, or 9.5 cents. But at 2.75% Square only collects 5.5 cents.

So even if Starbucks was already paying wholesale Visa/Mastercard rates, they'll save 4 cents or more a cup thanks to Square's "simplicity subsidy".

Now multiply that by a few billion cups. Starbucks saves millions, and Square is happy to pay it to drive their growth into the stratosphere.

Source: http://feefighters.com/blog/can-square-make-money-with-its-n...

3
salman89 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think more than any other benefit, Square has been validated by a premier American chain. It will be a much easier sell to other large chains. The big money for Square is in having these large customers with multiple POS deployments, where overhead will be small compared to revenues, at least relative to single shop customers.

It will also put their product in front of end customers, many for the first time. I for one have heard/read about Square since they first started shipping readers, but had not actually seen the product in action till last weekend (live in Silicon Valley).

4
joering2 2 days ago  replies      
Can someone explain me what it means for customers? As far as NYC goes, each Starbucks accepts Visa, Master Card, Discovery and American Express (the card that plenty businesses hate). So what is the benefit for the customers?
5
dredmorbius 2 days ago 1 reply      
Holy grey-on-grey readability disaster, Batman!

And shouldn't 140 characters have been enough?

6
jcdavis 3 days ago 6 replies      
Wow, huge deal for Square. I'm very curious what the terms of the deal are: presumably Starbucks isn't willing to pay much more than what their current processing fees are (maybe a tiny bit more for the premium of being able to use Pay with Square?), so Square must be losing a decent chunk of change in exchange for the huge marketing and growth this gets them.
7
jusben1369 2 days ago 0 replies      
The initial advantage Square had was “green fields” Most of their customers didn't accept Credit Cards so they did not have incumbency issues. That's what makes this win impressive. However, it also highlights just what Square has to go through to win a very large account. SB's had to agree to tear out and replace their existing POS system. That's a big risk, headache and cost and customers will use that leverage (and genuine pain) to drive hard bargains.

Also worth noting is that SB's mentions processing costs will be cheaper. It's hard for me to imagine that SB was overpaying with their last vendor so I worry about the economics on this deal. Maybe it's the anchor tenant though that allows for additional enterprise deals to follow so is worth it. I can imagine other large retail organizations that had any interest were on the sidelines saying "It's one thing to service 10,000 food trucks but come on!" They'll stand up and listen now with this.

8
akent 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jack's signature is "@jack"? Nice.
9
lhnn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain this to a layman who "only" uses credit cards at the moment? How is whatever this is going to make my checkout at Starbucks quicker or more convenient than a card or a $5?
10
pbreit 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Starbucks is obviously not going to use the error-prone dongles. I suspect Square will provide some sort of custom "Pay With Square" solution, perhaps tied into Starbucks' existing point-of-sale system. Any way you look at it, it's a huge deal for Square, Starbucks is absolutely the best venue for Square and likely the key building block to really push out a new checkout experience such as "Pay With Square".
11
bootload 2 days ago 1 reply      
"... I am pleased and proud to announce that today Starbucks signed up for Square ..."

Starbucks has a history of taking risks with startups ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kozmo.com

12
twoodfin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this save money for Starbucks over their own branded card? Due to the rewards available, I'd assume many of their highest volume customers are using it, and would be unlikely to switch to Square unless those rewards were transferable.
13
chollida1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this just for Starbucks US stores or is it for all of North America?

If it's just for US stores then the title should probably be amended. Being a Canadian, I've never seen a merchant using a square device.

14
spoiledtechie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I signed up for square about a month and a half ago. I ordered my little device at the same time and it still has not showed up at my door step. To me, they have been a lousy service so far sadly.
15
jordo37 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome news for square. I am very eager to see how this changes the natures of:
1) The Starbucks App - will square replace it outright or will there be an option to use starbucks or square?
2) Paying with a card at starbucks - same registers or new registers with square dongles? Hopefully its a better dongle if so...

PS - Anyone noticed how they seemed to be stepping around the idea of those local businesses being other coffee shops? Craft businesses in the Press Release...like craft coffee shops?

16
rayhano 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once Starbucks are on the Square system, might that be the perfect opportunity for Square to flip a switch and ask customers for their bank details?

If Square could do a GoCardless with all those consumers that use Square, both Square and merchants could benefit massively...

17
fredsanford 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this yet another middle man to suck fees out of the system? I have not kept up with Square but despise the though of yet another fee leech that is compiling a list of my purchases to sell to annoying advertising companies.

/shoutAtClouds

18
OJKoukaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
So does this mean that Starbucks will use the same Square interface that we layfolk use? I find it impractical that they use this, and not something that integrates with their existing systems, but then that would mean that Square has opened up some sort of API to them? When will the rest of us get to see something like this, if so?
19
medinismo 2 days ago 4 replies      
I really do not see the benefit of this deal. Square - sure, another bunch of retailers. Starbux, not so much. NFC will take over and then square is out. can someone explain?
20
superbeefy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really hope square improves their reader. Practically every time I've used this system, as a customer, it seems to take a couple of tries before it actually recognizes the card. This may be okay for lower volume businesses, but for starbucks I could see this backing up lines.
21
barrynolan 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a great validation of developing and iterating the business initially with the small 'mom & pop' business to the point where traction allows you capture the really massive customers.
22
msantos 2 days ago 0 replies      
This entry is duplicated
First entry is in http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4353817
23
NHQ 2 days ago 0 replies      
The announcement aside (line 1 of 20), this "letter" is some poor PR spew. Jack, if you're listening, you need a personal letter stylist. Letters are like jeans that people read.
7
First full-resolution images of the Martian surface nasa.gov
423 points by ed209  2 days ago   140 comments top 26
1
TomGullen 2 days ago  replies      
I absolutely love this stuff. The photos to me are strangely eerie, and even perhaps a little sinister.

I have trouble comprehending the size of other planets, photos like these make me feel uneasy (in an exciting way) because they are strikingly similar to landscapes we might find here on earth - yet it's a completely different planet! I'm no longer looking at mars as a red circle as shown in textbooks, but now as vast unseen landscapes that have never been explored before - a new perspective and a new age of discovery and I can't wait to see what else happens in my life.

It's also a stunning achievement. As I lie in bed looking up into the darkness, a boundless expanse of tens of millions of miles of absolutely nothing lies between me, and a small man made robot with the martian wind gusting and whistling gently over it. A robot that is cautiously making small movements, buzzing and whirring going about it's business with no one there to hear the sounds or see the movements it's making. A machine who's intentions are totally pure - it's sole purpose is simply to learn. A small beacon in a far-reaching expanse of barrenness and nothingness.

One thing I found recently I'd never heard of before is 'Venera 13': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera_13

A Russian rover that landed on Venus in 1981 - designed to last the harsh environment of Venus for 32 minutes but actually lasted 127 minutes. An extraordinary engineering achievement to have a rover go from freezing space temperatures to temperatures of over 450c.

And it managed to transmit images of the surface:
http://mo-www.harvard.edu/microobs/guestobserverportal/Galil...

Absolutely stunning, and in some ways even more eerie and provocative to me than the Mars pictures as the environment it briefly operated in is far more hostile and as time was so limited the images are even more precious.

2
arturadib 2 days ago 0 replies      
In cased you missed this released by NASA in July, it's also amazing: HD panoramic view of Mars by the Opportunity rover: http://www.panoramas.dk/mars/greeley-haven.html
4
outside1234 2 days ago  replies      
i hate to be critical of an image sent from millions of miles away but I have an honest question:

Why do images from landers like this always look like there were taken from a iPhone 1's camera?

5
bialecki 2 days ago 4 replies      
Random question: Is it silent on Mars? I'm looking at this picture and can't help but wonder what it sounds like. Just curious if Martian weather tends to be windy or calm.
6
mattacular 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was taken by the camera whose sole purpose is to assist with navigation. That is why its B&W, low quality, and stitched. The main camera system will produce full color images that I assume will be much higher quality.
7
sheraz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I thought it was interesting to learn about the different ways we get data back from mars. Excerpt from [1]:

The data rate direct-to-Earth varies from about 500 bits per second to 32,000 bits per second (roughly half as fast as a standard home modem). The data rate to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is selected automatically and continuously during communications and can be as high as 2 million bits per second. The data rate to the Odyssey orbiter is a selectable 128,000 or 256,000 bits per second (4-8 times faster than a home modem).

[1] http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/communicationwithearth/...

8
tomkit 2 days ago 4 replies      
Random tangent, but I wonder what procedures NASA goES through to scrub all living organisms from the robot itself if one of their aims is to see if they can detect life on the martian planet.
9
dgregd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Without caption someone may think that pictures were taken on some Earth desert. It is surprising that mountains look quite "normal".
10
zerostar07 1 day ago 2 replies      
Another random question: In pictures like this: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/science/800px-Op...

the rover is in a clean chamber, with the staff wearing suits. Why is the clean chamber needed for assembly?

11
powerslave12r 2 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone's curious-

List of missions to Mars:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_missions_to_Mars

12
hammock 2 days ago 2 replies      
How far away are those hills in the back? I'm guessing they're farther away than we might think, due to Mars not having much of an atmosphere to reduce visibility.
13
hybrid11 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a good stitched together panoramic view of all those images at Gizmodo - http://gizmodo.com/5932952/curiosity-opens-her-eyes-for-the-...
14
pramanat 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like the image was stitched together from multiple images, judging by the jagged edges at the top and the "fold" to the right of middle in the image. Very neat, nonetheless.
15
gdw2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has something been whited-out in the bottom right corner?
16
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The highlight of my day is to watch the NASA daily press briefings each day this week.

(1pm EST or 10am PST on all NASA channels)

17
redwood 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, so this is just one photo right? I see a range... assuming this is the edge of the crater? I don't think Mt. Sharp is visible here?
18
magsafe 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the NASA site, look for the "Full Size" link, then right click on the image and set it as your desktop wallpaper. Fits perfectly.
19
nymrulez 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's time to put men on Mars and not just robots. It's embarrassing that in the 40+ yrs since Armstrong we haven't gotten anywhere else.
20
hypnocode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really brings home the fact that we have reached beyond the place where life sprung up, and are probably getting ready to move beyond the earth.
21
hessenwolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why are they in black and white?
22
y4m4 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is just blows my mind! - Hopefully one day we will walk on that surface and have a thriving colony.
23
desireco42 1 day ago 1 reply      
To sum up sentiment of many here: NASA should have got Canon as a sponsor and give us some decent images.

It's ridiculous to travel across the system and not being able to send good images.

24
jsilence 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rocks!
25
26
thetrb 2 days ago 2 replies      
Looks pretty boring around there. I hope they can find something interesting somewhere around that area. I read that over the whole mission the rover is supposed to drive only ~20 miles, so there better be something interesting to observe :)
8
The weakest link by far is Apple marco.org
408 points by rsobers  3 days ago   166 comments top 30
1
danso 3 days ago  replies      
How is Apple the weakest link in this? According to Honan's account, Amazon was as equally, if not more weak in its verification processes:

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-hona...

> First you call Amazon and tell them you are the account holder, and want to add a credit card number to the account. All you need is the name on the account, an associated e-mail address, and the billing address. Amazon then allows you to input a new credit card. (Wired used a bogus credit card number from a website that generates fake card numbers that conform with the industry's published self-check algorithm.) Then you hang up.

> Next you call back, and tell Amazon that you've lost access to your account. Upon providing a name, billing address, and the new credit card number you gave the company on the prior call, Amazon will allow you to add a new e-mail address to the account. From here, you go to the Amazon website, and send a password reset to the new e-mail account. This allows you to see all the credit cards on file for the account " not the complete numbers, just the last four digits. But, as we know, Apple only needs those last four digits. We asked Amazon to comment on its security policy, but didn't have anything to share by press time.

At least to get into the Apple account, you need the credit card on file. For Amazon, you can send a fabricated credit card number and get complete access (because you can add a new email account, to which you send a password reset to).

Apple just seems like the worser player because Mat Honan put so much power into the hands of iCloud. If Honan was in charge of administering enterprise services using Amazon's EC2 services, and hackers used his account to wipe out everything (or compromise corporate security), everyone would be calling out Amazon.

Edit: I haven't seen this fact mentioned much, but Honan's billing address was compromised through a WHOIS lookup on his domain. This is a huge reason to use registry protection services. It's true someone could look you up using things like Pipl and Spokeo, but that's only if you have something in public records, such as a mortgage (or, in some cases, leases).

Honan is in an especially tough situation because of the uniqueness of his real name.

2
crazygringo 3 days ago 5 replies      
This whole saga proves it's too hard for companies to implement effective security policies on their own.

What's needed right away is a "badge of security approval" from an independent third party, which verifies not just the technological side, but the customer-service side too. Including things like:

- password policies (e.g. not limiting to 16 characters)

- hashing and salting passwords

- standards for security questions (these are usually so horribly written)

- standards for identity verification if you've forgotten password AND sercurity question answers (most sites will not be big enough to bother with this, so you just lose your account, but Facebook/Apple/Google/etc. need to have a common model, so inconsistencies between companies can't be exploited)

- policies for sending out password-reset emails, adding/changing e-mail addresses, with appropriate user notification

- waiting periods between changing emails and passwords, so you can't just go and change everything about an account all at once

- special unique privileges to initiate operations that can delete large amounts of data (like a special second password, or extra security questions, for deleting your account, remote wipe, etc.)

These are just vague ideas off the top of my head, not an actual proposal. But we really need a set of "best practices", and a way of identifying that companies are actually following those best practices.

A secure "lock" icon in the browser bar is no longer enough.

3
alanh 3 days ago 5 replies      
It's getting pretty annoying that Marco is consistently able to recap yesterday's top tech news item, add no insight, and hit the top of HN.

Or am I missing something? Is there value added in this process? Or do these concerns end up reaching a much wider audience?

4
debacle 3 days ago 4 replies      
Apple's performance here is inexcusable for a software company. It displays either a complete disregard or a complete lack of understanding of basic security.
5
brudgers 3 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving aside Apple's choices regarding the degree of security employed to protect their customers, this would be a non-story but for the fact that Apple decided to treat Honan's Macbook as if it were an iPhone.

Email accounts get hijacked, phones loose data, and impersonation happens on Twitter. A blog post about one of these or all in combination may make the front page of HN, but unless the writing is compelling (and in this story none of it is), it will not persist there.

This story is a story because the Macbook was wiped remotely. That's what's scary. Losing data on a phone or iPad will never potentially entail the loss of years of work. They are second and third devices, and intended primarily for consumption not creation.

It's our computers which hold our work (and as this story shows, moving it to "the cloud" may not offer significantly greater protection). An architect doesn't store her design on her iPhone, nor a developer her code, nor an entrepreneur his company's books. Our computers tend to hold important parts of our lives. They are the tools we use to create and retain our work.

Apple forgetting that for the sake of a consistent sales sheet across product lines is really the heart of this story's traction.

Remote wiping at the flick of a switch is a bug, not a feature in the consumer world.

6
shawnc 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know where else to bring this up, and had no idea how to discuss it when it happened. So i'll do it here, in this excellent thread of Security discussion.

Dropbox doesn't send an email notification, or anything of the sort, when adding a computer to your Dropbox account.

I discovered this, when one day I realized some of my files in Dropbox were deleted. Specifically my 1Password file.

I logged in to check things out, and discovered that there was a weird computer added to my account. I promptly changed my password to dropbox, did a recover of my 1password file, changed the master password of that, then went through and changed passwords of my most important information stored in 1password.

The fault lied with me, in that my dropbox account was still using my temp 'testing this service out' password I'd used when i first signed up. Stupid me. My 1password master password was already very strong so I wasn't highly concerned.

What ticked me off, was that there was absolutely no notification or verification process when adding a computer to your Dropbox account! I wrote Dropbox, and their only response, after MANY days, was 'make sure your password is strong'.

7
smoody 3 days ago 3 replies      
four digits are worthless. somebody was able to get the last four digits of my social security number (how many times have we given that info to customer service reps thinking it's "safe?") and used the digits to open a credit account on BillMeLater (yes, they did not require the full social security number to open an account). they then started buying stuff (nike shoes -- why doesn't that surprise me?).

the only reason i discovered this is because they didn't have my real email address and BillMeLater called me to tell me they needed me to update my email address. so, we also know that they don't even require email address authentication. now all of my credit reports are locked. i recommend everyone do the same.

sorry to hijack the discussion, but wanted to provide another "4 digits suck" example.

8
tav 3 days ago 2 replies      
Even if Apple fix the account recovery process, the fact that any flaw in iCloud security could easily lead to all attached devices getting remotely wiped is extremely scary. All of your work gone in moments!

Don't get me wrong, remote wipes are useful. But they should be protected by some kind of a "Remote Wipe Authorization Passphrase" that the user must set up. Otherwise we are all simply at the mercy of the next access control vulnerability in iCloud.

9
vibrunazo 3 days ago 4 replies      
> It's appalling that they will give control of your iCloud account to anyone who knows your name and address, which are very easy for anyone to find, and the last four digits of your credit card, which are usually considered safe to display on websites and receipts.

Not trying to defend anyone. But has this been reproduced enough to confidently say they'll give control to "anyone"? Or was it just an employee mistake not following the policies in place? It would be a mistake on their part either way, but I'm just trying to understand what the mistake was.

10
bilbo0s 3 days ago 12 replies      
Quick question for HN'ers... does anyone actually feel safe using cloud services for personal data storage?

In the interest of full disclosure... I can barely muster trust enough for gmail. Actually, I don't trust gmail, which is why I don't use it for anything important or personal. I certainly would not put my child's photos onto a cloud service and expect them to be safe. And from what I understand, these people put, not only their data on iCloud, but their ACTUAL DEVICES are administrable from iCloud. That seems insane to me. It seems that this is the inevitable result of any such system.

I guess I am just a bit surprised at the surprise being expressed here. USB drives are not THAT horrible are they? They seem, to me, far more reliable backup methods.

11
kaffeinecoma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does "remote wipe" also wipe attached drives, or just the system disk? It would really suck to also lose your Time Machine backups that way. I alternate my TM backups between several disks, leaving one of them off-site in case of catastrophe, but I'd still lose a good chunk of data if remote wipe targets attached volumes.
12
smackfu 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's also interesting that for Amex cards, that part of the card number is very structured. The middle two of the last four are almost always 00 or 01 since it is just incremented for reissued cards.
13
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing is 100% guaranteed secure. Let's start there.

As far as password recovery, I would like to see something more "physical", if you will. For example, Apple charges a small random amount to the CC on file and you have to come back and give them the amount.

A fingerprint scanner on every iPhone could be interesting.

I think the reality is that nearly all but the most safety conscious/paranoid hackers reuse easy-to-remember passwords across a multiplicity of sites. Some might have two or three passwords to fence-off, say, financially related logins from non-financial stuff. Still, the vast majority of Internet users are probably in the first group with a simple password across every single login they have. That's the problem. And, with such tools as Facebook logins you also have a situation where discovering on login gets you in to all manner of sites.

How do you protect Mom, Dad and Uncle Fester from this? You are not going to turn them into computer scientists or security experts. No, they are not going to create and remember fifteen different thirty-two character passwords with a mixture of alphanumerics and symbols. That's just not going to happen.

Not sure what the solution might be at this point. The Internet, due to the nature of its organic evolution does not have an underlying security construct that is, for lack of a better word, bulletproof.

14
dfc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this at the top of HN? Just because its from marco? There is nothing new in the article. Can a moderator please change the title to the actual tile of the post "Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to Mat Honan's Hacking"? The current title is just linkbait for people that thought it was a general discussion about apple's weaknesses from marco.
15
chris123 3 days ago 1 reply      
RE: "At the bare minimum, for this level of recovery that bypasses security questions, they should require confirmation of the entire credit-card number and verification code."

That's still a fail because if your wallet probably contains credit cards, which have your name and credit card number, obviously. And driver's licenses in the US, as far as I know, include an address. So it's all there. You're screwed.

What is necessary is 2-factor authentication, which is what a lot of us have been saying for a long time (I wrote this blog post in 2009, after another Twitter-related hacking: "Why The Twitter Breach Is Bullish for Two-Factor Authentication": http://chrisco.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/why-the-twitter-brea...). If not 2-factor, at least don't make recover possible with things so easily obtained, such as information from items typically contained in a person's wallet.

16
hartez 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's what the last three paragraphs of the post are: suggestions for solutions to the problem.
17
tomp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Instead of a remote wipe, what they should do is a remote encryption. Generate a pair of public/private keys, use the public one to encrypt the data, and destroy the private one after a month or so. Encrypted data is indistinguishable from random data, but at the same time, the user can get it back.
18
antidaily 3 days ago 1 reply      
Obviously. And yet, you have to admire the sneakiness of the hacker to even think of something so simple. If nothing else, this whole fiasco called attention to a terrible system that's probably already been changed by Apple.
19
Zenst 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have one question as I'm not aware of any - has anybody had there blackberry hacked and remotely wiped.

What proportion of share price is effected by security, as that is all a company realy care about.

Now maybe the whole credit card system that we have is at fault - one number to rule them all to pay for things. Maybe is we had a system were we could give each transaction a unique number you could was unique to each vendor you used. Then if that number is leaked it woud be clear were it leaked from and only effect the people who leaked it. Until then there are disposable credit cards.

If Apple only accepted Apple credit cards and if Amazon only accepted Amazon credit cards, then this would not of happened. Can see what the outcome of this will be and people will still complain.

20
ashray 3 days ago 1 reply      
AFAIK almost every bank in India has now been ordered by the government to use 2 factor authentication. What's more, a specific bank I use has also included an interesting approach against phishing attacks.

You are basically assigned an access phrase and access image. They ask you to look at these two things and know what they are. Then, when you visit the site you enter ONLY your username. Once you click submit you're shown your access phrase and access image. If this were a phishing site, there is a high chance that your access phrase and image wouldn't match so you'd know to GTFO.

This is followed with a 2 factor authentication. Pretty solid IMHO :)

21
PanMan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this will result in Apple selling less apps: People will set a way better password on their Apple account, and since you need the same password to buy $1 apps (every time!) as you do for remote wipe, people will buy less apps. They should probably have several levels: one simple PIN code for less intrusive stuff, and a lot of checks for the remote wipe (or expensive purchases).
22
rmc 3 days ago 0 replies      
The EU has data protection law which means companies that store personal data are legally obliged to protect it. I wonder if Apple are in breech of the law here? Will someone affected make a complaint?
23
kmfrk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how this whole affair reflect on Apple as a company, but this seems like Apple's best opportunity to let users know whether it should be taken seriously as a cloud service and specifically e-mail provider.
24
griffindy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't think of a time when I didn't see the last four digits of my credit card on a receipt. This is a totally boneheaded move on Apple's part
25
chris_wot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh wonderful. Replace one set of weaknesses with something much, much worse - allowing any customer service rep access to your entire credit card (including CCV)!

I do like his second idea though.

26
PsyGeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
The title of this article is completely misleading. It really is astonishing how the author is primarily targeting Apple to be at fault here. While protecting customer information is a top priority for reputable companies such as Apple, you cannot equate one non-diligent AppleCare employee to the entire organization. Clearly, the AppleCare employee that was easily socially-engineered did not follow standard operating procedures. For the record, the "hackers" who destroyed Honan's digital life should be prosecuted. Its sad that Honan is letting these young punks get away with their malicious and unethical acts.
27
Zenst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Weakest link is having a chain of events that prevent you from doing a backup. Two phrases that spring to mind "back don't fudge up" and "trust nobody".

Remember time beats all security.

28
ma2xd 3 days ago 0 replies      
The last four digits are the ones on almost any receipt from a payment done with credit card which is not censored. And all the other info is in the phonebook or other places on the net.
29
mikesun 3 days ago 0 replies      
What if Apple provided some sort of 2-factor auth that you had verify with the phone rep? Like they'll send you an email or sms and you verify the code back to the rep?
30
livemyjourney 3 days ago 0 replies      
Name, Address and last 4 digits of your credit card... Seems like one would be screwed if you lost your wallet with you DL in it.
9
Some performance tweaks github.com
339 points by espeed  2 days ago   88 comments top 23
1
Smerity 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a fun example of the power of open source. Bitly releases software they use internally but which isn't secret sauce. Github comes along, uses it internally, improves the original software, and ends up benefiting both.
Contributing to OSS is a non-zero-sum game and the sooner companies realise this, the better.

Not only that but the pull request is done in a fun and informal style -- a perfect example of Github's use by a Github employee =] He frankly admits that some of the changes are substantial and weren't requested or set out before hand, so there's no pressure for them to be merged into mainline if not appropriate.

It's important to note that this is an example where both sides work optimally though.
I've contributed code to OSS projects backed by companies previously and it's not uncommon to end up with "dangling" pull requests -- no-one looks at it either for months or at all.

I'm still appreciative of these companies, don't get me wrong, but if it takes months for a short but critical bugfix to get through then you're not playing the OSS model properly. Either admit it's a "dump and release" or ensure your open projects are handled properly. Developers will look at you in the future and decide that's your attitude towards all your projects (see: Oracle).
This ends up being a major problem when you need to win the trust of third party developers for your start-up/service/tool.

(I'm also really glad the dablooms library is getting more exposure due to this -- the initial Hacker News post fizzled out)

2
Kynlyn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Good grief, some of you folks take yourself way too seriously. No, his pull request wasn't groundbreaking, but it was useful. His presentation was whimsical and light-hearted. So what? Is dry and boring better because it seems more academic or professional? Bleh.

Life is too short not to have some fun in your day job and kudos to vmg for doing exactly that. For the rest of you..lighten up. Seriously.

3
breckinloggins 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could HN please, PRETTY please introduce some feature to parse well-known URLs so it could give you a little more sense of the source? This looks like it's going to be an announcement from github.com about some cool performance improvements. Not that I don't appreciate the actual article, but it was kind of a let-down.

I know this has been discussed before, but I'm honestly mystified why this is still an issue.

4
MattRogish 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is why, at a certain level, after a certain length of time, most software companies (including startups, although it could be argued you're transitioning from startup to real company at that stage) need the oft-maligned "neckbeard" type folks (vmg sports some stubble, perhaps he's a closet neckbeard? :D).

Yes, it's great to have the latest JavaScript ninja working on your front-end and whiz-bang Ruby folks on the back-end but eventually you're gonna run into problems that require RealHardComputerScience(TM) to fix. Or, you just throw more hardware at it and forget about it, and end up paying for that oversight over-and-over-and-over (it looks like it didn't take him much time to fix it)

5
angersock 2 days ago 7 replies      
Great engineering, but a little bit brogrammer in the presentation.
6
ocharles 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I initially saw this posted here, I was irritated. The tone grates with me, and yes - I would prefer a much drier, concise explanation if I were to receive such a pull request for my projects. I kept this to myself though, and had a look at the comments here, and I've had time to mull on why I think this is potentially dangerous behaviour.

The tone and humour in that post requires a large amount of confidence in the changes being made, in order to write about the humorously, but also in the author themselves to actually present their work in such a tone. vmg is perfectly entitled to do both of these; the pull request is detailed, shows clear motivation and research, and vmg seems to know his stuff. The problem is that GitHub encourages networking. The damage comes when other people who are less experienced, or frankly, less knowledgeable, copy his style and do produce noise.

I worry about a risk of imitation of this culture, but missing the crucial underlying detail and explanation that's hidden in vmg's writing. I worry reasoning with this people will be difficult because they have trained themselves to have such arrogance in their work.

I prefer a dry report not only because it is succinct, not only because it makes my life easier to understand, but also because it encourages a disciplined state of mind. If you aren't able to write about something in a mature dry tone and back it up (that is, not cover up with humour), then you should doubt your work until you can amply support it. Yes, life is short, but it's also so short that I would like to get things done; rather than have to potentially argue past people to get important points across. Lets put this creativity into making great stuff, not making great pull request comments, eh?

Finally, all of this stuff builds a record for the project. A succinct, yet detailed, pull request is much more accessible a year down the line to understand the changes in more detail. Of course, this detail should be in the commit messages (and I do criticise vmg on poor commit messages here), but every bit of writing contributes towards project documentation, at some level. The more we can create a habit to create mature, if somewhat monotonous, technical writing, I do think the better.

So no, it's not just a "I HATE HIS FUN" argument; there are more reaching concerns, no matter how exaggerated you might think they are.

7
dllthomas 2 days ago 3 replies      
"MD5, being cryptographically sound"

Uh, not for a while now...

Which is not to say that the general point isn't sound - MD5 was aimed at generating high quality entropy while most non-crypto hashes are aimed at generating entropy-enough fast - but don't use MD5 for crypto stuff anymore.

8
tocomment 2 days ago 2 replies      
One thing on my "bucket list" is to "use a bloom filter for something". They seem like such awesome data structures but I've never found a place to use one :-(
9
asharp 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cool speed hacks.

An an improvement though, you only need two independent hash functions to run your bloom filter[1]. Strangely enough, this isn't well known and as such isn't implemented anywhere near as often as it should be (ie. it's not implemented here).

[1] www.eecs.harvard.edu/~kirsch/pubs/bbbf/rsa.pdf

10
brown9-2 2 days ago 2 replies      
The quote in the title here doesn't appear in the actual pull request - am I missing a reference somewhere?
11
silentbicycle 2 days ago 0 replies      
This pull request has a LOT of attitude for something that just swaps out a hash algorithm and uses ftruncate(2).
12
jw_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
What a obnoxious write-up for a pretty straightforward optimization. I don't really see how this is worthy of any discussion, unless we want to discuss how some developers think they're a lot more clever than they really are.

"Developer profiles code; replaces slow library call A with faster library call B; ensures B does not change any important behaviour; writes self-congratulatory pull request."

13
seanwoods 2 days ago 4 replies      
I find the style that this is written in to be annoying, distracting, and a little arrogant. It's not funny at all.

Just write the facts and let them stand for themselves.

14
playhard 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I rewrote your bloom hashes, so merge me, maybe?"
15
outside1234 2 days ago 2 replies      
vmg clearly has a career in standup if this coding thing doesn't work out.
16
eranation 2 days ago 1 reply      
I feel so stupid now you have no idea, shame on you, I now started reading about MurmurHash instead of working. And I write software for 12 years and have a CS degree.
17
tripzilch 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice optimisation, but who thought it would be a good idea to use MD5 in a Bloom filter?!

MD5 is a cryptographic hash (even though it's not secure anymore for most purposes) and while it's pretty fast, you don't need any of its crypto properties, just the properties of a good quality regular hash function. Such as Murmur, or even simply FNV.

18
bonaldi 1 day ago 0 replies      
ye gods, another useful headline edited to meaningless moronicity. Seriously, mods, enough of this shit.
19
jimmytucson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Impressive, considering this could have been an even better pull request without all the "like, white guy speak, yo".
20
noveltyaccount 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Glad you like the changes! Sorry it took me a while to answer, I was watching SCIENCE."
21
jondot 2 days ago 0 replies      
OSX' Instruments, which is based on DTrace (from Solaris).

More pressing question for me - did anyone get to that kind of UI and capability (profiling userland) under Linux with SystemTap/DTrace port or anything really?

22
arnarbi 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why the essay?
23
mvkel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. As we all know, ideas are worthless. It's the execution that matters.
10
Responding to Wired's ad hominem hatchet job dubfire.net
337 points by wglb  2 days ago   156 comments top 27
1
nopassrecover 2 days ago  replies      
Without a lot of prior context, this seems like a clear-headed rebuttal to an otherwise pretty low ad hominem attack.

On a specific note, to characterise someone as sexist because they disagree with someone who happens to be a woman is in my opinion itself one of the most egregious examples of both sexism (for reasons I'll detail) and libel (for the damaging political and social impact of being branded with such a label).

First, throwing the term 'sexist' around carelessly undermines genuine claims of sexism. Second, it attempts to not only target an individual as sexist, but often the male gender as a whole as being part of a "misogynistic boys-club", in turn implying that masculine identity itself is inherently wrong. Third, it undermines genuine gender equality - if people are concerned about their criticisms being perceived as sexist they will refrain from open and honest critique which is the hallmark of colleagues and equals. Fourth, it assumes (paternalistically) a gender role for women as "poor persecuted girls" who need protecting from criticism and attack. Consequently, sexual inequality is perpetuated - after all, if this same criticism had been targeted at a male journalist would we expect to see responses such as "you're only picking on him because he's a man"?

There are plenty of genuine cases of sexism (against male, female, and other gender identities) which emerge out of the obsolescence of traditional social roles. Leveraging the political sensitivity of this important issue to attack an opponent is pretty low.

2
jerrya 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is nothing I can find in Soghoian's two posts that are any sort of criticism of Patterson, the security expert. It seems to be a huge and false claim of Wired's that there is any criticism of Patterson.

Soghoian does criticize the reporter, who is a woman.

Apparently for Wired, when you criticize one of their reporters, and their editor it's all out war to the death and here they played the gender card.

It was either that or admit their mistake.

3
hexagonal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another response: http://c1qfxugcgy0.tumblr.com/post/28976190142/oops

  [Wired's rebuttal is] kinda annoying. Ryan Singel, old white guy, repeats 
Quinn Norton's gender (female) five separate times (she is a girl)
because Sogohian, dirt-poor terrorism suspect, is apparently the
chairman of the Patriarchy.[1] Hey, you know who else has white male
privilege, Ryan? Editors at old-media print magazines.

4
shiven 2 days ago 2 replies      
Reverse-sexism undermines and hurts the anti-sexist and female-friendly atmosphere that most of the tech community would like to foster. Gender discrimination and sexism need to be called out and stopped everywhere, but "crying wolf", without reason, weakens the very moral ground we purport to defend.
5
Nrsolis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know csoghoian personally. I found the rebuttal article from Wired to be absolutely abhorrent.

I do not speak for him, but I think you can safely assume that the vitriol reserved for Chris is somehow co-incident with his preference towards working with the WSJ to bring cogent computer security reporting to a wide audience. My impression is that Wired sees this as a US vs. THEM kind of thing.

Delivering secure solutions to an audience that is unaware of the risks is always a dodgy proposition. Better informed customers would improve the market for those solutions and keep vulnerable persons from over-trusting a flawed product. We all benefit when this happens.

Chris is asking for better reporting, not male reporters. A very big difference indeed.

6
wmeredith 2 days ago 0 replies      
As usual Wired's brand of journalism is skin deep, at best. Any time they report on something I have a bit of expertise in, it's wildly inaccurate.

OP's tale sucks, but does not surprise me.

7
ceol 2 days ago 2 replies      

    > Today, Ryan Singel, the editor at Wired's Threat Level 
> blog responded to my blog post, but incorrectly frames
> my criticism as if it were solely directed at Quinn
> Norton and her coverage of Cryptocat.

Considering about half of your original article was strictly discussing Norton's coverage, I can see where he got that idea. Then your original piece includes this bit:

    > It isn't clear why Norton felt it wasn't necessary to 
> publish any dissenting voices. From her public Tweets,
> it is however, quite clear that Norton has no love for
> the crypto community, which she believes is filled
> with "privileged", "mostly rich 1st world white boys
> w/ no real problems who don't realize they only build
> tools [for] themselves."

That's an attack on the author, don't you think? You just implied she neglected to include any criticism of the tool because she hates the crypto community. Not only does this illustrate your lack of understanding the concept of privilege, but it's rude and unnecessary, so I don't blame Ryan for taking offense.

For starters, Quinn wasn't trying to bury facts" the paragraph about how Cryptocat is an experiment is directly above the screenshot of the app, so it's fairly noticeable.

Second, your section titled "On the issue of privilege" doesn't actually talk about privilege. It talks about how two white men were stopped at the border to the US and one who had some of his devices seized. Her tweet was stating that maybe tools made by white men in first-world countries might not be able to adequately address the needs of less fortunate individuals under oppressive regimes.

So sure, it's great to call out projects that seem Too Good To Be True™, but multiple times you drew attention to Quinn's specific article, and even once needlessly quoted a few of her tweets. I don't see that attention paid to any other reporter, so Ryan's rebuttal is mostly on point.

8
robertskmiles 2 days ago 1 reply      
I decided a while ago to stop reading Wired, after some ridiculous piece of hack journalism I can't even remember now. This makes me want to stop reading Wired again, but I can't do it twice.

This is like Sony all over again. I've been boycotting them for the past few years, and they just keep doing things that make me want to boycott them. When will someone invent the double boycott?

9
andrewcooke 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's an interesting post at Cryptome that mentions crypto.cat - http://cryptome.org/2012/07/chile-comments.htm apparently the Chilean police have some transcripts of conversations, and it's not clear how).
10
evan_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm thinking Singel's -ism meter is just screwed up, here's a twitter post where he seems to equate the driver-bicyclist relationship to racism, and in a somewhat offensive way to boot:

https://twitter.com/rsingel/status/232719063854510082

11
rickmb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I still remember when Wired was relevant. You know, back in the 90s, before they declared the web dead for the first time.
12
tomp 2 days ago 3 replies      
Being sexist is bad.

Accusing a man of sexism just because he doesn't agree with a woman is worse.

13
snowwrestler 2 days ago 0 replies      
To me the Wired piece reads like the sort of defensive rebuttal that is usually best to put in a drawer for a day or two before sending (or in this case publishing). It's long, wandering, needlessly emotional (appeal to sexism), and in places reflects an inaccurate reading of Chris's piece.
14
ebbv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wired really sucks a lot of the time. This is an unfortunate example of just how bad it can be.
15
thorduri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Had my own little sexism-related realisation when reading these posts, as I had assumed that Quinn Norton was male,
and personally I found nothing objectionable in Mr. Soghoian's post, so the sexism charge was surprising.

While I have nothing but anecdotal evidence for it, this highlights for me the practice of simply labeling any
criticism against a female as sexism, which is well counter-revolutionary...

16
0x36 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, a lot of "tech journalists" are amateurs with exaggerated notions of self-worth because they have some readership. Like the hacked guy at Wired who was so clueless as to keep important data in one place (his Apple acct), but blames everybody else for his loss.

If you keep all your data on your MacBook and believes Apple will take care of the rest, you are not an expert, you are a fanboy that has no right to state your opinion publicly.

17
btipling 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope users of crytpo software in critical situations look to more than Wired Magazine to evaluate the safety and reliability of their software.
18
incision 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't say I'm surprised.

I've read some great stories in the Wired print magazine over the years, but their online presence is typically Gawkeresque.

19
cyber 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly, there is a growing contingent amongst the computer security/hacker scene who, instead of actually looking to improve things, are looking to be indignant about something.

A major conference has recently had to deal with issues stemming from a complaint about harassment that wasn't actually a complaint. It was never reported to staff, nor venue, nor law enforcement. Instead, twitter and blog posts were used.

20
gyardley 2 days ago 2 replies      
If the author's going to complain about hype in news coverage, perhaps he shouldn't be a leading contributor to one-sided news coverage like the Wall Street Journal's 'What They Know'.

Or is hype in news coverage only a problem when it's hype the author personally disagrees with?

21
mattbeck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, wired really has hit a low point here.

This feels like little more than linkbaiting trolling, but I suspect that it was in earnest which is almost worse.

22
benatkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
The header of the blog post is broken in Firefox. I had to remove an element with Firebug in order to read the first couple paragraphs.
23
void-star 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sort of nonsense isn't surprising from tech media at all. However, I am genuinely surprised and dismayed to see it coming out of Threat Level.
24
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
He's right that WSJ security coverage is by far the best of any "normal" publication. I also think WSJ AllThingsD is probably the best general startup coverage (and also headed by a woman).
25
franzus 2 days ago 0 replies      
ITT: snake oil people talk about snake oil things
26
ten_fingers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, Ms. Singel, your sexism card has expired.
27
gavanwoolery 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sexism debate in 3...2...1...
11
Germany's laws on github, machine-readable and ready to be forked github.com
317 points by jaseg  3 days ago   73 comments top 20
1
damncabbage 3 days ago 5 replies      
There was a great discussion on HN previously about this topic which also explains why a straight git implementation isn't viable for US law; I'm not sure if doing the same with Germany's laws would be similarly difficult:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3968653

2
Groxx 3 days ago 3 replies      
Awesome stuff. I couldn't find anywhere though: is this an 'official' project, or is it just someone who processed the XML forms into markdown?

Also, this: "All German citizens can easily find an up-to-date version of their laws online."

And it's only 130 megs of markdown when zipped (246 unzipped)! A mere 4,737,628 lines[1]! Surely you have time to read it, right? And therefore be a well-informed, law-abiding citizen?

I wonder how big America's would be :|

  [1] `wc -l $(find . -name '*.md')` admittedly very rough

3
Zenst 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry semi-OT humour but this is one of the very few times were you can actualy fork with the law and come out ontop :).

Sadly though alot of laws due to changes and word-smith pervertions can be hard to understand and in that it would be nice if there was some universal way to express law's that you could get any law in any country and express. That would be immpressive though hard to do. Only comparision would be picture based traffic signs, that is somewhat as close to universal with regards to laws as can get.

Be nice when all the countries have there laws up in such a way. Will make grepping alot more fun and probrbaly be the birth of lgrep (law-grep).

4
coopdog 3 days ago 2 replies      
They should definitely do this for bills also, so you can easily see who has incorporated what into each bill, and how the bill is evolving as it happens
5
skrebbel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Gesetze sind Prosa, sie enthalten keine maschinenlesbare Semantik. (Laws are prose, they contain no machine readable semantics)

And there was me hoping they had fixed that! Ahwell, one step at a time :)

6
mcrider 3 days ago 0 replies      
The concept is great, especially seeing the specific contributions legislators make (of course in this example all commits are coming from one guy, so not so useful here). I'd love to see this advance, as well as seeing more developments in semantic markup of laws (think: 'Siri, how do I get out of this ticket?'). Not to mention just better avenues for laypeople to educate themselves on the law. I find it a little ridiculous that the legal system, which pretty much runs our lives, is so complex that it requires an industry of some of the most highly paid people in our society to interact with it. The whole thing is ripe for hacking IMO.
7
grakic 3 days ago 1 reply      
I do not know about Germany, but in my country the issue is that "An update to the law X" may introduce changes not just to parts of X, but to govern the parts of laws Y, Z too. Or it may introduce completly new regulations not being a part of either law text.

This is why it is hard to make current versions of X, Y or Z in terms of a version control.

It is also common to have laws X and Y both applying in the same context, and sometimes it is not clear which one is newer or how to apply "An update to X".

It is little easier to work on a more fine grain, in terms of sections and articles and not the law text as a whole, but this makes it a lot less official.

8
lazerwalker 3 days ago 2 replies      
I find it fascinating that for a repository of German law, written in German, the README and commit history are all in English. I wonder if that will have the effect of scaring off any would-be contributors.
9
mtgx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Start with the IP-related laws. They seem to have some of the most aggressive ones in the world, which could explain why the Pirate Party there is also the fastest growing branch.
10
zallarak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Germany is killing it. Their economy is roaring, they've set very strong renewable energy goals and are acting on them, and to top it all off, they protect their civil liberties and are a relatively benevolent nation.
11
miniatureape 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't it make sense to give each sentence it's own line, and use double linefeeds to demarcate paragraphs? It would make diffs much easier to read.
12
neilxdsouza 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should come out with an artificial intelligence app, which reads through the laws and past history of cases and helps lawyers build cases. :-
13
ahh 3 days ago 1 reply      
If only they'd accept pull requests.
14
joshu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Where is the compiler for this?
15
leif 2 days ago 0 replies      
this is the best gravatar I've ever seen
16
zmb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Applying versioning to laws is a fantastic idea, if only to make an easily accessible account of legislation's evolution.
17
ddon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing idea, which should be implemented by all sorts of governments around the world!
18
knwang 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea! can see how this can apply to many other fields than law.
19
chucknibbleston 2 days ago 0 replies      
we are living in the future
20
jasonkolb 3 days ago 3 replies      
What sucks is this would never happen in the US. The reason being that most of the earmarks and so forth are added to bills after they're passed. And not only that, they're added as images in tiny fonts so that they can't even be scanned in.

God bless America.

12
Show HN: Burner, for temporary phone numbers burnerapp.com
312 points by gregcohn  2 days ago   180 comments top 48
1
dpritchett 2 days ago 3 replies      
Am I wrong in guessing this is a Twilio-powered service?

If so, this is a brilliant pricing model for adding value on top of someone else's API. One-time App store pricing of $1.99 gets $1.39 to use on purchasing a short-duration Twilio line and then in-app purchases can be used to refill extra numbers/minutes, all presumably with enough margin to make money on top of the basic "reserve and use a Twilio number" functionality.

Just checked and Twilio phone numbers are $1/mo. and 1-2 cents a minute for calls. There's definitely headroom to make money here.

2
lallysingh 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm disturbed by some of the "chill effect" responses here, in the crime/law enforcement space. Why does an anonymizing product, one designed to protect the user, get so many questions about use by criminals and ways for law enforcement to get around it?

Frankly, the job of law enforcement is up to people in law enforcement. We're not responsible for them. Their physical inability to do certain kinds of harm is part of the balance between civil rights and law enforcement.

Most people who benefit from Burner won't be criminals. It'll probably end up reducing crime by protecting potential victims. Most people are good, so when this thing is doing it's job, it's mostly going to be protecting good people. The additional safety will encourage people to have a better feeling of safety in their lives, as they'll be taking smaller risks when using their phone and interacting with other people. In single life, this thing is frankly a godsend, and can really make a substantive improvement in many peoples lives... Especially for those who've previously been victims.

Worrying about whether to protect people, versus easing the jobs of the people who protect people, is absurdly myopic.

3
yahelc 2 days ago 4 replies      
So, the term "Burner" is associated with temporary cell phones used by criminals to avoid wiretaps. Presumably that's the inspiration for the name and the concept.

What happens if your app indeed becomes a salvage for criminals? What's your policy around government requests for information about the person who used the number during a duration? Would you cooperate with subpoenas, or is this really only private on a social but not legal level?

4
patio11 2 days ago 2 replies      
That's perhaps not the name/positioning you want when you get the (inevitable) abuse complaint.
5
helipad 2 days ago 2 replies      
This was the first idea I came up with when I thought about the Twilio API, so I'm glad someone has done it.

I just projected so far down the line that I would have requests from the FBI every day for who was behind particular phone numbers due to nefarious use of temporary phone numbers.

6
frankus 2 days ago 2 replies      
This got a chilly reception when I proposed it almost a decade ago: ;)

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/One-time-use_20phone_20number...

7
jentulman 2 days ago 1 reply      
So I'm wondering how you don't eventually run out of numbers if they're burnt and then go to an out of service message.

Do they get reused eventually with the hope that the time since burning is long enough for the old usage of the number to have died off?

[edit] Sorry, didn't see PanMan had asked virtually the same question already.

8
PanMan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea: I assume app + backend + twillio API?

The only think that might confuse people is if you start to recycle numbers (because you don't want to keep paying for them), and the call gets connected somewhere totally unrelated.

9
stanmancan 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a brilliant idea. I had this exact same one myself a few months ago and never moved forward with it because I had no clue how to execute it properly. Without having installed the app, from the way it's described it sounds like Burner nailed it. Well done guys. I really hope this gets ported to Android so I can use it myself.
10
jack-r-abbit 2 days ago 1 reply      
I assume this is incoming only? or can a Burner number be used to make calls and send texts? Either way, I see huge value in something like this (too bad you are iOS only). But the value is even greater if the Burner number can be used for out going communication.
11
jhuckestein 2 days ago 3 replies      
If it's Twilio, then numbers will only cost 50 cents in volume pricing so this could be a nice model. I'm skeptical about handling dead numbers though. Either the service hangs on to them which will cost them $.5/month in perpetuity or they release them to Twilio in which case other apps can use them.

I recommend checking out Plivo btw. They're cheaper in every way and I've heard the voice quality is better.

My company uses Twilio now and just made up my mind to switch to Plivo as soon as I have some free time.

12
patrickmclaren 2 days ago 4 replies      
"You can use a Burner for dating, Craigslist, short-term projects, side businesses, bands, and other times when you need to be in touch but want to maintain a little privacy." -- Such as when I want to be a royal pain in the ass towards ex-girlfriends, and people that I generally dislike. How have you planned to reduce angst caused by the misuse of your app?
13
Tyrannosaurs 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if they keep track of who had what number and when?

Just thinking about whether law enforcement or the courts can get details.

14
ck2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Craigslist is able to block all google-voice numbers, I am sure they will be able to block these based on some routing identifier.
15
Timothee 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like that the video on your homepage shows most of the functionality pretty quickly, but I realized that I spent the whole demo with my head tilted to the right. There's no need for that tilt.

(somehow, it now says "this video does not exist" right now)

16
g123g 2 days ago 1 reply      
RingCentral, a more established player in this space, has been providing a similar service since last year

http://mashable.com/2011/09/12/ringcentral-new-numbers/

17
arturadib 2 days ago 0 replies      
Neat idea. A couple of thoughts:

1- They better have a very large pool of unused numbers - otherwise it's likely my phone will be randomly ringing due to the many past users of the number I just bought... who knows where and how many times they would have posted the number at.

2- Personally, I don't immediately see how I'd go away from Google Voice, which is free, to a paid service. Because of the above, I prefer to have one or two fixed private numbers which I can always remember. If the number becomes a problem, I can always block the annoying caller or switch to a new number - for free. (I still haven't had to replace my year-old private number, btw).

That being said, it'd be neat to see what people end up doing with true throw-away numbers.

18
quintendf 2 days ago 3 replies      
This looks like a great concept- but I have to question the one time purchase price.

Right now, Burner is top of mind for me, but I don't have an immediate need to use the app. If it were free, I would gladly download it right now, and simply pay for a number whenever a use case arises.

As it stands now, I probably won't download the app, and when a potential use case does arise, who knows if I'll remember (and be able to download on the fly) this app.

Great concept, and love the rest of the pricing model built on Twilio. I just think the Burner team might be missing out on potential additional distribution.

19
huhtenberg 2 days ago 1 reply      
So this presumably should allow registering anonymous Gmail accounts?
20
DenisM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google search for "disposable phone number" turns up a number of offers, sOme already out of business. What makes you think you have a business here?
21
nicc_ap 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow!! We hacked up something similar few months back as a side project. Nice validation :). You have some real nice UX and figured out the pricing as well. Best wishes.

http://www.getroller.com

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4076883

22
WimLeers 2 days ago 4 replies      
It'd be interesting if this was VOIP. Then you'd be able to get a temporary (or pseudo-permanent) U.S. number from outside the U.S.
23
nicc_ap 2 days ago 1 reply      
Greg, Wouldn't it be a better idea to release the app for free and then use in-app purchases for the numbers? That way you would not scare away the people who just want to download and see what it does. People may argue that $1.49 is nothing, but why lose potential customers.
24
fuzzythinker 2 days ago 1 reply      
How long does the initial $2 last? Where is the cost to durations credit table? Can't find this info anywhere.
25
nilsbunger 2 days ago 1 reply      
Abso-f*cking brilliant. (downloading)
26
vsl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any particular reason why the app is only available in the US store, seeing that Twilio has international coverage?
27
Kartificial 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know about iPhones, but can't you just set your phone to appear as 'unknown caller' (so, no phone number is transmitted)? Or is this not really invisible?
28
brianbreslin 2 days ago 1 reply      
LOVE this idea. actually thought of something like this a few months back, but never got around to doing anything on this.
you should post what the costs are for numbers etc.
29
jhendren 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please open up an API or provide a webpage to allow non-smartphone users the opportunity to use it. I'm not sure how the internals work with your app, and I hope they are not too coupled to iOS.

I have a very basic cell phone, since I prefer using a laptop to do my browsing/email/development. I like to disconnect at least half my day, and not be at the beck and call (excuse the pun) of a smartphone.

30
noinput 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really wonderful job on this app. Just tested it out (ios6b4 on a 4s) and all worked really well and very fast. Would love to see some usage data as you grow. Congrats on shipping!
31
sspiff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this coming to Android at any time?
32
philipDS 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very clever idea. Any plans on an Android version?
33
ApolloRising 2 days ago 2 replies      
Pricing seems a bit steep for what you get, especially since it is not obvious before you buy the app.
34
meursault 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome idea. You don't seem to be listed in non-US app stores (Canada, in my case). Any plans to be available internationally, or at least in the same countries served by Twilio?
35
jcfrei 2 days ago 1 reply      
does burner support short codes for sms? and is there an android version planned?
36
drewrv 2 days ago 2 replies      
Looks great, but why is it an iphone app? Seems like managing and configuring a bunch of numbers would be easier in a web interface.
37
PonyGumbo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bravo, man. This is so brilliant.
38
merrick 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did the founders watch The Wire - love the name!
39
amolsarva 2 days ago 0 replies      
Technology + freedom. The opposite of GoogleWorld
40
twelvedigits 2 days ago 2 replies      
You, sir, win the award for best product name. And shame, HN, for not complimenting him sooner.
41
adelivet 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if they plan to launch the same service in Europe soon? Or does a similar service exist?
42
tomjen3 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is there any good use of this app that is not basically to annoy people?

Because I can't really come up with any.

43
sankara 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a reason you chose to do this as an app instead of a webapp?
44
draftable 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should get Wendell Pierce as a spokesman
45
drcongo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please bring this to the UK app store. Please.
46
barakstout 2 days ago 0 replies      
A drug dealers dream...
47
thedangler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Currently making one right now.... At least I have some nice competition.
48
nqzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
does this service work with MMS ?
13
Steve Yegge: Notes from the Mystery Machine Bus plus.google.com
297 points by kungfudoi  20 hours ago   148 comments top 58
1
cletus 18 hours ago  replies      
As much as some commenters are (weirdly?) railing against this classification scheme I think the underlying idea that software conservatism is about risk aversion is essentially accurate.

Perhaps another way of framing this is to ask the question: are you optimizing for the best case or the worst case? This ultimately is a form of risk management. And I'm not talking in the algorithmic sense, meaning complexity expressed as the asymptotically worst case. I'm talking about people, software and ecosystems.

Let me illustrate this idea with Java.

- C++ has operator overloads. Java does not? Why? Because people might abuse them. That's optimizing for the worst case (ie bad or inexperienced programmers). Properly used, operator overloading can lead to extremely readable code;

- Java has checked exceptions and uses them liberally (pun intended). C#, as one example, only has unchecked exceptions. Why? Philosophically the Java language designers (and many of its users) feel that this forces callers to deal with exceptions. Pragmatically (IMHO) it does not and leads to more cases of exceptions being simply swallowed. But again this is optimizing for the worst case ie programmers who should deal with a particular error condition but won't;

- Java has no multiple inheritance. Same story: it can be abused ("it is known"). But also mixins can be a powerful metaphor.

- Rinse and repeat for duck typing, extension methods, etc.

Putting Python two steps from Ruby strikes me as an interesting choice. I'd say the difference is at most one.

I'll also agree that Google as a company (based on my own much more limited experience than Yegge's) is firmly conservative. The style of writing Javascript that he refers to is about writing Google Closure code with all sorts of directives to aid the Closure Compiler (I describe Closure as putting the Java back into Javascript).

I also see a lot of Python code that isn't really Python. It's Java expressed in Python syntax rather than idiomatic Python and that is kind of sad.

Which isn't to say that any of this is necessarily bad (or good). It's just a (software) political viewpoint you need to be comfortable with (or at least can tolerate) or (to quote the South Park meme) "You're gonna have a bad time".

One of the comments linked Worse is Better [1], which is worth a read too.

[1]: http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs240/readings/worse-is-better...

2
michaelochurch 18 hours ago 4 replies      
I think I'm a software libertarian.

If you like dynamic typing and can write good, legible code in a language like Python or Lisp, do it. If you like static typing, knock yourself out. If you want to use an IDE, go for it. If you want to use emacs, do it. Hell, if you like object-oriented programming, try it out. I think 95% of "object-oriented" programming (as currently practiced) is junk, but the other 5% is legitimately valuable. If you have the taste to pick from that 5%, go ahead.

What you shouldn't have the right to do is impose complexity on other people. Use whatever environment you like, but if your code depends on your environment, that's bad. If people can't get work done because they're cleaning up your messes, that's bad. Be as liberal and as kinky as you want in your own sandbox, but don't impose your wacky, untested DSL on everyone else.

That said, I like statically typed languages. ML is the only language I've encountered where reading average-case code is enjoyable. (Scala's a great language, but average-case code is ugly due to the Java influence. There's a fair amount of spaghetti code written in it due to the cultural legacy of the SpaghettiFactoryFactory Java culture. I can't speak for Haskell because I haven't seen enough.) I think that's neat and very rare in the programming world. How much code is enjoyable to read? 1 percent, maybe? In Ocaml, that number is a lot higher. Probably around 50%. 50 percent of Java code isn't even legible. Being able to actually read other peoples' code is nice, and it's one thing I miss about working in Ocaml.

I'm probably more in line with the hard-line conservative camp in terms of my view of complexity: avoid it unless you need it. The Unix philosophy works. Religious X-oriented programming doesn't. Big Code leads to fail. Small-program methodology's little programs (Unix philosophy) are written to solve problems: do one thing and do it well. Ambitious projects should be structured and respected as systems, not all-or-nothing, massive single-program megaliths with no clear communication policy among modules. Small-program development works. Big Software is written to get promotions. That produces the next generation's legacy horrors. Also, structuring your company around 17-day "iterations" is stupid. Et cetera.

I also tend to think that a lot of the features that scare typical software conservatives are genuinely worthwhile. Macros in Lisp are important and can be very beneficial-- if used conservatively. Cleverness for its own sake is bad, but there are times when macros are very useful. Document what you're doing, and make sure it's tasteful and makes sense before you let anyone else depend on the work, but go ahead and do it. I wouldn't have learned what not to do with macros had I not made a few mistakes when I first encountered them.

So, with a mix of opinions from the "conservative" and "liberal" camps, I can't say where I fall. I like macros (when used by disciplined people) but I also like static typing. Both turn out to be very useful tools. Consequently, I find that I like a lot of different languages and insist not on a specific one, but on small-program methodology so that people can use the right tool for the job.

I'm conservative because I dislike complexity (I think "software liberals" are OK with complexity as long as it's under the hood-- most metaprogramming involves extremely complex solutions that, when they work and the abstractions don't leak, although this is rare, allow clean interfaces-- whereas I'm not comfortable making that distinction) but I (a) understand that liberalism is essential to driving innovation, and (b) can't classify myself as a conservative because management is inherently conservative and is, in software, almost never the solution to the problem. Usually, it is the problem. Most companies fall to shit not because they have some difficult code-- every codebase has some crap in it-- but because management mandates that they use the bad code (often for political reasons, like the original architect being a crony of the manager) as-is instead of taking the time to understand or replace it. I'd like to see how Valve evolves over the next 5 years, because I think management in software is usually a source of undesirable complexity, rather than the safeguard against complexity that it thinks it is being. If Valve can give us a determination either way on whether software can work without managers in the first place, that'd be incredibly useful information.

Not surprisingly, software politics also has a lot of individual inconsistencies and hypocrisy. Corporatism (in politics, not software) is neither socialism nor capitalism but a system designed to give the best of both worlds to a well-connected elite and the worst of both to everyone else. (Consider air travel as a microcosm: Soviet experience and service quality and comfort, mean-spirited and capricious-- but very capitalistic-- pricing.) I think the same exists in software politics and the typical managerial conservatism. People and organizations can identify in name with liberalism or conservatism, but tend to pick and choose as suits them. (For an example of this inconsistency: Google, a bastion of software conservatism, allowed GCL to exist.) What makes 90 percent of software jobs so fucking miserable isn't those rock star, "undisciplined" Rails liberals or stodgy gray-haired conservatives. Rather, it's a corporatist "crony capitalism" state where people who win managerial blessing get liberalism (i.e. the autonomy to do whatever they want and freely impose complexity downstream) while the rest of the drones get stonewalled with a supposedly stiff-lipped conservatism (e.g. "you can't [fix that codebase | use that language | pursue that side project] because we can't afford the risk") that is presented as principled, although the drones see managerial favorites getting through that wall on a daily basis, so they aren't fooled.

3
dinkumthinkum 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
A political philosopher "he ain't." I still get the hype of Steve Yegge, I guess he's a writer only software blog audience world could love. It was soooo loqacious; he doesn't disappoint. :)

Nevertheless, I don't know which was worse, the claim about what political conservatism/liberal is or the software one. I guess the software doesn't matter because he's just making it up anyway, but still. Before anyone thinks too highly of this piece, I recommend people study some actual philosophy and humanities.

At it's very core this is just an elaborate (not in a good way) dressing up of the static vs dynamic typing discussion; hardly a revolutionary insight. I also don't see how this is "risk" based debate. But in any event, this is just hard to take.

4
nirvana 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I first noticed something like this, though I draw the lines differently, in the 1980s.

What's interesting is that there has been a shift over the years to where "programming" has come ot have a strong ideological bias to only one type.

The types I noticed then I call Cowboys and Architects. These are just terms I'm using for convenience, not meant as pejoratives.

Cowboys are now more common:
Some programmers write a bunch of sloppy code without bothering to ever design anything. Their methedology for making a product seems to be akin to bashing to the code into the shape it needs to be eventually. This group of people tend to advocate policies that assume everyone else is writing crappy code as well- unit tests, agile, etc. For instance, agile rejects design and assumes you can't know what the right shape for the code is going to be more than a week in advance and that all code is maleable without repercussions.

Architects are now rare:
Other programmers will sit for a week and think without writing any code. When they do, they sit down and over the course of an hour (or however long it takes to type it) will write out the code for the complete system or module. It will be bug-free with the exception of typos. Once the typos are fixed (Generally by getting the compiler to accept the code) the programmer can move on to implementing the next bit of functionality. Sometimes there are errors in the code working with other code, generally integration errors, but not errors in the thinking of the programmer. These programmers only accept that Agile makes sense because the business side of things can't make up its mind, so they architect core systems that are flexible to support multiple business needs, but don't need to be rewritten or bashed around, because they did it right the first time.

I'm of the latter type, and I have tested this objectively, by producing a 10,000 line iOS App like this, which has been in use for several years by tens of thousands of people with no crashes or other defects (a few minor conceptual bugs- mismatch between the features and the expectations of the business, which were fixed)... and not a single unit test. It compiled, it worked, and almost all the development time was spent on the UI. It has had major releases (eg: going from being iPad only to a universal app, etc.)

It has built in reporting for exceptions, and all of the reported exceptions are the result of things other than my code (eg: there are several situations where iOS will crash an app if it needs to or due to problems with pre-release versions of iOS, and those are what generate the exceptions.) No customer reported bugs either. (though they do have requests for things working slightly differently and new features, no programming errors reported by customers.)

The industry is so dominated by a culture of "all code is crap" that I think many people think that all programmers are cowboys and even Steve here is delineating types of Cowboys, and nobody believes architects exist.

Can you imagine someone saying "unit tests are a waste of time, they just double the amount of work with no benefit.". It produces a litany of excuses for why this isn't true. ("You need them if other people work on your code!", "maybe for a team of one", "you're assuming you'll never forget a design decision", etc.) I know this message will get responses along those lines-- its because Cowboyism has become an ideology. Yegge is right - programmers are ideological.

I'm not a savant and I'm not rare. Architects like me were about %50 of the programmers out there when I started out. I think the mainstreaming of "hacking" has produced a lot of people who are taught to be cowboys and a culture that encourages cowboyism.

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tikhonj 19 hours ago 3 replies      
As Yegge mentioned in his post, this is a bit of an oversimplification. As a simple illustration, choosing a statically typed language like Java over Python is certainly a conservative trait. But then choosing Python over Haskell is exactly the same, just with the whole difference translated towards the liberal end of the spectrum.

Put another way, it's the political liberals who came up with OSHA (I hope--I'm somewhat ignorant of the actual history :P). A liberal or conservative outlook is not characterized by some particular processes or tools--it's characterized in an entirely relative way. The conservative approach is in choosing the familiar over the novel and in avoiding change. The familiar could be safer--Java vs Python--or it could be less safe--Java vs Haskell. I've talked to some ardent Java adherents, and they have lucid cases for not going over to Python or Ruby or Clojure or what have you. But--critically--these cases are virtually identical to their cases against going over to Haskell or Scala. There are differences in details, of course, but it's a difference in degree rather than kind.

Another even more extreme example is TDD. In particular, the arguments people have against adopting TDD are essentially exactly the same as I've seen from TDD supporters against using formal methods. Once again, some details differ, but the core idea seems to remain: some people are inherently wary of change.

It's also interesting to note how Yegge categorizes certain concepts in multiple "buckets". Either he's just being inconsistent (which is plausible) or he's making a deeper point: it's not about the particular concept, it's about the philosophy behind it. If he wasn't making that point, I've made it for him :).

That is, anything called "something calculus" is conservative, but lambdas (e.g. lambda calculus) aren't. Type-based functions overloading (like type classes, I guess) is conservative, but Scala implicits are liberal.

In my view, the languages that are the most conservative (at least in my part of the world) are Java and Python. Why? Simple: they are the default language for almost everyone I know. You're at an enterprisey company? You're probably using Java. You're at a startup? You're probably using Python. You're using C or Scheme or Haskell or Erlang? You're crazy. (I should note that I don't know very many people in systems or embedded programming, so my view is obviously rather biased.)

All this rambling (I certainly see why Yegge always writes long posts) has left me with a fairly concise conclusion. Namely, mapping programmer attitudes to a spectrum vaguely inspired by politics is a reasonable idea. Sure, the reality is that there is no total ordering so a one-dimensional representation is fundamentally lacking. However, it's good enough to give some insight.

But I would not map technologies there based on the technologies' innate traits. Rather, I would map them there based on the thinking behind the people who use them. This is similar to how--if you don't know the background--it's hard to guess which political party supports which regulation. Gun control is the opposite of liberal, but it's exclusively heralded by liberals; deregulation seems liberal but, of course, isn't. Yet, on other issues, people on either end of the spectrum behave as expected!

This is why I think languages like Java and Python are fairly conservative. Not because they try to offer some sort of safety but because they are safe choices. This is also why I would probably place C# as significantly more "liberal" than Java--it may be the most "conservative" .NET language, but it is far less afraid of embracing new ideas than Java. So that end is simple: at least for enterprisey companies and startups, it's populated with Python and Java. But what about the other end? I think this is where the languages that most people consider too crazy to use go. Haskell, Scheme, Erlang and so on. Only very brave--very liberal--companies are going to use Haskell or Scheme in actual production. Too many weird features. Even the sentence "Scheme in production" just sounds weird.

So it's not a matter of wanting handrails (Haskell) or not even wearing a helmet (Scheme); rather, it's a matter of being willing to choose something more advanced over something more understood.

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cromwellian 19 hours ago 2 replies      
before it started I knew it was going to be another typing rant. I think you continue to present a false dichotomy on typing, as well as missing some of the reasons people desire it.

In particular, I like typing as machine readable documentation, that makes IDEs simpler and more accurate in code navigation and refactoring. Dart in particular shows this false dichotomy really well, but having a type system for human and machine readable docs, making the IDE experience far more pleasant, but which can be turned on or off. Unsound, untyped, programs can still run. Yes, dynamic languages can have nice IDEs too (Smalltalk), but they are harder to engineer.

In terms of optimization, typing is a must for many types of hard real time programming. You can bet that the Mars Curiosity rover isn't using a garbage collected dynamic language. Nor are the inner rendering loops of most mobile games or console games. (Lua is another story when it comes to actual game logic)

Lots of bold claims have been made for Javascript JITs for example over the years, include a lot of hype about tracing JITs, but the reality is, Javascript still doesn't even come close to native performance, and it's hideously slow on mobile platforms in comparisons, with basic, idiomatic programming (e.g. dictionaries with fields) having terrible numeric performance. All this has actually served to threaten the Web with a native-takeover because we don't have a fast web language CPU and memory efficient on these devices.

I don't think that Tim Sweeney or John Carmack are prematurely optimizing when they decide to write a game engine(rendering) in C++, because experience has taught them that it is highly unlikely they'll be able to optimize a dynamic language implementation later to a satisfactory level.

I think many people use a mix of languages depending on the context. I certainly wouldn't write a web service in C++, nor would I write a 3D game in BASIC. I wouldn't use anything but Perl to masage text files, and I'd use R for data analysis. 

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postfuturist 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The things he said about the Clojure community are in contradiction with the data from the 2012 State of Clojure survey here: http://cemerick.com/2012/08/06/results-of-the-2012-state-of-... .

Steve claims that Clojure folks come from the Haskell/ML world when the survey lists the "former primary language" of survey takers to be 1% Haskell, 0% SML, 0% Ocaml. Whereas they actually come from Java, Python and Ruby mostly.

The Clojure "replacement" in the survey is all over the map with Common Lisp, Erlang, Haskell, Java, Python, Ruby, Scala and Scheme all performing well. The liberal/conservative thing is a false dichotomy and Clojure community is probably living proof of that.

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ezyang 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Hidden inside this fascinating screed is an announcement about the "Google Grok" project, which appears to be something of an Eclipse-killer for dynamic languages. It's good to hear that Google is working on this problem, and I'm interested to see what they come up with.
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grandalf 5 hours ago 0 replies      
While I found the article annoying in its oversimplification, I think the real tension Yegge is feeling is about contracts. At a high level, contracts apply to coding standards, and at a low level they apply to interfaces, etc.

One may find many aspects of a contract annoying yet still prefer a world where contracts are widespread to a world without contracts.

In a sufficiently complex ecosystem contracts make some things easier and some things more difficult. But contrary to Yegge's assertion, it may be that some organizations have a contract that if something breaks, then one of the parties involved does a rewrite/redeploy. This is not a replacement for a contract, as Yegge implies, simply a different contract.

One contract might be: "All code must be unit tested". Another might be "If you don't write unit tests and your code works, that's great, but if it fails then prepare to pull an all-nighter if necessary."

My guess is that most developers, if asked which kind of methodology was appropriate, would generally pick a methodology that was appropriate for the level of risk involved. If the code is going to manipulate a robot arm holding a knife as it jabs quickly toward the programmer's body, few programmers are going to think that the bugfix/redeploy approach makes sense. But when it's a social site then everyone starts to feel more like a cowboy.

I think it is an insult to the professionalism of programmers everywhere to assume that risk decisions are a function of internal constitution rather than a rational risk assessment.

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Darmani 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a brilliant move by Yegge. Now if you call him wrong, you're just like the guy who attacks Aunt Marge's politics at the family dinner.

Unfortunately, your business is not Aunt Marge. You need to be able to make the tough calls and say that, no, banning the color yellow is not a viable policy. Software engineering and programming languages are both seriously-studied disciplines, and all too often, the evidence comes down conclusively in favor of one position.

To pick an easy target, in many languages like Java and C++, null can be passed in place of (almost) any type. But

1) Empirical studies show that values intended to be non-nullable are more common...

2) ...which means that many method definitions are cluttered with is-null checks (to cut down the exponentially-increased state space)...

3) ...and it's just as easy to provide a feature to turn it on when it's wanted (option types/Maybe monad)...

4) ...which many companies hack into C++/Java anyway (various annotations and preprocessors)

This is a pretty solid case. Liberals win -- it's less code. Conservatives win -- there are fewer bugs. Sometimes things really are that one-sided.

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parasubvert 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't actually seem to be all that new of an argument: the debate used to be about "craft" vs. "engineering" or between "software is math" and "software is mechanism".

For example of what's pretty close to a Yegge rant of the 1980's, see Edsger Dijkstra, "On the cruelty of really teaching computing science" [1]. It seems to be bemoaning similar debates in the software field, though from a very "conservative" perspective, since Dijkstra prefers that a formal proof should be required with every program, and one should completely avoid anthropomorphism in discussing software design.

Another thought that's crossed my mind: one of the reasons for the evolution of these approaches to politics and risk over the years has to do with the scale of impact. Liberally messing around with a social and economic systems can lead to widespread human disaster: China's Great Leap Forward comes to mind. How the software is used and how reliable it needs to be is an engineering tradeoff with regards to cost & time. This is often why you tend to see much more liberal approaches to software in smaller companies - the scale of impact is much smaller (in terms of customer base, and investment) when you cock up.

Now, it's clear that larger companies, particularly many IT shops, could learn a thing or two about being "progressive conservatives", as they've "conserved" for far too long and are caught in the trap of special interests (i.e. traditional vendors dependent on their cash). Fear of dynamic languages, open source, or cloud services, or non-waterfall development is mostly a reactionary ideology grounded with some kernels of truth - static typing DOES help codebases scale (but you shouldn't be proud of a large codebase), you can't just pick ANY open source library as some are DOA, or ANY cloud as some are unreliable, and tinkering with your delivery methodology can reduce your performance greatly due to confusion, plus there's plenty of cargo-cult agile consultants waiting to rope you in. So, you need to think these things through. But that's not an excuse for avoidance. Perhaps that means I'm a software moderate.

[1] http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~EWD/transcriptions/EWD10xx/EWD1036...

(edit: typo)

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austintaylor 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is fundamentally flawed. Take HAML, for instance. It tends to be polarizing, but not along the axis he has laid out. People who don't like it usually point to the unfamiliar and non-standard syntax (conservative), but the thing that I like about it is that it is more structured, and less error-prone than string splicing (also conservative).

In general, when I fall on the liberal side of an argument, I think it is for the reasons he gives (no fear, resist ossification). But when I fall on the conservative side (which happens just as often) it is not because of fear, but because I think that mathematically rigorous abstractions (pure functions, persistent data structures, etc) offer a more powerful way to approach the problem.

I think my attitude toward bugs (which he suggests is the defining issue) is more nuanced than this spectrum allows. Bugs are inevitable, and it's not the end of the world when you have a bug. We need debuggers. But I think that over time, if we are doing anything right, we should be growing a stable core of our codebase that is increasingly flexible and bug-free. I guess maybe this could be considered a centrist view. It is certainly neither liberal nor conservative.

Someone in the thread mentioned pragmatism vs. idealism. I think this is a much more useful distinction. I would definitely consider myself an idealist. But the pragmatic-ideal axis doesn't map to the conservative-liberal axis at all.

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cturner 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Broad-brush talk is a step backwards.

Political talk and thinking is poisoned by the ideas of "left" and "right" even though those phrases haven't had a connection to reality since the French First Republic.

It'll probably be fine. Politics is in many respects a zero-sum game, and polarises participants into two camps. Software isn't like that.

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lispm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The characterization of Clojure is questionable. A conservative would want to avoid risk and would be against change. About the only really conservative thing of Clojure I would see that it preserves the investments made into the JVM and uses an accepted technology as a base. Other than that it is a radical break for the Clojure user base. The Clojure user base does not come from ML or Haskell. It comes from Java, Ruby, Python and a few other languages. But not from statically-typed functional languages and not even from Lisp. Even Rich Hickey does not come from there.

With Clojure you keep one feet on the ground (the Java ecosystem) and the other feet is in the unknown dark water.

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kstenerud 13 hours ago 1 reply      
What "politics" I adopt depends mostly on what I'm building.

If it's a library that someone else will use, I try to play as conservatively as possible, and I fully expect that despite my best efforts those developers will uncover lots of bugs regardless.

If it's a mission critical application, I'll also be conservative. The more pain there is in fixing things later, the more careful I'll be up front.

When I'm writing a game, I'll play it more fast-and-loose. So long as any glitches don't crash it or open an exploit or ruin the user experience, it's usually an acceptable trade-off.

When I'm writing stuff for myself, I go crazy, trying out all new fads and methodologies just for the hell of it. This way, I learn new things and get enough experience with them to mark them as conservative-safe and liberal-safe.

My only sticking point is this: If someone competent cannot follow your code, you haven't documented things properly.

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kephra 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing came up in mind " United States has only one party:the property party. It's the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican. "

From a German point of view both liberals and conservatives are right wing. And his article is totally missing any left wing politics. He is missing the green, the socialists, the communists, and the anarchists point of view here.

And making it one dimensional also does not fit: What about Christian socialists, what about conservative greens, what about anarcho-capitalists, or national socialists?

e.g. I would classify myself (when it comes to programming) as anarcho-capitalist: I'm using the language that best fits the problem, without bias. And I'm earning most of my money with free software.

I also can not agree with how he positioned some languages, e.g. Perl might look liberal at first, but the CPAN community is more conservative when it comes to constraining regression test or documentation than the Ruby or Python people. Also ASM might look liberal at first, but if you ever worked in a closed shop, you know that ASM/370 coders have a really conservative approach to create software.

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ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the best (only?) point to come out of this essay is that different people have different definitions about what makes code or coding methodology "good".

And because of that you can find yourself in an endless argument with someone.

Why he dressed it up in political satire (allegory?) I don't know, seemed to me to make his point less forcefully.

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yaongi 18 hours ago 2 replies      
So, this is the culmination of 8 years of rants and blog posts? This is what he's been trying to say all that time? What a peak he has reached. What an insight.

I'm trying to think of an apt analogy for this post that doesn't involve vomit or defecation, but it's hard. From the introduction proclaiming how readers will be stunned by how clearly and resoundingly true the revelation revealed within will be, to the literary diarrhea it's followed by... it's like a little kid proudly telling his parents he finally used the toilet properly only for them to find he completely missed the bowl. Yeah, I failed.

If the political spectrum is deeply flawed, as he said, then why even try to hack it onto something completely unrelated, made of individual technical points where each programmer may have a different approach?

I don't know, I like a lot of his past posts, but I don't dig this one. I don't think it provides any useful insight whatsoever.

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fleaflicker 13 hours ago 2 replies      
In his section on Tech Corporations, he classifies Apple as "Diagnosis: no idea."

Is there a reason nobody speaks publicly about Apple's engineering culture? We hear a lot about the culture at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. But I've never met an Apple engineer. And I've never read any detailed accounts by an insider.

Does anybody have any good resources? Or is there a very restrictive confidentiality policy?

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thebluesky 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yegge:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Yegge

"A measurement of length of a piece of writing, particularly when indicating a length excessive for the genre. A Yegge is approximately 4000 words or 25 kilobytes.

Named for well known programmer and technical blogger Steve Yegge, whose blog up to about 2009 was notorious for entries of approximately 1 or 2 Yegges in length, vastly exceeding the typical length of blog entries in the genre."

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dsantiago 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm trying to think of what anti-macros Clojure talk by a "key presenter" he might be referring to. I'm only familiar with the talks from Clojure/conj, so the only one that I can think of is Christophe Grand's (not= DSLs macros) talk from 2010[1]. If so, I think his summary mischaracterizes the content of that talk, but it could be another talk he's thinking of.

[1] http://blip.tv/clojure/christophe-grand-not-dsl-macros-45407...

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mononcqc 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I truly fear we'll get into debates of software conservatives vs. software liberals, and at some point some jackass will say "of course but <person x> is a researcher for <liberal/conservative> software engineering" as if it were a contest.

If that happens, I predict a fucking hellhole and I can only imagine myself leaving the industry at once.

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brown9-2 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Off-topic but does Google Plus offer any way to view a post nearly full-screen, without all the extra margin and white space taking up 2/3rds of the screen?

A bit annoying that the post text only takes up about 33% of my available screen real estate, even on the "view single post" URL: http://cl.ly/image/1p1B2o3D262g

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narag 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly, I can't see it that way. People that I met and I know how they work and think don't fit in this axis at all. The distinction that I do see is between people that trusts experience of what works and what doesn't (and still willing to test new ideas when it makes sense) and people that rigidly adheres to policies or dogmas.

The type of tools they use and like are circumstantial. It's more of a empiricists vs. authority thing.

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ziadbc 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Who is more of a 'liberal' programmer, RMS or Linus. Think about it.

In my estimation, if the answer here is unclear, then this metaphor breaks hard.

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pshc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
My project is accomplishing this lofty and almost insanely ambitious goal through the (A) normative, language-neutral, cross-language definitions of, and (B) subsequent standardization of, several distinct parts of the toolchain: (I) compiler and interpreter Intermediate Representations and metadata, (II) editor-client-to-server protocols, (III) source code indexing, analysis and query languages, and (IV) fine-grained dependency specifications at the level of build systems, source files, and code symbols.

So this is the project that Yegge mentioned would turn "all code [...] into Wikipedia." Man, my ongoing project is more similar to it than I thought.

I find it curious that he would even bother to mention (IV) though. (IV) falls right out if you start from the correct data representation, which I would have assumed from (A). I wonder if he's still listing dependencies explicitly.

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j_baker 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one could make an argument that Haskell is like Fascism. They're both extremely liberal applications of extremely conservative beliefs. This can make categorizing them difficult.

Scheme, Erlang and company are more like communism: extremely liberal applications of extremely liberal beliefs. So much so that people tend to view them as "good in idea, but flawed in practice".

Python and Ruby are more like traditional liberalism. They bring in new ideas, but not in excess.

Scala and Clojure seem remarkably centrist. They both bring in good ideas from both the liberal and conservative camps.

Lastly, C is "old guard" conservatism, C++ is a Bush-style "compassionate conservatism" that tries to please everyone while being labeled "conservative", Java is a neo-con, and C# might be compared to the Tea Party.

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sandGorgon 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Clojure is tied very strongly to the Java toolchain (note "toolchain" rather than "ecosystem"). The packaging system and package managers use Maven and Java jars instead of a clojure-based one.

This means that promising projects like Clojure CLR have no chance of taking off the ground, unlike say Ruby vs Jruby vs Ruby EE vs Rubinius.

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brlewis 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Kent Pitman on programming languages as political parties:

2001: http://developers.slashdot.org/story/01/11/13/0420226/kent-m...

1994: http://www.nhplace.com/kent/PS/Lambda.html

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DanielRibeiro 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting positioning of languages:

Assembly language: Batshit liberal.

Perl, Ruby, PHP, shell-script: Extremist liberal.

JavaScript, Visual Basic, Lua: Hardcore liberal.

Python, Common Lisp, Smalltalk/Squeak: Liberal.

C, Objective-C, Scheme: Moderate-liberal.

C++, Java, C#, D, Go: Moderate-conservative.

Clojure, Erlang, Pascal: Conservative.

Scala, Ada, OCaml, Eiffel: Hardcore conservative.

Haskell, SML: Extremist conservative

Woud be nice to overlap James Iry's chart[1] with it...

[1] from http://james-iry.blogspot.com/2010/05/types-la-chart.html

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eternalban 14 hours ago 0 replies      
"Just as in real-world politics" it is a 'misguided' idea to view the political space as a 1 dimensional space, ...
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ericbb 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I just want to add a link for people interested in this discussion.

(Dynamic Languages are Static Languages by Robert Harper): http://existentialtype.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/dynamic-lang...

With HN discussion here:
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2346590

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duaneb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that a better parallel dichotomy would be features vs quality, in a world where they are mutually exclusive. However, I think Yegge wasted too much thought on this. It is the software that dictates how conservative a piece of software is: bugs and stability are generally tolerated in user-facing software because at worst the user has a bad experience. However, a database better be as close to 100% reliable as possible, which in turn leads to testing and static analysis, meaning typing... It is not really negotiable.

I think there are way too many variables for a linear scale to provide meaningful comparison.

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robocop 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a better analogy is

Conservative: the existing system must not break!

Progressive: we must add new features!

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engtech 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've noticed this divide for a long time, but the way I've always plotted the axis is "urban" vs "rural".

urban - accepts a certain amount of chaos for the benefits of reducing redundancy, wants to centralize code, reuse via shared centralized code

rural - wants to be isolated, wants to "see" everything, wants to have control over everything, reuse via cut-and-paste

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swah 13 hours ago 0 replies      
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swah 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I tend to relate to conservative with "small government", and in that light Lua would be a conservative language, because it has a small core and doesn't try to do too much.

His conservative definition is seems to be "everything that is wrong with the world" or something.

---------

Also, this older rant reads to me as Yegge saying that this "conservative guy" was responsible for Google's success:

"I've been debating whether to say this, since it'll smack vaguely of obsequiousness, but I've realized that one of the Google seed engineers (exactly one) is almost singlehandedly responsible for the amazing quality of Google's engineering culture. And I mean both in the sense of having established it, and also in the sense of keeping the wheel spinning. I won't name the person, and for the record he almost certainly loathes me, for reasons that are my own damn fault. But I'd hire him in a heartbeat: more evidence, I think, that the Done, and Gets Things Smart folks aren't necessarily your friends. They're just people you're lucky enough to have worked with.

At first it's entirely non-obvious who's responsible for Google's culture of engineering discipline: the design docs, audited code reviews, early design reviews, readability reviews, resisting introduction of new languages, unit testing and code coverage, profiling and performance testing, etc. You know. The whole gamut of processes and tools that quality engineering organizations use to ensure that code is open, readable, documented, and generally non-shoddy work.

But if you keep an eye on the emails that go out to Google's engineering staff, over time a pattern emerges: there's one superheroic dude who's keeping us all in line."

(http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com.br/2008/06/done-and-gets-thi...)

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gwillen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The comments yield more or less the response I expected, to wit: The 'liberals' agree that this is a useful distinction, and the 'conservatives' complain that the distinction is bullshit, and serves only to try to justify the misguided beliefs of the 'liberals'.
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EzGraphs 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Some of the tendencies depend upon the nature of the organization. Startups tend liberal (want to change the world). Corporations tend conservative (want to avoid major mistakes). The selection of tools does not always reflect this immediately though.

Also some classification of technology as conservative or liberal depends upon the competing technology it is running against. I was a bit surprised to see Python classified as liberal - but it makes sense when comparing it to Java. If it is being compared with Ruby it is very conservative ("do things one way").

There are some non technological risks that influence technology decisions. Visual Basic may be "Hardcore Liberal" from a language perspective, but it is pretty conservative politically (backed by Microsoft, lots of available experienced programmers).

Steve as usual has interesting insights. I am not sure that this is a paradigm that completely fits - but it does provide a perspective for understanding fundamental beliefs that can lead to disagreements in software projects.

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stock_toaster 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I found it thought provoking, but I am not sure I agree with the classifications he arrived at. People sure do love putting names on things and classifying things into buckets!

I did find it interesting that he considers himself a liberal (both in software and politics), then then goes on to create a "type system" categorization for programmers (and programming languages) to be placed into.

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yevuard 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The difficulty that I have with his linear generalization is that I strongly agree with some points on both sides - sometimes feeling oppositely strongly about two halfs of the same sentence. Another commenter linked to http://james-iry.blogspot.com/2010/05/types-la-chart.html which makes the statement that "the design space is very highly dimensioned, perhaps infinitely so". I suspect that the programmer opinion space is similarly highly dimensioned, and more particularly, that the specific single dimensional analogue that Steve Yegge draws in his post obscures critical features of this topology. If I can come down hard all over the line, then he does not have a good enough mapping from the higher dimensional space. As an aside, using the labels "liberal" and "conservative" inappropriately juxtaposes rather strong emotions in the mix. Hopefully the emotional/visceral reaction was not his intention as a means of ideological persuasion.
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pilgrim689 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Do any other engineering fields suffer from these broad-stroke categorizations? Do Mechanical Engineers have additive VS subtractive manufacturing debates? Or do they just shut up and solve problems?
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kator 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I know I will regret this but here is a little survey I whipped up quickly. It's static so results are local to your browser.. Enjoy:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/704864/software-politics.html

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abecedarius 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Forth by this light is batshit liberal, but stereotypically conservative in its early binding. I'm not sure how to take this -- libertarianism comes to mind. Or Sealand. (I used to hack Forth a lot as a teenager.)
45
shiftb 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with this. Although, personally I'd make the analogy closer to religion than politics.
46
alinajaf 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I think as a Ruby (and occasionally C) programmer I stand firmly in the liberal camp, but is it weird that I sort of like Haskell too? I find the idea of expressing the semantics of my program through types to be useful sometimes.

Then again my actually political views tend to span the liberal/conservative spectrum so I suppose this is not surprising.

47
kstenerud 13 hours ago 0 replies      
notime, your account was hellbanned 15 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4294279

priestc, your account was hellbanned 26 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4245644

48
cheddarmint 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the introduction of a poisonous dichotomy into the engineering zeitgeist a good thing? Consider what this has done for politics.
49
dusklight 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't really think it is fair to characterize Clojure as conservative. If anything Clojure was created out of the motivation to have the cake and eat it too. Most other languages grant you the benefits of type-safety but at the cost of reduced flexibility/increased complexity. Clojure tries as much as possible to give you the pragmatic benefits of both while mitigating the costs.
50
kanaka 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Good response from chouser (author of "The Joy of Clojure"): http://blog.n01se.net/Clojure-is-not-Software-Conservative.h...
51
guscost 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As with regular politics, it always depends on the project, and the independents know best.
52
mark-r 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think he misclassified exceptions. A true conservative avoids exceptions and uses error code returns instead.
53
anarchotroll 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The bottom line is: everything that cannot be scientifically proved acquires this sort of "religous" attributes. No wonder religions and politics are like that
54
prtamil 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Now i understood why i love Common Lisp and hate Clojure.
It has nothing to do with Community or language. Its about Me. I'm a liberal. Knowing that i'm a liberal liberated me.
55
mej10 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Making these arbitrary categorizations into "liberal" and "conservative" for things where we have all of the data is pretty much useless.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/no/how_an_algorithm_feels_from_insid...

56
hugoestr 15 hours ago 1 reply      
His real argument is that there is a dynamic typing vs static typing divide.

Didn't we know that already?

I would like to believe that the political bit was just a well timed hook to get people to read his blog. He understands that the right incendiary rant will bring readers. If it is sincere, though, it shows a disturbing level of crankiness.

57
anarchotroll 19 hours ago 0 replies      
What he wrote about Microsoft is completely unrelated to the rest of his post. It says nothing about the company's culture and software development processes.
He could have saved himself the embarrassment of writing that.
58
sidcool 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty long essay, but worth a read.
14
Google's Autonomous cars complete 300,000 miles without an accident techcrunch.com
281 points by tbenst  3 days ago   263 comments top 32
1
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 2 replies      
The most amazing part is that autonomous cars have completed 300,000 miles at all. Congratulations to the engineering team!

Around fifteen years ago, I read as a child with fascination an account in Scientific American about an automated highway project where sensors were to be placed every few feet on the road, and cars would follow them, until a driver retook control at the end. I imagined a future network of roads in which cars read from sensors to determine where they were, and was kind of saddened that governments didn't immediately start putting these sensors into highways. This is such a cooler solution, one that doesn't depend on a parallel development of infrastructure, one that would presumably take lots of bureaucratic steps that are naturally associated with usage decisions on publicly owned land (which makes sense).

What this reminds me of, rather spectacularly, is that if one method of getting to your solution fails, either because those sensors didn't work out, or the bureaucracy didn't, if you come up with a solution, and say "oh by the way I did it already", it's a lot harder for anyone to ignore it.

2
nostromo 3 days ago  replies      
Too bad it doesn't mention if this is better than a human or not. So, I decided to figure it out...

2.9 trillion miles driven in 2009 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/09dectvt/09dectvt.pdf

10.8 million traffic accidents in 2009 http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1103.p...

If my math is correct the average american can expect to get in an accident every ~250,000 miles driven, (NYC to LA 90 times) so this does seem to be an improvement if all else is equal (which I'm sure is not the case!).

3
andrewljohnson 3 days ago  replies      
Autonomous cars are the next big tech that changes the world - I put them up there with computer, Internet, and smart phone.

When economists think about technology, they look at it as a productivity booster. From that angle, robot cars will have a huge impact - so many commute hours will be transformed to work, or even leisure, which also boosts productivity.

So many smart people are about to be given a 10% or better bump in time to make and to do.

4
hnriot 3 days ago 2 replies      
While this is very encouraging, the TC article is also very misleading. For example: "There have, of course been some accidents that involved Google's self-driving cars in the past. All of these, however, happened while humans were in control of the cars." - isn't this far more likely to be the case, since the human only takes control when the car can't figure it out?

Also, who's commute doesn't involve temporary construction signs?

5
vaksel 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's probably a bit misleading.

The car is pretty eye catching: http://www.vibe.com/sites/vibe.com/files/styles/main_image/p...

So it gets attention...and most accidents happen when people don't pay attention.

Once these become more common, it won't be a huge deal, so people will stop noticing them and accident rates will go up. Probably not by much, since you'd eliminate most of the driver caused accidents

6
melling 3 days ago 2 replies      
Long-haul tractor trailers. We need long stretches of highway where autonomous tractor trailers can carry goods. It'll provide a good business case and limit liability.
7
secoif 3 days ago 2 replies      
This was the easy part.

The hard part will be fighting the technophobes when somebody drives into the side of one of these and kills themselves. I don't envy being in that battle.

8
duck 3 days ago 4 replies      
The cars still need to learn how to handle snow-covered roads

That is going to be hard to pull off. For places that get a lot of snow, often you can't even be sure if you're on the road or not.

9
andrewljohnson 3 days ago 0 replies      
It won't be consumers who drive the adoption of robot cars, it will be the logistics companies. This will all start with factory-to-doorstep supply chain integration.

First, Amazon and Wal-Mart and Fed-Ex will have giant fleets - then consumers and mid-sized businesses will follow. Small local governments and developed Asian nations like South Korea and Japan will also drive adoption.

Having a fully-automated supply chain will break the competition who doesn't have the capital to get there fast enough. The big companies already automate the factories, and once delivery is automated, the circle is complete.

10
Homunculiheaded 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody have a citation for accidents per mile for a human driver? I've seen, uncited, 1/200,000 but when I tried to verify this I came up with 2,967 billion miles traveled in 2010 [0] and 5,419,000 crashes total (based on police reports for: property damage, injury, or fatality) [1]. Which, unless there is an error in my math, is roughly 1 crash every 550,000 miles.

0. http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/Trends/TrendsGeneral.aspx

1. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811552.pdf table 4

11
ShabbyDoo 3 days ago 1 reply      
>Google warns that “there's still a long road ahead.” The cars >still need to learn how to handle snow-covered roads, ...

What if the car was smart enough to identify situations where it was unable to auto-navigate safely? It could pull-over and ask the human to take-over for awhile. I would rather see a mostly capable self-driving car come to market sooner than wait around for near perfection.

On this note, it seems that the trucking industry could adopt a self-driving truck even if it was only good enough to travel along long stretches of highway. The first/last miles would be manually driven just like today. Could the trucking companies use remote navigation (much like military drones) to handle first/last mile and perhaps problem spots along the way?

What's the minimum viable product?

12
mmanfrin 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd love to live in a world where roads were full of auto-driving electric cars that automatically went to recharge and were replaced by fleet cars, and stopped at various points for people to load up. Like personal, on demand busses.
13
damoncali 3 days ago 0 replies      
Important detail: "It's not clear how many of these 300,000 miles were driven on Google's secret racecourse, by the way."
14
cygwin98 3 days ago 4 replies      
I kind of wonder how Google's driverless car handles the situation in extremely populous cities such as Shanghai or HongKong.
15
nileshtrivedi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paraphrasing Peter Norvig: ".. if you do experiments and you're not failing half of the time, then you aren't getting enough information out of those experiments."

(from http://www.slate.com/blogs/thewrongstuff/2010/08/03/error_me... )

;-)

16
debacle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Put another way, Google's Autonomous cars complete less than half of the total daily commute of a small metropolitan workforce.

That's not a lot of miles, but the fact that they've done it completely without accident is relatively impressive.

17
bengl3rt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm of two minds on these.

On the one hand, these will help close the "fun gap" between the city and the suburbs. One big problem with living in the suburbs is that you can't really drink a lot wherever you are, because you have to drive home afterwards. If your car drove itself that restriction would be removed, and over time the suburbs could start to compete with cities for nightlife despite the large delta in density. Places might even start staying open later because they could make more money selling alcohol.

On the other hand, I have a power-nothing manual-everything sports car that I love to drive. Already most people I know drive cars with automatic transmissions, and now some manufacturers don't even ofter manuals anymore, even on fairly powerful high-end cars. I can imagine many of the same people who choose an automatic transmission today will choose a fully automatic self-driving car tomorrow because to them it's a utility and not a form of entertainment. Eventually, the market for non-self-driving cars will shrink in the same way the market for cars with manual transmissions has.

18
johngalt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Will it be a problem when you have 50 autonomous cars in close proximity? Potential for crosstalk from the sensors? Similar to headlights at night making it so you can see, but blinding oncoming traffic.
19
vibrunazo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a much better and through article on the subject the RWW:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/googles_self-driving_ca...

20
ilaksh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I doubt that there were really no accidents at all or close calls, but even if that is the case, you have to expect some accidents as more and more of these vehicles get out there. But even if there are 1000 accidents in the next 300000 miles or whatever, I hope people are realistic and give the technology time rather than writing it off as soon as a very well-publicized collisions occur.
21
eloisant 2 days ago 1 reply      
The problem is, if it gets to production, the first real accident will be considered totally inacceptable.

It doesn't matter if you reduce by a 1000 the risk of accident. When an accident is caused by a human error you have someone to blame, you can think "I would have done better". But when the accident is cause by a machine, then people will stop trusting the car and be done with it.

22
3amOpsGuy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what kind of denial of service attacks we'll see on autonomous cars once they're popular.

Trivial example, could i choose to always pull out in front of the robot even if it's not my right of way? (presumably safe in the knowledge the robot will always give way to avoid a collision)

Could that escalate to the robot being treated as a mobile speed trap / felony snitch?

Interesting times.

23
malkia 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the future, there must be some communication between vehicles how to minimize the effect of the crash - e.g. if in one vehicles there is no-one, and no hazardous material - then this car somehow should be able to take more of the damage.

Oh, and I would very much like if every vehicle put on the back and front of the car - it's current speed measured by the car.

24
duck 3 days ago 0 replies      
While impressive, not as big as this guy who has driven 3 million miles without one: http://compass.ups.com/article.aspx?id=370
25
tbenst 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to see google incorporate the efforts of SARTRE, a system of caravaning cars on highways for reduced drag: http://www.sartre-project.eu/en/Sidor/default.aspx
26
robertszkutak 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how well these cars handle heavy snowfall or ice on the roads. I know firsthand how driving becomes infinitely more complicated under these conditions and it would be major selling point for these cars if they could handle it smoothly.
27
rondon1 3 days ago 1 reply      
You will not know how safe they are until accidents happen. I would love to see someone with money run an experiment with real drivers vs google cars. Create a worst case scenario course with simulated drunk drivers, blown tires, missing stop signs, etc.. and run this with real and fake drivers. I suspect the average driver would crash 10% of the time, autonomous car would crash 1% of the time, and a professional driver would crash never.

The real safety improvements will come when all cars are autonomous and they talk to each other.

28
elchief 3 days ago 0 replies      
Predictions of the economic effects of the GCars:

http://vancouverdata.blogspot.ca/2012/08/googles-self-drivin...

29
kayoone 2 days ago 1 reply      
may i remind people here cheering for automated cars that most of the world hasnt even accepted automatic transmission because they want to control their car themselves? This will take decades
30
joshlegs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now just imagine putting in an address into the GPS and not missing any turns on the way there cuz your computer-car does everything for you.

Now also imagine if that address isn't up-to-date (I found it on the web!), or there is some other problem with the address.

31
tocomment 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how an autonomous car can handle stop lights being out? Or a traffic cop at an intersection? Will it has to learn and recognize the hand gestures?
32
diggan 3 days ago 2 replies      
What happen if I have a accident in the car? Will Google pay my damages if it's the car's fault?

How quickly will we adapt to the car?

16
Soviet Venus Images mentallandscape.com
279 points by wglb  1 day ago   51 comments top 17
1
jamiequint 1 day ago 1 reply      
The details on how they built cameras (in 1980 no less) to capture and transmit data in an environment of 100atm and 400+ degrees Celsius are really interesting! http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogVenus.htm
2
DividesByZero 1 day ago 2 replies      
These landings have one of my favourite ever engineering failures, regarding Venera 14. Venera 13 and 14 were twin landers which landed at the same time on Venus. Both contained a similar science package - including an arm to measure the compressibility of the soil on the surface of Venus.

Venera 13's arm functioned properly. Venera 14's returned strange data, which was soon traced to a very simple fault - both Venera landers had a lens cap protecting their sensitive camera equipment on descent. These popped off on landing, and then the spring-loaded instrument arm extended to perform its testing.

Venera 13's arm extended into the soil correctly. Venera 14's arm extended directly into its discarded lens cap. Poor Venera 14 travelled millions of kilometers to test the compressibility of a lens cap on the surface of venus.

http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_Venera_Perspective.jpg Venera 14 on right)

Venera 14 did also function for almost twice its design lifetime (~57 minutes) so it was a good little probe, but I love to use this little example when talking about reliability engineering.

3
nixy 1 day ago 1 reply      
This blew my mind. I had no idea we ever landed anything on Venus, let alone something that was able to send us pictures from the surface. Fantastic images!
4
jschuur 1 day ago 2 replies      
Worth noting that the Venera probes only survived between 23 minutes and 2 hours on the surface of Venus, due to the harsh conditions there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera
5
tjic 1 day ago 3 replies      
Now HERE is what I consider really cool: in the US we were seriously thinking about taking some Apollo components, building what amounts to a Skylab with thrusters, and doing a MANNED Venus flyby in 1973.

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

6
mladenkovacevic 1 day ago 1 reply      
lots of images and text explaining the process of stitching and processing. Here is the money shot that made me go :O
http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_Venera_Perspective.jpg

Also this shot of Halley's comet fly-by from another Soviet craft (Vega-1) that only served to deposit a lander on Venus but then went on to fly close to the famous comet as well:
http://www.mentallandscape.com/CS_Vega02.jpg

7
pacaro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don Mitchell has some cool stuff on his site, I'm always tempted to use his "Palette of Planets"[1] in a project...

[1] http://donpmitchell.blogspot.com/2006/02/palette-of-planets....

8
afterburner 1 day ago 1 reply      
I always loved the look of one of the Venera landers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Venera_11_lander.jpg

9
rwhitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
A Russian scientist revisited these recently and became convinced that there could be life on Venus. A fun read: http://io9.com/5878554/russian-scientist-claims-to-have-disc...
10
abuddy 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a new mission Venera-D, they plan to launch it in 2016-2017.
More info here: http://venera-d.cosmos.ru/index.php?id=658&L=2
11
zerostar07 1 day ago 0 replies      
And now we need a "space" filter for instagram
12
DonPMitchell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the comments. I'm working on a book now. Also was invited to write a paper refuting the claim of living creatures in the Venera photos. Those features are explained by unusual pulse-position modulation system.
13
tsieling 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every few years these photos cross my path and every time I'm just as captivated as when I saw them as a kid. The further we get from that era, the more remarkable the accomplishment feels.
14
NaOH 1 day ago 1 reply      
I learned about it some time ago in another HN thread, but the BBC series The Planets gives great, concise looks at much of the interplanetary research efforts by the US and the USSR. There are some bits of information that are no longer understood as true, and the series lacks some recent information since it was produced in the late 90s, but it really is worth watching.

It's an eight-part series (each episode being about 45 minutes), and the first three episodes were especially remarkable for the descriptions of what scientists have accomplished, the interviews with some key people, and the film/images shown. I can watch those over and over, and each time I'm struck by how amazing it is that people have accomplished things like this. To me, there's a wonder in it all, from the fact that there have been these achievements and that I've lived at a time to bear witness.

I know it's listed on Amazon and through Netflix for anyone who is interested. My thanks go to whomever it was around here who informed me that this series exists.

15
cutie 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's a shame the other terrestrial planets are so uninhabitable.
16
adrianwaj 1 day ago 3 replies      
Anyone know where one can find free (as in public domain or permissible for commercial usage) hi-def photos of outer space? (eg Hubble, other telescopic photos
17
Paul_S 1 day ago 1 reply      
You've pasted this link in every Mars thread. And submitted it on its own. Multiple times. I had a look at your submission list out of curiosity and all your submissions are just self-promotion. I don't think that's in the spirit of HN.

Best self-promotion you can do is make quality posts and submissions and then link to your blog from your profile page instead.

17
Nokia sells Qt to Digia digia.com
266 points by frax  1 day ago   66 comments top 16
1
densh 1 day ago 4 replies      
> Following the acquisition, Digia plans to quickly enable Qt on Android, iOS and Windows 8 platforms.

Gods have finally heard my prayers. What have they been waiting for all this years?

2
edwinyzh 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wish QT Creator will have built-in support for Python (along with PySide), I really like that IDE, it's really well designed for its sole purpose with a minimal UI (when being compared with Visual Studio).

Power of QT + Productivity of QT Creator + Simplicity of Python = Amazing, IMHO.

PySide-powered python scripts can be frozen into binaries with various tools such as cxFreeze, that's a good thing.

BTW, QT Creator is one of my inspiration sources for my new text editor with a Firebug-like UI for testing css/html in real-time (http://liveditor.com).

3
nuje 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Finnish stock exchange press release also says
the deal has a "neutral effect" on Digia's earnings
so seems they got it for a pittance, or maybe did some
kind of more complicated hedged deal?

Url is http://www.kauppalehti.fi/5/i/porssi/tiedotteet/porssitiedot... if you want to hand it to Google Translate

Edit: I guess it's an accounting trick where you don't
categorise acquisitions as an expense. But still
leaves the 125 salaries...

4
gingerjoos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems like Digia was already into Qt bigtime [1] . Can anyone give some context w.r.t Digia?

[1] http://blog.qt.nokia.com/2011/03/07/nokia-and-digia-working-...

5
eliben 1 day ago 4 replies      
IMHO Nokia has really managed to alienate developers with their treatment of Qt, and their dumping of Meego in favor of MS. This may cause deep repercussions in the long run.
6
nicholassmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is probably the best news that can come out of the situation. It's someone already in the community, and familiar with the needs of the platform going forward.
7
Xyzodiac 1 day ago 0 replies      
I knew this was going to happen, seriously glad Digia is bringing it to mobile.
8
daurnimator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Website down due to load; see it via Coral: http://www.digia.com.nyud.net/en/Home/Company/Press/2012/Dig...
9
przemoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
So what Atlant Schmidt wrote on development(at)qt-project(dot)org ML [1] came true.

Somehow it looks like this whole open governance transition of Qt was aimed to lessen disturbance of the inevitable sell off.

[1] http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.comp.lib.qt.devel/5502/focus=5...

10
api 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sell your best product. Great job Microsoft flunkies...
11
mikecane 1 day ago 0 replies      
How will the new ownership of Qt affect Open webOS?
12
happywolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
For iOS, a sane obj-C binding to Qt4 will be the first thing I wish.
13
ylem 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how this will effect pyside...
14
chj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Qt for Android!
15
freepipi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope QT will stay neutrality to any specified OS
16
umenline 1 day ago 2 replies      
does it remain LGPL ?
19
Veteran NYTimes Photographer Arrested & Allegedly Beaten by NYPD chasejarvis.com
245 points by aaronbrethorst  3 days ago   88 comments top 9
1
look_lookatme 3 days ago 3 replies      
Interestingly enough, it looks like his assignment was probably related to this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/nyregion/for-women-in-stre...

stop-and-frisk is a significant issue in NYC. Ostensibly the authority is granted as part of a larger effort to eliminate firearms on the street. It resulted in nearly 700K stops in 2011. That got 800 some-odd guns off the streets of the city at an unknown cost to goodwill (given most people stopped-and-frisked are Black or Latino).

On the flip side there is no doubt that stop-and-frisk has contributed to one of the highest rates of marijuana arrests in the country for NYC. Odd, given New York state effectively decriminalized small amounts of weed in the 70's. It's only through a loophole that states publicly displaying the drug makes possession an arrestable offense and it's been reported that the NYPD consistently instructs people in stop-and-frisk situations to remove any drugs from their pocket and present it for inspection prior to frisking, making it publicly displayed.

Gov. Cuomo called on NY state legislature this year to eliminate the public display issue, but nothing happened before the end of the January-June session.

edit: added "small amounts"

2
ggchappell 3 days ago 1 reply      
FTA:

> I was taking pictures of something that was really wasn't anything shocking for them. There was no police line. Ive been doing this a long time and its frustrating. Im credentialed. They asked for the credential, I'm shooting, the next thing I know I'm in jail and my equipment is confiscated.

Serious question: Why does/should it matter that he is credentialed?

3
mikemarotti 3 days ago  replies      
Interesting, but what does this have to do with HN?
4
fleitz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the reporter may be suffering from stockholm syndrome.
5
nateabele 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's a pretty safe bet that no such thing would ever pass a state legislature, but in cases where it can be demonstrated that an officer's behavior is clearly illegal, there need to be provisions for the officer to be held personally liable: no more hiding behind the city or the department.

Again, not that it'd likely ever happen, but hey, petitioning your elected representatives never (okay, rarely) hurt.

6
dromidas 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really hope he presses charges and brings yet another wrongful suit against the state. Police officers must be held accountable for things they do and if it is a public area then they should act accordingly. A judge already ruled this many times, when will they learn.
7
adrianwaj 3 days ago 1 reply      
"He was charged with obstructing government administration and with resisting arrest as he was taking photographs of a brewing street fight in New York that involved a teenage girl."

Let's call it for what it is... the police were enjoying watching the fight and didn't want to be disturbed. What happened to the girl or rather the attacker? nothing, the justice was instead leveled at Stolarik, and what's he going to do back, nothing. What a shit hole NYC must be. (I might be wrong too)

8
olalonde 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a side note, why do Americans frequently refer to the New York police department by its acronym (NYPD) instead of simply calling it "the police"? Is it because this particular police department is distinct from other "regular" police departments? I find it a bit strange since I don't recall observing this phenomenon for any other city's police departments (except maybe LAPD).
20
Textmate 2 on Github macromates.com
239 points by wycats  1 day ago   8 comments top 4
1
masnick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the text of Allan's post -- their site isn't loading very quickly right now.

----

Today I am happy to announce that you can find the source for TextMate 2 on GitHub.

I've always wanted to allow end-users to tinker with their environment, my ability to do this is what got me excited about programming in the first place, and it is why I created the bundles concept, but there are limits to how much a bundle can do, and with the still growing user base, I think the best move forward is to open source the program.

The choice of license is GPL 3. This is partly to avoid a closed source fork and partly because the hacker in me wants all software to be free (as in speech), so in a time where our platform vendor is taking steps to limit our freedom, this is my small attempt of countering such trend.

I am also a pragmatist and realize that parts of the TextMate code base is useful for other (non-free) applications, so I may later move to a less restrictive license, as is currently the case with the bundles. For now, please get in touch with us if there are subsets of the code base you wish to use for non-free software, and we might be able to work something out.

Anything related to the code base, including contributions, can be discussed at the textmate-dev list or ##textmate on freenode.net. Pull requests can be sent via GitHub but if you plan to make larger changes, it might be good to discuss them first if you want to ensure that we are interested in accepting a pull request for such change or simply want advice on how to go about it.

2
simonbrown 1 day ago 1 reply      
The two Textmate posts would make more sense with eachothers' titles.
3
chmars 1 day ago 0 replies      
4
systems 1 day ago 1 reply      
now we wait for someone to port it to linux and windows
21
The effect of typefaces on credibility opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com
237 points by gamzer  1 day ago   92 comments top 27
1
blahedo 1 day ago 5 replies      
There are a lot of problems here.

The bar charts used to illustrate that article are terrible. They present raw counts for each font, but each font was not presented to the same number of people---they varied from 7,477 (CM) to 7,699 (Helvetica), which is a pretty big swing given the other numbers they're displaying. In fact, when you run the percentages, CM has a higher percentage of agreement than Baskerville (62.6% to 62.4%)!

When we turn to the "weighted" scores, which don't follow any clear statistical methodology that I'm aware of, the bar chart is again presented with counts rather than proportions, and this time with an egregiously misleading scale that makes it seem like CS gets half the score of gravitas-y fonts like CM and Baskerville, when in fact its score is only about 5% lower.

Finally we get to the "p-value for each font". That's... not how p-values work. The author admits that his next statement is "grossly oversimplified", but there's a difference between simplification and nonsense. He says that "the p-value for Baskerville is 0.0068." What does that mean? What test was being performed there? Can we have a little hint as to what the null and alternative hypotheses were?

2
aw3c2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Those columns graphs were very misleading to me. Here is some adjusted image showing the whole image for easier grasping of the dimensions: http://i.imgur.com/QS8PA.jpg I am not 100% my math is correct but a quick calculation in my head says the dimensions seem correct
3
waratuman 1 day ago 6 replies      
I'm not that great of a writer. My papers were usually in the B range and I almost never got an A. Then I started using LaTeX and now my papers are used as examples in classes.
4
pierrefar 1 day ago 3 replies      
How did they control for whether the fonts are actually installed on the participants' computers or not?

Also, did they control for desktops vs smartphones vs tablets? It's reasonable to hypothsize the device's screen (and zoom level on mobiles) affects typeface rendering and its perception.

All in all, intersesting and worthy of more work, but I want more to believe the result more.

5
JoelSutherland 1 day ago 3 replies      
When the survey initially came out I was randomly given Computer Modern. The day before, I had painstakingly converted Computer Modern it to a webfont for a friend's blog (http://www.krisjordan.com) and I was shocked to see it on nytimes.com.

I quickly went over to a different (Windows) machine to try it out because I couldn't believe my eyes. That one was given Georgia, so I mistakenly assumed that Errol Morris was such a type hipster that he included Computer Modern in his type stack if it was installed locally. It was pretty funny to see this today.

One thing I will say, is that the Computer Modern webfont they used is a disaster. It had tons of aliasing issues. I wonder how they sourced it since natively it isn't in a normal font format. (Knuth!) That certainly would skew the results.

6
anusinha 1 day ago 2 replies      
An empirical anecdote: when I was in high school, all of my lab reports for chemistry and physics were typeset in LaTeX while most of my friends either handwrote the mathematics or used MS Word's Equation Editor. There were multiple occasions where a friend and I made the same mistake (we usually worked together; yes, we cited each other) and the deduction on my report was less than the deduction on his. It wasn't huge, usually -1 point vs -2, but there was consistently a difference.
7
brendano 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Following up on blahedo's comment and the questions about what the heck their p-values mean --

This is a nice example that you can get statistical significance for small effects, if your sample is big enough. Their p-values are explained very badly, so I did my own analysis by transcribing their data from those plots. Let's take their weighting scheme for granted. I agree with some other commenters that the sums and counts are misleading, and instead took average scores per font, and computed confidence intervals for those means. The means are indeed a little different, and for some pairs, statistically significantly so.

http://brenocon.com/Screen%20shot%202012-08-10%20at%202.03.0...

But does it matter much? Take the pair with the largest gap, Baskerville vs. Comic Sans, of 0.95 versus 0.79: a difference is 0.16. This is out of a 10-point scale (ranging -5 to +5).

In fact, the standard deviation for the entire dataset is 3.6 -- so just 0.05 standard deviations worth of difference.

Or here's another way to think about it. If a person does Comic Sans example, versus could have done Baskerville example, how often would they have score higher? (This ignores the weightings, it's a purely ordinal comparison. I think this is related to the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test statistic or something, I forget.) So with independence assumptions (if they had proper randomization, hopefully this solves), just independently sample from the distributions many times and compare pairs of simulated outcomes. 22% of the time it's a tie, 40.3% of the time Baskerville scores higher, and 37.8% of the time Comic Sans scores higher. I guess then it sounds like the difference is better than nothing.

Not sure what's a good and fair way to think about the substantive size of the effect. I wanted to take the quantile positions of the means, but realized you can't exactly do that with ordinal data like this (zillions of values share the same quantile value).

I probably missed something, so here's the transcribed data and R/Python code probably with errors: https://gist.github.com/3311340

Now that I'm thinking about it more, averaging the agreement scores seems weird. Maybe it's clearer to use the simple binary agree/disagree outcome.

8
jere 1 day ago 2 replies      
>Georgia is enough like Times to retain its academic feel, and is different enough to be something of a relief for the grader.

I've thought for years Georgia was a great choice on a resume/paper.

a) You want to stand out

b) You also don't want to appear too "starchy"

9
thebigshane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really hate those "Weighted Agreement/Disagreement" charts.

For Weighted Agreement, it looks like Comic Sans had a way lower agreement rate (it looks like 60% lower) but Comic Sans had only a 4.5% lower agreement rate than Baskerville, including their weighting system.

For Weighted Disagreement, Georgia had only a 7.7% increase in disagreement than Baskerville whereas the chart makes it look more than double.

Still interesting, but not nearly as substantial as they make it out to be. Is there a term for this type of manipulation of charts (whether intentional or not)?

EDIT: Indeed, the term for this is "Truncated graph" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misleading_graph#Truncated_grap...

And as a bonus (thanks wikipedia!), according to Edward Tufte's "Lie Factor"[0] (where 1 is considered accurate), the Weighted Agreement chart has a lie factor of ~15 and the Weighted Disagreement chart has a lie factor of ~17.

[0]: http://thedoublethink.com/2009/08/tufte%E2%80%99s-principles...

10
sgoranson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Generally I detest font geeks, but I'm going to defend them here. First off: yes it's true that many intellectuals, designers, and hipsters have a genuine prejudice for Comic Sans. Facts need to work a little harder to prove themselves when written in that font. But in a world where we're deluged with typed information from the second we glimpse at our alarm clocks, I think it's okay to have a little prejudice because we need filter out at least some of the noise. Like most stereotypes, the Comic Sans prejudice is based on a grain (beach?) of truth. Can anyone really claim that the percentage of trustworthy Comic Sans based webpages they've seen in their life is equal to the percentage of trustworthy Georgia pages? Sorry. Geocities happened people, and I, for one, will never forget it.
11
rubergly 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Baskerville seems to be the king of fonts. What I did is I pushed and pulled at the data and threw nasty criteria at it. But it is clear in the data that Baskerville is different from the other fonts in terms of the response it is soliciting.

No amount of 'pushing' and 'pulling' at data can compensate for a poorly designed experiment. Georgia can't be used as both the control and a measure of how effective Georgia is"clearly fonts that stood out from the rest of the page would have a different effect than the one that looks exactly like the rest of the page. To give any of this credence, the sample should have stood alone, or the typeface of the surrounding page should have been randomized as well. What we're looking at here is "Are there certain typefaces that compel a belief that the sentences they are written in are true when contrasted with Georgia?".

12
wisty 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll take the other side here:

There's two axis - engagement and authority. Baskerville is not engaging, but it looks authoritative. So you tend to agree, even if you don't know what it says (like a boring professor or politician). Comic Sans is like a boring person in a clown suit - you can't follow what it's saying, and you tend to disagree just because it looks a little stupid.

The more respectabel Sans are engaging, but not authoritative; Times is both engaging and authoritative.

If you read something in Baskerville, you agree because it looks so boring that you can't be bothered reading it. Georgia, on the other hand, encourages both strong agreement and strong disagreement - people take it seriously, but actually pay attention. No-one takes Comic Sans seriously, because it's hard to read and looks stupid.

13
lubujackson 1 day ago 0 replies      
This misses the most obvious difference to users, which is that the font changes in the middle of the article. Taken in conjunction with all the other fonts on the page, the harmony of the specific font to all other fonts in the article and on the page is probably the most important factor here.
14
Danieru 1 day ago 2 replies      
I would like to ask Patio11 if he has ever done font A/B tests. I'm working on my sales website and the results would be very welcome. In my case I lack the traffic to do any proper testing.
15
eliasmacpherson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to see it controlled for age group, I remember liking Comic Sans as a child. Would Comic Sans have an effect on children, the same way it seems to for adults?
16
wwweston 1 day ago 0 replies      
"It's going to work! I'm using a very convincing font; it's bold, and has a lot of serifs."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APcuJjCZTMU#t=4m07s

17
ryanricard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know about typefaces, but taking a screenshot of rendered black-on-white text and saving as .jpg sure has an effect on credibility.
18
mmcnickle 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Our lecturer give us notes on particle physics in Comic Sans. I found them impossible to study from.

Edit: incidentally, she works at CERN on the ATLAS experiment too.

20
jakeonthemove 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting read.

I certainly agree that Comic sans nudges me towards disbelief (and I'd never read a full article written in this horrible font :-)), while Georgia seems more 'professional' and believable.

Baskerville in my mind is instantly associated with all the books I read - most of those on scientific topics had this or a very similar font. Don't know whether it affects my judgement of what's written compared to any other normal fonts.

Typewriter-style fonts do make texts seem older and therefore, more believable (since they've been around for so long, there must be some truth to them - the standard logical reasoning).

21
vorg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
So font has an effect on how seriously readers take what's written in it. The names of the fonts alone (i.e. Helvetica, Georgia, and Comic Sans) also give off the same vibes.

I wonder... Do the names of programming languages have an effect on how seriously people want to read what's written in them? If given 3 names (e.g. Python, Ruby, Groovy), do people subconciously rank their seriousness???

22
tolos 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find it odd that Comic Sans and Georgia change places in the weighted totals.

Now I'm going to petition Randall Munroe to gather more data (thinking of the color survey).

23
christofd 1 day ago 1 reply      
regarding comic sans use at CERN... often found that scientists like hideous designs. it's a way of saying that we work on serious stuff.

a lot of sites at MIT, CMU have that mark... the more prestigious, the uglier.

of course it has to be a certain style of ugly.

24
deadmike 1 day ago 0 replies      
I took a class that was very writing-intensive. I was one of the only people to ever actually change the font in my essays from Calibri to Times New Roman, and always wondered if this contributed to the fact that I did substantially better than most other people with very comparable essays.
25
cmancini 1 day ago 1 reply      
The ironic thing about this article is that it encodes the text images as JPEG. I wonder about image encoding's effect on credibility.
26
scoith 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a scientist, I wouldn't worry about someone's lowered opinion who judges a scientific text by the font.
27
sirtophat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Honestly, the font had nothing to do with my decision - I just trust NASA.
22
New York Underground nationalgeographic.com
225 points by sehrope  14 hours ago   76 comments top 23
1
cs702 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The greatest depth shown in that graphic is 800 feet. At 10-12 feet per floor, that's equal to the height of a 67-80 story skyscraper. This means Manhattan has a 'mirror-image' city under the ground -- its 'citizens' are electric power, water, gas, and trash.

I can't help but be in awe.

2
msutherl 12 hours ago 4 replies      
So, there are two of those deep underground water tunnels, one which runs down from the Bronx through Manhattan and another that runs from the Bronx through Queens and Brooklyn. These tunnels were completed in 1917 and 1935 respectively. How they managed to do this then is beyond me.

Currently a third tunnel is being built and apparently it's "the largest construction project in New York history". The project was begun in 1970 and won't finish until 2020. It cost 6 billion. When the third tunnel comes online, it will allow for the other two tunnels to be shut down for repairs for the first time in their history. Scenes from Die Hard were filmed in Tunnel 3.

This is big, long-term stuff folks. Makes me feel kind of proud of civilization.

3
evgen 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice image, but if you want to really have fun with a kid dig up the book "Underground" by David Macaulay. It peels back the layers beneath our feet and was a real eye-opener for me when I was younger. Actually grab anything by the same author and have fun...
4
DanBC 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Tunnelling under cities has a number of odd problems.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1527202/How-top-secret-tunne...)

I read an article, some years ago, about the problems of getting subterranean tunnels at a depth greater than 100 foot approved. As part of the process the plans get submitted to the security services, who then say "yes" or "no"; and you only get three attempts. I can't find the article (or anything similar) so maybe it's just myth.

The Moscow subways are beautiful, but when I went (April '86) you were not allowed to take any photographs.

I'm fascinated by the complex networks of public tunnels, secret tunnels, and abandoned tunnels.

5
axefrog 14 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a very old article. One of the pages links to this page - http://www.nationalgeographic.com/nyunderground/docs/myth000... - which suggests using RealPlayer 3.0 and Shockwave 5.0.
6
gee_totes 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm no civil engineer, but why are the sewage tunnels above the clean water tunnels? If there were a leak, wouldn't the sewage seep into the clean water? Or is the clay thick enough to provide a good barrier?
7
Tashtego 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you like this, you'll love Kate Ascher's The Works: Anatomy of a City (http://www.amazon.com/The-Works-Anatomy-Kate-Ascher/dp/01431...). It's slightly out of date (but much more up to date than the OP!).

And if you like that, you'll REALLY love Brian Hayes' Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape (http://www.amazon.com/Infrastructure-Field-Guide-Industrial-...). It's porn for people who like to try to figure out what the random towers in a chemical plant do, or how the electrical station you just passed on the interstate works.

8
d0ugal 14 hours ago 1 reply      
9
ChuckMcM 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a fascinating picture. I'd love to see one of the Bay Area, one of the cable technicians installing yet another fiber down the road outside our office joked that if you put big rockets at PAIX and MAE-WEST and launched, they would lift 'silicon valley' [1] into space on a net of fiber optic cables.

Of course no mention of "Beauty and the Beast" [2] which took place in a pretty fanciful world under New York city.

Given the expense these days of tunneling I wonder if we've reached a peak of complexity underground for now.

[1] Actually only the parts between San Jose and Palo Alto but it was the imagery not the accuracy they were going for.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%281987_T...

10
Alex3917 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested in this sort of stuff, there is a documentary called Dark Days that's all about the homeless people who live in the NYC subway system. It was available on iTunes the last time I checked.
11
gklitt 14 hours ago 0 replies      
These fascinating Web 1.0 pages prove that content is king. I miss Geocities.
12
lobster_johnson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Naive question, but are things like power, gas, water, TV cables and steam always buried like this (requiring digging to make repairs or modifications), or are there cities/systems where they are laid in human-accessible tunnels? Seems like it would be more practical, albeit more expensive.
13
evansolomon 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine made a very cool documentary called Under City that you'd probably like if you're into this kind of stuff.

http://vimeo.com/18280328

14
siculars 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is an interesting Subway chart from 1904 with a depth chart.

http://talk.nycsubway.org/perl/read?subtalk=589316

15
natesm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't accurate for the entire city. At Astor Place, you can look through the sidewalk grates directly onto the tracks.
16
jyturley 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This was absolutely fascinating. It reminds me of Tokyo's underground sewage system--considered the largest in the world:
http://surfwithberserk.com/the-largest-sewage-system
17
donohoe 9 hours ago 0 replies      
For the record I first got a link to this page in 1997 or 1998.

Its a timeless page.

18
dmhdlr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
BLDGBLOG is a gold-mine for these kind of things.

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/

19
yskchu 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The most interesting I found was the steam pipes.
20
kine 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I love how this is both informative, very cool and a complete Internet relic. I can't remember the last time I saw a message where I had to choose whether I had Shockwave or not to continue. Nice find!
21
chermanowicz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
this is incredible!
22
mrclownpants 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This has already been posted several times.
23
ChrisArchitect 13 hours ago 5 replies      
yeah, seems to be a lot of old links getting shared lately. please stop.
Maybe start using http://isitold.com/ before posting.
25
JQuery 1.8 Released jquery.com
210 points by warp  1 day ago   40 comments top 8
1
kvnn 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey dmethvin,

You guys are doing awesome work. Thank you.

2
andrewfelix 1 day ago 4 replies      
>Automatic CSS prefixing

Does this mean I can apply rounded corners via jquery css without having to write 4 separate css properties for each browser?

3
kemayo 1 day ago 4 replies      
We don't expect to get any bug reports on this release, since there have been several betas and a release candidate that everyone has had plenty of opportunities to thoroughly test. Ha ha, that joke never gets old. We know that far too many of you wait for a final release before even trying it with your code. So now there is really no reason to wait, and you can find out if there are any bugs you could have reported earlier.

Is it just me, or is that overly passive-aggressive for a release announcement?

4
Axsuul 1 day ago 1 reply      
jQuery's selector engine is faster than ever, thanks to a rewrite (well, really two rewrites) by Timmy Willison.

Would love to see some benchmarks!

5
MartinMond 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Finally we can use border-box box-sizing everywhere! http://paulirish.com/2012/box-sizing-border-box-ftw/ The bug has been fixed: http://bugs.jquery.com/ticket/11004
6
solox3 1 day ago 3 replies      
jQuery is now modular, but jQuery.com doesn't have the custom download option like they do for jQuery UI's themeroller. When that comes out, it's going to be big news yet again.
7
shortlived 1 day ago 1 reply      

  Size reduction wasn't our primary goal in this version,  
but we felt it was important to hold the line on code
growth, and we definitely achieved that.

Does anyone have pointers to examples of specific changes between 1.7.2 and 1.8 in this area?

8
d0m 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm less and less excited when I see new releases of jquery. I guess it's so widely used that you can't add cool stuff without messing with already existing code or pissing some people off.

TL & DR for the patch:
- some internal rewrite
- some small fixes
- smaller code size

26
Things I didn't know about the WebKit inspector joocode.com
199 points by copesc  15 hours ago   44 comments top 15
1
simonsarris 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I love tip articles! Here are some more that I use heavily (note that some of these might be Google Chrome only at the moment)

The gear in the bottom right of the Chrome inspector has a lot of useful options, such as emulating touch events and preserving the console log upon navigation.

The Watch Expressions persist across tabs and I keep "this" as the top watch expression all the time. It makes for an easy quick check when debugging to make sure that you're in the scope you thought you were, and you can always use the dropdown to inspect all the properties of the current class.

CTRL+G works in the sources tab (go to line)

You can highlight some code and right click -> Evaluate and it will run that selected line in the console for you. Alternatively you can highlight the code and press CTRL+SHIFT+E

You can remotely use the web inspector for Chrome Mobile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4zpL4VBbuU

There's a useful shorthand: In the console you don't have to type "document.getElementById('blah')" to get a reference to the blah ID'd element. Instead you can just type "blah" in the console, and even though autocomplete doesn't show it, pressing enter will return the element with ID blah!

~~~~~

As an aside, developer tools like the inspector are the reason my pea brain is allowed to have a love affair with the weird little language that is JavaScript.

Thanks to the console the amount of time it takes to whip up a five-cent program with JavaScript without even leaving my browser, heck without even leaving this tab is just astounding to me even after all these years.

One thing I noticed is that more than the language itself, the tools that I use while building things in the language are what really make them a pleasure to use. If I wasn't using (Chrome's) web developer tools I'd probably consider JavaScript to be a nightmarish corpse of a language that punishes the slightest of typos with a silent malicious grin, as code execution carries on as if A.blah = 5 and A.blsh = 5 were both equally worthy of existing to the JS compiler/interpreter. Only by the grace of tools is JS tame at all.

(So if you're reading this Webkit/Inspector developers, thank you.)

2
joshuahedlund 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Several cool tips in here I didn't know about.

Regarding the element drag and drop: it's a really awesome way to brainstorm redesigning a UI, but I've found if I mess with it too much it starts behaving weirdly and getting confused about whether the elements are in their old or new spots, and I have to refresh and start over. Still an awesome feature for productivity.

3
euroclydon 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Speaking of web inspectors, did anyone else notice what a tremendous broken piece of crap the one in the latest version of Safari is? It's downright scandalous!

I had to manually roll back Safari to 5.1.7 to get the old one back.

I will give Apple credit for keeping me hooked on Safari since they're bookmark and history sync across all their devices via the cloud is top notch.

4
TazeTSchnitzel 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The $0 thing will save me a lot of time. I often spend a while figuring out how to select a specific element with DOM queries, or assign it a special ID and then do the whole document.getElementById malarkey.
5
jenius 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Command-K also clears the console, just like it does in terminal. Awesome stuff. Unfortunately the `x = _` trick to save the output of the last command to variable x does not work, but that would be really awesome if they put that in!
6
tszming 13 hours ago 2 replies      
>> Console, write more-than-1-line commands: shift-enter does the trick. Pressing enter at the end of the script runs it.

You need to shift-enter every line, not as usable as Firefox/Firebug. Also tab is still not working. This is the reason why I am still using Firefox for development purpose.

http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=35487

7
rijoja 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always felt that firebug has been a little bit better than the chrome developer tools. Now I might reconsider and start using chrome for development instead. The ability to add new css rules in the element view something I've been dreaming about for a long time. The ability to write more than one line of javascript without enabling a different mode is also absolutely fantastic.

Is there a similar list for firebug? A strong advantage of firebug is of course that it's has a bunch of nifty extensions. Which one do you prefer?

8
boonedocks 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone point to a guide for using the web inspector in Safari 6? It looks like it could be powerful, but it is not as user-friendly as the Safari 5 and Chrome inspectors. It feels like a step back.
9
rb2k_ 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a long shot, but worth a try:

I loved using Safari's inspector for for trying out CSS selectors. It seems that both for Chrome and Safari, only searching for xpath seems to still work. Am I missing something or did that really get removed?

10
tterrace 14 hours ago 1 reply      
"Break on DOM modification" is going to be a big time saver for when an ajax call fetches a bit of html with a <script> in it.
11
MindTwister 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Write "debugger" in your source code, chrome will drop you into debugging mode when that line is read. The console will be in context of your "debugger" statement.
12
phpnode 12 hours ago 2 replies      
very useful, but i really wish Chrome allowed you to replay a HTTP request from the network tab. I just want to right click on e.g a POST request, and send it off to the server again. Whenever i need to do this at the moment i have to switch to LiveHttpHeaders in firefox, which is a pain.
13
Mpdreamz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
CTRL+SHIFT+F searches through all the scripts. I use this primarily to navigate through code i.e CTRL+SHIFT+F "function showDialog("
14
laserDinosaur 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Well damn, I only knew one of those. Good article.
15
dhucerbin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Right click in Sources tab on gutter and you can add breakpoint, and conditional breakpoint. Condition is any javascript expression and is evaluated to Boolean. If true - debugger breaks.
27
Internet Archive Starts Seeding 1,398,875 Torrents torrentfreak.com
198 points by vibrunazo  3 days ago   40 comments top 10
1
riordan 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is among the most brilliant digital preservation strategies I've encountered. You want to make sure your material lasts as long as possible? Get it out on bittorrent. End of story.

We wonder what books scholars will write about 500 years from now. It won't be what's popular, it'll be whats pirated.

2
vasco 3 days ago 4 replies      
Glad to see more legitimate uses of bitorrent which currently are basically getting new linux distros and the odd free indie movie.
3
postfuturist 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Internet Archive is the most important project on the internet today, preserving culture. I've already gained so much from it myself. They work hard to make sure that the artifacts of our culture are not lost. They are totally winning, and these torrents are an awesome step in that process.
4
hexagonal 3 days ago 2 replies      
Right now the most popular archive.org torrent is a collection of My Little Pony porn from /r/clopclop.
5
andrewcooke 3 days ago 2 replies      
are people aware that the internet archive includes netlabels with a huge amount of free music? http://archive.org/details/netlabels (there is some decent chilean electronica at http://archive.org/details/pueblo_nuevo for example; clinical have experimental jazz http://archive.org/details/clinicalarchives (some of it is a bit freaky for me, but their collections are ok))

trying to work out if it's available via torrent now...

6
tsahyt 2 days ago 1 reply      
archive.org is one of the most brilliant things I've ever seen on the internet. I'm amazed since I first stumbled over it about 12 years ago or so. Free knowledge to everyone, that's the way to go to make the world a better place.
7
treelovinhippie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Though I wish archive.org was redesigned to make it easier to browse files. Too much text, too little video/image previews.
8
wcchandler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody have a magnet URI? The site is overloaded right now.
9
xur17 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there any good ways to contribute bandwidth and storage to this without manually choosing and downloading a bunch of files? I would love to dedicate a few 100gb of storage to mirroring some of these files automatically (I have plenty of bandwidth to go with that too).
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adrianwaj 2 days ago 0 replies      
There should be a formal way of coupling a torrent file with a bitcoin address, some way of donating money to the creator but trusting that the address is the correct one.. maybe when content is first released it's registered somewhere alongside a bitcoin address and this shows up on the creator's website too.
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Show HN: We Use That. What startups use to get stuff done weusethat.com
190 points by daniel_levine  2 days ago   43 comments top 16
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danso 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is similar to what was done with developers, right? The one thing I wished that had -- as well as WeUseThat -- is actual entities per question.

For example, for Pulse's answer to the stack question:

   * Google App Engine
* AWS
* Hive
* S3
* Redis
* Django
* Backbone
* ASI
* MBProgressHUD

That way, you could provide a view that showed most popular solutions. Or, if I click on the "Backbone" tag, I see every company that is using it. It'd be a non-scientific way to compare the popularity of components.

If you want to get fancier, you could have it be a delimited list:

Name of product|Category|Purpose at company

If the backend has this data, then we can see popular solutions by category, such as JS frameworks.

Obviously, it wouldn't be hard to go through the few entries you have now and pick out the entities, but better to have a system in place early on before you expand too much.

I think a view that allows sorting by tech product and comparing usage would be very useful. I'm not saying ditch the interview format, just provide multiple ways to view the datapoints given.

For the front page, I'd also reduce the size of the logos.

Otherwise, great start, this is something that will be very useful to developers.

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daniel_levine 2 days ago 4 replies      
Hi all, we are launching We Use That and would love any feedback. More cool companies to come and anyone can submit their company via pull request https://github.com/weusethat/we-use-that
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kodablah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I especially like the interviews that explain why they chose one service over another (even if their views may be incorrect or skewed).

My favorite part, however, is the "What business software do you most wish existed" section. Once more interviews get posted (removing the small sample size), others can use these as startup ideas themselves.

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ehutch79 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not clear at first that the things we're looking at are the companies, not the elements of the stacks in use. Many of them are themselves parts of other peoples stacks.

I'm worried that this is proof that a lot of the big darlings of the 'industry' are really just feeding off each other's venture capital.

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jhuckestein 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would be very to get reports for these kinds of questions across many industries and company sizes. I especially like the forward-thinking questions such as what do you need. Does anyone know if Gartner or some other company provides this? Otherwise it seems like it would be worth a lot of money to many people
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eranation 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice... was looking for something like this

Is the data going to be available in a structured way?
It think of trend tables, use counts, graphs, you know...

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imperialWicket 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is excellent, and that the general consensus here to add more data structure and drilling/reporting is a great idea.

I was a little disappointed that there isn't an auto-biographical interview. The meta post of "We Use That Uses..." seems like an easy add.

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AtTheLast 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just getting into programming and something like this would be really cool. If I saw that my favorite company was using certain technology I might try to learn that first. If you could also take snapshots of a start ups stack it would be cool to see how it evolves. Keep going with this and good luck.
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lightyrs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related, I start next week at BestVendor: http://bestvendor.com
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dudurocha 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would love to see some company that handle videos.
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sohooo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if anybody uses asana[1] to manage there tasks. I saw that it's free for teams up to 30 members.

[1] http://www.asana.com/product

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kgosser 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love this kind of stuff. Keep it coming!
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praveenhm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good collection for a startup
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shloimtothee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool idea.
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kvar 1 day ago 0 replies      
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danielweber 2 days ago 4 replies      
What in the world is this? Is there actually a start-up that exists to list what technologies it uses?
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You'll never be Chinese haohaoreport.com
188 points by ilamont  14 hours ago   122 comments top 25
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tokenadult 7 hours ago 3 replies      
As Confucius said, 三人行,...有'師焉 ("wherever three persons are walking, my teacher is surely among them"). This is a very interesting article for an American who has lived in east Asia for two three-year stays (mostly in Taiwan) and who has been learning the Chinese language since 1975. Much of what has been said about China in the first decade of the twenty-first century reminds me very much of what was said about Japan in the 1980s--that it was destined to be the leading nation of the world. Today, demographics and looking behind the official economic statistics, and considering that China has not yet democratized as much as Japan had in the era when the Liberal Democratic Party had a lock on national power all suggest that China is most likely to have a "lost decade" that continues into two or more lost decades as China's economic growth fails to keep pace with the Chinese regime's world power ambitions. Political unrest is an ongoing fear of the Communist Party of China regime, and there is little to suggest that Chinese "soft power" can overcome the misgivings of neighboring countries (e.g. India, Vietnam, and South Korea) that remember being invaded by Chinese armies in the recent past.

It is possible to become an American. I have seen it done. My wife, out of all the girls I knew when I first lived in Taiwan, was the LEAST interested in gaining a green card or even living in the United States as a student until we had occasion to enter the United States (her first occasion ever) as a married couple after a year of married life in Taiwan. Over time, she has become a Minnesotan American by choice rather than by birth, and indeed we have spent far more time in the United States than I had ever imagined possible when I first planned my adult life as an American with a university degree in Chinese language. There have been great opportunities for us in America and much that my wife can cherish even though none of her primary or secondary education was intended to prepare her for life in the United States, and none of my higher education was intended as anything but preparation for living in east Asia. The United States is open to immigrants, accepting of cultural diversity, and a second home for many people that becomes a more meaningful home than their first home. That acceptance of outside influence is America's strength, and why the United States and not China will be the superpower of the twenty-first century.

What the United States can learn from China (but even more so from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea) is better provision of elementary education in government-operated primary schools, particularly in the subjects of mathematics and science. Native-born Americans like me who have lived in east Asia are APPALLED at the wasted opportunities that United States schools have with their lavish resources to provide a truly world-class education. United States schools do not do as badly as they possibly could, but they also don't do as well as they reasonably could be expected to do. Let's learn from China's best examples here in the United States. Meanwhile, I hope that the common people of China eventually learn from other democratized countries of east Asia how to come out from under a one-party dictatorship and to enjoy uncensored mass media, free elections, and a vigorous civil society.

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lionhearted 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Hmm. A strange article. A mix of really good points soaked in bitterness.

I spend the bulk of my time in Beijing, Taipei, and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia). My take is slightly different.

Well, a lot is true. The property thing, definitely. The state industry takeovers is scary; you have to get a sense for what industries they don't mind foreigners in, and which they do. Media? Yeah, you don't want to own a media company in China as a non-Chinese. The same is true with energy and raw materials. Probably not true for manufacturing, education, and consumer goods. So, that's a weird and surreal and true point.

But some things seem dead-off. The Chinese seem much more community oriented than the West. On mornings I'm up early, there's always large groups of people doing Tai Chi, or moving around doing a sword-dance, or other group exercises. Likewise, there's huge groups of people singing, dancing, waltzing, in the evenings. Families go out and play together a lot. At least, that's what I see in CBD in Beijing.

The thing about the Chinese loving money and size is true. It's not as bleak as it sounds though, it's probably similar to 1950's America in that sense. You've got people who were raised lower on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, so they're very pro-money and pro-security. It's all pretty upfront, and everyone is in to hard work, credentialing, and earning well. My friend is married to a Chinese woman, and we were working something like 12+ hours a day for a while. Since his work/life balance was totally destroyed on the projects we were on, I apologized to her one day at their house. "Hey, sorry we're working so much..." and she replies: "You're making money?" I say, "Yeah, we're making money." She says: "Okay! No problem then, keep making money! I'm glad you two are doing it!" They named their cat "Wangtzai" (spelling?), which translates to "Bring money." Yeah, they named their cat "Bring money." But they're also happy and have a good home life together. She just respects working a lot and wants her husband to work a lot. That's where she's at mentally.

This part struck me as the most off --

> [China] does not welcome intruders"unless they happen to be militarily superior and invade from the north, as did two imperial dynasties, the Yuan (1271-1368) and the Qing (1644-1911), who became more Chinese than the Chinese themselves. Moreover, the fates of the Mongols, who became the Yuan, and Manchu, who became the Qing, provide the ultimate deterrent: “Invade us and be consumed from the inside,” rather like the movie Alien.

It's not like "Alien" -- it's more like, China was so much more artistically and culturally sophisticated that even invaders assimilated the conquered culture, and happily so. It's little known that the Mongols (Yuan) built the Forbidden City at first. It was called "Forbidden" since it was Mongolian-only, preserving some of Mongolian Steppe Culture even within China. Likewise, Mandarin is the Manchu language... the ethnic minority that conquered China and became the Qing. The Han (majority) now speaks the minority's language, since it was widely spoken in courts and high level administration under the Qing Dynasty.

But why did the Manchu become more Han-like and base out of Beijing? Because it was a pretty amazing place, and by and large it always has been.

I don't know, maybe I'll get China-fatigue at some point. I agree with his point that you'll never be really truly Chinese in China, but foreigners also get all kinds of additional respect and benefits for being foreign, along with a tacit okay to break certain customs and decorums because you don't know better. For foreigners in China who speak Chinese, it's even better -- you get delight from everyone you interact with, and lots of respect (arguably, undeservedly so)... so yeah, it's good and bad. The article comes across overly jaded, though I suppose the idea to not start a media company or buy residential housing are both good pieces of advice!

3
jisaacstone 10 hours ago 5 replies      
Take a moment and conciser how a similar piece, written of the United states around the turn of the last century, might read.

Remember the 'roaring 20s?' Materialistic society, ambivalence about foreign affairs, widespread corruption, distrust of foreigners. A Chinese who owned a tea shop in a small town may well have to beg for a renewed lease, yes?

Well, China is not the United States, but lets put things in perspective. At the moment neither the leaders nor the people of China want to be a 'world leader' so why do we keep talking about it as if they do? China has its own problems and most Chinese are well aware of it.

China is not yet a rich country. Its Per Capita GDP (PPP) is about the same as Ecuador or Belize.

Right now things in China are not so great. It seems the Conservatives are back in power and so there has been some increased restrictions of freedom after a couple decades of improvement. Corruption continues to be a problem. The price of groceries, as well as property, has been increasing.

But the overall trend is upward. The author of this piece has fallen afoul of the Guanxi networks of business and politics in China. Sorry, yes, they don't play fair. But I am hopeful at the turn of the next century China will be as prosperous and egalitarian as my own United States of America.

4
strebler 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is definitely one of the better (and more accurate) articles on the subject. I have been doing business in China and definitely see his view - it's easy to see why most of China's elite send their children abroad. I wouldn't live there for an extended period.

I'd say their education system (and society) tends to hammer the creativity out of people. I see strong evidence that who think differently are ridiculed. Only the strongest personalities could withstand this, and it is obvious that they often leave for greener pastures. Nurturing the free thinkers is not easy.

Superpower & housing bubble aside, first they have to figure out things like why having seatbelts in cars is important - that the individual is in fact valuable.

5
Jd 12 hours ago 5 replies      
"A China that leads the world will not offer the chance to be Chinese, because it is impossible to become Chinese. "

Of course. The British led the world and did not offer (at the time) anyone the chance to be British either. In fact, they actively discouraged interbreeding. It is a dogma of the modern Occident that it is stronger to be multi-ethnic, and that national identity should be open to anyone. History shows us, however, that that is hardly a necessity for world empire.

Full disclosure: I was once in love with a Chinese woman from an elite family, who I am fairly certain loved me but rejected me because I did not belong to the appropriate stock (with influence from her family). Lesson learned: if love is strong, kinship bonds are often stronger.

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timee 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"The pressure makes children sick. I speak from personal experience. To score under 95 per cent is considered failure. Bad performance is punished."

I grew up in that culture in America having a Chinese mother and belonging to the local Chinese community. The interesting aspect to it, is that it represents a curve as everyone gets a 97+ on their tests. It felt like 97 was the median in the class. It just happened to be instead of having scores from 50-100, you had them compressed from 90-100. Scoring below a 90 is equivalent to getting an F in the local Chinese community as only a few ever scored that low.

I personally appreciate having gone through that and all the brainwashing that occurred with that mindset. I know one of my strengths is the ability to work well under pressure, where often my motivation is correlated with pressure. While I never made the connection in college, I innately understood the curve and how to play the game due to being curved at a young age.

The worry I have at times with correlating motivation with difficulty is whether I am creating an invalid proxy for value. Sometimes the work leads to something of value, but they are not directly linked as there are plenty of difficult things out there that generate little value to society and oneself.

That said, bringing it back to the OP's concern about his children's education, I don't know what it's like to go through a full Chinese system as I highly appreciate the mixture of Western education in my upbringing. I had a nervous breakdown in high school after realizing the falseness of my quest I had around accomplishments and achievements. If it weren't for the liberal arts of Western culture (arts, music, and literature), I don't know how I would have came out of that mental breakdown. I began to value the Renaissance man who was balanced in a variety of topics and sought the balance of academics, the arts and social skills. I wonder if it weren't for those concepts, if I would have trained myself to seek higher and higher goals in mastery over academics as I saw with some of my childhood friends who had a stricter Chinese upbringing.

9
Shenglong 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Bitterly biased.

The China that the author describes is not the China I've seen. Housing prices may be high, but he neglects to mention that it's common for companies to provide housing to their employees. Yes, people will ask you about your money - but that's culture, and it's not impolite.

There are a lot of untruths in his article, but it's too long to pick apart. A big one, though, is about appreciation for foreigners. China does in fact have laws about foreigners, but most are designed to protect them and avoid international incidents. For example, several schools around the Shaolin Temple offer practical training in everything from hand-to-hand combat to spears to swords. Only three, however, have passed safety regulations to accept foreigners. The Chinese also likes to tell you that you're special, because they think it endears you to them, whether it's true or not.

I'll end by saying: it's hard to judge China through a western perspective.

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iag 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Very insightful article. I feel more worried about the Chinese housing bubble crash than anything else. You think the '07 US recession was bad? That'd be a walk in the park if China's bubble bursts.
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205guy 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting read of one person's (very credible) opinions about China. Yet...

The title is a tautology. I can't help but feel that anyone from country X will every be integrated into any other country, as long as they still want to be themselves. Which is what the author never really states. Had he bought into the materialistic lifestyle, asked everyone how much money they made, and insisted his kids cram for elementry school exams, and toed the party line (whatever that may be), then maybe he would've been considered Chinese (I bet he'd say you still wouldn't but he didn't even consider that possibility). But no, he wanted to be a Westerner in China, and by definition, never become Chinese.

I lived in Europe for half of my life before age 30. I was fluent and mistaken for a native of the country where I lived. Yet, I could not help but retain my American perspective; I don't think I could give that up even if I wanted to. So even if I blended into the culture and wanted be a native, I could not feel like one myself. I came "home" to the US and don't feel American anymore either--I think that will be the author's fate in Britain. I have American friends still there, native by any standard, yet still consider themselves American by choice.

So I think it comes down to giving up one's identifying culture. The ironic thing, is that Chinese (and many other foreigners) do it all the time when they immigrate to the West. To me, that is the quandary of immigration: how do they manage to embrace the host culture so much that they no longer identify with their native one. It seems so much easier to do from East (India, China) to West (US, mostly). It seems like it's much easier to go from a culture of community to one of individuality than vice-versa. Why is there a lack of symmetry?

12
seivan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
" The Party does not want free thinkers who can solve its problems. It still believes it can solve them itself, if it ever admits it has a problem in the first place."

This is not only damaging to society in China, but to the rest of the world as well. So much potential to do good, squandered because of fear of revolution.

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peterwwillis 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hearing about the property bubble and political system in China is a bit like hearing a Greek tell you about how politics and business worked in Greece, pre-economic meltdown.
14
pdeuchler 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> Schools do not produce well-rounded, sociable, self-reliant young people with inquiring minds. They produce winners and losers. Winners go on to college or university to take “business studies.”

Scarily reminiscent of education in the U.S.

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vph 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The author seems to suggest that the main problem -- as suggested by the title -- is that the Chinese are strongly anti-foreigners. This might be true. But I don't think it's why his business was robbed.

The main problem, I think, is the Chinese's jungle-ruled platform associated with its single-party tyranny. What happens is they will invite you in and give you lots of promises and flexibilities at first. They will learn from you. And when you get too big, they will change the rules to favor their owns, and kick you out, robbing you if necessary. It's not so much that you're a Caucasian foreigner.

I believe that a lot of outside investors and companies will eventually (unless they are big) find out that doing business with the Chinese will end up looking like this person. I am not anti-Chinese as a people or a culture, but I have seen this type story again and again.

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analyst74 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Even though Chinese ideals/opinions tend to be NOT as diversified as, say Canadians, doesn't mean all Chinese think the same.

Some of the main causes, and by no means the only causes for "racism":

1, those you don't understand, you don't trust -- vast of Chinese have not met many foreigners and Chinese culture tend to differ greatly from western cultures.

2, as noted, China is a very segregated country, you get discriminated against for all sorts of reasons. But if you are from a powerful American family, you will find your respect in China; if you are a poor China man, even your (slightly better off) neighbours would look down upon you.

Same reason Jd's love could not marry him, she will not marry another China man either, if he is not from a respectable family or occupying a respectable position.

On a final note, I don't believe in racism. Not that racism does not exist, but it's too easy of an explanation for your misfortunes; It's too easy to blame something you cannot change and call it a day. Real life is a lot more complex than that, and it's best to look for resolvable problems and fix them, increasing your chance of success, than to blame someone else.

17
sabj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As lionhearted said, a mix of good points and bitterness, but " and ... always go well together, don't they?

I think the most poignant section was this:

>A deal had been struck. Deng had promised the Chinese people material wealth they hadn't known for centuries on the condition that they never again asked for political change. The Party said: “Trust us and everything will be all right.”
>Twenty years later, everything is not all right.

But I would disagree with the overarching theme that the problem of an ascendant China / China in general / etc. is that China is too inward-looking, that "You'll never be Chinese." I know you'll never be Japanese, but I think China and its people and culture are quite different; I didn't spend as much time living in China or studying Chinese as the author, but in that time and in my experiences I think there is a lot more interest and openness of people (and many elites) than is given credit.

Unfortunately, there are huge structural and institutional barriers too...

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barkingcat 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Just remember, this too shall pass.

You can't be Chinese right now, but that doesn't mean you'll never be Chinese.

Governments do fall and rise at the drop of a hat in China. People know that right?

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andrewcooke 10 hours ago 0 replies      
we do tend to project our own desires on other people. i remember a colleague telling me how disappointed he was with chile because the same people who had overthrown a fascist dictator were now interested in worldly things like cars and clothes.

there's something of that in this article, i think.

also, it's very hard to be neutral when you live in a place. and living in a foreign place is hard (more for some than others, of course). it's easy to bear grudges, no matter how aware you are that "it's just cultural differences".

huh. voted down for that? sigh...

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diminish 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"blowing your nose in a handkerchief is disgusting."

I am curious, where in the world is that acceptable (especially during lunch) and where disgusting..

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fring0 11 hours ago 4 replies      
It's funny to see more of these articles about China where westerners get their panties in a bunch when they find themselves in a similar situation most other people have been in with respect to the west. I should write a similar article about my American/European dream. I hope the Chinese are able to take criticism better than the west. Westerners can't get over their superiority complex.
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grakic 8 hours ago 1 reply      
While the article may have good points, I was once told not to burn any bridges when leaving. It is an illusion that you can change things while giving up the fight. Unless you leaving is an illusion for some other agenda.
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chaostheory 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The article isn't loading. Google cache doesn't seem to work either.
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jfaucett 9 hours ago 0 replies      
are you sure this isn't an Orwell excerpt?
       cached 11 August 2012 04:11:01 GMT