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This is a bit f'd, Quora giantrobotlasers.com
794 points by webwright  3 days ago   225 comments top 49
cletus 3 days ago  replies      
I can't help bit feel vindicated by moves like this because they're a sign that Quora isn't the Next Big Thing that many inside the bubble that is Silicon Valley seemed to think it is (eg [1]).

Actually Quora is better than that (for me) in that it's a double hit on the hype on both Q&A and social.

These kinds of moves:

- requiring login to view content;

- partially obscuring content on Google results to maximize sign-ins; and

- showing what you view to other people.

come across to me as a company coming off hype and approaching a crunch point. I believe now, more than ever, than Quora will end up an acquisition for Google or Facebook or will simply slide into irrelevance.

[1]: http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2010/08/23/the-power-of-q...

wpietri 3 days ago 1 reply      
The forced login stuff really enraged me. This is the rant I posted to Quora on the topic in hopes of getting them to change their minds:

For a long time I've been meaning to write personal stuff about my mom's death last year from a brain tumor. The question "Death and Dying: What does it feels like when doctor says you'll just live X days / months?" popped up in my feed. So I answered it. In detail. Crying as I went. At some point I realized I was hyperventilating from the sobs, but I knew if I stopped I wouldn't finish. So I wrote and wrote and clicked "Add Answer".

Since I was sharing it with the world, I decided to man up and share it with my loved ones. I copied the link and posted it to Facebook, so that my friends and family could read it. Like you'd do with any other link in the world.

And then began the fucking tech support circus. Within an hour, somebody said:

I'd like to read this but I'm unable to without giving them my FB login info. Am I missing something?

I immediately checked, and I wasn't bothered when I clicked through, even when signed out of Quora. No idea what was going on. I thought it might be some referrer sniffing plus cookies; I suggested they copy-paste the link. Another friend made other suggestions. But that didn't solve it for everybody; another person just now commented:

I wanted to read, but I got this thing saying I need to approve an app called Quora - an app which "may post on my behalf" - which seems like a rather large presumption for an app to take. Or am I misunderstanding something which is actually quite benign? Sorry to interject a facebook question into this thread, but I do want to read what you wrote....

And they're right. It's a fucking giant presumption to ask for that just so my friends can read something I wrote and wanted to share with them. So I just gave up and copy-pasted the text into the little Facebook comment box, arguing meanwhile with Facebook about what the goddamn enter key means. (It means new line, motherfuckers.)

The end result: what I was hoping would be a solemn remembrance of my dead mom is now cluttered up with people trying to defend themselves against Quora's quest for better user numbers at their next fucking board meeting.

So thanks, Quora, for strip-mining my personal tragedy to up your AARRR metrics. I hope it was worth it, because you've lost a lot of my trust.

Edited to add links:

The rant on Quora: http://www.quora.com/rage-against-quora/Rage-forcing-Faceboo...
And the answer I wrote: http://www.quora.com/Death-and-Dying-1/What-does-it-feels-li...

blhack 3 days ago  replies      
The new "social" web is really creepy. Browsing in an incognito browser and logged into nothing has sortof become my default.

I don't want google chrome saving my search history, or to accidentally read an article on some news website that then broadcasts that fact to all of my facebook friends.

ivankirigin 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is my post. I didn't expect this on HN, but I shouldn't be too surprised I guess.

I just want to stress that I really do love using Quora. It has some of the most unique content on the internet. It is because of this that I even care about my activity syndication there.

ozataman 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, this is a really big lapse of judgement on Quora's part. I'm contemplating if I should delete my account altogether.

In any case, thank you for posting it here - at least people can take the precautions.

Edit: That yes/no button is not at all obvious! They need some form of green/red color coding.

cheald 3 days ago 0 replies      
And just like that, I no longer have a Quora account.

This is a "dark pattern", and it's sleazy any way you slice it. They could have easily fixed it by popping up a dialog when I first sign in that says "Hey, do you want to share the things you read in your feed? Yes/No", and I could select "No" and be on my merry way. Instead, they decided that they would make a decision about my privacy for me, and they've lost me as a user in the process.

timmyd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Indeed the problem - as with Facebook - is that these settings are constantly "opt-out". This is perhaps as bad as the Beacon program in that as the author correctly originally notes - some personal items might be "viewed" which subsequently detail their actions to other users which they never intended to be public.

Classic examples of mistakes in the past are like "How to propose?" or "What's a good engagement ring size?" and so on. All these problems were exposed with Facebook Beacon and purchasing decisions and after much revolt they shut it.

I honestly can't understand why Quora would implemented "User X viewed User Y" - I think that's taking the privacy perspective to a whole new level. Indeed, even on Facebook if they started listing things like "User A viewed your profile 55 times today" - it would essentially kill the service in it's tracks as would "User B viewed this photo 33 times" and so on. People have always used Facebook to stalk their friends - but that doesn't mean it should be detailed publicly for all the world to see.

This should be "opt-in" if not removed all together in my mind. As part of internal metric tracking - it's obvious that this occurs - but it shouldn't be public or should be entirely opt-in.

diego 3 days ago 3 replies      
I get the impression that Quora is in a tough spot because of the perceived implosion of the "social bubble" after the FB IPO. They have $61M in funding [1], which means that their investors must be demanding bold moves. I don't personally know anyone who works there, so it's pure speculation.

[1] http://www.crunchbase.com/company/quora

gojomo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Quora clearly announced this change of policy. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of The Leopard".


olalonde 3 days ago 1 reply      
Also, you can't view some answers anonymously anymore (blurred out a la expertsexchange.com). Seems they are desperate for new users...
cs702 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that almost every week I read about yet another "social" company breaching longstanding societal norms regarding privacy. Quora is just the latest example.

What happens next has become rather predictable: a few voices criticize the company in question, the company (maybe) issues some kind of public apology, and then... nothing seems to change.

Maybe our society doesn't really care that much about privacy.

incision 3 days ago 2 replies      
Smells desperate to me.

Quora launched with all kinds of "Former Facebooker!" hype that it hasn't really lived up to.

I've had some good reads on the site, but only from the cream of the crop threads that make it into the digest emails.

Searching out a general question on Quora seems more likely to lead directly to hordes of marketers linking back to their own sites.

ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone remember Belkin's fiasco of selling a router which would randomly replace webpage requests with ads for their products? Some do, and still won't buy Belkin anything due to trust destroyed. Same here: Quora may survive this, but many users will never go there for permanent lack of trust.
rmc 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is why you need Data Protection law (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Directive )
omegaworks 3 days ago 0 replies      
The blowback from stupid share-everything policies is what will eventually collapse this social media bubble. I disabled Spotify-to-Facebook sharing completely, even though I wouldn't mind if the controls were more granular and the notifications were less obtrusive. Right now people put a lot of faith and trust in their social media providers, and the more said services violate that trust, the less users will share by default and the less valuable the services will be as a result.
justinph 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the thread screenshotted in the blog post, in case any one was interested:


ivankirigin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is apparently a new feature, just launched a 2 weeks ago: http://www.quora.com/blog/Introducing-Views-on-Quora
engtech 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't they show something like "4 of your friends" read this answer without identifying the friend? They would need a lower threshold were you would need a minimum number of friends before this feature would kick in to keep the data anonymous. They could also just say something like "4 people within your network" read this and use the network effect of 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

I'm surprised that no adult websites implement a social sharing feature like that. No one is clicking on the facebook / google+ buttons on purpose, but it might be interesting to see what videos people in your network are watching if it was anonymous.

SebMortelmans 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is completely crossing the line. Showing others what you have searched without notifying me about this is just offensive to me. I love quora and what they are doing, but this is completely below the belt.
dotmanish 3 days ago 0 replies      
I personally agree - I would be annoyed if I discovered this (I haven't logged on to Quora in a long long time). They seem to have most recently updated their Privacy Policy (http://www.quora.com/about/privacy/) on August 1. Quoting "Specifically, you consent to Quora's disclosure of information related to the ways in which you interact with the Service, such as: landing pages, pages viewed".

On the counter-side, I would have been okay if they sent a mass-mailer saying "We have introduced a new feature on Quora - now you know how your peers are doing with Quora!" - making it sound marketing-like, but in reality, percolating the information to their users in the most seemingly-harmless way possible. This could have won them actual fans for this feature.

ajju 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh, another day, another useful service decides to overshare on my behalf.

FYI, to turn off this setting, go to Views -> Allow others to see what content I've viewed in feed

melvinmt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I posted a link to this post on Quora to my followers and deactivated my account.
ryandvm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm. I wonder how Myoung Kang feels about this post...
dm8 3 days ago 0 replies      
Question is, will it turn out to be "News Feed" feature of FB or FB Beacon?

Their founding team were present when FB introduced News Feed and Beacon. I'm sure they've given lot of thought to it.

Common sense dictates, it is screwed up move. I had the same thought when I saw news feed feature. But it turned out to be pretty rad and successful. Not sure what Quora team are envisioning here.

stfu 3 days ago 2 replies      
So far I counted 10 fuck/ings and one nazi calling in this discussion. Please guys, I come here for a civil discussion and not some ragefest.
ereckers 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is nothing certain in life but death, taxes, and monetization. It's Quora's time to start making money. It's reaching the social site late stage end of life phase. The internet's natural order.
joe_bloggs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Equally f'd up is the fact that you cannot delete your Quora account. Seriously. Try searching for any such option in your settings page. They only have a "deactivate" option, and once you deactivate, you can reactivate anytime by just logging in again :)

Found this quora post:


According to a Quora engineer, it seems you can delete your account by emailing privacy@quora.com

Wow! This certainly sounds like something EFF (https://www.eff.org/) should try and do something about.

codezero 2 days ago 0 replies      
The views feature isn't enabled until you read the announcement which is forced into the view on top of the page when you view the web site, you have to specifically click Hide to remove it and acknowledge the new option.

If you turn it off, it will retroactively remove any of your views, you can turn it off here http://www.quora.com/settings

guelo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't much different from what Facebook does showing friends all your likes and comments, except Facebook doesn't let you turn it off.
chefsurfing 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me there is only one good response to this type of corporate behavior: remove yourself from the equation. ou are free to quit and have them remove your data from the system. I did this last week and I feel much better now. To Quora's credit it only took 24 hours to be removed from the system. If you consider it abuse, staying in an abusive relationship is just plain stupid :)
electic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I honestly think having accounts on social networks is now becoming a huge liability. They start of as quite private and then morph into being open and you are left holding the bag. It just means the more networks you sign up for the more networks you have to main and the more networks you have to cancel later.

This is quite upsetting.

lifeinafolder 3 days ago 1 reply      
FYI, you cannot delete your Quora account from there website. For that, you need to email: privacy@quora.com
bambax 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why you need to login to Quora (et al.) under a pseudonym. (It's against the TOS but 1/who cares? and 2/how are they supposed to find out?)
confluence 3 days ago 2 replies      
I understand people's outrage at this invasion of privacy - but honestly why do people think that anything they have ever done online hasn't already been tracked and recorded (not being paranoid or anything - just being realistic).

There is a lot of value in figuring out who someone is, what they like and don't like and what they are likely to buy (ad networks/trackers etc.).

Hence you MUST assume that everything you have done, and ever will do, is, for all intents and purposes, PUBLIC FOREVERMORE.

Not "whisper public" but shared across YouTube public with 100 MILLION PEOPLE.

Once you assume that situation you attempt to mitigate possible pitfalls and these things don't bother you so much (they still will - but the sting isn't nearly as strong).

And no - the web isn't going in the opposite direction - privacy is dead - long live privacy!

You can try and shame or regulate it away - but seeing the web as it is today and where it's going - there is no turning back.

alanh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I sent feedback@quora.com a message to let them know I am very upset with this gross violation of privacy and Web norms.

I encourage you all to do the same. (Or call them, if you know someone.)

rjsamson 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why I now stay logged out of Quora and use Spectacles (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/kbckpcgmpkkfdjhmhi...) if I need to browse over to Quora.
cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Quora must be doing well. They've outgrown their Palo Alto office and are relocating to Mountain View:


mcgwiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's all the hullaballoo about?! LinkedIn does the same thing: you can see who viewed your profile if you enable your own views of other profiles to be seen by their owners.

Or do we only get riled up when the perp is a small startup that still holds the promise of cracking the holy grail of sustainability without charging a usage fee? ...Damn sell-outs, it's like all they care about is finding a way to make money.

89a 12 hours ago 0 replies      
never understood why people bothered with this garbage

Expert Sexchange 2.0

damian2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just got my quora account demoted to read-only for not using a real name .. wtf

Requiring login to view is their biggest problem.
Requiring real names is their second problem.

This is just making things worse.

pbreit 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am very surprised that there is so much support for this feature. I can't think of any other situation where such a passive action is made public.
espeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can disable that in your settings.
jongold 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the Quoraish way to answer the question - meta enough?
ngsayjoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yahoo does the same thing ... and i immediately uninstall it upon such discovery!
lucian303 2 days ago 0 replies      
You don't pay for it, thus you're the product, not the consumer. The product doesn't get what it wants. Not how things work.
robforman 3 days ago 0 replies      
With a security background, I'm painfully aware of how very little is private these days. But this is just a disgrace. I deleted my account. I hope others get the message.
sidcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a big gaffe by Quora.
valdiorn 2 days ago 0 replies      
And that's why you don't use Quora
heyitsnick 3 days ago 4 replies      
I see the author's point, and users should be aware Quora does this and have the facility to disable this but ... is this not an over reaction? Viewing a question titled “Should I come out to my parents?” or “What is the best way to hide an affair?” doesn't in any way imply you are gay or hiding an affair... just that you showed some interesting the question and possible answers. I'd be interesting in both those topics just to see the variety of responses. I don't think i would need to hide the fact that i viewed those threads.

If they were providing complete Quora browsing history of a user, which you could see a general trend towards topics a person reads over time, I would see a serious breach of privacy. But a single one off "so and so just read this" is hardly damning.

Ecuador grants Julian Assange asylum bbc.co.uk
489 points by anons2011  15 hours ago   473 comments top 35
cletus 11 hours ago 8 replies      
I find the points and counterpoints on the Assange issue rather confusing and it's hard for me, as an observer, to separate fact from fiction. I'm wondering if someone can clear up some points:

1. Apparently there is a two-stage interview process in Sweden with criminal investigations. A first interview, which Assange has done, and a second that is equivalent to being charged. Is this true?

2. It has been argued that Swedish authorities have done interviews in embassies and other countries in other cases but have refused to do so here. In those other cases, are they first or second interviews (assuming (1) is correct)?

3. Has the US formally charged, indicated they would charge, sought extradition or otherwise indicated they would seek extradition of Assange or is it merely assumed?

4. Is there any substantive difference in extradition proceedings from the UK or Sweden? The US could seek extradition from the UK. It is argued by Assange's defenders that it is easier from Sweden and a UK judge may well throw out the request as being politically motivated whereas extradition from Sweden, it is argued, can be done politically rather than through the courts. How true is this?

5. Sweden has refused to not extradite Assange, should he return, to the US. How normal is this? Can Sweden legally do this? I know EU countries have, in the past, as a condition of extradition required the US to guarantee that the death penalty won't be sought or applied. I assume in those cases that is a real issue so it seems like there is some room for movement when it comes to extradition;

6. What is the status of Assange's legal proceedings against extradition to Sweden? The High Court has ruled I believe so the only recourse now is the European Court of Human Rights? Is that still ongoing? Can it make a binding ruling against extradition that the UK must abide by?

7. When it comes to criminal charges in any country I'm familiar with there are two things: how the law is written and how it is applied. Many things are illegal that the authorities don't actively pursue. Partially this is simply convention, partially its policing and partially (IMHO) it's holding things in reserve, meaning if you really want to get someone you have something. Is this also the case for Sweden? Given the facts as (publicly) known regarding the rape allegations, how normal is it to seek criminal charges in this case?

8. With regards to political asylum. How normal is it for a country to offer political asylum to someone in another country who is a citizen of a third country resisting extradition to a fourth? Hell, you can probably add "because of fears of being extradited to a fifth"!

Assange is an Australian citizen. As an Australian citizen myself I'm disappointed but not at all surprised in the silence of the Australian government on this issue and the apparent acquiescence to US demands. It's often pointed out that citizenship is not only a privilege but a responsibility. The government likewise has a responsibility to defend the interests of its citizens and I see that sadly lacking here.

chrisacky 13 hours ago  replies      
Reading down through all of the comments, I can see that people have a totally mixed opinion of how this can happen. Some people think that the US have no intention of wanting to extradite and charge Assange, but Assange and his counsel have repeatedly (in the last month) requested that the US make a statement confirming this. The matter of the fact is, many high profile American's have said that he should be killed, and put to death.

Onto the other topic of the rape charges, I think some people don't fully understand the facts surrounding the charge. I didn't either until I spent thirty minutes and read this article: http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2012/07/19/3549280.ht...

But from this transcript... these are the key points:


The "sexual assault/rape/molestation" charges were filed after two women Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen went to the police to seek advice if they could compel Assange to take a STD test since they did not use a condom during sex.

Both of the women went to the Klara police station in central Stockholm, however, it is mentioned that Ardin had gone along primarily to support Wilen.

Ardin had been frequently in the company of Assange. She had previously described him as such a "cool man" (Twitter). They also arrived and left together at a Crayfish party (equivalent of a cocktail party). Ardin was sharing accomodation with Assange and had refused an offer from someone else for temporary accomodation.

The day after the accusation of rape and molesation Ardin sent a SMS saying : "I've just spent some time with the coolest people in the world".

SMS text messages were also exchanged between Sofia and Ardin, which showed that the two of them knew of the relationship between each other and Assange.

Ardin responded to a friend who was looking for Assange : "He's not here. He's planned to have sex with the cashmere girl every evening, but not made it. Maybe he finally found time yesterday?"

The Swedish police, totally railroaded the investigation. Interviews have been leaked with Assange, and Wilen commented initially "that she became so distraught she refused to give any more testimony and refused to sign what had been taken down.".
Assange went freely for interview to the police station and was released without immediate charge, and was free to travel. Almost immediately there after, another warrant was issued for his arrest.

Eventually, it was also upgraded to an Interpol "Red Notice".

It's alleged (from the transcripts), that Sweden has frankly always been the United States' lap dog and it's not a matter we are particularly proud of. The Swedish Government has... essentially, whenever a US official says, "Jump", the Sweden Government asks, "How high?"

Assange's legal team are clearly trying to point out that US is coercing all of this behind the scenes so that he can then be extradited from Sweden and face trial for conspiracy to commit espionage.

> The burden should be on the United States Government to say, "We are not planning to prosecute Julian Assange". If they just gave that assurance, I can guarantee you that Julian Assange would go to Sweden tomorrow.


This is hugely and unequivocally politically motivated. I'm British, and I am largely ashamed that pressure is not being placed on Sweden by the foreign minister to have them reinvestigate the extradition request. Also, Sweden will, and has previously done all it can to scratch America's back.

Assange should stay put, until US says "we will not pursue extradition from Sweden". (Which they will not do.)

jgrahamc 15 hours ago  replies      
I strongly doubt that Britain will take sudden action to arrest Assange in the embassy. What's likely to happen now is a stand off where he can't get out of the embassy because he'll be arrested. The UK and Ecuador will try to negotiate some sort of deal where Assange does go to Sweden to be questioned. Given that European states don't have the death penalty Assange would not be extradited to the US if there was a risk of him facing death there.

If he leaves he'll be arrested, if he manages to get in a diplomatic car the car will be stopped with Assange in it and there'll be a stand off. If Ecuador tries to make him into a diplomat the UK can simply refuse to accept that he is a diplomat. And if they try to use a diplomatic bag then the UK will claim that it's being used for improper purposes and block it. IMHO Assange is stuck there until a deal is worked out.

The granting of asylum is just one step in what will continue to be a tedious soap opera.

My interpretation of the letter that the FO sent to Ecuador is as a statement of a negotiating position given that the FO got wind of the fact that he was going to be offered asylum.

toyg 14 hours ago  replies      
I'm renouncing my Amnesty International-funding credit card on this. The silence on their part, when this charade goes on on their doorstep in London, is deafening.

The same goes for LibDems and Labour, but I've given up on them a long time ago (and to be fair, Labour are not even in power). Human/civil rights was just about the last platform where LibDems had a shred of credibility, and now it's shot. To maintain a few perks, they will let the Tories destroy centuries of civilisation - the Vienna Convention is a cornerstone of international relations, and hence, of world peace; threatening it over a silly man is just irresponsible. Craig Murray, former UK Ambassador and old-time LibDem, is just about as shocked as I am, and it's the only reasonable voice I've heard in the last 24 hours: http://pastebin.com/s98KhnYD

Supporting journalists in Belarus, China, Syria, Iran without supporting Assange is not grassroot activism: it's cynical, masqueraded foreign policy.

brudgers 14 hours ago 3 replies      
The British didn't seem quite so committed to extraditing Augusto Pinochet. This despite the fact that he had been indicted for crimes against humanity, not simply wanted for questioning as is the case for Mr. Assange.

In the case of Pinochet, there were four extradition requests: Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and France.

However, the British government took Mr. Pinochet's frail health into account and ultimately released him.


mootothemax 14 hours ago 8 replies      
I'd love to know what Assange's endgame plan for all of this fuss is.

The States aren't going to extradite him from Sweden nor, evidently, from the UK. It makes me feel like a kiljoy to say it, but there isn't any conspiracy here, and nor will any play out. Let's face it - everything will play out normally and boringly, no matter how many people shout "conspiracy!"

My gut instinct is that one way or another he'll end up in Sweden, either walking free or serving a year or two in jail, and then - what? Sitting in Parisian cafes gazing wistfully upon what once could have been?

0x0 14 hours ago  replies      
How often do you get see governments threatening to revoke the diplomatic status of an embassy for the sake of apprehending a rape suspect? Wow.
santiagoIT 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I am ecuadorian and currently live in Ecuador. Granting assylum to Assange is just a PR move from our government. You might not be aware of this, but our 'president' won a lawsuit for US$ 40 Mio against the 'El Universo' newspaper just because an editor wrote an article critizing him. In Ecuador government CENSORSHIP rules. Hopefully Assange can make it to Ecuador and then realizes with the type of people he got involved with and gets out of here.
It so WRONG to have our government be depicted as standing for liberty, freedom of speech, by granting assylum to assange. Please do some research. This goverment is all but that!!!!!!
tomku 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't like this as precedent. If there's one thing we've learned from Wikileaks, it's that evidence of wrongdoing should be out in the open. This is a back-room deal between Assange and Ecuador to give him asylum as protection from a claimed US government conspiracy, but where's the proof? If it's good enough to convince the government of Ecuador, it's good enough to post publicly.
credo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes it looks like authoritarian governments can learn a thing or two from "democratic" countries.

When Chen Guangcheng sought refuge in the American embassy, the Chinese govt didn't use any trumped up criminal charges against him as an excuse to threaten to invade the American embassy and arrest Mr Chen.

Britain is threatening to invade the embassy of Ecuador by using a local 1987 law to revoke the diplomatic status of the embassy. Next time around, the Chinese and every authoritarian govt around the world will know how to handle any asylum seekers in any British embassy in the world.

nsns 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Everything seems so extreme about this saga: a "leaker" is accused of not using contraception (i.e., leaking) in a (possibly) covert plot by the US to subject him to the very same treatment his leaks so shockingly revealed. Then he turns himself into a public target for the US and its allies, thus rendering their actual disregard for human rights and tendency for over-the-top aggressiveness explicit and embarrassing, in a manner which is actually much more effective and public than his site's leaks.

A bona fide political circus, in which the main performer, Assange, turns out to be an extremely talented clown.

mmaunder 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What is really being discussed here, without saying it explicitly, is whether it's OK for the United States to go after it's perceived enemies in other countries, for crimes committed outside the USA that violate USA laws, and bring them home to face trial, whether or not they are US citizens. And lets just call a spade a spade. It's clearly the "United States of Sweden".
gary4gar 15 hours ago 2 replies      
He is not going to make it to Ecuador. Only thing Assange can do now is sit inside the embassy for indefinite period of time, until Ecuador gets bored with assange and figures he is not worth the damage of ties with Uk. another possible outcome is rather extreme -- UK goes on offences and arrests assange from the embassy.

Either way, it would be interesting how the whole story will play-out.

gaius 15 hours ago  replies      
I am fascinated to see how they will physically transport him from the embassy to a plane. This has the makings of a top quality chase movie.
tokenadult 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with this Toronto Globe and Mail editorial on the issue:


"As for Mr. Assange, he should step out of doors and defend himself."

debacle 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand all of these people suggesting that once Assange is in international waters he is somehow safe.

The US will just stop the Ecuadoran vessel, board it, and take Assange. We've got historic precedent for their lack of Give a Fuck in situations of this nature.

dsirijus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In failure to deliver my sentiment in proper wording (and I've scratched the written few times), I'll just quote one of my personal heroes:

"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater."
~ Frank Zappa

beedogs 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The Minister of the Exterior's decision was... highly charged. He seemed to be making a stand for all of South America.
LiveTheDream 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The UK has asserted[0] that they have a legal basis for arresting Assange even while he is inside the Ecuadorian embassy. They cite the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987; the counterpoint is the Vienna convention and centuries worth of international law.

[0] http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/16/julian-assange-e...

lifeguard 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For perspective, Bradly Manning his under 24 hour gaurd and observation. He must strip nude every morning before his female and male guards. He is allowed no mail. He never sees the sky or breathes fresh air.

Some of this is for his protection they say.

Assange is wise to fear the wrath of the USA and its special friend the UK.

DividesByZero 14 hours ago 2 replies      
An angle that seems to be forgotten here is the political bind the UK government finds itself in. On the one hand, they cannot afford to violate territoriality of the Ecuadoran embassy (legally or not) - on the other, they also cannot afford to break the terms of their extradition treaty with Sweden.

Either outcome will see the UK have further problems on the world stage, and neither is something they can easily negotiate their way out of. In such a situation, it might be imagined that they would rather risk their reputation with the rest of the world than alienate their allies.

meiji 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Obviously he has every right to be paranoid about the US trying to extradite him but you have to wonder how far he's willing to go on this. I think the Assange story long ago eclipsed the Wikileaks story (look how little attention Bradley Manning gets) and if he was prosecuted and convicted of rape in Sweden and had to do jail time there, I think the story would only be remembered for Assange. No need for a very messy public trial after extradition, no need for the miles of bad press it would generate.
rms 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd like to see a prediction market now for whether or not Assange makes it to Ecuador...
autophil 14 hours ago 4 replies      
The problem with Assange is while he is courageous, he is also morally weak. It's his utter lack of morals that has given his enemies so much ammunition.

I support Assange, although not without reservation, and I refuse to speak out for him in public because of his rape charges (charges which have not been proven).

I doubt he will successfully flee the UK.

To paraphrase the old Radiohead song, Assange, "you did it to yourself".

fduran 10 hours ago 0 replies      
A movie script couldn't do better: Assange's lawyer is Baltazar Garzon, the Spanish ex-judge who asked London for the extradition of Pinochet.
gadders 15 hours ago 6 replies      
Assange's credibility: shot.


I suppose he's going to live his life like Roman Polanski, on the run from rape charges.

bwilson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Mr. Patiño said his government had made its decision after the authorities in Britain, Sweden and the United States refused to give guarantees that, if Mr. Assange were extradited to Sweden, he would not then be sent on to the United States to face other charges.

This is key, and pretty much proves what's going on. They didn't want to take extradition to the US off the table, yet supposedly this is only about answering to rape charges.

dagrz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Whenever I see a new post about this saga I feel compelled to post this mini documentary about it before everyone gets into the same old arguments.

Sex, Lies and Julian Assange

melvinmt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a particular reason why Assange chose to ask political asylum in Ecuador?
Flow 14 hours ago 2 replies      
What if Ecuador make him an Ecuadorian diplomat?

Somehow I feel that when this is over, he'll return to Australia and make a quick political career and become very influential.

jpincheira 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Ecuador: "We are not a colony from the UK".


anuraj 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Best wishes to assange in his quest to make the most secretive regimes of the world transparent. Less governments the better! Humanity do not need extra ordinary hijackers, tramplers of human rights and surveillance junkies.
nacker 11 hours ago 2 replies      
A 1994 study by Dr. Eugene Kanin of Purdue University revealed that 41% of rape allegations are fabrications.

The Innocence Project reports that the number one crime for which they release wrongfully convicted individuals from prison is rape.

Why are these women not in prison?

gitarr 14 hours ago 0 replies      
And all just to keep a website on/off the internet.
antoinevg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm just going to leave this here:


John Resig: Redefining the Introduction to Computer Science at Khan Academy ejohn.org
457 points by spicyj  2 days ago   117 comments top 32
powrtoch 2 days ago 12 replies      
It's hard for me to imagine learning Javascript as your first programming language. It's always felt kind of crazy and bizarre to me (especially when you try to do anything requiring more than 20 lines of code), but I think a lot of that is just failure on my part to shake off the paradigms I'm used to. A generation of coders who are actually trained from the start to think in Javascript... almost scary honestly, but in a good way. We need more John Resigs pushing the web forward :-)
dons 2 days ago 2 replies      
Some similarities with Felleisen's work teaching programming to early high schoolers,

- http://www.programbydesign.org/

Those folks have tons of data on what works, what doesn't.

I get a bit of a NIH feeling from this effort, that I hope is unfounded.

thesash 2 days ago 3 replies      
Learning tools like this would have saved my teachers a lot of headaches if they were available 10 years ago.

As opposed to the classroom model of: [lecture -> assign work -> grade & return with static feedback], students can actually play with the subject matter during the lesson, instead of turning pens into projectiles or doodling in their books because they're bored to death (not that I know anything about that). Then they get immediate feedback, whether right or wrong, by seeing how the instructor would have solved the problem. That kind of hands on learning, where the student learns through their own trials and errors is much more fun than sitting through a lecture that has to accomodate the varied learning paces of a classroom of 20+ students.

The video posted here unfortunately focuses on the live editing aspect of the app, but you can see the interactive lesson function more clearly in this early prototype video[1].

This kind of interactive learning is the same thing that Sebastian Thrun is working on at Udacity[2]. For all the promise of making university courses available for free online, I think this is the truly disruptive stuff going on in online education, because it's way beyond just filming lectures and throwing them online, it's a fundamental leap forward for education.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvaaude_1hk
[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75TP3hoPA8U

msg 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting. I have shown my son the Logo turtle, but hopefully this will make even more sense to him. I was looking for a way to expose him to Processing but unsure where to begin. It's obvious now.

We are home schooling and always looking for new and interesting stuff to do with him.

Thank you, John.

karpathy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Don't miss the link to Bret Victor's lecture on responsive programming: http://vimeo.com/36579366 . I found it to be very enjoyable and it further shows what is possible with this paradigm. [minutes 2-23 are most interesting and relevant]
bpierre 2 days ago 0 replies      
We are working on a similar project (programming education), but in a persistent and multiplayer environment. It's more like a live game framework which allows to learn JavaScript, or just to have fun!

Everything is programmable: the display of a bot (Canvas 2D Context API), the buttons used to to control it, the interactions between the bots, etc.


crusso 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is very exciting. I was just looking around this past weekend for a way to introduce my 10 and 13 year-olds to programming concepts. I want them to understand more about the computer than how to play warcraft, watch youtube videos of pandas, or even make slide presentations.

My one daughter is going into 8th grade and has had a total of two half-semesters of "business and computer science" where the most they do is to play around with PowerPoint and Excel. Computers are so integral to every-day life now. It's positively disgraceful that every child shouldn't be educated on what they are, how they're built, how they work, how to program them, etc.

ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is massively badass. I think this may be the best tool out there for learning programming.

One issue I am having here in Chrome in Ubuntu on my computer is that some of the videos are giving me minor playback problems where some visual features are not visible. For example, in the intro to drawing tutorial the rectangle seems to turn into a line because three of the sides are not visible. This is probably just what I get for using Linux though.

Anyway, I was wondering: have Mr. Khan and the rest of them put any thought into how the new interactive programming environment might be applied to learning math or other concepts taught by Khan Academy besides Computer Science? Like specifically taking some of the math or other lessons and presenting applications to tweak that would demonstrate those concepts. Maybe lessons in those other areas could sometimes include a link to a programming experiment.

Also, other question: are there any plans to try to cover a broader range of computer science or maybe even software engineering topics, for example things like Objects/Classes, components, unit testing, QA, feedback loops in general or for example between the developers/analysts and the users or between the developer and his test suite?

hanibash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Probably like many others, I learned to program first by developing web applications. The mass of information and multiple moving pieces frustrated me almost to the point of quitting. There are probably many people who did quit when introduced to programming this way.

This CS learning platform brings programming education back to its simple roots, back when your first program was as simple as drawing a circle in BASIC. It also leaps it forward, borrowing ideas from Bret Victors responsiveness talk was brilliant and I hope sets a precedent for programming education moving forward.

I really admire what you've done, Mr. Resig and the Khan Academy team!

look_lookatme 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is cool and I think Javascript is a perfectly suitable first time language, but I don't think it's ideal. Too many ways of doing things, too many code organization and programming styles... it's going to be confusing for people moving beyond the courses.

Still it's better than c++ or java.

crag 2 days ago 1 reply      
Best part of the intro video:

"Welcome. I'm super excited about computer science. it's my favoriate thing in the world... except for pot".


scottrblock 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think a small, beautiful detail lost here is John Resig's career path. As the creator of jQuery, he probably had his choice of which sexy SV start-up to go work at. He chose a non-profit that's aiming to fundamentally improve his country's education. Pretty admirable if you ask me, and perhaps more importantly, a slice of hope, that if one desires to, he or she can use his or her time to change the world for the better.
vph 2 days ago 0 replies      
These are good entrepreneurs and programmers, and they are using great tools, but I don't think they are qualified to say they are redefining teaching basic Computer Science.

Interactive platforms and approaches have been constantly introduced by CS educators to teach introductory programming. Educators are very aware of the value of interactivity and reactivity in teaching and learning. The only new thing here is the utility of cool new tools equipped with latest web-based technologies. Further, their approach is limited to programming, which is a large part but not the only approach to Introductory Computer Science. For example, they can't touch approaches such at MIT or Rice (I think), among others, which employ cool physical robots to teach coding, thinking, programming and robotics.

So this is not so much redefining, but rather a little enhancing CS education with cool tools.

rabidsnail 2 days ago 2 replies      
Little nitpick: Why make the draw event handler a magic variable instead of a function which takes a function?


    var draw = function() { point(random(0, 400), random(0, 400)); };

as opposed to

    onDraw(function() { point(random(0, 400), random(0, 400)); });

AFAICT there aren't any other variables that side-effect based on what you've assigned to them.

VikingCoder 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am done with all of you so-called "hands-on people" who don't give people real tools to use.

The XO (One Laptop Per Child) and now this.

Please stop giving people tinker-toy environments with tinker-toy problems that have nothing to do with the real world.

If someone's not motivated to learn, yes, they may need this kind of hand-holding. But if someone genuinely wants to learn to program computers for a living, this is - in my opinion - not what they need at all.

Drivers Education is taught in a real car, not in Mario Kart on a Wii. I'm sick of the Mario Kart version of computers being spoon-fed to otherwise intelligent people as though it has anything to do with reality.

I learned to program using Turbo Pascal. I was not so far removed from reality that everything I learned was almost completely useless. I have not given this much attention yet, but so far, it feels completely useless.

PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong.

archivator 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is not unlike Bret Victor's work - http://vimeo.com/36579366 . Do watch the video, if you have an hour to spare, it's a beautiful demonstration of "programming by tinkering."
th0ma5 2 days ago 0 replies      
He mentions the responsive design being really hard, and that was something I couldn't quite articulate to myself when I saw that talk a while ago... the ideas Bret Victor presented, only a handful of them are general purpose. I don't see how one could develop the timing examples he had, for instance, in a way that makes sense outside of his specific work on his 2D platform game.
johntb86 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if they've added any help for transitioning out of their sandbox. I know when I first learned programming, one problem I had was taking what I learned in the classroom on Apple IIs and transitioning to using GW-Basic or QBasic at home. Transitioning from a browser-based sandbox to editing HTML and real files would probably be even worse. It might be nice if there was an easy framework they would let people download to help them create things in a more normal environment, so they don't get stuck and give up at that point.
jonahkagan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome stuff. John Resig, if you're in here, can you give any details on the challenges of instantly updating the Processing sketch? I can just wait for the blog post, but I'm really curious.

Also, what components exactly are you planning to release open source? The other work in this area that I've been able to find is very tightly coupled to the rendering library (d3 or PJS). Is the Khan Academy system open to alternate rendering libraries?

bhb916 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sat my 5-year-old daughter down in front of the first drawing tutorial today (Introduction to Drawing). I let her watch the video, then asked her some questions to test her comprehension. Before I could too many questions out she blurted "I want to build a house," and off we went.

I learned a few things:

1. We seriously need to work on her typing skills. We practice typing once a week but I think I need to increase that.

2. I need to go out and buy a smaller mouse to fit her hand.

3. She immediately understood functions and parameters, which, honestly, was all I really wanted her to get out of this.

4. The sliders are critical. She has never seen a coordinate system, but the sliders allow her to play around with location without completely understanding what the numbers represent.

5. At this age, she was engaged because she could draw things (she had a house worked out in about 15 minutes, which was also the limit of her attention span). I'm not always a fan of gaming things up to make them more palatable, but it definitely worked here.

daviddaviddavid 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really great. One criticism is that this style of graphical programming is overwhelmingly of a mathematical bent. Granted it's quite basic arithmetic but still, you open a code sample and you're confronted with a bunch of numbers and mathematical expressions.

My worry with this is that there are many, many youngsters out there who are intimidated by math but who would absolutely love to write code. This is especially worrisome since such a huge amount of coding involves no math at all.

jameshsi 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I volunteered at Maker's Faire earlier this year at the Scratch booth and a lot of parents were wondering what some possible next steps could be for their kids who were interested in learning more about programming. It felt a little weird suggesting Khan Academy videos, but with this project I think the transition to deeper CS concepts is a lot more seamless for those who are curious
warmfuzzykitten 2 days ago 1 reply      
Seems clear they are teaching Programming and not Computer Science. There's nothing wrong with that, but they should be upfront about it.
bwlang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I "watched" the first lesson or two. I think they've missed an opportunity to tighten the watch-try-watch loop with the student. This tachnology seems like it would support a mode like "here is how you draw a box" then "you try drawing a box that overlaps with the box on the screen". Maybe they do that later. I hope so, otherwise I think they're missing a great opportunity for engagement. Even without that level of interaction, I still plan to try this out with my children. Really impressive.
sethish 2 days ago 2 replies      
It is disappointing that KA launched their Computer Science program not long after making their website closed source[0]. Doubly disappointing because of open-education projects that were using the software platform to do free education projects in Brazil[1] and Portugal[2].

[0]: https://khanacademy.kilnhg.com/Auth/LogOn?ReturnUrl=/&nr...
[1]: https://calenglishbr.appspot.com/
[2]: https://uc3m-ka.appspot.com/login?continue=http%3A%2F%2Fuc3m...

sciurus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a cached copy? ejohn.org is returning a 500 error.
suyash 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel this approach is more confusing than clearer specially for beginners. Without giving a primer to the proposed languages (seems like they are using javascript and css), I feel a newbie would get more confused and leave the site after a few minutes.
gadders 1 day ago 0 replies      
I understand why they only want the latest browsers, but it sucks that I can't look at it in my spare time at my locked down corporate (IE8) environment.
Rickasaurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Programming is not computer science.
eranation 2 days ago 3 replies      
Love it,
Who is the presenter in the videos? the voice sound really similar to Vi Hart or is it just me?
bazookaBen 2 days ago 0 replies      
tried it. The greatest takeaway for me is being able to edit the code and see changes live.
scoith 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was there something wrong with the old definition?
How we screwed (almost) the whole Apple community day4.se
404 points by pohl  3 days ago   117 comments top 52
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 5 replies      
They might be severely overestimating the stupidity of the masses [1] here by only considering the those who actually responded in comments or twitter.

Either they perceived the news as truth, or called it fake, no grey zone in between. The split between the two camps, was quite unequal. An estimate would be that 90% regarded the screw as a fact and based all the further opinion on that, only 10% were critical to accuracy.

This smells like massive response bias. I imagine most skeptical and critical readers get tired of responding with the obvious "hmm, how do we know this is true?" response.

A more interesting statistic would be how many people saw it and didn't find it interesting enough to warrant further investigation. I believe I saw the headline, rolled my eyes, and went back to work.

That's not to say lock-out isn't an important consideration, but it didn't pass the "this can be verified" test, and anyway, it would be obvious enough once the new iPhone came out.

[1] Edit: maybe the masses are stupid (I'm not convinced of this), but the vocal rush to judgement of a few is not necessarily a representative sample.

rickmb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This whole thing can be reduced to "people who engage in idle gossip are generally speaking not the sharpest pencils in the box".

Most people with half a brain just kept their mouth shut, so there's really no way to draw any conclusion about the Apple community as a whole, unless you can produce an accurate number on the people that ignored the whole thing.

freehunter 3 days ago 5 replies      
Maybe a more accurate headline would read "How (almost) the whole Apple community is screwed". On one hand, you have the people who believe this. On the other hand, you have the ones who do not. In the middle is those who don't care. We'll disregard them for this argument.

The people who believe the false rumor of a custom Apple screw are, at least to a large extent, the people who wouldn't put it past Apple. There's a point being made there; Apple has done a lot in their short history of mainstream popularity to lock users out of their hardware and software. A custom screw wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary. With this argument, Apple has developed a notorious reputation and when people are believing this without questioning it, it means the Apple community (as opposed to just Apple users) is screwed.

The ones who would not believe it, I feel, are split into two camps. Ones who saw no evidence of this being true, and ones who could not reconcile it in their mind that Apple would be doing something like this. The ones who didn't believe it because of a lack of evidence is the community Apple (and every other company) needs on their side. The ones who didn't believe it because they didn't want to believe it do so out of a blind love for Apple, and denial that Apple could betray them. Even if this is a small number of people (you can't deny they exist, though), it's still evidence that the Apple community is screwed.

The first group is full of people who either hate Apple for similar-but-opposite reasons to the last group or people who are suspicious of Apple's history (especially after the newest Macbook Pro). There is merit in their mindset, and that's not good for the Apple community. The last group is full of done-no-wrong supporters, who will praise anything Apple creates for better or worse. The lack of critical thinking and constructive feedback and criticism is bad for the Apple community. Who knows if a review of a new product is 10/10 because it's a good product or because it's an Apple product?

This is just my analysis, and I am happy to discuss alternative viewpoints. For what it's worth, I'm not upset that these guys made a fake. It gives a great view into the mindset of Apple news publishings and reactions.

arn 3 days ago 3 replies      
fwiw, they didn't just submit to reddit and wait. They also submitted it to (at least some) sites directly. Doesn't look like any dedicated rumors sites actually published it. Getting fake rumor submissions is a daily occurrence for rumor sites.

The actual stories were posted on smaller sites which questioned the authenticity. And Wired actually did an article on custom screws and used the image as a jumping off point: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/if-theres-a-screw-the...

So you can look at as either a success or failure.

(disclaimer: I run MacRumors.com)

jonknee 3 days ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is Apple does make their own screws. When they replaced my back glass at the Apple Store they also replaced the screws so I would be unable to service it later.


WiseWeasel 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's funny is there's no indication from the drawing that the screw would only work in one direction; it just needs a special screwdriver, and you have to spend 10 minutes figuring out its proper orientation. When manufacturers ship non-standard screws, they simply create a market for non-standard screwdrivers. I had to get a three-pronged screwdriver to get into my Wii, and it presented little obstacle. Given the difficulty of actually using this particular design however, a discerning reader, and especially a tech journalist should be able to see that this is completely stupid and impractical. Apple is not in the business of employing technicians to spend half their days orienting screwdrivers.
BenoitEssiambre 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does anybody else hate those pale, faded out font colors? It does make the page look better when you are glancing at it not trying to read anything but it sure makes reading textual content (the actual point of blogs and most websites) much more difficult.
shadowmatter 3 days ago 0 replies      
"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - Mark Twain (attributed)
silvestrov 3 days ago 0 replies      
The media is hungry: there is simply not enough news to report to fill the pages, and real news is dull and requires a lot of effort to understand and write about.

So the media have to grasp every rumor, every speculation, everything which can be made into a scandal.

They would never, ever, say "nothing to see here, pass on". That would be loosing sales for them.

laconian 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the brave new world of SEO in our media. Once reputable news sources are more than willing to throw all their credibility out the door so that they can be the louder wall of an echo chamber for the sake of impressions.
JamesLeonis 2 days ago 0 replies      
My grandfather sends me those political chain emails asking if they have any validity. He's pretty skeptical and deletes the majority of these, but every now and again he wants more information. That's where I come in. Last night I responded to one where the author attacked his opponent's credibility without any cited sources, for or against. I wrote him a long response about the need for sources, as well as the need to check the source's credibility.

What this article points out is how the news media is very hungry for new stories, and their need to publish as soon as possible. This means unverified information passes through the journalistic filter. This also points out, like the emails above, that people will generally fall for confirmation bias in many cases. Even HN has bouts of the echo chamber. It's really hard to counter, even when you are actively guarding against it.

Manual critical thinking and checking sources all the time is very mentally draining. I would bet that most to all of us have some form of automatic first-pass mental filter that immediately questions "facts" contained in email chain letters, or the latest fad technology if it has too many buzzwords, or Facebook posts. That is a shortcut we've developed so we don't have to manually think about every bit of information that comes across our desks. It goes immediately to the mental round file.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that do not have this filter. Maybe they haven't mentally trained to look for these kinds of problems. Maybe they were referred to the story by a trusted source, like a good friend or a prominent publication. Maybe the information fell precisely into their particular confirmation bias that it bypassed their skepticism. Political advertising thrives on this problem. Unscrupulous con men thrive off this problem.

But it happens to us all the time. I fall for it all the time, even though I try to find the "real" facts and am generally skeptical of most things. Thus it doesn't surprise me that people fell for the screw hoax, because Apple is traditionally very secretive and has a history of locking out DIYers. That screw fit Apple's MO to a T, and thus likely slipped through many of the internet bullshit filters and went viral. It happens. It will happen again.

The best we can do is try our best to root out false information, and accept that we will be fooled from time to time.

shocks 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish web designers would stop putting light grey text on white backgrounds.
incision 3 days ago 0 replies      
"When someone presents a bit of loose facts on Twitter, I usually respond with something like ”64% of the facts on the Internet is 48% incorrect according to 52% of respondents”, completely made up numbers out of my head, but it makes people think a little extra."

I really hate that particular brand of quip.

I find it most often employed by people who want to effortlessly dismiss some statistic that they happen to disagree with.

I'm not claiming that's the case here or that Twitter is full of solid, factual information. Rather, that it's a worthless way to respond. At least the original posts in such cases, no matter how loose provide a context for someone inclined to search out of the facts.

chernevik 3 days ago 0 replies      
A more interesting question is the drawbacks of taking time to scrutinize, or making more conditional statements, or waiting for confirmation. Meme direction seems to be set pretty early, and hard to move once set. It's a commonplace of politics that you have to react within the news cycle or the story gets away from you, and everyone agrees this is not a good thing.

So anyone taking the time to actually think through a bit is surrendering time, at an important moment in the discussion, to less careful people.

josteink 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's fair to say the Apple community got exactly what it wanted here. This sort of "trick" wouldn't be playable on any other community, because its rabid fanboys tend to care about other things than screws.

Apple fanboys however... They care about the margins of product-announcement papers and reads the future from them like gipsy-queens reads tea-leaves. It's an impressive performance, but still oh so pointless.

Because they miss the important thing: A screw is an implementation detail. What you want is open access to the bits which matters: SIM, battery, storage, platform and bootloaders.

Provide me with that and I couldn't care less what screws you use.

blhack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Could somebody explain what makes any of this stuff "security"?

Go ahead and make some weird top secret screw. We'll 3D print a drive for it.

engtech 3 days ago 0 replies      
of course, the real problem is that Apple will read this rumour and then get the idea of implementing these screws to lock consumers out of their devices and achieve the utopia of "no consumer serviceable parts".
rhizome 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author could have saved a lot of time and effort in coming to the conclusion that distance from the truth is problematic. Jean Baudrillard wrote about it in "Simulacrum and Simulation" 40 years ago, which was adapted into a movie called "Multiplicity," starring Michael Keaton.
Apocryphon 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems awfully irresponsible.
mmanfrin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't limited to Apple, this isn't limited to tech. The small fish eat the lies of the smaller fish, and in turn get eaten by the medium fish, and a rumor turns in to a meal down the road for aggregator-type media sites. This happens with tech, but also with gossip, news, politics, everything.

This isn't new, either. This is just a cyclical case of lazy journalism.

bryanlarsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
For more information on how the media is manipulated in the 21st century, check out Ryan Holiday's book: http://www.amazon.com/Trust-Me-Lying-Confessions-Manipulator...
kawaguchi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even if I doubted the veracity of the news, I would still be unhappy about even the concept of an "unremovable" screw on my Apple hardware and my comments would reflect my dissatisfaction with this idea itself, irrespective of veracity. By assuming that people talking on Google+, facebook, twitter, etc. are buying the idea hook, line and sinker, it ignores the likely possibility that some people may just be reacting to the idea itself and hope that their comments, along with the rest of the masses, would dissuade both Apple (in this hypothetical situation) or any company that would attempt a similar design in the future.
jconley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly the game of Telephone has never been able to have a higher impact than it does today with the speed and scale of the social internet.

But I think there is one question left unanswered: Why are we assuming this story itself is in fact true? Because it's written on a blog? :)

mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just listen to the news tonight and count how many times dramatic reports are immediately followed by "...independent sources say".
jere 3 days ago 0 replies      
They're called _rumors_ a for reason. People expect most rumors to be bullshit anyway.
lnanek2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this book:
Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
shasta 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see what happened. Apple, attempting to mitigate the damage caused when drawings of their new incompatible screw design leaked, has found a couple of patsies to claim it was a hoax.
Cl4rity 2 days ago 0 replies      
First of all, this problem isn't unique to tech journalism or the Internet. Stuff like this has happened in old media several times in the past--where's the outrage for that?

Secondly, the spread of misinformation, when it does happen this quickly, is usually rectified just as quickly. The good thing about most reputable tech blogs is that updates happen quickly and often. Anything you might have accepted as fact one day might be dispelled the next.

Aside from Apple's stock tanking several years ago when Ryan Block published a news story on Engadget about delayed iPhone shipments, when was the last time anyone was hurt by this sort of misinformation, anyway?

mpchlets 3 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds a whole like like the Sokal Affair - take a look at it on wikipedia if not familiar.
And all before the Internet.
Hominem 3 days ago 1 reply      
Apple is the world's largest company, so they can take a few knocks.

Claims the article, by what measure?

pavel_lishin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how often companies pull stunts this against their competitors.
splicer 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a Dilbert episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEOOFanQms0
mpchlets 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Sokal Affair: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

Very similar idea - and all before the Internet.

conductr 3 days ago 0 replies      
What role does truth play?

I think most readers understand that apple news is rumor (unless it comes from apple). So the reader doesn't really care if the news is true. They want are stating their opinions as if it were true. They may not explicitly say "i know this is probably fake, but if not, apple can go screw themselves."

Similarly, the publishers are purely reporting the existence of this conversation to their readers. Like "hey, this is what folks are talking about, you might be interested".

ozataman 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely hilarious. Come up with some !@#% that doesn't make any sense and watch the hordes make it the most important news since the invention of agriculture!
vacri 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another day, another blog with low-contrast text.
Uchikoma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't hear about this. Apple user. Guess the "(almost)" is a very large or small almost.
printer 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Apple is the world's largest company". Last time I checked Apple was listed somewhere around 30 (20th for most profitable). Maybe Day4 didn't check there facts...
benthumb 3 days ago 0 replies      
>We must become more critical of what we read and think 'Is this reasonable? '

The problem w/ this prescription is that just b/c something is 'unreasonable' to us doesn't make it untrue.

davecap1 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hold on. How do we know this article is even true?!
Kilimanjaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
So if I post an article about RIM betting the farm in a new phone based on Solaris and the stock tanks because of the domino effect in the news, am I liable?

Yep, the poster should be in jail.

smooradian 3 days ago 1 reply      
All the more reason why we need to teach kids in elem schools now how to identify real info and research sources. What a mess.
rco8786 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else have a really hard time reading this? Need a little more contrast on the font color, por favor.
beweinreich 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it'd be hilariously ironic if a story came out next week claiming this story to be a fake.
eyevariety 3 days ago 0 replies      
Make the body font on your blog bigger - its all out of proportion with the rest of the site design.
isyiwang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please change title to:
How we (almost) screwed the whole Apple community


atruepoint 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's really interesting to look at the ways in which media distribution models have changed--especially the level of perceived authenticity in television 40 years ago vs now. As the internet becomes a greater and greater form of information dissemination, new models are going to need to develop in order to provide truth in media.
gawi 3 days ago 0 replies      
On the net, everyday is April 1st.
jamesmcn 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because it's a pun.
dvliman 3 days ago 0 replies      
unrelated discussion. did anyone think this site is hard to read? the font size and color...
hahainternet 3 days ago 1 reply      
The big deal is that you didn't read the article.
Khan Academy: Computer Science khanacademy.org
329 points by johns  2 days ago   54 comments top 11
dag11 2 days ago 3 replies      
The videos for CS are brilliant. I don't think programming videos could possibly be more perfect than this.

For example: http://www.khanacademy.org/cs/booleans/839898911

So you can scrub through the lesson and play and pause it, and the instructor can type code into the editor directly causing it to output on your screen in real-time. But the amazing outcome of this is that the viewer can pause the lesson at any time and fiddle with the code directly, instantly changing the outcome. The downside to this is that if the lesson is then resumed, your modifications are kept and the code will be out of sync with the teacher's.

Another cool thing is that the teacher can draw directly onto the program output section just like in normal Khan Academy videos.

Brilliant. I'd say it's almost just as good as having someone right next to you teaching you how to code. The virtual teacher is typing the code directly into your computer!

cantankerous 2 days ago 2 replies      
Methinks "Computer Programming" or "Information Technology" would be a better title for this section than Computer Science. They are more general and applicable to the content.
Groxx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interactive numbers in the UI: seriously awesome. LOVE that they did this. Hopefully we'll get live updates to code in more systems, it's wonderful.

Lack of a 'course' to go through: ? I have no idea where to start. Nor can many of these be applied outside of the little editor with the 'tutorial'. Elsewhere, KA has a nice 'do this, then that (or that)' set of branching paths that give you a reasonable path to take. I see none of that here. Am I missing something?

vlad 2 days ago 3 replies      
Great work, but I have some feedback about the first video shown to everyone who visits the Computer Science page.

1) It jumps right into talking about syntax of programming instead of showing screen shots of what a person will be able to build after completing the lessons, the benefits of learning about Computer Science, some cool problems they will know the answer to, etc, like Udacity does.

2) It is spoken way too fast. It's going to turn off almost all non-native english speakers, as well as confuse many english speakers.

3) As if that's not bad enough, anyone who turns on closed captioning to get a transcript will be even more confused, as YouTube's transcription is both messy and flashes quickly. It's so useless, you should look into disabling the CC button for the videos while looking into other approaches in the mean time.


"according to a common just by out of the two facets to the front and we call this commenting out coat now the fun we skipped and sometimes this can get away with the land was for".

4) When re-recording it, I hope the speaker (who is female) says "men and women" rather than "dudes" when talking about programmers several times. Lots of women have contributed to software development. Otherwise, she made some great jokes!


recursive 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks like it has more to do with programming than computer science. That's a good thing, in my opinion, since I think programming is probably more generally useful. But it's a little misleading as the title.
eranation 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm checking CS on Khan academy every few weeks with hope for something like this, the Python class was great, but this is really exciting, and having Vi Hart do the videos is cool (or someone with a very similar voice...) - correction: it's narrated by Jessica Liu, who is doing an amazing job too
Atropos 2 days ago 0 replies      
That is really incredible work! I bet Codecademy is happy they already received their $10m round...
sanxiyn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kiro 2 days ago 2 replies      
So what's the difference between this and any other tutorials on the internet?
laserDinosaur 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just noticed the Khan academy website has no logo
m0skit0 2 days ago 1 reply      
The "How to read documentation" link is dead...
The first Django site to run on Python 3 myks.org
273 points by mYk  1 day ago   52 comments top 14
mYk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since the showcase is low on information, here's a summary of the current status:

- the porting strategy is explained here: https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/dev/topics/python3/

- the porting work happens in the master branch; commits related to the Python 3 port are usually prefixed by [py3]: https://github.com/django/django/commits/master

- the test suite doesn't pass yet, but the hardest part is done: http://ci.djangoproject.com/job/Django%20Python3/

- most of the work happened over the last three weeks, and 5 or 6 core developers are contributing significantly

arocks 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not only a major boost for Python 3 adoption but also a reference for how Unicode handling [1] can be successfully ported from Python 2.x libraries.

They seem to be on schedule as well, which is brilliant [2].

[1]: http://wiki.python.org/moin/PortingDjangoTo3k
[2]: https://www.djangoproject.com/weblog/2012/mar/13/py3k/

gitarr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well, the authors of frameworks and libraries still on Python 2 and without having concrete upgrade plans will have to either do something soon or others will take their space.

Python 3 is here, now.

redsymbol 1 day ago 0 replies      
Heck yeah! My startup uses python heavily, and it's ALL Python3 except for the public-facing website... which is currently Django1.4+Python2.7. As recently as six weeks ago, I tried porting it over, and had to abandon the effort... as soon as this gets stable enough, you can bet we'll make the switch.
marcusbartli 1 day ago 2 replies      
So glad to see python 3 being adopted more and more by major web frameworks. This might be the wrong place to ask, but have there been any updates on python 3's wsgi or flask support? I've been out of the loop.
SiVal 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is the estimated release date of Django 1.5?
antihero 1 day ago 2 replies      
Awesome, good to see this move forward. However, what is the django ecosystem support like?
crimsoncoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are a django shop and I have been concerned about the transition to python 3 for our projects as well as the community in general. Even though I don't think this the end all for a migration, it is a really promising sign. Nice to see this transition starting to occur in the django world.
tocomment 1 day ago 4 replies      
Relatedly, what's the correct way to install Python 3 on a Linux server (debian based) so I can try this? while keeping Python 2.x.

The last time I tried doing that I ended up in some weird quagmire with the LD_LIBRARY_PATH being messed up. There must be a standard way to install it?

tocomment 1 day ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know how they decided on that porting strategy? Why not move to Python three and run 3to2 for backwards compatibility?
conradfr 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a mainly php dev on the server-side, I've been interested on expanding to Python / Django for some time but the whole v2 and v3 thing put me a bit on hold.

Glad to see it moving.

sho_hn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Best thing I've seen all day.

(Go ahead and downvote me, this comment has absolutely value, yet despite knowing that I'm so happy I still feel compelled to post it. :)

roryokane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't use Python for anything so I don't really care about Django updates, but I found this cool anyway. It was interesting to look through the code on the page in order to figure out how the page printed out that code. It was also interesting to see just how little code (Python, HTML, and CSS) is needed to make a professional-looking page.
charliesome 1 day ago 0 replies      
nice to see django take python 3 seriously
What I Hate About Working At Facebook worldofsu.com
262 points by dshankar  2 days ago   177 comments top 60
onan_barbarian 2 days ago 2 replies      
The funny thing about this list is that a few of the items, while intended as satire, are actually spot-on. Especially item #1:

"But the rate of source code commits continues to grow proportionally with the number of engineers. This is in clear violation of the law that Fred Brooks established nearly 40 years ago in The Mythical Man Month."

Whoop de do.

This might, just maybe, because no particular behavior of FB really matters all that much. You're not building a space shuttle launch program or even a spreadsheet that people rely on to give correct answers.

I'm sure that a business model that can allow 80 godzillion developers to fling spaghetti at a wall in parallel with a view to seeing 'what sticks' is quite a bit less subject to Mythical Man Month type scaling problems.

And is there anyone so naive that they don't understand the agenda behind "3 free meals"?

crazygringo 2 days ago 4 replies      
I understand it's tongue-in-cheek, but #2 is actually worrisome:

> There's even a “no meeting Wednesday” meme in the company, which you might as well call a “failure to communicate” death wish. Software needs to be talked about and debated, not simply written. It's lunacy to be writing and shipping code at a blistering pace, instead of letting things bake a bit in committees representing broad swaths of all semi-affected parties.

There are a lot of companies where failure of communication is a very real thing, and where semi-affected (or totally affected) parties are completely ignored. In my experience, ideas for code do need to be talked about and debated, not simply written. Facebook has had a lot of very public privacy/other failures that could probably have been avoided if there was more communication going on.

If you're just writing code at a blistering pace, without a lot of communication, there's a good chance you're not writing the right code.

redthrowaway 1 day ago 2 replies      
I haven't felt the need to downvote a post since PG stripped us of our ability to do so, but this is unmitigated crap. A poor attempt at satire in service to some large corp is not something that should grace the front page, and the resulting conversation helps no one. It's blog spam in a different form.
beering 2 days ago 5 replies      
A lot of this is believable (i.e. can be taken for real, not satire) if you don't read into each point, because a lot of it is quite different from how Google does things:

1. At Google, code has to be designed, written, tested, and reviewed. You can't just start writing and shipping stuff, partly because there's so much infrastructure, and partly because you pay for shoddy code later. Google has long outgrown the kind of "start-up" velocity that you feel at Facebook.

2. Arguably, software does need to be talked about and debated. Google and many others hold meetings to make sure teams don't end up with 5 incompatible siloed components when what they really needed was a server and multiple clients. Teams have been bitten in the past by the "shit, let's rewrite all this except with a good design" problem. Certainly, they try to keep engineers out of meetings as much as possible.

3. Google doesn't have Larry and Sergey micromanaging things, and PR has been something that Google's struggled with. The role of a CEO is debatable.

4. Sure, although a low stock price isn't without consequences.

5. Several design changes have been made to food at Google: healthier snacks on the snack shelves, color-coding snacks, more plates of the smaller variety in cafes. Some people do get the Noogler 15.

6. Engineers can be pretty bad at making certain kinds of decisions, especially because they spend a lot of time heads down on a small components. (Have you seen the typical engineer-designed UI?) Google PMs that work between teams focus a lot on product decisions that affect the users and other products. Remember criticism that Google just makes a bunch of random, disconnected products?

7. Facebook has had some embarrassing "launches" of Hackathon products. One poorly thought-out launch can mean multiple criminal investigations and loss of user trust.

8. Social is important to Google, but it's hard getting people to agree that it's important.

9. Does it drive away candidates?

10. Trust is all fun and games until you give people in your PRC office extensive privileges to the internal network.

ghshephard 2 days ago 4 replies      
Good grief people - It's satire. The entire thing is meant to be funny. I didn't even think it was particularly subtle so I'm not sure how others are seeing it any other way.
msie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting some real criticism of Facebook and not a recruitment piece. What a waste of my time.
soup10 2 days ago 6 replies      
Real reasons why working at Facebook isn't that attractive in my opinion:

1. Giant php codebase.

2. All the excitement is gone post-IPO, they've reached an inflection point and growth is slowing down.

3. Mark Zuckerburg doesn't have great social skills/intelligence. Which wouldn't be a problem, except that he runs a giant social network.

4. The corporate mission of making the world more open and connected just doesn't seem very high impact. Facebook at it's core is a way to share photos and keep up with old friends, it doesn't really change social interactions.

5. Their focus is very narrow, they don't work on many novel exciting problems.

the_cat_kittles 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wouldn't this be better as "10 things I love about working at Facebook"? Why not just drop the "hilarious" satire angle and say what is awesome directly. I hope I don't sound like the death of fun... It sounds a little smug as it is now.
Uchikoma 1 day ago 3 replies      
Must admit I've stopped after the firtst, but: With thousands of programmers, what real features have been released to facebook.com? I often ask myself what those thousands of programmers do, as a user (I know not customer in this case) I can't see it. All of them mobile? Ads? Image recognition? With thousands of programmers should't the output be (5 people dev teams, one feature a month) hundreds of features/stories per month? Could users live with that?

I'd also think commits are not a productivity metric.

ricardobeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
I went from "I disagree" to "This guy is a moron" to "Oh, thank god this is satire" at #3. It's amazing that they can keep this environment after growing so big.
coenhyde 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually agree with #1. Code is the enemy of all codebases. Though i'm not arguing against the company culture that produces such productivity. It's just more a case of "with great power comes great responsibility".
mda 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just a recruitment propaganda piece.
And actually what #1 tells me: "Come to Facebook, and have your share of ever growing giant smoking unmaintainable pile of (php) code."
rweba 2 days ago 0 replies      
The point is
(1) Is all this stuff true? How true?
(2) Is it really all good? Seems like they have a very free wheeling engineering culture. Are there downsides to this? Is it sustainable as Facebook grows? From what I've heard Google is considerably more controlled.

Also I must say that as a daily Facebook user I haven't noticed most of these "thousands" of features being launched. They must be exceedingly subtle features or else they bundle them up for an annual release (which is actually a good idea).

kimmiller 2 days ago 2 replies      
Too much code being committed? Too many decisions being made by engineers? Building a great product?

Wow, talk about navel gazing. I get the satire point, but...

This internally arrogant, externally ignorant attitude is why the stock is where it is. These ideals are not necessarily good for a mature business that needs to pay back the kind people that gave it money in the first place.

Enjoy your free lunch, as there are none.

msg 1 day ago 0 replies      
An interesting litmus test. I caught the satire at 3 but double taked when I started wondering how this stuff would translate to my company of choice.

True story, two weeks ago my team launched a feature and decreased latency. We hunted for an explanation and finally found out that some code that blew away our feature was launched coincidentally at the same time. It was a pretty unlikely scenario, and we have controls designed to prevent it, but it happened anyway. I wonder how many collisions like this Facebook will have to deal with as they expand.

I would vote for free healthy food though.

sbochins 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would have been funnier if he took a few jabs at facebook. Good satire sometimes mixes actual insults with the satire. I don't know anything about the author, but this reads like something written by a third rate facebook recruiter.
jamesvl 2 days ago 4 replies      
Satire is well and good, but i can't grok #9. Interviews in a hot tub? So... even for the women? Or is it used preferentially for high pressure engineers only (whom of course are all men)?

It may be just me, but I can't see the HR department in any state being okay with that. And if it's not for interviews... what's it for?

SqMafia 1 day ago 1 reply      
A not-so-subtle pretend recruiting/bragging piece, except perhaps it had the reverse effect on me.

#1 reason I won't want to work at Facebook so I can avoid smug, not-so-witty, immature douchebags like the author. With the stock price where it is, I guess FB might have to resort to these kinds of tactics to attract talent these days.

ahi 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a user, I'm not so sure #1 and #2 are haha funny. Things are being added and changed constantly, reducing usability. Features seem to be broken or at least temperamental all over the place.
marknutter 2 days ago 0 replies      
I realized it was satire at point #5. Well played.
utopkara 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why make it impossible to read more than two lines, if the point is to show off how cool FB is?

It is fascinating, that I really want to learn the good things, but I cannot get myself to read through the satire. Normally, I would be able to skim through it; even that triggers a gag reaction. Anybody has the same problem?

emmelaich 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'd pretty much assumed that it was tongue in cheek from the title. I'm completely baffled as to how anyone can read more than a few lines without realising it's not serious.

Is there something wrong with me or everyone else?!

mparlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this article needs to end in a ":P". I almost stopped reading at number 3.
corwinstephen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can see why this guy got the job: he has the "I don't think the way you do" mentality that is so typical of silicone valley employees, I'm sure they probably loved him for it in his interview. That said, I think this guy is a misfiring canon. He's getting mad at all the wrong people for what seems to be his own dissatisfaction with not being in charge, ad he's getting mad at them for doing most of the things that have caused such dysfunction in traditional companies. Is like this guy's ideal work environment is an Innitech next to Michael Bolton and Samir.

In my experience, companies that fight to boost their stock prices in the short term end up making them plummet further in the long run. It's the companies that have the restraint to accept a loss in order to build toward a bigger reward that end up changing the world.

Look at Apple. They used to spend so much money on R and D that their stock prices were miserable. But shit, they got the iPod out of it, and look where it took them. If they had instead tried for short term profit, they probably would have ended up putting out another garbage iMac. Or a Zune.

And finally, you can't be so shortsighted as to overlook the impact of encouraging creativity an freedom. If you force beaurocracy on your employees you might end up getting more done at first, but as they start to lose the excitement that comes with being enabled and excited by a company that believes in their ability to be autonomous, the quality of their work will start to decline.

Short point: don't play devils advocate just because all your peers are stoked to work for Facebook. And especially don't do it to get hits on your blog.

blantonl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jeeze.. Facebook has taken it on the chin since it's IPO. It is great to see an insider's positive perspective from a satirical perspective.
xenen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was way too naive to expect a Facebooker to not actually be drunk on the cool-aid and actually bother to offer a comprehensive good/bad overview of FB.
franzus 1 day ago 1 reply      
> specifically Zuck's idealism (perhaps even naïveté) that focusing on building great products will lead to solid long-term businesses

Nothing against that. Also I find it a good thinh that he's still involved in the products ...

But what good products does he think does Facebook make? Quality does not really come to mind when I think about Facebook. This is common among my peers too. To us Facebook is the place where soccer moms get ripped off by clicking on pixel cows.

That's also why I'd never work for them. It's something my hacker honor wouldn't allow.

fchollet 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reverse linkbait, let's hope that's not the new PR trend.
bethly 2 days ago 0 replies      
#9 actually does sound hellish. The rest of it mostly comes across as snide, since it's not actually exaggerated enough to be satire.
austenallred 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well done, combined efforts of Facebook's PR and HR departments. May you poach all of the engineers from your greatest competitors.
jyap 1 day ago 0 replies      
You know things are all good and well when a company is doing well and pre-IPO but the truth is, Facebook will need to so major results quarter on quarter to prevent the stock from tanking. A little less satire and a little more business is what's needed. Given the state of Facebook's stock performance post-IPO, I would say the joke is on him.
RollAHardSix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's sarcasm. Well mostly, but with some truth splayed in (because there probably are things that grate on the poster).

No way this is real:

The food is too good. What's wrong with good food? Well, here's what's wrong: there's too much of it. Three meals a day. Free. Cooked by award-winning chefs. And too many choices: salads, entrees, desserts, vegetarian food, soups, whole grains, usually a second dessert, organic stuff, barbeque, ice cream, fresh-squeezed orange juice. For someone like me with zero gastronomic self-control, this supposed “benefit” or “perk” is a complete disaster. Why doesn't the FDA step in?

- Some of us have to pay for our food by the way, all three meals, so if you would kindly save the complaining (and grab seconds).

But also the bit about how it's code, code, code, ship, ship, ship, long-term product view, the engineers are involved, the company looks for innovation with the hack-a-thons. I do think it's mostly sarcasm. And with that, disclaimer: I could be wrong =D

marcamillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
At first I wasn't sure if this was real - which is kinda scary. For those that have ADD, if they read perhaps just the first 3 - 4 points they could come away feeling like this is a real gripe about FB.

Not sure it was executed as best as it could.

Maybe this is one example of something that should have been 'peer-checked' before pushing to production.

Just saying.

nestlequ1k 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really? This guy is a tool. Happy that he's scored points with his manager though.
nuclear_eclipse 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a recent hire, I have to agree completely with everything he said. It's such a terrible working environment that I just might have to stay here for an inordinate amount of time so I can continue to complain about it.
tessr 2 days ago 0 replies      
#5 needed to come sooner. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this--clever angle!
datalus 2 days ago 1 reply      
How far you make it down the list before you realize it's a troll is the quality of said troll... I give it a 4/10.
rblion 2 days ago 1 reply      
"There is a fully-working hot tub in the New York office that interviews are conducted in. I didn't believe this until I saw the photos on Twitter. It was billed to me as a way to test candidates' resilience under pressure. I was told that it's used rarely, and only on exceptionally good candidates as a way to probe the extent of their mettle. This is about the least professional thing that I have ever heard of, and I'm sure it violates laws in several states."

Not surprised.

languagehacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The food is too good. What's wrong with good food? Well, here's what's wrong: there's too much of it. Three meals a day. Free. Cooked by award-winning chefs. And too many choices: salads, entrees, desserts, vegetarian food, soups, whole grains, usually a second dessert, organic stuff, barbeque, ice cream, fresh-squeezed orange juice. For someone like me with zero gastronomic self-control, this supposed “benefit” or “perk” is a complete disaster. Why doesn't the FDA step in?"

Is he complaining that he's getting too fat from eating at Facebook's buffet?

DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
This explains the hideous broken interface, with options spread everywhere and auto-resetting choices.
pspeter3 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds pretty terrible to work there. On a serious note, it's awesome how much stuff gets converted from hackathons
thesash 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't believe the comments on that blog post are real. Apparently sarcasm isn't a language everybody speaks.
pedalpete 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's tough to disagree when I don't actually have experience working there, but there are a few telltale signals that the author doesn't know what he's talking about.

Though I'm also wondering if the whole thing is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek (if so, I'm barely getting it).

#3 "Zuck is too involved" states that rather than planning the long-term strategy of the company, the CEO should be "pumping up the stock price". and #4, too much focus on short-term.

That is the problem with most other companies, too much focus on short term, not thinking long-term about the company. A CEO's job is not to promote the company to investors, it's to move the business forward. That is done through products and marketing, not by 'pumping the stock price'.

thomashillard 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's important to create an awesome work environment. But in my experience it's usually a trade off, the downside of which can be having diminished social life outside of the office. You're also probably expected to sacrifice some compensation and the deal tends to be in favor of the employer.
justindocanto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got about 5 points in before i realized this is actually 100% sarcasm. You had me pretty worked up for a minute there.
stephenlambe 2 days ago 0 replies      
turns out Su actually got the Seattle office a (waterless) hot tub http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/technologybrierdudleys...
nlz1 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Decisions made by interns" = probably why FB is constantly raping user privacy. I hope.
dj2stein9 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had enough unbearable, corporate, cubicle, meeting-every-afternoon jobs that this list makes Facebook sound like a wonderful place to work.
jfoutz 2 days ago 0 replies      
wrt #8, why no ads on mobile? isn't that, like, where all your money comes from?
ltcoleman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the sarcasm and wished I worked there. Argghhh devs just want to code and be trusted to code.
tehwebguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look for the comment by Zechmann on the article, whoosh.

> 4. Do not introduce banner ads that's moving waaayy backwards...

Kishin 2 days ago 0 replies      
why is this on the front page of HN?
tjholowaychuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
not to mention the only portion of the site I use (photos) is couldn't possibly be worse :p
syassami 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was thinking to myself the whole time, "this is awesome" until it hit me
Empro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely hilarious.
jason3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Too bad I don't use Facebook.
sjg007 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is being sarcastic.
grahammather 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see what you did there
ijobs-ly 1 day ago 0 replies      
"What I hate about those working at Facebook"
timrpeterson 1 day ago 0 replies      
fb culture is toolbagish
Joyent ending "lifetime" hosting accounts plus.google.com
248 points by kenmck  12 hours ago   231 comments top 48
cletus 10 hours ago  replies      
It never ceases to amaze me how many people "fall" for this "lifetime" pricing model. In fact I said the exact same thing three months ago [1].

The fact that the service provider is not getting any future revenue from you, even if they've fairly discounted your lifetime value, gives them the incentive to get rid of you.

Additionally it gives the wrong incentives to users to "abuse" their "unlimited" service. You saw this with AT&T's "unlimited" wireless data plans recently [2].

I know why people do it: as an alternative to raising capital. Businesses do Groupons for the same reason. In fact, I'm feeling like a broken record here [3].

The problem with Groupon (and similar "offer" sites) is they create the wrong incentives and attract the worst kind of customer. The best situation for Groupon and for businesses is for lots of people to buy the offers and then not to use them.

The lesson here is that if you want to create a sustainable and liked business, you need to align your incentives with those of your customers [4].

As a customer, stop falling for this charade.

As a business, stop taking short term cash flows for perpetual liabilities just to raise capital.


EDIT: regarding "unlimited" (in Karunamon's comment), he is correct: we do need to hold companies to a higher standard. For example, Australia's ACCC (I guess equivalent to the FTC but with a heavy focus on consumer rights) has cracked down on the use of "unlimited" (eg [5]).

But that just reinforces my point. In Australia pretty much all Internet plans have stated quotas. With unlimited plans you create the wrong incentives to throttle users, impose nebulous "fair use" conditions and generally whittle away at what's really "unlimited".

It's the wrong incentive system.

With Internet quotas at least you know you're getting what you pay for and your plan is priced for your usage, not some median or 95% usage that will constantly have the provider trying to throttle "power users".

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3936701

[2]: http://mashable.com/2012/03/01/att-limits-unlimited-data/

[3]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2649739

[4]: http://www.accountingweb.com/blogs/ronaldbaker/firms-future/...

[5]: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2010/12/accc-taking-tpg-to-cour...

patio11 12 hours ago 6 replies      
For folks who are headscratching here, back in about 2007 (I remember it because I was getting into Rails) Joyent's precursor company TextDrive bootstrapped some hardware purchases by selling a (barely capable of running Rails, fairly rare for the time) shared hosting account. The kicker was that you'd pay about ~18 months upfront and it would be Lifetime. I don't trust my memory for numbers but somewhere between $150 and $300 if I recall correctly.

I actually used them as a hosting provider for a while, and followed the support forums. Supporting the Lifetime offering was a challenge pretty much from the getgo, because some folks were less than neighborly with their usage of system resources, partially out of ignorance, partially out of Rails playing very poorly with shared systems, and partially because you attract an interesting type of customer with this offering. The physical hardware had some faults and probably has not improved much over time.

Meanwhile, shared hosting for Rails is, well, not a very attractive option over the last couple of years, thanks to VPSes, Heroku, Amazon, etc etc. Joyent apparently wants to exit the business.

Of note: I remember somebody asking Slicehost to match the business model and Matt shot them down saying that it was too gimmicky for his taste and wouldn't be mutually beneficial. Slicehost eventually came up with a neat solution towards the same end: they were oversubscribed, so they sorted their waiting list by the amount of non-refundable deposit you were willing to make, giving them much-needed cash flow without committing them to service for forever.

pmb 12 hours ago  replies      
I paid the extra $$ for lifetime (and did it back when I was a grad student and had basically zero money) because I didn't want to have to think about hosting any more. Now I have to think about hosting again. Ugh.

Broken promises leave a bad taste in my mouth.

nemesisj 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"your lifetime service will end on October 31, 2012"

If you're writing that sentence and don't see a problem with it, there's no helping you. Look, many of us have been there and sold "free" things to early customers who become a pain later on, but you have to honor it. Better yet, never sell something "lifetime" without at least some kind of low recurring fee to cover nominal costs.

raganwald 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The fairest way to offer "lifetime" or "unlimited" plans is to include a simple warranty:

"If we ever cancel this plan, we will refund your money in full."

michaelhoffman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder why Joyent thinks they can get away with this. "Q: How long is it good for? A: As long as we exist." seems to be a pretty good definition of "lifetime." I would think they could only get out of their promise via bankruptcy. Maybe Joyent is trying to substitute for legal bankruptcy with moral bankruptcy.
zdw 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I really like what Joyent is doing with illumos, dtrace, and other similar projects. That said...

They basically have let their "legacy" customers languish for a while, and after a pretty bad migration process a year or two ago, it was obvious that they really wanted to discard these old accounts - those boxes are running a version of opensolaris that's over 4 years old (snv_67).

Most of us paid quite a bit for our "lifetime" subscriptions, just to have it ripped up into a bunch of different parts that either get EOL'ed or sold off to another company (as was done with Strongspace).

obiefernandez 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's the answer you'll get if you write to their support complaining about the change:

Hi Obie,

As often happens in the software business, vendors “end of life” older platforms and migrate customers to new versions or platforms. The service you purchased a “lifetime subscription” to will no longer be supported or available from Joyent. On the other hand, we appreciate and value your business as an early customer. As such, we have created special offers specifically for you to make this transition as easy as possible. Details and promo codes were provided to you in the email.

I hope you will be able to take us up on the offer and see the benefits of our new platform.


Peter Yorke
Senior Solutions Architect

smackfu 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder why they are this dumb. It's like buying bad press. Did they really think this wouldn't get out and make them a mockery? Would it really cost that much to continue providing something to these people forever, so they wouldn't have to say the lifetime is over? Dumb dumb dumb.
mikeash 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I assume they're giving everybody a refund of their purchase price, right? ...Right?
patrickgzill 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems a little odd, surely with the cheaper RAM, far more powerful CPUs and inexpensive disks these days, they could spend a few $$$ and burn a couple of U , keeping their customers happy?

I don't know how many servers they would have needed in 2007 to provide the services they sold, but surely now they could consolidate all those users onto 1/4 the machines?

What is this negative press costing them?

opendomain 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I do not want to be a jerk here, but the only reason I joined was the promise of "lifetime" - they can NOT just cancel our accounts does it does not suit them. Please contact me webmaster @ opendomain ORG if you would like to join the class action lawsuit.
slig 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Great, one company less to worry about next time I'm shopping for hosting.
officemonkey 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The fact that I got a good deal for hosting in retrospect is irrelevant. Joyent offered lifetime service in exchange for a large payment up front. It wasn't just a one time deal they regretted. They made lifetime offers on numerous occasions. It was their business model at the time, no one forced them.

Here's a very easy solution for Joyent.

Refund my money. My payment was for lifetime service. Pay me back and we'll call it quits.

po 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like Jason Hoffman has stepped into the forums to explain the reasoning behind their decision and do some damage control:


They probably should have done that on the original letter.

gaoshan 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Joyent just offered me 50% of my original investment back as a payout. Anyone else hearing this? Might be more lucrative than whatever a class-action lawsuit would return to each of us.

Might take them up on it as it's better than the hosting deal they are offering (given that i want nothing to do with them, anyway... dollar for dollar it seems about equal).

typicalrunt 11 hours ago 4 replies      
As annoyed as I am with all of it, I'm more interested to know how to move off of their products and services now.

My lifetime account is where I have several important email servers, and I don't know how to migrate them. All the email says is to contact Joyent about getting migrated to one of their other product offerings. However, if I am only given 2.5 months to sort all this stuff out, I DO NOT WANT to use Joyent services. I'd love to use GMail for Business, Linode or what have you, but I don't know where to start.

blndcat 12 hours ago 2 replies      
In the end shared hosting with Joyent wasn't very good. It was slow, it was clunky and had an air of neglect. I have one site remaining on it I think. Most of my sites are on Linode.

What was worse was that Joyent changed directions, decided its then current customers weren't profitable enough (my guess shared hosting = higher per head tech support costs) and basically stagnated the service while it introduced new services. I think they did this a couple of times, and it has always made me relunctant to recommend them to friends (even ones looking for cloud services).

Sigh I hope StrongSpace will still honour the lifetime part.

BTW for readers who think lifetime account holders are being greedy, the point of the accounts was that when TextDrive/Joyent needed extra capital to expand, they offered lifetime accounts in return for quite a bit of cash up front. In part, they are where they are due to this clever bit of fund raising.

grandalf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been warning people about Joyent for a few years now. A few years back I was using them for some hosting and they were dishonest about their shared filesystem issues.
prodigal_erik 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This was the same service that had an outage last year which took over two days to recover from, for which their answer was basically "what did you expect, we're neglecting that server"? Sad thing is, putting the bottom line before responsibility is probably an effective strategy because the market does not penalize it sufficiently.
ck2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Every company that offers "lifetime" anything, seems to mean their lifetime, not yours.

I once had a lifetime free checking account, I still have the advertising flyers from when I got it.

Well they took that away from me last year too.

I guess they just count on you getting a lawyer and lawsuit being more of a hassle than you just walking away.

buntar 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear Joyent

You got me:

"We've been analyzing customer usage of Joyent's systems and noticed that you are one of the few customers that are still on our early products and have not migrated to our new platform, the Joyent Cloud."

So sorry about not appreciating enough your new platform because " Everyone that's moved to our new cloud infrastructure has been pleased with the results".

About the whole "lifetime" ("As long as we exist.") thing ... Stupid me. I never get that. I mean that was meant metaphorically, right, like in marriages?

Ok then, you divorced me. Thanks that I can still sleep under your roof for one and a half month.

And yes: You keep the house. And the money. I keep my files.

I think, we can call this a true a win-win situation. Sorry, I mean "win-win".


danyork 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Joyent seems to be doing some general housecleaning... I received a similar notice (same first paragraphs) related to the closure of their http://no.de/ Node.js hosting service:


Joyent is retiring the No.de service. If, as a Node.js developer, you prefer a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, we suggest that you consider our third-party partner, Nodejitsu, who offers a Node.js PaaS that runs on Joyent. Joyent continues to provide an ideal cloud infrastructure to run your Node.js applications, with performance and debugging tools that no other cloud provides. Sign up for a free trial on Nodejitsu (www.nodejitsu.com) or take advantage of Joyent Cloud's 30-Day Free Trial using this promotional code.


timkeller 11 hours ago 3 replies      
> "...and noticed that you are one of the few customers that are still on our early products..."

One of the few? Cool. It's not costing you that much to keep them on their lifetime plan. Surely its not worth the negative PR?

Not sure what Joyent is thinking.

rdl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Either Joyent is financially doomed on its own (and is trying to cut costs), or is just really stupid.

EOLing an old lifetime product with high support costs makes sense. What they should have done was moved the "small number of customers" using Lifetime service onto a new lifetime platform using their shared hosting platform. The plan they're offering for a year seems like an adequate replacement -- the cost of providing that low tier of service forever is probably not much more than the cost of providing it for a year.

Maybe make it opt-in, so inactive accounts don't spin up on the new platform, and provide some higher level of service at a discount (so, instead of a $50/yr cloud plan for free, you could optionally get a $250/yr plan for $150/yr.)

joshe 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Had an account with them back around then because their site made them seem technically proficient, but dealing with their customer service was like dealing with bad sys admins - grudging help and lazy. There were also a lot of unfinished nooks and crannies in their system. An overall lack of craftsmanship and care. The email brought back not so fond memories and is indicative of their attitude in all their interactions. Partly you are paying for company culture and theirs is not good.
btipling 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Split the company in two, one with lifetime accounts one without. One with lifetime accounts goes bankrupt immediately. Promise kept, goals achieved!
sp332 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone already started a Google group for people to discuss where to move their hosting: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ex-joyeurs
thirdstation 9 hours ago 0 replies      
They did the same for their perpetually paying customers too. When I signed up for my TextDrive account it was billed as one price ($10/month) forever. Then Joyent bought them and things were OK for a while but I figured that was the end of my price guarantee.

My biggest issue with Joyent is they seem to change their services every year or two while letting their legacy customers languish. I used to have an account on a shared host. Now I have a Smart Machine, or maybe a Shared Accelerator. I'm not sure anymore and they keep changing the support website.

Now I just use them for mail but, I'm dissatisfied with that so I'm looking to move.

What I want is to pay for a service and not worry about it. It's too much work being their customer nowadays.

michaelbuckbee 12 hours ago 4 replies      
This actually seems fairly typical for most free or lifetime plans for things. Are there counterexamples of site/services that offered lifetime access that are still doing so 5 years later?
NateEag 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm another Mixed Grill customer, currently on a shared Solaris box.

When I bought it, I knew it was a gamble, and with the $500 spread over 6.5ish years, it's not a terrible ROI.

I assumed I'd lose out due to the company eventually folding, though. "As long as we exist" seemed pretty straightforward, and what I knew about them didn't leave me believing that they'd just pull the plug like this.

I've updated their Wikipedia page with a short section that I believe summarizes the situation accurately and factually, without letting my emotions creep in too much - if anyone cares to edit it, have at it. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joyent

Joyent, I'm disappointed. You had a few memorable tech disasters, but never before did I personally experience ill will from you. I had begun to trust you guys.

fingerprinter 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I have quite a few static sites on them right now (personal, friends and family). Looking for a reasonable host that won't cost a bunch. Any recommendations?
justinhj 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me I bought a lifetime license for Visual Studio in the 90's. Less than a year later they revoked it ans esent q cheque for $50 and a copy of Visual Java
blues 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"There's a sucker born every minute" -- usually attributed to P. T. Barnum. The people who got sucked into buying into this "Joyent ending ‘lifetime' hosting accounts" hustle probably got the greatest bargain of their lives. I'll bet they were mostly young folks, ever chasing after that proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (although some never quit). Hoping for endless service with no further incentive for the provider. What a priceless lesson at such a small cost! This company has actually taught one of life's great lessons for a truly paltry sum!

Anyway, here's what I do: I register my domains at nearlyfreespeech.net. They have a somewhat limited number of different TLDs available, and at about $9 per year, are not cheap (or "free"), but certainly not exorbitant. But their integrity is rock-solid. One time I let my domain expire for a couple weeks, an alarming circumstance. But they restored it for free after I simply payed the fee (this can only work for a limited time, of course). My old (and reliable) previous host and registrar would have charged me about $200 to get it back! So the $9 is like cheap insurance.

I use asmallorange.com as my host. They charge as little as $35 per YEAR, with $0.50 per GB per month for additional bandwidth. (Both of these hosts are "pay as you go.") So if I ever have a disagreement with my host, they cannot mess with my domain name! Also, my registrar uses FreeBSD servers, while my host uses Linux, and I don't want to deal with FreeBSD (it's probably more stable than Linux, but I know nothing about how to use it). The smallorange service (running on Linux) is chock-full of great features, including Cpanel. They have a feature inside their Cpanel that one-click installs things like WordPress, and I used it. But I chose a one-click install password that it allowed, but that the rest of Cpanel would not allow, and that lead to problems. But their customer service was right there for me, and they immediately cleared it up. Hope this doesn't sound spammy. The main point is, if you really want service, pay as you go is the way to get it. It worked great for me.

quangv 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think lifetime should mean lifetime.

They should of given you at least 15 years free I think.

tomjen3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Class action law suit?
TomGullen 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Had a similar experience with an old host, promised "lifetime price freeze". A couple of years later they started charging me more as they had 'moved me to a new server' which I fiercely contested. In the end we settled for a compromise.
forgotAgain 8 hours ago 0 replies      
To anyone thinking of Joyent for cloud services: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, ...
joevandyk 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I believe I also have a "lifetime" account, I have not received this email. Though I did switch over to the solaris machines a few years ago.
ljoshua 11 hours ago 0 replies      
TextDrive was a great host back in the day (I signed up around 2004) and I was also happy with Joyent as well. They've obviously changed target markets since then, which is unfortunate, but I think the offer they made is certainly palatable and a sign of good will. All good things must come to an end, and then you go on to the next good company.
port_rhombus 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously though, the printout I have from March 29, 2006 of their Mixed Grill offer says "One-time payment of $499" and "How long is it good for? As long as we exist."

That constitutes a contract which they are clearly trying very hard to ignore. It seems so petty given their success, available resources, and the very manageable limited bandwidth and quota'd storage space us lifetime customers are allocated.

OliverM 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought I'd switched over to Solaris hosting, but still got the email??
gexla 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Jones, we said "till death do us part" but you are now divorcing me. :(

In case you didn't get it, Jones is the name of the shared server that I'm on. ;)

robinbowes 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Much suckage. Lifetime means lifetime. It wouldn't be too much out of the way to provide a small host for "lifetime" users. I have complained to joyent.
tomson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Outraged, too. Any suitable alternatives in sight?
tomson 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Where is Dean Allen now that we need him?
robinbowes 11 hours ago 0 replies      
BTW, I too have moved to the Solaris hosting.
gexla 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Mixed Griller here. I don't remember what the language was, but perhaps in this case "lifetime" meant the lifetime of the product, shared hosting. Personally, I'm happy with the accelerator, I never did like shared hosting and quit using it a long time ago except for a couple of sites that are gathering dust.
United Airlines Lost My Friend's 10 Year Old Daughter And Didn't Care bobsutton.typepad.com
236 points by Brajeshwar  2 days ago   189 comments top 23
chimi 2 days ago  replies      
This is a problem bigger than United -- which has a lot of problems. This is what you get when you subsidize bad companies that need to fail. United needs to fail so someone better can take over. The moral hazards are ruining the country.

I saw it recently with farmers struggling from the drought. Compare this farmer: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7417774n who has acres full of hay that don't do well in the drought to this farmer who planted a solid base of drought tolerant sorghum http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7417664n in addition to his corn. The second farmer is diversified. He's making smarter decisions with his farm, but because he wasn't hit as hard as other farmers who aren't making good decisions with their land, he's not going to get as much compensation for failed crops. That first farmer needs to go to work for the second farmer so he can learn better and more profitable methods of farming and we will all benefit -- including him. Watch the two farmers. Look how worn out the first one is compared to the second one. The first farmer is working harder the second farmer is working smarter. We need to reward that.

The same thing with United. United Airlines was the largest recipient of cash grants from the US after 9/11, getting $774.2 Million [1]. If the US hadn't kept United alive over the past 10 years so an Airline that cares could fill the void, this little child may not have been left stranded at the airport by a company full of employees who don't need to care.


benologist 2 days ago 2 replies      
United are losing it at the moment. I had 2 flights the other week where they couldn't even get someone to move the walkway thingy in line with the plane so we all just stood around waiting after we landed. On one flight the pilot actually phoned because he couldn't get anyone on the radio.

They're really hit and miss with the service - it's either great or it's shit. Sometimes I really love them... I've had two flights where a host has gone out of their way to block off a faulty overhead light and a faulty in seat entertainment system so I could sleep, another flight where I didn't have a long enough layover to get food and they had no snack service so they gave me two main courses (and I wasn't even elite back then). Other times they're like a bad fucking movie - 6 weeks ago at 1am after a cancelled flight they just arbitrarily closed the elite line with "a dozen people left" and told us to go to the end of the economy line with 100s of people waiting in it already for reticketing and hotel vouchers.

lancefisher 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This is one thousand times worse than breaking guitars. I would love to see that band make another video about this incident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
greggman 2 days ago 3 replies      
Doesn't this sound like many large internet companies? Paypal? Ebay? Google? Facebook? Yahoo? All of them seem to ignore their customers. At least that's my experience. They only seem to solve issues when either you have connections to someone on the inside or manage to get your story carried/notice on some major news website (HN included).
anusinha 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who traveled many times as an unaccompanied minor (without a cellphone) in the early 2000s under United Airlines, American Airlines, and Northwest Airlines, I'm shocked to hear this story. I always felt safe and knew who was in charge of taking me from place to place. I'm astonished that United's service has deteriorated to this extent. Yes, it was only a very small sample size of United's service staff, but the fact that this situation happened does not bode well for the quality of their service and will hopefully spark something in the administration and leadership to revitalize the culture that currently tolerates such treatment. If not, well, there are plenty of cheaper airlines with superior service and United's marketshare and reputation will suffer. There's always someone willing to provide the service you do for less. You have to figure out what you can do better than the other guys and capitalize on it.
jcampbell1 2 days ago 6 replies      
I want to know who the the passengers were sitting next to this child were that didn't help her with her transfer. The lack of human decency is a cultural problem as much as an airline problem. What the fuck is wrong with people that don't talk to a child traveling alone and make sure she makes her connection. I blame humanity as much as the airline.
k-mcgrady 2 days ago  replies      
United is clearly very wrong here and treating their customers poorly. But, and I'm sure this is going to be an unpopular opinion, who sends a 10 year old across the country on a plane alone? I wouldn't send a 10 year on a 30min bus ride alone. I understand United offers a service to make this possible but it seems like a ridiculous thing for a parent to take advantage of. Maybe it's a cultural difference and this is common in the US (is it?) but I don't know anyone who would even consider doing it.
rodolphoarruda 2 days ago 0 replies      
"So some United executive called Annie and Perry at home yesterday to try to cool them out."

Interesting. I would make this guy wait some 40 mins on the phone, then tell him "something has happened" and that he would have to call later. In the meantime he would have to wait and watch the news getting widespread in media. A little bit of reciprocity would be nice to educate this corporate people. It's absurd that, IMHO, parents of a missing child who have not received proper care for days, now have to give all the attention and care to some executive.

barbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm astounded at how terrible United Airlines is, and seemingly always has been. How have they been able to get away with such terrible customer service for so long?

In 1995 I flew with my brother and mother to America from Australia, a 12 hour flight. I was 5 years old and my older brother was 7. They knew our ages, and had seated us with 1 seat at the back of the plane, and 2 near the front. My mother was pretty frustrated. Was she supposed to sit up the front by herself and leave us two at the other end of the plane? Or sit with one of us and leave the other by themselves?

I recently took a very similar flight at the end of last year. I was flying by myself, but sure enough, once the bulk of the passengers had boarded the plane, an attendent over the loudspeaker told us that they were aware that family members had been separated due to seating arrangements and they ask that we please just sit in those seats for take-off and rearrange ourselves once we were in the air. I couldn't believe that after 16 years they were still having the same problems.

mherdeg 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think this blog post's headline is quite right.

"Losing a child" is putting a child on BOS-EWR instead of BOS-CLE and not noticing the problem until the child's family in Cleveland calls the parents and the parents call Newark, http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2009....

It sounds like what happened here was "causing a child to miss a connection" (and also separately "delaying the delivery of a child's luggage"). This is of course a very bad thing.

Missing the handoff of an UM from the aircraft to their connecting gate is the same kind of service delivery failure that routinely happens to pax with disabilities who, when the third-party wheelchair vendor fails to show up, occasionally may be stuck at a gate waiting for someone for an hour. It's a really bad way for a third-party vendor to fail.

The unaccompanied minor fee is supposed to cover a really, really good white-glove service, so it's really sad to see this break down. The service is supposed to include a gate pass so you can accompany your minor to the gate; a complimentary onboard meal (food-for-purchase these days); careful handoff of the pax by flight crew to the ground staff who are supposed to be waiting to escort them to their connecting gate; and in the rare event of an overnight delay, guaranteed overnight accommodations with airline staff staying with the minor at the hotel. (This last perk is so expensive to the airlines that in the event of irregular operations that require a rebooking, UMs typically get top priority for rebooking, ahead of all other displaced pax.)

Total bummer to see service delivery fail here.

Foy 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the kind of rage-inducing stuff that makes you want to choke a flight attendant.

I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to be told over the phone that the company lost your child, and the baggage, and that they don't really care... or even think it's a big deal.

andy_herbert 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not really surprising, in my opinion once these organizations become large enough that diffusion of responsibility become institutionalized. It doesn't necessarily indicate that the individuals don't care, just that they feel that it isn't their responsibility to do so.
cellis 2 days ago 1 reply      
O'Hare is gigantic airport. And, I know from experience that some flights from O'hare to GRR are running tight,sometimes as little as 10 minutes before the connecting flight taxis. I once sprinted through O'Hare to catch a connecting flight to GR. So I'm not surprised at all by this.
PaulAJ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how accurate it is, but this article


provides an explanation of the chronic financial problems that airlines find themselves in. Briefly, the senior pilots get to negotiate their own pay rates, and since they have the airlines over a barrel they always wind up taking any profit themselves.

Of course that means that airline management is permanently strapped for cash and has to spend the bare minimum on everything else.

jnsaff2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Simon Sinek in his book makes very similar observations and also has his take on why this is happening and how to fix it.

The book is at http://www.startwithwhy.com/

TL;DR folks this is the "trailer" for the book: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/en//id/848

axusgrad 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first flight was unaccompanied at 10 years old, to Maine via Boston. All the airline's flights were delayed indefinitely due to some malfunction. A stewardess took my brother and I around Boston airport and kept an eye on us for 6 hours while things got straightened out. I've had respect for Delta ever since, even if all the people involved are long gone.
pasbesoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, the Management should feel like the scum they are.

So should all the self-serving, money-grubbing, union-busting, career-exporting, not-in-my-backyard scum that have come to infest the U.S.

You want to blame someone? Look in the damned mirror, reader.

misiti3780 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not United's biggest fan, but this story sounds one-sided.

I know for a fact that flight attendants have procedures where a child is handed off from person-to-person, by signature. The agent comes with the child and paperwork, gives it to the FA, and then when the plane arrives at a new location, the paperwork and the child are handed off to the next person. This article does not mention any of the procedures, but I know they exist -- If a flight attendant loses a child, her job is on the line. The company does care.

gte910h 2 days ago 0 replies      
This shouldn't be on HN. Flagged.
blisper 2 days ago 0 replies      
2 months back my 13-year old nephew flew from USA to India as an unaccompanied minor in Lufthansa, with a flight changeover in Frankfurt. This is a 21 hour journey. It went off without a hitch. In fact, Lufthansa staff took good care of him, and he had a great time.
muro 2 days ago 0 replies      
scary story.

Reminded me of this kid's story (almost same age):


calgaryeng 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the moral of this story is not to send your 10 year old unaccompanied on an airplane...
FrankBooth 2 days ago 7 replies      
The responsibility lies with the parents. What are they doing sending a child so young alone? United is not a baby-sitting service.
Fly to 6 Continents in Style flightfox.com
231 points by laumac  1 day ago   81 comments top 15
b_emery 1 day ago 5 replies      
But what about that elusive 7th continent? Here's one possible way to check that off your list. Find a research lab that is doing Antarctic Research and apply to join them as a volunteer. There are often positions for volunteers. As you can imagine, these are quite popular so it may be a
difficult route, but it seems like there is always a need for people with electronics and computer skills. There are also job openings, eg http://www.usap.gov/jobsAndOpportunities/.

It may cost you your time, but possibly not much else. I went to Palmer Station as a volunteer on an oceanographic research cruise and was able to use my travel stipend to stay in Chile for a few weeks afterward. For all my hard work I also received the Antarctic Service Medal [1]. (Not exactly sure why since I was not affiliated with the Military!). Definitely one of the best deals of my life.

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

patdennis 1 day ago 2 replies      
Six continents for what I spend per month on rent? Pretty amazing. Even at three grand it would be a great deal...

This seems like a useful service. I wonder how often it produces results this good.

rjsamson 1 day ago  replies      
So this is pretty cool and everything, but the frustrating thing for me is I would love to see the itineraries that won, but I keep getting greeted with a "only the contest owner can view flight details." I'd love to see this opened up - I think it would build a lot more trust in their platform.
rdl 1 day ago 1 reply      
The deal with official RTW fares, at least in 2000-2008 when I was checking them, was to buy them ex-interesting country vs. ex-USA. They have a price set in local currency, so when a currency drops vs. the USD, it takes them 6-12 months to adjust prices. ex-CAI, ex-BKK, ex-KUL were all excellent places to buy for a long time.

A guy on flyertalk would maintain a list of ex-various *A RTW prices. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuTBktAWbGhwdHd...

brk 1 day ago 1 reply      
OK, I don't get it (granted I didn't spend a ton of time reading through all the details).

What I was hoping for is some way I could book the "winning" itinerary through some means. I was ready to buy 2 of the business-class trips instantly, but it seems this is more of a "bragging" site (in a good way), showing how cheaply you've managed to book a given itinerary?

rdl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow, this makes me want to book a flight in the near future just to get flightfox to find me an awesome routing.

What I'd really like is if they could take into account FF status, and also hotel pricing (at the particular chain I like, Starwood).

Book me a 3-8 week trip visiting as many places as possible from a set of N cities (plus transits anywhere) staying at Starwood properties (as nice as possible), using CX preferentially, with at least 20k miles on Star Alliance carriers, and avoiding UAE transit or stops, and willing to pay certain multiples for business class flights or upgraded hotels (St. Regis vs. Aloft).

Combining hotel and airfare bookings would make the whole thing a lot more valuable for multi-stop itineraries. E.g. spending $500 more for a BKK transit (and 3-5 day stop) vs. a SIN transit, since BKK has 5 star hotels for $120/night vs. $300/night.

samstave 1 day ago 1 reply      
In October of 2000 I took a 5 month sebattical trip to backpack through SE Asia. The ticket was called a pan pacific ticket, it allowed for up to (I think 7) stops. You just called and scheduled the flight you wanted when you wanted it. It had no set itinerary, and the ticket cost $2,300.

I went from SFO to HK, and then hopped all around Tom Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and was planned to go to Sydney for the last stop, but had to come back early.

I spent five months total, most of the trip was in hostels and beach bungalows, I stayed in a hotel in hong long and spent nearly $3,000 there over two weeks.

I spent over a month on Koh Phangan in Thailand, at Haad Yao beach - all my meals, drinks and bungalow for that month, as well as all the meals and drinks for a girlfriend from germany who stayed with me a week: $250.

I'd love to do this again, but now I have kids and it will be until they are in their teens before I can take them on a similar trip.

ashbrahma 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I am interested in the business class itinerary - do I have to recreate the entire contest or is there a chance I can jump on this deal by paying the same finders fee?
tayl0r 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really want to submit my upcoming trip to FlightFox but I'm not sure of the best time to do it and there also isn't a date range that is wide enough for what I want.

I want to travel anytime in late October or November (5 week window vs the 6 day window the site allows).
I have 2 adults and 1 lap infant.
I am going one-way from Berlin, Germany to Orlando, Florida.

When would be the best time to submit this trip?
Is it even worth it given the best price I can find online is about 1200 EUR total?

Geekette 1 day ago 0 replies      
This post confused me in terms of itinerary options available. If you decide to setup a trip "contest", is there any way to specify whether you want economy or business class?

Also, in terms of experts guarding their tips, what's to stop users sharing/comparing/aggregating their contest and tips/tricks behind them elsewhere? Eg if someone asks on quora and several customers answer with details of their bookings...

Irishsteve 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the price of the business trip in anyway linked to certain political 'disagreements' in Cairo which happens to be one of the locations.
michael991 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a 25% affiliate discount:
natekapi 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Did the trip span the entire month of October? This seems like a pretty awesome itinerary. I wish you could post the dates too, so people could see how many days they got in each city.
volandovengo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great stuff Todd! Is there any way to ensure that the best experts bid on the flights submitted. Seems like a few people really are crafty with their details!
yefim323 1 day ago 1 reply      
Square introduces monthly pricing squareup.com
229 points by MIT_Hacker  11 hours ago   129 comments top 27
abalone 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Kudos for the "ballsy" simplicity. I don't know if people appreciate how big of a risk this is for Square.

Square is placing a big bet on the numbers working out in the long run. If their analysis is just a little bit wrong, they're going to burn through millions of dollars in losses.

Why? Because the 1.3% "sweet spot" is almost certainly well below their cost. "Interchange" is the wholesale rate that processors like Square pay to card networks. Visa & Mastercard publish their rates and as far as anyone knows they're not negotiable. According to FeeFighters which did a lot of public research around rates, the average interchange rate for a typical card mix is:

1.58% + $0.13 per transaction

Unless they've figured out a way around standard interchange, this is Square's approximate cost.

Remix that into a 2.75% flat rate and you'll find that Square already charges less than that cost for purchases below ~$6 (even considering that there's a special, lower small ticket interchange rate). And now for businesses that hit the sweet spot around $17-21K/month, Square's probably also taking a loss.

No doubt Square is betting on a mix of merchants that fall in the profitable peaks between those troughs. All in the name of simplicity.


lordlarm 9 hours ago 3 replies      
The next step for Square, in my opinion, is developing a reader for the EMV cards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMV), which is hugely dominant in Europe - and also more secure. See a this useful Quora post, from 12 months ago: http://www.quora.com/How-does-Square-intend-to-translate-the...

Going international, or making such a reader, opens up an enormous market and the potential is huge.

I'm waiting, excited, as I see Square disrupting this business. As tibbon asked earlier in the comments: "why has no one disrupted this market before". I'll think it is a good question, I have no answer, but find it is about time. Ref. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4392763

Also, an interesting firm from Sweden, which is worth following now is iZettle (https://www.izettle.com/) which has developed an EMV reader.
Noticably their, "how much do I pay to use iZettle" page is intresting. http://help.izettle.com/customer/en_us/portal/articles/53095...

tibbon 9 hours ago  replies      
So two things that I've never understood.

1) Why is it just now that someone's actually providing competitive service in this space? We've had people selling CC machines and service for years...

2) Where (in general, not just with Square) does the money actually go? It seems that prior to Square announcing this, getting under 2-3% or so was nearly impossible. On the scale of the US economy alone, that's HUGE money. What are the fixed per-transactions costs? Its just pushing around bits in a system right?

stevencorona 11 hours ago 4 replies      
There are limits (it's still _revolutionary_ for an industry that loves to nickle & dime, though)

Up to $400 per any single transaction and up to $250,000 in total transactions per year"or approximately $21,000 per month. Swiped transactions over these limits simply cost 2.75% per swipe.

$21,000 * .0275 = $577.5 in fees.

I would love to see more Square adoption. In Charleston, lots of cart vendors (hot dogs, popsicles) use Square, as well as many vendors at the farmers market.

jsherry 6 hours ago 2 replies      
If a merchant does at least $13,000 per month in credit card revenue, this is a good deal (read on for assumptions).

Quick and dirty math here: Stripe charges $275 per month for card revenues up to $21,000 per month. I took a look at http://truecostofcredit.com courtesy of FeeFighters) and the merchant fees per transaction vary widely based on the type of merchant as well as card type. For the sake of argument, let's say the average Visa/MC transactions costs the merchant 1.75%. And let's say that the average AmEx transaction costs the merchant 3.5%. Now let's assume it's an 80%/20% distribution between MC/Visa and AmEx transactions, respectively, bringing a blended rate of 2.1%. Assuming that the merchant is charged 2.1% per transaction by their credit card company, the tipping point is $13,095 of revenue per month. Anything above and beyond that and this is a good deal. Below it, it's not (aside from the fact that's a fixed cost versus a variable one which is worth something).

biot 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Through the use of elementary arithmetic, Square is charging every company the average expected transaction fees for the month, regardless of whether the actual transaction fees would be higher or lower than this. So half the companies save money while the other half lose money.

This is being spun as an innovation when, in reality, it's likely to net Square more revenue as there are probably more merchants between $0 - $10K than there are $10K - $21K.

tehwebguy 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool, but it's definitely a gamble for a small business that doesn't have proven revenue yet:

- At $10k / month $275 is 2.75%

- At $5k / month $275 is 5.5%

- At $2500 / month $275 is 11%

It doesn't say if there's a commitment or if there's a way to switch back and forth depending on volume.

Cyranix 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Coming back from Portland and pleasantly surprised at the number of cabs using Square. Not an expert in the world of taxi companies, but at first glance the monthly pricing seems like a potential match for them.
persona 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Maximum savings for a business is capped at $3,575/yr and if they sell less than $120k/yr, businesses will actually be losing money.

It sounds more like a safe customer acquisition strategy for Square (with acquisition cost maxed at that value) then a huge savings for small businesses (min swipe cost would be at 1.32% compared to 2.75%).

lwhi 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So if your (small) business takes $60,000 in a year, you will pay square $3300; effectively a rate of 5.5%.

If your business takes $160,000 in a year, you end up paying square a rate of around 2.06%.

Is this really that revolutionary? (.. am I oversimplifying the situation?)

philip1209 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I see a potential for abuse - if the cash back on certain credit cards exceeds the max rate, people could cycle money through for profit.

e.g. I had a 2% cash back credit card

Cashback: 21k/mo * 2%=$420

Fees: $275

Upside potential: $145/mo

Not much profit possible, but with multiple accounts at roughly 2 $400 swipes per day per account, I would watch out for something like this.

rodly 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it illegal to chop up payments that exceed $400? If not, I'd say this is a nice way to save a bit of money if you do more than $10,000 in business every month. Not sure if it's worth the hassle to implement though.
Simucal 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Square is really opening the door for credit processing in a lot of places that it wasn't practical before. I just went to a "Food Truck Friday" event at a local park and every single food truck was accepting credit cards via Square.
Iaks 9 hours ago 1 reply      
In case anyone from square is reading this - you're page loads absolutely 0 content with JS disabled. Just some feedback, take it or leave it.
GauntletWizard 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's do the math, here:
"for small businesses processing up to
$250,000 per year". So, the most you're processing is a quarter million/year, and you're paying 275/month = 3300 per year. $3300/$250000 means you're paying an effective processing fee of 1.32%. That's a big savings over their usual 2.75%, but it's still probably more than the big players are paying. And that's assuming that you use it for optimal efficiency.
The breakeven point is ($3300 / .0275) = $120,000, which is reasonable, all things considered - I know a couple of small shops that do ~$200,000/year of business. I know a friend stated that his breakeven point for his small shop was $400 in sales a day, and that he was living well on ~$600. It would probably be advantageous for him to move entirely to Square, based on those numbers.
jdelsman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I honestly wish they had some kind of affiliate program. I'd make so much money pimping Square out to local businesses, especially the ones I truly care about. I am so sick of being told: "Sorry, we don't accept AMEX" or simply "Sorry, we don't accept credit cards." Are you kidding? It is 2012!
allforJesse 10 hours ago 0 replies      
And now, let's watch as Square gets implemented at bars everywhere.
username3 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Square should automatically wave fees after collecting $275 per month.
conductr 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This benefits only those processing $15.5K - $30.0K per month. Otherwise, Intuit's Gopayment at $12.95+1.7% is best.


Addition: Gopayment is also better than Square's standard 2.75% for anyone processing more than ~$1,200 per month

grandalf 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very cool but not a free lunch. The fees have to come from somewhere. How about no fees for chargebacks too?
trustfundbaby 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If Stripe follows suit, I might just wet myself.
ChiperSoft 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a payment gateway offer this, like Stripe. It'd be HUGE for micro-payments.
tejasmi5 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A business doing $250k in annual business most likely has their own point of sale system. The 1.3% cost would be more attractive if there was an API that businesses could then just integrate into the existing POS system.
bluekite2000 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I m waiting for Stripe to do the same thing
BallinBige 9 hours ago 2 replies      
this is going to cost small - mid cap merchants more money!
BryanB55 10 hours ago 1 reply      
That sounds pretty awesome at first but I guess it would require some math to figure out if you really are saving much compared to normal CC processing.
Thoughts on being a programmer yelsew.com
227 points by earnubs  2 days ago   189 comments top 13
tokenizer 2 days ago  replies      
Be yourself.
Code for fun.
There's hundreds of ways to write the same thing, don't be a dick about your way, but stand up for good practices.
Respect those who accomplish great things, because it was a lot of work, even if they say it was a weekend practice, they took a lot of time to get to that point.
If you code correctly, one line changes are possible.
Learn to desire success more than you fear failure. (I like this one)
Don't become the old people you hate, always try to learn new things, no matter how alien.
Who cares if you're coding on production live? Right? Right?
Comments are for the weak, tracing and prototyping code is not.
Mistakes are inevitable
*It's hard being the smartest person in the room sometimes, wear it with humility rather than pride.

My version of the list. This was fun!

frou_dh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Something in one of Zed Shaw's old talks stuck with me. Roughly:

"Don't go with the flow of the industry. Try [unconventional] things because there's something beneath [software] that we haven't figured out yet."

I suppose there's two personal disclaimers:

- I'm not that interested in the business aspect of software.

- The answer to what the magic beneath is may elude me due to it simply being "math, stupid".

podperson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I liked "err vicariously" ;-)

It's good to learn from your own mistakes, and even better to learn from someone else's.

twakefield 2 days ago 0 replies      
> There's always plenty of room for improvement - in your code, in your abilities, in you.

I just saw an amazing movie about a man that embodies this philosophy: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"[1]. This man's dedication to further mastering his craft is unparalleled. Even though he is widely regarded as the best Sushi chef in the world, he is still singularly focused on becoming better every day.

I highly recommend watching - it's very inspiring.

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

jawr 2 days ago 2 replies      
>Always back up before tidying up.
I liked this piece of advice, it's a lesson we all hate to learn.
norswap 2 days ago 0 replies      
joe_the_user 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't be an asshole

Agreed but on the page, it looks a bit of out of place with the other points.

My mind fills in the details as "don't act like you are the programmer who's a hundred times more productive than the others, even if it seems like you are".

But that's a big question. Apple Computer arguably expects its programmers to all be the x100 producers and was managed by someone who it more or less was admitted to be an asshole (a genius, inspiration, unique asshole but still an asshole).

So it think the greatness and asshole-dom question is not settled for people even if I would embrace it.

einhverfr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bit about there always being room for growth was driven home for me yesterday as I was looking through how to build an object model in PostgreSQL using object-relational features. I went through the features one by one and discovered that I had only scratched the surface of that aspect of PostgreSQL. I suddenly understood how to rethink what I was doing in terms of design patterns in order to build object interfaces in the db for the relational underpinnings.
alanmackenzie 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would add: Don't release on a Friday.
recycleme 2 days ago 1 reply      
Communicate often.
Have a beer with a fellow programmer.
Don't be afraid to break code.
3am_hackernews 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is written so beautifully that the "code" part of these thoughts can be substituted for many other things: design, engineering, life etc.
joe_bloggs 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Err vicariously"

Loved that. Subtle, yet deep!

jebblue 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was a short, concise, pragmatic, wise and rockin article.
Anic - Faster than C, Safer than Java, Simpler than *sh code.google.com
216 points by ColinWright  2 days ago   145 comments top 40
scott_s 2 days ago 1 reply      
In CS literature, this programming model is called "stream computing."

I work on System S, which is the research name of IBM's InfoSphere Streams, which is a distributed, realtime (edit: soft realtime; so, high throughput, low latency, but not hard realtime with guaranteed deadlines) streaming system with an associated language. Another project in this area is Storm. See this comment thread for more on that: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3193115

But, Anic seems to be more related to the kind of streaming languages that came from the digital signal processing and embedded worlds. See, for example, the StreamIt project: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/cag/streamit/

In particular, a StreamIt tutorial: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/cag/streamit/papers/streamit-coo...

Note that Streams, Storm, Anic, StreamIt all have the same underlying programming model, but Streams and Storm target a different area than Anic and StreamIt. Streams and Storm target the emerging area of "big data" where you need to distribute your computation across a cluster. Anic and StreamIt are lower level: applications such as video decoding are streaming in nature, but one typically implements them on a single chip, and often even in hardware.

Standard disclaimer: my views are not official IBM views.

rdtsc 2 days ago  replies      
> a=[int\]<-0; op=[char\]<-' '; b=[int\]<-0; r=[int\]<-0;
0 { clock => [int ms] { ("\r" + ms/1000.0 + ":" + a + op + b + "=" + r) ->std.out; 1 std.delay (ms+1) clock} };
inLoop => {\std.in->a \std.in->op \std.in->b inLoop};
\\op ?? {'+': (\a+\b) '-': (\a-\b) '': (\a\b) '/': (\a/\b) : 0} <->r;

That is not exactly selling the language.

Saw that, closed the page.

bhavin 2 days ago 2 replies      
It would help if fellow HNers read through the content a bit before upvoting something quickly. Here is a project which was last updated more than 2 years ago (no changes in source/tutorial/wiki in 2 years). There's no working implementation to support the claim. Any sane programmer would highly doubt existence of a (faster_than_C && safer_than_java) claim. Why are we as a community are becoming more and more obsessed with sensational link-baits?
jmduke 2 days ago 0 replies      
* The language couldn't possibly be simpler... *

followed by

* getChopsticks = [--> ?] { \chopstick, \nextPhil.chopstick --> }; *

is just dripping with irony.

zheng 2 days ago 1 reply      
At first I thought this was a joke due to some of the copy, but after reading through the tutorial a bit, it seems pretty interesting. Less hyperbole would be nice though. From the FAQ, ANI (the language, anic is the reference compiler) is faster than C because it is automatically parallel code. Not exactly what I think of when someone says "faster than C".

Nevertheless, for a modern take on a dataflow language, ANI is intriguing. If nothing else, the paradigm is probably different enough from imperative/OOP/functional that it is worthwhile to learn even if ANI doesn't take off.

colanderman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Try to imagine, if you will, the amount of time and effort it would take you to write a bug-free, efficiently multithreaded real-time clock + infix calculator hybrid application in a language like C.

Wait, what? Why...?

kstenerud 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why, oh WHY did they make extensive use of the backslash character? Backslash is almost universally used as an ESCAPE SEQUENCE INITIATOR. Any other use is just going to be confusing. Especially when you end up making constructs like "(\a/\b)", or having to context shift because of string escape sequences like "\n".
canadaduane 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been on the mailing list for over a year, and unfortunately, the developer seems to have abandoned it. Cool project though.
j_baker 2 days ago 0 replies      
anic is the reference implementation compiler for the experimental, high-performance, implicitly parallel, deadlock-free general-purpose dataflow programming language ANI.

One other thing: anic is buzzword-compliant.

ricardobeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Original post 3 years ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1042122

Is there a repository of sample code? I'm curious about how interacting with the filesystem, network, graphics would look like.

stesch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oops. Project looks a bit dead. Newest code from 2010.
stesch 2 days ago 0 replies      
The \] in the examples look so strange, I thought they are some formatting error.
v33ra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like it's not in active development. The documents and source code are dated 2010.


sbeckeriv 4 hours ago 0 replies      
No one pointed out it says panic in the url?


soup10 2 days ago 1 reply      
In short, ANI seeks to break out of the shackles of imperative programming -- a stale paradigm which for four decades has produced hundreds of clones of the same fundamental feature set, none of which offer intuitive hands-off concurrency, and differing only in what lengths they go to to sugar-coat the embarrassing truth that they're all just increasingly high-level assemblers at heart;

Haha. The entire point of programming is to tell the hardware what to do. Any programming language that is not 'high-level assembly' has severe leaky-abstraction problems. The reason C and C++ still enjoy so much success despite limited syntax is that they stay true to the hardware and don't force another layer of abstraction on you.

vhf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Latest commit Sep. 2010. Is this project still alive ?
buster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please, the next person who designs a language (which are often enough US people i guess), CHECK KEYBOARD LAYOUTS IN EUROPE FIRST.

Really. It's a pain to type []{} and \ on a german keyboard especially if it's supposed to be like every second character! Stop it. Please. Especially when there are proven languages that can cope without all this sh*t (yes, i am looking at python here).


Although this might be an interesting language there is no way i am going through this syntax just to "check it out". Lost an opportunity to gain a new community member.

InclinedPlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
Right, because the concerns we have today primarily is high-performance uniprocessor computing. Or maybe not. Does it seem to anyone else that almost all of the people creating new languages lately are generally tackling the wrong problems?
forgotAgain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it April 1st already?
lazyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
not again, it was posted recently and still has no working implementation apparently so we can verify the "faster than C" claim.
pnathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dataflow ideas are cool, but this syntax is kind of crazy. It sounds like a neat concept to redo in a more palatable approach.
DanielRibeiro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Comments from former submission: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1042122
Too 2 days ago 0 replies      
Suddenly regular expressions felt so readable.
tedunangst 2 days ago 2 replies      
Front page claims there's a Pascal dining philosopher's implementation on the Wikipedia page. Except there isn't. There's a link to the article about Rosetta Code. After following that link, and then clicking around some more, I still haven't found this Pascal version to compare....

Anyway, the reason I ask is because I wanted to know what this line does:


efnx 2 days ago 1 reply      
This same repo was posted here in November of 2010. I started following it, but the owners quickly got overwhelmed with other projects, or work, and it all lost steam. I deleted my google group membership yesterday. Funny this pops up now.
aklofas 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure anic is fake and the website was built by a troll. My brain cannot find any meaning and any of the code. It's just gibberish
podperson 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're going to complain about the syntax, complain that everything is left-to-right (except math inside expressions) except initializing variables which, for some reason, is right-to-left.
asynchronous13 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is remarkably similar to HDL in concept (though not in syntax).
sswezey 2 days ago 0 replies      
The url ends in p/anic

The syntax looks awful and confusing

archivator 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like Communicating Sequential Processes with an ugly syntax and a standard library. What am I missing here?
tuananh 2 days ago 0 replies      
the syntax looks like a PITA. i stopped reading right after i saw it.
MindTwister 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did anyone notice this little gem in the URL?
cheald 2 days ago 0 replies      
And apparently less readable than Perl.
anuraj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Better than sliced bread ....
jpenner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting ideas, but the compiler produces zero-byte executables and crashes trying to build the two-liners in the tutorial.
borplk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they developed it behind closed doors without asking a single person.
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hm, this logo reminds me of Factor...
tawm 2 days ago 0 replies      
You are now thinking with pipes.
What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All' theatlantic.com
215 points by twakefield  3 days ago   85 comments top 10
edw519 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love posts like this on Hacker News!

They remind us all that what is in our heads and our hearts trumps everything else: money, stuff, conditions, and the opinions and actions (or inactions) of others who really don't matter.

Like just about everyone else here, I can add my own experiences. I'll just say that I have more of some things than I ever thought I would, but the things that I've lost remind me what's really important. Sometimes I wish I had learned this much earlier, but it's never too late...

Let's all make the most of the cards we've been dealt - one day at a time.

Thanks, OP, for the yank back to reality. Now back to work (with a smile).

michaelochurch 2 days ago 5 replies      
This aside has nothing to do with autism or the writer of the article. I just want to tackle the "having it all" discussion.

When people say they want to "have it all", they're not actually saying they won't be happy until they have everything. A life without tradeoffs is literally impossible. You can't, for example, become an expert on every subject or visit every location in the world or learn how to play every musical instrument ever made. It's impossible. Rather, they want a life full of the stupid bullshit tradeoffs that you have to deal with if they don't have resources, like having to decide between a 90-minute commute vs. living in a cramped space without a dishwasher.

Those horrid tradeoffs make it impossible for most people to achieve anything great. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. If you're losing 20 hours per week to housework, you won't have a good career. If you don't have a good career, you won't be able to afford help. You have to bust your ass during your 20s and 30s (and preferably not have any health problems or setbacks) while you can to establish momentum, and just hope that your reproductive potential hasn't declined too much by the time you're career's in order and society has thereby given you permission to have kids properly.

Tradeoffs always exist, but there are people who are richer and more established and have a higher quality of tradeoff to face. If you're debating whether to leave a high-level position for a "risky" CEO spot at a funded startup, this is a high-quality tradeoff. If "downshifting" your career means you buy a place with a view of Prospect Park instead of Central, that's a high-quality tradeoff. If having another kid means that one spouse is going to have to give up a career, that's a low-quality tradeoff. People with enough resources (not just income, but also connections; well-connected people don't fret about getting fired and don't have to work 60+ hours per week) can have two successful careers and well-adjusted children.

The "have it all" rhetoric is an attempt people make to universalize the problem, because no one can actually have everything, and divert attention away from the more specific/parochial fact that they're miserable because they don't have enough resources (since no one likes a person who whines about not being rich). And if you want to actually achieve something in this world, most people don't have enough. Most people spend their lives bogged down in shitty details implementing the crappy ideas of the people in power.

FaceKicker 3 days ago 6 replies      
> "You know cognitively, he's functioning at the bottom 1 percent of children his age," [our neuropsychologist] said. [...] "That means 99 percent of children are doing better than he is." [...] He waited, seemingly perplexed. "Having seen what I saw, and of course you have to be with your son all the time -- I have to ask you, how do you have the patience?"

I'm confused, can anyone offer any insight as to how a neuropsychologist would be genuinely surprised by this case? I would have expected that a rather large percentage of a general neuropsychologist's (or at least one that specializes in children) patients would be people who "function at the bottom 1 percent".

newobj 3 days ago 4 replies      
Every time I read a story about a kid with developmental disabilities and gut/gluten issues, I'm dying to know if they've ever tried MB12 and L5MTHF injections. God knows it changed my kid's (and my) life.
Jun8 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a fantastic heartwarming story that I think most of us will have something learn from. For me, the takeaway was, as Tolstoy said: "When is a man free? When he recognizes his burden", i.e. a graceful acceptance of circumstances that one cannot change. I have long proposed to have a course "Life Engineering" in schools teaching people metaprinciples of planning and enjoying life, this should definitely be one of the reading assignments (along with DFW's commencement speech, and many others).

Yet ... yet ... while I truly believe that the thoughts expressed here are a major part of individual happiness, if a significant portion of the society behaves/acts according to these principles, I may not want to live in such a society. Unending hunger for new things, although it generally brings about personal unhappiness, takes society forward faster; there are many examples of such personal sacrifices in science, literature, music, e.g. how many great poets/writers do you know who have a happy family life (came to mind, since I recently read an essay by Alexandra Styron).

On a different thread, (overgeneralizing, but only a bit) being content and acceptance is very common in "the East" and not just Buddhism's influence either, it is a common theme in many streams of Islamic thought. Something can be said about the effect of this in why these countries couldn't catch up with the pace of the "materialistic West" (yes, yes, there were a ton of other factors, but I think this may have been one of the major influences).

wmboy 3 days ago 3 replies      
Quite off topic, but well worth reading nonetheless.

So often we live out lives with the subconscious belief that we'll be happy when ...[insert big goal]. The reality is though, if we can't learn to be happy with our imperfect lives as they are today, we'll never be happy.

zmitri 3 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone is interested in this topic, you should check out Louis Theroux's Extreme Love series http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01gvt26.

Some parents seem to echo the same sentiment, but many of them don't. While larger families seem to be able to cope, and actual appreciate having someone slightly different, many single mothers are forced into having their children taken in by the state.

holri 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice read. Nothing new, just read the old Greek philosopher Epictetus.
chris_mahan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I told a lady at my son's school, after I dropped him off one morning: "There's at least a billion people who would love to be wearing my shoes right now."
arrel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I usually have a hard time ignoring the Joneses and feeling content with what I have, and I don't think that's a necessarily bad thing. Those who accomplish the most, from Thomas Edison to Bill Clinton, often do so because of this drive to be better than the rest of us and have it all. Progress depends on discontent, and it's easy to read feel good articles and exchange "happiness" with "laziness".
Doubling SaaS Revenue By Changing The Pricing Model kalzumeus.com
208 points by illdave  3 days ago   72 comments top 10
patio11 3 days ago  replies      
Happy to answer questions to the extent that I can.

Speaking of which: if it isn't transparently obvious by now, I really, really like getting feedback about how my advice worked out. If you ever implement a suggestion from me (particularly with an A/B test), please, drop me an email. Even if the result was "Well, that was sure an epic failure", because negative confirmation is useful, too. (If you want to share results I can write up for the blog, I appreciate that, too, but I'd be just as pleased with a "Keep this under your hat but we did a first-experience tour and, yikes, engagement +20%.")

plasma 3 days ago 1 reply      
> "The minimum buy-in for the service is now $99 a month, which will segment away customers who are less serious about their server uptime."

I use Server Density (and even blogged about it, http://cherrypopapp.com/blog#Server_Provisioning) and would not pay $99/month to monitor 1-2 servers.

I don't see how paying more or less reflects a level of seriousness.

true_religion 3 days ago 3 replies      
> The minimum buy-in for the service is now $99 a month, which should scare away the idiots.

I'm scared, and as a potential customer I hate to be labeled an idiot.

I'm very happy with New Relics system even though they're priced higher than you per server, they at least offer a price PER server instead of tiers.

gizzlon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't lower pricing be seen as marketing? For example to sell in to companies that are now poor, but could be successful and profitable later. If they can't afford SD and pick something else, how likely is it they'll switch to SD later?
jessep 3 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding the question of estimating the error: I don't know a ton about stats, but can't you use bootstrapping to get a valid sense of the variability/margin of error of your dataset for non normal distributions? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootstrapping_(statistics)
salman89 3 days ago 2 replies      
I always wondered how volatile your pricing scheme can be. Suppose you wanted to A/B test a pricing scheme - is there any potential impact/backlash from customers? And when a company changes their pricing scheme, what happens to customers who were paying a former price/scheme?
ricardobeat 3 days ago 1 reply      
> The minimum buy-in for the service is now $99 a month, which should scare away the idiots

And bootstrapped startups, etc. This isn't just a pricing change but a market repositioning?

mooktakim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Server Density is a UK company. They use to have pricing in pounds.

They seem to have switched to dollar pricing.

My question:
Are they taking payment in dollars?
or are they converting the amount to pound equivalent in last moment and taking that payment?

I've been thinking about pricing on the internet, whether its good to price in dollars to make it more convenient for the american customers.
I feel like customers from UK are alright with paying dollars, but americans don't like to pay in pounds.

cfn 3 days ago 3 replies      
When I change pricing I always worry that current customers will be unhappy because they might have saved some money had they bought it later (I sell a desktop product).

Is this a problem you have seen youself when you sold desktop software?

chermanowicz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone shared a couple links on this topic before but I didn't see them here



The Making of Warcraft, Part 2 codeofhonor.com
203 points by mcfunley  1 day ago   13 comments top 7
jmduke 1 day ago 1 reply      
Game development is about trade-offs " great games don't have to do everything, they have to do a limited number of things well.

Might as well go and remove the game qualifier from that statement, and its still true.

Even as someone who isn't particularly interested in game dev, this series is fascinating and I eagerly await more.

mindblink 1 day ago 3 replies      
One of the the last part about Warcraft's bright color palette is very fascinating. Especially the insight that you have to consider the actual environment that many of your users will be in.

I would argue, the bright color palette served the visual design of the warcraft games very well --all the way up to the mega-blockbuster, World of Warcraft.

fletchowns 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the discussion of the first part if you missed it: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4292598
nry 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I like these ALOT. No best practices, or you should do this better. It is about making something you love and get the code to production. I look forward to more of these.
pdenya 1 day ago 0 replies      
No time to read this now but I'll definitely get to it later. The first part (http://www.codeofhonor.com/blog/the-making-of-warcraft-part-...) was a treat to read, I wish there were more stories like this around.
rnernento 13 hours ago 0 replies      
These articles are great, thanks OP.
gregtour 1 day ago 1 reply      
What color is the dragon?
Twitter to Client Developers: Drop Dead daringfireball.net
191 points by joshus  3 hours ago   68 comments top 28
cletus 1 hour ago 5 replies      
This doesn't surprise me at all. When you develop on someone else's platform, you have to walk a fine line between not being successful at all and being too successful such that the platform provider co-opts your business (maybe you get lucky and get bought out). This is nothing new. Such moves as this were (IMHO) inevitable. They'll slowly chip away at anything they see as taking revenue from them.

The part I disagree with is that this will doom Twitter. It will not. They've already achieved a certain level of success. Most people use and will continue to use the Website or the official client and be happy with that.

I do believe that Twitter is doomed to be acquired however. Apple seems the likely frontrunner for this but I think Twitter needs Apple more than Apple needs Twitter at this point.

Twitter is ultimately infrastructure and infrastructure seems doomed to commoditization. Twitter has eyeballs too but social platforms seem fickle at best. There is nothing preventing Twitter from becoming the next Myspace.

There are many reasons I'm glad about Facebook's floundering market debut. This is one of them: it's taking the wind out of the sails of the social hype (IMHO).

thought_alarm 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Of all the social media and web services that have cropped up in the last 5 years, Twitter was the one that really filled me with joy. It's so simple! It's just plain text in bite sized pieces at a time. And it's universal! It works just as well on state of the art hardware as it does on a crappy SMS dumbphone or green-screen serial terminal. And it's as compelling in Egypt or Pakistan as it is in New York or London.

Whenever I get fed up with the complextiy of Facebook or Google+ I'll load up Twitter on an old Apple II, via TTYtter and a serial connection; I'll watch the green text scroll along at 1200 baud and think about how this one simple, geeky text service, pure as a 1980s BBS, somehow made it, worldwide, in 2012.

And now they're hellbent on ruining all of that. Fuck Twitter.

joering2 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I tend to see the dark side of human in everything they do. Sorry, its just the way I am.

I say when twitter was still this little chick, their approach was "we love all users, we welcome engineers; build amazing tools and surprise us!". I think the reason for that was to speed up the process of spreading the word - a simple fact that geek working on twitter 3rd party is still a human with plenty of friends to spread the word about twitter - so he can be helpful: let him spend his time doing what he likes doing the best - programming and he will become our cheap (free) PR tube.

But now I bet most of a new age civilization knows or uses twitter. So it is time for a reality check: "fuck off of our platform; we don't need you anymore! You got all your friends to know twitter, some even addict to it; now stay away from trying to run your pathetic queries, using our own data stream".

Just my version/2c.

edit: my understanding is that Dorsey still has the most to say in the twitter world. With all its nastiness going on between twitter curtain, I say stay the hell far away from any startup he will do in the future. Sorry, but if he signs up half of the world on his square, what on Earth is stopping him from switching 2.5% to 10% fee?? nothing!! At least the past (present) shows he has the balls to execute moves that average tweeting Joe is not a fan of: shutting down 3rd parties, kicking out linkedin, shutting down instagram access, etc. Bottom line: stay away!

mmaunder 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Unless platforms like Facbeook or Twitter make a significant amount of money from their devs, the way Microsoft or Apple does, telling their devs to go pound sand at some point is inevitable.
j45 1 minute ago 0 replies      
If I can't use Hootsuite, I can't use twitter.
uptown 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it ironic that the company that's created Bootstrap - an entire toolkit encouraging developers to adopt their site's visual style - is so opposed to any other aspect of following their lead.
lancewiggs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't have as much immediate issue with this if Twitter's own clients were acceptable - they are not. And this is an asinine move either way.
ricardobeat 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
> To prevent malicious use of the Twitter API and gain an understanding bla bla bla...

Translation: so that we can charge even light API users.

This will surely backfire - some services will switch from API usage to screen-scraping, resulting in an even higher load on twitter's servers.

mirkules 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If Twitter's business is threatened by third-party apps, why not charge for an API license? I also can't quite understand why developers expect a free API from services like Twitter and then complain when something changes?

What is the business advantage of Twitter (or Facebook, or what-have-you) releasing a free, public API to anyone who asks, and how did they plan to monetize it when it got popular? You can't build your business model around "here, use my service for free" and not have a plan how to convert either the users of the 3rd party developers' software or the 3rd party developers themselves into paying customers (or monetize on that somehow, i.e. mining data, selling ads, etc). Maybe I'm just being naive -- I honestly don't have much experience dealing with these sorts of things, so I would love it if someone could break it down.

rjsamson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see this ending well for them. Alienating the very developer base that helped them grow as a platform early on is a huge mistake.

As an aside, I feel even better about backing App.net after seeing this news.

shuzchen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this is coming because they can't keep up with the write load. The writes that come from these third party apps (that enable messaging multiple people, or queuing/delaying tweets) might throw a wrench in their system if it doesn't follow the natural usage they've designed it for.

The only other reason I can fathom why they would doing this is they eventually intend to heavily push ads over their network, something that third party apps could interfere with.

ziadbc 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Twitter wants to give you access to the data. Their client is their main product. Thus, every 3rd party client is competing with their main product, that seems to be a fact.

Theres no way to stop you from building one anyway, twitter knows that. If you go against their rules, you're a revolutionary, and if you win that revolution, they'll have to deal with you.

You can't expect however, that the incumbent is going to go around encouraging revolutions against themselves.

The only alternative is to encourage everyone to make clients, at which point, they're just a big cloud xmpp server to the world.

Sniffnoy 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
People keep talking about Facebook and Myspace, but they lack(ed) full-on third-party clients, so what I'm wondering about is the LiveJournal comparison.

LiveJournal too had and has third-party clients. And though hardly popular in the English-speaking world these days, it's still going. But I don't think it has similar guidelines. So what's the comparison?

dinkumthinkum 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Twitter's developer problem is probably at about level 9 right now. My question is what's really the big deal. Twitter can do what they want and really more to the point, I don't think Twitter should be the primary focus of innovation from our community. It's a stream of mostly nonsensical 140 char messages. I get it it, it's amazing ... but come on, we can get past Twitter.
maxpow4h 1 hour ago 2 replies      
From here, I think we should move to a distributed model, like email and xmpp.

It needs to be Open Source so anyone can run it and everyone owns their data.

It needs to be compatible with current Twitter apps so all it requires is setting the API root.

It needs to be distributed so anyone can follow anyone anywhere. There is no owner or root, there is no place to shut down.

Proof of concept: https://nstatus.herokuapp.com

Source: https://github.com/maxpow4h/nekomimi

I wrote about the requirements of it here: http://maxpow4h.com/blog/twitter/

edit: you can use any username with any password to sign in to nstatus. It then uses that password for your username. You can even do this from the official iOS Twitter app, just sign in.

ianstormtaylor 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Wonder how they got the bright idea to advocate limiting the quadrant named "Consumer Engagement".

Surprised they didn't try to make it a bit less obvious.

andrewfelix 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Utter hypocrisy that they're discouraging third party clients, after having acquired one.

app.net suddenly looks more attractive.

sequoia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What client devs have actually stopped development and abandoned/shut down their applications in response to Twitter's client TOS changes? I hear lots of griping and moaning it seems like lots of the major client players are developing nonetheless, which says to twitter "keep doing what you're doing."
ThePherocity 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The writing is on the wall though; Kinda has been for a while. I think this is why App.Net might actually get some traction. People will move when that's where all the cool features are, and none of the crappy ads. Maybe.
efsavage 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Twitter isn't very big in my circles, but of those that use it, none of them use the website.
taybin 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Has anyone considered that twitter is actually pretty stupid?
gcmartinelli 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder how Twitter's developers are feeling about these changes... Devs tend to be pro-openess, I imagine this to have a bitter taste for most of them.
mmahemoff 2 hours ago 3 replies      
In the “good” quadrants are bullshit terms like “Social CRM”, “Social analytics”, and “Social influence ranking”

Would he rather they put one-paragraph labels on each quadrant? Sometimes phrases that sound like MBA buzzwords (and might be MBA buzzwords) are actually useful too.

goronbjorn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this more evidence that they haven't completely figured out their own business model yet?
dchuk 2 hours ago 3 replies      
"In the “good” quadrants are bullshit terms like “Social CRM”, “Social analytics”, and “Social influence ranking”."

Not bullshit, these are demonstrably useful products for people who want to utilize new traffic sources in the interest of making money or growing their business.

"But services like Storify and Favstar, which are actually useful and/or fun, those are no good."

ummm...ok? Utility is in the eye of the beholder...Twitter is a B2C product, so they're going to try and limit the number of competing services that are stealing B2C market share from them (why would you expect them to be ok with people using alternative Twitter apps instead of the official one?)

Now, Twitter is not a B2B company, so it makes sense that they would allow those types of services to continue. It's quite possible they're allowing B2B services that are utilizing the twitter platform to continue operating because they plan to acquire a few of them in the future to try and actually make a profit one day.

smegel 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If app.net gets the userbase, i.e. the people I want to follow, i will be over there in a flash.
macarthy12 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder if twitter have a $50 app.net account?
sailfrog 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Grunter owns Twitter
Germany: Facebook must destroy its facial recognition database arstechnica.com
186 points by smartician  1 day ago   128 comments top 13
forgotusername 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how the German data protection office might respond if they realized Google probably have the largest database of images in the world, is trying to put cameras in everyone's glasses, and already owns 2 face recognition companies (Neven Vision, Pittpatt
andyl 1 day ago 4 replies      
I don't like the Facebook facial recognition thing either. Or when someone tags me on photos that they have uploaded. I think its creepy when someone else posts my photo, then I start getting comments on it. This should be opt-in, not opt-out.
daveman 1 day ago  replies      
It's fascinating to watch how tech companies react to restrictive EU privacy laws. Many of the EU requirements (e.g. 'right to be forgotten', mandatory opt-in for cookies) could become a real hindrance for companies that want to build intelligent services and minimized user experiences.

Call me crazy, but it seems like when you get to use a free service or website that costs many millions of dollars to develop, giving the company access to your data is a fairly small price to pay.

I'm waiting for one of these legal actions to cause a company like Facebook to just shut down their service in the local area, and leave a landing page with the email addresses of all the politicians who provoked the outage.

Irishsteve 1 day ago 3 replies      
If I remember correctly you ran the risk of having your Facebook account closed if you made a freedom of information request via it's Irish subsidiary for all that paper work linked to your account.

Therefore I'd imagine a similar response will be generated by FB if they are forced to comply with the latest complaint.

danso 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just don't see how FB currently gets that much value out of its facial recognition DB. As far as I can tell, as an end-user, it makes it easier to tag people because FB will suggest named tags (sometimes hilariously wrong).

But this is a minor convenience. If I really do want to tag a photo, then I'm already in a curation mindset and willing to put up with the precious second it takes to type in the first two-three characters of a friend's name.

At this point, FB, with those two characters, has enough information to make a 95% accurate guess...because it also has my entire history of interactions with friends, including all past tagging behavior. It obviously can derive a prediction that weights more recent tagging behavior (on the premise that I'm likely to have hung out with the same friends as I did last week)...and bingo, by the time I've typed the third character, Facebook has it narrowed down to the right person.

So why even bother keeping the facial recognition data?

...I'm not so naive to think that there aren't other applications of this facial-recognition data. I'm just pointing out that FB has nearly all the non-visual data needed to guess who is in a photo without applying any computer-vision techniques.

And that non-visual data (the history of a user's interactions) has way more predictive value on behavior than a facial-recognition DB... So given that the general public is more disturbed by things relating to physical appearance, if I were FB, I'd just give up this fight and carry on collecting all the non-visual data that they have so far.

* edit:

Along the same lines...this decision seems to be based on how FB collected this data without users explicit consent. Well, under this argument, doesn't FB collect interaction data without user consent?

Say my friend Bob continually posts on my wall, pokes me, sends me direct messages, etc. FB, without my consent, will have enough interaction data to peg me as Bob's special confidante...without any interaction on my part.

Isn't this the complaint with the face data? That my friends can tag my face and thus give FB a decent idea of my appearance? Well, my friends can also give FB a decent idea of my preferences in a variety of arenas by how they converse and interact with me...so if opt-in is the issue, isn't all of FB data up for destruction?

hastur 1 day ago 5 replies      
Of course they realize that the NSA already has a full copy?

You might think: so what, I'm not a terrorist.
But think twice, because people opposing US interests (and the interests of some of the most powerful lobbies, like MPAA & RIAA) are increasingly being afforded the treatment you'd expect for a terror suspect.

gioele 18 hours ago 0 replies      
«database of faces collected in Germany»

"Collected in Germany". It is nice to see how politics and law keep applying physical verbs to non-physical infrastructure. If you ask around you will see that there are almost as many definition of "done XXX in contry YYY" as the number of country out there: some national law see it as "the client is in YYY", other as "the server is in YYY", other as "the infrastructure is in YYY", other as "both the client and the server are in YYY" and so on.

It is very hard to be a law-abiding citizen or business on the Internet when there are heaps of contrasting laws.

rmc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Twas quite clever of Facebook to set up in Ireland (and not just for the 12½% corporation tax rate). It can be a large employer in a small fish, and the Irish government is desparate to be seen to be doing something about jobs (hence any job losses from a household name would be very embarassing).

As a result, I wouldn't be too suprised if some squeeze was placed on the Data Protection Office. "Oh you want more funding... Well..."

I wonder if this is one of the reasons the EU wants to overhaul the Data Protection law so that EU citizens can complain to their national data protection office, not just the one the company is in.

chmod775 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why can't Germany just raid the Facebook HQ in the US for violating local law? Isn't that essentially the same that the US did at the dotcom mansion?
RexRollman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I wonder if the US Government will somehow use Facebook photos to track people, even if they themselves don't have a Facebook account. I find the idea of something like that creepy.
spoiledtechie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ive said it once, twice and many other times. I do believe Germany is probably by far one of the most advanced political governments there are.

I so welcome their input and applaud their effort!

salimmadjd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every database out there can be used for evil. Whether if it's facial fingerprint or anything else. I never liked Face.com and facebook's decision to buy them. The ability of a photograph being used to track me anywhere there is a camera is not the future I want to be part of.
mike_ivanov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or else!
Twitter sets max user caps for 3rd party clients and limits rates thenextweb.com
185 points by rkudeshi  5 hours ago   92 comments top 30
danilocampos 4 hours ago  replies      
Basic truth: New technology is driven by early adopters, who then influence their less tech-savvy pals. Happened with Google, happened with the iPhone, and it happened with Twitter.

So now that the obvious is out of the way " we'll look back one day and see this as the day Twitter fucked the dog.

They've made a decision that motivates the very core of early adopters who embraced Twitter to move on.

Yeah, they have to make money. They've convinced themselves the experience must be entirely under their control to do it. Okay. And maybe that's so.

And maybe they'll squeeze some pennies out for awhile.

In the meantime, there's a group of folks who first jumped into Twitter during the days where you weren't chained to their mediocre user products. They'll start the move to a better network.

And one day, everyone will look around and see all that's left on Twitter is the glitter gif morons and big brands with more money than sense, just as happened with MySpace.

ctide 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations Dalton Caldwell!

Who could have known that Twitter would just hand you the entire game with one stupid maneuver.

aaronbrethorst 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, fuck you very much, Twitter. I really wish this had happened when App.net was still raising their $500k. Even though I still don't think App.net will work out, I would've still chipped in out of spite towards Twitter.

This is ridiculous, and I'm going to figure out how to get out as soon as possible.

edit: I put my money where my mouth is, as it were:


Thank you for joining App.net!

You will receive an email confirmation to complete the signup process.

Your plan is Developer Tier for $100 per year.

You're in line to join the alpha with username: @aaronbrethorst.

pavel_lishin 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Please read the original article. This very unfairly summarizes the actual blogpost.

The limit isn't 60 hits per hour. It's 60 hits per hour per endpoint, and only for some endpoints.

The user limit is 1 million users for certain api endpoints, and 100k for others - and if you need more than that, they would like you to reach out to them.

Oh, and also, all current clients are grandfathered into the old terms.

Please examine the bandwagon carefully before jumping on it.

zethraeus 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It's rather frightening that the only example that they give of a user facing service in the appropriate 'quadrant' is Klout.
guelo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I use Twitter via their official apps, I have tried some of the third party apps but haven't really been impressed. After all this time it didn't seem like the app ecosystem was coming up with anything really innovative besides slightly different ways of organizing the feeds.
rksprst 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In the tweet display guidelines: "No other social or 3rd party actions may be attached to a Tweet." https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-guidelines

Wonder if that means 3rd party apps can't add actions to tweets like "assign to a user", "translate", "schedule a reply", etc. That might just kill major functionality for apps like HootSuite, CoTweet, Radian6's Engagement Console.

Or, since it's under the guidelines for individual tweets, are tweets in the timeline excluded from that limitation?

waterlesscloud 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Remember the Great Twitter Strategy Document Leak of 2009?


What happened to those plans? They seemed so smart...

ljd 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"It is also limiting the rate on its API per end-point, meaning that most individual clients will be limited to 60 calls per hour instead of 350 calls per hour. "

If you can't raise revenue, reduce expenses. That cut is significant enough to reduce their rate of growth of monthly expenses but probably not enough to reduce their rate of user growth. Probably not a bad move for them.

With press releases like this Twitter is App.net's new best friend.

jot 3 hours ago 2 replies      
How would you feel if Google announced that you could only access their services using Chrome? What does it take to activate the antitrust lawyers?
_lex 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Twitter is making it very unappealing to build on their platform, since developers have to effectively give up a large chunk of autonomy and trust that Twitter's business model won't change again, and that Twitter won't suddenly start competing with them. And anyone who's paying attention knows that that's exactly what Twitter will do, since they don't have a clear, believable business model, and they've done it(destroyed their 'developers') before.
mhartl 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of thing that happens when you don't have a business model.
px1999 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm having trouble trying to figure out who Twitter's trying to target with these changes - and can't figure out if:

1. They want to corner the advertiser & business market - ie it's an attack on Hootsuite etc

2. They want to lock out competitors from pwning them on search (Google/Bing incorporating [good] twitter results into their searches would IMO be devastating to twitter - particularly if they didn't embed intents / hueg links to twitter everywhere)

3. They want to own the ecosystem so that twitter clients don't cross-post to Facebook/G+/app.net/favourite social network here

4. (I don't think this is likely) - Twitter thinking that they can somehow squeeze an extra couple of bucks out of each user if they're on an official client via advertising or something similar.


Each of these seems plausible to me, but all of them essentially involve twitter holding customers/data/users hostage which doesn't seem like a great strategy.

Is there some angle I'm missing here / reading too much into?

dave_sullivan 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if a p2p twitter would be possible. I guess there would be real storage/timeliness issues, but twitter always struck me as more rss replacement than anything else, and I'm not sure it makes sense to have something like that run by one company.

I think twitter is a cool concept/application, but I'm not sure it will ever be a great business.

imrehg 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I really want to like Twitter, I really do. So many possibilities, so many interesting services built on top of them, it would be a great centre for "online identity", a main front to communicate with friends and audience.

Except when they do these kinds of things, and I wonder how on Earth it makes any sense besides "because we can"?

moe 3 hours ago 0 replies      
R.I.P. Twitter

*06/2006 †08/2012

fudged71 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I finally got really into Twitter this year. Sad to see them being so restrictive with their platform. Maybe App.Net isn't such a bad idea after all.

It's amazing how poor the first party clients for Facebook and Twitter are compared to the functionality and rate of development on 3rd party apps. Maybe paying to be a part of a less restrictive network will be worth it in the end. I just hope they can get a big following with a bunch of apps integrated with it.

jonknee 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have seen a lot more pushes trying to get me to advertise lately (tons of sponsored tweets). I wonder if this is related to their revenue push--knock out their competitors and lower API costs.
WALoeIII 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There could be a revenue stream in here. They're limiting how many free users an application may have, but I would expect they could charge Tweetbot to have more users. Tweetbot could simply build this cost into the software.
ashbrahma 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone know how to check the number of users that have authenticated the apps on the twitter dev portal?
state 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that the kinds of applications they are trying to prevent from existing are precisely the ones that they could learn the most from and could provide them with the most new users.

I also don't see how this action actually wins them that many more eyes. Are there really that many third party Twitter apps out there?

DigitalSea 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you smell that? It's the smell of victory, the smell of Dalton Caldwell lighting a Cuban cigar in celebration of Twitter driving basically every single 3rd party developer over to App.net.
fufulabs 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This removes their duality of being a media / service play. This is highly beneficial to Twitter itself as well as to a new service/platform aiming to be a pure microblogging piping service. The only loser here are the Twitter app developers and startups which are faced with a now limited channel to promote their apps.
mehulkar 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Winter is coming.
jmathai 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I anticipate a flurry of parodies on their use of the term "flock" except away from Twitter and not towards.
chj 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are develop!ng for every s!ngle platform on th!s planet today, you are e!ther f!!ked or wa!t!ng to be f!!ked. Un!ted, developers!
galactus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess twitter thinks it is big enough to stop worrying about pissing third party developers off. In the short term it probably won't hurt them much.
mikecane 4 hours ago 0 replies      
With the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini coming up, I wonder if the projections of new users from those influenced this decision?
ukd1 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Hello App.net.
Tichy 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Well I am out of there first chance I see...
Rich Hickey: The Value of Values infoq.com
181 points by dmuino  2 days ago   41 comments top 11
talaketu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great talk. Love the phrase "Information Technology not Technology Technology".

But I do think he has been a bit unfair to databases (and primary keys) generally, in characterizing them as "place oriented". The relational model is actually a brilliantly successful example of a value-oriented information technology.

The very foundation of the relational model is the information principle, in which the only way information is encoded is as tuples of attribute values.

As a consequence, the relational model provides a technology that is imbued with all of the the virtues of values he discusses.
* language independence
* values can be shared
* don't need methods
* can send values without code
* are semantically transparent
* composition, etc.

It's true that we can think of the database itself as a place, but that's a consequence of having a shared data bank in which we try to settle a representation of what we believe to be true. Isolation gives the perception of a particular value. In some ways, this is just like a CDN "origin".

Also regarding using primary key as "place". Because capturing the information model is the primary task in designing a relational database schema, the designer wants to be fairly ruthless by discarding information that's not pertinent. For example, in recording student attendance, we don't record the name of the attending student - just their ID. This is not bad. We just decided that in the case of a name change, it's not important to know the name of the student as at the time of their attendance. If we decide otherwise, then we change the schema.

lrenn 2 days ago 2 replies      
This talk needs a different title, because it's way more important than the "Value of Values".

It's a call to stop writing object oriented software. He gives a convincing argument. You can probably find a thing or two to disagree with, but like he says, this is something we all know to be true. It's just that place oriented programming was necessary limitation due to hardware. Eventually, that limitation will no longer exist, or cease to be relevant. At that point, the only thing that makes sense is "value oriented programming" and by extension immutable functional programming.

Datatomic takes this same argument and applies it to databases.

Edit: And this might be crazy, but perhaps this is the answer to the "why can a building be built in a week, but a software project will be a year late and broken". What if you started on the first floor of the building, came in the next day and the dimensions had changed. What if when you needed two similar walls, you took a copy of one. But when you put a light switch on the copy, you accidentally put one on the wall you copied. Buildings are made up of values. A wall of a certain length. A staircase of 42 steps. These values don't change, and if they did, constructing buildings would be a hell of a lot harder.

kamaal 1 day ago 4 replies      
Great talk. Most of these talks on functional programming make perfect sense. These also look ideological superior.

My only problem is Object oriented programming looks more pragmatic in the real world. There are libraries, tools, tutorials, help forums and a lot of other stuff out there which helps anybody who wants to start learning OO from to go from nothing to far places.

You can't say the same thing about functional programming. The community is too elitist, the tutorials are math heavy. And the tools are too ancient. Having to use simple text editors and selling them as technologies used to build large applications is a contradictory philosophy.

gingerlime 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great talk, and without having any experience with FP, it really makes sense on many levels. I love data, and how transparent it is, and how objects seem to get in the way a lot of the time. I like queues, and shipping data from one process to another rather than sharing objects. RESTful interfaces, etc. Those concepts and tools are powerful.

The only thing I'm not too comfortable with is that space isn't really infinite. Yes, it's much cheaper, but still not infinite. If we stored all our logs in an ever growing database, and expect to be able to access it all the time, this is really very expensive. This is why we rotate logs, archive them and trash them eventually. Sure, we can afford this expense for source control, because this data (source code) is amazingly small in comparison. I'm not sure how it translates to real data on our systems, which is immensely bigger.

Also thinking about it in context of technologies like
redis. redis manifets a lot of the advancement in technology in how memory is used. It's so vastly bigger and cheaper than before that we can afford to store our whole database in it, instead of on much slower disks. But then this super-fast in-memory database definitely faces storage size constraints that needs to be considered...

Just a few random thoughts. Wish I could have a chat to Rich Hickey one day. Even if I could, I have a lot more to learn until then, so I'd make the most of this chat.

sbov 1 day ago 1 reply      
This video, along with many others I've watched from him, espouses the purity of data, and talks about not tangling data with functions (object orientation).

In this video, he seems to go along and say that values are great for software projects that use multiple languages, in part because values are universal meaning one doesn't need to translate classes into multiple languages.

However, regardless of whether you use an object oriented design or not, don't you usually have a set of functions you tend to perform on a set of data or values? For instance, you may not wrap your customer data behind a class and methods, but there are still going to be some rules related to all that data you're passing around. So in the multiple languages scenario, wouldn't you still have to translate those rules from language to language?

skardan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think there is another great example of value based programming we use every day even on small scale: unix pipes.

cat file | grep .... | wc

There are no complex protocols involved between cat, grep and wc - just passing around the value (now I am not talking about mutable files, directories etc).

I have seen very few systems which are as simple yet as flexible and versatile. Conventional wisdom says it is because unix is set of small utilities where each program does just one thing right. After watching the talk we should note that these utilities pass around text values.

If you want to build something as powerful and flexible as unix command line, you should think about value of decomposition as well as value of values :)

oskarkv 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you found this interesting and have not tried Clojure yet, you should really give it a go. Learning Clojure teaches a lot about programming just because it is very well-designed.
elliot42 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there any convenient way to get notified when Rich Hickey pushes a new talk or article? I can't seem to find a RSS feed, mailing list or Twitter account to follow. Any advice appreciated!
jacoblyles 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there anywhere I can go to get a collection of useful programming videos? Somewhere that aggregates videos like these after they are uploaded?
ajcronk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone seen a Sales CRM implemented with a temporal+value approach? Seems quite useful for tracking movement through a funnel.
mybuddymichael 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rich Hickey is a great thinker.
Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2 360cities.net
180 points by Plnt  2 days ago   80 comments top 22
nkoren 2 days ago 1 reply      
Note that this is actually missing a very major feature of the landscape: Aeolis Mons, or mount Sharp. The NASA panorama that this was adapted from failed to image the upper 2/5ths of the environment (roughly), and therefore did not capture the 15,000-foot mountain that is looming above the rover.

The maker of this panorama cleverly edited the image to show a false horizon where the mountain would actually be. It looks good, but gives the misleading impression that the rover is surrounded by a band of low hills, when the truth is rather different.

Here's a picture of mount Sharp, taken from a different camera than did the panorama:


If you look at the foreground terrain, you'll see that it matches the WSW terrain of the OP. There should be a gobsmackingly big mountain there!

biesnecker 2 days ago 4 replies      
A high-res panorama of Mars, taken by a semi-autonomous robot that was landed via rocket sky crane, transmitted 14 light minutes across space, then transmitted on demand through a global information network to my computer.

And people say the future isn't what it was made out to be.

mmcnickle 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love seeing these pictures showing all the dust and dirt sitting on top of the rover, knowing the years that it sat spotless in a cleanroom[1]. It's like unpacking a toy and actually getting to play with it.


biot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I assume the author did a very thorough job removing the pole on which this should be mounted? When you look straight down, there's no sign of anything... almost as if this is a levitating camera detached from anything.
barefoot 2 days ago 3 replies      
Works exceptionally well on an iPhone (appears to use accelerometer/gyroscope).
checker 2 days ago 1 reply      
This image reminds me of starting in the morning: sun's up, there's plenty to do, let's get started.

On another note, I would love to hear the sound of whatever Martian breeze is blowing while Curiosity's wheels crunch over the gravel.

Gravityloss 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's with the recent surge of upvotes and naïve comments about ad plastered pages that just take content from NASA?

Here the picture is really small and the ads block a large percentage of it.

edit: That said, NASA doesn't do a very good job with photos itself either: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/gallery-ind...

edit2: Ah, nevermind, it was a flash problem! The content is certainly valuable!

jan_g 2 days ago 2 replies      
Absolutely great stuff. I wonder if images were processed in any way (besides stitching) or is Martian landscape/atmosphere really so bright-yellowish.

I found it much easier to use navigation keys instead of click+drag (which web page suggests).

tsahyt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, since Flash seems to crash on me here (and on numerous other occassions) it's time to say that:

Can we please, pretty please with sugar on top, finally let Flash die? I've seen panoramic image viewers that didn't rely on Flash, they were brilliant. HTML5 video works a whole lot better than Flash, etc. In 2012, there's no need for the bug-ridden mess we call Flash anymore.

bicknergseng 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it incredibly ironic that an ad for Mitt Romney's campaign is splashed across the bottom with the words "Support a smaller government." I know it's just Google's ad service, but really now....
ragmondo 2 days ago 1 reply      
What does N,S,E and W mean ?
ipt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lovely nod to the conspiracy nuts by specifying this pic as being taken in New Mexico!
sukuriant 2 days ago 0 replies      
Only one complaint: looking around from within Firefox, my entire URI history is now full of 360cities.net pages with slightly different x, y, z values.

Other than that, not bad :D

humanfromearth 2 days ago 5 replies      
Why is there a black patch on the back of the rover?
magrimes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm just dull, but how is it possible to see the entire robot? Where is the camera mounted?
m_for_monkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Try right click, Little Planet View!
b_k 2 days ago 0 replies      
Details: Panoramic photo stitched together by Andrew Bodrov from images provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech.
OhArgh 2 days ago 4 replies      
There is something hidden by a black square at the far end of the vehicle.
moe 2 days ago 0 replies      
jjaques 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any body see the little arcade-style joystick towards the back left of the rover?
rjv 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't have expected the sun to look so big on Mars.
joshlegs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Coming soon from Google, Mars Maps!
How an app with 200,000 downloads led to developer homelessness penny-arcade.com
171 points by PixelRobot  1 day ago   123 comments top 32
patio11 1 day ago 4 replies      
There's multiple aspects of this story you can tweak such that the business becomes successful. Pick any one of them:

1) There is an extraordinarily lucrative market opportunity in iDevice contracting right now, which they allude to but mentioned that they avoided doing to keep momentum. Giving that living on a couch is presumably not momentum-enhancing, a two week consulting engagement would buy them another 6~24 months of runway at their imputed burn rates.

2) A platform/language/etc is not a death-til-us-part commitment. You can follow the money. Independent developers are not best served by the App Store, unless they get ridiculously fortunate with regard to its kingmaking economics. If you only have one chance to develop an application, you would be better served by developing for a platform where the median case pays the rent.

3) Don't develop video games. You're competing for the business of toxic people who hate paying money against the union of well-funded corporations (which have high production values and effective, ruthless monetization) and amateur hobbyist artistes (who have "that vision thing" and are willing to starve to deliver it for free). Try making something for more lucrative markets like, oh, businesses.

4) You may have deep psychological issues with comfort about charging people money. They seem to be fairly common in our community, which is unfortunate, and we seem to actively promote them, which is unfortunate++. You should first recognize that you are creating something with value for people (if not, stop) and then come to the immediate realization that, as a business, people trade value for money. (If you desire to do charity work, do it for more deserving people than gamers with iPhones and entitlement issues... and you should probably do it after having secured your ability to deliver on obligations to your family.)

5) If you've got a budget of 100 awesomeness points or focus points or whatever, spending 90 on your software and 10 on your business will have much worse results than spending 10 on your software and 90 on your business. Having people who can concentrate 100% on building software is a wonderful thing. They're called "employees" and they cost about $10k to $20k a month; you can pay for them after you've got a business. If you desire to work 100% on software, you desire to be an employee.

6) Burying the buy button three screens behind Settings: probably not ideal for conversion rate maximization.

7) Maximum customer LTV of $2.99: also not ideal. Consider anything you can do to increase this, for example, offering upsells on top of the base offering, cross-selling them to other things in your portfolio or things from others' portfolio for a percentage, or developing a permission marketing asset such as an email list. Some of these are very not viable on the App Store but I think I already gave you the advice for that.

8) If you sell X, look at the tactics used by successful sellers of X. If these tactics strike you as morally outrageous, don't sell X.

revorad 1 day ago  replies      
"It makes me sick to my stomach as it so transparently preys on the weaknesses like addiction and compulsion."

You know what makes me sick to the stomach? Developers starving themselves to death because of a complete disregard to basic business sense and a misguided sense of righteousness.

5 easy steps to homelessness:

1. Spend years building products for a platform, where $1.99 is a high price.

2. Avoid doing even the most basic mental arithmetic to figure out how many units you need to sell at $1.99 to be able to pay rent.

3. Then set the price to zero, because you're a nice guy.

4. Sell in-app purchases for the super duper high price of $2.99, thus raising your customer's LTV to a magnificent $2.99. But, don't be an asshole. Ask for the upgrade politely and quietly, in the third screen of the settings. Remember, you don't work for $ZNGA!

5. Make it up in volume

"We really want to stick to the ‘free and pay 2.99 to unlock' model, but if only .5% of users buy our game, we're going to have to figure something else out. It's very malleable at this point. Perhaps we're giving too much away for free, it's really hard to say until we see more data.”

6. Look a bonus step no.6! If after following steps 1-5 you're still not quite homeless, then it's time for some more data collection. Spend another year or so A/B testing the gradients of your upgrade button. And oh maybe, your upgrade price is too high? Yeah, test that.

Excuse me while I relieve myself of the agony of watching people do this over and over again.


Why do developers worship Apple, but absolutely refuse to take the slightest hint from them on how to do business?

Read this - http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/StrategyLetterV.html

And repeat after me:

"Commoditize your complements."

"Commoditize your complements."

The app store is the most brilliant and brutal execution of this strategy. Apple is selling $500 phones - the most expensive phones - while simultaneously making developers fall over each other and well, go homeless, to make software for their platform to give away for free.

As if that's not tragic enough, the celebration of the lottery winners has the public and developers believe that making apps is a great business to be in!

patio11 has been trying to drill these things into people's heads for ages. But, all he seems to get is upvotes and not enough people getting his point.

You don't have to suddenly go all Zynga on your users. There's a vast chasm between selling virtual sheep to addicted grandmas and giving away the farm for less than the price of a toilet roll. You can charge a good price, which does not depend on huge scale to pay the rent.

Edited to add: Lest I sound like some smug business know-it-all on a high horse, I've made the same mistakes. Most of us are like this. We need to make a conscious effort to be good at business.

alanfalcon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Such a confused and poorly written article. The developers aren't homeless because they had 200,000 downloads... They're homeless despite 200,000 downloads because they're game developers and not salespeople and so didn't even consider that they have to actually make the sale! Apple and Google and Amazon provide the big parking lot where people show up and have money in-hand, but if you give away the goods and never ask for the money, of course you'll end up broke. I'm glad to see that the developers have taken some steps to change the situation, but from what can be gleaned from the article, it sounds like they're not really handling the situation well.
ja27 1 day ago 4 replies      
The app was released seven days ago. I'd say 200,000 * 0.67% * $2.99 ($4,000-ish) is a nice first week for an indie game. Now I guess I know how I can get Penny Arcade to feature my next app.



clarky07 1 day ago 0 replies      
So many things wrong with this article and devs I don't know where to start.

1. Contract work sucks. You know what sucks worse? Being homeless. Do some work, get paid, save some runway, then get back to your game.

2. Man I'm having trouble making money on this thing I'm giving away for free. No kidding? If your app is free you should be making it really really obvious that there is more to be paid for that is really awesome, and then maybe have a button somewhere that actually allows your customers to give you money.

3. Don't spend 2 years on an app with an ARPU of a couple of pennies. The mobile app market moves really fast and you can't expect the revenue from this game to last you for the next 2 years unless it is a huge hit.

4. This app has been out for a week. This linkbait title is a joke. 200k downloads for a free app isn't that amazing, but it's not bad for a week. Even if it had 10 million downloads, they'd still be homeless as they won't be getting a check from Apple for this until October. Their stupid decisions over the past 2 years led to them being homeless. The success or failure of their launch week has nothing to do with it.

Clicking to the article I assumed this was going to be a case of giving away something and server costs bringing them down. Nope. We just decided to not have jobs for 2 years, not do any contracting, and not having enough money saved ahead of time.

Zimahl 1 day ago 1 reply      
While this is a sad story, I'm finding it hard to feel sorry for them. This is a prime example of excellent execution but poor marketing.

First, I've never heard of this game an it looks pretty awesome. My wife and I loved The Incredible Machine and this seems like a great derivation on that.

Second, it's iPad only so you are missing out on a ton of iPhone sales. I've bought stuff on my iPhone which I didn't on my iPad. It would be great if it sync'd between the two.

Third, .67%?! You've made some poor design choices if you can't get more people to upgrade that that. Sounds like you gave away the buffet and not just a taste test.

From the article author:
I had downloaded the game based on the positive word of mouth, and had already enjoyed what felt like a wide amount of content without paying anything.
I wasn't even aware there was anything to pay for to unlock ...
I learned I could buy the game .. I went looking for that option .. took me a few minutes to figure out how to pay ...

This plug on Penny Arcade should give them a significant bump in revenue. Tycho and Gabe could talk up toilet bowl cleaner and the PA audience would go out and buy it in an instant.

tomku 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds like they wanted to get the sales figures of the addictive IAP-dependent top-selling games, but without any of the actual psychology behind it. Doesn't work like that. The reason those other games were in the top 25 weren't just because they had IAPs - nearly every mobile game has IAPs nowadays, whether they're initially free or not. It was because they struck the "right" balance between entertaining and manipulative.

In particular, most of the games/apps I've tried that use that "upgrade from free via in-app purchase" model make it annoyingly easy to upgrade. They remind you when you finish a level. They remind you when you start the app, and when you go back to the main menu. They have buttons for full-version features that just pop up a "Sorry, you need to upgrade to do that, click here to do so!" dialog. They beat you over the head with the idea of upgrading until you submit, and going by the sales figures, it seems to work. That's how they make conversions, and if you're going to leave that out you're probably better off pursuing a different style of monetization.

fijal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm seriously sick with people complaining that the software they gave away for free didn't make them any money. Maybe we need a better business model for people who make other people's life better, but hey, at the point you make the decision to give away stuff for free, please don't complain.

DISCLAIMER: I'm making Open Source software and I can (sometimes) make a living out of it. I'm trying not to complain too much though

credo 1 day ago 3 replies      
At first, 200,000 downloads sounded impressive, getting into the top apps lists is also impressive, but the problem is outlined in the second paragraph.

>>Gasketball was released for free, with a one-time in-app purchase that unlocks the rest of the game offered for $2.99. The conversion rate to the paid version of the game sits at 0.67%.

It seems like they should figure out why the conversion rate is low (e.g. perhaps the free version offers too much functionality for free, perhaps the free version quality is poor and users aren't motivated to pay more etc...)

coryl 1 day ago 2 replies      
1) Don't spend two years working on your iPad game before you ship it. Far too long a cycle.

2) As an indie dev, you're suppose to attack the easiest, lowest hanging fruit to build your income base. After you're past a point, you can take on ambitious long-term projects. Otherwise you are always depending on a "hit" title.

S_A_P 1 day ago 3 replies      
I personally am pretty turned off to in app purchases. Most games are only getting worse. I cannot count the number of times that I have been approached by my 5 year old asking for me to "type in my name so I can have _______" while playing angry birds, jetpack joyride, or where's my water.

The problem is that he doesn't realize that there is real money tied to that. To him, I just enter my iTunes password and the level/swag/etc that he wants magically appears. Most of these games are geared towards kids, and they may or may not understand this. IAP is a great way to disappoint children!!!

phatbyte 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm going to be honest here, I look at IAP games as spam.
I don't care how much time you game took or how well it's designed, as soon as I see that I must buy coins/points to upgrade weapons, levels etc, the little 10 year old nes kid in me dies a little.

Everybody is so worry about monetization and get rich that they forgot the fundamental rule on a game: Let it be fun and enjoyable, let it be immersive.

How would you feel when you were young playing atari, nes, etc and something kept asking for your parents money to continue to play the game ?

TBH I rather play 5-7 dollars straight away for a game that includes everything then 0.90 cents where everything is locked up.

If DLC's are getting ridiculous on consoles, IAP is the apple store game cancer. It should go away.

mbenjaminsmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm currently building a game company so I sympathize with these guys, but it sounds like most of this is self inflicted.

1. Development cycle is way too long. You have to move much faster in mobile, especially for a casual game.

2. Assume financial failure for each game. Doesn't sound very encouraging but you should never count on income from a new title, especially if you're trying out new ways of monetizing.

3. Keep a cushion. If you need to take some time off to contract then do it. Running out of cash isn't an option.

4. Don't leave customer acquisition to chance. It sounds like their customer acquisition strategy was based solely on app store visibility (and hope).

colinplamondon 1 day ago 1 reply      
They're now Top 200 Grossing on iPad- seems like they managed to trip their way into one hell of a marketing strategy.

1) Bitch about not making enough money because you boned your conversion funnel.

2) Get an article written about how you don't make enough money

3) Make money!

Don't try this at home.

robomartin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is going to sound harsh. This story exposes a simple fact: These developers went at this in utter ignorance of the realities of business.

If their goal was to put out a free app and not try to make a living off of it, then fine. I take it back. You don't need to know anything about business or making money to give shit away. If this is the case, don't complain and be very thankful that people around you are kind enough to support you financially and beyond.

If, on the other hand, their goal was to offer a free product with IAP in order to earn money and make a living, well, their decision making reveals their level of business ignorance.

Why is it that the competitors they refer to have such intense IAP approaches? Could it be because that's a pretty solid way to monetize your app? If my goal was to make money in that segment I'd certainly stop all coding and look at what others are doing in detail. I would not hold myself back due to ideological nonsense. If it is a business, it is about making money. If it is a hobby, it is not. So, yes, I would copy, borrow and mutate ideas from others who, before me, trenched the territory and became successful.

The only exception to this is if you truly have in your hands one of these edge-cases that will succeed because it is so unique, entertaining and, yes, addictive.

This also demonstrates a reality of FOSS (even though this was not OSS): In order to provide FOSS someone has to be earning a living somehow or the equation is never balanced. That's why FOSS is never really free (as in cost) because the development costs are being banked by someone. Linux, as an example, is probably the most expensive piece of code ever developed.

This case was a simple failure to make the right business decisions and nothing more.

That's how you end-up on the street and broke.

tarice 1 day ago 0 replies      
It sounds like a major reason they've had such terrible conversion rates to the paid version is that nobody could figure out how to actually buy the game.

Remember: When people want to give you money, make it as easy as possible.

Hopefully they get some better conversion after their update:
"There was an update available for the game, and after applying it, an “unlock the full game” message was added under the main logo."

larrik 1 day ago 1 reply      
1) Depending on writing games for your income is foolish. Very few people make real money from games.

2) In-App Purchases come in 2 flavors: The kind that are permanent, and the kind that aren't. Apple doesn't tell you which one you are buying, which means that I just don't buy any, generally.

3) The few times I experimented with IAPs, my conversion rates were also total crap.

jonny_eh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think it's important for stories like this to get out there to contrast with big successes like Super Meat Boy and Fez (which were featured in the awesome movie "Indie Game: The Movie").
nevinera 1 day ago 2 replies      
This smacked of RIAA logic. It doesn't matter what your conversion rate is when your game is free - non-converts don't cost you money.
AznHisoka 1 day ago 0 replies      
These guys are homeless? I'm willing to shell $1000 to buy ownership of the entire game :)

But it sounds like they focused too little on making money. You can't give everything away for free. Give people a taste of the good stuff, but make them pay for the rest.

smartician 1 day ago 1 reply      
So their first game sold for $2.99 up front and earned them $20k-$40k for two years. I would call that successful. Then, for their second game, instead of sticking to what works, they made the decision to switch to a freemium model, and made the mistake of making the "free" mode too good, and neglected to advertise in-game that there even is a premium version to unlock. Many lessons to be learned here, but rather stunning that they weren't able to fix this much earlier, before becoming homeless.
slevcom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most apps, particularly games are limited to a few dollars, which requires them to basically be hits. Reaching out to tons of people to make a hit, is difficult and expensive.

Giving a game away for free seems like an easy way to gain some marketshare. In practice it isn't enough. In other hit based businesses, companies use multi-faceted marketing strategies to get the word out, each one a lead bullet.

Unfortunately for app developers, measuring marketing efforts through the iTunes funnel is almost impossible. Where do they come from? What's working? Nobody knows. Its difficult for marketing pros, let alone a pair of developers who spend all their time developing and not marketing.

They just need to keep at it. Being an indie developer requires more than just developing. Marketing is part of the job. If they are determined enough they will get there. Its just tough to put 2 years into a project, thinking you are finished, and only realize you're at the halfway point.

briandear 1 day ago 1 reply      
This isn't a sad story it's another example of developers being good at code but terrible at business. If code is your livelihood, treat it as such. Misplaced idealism is dangerous. Besides, doesn't giving someone a free game feed into their game addictions? Game pricing shouldn't be subject to some moral code. It's a game: if people don't like the price, they don't have to play.

This illustrates the problem with pirate software as well as pirate music and movies. People don't buy the cow if they get the milk for free.

chubs 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope they read this (not sure if they will), but:


I've a friend who gets approx $4/user/year from a non-game mobile app from ads through mobclix. I think it's a fair assumption that you'd get even more ad impressions on a game (as people spend more time in games), but even without that, 200k players * $4 each = a lot of money.

salman89 1 day ago 0 replies      
0.5% upsell sounds about right. In the app business you want to avoid a one time sale and focus on recurring revenue. There is a cap on growth, and revenues must be sustained by current users.
rokhayakebe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Change the game name, Change the action names, Change the colors (nothing else), Put the new thing on the appstore, Report results.
georgeecollins 1 day ago 0 replies      
The linkbait title is much more interesting then the actual article. This discussion is also much more interesting then the article.

The obvious thing is that if you are self funding, don't bet everything on one game. No one knows what games will hit and what games won't. The best thing is to swing the bat a few times. As many have pointed out, it seems like these guys should experiment more with what they have. It's not clear at all that their situation is dire.

goggles99 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Take this link off or HackerNews. It is a fraud.

Ctdonath summed it up beautifully...
"1. The "buy" button was hidden. People who wanted to pay couldn't find it. People didn't even know there was anything to pay for.

2. The app has been out a week. Users haven't had time to play thru the free content and develop any desire for [unknown (see #1)] paid content.

Made near all users sound like Scroogeish tightwads. Unfair."

goggles99 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is the story here? You can have the best game in the world but if no one can figure out how to buy it - of course you will go broke. Isn't this common sense?

I see you have finally figured this out (now that you are homeless). If that does not boost your revenues - Lower the price to 1.99 or $0.99. We are in a bad economy and $2.99 is not in the sweet spot by any means.

austinlyons 1 day ago 0 replies      
+1 to devs in Iowa!! But maybe if Iowa wasn't so cheap, they would have started by charging for their app out of the gate.
Shoomz 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's an interesting article and I love how they're approaching app sales. There are some successes out there that are doing well with this sales model (the most recent download I've had like this is Outwitters: http://onemanleft.com/). It is hard to see where the app sales ecosystem is going though (and if consumers will really dictate this path).
belorn 19 hours ago 0 replies      
incentives are tricky and the story is showing what happens when you induce the wrong ones.

They want to have "a free game", a "cheap upgrade" and a "only one upgrade needed". Three things that do not match. If they are going for a free game but that offers the enthusiastic 1% an payed to play upgrade, that upgrade can not be cheap. If they increase to 29.9$, their conversion rate would likely only go from 0.67% to 0.5%, but increasing profits by around 500%.

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