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This is a bit f'd, Quora giantrobotlasers.com
796 points by webwright  6 days ago   225 comments top 49
cletus 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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

olalonde 6 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...
gojomo 6 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".


ctdonath 6 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.
incision 6 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.

cs702 6 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.

rmc 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is why you need Data Protection law (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Protection_Directive )
omegaworks 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the thread screenshotted in the blog post, in case any one was interested:


ivankirigin 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I posted a link to this post on Quora to my followers and deactivated my account.
ryandvm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm. I wonder how Myoung Kang feels about this post...
stfu 6 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 6 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 6 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.

dm8 6 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.

codezero 5 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 6 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.
electic 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
FYI, you cannot delete your Quora account from there website. For that, you need to email: privacy@quora.com
confluence 6 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.

rjsamson 6 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.
bambax 5 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?)
chefsurfing 5 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 :)
alanh 6 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.)

cpeterso 6 days ago 0 replies      
Quora must be doing well. They've outgrown their Palo Alto office and are relocating to Mountain View:


damian2000 5 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.

mcgwiz 4 days 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.

pbreit 5 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
You can disable that in your settings.
jongold 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the Quoraish way to answer the question - meta enough?
ngsayjoe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yahoo does the same thing ... and i immediately uninstall it upon such discovery!
robforman 6 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.
lucian303 5 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.
89a 3 days ago 0 replies      
never understood why people bothered with this garbage

Expert Sexchange 2.0

sidcool 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like a big gaffe by Quora.
valdiorn 5 days ago 0 replies      
And that's why you don't use Quora
heyitsnick 6 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.

I Have 50 Dollars ihave50dollars.com
626 points by thehodge  2 days ago   194 comments top 43
mootothemax 2 days ago  replies      
Commenters seem to be missing the point of this. Go visit the signup page, and right at the bottom you'll see this tagline:

If you can spare $50 for a social network I'm guessing you can spare $50 to help put an end to slavery. Yeah, it's 2012 and it's still a pretty big problem. That shit is unacceptable. Really. </whiteguilt>

Personally, I'm not the fan of the "don't spend money on anything until the world's problems have been cured" style of thinking, but it's certainly a novel idea.

Now all they have to do is fix the title of the signup page. Right now it says Signup For App.net.

EDIT: Interestingly, the domain name of freetheslaves.net belongs to "Superhuman Ventures, LLC." I don't know enough about how people taking donations work, but I find it pretty strange that Free The Slaves have a long list of directors and staff (https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=285) but no mention of what their corporate structure is. Is this unusual? Should they explicitly be a charitable organisation?

ctdonath 2 days ago 2 replies      

Good night that was painful.

ihave50dollars.com is a spoof of join.app.net (duplicate layout of main page, text changed), which is a no-ad paid-membership version of Twitter, which apparently got VC funding to some people's amazement. An attempt to sign up takes you to an "end slavery" charity.

Yeah, sounds stupid to spell it out like this. Not everyone knows what app.net is, nor what its backstory is (I still don't). Ergo the spoof garners a well-deserved WTF.

WHY someone felt compelled to create the spoof is still a mystery to some of us.

ThePherocity 2 days ago 3 replies      
Actually, this really pisses me off. Heaven forbid that all the hard work we do as developers actually come with a reasonable compensation option... like money. I think more sites need to go pay only, I'm tired of every advertising company on the internet knowing more about my buying preferences than I do. Support developers FFS.
brianwillis 2 days ago 6 replies      
>First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

It would appear that App.net is now at stage two.

redthrowaway 2 days ago 2 replies      
Alright, I read the damned post and I still have no idea what it's about. Is it supposed to be satire, or some other wink and nod approach to...something?

Either I'm just not all that bright, or they took a swing and missed on their message.

gexla 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to be the first developer to build an app on the ihave50dollars API. It's going to be a dating app, because what chick wants to hook up with a guy who doesn't even have $50?
gexla 2 days ago 1 reply      
I spent my last $50 to join ihave50dollars.com. I no longer have $50. I hope nobody finds out, it will ruin my reputation within the network.
ballooney 2 days ago 0 replies      

  Our team has spent the last 9 years building social
synergy, developing paradigms, talking on out mobile
phones and more.

Jesus wept.

Edit 30s later: Oh it's a spoof. My faith in humanity restored.

neebz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am not really interested in all the twitter/app.net hoo-haa but I find it intriguing that we are at a stage that one guy develops a product and charges $50 for it. And the rest of the world mocks him for not making it free.
tudorizer 2 days ago 2 replies      
Did anybody notice the background behind this? https://heello.com/live, from the founder of Twitpic, which actually has a very close goal as App.net.
georgespencer 2 days ago 3 replies      
"There are people [VERB] in [COUNTRY]" has never been a satisfactory argument to me, and this seems to just be the digital version of that.
debacle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't initially determine the level of seriousness of this page.

I spend too much time on HN.

OzzyB 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is for a Charity? Well they botched that then IMO.

After clicking the top "alpha.ihave50dollars.com" link (and others) you end up at heello.com. So I then understandably thought the site was a "snark-attack" by the Heello/Twitpic guys.

After all, Heello was started by Twitpic when Twitter was just starting to clamp down on their API usage and was about to start their own photo service -- so Heello was started pretty much in the same spirit as App.net was -- at least in the sense of "Hey! I'm pissed at Twitter, so now I'm gonna make a competitor clone".

So I wonder, why doesn't anyone mention this Heello? Does the App.net guy have more Hacker Mojo than the Twitpic guy? Is this Heello guy pissed that App.net got paid $700k+ for doing what they wanted to do 1-2 years ago?


notlisted 2 days ago 0 replies      
Where Dalton is going I don't know (and I feel he's generally a pompous ass when he speaks/writes) but... I think app.net is a matter of OWNERSHIP. Ownership of your data and ownership of the company.

Companies are beholden to those who pay. If it's the users who pay, the power is with them. I like that idea. If it's the advertisers, they don't need to care as much about the user, see FB and Twitter.

Stuff DOESN'T have to be free. I pay for many things, and in general the things I pay for are better than things which are free.

I have no problems with the $50 or the request for it. Those who do should buy GIMP, while I use Photoshop.

seagreen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Voluntary charity can of course be a noble and merciful thing.

That said, strike at the fucking root people.[1] The problem isn't slavery. Slavery is a symptom of the problem. The problem is bad economies, which come from bad government. If you're not working on trying to find ways to encourage good government you're a hobbyists, not professionals, and you should take claims like "Our goal: to end slavery in our lifetime."[2] off your website.

If you are interested in improving bad governments then for God's sake don't listen to intellectuals. Read the people who've actually done it.[3] It's not as good as a controlled experiment, but it's way better than pure talk.

[1] I'm actually not sure about 1st world countries like the U.K. There might not actually be a root to strike at there.

[2] https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=285

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Singapore-development-policies-and-tre...

rickdale 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am offering a 6month same as cash interest free loan for those lacking the $50. Check my profile for more details...
4ngle 2 days ago 1 reply      
If that's the cost of friendship, consider it paid.

All joking aside, I agree with the message. I almost signed up for app.net today, but didn't (after finally noticing the charge aspect (not gonna lie, didn't really look into it)) because it is NOT going to overthrow anything, let alone Twitter.

The warm sentiments of no ads is nice, but end-users don't give a shit. $50 is MONEY, free--adversely--isn't.

I'll be happy if people can prosper from app.net, but I don't see much happening there that didn't happen at google+.

facorreia 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm kind of disappointed. None of the comments so far have pointed out the fundamental logic flaw in this.

Buying the membership doesn't prove you HAVE 50 dollars, it proves you HAD it.

amalag 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I not hip enough, I don't understand the point to this.
Rulero 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is quite funny, it made me chuckle.

Now, putting the joke aside, let's be real. Whilst the majority of you aren't willing to spend $50 (Including myself), the fact is, some people already have and they have managed to raise a lot of money.

I suppose it doesn't matter what product you have as long as you know how to market it and most importantly, solve a problem.

Whilst App.net may be ideal for developers because it considers their requirements, I highly doubt whether main stream users care the problems that App.net is trying to solve. None of my friends would pay for a social network, and neither would I. Why? Because I can use my phone and there's plenty of other free alternatives.

Either way, I wish App.net all the best but I rather keep my $50.

hnruss 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you can't tell that a site called iHave50dollars.com is a joke... there is a good chance you are confused about a lot of things. It might be time to questions your assumptions about life.
tzaman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Where can I sign up if I don't have 50 dollars?
rnernento 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice start, clean design but it looks like signup is broken. It redirects to some random TED talk :p
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is like falling into a worm hole that takes you back to when Twitter was competing with Pownce and Jaiku for marketshare.

What a bizarre situation.

pandeiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fucking excellent satire. Hilarious.
state 2 days ago 0 replies      
With all the handwaving and yelling around this issue I find this really refreshing.
akldfgj 2 days ago 0 replies      
The punchline is to show you a video about ending slavery along with a comment about how spending money on that is more worthwhile than a social network.

The video was created at TEDx in Maui. TED is one of the most expensive social networks in the world, charging thousands of dollars to attend the main conference, which is the foundation of the TEDx programs.

Accidental endorsement of Dalton?

niels_olson 2 days ago 0 replies      
From ebay:

> The seller will only ship to confirmed addresses. To complete this transaction, you will need to enter your information again.

by my address is confirmed. What gives?

akurilin 2 days ago 1 reply      
More free publicity for Dalton, he's not going to mind.
ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think I'll go for a higher-end market, so I'm launching ihad5000dollars.com tomorrow.
paduc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this parody is right on.
The app.net pitch is all about the fact there is a fee.
Why not build a cool app, ask for a fee and _then_ explain the reason for the fee?
dumbluck 1 day ago 0 replies      
When you give, your intent is not to pay for a bunch of mailers to be sent out, killing trees and increasing the world's CO2, and your intent is not to hire some Ivy+ grad with a major in making themselves feel better about helping people as they sit at their desk and drink their Starbucks mocha. You want to free slaves, feed the homeless, feed the starving children, cure cancer. Don't give to those that waste that generosity, and don't support sites that don't tell you where your money is really going.

In this case, supposedly the overhead is 16%. That isn't great, but it is in the "meh" category for me. I'd rather give to the Salvation Army that only takes ~5% overhead. In addition, I'd like to see what the 86% going to programs and services is really accomplishing.

maxer 2 days ago 0 replies      
is this the new reddit?
ebabchick 2 days ago 0 replies      
finally, some truth shed on this developer-centric bubble of a "company"
namidark 2 days ago 0 replies      
The video on the main page is just a link to the sign up...
guscost 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would pledge to support this fine and fantastic platform!!!
ruggeri 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, so good. You earned your $50.
D9u 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have $50.
I don't use twitter.
I won't even login to Facebook anymore.

Thus I lol'd at this.

shredder 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have 50 dollars is a great satire of yet another social network (app.net) that promotes non-social interaction..
zachinglis 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful.
lololz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I only have 49.99 :(
scottilee 2 days ago 0 replies      

Yes, you're supposed to laugh.

madmikey 2 days ago 1 reply      
why not 50dollarsbacon.com
Ecuador grants Julian Assange asylum bbc.co.uk
501 points by anons2011  3 days ago   499 comments top 38
chrisacky 3 days 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.)

cletus 3 days ago  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.

jgrahamc 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.
tomku 3 days 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.
santiagoIT 3 days 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!!!!!!
nsns 3 days 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.

credo 3 days 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.

gary4gar 3 days 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 3 days 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.
mmaunder 3 days 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".
beedogs 3 days 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.
debacle 3 days 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.

DividesByZero 3 days 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.

LiveTheDream 3 days 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...

meiji 3 days 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 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd like to see a prediction market now for whether or not Assange makes it to Ecuador...
lifeguard 3 days 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.

dsirijus 3 days 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

autophil 3 days 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".

tokenadult 3 days 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."

gadders 3 days 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.

fduran 3 days 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.
vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
A bit more information has come to light. A respected broadsheet newspaper here in Australia has requested some diplomatic cables under the Freedom of Information Act and reports that the Australian diplomatic service believes that the US will attempt to extradite Assange.


gadders 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be honest, I think what we have here is a case of cognitive dissonance - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

People admire Assange for what he has done as part of wikileaks, whilst also simultaneously loathing rapists.

I felt the same when Mike Tyson was convicted of rape. As a follower of boxing, I was a huge fan of his power and skill. And then he got convicted of rape.

I tried to tell myself that it was a fix, the "victim" was after his money etc etc. But now I realise that both things are true. He was one of the best boxers ever, and he did rape that woman.

Steve Jobs could be a fantastic businessman and innovator, and a bit of an arsehole to work with.

Benjamin Britten could be a great composer and sexually attracted to youg boys.

Assange could be a brave "dissident" and sexually taken advantage of those two women.

nacker 3 days 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?

anuraj 3 days 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.
dagrz 3 days 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

gitarr 3 days ago 0 replies      
And all just to keep a website on/off the internet.
Flow 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ecuador: "We are not a colony from the UK".


melvinmt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a particular reason why Assange chose to ask political asylum in Ecuador?
bwilson 3 days 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.

dgdg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why are now British authorities are under a binding obligation to extradite him to Sweden, but British Court released V. Antonov on bail when Lithuania asked UK to extradite him to Lithuania?
antoinevg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm just going to leave this here:


Twitter to Client Developers: Drop Dead daringfireball.net
464 points by joshus  3 days ago   173 comments top 44
cletus 2 days ago  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 2 days ago 1 reply      
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 2 days ago 2 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!

mirkules 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

mmaunder 2 days 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.
lancewiggs 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.
uptown 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.
rjsamson 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

ziadbc 3 days 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.

sequoia 2 days 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."
ricardobeat 2 days 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.

maxpow4h 2 days ago 3 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

stephenlovell 2 days ago 0 replies      
The large swath of discussion seems to be focusing on App Development, which is probably the hardest hit.

However, there's another area that has gotten me wondering, non-app, non-client based websites using the API, in reference to the Display Guidelines..er Rules.

This is the bit specifically.

"Users must have a consistent experience wherever they interact with Tweets, whether on Twitter.com, a mobile client, website, or in an application developed with the Twitter API"

So lets say that I go to GitHub and grab a little jQuery plugin to pull in my tweets on my personal portfolio. Does that also mean I have to make sure I include my own avatar, my username, Tweet actions, and twitter branding, among other things? What if those elements are unnecessary to the design or intention of what I'm doing on the site?

And then there's the fact that all of these jQuery plugins are going to have to start implementing authenticated access (if they weren't already, which many seem to not be.) I don't have access to data on the matter, but I would surmise that there's a significant number of personal and portfolio sites out there pulling in tweets that are either not authenticated, or are modifying the tweet display in some way. All the ones I've interacted with have settings for turning avatar display on or off, or unlinking hash tags or links, etc.


dinkumthinkum 2 days 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.
ThePherocity 3 days 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.
masklinn 2 days ago 1 reply      
So from the "fantastic" quadrant scheme, basically they don't want users (which they re-labelled as consumers) to actually use (engage with) the service, instead they want:

1. "consumers" to be analyzed

2. Companies to use the service

Well at least it's rather clear what the new and future values of Twitter are.

andrewfelix 3 days ago 1 reply      
Utter hypocrisy that they're discouraging third party clients, after having acquired one.

app.net suddenly looks more attractive.

efsavage 3 days ago 2 replies      
Twitter isn't very big in my circles, but of those that use it, none of them use the website.
kintamanimatt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't they just just charge heavy non-client API users and offer (cheap?) paid plans to users who want to use third party clients, leaving the rest to use an ad-supported web interface? This is the best solution long term which wouldn't really piss off anybody or nuke the ecosystem, while embracing the realities of running a business.
throwa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Developers seem to flock to platforms like Apple, Facebook and Twitter based on the fact that they have a large and growing user base without giving thought to this issue of commoditization of complements and how the ultimately destroy the business or livelihood of these developers.

Most people building products or sharecropping on other people's platform never make meaningful income and yet those platform keep will prefer to announce large sums paid out to developers to encourage you to keep building complements. Apple will claim they paid out $5 billion but spread the numerous app developers it becomes peanut and not enough to pay their bills. They won't tell you that to pay out $5bn they made atleast $2billion based on their 30% cut.

They don't tell you that iOS app success is a "lottery": 60% (or more) of developers don't break even



I really hope people will think hard before building their business on the back of Apple, Facebook, Twitter or any such platform. You can use them as as distribution without being dependent on them and that is the way to go.

Be your own bitch and not a Twitter, Apple or Facebook bitch:


countessa 2 days ago 0 replies      
can't say I blame them really. They have a product, they have the infrastructure to support it....why shouldn't they have right of first refusal on how to monetize the thing?

Seems to me that developers are getting all pissy because they can't have free reign to a platform that isn't even theirs. Perhaps, at the end of the day, Twitter doesn't care - they don't need the developers as early adopters anymore and it must be a fair old strain to keep the api infrastructure supporting them when the resources could be more profitably used building something else inside the company.

shuzchen 2 days ago 1 reply      
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.

nicholassmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if this is the worst thing that Twitter could have done, but it's probably fairly high up there. I wonder what people like Tapbot and thinking right now, they're grandfathered in for some very, very specific agreements but they know that one misstep and they'll end up out in the cold or paying a fortune.

But then what does that mean for a Tweetbot user like myself? Less incremental updates? One day the application breaks? Who knows, too early to tell.

I'm mostly surprised Twitter isn't just leveraging the fact they are pumping out that many requests and slipping ads or promoted tweets or promoted tweeters into the API stream and making cash off that. Seems like it'd make sense.

dchuk 3 days 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.

radarsat1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well it's not like alternatives don't exist. Of all the popular social media services, twitter has got to be one of the easiest to reimplement, it's only social inertia that keeps Twitter going. (Which says a lot about the power of social inertia.)

As usual what is needed is a decentralized approach, but that always takes time to catch on even if it can be made to work.

jcromartie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Are people missing the fact that existing Twitter clients can keep their token allocation and double it? And new ones are limited to 100K only by default (they can ask for more)?

Since when did people consider unlimited access to Twitter's API an unalienable right? It is their platform, and their API. It's also completely free.

Twitter is absolutely free to limit usage of their own API however they wish. If it means they want to change the rate limiting on their servers, I see no problem with that.

goronbjorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this more evidence that they haven't completely figured out their own business model yet?
Sniffnoy 2 days 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?

dchest 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone manage to extract API key from the official Twitter client?
Tichy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why couldn't Microblogging work like email (or Macroblogging)? Some people email through some provider or host their blogs at wordpress.com, others host their own. Big bloggers pay a lot for their infrastructure, amateuer bloggers get free blogs supported by ads.

Still not sure if Twitter isn't just blogs that include a friends list and a reader (kind of like Tumblr, which seems to be taking off, too...). And the short messages.

littlejim84 2 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't Twitter just arrange a price for "business" usage of their API? The main people getting affected by this are other clients or other intensive uses of their API, but those very people are most probably trying to make a profit themselves (HootSuite for example) so why not just charge for the API and so leave the restricted API for free use. Or am I missing the point?
mmahemoff 3 days 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.

thirdsun 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always had the impression that bands and musicians made myspace what it was. Seriously, they seemed to have every single band you could think of. That in combination with the Google Search results deal (which still seems to be running) was a winner.
paulhauggis 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I don't base my entire business on someone else's platform. They could make one little change and destroy your entire business overnight.
debacle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter are being shits, but as a developer on the Twitter platform, what could you really expect?
seanp2k2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The reason: they found out that it's hard to make money when users can trivially strip out your ads.
codegeek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now I am convinced that I will never depend 100% on a third party platform/API for a serious business.
j45 2 days ago 1 reply      
If I can't use Hootsuite, I can't use twitter.
gcmartinelli 2 days 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.
smegel 2 days 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.
taybin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone considered that twitter is actually pretty stupid?
macarthy12 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if twitter have a $50 app.net account?
sailfrog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Grunter owns Twitter
John Resig: Redefining the Introduction to Computer Science at Khan Academy ejohn.org
461 points by spicyj  5 days ago   118 comments top 32
powrtoch 5 days ago  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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.


ilaksh 5 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?

crusso 5 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.

hanibash 5 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!

crag 5 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".


look_lookatme 5 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.

scottrblock 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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?

daviddaviddavid 5 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.

bhb916 4 days 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.

jameshsi 5 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
sciurus 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a cached copy? ejohn.org is returning a 500 error.
warmfuzzykitten 5 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.
sethish 5 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...

bwlang 4 days 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.
gadders 4 days 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.
suyash 4 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.
Rickasaurus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is not computer science.
eranation 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
tried it. The greatest takeaway for me is being able to edit the code and see changes live.
scoith 5 days ago 0 replies      
Was there something wrong with the old definition?
Rob Pike: The Best Programming Advice I Ever Got. informit.com
418 points by chanux  3 days ago   135 comments top 39
mquander 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does the order of the two terminal conditions matter? / Think about it.

Does the order of the two terminal conditions matter? / Try it out!

Does the order of the two previous answers matter? / Yes. Think first, then try.

- The Little Schemer

ajays 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the best programmers I have known was a CS theory guy.

We were working on these tightly-coupled multiprocessor machine which was quite unstable, and would hard lockup if something went wrong in the program (requiring a walk over to the machine room, hitting the reset button, etc.). We would start hacking at our assignments quickly, and make innumerable trips to the machine room.

This guy, on the other hand, would just sit and stare into space for a while; then jot down the entire program on paper. Then he would enter it into the editor, fix a couple of typos that the compiler caught, and run it. His program always worked on the first or second attempt.

Funny part? he hated to program, and was a theoretician.

rimantas 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me an episode in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" where he fixes a noisy radio just by trying to understand how can the problem happen and comes to conclusion that the most likely cause is that amp's vacuum tubes heat first and generate a lot of noise before the rest of the circuit is ready.
He swaps tubes, problem is gone and the owner of the radio (which was very sceptical at first) goes around telling about this twelve years old boy "he fixes radios by thinking!".
ww520 3 days ago 2 replies      
That's why it's very hard to juggle multiple projects at the same time. Every time you switch projects, you have to flush the old mental models of the old project out and reload the mental models of the new project.

Same thing with interruption, it takes a while to rebuild the mental model after being interrupted.

p9idf 3 days ago 0 replies      
msluyter 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if building these mental models has become more difficult with the rise of multi-layered/full-featured programming frameworks. I'm thinking of things like Spring or Rails. A given webapp might involve a dozen layers or so: a database language (SQL), a database wrapper (Hibernate or ActiveRecord), a server side language, templating languages, client side languages (javascript), CSS, HTML, etc... etc...

Understanding all of that seems overwhelming. IOW, being a "full stack" generalist is getting harder, imho.

arturadib 3 days ago 0 replies      
As he says it's indeed a matter of style/preference.

I've personally spent 10 years in academia deeply understanding many things that more often than not were good for nothing. Now I'm OK with just getting things to work quickly and not looking back.

PS: I'm a really fast typer.

gklitt 3 days ago 5 replies      
A professor of mine who worked at Bell Labs once made the same point. "In the old days we had to think a lot about how our punch card program worked because we'd only find out if it worked the next day. Nowadays you guys just throw crap at the wall and see what sticks. Find the middle ground."
nekopa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds of of two things:

Toyota's '5 Whys' root cause analysis, don't just fix the manifestation of the problem, but keep asking why it happened until you get to the real cause.

The NASA space shuttle programmers


When they find a bug, they go to great lengths to find how and where in their process of programming this was able to happen, sometimes finding other bugs before they surface.

hkarthik 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really relevant article. These days there are legions of programmers who don't think about underlying issues and just throw clever hacks in to get things working and move on. Worse yet, some of these types end up in managerial roles where they expect others to work as quickly and sloppily as they used to.
malingo 3 days ago 3 replies      
At what point in a neophyte programmer's life should he/she switch from the "immediate & non-stop coding" Khan Academy approach recently discussed here on HN to this Ken Thompson "take a moment and think first" approach? Isn't there the danger that they might not be able or motivated to make the switch?
goblin89 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'd say beware the opposite as well.

If you're ‘just a' developer in a larger company, you may rarely get to actually fix these high-level problems you discover. You kind of have to live with it, which is frustrating.

And if you're working alone, too ‘high-level' thinking may well slow down getting things done. If you don't have around someone with more pragmatic attitude, be sure to have a bit of it yourself. =)

Almaviva 3 days ago 1 reply      
Then again, how many times have you found a bug caused by a single line or function call or bit of syntax that didn't do exactly what you thought, that was easily overlooked? Particularly in someone else's code in a language that isn't your main one. I think line level interactive debugging is valuable precisely because it tells you what you really know for certain at the local level, and so lets you reason more effectively about the big picture.
jon6 3 days ago 8 replies      
You are only so smart. Once the complexity of the programming model reaches a certain point a debugger is necessary to validate and discover the true nature of a system. Often that point is quite low.
gns24 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this might be an advantage of pair programming that isn't generally talked about.

The time to find a bug with a debugger has a much tighter distribution than the time to find one by thinking about the code. There are some problems that you just can't get to the bottom of by thinking.

By having one person take each path, you get the advantages of both. It might seem that a single programmer should be able to achieve the same by switching between the two approaches, but the cost of context switching is so great that it will be more like starting again each time. So it's really hard to know when to stop thinking about it and to get the debugger out.

The advice that once you find the bug you should work out what the problem really is definitely holds solid, though.

itmag 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is relevant: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=316

Also, I'm curious about something. Those of you who are good at building mentals models: are you also visual thinkers?

dinkumthinkum 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is my method of debugging. I tend to think through code for a long time away from a keyboard before writing it, trying to understand corner cases, implications, and so on -- developing a mental model. Well, I wouldn't do this for everything, more for core aspects of a complex/somewhat-complex system.
manaskarekar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a link to the (incomplete) sample chapter on their website for 'The Practice of Programming' on Debugging.


I had this in my wishlist for a while. This just made me buy it.

Wonder how different it will be from Code Complete 2.

ardillamorris 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think if you are just pushing through (brute force) to fix a bug "without thinking" then you will never figure it out. Also, "thinking before" as the article claims, without actually looking at the code or stack traces, that's just mental brute force.

Pretty much it's a combination of both: you look at the code, you think about what's happening and what could go wrong, you look at the code again, you think some more, you look at stacks, variables, output.. and then you think again and BOOM: you figure it out.

The best debugging tool is you. Use all you have.

elmindreda 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very good advice. Even when I use a debugger or print statements to locate and fix the bug, I sit down afterwards and make sure I understand why the bug occurred and why the fix is correct.
davidw 3 days ago 0 replies      
The advice is to be Ken Thompson?
sblanton 3 days ago 1 reply      
My co-worker does the same thing. Thinks instead of opening the debugger. In fact, he never uses a debugger even though he's a hardcore low-level C/C++ guy. Another important thing is to have good logs. Don't log too much, but log the most pertinent info. Next he just looks at the code. If it's really tough, he adds a print statement or two. I've never seen him do more in 3 years of working with him.
jcfrei 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the advice. I've always had a feeling that this was the right approach, yet I was usually too lazy to actually do it. Seeing Rob Pike coming to this conclusion is a good motivation. I've also noticed that the most persistent and hardest to solve bugs came either from logical errors in my mental model or its implementation.
keeptrying 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is only true for man made systems which you have written yourself or have been working with for long periods of time.

When you try to "think up" a business then bad things start happening. I think this is a huge trap for us programmers who want to become entrepreneurs.

Nature doesn't "think or do research" it "creates and tests aggressively".

SonicSoul 3 days ago 0 replies      
i've recently had to deal with similar situation, accept the person that refactored my code didn't make such a big improvement. instead he went on vacation and a lot of things broke when we released the code. even though i've looked at all his check-ins, and they looked harmless, i was not able to foresee the problems we experienced when this code run in prod..

i'm conflicted because on one hand i don't want to be the code police that simply refuses any changes from others, but at the same time its hard to be responsible for a system when so many core updates are done by other team mates w/out proper testing.

i think the happy middle ground is: no such changes in common trunk. Do those in a branch, and only merge them in when benefits are clear, team is on board with all changes, you're ready to release to production, and will be around during the release.

cr4zy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this works because you're devoting more energy to the problem than to the sensory and mechanical parts of your brain that will be used to enact the fix. But it's not natural because socially it can look as if you're not 'working'.
SeanDav 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting to note that he has now replaced C with Go (GoLang)
INTPenis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ken was watching Rob soften the lid on the jar only to swoop in at the right time and deal the decisive blow. ;D
joe_fishfish 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great advice for when you're working on something that follows logical principles and guidelines. It's also great advice to follow when you're working on a green field project where you're allowed to work out the best place for certain pieces of logic to live.

However, when you're working on legacy systems or have to refactor some horrendous code written by developers many leagues out of their depth, and nothing whatsoever is in its logical place, it's less effective than in other circumstances. This sort of critical thinking is a wonderful tool to have; but just like any other tool, there's times when its use is appropriate, and times when it isn't.

sageikosa 3 days ago 0 replies      
Always something to be said for running the code through the compiler in your head. Nowadays you need a virtual distributed environment in your head to emulate the design.
BruceIV 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good advice - after I noticed that I solved most of my tough debugging problems on the walk home from work, I started going outside to take a walk around the building whenever I got stuck. Removing yourself from immediate access to the code lets you think at a higher level how it's organized and what could go wrong.
nsxwolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
But you're not supposed to use debuggers. You're supposed to use Test Driven Development.
ten_fingers 3 days ago 0 replies      
The lesson is very old: "Typing is no substitute for thinking." from Kemeny and Kurtz in their book on Basic.
theorique 3 days ago 0 replies      
Mental models. They underlie everything.
yresnob 3 days ago 0 replies      
read. "pragmatic thinking and learning" l mode and r mode people...
chj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Golden Advice.
zedzedzed 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I learnt a lot today.
philhippus 3 days ago 3 replies      
Used to code in C...moved to work at Google Labs...now raves about Go being the most productive language EVARR and has replaced C...Hmmm.
Evbn 3 days ago 2 replies      
Ken Thompson said that never happpend; they didn't need to look at each others code, because they were all "pretty god coders": http://www.informationweek.com/software/operating-systems/qa...
How we screwed (almost) the whole Apple community day4.se
408 points by pohl  6 days ago   117 comments top 52
kevinalexbrown 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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.
laconian 6 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.
shadowmatter 6 days ago 0 replies      
"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." - Mark Twain (attributed)
silvestrov 6 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.

JamesLeonis 5 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish web designers would stop putting light grey text on white backgrounds.
incision 6 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 6 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.

blhack 6 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 6 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".
josteink 5 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.

rhizome 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
This seems awfully irresponsible.
mmanfrin 6 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.

kawaguchi 6 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.
bryanlarsen 6 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...
jconley 6 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 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
They're called _rumors_ a for reason. People expect most rumors to be bullshit anyway.
shasta 6 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.
lnanek2 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this book:
Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
mpchlets 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Apple is the world's largest company, so they can take a few knocks.

Claims the article, by what measure?

Cl4rity 5 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?

pavel_lishin 6 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how often companies pull stunts this against their competitors.
ozataman 6 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!
splicer 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a Dilbert episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEOOFanQms0
mpchlets 6 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 6 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".

vacri 6 days ago 0 replies      
Another day, another blog with low-contrast text.
Uchikoma 6 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't hear about this. Apple user. Guess the "(almost)" is a very large or small almost.
printer 5 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 6 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 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hold on. How do we know this article is even true?!
Kilimanjaro 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
Please change title to:
How we (almost) screwed the whole Apple community


atruepoint 6 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 6 days ago 0 replies      
On the net, everyday is April 1st.
dvliman 6 days ago 0 replies      
unrelated discussion. did anyone think this site is hard to read? the font size and color...
jamesmcn 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because it's a pun.
hahainternet 6 days ago 1 reply      
The big deal is that you didn't read the article.
256 CSS Classes Can Override an #id codepen.io
395 points by alpb  4 days ago   90 comments top 32
bingaling 4 days ago 2 replies      
Webkit source:


  69	    case Id:
70 s += 0x10000;
73 case Class:
88 s += 0x100;

id selectors are worth (0x10000/0x100) == 0x100 == 256 class selectors.

This seems to be the mozilla source:

  521   nsAtomList* list = mIDList;
522 while (nsnull != list) {
523 weight += 0x010000;
524 list = list->mNext;
525 }
526 list = mClassList;
527 while (nsnull != list) {
528 weight += 0x000100;
529 list = list->mNext;
530 }

Same weights, Id = 0x10000, Class = 0x100

Cushman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Stranger, perhaps, this also works with the same class 256 times. That is <div class="c"> with a style def .c.c[...256...].c {}.


gburt 4 days ago 1 reply      
[1] http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/2007/07/27/css-specificit...

This is a feature, not a bug. Its called CSS specificity.

Although, the link[1] seems to suggest it should be 100, not 256... that might be a bug.

prezjordan 4 days ago 2 replies      
I guess the algorithm for specificity in all modern browsers involves a base-256 number. Why? I believe there are 4 slots for specificity - class, id, !important, and styles defined in the tag. 256^4 = 2^32, the size of an integer. Unfortunately we get this is as a side effect.
zheng 4 days ago 1 reply      
This seems to be taken from this answer on a question about HTML/CSS specificity


arrrg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain the thinking behind this? Wouldn't it be much simpler to have #id always override a .class?

The way it is set up currently that's basically always the case (since 256 .classes are rarely used), but there is this weird edge case when as many .classes are used.

I don't think it's possible to meaningfully work with a rule like that. It just seems so non-sensical.

thezilch 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the example, switch the order of the rules and the background will switch -- last rule wins, all things being equal. Not surprising...

  $ python
>>> CLASS = 0x100
>>> ID = 0x10000
>>> CLASS * 256 == ID

Osiris 4 days ago 2 replies      
Opera 12 displays a blue box while Chrome 21 and IE 9 show a red one. Another cross-browser incompatibility that we have to deal with...
chimi 4 days ago 1 reply      
I suppose someone should update this question then, because it looks like to me the limit is 255...


whichdan 4 days ago 0 replies      
For your sake, I hope this wasn't an actual bug you ran into :)
mey 4 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting current versions of the following on windows fail

- Firefox
- Chrome
- Internet Explorer 9

Opera shows the expected result though.

dfischer 3 days ago 3 replies      
I recommend not using IDs due to selector specificity and the scenario where you most likely will run into annoying #ID issues and think about using `!important`.

I don't think it's absolute blasphemy to use #ids, but try to never use them. Think of it that way. I tend to use them only for #js-functionality hooks, which is also a good-practice to tell someone "don't freaking change this ID or you break the JS."

Tips from http://www.betterfrontend.com

sil3ntmac 4 days ago 2 replies      
Not a bug, probably just CSS's ridiculous selector algorithm. IIRC, the algorithm looks something like (100xid's) + (10xclasses) ...
sambenson 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not a bug, OP found out about it from my question on Stack Overflow: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2809024/points-in-css-spe...
lubujackson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty awesome find. I imagine it will have some outrageous use some day for someone.
troels 3 days ago 0 replies      
xer0x 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I can't believe this is trending on HN. But that is very cool..

Now, how is this useful?

huxley 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, it doesn't seem like the classes need to be different for it to work, at least on Safari 6.0 if you change all the classes to .c000 it works just as well as having different ones.
croddin 4 days ago 2 replies      
256 nested ids seems to create an overflow. If you remove the #i000 at the beginning of the rule on this: http://codepen.io/anon/pen/zefGg it turns red, but otherwise it stays blue.
nemetroid 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's some of the specificity code from Webkit (right at the top of the file):


Basically, selectors are summed together with class selectors given a weight of 0x100, and id selectors given a weight of 0x10000, so this is a simple overflow. It's worth noting that a mask of 0xffffff is used, so using 256 #id's should give a specificity of zero.

solox3 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had the impression that class specificity (weight: 10) times 11 would weigh more than a single id (weight: 100), but I guess I'm wrong.
chacham15 4 days ago 0 replies      

Look at the css section. id's, classes, and selectors have weights which are used to determine which rule wins in the event of a conflict.

monsterix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh nice! Bug at international level :-) Looks like it is some kind of stack and overflow in play.
gee_totes 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are you sure this isn't a bug with Codepen.io?
tosbourn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't worry guys, crisis averted:

#id { background: blue ! important;}

tracker1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing that the implementation uses a 32-bit integer for calculating rule strengths as they apply to a selection. With that in mind, 8 bits used for each variable.. so it would make sense that 256 would overflow into the next value. see: http://www.webteacher.ws/2008/05/19/tip-calculate-the-specif...
marksyzm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just tried doing this with nested ids and it didn't work so perhaps this is for classes only. Might be worth trying layers of HTML tags also - see http://pastebin.com/7BhQdNAn
vigrant 4 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't seem to work when you switch the order of the css selectors.
victorNicollet 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice one. That's a bug I guess.
dayjah 4 days ago 0 replies      
mycodebreaks 3 days ago 0 replies      
does that happen on all browsers?
jnand 4 days ago 0 replies      
it's a feature not a bug. lol
Khan Academy: Computer Science khanacademy.org
331 points by johns  5 days ago   54 comments top 11
dag11 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days ago 0 replies      
That is really incredible work! I bet Codecademy is happy they already received their $10m round...
sanxiyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Kiro 5 days ago 2 replies      
So what's the difference between this and any other tutorials on the internet?
laserDinosaur 5 days ago 1 reply      
I just noticed the Khan academy website has no logo
m0skit0 5 days ago 1 reply      
The "How to read documentation" link is dead...
Harvard cracks DNA storage, crams 700 terabytes of data into a single gram extremetech.com
328 points by evo_9  2 days ago   127 comments top 25
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really liked their paper. Its a bit less over the top than the extremetech guys but hey, that is the difference between pop journalism and science.

Clearly with some form of fountain code or LDPC codes you will be able to get the data back, but what struck me is that I always thought of DNA as relatively unstable, in the sense that cells decay/die etc, but the fact that just sitting there, DNA which isn't expressing various proteins under the influence of other cellular mechanisms, well it just sits there. That was new for me.

When I showed it to my wife she pointed out that the sourdough starter she has been using since we were married was from her grandmother, I joked that the next megaupload type raid would have to sequence all the DNA the found in a place to figure out if Shrek3 was encoded in it somewhere. That would be painfully funny I think.

jwr 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does anybody know how to escape their horrible "mobile" version that they force onto ipad users? It can't even be zoomed :-(

More and more often I find myself not reading articles because someone thought it would be a great idea to create a non-scrolling, non-obvious, paginated "iPad format" with additional misleading and unintuitive buttons looking like native ones but doing something different.

Sorry for the rant.

EDIT: so you might as well access the original at http://hms.harvard.edu/content/writing-book-dna instead of the ad-ridden regurgitation.

colanderman 2 days ago 2 replies      
If you store data onto 50 DNA strands, can you always read back all the data from all 50 strands, or does one need to store multiple copies of each in case the sequencer can't "find" a particular strand?

If one does need multiple copies, it would seem that this method suffers from the coupon collector's problem [1] (i.e. to collect all 50 strands requires collecting 225 random strands on average), and that the retrieval rate could be improved by using a fountain code [2], which allows each strand to simultaneously encode data at multiple addresses, which would decrease the number of strands required to be sampled to only slightly more than the number of strands worth of data requested.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupon_collectors_problem
[2] http://blog.notdot.net/2012/01/Damn-Cool-Algorithms-Fountain...

skosuri 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm an author of the paper. The title of this article is misleading; first, we encoded 650kB and made 70 billion copies... second, those 70 billion copies weigh 1 milligram... third, it's really only meant for archival purposes as it's immutable and not random access... fourth, it's expensive right now (at least this might be a solvable problem).
Jun8 2 days ago 1 reply      
And, of course, this brings us to the question: Do we already have messages in our DNA? Here's a post (from 2007) on this: http://blog.sciencefictionbiology.com/2007/07/messages-in-ou.... Actually, if it's from the aliens who seeded life on Earth, it would probably be in a prokaryotic DNA perhaps?
nemo1618 2 days ago 0 replies      
First thing that came to mind was Stross' "Memory Diamond" - http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/05/shaping_...
wbizzle 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article is incredibly misleading. First of all there is an inconsistency. The headline says they stored 700 terrabytes (4.4 petabytes). It then later says that they actually stored 700 kilobytes (Their book) and that they did made 70 billion copies (44 petabytes?). The main thing is that storing 700 kilobytes and then making 700 billion copies is considerably less useful than storing 70 billion terabytes outright. Aside from that though, this is awesome, and a huge step forward into promising and uncharted territory.
schiffern 2 days ago 0 replies      
>To store the same kind of data on hard drives " the densest storage medium in use today " you'd need 233 3TB drives, weighing a total of 151 kilos.

But hard drives aren't the densest storage medium in use today. A microSD card can hold up to 64 gigabytes and is 0.5 grams. 700 terabytes would be only 5.6 kilograms.

pronoiac 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. For scale, the Internet Archive had 5.8 petabytes of data in December 2010 [1] - so, about 9 grams' worth. How much did this cost?

[1] http://archive.org/web/petabox.php

conanite 2 days ago 3 replies      
They're using T and G for a 1, and A and C for a 0; why not double the density and get two bits from each letter?

  T = 00
G = 01
A = 10
C = 11

for example.

DanBC 2 days ago 0 replies      
The paper is exciting, in the calm measured way that scientists are. I look forward to seeing huge data storage on DNA in the future.

I'm gently concerned about what'll happen to information if it's not available to the future people. Is anyone taking the most important documents of our civilisation and encoding them onto clay tablets, or some such?

AaronBBrown 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's the latency/throughput on reading the data back?
X4 1 day ago 1 reply      
They're teaching us this in ComputerScience and I wonder if this is total crap or not. Can you please shed light into this?

"In humans, the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA, Germ. DNS) is the carrier of genetic information, and the main constituent of the chromosomes.

DNA is a chain-like polymer of nucleotides, which differ in their nitrogen bases (Thymin/Cytosin bzw. Adenin/Guanin,)
The alphabet of the code is therefore: {Thymin, Cytosin, Adenin, Guanin,} or also { T, C, A, G }
Three consecutive bases form a word
So there are 43 = 64 combinations per word
so the word length is ld (64) bits = 6 bits
A gene contains about 200 words
A chromosome contains about 104 to 105 genes
The number of chromosomes per cell nucleus is 46 in humans
The stored data per nucleus have, a volume of 6 bit * 200 * 10^5 * 46 = 55200 bit * 10^5 * 5 * 10^9 bit * * 10^9 Byte = 1 GByte"

gersh 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can we encode all of human knowledge into the DNA of some organism? How can organisms access data stored in their DNA? Imagine being born with knowledge of every Wikipedia article, or even every website. What would that be like?
Evbn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Article says they made 70billion copies of 500KB, which is quite different. Can they encode 700TB of unique data in this system?
dsirijus 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why binary if DNA naturally has 4 bits?
tarice 2 days ago 3 replies      
I notice that the article fails to mention how long it would take to extract all 700 terabytes of data...

Assuming 5.5 petabits stored with 1 base pair representing 1 bit, we can extrapolate the time required to extract the data based off the time taken to sequence the human genome (3 billion base pairs).

5.5 petabits / 3 billion bits ~= 2 million, so theoretically it should take 2 million times longer to sequence the original.

3 years ago, there was an Ars Technica article about how it now only takes 1 month to sequence a human genome[1]; the article now claims that microfluidic chips can perform the same task in hours.

Assuming 2 hours (low end) to sequence the human genome:

2 hours * 2 million = 4 million hours = 456 years, give or take a few years.

So, maybe not so great for storing enormous amounts of data. But if you want to store 1 GB, it would only take ~6 hours. Not too bad.


tocomment 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand how this density could be so much better than something like flash drives. Aren't they also on the same scale of nanometers?
tripzilch 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always have to wonder with these ExtremeTech links:

How much is this news true and how much is it the usual ExtremeTech editorialism?

For instance does DNA really last forever?

tocomment 2 days ago 2 replies      
To read the data out are they basically doing de novo assembly on the sequenced reads? How are they handling all of the errors in gene sequencing? How about assembly errors? Long repeats?
subrat_rout 2 days ago 0 replies      
The next big hurdle is to how to develop a household DNA sequence reader under $50 that will read your storage. I mean if I want to store my data onto a DNA strand, then one day I'd be in need of reading that data at my home with the help of a sequence reader.Right?
kschua 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why do I get a feeling I am living in a Matrix as a data storage device?
mariusz331 1 day ago 0 replies      
This. Is. Awesome.
jorgeleo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gel Packs! Cool!

(How nobody has reference this?)

revelation 2 days ago 4 replies      
It is incredibly stable? We better don't tell evolution.
Stop Using The Cup of Coffee vs. $0.99 Cent App Analogy joshlehman.com
327 points by joshlehman  3 days ago   201 comments top 52
tptacek 3 days ago  replies      

The point about the coffee cup comparison isn't that cups of coffee are the benchmark experience for product pricing; if that were the case, my next root canal would cost $0.20.

The point of the coffee cup comparison is marginal utility: the money you spend on an expensive cup of coffee almost certainly has very little utility at the margin, because you are happy to chuck it away for a bad cup of coffee.

Oh, you really like Starbucks coffee? That's unfortunate, because it's pretty bad, but more importantly: you militantly miss the point of the comparison when you benchmark the experience of installing a new app against the enjoyment you get from a cup of coffee.

This place has an enormous problem with pricing and economics. Unlike Patrick, who really does sweat the fact that developers are making small fractions of their overall worth due to underpricing their offerings, I should be overjoyed at the fact that the biggest collection of new software entrepreneurs on the Internet hangs out at a meme generation engine for exploitable market inefficiencies. But unfortunately, I'm an obnoxious nerd, so all I can think to do about this is yell. ARGH.

A dollar at the margin for a person with a $600 phone on a $50/mo data contract is not an enormous gamble. It is a pittance too trivial for that person to even contextualize. The problem isn't that people are unwilling to give up $1 for apps; it's that they're hesitant to give up $0.25 for anything online. When you start with the understanding that there's huge impedance at "anything above free", it's clear why "$1" is not a particularly great price point, and why "better strategies to motivate people to part with $1" is a terrible meme to propagate.

crazygringo 3 days ago 5 replies      
Wow. The negativity of the comments here to this post is astounding.

I personally find this post very insightful. Just yesterday, I bought the EA Tetris app for $0.99. I played it for three minutes, and decided I hated the "touch" interface for Tetris. It isn't Tetris at all. And it pissed me off that I paid money for something useless. It doesn't matter if I paid $20 for it or $0.99. It just makes me feel like a fool, like I got taken in.

When the author says "Your $1 App is a Total Gamble", that's exactly the point. And it has nothing to do with it being an app or an online purchase. It's the same way I feel about buying a new snack for $0.99 and discovering it tastes like cardboard, or a shirt from a new store that turns out to shrink unexpectedly in the wash.

People hate buying things they'll regret, particularly when they're buying blind, or have no idea of the risks. It's psychological, not necessarily economic, but it's true. And in app stores, there's rarely a trusted brand to rely on, or anything at all, to tell you you're not being taken for a fool. Customer reviews tend to be worthless, and you're not going to spend 20 minutes researching a $0.99 purchase. So you just won't buy it period, because you hate feeling like a fool. Psychologically, it makes perfect sense.

But what if the app stores switched to a subscription model? Pay $10/mo for unlimited apps. Suddenly, no regret. Pay developers based on their proportion of hourly usage across all phones. All of a sudden, no regret, and developers are paid based on people finding their apps useful, instead of their ability to convince people to buy them...

Udo 3 days ago 2 replies      
No, I don't think I will stop using it. It is a good analogy because it addresses the unnecessary tradition of cheapness related to getting anything online even though many of those online things do provide more (and longer lasting) value than a cup of coffee. It's still an analogy, it has obvious limitations, but it's not a bad one.

  Fact: Starbucks Coffee is a Trustable Experience

Coffee isn't specific to Starbucks, and though I admit given the choice between reasonable alternatives I'll choose Starbucks by default, that still doesn't mean the experience of sitting in any coffee house is even remotely consistent. Location matters, clientele matters, it matters if the staff has a bad day or not. And in reality, no coffee house experience is 0.99 cent - it's 5 bucks or more in practice.

  Fact: Your $1 App is a Total Gamble

It is a gamble but not as much so as, say, trying out a new coffee flavor, a new kind of pastry, a new pizza delivery service, or a million other new things you don't know anything about until you give them a spin. With apps, at least there are screenshots, feature lists, and reasonably reliable testimonials. With anything new, there is a risk. If I stick with the old stuff, I might miss out on something great. If I take a risk and explore, it might not be as good. It's a gamble.

  Fact: Starbucks Has No Free Alternative

Nothing is really free. Everything costs resources to make. The price you're paying in the app store is just one aspect or this. But sure, the closest physical world analogy would be bargain-hunting, which some people spend considerable amounts of energy on. In the software world, there is also the danger of confusing "free" apps with open source apps, that would be another thing entirely.

  Fact: Free Apps Are Often A Great Alternative

Not every app idea is worthwhile. In fact, I posit that most of them are not. For stuff that is really obvious or trivial, free is of course the best alternative. "Free" is not a bad thing per se. It's just that some things do cost money to make and a lot of times, app developers need to make a living as well. In these cases, "free" simply doesn't work in the long term. However, I would argue that app developers are not primarily competing with "free" rubbish apps, their struggle is to get the customer to engage at all as opposed to doing nothing.

  Fact: The Starbucks Craftsmanship Is On Full Display

Granted, not all app stores do a good job of making stuff discoverable - but in my opinion, they do have sufficient UI provisions for showcasing the detailed workings of apps. I would argue that apps are in fact on full display. If customers are wise enough to make good judgement calls is another matter entirely, but the same dilemma applies to food products actually.

  Fact: App Craftsmanship Is Hidden Away

Customers don't care how complicated your app is, the same way they don't care how much craftsmanship goes into making good coffee. Both processes are not generally known (or even of interest) to the average customer.

greggman 3 days ago 3 replies      
Stop using Starbucks vs App analogy

People try new restaurants all time spending between $10-$75 per person. They are often disappointed.

People try new foods all the time (hey look at these new nuts, this new sports drink, this new natural pasta, this new gluten free cereal)

Starbucks is a known brand. If you liked the last game made by Sid Meier you'll probably like his next one. Starbucks vs Apps is the wrong analogy.

Spending a few bucks on a movie or a meal or a drink or a snack is exactly the correct analogy. I spent $11 on several movies recently and was often disappointed. How is that different than an App? I've tried several restaurants I'll never go back to as they were mediocre at best. How is that different from an App?

siglesias 3 days ago 2 replies      
I used to develop apps for Dan Ariely and we would often chat about this topic. By the latest in psychological research it's less rational than that [1]. Additional factors:

Mental Binning"when we think about buying a $1 app, it doesn't occur to us to ask ourselves what the pleasure that we are likely to get from this $1 app " or even what is the relative pleasure that we are likely to get from this app compared with a $4 latte. In our minds, those two decisions are separate.

Price Anchoring"we have been trained with the expectation that apps should be free.

1) http://danariely.com/2011/12/25/the-oatmeal-this-is-how-i-fe...

dredmorbius 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are a few more stumbling blocks to purchase as well:

- What of my billing information / what billing hassles am I opening myself up for? Considering that app purchases are frequently tied to both credit cards and your comms/telco vendor (and often other integrated services), you're putting a lot at risk.

- What respect (or lack) does this app have for my privacy? I'm very conscious of what closed-source resources I use, and even the fact that every time I'm inputting a PIN on a purchase screen (rarely, preferring cash) I'm opening myself to identity theft / fraud risk.

- What effect is this app going to have on my device stability/integrity? Again, phones, tablets, and laptops are complex devices with extensive user state. Losing this is a real PITA.

- What learning investment must I make for this tool? Will it be worth it?

Coffee, or food, or other concrete, discrete, simple, tangible goods offer a vastly simpler experience and generally (food poisoning aside) pretty minimal downside risk potential.

To throw in a contrasting physical-goods analogy: I'm adverse to trying out new wines. Why?

- I'm very aware that much of the perceived difference in wines is highly subjective, and largely market-driven.

- I don't get all that much from the experience myself. Really, Two Buck Chuck is pretty decent, though there are a few others I occasionally buy.

- The unit-cost is relatively expensive compared with alternatives (forgoing consumption, cheaper sufficing alternatives) -- $15-$25 for a moderately priced bottle, and up into the tens or hundreds if you like.

- Option overload. Too many brands and varieties, far more than I can keep track of. Even if I find something I like, odds are I'm not going to remember what it was next time I'm shopping (not just conjecture, this happens routinely).

- And a bad choice can be ... if not toxic, just really unappealing.

Upshot: I'm not swayed by the hype, I'm risk averse, the good is expensive for the utility provided. I purchase rarely, and conservatively when I do so.

I viewed the one-off small app market for PCs as pretty limiting, in the 1990s and 2000s. I see the market for PDA / mobile apps as similarly limiting.

On the computer side, Free Software utilities and a modicum of scripting / application engineering provide me with virtually all of my needs. In large part because the FS utilities aren't silos, but (often) nodes on a processing pipeline. The extensibility tools aren't yet present on mobile, though Free Software is beginning to make inroads.

While I don't think it will eliminate the paid app market, and for a large portion of the population may not (as was the case with the PC market), I suspect FS will supplant a fairly large share of paid-app opportunities. Perhaps moreso than in the PC market of the past couple of decades as FS has garnered far wider acceptance (it was freaky even in the late 1990s, it's mainstream today).

Edit: wine analog.

amartya916 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really enjoyed reading the article (though the criticism by kineticflow about using "Fact", seems valid to me), thanks.

For me, the two stellar points were: "The Starbucks Craftsmanship Is On Full Display" + "App Craftsmanship Is Hidden Away".

I'd also like to add that the "Craftsman is hidden away". Apps do not connect at a human level the same way a person selling you a cup of coffee does. Even for mega corporations like Starbucks, at the end of the day, you interact with a Barista or someone at the cash register. We being creatures of habit, tend to go back to the same Starbucks (mostly), and in the process bolster this connection.
That doesn't happen with an app. You might go back to the app every day, but there is no tangible connection with the craftsman. So what exactly can be done? For starters, one can associate the developer's name and face with the app. I think this is particularly important for Free apps. If you've ever used Adblock on Safari, at the end of the setup, there's a note that "humanizes" the app as being the creation of a person. You get to see the name and a photo.

One of my favourite mobile apps, Instapaper, has the developer leaving tiny personal messages during app updates. I know his name, the fact that he recently had a baby and at some basic level it helps me connect to the person.

Does this make any sense?

notJim 3 days ago 1 reply      
Note: if your first reaction to this is to say: “Starbucks sucks”, please substitute your favorite coffee shop. Magically, the article probably still works.
mmahemoff 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think there's a deeper cause behind many of these arguments. People hate to feel ripped off, to a degree that is highly irrational if you assess the impact in purely utilitarian terms. Even a billionaire will feel a bit shitty after paying $0.99 for a lemon.

There are various reasons why this happens. Partly it's the fact they wasted time researching and purchasing the app, and people's time is usually more important than $0.99 or coffee. Partly it's an innate sense of justice. But the main factor is that we don't like to feel that we screwed up. Even worse if you just paid for an app before learning there's a better one that's free.

A good book that covers this is The Paradox of Choice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice:_Why_More...; credit Build and Analyze podcast for raising the topic a while back.)

jgroome 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sorry for going off topic, but...

>In short, I know what I'm getting for $4 and I'm getting that same experience every time I hit the drive thru.

Drive-through Starbucks? America, you are way ahead.

Also, is $4 the norm for a cup of coffee? Is that standard filter coffee, latte, or one of their elaborate coffee-based concoctions? In the UK Starbucks will sell you a standard no-frills coffee for £1.50-ish.

angrycoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
The analogy I like to use when people under price their software is "When you price you apps like toilet paper, don't be surprised when most of your customers are shit and your whole business ends up in toilet.
romey 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not so sure about the argument that most people would forgo the $4 cup of Starbucks, given a free alternative. Every office that I've ever worked in provided free coffee, and half of the office would still regularly pick up coffee from the nearest Starbucks daily. I think there's something to be said for

1) Crafting the "image" of superiority that people get from purchasing Starbucks (having that nice branded Starbucks cup, rather than the crappy styrofoam one your office provides, allowing people to order ridiculously tailored drinks -- soy half caff with a dollop of creme...etc) and

2) Providing an ecosystem to encourage the purchase over free alternatives (I've noticed that I'll stop at Starbucks for a snack because I'm hungry in the morning, and pick up coffee/tea as well, just because I'm there)

mmariani 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the last few days after I woke up, I picked up my iPad, and I started to see all these posts trying to figure out what's wrong in the app business. This looks like random debugging more than anything else. Seriously, stop. Please, just read some business books, talking about like say the 4Ps, and then try to figure it out.

We're over thinking the problem, and the cup of coffee analogy is a perfect hit, it is a pricing issue. We as developers don't know how to price our products. Just search HN and see how many posts are talking about pricing experiments.

To the post. It mainly blames three areas: customer experience, free/paid issue, and craftsmanship. Which in business talk translate to product, pricing, and promotion.

We first tried to fix this mess by cutting down the price of our products. Things didn't work, sales still going down. And what did we do? Rinse and repeat. We kept doing that until we reached the bottom price, which now seems to be free. Newsflash, the problem stills there.

Worse, to stay in business the only option we had was to keep cutting down on other areas. The candidate picked for the next round of random debugging was the product itself. Quality development costs money, so product quality had to suffer. As a result we've got this endless sea of crapware we see in the AppStore and elsewhere.

That has led to another round of random shooting at business bugs. The next victim is promotion, or in other words, software craftsmanship, which is an attempt to fix the image problem caused by the race to the bottom. It won't work! People don't care about all the sweat and tears that we put into our work, they just want to save money. And thanks to us, they're all doing that.

In the end the problem remains, and we still have to go the the source in order to make the right decisions to fix this mess. The shareware business model sure would be an easy fix, but it won't happen. Another solution, if you aren't in SAAS or IAP, is to raise your prices and pull out the free products. Some developers have done it and they have gotten good results.

Finally, people spend four bucks on a cup of Starbucks coffee because they need the kick to wakeup and go about their life. If you figure an app to do that, please don't sell it for one buck! It worths more.

mc32 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get the point, but I think the analogies are a bit artificial.

"Starbucks is a trustable experience."
The assumption is that all people all the time buy known brand coffee. From my own, I know I walk into coffee shops I have never been to before. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Even at Starbucks there are times I ask for decaf and get caffed coffee, or other times, the green tea latte is just not mixed right, or the milk was a bit on the old side, etc.

"Starbucks (or any known brand coffee) has no free alternative."
Yes there is, it's water. Or, if you're looking for the substance of coffee, then there certainly are cheaper alternatives --Jolt, or no-doze, etc. Or there is also just plain regular non-espresso coffee for a quarter of the price, or office coffee.

"Apps can be a gamble."
Trying a new flavor of coffee drink can be a gamble, but given that Starbucks and other introduce new drinks, someone is taking the chance on unknowns. Well, it's trusted! Sure, but as you know, people will try stuff and will go back to what they always bought. Still, they're willing to forgo $4 to try something new which may or may not suit their palate.

PS. For example, I really doubt people research new flavors before buying a new espresso drink combo but apparently they are willing to devote massive amounts of time and opportunity cost to research a dollar app. It's very lopsided and strange.

rhygar 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like a poor argument for being cheap.

"Starbucks Coffee is a Trustable Experience"
Not true - I've had mixed results depending on time of day and what barista is making my drink.

"Your $1 App is a Total Gamble"
Nope. You have every opportunity to read the reviews, look at screenshots, use Google, etc.

"Starbucks Has No Free Alternative" and "Free Apps Are Often A Great Alternative"
I'm not sure how this matters - if you're cheap, it doesn't matter how good the app is. Do you tip waiters? After all, the alternative to tipping is great - you get to keep your money!

"Starbucks Craftsmanship Is On Full Display"
Not really. I don't think anyone would agree that "craftsmanship" goes into making a Starbucks drink.

"App Craftsmanship Is Hidden Away"
Like I said before, you have ample opportunity to read the app description, check out app store rankings, read user reviews, and look at screenshots.

bicknergseng 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm having a hard time finding a part of this post that I agree with. I understand and also think there is a problem making an apples to apples comparison of digital and real goods, but let me step through these arguments:

"Fact: Starbucks Coffee is a Trustable Experience"

So the argument here is that brand weight translates into actual value. While this is true across the consumerist landscape, there now also exists these things called reviews. They enable people with no knowledge of something to make a reasonable decision based on the experience of others. For example, I would be willing to pay more at a well reviewed coffee shop than at a Starbucks. For me, reviews always trump brand value.

"Fact: Your $1 App is a Total Gamble"
First problem: the logic that x was bad so y must be bad as well is flawed. No one would have Starbucks, hate it, and hate Peet's Coffee by association. Now, it would be reasonable to assume that someone could be turned off by Apps in general the same way someone could dislike coffee, but that makes this whole argument comparison anyway. Second: you're making the same mistake arrogant people make when they write off buying a lotto ticket before a big drawing. Yes, odds of winning might be low (staggeringly low in the lottery, much less so in buying an app), but the potential gain far outweighs it and the barrier to entry is also next to nothing. You might buy a $1 app and have it be worthless, but it also might give you 30 hours of playtime or speed up your tasks by 10 min a day or something wonderful. If it's worthless, you're out a dollar. I'll miss that single dollar... I could have travelled back in time to the 80s and bought a candy bar.

"Fact: Starbucks Has No Free Alternative"
Yes they do. Taste tests. But this is harder to argue against, and deserves another debate altogether. If someone provides a better service/app for free, by all means use it. It works for open source, less so for people trying to turn a profit. Expect a paid version to come along that trumps it.

"Fact: The Starbucks Craftsmanship Is On Full Display"
Seriously wtf. "The feeling says “lots of work went into this magical liquid pick-me-up”." And apps grow on trees? What an ignorant statement. What do you consider the screenshots and YouTube videos of applications? Whether you meant to or not, you have managed to say that you think it takes far more work to make the same cup of coffee your home coffee pot makes than it does to build an application. "How often have you heard people say “I could have made that app, if only I'd thought of it first”. Or “that's so simple, I can't believe its been so successful”." I don't think I've heard anyone say "I could have made that," it's far more likely to hear "I thought of that first." To that I say, "If you guys were the inventors of Facebook you'd have invented Facebook."

Yes, perhaps there is a problem with comparing a cup of coffee with a $1 app. But the problem is not that Starbucks is more valuable than some individual or that a single app developer is to blame for the quality of all software. The problem is that we have allowed computer science to become a black box in our society. It's far worse than even math's "I don't need to know this because I'll never use it." The only people who have any idea of the time and effort involved in software creation are the people who create software. You call it "showing craftsmanship," but I call it changing our damn society to stop trivializing things that take massive amounts of effort while glorifying the ones that take little. The solution is simple: make computer science a mainstay of primary and secondary education. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and computers.

TL;DR: The trivialization of the effort involved with software development is the fault of society and not the fault of software developers.

CKKim 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hi Josh, interesting read. I noticed the following typos:

"Great software masks it's complexity"

"Package it such that it shows off it's craftsmanship"

"I don't expect it to even last beyond it's last drop"

"Its like an infant child in that regard"

franzus 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Is There Hope for the Paid App?

Yes, there is. But not on a market where $2 is a premium price. If you want to make a living from software products you should stay away from mobile.

At least it plays out well for Apple who wanted to commoditize software for a long time.

brackin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is how I'd fix the problem, create an app that reminds one to avoid drinking a coffee. http://i.imgur.com/FkNSU.png

Then you can continue using the analogy and make sure users actually value your app.

robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Coffee is an addiction for a lot of people. A routine you simply repeat day after day. I used to drink several cups of coffee per day for years. Went cold-turkey one day several years ago. I haven't touched it since. I realize this isn't the case for all.

Some truly like to have coffee in the morning. I get it. The discussion is about comparing the purchase of a daily cup of coffee with the purchase of software on a daily basis. To me this is simple: Create an addictive software product and you'll have your daily purchases. Hard to compete with a stimulant though.

pksekine 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Is There Hope for the Paid App? Sure there is. Just do what Starbucks does: Build an app experience that's unique and doesn't feel easily replicated."

I'm not sure Starbucks does this :-) Overall a pretty good acticle.

raldi 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why doesn't the App Store just let people get a free 24-hour trial of any software? Or at least for any software where the developer didn't specifically opt out of offering free trials?
dinkumthinkum 2 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree. I think this is completely wrong. Software didn't use to seem expensive at $0.99. Once enough people agree to low-ball at bargain basement pricing, consumers start to get the idea "so good software should really be like $0.10 bubblegum."

By the way, Starbucks is not a "trustable experience" per se. Also, the point is about frivolous spending, many people are willing to plop $5 bucks on a new snack at the grocery story, not knowing how it tastes or not, but not willing to pay anything for software. I think the author is searching to make some point but defining some concept called "trustable experience" but I'm just non-plused.

chollida1 3 days ago 0 replies      
The big reason the cup of coffee vs app analogy doesn't hold is that my iPhone really only has space for about 30 apps.

I'm a big music/podcast listener so I only afford enough space for about 30 apps. For a $0.99 app to be useful it has to has to beat out apps like Shazam, kindle book reader, bloomberg anywhere, evernote, etc.

The likely hood of an app at any price doing this is pretty low.

For me this is why the analogy doesn't hold. Price has nothing to do with it.

PaulHoule 3 days ago 0 replies      

Starbucks sucks.

If you're in New York or San Francisco it's true that Starbucks has chased away the independent coffee shop and you might think it's a good cup of coffee.

It ~was~ a good cup of coffee 15 years ago, but now every population center with 50,000 or so people has an espresso bar that puts Starbucks to shame.

The exception is a few big cities that Starbucks put up a store every half block or so, probably to make Wall Street investors think that every site from Cinncinnati to Omaha is stuffed with them.

jsaxton86 3 days ago 3 replies      
I agree with the idea that purchasing 99 cent app is a total gamble, even if I don't have much to lose.

If I were writing a mobile app, I'd have a free version and a paid version. The only difference between the two would be with the free version, you'd have to look at a screen trying to get you to upgrade to the paid version, and you would be forced to look at this screen for at least X seconds, where X is proportional to how many times you have used the application.

I like this approach because it users could try out my app risk free, but those who want to freeload off of my hard work would be inconvenienced enough where I think I could manage to convert a decent percentage of free users into paid members. Plus, the user can still use the app, but each time they use it you get a chance to upsell them, which you don't get if you just lock them out.

rgraham 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone think that 'Starbucks' or 'Pay me $1' are great signals for Craftsmanship?

I know plenty of office environments with free coffee. There is your alternative, but it isn't relevant. People buy experiences. You go to Starbucks because you like the experience. The terminology. The chatty baristas. The drive-thru you can complain about with your sympathetic co-workers. They could probably charge twice what they do and keep a big fraction of their customers.

tripzilch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know but, I can hardly ever justify spending EUR 3.25 (~$4) on a cup of Starbucks coffee. When I can spend EUR 5.00 on a bag of really nice beans that'll make me many many really NICE cups anywhere I bring my filter-holder and have access to an electrical outlet (for the grinder and water-boiler).

In fact I really hate spending that money on a single cup of coffee since even in the rare case when it's pretty good that merely means it's "almost just about" as good as what I brew myself and the expense puts such a damper on the enjoyment factor I might as well not bother.

But then, I'm probably one of those stereotypical cheap Dutch bastards :-P (that happens to brew a really kick ass coffee)

xyzzyb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Starbucks coffee cup also has a definitive endpoint. I buy the coffee, I enjoy it, the end.

When I buy your amazing app v0.1 I'm also signing up for a time investment of unknown quantity. At the very least I will have to wait for it to download/install, start it up, figure out how to use it, evaluate it, and delete it if it sucks.

Rovio can release Angry Birds N and it will be a hit because that time investment has already been validated and quantified. I liked Angry Birds N-1, these screenshots of Angry Birds N look similar, I will probably like Angry Birds N.

Too 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think many people use this argument as much to whine about bad sales but more on customers who also expect amazing support on the product.

"omg I just PAID for this app!! and you can't even listen to me and add this completely ridiculous feature that nobody in the world except me would use!!11 and btw, the alignment of this grid isn't pixel perfect and you spelled the word calendarr wrong!! i want my money back!"

AznHisoka 3 days ago 1 reply      
For a lot of people, a cup of Starbucks also feels like a "must-have". We all feel groggy in the morning, and spending $4 for coffee isn't a lot if it helps us survive the day.

An app on the other hand, most of the time doesn't give us that same feeling. It's more of a nice-to-have, or nice to play with once and then forget. If it's an utility you use everyday like Evernote, it's different of course.

therandomguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
While good points, these counter arguments are not strong enough.

Trustable Experience: Most people make many transactions in a week that are not trustable. The lower the price the lower the hesitation. $0.99 is as low as it gets.

Free alternative: For many transaction higher than $0.99 there are free alternatives. Newspapers, magazines all have free substitutes online. Still people spend on these.

Craftsmanship: True for Starbucks, not for majority of transactions. Maybe be not even... most people are staring at their phone anyway waiting for their coffee.

phil 3 days ago 0 replies      
The operative difference between buying cups of coffee and paid apps is actually this:

If you try to spend $50 on cups of coffee you'll quickly become twitchy and have to stop, but if you keep pressing the Buy button in the app store you can easily get the thing done.

nickzoic 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'd like an App Store with a "if you delete it within X days you get an automatic refund" model. That would make buying apps risk free and refunding them hassle free, without the annoyance of having "Lite" vs "Full" versions.
kineticflow 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fact: starting every paragraph with "Fact:" will make you sound condescending to readers.
debacle 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article went off the rails pretty quickly. The core argument is "Your app might be totally shit and I might not find out until I buy it," which can also be true of coffee.
michaelhoffman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't even drink coffee. It's always strange when people say that I should spend my $4 on their app instead because that $4 doesn't even exist.
pbreit 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think another barrier that growing is how broken app mgmt is on iPhone and even more so on Android. I don't download free apps because I don't want the clutter.
anywherenotes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although I agree with much in the article, I just want to point out that google app market has a return policy of 15 minutes after purchasing an app. So you can return it. I don't know if Starbucks offers refunds (I'm sure they would if you make a big deal of it), but apps are not a total gamble - you have the 15 minute window to get your money back.
daveman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me, or is it kind of odd that he titles and begins the post with a plea to "Stop Using the Cup of Coffee vs $0.99 Cent App Analogy" but then proceeds to totally use Starbucks as an shining example for how to run your app business (and at the end he even says "Just do what Starbucks does") ? By the end he's promulgating that people should adhere to the analogy by taking lessons from Starbucks.

Maybe I'm being pedantic but this seems like a contradiction.

RileyJames 3 days ago 2 replies      
$4 Starbucks coffee is a gamble imho
webwanderings 3 days ago 0 replies      
In order for you to sell your app like Starbucks, you have to have Dunkin Donuts, ..... (add the rest of the coffee shops) as well.

You can't be a stand alone Starbucks in the market. It wouldn't work.

mh- 2 days ago 0 replies      
if the grownups could hide all of the comments here about your feelings towards Starbucks, your insightful coffee preferences, and other inanities.. this could have been an interesting thread to participate in.
potkor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paid software just has a bad emotional association. People are usually goaded into paying for Windows/Office and antivirus software, not exactly rewarding. Games
are an exception but people don't think of them in
the same category.
m3mnoch 3 days ago 0 replies      
additionally, a large part of the problem stems from economic scarcity. digital goods are infinite while the cup of coffee at [insert your local non-starbucks coffee shop here] is a finite good.

when the average marginal cost drops to zero (due to all the usual bootstrapping-style content here on hn), so does the average price -- artificial scarcity won't alter that fact in the consumer's mind. so, it's really the value you perceive as coming from your infinite good that actually drives things like app pricing.

if the average price of an app is free and people are willing to pay $0.99 for your app, well, that's what it's worth. if you're not happy with that, push up the price and test out what the market will actually bear.


adetayo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Starbucks was once a "new experience" for people who enjoy their coffee now. You paid to try it for the first time whenever you did....unless of course, you tried it via some free Starbucks promotion, liked it and then became a paid customer.
tayl0r 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice argument. I hadn't thought of it like that before but I think it makes a lot of sense.
jdechko 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's another half of this argument though, and that is the people who complain that an app cost's $0.99, saying instead that it should be free. No one is standing outside of Starbucks protesting that the coffee should be free. Most times that I hear the app/cup of coffee analogy is in response to this complaining.
jbrodkin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. I would have spent 99 cents to read it.
tuananh 3 days ago 0 replies      
one more point: your coffee doesn't get free update. app does.
noconflict 2 days ago 0 replies      
Says the hipster from Portland?
sharingancoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed! Way too overused!
Let's build a Tesla museum (The Oatmeal initiative) Indiegogo.com
323 points by SanderMak  4 days ago   81 comments top 15
icarus_drowning 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm especially confused as I've lived my whole life in Colorado Springs, and already visited a Tesla museum here several times. After looking up their website (http://teslamuseum.us/), it seems like they are in dire financial straights, and not really functioning anymore, but it might be worth considering the Springs as a site, since Tesla did so much work here.

Also, (shameless plug alert), I'm currently working on a TV show based on Tesla (http://theteslaarchive.com), so if you're into Tesla, it might be worth looking into chipping in a few bucks to that project too.

jerf 4 days ago 10 replies      
"up until recently he's been an unsung hero in history books"

Tesla must be the most sung unsung hero in history. I hear more about him than Edison nowadays, by quite a bit.

DividesByZero 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have to wonder how much of this is about Tesla (who was obviously a staggering genius and unjustly forgotten in the US and much of the rest of the world), and how much of it is about The Oatmeal's publicity.

I guess good can come of anything though.

edit: Having read more closely, the IndieGoGo project is to raise funds directly for an existing organisation, which is a great use of media profile. I think I'm all out of reservations on this.

scbrg 4 days ago 2 replies      
So, why does this need to be built on a piece of dirt that costs $1.7M?

Trust me, I love Tesla, and would certainly like to see a museum dedicated to his genius and achievements, but this seems like a waste of money, thrown on whoever the fuck happens to currently hold the deed to that piece of land.
Why not build it wherever, where $1.7M might actually... well, finance a museum, and not just dirt?

Somehow, I can't drop the feeling that this whole thing is somehow started by the current landowner, but I know I sound like a tinfoil hat saying that.

atestu 4 days ago 1 reply      
> The folks behind this project are a 501(c) non-profit organization and they've spent the past 15 years trying to find a way to save this property. This IndieGoGo account is linked directly to their bank and all the funds will go directly to them.

Does anyone know if this means our donations are tax deductible?

andy_herbert 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't want to see this fail by any means, but to me it seems like a slightly immature response to a [very public disagreement][1] The Oatmeal had with a Forbes journalist, which involved a [very unusual retort][2].

[1]: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/05/18/nikola-tesl...

[2]: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_response

AllTheThings 4 days ago 2 replies      
Tesla vs. Edison, the age old fight of the Manager vs. the Engineer.

As much as Edison seems to be vilified by The Oatmeal, I can't help but think that many of the things Edison did were in the context of the times pretty commonplace. That said, Tesla really is an unsung genius.

acqq 3 days ago 0 replies      
Less known details about Edison:

- The biggest animal for which Edison organized electrocution was an elephant(!):


- Edison paid for the development of the electric chair (for death penalty) -- his propaganda against alternative currents:


marcos123 4 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome, awesome idea. I find it sad that if you want to visit a Tesla museum you'd have to book a ticket to Serbia, even though the majority of his work was done here in the U.S., and he spent the majority of his life here.

"Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla" was a fascinating read.

SanderMak 4 days ago 1 reply      
The comic introducing this initiative: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_museum
graue 4 days ago 3 replies      
Cool idea, but does it make sense to put a museum 70 miles outside NYC on the far end of Long Island? How are people going to get to this museum? It's not near anything.
rogerclark 4 days ago 5 replies      
that oatmeal guy sure does love attention
BerislavLopac 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny to see all that sudden surge in Tesla fanboy activity.

I live about 200km from Tesla's birthplace, I went to two schools bearing his name, and about a block from my place is a technical museum which carries a regular daily show of his experiments in practice.

And I especially like the irony that about 20km from where I live there is this being built: http://www.rimac-automobili.com/ tl;dr: Tesla Roadster eats dust). ;-)

theotherdude 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, there's the technical museum in Zagreb, Croatia that features Tesla vastly: http://tehnicki-muzej.hr/

There's also a memorial center in Smiljan, Croatia, the village he was born in: http://www.mcnikolatesla.hr/english.html

izak30 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, now it's ok to alter the titles. Awesome
Font that creates charts fontfont.com
317 points by gbvb  3 days ago   61 comments top 15
micheljansen 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really quite genius. It uses ligatures (normally used to replace multiple letters by a single, nicer glyph, such as fi fl ae etc.) to replace "55+24+31" with a chart. You could theoretically use this on the web, and people who use screen readers or text-based browsers can still see the data. Cool!
uncoder0 3 days ago 8 replies      
Why do people still insist on doing this? I prefer to remap all fonts to two (a serif and a sans) that are much easier for me to read. When people use these silly font+glyph combos I never use their software. The one rare exception is GitHub. I still wish people would just use SVG.

Edit: Why was this down-voted? Is this not a legitimate concern? It is worth mentioning that I remap my fonts to help my dyslexic brain keep track of the baseline.

Edit2: It is also worth noting that this font does degrade quite gracefully and my problem lies more with the paradigm than this particular font.

jsiarto 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love this set--we've been using them at Loudpixel for quite some time (even before they were bought by FontFont). I use them primarily in Illustrator for our custom research reports and publications: http://loudpixel.com/sugarfree/
vessenes 3 days ago 2 replies      
What is the license like? It looked like per-user. Does this mean they do not wish it to be embedded on a web page? Can web browsers parse these OTF ligatures? Anybody have any experience here?
stephencanon 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a really cute hack.

That said, the pricing is absurd. There are numerous data analysis and graphing programs that produce better looking, more customizable charts and graphs with a simpler UI, most of which cost significantly less than $129 despite being much more powerful.

duaneb 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was really cool, until I saw that it cost $129.... Realistically, who would buy this? I'm assuming that because it is proprietary, it can not be used on the Internet, and if you don't have to cater to arbitrary OSes, why not use grh software?
kmfrk 3 days ago 1 reply      
What software aside from Adobe products would allow me to use the font like this?
ta12121 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any particular reason the link is HTTPS, especially considering that the page contains no sensitive content, and a warning about non-SSL content when it's loaded?
kondro 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an interesting idea. Surely this must take advantage of some in-font scripting… if I remember correctly there is some type of ECMAScript variant inside OpenType.
snorkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool idea, but should offer a free version to spread the adoption. The premium version could offer more chart styles.
joering2 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is really nice! Any case studies, preferably HTML, where I can see this in work? :
davidcollantes 3 days ago 1 reply      
Something I do not understand. Is Photoshop/Illustrator needed for this?
roymabookie 3 days ago 0 replies      
thegarside 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is rad!
zenogaisis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish it was free :(
How We Nearly Lost the Discovery Shuttle waynehale.wordpress.com
302 points by kibwen  2 days ago   61 comments top 15
InclinedPlane 2 days ago 3 replies      
Every Shuttle in the fleet has had one or several extremely close scrapes with death. To look at the Shuttle record and see the history of calamity it's easy to think that we just had bad luck, but quite the opposite was the case. We were enormously lucky with the Shuttle, in a fairer world we would have lost more of them, and sooner. The Shuttle was plagued by many fundamental design flaws which combined to make it an inherently unsafe system. Within the last years of the program that knowledge finally started to sink in, which is why the Shuttle was essentially restricted to missions to the ISS.

Some of the achievements of the Shuttle program have been inspiring, and the vehicle itself is pretty to look at, but we should have canned that program long, long ago.

jevinskie 2 days ago 8 replies      
"We informed the foam technicians at our plant in Michoud Louisiana that they were the cause of the loss of Columbia..."

That to me is pretty disgusting. In an incident like the loss of Columbia, there is no one, true "root cause". To assign blame to those foam technicians was disingenuous and just another instance of "passing the buck" that seems to happen so often in the post-mortem of NASA failures. NASA knew of earlier foam strikes (STS-112) yet chose to continue flying without diagnosing the problem. Even during the tragic STS-107 flight, engineers knew of foam strikes and their concerns were ignored. Even though they would have been almost completely powerless to remedy the situation on STS-107, the higher-ups decided to continue on with the mission instead of addressing the concerns with the heat shields. The article author states later in the article that he apologized to the foam technicians. Commendable, but I am still bothered by the fact that NASA was initially so eager to place the blame on a single contractor instead of owning up to their own culpability. Leadership and responsibility needs to come from the top, especially in such a prestigious organization!

danso 2 days ago 4 replies      
A great post, especially since it seeks to get at the truth of something that has implications for future missions, at the risk of the OP's reputation.

This part is one of the more disturbing parts though, and a good reminder of why technical persons of all fields, whether rocket scientists or programmers, should not adopt a "Well, we worked hard and we're smart so I'm sure everything's fixed"

> What you probably don't know is that a side note in a final briefing before Discovery's flight pointed out that the large chunk of foam that brought down Columbia could not have been liberated from an internal installation defect. Hmm. After 26 months of work, nobody knew how to address that little statement. Of course we had fixed everything. What else could there be? What else could we do? We were exhausted with study, test, redesign. We decided to fly.

How is it that this mentality exists at NASA? Isn't it a matter of logic that if the foam was shown not to have been an installation defect, that the engineers have to keep looking for the actual cause? The OP just brushes over this but surely there was some kind of debate, like: "Well, the particular test claiming that the foam was NOT an installation defect was poorly conducted, and all our other measurements say that the installation is the likely cause, so moving on..."

I really hope there isn't some kind of "Oh fuck it, just ship it" mentality at NASA.

maayank 2 days ago 2 replies      
I posted some days ago an appendix by Feynman in the Challenger report, "Appendix F - Personal observations on the reliability of the Shuttle"[1] for those interested. Also, half of "Why do you care what people think?" is about his experience investigating the safety of the shuttle.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4371024

rdl 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lesson I take from this is that the Shuttle should have been killed on the drawing board, never flown. It's a hideously complex design with no real advantages over expendable or re-usable rockets. It might have made sense as part of a tens of trillions of dollar integrated infrastructure plan (as originally proposed in the 1970s), but once those elements were killed, zombie/frankenstein shuttle wasn't the right answer.

NASA could have focused more on great science programs (like the Mars rovers, unmanned deep space probes, planetary science -- think of what they could accomplish with even 50% of the current overall NASA budget), military and government launch could have continued with ICBM-derived rockets, and private space could have gotten an earlier start.

K2h 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is an outstanding post that shows first hand what life as an engineer is like. It is often very hard to truly come to a conclusion that is 100% correct, even given what seems like infinite resources to do testing and analysis.

The big take away from this is what it means to be a good engineer: to be able to bow your head, and admit you were wrong despite all prior evidence.


guelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reminded me of the problem of unit testing vs integration testing. Sometimes, no matter how much code coverage you have, the unit tests don't find that critical bug that takes everything down. Just like testing the 2 square feet of foam didn't find the problem. You also need integration testing.
rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most important lesson, as always, is that you are not as smart as you think you are.

Until we can say we got this getting to space thing, spacecraft should be considered research vehicles and information on every single aspect of their operation has to be gathered. When the Columbia was lost, I was appalled nobody ever inspected the heatshield for damage occurred during lift-off after more than 100 flights. Even if you consider it dangerous (or too much work) to have an astronaut visually inspect it, this could have been done from the Mir space station.

Many spacecraft were lost to arrogance, to the false certainty we know what we are doing when, in fact, we are still learning.

alanfalcon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Arresting article and comments section. This snippet from Mr. Hale's response to one of the comments struck me particularly:

"There is a saying that a wise old program manager once passed along to me: “Great engineers, given unlimited resources and time will achieve exactly . . . . nothing”
Think about it."

merubin75 1 day ago 0 replies      
I admire Mr. Hale's honesty and thorough examination of what went wrong. But something he said really bothered me. At the press conference where they discussed the foam situation, he called it "unsatisfactory" and then in hindsight, calls it "A pretty bland word for the way I really felt."


In any other situation, when faced with such a dangerous close call, there would have been emotion and strong language used. But in NASAworld, that's all considered verboten. As Mr. Hale points out in his post, these people were his friends. He knew their families well. They weren't just employees. They dodged a bullet, and all he could call it was "unsatisfactory."

I'm not asking NASA to be full of raving loons. But show some goddamn emotion from time to time! One of the most wonderful things about Curiosity was not just the amazing landing, but the sheer jubilation the JPL team went through once they realized their little rover had safely survived the "7 minutes of terror" and landed. For 10 minutes, they hugged, shouted, and cheered. For crying out loud, the flight director had a mohawk! I have no doubt that by showing themselves as fully human, these amazing people just created a whole new generation of kids who will dream of sending probes to faraway places like Europa, Titan, and beyond.

Bottom line: I admire Mr. Hale's honesty in hindsight. But his bland non-emotionalism is one of the reasons people just don't care about space anymore. Make it exciting and demonstrate emotion, and people will care. Act all Spock-like 100% of the time and people will think you DON'T care (so why should they?)

scottshea 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy must need antacid like nobody's business. In some ways I envy him a little... I always try to assign more importance to my job than is really warranted; he has no call for that.
mkramlich 2 days ago 0 replies      
> We informed the foam technicians at our plant in Michoud Louisiana that they were the cause of the loss of Columbia and then


(emphasis added by me)

DigitalSea 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was one hell of an inspirational post. What I took from it was: we are all human and no matter how smart you are, how many of you are or how much money you have to throw at a problem it's sometimes a mere simple solution or problem that was overlooked. Kind of reminds me of web development.
georgeecollins 2 days ago 0 replies      
I loved this story. This is a good example of how you can go down the rabbit hole of solving a particular problem without stepping back to consider if the problem you are solving is key to getting the result you want.

It's amazing to hear someone be so honest about this.

MPSimmons 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus that's scary. Thanks for posting this. Good lessons to keep in mind.
Joyent ending "lifetime" hosting accounts plus.google.com
277 points by kenmck  3 days ago   268 comments top 52
cletus 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 2 replies      
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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 3 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 2 replies      
I assume they're giving everybody a refund of their purchase price, right? ...Right?
opendomain 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great, one company less to worry about next time I'm shopping for hosting.
patrickgzill 3 days 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?

gaoshan 3 days 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 3 days 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.

officemonkey 3 days 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.

blndcat 3 days 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 3 days 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.
po 3 days 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.

ck2 3 days 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.

prodigal_erik 3 days 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.
buntar 3 days 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".


timkeller 3 days 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.

danyork 3 days 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.


joshe 3 days 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.
sp332 3 days 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
btipling 3 days 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!
justinhj 3 days 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
michaelbuckbee 3 days 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?
thirdstation 3 days 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.

NateEag 2 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone who's interested, a "Money back or five free years of your own virtual server" offer has been posted by Jason Hoffman: http://discuss.joyent.com/viewtopic.php?id=33682

It doesn't come close to honoring the "as long as we exist" that we bought in for, but it's a lot better than the starting position, and Jason is talking a little about why we're being cut.

(From what I can see, it looks like cutting the lifers may have been a requirement of some of the recent VC investors. That's me reading between the lines a bit, though.)

NateEag 3 days 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.

falava 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are a VC/MG/3ML like me, I think you can ask support for a partial refund. I did it, now let's see...

Jason Hoffman says that and other interesting things about the EOL here (read all of his posts):


rdl 3 days 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.)

joevandyk 3 days 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.
quangv 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think lifetime should mean lifetime.

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

tomjen3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Class action law suit?
fingerprinter 3 days 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?
TomGullen 3 days 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.
blues 3 days 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.

forgotAgain 3 days ago 0 replies      
To anyone thinking of Joyent for cloud services: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, ...
port_rhombus 3 days 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.

ksec 2 days ago 0 replies      
They could have just refund ALL of those money as credits for JoyentCloud. Would this be a better solution?

So you essentially got "x" years of hosting plus Those money back as credits.

ljoshua 3 days 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.
OliverM 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought I'd switched over to Solaris hosting, but still got the email??
robinbowes 3 days 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.
cct 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fraud, no contest. The real question is what's the best way to deal with it. 1. Social pressure to re-instate equivalent service (1.5gb for me) 2. numerous small claims court applications (full refund + migration costs/damages) 3. Class action (similar to above).

To make any of them work to full effect, we'd probably have to band together? Any argument as to which method is preferred? CCT

gexla 3 days 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. ;)

tomson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Outraged, too. Any suitable alternatives in sight?
robinbowes 3 days ago 0 replies      
BTW, I too have moved to the Solaris hosting.
tomson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where is Dean Allen now that we need him?
gexla 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.
The first Django site to run on Python 3 myks.org
274 points by mYk  4 days ago   52 comments top 14
mYk 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is the estimated release date of Django 1.5?
antihero 4 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome, good to see this move forward. However, what is the django ecosystem support like?
crimsoncoder 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
nice to see django take python 3 seriously
What I Hate About Working At Facebook worldofsu.com
265 points by dshankar  5 days ago   182 comments top 61
onan_barbarian 4 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 4 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 4 days 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 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting some real criticism of Facebook and not a recruitment piece. What a waste of my time.
soup10 4 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 4 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 4 days 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 4 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 4 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".
rweba 4 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).

mda 4 days 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."
kimmiller 4 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.

sbochins 4 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.
msg 4 days 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.

jamesvl 4 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 4 days 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.

marknutter 4 days ago 0 replies      
I realized it was satire at point #5. Well played.
ahi 4 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.
utopkara 4 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 4 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this article needs to end in a ":P". I almost stopped reading at number 3.
corwinstephen 4 days 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 4 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

austenallred 4 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.
bethly 4 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.
fchollet 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reverse linkbait, let's hope that's not the new PR trend.
charlieok 2 days ago 0 replies      
11. The stock price is too low

The stock has been sliding in recent months. This sucks because stock options granted to people being recruited now will have a higher potential upside than similar grants made around the time of the IPO. New recruits should be the have-nots on the totem pole.

RollAHardSix 4 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

jyap 4 days 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.
marcamillion 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Really? This guy is a tool. Happy that he's scored points with his manager though.
tessr 4 days ago 0 replies      
#5 needed to come sooner. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this--clever angle!
nuclear_eclipse 4 days 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.
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
This explains the hideous broken interface, with options spread everywhere and auto-resetting choices.
datalus 4 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 4 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 4 days 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?

pspeter3 5 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe the comments on that blog post are real. Apparently sarcasm isn't a language everybody speaks.
pedalpete 5 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 4 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.
stephenlambe 4 days ago 0 replies      
turns out Su actually got the Seattle office a (waterless) hot tub http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/technologybrierdudleys...
justindocanto 4 days 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.
nlz1 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Decisions made by interns" = probably why FB is constantly raping user privacy. I hope.
dj2stein9 4 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.
tehwebguy 4 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...

jfoutz 4 days ago 0 replies      
wrt #8, why no ads on mobile? isn't that, like, where all your money comes from?
ltcoleman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the sarcasm and wished I worked there. Argghhh devs just want to code and be trusted to code.
tjholowaychuk 4 days ago 0 replies      
not to mention the only portion of the site I use (photos) is couldn't possibly be worse :p
Kishin 4 days ago 0 replies      
why is this on the front page of HN?
syassami 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was thinking to myself the whole time, "this is awesome" until it hit me
Empro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely hilarious.
sjg007 4 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is being sarcastic.
grahammather 4 days ago 0 replies      
I see what you did there
ijobs-ly 4 days ago 0 replies      
"What I hate about those working at Facebook"
timrpeterson 4 days ago 0 replies      
fb culture is toolbagish
jason3 4 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad I don't use Facebook.
Square introduces monthly pricing squareup.com
246 points by MIT_Hacker  3 days ago   141 comments top 28
abalone 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

persona 3 days 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%).

Cyranix 3 days 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.
philip1209 3 days 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 3 days 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.
lwhi 3 days ago 2 replies      
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?)

Simucal 3 days 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.
hboon 2 days ago 0 replies      
OT, but any one knows why square.com redirects to squareup.com instead of the other way round?
Iaks 3 days 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.
allforJesse 3 days ago 0 replies      
And now, let's watch as Square gets implemented at bars everywhere.
GauntletWizard 3 days 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.
username3 3 days ago 2 replies      
Square should automatically wave fees after collecting $275 per month.
grandalf 3 days 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?
jdelsman 3 days 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!
conductr 3 days 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

trustfundbaby 3 days ago 0 replies      
If Stripe follows suit, I might just wet myself.
ChiperSoft 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a payment gateway offer this, like Stripe. It'd be HUGE for micro-payments.
tejasmi5 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I m waiting for Stripe to do the same thing
BallinBige 3 days ago 2 replies      
this is going to cost small - mid cap merchants more money!
BryanB55 3 days 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.
Delegate or die: the self-employed trap sivers.org
244 points by DanielRibeiro  1 day ago   59 comments top 14
patio11 1 day ago 2 replies      
A few of my savvier (small-ish) software buddies use this system:

1) We have an onboarding Google Doc for everyone at the company. It is grouped into headings. One heading might be, e.g., "Common Customer Support Questions" followed by "Query: A customer complains they can't log into the software. Common phrasings for this: X, Y, Z." Research: "Go to page X in the dashboard [detailed in Internal Tools]. Search for... . If you find the customer, use the password reset tool, then copy/paste the following response to the customer, adding in their first name if you can reasonably guess it. If the tool reports no results, forward email to foo@bar.com and send no response."

2) Every time the proprietor gets tired of a genre of emails, they improve either the internal tools or the business rules to optimize themselves out of that workflow.

3) There is frequently a catch-all rule saying something like "If you have a novel situation and think you can handle it for under $100, do so [see: Getting Access To A Company Card], and fill in why the situation was novel, how you handled it, and what you spent on your weekly report Google doc. Don't worry, we trust you to use your judgement." (This is probably among the best pieces of actionable advice Tim Ferris ever gave.)

4) Capturing this state machine as a Google doc means the business has a memory longer than the individual workers, which is particularly important in a virtual-company sort of situation where you're dealing with VAs/freelancers who a) will often not pan out and b) when they do pan out have an expected lifetime tenure with the company of 6 ~ 24 months only.

mixmax 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is excellent advice, so often you see great capable people buckling from stress and worse because they don't know how to delegate.

The way I prefer to do it is to give everyone a piece of the project that they own. I don't want to know how or when they do their part, I just want to know that it gets done, works and that it plays well with what other people on the project are doing.

Recently I was in charge of a live webcast from a rocket launch in the middle of the Baltic Sea. A hard problem for several reasons. It involved high-speed Wi-fi over a 40 kilometer distance by having a parabolic antenna on land that tracks its counterpart at sea; using software written in C to control a videomixer in the middle of the ocean from the Internet, getting the right camera angles, mounting cameras, etc.; setting up a live studio on land where technicians could control videofeeds and move the cameras at sea, webcasting to thousands of users, making sure there was a competent speaker, creating filler videos, getting the logistics about everything right and much more. Also, since this is an opensource project there was no money, and I had to find the crew myself.

It isn't really that hard, if only you accept a few things.

1) You're not the smartest guy. There's someone smarter than you that can do whatever part of the project you have trouble with.

2) Let people take ownership of a part of their project and don't tell them what to do. Tell them what the goal is and let them do it however they want.

2) When they do awesome stuff make sure you tell them. People are capable of much more than they think it only they're motivated to so so.

3) Make sure it's fun.

4) Your job as a project manager is to make sure that the awesome stuff people do plays well with the awesome stuff other people do. You're in charge of the interfaces between people.

5) Your job as a project manager is to make sure people can do their job well. That means moving obstacles in the form of meetings, budgets, politics, etc.

5) Don't take credit for what you didn't do.

casca 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is a fine balance to be achieved here. If you've read more of Derek's (excellent) posts, you'll know that his complete hands-off style led to the company almost collapsing. Delegating like this is a great step, but a leader's responsibility is to lead, not hide away.
pestaa 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you read Dune from Frank Herbert, you might recall Paul observing his father's soldiers doing their jobs in silence due to Leto (the father) giving little to no orders to them.

"If you command something once, you'll have to command it again all the time." (Paraphrased as I didn't read the English version.)

Apparently, Derek "uncommanded his soldiers."

adrianhoward 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The step before this one also seems to be hard for many small organisations that I've worked with. Before you can delegate - you have to have somebody to delegate to.

I've lost count of the number of folk who slog themselves to the bone long after the time when it would have been sensible to grow the company with a few extra people. For some people having other people in the company, let alone actually letting them make decisions, seems to be a chasm they find it hard to cross.

saurik 1 day ago 0 replies      
A subtle and yet key thing from this article: the guy delegated writing the answer into the manual; irritatingly, I know that that is a step I would have missed (leaving me now in charge of formatting a manual).
petercooper 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This remains still great stuff, but it leaps from the "doing everything yourself" dilemma straight to handling several employees asking you questions, skipping the "first employee" problem. The gap between those two situations remains vast and more reading on going from being time stressed and doing everything to having that first employee would be awesome.
Sodaware 1 day ago 2 replies      
"The E-Myth Revisited" is a great book that deals with this problem (amongst other things).
larrys 1 day ago 2 replies      
"The next day, as soon as I walked in the door, someone asked, “Derek, someone whose CDs"

To me interruptions are the thing I hate the most. What has worked for me in the past is to insist (despite "open door philosophy") that all questions are queued and asked at a single time, as practical. Sure the person asking wants immediate relief, but there is no reason you need to answer questions according to their schedule, unless it is urgent, if they can be combined with other questions they (or others) have.

That's actually one of the benefits of email vs. a telephone call. You can handle it w/o getting interrupted or knocked out of a zone.

patrickg 1 day ago 0 replies      
More comments from one year ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2132591
j45 1 day ago 0 replies      
My experiences:

Learn why: Figure out why you do things the way you do. Write it down, make screen casts, whatever.

Teach why: The how can always be evolving and updated. Store it in a wiki. Google docs aren't searchable.

Don't prematurely automate: Be sure to systemize your business before automating it. If you automate a process that isn't reasonably mature manually, you will have lots of pains.

chmars 1 day ago 0 replies      
Delegation is important but you need the financial capacity to afford it. As a consequence, outsourcing some tasks such as accounting is usually more feasible at the beginning since hiring comes with its own many costs and risks " especially in countries with a more restrictive labor law than in the US.
lachlanj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for reminding me to step back and look at my business (and read the e-myth again). Read the e-myth many years ago but it's time for another read
shreyas056 1 day ago 1 reply      
reading this felt like reading an Aesop's Fables :). Very useful
Single Element MacBook Pro with CSS codepen.io
240 points by michaelkscott  4 days ago   65 comments top 22
aidos 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you add .macbook {zoom:4;} you can see how the detail is done. Basically you use lots of box-shadows to give you elements to glue together. The details on the front are not actually solid lines, but a collection of circles side by side.

That's when you realise this technique is a bit flawed - you can't actually scale the element and keep the detail, you'd be better off with an image. Not to take anything away from it though. It's good work.

maqr 4 days ago 2 replies      
There really should be a warning on all these demos, something like: "Don't actually draw with css in the wild, you'll break the web."
javajosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cool, and I'm glad that someone is demonstrating a way to use CSS3 to create graphics in a way that doesn't require extra markup. One of the biggest problems with CSS3 is that, in a twist of irony, it's image composition power entices developers into adding markup to hang the CSS off of. This ends up complicating the markup merely to generate an image, which is a mistake.

This technique, on the other hand, using the :before and :after selectors shows the right way to use CSS3 image composition, if you choose to do it. This example should be shouted from the hilltops to all front-end web devs.

zbowling 4 days ago 2 replies      

one line difference and you have the non-glossy screen version.

peter_l_downs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Not sure why I'd ever need this, but it's impressive that it can be done. Congratulations on making something awesome.
aba_sababa 4 days ago 1 reply      
And now we've got a Macbook Air!


andrewfelix 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's been well established that you can achieve just about any icon purely with CSS. Why is this getting so many upvotes?
al_james 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. There have been many of these "Look what I can do in CSS" articles lately, and frankly, they are normally quite boring. However this is the first time I have ever gone "wow". Very impressive. Quite useless really, but good work.
joshuahedlund 4 days ago 2 replies      
Impressive. While I'm generally familiar with CSS I haven't delved into the icon logo stuff yet. I'm toying with the idea of trying to create JS/CSS-based country/state maps with customizable mouseover/onclick functionality, since there aren't really any good free versions available (that I've found). This kind of stuff inspires me that it might be possible, though I have no idea how hard it would be to create geographically-shaped elements.
MattBearman 4 days ago 2 replies      
While undoubtedly impressive, I think using css :before and :after kind of defeats the point of 'single element'
kondro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like it's probably even smaller than the equivalent SVG would be. Wish I had a use for it.
lunarscape 4 days ago 2 replies      
Chrome-only? Doesn't appear to work in Firefox nightly.

Edit: Somehow my fault. Works with new profile in FF14. Curiously doesn't work in my standard profile in Aurora or Nightly even with plugins disabled.

wickeand000 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the comparison between different web browsers. Note that the image does not even load in IE8, so it is not included.


mparlane 4 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone else think the front is too wide for that perspective? My only criticism.
calvintennant 4 days ago 0 replies      
And because I'm a content-management geek: http://codepen.io/anon/pen/wxytJ
phaemon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice!

text-align: center;
line-height: 100px;

to the .macbook css, so you can add text to the screen ;)

antidaily 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pfft, thats not a retina display.
blt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this markup language that provides shapes, positions, colors, gradients, and transparency can be used to create images!
mrbrownie 4 days ago 0 replies      
This one has a GPS like device made of only CSS: http://geeksigner.com/clients/egl/
paulocal 4 days ago 0 replies      
added the macbook pro logo to top it off. hope you dont mind :D
cjdentra 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Nice work.
irunbackwards 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are you a wizard?
Twitter sets max user caps for 3rd party clients and limits rates thenextweb.com
239 points by rkudeshi  3 days ago   111 comments top 31
danilocampos 3 days 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.

aaronbrethorst 3 days 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.

ctide 3 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations Dalton Caldwell!

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

zethraeus 3 days 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.
pavel_lishin 3 days 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.

rksprst 3 days 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?

guelo 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.
ljd 3 days 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.

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


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

jot 3 days 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 days 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 days ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of thing that happens when you don't have a business model.
jonknee 3 days 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.
dave_sullivan 3 days ago 3 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.

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

*06/2006 †08/2012

fudged71 3 days 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.

px1999 3 days 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?

WALoeIII 3 days 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.
jmathai 3 days ago 0 replies      
I anticipate a flurry of parodies on their use of the term "flock" except away from Twitter and not towards.
state 3 days 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?

bane 2 days ago 0 replies      
So why are they doing this? My guess is to drive users to their clients, so that they can start displaying ads and gather revenue. 3rd party clients won't display Twitter's own ads so there's no way for the service to collect on that.
fufulabs 3 days 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.
imrehg 3 days 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"?

DigitalSea 3 days 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.
ashbrahma 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know how to check the number of users that have authenticated the apps on the twitter dev portal?
mehulkar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Winter is coming.
mikecane 3 days 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?
chj 3 days 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 days 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.
Tichy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well I am out of there first chance I see...
ukd1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hello App.net.
United Airlines Lost My Friend's 10 Year Old Daughter And Didn't Care bobsutton.typepad.com
238 points by Brajeshwar  5 days ago   189 comments top 23
chimi 5 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 5 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 5 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
anusinha 5 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.
greggman 5 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).
jcampbell1 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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

misiti3780 5 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.

pasbesoin 5 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.

axusgrad 5 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.
gte910h 5 days ago 0 replies      
This shouldn't be on HN. Flagged.
muro 5 days ago 0 replies      
scary story.

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


blisper 5 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.
calgaryeng 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the moral of this story is not to send your 10 year old unaccompanied on an airplane...
FrankBooth 5 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.
Why time appears to speed up with age everything2.com
236 points by rlander  1 day ago   88 comments top 45
Udo 1 day ago 6 replies      

  This makes sense; for instance when you are 10 years of age, a year 
represents 10% of your life, and seems like a very long time. However,
when you are 50 years old, one year has reduced to only 2% of your
life, and hence seems only one-fifth as long.

Interesting hypothesis, and he makes it look very scientific with the formulae and all, but it's still a wild crazy guess that delivers no actual falsifiable prediction. I think for claims of such magnitude, there should be a modicum of neurological or information-theoretical basis involved - instead we get to read repeated statements about how groundbreaking the idea is.

The article makes claims that at 30 life is essentially 3/4ths over which to me, while holding no subjective truth as far as I can tell, at least exhibit some self reference in the way that after three lines of statements the article's content seemed 75% over yet the actual text went on for much longer.

Subjectively time seems to go by faster the older we get, but that doesn't mean these bold claims are necessarily anywhere close to the truth. Personally, my relationship with time has certainly changed over the years, including the perception of a speed-up, but I also notice that some activities or states seem to last just as long (if not longer) subjectively as they did when I was 16.

My pet hypothesis is there are multiple factors involved in "the speedup", and that a large factor of it would actually be that our brains don't store repetitive events very well. This would mean as we get more experienced, an increasingly bigger amount of the average day consists of things we already did many times before so we don't store those moments in memory. That would result in increasingly large memory holes over time, which our brains then glance over as they piece together our past - thus resulting in an apparent speed up. This would also explain why days with unusual content seem to last much much longer than others (at least that's my experience).

commieneko 1 day ago 3 replies      
As someone who's in his fifties, I can say that while this is an entertaining concept, it doesn't really map correctly. At least not for me.

The passing of time has always seemed to me to be more of a function of memory.

When I was younger, my memory was _much_ better. And much more vivid. It was in HD. I noticed by the time I was in high school that not only was my memory worse, but that it was of much lower quality. Interestingly enough, though, I noticed that early memories, while less vivid than I remembered them, were often still more vivid than more recent memories. By the time I was in my 30s, things were much worse. My doctor assured me that this was normal, and by the way, expect it to get worse still.

My father, who is now 96, can remember things vividly from 80 years ago and more, but can't remember what town he is living in at the moment. He can remember chemistry and physics he learned long ago, but now he has trouble working the new flat panel TV we bought him. (This is only partly the fault of age, the UI experience on the TV is worse than abominable. Steve Jobs would puke.) This is interesting, because he _built_ the first radio that he ever owned, back in the 1920s.

The most heart breaking thing recently, is that my mother passed away a few months ago. She'd been with him constantly for the last 65 years or so. And he keeps looking around for her, and then after a moment remembers she's gone. He often doesn't remember the event, but it is still fresh as a state of being, even after several months.

So for my father time's passage seems instantaneous and never changing.

Duration is yet another issue.

Current time, you know, right now, passes for me at more or less the same rate. It's much more effected by things like boredom and engagement than anything else. If I'm waiting on something, things can take forever. If I'm doing something, it can go by in a flash.

ChrisNorstrom 18 hours ago 5 replies      
My theory is different. Our brains work like film cameras, the faster the camera is rolling the slower time in the film seems to be going during playback. Because less time has passed since the last frame was captured. The slower the camera is rolling the faster the film seems to get when you play it back. Our perception of time is based on comparing what we last remember while we were conscious with where we are in time currently. This is why daydreaming while driving makes your trip seem a lot shorter.

I call this "Brain Idling". When we're young our brains have a lot of grey matter and we're addicted to information accumulation, talking, chatting, and being mentally stimulated. As we age we stop learning (no school, no collage, nothing new going on in life), have less grey matter and start going on auto-pilot. When we drive to the store, when we shop for groceries, at work, at home. We've memorized our lives so well we no longer think about what we do, we just naturally do it on auto-pilot and our minds start to "idle" a lot more that usual. The film in our camera-like brains is snapping images at a much slower pace. A lot of time is passing between mental snap-shots. So when we look back (playback) the events of the day (all the things we remembered) it feels like time has flown by at light speed.

I freaked out over how fast time has flown by after I hit 21 and tried out an experiment. I installed "talking clock" for windows on my pc and made it announce the time every 5 minutes. Yes. For the whole day. Every day. After the 2nd day of using this technique time slowed down by massive amounts. A day felt like a week. A week felt like a month. It was insane. I felt like I was young again and the world was moving at a glacial pace. There are downsides of course, it's unsustainable. You have to take breaks every other day or so otherwise you get used to hearing the time and ignore it. It can also get exhausting when your brain can't take a break and daydream or idle and think about nothing. But it does work. I wanted to write a nice big article on it but I'm so swamped by work on projects and new clients needing UI/UX consulting that I just keep putting it off. On the plus side I've discovered a way to slow down time (at least for me).

SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 3 replies      
Probably not the article I needed to see after coming home from moving my oldest into his dorm. Guess I might as well go get a rocking chair on the lawn.

Actually, I think this article is wrong in one important way. It doesn't take into account the effect of laying down new memories. The more, new experiences you have, the slower time appears to have passed [past tense, how it's remembered], while, paradoxically, making it pass [present tense, while experiencing] go faster.

So, spend all your time on the couch, watch time pass slow but evaporate. Go do something new and different, watch it fly by while having had more there.

Memories play weirdly with verb tenses...

michaelochurch 1 day ago 0 replies      
No real evidence beyond this theory.

More likely, as peoples' lives get more complex, and as they get older and more able to separate life into compartments, the individual compartments get less time and therefore time seems to go faster. Children have one "life thread". Adults have a ton of them for various relationships, interests, and aspirations. For one example, since most people only get to spend about 2 weeks per year in the "travel thread", time from that perspective seems to go 26 times faster. If you have a summer house and show up in June and it feels like the last time you were there (September last year) was yesterday, that's what's at play. In that thread, it was yesterday.

Minute to minute, time seems to be going at the same rate. It's when you step back and take a macro perspective that there's a difference, because our lives accumulate complexity that we couldn't have imagined when we were children. Because our lives are a lot more complex, there are contexts in which 5 years isn't an eternity in the way it would be for a child, so from a macro perspective, long time durations aren't nearly as long.

mechanical_fish 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is anyone here but me old enough to know what J. Irr. Res. is? [1]

This comment thread makes me wonder.

According to the chart in the article, I have precious little time left. Please try not to suck all the joy out of my remaining few minutes.


[1] Or maybe I'm the last one on Earth who still reads the footnotes?

[2] This is the famous recursive footnote. [2] Please enjoy your trip through the stack.

[3] This tail-recursive footnote should really be optimized into a loop. [3]

ashray 1 day ago 1 reply      
I had come across this concept about a year and a half ago. Read some article about how our brain works to store new experiences and therefore time slows down. That's around the time that I left my full time job to travel full time! I even wrote an article on our travel blog about it:


This guy has definitely done a very quantitative analysis of my qualitative hunch. Subjecting myself to new experiences, new places and new environments everyday has definitely made time slow down.

My last birthday actually feels like it was a LOOONG while ago. That's because I threw in a bunch of interesting and new experiences over the last year.

I think the real way to feel like your 'real age' is to subject yourselves to new experiences as much as possible. Take a new route home, go to restaurants or parts of your city that you've never been to, learn a foreign language or salsa, learn a new sport, or if possible, travel! :)

sanj 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Note that this is a joke paper written for the Journal of Irreproducible Results: http://www.jir.com/
cookingrobot 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds of of a similar calculation I did in college when thinking about big computing problems.. I called it "hurry up and wait".

Assuming Moore's law continues (computing power/$ doubles every 18 months), and you have a big computation to do, should you start now or should you wait?

If you have $1000 to spend on a computer and a problem that's going to take 3 years for it to compute, you can actually wait 1.5 years before you start. The computer you buy then will be twice as fast, and you'll finish at the same time.

On any problem that takes more than 1.5 years, the fastest thing to do is just wait until you can afford a computer that can complete it in 1.5 years.

Groxx 1 day ago 2 replies      
Groundbreaking? Maybe in that someone actually worked out the math for it (which seems trivial enough) and submitted it somewhere. A very large number of people I've chatted with from 10 years old an on have come up with this same theory, relatively independently, they just never worked out the full numbers because they realize that it's a gross oversimplification.

More specifically, this seems to ignore a small thing called 'nostalgia'. How long were the blissful summers of our youth without this rose tint?

rdtsc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Subjectively a good way is to remember how long summers felt when you were a kid. A summer felt like forever in the first couple of grades. Now think how long summers feel now, they just sort of fly by. It is kind of scary.

Remember my grandma sometimes got confused what day or week it was and as a kid I could never understand that. How can you miss such a long period of time like a week and not notice, but now I start to sort of understand.

yason 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always held the opinion that time is the number of events, realizations, ideas, and new experiences.

When you're kid, everything is new from what happens on the sandbox to school to friends to foods to afternoons alone to crossing over your old boundaries in general, in both physical and emotional sense. So much happens in a month that it equals five years for an adult.

When you're an adult, much of everything is something you know. The fraction of new things in your life depends on your own activity. Even if you wanted to be on the bleeding edge of life, you generally still have a job and a lot of routines in life"routines that might not be set by you but will still affect you. And routines and repetition doesn't count.

The key to adult time is to realize that the mundane things aren't the same, ever, even though they seem like it. You never know what will happen: there is newness every day, in everything you do, if only you can unlearn to dismiss it.

The other path"the path that isn't sustainable"is to start reaching for experiences intentionally: after you've climbed all the mountains and dived to the deepest caverns of the waters, done the craziest roller coasters and raced the fastest races, you're still not much more ahead of where you started. Those things can be done for fun but what I'm referring to is the trend of experience-hunting which is a reaction to the pace of finding new things in life that has slowed down since childhood.

kator 15 hours ago 0 replies      
My father always says life is like a roll of toilet paper. The further you get on the roll the faster it spins and the less of it you have left the more you cherish it.

Time is clearly a solid and measurable component of our physical world but our perception of it is warped by our own personal experience.

My wife can sit next to me for 8 hours and futz around the house etc while I sit with my headphones on and code 'in the zone'. I come out of the zone feeling as if I had just experienced only maybe an hour of zone time and she will laugh and point out the window at the dark night. :-)

I have six children, a daughter-in-law, a grandson and two cats. My life is clearly not moving any faster then my children but I do keep reminding them that as they get older they keep making me older!

I would argue that actually life goes slower the older you get. You have more context against the rest of your life and the OP might be using that as the reason we perceive life going quicker. But to me it's more like the "weight" of my life to date allows me a lot more perspective, I often measure an event against the birth of a child, a marriage, a house I used to live in etc. Less about the MM/DD/YYYY and more about the "Around this event this happened".

When time seems to have moved quickly is when you're talking to your mom and dad about your grandson and the day your baby girl was born and how they're going through all the same things you did when you were having children. It's the reference points that stun you. That somehow 25 years just vanished in a flash of light. But the reality is this is the same as this group talking about TRS-80 Model I's with 4k of memory. A lot has happened since then even though it was sort of like yesterday for those of us who lived through 300 baud modems and 16k memory upgrades.

Tichy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The premise is completely wrong. If you are young, you don't know what percentage of your life one year is.

More likely explanation is the compression of memories: if you experience things that are similar to things you have experienced before, they won't use up as much memory. Think about your daily commute to work: can you remember every single day you commuted? Or did all the commutes blur into one?

ced 1 day ago 1 reply      
The answer to "Why time appears to speed up with age" is to be found in the messy details of neurology, genetics and evolution, not in an aesthetically pleasing mathematical formula.
benologist 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What is this SEO spam garbage? Every single link including the reference goes to junk pages and the article itself is cut & pasted all over the internet.


danso 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article and concept reminds me of thhe beautiful "game" by Jason Rohrer, "Passage"


keyle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would argue that the effective age of people vary with their behaviors and environment.

For example, I've seen 60 year old in australian outback on horses doing heavy work, as if they're 40. And I've seen 60 year olds in australian capitals barely doing anything of their day.

Which do you think will go extinct first?

I'm going to argue that simply "we are what we repeatedly do". Some people act old at 50, some people act young at 70.

For example, my uncle in Europe has acres of property, works in it every day, goes dancing with the local "brotherhood" and would drink you under the table any day of the week. And he's close to 75.

Trying to explain people with mathematics is similar to trying to explain women with science. It may work, barely. (no pun intended, just a cheeky joke)

zerostar07 9 hours ago 0 replies      
With it being published in the Journal of irreproducible results i assume this is a joke, right? Still, I think the hypothesis is not correct. Time seems to run faster when you are occupied. People get more busy after their 20s so i guess that's why time seems to fly. If i can judge from myself, time seemed to run pretty fast on a 9-6 job (i was there 20-26). Working independently (26- ) has definitely made my days longer, much longer, sometimes irritably so.
Dn_Ab 22 hours ago 0 replies      
What about simple time lapse? With images and video the larger the time lapse the faster things appear to be moving especially with blur. What if something similar held for memory?

The key memories that are remembered will typically have longer lapses for the older than for the younger. Cognitive expectations might then correct this gap by fudging a perception or sense of elapsed time, creating a quickened time lapse like effect for experiences, which strengthens as you get older.

It would be interesting to ask people with autobiographical memories how they perceive time - according to my analogy it wouldn't change since they maintain most 'frames'.

Detrus 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The brain changes with age and perceives the passage of time differently. Just like your face changes with age and perceives touch differently.

The pop science is here:



Not as lazy as the article's speculation. There is an experiment!

The experiment is people of various ages are asked to estimate a minute with their mind. Older people overestimate, children underestimate.

Your brain has a clock, a set of neurons that fire at a relatively consistent interval and help synchronize the rest of the brain. As you age this brain clock's interval gets longer.

Forming fewer new memories because of lifestyle changes is speculation. Without widespread changes in the brain making new memories more difficult to form, you'd still form a lot of new memories, even with your boring adult lifestyle.

caf 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Another thing this would neatly explain is why it seems harder to make new friends when you get older.

With someone I meet at 15, when I'm 20 i'll have known them for 5 effective years. If I meet someone new at 30, on the other hand, I won't have known them for 5 effective years until I'm 40.

jimmytucson 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Brian Skinner, physicist and basketball analytics extraordinaire, wrote a really nice blog post about this 3.5 years ago [1]. Mining the comments from that post shows it's been banged around numerous times before that [2][3].

[1] https://gravityandlevity.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/parenting-...

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/science/21qna.html?_r=1

[3] http://web.archive.org/web/20071116094344/http://ourworld.co...

rehack 21 hours ago 0 replies      
From an experience:

Difficult time passes more difficultly, i.e feels longer. Example on a day if you are fasting, time always seems earlier than what you expect. For example on days I may think 'Gosh its still 12 PM, still 7 hours to go before the fast breaking time!'

Only yesterday, the fast breaking time was 6:54 PM. And my wife called at me from down stairs to come down for it at 6:53 or so (I work from my SOHO on the upper level), I thought gosh 1 more minute, how can I wait!

So it could mean that the perceived time (that has passed) is also a function of how frequently we sample it. Or if differently said, how much we 'live in the moment'.

Edit: minor rephrase for clarity.

daviddaviddavid 23 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested in how humans conceptualize time and what effects this has on language, I highly recommend "Metaphors We Live By" by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Truly one of the most interesting books I've ever read.

For a brief overview of the approach they take to the problem, the Wikipedia entry for conceptual metaphor is a good start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_metaphor

DanI-S 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I always liked to think that our perception stays the same - it's just that time is speeding up.
feefie 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The key to slowing down life is variety. As a child every year was distinctly different: even today I can remember each school year because I had a different teacher, a different homeroom, etc. As an adult each of my jobs has been on average 4-6 years. Each job is a bit of a blur; the years at the same job are difficult to distinguish from each other. To slow down time, make sure you do different things each year: trips, projects, roles at work, etc. The more your mind can distinguish the years, the slower time seems to move. Try it - it works!
fungi 1 day ago 2 replies      
off topic:

why is equation rendering still broken on the web?

http://everything2.com uses pre tags, wikipedia uses rendered png images.

is this just another ie work around or have we really not implemented a standard yet.

googled it myself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MathML

edit: thanks mbell! mathjax looks great

project to get mathjax working on wikipedia ~> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Nageh/mathJax

breakdown of mathml support ~> http://caniuse.com/mathml (only firefox and safari)

agumonkey 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure but according to Von Bertalanffy, brain "frequency" tends to slow down with age anyway. The same amount of perceptive events are spread onto longer periods of time thus appearing speeding up.
j_lou888 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Time seems to speed up as we get older because life gets less memorable and less surprising. When you're growing up, life is filled with novel and surprising experiences that are used to anchor our memory because of those aforementioned qualities. Psychological time is directly related to the formation of new memories. As we grow up, everything gets into a routine that we barely notice at all. Just think of how much you remember of your daily 9 to 5 for example.

This phenomenon has been studied several times. In 1890, William James wrote the following in his 'Principle of Psychology':
"In youth, we may have an absolutely new experience, subjective or objective, every hour of the day. Apprehension is vivid, retentiveness strong, and our recollections of that time, like those of a time spent in rapid and interesting travel, are of something intricate, multitudinous and long-drawn out…But each passage year converts some of this experience into automatic routine which we hardly note at all, the days and the weeks smooth themselves out in recollection to contentless units, and the years grow hollow and collapse."

stretchwithme 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't worry. Its probably going to get get excruciatingly long at the end.

Seriously, its the thinking too much about the past and the future that lead to this perception.

You probably just thought about it a lot less when you were young.

alokm 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is my take. When you experience something new, your brain works overtime to learn new things. Thats why in a familiar setting time flies by. I guess thats why some people are adventure seeker and travelers. At old age most of the things become routine. Here it is argued that the whole life of a person is counted. I simply think, life is divided in various threads. You do something new and a new thread is created. Its along a single thread that you may measure your perception of longevity. If you do something routine then it seems to be fast to you as it becomes routine.

Also I remember a link on HN that explained how time virtually stopped for Near Death Experiences.

jonnytran 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the formula would look like if it took into account the fact that life expectancy is increasing. According to people like Ray Kurzweil, it's increasing exponentially.
natecavanaugh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
About 15 years ago (that long already? ;)) I saw a documentary state that scientists had done studies showing that time perception could be manipulated by changing their temperature.
The warmer it was, the more slowly time seemed to pass. The colder it was, the faster it seemed to pass.
They hypothesized that since people's core body temperature dropped as they age, that it could be a factor in why time seemed to pass faster as we age.
For some reason I've always favored this solution.
begriffs 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Marcel Proust wrote a profound series of books that investigates memory, personal change, and the subjective feeling of time called, "In Search of Lost Time." He had an exceptional memory and recalls his own perceptive and idiosyncratic feelings starting from early childhood. Some of his observations are universal though, and you'll be delighted when he helps you remember them for yourself.
itmag 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Has anyone here managed to defeat this effect somehow? How did you do it? Meditation?
mnl 15 hours ago 0 replies      
He claims so, but he is not removing any parameter... And why such a (rather trivial) linear model is considered as a proved theory?
eliajf 20 hours ago 0 replies      
My grandfather, who died last year at 93, used to say that when you were 2 going on 3, that was 33% of your life. At 49 going on 50, though, that's 2% of your life. 33% goes a lot farther than 2%.
joshsegall 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is math describing the effect not the cause, so the title is inaccurate and misleading.
goggles99 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is my take on the question...

1. Kids are bored too often so time seems to take forever.

2. Career life and building a family is so busy that time flies by.

3. Retirement and empty nesting seems to go by fast because you think more about your pending demise and also have nothing to show for your life day after day (career goals ETC.)

novaleaf 17 hours ago 0 replies      
my own subjective data:

in my childhood, a day seems to go pretty slow, probably because of just "messing around" tends to get boring. However I never felt the years as passing at a different rate than they do now (in my mid 30's).

I'm the type of person who "looks to the future" however so maybe if I was past-oriented I'd feel different.

FreshCode 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why I love HN. The comments are better than the article.
aquarin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Because you heart rate decreases. Other internal clocks also seems to be reflected with the age.
dotcoma 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Because you get slower.
ashleyblackmore 1 day ago 0 replies      
       cached 20 August 2012 02:11:01 GMT