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Neil Armstrong has died at 82 Today heraldsun.com.au
966 points by Grovara123  4 days ago   92 comments top 24
jballanc 4 days ago 5 replies      
Neil Armstrong would have been 17 years old when Orville Wright died in 1948. In the lifespan of those two men, humanity went from horse-and-buggy to standing on the moon. One wonders what the 17 year olds of today might accomplish...
hkmurakami 4 days ago 0 replies      
"I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer - born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

-Neil Armstrong


mmcnickle 4 days ago 4 replies      
"I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."

--- Neil Armstrong.

An inspiring man. RIP.

smacktoward 4 days ago 0 replies      
For a more in-depth consideration of Armstrong's life, there's an excellent profile written in 1999 here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/space...

"Pilots take no special joy in walking," Armstrong once told a group of well-wishers at an air show who wanted to hear what it had been like to walk on the moon. "Pilots like flying."

charlieok 4 days ago 0 replies      
Neil was my biggest childhood hero. I did one or two school reports about him, dressed as an astronaut for Halloween for three straight years, and went to Space Camp twice. That my birthday (July 20) fell on the anniversary of his historic moon landing didn't hurt my identification with him one bit.

That interest in space, fostered by the examples of Neil and other early space explorers, translated to a lifelong passion for pushing science and technology forward. I'm sure many people here can say the same.

Neil's accomplishment, which he of course shares with the countless others who (literally) lifted him up and made his mission such a success, is one of the most inspirational achievements in the history of this planet. May it continue to inspire many more!

charlieok 4 days ago 0 replies      
A thousand years from now, most people won't know much about the politicians, generals, celebrities or billionaires this century or last. But they might well know who first walked on the moon.
wazoox 4 days ago 2 replies      
What's sad is that we didn't yet returned to the moon, and he won't live to see it.
TomAnthony 4 days ago 1 reply      
The article currently is just a stub. I imagine this is related to the heart bypass surgery he underwent a couple of weeks ago:


blackjack160 4 days ago 2 replies      
Excellent 4-part interview series with him, quite recent too:


twakefield 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a collection of information I just came across about Neil Armstrong:
FrojoS 4 days ago 0 replies      
Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 " August 25, 2012) RIP.

I hope we will return to the Moon or better go to Mars before the last Apollo astronaut has died.

protagonist_h 4 days ago 1 reply      
With no plans to go to the moon again, we will soon be out of living moon-walkers.
lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 2 replies      
I remember watching a documentary which quite rarely featured Neil Armstrong (and Buzz and Collins) discussing the actual trip to the moon. They related a story where they instructed the computer to begin reverse thrusters to slow their approach to the moon. The computer came back with a code which Collins duly looked up in the manual

  3E - Are you sure?

Twas ever thus.

It stuck in my mind, as humanising people who otherwise outstrip us who in all ways look up to them.

He will be sadly missed.

al_biglan 4 days ago 1 reply      
Black bar?
harscoat 4 days ago 0 replies      
"I've seen things you people would not believe..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTzA_xesrL8
yanatan16 4 days ago 2 replies      
He did get to see the next phase of space flight, with the SpaceX launch, the first successful private spaceflights. The future is bright with the expanded private interest in it.
lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 1 reply      
It is not his death we should focus on - for Neil Armstrong, and his collegues, we should not let his life be in vain.

Back to the moon for good - or a lot of good people wasted their time.

dlsym 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's one small step for a man... one giant step for mankind.
- RIP Mr. Armstrong
denzil_correa 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the moon was no longer a distant shining object but a place where we could gleefully leap

RIP Neil Armstrong

lojack 4 days ago 0 replies      
in coelo quies est
arrowgunz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Respect for the old man! R.I.P Sir.
grantatarde2011 4 days ago 0 replies      
nice i like post
AznHisoka 4 days ago 2 replies      
Did anyone read "Armstrong" and first thought of Lance Armstrong? When his life achievements were stripped away, I thought he would be on suicide watch.
Why it's so hard to find a photo of Neil Armstrong on the moon copydesk.org
485 points by damohasi  4 days ago   120 comments top 18
brudgers 4 days ago 1 reply      
One idea: Use this picture of Neil shot immediately after his historic walk on the moon.

After reading the Armstrong family's statement last night, that's the photo which expresses the legacy he wished.

He looks ready to wink back.


jyap 4 days ago  replies      
In fact, now that you know this picture was manipulated by the source, I'd urge you to have it removed from your photo archives. Permanently.

Uh, Neil Armstrong had a Hasselblad camera strapped to his chest. I'd say excuse the lack of sky composition. Besides, the original picture also captures the lander in the composition. Wouldn't you want more photographic detail in a moon landing operation photo instead of one which is more harmoniously composed but contains useless black sky? But like I said, he's taking pictures with a camera strapped to his chest.

.. And who cares if it isn't a picture of Neil? It is the best representation of the feat and overall project. Besides, he took the picture.

pfedor 4 days ago 1 reply      
I always assumed that the poor composition of the original AS11-40-5903 (and many other photos from the Moon which suffer from the same problem) was because every pixel was precious, so they didn't want the uniformly black sky to take up any larger fraction of the image area than necessary. You can always add more black, unlike the rocks or equipment or whatever which was captured in the bottom of the picture.

BTW in AS11-40-5903 they took it too far and cut Buzz Aldrin's antenna.

jahewson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, it actually is a photo of Neil Armstrong on the moon - you can just about see him taking the photo, reflected in Buzz's sun visor :)
nrbafna 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is from a reddit ama where the OP has worked through Apollo 1-14. He claims it was Neil in the photo - http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/xove1/iama_97_year_old...
teebs 4 days ago 4 replies      
Pardon my ignorance, but why is it so horrible to use a photo manipulated by the source--especially if you know exactly how and why it was manipulated, and you still have access to the original? This manipulation seems rather benign, too. Why must it be "removed from your photo archives"?
jakejake 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really have a problem with the photo as long as the caption doesn't say it's Neil. It's a historic moment that everybody should recognize. He is known for this event and even took the photo.

As for the doctoring, I don't find it unethical. I don't have a problem straitening a crooked photo, adjusting the contrast, etc to make the photo visually appealing. That's not the same as adding a person. I understand journalists want "the truth" but with film there are so many artistic decisions made when processing a photo anyway. Maybe the truth is that is was very dark or bright. Should darkroom manipulation be skipped and the photo be blown out or solid black because that's the real truth? If there was a scratch on the negative I don't mind if it's repaired as long as it isn't maliciously trying to trick us.

gwern 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Despite the vast attention paid to the astronauts' psychological profiles and their ability to work in teams, the Apollo 11 crew verged on the dysfunctional. While Armstrong and Aldrin didn't quite match Stoppard's Scott and Oates, there was a fierce behind-the-scenes battle between them to be first to set foot on the Moon. Early plans were for Aldrin, as module pilot, to step out first, but one version reported by Smith has it that Armstrong, as mission commander, lobbied more vigorously than Aldrin, and Nasa backed him up because he would be ‘better equipped to handle the clamour when he got back' and, more mundanely, because his seat in the lunar module was closer to the door. Aldrin paid Armstrong back by taking no photographs of him on the Moon: the only manually taken lunar image of the First Man on the Moon is in one of many pictures Armstrong snapped of Aldrin, showing himself reflected in the visor of Aldrin's spacesuit. Asked about this omission later, Aldrin lamely replied: ‘My fault, perhaps, but we had never simulated this in training.' Later, Aldrin put it about that Armstrong's First Sentence might have been a bureaucratic concoction.


hastur 4 days ago 2 replies      
Because it's all a conspiracy. There isn't and never was a moon.

See here a British youth journalist challenge Buzz Aldrin about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kKFYTBo6kA

monsterix 4 days ago 3 replies      
Well that's a very interesting article to bring out facts. There are at least a billion people out there who still think this guy: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpg is Neil Armstrong. Also there is another half-a-billion or so which thinks man never landed on moon.

Darn the fluff, get the truth. Upvoted.

anuraj 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why is it that nobody could land on moon after 1972? After all cold war was still on. All moon landings happened between 1969-72. It is really unbelievable that US would forego such an advanced technology that nobody else had. There are many unanswered questions here.
wyclif 3 days ago 0 replies      
This Warrior of a Dead World: Gene Wolfe's literary portrait of Neil Armstrong http://silkandhornheresy.blogspot.com/2012/08/this-warrior-o...
darkstalker 3 days ago 1 reply      
In this photo: http://apple.copydesk.org/uploads/2012/08/120826ArmstrongLem...

How come the flag is waving in a environment with no atmosphere ?

flyinRyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because it's hard to find anything on the moon. Where would you look? Plus photos will be much lighter on the moon so a little solar breeze would probably send the photo flying for weeks.
dsr12 4 days ago 2 replies      
very insightful article. Do newspapers refuse to publish handout pictures that were manipulated by the source even if there was no wrong intention?
mukaiji 3 days ago 0 replies      
cue in the obnoxious conspiracy theorists...
tommy88 3 days ago 0 replies      
idiots, its all staged moon stuff, just like 9-11 was phoney video... hence the "september clues documentary"... go look it up and watch it you idiots
tommy88 3 days ago 0 replies      
idiots go watch SEPTEMBER CLUES DOCUMENTARY already
Introducing Tent - the decentralized social web tent.io
452 points by Titanous  7 days ago   221 comments top 48
enobrev 7 days ago  replies      
A few years back, I started getting interested in a similar idea. I'm definitely intrigued in seeing how well it goes. Good luck to you.

Of course, as ideas go, I allowed myself to think further into the possibilities, and found some interesting avenues.

For instance, why allow the facebooks, twitters, etc to own domain over our content? Let people store their own data, and offer API endpoints giving facebook, twitter, etc access. They essentially become frontends and search engines to our shared content. We get control of our own data (and privacy therein), they get to provide an interface to that data in a way that fits what they're trying to offer their "customers".

And then if you take that even further, why allow anyone control over your data? Why not store all my purchase data and credit info on my own servers, and allow authorized companies access as needed? Census time? Popup shows up on my phone asking if i'd like to allow the government access to some of my data for census - I pick what data is allowed, and it's done.

Electric company's system automatically logs in to get my electric usage. Phone provider does the same. Publishing a book literally allows access by readers to your own servers. Releasing an album - same deal. We still have "stores", but those stores are merely search engines offering a service to both the content creators and consumers.

It went further, and weirder (in interesting ways). I'm not sure such a system would truly be beneficial, but I love the idea of allowing people to Truly Own their own data.

Apologies for the tangent. Good luck to you. I'm a fan of the idea as it's presented and I hope you're successful.

gjulianm 7 days ago 5 replies      
My first thought was "Well, Diaspora with another name". But after reading and understanding it (it's not very well explained there) seems like a much more abstract thing. They want to build an abstraction layer to the social web, not a social network.

The idea seems pretty good. It's just the basics: you follow people and receive their content (text, images, whatever), and people follow you and you share content with them. The most amazing thing is that, just using these simple concepts the possibilities are infinite. As they said, every social network out there can be implemented in this way. ¿Twitter? It's trivial, just make the format description and you're ready. ¿Facebook? The only thing you should specify is that the relationships are symmetric (you can follow me only if I decide to follow you too, that is, we are mutual friends).

To me, the idea seems absolutely great. The problem will be execution: what apps are created using this protocol. I have also the doubt if apps will be interoperable. Example: I build a twitter-like app named Foo and another guy builds another twitter-like app named Bar. Both use similar formats, so, can an user using Foo see the contents posted with Bar? I imagine that this will be possible as long as they share the same post format, but I'm not sure.

Anyways, good work. I would really like to see Tent to expand and grow.

smacktoward 7 days ago 3 replies      
Random thought: it might be helpful to give Tent-the-protocol a different name than Tent-the-server-implementation. In other words, "Tent" means either the protocol you're specifying, or the server software you're planning on releasing, but not both.

An analogue would be the naming distinction between HTTP, the protocol, and httpd, the first Web server (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN_httpd). That naming split made it easier for people to understand what part of the system others were talking about, and helped make it clear that the two pieces were not tightly coupled to each other.

Maybe you're already planning on doing this when you release the server, it's not clear from the web site. If that's the case, feel free to ignore...

mbreese 7 days ago  replies      
Why is it that every new protocol seems to want to piggy back on HTTP? It seems to me that maintaining state would be a useful feature for a social protocol.

Another issue is that this assumes that the web will be the client of choice in the future... with mobile apps being as big as they are in the social space, this seems a bit shortsighted.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea behind having a "social server", but I don't necessarily think that starting with HTTP is the way to go.

I don't have any particular argument with using JSON for data transfer though... I think that is probably a good choice. Also using SSL for all connections is probably a good call too.

ivan_ah 7 days ago 1 reply      
This would be the "killer protocol" for the freedombox, if combined with some smart dyndns management.

Here is a use case scenario I am imagining. I define two servers for myself: home.me.com and cloud.me.com. Where home.me.com is a dyndns to the freedombox. Dyndyns being unreliable, if a tent msg cannot get to my home server, then the messages are sent to cloud.me.com and then pushed to
home.me.com when it comes back online (think POP mail).

The facebook killer then, is a hosted service like cloud.me.com for non-tech people, but a seamless transition to the hosted at home service as soon as you buy a freedombox. This way you have the best of both worlds. Your face in the cloud, and long term storage at home.

Other app wishlist: tent to smtp and smtp to tent adapters for gmail killing

SCdF 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm damn excited about this. I've been mulling this concept over in the last couple of years, because I really we need something post-blogs that isn't the walled garden facebook / twitter / G+ / et al model.

For the me the ultimate social network would be just blogs, RSS and a feed reader, with people either managing the blog themselves or using a third party to do it for them-- the point is it doesn't matter.

The problem is that blogging is complicated, anything with multiple options is complicated, and discovery is complicated. I know where to look to find a friend on facebook, I don't know where to look to find his blog.

I don't have time right now (work) to look into Tent in more detail, but it sounds like it's a definite step in the right direction.

arscan 7 days ago 2 replies      
This looks great guys. I'll definitely put up a server and hook up the content I traditionally expose through my personal website.

Question: what features that are taken for granted on today's popular social networks are difficult/impossible in this kind of distributed system? for example, i suspect something like "friend suggestions" might be difficult, since you only have access to a part of the network. Auto-friend tagging in pictures would be tough too. I'm seeing a lot of upsides listed, but there must be some things you just can't do. A candid discussion of the drawbacks would be helpful.

kennywinker 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is the Twitter replacement gotham needs.

Repo starred, eagerly awaiting runnable stuff.

yk 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder about the rationale to use HTTPS for everything, especially about the SSL part. It seems that by the choice of SSL over a web of thrust (WOT [1]) approach one imports the problems of certificates and CAs into the protocol. Especially it would be possible for a server with a root CA to impersonate other people. On the other hand, a social network is about social relations, which could also directly serve to sign and validate public keys in a WOT. This could then serve as a authentication against the same social network that is stored. For example a chat software could show Alice that the person she is chatting with is indeed Charly, the friend of Bob ( Bob signed Charlies key).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_of_trust

Torgo 7 days ago 2 replies      
I am not convinced that this needs a new protocol as they claim. Facebook-style functionality be done on top of activity streams, pubsubhub, salmon, webfinger et al. They indicate they have investigated existing systems and found them lacking. I would rather have something like this built on protocols that a bunch of people have discussed out in the open first. That said, I am interested to see more details as they arise, as this type of thing is needed.
mike-cardwell 7 days ago 2 replies      
Sounds almost too good to be true. Looking forward to being able to download some software.
jasonkolb 7 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome. I've wanted this forever, glad someone is finally picking up the ball and running with it. I'll be happy to beta test!
pacala 7 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks guys. Not a moment too soon. Humbly quoting the motivation:

> What is wrong with other social services?
Centralized Social Service Providers limit what you can share and who you can share with. They only allow users to interact with other users on the same network. Because their products are centralized and maintained by a company, users are left in the cold when the company changes its products or shuts down. There's nothing wrong with a company offering users social services. But users shouldn't be limited by those companies. Imagine if you could only email other customers of your Internet Service Provider. Unfortunately Centralized Social Service Providers have done just that. You can only communicate directly with other users of their closed network.

> If you don't like a bank you can withdraw your money and deposit it somewhere else, including your own home. You could even start a new bank where you and your friends felt safe. You can still pay your bills and maintain your financial relationships, just tell them about your new account. We aren't talking about money. Your data is far more valuable" your family and friends' photos, locations, and private communications. You should be able to store them somewhere you trust, move them when you want, control who can and can't see them.

mgualt 7 days ago 0 replies      
I would be interested to read a 'big-picture' description of what Tent is. Forgetting for the moment how it compares with competitors, what is the idea? I read the introduction but I feel that I don't understand it.

From what I can tell, the idea is to create a standard set of objects and rules for interacting with these objects. Of course that is how protocols tend to look.

What are some of the new objects/concepts proposed by Tent? For example, is there a distinction between "home" and "users" akin to server/client? Are there several types of messages, compared to email? Is there a standard cookie-like object? What is the conceptual model for sharing? Any insight would be appreciated.

pwf 7 days ago 4 replies      
It seems like this will use up a crapton of bandwidth with its 'push' style notifications. If someone with a million Facebook followers makes a new post, one entry is made in the database and then users pull it down as they visit their own pages.

If a million people decide to 'camp in my tent' (?), my server is suddenly pushing out gigs of data every time I make a post.

mratzloff 7 days ago 1 reply      
What took you so long? I've been waiting for someone to finally get around to building this for a long time.
sidcool 7 days ago 1 reply      
"Tent servers can also be run as Tor hidden services to create a social darknet for at-risk organizers and activists."
EGreg 7 days ago 1 reply      
We're building something like this for a while at Qbix.

It's not an easy problem to solve when it comes to privacy and security: http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20120110469#b

Eventually to arrive at this: http://myownstream.com

eschulte 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why not use the OpenPGP standard? PGP public and private keys seem to be the natural solution for both,

1. signing data so that the source can be verrified

2. encrypting messages so that they can only be read by particular recipients

teeeler 7 days ago 1 reply      
"His server sends a notification to every server following him or mentioned in the post with permission to see the post."

The protocol seems to have some fundamental limitations.

For my money I'd rather go with FETHR (see http://dsandler.org/brdfdr/ and this paper: http://dsandler.org/brdfdr/doc/iptps-fethr/) and its implementation - which has code available right now (https://bitbucket.org/dsandler/brdfdr/).

dj2stein9 7 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this crew is looking at WebRTC. The true killer app for a distributed social network is going to be a global decentalized video chat network. Imagine Google hangouts without Google. Even just to implement a voice-only chat without a centralized system would be pretty phenomenal.

Also, I really think they're making a mistake by not using secure Websockets for their protocol. Plain HTTP has too much overhead for what needs to be an efficient messaging protocol and the potential need for persistent connections.

tagawa 7 days ago 0 replies      
But how does this differ to StatusNet/OStatus? If we have several similar solutions to a problem it makes it more difficult for one to gain traction. Seems like reinventing the wheel, or am I missing something?
eps 7 days ago 0 replies      
Who's behind Tent, does anyone know?

I can swear I saw a section with names on the site, but can't seem to find it now. It looks like it was taken out.

lucaspiller 7 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking to get involved I have (unoffically) started a project to write a testsuite against the protocol. Contributions would be appreciated.


chanux 7 days ago 0 replies      
Where's the donate button when I really need it?
BerislavLopac 6 days ago 0 replies      
In my opinion, there isn't much point in decentralizing servers -- it's been tried and failed a number of times. What we need is decentralized clients, e.g. a true P2P social network. Essentially, imagine that your contacts app could exchange messages over the Internet directly with any -- or all, or any combination -- of the contacts stored within.
hammock 7 days ago 2 replies      
> Tent is specifically designed to be usable by high-risk activists and people in countries that block other social networks.

I can't help but read that and think, "terrorists." Then again, there will always be that tradeoff and you are probably on the right side.

biomechanica 7 days ago 0 replies      
I like how they support Tor hidden services. Though I wish they would go a step further and support I2P.

It's really nice to see people are working on ways to sort of "replace" the current centralized services out there.

Let us hope they are attractive enough to developers and users.

khet 7 days ago 1 reply      
"How is Tent licensed?
Tent will be completely free and open and treated as a standard. To prevent fragmentation before launch, the original authors currently retain copyright. This is a temporary situation which will be remedied immediately after a governance model is chosen. We decided it would be best to share what we could as soon as possible, releasing early and often. We are entirely committed to free and open software and protocols with open governance models leading to a ratified standard. Tent will be released under an open license in the immediate future."

I am curious as to how retaining copyright will help them prevent fragmentation?
Can they not elect themselves as project leaders of the opensource project and prevent fragmentation?

darkhorn 7 days ago 1 reply      
PHP support is vital.
EternalFury 7 days ago 0 replies      
Friendica does that already. No one cares. Potato chips are potato chips. No one cares about the brand, but everyone loves them, even though they are not free.
rshm 7 days ago 2 replies      
Instead of sub domain, email address would have been a better choice.


Where provider.tld provides specification/api.. like robot.txt/tent.json that would specify actual api endpoints for given user.

kindalu 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking about every smart phone as a tent server.

P2P camping site will establish when you are waiting the bus, taking the boring meeting, or camping at the river bank. I tried to use wifi-direct/bluetooth, but I found iPhone and Android system set device default to non-discoverable for security issue. But I do found a lot of Nokia/LG phone in discoverable mode on subway.

I hope the tent will be successful.
Be an application to make strangers knowing each other and people to go outdoor.

Meldryn 7 days ago 2 replies      
How does this compare with Diaspora?
victorNicollet 7 days ago 1 reply      
I believe this is a great idea, but I disagree with some points of your implementation. I actually started writing a lengthy comment about this, and after about two hours of writing I decided it might look better as a blog post, so there you go:


adrianbg 7 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really neat. How are you going to get people to start using it? Anything more active than hoping that an app/user ecosystem develops?
ojr 7 days ago 0 replies      
"Not Invented Here" syndrome is manifested as an unwillingness to adopt an idea or product because it originates from another culture - Wikipedia

The culture of decentralized web doesn't bode well, not enough capitalism, which might in turn effect the quality of the product.

liotier 7 days ago 0 replies      
> OStatus [..] stopped short of actual decentralization.

How so ? It looks quite decentralized to me.

ricardobeat 7 days ago 0 replies      
Who is building this? Who designed the protocol, and will publish/veto the standard?
maked00 7 days ago 0 replies      
To a normal person, this article is just a collection of fuzzy well meaning ideas wrapped around a bunch of technical network jaron. The fact that there is no working demo is rather damming.
aj 6 days ago 0 replies      
How is the different from identi.ca? Isn't this pretty much what their premise is/was? (ignoring implementation differences)
alistairbayley 7 days ago 0 replies      
How does this compare to Mr Social? : http://mobisocial.stanford.edu/papers/mrprivacy.pdf
mparlane 7 days ago 1 reply      
Please make more social networks.
zoowar 7 days ago 1 reply      
What happens when my server is down when you try to post a notification?
mxuribe 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'm digging this!
nikunjk 7 days ago 0 replies      
Website is down?
webwanderings 7 days ago 1 reply      
"Every user decide which other users can follow them and what information will be shared with each of their followers."

This effectively makes each person an island in h/herself and hence the model of social-web breaks down. It wouldn't work and people know it.

In order to liberate the data, you're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Show HN - We just built a site that saves lives watsi.org
443 points by chaseadam17  6 days ago   183 comments top 55
brittohalloran 6 days ago  replies      
The one thing you need to focus on above all else is transparency and preventing scams. Video of the actual person who needs the treatment would go a long way, as would video updates along the way. I'm thinking an Android app that the locals could use to document the process.

If you solve that properly, this will really take off and do a lot of good.

Also, you're going to eventually need to take a very small cut of the donations to pay living expenses for your volunteers. 100% to the patient sounds great, but for my donation, I'd prefer to know that there is someone dedicated full-time to the cause and overseeing the process, and receiving a reasonable salary for it. Of course, be 100% transparent about those salaries as well.

Mizza 6 days ago 1 reply      
Just got an email - "Thanks to you, Sushil's medical treatment has been funded!"

Now that's CRM! I can't think of a single possible better way of making a customer happy. I'm telling everybody I know about this.

The payment process was seamless, the design is lovely and the cause, well, of course.

You guys are amazing.

mehulkar 6 days ago 2 replies      
I'm typically against organizations that need to live off donations. I think it's an impractical and unsustainable model. Your cause is very close to my heart and I would love to support it, but I'm a creature of convenience. I could make one donation now, but would fail to continue making donations. The two solutions I have seen that are successful at solving this problem are:

1) Automation. E.g. in the movie Office Space they take shavings off transactions (amounting to a few cents or less at a time) and pool them together. Another example: Auto-rounding up my grocery receipt, etc.

2) Recycling funds. I don't see how this would work in a donation based system where cash-flow is one directional, but it works really well for something like Kiva where funds are returned and the option to recycle is extremely easy.

If any non-profit is to be sustainable, they must put in a HUGE amount of effort to obtain large enough recurring funds or make it really easy to provide funds. Since you are targeting individuals, it's going to be difficult to do the former. The latter will take a little more thought.

All this said, I wish you the best of luck.

alexanderh 6 days ago 5 replies      
This is "Death panels" in a fancy suit. Bid on life saving medical treatment from a thumbnail? By someones looks? and a possibly fabricated story?

So now we the internet get to decide who lives and dies? Who has a healthy fulfilling life and who lives with disease and disability? Idk about this idea. Its well intentioned, but oh so wrong all at the same time.

This type of charity should be first come first serve to be fair. Not some bidding war over who's the most sickly (but still cute) looking child, or who has the most compelling story. A human is a human.

The good intentions are there, but something about the way this website presents itself is twisted. Why should any of these people receive preferential funding over any other of them? Why should I get to choose? I'm not an expert on their medical conditions, or who needs more help than others. If this gets people to give money to a good cause, thats fine. But Idk. Still seems odd.

Sorry if this is the kind of "negativity" hacker news is trying to avoid these days, but this is genuinely what I feel.

buster 6 days ago 1 reply      
May i suggest a "I just funded <person>'s medical treatment
with XYZ$ on http://watsi.org Facebook-share option?

Or "<Person> just got new medical treatment from watsi.org", with a name and picture of that person..

Something like that to encourage people more to do the same as their friends do :)

salman89 6 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome site, congrats on making the world a better place.

I would suggest that you integrate directly with reputable organizations - it will place an abstraction between you and potential backlash for scamming. Also allows you to provide aid where you don't have direct reach already.

Another idea would be to integrate with hospitals/care givers directly, so you know the money is being spent properly. Hospitals/care givers will be less likely to scam you, as they can benefit in the long term and do have something to lose if caught scamming.

bgraves 6 days ago 2 replies      
One of the most powerful "About" pages I've seen:

>>The instant she opened the folder everything came together. There was a full-sized photograph paper clipped to the inside left cover and a document stapled to the right. The photograph showed a young boy with an incision across the width of his iodine-stained chest. The document to the right outlined the patient's medical condition. The young boy was her son.

adriand 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is excellent. The funding process is fast and seamless. It took me literally less than 30 seconds to fund a treatment. Kudos for an amazing idea and excellent execution.
iandanforth 6 days ago 1 reply      
On the 'location' section I'd love to have a link that says 'Learn more about health care in this country.' Or something like that.

I have a fairly good handle on how these situations could occur in the US but in Canada they would be unthinkable! Why, in this specific country, is this person not being taken care of?

As many other have said, best of luck. This is a truly Good endeavor.

brador 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea!

Questions: how do you select who gets on the site? What protections are in place to prevent scammers listing fake illnesses? What proof is required before funding is handed over? Is funding handed to patient or doctor or someone else??

__alexs 6 days ago 1 reply      
> 100% of your donation directly funds treatment!

ITYM 98.6% - 96.6% - £0.20 GBP of your donation directly funds treatment!

Or is there some awesome charitable PayPal fee structure that you are using?

ryanmolden 6 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely get the 501c3 info up as well. Some employers will match employee charitable donations. Mine does and I love to use it to "stick it to the man". I would be interested in giving and registering you as a charity eligible for donation matching. Donations can be money, time, software, etc... It can be a great way to "leverage up" your giving.
mtrimpe 6 days ago 0 replies      
I once developed a similar application for a large charity which included the ability to place a widget to donate to the 'current charity' on your site/blog and had an associated leader board of who collected the most donations.

That project was never launched due to the cost of integrating with their ERP, but the idea might be worth considering for Watsi as well.

marquis 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love this, I use Kiva and the rewards are wonderful as is their way of keeping my money in circulation. But I'm not a U.S. citizen so I only donate a small amount because it's not tax-deductable in my country. You know what I would love? Some one to build a global non-profit money distribution center, so I can donate a lot more in my country and the money can go where I choose. Right now I keep my donations limited in price unless it's a local charity to my tax country and I'd like to see that change.
buster 6 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, that's awesome.

I felt bad having to decide between them and funded all 3 that still need funding :)

p.s.: unfortunately i still have a "bad feeling" because the internet is full of scams, i guess that will be your hardest fight, convincing people you are not a scam

fmavituna 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea, seems like well executed as well.

It might worth trying to get in touch with give well (http://www.givewell.org/) to get a review, so transparency aspect of it will be much better documented.

revorad 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, thanks for making this!

I just shared this on Facebook but the FB auto summary thing didn't pull up an image as it usually does for links. You should look into fixing that because having a powerful image (as you do on the homepage) will definitely increase visibility and click-through rates.

vmialik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad to see you guys take part in GSVC. Really miss this competition, and the social enterprise community at UC Berkeley. Being a non-profit I bet it was pretty tough to survive with competitors who focus on for profit or non/for profit hybrids that scale.
beggi 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hi, I just tried to donate and logged in through Paypal but I get "Something went wrong": http://cl.ly/image/0Z0H0n3i1f0q
pepve 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a bit uncomfortable with this. Who picks the people that get our help? Is it better to pick a few and fix their lives, or should we aim to slightly improve the lives of many?
missing_cipher 6 days ago 1 reply      
Does adding a "monthly subscription" type option make sense? It does add another level of complexity(user accounts and whatnot), but I think people would like the convenience of automatically donating.

Maybe having the option to split their donation as they see fit(1/3, half and half, 100% to just one, etc).

Good luck with the site. :)

TWAndrews 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool. I would love an option for a repeating monthly donation. Maybe send me an email with candidates either based on random draw, treatments which just need a bit more to get over the top, or something similar.
aurelijus 6 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome guys, really nice and fast funding process (though if payment fails you are stuck with plain red message in blank page, you could improve on that one).
The advice I can give you - steal best parts from Kiva, they have great and successful site. One of the things I missed was "tip" donation along with the treatment donation.
jc00ke 6 days ago 1 reply      
In case anyone couldn't get to the site for a bit, our hosting provider Heroku was seeing some issues with apex/naked domains: https://status.heroku.com/incidents/421 Hopefully it's resolved now. I cranked up another dyno just in case.

Thanks for all the love!

limeade 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think that it may be the case by law that the donor cannot select the individual recipient of a donation if the organization wants to retain tax exemption.
TomGullen 6 days ago 1 reply      
Absolutely amazing, love the idea, love the way you implemented it.

I'll definitely be signing up and making some donations.

My main concern though is as this scales (which I'm sure it will because it's awesome) you will run into the scammers.

jcoder 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great work. I would suggest tweaking the <title> text when there are zero or one fundings going on to encourage me to donate still.
sergiotapia 6 days ago 1 reply      
This made me really misty eyed. It's a really good idea that will change peoples lives. I'm going to share this to everyone I know.

Please share this on Reddit as well and make it viral.

Nothing brings me down like seeing children with medical conditions and parents that can't afford treatment. It's so sad.

tsahyt 6 days ago 1 reply      
All in all this is a really great idea! Keep going and keep improving!
aidos 6 days ago 1 reply      
And...looks like everything's fully funded now.

Between this and the Tesla museum crowdfunding has given me optimism about the world we live in these days.

whit537 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to find a way for Gittip (http://gittip.com/about) to help you fund Watsi.org. The "public benefit corporation" sounds like what I was aiming at with open companies:


autophil 5 days ago 1 reply      
One suggestion: please get a copywriter to write your headlines and subject headings. The current "we just built a site that saves lives" is epically bad. You are leaving money on the table when you make ambiguous, poorly written copy.
zbruhnke 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome, So glad people are out there doing good deeds like this. I immediately thought to myself, wow this is really cool.

If you guys do nothing else in your careers you'll still be able to say you've made a difference. That is truly awesome.


runako 6 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome site! One point of feedback: the PayPal workflow is so bad it almost made me stop my donation. It would be much easier with a standard CC payment option.

Good luck!

asdfprou 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great work! Landing looks clean and within 15 seconds I know exactly what the core message and values are. I appreciate the work you guys have done to make it as transparent as possible as I know that is a major point of contention when it comes to crowdfunding.

Small nit: Is it just me or is the "email" button on the profile page actually popping up the share modal on hover?

bmajz 6 days ago 3 replies      
I imagine a lot of people will be reading the FAQ page, so you might want to correct this typo:

In order to be eligible for Watsi funding, patients must be inflicted with an illness that meets the treatment criteria and subsequently be unable to afford the required medical treatment as a result of poverty.

You surely mean "afflicted" rather than "inflicted"

amalakar 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant idea and one that is perfectly executed. I would love to contribute whichever way I can and the way it brings down the barrier to contribute is remarkable. I would love to contribute in a personalized way than to donate to an organization where I don't have any clue what happened to the money.
Wish you all the success!
gregalbritton 6 days ago 0 replies      
A very successful launch with an incredible objective (one profile already funded today). This is exciting stuff!
needcaffeine 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant! What a great cause. I have a few questions for you on the technical side:

- What did you code this in?

- How many developers did you have?

- How long did it take you?

- What kinds of problems did you encounter on the way?

Congrats on the launch.

bezaorj 6 days ago 1 reply      
brilliant idea, specially with the update on the outcome of the treatment. hope this succeeds
thuffy 6 days ago 2 replies      
Does it bother you that you are subsidizing defective genetics and thus making humanity less fit and thus increasing the average level of suffering?
You might think you are being nice by decreasing the suffering of an individual, but you are also dooming consciousness to suffer being born into a defective host that otherwise would not have happened if not for your subsidization of defective genetics.

I am curious as to what the higher than average enlightened readership of HN thinks on this?

Of course it is very taboo to say what I did as the medical industrial complex is on the side of causing this problem as they are then guaranteed not just one more customer, but a new lineage of customers.

dan-g 6 days ago 1 reply      
Any way you could add a brief synopsis of your organization to your "site unavailable" page? I (and I'm sure others) would be much more likely to keep the tab open/check back soon if that were the case.
alexshye 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! Totally awesome that you might literally save lives. I agree with the others that the transparency thing is the most important.
jblock 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in love with the idea, but the frequency that payments get bounced via Kickstarter bothers me when the funds are applied directly do medical procedures like this.
imjared 6 days ago 1 reply      
Looks good. Minor minor minor nit-pick: Twitter logo needs to be updated :)


FrackieTV 6 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful. This site works on the same principle as ChildFund (Christian Children's Fund), but actually delivers the money where it implies it does. When faced with actual real people that are in need, it is difficult not to donate, especially that the donation process is so smooth and seamless.

Not only made me reach for my wallet, it made me register on HH and comment, and that's much harder.

Bravo! Keep on making this world a better place for all.

manuscreationis 6 days ago 1 reply      

You are doing a great thing, and I applaud you

bmajz 6 days ago 0 replies      
All treatments are fully funded. Wow, that's an awesome job folks (both Watsi and Hacker News)
dragthor 5 days ago 0 replies      
vegasje 6 days ago 1 reply      
It would be even better if you integrated some way to fund sustainable projects related to the health and wellbeing of these people.

Saving someone's life is an amazing thing. Helping a community develop programs to saves lives into the future is on another level.

adnanofsteel 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely great.
Spread the love on twitter.
swalkergibson 6 days ago 1 reply      
Does it get any better than this?
mborries 6 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing non-profit and website! Truly for a great cause.
avinash88 6 days ago 1 reply      
You guys are fantastic! Thank you for finding a way to save those that are sometimes overlooked!
nickfrost 6 days ago 1 reply      
So awesome! :)
A Linux dev who helped thousands needs help to fight cancer linuxlock.blogspot.it
425 points by FiloSottile  5 days ago   127 comments top 40
tytso 4 days ago 0 replies      
The title of the article is not accurate. He is not a Linux developer; for those who don't know who he is, Ken is the founder of the Helios project, which is a non-profit which refurbishes old computers and distributes them to children whose families can't afford computers.

So for someone who has paid things forward, he certainly deserves help. See the following article from his hometown newspaper in Austin, Texas for more about the good works that he has done:


Update: Thomas Knight reports that they have raised the necessary $50,000. It looks like the Indiegogo campaign is still open, and there's a note than any excess that isn't needed for his medical expenses (if all goes well the $50k should be enough) will go to Reglue, his non-profit which helps children to get access to computers.

eric_bullington 5 days ago 7 replies      
I just donated $50. And as much as I agree with the sentiments on this page about my country's lacking health care system (and have always voted with this in mind), I hope we can come together to focus on the problem at hand, which is raising money for a fellow dev in his time of greatest need.
I assume the Indiegogo account cannot be suspended as easily as Paypal, so I made the donation through Indiegogo despite the slightly higher service fee.

EDIT: Here's the link for the Indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/helios

mbreese 5 days ago 3 replies      
As an update: http://linuxlock.blogspot.com/2012/08/it-started-with-hopele...

While he still needs money, they did find a doctor to perform the surgery. But don't let that stop you from donating, if you're able.

He also answered a question that I had: he's a veteran, so he should qualify for VA medical assistance. According to his post above, the VA system moves too slow to stop his rapidly spreading cancer.

glesica 5 days ago 1 reply      
Donated $50. I realize we're trying not to rant about the healthcare system too much, so all I will say is that this is exactly why the system is a problem. What's the point of all our technology and "progress" if we still don't provide reasonable care to all?
taknight 5 days ago 0 replies      
Blown away.

I'm simply blown away, as day after day the outpouring of support for Ken grows. When I put my blog post together, my hope was to help a good friend with a new monitor, and the rest was kindof a pipe dream.

Now, 8 days and almost $40,000 later, I'm at a loss for words.

Thank you to everyone who has donated, commented, passed it on, or done anything else to help us out. Both Ken and I are speechless.

Thank you.

tzs 5 days ago 3 replies      
SSI disability payments should not count against Medicare income limits.

The United States fucking sucks sometimes.

gambiting 5 days ago 1 reply      
Say whatever you like about EU, but I can't think of any country here that would not help this man, or let him die simply because he can't afford surgery. In the worst possible case he would still have the surgery done straight away ,but he would have to pay afterwards,not before - he might end up in debt because of that,but better than being dead for sure.

Anyway, donated some money, really wish he gets all the help he needs.

shirro 5 days ago 0 replies      
It isn't like a health safety net even has to be all that expensive. A good mixed system looks after the poorest people and everyone else is encouraged (with tax penalties etc) to have private health insurance. In a wealthy country hardly anyone should be poor or unemployed anyway so the costs aren't that great. The US is a triumph of ideology over common sense.
DanBC 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope paypal don't freeze the account for 180 days while they investigate.
tzaman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Of all the crap we throw money at, I see absolutely no reason not to help this man out. Donated.
carbocation 5 days ago 0 replies      
He needs to get himself admitted to a major academic medical center, possibly via the ED.
sharms 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hackernews has been very kind to me through the years, glad I can send a few dollars to return the favor
callmesocialist 5 days ago 1 reply      
I still question the lack of healthcare in a developed nation.
agumonkey 4 days ago 0 replies      
Quote from indiegogo:

    8/25 - Update 4: Thank you!

I can't thank you enough. Not only have we found Ken a surgeon, but the surgeon has agreed to
do the surgery for a fraction of the original cost. We have raised $47,600 total now, enough
to cover the surgery, any and all pre and post op medical expenses, all medication Ken will
need for the foreseeable future, and there might even be some left over to go to Reglue.

I can't stress enough how thankful I am to everyone who has helped. The outpouring of support
is amazing. You are all wonderful people. :)

Thank you.

rplnt 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry to be so ignorant when it comes to linux core (perhaps?) developers, but the entire blog post didn't mention his name nor his wife signed it with hers so I could at least assume who he is.
chadr 5 days ago 0 replies      
eculver 5 days ago 0 replies      
Donated $40.

Two days ago, there was a post on HN announcing Watsi, essentially a Kickstarter for healthcare (Sorry if I'm discrediting it's overall value in any way, it's a great idea: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424081). Most of us in the Western world aren't the target audience for Watsi, but this seems appropriate. Can we not make this happen and see a cohesive case to be made for those asking questions about cause and background?

taknight 4 days ago 0 replies      
We have closed donations coming directly through PayPal. Thank you to everyone who has been so generous. The IndieGoGo campaign will remain open for another day or so, but we can't keep taking donations when we've now clearly met our goal.

The $50,000 we collected in 10 days will more than cover all of Ken's medical expenses as he continues through his difficult cancer treatment. Thank you to everyone who helped out, you are all wonderful people. :)


FiloSottile 5 days ago 1 reply      
Indiegogo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/helios RE-EDIT: IndieGoGo takes 9% fee but PayPal is known for account freezing, the choice is up to you
johnrob 5 days ago 0 replies      
I donated $30 (thought I'd add more social proof while I'm here).
ixacto 5 days ago 2 replies      
I would gladly pay 5% more income tax to be on par with Canada as far as rates go, if the USA got single-payer healthcare.
marquis 5 days ago 1 reply      
I just donated via Paypal given the comments about the 9% vs Paypal fees. However it got me thinking from reading the indiegogo site:

"The cost just to book the OR for Ken's surgery is $50,000, and that doesn't include the surgery itself, nor any post-op medical expenses."

What is the total cost of expenses, or is that unknown? Knowing how much is needed would possibly help raise more funds.

gozman 5 days ago 0 replies      
Set aside the debates on healthcare, the awful reality of this man have to raise funds to keep him alive, or any other political rhetoric.

Most of us, even the most starving bootstrapper of the bunch, has enough change in his/her pocket to make an impact on a real human life.

Let's not brag about what we donated, or how much, or if we donated at all. But please everyone, let's reach out for someone who needs us like every good human should.

jfb 5 days ago 0 replies      
$50. Nobody should be in this situation. The US system is appalling.
sidcool 5 days ago 1 reply      
My donations went to "DragonWing Software", I hope that's correct.
barking 5 days ago 1 reply      
America does seem to be a country where it's devil take the hindmost but people who live here in Europe find plenty to complain about in our systems too.
bstar77 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm happy to see these kickstarter clones popping up for medical causes. I'm much more apt to donate when I can better see where my money is going (and hope I don't get scammed in the process).
sidcool 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, I trust Hacker News and I am donating whatever I am capable of.
raheemm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just donated $35.
antihero 5 days ago 0 replies      
Holy fuck is your healthcare system stupid.
hhimanshu 5 days ago 0 replies      
I donated $10, I wish him better health and good luck
bunsenhoneydew 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just donated through paypal. Hopefully the account will hold up ok.

Geeks with heart. You're a lovely bunch HN peeps...

Wishing Diane and Ken all the best.

roma1n 5 days ago 0 replies      
Donated. Now what about fixing your health care system, Uncle Sam?
simcop2387 4 days ago 0 replies      
You are all lovely people. <3
bjm1 5 days ago 0 replies      
donated $100, hope he gets better.
bobdvb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't know the man, a little sad that we have to support the screwed up US medical system, but I've given money because I have it and he doesn't.
tylerc230 5 days ago 0 replies      
masmullin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Donated. Get well Ken.
iamanet 5 days ago 0 replies      
Donated $50. Get well Ken.
two1eight 4 days ago 0 replies      
donated $40. Get well soon.
A device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious osnews.com
415 points by thomholwerda  3 days ago   423 comments top 40
w1ntermute 3 days ago  replies      
This entire trial was a farce. The jury foreman admitted that they "skipped" prior art because "It was bogging us down."[0]

> "Once you determine that Samsung violated the patents," Ilagan said, "it's easy to just go down those different [Samsung] products because it was all the same. Like the trade dress, once you determine Samsung violated the trade dress, the flatscreen with the Bezel...then you go down the products to see if it had a bezel.


> "We wanted to make sure the message we sent was not just a slap on the wrist," Hogan said. "We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable."

Except the purpose of damages is to compensate the patent holder, not to punish the infringer.

And let's not forget that they responded to 700 questions in 2 days. If they worked for 16 hours/day, that's 32-60/700 = 2.7 minutes/question. I find it difficult to believe that a group of highly educated patent lawyers, let alone a group of laymen, most of whom didn't even know what a patent was a month ago, could have come to an equitable decision on all the questions so quickly.

The way I see it, Samsung clearly copied many aspects of their phones from the iPhone. That was obviously unethical, but whether it was illegal is much more difficult to determine, particularly when Apple itself copied many aspects of the iPhone from past innovations.

I don't like to think of Apple as a pure innovator - I think of them more as an assembler. When they see a market in which all the hardware pieces are available and waiting to be put together, they do that in such a way that the final product appeals to the end-user, particularly through the design of appropriate software. For example, they entered the PMP market when hard drives and batteries were cheap/portable enough to make the iPod a reality. They entered the phone market when capacitive touchscreens were cheap/large enough - their real innovation was on the software side. I don't agree with software patents, but unfortunately that's the current state of things in the US.

At the same time, there's little doubt that there was bias towards the "home team" as well, especially when the jurors live so close to Silicon Valley.

I was honestly shocked that Samsung didn't overwhelmingly beat Apple in South Korea[1], although the WSJ suggests there was definitely a bias[2]. Samsung's chairman, Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty in the past of tax evasion, bribing politicians, prosecutors, and judges, and then pardoned for it by the South Korean government. Not surprising when you consider that Samsung generates 20% of South Korea's GDP.

0: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2012082510525390...

1: http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/23/3264434/apple-samsung-kore...

2: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044423050457761...

timmyd 3 days ago  replies      
This has been spoken about over and over (refer to the heated discussion yesterday which wasn't my intention - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4431382). The core of the article again - looks at the concept of obviousness.

Refer here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventive_step_and_non-obviousn... - "One of the main requirements of patentability is that the invention being patented is not obvious, meaning that a "person having ordinary skill in the art" would not know how to solve the problem at which the invention is directed by using exactly the same mechanism."

Predominately - "that obviousness should be determined by looking at
the scope and content of the prior art;
the level of ordinary skill in the art;
the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art; and
objective evidence of nonobviousness.
In addition, the court outlined examples of factors that show "objective evidence of nonobviousness". They are:
commercial success;
long-felt but unsolved needs; and
failure of others."

See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_35_of_the_United_States_C....

Again - this article is attempting to state "oh because PDA existed, that means that everything related to a device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious". but again, thats untrue.

I still believe - in additional the complex legal arguments - the comment below was one of greatest aspects that changed the lay-persons juror mind. Per the Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny

"In those three months, Samsung was able to copy Apple's 4-year investment in the iPhone, without taking any of the risks"because they were copying the world's most successful product ... No one is trying to stop them from selling smartphones, all we're saying is: make your own. Make your own designs, make your own phones, and compete on your own innovations."

arn 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why are PDAs suddenly that weird uncle you never talk about and only see at birthdays?

Because they ultimately failed in the market. There was a reason that the Blackberry and Treo type devices became popular. They worked better than the early touchscreen devices.

Those early deficiencies left manufacturers gunshy about creating more touchscreen devices. It was combination of hardware issues (resistive, single touch) and also software (graffiti, interface).

It was not obvious in 2007 that such a device (full touchscreen, no physical keyboard) would succeed. The early iPhone reviews specifically addressed the keyboard issue, since this was a Blackberry world. Practically all Blackberry fans at the time were saying that the device would fail because you need a physical keyboard.

(2007) http://allthingsd.com/20070626/the-iphone-is-breakthrough-ha...

The iPhone's most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt " who did most of the testing for this review " was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

BenoitEssiambre 3 days ago 2 replies      
Also see openmoko (2006):


"The Neo1973 is based on a Samsung S3C2410 SoC (system-on-chip) application processor, powered by an ARM9 core. It will have 128MB of RAM, and 64MB of flash, along with an upgradable 64MB MicroSD card.

Typical of Chinese phone designs, the Neo1973 sports a touchscreen, rather than a keypad -- in this case, an ultra-high resolution 2.8-inch VGA (640 x 480) touchscreen. "Maps look stunning on this screen," Moss-Pultz said.

The phone features an A-GPS (assisted GPS) receiver module connected to the application processor via a pair of UARTs. The commercial module has a closed design, but the API is apparently open.

Similarly, the phone's quad-band GSM/GPRS module, built by FIC, runs the proprietary Nucleus OS on a Texas Instruments baseband powered by an ARM7 core. It communicates with Linux over a serial port, using standard "AT" modem commands.

The Neo1973 will charge when connected to a PC via USB. It will also support USB network emulation, and will be capable of routing a connected PC to the Internet, via its GPRS data connection.

Moss-Pultz adds, "Applications are the ringtones of the future."

As for additional software components, Moss-Pultz admits, "Quite a lot is there, and quite a lot is not there. We're hoping to change this." In addition to a dialer, phonebook, media player, and application manager, the stack will likely include the Minimo browser

He adds, "Mobile phones are the PCs of the 21st century, in terms of processing power and broadband network access.

Looks familiar?

I personally have always thought the iPhone was Apple taking the openmoko idea and running with it.

EDIT: added details

pinaceae 3 days ago 3 replies      
Ever notice how Jony Ive looks nothing like a Googler?

This whole trainwreck of a discussion is fed IMHO by the big rift between common, male IT-oriented folks and the rest of the population around visuals, aestethics and yes, concepts like fashion.

Sit in the cantina of any company and you can tell who is development/IT. Neckbeards? Socks in sandals? Leather cowboy hats? Attachments on their belts? Unshapely bodies?

Aestethics do exist in that other group. Good code, clever algorithms, etc. Fashion too, in forms of buzzwords and technologies du jour. DjangoRailsHadoop... But visual aestethics? Nope, nada, utter incomprehension.

The utter genious of Jobs was to bring the aestethics of the outer world into software and computer hardware. Design already existed in other industries, see Braun, Sony, etc but no one applied it to software. Because "nerds" didn't even understand it. See it. Grok it.

These Samsung vs Apple debates show this faultline. No comprehension at all why a particular implementation of multi touch should matter, be worth something. It is all obvious, just UI, the thing you slap on top of your awesome program. Why should it matter how it LOOKS?! How can that be so important? Didn't the LG Prada looks exactly the same? Ok, it used scrollbars, but why is that different to how iOS does it?

Whenever someone claims that Apple's success is just about marketing, nothing relevant in their products themselves. Whenever it's just off the shelf components they took and re-arranged, super simple and OBVIOUS, I can't help to think about blind people arguing about the uselessness of colors.

drats 3 days ago 1 reply      
Few buttons, PDA.

Tablet with news, Knight Ridder tablet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBEtPQDQNcI

Icons finger sized in a grid. Well given we already had desktops, and given it's a handheld device, then it's insanely obvious to have fewer icons in a grid at finger size. Low resolution screen compared to our desktops, hey maybe we should have fullscreen as the default.

Pinch to zoom, multiple sci-fi movies.

Slide to unlock. Phones already had something called "unlock', and physical bolt locks already slide... So we make a visualisation of what amounts to a sliding latch when when have the touch screen, pure genius, nobody besides Apple could have thought of that, right?

"Trade Dress" to stop competitors should also be entirely illegal unless there is no branding or logo on the phone, or the name is too similar or in some insanely small font. If it has "Samsung" written on it it's insane to argue that anyone would confuse these things. What if these rules applied to TVs, cars or bottles of perfume? Perhaps technically they do, but people have had such things for so long they don't think about them in that way. It's farcical that anything clearly identified as a different product on the box can be subject to such rules.

Apple products are like a good classy restaurant or hotel chain. They take ingredients everyone has and put a lot of work into fit and finish, they make the customer feel special for a slightly higher price. And they have a dress code that permits only a certain crowd in there (app store approvals vs. more free entrance policy of other application stores, and by the way apt-get and various frontends to it pre-date the app store). All due respect to them for doing a good job, but Steve Jobs' entitlement complex knew no bounds and there is no moral or logical merit to their claims only a slice of legal merit on the back of stupid laws.

equalarrow 3 days ago  replies      
"Just to drive the point home: a device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious.."

I still don't buy it. This still misses the mark - it wasn't about a 'few' buttons, the iPhone was about none. All those pda's in the picture don't really mean anything to me. Sure, some of them had cell networking and a lot (most? all?) had wifi. But I would never consider the old pda's a mobile device. 'Mobile' to me comes from the term 'mobile phone', not 'mobile pda'.

To me, this article is typical of OSNews - if it's not Linux or open source, it bad/wrong/etc.

Anyway, Dan Frakes tweet wasn't talking about 'a few buttons being obvious' he said 'having no buttons/keys'. And like he said, if this was so obvious, then why wasn't everyone doing it in 2006? Howcome pda's didn't do this in the early 2000's? Because it took a visionary team of designers and execs (or just Jobs) that appreciates minimalism. No one at Compaq, HP, Microsoft's many pda OEMs would, no, could have done something like this. And don't forget the require stylus..

Nicole060 3 days ago 2 replies      
As someone who has owned a pre-iPhone phone with a touchscreen, and seen another one in the hand of a friend, no, what made the iPhone the iPhone is NOT obvious.

For the love of god, my LG Prada was so shitty I had to hit a 2px scrollbar with my thumb to scroll in the contact list. I can't contain the nervous laugh whenever some ignorant who never touched the device link to wikipedia proud of their attempt at mocking Apple.
Web browsing on a touchscreen is a real PITA without something like the double tap making a paragraph fit the whole screen automatically too.

Like it or not but the iPhone, as a whole package, without just singling out a feature here and there, was a real innovation, a breath of fresh air that opened a new market and has been copied to death by some companies like Samsung. I hated my LG Prada but instantly loved my iPhone the day I bought one and I wasn't anything like an Apple fanboy.

rjsamson 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the big differences as far as PDAs go is that they required a stylus, and the touch was pressure sensitive. It couldn't be used just with your fingers.

The iPhone's touchscreen implementation was innovative. I remember quite a lot of debate in the period between the iPhone's announcement and release about weather or not a capacitive touchscreen on a phone would provide a terrible experience. There were a lot of very smart people out there who thought it just wouldn't work (greasy fingerprints came up a lot). At the time, for Apple, putting this kind of UX out there was a huge risk, and a major innovation in the industry. They really nailed it, and in hindsight it, like many other great innovations, seems obvious, but at the time it was far from it.

EDIT - here's a quote from a CNET article at the time:
"11. Just how useful is the touch screen? The iPhone user interface looks elegant, innovative, and easy-to-use, but is it the best interface for a device like this?
Whenever you do anything, the iPhone will command your full visual attention. "No buttons" may be sexy, but it also means you can't do anything without looking at the phone.
The iPhone's iPod usability may suffer even worse from the touch screen. Have you ever tried to operate an iPod while it's in your pocket? You can do it, but it's hard. The iPhone will make blind iPod-surfing downright impossible.
That said, it looks like the iPhone will eliminate accidental pocket-dialing once and for all."


batista 3 days ago 3 replies      
>This is a very common trend in this entire debate that saddens me to no end: the iPhone is being compared to simple feature phones, while in fact, it should be compared to its true predecessor: the PDA. PDAs have always done with few buttons.


1) having "few" buttons + stylus 2) in a different product category 3) in devices that very few people bought or cared about, means, in Thom's reasoning, that the iPhone was obvious.

Meanwhile, let's see the OSNEWS first review of the device, back in the day: (...) And it's innovative too. Everything seems to work via multi-touch, a touchscreen-based input method (...)

Searching for the review, I found this gem:

>This may seem like a bold statement. Apple's just released iPhone is not only very attractive as we would expect from an Apple product, but includes some impressive features and specifications. It's probably unrealistic to claim that anything currently available on the market competes with this offering. However, is it really a revolution in mobile communication devices? Maybe not if there still is something that can overshadow it, and do it very soon.

The thing that would overshadow the iPhone "very soon" was OpenMoko.

noonespecial 3 days ago 1 reply      
The first time I saw an iPhone, I thought to myself "oh, finally an Jornada that actually works". The number of buttons, layout of those buttons and placement of audio and charge jacks on the iPhone and the HP Jornada are nearly identical. The home button is in the same place. The volume buttons are on the top left side. It was a perfect match. That apple had a stack of jornadas stashed in the back that they were "improving" seemed so damn obvious, I thought that was the point of the whole iPhone schtick.
ThePherocity 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, no. You can look at an LCD monitor and say "look, prior art for a tablet" but that doesn't meet the legal meaning and requirements, and nor does this for the purposes of this case. Stop making the argument about Apple vs Google. This is about patents and commercialism. So many fan comments we can't see the forest through the trees.
confluence 3 days ago  replies      
My dad: Apple just won right?

Me: No - they just lost big time - Apple is done.

Dad: Wait - What? They just won the court case and got a billion dollars to boot.

Me: That doesn't matter - Samsung won.

Dad: Explain.

Me: As soon as you have to sue your competition to remain competitive - you're done. Apple did the same thing with Microsoft in the nineties. Furthermore, Samsung builds not only many of Apple products - it's also leading the charge with the explosive growth of Android - open systems always win in the long run.

Dad: So Apple is done?

Me: Yeah - I sold my Apple stock after this very short case finished up. Funny thing is - the new CEO will be blamed for the fall set up by Steve Jobs - a damn shame if you ask me.

dreamdu5t 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Intellectual property" is an oxymoron and the laws are a farce. Information is not property. Property has no objective foundation if you decouple it from tangible or economic scarcity.

Samsung stole no property from Apple. Samsung was providing value to the market by responding to the market's demands that were exposed by Apple. The existence of patents distorts economic incentives to divert activity towards patentable inventions.

jsz0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just to drive the point home: a device with a touchscreen and few buttons was obvious - at least to the millions and millions of happy PDA users.

Yet somehow they look so different you could never confuse them for an iPhone while Samsung also agrees it's obvious but many of their devices look very much like an iPhone. I think the author is unintentionally proving Apple's point.

kristianc 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that all of the devices that are pictured are turned off.

I remember using PDAs back in the day, and they tended to be fiddly affairs with styluses. Sure, you could use touch inputs, but touch input tended to be quite impractical, as the OS on the phone invariably tended to be a modified version of a desktop OS. [1]

Ever since the mobile phone was invented, there has been experimentation with form factors. Not all PDAs looked like iPaq's or XDA's. Nokia's Communicator [2] had an iPhone esque interface, but Nokia didn't consider making it touchscreen until well after the release of the iPhone.

Surely Apple's innovation - and the one which Samsung has copied - is combining the grid-based icon system (making tap targets much larger), with the few-button-large screen form factor. Because I don't remember PDAs being anywhere near as useful or usable as an iPhone.

[1] http://www.uspree.com/reviews/images/stories/hp-ipaq-214-ent...
[2] http://cdn101.iofferphoto.com/img3/item/116/916/389/nokia-e9...

bpatrianakos 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one is trying to rewrite history. We all know about the PDA style designs of the early 2000's. Thing is, Apple's designs were still nothing like anything people had seen. The picture in the post is actually proving my own point, not the OP's. That photo also illustrates how the same design concept can be made without blatant copying. All those phones and PDAs have the big-screen-couple-button design style but still look like entirely different models of devices. Even post-iPhone devices all look different while still retaining their heritage with the exception of the Samsung devices in question. It doesn't take an expert in technology, patents, phones, or any expert at all to see that after the iPhone debuted, a lot of Samsung phones started to look a lot more iPhone-like. Everything from the materials, to the colors, to the shape, and even custom changes to the Android UI all closely mimicked the iPhone. The idea was to get regular folks confused into either thinking they were buying the iPhone or make them think they were buying the equivalent of one. Now, regular folks often do think all smartphones look alike but when you walk into a phone store those same people can tell that those phones are made by different companies. They can at least differentiate between the lookalike phones to the point where they understand they're not all the exact same phone. What Samsung tried to do is blur the lines even further to the point where those normal folks who were looking for an iPhone could potentially get confused into thinking they were buying one because of the way they pretty much cloned the iPhone.

The patent system may be fucked but what Samsung was doing was wrong and patents were the best tool Apple could use to send a meaningful message and get them to stop. This case isn't all that good to argue the shortcomings of the patent system. There's too much biased information about it out there and everyone tends to just defend their camp. It turns into a Apple v. Android argument in the end. If you want to argue patents then argue patents. The fact is, Apple held patents, Samsung infringed, and justice was done. You can argue whether the patents should have been granted or not but you can't say Apple shouldnt have won because the patents should have never been granted. Too late. They already were.

001sky 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple's execution skills enabled them to succeed using an 'obvious strategy'that others couldn't pull off. That does not mean they "invented" the idea/strategy or that it was overly "original" (e.g. the buttons).

The true innovation of the iPhone was the global re-thinking of the software of iOs, and its relation to a phone. Recall, it was only 2.5G when it came out, one of the reason for "apps", was bandwidth efficiency, in addition to custon form factor. The misery of surfing flash-enabled desktop websites on 2.5G was not appealing. From there, there was the obvious need to maximize screen real-estate. hence, the elimination of the (physical) buttons. Soft keys, Icons, touch etc. were not per-se innovative in 2007.

The adoption of gesture based touch is obvious to anyone who saw Jeff Han in 2006 TED (well before the launch of iPhone). That's not to say apple was not innovative independently. The form factors and underlying tech vary widely.

Just some context worth considering.

silentscope 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to stir up bad blood, I'm just making a point so don't kill me =).

Almost every one of those devices has at least 5 buttons (up, down, left, right center). That's not simple at all. One button is simple. The touch screen on the iphone takes those away so only one is needed. It's the reason the iphone got so dominant--it worked.

It's the reason Jobs realized his foray into tableting in the 90s (with development starting in 1987, the first being released in 1993!), the Newton, sucked. He killed it when he realized it wasn't working. The tech wasn't there, when it was, he moved.

I know people hate apple, but they need to look at this objectively. this wasn't apples first rodeo--they helped write the book on the PDA market. They're also not suing palm or Visor or HP. Those companies didn't reiterate. Apple did.

If you wanna hate, hate being judged by a jury of your peers (you probably shouldn't do that), or our current patent system. And drink some tea or something.

epo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ultimately this is a religious issue. The frothing anti-Apple hordes will never admit that Apple innovated and will always see Apple as in the wrong because, well, Apple is evil. These people then jump through logical hoops to justify their contortions. The simple truth is that Samsung copied from Apple wholesale. I for one hope the damages get tripled, not because Apple needs the money but because Samsung contributes precisely nothing of value to the market. They are like the idiot kid in class who tries to get ahead by copying the smart kid's work verbatim. Samsung are plagiarists and thieves.
DanBC 3 days ago 0 replies      
Grids of icons are pretty obvious too - even on portable devices. Palm Pilot had 3x4, in 1996.

It's interesting to see the row of buttons at the bottom of the screen. Samsung clearly is influenced by that styling, rather than the single button on the iPhone.

jimg2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Such device concepts have existed for decades in sci-fi. In the 90s, if you were thinking to the future of wireless PDAs, they always end in all glass touch screen devices.

Apple wins in execution, although one I believe is based on a flawed philosophical understanding. They won the mass market, like McDonalds did for fast food but they didn't invent anything nor does it make it good for you, developers or society. A lot of different things happened, coming together at the right time for Apple to exploit this market.

If any corporation put as much critical thought into product design as Steve Jobs and Apple did, I think they'd have the same result. To me, it's not about some innate genius or technology prophet, it's about thinking, being critical of everything and getting people to work their hardest at one single goal.

pooriaazimi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Turn those phones/PDAs on and we'll see how "similar" to iPhone they were.

I just can't believe how some OpenSource-loving people could go soooo much astray and become total jerks who twist the facts just to prove their point.

jaimzob 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh god, an OSNews article from Thom Holwerda about how "obvious" the iPhone was is now top of Hacker News? How long do I need to switch the internet off for to restore sanity?
dakimov 3 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that Samsung copies Apple is as obvious as the fact that the sky is blue. I am not sure whether it is a real problem, because Samsung is not able to even do a clone properly. The problem is that the US patent system is more than absurd, it is retarded. Will somebody in the United States ever do something with it?
reddelicious 3 days ago 2 replies      
Apple does not copy. It's against their "values".

Apple steals. Starting with Xerox PARC and continuing to this day.

What do they steal? User interface design and code.

Why do they steal? Because Apple is a _hardware_ company who aims to compete with (and now aims to control) software developers. It started with trying to compete with Microsoft and it continues to this day.

To discover where Apple's interfaces come from one needs only to do the requisite research.

But it seems people have an aversion to doing such research - it's work, after all - while they have little aversion to passively being the targets of Apple's high-priced marketing and advertising. It's easier just to sit back and let Apple control the show. Show us the "future", Apple.

The ideas that are not new, but which others have been developing for years, that you have now stolen and claimed as your own. Interface designs that simply "did not exist" until you adopted them and slapped on the familar Apple logo.

I love Apple hardware. It looks great. I'd even pay higher prices for it. In fact, I have. Many years ago.

But that's as far as it goes. Apple's software and interfaces have little value to me. And when Apple tries to restrict what code I can run on their hardware, it lowers the value of the product. I lose interest, no matter how slick the hardware design. It's inflexible. And that defeats all the fun of using a computer. Apple has reached the point of diminishing returns for me. It's not worth it to buy their new stuff anymore.

According to Apple fanboys, the number of other users who think this way is so small that Apple can disregard any user preferences for flexibility. This is even worse than Microsoft.

Steko 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe all the people with slam-dunk morning after arguments should have sent them to Samsung's large, professional, highly paid and presumably competent legal staff.

Or maybe these arguments are all bullshit. Would the jury really have found these to infringe the iphone design (assume they were released later)? I'm going to say, clearly, no. Right off the bat none of them have black faces with equally rounded corners. That sort of gives away the game right there. But let's imagine any one of those devices in this exhibit:



varelse 3 days ago 1 reply      
And the Atari Jaguar was both the first 64-bit videogame console and the first videogame console with a GPU. But history is written by the victors...

And never mind the Atari STylus demoed in 1991... Never happened...

stevewilhelm 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing people fail to realize, any information not submitted as evidence during the trial, may not be considered by the jury in their deliberations. This includes prior knowledge or experiences of any given juror.

So if these PDA's were not submitted as evidence by Samsung, they could not be taken into account when the jury decided their verdict.

alexwolfe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Considering how much money was spent on both sides, I'm certain any aspect that would have helped Samsung was researched and considered. After many months of deliberation and arguments from both sides, the verdict is very clear, they are guilty. We would all like to think that this case was simple and the jury was out to lunch. The facts however don't seem to support that. It was a long case, with mountains of evidence, covering a variety of copyright issues. It's also clear from the decision and statements made by Samsung Executives that they don't feel that their appeal to this case will be successful.
podperson 3 days ago 0 replies      
All those devices had a STYLUS and if the writer were being honest he might have mentioned that the original such devices were the grid and newton and that john Sculley coined the term PDA.
mikecane 3 days ago 0 replies      
The iPhone also used the same 320x480 screen resolution of some PDAs.
pippy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Samsung ripped off Apples design, there's no excusing this:



They're clearly in the wrong here. It's not about the fundamental form factor of the devices, it's about blatant plagiarism. Apple's designs are aren't perfect, and instead of perfecting or improving the devices (which would be better for consumers), they simply didn't think about it. Shame on you Samsung.

zoop 3 days ago 0 replies      
Palm devices used a stylus and had text input via a special language at the bottom of the screen. How is this remotely related to the Samsung/Apple patent issues at hand?
jarjoura 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, it's obvious now, because it's so beautiful and simple. That's the magic of the iPhone, how obvious it all seems now that it's staring you in the face.

I have no doubt that Samsung, Microsoft, Palm, Google, et. al, were all headed down a similar path, but no one was willing to break from the past.

People wanted/begged for a physical keyboard, people wanted/begged for the fastest 3G connection, etc.

Apple wasn't bound to that past and yes they had hindsight to make something compelling. Plus they had to come up with something that would immediately separate themselves from the other devices. In fact, this desire to be unique amongst all other smartphones led to these defendable iPhone traits.

What Apple was defending wasn't minimalist capacitive touch devices, no, they are protecting the unique attributes that define what an iPhone experience should be.

Take away the physical hardware for a minute and compare only the software of the phones. You still should tell which one is an iPhone versus something else. It's those features that Apple needs to protect. Bouncing scroll that stays glued to your fingers, etc.

alttab 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was 13 and encountered my first PDA (which is essentially a computer, even back then). I said "they should just attach a phone to this and be done with it."

I WAS 13! It was most certainly obvious.

danbmil99 3 days ago 0 replies      
The obvious question is, why didn't /couldn't Samsung point to this obvious prior art and get the point across to the jury?

Damn I wish I had been on that jury, I would have loved infuriating everyone by hanging for a full acquittal.

ck2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Jury foreman owns a patent he can now sue Apple for, seriously.

This whole trial was a complete mockery, regardless which side you believed was right.

thewileyone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Basically, Apple got the jury that they wanted, ignorant and unwilling to understand the consequences of their decision.
tzm 3 days ago 4 replies      
PDAs were not cellular devices. Cell phones were not PDAs. The iPhone was the first to converge them.
Fake Bus Stops For Alzheimer's patients in Germany (2011) theiacp.org
408 points by iamwil  6 days ago   104 comments top 33
JunkDNA 5 days ago 1 reply      
This made me pause and think about what might be needed when I get old. Will the nursing home need to have a vintage Macbook seeded with data from The Internet Archive so I can obsessively check Hacker News and Twitter to see if anything is "new"?
nitrogen 6 days ago 6 replies      
In a way I find this kind of manipulation tragically sad, but in reality the true tragedy is the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. I'm glad nursing homes have figured out a way to mitigate some of the problems until scientists can cure or prevent Alzheimer's for good.
pork 6 days ago 6 replies      
OT, but that is one hell of a hierarchical URL
chmars 6 days ago 0 replies      
In Switzerland, a virtual train is used for the same purpose:


(Link leads to a German article.)

ddt 6 days ago 3 replies      
They also have these in the US. My grandfather was in a home that had a whole 1940s small town-type setting in the backyard area complete with bus stop, sidewalk, and a little bit of fake street.
soitgoes 6 days ago 0 replies      
There was a good radiolab podcast about this:


dools 6 days ago 1 reply      
I can't tell whether I find this crushingly sad or not. On the one hand, I cried like a baby at the end of the Notebook. On the other hand, this basically reminds me of what it's like dealing with my 2 year old daughter.

Is it necessarily a tragedy that someone's mind dies before their body does? It's undoubtedly painful for those waching - but for what reason?

I guess "potential" isn't tragic (ie. my daughter will eventually become a completely coherent adult) where as this kind of mental decline is like some sort of extreme nostalgia that basically picks out every sense of loss we've ever felt and makes it resonate like a tuning fork.

0ren 6 days ago 0 replies      
A discussion from 2008:


A lot of the current post seems to be taken straight from there. Compare, for example:

> in Alzheimer's patients their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.

with Goebel's quote:

> 'Their short-term memory hardly works, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.'

click170 6 days ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile, the visiting tourist is wondering why no bus has come in hours... lol
JohnLBevan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Given the number of people on here who appreciate a good life hack, has anyone got any ideas for other solutions? My family's currently going through the to home or not to home question. Arguments for standard solutions are essentially:

- A care home offers full time protection, but displaces the person from their familiar environment. Some care homes also don't attend their patients but focus on making a profit; though we hope that by visiting often and looking at existing patients we can get an idea of which ones are suitable. It costs money, but the money in this case comes from my Nan's savings, and she's not going to be spending it on anything more than basic living costs anyway. My family don't need the money, so though in some cases inheritance is a concert (i.e. people save up through their lives to provide for their family even in death), that's not a concern for our situation.

- Leaving the person in their own home seems the nicest but least practical option. Having family members or carers visit frequently to keep an eye on the person adds in some security, but family can't be there all the time (we're talking a 90 minute drive there in good traffic; so 3 hours round trip) and carers aren't immediately recognised so can seem an intrusion to the sufferer, often leading to stressful confrontations.

- Having the person move in with their children gives full time protection by people who know and love them, but strips their children of freedom (their lives essentially becoming that of full time carers with the added depression of watching someone they love fade away).

On top of the above there are also internal family conflicts; for example my aunt is pushing for the state to fund any care solution (by not doing anything to help ourselves so the state acts as a catch statement) whilst my mum feels we should do all we can as well as taking what the state offers - but both working together (i.e. my mum & aunt have been given responsibility over my nan's care and assets on the condition they use those assets to my nan's best interest - trying to squeeze more out of the state isn't in her best interests, but may mean that my mum & aunt would lose their rights because by not using my nan's assets they're being irresponsible; the state could then take control of those assets and make all decisions without my mum or aunt's input).

Given all of these factors (and I'm sure you can all think of more), what other ideas can you come up with to improve the system to provide a solution which gives people security and dignity, whilst ensuring that families still maintain some freedom to experience their own lives?

rplnt 6 days ago 0 replies      
Such stop was used as a trap for "patients" escaping from elderly home in a short movie Harvie Krumpet. I highly recommend to watch it, it's only 22mins long and can be found on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouyVS6HOFeo
kragen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The broader question is: when is it ethical to deceive people for their own good? Only when they are suffering from severe dementia?

I deceived a psychotic person into taking an antipsychotic drug once, and I think it was probably the best thing I could have done, and at the same time, one of the worst things I've ever done.

tome 6 days ago 0 replies      
I assumed it was to be parsed as "(fake bus) stops" but it turns out they've merely gone to the lengths of "fake (bus stops)"!
barbs 6 days ago 0 replies      
As terrible, sad and somewhat terrifying as it is, I find Alzheimer's disease quite fascinating. For those who want to find out more, Louis Theroux's documentary on the subject is very insightful.
underlines 6 days ago 2 replies      
People knowing about fake stuff NOW, who will have Alzheimer in 40 Years, will NOT forget that there are fake bus-stops and stuff in the backyard.
So they will know that nursing homes have fake stuff and they will complain about it.

My opinion about "it's sad":
Alzheimer is not very sad for the pacients, but for their families. The patients, like my grandfather and grandmother, don't really know they _have_ it, and they don't really care. They still have 100% functional feelings and experiences. Just their short time memory will let them forget anything very soon. But old memories persists.

josteink 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this is what goes as a "psychological hack".

Definitely interesting to see how you can play the same tricks on people as you can on machines as long as you know enough about how they work internally.

Interesting and scary I guess. We all know how big corp is going to be spending billions on this to manipulate us all.

michaelfeathers 6 days ago 0 replies      
I immediately thought of the end of the movie 'Ghost World' for some reason.
petitmiam 6 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. The nursing home where my grandma was, had a car in the courtyard for patients with dementia to sit in.
bobowzki 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a med student. I remember this topic came up in our exam on ethics and philosophy.
mmahemoff 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if it will work in a decade or two, when people prior to Alzheimer's learn about the trick and would perhaps be subconsciously more suspicious.

Or more directly, do they keep doing this with the same patient?

meeper 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am actually living next to one (in Berlin)... It's interesting, because I never saw a single person there, I have no idea how successful it is here, but always wanted to ask.
logn 6 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait for the google van to take me home.
squonk 6 days ago 0 replies      
It is a compassionate approach.
enay 6 days ago 1 reply      
My grandfather was a railroad worker, replicating that would have been a bit more of a hassle.
wreckimnaked 5 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's a German thing; it reminded me of "Goodbye Lenin!" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0301357/
perfunctory 6 days ago 0 replies      
I read the title as fake-bus stops...
DaWeasel 6 days ago 0 replies      
Love that kind of real life/mind hacks !
donald_draper 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wish we had fake red lights in Germany, to keep all the crazy obedient bureaucrats occupied. The longer they wait at red lights, the fewer Wikipedia pages they can delete or create new tax forms.
nisse72 6 days ago 0 replies      
Germany and Europe


nisse72 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the old guy in Ghost World who waits for the bus that doesn't run anymore, until it picks him up at the end of the film.
lotyrin 6 days ago 4 replies      
A mildly interesting old article that has nothing to do with anything. Am I on Reddit?

Edit: Yep, posted earlier today: http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/yp94q/til_tha...

ehuna 6 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of that joke: last week my doctor told me I had AIDS & Alzheimer's. I said, "Sh*t, at least I don't have AIDS!". :)
Learning C with gdb hackerschool.com
381 points by happy4crazy  2 days ago   95 comments top 26
breckinloggins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also cool to play around with are the various options that let GCC (and presumably LLVM) show you the various compilation stages of your C code. You can even spit out the C and resulting assembly side-by-side.

I haven't had the time to play with this, but Part 4 of the excellent "Unix as IDE" series [1] goes into it and I'm sure there's more around the web.

Another really fun way to get into the underlying assembler that the C compiler generates is Vidar Hokstad's "Writing a compiler in Ruby, bottom up" [2]. This series involves writing little C functions, compiling them to the simplest assembly you can get, then writing a ruby compiler (in Ruby!) that emits that assembly. Some people have objections to the approach, but it's really quite nifty. I especially like it because it's really refreshing to see a compiler tutorial that doesn't start with the lexer and parser.

[1] http://blog.sanctum.geek.nz/unix-as-ide-compiling/
[2] http://www.hokstad.com/compiler

dkhenry 2 days ago 5 replies      
GDB skills are one of those super useful abilities that you just can't find in most CS graduates. I often spend a few days with new C developers just teaching them how to use GDB to find problems. They are amazed when they find out you can examine variables and set conditional breakpoints.
tmurray 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised nobody's linked the gdb reference card. It's fairly old now, but it's still handy if you don't use gdb that often:


stcredzero 2 days ago 3 replies      
There was a debugger posted here to HN awhile back that actually displayed structs and pointers graphically. What was the name of that project, and is it still around? I was trying to find it the other day. I thought that was a dynamite tool for students.

With LLVM, we should be able to have a REPL for C. as a pedagogical tool.

codeinthehole 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you enjoyed this, then you'll certainly enjoy the programming chapter of 'Hacking: The Art of Exploitation' by Jon Erickson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacking:_The_Art_of_Exploitatio...). The first half of the book is a similar exploration of C programming using GDB to explain everything. Recommended.
Derbasti 2 days ago 1 reply      
While graphical debuggers are great overall, there are times when I prefer to get down to the command line and do my debugging there. And quite surprisingly, I don't lose much efficiency there, either.

But then, this could be the story of most command line utilities: Seems fiddly at first, but actually it is quite usable and often times more convenient than all those whiz-bang graphical tools.

X-Istence 2 days ago 0 replies      
lldb would be even better for using instead of gdb because lldb actually uses clang's parsing for everything.

I was watching an Apple talk on lldb which explained this in more detail, and it shows a lot of promise for a debugger to have a full C compiler inside of it.

winter_blue 2 days ago 4 replies      
The visual debugger in both Eclipse CDT and Visual C++ let you do things like create breakpoints, step through your program, monitor variable values, even create conditional breakpoints that are triggered when a particular lineof code is executed n number of times or when some particular expression involving variables in the local context of the breakpoint turn true.

My question is, what advantages do you get in using gdb directly through the CLI rather than through an IDE? (like Eclipse/NetBeans which itself uses gdb for C/C++ debugging, but has a nice graphical UI for it.)

joeld42 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks really great, but I'd call it "Learning GDB with C"
geoka9 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's also CINT (a C interpreter), which can be used as a REPL:


agumonkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
gdb is like acid, works everywhere : https://stripe.com/blog/exploring-python-using-gdb
narrator 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just got back into C programming after a long absence. Programming with Eclipse CDT is the way to go, at least for starting out. The debugger is great.
jparishy 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty neat, though I found myself doing similar things in small test files when I was first learning C and printing the results. C compile times suck, but with like a 10 line program or so to toy with a language semantic, it was practically instant (in 2007). But then again I had never used a dynamic language like Ruby/Python before then so I didn't know better.

More people should be hopping on this bandwagon though because debuggers are awesome. I typically find myself using `po` the most in LLDB (Xcode, iOS development) but it's insanely useful especially when Xcode refuses to show me the values of something I want in the Variables View, ex. NSDictionary keys/values, objects in an NSArray, etc. I'll also use it sometimes to execute simple commands like `[myArrayObject count]` when the Variables View refuses to show me property values. Sometimes Xcode's GUI bits just don't cut it!

There's more info on what you can do with LLDB here:

And if you've used GDB, this might be of use:

iopuy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find the basic c tutorials a nice refresher. Here is one from a few weeks back on memory addresses and pointers in c http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4399498 .
doctorwho 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's great for instant feedback but IMHO interactive programming makes it easy (or at least easier) to be lazy. If you get used to coding by trial and error you'll never really understand the language or the problem you're trying to solve, you'll just keep trying things until it works. I know that's not how everyone approaches programming but I've seen it far too often to dismiss it
m_eiman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a more full-featured C++ REPL: http://root.cern.ch/drupal/content/what-cling
djcb 2 days ago 0 replies      
for the somewhat-graphically-inclined, gdb mode in emacs has the much under-advertized 'M-x gdb-many-windows' which shows your stack, local variables, breakpoints etc. in separate 'windows'.
phao 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting! But I'd say this is too dangerous because of the misleading conclusions that it'd "make" you realize.

Relying on what is printed out of printing a pointer value (which is not what the author is doing) is also misleading. Concluding stuff like "the size of an int is 4" or "size of double is 8" is also misleading. Again, it's not the conclusions the author is realizing, but for someone doing exploratory programming, it may be the case since the point of exploratory programming is learning by seeing how the system responds to the things you're doing.

And maybe I am wrong, but even the author got mislead by it.

"I'm going to ignore why 2147483648 == -2147483648; the point is that even arithmetic can be tricky in C, and gdb understands C arithmetic."

That's actually the result of undefined behavior, and not so much a result or "how C integer arithmetic works".

I really liked the idea. I just think it may be misleading if the tool you're using is GDB.

It'd be interesting a tool which allowed that sort of exploratory programming, but taking into consideration undefined behavior, unspecified things and implementation defined behavior.

jfaucett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else think debuggers are awesome for learning how programs/languages work? Its pretty much always the first thing I do, even before reading docs, build and debug.
sswezey 2 days ago 1 reply      
Having programmed a fair amount of C, I regret never learning properly how to use gdb. This article is quite helpful!
wildmXranat 2 days ago 2 replies      
In addition to the gdb command, what would be a good GUI front-end for it ?
16s 2 days ago 1 reply      
gdb is very nice. I use it with C++ too. Watch sizeof on char arrays. Why is my string's sizeof always 8? That confuses some when starting out.
shocks 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should use debugging not only to learn and fix bugs, but also to check your code actually does what you think it does.
agrona 2 days ago 0 replies      
gdb is one of those tools that I regret never learning because I've always had an IDE. I was able to follow the examples here well enough, but the array assignment causes gdb to crash in Cygwin. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to overcome that (short of installing a vm & a real linux)?
stonefroot 2 days ago 4 replies      
I want to be able to do this with assembly, e.g., see what is in each register as I step through the program.
izx 1 day ago 0 replies      
don't forget about panel mode in gdb!

ctrl-x, a

to toggle it on/off

Customize Twitter Bootstrap To Not Look Bootstrap-y antjanus.com
337 points by antjanus  6 days ago   144 comments top 35
cheald 5 days ago  replies      
Once upon a time, I wrote a World of Warcraft add-on called "SexyMap". Basically, it provided a bunch of functionality for your mini-map, and it made it skinnable in a crapload of interesting ways, so that people could build maps that thematically fit with the rest of their UIs.

As of right now, it is registering at 4,692,196 downloads.

Nobody customizes the damn thing. In every screenshot I've ever seen with someone using it, they're using the default skin. The really creative ones do a hue-shift on the default skin. It ships with a good dozen+ skins, and has an editor built into it to let people easily build more. The only time that functionality has apparently been used is when I was building the initial default skin set.

Default Bootstrap annoys the heck out of me, too, but I've learned that people just don't customize things even if you give them the tools to do it. If it's good enough out of the box, they just leave it alone. Bootstrap is good enough out of the box.

I expect years upon years of default Bootstrap websites. We'd best get used to them now.

irahul 5 days ago 1 reply      
> I'm sick of seeing the same damn buttons. I'm sick of seeing that same damn toolbar up top. It's driving me crazy.

If only html/css/js/browsers had default decent(or even non-decent) standard gui widgets from the beginning, there won't have been a need for bootstrap, and hence no need for getting riled up over buttons looking the same.

Making "submit" button different on every site you work on might have a purpose; it's just that that "purpose" totally eludes me.

I don't know what app the blog post is talking about, but if you decide not to use an app because it uses default bootstrap theme implies 1) either you don't need the app and are just fidgeting around; 2) or the app has so much competition that people are making decisions based on trivialities; 3) or you are the kind of person who decides he wants a silver car first and then decides what kind of car he wants. As a developer, if it's 1, you aren't a priority. If it's 2, I will have to check if bootstrap is the reason people are picking up the competition over me - if it isn't and I already have ample competition breathing down my neck, I have other things to worry about. If it's 3, I will be bothered only if there are many like you who want a silver car first and bother about the mileage, pickup, handling etc next; if that isn't the case, you can shop for your silver car elsewhere.

pxlpshr 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have used many frameworks of the past, but Bootstrap is in a different league coupled with LESS. It just is.

I see Bootstrap as being not too dissimilar from iOS UI. In the early days, you saw a lot of UI's built on Apple's native guidelines without much deviation. It was just difficult, the SDKs weren't fully baked for it. If you wanted to maintain compatibility as Apple progressed rapidly, you stuck to the basics.

Now you're seeing all sorts of amazing UI's built upon a solid fountain for interacting with multi-touch mobile apps. Similarly, Bootstrap is an equally great foundation for building responsive web apps that just continues to get better.

As it becomes more of a standard, then more time becomes available for the veneer. After all, that's really the only thing people are complaining about " something rather superficial and has no real impact on value of the product. What is does to the user experience is an open debate (more graphics = slower on mobile). I'm on my 3rd project with Bootstrap, and finally feel like I have a grip on adding veneer programmatically after some trial and error.

Want to start a small-cap cash cow? Get some great designers together and go make the next WooThemes for Bootstrap.

delinka 5 days ago 4 replies      
I can get behind the headline. However, the implementation is seriously lacking. I'm not a designer. I can't find anyone who can explain to me the hows and whys of CSS without expecting me to already know CSS. So I just copy CSS that I like.

I've implemented Bootstrap on a new site. I see your colorschemedesigner.com link. Now, how do I get these colors from it into Bootstrap? Oh, the Bootstrap customize page. Which colors from Color Scheme Designer 3 go in which boxes? If I have to edit CSS, which files do I have to edit and why?

You're a designer and you think this stuff is "easy." Speeding up your database-centric app is easy, too. Use a proper RDBMS and correctly normalize your data. What? You don't understand? Yeah, that's how I feel when designers expect me to "fix" my Bootstrap-clone website.

Edited to add: On Color Scheme Designer, I find a set of colors I think looks nice and then look at the light and dark page examples ... and they look like ass. I have no patience to sit and find something that looks nice here and drop it in Bootstrap there and discover that it looks terrible. A lovely 'download Bootstrap CSS' link on this site would save tons of time.

gramsey 5 days ago 7 replies      
It's been said here before, but I'm fairly sure the only people "disappointed" and "annoyed" at the many sites using Bootstrap are web developers. Of course we notice UI frameworks because it's our job to create websites.

However, the vast majority of users don't give a half a cent about what UI framework the site is using, let alone know what a front-end toolkit is. All they notice is that it is easy for them to interact with the app, probably much easier than if the developer had coded it. In fact, the site is probably built sooner anyway since the developer didn't have to spend the time to create a UI by themselves.

tptacek 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's funny how when people use alternative dev tools to build UIs on OS X, people complain that the resulting applications "don't look like Mac applications", but that at the same time web applications are expected to look different from one another. What purpose does that look/feel diversity solve?
sp332 5 days ago 2 replies      
I just don't get the bootstrap hate. Same buttons and toolbar? Well you see the same buttons and toolbar about every page, in your browser window. It doesn't bother me.
nicholassmith 5 days ago 2 replies      
I think people should configure Bootstrap and use different colours, and approach it not as a strict guideline but as a good starting point with useful widgets to play with. I am, however, completely happy with people using Bootstrap unconfigured, it looks good and for the most part is normally used in a really clean way. A lot of iOS apps look like the stock components, and that's fine as those components are nice and clean.

There often seems to be a bit of push back about websites looking the same, especially with Bootstrap sites, but we don't expect (and often don't want) applications running myriads of different UI styles on our desktops. Maybe it's just a sign of the times.

jewel 5 days ago 0 replies      
As HN users I suspect we're seeing a far greater quantity of brand-new bootstrap sites than almost every other group on the internet. I wouldn't sweat using bootstrap for your app if you're targeting a different group.
sopooneo 5 days ago 4 replies      
All windows apps look the same. And all Mac Apps. Maybe Bootstrap is the beginning of making all things web look/work/feel similar to on another. Is that terrible?
dclaysmith 5 days ago 1 reply      
When I started on my project I created a /css directory and then a /twitter folder underneath it full of the raw .less files. When I decided I wanted to use a bootstrap component, I would move it out of the /twitter folder into the main /css folder and then include it. It's a good way to get a lot out of Twitter bootstrap without falling into the "obviously bootstrappy" look.

Over time, I've tried to remove what I can of the bootstrap look and feel but I found it hard (for me and my below average css skills) to beat some of the items (forms, etc). My site (http://www.thetaboard.com) is definitely 'built with bootstrap' but I don't think it gives off a 100% bootstrap vibe.

Sakes 5 days ago 2 replies      
Example of not bootstrappy bootstrap.

Here is a quick and simple site I did this weekend. I used bootstrap because of it's responsive design support. It makes it easy to create content that looks nice on desktops and mobile/tablet devices.


It is pretty simple to make bootstrap not so bootstrappy, just view source and take a look at my inc.css file.

mixmastamyk 5 days ago 0 replies      
On one hand, its nice to have a one-of-a-kind site. But, I'm going to disagree that using a standard theme is a bad thing.

When I use a GUI one of the things I hate is when an app doesn't follow the look and feel of the system. This "skinz" disease ever trending upward.

So, I also tend to think every web site looking similar (and great) is a blessing. A lot of time can be saved trying to find your way around, and you'll know what to expect. The focus therefore falls to the content which was an original goal of the web.

There might not be as many design jobs open for secondary players, but it's happening all over these days, see the teachers vs. khan academy trend.

ScotterC 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really really glad so many developers who are starting out are using bootstrap. It makes it a hell of a lot easier to get people up to speed when they join my team. It's awesome to have someone start learning your codebase and have an easy command of the templates out of the box because they've worked with that framework before.

Now, my company Artsicle.com has a bootstrap foundation but you'd never guess it. However, whining about a good UI that works on many browsers out of the box and provides easy responsiveness? Get over yourself.

enra 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wrote a similar post while back if you're interested in learning more http://blog.kippt.com/2012/04/26/building-with-bootstrap/
taude 5 days ago 2 replies      
I've said it before, but I like Zurb Foundation because I felt that I had to customize a few things from the get-go: http://foundation.zurb.com/ (Not affiliated) And the built in responsive grid stuff is pretty nice, and you can still chose some of your own display components.
Lukeas14 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've taken the opposite route for my project http://iwaat.com. The HTML/CSS is all done from scratch with several elements stolen from Bootstrap (ex. highlighting around form fields). It also uses a background image from subtle patterns which really made all the difference vs. plain white/grey. I'm sure this workflow took longer than building off of Bootstrap from the start but I like the way it turned out.
namzo 5 days ago 1 reply      
My simple solution to prevent your site from looking "bootstrap-y" is to design a mockup of what you want to achieve first (in maybe photoshop or fireworks) then re-create that interface with bootstrap & make sure you use the design as a guide. Works every time.

Disclaimer: I'm a front-end designer.

pud 5 days ago 0 replies      
One of the things I did on my Boostrap'd site, is to make the button corners sharp instead of rounded. That makes a big difference in making it look less Bootstrap'y. See fandalism.com
cek 5 days ago 0 replies      
We use Bootswatch and are really pleased with the results (www.milelogr.com). It appears to be broken with BS 2.1, but i haven't taken the time to see what broke.
at-fates-hands 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering if this is a side effect of too many frameworks where developers have gotten so lazy, design is a total afterthought.

I actually thought the end result of this framework would've been the complete opposite of what's happening. Since developers have more time and resources, they'd take the time to experiment and put some real effort into a design.

colinsidoti 5 days ago 0 replies      
Meh, I'm currently guilty of using straight bootstrap styles with www.kangacruise.com

I also hate the UI, but I don't think these kinds of changes would be worth the marginal improvement. I know I'll never get what I really want with these subtle changes, so I think I'm better off waiting until I can hire a designer.

thomasfl 5 days ago 1 reply      
"Don't want to do it? Fine! Hire me. Seriously. You see that button on the right?"

Wonderful shameless self promotion! I don't see no reason to be shy about what you want with your blog posting.

memset 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great to use this page as a resource of all the tools the community has built around extending boostrap.
jaredsohn 5 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like something a browser extension could resolve, at least partially. If you're a web designer, you can install this extension and then each bootstrap site would always use a random predefined CSS.
johnernaut 5 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like the tone of this post could have been less rage-filled and more informative. I also wasn't very impressed with the end result. It still looks extremely bootstrappy to me (not that I think that's a bad thing).
AtTheLast 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'll take a bootstrap site over some janky unusable design I've seen plenty of programmers create.
atomical 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there an easy way to preview bootstrap after you customize the variables? A quick and dirty preview, maybe?
rosstamicah 5 days ago 0 replies      
If, in 5 years time, 50% of the internet looked like default bootstrap.....this would not be a bad thing. At all.
ojr 5 days ago 1 reply      
An efficient way is to learn less, work with it on the client side and compile it from the command line to css, this can be a pain on windows, I'm going to make a youtube video describing it!
mjs7231 5 days ago 0 replies      
I customized Bootstrap on my website. Thing is, no one knows I'm using it because of the customization. I suppose you only notice the people who don't customize it, and assume because of that, no one customizes it?
joeblau 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks so much for the resources. I knew of a few, but the rest helped a lot!
AndresOspina 5 days ago 0 replies      
I haven´t used Bootstrap, but Hacker News Community always impulse to test the "new" ways and technologies for solve the "problems". So get one's hands dirty!
PeterPiper 5 days ago 1 reply      
Confused... In your article you state: "Second, I need something that I can develop quickly in without having to write any styles, my current work focuses on results rather than prettiness and UI (for all I know, they wouldn't mind straight HTML without CSS but that would make working on it hell for me)." Same reason people use the default Bootstrap theme.
alpine 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone with experience starting with a Bootstrap theme then handing it over to a designer to see what they come up with?
Move your feet github.com
337 points by swanson  3 days ago   79 comments top 33
noahlt 2 days ago 2 replies      
My father used to give me similar advice when I struggled with physics problems: "Keep your pencil moving."

Along similar lines, John Carmack once said: "If you aren't sure which way to do something, do it both ways and see which works better."

mrspeaker 3 days ago 2 replies      
I agree 100%. More if I could - the best way is to just get stuck into it and get some momentum. Though I think reasonably early on you step back and check you're doing things optimally.

One day I started running, just like the OP: I put on some shoes and ran. Eventually I followed a co-worker into a 5k race, 10k, half marathon, and eventually full marathon.

Much later I started a new job where one of my co-workers was an ex-pro runner. We went running one day and had to stop me right at the beginning: my running style was awful - I mean I got from point A to point B, but even with 1000s of kilometers under my belt I hadn't gotten good at it! It took me ages to unlearn and relearn to run.

unoti 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great engineers ship. It's helpful to remember that no matter what you write, someone will be able to criticize it. It's a lot easier to write code that does its job than it is to write code that's going to be critically evaluated by a huge panel of theoretical, hyper-critical programming gods.

A good thing to do when you find yourself paralyzed in a rut is to tell yourself you're going to write the first one as a throw-away prototype, whose purpose in life is to explore the solution space and learn what you need to do it right. Give yourself the freedom to do whatever on that first version. The learning is always the most valuable part of any deliverable anyway.

SatvikBeri 3 days ago 2 replies      
An article by Cal Newport goes into depth on when "just get started" makes sense, and when it's a bad idea: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/getting-started-is...
nonrecursive 2 days ago 1 reply      
Programming is a skill, which means that learning programming
languages and techniques is not as simple as accumulating facts.
No written guide to programming, no matter how thorough, will ever be
sufficient because there are countless details which have to be left
out, details which you can only assimilate while engaging in the
practice of programming.

No one would suggest that you could become a world-class singer by
merely going through a book on the subject. With these physical
skills, it's obvious that learning involves doing something other than
just absorbing knowledge. I think that, with programming, its nature
as a skill is often overlooked because it's knowledge work. The key
thing to keep in mind is that you must actually do programming in
order to learn languages and techniques.

In Matt's case, he was also trying to develop a new habit - using TDD.
Many aspects of programming are like this. Perhaps you want to start
documenting your code more or you want to start doing daily standup
with your team or _whatever_. These are all habits, some involving
just you and some involving your team or organization. Recognizing
them as habits will allow you to apply techniques for successfully
developing a new habit.

rickdale 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wanna improve your running? Start doing squats. The way to build up speed is to increase the force each step has against the ground. Moving your feet is fine, but if you train your body to push off the ground with more muscle you will certainly go faster.

Computer programming/rails learning is a lot of the same. Not sure what you mean by going right into the mastery of the language. In most compsci/programming stuff there are a lot of fundamental similarities between languages and really the differences can be challenging at first but are easy adaptable after a few examples and maybe a seg fault or two.

I guess my point is that every art form has a proper way of preparation. Move your feet, sure you will get better, but if you only follow this montra you are sure to run into a wall.

greggman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm, While a agree with the general gist, I've seen many MANY projects fail because of "just starting".

Coming from games I can whip out C/C++/OpenGL and get something bouncing on the screen. I can prototype. But at some point I need to add in artists and designers at which point it will be months till I have anything close to Unreal or Unity.

But I don't know Unity or Unreal so I stick with C/C++/DirectX and then hit that wall.

I assume the same is true for other areas. I could write webapp in cgi/perl/html/js or cgi/python/html/js or php/html/js those are what I know. But if I chose Rails or insert-framework-of-the-month-here I'd gain so much functionality.

Back to games. I could hack an iOS game together in ObjectiveC/C++ or I could choose a framework and get free server side highscores, free in app purchase framework, free social network integration, etc... etc... etc...

So yes, you can fail because you never take the first step. But you can also fail because you don't realize that the few hours it takes to make a working prototype is actually only 1% of the work you have to do to ship and that if you'd have chosen a framework/engine you'd start at the 50% or 75% mark instead of the 0% mark.

ollysb 2 days ago 2 replies      
The funny thing is that TDD is actually a great way to break paralysis analysis. State what you want your new feature to do, get it working, improve it, or don't... you've got your ass covered so you can always make it more "perfect" later on without worrying about breaking anything. Without the safety net there's a pressure to get it right first time as it might be too risky to change it later.
grn 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's the problem that can be witnessed in software development teams too. Analysts are over-represented in our craft so there's a real risk of analysis paralysis. A potential remedy is a more impulsive type on the team who prefers to start playing with the problem. You should be careful not to stop him from doing that. If there's no such a person then someone, preferably a leader, should move on to prototyping if the project got stuck.

All that applies to individual software development too. If you see no progress because you are constantly analyzing then start prototyping.

jeremyjh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I built my first and second rails projects without writing any tests. These were very small projects, just a few weeks of work on the larger one. By the time I was two weeks into the second project, I knew I was wasting a lot of time because I kept doing similar tests in the console when writing or modifying new code. But by that point I already felt like I had too much uncovered code to start writing tests. Cause if someone looked at it and saw just one test, what would they think ? (I know, right?)

The real reason is some kind of fear, that I do not exactly understand. Luckily, these were very small projects and never became anything I had to actually support or the tragedy would have been a lot more substantial - as it is my main loss was my own education.

My third rails project I forced myself to write specs and NEVER use the console for anything that slightly resembles testing - even if its just "trying things out". I put it all in tests and code and spent the effort to get my testing setup really fast and slick.

I've written dozens of tests now and still have a lot to learn but I'm definitely seeing a lot ofvalue. Hopefully it is not just cognitive dissonance. I've spent way more time on tests than on the actual code. I expect though that part will get better. I've been programming for sixteen years, but only testing for a few months.

One thing that really helped me is having some examples - the first I looked at were the tests that come with Devise, the other was the specs in Diaspora (http://github.com/diaspora/diaspora) . They have like 1700 tests for that rails app. I'm doubt they are a paragon of testing virtue, but it is a hell of a lot more relevant than the same trivial examples I've been reading in blogs for the last decade.

tzaman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can relate to this quite a lot.

Protip: Now it's time to go outside, the satisfaction of running outside exceeds that of running on the mill by far!

stevewilhelm 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have been doing professional RoR development for a couple of years. I have made several attempts to use proper TDD, but always revert back to old habits.

I can think of four reasons why this happens to me:

a) there aren't many good examples of applications built using TDD available. see http://s831.us/PM6jkb ,

b) TDD becomes very difficult when your application incorporates complex 3rd party data sources and APIs,

c) feels like you are writing the application twice (once in Cucumber/RSpec and once in RoR),

d) pressure to "get something done" results in backsliding.

By contrast, I have been running for exercise the last couple of years. Running is not competing with an established habit and I see immediate benefit from almost each run. I highly recommend getting a FitBit or Nike+ SportWatch GPS and signing up for a stretch goal. For example, successfully ran the Dipsea this spring. Now training for half marathon in October.

jorleif 3 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting corollary to "Move your feet", instead of overanalyzing, is that you can't get good at something without doing it repeatedly. When you do something over and over again the analyzing mind starts noticing things that often turn out to be useful. The problem with the mind is that it does not really seem to know when it has enough information. As in the running case, the best thing would be to go out running (not too often at first, to avoid injuries), and gather information about running. But the mind does not mind to just analyze and analyze the same insufficient information available.
skrebbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice analogy!

Kent Beck, rediscoverer of TDD (who surely can't be expected to have analysis paralysis on how to do TDD), actually wrote about exactly this a while ago: http://www.threeriversinstitute.org/JustShip.html

rodolphoarruda 3 days ago 2 replies      
You can hurt your knees quite easily by "grabbing any pair of shoes"... like I did. It took me 3 months to recover.
Before you start running, buy a pair of shoes that better fit your body type[1]

[1] http://www.therunningadvisor.com/running_shoes.html

wmat 2 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me the best running advice I ever received. In a comment when asked how to run fast, a very accomplished ultra runner replied, "If you want to run fast, run fast."
AtTheLast 2 days ago 0 replies      
Best advice I got from a friend about programming is: make it work, then make it better, then make it faster.
ezl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Aka "just fucking do it". The #1 cause of startup failure is making yourself very busy pretending to work
eranation 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, "Perfect" is the worst enemy of "done". Users don't view source before they open their wallet.
Don't write bad code, but don't avoid writing code, as it will be never be perfect.
drunkenfly 3 days ago 2 replies      
True. But not forget that you have tens of years experience of walking and running before you decided to improve your running. If you would have that many years of Ruby experience you would have better chance to get to TDD nirvana too.
sood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed the post thoroughly. Been working in software for 6 years now and I can remember countless instances where I could not get working code out because I wanted to achieve perfection. It wasn't until last year when my mentor told me the same thing, don't be shy of typing, write the damn code. I am happy for you that you have this figured out early in your career.
incision 2 days ago 0 replies      

Nike hit gold with "Just do it" 'cause it really does sum things up.

If nothing else, throwing yourself into something will give you a context and sense of the immediately relevant parts of the subject that will make your eventual research and preparation much more effective.

vijayr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this is true for many activities, not all. If my to do list app has bugs, the worst that could happen is some users will get annoyed and leave. If my medical equipment software has bugs, people might seriously get injured or even die. In the first case, just start and get it done makes a lot of sense. In the second case it doesn't.

Nice article and nice advice though.

agumonkey 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I know my disease, a septic shock variant of analysis paralysis.
eranation 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very well written, honest and so true, I can relate so much, reminds me of this excellent post: http://www.zemanta.com/fruitblog/i-bet-you-over-engineered-y...
mathewda 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice post, I can relate a lot as a fellow engineer and a wanna be runner. haha I think in software a lot of what impedes progress is attitude and reputation protection. Since we assume there is a "correct" way to do things we spend a lot of time trying to learn that instead of just shipping something. My thought is that we have a fear to put something non-optimal out there because we think another engineer is going to look at our code and assume we are an idiot if we didn't execute every detail to perfection, or didn't use some particular pattern that's popular. I think this is kind of sad since solving problems and creating something interesting is really what software is all about. When you're starting to be a runner I think the attitude is different, people respect the effort of just getting out and doing something. We also know the body isn't going to respond instantly, pushing too hard to fast will cause injury instead of improvement. Yet somehow in knowledge work we assume learning time is zero, even though we know this is never actually the case. Hopefully some day the culture will shift to more like that of running, until then it's more of an individual battle to have the courage to just ship something.

- Dave Mathew (@mathewda)

__mharrison__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure that programming and running are both skills that are innate to humans. I started running because I was inspired from reading Born to Run. I basically went out and did it. Little training is required. There is some skill involved, but mostly just heart.
One has to learn the skill of programming. I can't tell my son to "go program", but he can "go run".
gsabo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree with the sentiment that the best way to move forward is always to start hacking. I too tried to learn TDD by simply writing tests first, which was frustrating and unproductive.

That approach seems similar to learning to program by typing random words into iPython until something happens - it could work, but it's going to take you months to even discover a "for" loop. It's better to read a tutorial and the documentation while experimenting.

I finally caught on to TDD after watching the screencasts at destroyallsoftware.com, and I highly recommend it to others wanting to learn. TDD is a completely different way to develop, not just an additional step on your old routine.

nXqd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a common problem we've been encountered through time. When I find something news, I will search "the best of" .. right after that. And leading to that is a lot of search, research, finding cool things.
Now I rather create work things then make it sexy like ladies later :D
localhost 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the last part of the post where he meets the ex pro runner is key. There's the old adage of "practice makes perfect" whereas in reality it's "perfect practice makes perfect". Learn how to run properly first (much harder than it looks) then start to add the miles / pace. Chi Running is a fantastic book for this (although it's incredibly verbose). A key thing I learned there is the value of a metronome to aid in cadence.
suyash 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still believe in reading books and solidifying your fundamentals first before jumping into a big project. I've learned the hard way that just jumping into and try to figure out things as you don't understand does not work for everyone.
chenster 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also depending on your goals though, for recreational purpose, it probably doesn't matter what approach one takes. I can't compare playing golf with running. Golf is probably a thousands times harder than running just to get started. To get the thing right and do it well in the long run, start with the proper form is crucial.
vassilevsky 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, specs are that hard.
The Tim Cook memo: line by line jacquesmattheij.com
331 points by plinkplonk  5 days ago   299 comments top 43
timmyd 5 days ago  replies      
Hmm - i really dont agree with this. Apple revolutionised the industry - before the iPhone we were using tiny screens with Nokia SMS interfaces or Motorla RAZR. Apple frankly blew the industry apart.

"These are not patents on innovation, they're patents on simple ideas and features that you didn't even think of first but you were the first to patent."

Then the magical aspect of patent law called "prior art" would come into play and it wouldn't be patentable. Yet it is - and yet despite all of Samsungs insistences and millions (no doubt) spent on prior art research - nothing has been shown prior to the date of filing that anything existed. It's no different than Amazon's One-click.

It would be interesting - if you invented something, you spent ten-of-thousands on patents, you spent huge amounts of capital in developing a product - you launch it to much positive press and then someone simply copies everything you have done. You're a small business - what do you do now ? According to your article you sit back and say "oh thats totally ok because thats innovation and I'm happy that everyone has copied me and destroyed my advantage".

The problems with the patent industry are patents abused by companies who have absolutely no interest in developing them but rather trolling them to simply extract money from other companies. Hence the reason the law should be reformed to attach patentable rights to have a enforceable requirement to actually 'use' the patent - thus destroying the majority of trolls. If you dont actively use it as it is meant to be - you have nothing. The requirements and the search of prior art should be greater and longer - to ensure patents are truly innovative and this should not be the role of the courts (due to expense, time and so on within the legal system)

The entire basis of patents was essentially trying to protect the little guy, with an idea against the onslaught of bigger companies just copying them outright and giving them no chance. You state "gone are the days of Steve Wozniak" and indeed "gone would be the days of apple" long ago - because he just wanted everyone to have everything and thats not how you run any business.

I agree that patent law needs reform - but I totally disagree that your somewhat misconstrued article that we should simply destroy patents all together. It should destroy them if they are not being actively used - but a company trying to protect its innovations in not something that I'm against. If you had a startup and a patentable innovation - it would be ridiculous to assume that you would be willing to forgo millions/billions in revenue for some abstract concept of "a greater good". America is a capitalist society and therefore you are fighting that as a concept - not the patent industry. I know my post will get down-voted but it's a reality of business and running a business - you either file for protection or you don't and get copied.

cageface 5 days ago 5 replies      
I think this is an excellent occasion to relink PG's essay on Apple's behavior from 2009:


Maybe Apple thinks they can afford to play bull in the china chop of developer opinion right now but I'm sure I'm not the only developer that felt a little sick to his stomach firing up Xcode today. I plan to put iOS and Apple in my rear view mirror.

marcamillion 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow Jacques,
I usually love your posts and your comments here are valuable - but I think you are so off the mark with this post.

For starters, the reality is that Apple's revenue streams are quite diversified and their product portfolio is very strong. From iMac, to iTunes to iPods/iPhones/iPads.

So the notion that Apple would launch into litigation "just for the money" seems misguided, at the least - if only for the fact that if they lost the suit, there could be significant ramifications for their sales (e.g. an injunction against selling any of the products in the suit for X period of time, etc.). With sales and revenues growing as much as they are, a wrongly filed lawsuit can be even more risky than rewarding.

For a company as wealthy (and innovative) as Apple, there are more considerations than just protecting market share and trying to extract patent rent from competitors as a revenue stream.

There are many other companies that come out with many features in their products that Apple doesn't sue. See Windows, Safari vs Chrome, iPod vs Zune, Adobe Premiere vs Final Cut Pro, most "ultrabooks" vs Macbook Air, etc.

The issue here is that Samsung, HTC, et al. essentially have done what many companies in China have done. They acted like a hardware manufacturing partner - then using the inside knowledge they gained of the intimate architecture of the products, they reverse engineered them and competed directly.

That's like you hiring a web developer to build your startup - and both of you build it to traction, and once you take all the risk and prove the market, (s)he leaves and builds a direct competitor using his insider knowledge.

It's the most insiduous kind of 'IP stealing' that you can get.

If you had that done to you, and your ex-developer (in fact, he is still managing your codebase) is making a ton of money off of your ideas and IP in your market, I am sure you would be pissed too.

The money is just sprinkling on top.

Also, I think it is hard to argue that Apple doesn't pour their hearts into what they do. That's why they are the most valuable company on the planet and will continue to be for years to come. It's because of the rate at which they innovate.

Not the rate at which they copy.

So cut them some slack, and walk a mile in their shoes.

ForrestN 5 days ago 3 replies      
This is absurd and frustrating. Apple is not responsible for the broken patent system.

Apple is a public company. If Apple decided to hold itself to a set of standards more stringent than its competitors, it would be hampering itself and acting against the interests of its shareholders. Complain about, and work to fix, the system. Don't expect Apple to fix it by ceding the rights it currently has to its competitors. Especially when, as a company, Apple genuinely seems to believe that the blatant copying of iOS in Android is unethical.

Also, you know Samsung has filed similar suits around the world, and in no way is opting out of the patent system, right? Buying a Samsung as a fuck-you to patent law is a joke. They aren't working to fix the problem. They're just losing.

arn 5 days ago 1 reply      
But it wasn't (all) about the money. It was personal.


"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs said. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

With that in mind, the email reads far more genuine than the blog post implies.

taligent 5 days ago 6 replies      
All this blog post is one person's misunderstanding of patent and copyright law. Jacques would have been better served trying to understand what trade dress means and why Apple's UI patents were about the implementation and not the idea.

After all the idea of "how to let the user know they have reached the top of the scroll view" can be implemented many ways. Apples is one way. LG, Samsung and HTC all have different ways.

djt 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think Steve said it best himself:


Companies have an obligation to their shareholders and their staff to protect themselves. A lot of big companies have come out against the current Patent Laws, but at the same time are fighting tooth and nail to protect themselves because that is the current legal environment that they are operating in right now.

PS. Jacques, the "freemium" and "consulting" links on your personal website are dead links

jaebrown 5 days ago 0 replies      
Your argument is really off base. Like most, it seems that you're biased on this issue. There are clearly a couple of things most people have an issue with in this case and all are no reason to be mad at Apple.

1. Design - It has been stated over and over by people that Apple shouldn't be able to patent hardware and software design; which is why these same people believe they lost their trial against Microsoft in the 90s. I believe Apple lost that trial because they waited to late and by that time; which was years in, people had a hard time believing the novelty of a computer UI was something to copy but rather a standard to implement. This is why Apple since Jobs return in 97, has made it their mission to put design first and foremost. They have built the company since 97 on design because it's the one thing, that truly distinguishes a product upon appearance. This is why that went after Samsung early, as they didn't want to give people time to infuse the two.

No, Apple did not win the right to have a rectangle. Clearly Palm, Blackberry and a couple other smartphone makers from earlier in the 2000s have been doing this but Apple did win because Samsung blatantly copied the look and feel of their rectangle.

2. Innovation - If anything, this verdict will spur innovation in the smartphone space. I personally can't wait to start seeing different UIs and hardware models. After the iPhone in 2007, everything has pretty much looked the same. It has really become boring. I applauded Microsoft for what they did with Windows Phone/Mobile from a UI perspective. It shows the possibilities when you think outside the box and try to innovate and now their Windows OS is going in the same direction. We don't know the possibilities with hardware because no one has taken the risk to introduce some truly different or revolutionary, since 2007.

Look what FrogDesign has done with the UI of Android, that no other OEM has even attempted to do. http://www.frogdesign.com/work/sharp-aquos.html

3. Patents - The Patent System is clearly broken and needs change; which is why there is a bill on the Senate floor right now for that. I personally don't agree with software patents but I'm in huge favor of design and utility patents. Those are the patents that don't stifle innovation and force companies to be creative and innovative when building their products. Companies should definitely have to license patents that infringe on these two, as these are the areas where the most and hardest work is done because these are the areas that are most transparent to the consumer.

For all the talk and comments, I've seen and read from people, I've not heard of any more pressure to Congress on this issue. I've not heard one politician say "I'm pushing this issue because my constituents have been urging me to do something about it". We did something about SOPA and PIPA but have done nothing about patent reform. So, I fail to really hear anyone out on this stance if they're not actively trying to pursue a change. I've not seen one sign up or online petition on HN, Reddit or any of the other internet darling pushing this issue.

I think people need to stop taking such an interest in this, as Apple is only doing whats best for them, within the law that we all follow and are not trying to change. We all do whats best for us. An even though we're not companies, I think that's a greater reason for them to do so, as they adhere to shareholders; which are people. So if you have a problem, have it with the Shareholders Dilemma.

jahewson 5 days ago 1 reply      
Don't shoot the messenger. If you don't like the way the patent system works, then criticise the system, but don't criticise a company for making use of it. The 800lb gorilla in the room is patent reform, not Apple. They certainly don't need the money. Given the discovery that went into this case, claims like "Apple didn't even invent it" seem rather far-fetched.
timkeller 5 days ago 4 replies      
Phew. That's a little over-wrought.

Surely Apple has a responsibility to defend its patents and innovations?

We ("rabid Apple fan[s]") need a strong and successful Android to ensure some balance in this next generation of computing. We need a successful Android to keep Apple on their toes.

Google has figured out how to innovate with Android. Ice-cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean feature a unique and notable user interface.

Samsung, on the other hand, designed 'TouchWhiz' to imitate parts of the iOS look-and-feel in order to mislead customers.

nirvana 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's time to put an end to the lie that Apple has patented ideas or the "right" to use features. This is simply not true, and not how patents work, and the anti-patent crowd really should be embarrassed at perpetuating this ideologically motivated, but obviously factually false claim.

Jeff Han demonstrated a touch interface using cameras a few months before the iPhone was demonstrated. Both sets of work can be patented because the idea of using a "touch interface" cannot be patented, by anybody.

Similarly, "pinch to zoom" or "one click purchase" or "pull to refresh" cannot -- and HAVE NOT-- been patented.

You can only patent inventions. Inventions can be particular implementations of features. And this is what Apple has patented. Jeff Han's touch implementation uses cameras and Apple's uses capacitive touch screen and a lot of VERY sophisticated software. They are both distinct and non-obvious and both of them could be patented.

I know this is an ideological position for those who are spreading (or repeating) the misinformation. It is much easier to pretend like these patents are trivial monopolies on ideas, than to admit that Apple put half a decade of work into them.

But you should question your ideology when it requires you to lie in order to make points.

learc83 4 days ago 0 replies      
The thing you have to ask is: would apple have invented the iPhone if the patent system as it stands didn't exist? Also assuming that copyright protection, and protection against counterfeit goods was still in place.

I think the answer to that is, yes. Samsung and other companies did copy Apple just about as far as they could without actually creating a counterfeit.

Yet, that didn't stop Apple from making billions of dollars. To me that is proof that in this case the patent system did nothing to foster innovation.

Take the example of pinch to zoom. If Apple knew they couldn't patent the process would they have implemented it? Of course they would have, it's a better interface (and the fact nearly every other smartphone copied it, yet they still created it proves my point).

Furthermore the purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation by rewarding inventors for not hoarding innovation with trade secrets. Could something like pinch to zoom even realistically be protected by trade secrets.

The implementation is so simple that once someone has seen it, nearly anyone could replicate it.

Patents no longer serve they purpose of disseminating knowledge. Companies aren't digging through the patent office in search of implementation details, the way it was intended to be used.

thomasilk 5 days ago 2 replies      
Almost every single founder would go crazy if someone copied their interface or device design in the same way. Yes the same people that are now claiming that Apple is a threat to innovation.

The jury's decision is the best thing that could've happened to the industry in the long term.

I hope we don't really need to discuss the fact that Smsg's devices and Android at least started as clones.

aristidb 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a nice video series about why the primitive moral idea "stealing is wrong" wreaks havoc in the world of ideas:


irreverentbits 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but feel as if all of the claims made regarding "real innovation" in this post grossly undervalue the strides Apple has made in UI/UX and overall product design in favor of elevating more immediately self-evident technical advances.

The strength of Apple's innovation has always been in delivering complete, cohesive products. In that regard, user interface details and interactions which seem trivial technically are hardly trivial in terms of user experience.

As a competitive entity, there's no reason for Apple not to leverage every technique at its disposal to ensure its competitive viability - and one of these techniques is using patent litigation to prevent competitors from carbon-copying its innovations.

Moral and ethical arguments should be made with regard to the integrity of the patent system itself, not a single corporation's lawful use of that system. Decrying Apple's behavior either speaks to hopeless naiveté regarding the nature of competition, or self-congratulatory moral posturing.

darkstalker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised how Apple-biased the people here is. They're clearly abusing the patent system by patenting ridiculous things. How come things like slide to unlock are considered innovation? that's been used to open laptops before Apple patented it.
EricDeb 5 days ago 4 replies      
How about simply having shorter tech patents? I feel having a patent length of 5 years would absolve these problems quickly. The tech industry moves too fast for 14 or 20 year patents...
mchanson 5 days ago 1 reply      
How can we make these threads not be like comp.sys.mac.advocacy?
thomasf1 5 days ago 1 reply      
It´s very clear that it´s been a personal mission by Steve Jobs who felt it´s wrong.

I´m personally quite conflicted in this case:
Apple has a point that Samsung was copying them. Pure copying, not using elements of it and turning it into something new.

On the other side, the ways of protection with patents of tiny bits of it is silly and broken. They are trivial and regard the overall design and should not be allowed.

Famously the Mac itself is based upon the work of Xerox Parc. To the credit of Apple and Steve Jobs they put in a lot of work, made many concepts useable and re-developed the mouse to actually make a consumer product out of it.

For me the morale right or wrong is the following:

make it your own: While heavily using concepts existing prior, you´ll re-combine them into something way better than the thing you copy: That´s ok for me, it has creative value.

copy: You simply dumbly copy things line-by-line without even understanding the basic concepts of why something is great and throw it on the market at a lower prive: That´s wrong and ripping of the creative work of others.

Samsung to me falls quite clearly into the copy category. I doubt that they have a deep understanding of UX design and the subtleties what actually made the iPhone great and delighted the users.

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
My take on it is encapsulated by this:

"For us this lawsuit has always been about something much more important than patents or money."

It is clear that it can't be about the money because Apple makes 10x the money Samsung does, its all about crushing your enemies using every available tool in your arsenal, no matter what. When Microsoft did that by bundling their own browser into their dominant OS they were convicted of illegally using their market domination to crush competition. I don't think that fate will befall Apple but the ramifications of this on Apple will be far and wide and for the most part uncontrollable.

I expect that everyone reading this today will, in 5 to 10 years be able to look back at today and see all the manifestations of what happened because of it and then see what Apple has wrought. I have no idea if it will be the best or stupidest thing they ever did, but it will define them as a company. I'm strangely reminded of the Tesla / Edison rant for some reason.

gearoidoc 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wish I could back in time and convince Steve Jobs not to do the iPhone and (Butterfly Effect style) return to present day and see what phones were like.

I'm guessing we'd be viewing the web scrolling up and down on a Blackberry's nipple :D

deepGem 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Even the most rabid Apple fan can see through this and realize this is just about money. If it wouldn't be about money and control then there wouldn't be so many efforts to get injunctions and damages." - Seriously ??? Dude, A billion dollars is nothing for Apple. They probably earn more than that in a month.

If I'm not wrong, these were Steve's words to Eric Schmidt - 'I don't want your money, I don't want 5 billion $, I just don't want you to do Android, period'. So the lawsuit is definitely not about money.

zakshay 5 days ago 1 reply      
So its fine for Samsung to copy Apple? But when Samwer Bros copy - there is a huge uproar.

You guys should know how it feels when your products are copied.

blaines 5 days ago 0 replies      
Okay this guy wrote paragraph(s) retorting each individual line in a memo. The author is reading way too much into this. They wrote their opinion, this clearly wasn't a fact finding mission.

I'd probably give this a "C-" for poor format, unbalanced opinionated writing, and it's length (too long).

In the future, it's fine to pick a side, but make a case and defend it with research. Don't ask a series of questions in response to a memo. Questions are unconvincing at best.

"Should your kids be home before 10PM?" vs "Your kids should be home before 10PM"

Hopefully this helps the author improve their writing. I don't even have a Nokia phone, I have no phone. Maybe we'd be friends.

andreyf 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think this is about money. Apple has enough money. This is about destroying the competition - in particular, Android. I believe Steve Jobs wasn't shy about it, either: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15400984
pclark 5 days ago 2 replies      
I think it's bullshit that Apple did this for money.
tripzilch 5 days ago 0 replies      
It actually all becomes really clear as soon as you realize that what Apple wanted to patent all along, was innovation itself.

Apparently that claim did not get accepted[1] so now they're trying to stop competition from using iNnovation by means of patent-lawsuits for everything else.

[1] Prior art, they said. Even though it's absolutely indisputable that Apple came up with the iWheel first, and everybody else copied its rounded corners.

rrrene 5 days ago 0 replies      
While many of the OP's claims seem genuinely true, it saddens me to see how mad he becomes halfway through, after rightfully assessing facts, like the obvious flaws behind some the Apple patents.

But what started as a well presented and valid argument essentially became an unresortfull, self righteous Apple-Bashing that culmulates in "But as proud as you [Tim Cook] are, as disgusted I am. [...] Today, values have won and I hope the whole world listens. Your values have won, mine have lost, [...]"

pasbesoin 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with prior art is that, with the Patent Office doing such a crap job -- thanks in part to the Congress that funds it -- you and your attorney have to document and present it yourself, at $300/hour.

Add first-to-file to this mess, and, well, at least there will no longer be any point in spending that $300/hour.

srinathvj 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is total abuse of patents and copyrights! Of course, the obvious way to do things should never be patent-able in the first place!! Someone definitely needs to re-look @ how patenting works... I think the rules have obviously become archaic... and not useful anymore. Another example of this is the Indian Judiciary... completely meaningless laws and rules all over the place. A law book to govern a nation should ideally not be over 150 Pages, but now we have one which is like 5,000 pages and its completely meaningless!! Dawh!!!
dogan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Software patents don't make sense, but copying something bit by bit also makes no sense. It is one thing use good ideas as inspiration and another thing to just copy something recklessly.
macspoofing 5 days ago 2 replies      
Was a line-by-line analysis really necessary?
wamatt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Uggh, it's getting pretty tricky to work through the moral ambiguity of all this.

Probably because it's 3am and I'm tired, but wouldn't it be nice for a change, to let someone else convince us that "Apple == good" and "Samsung == Bad", or vice versa? But no, reality has to go and be all grey and complex. :p

uvTwitch 4 days ago 0 replies      
"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." - Steve Jobs; Triumph of the Nerds.
EthanEtienne 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else see the irony in that he himself is a domain squatter? The shit he hates, he is himself.
sterlingwes 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the ultimate in hypocrisy


jderick 4 days ago 0 replies      
If an idea can be described in one sentence, it shouldn't be patentable.
goggles99 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lets see how you all feel after Apple is done suing every android and smartphone manufacturer.

This is just the beginning. The first shot fired... The real war is yet to come.

epo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ridiculous fandroid carping by Jaques. Samsung copied Apple feature for feature, the only difference they added was inferior workmanship. If all Samsung wanted to do was copy Apple then they should have licensed Apple's patents.
novaleaf 4 days ago 0 replies      
while I personally dislike Apple, I think the poster would have kept me more interested if he took a more neutral stance.

overt hostile rebuttals made this a "TLDR" for me

aklofas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apple sucks.
delllapssuck 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a consumer. Do the opinions of consumers matter?

All that matters to Apple is sales. Do they care what consumers say about them on the web? Silence the nonbelievers!

Consumers do not need to understand patent law to make purchase decisions. But most consumers know what lawsuits are, especially ones that make a mockery of the justice system.

It's possible many consumers really don't care if they're buying Apple or Samsung. If they did care, if they only wanted Apple products, then Apple wouldn't need to sue other manufacturers, would they?

checker659 5 days ago 0 replies      
Eat it.
GIMP is Now a Self-Contained Native App for Mac OS X petapixel.com
330 points by maciej  17 hours ago   167 comments top 26
wtallis 16 hours ago  replies      
So, is this an app that bundles it's own X11, or is it using a Quartz/Cocoa backend for GTK?

EDIT: I downloaded it, and the app bundle doesn't seem to have an X11, so that's nice. However, upon firing it up, it throws up a splash screen in front of all other applications. Who still thinks that's acceptable behavior on a multitasking operating system? Also, the app quits when the last window is closed, which isn't how OS X apps are supposed to behave.

jfaucett 17 hours ago  replies      
I love it! GIMP is one of those tools that's "almost" a photohop killer, not quite yet, but this is a big step in the right direction. Good job GIMP team!
As an asside, I think the plugin API and scheme joice is great and a blast to develope with I'd just like to see others jump on board.

EDIT: I thought I'd add this since there seems to be a large discussion below as to the type of user for which GIMP is applicable. I'm a software dev, in the past couple of years though mainly web apps where I've had to at times do graphics, for this GIMP worked fine for me (that's my pitch in the discussion). I think GIMP shines (as well as the traditional imagemagick) for batch processing, the scripting is easy, clean, fast - and lispy :)
Some links for those interested: http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/Basic_Batch/

crazygringo 16 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a great move.

Serious question: how did this not happen 5 years ago? Is there some technical reason? It's so hard for me to understand why the creators wouldn't have always had this as the #1 feature improvement to make ASAP.

jyap 6 hours ago 0 replies      

I've been a long time GIMP for Mac OS X user (being a former laptop Linux users).

New GIMP crashed in me on the first run. It then hung on start up on the 2nd run.

I just deleted my old GIMP configuration directories and it started up fine:

rm -fr ~/Library/Application\ Support/Gimp/

jon6 16 hours ago 3 replies      
OT but is this an official signed application that can work with gatekeeper on 10.8? I recently discovered that my open source project won't work by default on osx 10.8 without me paying $99 to get an apple certificate, which I'm not very interested in doing.

What are open source/free projects supposed to do about gatekeeper?

calgaryeng 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is there a way to permanently dock the toolbar in the Mac version? I had this in the old version.... Now I get floating docks over top of other applications even when Gimp is in the background!
unwind 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There was some confusion about whether this release (which wasn't done by the "ordinary" Mac OS X package maintainer) meant that the role had been appointed to someone else: https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gimp-developer-list/2012-Aug....

I hope that is getting resolved, it's always painful to see large projects like GIMP suffer from "people problems" and developers become disgruntled as a result.

city41 15 hours ago 0 replies      
There is also McGimp, which is a fully OSX native version of Gimp: http://www.partha.com/
jamesu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to say, i'm impressed. One of the biggest reasons I never really used GIMP on OSX was that the X11 version never really felt right.

This version in comparison feels a lot better, though there are still a few annoying things about it, such as the image editing itself seems a bit laggy.

Still, a good step in the right direction IMO!

delackner 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Some day in the distant future perhaps there will actually be a non-photoshop 100% psd compatible editor. I thought I could just tell my designer to do File -> Export Layers as PNG, but that command in Photoshop is intentionally broken, churning for several minutes before producing even the first of many output files. In the meantime, while I like seeing how far Gimp has come, it just isn't an option for me.
captaincrowbar 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Now if only Inkscape would follow suit. There are plenty of good bitmap image editors for the Mac, but I could really use a good vector editor.
DenisM 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Any thoughts on this new GIMP vis-a-vis Photoshop Elements?

I don't mind paying <$100 for a decent graphics editor. My primary use case is tweaking screenshots, app icons, buttons, and the like for my iOS apps and the web site. I want to get in and out as quick as possible, so I can get back to my other work.

mmphosis 12 hours ago 0 replies      
GIMP Crashes on launching 32bit CPU


  $ file GIMP.app/Contents/MacOS/GIMP-bin
GIMP.app/Contents/MacOS/GIMP-bin: Mach-O 64-bit executable x86_64

tcc619 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This feature along with the single window view makes GIMP very usable on the mac.
larrywright 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The excellent Pixelmator is only $14.99 in the Mac App Store. I'm not sure how much use their is for Gimp on OS X any more.
Cyranix 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The primary download link is getting hammered at the moment; check for a mirror that has an OSX directory for fast access.
MikeCapone 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic (but I know very savvy people are here, so I can't help but ask):

Anyone knows where I could find a JPEG-2000 plug-in for GIMP that works on this Mac version, along with instructions on how to install it?

armored_mammal 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Since it's 2.8 series it should have single-window mode, no?
devindotcom 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank god, maybe I can finally leave behind Pixelmator.
fuzionmonkey 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Does it have Retina display support? I'd download this in a heartbeat.

It's frustrating how long it is taken Adobe to update their software for Hi-DPI.

viraj_shah 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The interface looks significantly better, at least from the last time I messed around with it (which was a while ago).
akldfgj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't come with decent-looking fonts included, though.
bigfrakkinghero 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! One of my biggest gripes with using OSX was how terrible the GIMP experience was.
Kilimanjaro 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using the outdated Seashore for my basic crop/resize needs. Will try asap.
joejohnson 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish it were available from the App Store.
scoofy 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Why can't i move a selection within a layer? This has to be the most persistent problem in the mac version that hasn't been fixed. With every new GIMP version i curse this bug.
I can't make this stuff up plus.google.com
320 points by vibrunazo  4 days ago   182 comments top 37
bpatrianakos 4 days ago  replies      
Even if this is a true story, it isn't the lawsuit that made people think this. What makes people think that Apple products and Samsung products are the same is the fact that Samsung intentionally ripped them off to get exactly that. Apple did not do this. Samsung did and the lawsuit was so they could stop it. If this story is true, which it kind of sounds like it isn't, then the only reason people are being vocal about it is because of the news. They're now comparing the two side by side and saying "hey, they look the same so they must be like the same thing". Up until about two months ago I was dirt poor (as in I only ate once a day, if that) and my experience with Apple products has been then you definitely get what you pay for in a good way which is why I have bought so many despite my door poor-ness. Samsung making their products look like Apple's was meant so people like me (minus the tech savviness) would buy them thinking they'll get the same thing. You really don't.

But I digress. This post has it wrong. What he supposedly overheard in a Starbucks wasn't caused by the Apple v. Samsung ruling but was a direct result of what Samsung had been trying to do all along.

othermaciej 4 days ago 3 replies      
I am skeptical that this is actually a true story and not a parable. The alleged regular people consumer statements do not ring true.
forgottenpaswrd 4 days ago 1 reply      
This man is clearly lying. So awkward and artificial that is clearly fabricated, like a geek joke prepared and rationalized but void and dead of humor.

Imagine a teenage that could not differentiate between and iPod and some other thing "that is the same".

Yeah, because normal people know how to install a VM, do a grep and an ssh....but they could not differentiate from a computer witch battery last 3 hours instead of 8, or weights double, or is made in real aluminum(and not plastic with metallic paint) or it is actually cheaper than the competence.

This man is wet dreaming.

tedunangst 4 days ago  replies      
Here's what's going to happen. These people will buy a Samsung device. And they will hate it. And then they will learn to never buy anything but Apple. Apple has, for a short bump in near term revenue, earned themselves a lot of lifetime customers.
edanm 4 days ago 3 replies      
So a while ago, I had this thought: "It's pretty obvious that the casual user will buy iPhones and not Galaxies. After all, Apple works very hard to make iPhones perfect for the casual user, and all of the goodiness that comes from having a more open phone is meaningless for the casual user".

A little later, as more and more people I knew gravitated towards the Galaxies, I realized the flaw in this thinking - the average user doesn't know that the iPhone is geared towards him/her, and is a much better fit for someone who doesn't want to tinker with their phone. Only techies know this.

The average user wants to buy a phone that they can put apps on. As far as they're concerned, the iPhone and the Galaxy is the same product, only with a vastly different price structure.

waterside81 4 days ago 1 reply      
A few commenters here are not sure if this is real or not. I thought it was quite plainly put out as a tongue-in-cheek commentary in the form of an anecdote on the ridiculousness (according to the author) of this whole patent situation. "If Samsung copied Apple, why would we buy Apple? Just buy the cheap knock-off" is what he's angling at.
saturdaysaint 4 days ago 2 replies      
I am extremely skeptical that a lawsuit that few people are even aware of will have any effect on either company's brand image. A lot of Apple's products could be called "iconic" - people with little interest in technology differentiate between an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone 4. I'd be surprised if anyone could tell a Samsung from an HTC. A lawsuit isn't going to change that.
espeed 4 days ago 0 replies      
What perfect PR for Samsung. It reminds me of the story where a company hired actors for a PR stunt where they used pre-launch devices in public to create buzz for the product. Who was that?

EDIT: Maybe it was Samsung I'm thinking of. Evidently they have done stuff like that before (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110325/12360313633/samsun...). Netflix has done this too (http://www.avclub.com/articles/netflix-apologizes-for-hiring...).

jdq 4 days ago 1 reply      
Everything about the story reads like it was fabricated.
dimitar 4 days ago 1 reply      
A more probable headline - Apple consumers are wondering what they are paying for.

Not really news, and I doubt its going to affect sales for now. Eventually they'll have to reinvent themselves if they want to stay cool, though. (Like Sony Walkman failed to do so as a brand)

prostoalex 4 days ago 1 reply      
Costumers are people in charge of costumes, right? I can't imagine Apple would have that many.
greenwalls 4 days ago 2 replies      
A Pro-Google Android Zealot writes a story on Google Plus about people switching from Apple to Samsung due to a patent lawsuit and you all believe it? I guess there really is a sucker born every minute.

Check Apple's earnings later to see who was right.

victorbstan 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is a perfect example of judging a book by the cover. So these folks look at the device and think that the hardware is what makes it. Problem is, either you realize that it's about the software and you care what iOS and the Apple ecosystem gives you, or you're just an average Joe PC user who can't tell the difference between a good coffee and Starbucks, I mean between Windows and Mac. Regular people, with very little ability to discern the average from the good, the half finished from the polished, won't care. But maybe they do. Maybe once they experience a iPad or iPhone and then switch to Android, maybe they will realized there is a difference. I think this is what Apple is betting on. But then again, some wont. And some Samsung/Android fanatics are going to revel in these cases, just like the PC fanatics revel in talking about how amazing Windows is, and how much software they have access to. I still can't understand how these people think, and how they judge quality, I think for some people, mediocre is good enough. Obviously, I have my own particular way of judging things, and I wouldn't confuse an iPad with a Samsung device.
Steko 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm mystified that an anecdote that's very likely fabricated and is filled with misinformation is one of the highest rated pieces here.

I'd say people who upvote before they read are part of the problem but I'm more concerned that many people did read and still upvoted it.

psychotik 4 days ago 2 replies      
Well, all this story tells me is that the folks who frequent Starbucks aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.
AllenKids 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the author make this stuff up.

Also after a few months it tricks me into G+ again, nope, still no value for me.

lutusp 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Samsung's iPad is the same as Apple's iPad, and I paid how much for the Apple one? Honey, I told you they were a ripoff"

Maybe now, but if Samsung has to pay a billion-dollar fine, the prices will be more comparable -- assuming that Samsung isn't also ordered to stop building machines so much like Apple's.

The sense of the article is that the lawsuit outcome favors Samsung -- that Apple is outing Samsung's units as being similar to Apple's but less money. This only works if Samsung's business isn't crippled by fines and cease-and-desist orders.

pedalpete 4 days ago 0 replies      
I take back the comment here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4432744,

apparently this is exactly what Gigaom was referring to earlier today. I didn't think people would care, but apparently they do, don't understand, and Apple is paying the price.

What would have happened had Samsung won??

gtirloni 4 days ago 0 replies      
What Apple has done is essentially throw all the hard work of its own marketing department out the window. Marketing works hard so consumers will pay more for what they perceive is a better product. Even if it's not.

Now Apple has called attention to how similar Samsung products are and people ARE going to make this connection no matter what.

Even if Apple gets an injunction, do you think customers will still be willing to pay that premium over Apple products? They will at least start questioning their choices.

In this consumerist society we might as well see riots and protests so Apple lowers the prices or the govt cancels the injunctions.

stesch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sure. They buy a Samsung notebook and try to install Mac OS X on it. That will be fun!
stock_toaster 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a case of assumed "difference regret", where people (esp those who don't know much about the products they are choosing from) think they didn't get the best deal.
lines 4 days ago 2 replies      
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 costs $100 less than the latest iPad, and the same as the iPad 2. May I assume that "Samsung's iPad" in this case was actually a seven inch model, and a blatantly unfair comparison?

edit: not to mention that the value of OS X is part of tw cost of MacBooks; running it in a VM on another OS is common, but unfair to portray to random people as a legitimate action as evidence that Apple is ripping peons off.

chmars 4 days ago 2 replies      
Google+ asks for my Google account password. Is there an alternate URL for this text?
keithpeter 4 days ago 0 replies      
If we accept the message behind this apparent parable (Samsung tablets have higher visibility now because of the lawsuit) is this not a great opportunity for WinRT based tablets?

Trusted brand, cheaper than iPad (I'm assuming for the WinRT ones) range of styles from different manufacturers, a (possibly limited) version of Office...

Tichy 4 days ago 0 replies      
One more thing about the lawsuit: the battle startet long before it was taken to court, with all of Apple's ads suggesting that they invented stuff they did not really invent. And now a jury got to decide, that was of course also raised/brainwashed with Apple advertisements.
morpher 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find this (apparently fake) story interesting for the reaction that it created. I found it surprising (disturbing?) that anyone (even a fictional character) would equate losing a lawsuit for patent infringement with having an identical product. I was even for surprised reading through to comments on g+ to see how many were simply along the lines of "haha stoopid iPeons". As if they are dumb for having purchased an iProduct in the first place instead of the obviously identical but cheaper product from Samsung. Wat? I don't doubt the authors conjecture that some customers may have this odd reaction to the lawsuit, but why do so many people seem to think that it is a natural reaction to have?
nachteilig 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why do I have a strong feeling that this is anti-Apple blogspam? If people confuse Apple products with Samsung products, it's because Samsung wants that confusion to exist. Apple's innovations weren't "obvious" until Apple put them into their products. Please consider the criticism iPhone received for not having a keyboard or buttons back in 2007.
chris24 4 days ago 0 replies      
This story reminds me of that recent Mac genius ad with the sketchy computer salesman.
enos_feedler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tim Cook specifically stated the reason they took action is in alignment with Apple's values, with innovation being the big one. Looking at the products Apple cranks out I don't think anyone can deny they value innovation (even if it means stealing along the way). They used the existing system in the best way they could in alignment with their core values, despite the fact it might confuse the customer, they lose sales etc, etc. Good for Apple.
metatronscube 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nope, I will now only ever consider Samsung capable of bad ripoffs and plagiarism.
dakimov 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you cannot tell the difference between an iPhone and a Samsung, you should better buy yourself a Huawei.
EternalFury 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good one, nonsense.
adamgb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Self-fulfilling prophecies are a bitch.
Z3UX 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry for my honest comment but this just proves what some people over the world thinks: Americans are dumb! =X
logn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sweet ironic justice.
anuraj 4 days ago 0 replies      
delllapssuck 4 days ago 3 replies      

For Apple, it's all about controlling the minds of consumers. And controlling their access to information about the devices.

For Samsung, it's less about that and more about plain old lack of interoperability: proprietary plugs, crappy Windows proprietary "install" software that was written hastily, and other little annoyances, stuff that will only work with Samsung. Like every other Asian manufacturer for as long as I can remember. (But at least companies like Samsung make SSD's and other components that can be used in any device. They keep companies like Apple afloat. Can Apple make its own components? Not as cost-effectively as Samsung.)

The result is always the same: the consumer overpays for these cheap electronics and gets next to zero customer service. It's "take it or leave it".

Showing a random Starbucks customer OSX in a virtual machine? Priceless.

If they only knew what their iPhones, iPads, "iOS" and "OSX" were really made of. They might never care. But they do care about overpaying.

What killed the Linux desktop tirania.org
320 points by foolano  20 hours ago   353 comments top 73
cletus 18 hours ago  replies      
This is the money quote:

> The second dimension to the problem is that no two Linux distributions agreed on which core components the system should use.

Linux on the desktop suffered from a lack of coherent, strategic vision, consistency and philosophy. Every engineer I know likes to do things a particular way. They also have a distorted view on the level of customization that people want and need.

I like OSX. Out of the box it's fine. That's what I want. I don't want to dick around with Windows managers or the like. Some do and that's fine but almost no one really does.

Whereas Windows and OSX can (and do) dictate a topdown vision for the desktop experience, Linux can't do this. Or maybe there's been no one with the drive, conviction and gravitas to pull it off? Who knows? Whatever the case, this really matters for a desktop experience.

I have two monitors on my Linux desktop. A month ago full screen on video stopped working. Or I guess I should say it moved to the center of the two screens so is unusable. I have no idea why. It could be an update gone awry. It could be corp-specific modifications. It could be anything. But the point is: I don't care what the problem is, I just want it to work. In this regard, both Windows and OSX just work. In many others too.

I can't describe to you how much torture it always seems to be to get anything desktop-related to work on Linux. I loathe it with a passion. I've long since given up any idea that Linux will ever get anywhere on the desktop. It won't. That takes a topdown approach, the kind that anarchies can't solve.

ajross 20 hours ago  replies      
I think some of this is perceptive. It's true that the attempt by both Canonical (Unity) and Red Hat (Gnome 3) to sort-of-incompatibly break away from the so close to standard that it hurts to type this Gnome 2 environment did a lot more harm than good, at least as far as platform adoption goes.

And clearly OS X is an extremely polished Unix and is going to appeal to the more UI-focused of the hacker set. And Miquel is definitely among the most UI-focused of the hacker set. He's also an inconsolate "platform fan". Much of his early work was chasing Microsoft products and technologies, of course; now he's an iPhone nut apparently, and that doesn't really surprise me.

But at the same time the Linux desktop was never really in the game. I use it (Gnome 3 currently) and prefer it. Lots of others do. For many, it really does just work better. But in a world where super-polished products are the norm, a hacker-focused suite of software isn't ever going to amount to more than a curiosity. (And again, I say this as someone who will likely never work in a Windows or OS X desktop.)

So in that light, I think the idea that the Linux desktop got "killed" is sort of missing the point. It's no more moribund now than it was before. It's more fractured in a sense, as the "Gnome" side of the previous desktop war has split into 3+ camps (Unity, Gnome 3 and Gnome2/Xfce, though there are other spliter camps like Mint/Cinnamon too). But it's here and it works, and it's not going anywhere. Try it!

nirvana 19 hours ago  replies      
I think he's right, but I think he's missing a key point.

Design. Design is what killed the linux desktop. It never had it. OS X has it. Even windows, crappy as it may be, has it.

Before I go on, let me say that Design is NOT "making it look pretty". In fact, thinking that this is what design is, is what leads many linux advocates to reject the needs of design.

Apple's work looks pretty-- because it is designed to function well.

Design is about usability and understanding the user and making an interface for the user that works well according to the users understanding, perspective and needs.

Design is an engineering discipline.


The Linux community hasn't had that, and I've seen many of them reject it. In fact, you can see it in the rejection of apple's patents. This is why they think that apple patents are not original is because they reject that any engineering went into them. But that's just one example. You see it all the time in lots of contexts. Look at the UIs of Linux... they didn't design one, they just copied windows.

Literal copying is about as far from design as you can get.

Sure, over the years, designers have taken cracks at bringing design to linux, including the work of Ubuntu, but it is rejected by the community.

Rejection of design is a cultural trait of the linux community. They reject it as a discipline, doesn't even see that it exists. (broadly speaking, of course.)

But as users, they have been influenced by it and many of them have switched to OS X because it is the best designed operating system.

And then they write long blog posts about how its wrong that OS X does things a certain way ... based on their lack of design perspective that would let them see why things should work that way.

Its ironic.

But its fine- if you want to run a linux desktop and don't value or care about design, more power to you. Won't ever fault someone for making that decision. We should all use the systems that we prefer.

But the culture that doesn't value design, and can't even see it as an engineering discipline, is going to have a great deal of trouble making something usable by the mainstream.

jrockway 19 hours ago 6 replies      
I've used Linux for years and have never had these problems. I think the issue is that getting everything working requires a deep understanding of each component and the system as a whole. If you just follow advice on forums, you will make things worse because you're doing things you don't understand to a system that you don't understand. That's not going to lead to success. You need to be able to think critically about what's wrong and what needs to change, and then execute those changes. No, that's probably not worth doing if you already like Windows or OS X. If you don't, though...

(And, there are of course Linux-based systems that were built by someone controlling the whole experience, and those work really well. Android and ChromeOS come to mind, though those aren't really desktops per se.)

The other day, someone here was complaining about udev. It has ruined Linux forever, or something. I have a different experience: udev has made my life very easy. I have a rule for each device I care about, and that device is automatically made available at a fixed location when it is plugged in. For example, I have a rule that detects a microcontroller that is waiting to be programmed with avrdude in avr109 mode that symlinks the raw device (/dev/ttyUSB<whatever>) to /dev/avr109. I then have a script that waits for inotify to detect the symlink, and then call avrdude to program the microcontroller. A few lines of shell scripting (actually, it's in my Makefile), and I can just plug in a microcontroller, press the programming button on it, and everything just works. No screwing around with figuring out which device address it's assigned to. How do you do that in Windows?

luriel 19 hours ago 3 replies      
JWZ identified the issue Miguel discusses in this post ten years ago, he even gave it a name: CADT


Also, part of what killed the Linux desktop was Miguel and his total lack of understanding of the unix philosophy which drove him to create abominations like BONOBO. D-Bus is not much better either.

That he fell in love with an iPhone goes to show he didn't fully appreciate the value of open source either.

We were just yesterday commenting with some friends in #cat-v how Evolution is one of the worst pieces of software ever created, and Evolution is supposedly considered by Miguel and co to be the epitome of the Linux desktop.

wheels 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd agree with a whole lot of what's said here, but also add:

One of the big thrusts of the Linux desktop wasn't simply dominance itself, but for it to simply not matter what you were using on the desktop. The Linux desktop fought to produce the first cracks in Windows hegemony a decade ago, but the final push came from the rebirth of Apple and the rise of the smartphone.

Today people happily do their normal productive or recreational tasks from a variety of computing environments: Windows, GNOME, Unity, KDE, OS X, iOS, Android, et al. Probably the majority of (Western) web users use at least one non-Windows internet device.

During the golden age of the Linux desktop everything seemed predicated on reaching exactly this point -- that you wouldn't need Windows, and then, by virtue of competing on a leveler playing field, the Linux desktop would ascend.

But the Linux desktops didn't "scate where the puck is going" -- or their attempts at such missed the mark. By the time we reached the era post-Windows dominance, the Linux desktops weren't positioned to take advantage of the new playing field dynamics. The rest of the industry isn't even all that concerned with the desktop wars anymore. It stopped mattering very much -- and ironically, that came around to bite the projects in the ass that first got the ball rolling.

nathanb 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the article does a great job of explaining the problem, but doesn't explore the ramifications far enough.

Let me give an example: a few months ago, a new version of Skype was announced for Linux. I was excited, since I used Skype 2 for Linux but then it stopped working for me and I couldn't be bothered to fix it. But if you go to the Skype for Linux download page, you will find a few downloads for specific distros, then some tar files which are, statistically speaking, guaranteed not to work.

Long story short(er), I still don't have Skype working on my desktop, because my distro isn't in the list, I can't get one of the other distro packages to work on my system, and of course none of the statically-linked binaries work.

(I could almost certainly get it to work if I was willing to install 32-bit binary support. But it's 2012. If your app requires me to install 32-bit binary support, I don't need your app that badly.)

Steam for Linux, recently announced by Valve, will run into the same problem. I suspect it will actually be Steam for Ubuntu and Debian, possibly with a version for Fedora, assuming you have the proper libraries installed and are using the right sound daemon and graphical environment.

But if big-name software comes out for Linux, hopefully distros will get in line. Do you want to be that distro which can't run Steam? Doesn't really matter if you think that OSSv4 is superior to ALSA and PulseAudio...if Steam requires the latter, you will toe the freaking line, or disappear into obsolescence.

hnriot 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Speaking as someone running a Linux desktop (and am writing this on one) there's not much to say other than I agree. I run linux because work gave me a PC and there's no way I can write software on Windows. Of course we all have servers managed off in the corporate cloud somewhere that run ssh/vnc etc, but there's no way I wanted to install putty again or miss out on the unix commands that make (work) life more enjoyable, so I installed Linux, because I write server software, and client sometimes, but browsers make the operating system moot pretty much. There's more variation between browsers than between operating systems - mobile aside. And when I need to try something on Wintel I spin up a cloud instance and use vnc.

When i'm not on Linux I run OSX everywhere else (and IOS) because its unix-like (is) and because it works so well. I am sure Windows 7 and 8 are great, but I doubt they have gotten rid of c: or \ as path delimiter or any of the other nonsense that DOS introduced (copied from PIP) back in the dark ages. why should they, MSFT still runs DOS apps so they aren't going to change and choosing between OSX and Linux on a non-work desktop is a no-brainer, Netflix, Photoshop etc etc etc...

agentultra 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm writing this from my laptop which is running Ubuntu as its desktop.

I don't really see how the Linux desktop is dead. I've been running the same OS on this same laptop since 2007. The only upgrade I've added is an SSD and an extra gig of memory. It's still pretty speedy and I've never had any problems.

I use a Macbook Pro with OS X at work because that's just what I was issued by default. I hate it. I hate the over-reliance on the mouse, on gestures, the abundant and tedious animations; I hate the crappy ecosystem of package repositories and how most of the packages are broken or completely mess with the system; I hate never being able to find where any of the configuration files are or where something is installed; I hate the plethora of ways you can start and stop services; the confusing GUI; the masochistic meta-key layout; the awful full-screen support; and the complete lack of customization options.

I've had much better experiences with the Linux desktop for 95% of the things I do.

Now before some OS X fan-person decides to point out how woefully misguided and ignorant I am, my point is that there are different folks out there who want different things from their desktop experience. Apple gets to decide top-down what that experience is all the way down to the hardware. I prefer a little more flexibility. I like being able to swap out my own battery or adding a new memory module when I need one. I like being able to switch from a GUI desktop to a tiled window manager. Some folks don't -- there are Linux distros that hide as much of that as possible. Either way there are plenty of options and I think that's a good thing. Competition breeds innovation and even though I don't particularly like Unity I am glad to see people trying new things.

The Linux desktop isn't dead. It may just smell funny. You may switch to OS X and wonder why anyone could possibly want anything else. I just gave you a bunch of answers.

dchest 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Software compatibility in OS X?

A lot of applications break on newer versions of Mac OS X. That's why there are websites like http://roaringapps.com/apps:table

Also, there are a lot of "transitions" that Apple loves doing: PowerPC -> Intel. Java -> Objective-C. Carbon -> Cocoa. 32-bit > 64-bit. Access everything -> Sandbox.

See also Cocoa docs: "method X introduced in 10.5. Deprecated in 10.6".

I have a few devices that don't work in 10.8.

Basically, what I'm saying is that OS X is a bad example for backward compatibility. Windows is much better at this. Open source software is much better at this.

gvb 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm typing this on my work laptop running a linux desktop (Ubuntu FWIIW). Our engineering servers at work run linux and, as a convenience, have the desktop installed. As many of my co-workers run linux desktops as OS-X desktops (and the engineers running OS-X or Windows have VMs running linux... desktops).

When I go home, I'll be using my personal laptop running linux. My wife and kids run a netbook with a linux desktop.

The linux desktop may be dead to Miguel, but it works just fine for me, a lot of other people in my life, and a lot of people in the world.


patrickaljord 19 hours ago 1 reply      
What killed it is that it didn't have a huge and multi-billion dollar company betting on it (on the desktop) like Microsoft and Apple had, even Apple with its billions is still around 5% market share worldwide so having 1% is still a great accomplishment when you think that it had no support from huge corporations.

Now take the mobile world for example, Linux on mobile had been around for a decade but it never really took off until a huge company like Google decided to throw its billions of dollars and its great ingenuity at the task. Getting an OS to be popular is just incredibly difficult and it needs way more than just good driver support and/or good software. It needs marketing, talking to manufacturers, dedicated and well payed devs, designers, UI and UX professionals, sales, R&D and so on and so forth.

Focusing on the technicality of drivers and API is typical of us devs, but it has nothing to do with why Linux didn't take off on the desktop, sure Linux did fail because it couldn't do any or some of that well, but why couldn't it do any or some of that? Because it didn't have a huge and focused company pushing for it. How many popular desktop OS are there? Only 2, I think that's enough to show that it's incredibly hard to get into that market and that only a huge company can make it. Also, let's not forget that Windows was good enough and there was not much Linux could do to attract users, in fact this is still true and probably why even OS X is still at 5%: Windows is good enough and it's the de facto standard used by +90%. Having the best UI and UX in the world like OS X doesn't help that much either.

chimeracoder 19 hours ago 2 replies      
> (b) incompatibility across Linux distributions.

This is completely missing the point - a statically compiled end-user binary should be compatible across all distributions of Linux, using the same version of the kernel or any newer version.

The only caveats to that are (a) hardware and (b) poorly-packaged software.

(A) is the fault of hardware manufacturers and is increasingly not an issue these days anyway; driver issues are becoming increasingly rare.

(B) is easy to solve for any open-source software, as it is the responsibility of the community for that distribution to provide the appropriate packaging. They prefer to do it themselves. And they're good at it - it gets done!

If you want to ship a closed-source binary on Linux, just make sure you don't dynamically link it against any libraries that you don't also ship with the binary. Problem solved.

Honestly, I can't remember one single instance ever where I have run into end-user software that will run on one distribution of Linux and not another, as long as that principle was followed.

davidw 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to be really into the whole free software thing, but have mellowed with age.

However, no way in hell anyone will get me to switch to Mac OS. I am simply too enamored with having an environment that I can hack on if it strikes my fancy, as well as an environment that I can customize how I want it. Despite all its flaws, it still does focus follows mouse pretty well, and not having that would drive me batty.

Also, Apple is an 800 pound gorilla that has always been about Being In Control. The Samsung lawsuit wasn't anything new:


I just don't want to be part of that kind of walled garden.

imperialWicket 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This flame ignites periodically, and I'm always left wondering when exactly the Linux desktop died? Some have noted similar aspects already, but here's my 2 cents:

I'm on Linux now (GNU/Linux, maybe lump BSD in there too, I'm using "Linux"). I know plenty of users on Linux. I know plenty of users of Windows and OS X who run virtual Linux Desktop distributions for testing/development/security. I'm sure some of HN are running Linux.

Does Linux have the potential to enter the market as a third core option for desktop usage - not really. But why does it matter?

The problem with Linux is that there are too many choices. People who like technical choices and options trend toward Linux (needs citation).

John Q. ComputerUser isn't going to use Linux unless his geeky son or nephew installs it for him AND provides support. He can't get support anywhere else - because there are too many possibilities for it to be fiscally effective.

If/When something gets confusing or broken on Windows/OS X, you call JoeBob's SuperDuperPuter, and say it's broken. JoeBob asks, "What Windows version?" While he might need to poke and pry a bit to get the user to tell him he's running Millenium edition, once he gets that data, it's a pretty straightforward troubleshooting effort and fix.

If you call some mythical Computer Service group that actually supports Linux, and say your machine is broken, they would need to know a LOT more about your system just to figure what they need to do to start.

Distribution? Parent Distribution? Shell? Window Manager? Hardware? ...

I find generic computer service companies to be extremely expensive. To be able to provide even basic service for Linux in general, your techs need to be very familiar with more operating systems (emerge, apt, yum, zypper, pacman), and more core applications. Each service effort inherently takes longer. These factors pile up and everything becomes necessarily more expensive. It's downright impractical to support Linux generically. The support costs for one or two issues on Linux would far outweigh the cost of an upfront OS license and cheaper support for the end user.

Linux has (and will likely continue to have) a comfortable hold on the technically-capable DIY market. It may not be on track to step beyond that market in the desktop arena - but that certainly doesn't indicate it's time for a toe tag.

pfedor 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, right, because OSX cares so much about backwards compatibility. They care so much that they actively go out and intentionally break APIs, like say when CGDisplayBaseAddress() stopped working in Lion, breaking fullscreen in every single SDL-based game (and by "breaking", I mean the game will actually crash when attempting to enter fullscreen.)
mistercow 18 hours ago 0 replies      
>And you can still run your old OSX apps on Mountain Lion.

Having been a small-scale Mac developer for many years, that really made me chuckle. Not since OS X 10.2 did Apple release a major upgrade that didn't break my apps and make me struggle to push an update out as quickly as possible to fix all the things that Apple broke. Apple has heard of deprecation, but they don't seem to really grok the concept.

If I had been developing for Linux, I could have simply tested on pre-release versions of the distros I wanted to support and would have been ready when the new versions were released. On OS X I would have had to have paid a prohibitive fee for that privilege.

In any case, this article made me happy. You see, for so many years, I used a Mac, and everybody said "Apple is on its last legs; the Mac will be dead in a few years". Apple had to scramble to compete, and that drove them to provide such a good product. But I knew that situation might not last forever, and I was right. After seeing the turn that Apple had taken over the last few years, I switched to an Ubuntu laptop six months ago.

It's refreshing, once again, to be using an OS that people are calling "dead".

mbell 20 hours ago 6 replies      
Arguing about the niceties of the UI is all well and good but the actually problem is far more fundamental.

What killed the linux desktop? Drivers. Mostly graphics drivers but some others as well. Who cares if the UI isn't ideal if the damn thing can't sleep and wake up properly, or if it spazs out every time I plug in an external monitor.

billswift 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Linux is too hard to configure; if the distro gets it right out of the box it's fine, but not otherwise. I started with Windows 3.1 in 1995, mostly used Slackware, and some Windows 95, from 1996 to 2000. Slackware and Windows 98 from 2000 to 2004. But from the time I got on the Internet in 2004 to the present I have mostly used Windows (98, XP, and Vista) because I have not managed to get any version of Linux that I have tried to connect through a dial-up modem. I have to admit I have only tried sporadically, since Windows just works, and my efforts to get some Linux distro to work have been so frustrating. (Note that though a frequent user, I am not a programmer or professional sys-admin.)

ADDED: jrockaway's comment, added while I was writing this, hits it just right: "I think the issue is that getting everything working requires a deep understanding of each component and the system as a whole." Which is what makes it so frustrating, even to very intelligent people who have other interests than computers in and of themselves.

thiderman 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I never understood this. Why would market share of Linux on the desktop matter? I've always viewed Linux on the desktop as something for power users and developers, and thousands of said power users and developers are continually developing and maintaining multiple distros and thousands of applications. It's not like it's a stale and abandoned paradigm that's left to die.
pixelmonkey 17 hours ago 0 replies      
First of all, the Linux desktop is not dead.

As I wrote on my blog recently:

"In the [past three years], Linux has grown " albeit slowly " in desktop usage. After nearly 2 years of no growth (2008-2010, lingering around 1% of market), in 2011 Linux saw a significant uptick in desktop adoption (+64% from May 2011 to January 2012). However, Linux's desktop share still about 1/5 of the share of Apple OS X and 1/50 the share of Microsoft Windows. This despite the fact that Linux continues to dominate Microsoft in the server market."

It may be in third place in a desktop market with primarily three OSes, but usage has never been higher.

As I discussed in this article, most of the original reasons that stopped Windows / Mac users from using Linux years ago are no longer valid. However, the irony is that it's easier than ever to get by with a Free Software desktop, but harder than ever to avoid proprietary software and lock-in, thanks to the rise of SaaS and the personal data cloud.

I agree with de Icaza that the "Open Web" is more important these days than a Free Desktop. But the linked Wired article's conception of Open Web refers to things like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. These aren't the problem. They are an open delivery mechanism, yes, but usually for proprietary software.

Modern SaaS applications accessible through the web browsers using open web standards are the modern equivalent of an open source Perl script wrapping calls to a closed-source, statically-compiled binary.

You can read more about my thoughts on this in "Cloud GNU: where are you?" http://www.pixelmonkey.org/2012/08/18/cloud-gnu

pavanky 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Not this post again. Those who thought Linux can compete with heavily subsidized windows on Laptops or OSX with Apple's flashy interfaces are dreamers.

Linux has been for those that like to get dirty and it is doing that job quite well. Canonical came a bit late to the party and wasn't large enough to matter. RHEL just went after the servers. To make a fair comparison, Linux should have had a big player backing it strongly on the Desktops / laptops 10-15 years ago (like Google is doing now with Android). HP and IBM did their half assed attempts, but they were never really behind it completely.

brianobush 20 hours ago 2 replies      
funny; I am using a linux desktop right now. not dead yet.
xradionut 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Back in the day, before setting up Linux was a breeze, I got tired of mucking around with configuration and such just to get a usable Unixy desktop and environment. So the day OS X Jaguar was released I purchased a Mac.

Now if I need to fire up Linux for a project, (usually for a microcontoller or such hardware that needs C), a virtual machine or appliance that I can launch from Windows 7 does the job. This is also how I keep Windows 8 contained, safely in a virtualized box that I don't have to deal with it, unless I need too... ;)

antihero 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's still very much alive if you don't give a shit about normal UX conventions or popularity, and there are hundreds of thousands of excellent 3rd party applications that run perfectly.

It's getting really irritating when someone who's jumped ship to OSX declares it "dead" because they have a shiny iDevice and an expensive laptop.

scrumper 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There's room for many approaches, of course. While the perfectionism (or is it lack of pragmatism?) of Linux and its developers may well have held back its wider adoption on the desktop, there's a lot to be said for the its development community's single-minded pursuit of quality and correctness.

As well as Linux's presence in the data centre, witness the success of 'embedded' Linux: many TVs, routers, set top boxes and other bits of sealed-box electronics all run on it. It's broad in its scope because of the large team of divergent interests working on it, and it's able to support those systems because it's been well made as a direct result of that team's philosophy. Is it really so bad that the average Facebooker does't want to use it?

It really is very, very hard indeed to be all things to all men and no single system around today can make that claim. Linux has its place in the world of computing, just like Android, Windows, OSX and everything else.

jfb 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Nothing "killed the Linux desktop"; it still thrives for those that want it, and it's steadily improving. It never came to dominate the market, and one can argue about the reasons it never displaced Macintosh (still less Windows). It probably has a lot to do with lack of a single, unified vision, and the market fragmentation caused by the different distros, and the lack of market pressure to ship, as it relies on volunteer labor, but I'm not going to presume.

Personally, I've been primarily a Mac user since the Mississippian superperiod, but I used an X-11 Windows(™) environment (on top of FreeBSD) for years at work. I don't miss it, even one iota, but I know plenty of smart people who prefer that sort of thing. De gustibus non disputandum est and all that.

macco 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The Linux desktop never got killed! It never was really living. As long as Linux is not sold on computers, it will never spread. Maybe things change in the future, Canonical is doing an insanely great Job bringing Linux to the masses. But personally I think Linux will take of in new markets (China, Brazil, etc), not in allready established ones.

By the way, in my oppinion only a small fraction is buying Macs because of OS X, it's the Hardware. Design and Usability of Ubuntu is a lot better than OS X at the moment.

spiralpolitik 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Largely the same issues that killed UNIX as a viable desktop alternative are the same issues that are killing Linux as a viable desktop alternative: Fragmentation and lack of consistency across different distributions.

This is compounded by most distributions having a lack of centralized vision on how everything fits together. They are merely a collections of individual parts rather than a collection of parts that are designed to work well together and they lack the polish as a result. While the lack of centralized vision was fine for SunOS circa 1992, it simply doesn't cut the mustard in 2012.

Ubuntu seems to be trying to push such a centralized vision with Unity, but I fear they lack the clinical editorial willpower to make the hard decisions required to see it through to its ultimate conclusion.

scoith 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Apple builds fancy gadgets and gathers a fan-boy population, and eventually starts selling more. This really doesn't say anything about Linux desktop.

This whole thing about backward compatibility and the discussion that surrounds it is just vague. Here's a practical "true story" for you: I'm using GNU/Linux for more than 10 years now, and it is still alive.

Never had any vague binary compatibility problems either, because I'm not strangely expecting to use an ancient binary version of Gimp on my current system. That's because FOSS is source oriented, not binary.
I'm not suddenly trying to use a 15 years old graphics card whose driver is longer in the kernel either, because I don't use a 15 years old graphics card.

ChuckMcM 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This article hits so many sore spots right on a pustulent scar tissue.

I had run a Linux desktop (a Debian build mostly w/ KDE) for a while and kept getting hammered with random stuff breaking for random, and often poorly considered, reasons. I gave up and went back to running a Windows deskop with a X-server to pull up windows on my Linux box.

Then I went to work for Google and they did a really good job of running Ubuntu as an engineering desktop (calling their distro Gubuntu of course) and I thought "Wow, this has come quite a ways, perhaps Linux has matured to the point where there is at least one way to run it reliably. And so I installed Ubuntu on my desktop and tried that for a while.

For "using" it, it was for the most part ok if once every few days I did an apt-get update/upgrade cycle. For developing it was a real challenge. Pull in the latest gstreamer? Blam blam blam things fall over dead, update their packages (sometimes pulling git repos and rebuilding from source) to get back working, and now apt-get update/upgrade falls over the next time because you've got a package conflict. It is enough to drive you insane.

aartur 19 hours ago 1 reply      
> In my opinion, the problem with Linux on the Desktop is rooted in the developer culture that was created around it.

This developer culture DEFINES Linux. A fruit is either an apple or an orange. I couldn't have an OS with wonderful package management, developer tools, endless configurability AND a desktop Miguel de Icaza dreams of.

fdr 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I more or less disagree. My main frustration with Linux For Personal Use is that I can't buy a piece of hardware that I know won't regress with new versions of a distribution for three plus years or get any service if it does. My reference for the importance of this is a perfectly usable 2008 refurbished Macbook. I upgraded the RAM once recently for a bit more snap, but otherwise have no complaints over the three or so Macintosh releases since then.

Could the UIs and third party application situation be better? Of course. But considering all the garden variety crash bugs, power management bugs, lockup bugs, video driver misbehavior, hit and miss peripheral support, and in general just analysis paralysis about what hardware I should buy, and even then there is a less-certain future with regard to regressions.

Even given Windows's monopoly power in the commodity desktop and laptop markets, its reputation for dealing with sleep and drivers is only so-so compared to Apple Hardware and Software. If Window's monopoly power -- which buys you full attention from hardware manufacturers and their driver divisions -- only gives you mediocre results, what are the odds that a bunch of kernel hackers who receive almost no continual consideration from hardware vendors have a chance? To me, it looks like absolutely not a chance of becoming stable over time. I have completely given up on Linux laptops for this reason: by using desktops with Linux only I have cut out a lot of the problems, but not all of them. It's a kind of medicore that I can bear.

I want someone to sell me Linux distribution on a laptop that simply will not break over in its kernel-oriented features in five years of upgrades. I want that distribution to stop-ship if it a new version introduces a power management bug to an old laptop, and do whatever it takes to work around some lousy hardware bug or whatever. I want them to do whatever to work with Skype (such as statically linking whatever libraries, etc) and test Google Hangouts to make sure the webcam and microphone works. And it they don't work, they absolutely cannot ship. Until that day, I use Linux -- and I do mean the kernel in most of these cases -- as my personal operating system most of the time in spite of these problems because of my professional and philosophical needs, and not out of preference in any other dimension.

jcfrei 19 hours ago 0 replies      
in a q&a round at aalto university in finland linus adressed the question why linux never took off on the desktop: the lack of being a pre-installed os.
he mentions that without preinstalled operating systems there's now way to gain a significant market share in the desktop segment.

the whole talk by itself is very recommendable: http://youtu.be/MShbP3OpASA?t=23m45s

nnnnnnnn 19 hours ago 1 reply      
An interesting observation is that tablets are becoming the new desktop and in that space linux, through android, is becoming a dominant player. In a way, the linux desktop is finally here and it's winning against both Microsoft and Apple put together.

All of the article's criticism of mainstream workstation distributions is accurate, of course. But it's important to note that those represent nowhere near the sum total of the linux user experience these days.

Nux 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Please ignore Icaza.
As for the famous death of Linux on the desktop let me tell you something: IT NEVER HAPPENED.
What are those people smoking?

I've been using Linux for the last decade and every year it gets better, more polished, more integrated, featuring a better design; I hear more & more people talking about it and using it. Linux is more alive than ever on the desktop!

Depending on your needs, Linux can make an exceptional desktop. Yes, true, it is not for _everyone_, but then again neither are Windows or MacosX.

buntar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Miguels affection towards his iPhone is a bit unconsidered and superficial.

But anyway, a more interesting question could be: What does it take to bring an ex-linux user and now happy OSX user back to linux?

I used Windows for 3 years, then linux for 2 years. During that time I did a lot of installations (mostly ubuntu and debian) on a lot of different devices. During this time, while fighting with drivers, minor display problems, and spoiled windows users I lost my faith in linux as a desktop os and switched to OSX.

I can just speak for myself, but this few points would bring me back to linux in no time.

Presenting Distribution "Utopia"

1. No X11 based display stack, it is replaced with something conceptually simpler (like cocoa).

2. (Multiple) monitor recognition 100% accurate. (Probably connected to Pt. 1)

3. The audio setup is not much worse then the one of OSX.

4. Throwing Gnome and everything that is based on Glib out. It's 2012 there alternatives to faking oo with C. Qt isn't allowed either.

5. Throwing APT out. No more dependency management for a desktop OS please. Then kill Perl as requirement for running an os.

Ahhhhh, I feel better now :-).
This is the opposite of what Miguel demanded, he cares for backward compatibility.

When I think about it. "Utopia" would be similar to Android. No fear to throw old stuff out.

Android as a foundation for a new desktop linux?

brudgers 18 hours ago 0 replies      
>"is not a sexy problem."

This pretty much describes the root cause of nearly all the impediments to the adoption of FOSS in general and GNU/Linux in particular by the general public. It touches everything from backwards compatibility to documentation.

bobbles 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"As for myself, I had fallen in love with the iPhone, so using a Mac on a day-to-day basis was a must."

What? How? I've got an iPhone and have never felt like having a Mac was a must. Am I missing some major parts of the system that don't work if you don't have a Mac?

tylermenezes 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Way too true. I ended up going back to Windows, because the audio would frequently (3-4 times an hour) stop working on my laptop until I restarted pulseaudio. And that's on Ubuntu certified hardware...

Not to mention the problems we had with our streaming servers and ffmpeg. It turns out that there was a big flame war on libav vs ffmpeg, and someone from the libav camp managed to get the ffmpeg package marked as deprecated (it's not) and redirected to the libav package on Ubuntu's apt repo. So we're stuck either compiling from source or running our own repo. Seriously? (fwiw, the rationale is that libav pushes new versions more frequently)

farinasa 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When the iPhone 3GS came out, battery life tanked on my 3G. They fixed that, after some period, only to break the reporting in the firmware. Now the device thinks it's dead after a few hours. Replace the battery, same life time. At this point, I'll never expect and apple device to last longer than a year and therefore will not buy one.

Additionally, OSX is no linux replacement. Bash is completely different except for cd, rm, and ls.

zwdr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats just bullshit. The Linux desktop maybe isn't broadly accepted or mainstream, but I dont see the Problem in that- after all Linux remains a system for power users, even if some Distros want to change that. And there really is no better desktop environment for those people than the Linux desktop. Windows is shit incarnated, so lets not even begin to talk about it. What remains? Mac OS. Sure, it has a more accessible GUI, but not a more efficient one.
I cant think of something more elegant than a tiling wm, be it awesome, wmii or xmonad. Everything based on moving a cursor just feels awkward in comparison to the simplicity of ~5-10 keyboard shortcuts. And tiling also means that I always have everything in front of me. Fumbling around to find some window is HORROR.

I think the Linux desktop simply has more options for experienced users. I simply see no way how I could be more productive with a GUI designed to cater to lusers.

kingmanaz 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd say it was the lack of a standardized install convention for "guest" (non-nix) software.

What to do about it? Couple golang's preference for large statically-linked binaries with a one-folder, one-executable install convention and Linux may become more inviting for non-nix apps.

For example, imagine "/outside/myapp/myapp" is a large, unix-unfriendly, statically-compiled binary placed in it's folder by a OS-provided install utility. "Myapp" was probably developed for Mac or Windows and by design does not give a damn about /etc, /lib, /var, etc. These app should just be allowed to crap their configuration files into the home directory into which it has been placed ("/outside/myapp"). If one no longer needs the app, the folder is deleted along with everything else the app created while it was being used. Tidy. Behind the scenes such an app would be compiled to call the standard Linux APIs, yet it would probably avoid any dynamic dependencies. Disk space is cheap. Just bundle it all together and throw it somewhere where it can run in peace.

Amiga's icon files are another approach. Rather than a large, monolithic registry tracking everything in the system, executables exist in tandem with an "icon" (.info) file. This file is generated by the OS and tracks the executable's location and other settings in the workbench (desktop). A modern reincarnation could potentially track anything. Instead of accumulating registry filth with every uninstall one can simply remove an executable and its associated .info file. Instead of adhering to the heir convention, the app plays nicely in its own folder with it's own registry. By using an ".info" file, portable non-nix installs could reside anywhere, and not in a prefabbed "/outside" folder.

The smartphone penchant for portable installation should come to nix, particularly with non-unix software. It should be encouraged, and that's coming from an OpenBSD user. Unix needs a playground for non-unix apps.

ilaksh 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Proud Ubuntu user here. Ubuntu 12.04 is not bad at all. Supports the fancy font he used on his blog. Flash is working. WebGL is working. LibreOffice opens Word docs when I need to. Audio is working.

I have Windows 7 on the other partition mainly to play games.

There was a minor issue with Ubuntu trying to melt the CPU in my laptop the other day, but its not so bad since I upgraded, and I found this powertop thing that also helps.

richardk 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For what it's worth, GNU/Linux never really was about some desktop conquest, so this whole discussion "What killed the Linux desktop" is quite absurd.

That aside, what we have here is a thread apparently devoted to shitting on the work of people who built something for fun and gave it away for free.

Good job folks!

giulivo 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Compare Linux to OSX makes no sense to me. Linux has always been missing features when compared to alternatives; the GNU system was actually written to emulate the alternative.

But the GNU/Linux project had a very different objective. Fighting for freedom. If it is still freedom the driving force, then we should encourage the enthusiasts and get back to work on improve Linux, as it has been done for the past years. By doing so Linux already reached the excellence in some fields.

If you're just competing on features, you'll be missing some great benefits and enjoyment. And to be honest, in terms of features OSX isn't that good either as Windows is still used by the majority for one reason or another.

stevencorona 19 hours ago 3 replies      
In like 2006 I switched from Windows XP to Linux. This was before Ubuntu was what it is today. I learned using Slackware and eventually switched to Gentoo. It was cool and gave me nerd cred when I went to college.

I switched to OSX for exactly the reasons the author mentioned. The fact that I have an awesome UI + ability to use the shell all day is a huge win for me.

tzs 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ingo Molnar has some interesting thoughts on this subject: https://plus.google.com/109922199462633401279/posts/HgdeFDfR...
hcarvalhoalves 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Linux isn't dead in the desktop because it never was a product in the first place.

The first attempts were Mandrake and Conectiva. Canonical has been doing a good job lately, the problem is that the platform is now beyond hope on the desktop, it simply doesn't gather traction from 3rd party developers - the most important thing for a desktop OS. You're pretty much limited to the FOSS utilities that exist on the repositories.

greedo 18 hours ago 0 replies      
OSX didn't kill the Linux desktop, Office and Photoshop did. Just as it killed the *BSD desktops. Lack of high-end applications that were compatible with what the business world was using doomed anything that didn't have at least a tacit blessing from Adobe and Microsoft.
charlieok 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Miguel de Icaza " once a central figure in the development of the Linux desktop environment GNOME " says the open web is now a greater concern than free software."

I was kind of hoping those two things would each help drive the other forward.

agumonkey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone feels that linux and desktop are at odds with each other? Don't we like small components to bind together using pipes ? Desktop apps are the reverse, big black boxes that barely communicate with anything (I'll admit I don't know dbus)
ZeroGravitas 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The first comment explodes this piece:

"I mean, look at OS X itself. Sure it's doing fine, but powered by iPhone and iPad, not by people wanting a new desktop. And it still has minority marketshare despite being from one of the most profitable companies on earth and despite Microsoft's repeated weird Windows-rethinks."

Basically, path-dependant lock-in means we're lucky not to be using x86-based wPhones that don't even have web browsers. The linux and open web communities have achieved amazing things, enabling Apple's comeback along the way.

rbanffy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously... Is this discussion still relevant?

Anyway, my bet on what "killed" the Linux desktop would be the Windows OEM licensing terms. Nothing really killed it because it was always a very specialized product.

Do we always have to see a problem when someone doesn't make the same choices we do?

expaand 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I love Linux, and as a developer, use it as my main os (ubuntu). It is so easy to develop on, and it's package management is superb. I don't use the desktop per se, that much, and am usually command-line driven.

I have a Mac, and use it for some things, at times. It's nice, for sure, but I love the openness of Linux, even though, of course, there can be many very painful hardware issues (video, sound, etc), all of which I have experienced at one time or another.

I am wondering - I hear Google is working on a "Android desktop". Would that perhaps maybe change things regarding the "Linux desktop" a bit?

rjzzleep 17 hours ago 0 replies      
i guess if you don't mind that osx used 5% active cpu just for flashing bubbly buttons that's alright.

i like osx, I think it does have a good ecosystem for GUI APPS. but at pretty much everything it fails. It's a performance nightmare and the filesystem makes me want to punch a kid in the face(yes sorry, I also don't think you should be doing opengl in javascript, but hey) everytime it kills the cpu.

Now, with all the mentioned above I do wish there was a better ecosystem for app development. I mean something like xcode 3 not 4. Yes we have QT, yes we have glade, but build an app with the interface designer and bindings, mvc concepts and it just helps a lot.

You can do most of it with Vala, granted, it's just shittier documented and not as "round", there are no standard concepts to follow, etc. And yes, I do like my linux customizability, but we have stuff like CERT best practices for secure C coding. Why can we not get something like that for linux gui programming.

ps. gnome3 can go right where it came from

Apocryphon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
You really have to wonder if the advent of Windows 8 and disgruntlement with it from Valve, Blizzard, etc. might have repercussions on this whole situation.
aj700 19 hours ago 1 reply      
1. If this is true, and it seems right to me, maybe some of the massive effort put into designing new GUIs for Gnome/KDE/etc should be put into hacking the look and feel of the OS X desktop?

Unsanity ShapeShifter hasn't worked since OS 10.4

and I know about

http://magnifique.en.softonic.com/mac - 10.5 only

http://www.marsthemes.com/crystalclear/ 10.7 support claimed, but it's not very radical. I'd love xfce's window look controls or a Stardock windowblinds.

I know Apple don't want anybody to do this. I know they will deliberately introduce changes that break hacks. But as I said, how can it be more effort than Linux?


2. To try to prevent OSx86 hacks, DSMOS.kext uses crypto to prevent the system running essential UI elements like Finder, SystemUIServer, etc. Can't we build our own versions of those parts?


3. Is this true?:

Linux desktop - dying, dead

Windows 8 - trying so hard to copy OSX/iPad/Springboard/Launchpad that everybody is gonna hate its TWO UI's! (dying?)

Mac - winning, won (by default?)

zerostar07 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Could it be that the main issue is the lack of leadership? We don't have many linux kernels yet we have dozens of incompatible desktop configurations and the list keeps growing. I think if there was a clear winner in the desktop wars, desktop apps would be of much higher quality.

And also the horrible aping of other environments and stupid UI eyecandy. Given that the majority of linux users and developers are technical, that's surprising.

jeremyjh 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Its strange for me to read something like this since I have recently switched back to Linux and I've never been happier with it. I've been a sometime user of it since around 1997 but it could never survive long as my primary OS. I bought my Frankenputer parts from Newegg without checking on hardware compatibility for any of it and it all worked great. I had only one problem which was wake from USB keyboard and I googled it down pretty quick (was a new issue with Ubuntu Precise it seems).

I like OS X too and had a Powerbook for years but all other things being equal I'd prefer to develop and deploy on same OS and Linux is just fine for development so far.

shmerl 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Ask Mozilla how they manage to distribute their tarballs which work on all major distros.
lobster45 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I would have to say Apple killed Linix. As many others have noted here, OSX has improved to the point where many Unix admins run OSX and it runs the tools they have for their work. Also Mac hardware is better than PC hardware so you buy a macbook with OSX and you are happy.
option_greek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope we won't see a "what killed the android phone" post sometime in future :(
chanux 13 hours ago 0 replies      
In a comment Miguel says,

Because the developers have moved on to greener pastures.

Of course, it all boils down to green at the end of the day.

dumb123 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There never was a "Linux desktop". Linux is a kernel. GNU is a set of utilities. And X11 is a mess.

Did you know that X11 is why we have shared libs (the UNIX version of "dll hell")? If not for having to run X11, shared libs really would not have been needed.

There are many window managers. Maybe too many. Too much choice for a noob. That selection or the pre-selections Linux distribution people make does not equate to "the" Linux Desktop. It equates someone else's configurations and choice of applications. It equates to having to fiddle with X11, whether you are just configuring it or developing programs to run in it. And that has always been extremely frustrating for too many people- constant tweaking; it never ends. This is like a brick wall to people who might want to try Linux, coming from Windows. You are inheriting a system that's been configured to someone else's preferences. (Same is true with Apple, but they have a knack for making things easy.)

I skipped Linux altogther and went from using Windows to using BSD. I've also been a Mac user. And BSD is way better than OSX, or any of the previous MacOS's for doing most everyday things: email, internet and secure web (ramdisk). Moreover it's flexible - you can shape into what you want - without this being an overwhelming task of undoing someone else's settings.

If you want a citation for the shared libs thing I will track it down, but honestly anyone can do it on their own. The historical research will do you good. Educate yourself.

radley 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Linux desktop will rise again as Android PC.
sjtgraham 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I dislike titles such as these that beg the question.
Xyzodiac 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in the same boat as the author, I really have few complaints after moving full time to OS X from Linux.
jawr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Since when was it dead?
leishulang 16 hours ago 0 replies      
OSX got nice touchpad, Windows has awesome game libs, and Linux comes with shit loads of developer goodness. But yea, now OSX has home-brew so it almost like a better linux, but still forces you to buy overpriced hardwares.
programminggeek 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Lack of killer apps?
guilloche 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The Linux desktop is not killed and will be more prosperous with Windows 8 and secureboot shit.
alpeb 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The concept of Linux on the desktop is as aberrant as the concept of Windows on the server
Apple Wins Patent Ruling As Jury Finds Samsung Infringes techcrunch.com
315 points by irunbackwards  5 days ago   354 comments top 34
programminggeek 5 days ago  replies      
This is both unsurprising and somewhat meaningless as there will be an appeals process that will last for months and possibly years.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Samsung made their products to look like Apple products. They changed their icon styles and other UI elements away from Android standards to match the Apple style.

Some of the things Apple invented and patented on like pinch to zoom and so on Samsung used or copied via Android and or their own UI skin on top of Android.

You just have to look at Windows Phone 7 or Windows 8 or Web OS or Blackberry to realize that you don't have to copy Apple to make a good or great smartphone. Samsung is much closer with the Galaxy S3, too bad they are still cranking out iPad clones with the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the like.

sriramk 5 days ago 6 replies      
The big winner, apart from Apple, is Microsoft. If you're a hardware manufacturer, your choices are

1. You go with Android and have both Apple and Microsoft come after you.

2. You go with Windows Phone.

I suspect the Windows Phone team is breaking open some champagne now.

shawnee_ 5 days ago 7 replies      
If Lucy Koh is so intent on protecting the singularity of one corporate interest over what is so obviously good for the general public, she should not be a Federal District Judge. She should still be in private practice.

We need Federal District Judges who are willing to work for the good of consumers, which involves protecting a market where competition can thrive.

Consumers benefit when there is more than one separate branch iterating outward and improving something very basic. A lightweight touchscreen rectangle is about as basic as it gets.

If Apple was a tire company, Lucy Koh just gave it the unearned "right" to patent every kind of tire tread imaginable.

[EDIT] -- Yes, I realize the decision was made by a jury. Firstly: The original case presented to her was a puff of smoke which should never have gone to trial in the first place. Secondly: Fast-tracking this case helped Apple (which had pre-prepared its mountain of baloney paperwork) and very much hurt Samsung (which understandably probably didn't have enough time to scramble and dispute every instance of baloney in the mountain of paperwork). Thirdly: Koh diallowed a key testimony: http://www.droiddog.com/android-blog/2012/08/judge-lucy-koh-... which would have helped the jury make a more informed decision.

lubos 5 days ago  replies      
I was shocked to learn this case is basically being decided by people who have no idea what they are really deciding on.

Here is the jury according to techcrunch

1. An electrical engineer
2. A homemaker
3. A construction worker
4. A young unemployed man who likes video games
5. An insurance agent
6. An ex-Navy avionics technician
7. A store operations manager for a cycling retailer
8. A project manager for wireless carrier AT&T
9. A benefits and payroll manager who works with startups


Only in America?? And how many of those people are biased because they just love Steve Jobs and Apple products. I know for sure, my mom loves her Mac and she wouldn't think twice who is right and who is wrong in this case.

Steko 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is a good result.

Samsung copies for a living like many companies. Much of the copying is legal. Sometimes they push it too far. One smoking gun in this case was the Google told Samsung to change their designs. They didn't. They reaped the benefits in terms of higher sales and now they can reap the bad side of that too.

On net it has still been profitable from Samsung. Samsung lost but it hasn't been shut down or anything. In fact Apple is paying Nokia much more then Samsung will end up paying Apple. People crying that the sky is falling have missed this reality.

No damages for the overbroad ipad design patent. This seems like a good result as much of the complaining seemed to be about the "rectangle patent" people thought Apple had. I think the EU Registered Design for the iPad is much more specific and more in line with what people think of as trade dress. Samsung didn't really make any money in the tablet arena anyway.

aaronbrethorst 5 days ago 4 replies      
From: http://live.theverge.com/apple-samsung-verdict-live/

"No across the board. Not a single [patent] proven invalid by Samsung."

that's big.

edit: "Damages from Apple to Samsung: zero." (edit2: oops, dumb typo)

olivercameron 5 days ago 0 replies      
"It works like magic...far more accurate than any interface ever shipped... multi-finger gestures, and boy have we patented it!" Steve Jobs in 2007[1]

1. https://twitter.com/tconrad/status/239136435603652609

alberich 5 days ago 1 reply      
American patent system is weird. Why is it fair for someone to patent "what" you do, what should be fair to patent is "how" you make this thing viable (e.g. the algorithms used, or something like that)?

As long as you don't use the mechanisms of your competition, you should be allowed to mimic the features present on other competitors' devices.

Considering this, it seems clear that Samsung would lose the dispute anyway.

Maascamp 5 days ago 0 replies      
No matter how you cut it, this whole trial was a loss for technology.
forgottenpaswrd 5 days ago 0 replies      
So basically this means that if you are an independent developer and make an app that displays a graph your finger could edit you have to pay Apple for Twenty years!!

So this means that appart from the 30% cut of the Apple store, most of your profits go to Apple or MS who are going to dedicate the money to buy more monopolies(patents).

Or alternatively the US system(where nobody works anymore, you could only survive in finance, marketing, law or politics) collapses from within and some other country take its place.

aaronbrethorst 5 days ago 1 reply      
damages: 1.051 billion dollars. WOW.


sriramk 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you're a startup and even if you're philosophically opposed to software patents, think about hiring a good IP law firm and filing for your core IP. What these trials and massive licensing deals are showing that patents could make a world of difference to your options as a tech company.
lenkite 5 days ago 1 reply      
So lets look at some of the infringing patents that the news articles are quoting...

381 patent: "rubber band" effect where a page "bounces" when a user scrolls to the bottom

I personally had written JS bounce-back product picture slide-shows for a shopping cart in 2003/2004 using the horrible browser APIs of that era...wish I had patented that..1 billion..yum. I am quite certain hundreds of people have coded bounce-back animations before even iPhone 1.0.

915 patent: Pinch to Zoom. Isn't this the natural translation of how one drags handlebars in opposite directions in order to zoom-in ? I am quite certain there would be prior art by a lot of CAD software.

163 patent: "Double tap to enlarge/zoom". facepalm. Just about everyone does this on the PC using a mouse. How can one even file a patent for this ?

D '305 patent: "Grid of rounded square icons" -> The joke of the decade. What has every desktop OS being doing since the 90s ???

This is extremely upsetting. Is this what civilization is coming to ? If things continue this way, the working population of the world will be employed as patent lawyers squabbling all the time in courts.

linuxhansl 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's what you get from having lay people (with no training in either software development, UI design, etc) making decisions like this.

These patents are quite obviously ridiculous.

381 patent: "rubber band" effect
915 patent: Pinch to Zoom
163 patent: "Double tap to enlarge/zoom"
D '305 patent: "Grid of rounded square icons"

This is supposed to be what sets off iPhones from competition?!

W.T.F.? How did we get to this?

I can see Dr. Evil saying "One Biiiillion Dollars".

kapitalx 5 days ago 1 reply      
This would have been a great case for Jury Nullification and send a message about software patent laws.


danmaz74 5 days ago 2 replies      
Double tap to zoom, now, that's real innovation!
freditup 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/24/hang-on-a-minute-jurors-awa...) reports that some of the damages awarded to Apple were awarded without finding any patent infringements. In other words, the jury's report was quite a bit sloppy (maybe rushed?). Anyway, undoubtedly this will all be appealed, and the case could turn any direction.

A personal question - what is the double tap to zoom patent all about? It hardly seems to me, personally that that should be patentable. Just as there's no way, Google should be able to patent something like 'double-click to zoom' on Google Maps.

ojiikun 5 days ago 4 replies      
You know those 45% of HN readers that use a Mac?


Time to start voting with your $$ against AAPL. They are part of the problem, not part of the innovation.

josteink 5 days ago 0 replies      
Today Apple went down in history as the biggest patent-troll of all time, stiffling innovation and competition like nobody has ever done before.

If you are a software-developer you should recognize the fundamental threat which Apple represents to your profession.

Boycott Apple if you want to be able to stay in business in the long term future. Throw away your Macbooks, iPhones and iPads. Ditch your iTunes and iTunes account. Get rid of everything Apple. All of it.

Be vocal about your code of ethical software conduct and how that prohibits involving anything made by Apple into anything you ever do.

barista 5 days ago 4 replies      
It feels good when the judgments reflect what is a common sense to a reasonable person. Glad the common sense prevailed here. It was obvious that the android devices were copied from iPhones.
aristidb 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm confused. How can it be that Apple supposedly infringes _none_ of Samsung's patents?
lazyoaf 5 days ago 2 replies      
This isn't right.... This is a terrible day for fair competition.
ChuckMcM 5 days ago 1 reply      
If nothing else, the fallout will be interesting to watch. The tablets didn't infringe though. Found that an interesting bit, just the phones.
w1ntermute 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't give two fucks about TouchWiz specific-stuff (in fact, this might encourage Android OEMs to stick with stock Android), but what impact will this have on stock Android? It would really suck to have to depend on 3rd party ROMs for things like pinch to zoom and tap to zoom because Google was forced to remove it from Android.
chairsofter 5 days ago 1 reply      
What a joke! The jury rushed through this so quickly and uncaringly that there are glaring errors in their verdict. Look at the edit at the bottom of the article:


aganek 5 days ago 1 reply      
Judge rules Samsung owes Apple roughly one 'Instagram' in damages.
fsniper 5 days ago 0 replies      
From now on we should call rotary dial phones the new Apple free smartphones.
kooshball 5 days ago 1 reply      
How does the verdict affect Samsung's ability to sell additional phones in the future?
logical42 5 days ago 0 replies      
goodbye innovation
RichardButler 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this will actually end up hurting Apple's bottom line in the end. Samsung is one of Apples largest hardware providers and one of the few that can produce screens of sufficient resolution for Apple's retina displays. Wouldn't be surprised if Samsung recoups their loses just by raising their hardware prices.
ehosca 5 days ago 0 replies      
and the end of Apple begins....
kenster07 5 days ago 0 replies      
Samsung and Apple fandom aside, patenting a smartphone UI is patently absurd.
taligent 5 days ago 0 replies      
No. Apple won. Pretty clearly.
delllapssuck 5 days ago 0 replies      
In the 1990's it was copyright. Now its patent. What next?

All Apple does is whine. Even when they are winning.

Their internal memo/public statement goes so far as to say "it's not about patents and money". Yes, I do believe you Mr. Cook. It's about a bunch of morally inept emotionally underdeveloped overgrown children.

Apple is above "copying". Went they want to cut corners (pun intended) and get to market quickly, they _steal_.

Welcome to the IT industry.

The fall of Angry Birds treysmithblog.com
310 points by bootload  5 days ago   182 comments top 42
cletus 4 days ago  replies      
I don't dispute the OP's argument. It just makes me sad.

One of the things I really used my iPad for a lot is games. The distribution mechanism and purchasing system are super-simple. You could (and can) get high-quality games for a low price. I see I've spent 100+ hours playing Bejeweled 3 alone.

Yet the trend has clearly gone towards in-app purchases. I tried some golf game (Tiger Woods something?) and it was constant nagging for in-app purchases. That got deleted in about 2 minutes.

Then there are the "social games", which to me is really an abuse of the word "game", since they are nothing more (IMHO) than exercises in feeding addiction and inducing compulsive behaviour. There is no element of skill. It's simply who can purchase the most. And I've tried a bunch (spending no real $$$) to see (I'm a sucker for world-building games and there's a dearth of those, sadly).

The second category (normal games with in-app purchases) create the wrong incentives. Whereas Angry Birds originally spread because it was a hugely fun game, the game developer is incentivized to make you fork over more money, typically at the expense of the game itself.

It saddens me that Angry Birds has gone the in-app purchase route too.

Sadly the genie is out of the bottle. Any sensible game developer will go this route. Add to this the "social" layer being foisted on users and it's really looking like dark days ahead for gaming.

MrFoof 4 days ago 2 replies      
People wonder where video game arcades went after the console market started to really gain traction in the early to mid 1990s (and really got rolling with the Playstation 2). Outside of Japan, they largely went away, but now they're back: on your mobile device.

We've gone right back to feeding tokens (in-game credits) because now you can distribute the equivalent of an single-game arcade cabinet -- a game that is designed to optimally take in cash at a given rate -- to every mobile device. A good analogue would be to make a beat-em up arcade cabinet that let you start out for nothing, but when you inevitably get KO'd, you have to feed it a few tokens for the privilege of continuing before the 15 second countdown elapses and you have to start from the beginning.

Timothee 4 days ago 3 replies      
I dislike free-to-play games because they tend to distort the gameplay towards paying additional in-game credits. It also feels a bit like printers: you get the printer for cheap but pay a lot on inks. Here they lure people in with a well-designed free game that lives on in-app purchases (IAP).

That being said, the revenues discussed in this post are crazy.

On a side-note, I wish the App Store allowed to filter out by apps that have or not IAP. I really don't mind paying for apps and games but sometimes there will be a cool free game available. Nowadays most games are free but with many IAP. If I see a high-ranked free game I tend to turn around when I see it has IAP because I know the gameplay will be around buying more stuff.

On a second side-note, I wouldn't mind the fall of Angry Birds. IMO, the game has received a disproportionate amount of success and the merchandising all over the place has been ridiculous (e.g. a "Angry Birds" Roku box? That makes no sense). The game is ok but not very original or entertaining (again, IMO) but the milking of the brand has been the worst part of it.

rjsamson 5 days ago 6 replies      
"Last year I held a special webinar that was invite only and everyone had to sign an NDA before attending. On this webinar I explained the current state of the mobile game industry and my plans to dominate as an independent developer."

For me, that quote about sums up the rest of the article. Too much arrogance in there for me.

swombat 4 days ago 1 reply      
Forget about whether IAPs are bad. Did nobody pick up on this?

> In the last month, this single game generated over $12,000,000 on iOS alone. They have not ported the game to Android yet.

> If this is the case and it holds ranking for the rest of the year, then this single game is worth $109,500,000 PER YEAR on the low side.

Holy fucking shit. $100m a year of high-margin sales for a single iOS games?

World of Warcraft makes, last time I calculated it, roundabout these amounts, and WoW is one of the most financially successful games ever and requires masses of investment in infrastructure, new content, community management, developers, and so on - so big it swallowed Blizzard whole for a while.

If a silly, simple, stupid looking iOS game can make $100m a year of almost raw profit, this is... well, just mind-blowing, really.

robryan 5 days ago 4 replies      
Personally I get put off a bit by free to play. I expect to have the game pushing ads at me non stop or trying to get me to purchase things in game. Where as I associate a quality paid game to be clean and just giving me the game without all those other distractions.

Granted I am sure there are some decent free to pay titles, just the mental impression I get before trying new games, based on past experience.

jere 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Phase 1 of app store monetization was Premium games (.99 titles)

I have no doubt this is how it works, but I never thought I would see the day when something that costs a dollar is considered premium.

casca 5 days ago 3 replies      
Trey bases his assessment on Apple's published "Top grossing" list. This is potentially problematic as it's not clear over what time period this is based or what other metrics Apple uses to put apps into this list. Apple, like the publishers would like to encourage people to spend more over time than just download free apps so they're incentivized to encourage the implication that in-app is the way to go.

Perhaps Angry Birds is dropping on the pay charts because people are finally bored of the franchise? How many years and different ways will people pay to shoot slightly different pigs with birds?

CmdrKrool 4 days ago 1 reply      
Funny thing I've found myself doing recently, when I'm hooked in to one of these horrible, grindy, submarine IAP games which I should know better than to keep loading up but hey I'm only human. Since my iPad is jailbroken I just SSH in, find the game directory and more often than not find my stats sitting there in a simple .plist file (maybe a binary plist, but then you just use the appropriate editor), make myself an in-game millionaire, load it back up and enjoy the game at max power for a few minutes before turning it off and never thinking about it again, a 'weight' lifted off my shoulders. It shocks me, how when the grind is suddenly removed, my interest in such a game that minutes before I had been feverishly, morosely addicted to, /completely evaporates/.

It's funny how me doing this is quite comparable to piracy, but - rightly or wrongly - I feel almost no guilt about doing this because by the time I've got to this point I've lost all respect for the game anyway.

It's ironic how Apple's locking down of the device is enough for most developers not to bother obfuscating their game save files so that if you have taken the trouble just for that jailbreak step, you're unlikely to meet much further resistance.

And finally when I do run into a game which has apparently taken cursory defensive steps such that my crude hackery only succeeds in stuffing everything up and losing whatever progress I did have, this too turns out to be funny. As I have no impulse to start playing from the beginning again, I breathe that very same sigh of relief, and forget all about it. Win-win.

gingerlime 4 days ago 6 replies      
Is it just me or did the game market become much more sinister than it used to be? It's all about getting people effectively addicted to make more money out of them. Give them a taste for free, once they're hooked, start cashing in on those poor addicts.
colinshark 5 days ago 4 replies      
Free to play might ruin games.

Games are supposed to be fun. In a free-to-play game, the game designer's goal shifts from fun to incremental revenue collection. I think it's an abusive dynamic between the game designer and the player. If free-to-play becomes the norm, we might wonder why games are not as fun anymore, without being able to put a finger on it.

crazygringo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the whole reason IAP is winning...

is because trial periods aren't being done? Wouldn't it be a lot simpler to make Angry Birds free, have only the first 20 levels be playable, then pay $9.99 for the remaining 80 levels? (I'm making these numbers up BTW.)

Obviously IAP makes a lot of sense for Farmville-style games that are all about "objects", but when tacked onto Angry Birds Space, or most games really, it feels like the company is just trying to take advantage of you.

Why don't we see any "free trials" like this in the App Store? Is it against Apple TOS or something? Or have studies shown it just doesn't work? (And I don't mean the free "lite" versions of games -- those are annoying because you lose all your progress and have to start the full version from zero.)

TWAndrews 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hate, hate, hate games that use in-app purchases as a significant part of game play (and removing grinding qualifies, imo), to the point that I look to see what the top in-app purchase are and won't download games which let you buy in-game currency.
mdkess 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't like free to play games, as they're implemented now. The current strategy is simply "pay to progress" rather than to unlock more functionality. I was playing this game called Tiny Tower, and in it, you could pay to finish building a room. If you paid for the room, you ... had another room. You could then pay for another room. The dynamic of the game didn't change, things just moved along.

Even without this, because so few people pay anything, the dynamic of the in app purchases is skewed so that you have to spend a ton of money to get anything out of your purchases (people willing to pay are willing to pay a lot, apparently). So people like me, willing to spend $5-$10 on a fun phone game but not $50, are sort of left behind.

jader201 4 days ago 2 replies      
Re: "The fall of Angry Birds", this article should be titled "The fall of paid games, the rise of IAPs".

Angry Birds, as a franchise, is doing anything but falling. Just look around the next time you go to a Walmart or Target. Angry Birds lunch boxes. Angry Birds Halloween costumes. And yes, Angry Birds Cheese Nips[1], which my kids are consuming even as we speak.

And it's only inevitable that Rovio is or will be working on an Angry Birds game that takes advantage of IAPs over an up front charge.


petercooper 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are some interesting insights in here, but I think it's a bit like talking about the "fall" of Harry Potter or the "fall" of Star Wars. People get bored of particular entertainment franchises and icons and move on to the next thing. While there's undoubtedly more to milk from Angry Birds (especially if iOS devices get new innovations they can lean on), they'd better be working on new franchises that could be even bigger.
dasil003 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling that everything he's saying is true, and it makes me very sad.
kylec 4 days ago 0 replies      
There really should be a Game Store separate from the App Store. Currently, if you're not looking for a game, pages like "Top Grossing Apps" are completely useless in the App Store.
minikomi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just as a point of reference: the top 15 grossing apps in Japan at the moment are free to play but with in app purchase battle/card social games. I also work making them.

1-5 http://i.imgur.com/cuzGb.png
6-10 http://i.imgur.com/ckpIC.png
11-15 http://i.imgur.com/jzFWa.png

#16 is Line.

ynniv 4 days ago 0 replies      
Free to play is the modern coin-op. Sure, it can ruin a game - anything can. Executed properly you'll find a mechanic of variable pricing based on a customer's interest in your product. If someone cares more, they (can) pay more. Who could ask for a better pricing model?
m_myers 4 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting variation on F2P is the one used by World Golf Tour [1], which I've been playing a bit recently.

Instead of forcing users to pay real money to get better equipment, it has another means of earning credits: viewing advertisements. That means that a) I don't feel like I'm actually spending money (except opportunity cost), and b) they can show pretty well-targeted ads to users who are requesting to see them. I don't know the financial details, but I'd guess they can sell for a pretty decent rate. And you have to view quite a lot of them to get as many credits as you could have bought outright for $10.

As an added bonus to them, relying on ads means I have to disable AdBlock for their entire website.

[1]: http://wgt.com

stcredzero 4 days ago 0 replies      
> A very small percentage of people buy stuff in games. Of this small percentage you have people who will spend a LOT. These are your die hard fans. I know, because I am one of them and won't bat an eye spending $50 in a game I like.

Data? Citation? I'm genuinely curious. Is this now the common wisdom for indy games?

tsantero 4 days ago 1 reply      
>> A very small percentage of people buy stuff in games. Of this small percentage you have people who will spend a LOT. These are your die hard fans. I know, because I am one of them and won't bat an eye spending $50 in a game I like.

I would love to analyze the in-game purchase data across multiple free-to-play games on multiple platforms (e.g. facebook, app store, etc) in order to see the distribution of user spending habits. While I'm sure there are power users who spend magnitudes more than the average, I'm skeptical that they're the main driver of revenue. What I'd like to see is the average % of users who make in-game purchases, the average in-game purchase over time, frequency of purchases and what % of total revenue the average represents.

Unfortunately, I don't think Zynga et al will be releasing this data publicly anytime soon.

georgemcbay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Free to Play is certainly popular now, but I'd be shocked if it were still popular in a year. It is exactly the sort of model that IME works while it is semi-novel but creates a model fatigue in customers that results in eventual backlash of even those who accept it at first. So, he's right, but F2P model will also eventually "fall".
Retric 5 days ago 1 reply      
The problem with FTP games is they miss a huge segment of the market. I have spent thousands on games, but less than 20$ on free to play games because I dislike the gameplay compromises needed to support FTP. That said, the app store funnels things towards FTP games but a subscription based game-play is probably a better long term money maker.
timmaah 5 days ago 0 replies      
They are making up for it in merchandise.

I have been touring the US this summer and have been amazed by the number of people wearing Angry Birds shirts. Even grown men. Walmart has huge Angry Birds signs right next to established brands like Levi and Nike.

webwright 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you'd like to see the fall over time, here's a graph:

The blue line is the overall grossing rank over time.

beggi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this wave of Free-to-play games with incessant requests to gamers to buy in-app coins and whatever might lead to a wave of expensive (like $30-$60, similar to the desktop market) up-front games that will have a promise of no in-app purchases. I know I'm at least, and I suspect a lot others, are yearning for the old days of Sim City and Sim Tower where you didn't have to pay extra for specific buildings.
Xcelerate 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am absolutely baffled that in-app purchases are so popular. For me, I would rather pay a one time fee for an excellent game than be "nagged" to move myself ahead in the game. I play Tetris occasionally on Facebook, and I get so annoyed with the constant spam for extra coins, dollars, armor, line speed upgrades, etc. I'd rather pay $40 and get the game in pristine finished form.

I don't know what to make of it, really. I'm usually decent at predicting what will be popular, but this time I completely missed the boat.

It really makes me kind of sad. I remember when I was little I would get a game like Zelda for GameBoy for $30. That game obviously had tons of work put into it and gave me endless hours of enjoyment. Games for phones seem to lack this kind of depth.

egb 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious why people seemed to love and/or idolize Team Fortress 2 going free to play, but there seems to be a negative vibe surrounding it for mobile gaming...

One of many mentions on their 12x revenue increase from F2P:

Zenst 4 days ago 1 reply      
Saw a friend of mine the other say, he had a angry birds teeshirt on. He has never played it ever in his life nor even knew it was a game, just liked the teeshirt. I showed him the game, involving the killing of birds and pigs and he was not phased in any way but still likes his teeshirt.

Apart from that any old death of Tetris type article were you change the title to angry birds will be relevant in such matters of simple fun games and there lifespan.

habosa 4 days ago 1 reply      
$12,000,000 a month? Holy shit. I had no idea the ceiling was that high. I made a free to play Android game that took me 6 weeks and made about $10 total... I guess I need to give this another shot.
anovikov 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see any failure there. They have relatively few installs, but near top revenue, meaning: nearly everyone have already installed their stuff, and stuck with it, and spend a lot there. They just turned into an established business, maybe no longer a 'startup'. Falling growth rate is inevitable if you have already conquired the world.
ckayatek 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see minecraft pocket edition on that list as well and it is neither a $0.99 game or a free to play. I think this is evidence that people are willing to pay for a well-made product. For me this article is simply a rehash of Zynga's whale strategy and we know how manipulative and frankly evil that is.
dark_element 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting fact on how desperate people can get to be better at games. The lack of in app/game purchases in MMOs created a whole industry called "Gold farming" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_farming
digitalengineer 4 days ago 0 replies      
How will this effect Google's Mobile Advertising Strategy? As the numbers show for almost all free Apps, the In-App-Ad's are being replaced by In-App-Purchasing...
ww520 4 days ago 1 reply      
Curious about the credit management mechanism. For the unused credits (coins), can the users ask for refund? Or they expire after some time, just like the cell phone purchased minutes.
drue 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I wasn't living it I would believe this to be The Onion or something out of 1984.
andr3w321 4 days ago 0 replies      
It makes sense that the free apps are making more when you think about it. They're getting the most money out of each customer. Every customer is not worth 99 cents. Some are worth a LOT more. Just like when you go overseas and the locals have on cheap price for locals and a much higher price for the rich foreigners.

There have to be other ways of achieving the same end goal however without the constant nagging. Has anyone tried a game where people pay by the hour for instance? First hour free?

podperson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hope the trend proves to be short lived, and suspect it will be.
J0415 4 days ago 1 reply      
OT, but in CSR Racing and many "pay to avoid waiting" games, there's actually a bug where if you move forward the time on your device, the game thinks the time has passed and gives you the free gas.
mkale 4 days ago 0 replies      
IAP games are like going to the arcade and paying some small amount per play, rather than buying the game upfront and getting to play as much as you want.
Microsoft gets a new logo for the first time since 1987 nwsource.com
311 points by cleverjake  7 days ago   231 comments top 60
sudonim 7 days ago  replies      
The logo is O.K. Their homepage http://microsoft.com looks like a mix between a "corporate" website template you'd buy for $50 and a domain squatting page with amazon referral links.

Gosh I want to cheer for microsoft but they make it real hard.

quarterto 7 days ago 6 replies      
I... don't hate it. What's wrong with me? It's bold, it's fresh, it does a pretty damn good job of shrugging off the Microsoft of the past 25 years.
buro9 7 days ago 5 replies      
For me... personally, the logo doesn't work.

I am slightly colour blind.

The logo in the article I see just fine, and all of the squares are the same size. And I get it... Metro theme.

The favicon.ico and small logo on Microsoft.com

Those don't fair as well. The red and yellow squares are much larger than the green and blue, and my eyes see a throbbing line around the bottom and left of the red box, and a black line at the bottom of the blue box.

Now... I know that those boxes don't have those lines. For I know what the Metro style guide looks like. But there it is, the logo has not been viewed by anyone colour blind with the ability to have it modified. There should be more space between the boxes when it's shrunk.

The red box is literally 20% wider than the blue to my eyes.

You know how much of the population is colour blind? A very significant chunk.

Also... those colours... very bad choice. When you print this logo (greyscale), all of the colours come out too similar a shade of grey. There is no distinction between them.

toddmorey 7 days ago 2 replies      
Jokingly: That logo cost them $50 [1]

My real questions are whether there will be a one-color variant, whether the symbol will be allowed to be displayed without the type, and how you could ever secure international trademark on four squares. My guess is that you'd have to be, well, Mircosoft. More than the logo designers, I'm really impressed by the legal team. My trademark lawyers would laugh at me.

[1] http://www.bestlookinglogos.com/2009/07/four-square-logo/

Edit: fixed to read 'international trademark'

uvdiv 7 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft should sue the Seattle Times for desecrating their beautiful logo with compression artifacts.

edit: I retract that, Microsoft is doing the very same thing:


jere 6 days ago 0 replies      
>Ironically, Windows 8's new logo is now single-colored.

While I don't enjoy the perspective on the Windows 8 logo, I at least respect the single color. As usual, it doesn't seem like the right hand is talking to the left hand. I actually like the previous logo. It feels like it has some character and I'm not surprised it lasted 25 years. This new logo feels so damn generic, like a generic brand you would pick up at the grocery store...

* Compare to the active ingredients in Apple.

VMG 7 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting... I've never seen this before: http://i.imgur.com/Ag3fl.jpg

Edit: found better res

mbesto 7 days ago 3 replies      
You know the greatest lesson I learned from the tv show The Wire? When your brand lacks credibility you make a change to the brand.[1][2] Good move by Microsoft.

On other hand, I'm still trying to grok why Twitter changed it's logo recently[3]? Was something inherently being tarnished about the Twitter brand? As far as I know, the answer is NO.

I'm going to make a major assumption here, but I think it had to do with it being driven by a Creative Director and not by a Marketing (i.e. Business) person. The blog post and title at least reads that way.

[1]- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Undertow_(The_Wire)#Barksdale_t...

[2]- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbbZc2pab9k

[3]- http://blog.twitter.com/2012/06/taking-flight-twitterbird.ht...

run4yourlives 6 days ago 0 replies      
They should go back to that Metallica logo they had in 1980.

Nothing says corporate dominance like thrash metal font.

chuinard 7 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if that independent Microsoft re-design seen on HN a few weeks ago - http://www.minimallyminimal.com/journal/2012/7/3/the-next-mi... - had anything to do with this.
narrator 6 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody notice this is basically the AVG logo with the colors flipped around?

See: http://www.avg.com/us-en/homepage

ThomPete 6 days ago 1 reply      
Many commenters here are predictably unable to look at this as the business decision it is.

What people don't seem to understand is that the price of a logo is not based on how it looks. Aesthetics have nothing to do with this. It's based on how much the ability to make sure that the entire system is implemented properly is worth to MS.

This is not a question about whether the logo "works for you".

drcube 7 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that as soon as they dump the old Windows logo, they just start using it as the company logo, minus the swoops.

That said, however, I like it. I'm a big fan of color, and, while not a big fan of Windows, I've always liked its logo. In fact, while I probably won't ever install or use it extensively, I've really been liking the bold, primary color design of Windows 8.

sandis 7 days ago 2 replies      
Looks more like a new version of Windows logo to me.
runn1ng 6 days ago 2 replies      
I still don't get why Microsoft is pushing Metro SO HARD to bet everything on it when nobody really likes it that much.

Zune (where I saw it for the first time) failed in the market. Windows Mobile (that has the Metro theme) failed in the market. Now I don't know XBox (at all) and its GUI, but its success happened long before Metro was created.

People don't seem to like it in the new Windows preview all that much, either.

Why the big bet on Metro?

girlvinyl 7 days ago 1 reply      
The 1975-1979 logo is neat. I actually really like it. The new one is so boring.
dhughes 7 days ago 2 replies      
I can see the anti-Apple mentality of this.

Apple icons are glossy this is flat. The icons on an iPad/iPod are small glossy "chicklets" but on Win8 they are flat and large tiles; no black space.

I like the look and the design it's a nice change, as for the inner workings of the OS I have no idea since I only used it briefly in a (non-touchscreen) VM.

jasonkolb 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or does the laptop in this (stock?) banner photo on their homepage look like a Macbook? (With the Apple logo photoshopped off.)


molmalo 6 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain me why do they have that strange blue windows logo at the bottom of the page?


I mean, it's not the current Windows 8 logo, nor the Windows 7 logo. It's a merge of both worlds: Old logo with Win8 colors.

Are they planning to change it in the very last second? (I don't think so) Or do they want to make a slow transition between the old and the new Windows logo?

Or... probably, according to Occam's razor, someone just failed to put the right logo there.

rkwz 7 days ago 0 replies      
nostromo 6 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Philip Morris' rebranding (http://taxtrials.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/altria_logo1...)

Problem is, I'm pretty sure "Altria" was trying to be generic and forgettable.

draggnar 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think MSFT is starting to get a little obsessed with the boxes - excuse me "tiles". I went to the store opening today in Boston, and I was pretty impressed. Very clean, bright, lots of screens.. made the Apple store across the street seem very conservative. We'll see if it ends up being a hit, but it is definitely standing alone as it's own unique store experience.
SoftwareMaven 6 days ago 0 replies      
[The logo] is intended to "signal the heritage but also signal the future " a newness and freshness".

Does every marketing exec have to say that about their new logo? Must be the same effect as sports players saying "We just gave it 110%" when they win.

makmanalp 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'd have preferred a thinner, longer variation of the font like they had in their win8 demos or Zune menus. This one looks a bit short and stocky imho.
fratis 6 days ago 0 replies      
As much as I just loathe saying "I told you so," I direct your attention to this prediction 55 days ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4174622
tankbot 6 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, I'm a big fan of their short-lived 1980-1981 logo. I realize it has no place among today's clean, "Metro" look, but I love Metal and this just speaks to me. :)
zafriedman 7 days ago 0 replies      
The article starts of by saying that a lot is at stake when a company rolls out a new logo. I'd like to point out the Microsoft has, either intentionally or unintentionally, been piloting this logo-style in their products for the past few years, which is ostensibly a lower-risk proposition. Rolling out their parent brand logo to conform to this arguably successful re-branding that their individual software products have underwent over the past three or so years seems like a reasonably sound decision. Furthermore, if Microsoft has intentionally been piloting this new brand on parts of their business that are subordinate to the brand as a whole, then I'd have to say bravo for likely reducing a huge business risk in the making of a relatively permanent, long-term decision.
KingOfB 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that 3 of the squares represent Windows, Office, XBox. I'm guessing the 4th square will represent Surface once it de-vaporizes?
pmelendez 7 days ago 0 replies      
While the new logo is OK what I found intriguing is that for the first time Windows is associated with the corporate image. Isn't that betting the whole company on a single product?

Not that is not true since a decade ago but it might reduce the chances in the future to make a turn around. Apple did remove "Computer" from his name to make space to iOS devices and to me Microsoft is doing the opposite... let's see how it goes, at least they are working hard to refresh their selves and that's good for the industry.

te_chris 6 days ago 0 replies      
Bahahahaha, it's pretty much the old telecom New Zealand logo [1] . that makes me laugh. a lot

[1] http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/telecom_... - the one on the left.

outworlder 6 days ago 1 reply      
Did they hire the same designer that created the game "Simon Says"? Even the colors are the same.

Image: http://www.digitalrendezvous.net/wordpress/wp-content/upload...

imd 6 days ago 0 replies      
"is expected to unveil its new, more colorful logo"

Picture of logo already available in the article.

gradstudent 6 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. Is it just me or does their new logo seem to suggest that Microsoft has given up on trying to be anything other than Windows?
davidedicillo 7 days ago 1 reply      
Something I noticed: beside the M, the rest of the font is very similar to the font Myriad (the font used by Apple in their logo).
ricardonunez 6 days ago 0 replies      
The logotype would have been better alone. The symbol should have been the Windows 8 symbol. It makes me think that they used two teams and they didn't communicate during the process. Overall I like it, is refreshing.
digitailor 6 days ago 0 replies      
Really not bad looking. Amazing what you can do with MSPaint these days.
tsurantino 6 days ago 0 replies      
I like how from 1980 to 1981 it was not Microsoft but really a front for Metallica to make it's big step in disrupting the corporate technology industry.
rkwz 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why they didn't choose this logo (colorful tiles) for Windows.
JGuo 6 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer the windows 8 logo much more: http://www.fastcodesign.com/multisite_files/codesign/imageca...

The unsolicited redesign "slate" logo is cool too:

septerr 6 days ago 0 replies      
The Google+ button (right towards top) in this article about Microsoft's new logo is totally spoiling it for them.


zubr1768 7 days ago 0 replies      
"The new logo, which incorporates a multicolored Windows symbol in addition to the "Microsoft" name in straightforward, lighter type, is intended to "signal the heritage but also signal the future " a newness and freshness," said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft's general manager of brand strategy."

Freshness? The most underwhelming design "innovation" yet... Playing it safe, boring, square as ever.

alphang 6 days ago 0 replies      
They started using the new wordmark in June, in the Surface promo materials: http://photos.allthingsd.com/photos/i-vGmfLVB/0/M/i-vGmfLVB-...

I guess this is the official launch.

AtTheLast 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's nice to see Microsoft putting some effort into design. The logo doesn't take my breath away or anything, but I think it's an improvement on the old one.
Akhena 7 days ago 0 replies      
It seems it is NOT the first logo change since 1987.
Some previous logos are displayed here : http://facts.swebee.com/microsoft-logo.html
campuscodi 6 days ago 0 replies      
Actually quite impressed. Not because of the logo's quality, since it's not that a radical change, but because Microsoft finally got the guts to make a change.
AndresOspina 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good change!! the new logo is simple and direct the point.
loceng 7 days ago 1 reply      
The colours remind me just a little bit of Google..
jcoder 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, microsoft.com looks like shit on iOS with a Retina display. Couldn't be bothered?
bwhmather 6 days ago 0 replies      
It seems odd that they chose to post the logo as a jpeg. The compression artifacts stop it from appearing as crisp as it should be.
yew-right 6 days ago 0 replies      
Does your TV need a "user-interface"?

Does your secretary need a touchscreen?

MS's last remaining market is business. As others bring to business the old power of UNIX, for less cost, and repackaged with now commonplace buzzwords like "opensource", "linux", and "cloud", MS is in big trouble. For most of the business world, software is an expense, not an asset. Inexpensive wins.

But those guys who could say "FU" in 1992, why should they care? MS has had a GREAT run.

tharris0101 6 days ago 1 reply      
The four boxes don't bother me, but the segoe font is way too plain. I guess they use that font on everything, though.
progrock 6 days ago 0 replies      
Italics in logos may well be offically out!
mandeepj 6 days ago 0 replies      
At the top left corner, I think the text "menu" should be replaced with "Start" and dropdown icon should be replaced with the icon found on windows start button (the MS logo)
Tichy 7 days ago 1 reply      
Are those the Google colors?
schukin 6 days ago 0 replies      
This logo just screams "compromise".
CyberDroiD 6 days ago 0 replies      
On the homepage at microsoft.com, they are using the same logo for Microsoft Store as the company name.
mokeefe 6 days ago 0 replies      
shuffling the deck chairs...
despart 7 days ago 0 replies      
The logo from the 70's is so disco.
GiraffeNecktie 7 days ago 0 replies      
Very ubuntish.
astrodust 7 days ago 0 replies      
What the hell is this? Are they trying to take the Gap approach and turn out a turd so terrible that designers storm the campus and flood them with better logos?
The White House just open sourced their first Github repo github.com
305 points by maxogden  6 days ago   121 comments top 22
ef4 6 days ago 6 replies      
> "President Obama is committed to creating the most open and participatory government in our nation's history"

I'll believe that when his administration stops being one of the most secretive and most aggressive prosecutors of whistleblowers in recent history.



daenz 6 days ago  replies      
And, in the spirit of the project, they'll reject all pull requests with a patronizing response about the way things are.[1][2]

1. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legalize-and-regul...

2. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/abolish-tsa-and-us...

snowwrestler 6 days ago 1 reply      
Just want to point out that this is not the first code contributed to open source from the WhiteHouse.gov project. Several of the Drupal modules developed for the site were made available to the community on Drupal.org not long after the new site launched. Some examples (may not be all of them):


Actually it strikes me as a little strange that this code is on Github since Drupal.org has an entire section devoted to Drupal "distributions", which is what this appears to be. I mean, is the White House tech office moving to a full open source development model? Are they planning to appoint volunteer maintainers and accept pull requests? I sort of doubt it.

sneak 6 days ago 2 replies      
Who cares? This is boring code. Save all the "it portends an open government!" handwaving for once the Obama admin does something _actually_ meaningful (in a positive way - starting a new war doesn't count).

Seriously. Much ado about a Drupal module that is used for people to petition the government to be patronized and ignored.

dkhenry 6 days ago 2 replies      
It would be really cool if they let the devs use their public names and GitHub accounts to commit. As of right now it is WH-NewMedia, and there is no history. Makes me think this is a marketing excersize rather then a new leaf in federal software development.
izakage 6 days ago 3 replies      
I am curious about GPL compatibility in this situation. According to [1], software developed by US federal government cannot be licensed under the GPL since it is automatically in the public domain. However, the github repo readme makes the following claim:

"The project utilizes code licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License and therefore is licensed under GPL v2 or later."

While I applaud this effort and wish to see more like it in the future, is there a possible issue with licensing here?

[1] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0-faq.html#GP...

arctangent 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here in the UK, the Government Digital Service [1] are doing much the same thing. They're building a single site for all government services and publishing all their code on GitHub.

[1] http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

throwaway54-762 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've never seen the name "Obama" and "licensed under GPL v2 or later" in the same document before -- cool.
kennywinker 6 days ago 2 replies      
Finally I can sass the whitehouse using github issues!


intoit 6 days ago 9 replies      
Moving from MongoDB to MySQL. I never understood why people felt they need MongoDB/NoSQL for their projects. Does anyone have an example where it was really necessary/advantageous?
ceol 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ignoring all the snarky comments about how the current administration has ignored every online petition so far, this is really cool. Everyone now has a chance to have their name attached to an official government project!
ericdykstra 6 days ago 0 replies      
Great! Now if we can just get some transparency into issues that matter.
jgoney 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little disappointed; I wouldn't have thought this community to be so cynical and partisan. Can't we all just get along?
klearvue 6 days ago 0 replies      
While this is the first with respect to releasing on Github,
in April 2010 White House also released 2 open source Drupal modules (for Akamai integration and another one).
ejesse 6 days ago 1 reply      
Now if we could just get THOMAS into Github so we can upgrade that beast...
kellysutton 6 days ago 1 reply      
Suddenly, I became interested in politics again.
robgolding 6 days ago 0 replies      
Check out the first commit to this project: https://github.com/WhiteHouse/petition/commit/fcb103e966f777...
rparet 6 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting case giving up MongoDB because of the complexity of adapting another application to use it. I wonder if this is a good use case for something like http://www.nuodb.com/
kyebosh 6 days ago 1 reply      
Certainly an interesting microcosm of a type of democracy... I wonder how feasible this kind of model would be for actual policy making.
stephenhandley 6 days ago 0 replies      
$markup .= 'You've got my vote, Little Face Mitt.';
thinkingisfun 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the quote I was looking for.

"A totalitarian state simply enunciates official doctrine -- clearly, explicitly. Internally, one can think what one likes, but one can only express opposition at one's peril. In a democratic system of propaganda no one is punished (in theory) for objecting to official dogma. In fact, dissidence is encouraged. What this system attempts to do is to fix the limits of possible thought: supporters of official doctrine at one end, and the critics -- vigorous, courageous, and much admired for their independence of judgment -- at the other. The hawks and the doves. But we discover that all share certain tacit assumptions, and that it is these assumptions that are really crucial. No doubt a propaganda system is more effective when its doctrines are insinuated rather than asserted, when it sets the bounds for possible thought rather than simply imposing a clear and easily identifiable doctrine that one must parrot -- or suffer the consequences. The more vigorous the debate, the more effectively the basic doctrines of the propaganda system, tacitly assumed on all sides, are instilled. Hence the elaborate pretense that the press is a critical dissenting force -- maybe even too critical for the health of democracy -- when in fact it is almost entirely subservient to the basic principles of the ideological system: in this case, the principle of the right of intervention, the unique right of the United States to serve as global judge and executioner. It is quite a marvelous system of indoctrination."

-- Noam Chomsky, "Language and Responsibility" (1977)

But of course, that was then, today it's totally different, right? Right.

justinph 6 days ago 1 reply      
Neat. Too bad it's drupal, rendering it totally useless to people with actual taste or skill.
Typing Practice for Programmers typing.io
301 points by mofeeta  7 days ago   218 comments top 78
edanm 7 days ago 3 replies      
This. Is. AWESOME. Let me tell you what this is useful for by telling you my story:

I'm a pretty fast typist (80-100WPM on TypeRacer, usually) and I really never put much thought into my typing, since it was good enough. But I recently started paying attention to the kinds of mistake I make on Typeracer, and realized that I have certain combinations of keys which I don't make using the "home row" of the keyboard, but rather, move my hands to make. Every time I hit one of these, I have a 50/50 chance of not getting back to the home row correctly, meaning I have a 50/50 chance of throwing off my typing.

And I am a heavy VIM user, by the way, which means I am very used to doing everything from the home row, including every navigation you can think of. I even have AutoHotKey scripts to give me vim-style navigation everywhere in windows, so I never have to move my hands.

Now with this program, I finished running an example and noticed 2 shocking things:

1. There are a lot of keys which I'm not used to typing from the homerow, which happen to show up a lot in regular Python code. For example, periods (.). And underscores. I was used to shifting my hand to type these characters. I don't notice this during every day work, since I'm actually programming, but I did notice this while playing a program specifically designed for typing.

2. At the end of the program, it gives you statistics, and I found out that I was only about 48% effective, meaning 52% of the keystrokes I made were accidents that had to be backspaced out. This is a lot. Part of it is "first time with this program" bias, but it still means I have a long way to go.

Anyway, I recommend running through this program, it will probably teach you a lot.

P.S. Just one bit of constructive criticism: the way the program presents mis-types is a little annoying, and hard to follow. I recommend doing the same as TypeRacer, that is, have the "mistaken" keystrokes be visible somewhere, so the typist is very clear on how many keys he needs to backspace out. This is much closer to how people type in the real world.

gruseom 7 days ago 3 replies      
This is really well done. Surprisingly well done. Way better done than average.

I'll tell you how I'd like to use it. This may seem odd, but I'd like to be able to upload code that I'm interested in learning, and then type over it just like in these lessons - but not to speed up my typing, but rather for learning.

Writing is a unique channel for learning new things. (Reading is too, of course, but everyone knows that.) Even if you're merely reproducing keystroke-for-keystroke what someone else wrote, following in someone's footsteps helps the brain absorb new patterns and is particularly good for something one's a beginner at. If what you're copying is the work of a master, then you're absorbing really good patterns. I would totally use a tool like this for that purpose. It's a way of learning with one's hands.

But pure typing efficiency? That's hardly a way to become a better programmer, only a more prolific one, and more code is not what we need in this business.

So basically I wish I could subvert the purpose of your tool and send it off in a new direction. :)

JoshTriplett 7 days ago 1 reply      
Very impressive.

Things I particularly liked: not making me type the indentation (because any sane editor will do that for me), allowing backspace, providing examples in numerous languages.

Things that bugged me (and which only become an issue because the example otherwise proves sufficiently realistic that any remaining differences feel awkward, like an uncanny valley for typing code): showing faded-out code I'm not expected to type and skipping it, not allowing any navigation other than backspace (I frequently "correct" errors by ignoring them until I finish typing what I wanted to type and then going back and correcting them, which means the "collaterally typed before backspacing" characters are not wasted keystrokes), not allowing copy-paste (particularly important for lines like #include or import), not showing incorrect characters I've typed.

Things you probably can't do anything about: typing a file in a more natural order than top-to-bottom (the Haskell exercise starts with a giant export list, and the Python exercise starts with an import list). Normally, you'll extend those as you go, rather than typing them all at once.

ismarc 7 days ago 1 reply      
I'm one of those folks who is on the top-end of crazy-stupid-fast typing, but hadn't ever seen a typing test that actually had typing code, so this is absolutely awesome for seeing the difference in speed between prose and code. However, the fading in and out cursor makes it extremely difficult to track where I am, particularly when going back to correct a mistake I made (I know I hit the wrong key, and depending on where in the typing I hit it, I'll need to see how far back to go). It's also exceedingly annoying when it blurs across multiple characters.

I personally would prefer a side-by-side text entry, rather than typing on top of existing code, so it's easy to see progress and mistakes (even if you don't highlight mistakes in the text).

EDIT: It looks like about 50 words per minute, maybe 55, is the max speed you can type and have the cursor actually be visible enough to be a guide of where you are in the text.

samd 7 days ago 6 replies      
I don't understand programmer's obsession with typing efficiency. We're not typists. Typing is a tiny fraction of the time I spend programming. Most of the time I'm thinking, or talking to another developer about a problem. I could have the fastest typing skills and most efficient editor and not even be marginally more productive.
tobiasu 7 days ago 1 reply      
Well done on the NoScript front. It's rare to see a site on HN that requires JS and falls back to a nice explanation of why it needs JS (Instead of just stating the fact, or worse, displaying a white page).
dkersten 7 days ago 11 replies      
It doesn't appear to respect my keyboard layout - I'm using colemak (which works fine) but with UK symbols instead of US (which works everywhere else, including the HN comment box, but not in Typing.io where it wants me to type US symblos: eg " and @ are swapped).
awolf 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. You should charge money.

Regarding indentation: I think you made a reasonable choice in excluding it across the board. Definitely better than requiring it to be typed everywhere. That said, ideally you would require the user to make the keystrokes to un-indent whenever an IDE wouldn't automatically.

Also: Something in Objective-C please. Those square brackets took me a lot of practice to get used to.

psykotic 7 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. But as a fast typist of both prose and code I found the interface nearly unusable. Please make it behave more like a normal edit box. I never had any idea of the location of my cursor. The lack of alt-backspace made it unbearably slow to correct errors. Auto-skipping whitespace makes it tougher to rely on my habits where the key strokes for indentation and line breaks are a natural part of the flow. And if you're not going to make me type the comments, just delete them from the text entirely so I can more easily scan ahead.

Here's a straight-up bug: I had to turn off a Chrome extension (Type Ahead Find) that I use for incremental search. It was intercepting key strokes that were supposed to go to typing.io. That hasn't happened with Ace and other canvas-based text editors. My friend also mentioned that it didn't work with his Danish keyboard.

Beyond these annoyances with the implementation, typing the C code from Redis reinforced how difficult (and frankly infuriating) it is to spontaneously conform to an unfamiliar coding convention. E.g. no spaces in "while(1)" throws me off completely because my brain is thinking "while 1" and my fingers translate that into my customary "while (1)". If you want this web app to be relevant to real-world programming, you need to let people upload their own code samples.

For even punctuation heavy, syntactically gnarly prose, I can average 140+ WPM without much effort. Typing.io put me at around 100 WPM for the first few sections of the C Redis lesson. I'd say I'm good for at least another 15-20 WPM if the environment wasn't so utterly alien.

kevinpet 7 days ago 1 reply      
The message google gives when trying to log in is really poor: "A third party service is requesting permission to access your Google Account.Please select an account that you would like to use."

What do you mean "access"? Do you mean "authenticate as"? Do you mean "go screw with my email"? I seem to remember that I sometimes see specific access requested, but this one is vague. Possibly this is the result of requesting sign in with no permissions at all.

cgag 7 days ago 0 replies      
We attempted to make something very similar at a hackathon. It's cool to see a more polished, complete version. Ours was more of an attempt to make a version of typeracer (http://play.typeracer.com/) using code samples from rosetta code. All we really got done though was handling typing the code (hilighting errors, letting you use tab for whitespace, etc), we didn't get around to recording stats.

This is all bringing back horrible memories of our disastrous demo actually, but very nice otherwise.

tfb 7 days ago 0 replies      
Man I think I might be kind of a slow typer. I was only getting like 45 wpm in the javascript test. I think it's because of all the abnormal characters, although I do code in js daily. -_-

But keeping my fingers on the home keys to type has always felt really awkward to me. I tend to position my hands differently depending on the word I'm about to type - in a way that let's me "roll" my fingers along in just the right sequence so it tends to be a series of short bursts where it would seem as if I'm actually just smashing a bunch of keys at once over and over again.

Edit: I just tried type racer and was getting 80+ wpm. /me wonders how people get 140+. :O

gersh 7 days ago 3 replies      
It seems like <,:, and certain other characters don't work. Also, why do you skip over white-space?

It is interesting. I wonder if I can learn to make fewer typos.

Xion 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's absolutely brilliant.

And besides improving your code-typing speed, it's also a nice way to get a hang of all different languages you might want to delve into. Alternatively, you can also polish your muscle memory on all the thousands of function, classes and method names you can find in your typical language/framework of choice.

DannoHung 7 days ago 1 reply      
Things that bother me in the extreme: Not showing letters as they are typed in the advanced lessons. That immediate feedback is how I know that I'm typing a word correctly and how I know if I make an error that I have corrected it.

Penalization for adding additional whitespace between identifiers in some situations: "[one,two,three]", for example, I personally like adding a space after the comma and do it automatically.

nicholassmith 7 days ago 2 replies      
I honestly didn't mean to break it! It does seem however under Safari OS X it doesn't like alt + 3 for hash, which for the C++ ones is a big thing.
sebastianhoitz 7 days ago 3 replies      
This doesn't seem to work with keyboard layouts that are different than US keyboards.

My german keyboard didn't work :(

tobr 7 days ago 1 reply      
Fun idea, but doesn't seem to recognize non-US keyboard layouts.
stuntgoat 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is very great!

I was considering doing something like this in the terminal, possibly using an adaptation of gtypist. However, I the more I thought about it, I realized that I would be better off writing a module for my everyday text editor, since I would have access to completion, copy/paste, indention, macros, etc.

I don't want to 'talk down' all the work you did with this. I'm really glad you made it and I am going to use it, for sure.

Keep up the great work!

sp332 7 days ago 3 replies      
FF 16/Win7, I don't seem to be able to type underscores '_' at all.

ETA: looks fine in Chrome though, and I really like this idea :)

ericmoritz 7 days ago 2 replies      
It would be awesome if they're keeping stats on each language so that we can find out which language is the easiest to type.
pacaro 7 days ago 2 replies      
This definitely shows me how much of the coding style I use is in muscle memory, I'm continually trying to add spaces and newlines where they aren't!

It would be interesting to be able to pick specific coding styles for C

I'm spending too long on this, back to work...

sukuriant 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very neat idea; but, I do have one issue with it. When I'm programming, I don't start with the import statements (except for maybe some common ones that I have to deal with). I usually start with the most important part of the API and then spiral outward. I noticed this issue in the Java sample I tried. It began with the drudgery of import blah.blah.SomethingSpecific 10 times. I wasn't able to get into the meat of the code, and by the time I did, I was bored to tears. Imports usually come organically, if I'm having to deal with them at all (IDE's usually take care of them).

I think a great place for this to go would be if the code bounced around a bit more. Perhaps, start with what seems like the most commonly used function and write that function header and whole function; then, start writing all of the different subordinate methods you called in this primary method, and so on until the whole class is created. The way it's written write now, in particular for Java, isn't a way that I code and I imagine it's not the way that many people code.

Just my two cents. Otherwise, it's an interesting system so far.

julianz 7 days ago 3 replies      
Haskell, Scala and Clojure but no C# or Objective C. Typing practice for hipster programmers or something?
state 7 days ago 0 replies      
With all of the emphasis on learning how to code I think this is really useful. The insight I really like is that simply learning to type in this weird way is a big part of being an efficient programmer.

Maybe when codeacademy students get frustrated they could spend a few minutes doing this.

Nice work!

grecy 7 days ago 2 replies      
Why do you want me to sign in with Google?
ojr 7 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Learn Code The Hard Way... The guy that runs it states the only way to learn is by typing the code in, bit by bit and not to go too long because you might burn yourself out...This is a nice free tool, Cheers moonboots!
almost 7 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome!

For some reason I can't type the ( symbol. I do have my ( and [ keys swapped but I tried both and neither has the desired effect.

RegEx 7 days ago 0 replies      
This serves as a great reminder that a good portion of your speed comes from accuracy. I find if I slow myself down ~10% of what feels "fast", I'm much more accurate and my WPM increase significantly over typing faster but backspacing more.
agscala 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wish this had a timer on it. I don't know which metric it would result in, but it would be fun to race against other people nonetheless
CodeCube 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastically great! I'm a huge fan of typing games (typing of the dead, typeracer, etc.) and always lamented the fact that there were none that focused on programming syntax. Love it!

edit: the more I use this, the more I find myself really hoping that you're storing all of these stats somewhere. I think that some aggregate analytics of typing accuracy across programming languages would be fascinating.

newtonapple 7 days ago 0 replies      
I made something similar except you can practice using any Gist you want. http://newtonapple.github.com/Gistype/#1 It still needs some work on the current cursor movement for longer Gists, but the basic functionality is there. No login required, just type. :) Note that if you have Vimium installed, you'll have to put the URL on your "excluded URLs" list.
Gazler 7 days ago 1 reply      
The hash (#) character isn't working for me (UK layout keyboard, Firefox 10 on Ubuntu).
felideon 6 days ago 0 replies      
Any plans on adding Common Lisp? Do you just need someone to point you to some decent code?
irunbackwards 7 days ago 1 reply      
Why can't I share my test results on social networks? This is like one of the only types of social activites / games I would want to share with my friends!

Other than that, this is freaking rad!

I found it funny that I'm normally a 120-150 WPM typist, but when typing special characters for regex, etc, I hit a patch of molasses.

rapind 7 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using the opensource Keyzen to polish up those awkward coder keys.


That being said, this also looks great. Love the idea.

amirmansour 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Finished the 1st Scala lesson and I really liked the end of the lesson summary. I got to make some improvements :)
swah 7 days ago 1 reply      
Kinda OT, but I noticed you're using Google Fonts, and they load instantaneously. When I use Google Fonts, they take a little bit, usually loading after the whole site is already displayed. Did you optimized anything regarding this?
progrock 7 days ago 0 replies      
Typing the Php sample code - mainly the namespace stuff was a horrible experience.

Please find some code that isn't laden heavy with use statements. I'd expect my editor to autocomplete these...

LukeShu 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's collapsing newlines. In the Rails demo I hit enter twice to skip a line, but it only took one to get me down two lines, and the second was an 'error'.

Edit: It appears that this is part of the "auto-indent" mechanism (which is intuitive for indentation). How about accepting multiple newlines, or whitespace at the beginning of a line, but not requiring it?

nicholassmith 7 days ago 0 replies      
Ah this is awesome, we've had a few similar stuff appear recently but this is exactly what I was after.
rince 7 days ago 1 reply      
If anything, this site shows the importance of autocomplete
musashibaka 7 days ago 0 replies      
It would be an added bonus if there were an illustration of a hand highlighting which fingers should be used with which keys at the bottom. Similar to http://www.typingweb.com/. I get allot of practice typing my own source, but what I am currently working on is making sure I am using the right fingers for numbers, symbols, and punctuation.
munaf 7 days ago 1 reply      
Cool? Still haven't decided if it's useful.

Anyway, the cursor occasionally obscures the character and slows you down. Might be worth testing out a fish-eye effect as the cursor scrolls so you clearly know what you need to type.

haukur 7 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't type various characters, such as <>={ and probably others that I didn't get to try out. I have an Icelandic keyboard layout, if that matters. I should probably switch to the American layout anyway.
Ubuntu 12.04, Chrome version 21.0.1180.79.

This is still excellent. If these keys worked I would definitely use it.

mark_integerdsv 7 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why I need to sign in to try this out. Glad you're getting rave reviews in this thread but I'm passing on the basis that I believ this sign in is unnecessary and creates yet more data exhaust.
utopkara 7 days ago 0 replies      
Nice app, I would like to point out one thing, hope you find it useful enough to address.

I am pretty sure many people do this too: whenever I type braces/brackets/parentheses/[/%$..] I type both open and close, then continue filling in the statement inside the completed pair of open/close. It is a very useful practice especially for languages with a love of open/close symbol pairs. When you try this in your app, the close gets marked as an error, and I couldn't find an easy way out.

Nordvind 7 days ago 0 replies      
Perfect tool for code monkeys :)

You even can't put more line breaks than it is - just type, character by character. If it checked the code in general (e.g. package names typed correctly - but not line breaks and stuff) - I'd totally use it. Not now, though.

zapt02 7 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't work at all with nordic (swedish) keyboard - it doesn't recognize the less than (<) sign.
tennis 7 days ago 0 replies      
I'll chime in as one of those, who made something similar. It's not very official, but should work in Firefox and Chrome for all keyboard layouts, though you have to bring your own text.


cgray4 7 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't interact very well with the firemacs Firefox extension. I love the idea, though.
sirmarksalot 7 days ago 1 reply      
For the most part I like it, but there's a performance issue that actually affects usability. The first time you start a lesson, the editor is really snappy, but with each successive lesson, the scroll speed gets slightly slower, and a few lessons in, the entered text is just a blur, and you can't even see a cursor. This means that when you make a mistake, it's hard to tell how far you've backspaced, and I ended up bogged down in error correction loops.

I don't have anything more specific to add than that it seems to get worse over time.

Otherwise, awesome idea!

kanchax 7 days ago 1 reply      
Really nice.
It felt like shadow-boxing the creation of a language. What I mean is that the ability to type what giants typed before me in such an easy and accessible way made it worthwhile. I'll do it again.
pg_bot 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is cool but it doesn't play well with Caps lock.
sdh 7 days ago 1 reply      
cool, but what's this -really- for? ;)

recruiting coders?

optimizing keyboard layouts?

optimizing character usage for new language or framework development?

advertising open source projects?

theGimp 7 days ago 0 replies      
I love it!

One tiny piece of criticism though: when calculating the percentage of unproductive keystrokes, divide by the number of ALL keystrokes, not just the correct ones.

Tichy 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't accept an = on a German Apple keyboard.

Is it only typing an existing piece of source code? Wouldn't simply coding stuff then be better practice?

the_cat_kittles 7 days ago 0 replies      
This made me aware that i typed ":" with my RING FINGER. wow. What have I been doing...
ibotty 7 days ago 1 reply      
i really like it, but one thing disturbed me. why do you skip the comments?
jacobsimeon 7 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely love the design and the idea! Just one small issue: I'm using a MBP but, for reasons that that I won't take the time to explain, I spend 90% of my time in bootcamp (windows 7). I can't seem to get past any single quote(') characters.


JoeAcchino 7 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice.

One minor thing: practice sessions are called "lessons" but nothing is actually taught.

f4stjack 7 days ago 1 reply      
Does not support other keyboard layouts than US I think. Good idea though.
jesyspa 7 days ago 0 replies      
The hash character and numbers don't work on Arch Linux, dvorak programmer layout.
billsix 7 days ago 1 reply      
A "Kinesis Advantage " keyboard and "apt-get install dvorak7min" is all a programmer needs.
DutchCitizen 7 days ago 0 replies      
I really liked this idea, reminded me of this talk I saw a while ago:
sahat 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is the best project I've encountered at Hacker News so far. Thank you.
cormacrelf 7 days ago 0 replies      
Safari 6 on OS X 10.8, most (not all) of the time, I have to type ':' twice to make it progress. Catches me every time, not pleasant.
repoman 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is not fair. The captial letter requires you to use shift + letter key. It took me more time to do that..... can we fix that bug?
DaviNunes 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, but whats supposed to happen when I mis-type? It is not allowing me to keep typing or re-type again, it just freezes.
thoughtpalette 7 days ago 0 replies      
I learned I really need to type correctly.
MarkJHagan 7 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! This is incredibly cool.

Bug: Caps Lock key is ignored.
Feature Request: c#

scott_karana 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's not a bug, but could you make the Details buttons collapse when you click away from them, or at the very least when you click on other details buttons? Detracts from checking out all your sourced projects :)
ChronoGawd 7 days ago 1 reply      
Where do people get these .io names? Are they really $50+ a year?
rwl4 7 days ago 0 replies      
This is great! I'd love to see some SQL examples too!
epsylon 7 days ago 0 replies      
The quotes don't work on US-international layout.
tuananh 7 days ago 0 replies      
i don't really care how fast i type as programmer as i found typing doesn't account much of time in total time of shipping a product. and second, why the hell we got code completion for!?
armenarmen 7 days ago 0 replies      
evilpenguin_ 7 days ago 0 replies      
How Hacker News Completely Changed My Life stoicjesterstudios.com
285 points by thestoicjester  6 days ago   90 comments top 38
patio11 6 days ago 3 replies      
As long as we're on the love boat: I've met at least three good friends here. Y'all have collectively pushed my career in a quite different direction than it was probably on when I started. I think I'd probably have ended up quitting ye olde day job and putting the BCC phase of my life in the "That was fun and I learned a lot, but time to get serious, what is next?" bucket. Then I would have done what everyone other than the Internet always suggested I do: get a job at a megacorp. I think I literally know the exact office I'd be working at in Tokyo. It is a nice office, and a nice megacorp, but it is still a megacorp.

I'd probably be a lot less happy doing that, because my current gig is pretty much everything I could ask for in a job. More importantly, the most consequential thing to ever happen to me was meeting my future wife. It is likely that I would have been in a soul-deadening crunch in Tokyo rather than at the BBQ where that happened.

So, thanks.

kkowalczyk 6 days ago 5 replies      
Seems like a massive mis-attribution error and I worry people will learn the wrong lesson here.

The OP's story is:

1. learned to program iOS (hard, completely under OP's control)

2. wrote and published iOS app (hard, under OP's control)

3. the app failed so wrote a blog post about his experience (easy although often neglected by programmers, under OP's control)

4. HN picked up the story which led to interview (total crapshot, not under OP's control)

5. a round of of interviews which led to job offer and "completely changed life" (hard, under OP's control)

I understand why claiming step 4 ("HN picking up the story") was responsible for "changed life" plays well on HN, but it's irrational.

The hard things that OP did and were under his control were: learning iOS programming, publishing iOS app, writing a blog post about it and doing well during an interview. Steps 1-3, 5 were necessary and responsible for his getting a better job.

Step 4 is the only one that wasn't under OP's control, involved pure luck and is not even necessary.

As an example, I get several interview inquiries every month but not because I post on HN (I do) or because occasionally what I wrote ended up on HN (it did) but because I have a website, github account and a portfolio of non-trivial projects.

Step 4 is not necessary because in this market a competent iOS programmer can pick and choose. The OP would be better off if he pro-actively applied for several iOS positions in Silicon Valley (of which there are plenty) and picked the best offer, instead of passively waiting and accepting the first offer.

I'm not saying that good things don't happen because of HN but in this particular case the lesson shouldn't be "write a blog post, hope it ends up on HN and then further hope someone will contact you with a job offer" but "learn a marketable skill (like iOS programming), produce a proof of your skill (write iOS application), market it a little bit (write a blog post about it) and then go on a job shopping spree (by applying for iOS jobs)".

azylman 6 days ago 0 replies      
This post really spoke to me - all my life, I'd lived in the Midwest - first in Minnesota (coincidentally enough) then in Illinois for college. In October last year (the beginning of my senior year in college) I received a nice, safe offer as a Software Engineer at Google and that was my plan: do the 'Google thing' and see how I felt two, three, or four years down the road.

Fast forward to May of this year, I saw a job posting here on HN for a YCS12 company that was looking for a summer intern. I sent them a short email, not knowing really what was going to happen - one thing led to another, and before I know it I'm flying out to San Francisco the day after I graduate to begin my internship!

I can honestly say that this summer has been the best summer of my life - I've learned more than I thought possible, worked more than I thought possible, and had more fun than I thought possible.

And that safe job offer from Google? Well, I'm not doing that anymore - I'm the first hire at a very promising YC startup that I'm in love with.

michaelochurch 6 days ago 0 replies      
I actually like Minnesota and really enjoy the seasons there-- the winter's not that bad-- but I'm going to chime in with a +1 for Hacker News. The quality, for an internet community of this size, is unparalleled. That doesn't mean there aren't a few useless posts here and there (shit, I've probably written a couple of those) but the overall quality remains high... and I haven't seen any evidence for a drop.

One thing I really like about the HN-sphere is the optimism. I'm naturally a cynical, dark person, as opposed to the Silicon Valley optimism and positive-sum outlook I see here. Neither is superior; both perspectives are needed. Too much optimism and you make bad choices (hence the engineers joining pre-funding startups for 1% equity) but too much pessimism and you lose your courage. It's best to have a splash of each.

It's refreshing coming to a place where people have faith in the ability for smart people to take back the world. Looking at recent improvements in compensation and autonomy for solid engineers, that might actually happen. There are a lot of bad startups too, but it's the good startups that are driving that.

markerdmann 6 days ago 1 reply      
thestoicjester, this is one of the funniest blog posts I've ever read. This line is especially good:

"A 'co-founder of a mobile development startup in SF' was a humorous creature I'd read all about on the internet " I may as well have been replying to a hobbit."

What's the name of the company you're working at now?

duck 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great to read things like this and gives us a reminder that there is a person behind everyone of these "Show HN" posts and every comment written (at least besides the few bots and spammers on HN). Love the advice on how if you "actually finish your side projects", you'll be well ahead of the pack - very true.
Schwolop 6 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like it could be me, a year from now. I'm literally in the middle of an interview* with a SF startup that came about because they read my blog post (via Hacker News) about failing at my own startup.

HN is undeniably awesome.

(*One interviewer was pushed forward an hour, the others are in 15 minutes...)

HeyLaughingBoy 6 days ago 1 reply      
moving across the country to a state I'd never been to and a city in which I knew nobody

As someone who did just this, but in kinda the opposite direction: from the East Coast to Minneapolis, I hope it works out for you as well as it has for me. I basically rebuilt myself here. I love MN!

xiaoma 6 days ago 0 replies      
>"In addition to my daytime job, programming had also crept into my nights and weekends as I took up the hobby of iOS development. The interesting thing about this hobby is that not only did it help use up my spare time, it also helped use up my spare dreams. I didn't have to aspire to a bigger job in a bigger city, because at any moment one of my apps was going to hit it big and then everyone would be working for me."

This passage really resonates with me. The concept of dreams as a resource is a useful one and I'd never thought of it. When I joined HN, I was in a similar kind of situation. Running an EFL supplementary school in Taiwan, I had a sense of accomplishment, some prestige and likely a solidly growing income for as long as I chose to stick with it. But not only did it consume 60-70 hours a week of my time, it also consumed my dreams. It would have been really easy to stay there and not think much about doing anything more.

What changed my direction was PG essays, some of which I read on reddit and some of which I read here. Since I was so heavily invested in my business in Taiwan and nearly all of my best friends were there, it took me time to finally take the plunge, end that chapter of my life and move into the tech world. It hasn't been very easy, as some of you may have seen me post on here before, but it is invigorating. The three tasks of hunting for work, working and upgrading my work skills are using up my time, but not my dreams.

archildress 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'll jump on this too; thanks a lot for this post because one line really changed my outlook on something that I am working on:

"Everyone knows that the last 20% takes 80% of the effort."

I guess I'm outside of "everyone" because that line is really going to make a difference for me. :)

Reading HN has changed my life as well - college student in the Appalachians and I get so little exposure to startup culture in my business education. I can sit in class all day and feel uninspired about corporate strategy, but seeing so many bootstrapped ventures and learning about how to make it all work is what is driving me these days.

As cliche as it may be, I'm developing a real passion for the startup culture and some of the companies I spend all day reading about. Between the app on my iPhone and browsing online, reading HN articles (and perhaps more importantly, the comments) is contributing to the best hours of learning I get all day.

Six months ago, I didn't know the first thing about entrepreneurship, startups, or bootstrapping a venture. Now, I'll be Show HN'ing my first project within a few weeks' time. Thanks so much to everyone here.

polyfractal 6 days ago 0 replies      
I quit my job as a biologist, became a freelancer, working for clients found on HN, and was eventually hired full-time by one of those clients, who I had previously interviewed for a side project that I was working on so I could show Hacker News.

So basically, Hacker News is pretty awesome, regardless of whatever people say.

citricsquid 6 days ago 0 replies      
HN hasn't changed my life -- yet? -- but it has taught me that a lot of my assumptions about new technology startups were wrong. I'd always assumed "networking" was only something a specific type of person could do, that if you wanted to do anything you'd have to be really great at selling yourself or get lots of media attention.

Through my usage of HN I've learned that this really isn't the case, sure being able to sell yourself is a useful skill but if you can build great things and put your work out there you can achieve a lot without needing to focus on people. A good example I think is Gumroad founder Sahil (http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=sahillavingia), he's very talented, he made cool stuff and people took notice and now he's doing really cool things.

HN has made me confident that if I ever build anything great that I won't need to spend 12 hours a day cold calling every Techcrunch writer hoping that they post nice words about me, I can let my work speak for me.

Now I just need to build something cool :)

aaronbrethorst 6 days ago 2 replies      
OP: I'm curious to know whether we've ever crossed paths. It looks like we're about the same age (assuming the age you listed on some game website I just found is accurate).

I was born and raised in Minneapolis, graduated from the U of MN with a Computer Science degree in 2003, and pulled up stakes to move to Seattle as soon as I could.

If you were ever in debate, speech, or quiz bowl in high school between 1997 and 2000, or if you attended the U of MN between 1998 and 2003, I'm guessing we did at some point.

In any case, congrats!

MattGrommes 6 days ago 2 replies      
If not for an HN "Who's hiring" post I'd probably still have my safe job writing internal apps for an insurance company in Albuquerque; instead I'm back living in beautiful San Diego (my favorite city) and I get to see the ocean every day on my drive to my current awesome job. So add me to the list of people for whom HN changed their life. :)
datalus 6 days ago 0 replies      
This article gives me hope. I've been at a megacorp soul sucking job (I realize not all are soul crushing) for the past three years after my comp. sci. degree.

I'm going to make the jump as soon as possible. HN has really been both an inspiration and a great place for sage advice.

mingmecca 6 days ago 0 replies      
This resonates with me. HN has definitely altered how I see the startup culture.

I started out in Michigan writing 3D games (by hand, no hardware acceleration!), and after my wife and I took a vacation out to northern California I just had to live there. This was during the dotcom days of 1999, and it took less than a week to get multiple job offers. So we packed up our stuff and did a cross country move. It was awesome, and exciting, and the future was wide open.

However, like the author of this piece, I wasn't really prepared with how lonely it felt. Sure, there was a lot of innovative tech happening, but sometimes at the end of the day I just wanted to have a few beers with some good friends. So, I moved away from the SF Bay area up to Portland, Oregon, where I knew several friends from college, and have been here ever since.

Lately I've got the itch to return to California. Partly for the opportunities, partly for the sunshine (it's freakin' dark and depressing during Portland winters), and partly due to HN rekindling my love of startups. Now that I'm a bit older I think I'd have a better go of it. Anyone have a cool project that needs a iOS/Python/C++ tech director?

zio99 6 days ago 0 replies      
Related to how Hacker News changes lives:
How a simple comment on Hacker News motivated me to resign from my comfortable well paying job and launch my own startup

The rest of our discussion on Hacker News/startup lessons here: http://hackerne.ws/item?id=4426093 An interesting take on addressing the pain points of customers).

SoftwarePatent 6 days ago 0 replies      
HN changed my life too! I went from soul-crushing job writing patents for Amazon to ruby hacker in NYC. [1] I'm a self-taught coder hacking RoR for Pivotal Labs. I used to hate my job, now I can't wait to go to work!

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3754917

guynamedloren 6 days ago 0 replies      
Add me to the list as well. This worked:


(not at airbnb, but with another awesome YC startup in sunny CA and loving it)

pnathan 6 days ago 0 replies      
Hacker News has provided me a much-needed view into the business tech world that it is nearly impossible to get elsewhere.
johns 6 days ago 0 replies      
From another MN to SF transplant with a similar story, congrats on making the leap. :
Rulero 6 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations on getting a job, I really wish you all the best.

It's finally good to see someone who writes something positive about HN. Yes, there might be a lot of negativity around and the community might have lost the quality that many of you complain about. However, it's good to know there are still elements of this community that provide positive outcomes to those associated to it.

SoftwareMaven 6 days ago 0 replies      
HN has changed my life, too. Ironically, moving from a pre-seed stage startup (where I was more of an entrepreneur in residence) to one of the biggest tech companies out there.

More importantly, it is continuing to push me on my own projects.

pkamb 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best reminder here is that it's tempting to "Show HN" your project's App Store homepage. But like his Bullseye Factory submission, you're going to get a couple comments at best.

Write about your hacking experiences, what you learned, and how others can avoid your mistakes and you'll have much more luck.

robinduckett 6 days ago 0 replies      
I got a job through one of the monthly job posting threads and getting the job has completely changed my life, however I interviewed and impressed and got the job myself. Without hacker news, I probably would never have heard about the job, but everything after that point was under my control and my own doing.
sneak 6 days ago 2 replies      
Thank deus for readability.com.
_feda_ 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess what I love so much about HN is the generally high amount of content that is relevant to me, which seems to be hard to find elsewhere on the vast expanses of the internet. I can read articles from HN all night, but it doesn't feel like a waste of time. 99% of the time I'll have learned quite a lot by the end of the night.
karatehammer 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great post and great story. I've lived in the Twin Cities for 10 years now and we got a pretty good set of tech companies running around this area. I'm glad you were able to find a good home out in San Francisco man.
jfb 6 days ago 1 reply      
Minneapolis isn't exactly nowhere.
lectrick 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think everyone should live on the West Coast (ideally SF) or the East Coast (ideally near NYC) for a while in their life. Or both, like I did.
mariusz331 6 days ago 0 replies      
this is awesome! please do write more about your new life in san francisco.
jawr 6 days ago 2 replies      
Internal Server Error :(
bjorn2404 6 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I found this post inspiring and as a web developer living in a Minneapolis suburb in a bit of a rut, it really hits close to home.
jamesjguthrie 6 days ago 0 replies      
I love this story. I hope I can get similar success from my experiences here.
tejask 6 days ago 0 replies      
The first advice you give is a good reminder for people like me who have tons of unfinished projects.
JacobIrwin 6 days ago 0 replies      
HN inspired my move to the Bay Area too. Thanks for sharing your story.
praveenhm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, good luck with your new job.
flowctrl 6 days ago 0 replies      
How Hacker News Completely Crashed My Webserver
Look at yourself objectively aaronsw.com
283 points by myle  3 days ago   77 comments top 20
tptacek 2 days ago 7 replies      
Semmelweis is a favorite "management science" topic; there's even a pop-psych phenomenon called the "Semmelweis Reflex"; the Wikipedia article on it recapitulates much of what Aaron wrote here. The Gladwell formula of using Semmelweis' personal narrative to articulate a frailty of human reasoning was employed to great effect in Ayres _Super Crunchers_; the Semmelweis section is, for instance, noted prominently in the NYT book review.

Aaron has oversimplified the Semmelweis story in some material ways:

* Semmelweis didn't institute "handwashing" in Vienna hospitals. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, which suggests that doctors in the 1840s were sticking horse-manure-covered hands into the exposed wounds of patients, handwashing was apparently already a norm. What Semmelweis did differently was to use lime to wash hands.

* Semmelweis' actual theory of the cause of childbed fever was wrong, and it was wrong in ways that made his recommendations hard to take seriously. Semmelweis' contention was that "cadaveric particles" were making their way into patients, and that those particles could only be removed by lime. But doctors observed cases in which no contact with either cadavers or injected or symptomatic patients lead to the same cluster of illnesses. It was thus difficult for Semmelweis to make a "scientific" case for why the lime worked; it obviously didn't help that he was wrong about why it did (his work predates the germ theory of disease, which would have taught him that rather than lime being effective at removing specific particles, it was instead effective at killing bacteria).

* Aaron's story (and Ayre's) has a heroic Semmelweis pleading for doctors to simply wash their hands in a specific way to save lives. But that's not necessarily what Semmelweis was arguing. Instead, the case he could have been making, loudly, was for an actual, specific, incorrect cause of childbed fever.

* Semmelweis himself was, apparently long before he lost his post, a notorious asshole. It did not help his cause that instead of carefully reasoning about the actual evidence, he instead seized on a single explanatory theory of childbed fever and then demanded (often by barging into hospital wards and berating the staff) that his peers adhere to it.

The point is not that Semmelweis didn't make an important discovery, or that we shouldn't be mindful of warped-sounding new knowledge that contradicts our existing theories. Of course we should be objective when considering facts that threaten our existing theories. But there's a reason John Snow and Joseph Lister [and Pasteur] are better known in the development of the germ theory of disease, and there's more to learn from the Semmelweis story than how the audience to a new theory should behave.

Jun8 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a well-written and useful article. If a lot of people are against you you may be onto something big, or you may be just wrong.

I wonder if Aaron will discuss the furor caused by his JSTOR activism (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-c... also see the many discussions on HN, e.g. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2781615). The case here is not as clear cut as, say, the case of Semmelweis. I am also undecided (hate the greedy closed magazines, don't quite approve the sneaking in part) on it.

I would really know what his objective analysis of the situation is unless he's already done a post that I've missed or if he can't talk about a court case.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always told people that many of the best conversations with folks have started out with "Chuck I think you are wrong and here's why ..." This is especially useful when you are "important" (like someone's boss) because getting honest feedback when you are the boss can be nearly impossible at times.

Steve Bourne (yes that Bourne) told me once that you should try to cultivate people who could give you a different view on the world, That is helpful stuff but you do have to also get people to be honest. That is hard to do if they think you're 'hot headed' or likely to shoot the messenger.

Evgeny 2 days ago 1 reply      
saying “You were right, I was wrong.” It didn't destroy her reputation; it rescued it. [...] Wayne Hale took full responsibility: “The bottom line is that I failed to understand what I was being told…I am guilty of allowing Columbia to crash.” He was promoted. When JFK admitted the responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco was “mine, and mine alone,” his poll numbers soared

I would guess that the survivorship bias is at play here. How many people we will never hear about took responsibility and were demoted, fired or prosecuted?

iSnow 2 days ago 2 replies      
While overall, I like this article, there is real danger in advice like this:

>Look up, not down. [...] to do that you need to look at the people who are even better than you.

While this is great for those who exaggerate their skills, I doubt those would even read this piece. For people with self-esteem problems and a tendency towards depression, however, this is about the worst advice you can give, because they tend to look at the top 1% already and therefore experience their life as a complete failure.

>But people will feel more comfortable telling you the truth if you start by criticizing yourself, showing them that it's OK.

In theory this is fine, but if you start seriously criticizing yourself in front of others, you anchor this critique in the minds of your listeners.

BCM43 3 days ago 6 replies      
I think the biggest challenge of this is finding friends that will tell you when you are wrong. And no wonder, it's really hard.

A friend of mine sent me a short story that they wrote not to long ago, and it was not very good. But I could not bring my self to say that, instead I made some little criticism and did not comment on the writing as a whole.

Anyone have tips on how to do this better?

iandanforth 2 days ago 2 replies      
While this, on its face, looks like good, morally sound advice, I worry about the practicality of it for a certain class of individuals.

The people I see in leadership positions are far more likely to be narcissistic sociopaths than reflective mediators.

If you're not in a position of power / individual freedom, this is excellent advice to make sure that you can, and are seen to, play nice with others. It will probably help your blood pressure and promotion prospects. I'm just not convinced that this strategy is one that leads to the top more often than brutal myopia and conceit.

Alex3917 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to add that there is another interesting article here that links the Theory of Contagion to sympathetic magic:


Apparently the idea that diseases can spread through contagion is a prime example of something that was previously considered to be magic that later came to be accepted by science.

naner 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is what we're taught: make five compliments for every criticism, sandwich negative feedback with positive feedback on each side, the most important thing is to keep up someone's self-esteem.

But, as Semmelweis showed, this is a dangerous habit. Sure, it's awful to hear you're killing people"but it's way worse to keep on killing people!

Semmelweis did exactly what you're advocating and he was marginalized for it. Maybe he would have fared better if he was more conscientious of their feelings?

limist 2 days ago 0 replies      
A bit of observation, of self or others, will quickly show we all exhibit the Semmelweis Reflex at some time or another:


etruong42 1 day ago 0 replies      
>"people will feel more comfortable telling you the truth if you start by criticizing yourself, showing them that it's OK."

I disagree with this assertion. Some people criticize themselves in hopes that their listeners will contradict them. For these self-criticizers, affirming their critical statements greatly upset them. I have not found much correlation in my personal life between people who criticize themselves and their ability to listen to criticism. There are other attributes which I have found correlations, such as being easygoing and thoughtful. I still often try to gauge a person's willingness to listen to criticism by starting with very small criticisms and working my way up.

astrofinch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. Whenever I remember, I try to thank people who criticize me, so they'll be willing to do it again. They really are taking a risk.
ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing about new ideas being rejected (better/different hand washing) reminds me of how everyone thinks that a web page or web application UI must to be hand coded.

I think that is very stupid and eventually we will use graphical tools to create the UIs for web pages and web applications and look back at the days when every single web page had to be hand coded in HTML and CSS and laugh.

jblz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really good stuff. I'll try to take it to heart.

Thanks for sharing :)

Small gripe: 30em-wide text is pretty tough (for me, at least) to read on a high-res display

incision 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm always up for an Ignaz Semmelweis [1] reference. I read his story for the first time when my woman was taking a Microbiology course. Incredible stuff.

1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

ozim 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was what I hated about my previous work. Damn management was so protective that you could feel good about yourself, so there was no negative feedback and there was no way you could improve. I think they wanted us to work for them for low wage and never get better job. But in the matter of facts we sucked badly at that job, I felt this, and I felt it when I was going to interviews, I got new job and we'll see how it will turn out.
MattSayar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Semi OT, but I signed up for email alerts at the bottom of the previous article in this series, and haven't received an email since. Am I alone with this?
di 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Force students through an embarrassing initiation to take a class, and they'll insist the class is much more interesting.

Does anyone know which experiment he is referencing here?

krat0sprakhar 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've started loving this new series started by Aaron. Thanks a lot, Aaron. Keep 'em coming!
lectrick 3 days ago 0 replies      
This anecdote, holy crap.
Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskine evernote.com
278 points by zachh  5 days ago   140 comments top 38
king_magic 5 days ago 7 replies      
I think this is really quite neat. I used to be a heavy user of Evernote, but I found it difficult to reconcile my handwritten notes (90% of my notes at work) with what I'd have in Evernote. As a result, I stopped using Evernote. I always hoped I'd be able to find a good way to record my notes digitally (e.g., iPad + stylus), but at the end of the day, taking notes with pen & paper always wins for me.

This could very well bring me back to Evernote. Not sure if it's worth $24+, but if it works, maybe... I do take an awful lot of handwritten notes, and I'd love to digitize them easily.

bradgessler 5 days ago 1 reply      
So far, my experience with Evernote has been watching them make Skitch almost unusable. The app always forgets my Skitch credentials, keeps displaying the startup screen even when I check "Do not show this to me again", and tries to force me into an Evernote account. At one point they changed Skitch to display 10 different things I could do after an upload. They made it a real mess.

I assume Evernote's products are overly complicated, but I'd like to know if they just botched the Skitch acquisition. Does anybody have any insight into this?

vtail 5 days ago 1 reply      
Now, for those of us interested in startups - what a perfect example of great product development:

- Address existing need that few other products addresses

- Helps generating new customers by removing some of the barriers - "I like to create my notes with a pen on a paper"

- Involves non-trivial blend of hardware and software

- Involves non-trivial business partnership

- Serves as a test-bed for bringing the solution to more people by refining unskewing algorithms

- etc. etc.

Well executed, Evernote!

stcredzero 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is the world crying out for a fast e-ink small form-factor tablet that just saves everything as digital ink. (Then build-up from there.) Simply recording time (and optionally location) associated with each page would make the device awesome. Add the ability to interface with a web app for better processing, as Evernote does, and you'd take over the world.
yock 5 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, but how far is this from just using standard/college/quad ruled paper in the first place? Requiring special paper automatically limits the feature's utility. Once their "limited edition" notebooks sell out this feature immediately begins the countdown to uselessness.
cjoh 5 days ago 7 replies      
As an author, it's depressing to see empty books -- stickers and all -- selling for twice as much as full ones.
reaganing 5 days ago 4 replies      
Not really a fan of Moleskine's notebooks, but this is interesting.

But, Evernote's Page Camera feature that was added to the iOS app does seem to work just fine with other paper (I tested Field Notes w/ graph paper). It's just 'optimized' for the paper in these notebooks, whatever that means.

tcc2161 5 days ago 0 replies      
This should be ideal for someone like me, but unfortunately I can't see myself using it. I have a shelf full of Moleskins (began buying them in 2005) and I was a premium Evernote user from 2009-2011. But I canceled my Evernote subscription because I never used the software - I really dislike their UI. The only thing that could bring me back to them is a UI redesign, to make it seem less like an email application and more like a file-sorting system, which is what it's supposed to be.

And the idea of taking pics of my notebook pages with my phone is too clunky.

However, I'll grant that this is why this doesn't work * for me * and express envy for those for whom it does work for, since "on paper" all of this seems like a great idea. Having notebook pages scanned and sortable would be wonderful.

fsniper 5 days ago 1 reply      
How is this different from taking notes on any physical paper and take a photo of it? My Galaxy SII camera takes real good pictures of papers. They are readable, good focused and sharp.

I just see a marketing partnering stunt here?? Am I missing something?

andrewcamel 5 days ago 0 replies      
The feature I would really like to see would be a printed title Box in the moleskin notebook, which would allow me to title my written work and then pass that title into Evernote when it's scanned. You could obviously also extrapolate this feature out to tags or other pieces of metadata to be stored in the digital Evernote document.

Just to clarify: this would really be made for those who have awful handwriting (like me), so only a small part of your page would need to be written carefully and eventually digitized to be searchable.

azar1 5 days ago 1 reply      
Not that interested in the Moleskine, but the smart stickers are an amazing idea. A great mesh of the real world and digital.
orjan 5 days ago 7 replies      
"we designed a special dotted paper pattern" - this sounds very much like what Anoto[1] does.
[1] http://www.anoto.com/the-technology-1.aspx
enraged_camel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to be a debbie downer, but I find the idea of taking pictures of moleskine pages really, really clunky. I have done that in the past to take photos of book/magazine pages, and in my experience the picture almost always comes out low quality - a combination of blur, contrast, the curvature of the page and flash reflecting off the paper makes it very difficult to read later. I can only imagine what types of problems these factors will cause for Evernote's hand-writing recognition program. After all, software can optimize image quality only so much.
jpalomaki 4 days ago 0 replies      
I could see some use in combining the laptop and piece of paper in note taking. To make this easier I would like a system to help me reconcile the the notes made on different mediums. Probably I'm writing on laptop and would like to include stuff drawn on paper in between those notes.

Few things that could make this easier:
- Add machine readable page numbering to the notebook
- Some kind of annotation scheme, like (1) I could use to refer to the drawings on the notebook.

On laptop I could refer to the pictures with <page number>:<picture> style notation.

Would be actually nice to follow similar workflow with laptop and iPad. Write text on full keyboard, draw diagrams for the same note on iPad at the same time. Maybe this is already possible, have never tried this.

sourc3 5 days ago 0 replies      
As much as I wanted to use digital notes in meetings, I still take joy in using the beautifully designed moleskine notebooks with a Cross pen. However, indexing and search is always a problem. If Evernote can fix this for me I will be a lifetime paid user of Evernote!

In my opinion this is a good glimpse of digital and analog life working in harmony instead of dictating you have to live with either one.

Great job! Ordering mine now :)

darkmethod 5 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't even look through all the functionality before I made my purchase (#182).

I use Evernote for nearly everything I do. Task lists, projects, ideas, goals. Evernote saves me one of my most precious resources: time. I've worked Evernote into my daily workflow for getting things done.

And I have a stack of Moleskines I've used for reminders, sketches, random thoughts that I scratch down in a hurry throughout my day.

This is the perfect product for my everyday use. Looking forward to when they arrive (they will ship in October). I just wonder if I bought enough of them.

ckrailo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh. Looks like Big Commerce (the store Evernote is using) stores passwords in plain-text or at least a reversible hash. They emailed me my password. :\
kamaal 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great, except that Moleskine notebooks are very costly here in India.

Generally in ranges of hundreds of rupees.


ajanuary 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know much about unskewing, but presumably the dotted lines mean you know how each dot should be placed relative to each other dot. With plain lines you'd have to do some guesswork based on how wavey the line is etc.
antihero 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any reason they can't do this with the Android app, too? Or does it already have this functionality?
graeme 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've never gotten into Evernote, but have wanted to for a long time. I've bought these as a way of forcing myself to finally sit down and learn how to use it.

Does anyone know of a good intro guide to Evernote?

k-mcgrady 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I love Evernote and use it daily but I also prefer writing some things in notebooks (and I use Moleskine ones). I could definitely see myself using it. It depend on how the $ price works out in GBP compared to regular Moleskine notebooks which are about £9.
mumrah 5 days ago 2 replies      
Stickers are a neat idea, but why not just some special drawn symbol? Would be way cool if you could define your own.
iamben 5 days ago 4 replies      
Gutted this isn't on Android. Why are so many people still launching apps/competitions/products for iOS only? I could understand it a few years back, but doing it today just cuts your market in half.
dholowiski 5 days ago 0 replies      
SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. Oh wait, IOS Only? Never mind.
shawnjan8 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. And the new app seems great. No more different modes for reading and editing! Hopefully they release an update for Android as well...
islon 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very neat. The only concern I have is to remember take a photo of all the pages and which page I already took a photo.
samstave 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm addicted to moleskine notebooks - I have many, I'll certainly be getting this one as well!
altxwally 5 days ago 0 replies      
There are a couple of note books (CamiApp, Shotnote) that have appeared in Japan that are quite similar. I found the design pretty good, though I stopped using them.. I think mainly because I switched form Evernote to org-mode.
jfb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I never "got" Evernote, but this is trés cool.
Mordio 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's awkward that I can't vote and therefore save stories anymore. So I have to comment even if I don't have anything useful to say. Can't be the goal of Hacker News, can it?
reubenswartz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Almost enough to make me go back to Moleskine (love the notebooks, but not being able to easily digitize was a problem.)
marginalboy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great work, Evernote! That's pretty darn cool :-)
BallinBige 5 days ago 0 replies      
the shills will eat this up
awayand 5 days ago 0 replies      
i hate evernote
Neputys 5 days ago 1 reply      
Big -1 to Moleskine. Such a brand and partnering with some tech whatever.
Keyframe 5 days ago 2 replies      
Only a fool would buy $25+ notebook. I'd rather play lottery.
rjv 5 days ago 1 reply      
For the hipster in your life...
What it's like to work for Stripe alexmaccaw.com
270 points by relation  1 day ago   56 comments top 20
mindcrime 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's a post below, which is [dead], but which raises an issue I was curious about. Is the daily group lunch treated as required, or is it totally OK to skip it? And even if it's not officially required, is there any sort of peer-pressure thing / shunning of people who don't participate?

IF it's optional and truly treated that way, it sounds like a great idea to me. Otherwise, I'd consider it downright toxic. At every job I've ever had, I treat my lunchtime as, well, mine. If I need to go run errands, or just want to be alone, or want to go sit at Starbucks and answer emails for the startup I'm working on on the side, whatever, I do it over lunch. Or sometimes I just plain feel like skipping lunch for some random reason. If I had that freedom denied to me, I'd be miserable.

silverbax88 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Every single engineer does support, on a bi-weekly rotation. Even the founders John and Patrick. We provide support over an IRC channel, email, and through Stripe answers."

This is one of the worst policies I've ever encountered. Companies that I've been involved with often do this at first, because at first, everyone SHOULD do support. After a few years, it's horribly unproductive. It creates a long term crisis culture that is reactive rather than proactive. Many days the entire development team will not be working on their individual development tasks and instead be ganging up on some perceived production crisis.

You need to introduce the concept of triage, not gang-support and no rotating support. Rotating support isn't just bad for your developers, it's a horrible way to support your customers. One week you have a problem that gets resolved quickly because the guy on support actually wrote the code that you are having a problem with. The next week, the same support call takes three days because the guy on support has no idea where that code even lives and has to learn the process. You might say 'oh, but that's how we cross train', to which I, as a customer, point out that those three days I had to wait for an answer were unacceptable, and you should have a better plan on cross training than 'wait til something breaks and throw completely clueless resources at it'.

OmarIsmail 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love the part about email transparency. That's been my ideal as well, so it's great to see that it actually works in practice.

One big question I have though is around compensation. How transparent are you guys with compensation, and what lessons have you learned there?

xianshou 1 day ago 2 replies      
The truly interesting challenge will be how effectively they transition these policies as they scale. For example, the flood-of-email with filters works incredibly well for transparency at 40 people, but becomes an unmanageable deluge much past 100. The Capture the Flag runs, though, look like an idea that's both awesome and sustainable.
shanecleveland 1 day ago 0 replies      
Participating in support, as the author mentions, is an incredible learning experience. I handle all incoming emails for the manufacturing business I work at. Even though I end up filtering and passing on most emails, I get to see what customers are saying, asking, wanting, etc. If something needs to be handled by a higher-up, they often include me on the following interaction with the customer. This has taught me a lot about the philosophies and decision-making process that has made the business successful. I am now at a point where I am handling more emails than I am passing on. I can't think of any way I could have learned as much as I have and had it make sense and really sink in.
latortuga 1 day ago 1 reply      
> When you hire great people, you can afford to give them a lot of autonomy.

I think you have this completely backwards: in order to be great, autonomy is required. There's much written about motivations and what makes people happy in the workplace but micromanagement is one of the most easily recognizable anti-habits of a bad work environment. It breeds resentment and engenders an atmosphere of distrust. Bring out the best in people by giving them autonomy.

brown9-2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Love the idea of a paper reading group. In case anyone missed the link in the article, they've put a bunch of the recently read papers up at https://github.com/gdb/stripe-prg/wiki/Papers
unohoo 1 day ago 1 reply      
A lot of these awesome things (weekly standups, together lunches, socials etc.) are feasible when the team is still small. As the team scales, this starts getting more and more difficult and ultimately, silos form among the different functions (sales/support/eng etc.). Probably this might not be felt to such an extent given that stripe is (and will be) engineering heavy (I presume). But I've witnessed this first hand at the startup where I work. Things were awesome when the team size was about 20-25. As we grew to ~150 folks over the last 2 years, a lot of the things start to break.
justinmk 1 day ago 0 replies      
> every email at Stripe is CC-ed to lists that go to either the entire company or to any particular team. This includes internal person-to-person correspondence

I recently watched an 1990 Steve Jobs interview[1] in which he gushed about this very idea as being a workflow of the future. Since the "desktop revolution" was old news, he was moving on to the "business process revolution" (something like that), enabled by networked computers. Companies would love it because it removed the friction of traditional employee work roles/titles and geography, and allowed managers to observe communication and measure stuff. It's interesting to see a company actually doing pretty much exactly what Jobs described in the video.

Although obviously, open source has used that model with great success.

[1] http://video.pbs.org/video/2151510911/

tzaman 1 day ago 1 reply      
You just had to make the rest of us jealous, didn't you.
K2h 1 day ago 0 replies      
All the communication channels may seem like information overload, but I would welcome it. I really like the part of open email (no more elite side bar conversations between people that don't know as much as they thought they did)

The best part is the IRC channel for chat that has a bot to log my status report (optional) and record for posterity and put it on the shared dashboard as encouragement, recognition and engagement.

sigh... I need coworkers that know what IRC is..

scottilee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everything in the post seems positive. Is there anything that is not so great about working at Stripe or could be improved? Alex may be too new to answer but it would be great if other Stripe employees could weigh in.
camwest 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about hours of operation. Are you folks 9-5? How flexible is it?
TimJRobinson 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd really like to learn more about your usage of irc and how the bots were set up. Did someone create the bots for different tasks by hand or are there good libraries for setting them up? Does everyone have irc open all day? And if so isn't it incredibly distracting?
swampthing 1 day ago 1 reply      
Huge fan of Stripe and love the part about email transparency - we have similar practices here as well.

I'm curious to hear if people at Stripe have given thought to just having all emails sucked into a searchable CRM versus having to manually add cc's each time?

gingerlime 1 day ago 1 reply      
... all I wonder though is what it's like to use Stripe (no, we are not in the US).
scott_karana 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the article! Gives me hope :D
njx 1 day ago 0 replies      
some people have knack of building great teams.
lazyjones 1 day ago 3 replies      
Enjoy it while you can, it will all go downhill when you start hiring sales/marketing people ... ;-)
lucian303 1 day ago 0 replies      
All emails CC'd.


Wow, that must be a pretty shitty job. Not to mention the time wasted with Allhands meetings.

The coming civil war over general purpose computing boingboing.net
268 points by Create  3 days ago   98 comments top 18
fmstephe 3 days ago 3 replies      
When I read articles like this my fears always move straight to a future where it has become harder to program for play.

I appreciate that this concern is somewhat superficial compared with some of the issues raised in this article, but I feel profoundly grateful to be able to tinker with computers in my spare time.

I feel this more deeply than the fear that my music collection might not survive a computer upgrade or that the government might be watching my internet habits.

I think that we, as programmers, enjoy a luxury that is almost unreproducible in any other field. My wife is a structural biologist, and as much as she loves what she does you can't crystallize proteins in our living room.

I truly hope that however this unfolds that my son will be able to hack on something, freely and happily (if he so desires) in the future.

mark_l_watson 3 days ago 3 replies      
I just watched the whole thing. I liked how Cory Doctorow acknowledged that some of these problems he didn't know the answers to but he seemed satisfied just to get the conversation started.

Near the beginning he flashed a picture of an iPad as an example of a device that records everything you do and there is nothing you can do about it. I had never thought of that; instead I had viewed the iPad as a nice little device that probably would never be hacked, but in a sense it is already hacked as far as my privacy goes.

I happen to like Apple products, running OS X on my Air and just Linux (Ubuntu) on my MBP. From a freedom and privacy perspective I would really like to a bit more fully control my devices by running Linux but I find I can get some types of work done just a little faster using OS X rather than Linux. DRM is not a problem for me on Linux because my Samsung Galaxy S III can play Netflix as can the Nexus table.

I went so far as signing up as an Apple developer early this year to get an early version of Mountain Lion and bought an iPad, but listening to Doctorow and other people who think more deeply about personal rights and freedoms than I do, I am more often thinking of paying the small Linux productivity tax.

BTW, if Apple continues to rule digital markets, it would be ironic if Microsoft saw a business opportunity to make Windows devices respect personal freedoms.

16s 3 days ago 1 reply      
After reading this, I'm reminded of a famous Ben Franklin quote, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

DRM and walled gardens are often said to reduce malware and provide safer computing, but at what cost? As technologists, we can change this and have a say. I'm concerned though that it may already be too late.

msg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Rainbows End: "No User-Serviceable Parts Within". Technology is depicted as black boxes all the way down. Cars shut down when driven outside of sanctioned roads. LARP content unavailable unless you have the rights.

Reflections on Trusting Trust: "You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself." The proposal is that Trusted Computing is supposed to defeat this truism. I have my doubts.

I hope that we will be able to do irreparable damage to Trusted Computing and make it untenable. This large jail will be broken out of like all the others.

We already live in a world where the rich can buy new legs and survive HIV better than the poor. The poor are already shamefully misused by social, legal, and economic systems stacked against them. Adding computers just adds a more explicit level of control.

The solutions to the new problems are the same as the solutions to the old problems: enfranchise the poor, make government responsive to them, give them the tools for mobility and independence. The hackers will continue opening the technological ways. As a kind of Gotterdammerung last resort, the printable gun, the darknet, PGP keys.

And that means that the problems are more scary because of future shock and culture shock than anything else. They're Hollywood nightmares about the future, but the future turns out to be, good and evil, the same old thing.

parasubvert 3 days ago  replies      
The issue I have with arguments from folks such as Cory is that they presume too much in favour of openness. Many prefer to be regulated rather than have to make decisions on every little detail, that's arguably the whole Apple appeal in a nutshell vs. Linux, and why it's so productive. (Distros like Ubuntu arguably do this too at a much smaller scale.)

Cory is effectively advocating "technology survivalism", where no company will be your trusted for keeping your computers "safe" and "not lying to you". I think it's rather utopian. As far as I can tell, web-of-trust approaches only work in the software world, the hardware manufacturer ultimately has to be trusted to some level, either de facto by consumer belief or de jure by regulation.

Ultimately, his whole premise about "owner freedom" vs "user freedom" may be fatally flawed. It assumes a) Apple wants to control both owners and users to do what they want, and b) owners must be able to control what happens on devices, and this is a necessary precondition to user freedom. I would argue a) Apple just wants to help users with a better experience and b) it's unlikely owners will ever be technically savvy enough to control things, they will always want to delegate things to some degree -- even technical people do this, looking at the number of devs that use Apple laptops.

Cory also oversimplifies the ownership problem. No device owner actually "owns" the software they install, they license it - even with open source. Apple arguably has been the a great force for "user freedom", by constraining what "owners" (i.e. software developers) can and can't do on Apple devices, thus enabling freedoms to the users themselves -- freedom from malware, bad user experiences such as poor battery life, etc. They enable the end user to work around restrictions on content available on the native device by providing a completely open and high quality web browser to get at anything they want in a sandboxed environment. But they also allow the device owner to restrict user actions in the "open web" with (e.g.) parental controls.

Apple's restrictions have little to do with controlling device owners -- they're about improving the user experience.

Clearly the device owners trust Apple today, but Apple could fairly easily move to a TPM-based "certainty" approach where owners get to pick their App Store, if that's what consumers eventually want, and they lose sales over it. But, for now, the market doesn't seem to be arguing in favour of this kind of nuanced approach.

edit: typos

parasubvert 3 days ago 0 replies      

Once Apple loses and Android (or "open platforms", whatever that means) win the general purpose computing war, and every technology illiterate device owner is telling their phone, computer, tablet boot loaders what software sources they trust (Ubuntu, ACLU, EFF, and Wikileaks, natch), we still have a problem.

Computers are everywhere, from vending machines to subway turnstiles, to pacemakers, and that users are going to be easily oppressed by owners' restrictions. Thus we need user-overrides to be able to overcome this oppression. This is all about the effectiveness of decentralized decision making and thus was supported by both Hayek and Marx for opposite reasons. Thus libertarians shouldn't whine about property rights violations. In fact they should support it, because it's just a natural extension of why the "general purpose computing war" was won in favour of openness, it was all about regulation (by Apple, or the Government) vs. owner's property rights to run what they want on their computers. And property rights will win (we presume).

(Insert lots of debatable philosophical asides, historical allegories, and modern anecdotes to justify this thesis.)

In summary, defeating the forces of regulation (:hint: Apple :hint:) is what I call the "war" on general purpose computers, and this war is all about defending owner's rights to run what they want on their computers. And though I don't explicitly say it will be won by the forces of openness, it's completely obvious that the world will determine that regulating computers is the wrong way to solve problems and we'll all be happily using trusted bootloaders that only run owners' approved code (not what Apple, or the government, wants us to run).

The following war after THAT one is won, will be a "civil war" for users rights... and that I can't solve. "Agreeing to disagree on this one isn't good enough. We need to start thinking now about the principles we'll apply when the day comes. If we don't start now, it'll be too late."

[end synopsis]

I can't quite respond to this yet... words fail me.

edit: Rewording on tl;dr

SudarshanP 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some day, Owning a computer that cannot be bricked by govt or "Intellectual Property Owners" at their whim will regulated like the brewing of alcohol. You will have to pay through your nose to run even lame apps. Maybe even your government can get a cut so that it can go chasing weapons of mass destruction using the money extorted from the gullible masses.
anigbrowl 3 days ago 1 reply      
This misses the mark, as I've said before. Privacy is the #1 problem; just as computers and the internet make it trivially easy to copy other people's IP (agree with the existence of IP or not, it's a fact of the modern marketplace), it also makes it easy for other people to monitor you, whether those others are governments, corporate proxies for governments, corporate proxies for private interests, or private actors. Hyperbolic anxiety attacks over lockdown? GMAFB - the modern world is a hacker's nirvana compared to the functional rigidity that was the norm during the home computer revolution of the 1980s. Back then, electronic devices were much more expensive than today, so that while non-digital things like VCRs were far easier to explore with a soldering iron, they were also engineered to within an inch of their lives and were not easy to repurpose to other tasks.

The whole kerfuffle about 'general-purpose computing' is a foolish distraction. It's like citing the existence of ready-made wood furniture as evidence of a war on general-purpose carpentry. General-purpose computing is easier than ever because it's accessible at a wider range of scales than ever before, from geek-friendly microcontroller kits to distributed clustering architectures. The issue is privacy, and the fact is that the US doesn't have a well-defined legal standard for it, nor any authority dedicated to its preservation.

On the up side, while this is going to lead to a good deal of conflict I have hope that most of that is going to take place within markets and via legislatures.

meric 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read it this morning and have had a thought:

He talks about determining the


user of a computer.

He also says that a Boeing 747 and a Car are both examples of computers.

So, the thought I had was, when you have 1000 passengers in a automated train, it would be impossible to determine the


user of the train.

It may also not be wise to allow


user of the train to control the software.


Therefore, there will be no civil war and users will be doomed to not have control over devices they are using.

The "debate" is akin to asking "What happens when slave owners finally wrest control of their slaves from the government? When someone is being served by a slave, that slave, is really, acting for their owner's interest. The slave could be eavesdropping on conversations, poisoning food on behalf of the owner, not acting to the user's interests to the exclusion of everyone else's."

What about computers that are not controlled by any entity, period. ?

I'm not saying that computers ARE slaves, just that the current debate resembles one ABOUT slaves. I'm not talking about "Strong A.I." either, just software that can provide a service and earn enough money to pay for the CPU time they use.[1]



[1] This is probably the wrong answer, but just a thought.

ivan_ah 3 days ago 0 replies      
At around 51:30, there is an off-topic question from the audience, which leads to an great answer:

Q: What can you say about making a living writing things. Will you advise it?

A: If you want to make a living writing things I would advise you to stop trying, because that is a bit like saying “I want to make a living buying lottery tickets”. Sounds like a If you don't have a plan B for earning a living, you have the wrong career. Writing is a very very high-risk entrepreneurial venture that almost everyone who tries it fails at. Some people have succeeded using CC and some fraction without using CC, but they are rounding errors against all the people who try to earn a living with writing.

Ouch! As a founder of a textbook startup it makes me wonder on this Monday morning. I guess he is talking specifically about writing fiction. Textbooks must be OK, Right?

mindslight 2 days ago 0 replies      
He lost my interest halfway through when talking about TPM and failing to examine Remote Attestation. Yes, owners having control of the platform verification keys is quite important. But even in that world, if the TPM has a user-inaccessible signing key, the battle is set to be lost. If the sheer majority of the consumer market trusts a handful of OSs, banks et al will start requiring use of those "trusted" OSs to access online services. We're then right back in the same situation with no control over the computer in front of you.

I think in the sheer majority of situations (excepting eg ATMs), fail-dead tamper resistance is a terrible goal. Ultimately, you either have to trust the physical security of the hardware in front of you or a third party service - there is no middle ground. Evil maid attacks are local, targeted, and user-mitigable through physical security and tamper-evidence. The requirements of trusted third parties are centrally developed, systematic, and mandatory.

yk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Likely an important talk, however I think it is googled-down too much compared to the original talk at the 28C3 [1]. ( Android as model of a free OS is just a tribute to the organizers methinks.) In the 28C3 talk Cory developed the argument against DRM ( and locked down computers) more carefully.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUEvRyemKSg

protomyth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly, I believe a lock down of computers is inevitable. Look at what happens when there is a security incident or some perceived violation of privacy. Lots of press and a visit by your company's C-level executives to Capital Hill so lawmakers can put on a circus. If you believe Android will continue to be more open than iOS, then I would just say a couple of more visits to DC will cure that.

I wonder how many fortune 500 address books kept in Outlook of their salespeople were uploaded by an Windows app? Put the machine in your pocket and the cries for safety and privacy win. These Post-PC devices are amazing tools except for the people who make them sing and dance.

I really would love a open hardware platform just for programmers.

monochromatic 3 days ago 1 reply      
That site design gave me an aneurysm.
expralitemonk 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the future, if a developer wants to write and distribute software without having to ask permission from 10 different platform manufacturers, he will have to stick with web apps.
dave9999 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you ever thought about having to fight for your rights to install Linux? Not 'call your congressman' fight, but actual take to the streets, civil war, fight, for that right?
chm 3 days ago 0 replies      
TLDR please?
Steko 3 days ago 0 replies      

DRM doesn't work and is bad

regulation doesn't work and is bad

the gubmint's jackbooted thugs will force cochlear implants on you to make you patriotic

because the market won't demand free as in stallman computing I've decided to frame it as a human rights issue

John Carmack discusses the art and science of software engineering uw.edu
266 points by gb  6 days ago   71 comments top 19
Arjuna 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting comments on Mac and Linux platforms [1]:

"Other interesting sort of PC-ish platforms, we have... the Mac still remains a viable platform for us. The Mac has never required any charity from id, all of those ports have carried their own weight there; they've been viable business platforms.

I actually think that the Mac is going to become a little bit more important for us. Interestingly, we have a ton of people that use, like Macbooks at the office, but we don't have any really rabid, OS X fanboys at the company that drive us to go ahead and get the native ports out early.

But, one of my pushes on the greater use of static analysis and verification technologies, is I pretty strongly suspect that the Clang LLVM sort of ecosystem that's living on OS X is going to be, I hope, fertile ground for a whole lot of analysis tools and we'll wind up benefiting by moving more of our platform continuously onto OS X just for that ability to take advantage of additional tools there.

Linux is an issue that's taken a lot more currency with Valve announcing Steam for Linux, and that does change, factor, you know, changes things a bit, but we've made two forays into the Linux commercial market, most recently with Quake Live client, and, you know, that platform just hasn't carried its weight compared to the Mac on there. It's great that people are enthusiastic about it, but there's just not nearly as many people that are interested in paying for a game on the platform, and that just seems to be the reality. Valve will probably pull a bunch more people there. I know absolutely nothing about any Valve plans for console, Steam-box stuff on there; I can speculate without violating anything.

One thing that also speaks to the favor of Linux and potential open source things is that the integrated graphics cards are getting better and better, and they really are good enough now. Intel's latest integrated graphics cards are good. The drivers still have issues. They're still certainly not going to blow away somebody's top of the line SLI system, but they are completely competent parts that are delivering pretty good performance.

And one of the wonderful things is that Intel has been completely supportive of open source driver efforts, that they have chipset docs out there, and they work openly with community to develop that, and that's pretty wonderful. I mean, anybody that's a graphics guy, if you program to a graphics API, use D3D or OpenGL, you owe it to yourself at some point to go download the Intel chipset docs. There's hundreds of pages of them, but you really should read through and see what happens at the hardware level. It's not the same architecture that Invida and AMD have on there, but there's a lot of commonalities there. You'll grow as a graphics developer to know what happens down at the bit level.

Another one of those things, if I had more time, if I could go ahead and clone myself a few times, I would love to be involved in working on optimizing the Intel open source drivers there.

So, it's enticing, the thought there that you might have a well-supported, completely open platform that you could deliver content through the Steam ecosystem there. It's a tough sell on there, but Valve gets huge kudos for having the vision for what they did with Steam, sticking through all of it. It's funny talking about Doom 3, where we can remember back in the days when they're like, 'Well, should you ship Doom 3 on Steam, go out there, make a splash?' ... I'm like, 'You're kidding, right?' That made no sense at all at that time, but you know Valve stuck with it and they're in a really enviable position from all of that now.

It still seems, probably crazy to me that they would be doing anything like that, you know, but, it's something that's not technically impossible, but would be really difficult from a market, sort of ecosystems standpoint."

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt-iVFxgFWk#t=44m28s

HeyLaughingBoy 6 days ago 1 reply      
With the NASA style devel­op­ment process, they can deliver very very low bug rates, but it's at a very very low pro­duc­tiv­ity rate

I wonder how many non-developers understand this. I, along with the rest of my team, am trained in PSP (http://www.sei.cmu.edu/library/abstracts/reports/00tr022.cfm) and TSP (http://www.sei.cmu.edu/tsp/) and we use it in our day-to-day development.

It definitely helps us keep our defect rate below one bug/kLOC but it's an expensive process that results in very low LOC/day productivity. If very low shipped bug counts are very important to your organization, great. But most businesses these days seem to care more about having a usable product than they do a perfect (or close to it) product. Especially if it's on the Web where you can do multiple releases per day.

As an industry, we really need to bear in mind that different business domains need radically different approaches to software engineering.

nightski 6 days ago 3 replies      
He is definitely right about the social aspect of software engineering. But I think he sells a lot of the tools short. For example, he brings up things like Monads, Lambda Calculus, and whatnot - but then immediately dismisses them as not affecting what one truly does.

But I think this really misses the point. In our industry it is really easy to disguise oneself as a professional (or even just someone who knows what they are doing), without really knowing much of anything. Meaning, our focus as an industry has been on making the simple things as simple as possible (i.e. scripting/dynamic languages, code generation, frameworks).

But what I see happening in the Haskell space for example (and even further in languages such as Agda) are attempts to distill things down to their elements. To find the true semantics behind a problem. This not only helps by producing cleaner and more readable code, but it also helps with communication.

I really do believe software is a scientific (and mathematical) exercise. The problem is most of industry does not treat it as such, and hence we end up in the mess we are in.

adastra 6 days ago 0 replies      
I've gotten to know John a little bit, and I have to say it's a strange feeling to have a conversation with a person of his off-the-charts intelligence. I consider myself to be pretty smart-- was known as "the math whiz" in high school, went to top engineering universities and did very well there, have a couple of (minor) entrepreneurial accomplishments, etc. And yet talking to Carmack I feel like I'm talking to someone who is a full two standard deviations beyond me in raw intelligence horsepower. It's a pretty sobering and humbling experience.

Part of it is that he really does spend 8+ hours per day coding, every weekday, and has done so for 20 years. You'd think his experience level there is about as high as you can get, so it's always cool to hear him talk about the new things he's still learning at his work. I have to wonder if there's anyone else in the world that has both his raw ability and all those man-years of programming experience. It seems like most successful technical people end up doing management and business.

There's a couple of things people probably don't know about Carmack. For one, he can talk intelligently on a lot of different topics. A lot of nitty-gritty aerospace engineering, as well as the history of the space program and NASA for example. He's also up to speed on the latest across a wide range of technology, including things like cleantech.

Second, he has a pretty good sense of humor and can be quite funny. Which is surprising I think just because he spends so little time (effectively zero) out being traditionally social, which you'd think would be necessary to getting good at making people laugh. But in conversation he has a pretty sense of comedy and timing.

An example from his twitter feed that I clipped a while back:

"Adding film grain, chromatic aberration, and rendering at 24 hz for film look is like putting horse shit in a car for the buggy experience."

iandanforth 6 days ago 1 reply      
The quest for perfection may be futile.

DNA is also code, and it's full of bugs. That code lives for hundred of thousands of years, if not millions.

Biological processes offer the suggestion that your system can be functional in the face of constant failures and random variations in behavior.

Biology can even offer a very high reliability rate. While we get sick all the time, and people are born with all sorts of genetically disadvantageous traits, many key processes are mind-bogglingly reliable. (No sight v No sense of touch: Compare the rates of blindness to the rates of congenital analgesia type 2)

While the math behind CS offers tantalizing guarantees of reliability the reality of software development and developers deliver a reliability far lower.

I think it is a fascinating thought experiment to imagine a development process where instead of writing any code, all you're writing is tests (or feature descriptions) and let the code adapt to the environment you've defined.

adjwilli 6 days ago 1 reply      
I program mostly in Objective-C nowadays, but I started professionally with PHP. When I first started Objective-C, I found it really constricting in comparison. In PHP you can do things a thousand ways, most of the terrible. In Objective-C, specifically with Cocoa, things are a lot more rigid and prescribed. I found this frustrating, but love it now. It's made my PHP better too when I do occasionally go back. It forced me to think more about architecture. I also understand why my CS dept taught us Scheme first, not Java.

To link that back to the post, this is the type of constriction he's talking about to make better programmers. Cocoa and Objective-C restricted me to only writing at least halfway decent code. With PHP, because of it's flexibility, you're free to get things done quickly, but in a terrible way. Sure with PHP you can do things right too, but it takes a lot more self-discipline and also a priori knowledge.

Sorry to post yet another rag on PHP.

cobrausn 6 days ago 3 replies      
Running your code through static analysis can be eye-opening. And just like when you opened your eyes for the first time... you'll probably cry.
pnathan 6 days ago 0 replies      
One of the things I've been persuaded of is that software writing is fundamentally a non-scientific activity. Outside of the time and space constraints for a given subsystem, the craft of software is almost entirely subjective and limited only by mental capacities and flaws.
musashibaka 6 days ago 3 replies      
I would suggest watching his entire talk on youtube:
VMG 6 days ago 4 replies      
If he wrote a book about programming, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Too bad that even he probably is still figuring everything out.
figglesonrails 6 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, I think one of his strongest points is about making mistakes -- everyone does them and everyone makes the most amateur of them. If you haven't tried running SCA on your code, try it sometime. I've got a ridiculous ego, but when you get hundreds of warnings on your code, you realize just how imperfect you can be and how impossible it is to be cognizant of all things at all times. This is why teams are almost always better, and I'd prefer to review and be reviewed by someone else -- I'm my own biggest blind spot.
zxcvbn 6 days ago 1 reply      
Richard Feynman wrote[1]:

"We could, of course, use any notation we want; do not laugh at notations; invent them, they are powerful. In fact, mathematics is, to a large extent, invention of better notations. The whole idea of a four-vector, in fact, is an improvement in notation so that the transformations can be remembered easily."

What he said about mathematics, I think it applies even more to programming.

[1] The Feynman Lecture on Physics, Volume 1, Chapter 17

aantix 6 days ago 0 replies      
Software development is usually about creating some sort of competitive advantage. And a fundamental tenant of competitive advantage is differentiation.

Standard implementations/algorithms/patterns are commodities and are purposely so.

prawks 6 days ago 0 replies      
I look forward to the QuakeCon keynote every year. Anyone who engineers software should really listen to Carmack.

Also, this article's kind of silly... there's almost no discussion? Just watch the video.

EDIT: I guess it's not so much an article as a sharing of info. Still. Watch the video.

benthumb 6 days ago 1 reply      
As much as I respect John Carmack, I have to say that I'm a little disappointed that he is rehashing this meme of software development not being a science... OK, wonderful, the state of the art in his shop doesn't rise to the level of being a consistently reproducible, measurable process, but that doesn't mean that this is a permanent condition or that its an insurmountable one.
dllthomas 6 days ago 0 replies      
The talk itself is well worth the 3 hours.
jcdavison 6 days ago 0 replies      
i just finished the devbootcamp program so as a person who was thrown into oo programming with no real cs underpinnings, it is interesting to hear him talk about the social component . it is also pretty interesting to here him talk about making mistakes and the need to just get things done versus optimization.
smspence 6 days ago 1 reply      
...who cares?

Do you have any thoughts or comments about the actual topic of the post?

This is an article written by one of the most innovative, influential, and successful software developers in the world, giving a lot of interesting insights and thoughts on his craft.

...and you're concerned about the HTML/JS of some shitty wordpress template? We get it, you probably work in web development. Yes, poorly-coded websites exist. That's not what the content of the post is actually about.

This is part of the decline in quality of Hacker News. When an article is posted, let's talk about the article, instead of pedantic off-topic garbage.

jberryman 6 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to be an ass, but this seems like a lot of vague contradictory rambling. Maybe I missed some big ideas in the parts I skimmed?
A Faster Facebook for iOS fb.com
264 points by adamjernst  6 days ago   177 comments top 31
flatline3 6 days ago  replies      
Facebook made the mistake of optimizing for their developers' sense of efficiency -- at the cost of user experience -- rather than optimizing for their users' experience.

Given the resources available to them, switching to UIWebView was a ridiculous trade-off. I'm glad to see they rectified this decision.

The lesson to be learned is this: at the end of the day, it's the product and user experience that matters. If you sacrifice product quality for some notion of engineering perfectionism -- whatever it might be -- you're not doing your job as a professional engineer.

christiangenco 6 days ago 4 replies      
Just updated - it's quite noticeably faster, and feels much more native than their previous shortcut of lots of UIWebViews. I commend the Facebook iOS team! This app has regained its throne as the model of iOS UX.

Let this be a lesson to us all: when putting user experience as the first priority, the nirvana of writing your UI once in HTML and having it work universally still isn't there.

mootothemax 6 days ago 4 replies      
It has constantly amazed me that Facebook's mobile app experiences are so, so poor.

At the same time, having watched my friends swear at Facebook on their smartphones and yet continue to use the app, day-in, day-out, maybe Facebook are more clever than I give them credit for; I haven't seen people move elsewhere because of the problems.

noamsml 6 days ago 1 reply      
Here's to the hope that an android counterpart is not far behind.
brittohalloran 6 days ago 4 replies      
The "photos-overflow-outside-the-white-card-theyre-on" effect has always bugged me. It looks like a rendering defect or something. I get that they're trying to maximize screen real estate, but I think it just looks terrible.
dude_abides 6 days ago 1 reply      
No love for Android users? :(
tsurantino 6 days ago 2 replies      
It's an extraordinary improvement. Does anyone know if it was written in native Objective-C or if this is a very optimized HTML5 version (or hybrid, like the LinkedIn app)
jpxxx 6 days ago 0 replies      
Used it, it truly is miles better. They can now finally say they're serious about mobile with a straight face.
antirez 6 days ago 1 reply      
Just tried, very good! A big step forward.
I hope they'll go the extra mile and release a full featured desktop client as well, starting with osx possibly.
dirkdk 6 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, the app is faster. Engineering backpedaled and rewrote the app to become fully native again. Speed should be a top requirement for mobile apps http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424212
destraynor 6 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the team at Facebook, overdue, but it's a massive improvement.
thomseddon 6 days ago 0 replies      
Google's cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...

(down at time of writing)

esilverberg2 6 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone there found info about what libraries Facebook has embedded into this app? For example, if you go to Privacy and Legal in the Camera • app, you get a nice list of every open-source project they embed. I can't find it in this new FB app...
SG- 6 days ago 0 replies      
I vaguely remember when Facebook previously had a nice native iOS app long ago and their main or only iOS dev ranted about the App store and refused to do any more iOS development.

Some time after a terrible webapp was released. Not quite sure why someone else there couldn't take over maintenance of it.

bsaul 6 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook app lost 100% of their iOS dev team when joe hewitt stopped developing for them. They decided to let interns in charge of native libraries like Three20 (which has become a mess since then) and let web people in charge. It took them to hire someone from Apple to get their things together and do something valid on that platform.
What's crazy is that nobody around them was able to tell them that mobile constraints makes it a entirely different think than the web. You just need to code one "hello world" with one button using phonegap to realize that uiwebview isn't anywhere close to native sdk.
On the other side,the fact that Apple decided not to update UIWebView to nitro was probably a big matter for them...
sazpaz 6 days ago 1 reply      
Did they added monetization strategies into this app (ads, sponsored stories, etc)? I'm not an iOS user, but after their harsh stock decline I would've expected to see aggressive monetization on the mobile app/web.
tnorthcutt 6 days ago 1 reply      
It seems strange that they'd use a font size of 11px on that page.
DonnyV 6 days ago 6 replies      
Not sure why these companies release there apps for iOS first when Android has the market share. It makes absolutely no business sense.
denzil_correa 6 days ago 0 replies      
There are still a few issues

[1] The application doesn't work well in landscape mode

[2] No feature to edit comments, this was existing as a feature in the previous app.

jbverschoor 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why the hell did this take so long.
I really don't understand. Surely facebook understands the importance of mobile.
Glad they finally did it though..
nathan_f77 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fascinating read. I love the level of detail, talking about solutions to performance problems like caching the heights of rendered strings.
chrisdroukas 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is it me, or is line spacing on the iPad really tight?
vladoh 6 days ago 0 replies      
I tried the new app on the iPad 1 and personally I still prefer the web page - it still feels smoother for scrolling. Another thing I don't like in the app is the chat list on the right that is always visible even if I'm offline. Is it better on the newer iPads?
dreamdu5t 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why start with iOS and not Android? Seriously!?
nicolasmiller 6 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook gives me a feeling quite like the one I feel I would have observing off-white eggshell paint dry or maybe munching on a packing peanut.
logn 6 days ago 2 replies      
It's about time. I'm surprised that their terrible mobile app hasn't hurt them in marketshare more.
sidcool 6 days ago 0 replies      
Android users waiting...
playhard 6 days ago 0 replies      
Finally! Huge improvement.
anuraj 6 days ago 0 replies      
Bye Bye HTML5!
alexjarvis 6 days ago 0 replies      
about bloody time!
Baba_Chaghaloo 6 days ago 0 replies      
A faster, more terminal cancer. Oh happy day.
       cached 30 August 2012 15:11:02 GMT