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1
How cork is made wineanorak.com
503 points by shawndumas  3 days ago   120 comments top 25
1
soci 3 days ago 2 replies      
My family owns a small forest of these trees so I have some verified information about the cork trees.

We harvest the cork out of the trees every ten years but it's absolutely false that the owners of these trees make lots of money like someone here has said in another comment. We just get enough to keep the forest clean of underbrushes. This is a real truth.

Moreover, because his area is very dry in summer we suffer fires that burn the forests every decade or two. Fortunately the burnt cork still works as an insulator, it's black on the outside and therefore can only be used as insulators in buildings. Amazingly, because cork it's such a great insulator burned cork trees survive the fires and develop very easily. You've mostly lost the cork production though...

We had a great fire at the beginning of the past summer that could be even smelt from Barcelona (180Km away from this forest). I have a couple of interesting pictures of the cork trees and how they develop.

This is a picture taken right after the great fire:
http://goo.gl/3oM8O

Three months later all trees are developing again, however cork needs to be peeled. We actually lost three years of bark growth because the last harvest was three years ago:
http://goo.gl/3ZBHl

2
Gravityloss 3 days ago 3 replies      
Cork is quite a superb material and can be used as the middle sandwich layer with carbon fiber. It's also used in space launchers as heat and noise insulator inside nose fairings. It also has ablative properties and resists flame propagation. It's lighter than most other woods, though not as light as Balsa.

So I think it's a bit of a shame that it's used for wine bottle corks and usually thrown away after use!

3
sergiotapia 3 days ago 3 replies      
I come to hacker news for the tech and programming articles, but this is just too interesting! :)

Thank you for sharing!

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kahirsch 3 days ago 2 replies      
> The planks are boiled to soften them, and also to clean them.

Ah, so it's true about the cork soakers.

5
fghh45sdfhr3 3 days ago 5 replies      
Screw tops are better. Tighter, less oxygen, easier to deal with, and they don't ever rot. If you ever get a glass of wine that smells intensely rotten it could be because the cork has started rotting.
6
arturventura 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unknown also to most of you Cork is such a lucrative buisness that cork removing is one of the most lucrative jobs you can find in rural areas. During the harvesting seasion, many removers can make money for the entire year in a month or two. however the job is excruciating because of dust and weight. Trees owners also make lots of money.
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arturventura 3 days ago 0 replies      
Although off topic I have to share this. I actually came from coruche, that is a small village in the middle of Portugal and is so cool to find an article in hacker news about it! :D
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jackalope 3 days ago 2 replies      
These corks will be really expensive: over a Euro each.

I'm surprised that with top-quality corks being so valuable, there isn't an incentive to recycle the material. I also wonder if there is a collector's market for vintage corks.

9
lotsofpulp 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's also surprisingly difficult to harvest the cork bark from trees:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztr-RP0XYd8

10
jt2190 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few things to know:

  * The cork bark grows back every five to seven years.
* The initial bark strippings aren't of a high-enough
quality for bottles. IIRC, it takes four or five harvests
to get to that point.

11
kokey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've driven around the Los Alcornocales Natural Park in Spain, it's one of the largest cork forests in the world. The road on the edge winds a lot and I had to stop along the way from feeling queasy from all the bends which is unusual for me. I've also driven around Southern Portugal and from time to time would see a couple of trees with bark looking like a harvested cork tree. It must be fairly intensive to use these. I've noticed most Spanish and Portuguese wine bottles have real cork, I suspect most wineries have a specific supply of cork in the area.
12
pav3l 3 days ago 3 replies      
I thought that the growing amount of twist-off's was due to cork tree going extinct, but it appears that the production of corks doesn't harm the tree. Any thoughts?
13
jelder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Related documentary on how corks actually get inserted into wine bottles:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/19187

14
celalo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I think of, how in the world, somebody come up with the idea of harvesting bark of trees to cork them wine bottles.

I guess we are more or less poisoned day by day seeing yet another location-based-social-video-sharing-mobile-analytics -app.

15
gnosis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find it depressing that humans are still used for these jobs?
16
phatbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Portugal there's this a company that creates shoes using cork as well http://www.rutz.pt/
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lewisflude 3 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing stuff! I've always wondered how corks are made.
18
Cd00d 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was doing some travelling back in 2002 or so, and spent several weeks in Naples. I was shocked at how inexpensive wine was, at around 2 euro per bottle (at the time, the euro and the dollar were very close). Then I learned that the cork cost about 1 euro to produce (supported by this article), which I found even more shocking.

Why don't more old world wineries go to the twist top?

19
francov88 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool article - always loved that show "How It's Made" but I don't think they covered this....
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yalogin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Intersting. Wonder why they aren't made from compressed wood pulp. In fact I assumed that is the case.
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camiller 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat. As a tech geek that is also a home brewer/home winemaker I find it very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
22
jclem 3 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't help but read this in the "How Its Made" voice.
23
induscreep 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't this be on reddit? Is HN the new reddit?
24
cupcake_death 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Got buck naked bit*hes counting corks", (Was what I was expecting after the 1 Euro + images).
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smlacy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is this on HN? Flagging.
2
Is the use of “utf8="” preferable to “utf8=true”? stackexchange.com
451 points by tomse  3 days ago   85 comments top 9
1
ollysb 3 days ago 4 replies      
Sorry to be so meta, but what on earth was the point of extracting programmers.stackexchange.com from stackoverflow.com? Is this why so many questions get closed as being "off topic" on stackoverflow now? </rant>
2
jerf 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, of course, the opposite of that is utf8="✘", right?

Hmmm... there's something wrong with that idea, but I can't quite put my finger on it....

3
grey-area 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've often wondered if they could get rid of this entirely in rails by enclosing it in conditional comments, so that it is only included in forms sent by older IE:

<!--[if lt IE 8]><input name="utf8" type="hidden" value="&#x2713;" /><![endif]-->

Has anyone experimented with doing that?

4
IgorPartola 3 days ago 3 replies      
Under what case would IE use Latin 1 when there are UTF-8 characters that should be encoded? I seem to be missing the actual effect it's having.
5
jasonlingx 3 days ago 2 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think forms in Rails do this by default.
6
aviraldg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Best way to detect a Ruby on Rails app ;)
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gweinberg 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the point of the field is just to make ie work correctly, wouldn't it be more appropriate to leave utf8 out of the name and write something like "ie='"?
8
tlrobinson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does IE not respect the "accept-charset" attribute on form elements?
9
bitwize 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ummmm, false. I'm going to go with false.
4
Some advice from Jeff Bezos 37signals.com
430 points by timf  2 days ago   136 comments top 32
1
edw519 2 days ago 3 replies      
If someone can't climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they're often wrong most of the time.

This works both ways. If someone can't get more than one level below the surface and understand the details that form the whole, they're also often wrong much of the time. Just ask any boss I've ever had.

2
Xcelerate 2 days ago 6 replies      
I would argue that this is the defining factor in what makes someone intelligent or not. If you're always revising your ways of thinking about a problem, your probability of converging on a solution is vastly greater than someone with a narrow, one-track focus. In fact, another article on the HN homepage (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness...) elaborates on this point of trying multiple "solution paths" to arrive at an answer to a problem.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people get it in their head that they've discovered the "right way" and dismiss every other idea. This problem is particularly notorious in subjects like quantum mechanics. The field is so confusing that people find some kind of local comprehension maximum that they get stuck in and refuse to budge from that sort of ideology (which is often the wrong ideology by the way since QM is such a deep subject. Throw some quantum field theory or standard model physics at a quantum chemistry professor or TA and they won't know what to make of it).

To give a more concrete example: did you know that a spinning ball weighs more than the same ball when it is stationary? Tell this to someone decently knowledgable in physics and there's a good chance they'll argue vehemently against you based on their misunderstanding (or misinformation) of what they've learned in the past. Sometimes the effort to convince someone of an idea like this isn't worth the time; these people are locked into one way of thinking and take it as an affront to their ego. There's limited intelligence here. Don't want to be like this? Don't get angry when someone challenges you. That's the best way to start. I've never understood why so many people get upset if you try to point out a flaw in their reasoning. I've noticed this sort of anger much less frequently on HN (on the other hand, there's significantly more "you're wrong" posts than a normal discussion board).

In fact, do a little experiment if you wish. Look through HN stories and find places where people challenge each other in the comments. If you notice someone who says "you know what -- you're correct" or "yeah, that makes more sense", there's a good chance they make a lot of intelligent posts on here. If you find someone that never concedes to anyone else, it's likely they are locked into one and only one way of thinking and are unlikely to ever do anything considered "genius".

3
kevinalexbrown 2 days ago 4 replies      
Keeping an open mind is a great philosophy, so long as your mind doesn't change so quickly that no one can coordinate actions with you. But I'm having a difficult time inferring the significance of this post.

On the one hand, if I'm constantly changing my mind, and my mind tends to change toward a stable, slow-changing correct solution, by definition, I'll be "right a lot", so long as I've had sufficient time to converge. In any case, I'll be right a lot more than either a person whose mind does not tend to change toward the correct solution, or someone whose mind does not change. This seems true by definition.

On the other hand, if the correct solution changes rapidly and dramatically, and my mind does not change as quickly, I will trivially be wrong a lot.

Likewise, focusing too much on "details that only support one point of view" seems wrong by construction, unless you magically pick the right point of view to begin with.

I'm not trying to be snarky here, seriously. I just feel like I must be missing the significance. I've reread the post several times, but I don't see it. Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

4
ValG 2 days ago 3 replies      
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson.

When I first read that quote in early High School I didn't understand it. It was the kind of thing that ate at me, I could not get what he was trying to say. To me, consistency was an important part of life; the old adage that you stick to your word. However, that quote transcends the idea of being consistent, because when you often make decisions without all of the information (especially in startups). As new information becomes available, you have to incorporate it into your decision. Sometimes it makes you look like a dick, or someone that doesn't know what direction they want to go to, but that's where different skills (leadership and sales) come in to be able to hold people together.

5
RivieraKid 2 days ago 8 replies      
I never understood why consistent opinions are considered a good thing, it doesn't make any sense. If I realize I'm wrong, why should I stick to the wrong opinion?
6
callmeed 2 days ago 4 replies      
Good advice but I'm curious about:

"Jason Fried is the fastest white man you'll ever meet."

Is Jason actually really fast and/or was he an athlete at a prior time?

7
badhairday 2 days ago 2 replies      
Being right a lot is a core value of that Amazon requires in it's leaders. The rest of the list is available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Values-Careers-Homepage/b?ie=UTF8&...

8
chrissr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sure, that's his advice today, but what will it be tomorrow?
9
ArbitraryLimits 2 days ago 0 replies      
"A professor's job is to profess - often wrong, but never in doubt."
10
n72 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, guess what, Jeff Bezos stopped by our office today. I just wanted everyone to know that, so I posted about something platitudinous he said.
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mjt0229 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bezos's observation reminds me of Philip Tetlock's conclusions in "Expert Political Judgement" (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7959.html). Tetlock studied it pretty rigorously and came to a number of conclusions, but the central thesis was that people who got things right the most were people who thought by building up lots of competing models and evaluating all of them (ie, having lots of little ideas) rather than guiding all their decisions by a single ideology.
12
jonny_eh 2 days ago 3 replies      
And the sad thing is that society often punishes people who change their minds or "flip-flop". See politics.
13
MattGrommes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just the other day during a design discussion I was arguing for X instead of Y and was reminded that I was the one who introduced Y earlier in the discussion. I was finally able to bring out Walt Whitman during a technical discussion and responded "I contain multitudes". :)
14
calinet6 2 days ago 0 replies      
In other words, be a scientist. Consider the truth as a distant target, and our understanding only as an approximation based on the evidence we have right now.

Scientists have known this for years. They have made it their whole way of life"because it works, and it's true.

Smart people in all walks of life most certainly follow those same kinds of scientific principles. Bezos is spot on, there's just an entire branch of knowledge that's been spot on way before he was.

15
jamiequint 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is kind ironic given that 37signals' is vehemently stubborn about many of their points of view.
16
spenrose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a modest twist on the Hedgehog and the Fox, star of a thousand pop-science essays in the last few years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hedgehog_and_the_Fox

Note that (1) I agree and (2) there is nothing silly about the comments or the link.

17
mikek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Steve Jobs was also well known for his strong, but changing, opinions.
18
airnomad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can't believe it. You had Bezos for 2 hours and this is all you bother to share with us?
19
espeed 2 days ago 0 replies      
He's observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they'd already solved.

I think he's spot on, and this has been the basis for my manifesto (http://jamesthornton.com/manifesto) -- I like to think of it as continually refining your perspective.

20
dschiptsov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing to see here, but, of course, straight from the horse's mouth..)

This particular trait is of a much bigger idea - an active, aware, never satisfied beginners's mind, popularized in US by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shunryu_Suzuki

A settled, stale, stagnant mind is a worst possible mental decease from a Buddhist perspective, and, ironically, the most desired state of the mind for a member of a totalitarian country or organization.)

21
lucianop 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Strong opinions, weakly held"
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arvinjoar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes a lot of sense to be honest. If ideas aren't held too dearly you'll be able to weed out the bad ones. A lot of people (myself included) have a certain irrational loss aversion when it comes to ideas. I'm sure one could find plenty of articles on this on LessWrong.
23
duxup 2 days ago 1 reply      
I too am frequently right, after being wrong a bunch of times.
24
brdrak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work with someone who spends way too much time (IMO) making sure that he's not wrong. Typically this involves not taking a stand until the results are in and then claiming the position all along. Or simply lying about his position. After witnessing this repeatedly I basically lost all respect for this person and really dread any interaction.

Personally I don't care if someone (including myself) is right or wrong. I often have to make technology recommendations that may turn out to be wrong years down the line and end up costing the organization time and money. So far I've been pretty lucky. I find it helpful to always include caveats in my proposals and explain reasoning behind my recommendations. Of course putting in the time to understand the issue, the market and the history is key.

I don't have a problem taking a stand and be proven wrong or adjusting my position when new information becomes available. However, I wonder if this attitude is hurting my standing with the organization compared with this other guy who never seems to be wrong.

25
gadders 2 days ago 0 replies      
Their angel investor.
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arbuge 2 days ago 0 replies      
When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir? - John Maynard Keynes
27
ahalan 2 days ago 0 replies      
In other words: breadth-first search is better when dealing with hard problems
28
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Off-topic: how do they get typography so right?! If I just throw those fonts on my site they will look crappy, but their articles are always great looking.
29
fakhrazeyev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for a great quality post. And, folks, please do not fear being called a "flip-flopper"!
30
halayli 2 days ago 0 replies      
Should we all vote for Mitt Romney then? jk :)
31
nicholas73 2 days ago 0 replies      
Basically, people are stupid because they don't realize how stupid they are.
32
ezpassmac 2 days ago 0 replies      
Curious as to what Bezos thinks of the current state of politics. "He said people who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds." Maybe he's voting for Mitt Romney.
5
Hacker News Data Analysis rjmetrics.com
417 points by robertjmoore  4 days ago   73 comments top 34
1
edw519 4 days ago 6 replies      
#1 Lesson from all of this: Instead of talking about your product to your prospect, talk about something your prospect cares deeply about to your prospect.

I had no idea what you did and didn't really care until you used it in context of something I did care about: Hacker News. Now I know what you do, understand how it applies to me, and best of all, I'm starting to visualize how else I could use it.

We should all approach our prospects like you just did here. Nice job!

2
pg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Actually the reason his posts stopped making it to the frontpage is that the last 3 before this all set off the voting ring detector.

I don't know how accurate his other conclusions are, but it seems unlikely that new signups are down, considering the trend in traffic: http://www.archub.org/hntraffic-17oct12.png

3
jgrahamc 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you look at my submission history of my blog then I think it's clear that HN likes things that are original and/or well thought out. My weaker blog posts go nowhere, but ones that are detailed make it. So, if there's a formula for appearing on HN, it's write something original and/or deep.
4
fusiongyro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another possibility: people have tired of your formula. Andrey Karpov used to submit blog posts with the results of running his fancy commercial static analyzer on various open source code to Reddit. The first several got a lot of upvotes; a while later it became clear that it was mostly hocking a product. The more your blog comes to resemble an infomercial the less you can expect to be on the front page.
5
Alex3917 4 days ago 2 replies      
"If anyone out there suspected that the 'old guard' had given up on HN, this chart proves them wrong."

Of the people here since the first year, probably only 25% still participate regularly. Occasionally I'll stumble across some discussion from the early years in Google, and it's crazy how different the site was back then. There are still good comments now, but back then there were entire conversations that were good. I don't even bother to write the kind of comments that I used to, because they wouldn't work at all on the site as it is today.

6
duck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very useful analysis. After running Hacker Newsletter for the past 2+ years I have seen basically this. However, the analysis seems to miss looking at things on a smaller scale like the day and time you post it which has proven to be a big factor [1]. I know even on a weekly basis (which is what I do for the newsletter), it seems some weeks have an abundance of high quality articles compared to others.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3251877

7
larsberg 4 days ago 1 reply      
My takeaway --- from the fact that Matt Might's domain is second only to pg's --- is that you should write up easy to understand lecture notes on deep PL-related topics.
8
tokenadult 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Interestingly, if you look at the number of upvotes cast each day, the trend is similar. For the past two years, the same number of stories have been competing for about the same number of votes each day." This statement, backed up by the analysis in the submitted blog post, is interesting. I visit the new page

http://news.ycombinator.com/newest

as many times per day as I visit the front page, looking for good new submissions to upvote. The limit on the number of users who cast upvotes on new stories appears now to set a limit on the number of new stories that have been submitted in the last two years. As the blog author points out, if HN largely stays on topic, there are only so many new stories each day that fit HN's topic.

9
willvarfar 4 days ago 1 reply      
I once worked out there were 100:1 visitors to voters for a link.

Most of the people I know who peruse HN regularly are not registered users. They are happy to let others do the commenting (which they read).

http://williamedwardscoder.tumblr.com/post/18839832580/reddi...

It was super-surprising to see my own blog getting an average of 55pts on HN; I hadn't wondered about that before.

10
nanijoe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Granted, it is natural to want people to hear what you have to say, but I did not think the reason for posting on HN was so you could try to make it to the front page. The blog post could have been titled "How I'm trying to get my submissions to the front page of HN".
11
mjn 4 days ago 0 replies      
The retention rate actually seems relatively low as an absolute percentage, though the way it plateaus is interesting. I did an analysis of the retention of the oldest Slashdot users (http://www.kmjn.org/notes/early_slashdot_users.html), and it was much higher: about 70% after 2 years, rather than 30%. Took about 10 years to drop to 30%. Granted, that's for the earliest users, so retention rates are probably (much?) lower among later signups.
12
asdf333 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fascinating. However, one must be careful about jumping to conclusions from analysis like this. I see a few items where the author that might have come to the wrong conclusion.

- New user growth. I don't think its b/c a 'saturation point' has been hit for the HN community as the article hypothesizes. There was a period in the last few years where there was an conscious choice by HN to restrict user growth in order to maintain a higher signal to noise ratio. Newbies are now marked with green and there is no register link on the homepage. for a while there wasn't a way for new users to sign up.

- The NYT more favored compared to the WSJ? most likely not due to the quality of the writing but b/c WSJ articles are not available to non-subscribers by default.

13
waterlesscloud 4 days ago 2 replies      
I suspect the NYT/WSJ gap is more a result of WSJ's much more restrictive paywall.
14
fecak 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do think that the day/time an article was posted and also who posted are fairly large contributors to being on the front page. I've written a few articles that have made the front page this year.

In at least two instances, I posted the article myself with no upvotes. Then another HN user reposted my articles a few days later (my blog is republished by a couple tech sites), and the same exact content makes the front page. Same article content, same title, just posted by someone else and linking to the mirrored site.

Good post Robert. If you're looking for help growing the RJM team, look me up.

15
narag 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm understanding it wrong. But the data seems to be saying that HN has succeeded defeating the eternal september effect. That'd be big news!
16
dmansen 4 days ago 0 replies      
My interpretation of how this one shot right to the top: Hacker News loves posts about itself. :)

Nice analysis - the user engagement stats were very different from what I was expecting (I think I would have agreed with Jake before I saw the data).

17
Adrock 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish that he had included the stats for titles containing the words "Hacker News".
18
dfc 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I chose to categorize content by the mention of things like big companies (i.e., Amazon, Google), Hot Startups (i.e. Pinterest, Instagram), Sensationalism (i.e. Best, Worst, First), Programming Languages (everything I could think of), and Profanity (which was fun)."

What happens to stories that use sensationalism and profanity? Or sensationalism and a new startup?

19
sputknick 4 days ago 2 replies      
you say the two possible reasons you are not making the front page are: your content is weak, or people's taste's have changed. The fact that the number of submissions has not changed suggest to me a third and more plausible option: The quality of submissions, and therefore the competition for the "front page" has increased.
20
deltaqueue 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the basis for evaluating the quality of a community lies in the discourse and communication. Submissions are a part of that, but the discussion that follows (i.e. comments) is the most important indicator of change. Personally, there seems to be an influx of reddit-style comments (little substance, meme-oriented) this year, but that could be a general evolution of the English language given the heavy influence of the internet.

That said, evaluating change in the number of comments along with comment upvotes vs. sentiment analysis seems like the only logical way to demonstrate any sort of quality meta analysis. I'm not really versed in qualitative research, so here's my ASK HN: is this even possible?

21
kunle 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Also interesting is the enormous gap between the New York Times, whose content tops this list, and the Wall Street Journal, whose content performs among the worst.

I think this might actually be more related to the WSJ paywall. If you dont have a subscription, you can't view many WSJ articles, whereas the reverse is true for the NYT.

On an unrelated note - I wonder how the category of HN related posts do, relative to other (basically same analysis of the "Pinterest" category). Judging by the success of this post, I suspect HN + Data are a good mix. Are posts about "Data" just as successful?

22
Camillo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just a heads-up: your site works really poorly on mobile. The text column is too narrow, while the charts are too big, and their interactive features make it hard to scroll the page. They also don't work right (touching a chart seems to mess up the y axis labels), but the impediment to scrolling is more annoying. I only ever read HN on my iPhone, so this is an upvote you're not getting simply because of technical problems with your website.
23
rickdale 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think what you are doing is challenging in the sense that you have made your goal to write a post that will go viral on HN. Remember, every story here, pretty much, is content from somewhere else. You are right that you aren't hitting your audience, but your audience isn't HN, its those reading your blog. If someone in your audience is also on HN then maybe they will find it relevant to post.

Writing to be a big story on HN is like betting a number in roulette. You had beginners luck at first, now its time to find a new game...

24
capkutay 4 days ago 1 reply      
These are excellent visualizations, I'm glad they put this together, showed it to the hn community while also demonstrating one of rj metrics use cases.

A note about the product. How do they differentiate themselves from other DW analytics companies like datameer? (http://www.datameer.com/) I can tell they specialize in e-commerce, but couldn't any DW analytics service give you that AND more?

25
rickyconnolly 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've noticed that some submissions drop off the news feed like a rock, while other submissions of the same story posted just a few hours later can gather considerable discussion, with submission time being the only apparent variable.

This leads me to speculate that there may be an optimal submission time or times throughout the day. I'd like to see analytics that look at the variation in the average number of comments/upvotes for submissions (or some other metric) to see if this theory holds any weight.

26
pi18n 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks cool and now I want to mess around with it. I wish there was a torrent for that dataset.
27
javajosh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have to shake my head in admiration. What a powerful story - to start with not one failure, but three failures, and then to use the same tool you were trying to hock in those failures to figure out why you failed...and then, remarkably (at least for me) succeed wildly.

At least in this case, your tool provided some very valuable insight.

28
nwienert 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who'se mildly colorblind, a few of your charts were near impossible to read. Especially the bottom three lines in Average Score by Category. Just a heads up.
29
ewest 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting analysis yet the information can be derived from using your site's analytics and your observational skills to come to the author's conclusion.

It's like a painting - the subject matter is important, yet the stuff around the main subject is what makes it stand out.

Analyze what your stats don't have, or seem to have 'less of', as compared to other content.

I think the data analysis could have been more interesting to a broader audience by making it more 'newsworthy' rather than a raw analysis targeted at a relatively small community (compared to a more general audience).

By 'newsworthy' I mean something along the lines of 'NYTimes, WSJ used by technical users too' - or something like that - or something like - 'Hackers in controversy - observers and participants'.

30
sgdesign 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I'm number 10! I don't know if I should be happy that people like my stuff, or scared that I've spent so much time submitting and commenting on Hacker News this year...
31
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this article correct for increased thresholds to perform some actions? The down-vote used to be easier to get, for example.
32
drpgq 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is it really surprising that Hacker News doesn't care about Pinterest?
33
andrewkkirk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to these metrics, I've cracked the HN code:

We should always publish our content on paulgraham.com

That's the takeaway of these metrics, right?

34
apeace 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just a suggestion, he should compare MongoDB and Riak on Hacker News. For laughs
6
New $250 Chromebook chrome.blogspot.com
411 points by ConstantineXVI  3 days ago   327 comments top 70
1
cs702 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's obvious now that Google intends to keep improving Chrome OS, the devices on which it runs, the services that come with it (100GB of free online storage!), and the cost & headaches of maintaining it -- while aggressively cutting prices.

I'm expecting a $199 Chromebook within a couple of years, and a $99 model within the next five years. This has the potential for upending the prevailing business model of traditional PC vendors.

2
jpxxx 3 days ago 3 replies      
Weird future moment: a 21st century industry titan has to use puppies, kitties, and children to sell a machine that freely dispenses the sum total of humanity's knowledge.
3
polshaw 3 days ago 5 replies      
> Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor

So cortex A15 has finally landed.. no mention of RAM or size of on-board SSD, i'm guessing 1-2GB and 8/16GB respectively (e: 2/16). Disappointing battery life ('over 6 hours', same as the x86 one), i guess the battery wasn't spared from the cost-cutting. Exynos 5 also means USB 3.

And do we know if you can definitely get linux on these (==interesting), or might they be super locked-down?

Definitely a device worth recommending to the former netbook/ 'only use my computer for facebook' crowd.

e: the battery is 2 cell, AFAIK even cheap x86 laptops come with 6-cell batteries, so it is a case of cost-minimizing.. shame, i'd lap this up with a 12-18hr battery life.

4
AYBABTME 3 days ago 2 replies      
"A Chromebook for everyone"; cool. The article talks about the author's childhood in India, how he dreams of bringing computers to everyone. The price makes it a device that could be bought by anyone. The size of the computer, the autonomy, the low power, everything looks like it's meant to really democratize computers to an even wider audience, say in developing countries where 3G/LTE networks are surprisingly developed and cheap (depends on the country, of course).

But then, its bundled with Verizon, limited to the US and the UK. What are the 3G frequencies? Is this thing locked with Verizon? Say I want to give one to my friend in Vietnam, so he/she can get access to a computer, will the 3G modem support the carrier's frequencies there? Unknown: it's listed as "WLAN : 802.11 a/b/g/n, WWAN : Verizon 3G". Great.

The device is nice, the price is nice. But marketing it as "a Chromebook for everyone" is just wrong. It's a laptop for people in the US, that's it. And really, I wonder what kind of "humanitarian" problem it's solving. I understand the low price is to create a following for the product, but I find the "Chromebook for everyone" brand phony.

Unless "everyone" == "Verizon customers living in the US".

5
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 6 replies      
"100 MB of internet per month, for free, from Verizon Wireless."

So I'm really sort of conflicted by Chromebooks, I love the concept, but wonder why it doesn't come with 4G/LTE (seems like a 'new' device should), what sort of data plans and are they dynamic like the iPad? (month to month) And 100MB a month? Seriously? That is what 5 minutes of 3 mbit video? 10 minutes of cheezy 1.5mbit video a month? Web sites that start up a youtube embed video when you visit? poof go the mBytes. Heck the WSJ is like 20 - 30MB per issue these days. Seems like 2.5GB is a healthy net allocation for a tablet/laptop experience, that 25x more.

Looking forward to seeing one 'in the flesh' as it were.

6
kitcar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the actual product landing page:
http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/landing.html
7
ConstantineXVI 3 days ago 1 reply      
The ARM bit is quietly hidden away on the specs page[0].

Can't find anything yet either way if these will still have the developer switch. If the build is as good as the 550 and this particular Exynos has decent performance; it'd make an awfully good cheap Linux laptop (not to say CrOS is worthless, far from it).

[0] http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/samsung-chromeb...

8
nsns 3 days ago  replies      
250$? I really don't get it. Three years ago I bought a Gateway LT23 Netbook, with a 160GB HD and 1GB memory, it runs Windows7 and cost me 300$.
Aren't Netbooks better? And have been availbable for many years now?
9
MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 3 replies      
Until Google upgrades their apps, or write new ones, that utilized advanced HTML5 capabilities, I have to assume they aren't serious about the platform and neither should anyone else be. They didn't release Android without apps, Chromebooks should get the same treatment.
10
monkeyfacebag 3 days ago 2 replies      
If Chrome OS had a package manager hooked into Debian's (or anyone's) repos, I'd be all over this. I do almost all of my non-programming work in the browser, but I can't leave the batteries included world of Linux behind just yet.
11
TomAnthony 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm very confused! They say it starts at $249, but the 550 is at $449. What is the model number of the new one here?

It links to this PC WOrld page for the UK model which just confuses me further: http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/chromebook-1460-commercial.htm...

I was interested in buying, but I'm totally confused. Wikipedia also just lists the 550 model as the one released now, and has nothing matching the spec in the Google post.

Anyone worked it out? Sorry if I've missed something...

12
andyking 3 days ago 4 replies      
$250 in the US, £249.99 from PC World in the UK. That's just over $400. Even if you take off 20% UK sales tax, that's still $320.

Last time I checked, the exchange rate wasn't £1=$1!

13
dkhenry 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why won't they take this same kind of device and scale it up. I love most things about the chrome book, but I would rather have a 14" laptop with a bigger battery. O know you'll be competing with "full feature" laptops, but honestly chrome books have most of the features I would want ( I would like to see better native support for the development life cycle, but i can get by with ssh )
14
metatronscube 3 days ago 0 replies      
I made the mistake of getting the Acer chromebook in the UK when it came out and it was probably the worst computing experience I have ever had. Slow, laggy, frequently crashed, terrible video playback (couldn't watch YouTube videos), cheap hardware (screen developed a crack which split corner to corner completely), terrible battery performance, no cellular connectivity and flaky wifi behaviour. All for 400 quid! It looked like a fisher price toy and behaved like one as well.
15
fierarul 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hope this gets released in the rest of the EU too. You couldn't even get the previous Chromebooks in Germany, let alone Romania.

A 250 euro Chromebook (VAT included) would be a nice buy. This means an ARM-based Chromebox should be around 150?

It's unclear from the announcement if Flash works or not since Youtube could be streaming H264.

Edit: Specs, including prices on https://sites.google.com/a/pressatgoogle.com/samsungchromebo...

16
netcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really think there is a fundamental problem with the ChromeOS idea. Android & iOS seem much better.

If they could get a good android laptop to market @ under $500, I would definitely buy one for my Dad, maybe for myself as a second machine.

I thought chromeOS was a great idea when it was first announced. You could get most things done on the web. On a browser only machine, you wouldn't need to worry about managing your machine. Installing apps. Worrying about OS versions. Keeping your file system straight. Malware. Things most users were completely lost on. A browser-only machine would give you 80% of the power with 20% of the problems at 50% of the price.

Along came Android & iOS.

They're platforms where finding, installing and uninstalling apps is safe, fun & easy. OS updating & general admin is manageable. Malware isn't as much of a problem. Some things like the level of access a user has to the file system (and therefore needs to know about) are till unsolved. But, overall the complexity that a browser-only machine bypassed became a much smaller problem. Ipads can be figured out by 4 year olds and computer illiterate adults quickly and enjoyably.

On the other hand, the web is having trouble solving the last 20% of the problem. Just before android OS was announced, the momentum for things moving on to the web seemed unstoppable. The last 20% has been slower. Browsers have been getting more capable at a great pace but when I look at the web apps that most people use, they are not really that different. Sure, you can use Google docs and edit photos online and read books and watch youtube, but its still a compromise in some cases. Users have the option of using webapps on an ipad, but in many cases they prefer native.

Basically, a webbrowser-only OS is a compromise. It's not an deal breaker compromise, but it is a compromise. And if iOS/Android start coming in notebook form, I don't see any upside to making it.

17
mtgx 3 days ago 0 replies      
So glad they finally did this. I've been begging them to do a $250 Chromebook since day one, because I think that's the sweetspot for a "Chromebook", and the only way they could've achieved that, while also having good build quality and whatnot, was to use an ARM chip, and not an Intel one, so I'm glad they finally did that, too. I think it's long overdue, but perhaps they were waiting for the Cortex A15 chips to come to market, which I guess makes sense.

If Google would partner with Verizon or AT&T to offer these things for free (much better marketing than say a $50 price) with LTE and a 2 year contract, I think they would see even more sales, especially from businesses and professionals. Obviously they should be getting the data plans they get with an USB modem, not the amount they get with a cellphone plan.

18
wmf 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few details from one of the developers: https://plus.google.com/109993695638569781190/posts/6MDhf9Hu... "...getting a regular u-boot on these to use as generic linux hacking platforms isn't all that hard..."
19
dholowiski 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm skeptical about the 'for everyone' part. Will I be able to buy this in Canada? Or is it really just 'everyone' in the USA and UK?
20
bitcartel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously, shut up and take my money?! 100GB of Google Drive storage for 2 years is included in the price. That storage alone would cost $120 ($5/month). So if you were already in the market for extra storage, you can get an ARM Chromebook for $130.
21
mtgx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why was the title modified? I think the fact that it's ARM-based is very relevant.
22
benvanderbeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have an iPad 3 and a Chromebook. I like and use the Chromebook much more, because of the built in keyboard. I know plenty of people who would hate using a Chromebook and much prefer their iPad for everything. To each his own.
23
DanBC 3 days ago 3 replies      
I love the idea of this. I'm tempted to get one to replace my eee pc 701.

I am gently curious how Google avoids the trouble that MS ran into when they tied IE into the OS and pre-installed it on the desktop. How is it okay for Google to ship product that uses all their services? Especially when Google trawls for ad relevant data to make money?

(Note: I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm just wondering what the difference is.)

24
podperson 3 days ago 4 replies      
What puzzles me is why the ChromeBox, with no display (and I'm not sure if it comes with a keyboard and mouse) costs $329 and lacks HDMI. If it were $199 and had HDMI it would seem like a very compelling device.
25
bravura 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this good for programming through an SSH shell?

I am looking for the most portable device that I can use for programming. The key concerns are: Weight + size, and keyboard layout. Since I code through an SSH shell, the laptop's mem + CPU specs are not very important for me.

I believe that the Mac Book Air 11" has a good enough keyboard. (I haven't tried it for long, but the keys are the same size as the 13", just closer together.)

The Chrome book is only slightly thicker (0.8" vs. MBA 0.7"), only slightly heavier (2.5 lbs vs. 2.4 lbs), and wider (13.2" vs. 11.8"). Weight and thickness important here. It's also much cheaper.

What do you think are the downsides of using the chrome book (or a macbook air 11") for primary coding through an SSH shell?

[edit: Is there some store I can play with a chromebook in real life?]

26
vibrunazo 3 days ago 2 replies      
This smells like the best cost efficient device to use as a media center for the living room. Cheap, put Ubuntu on it for VLC. Leave it on and plugged to your big screen tv 100% of the time. Use my main laptop on my couch to store files via lan, and remote control it.

Is there any better alternative to this? Today I just plug my laptop in and out of the tv when I want to watch, and use my tablet as remote control. I have a xbox, but it's so bad compared to having full vlc. I would pay 250 to save me the trouble of connecting my laptop to the TV. It would be the perfect setup of my dreams.

27
wcchandler 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would really like to see derivations of this. While Google generally touts itself as being "open," I feel like this is an atypical implementation. It would be nice to see a more FOSS version using Gecko/Mozilla with some kind of personal cloud based storage like dropbox or ubuntu one. I'd even like to see Microsoft release a build that ties directly into MS products -- sky drive, azure, office365.

While arguably, that's what other products are for, it'd be nice to use the chromebook as a base to help drive down hardware cost and increase user adoption. I want to think of this as the IBM for the cloud generation.

28
TheMagicHorsey 3 days ago 2 replies      
The weirdest thing about these Chromebooks is that they are terrible machines to code on. You would think that Google would make some sort of effort to put some free development tools on them to promote their technologies like AppEngine, DART, Go, etc.

Instead we are left with various garbage pail cloud IDEs.

I would totally get one of these, but I'll probably install Ubuntu on it (at least as a dual boot).

29
navs 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in New Zealand so guess I have to wait...longer. My concern is the Samsung aspect. I have one Samsung netbook at the moment and while it's certainly a rugged machine, it leaves much to be desired in the performance department (especially running Chrome for any length of time). I understand it's a netbook and they aren't made to be power-horses but how are other Samsung notebooks?

I also have a Samsung android tablet and I despise using it. It's cheap, flimsy and slow.

Overall, based on my own experiences with Samsung hardware, I'm not exactly enthusiastic about this being a Samsung device. Maybe it's just me or maybe my expectations are too high but I'll wait for a complete product review before considering this buy.

30
ck2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does chromeOS have printer drivers?

Because I doubt it would work with my Epson for example.

Unless it can use linux drivers.

31
kryptiskt 3 days ago 1 reply      
US and UK only...

This pretty much has to be the last gasp for ChromeOS, it makes no sense to differentiate the software this much between Android tablets and Chromebooks with identical internals and just a slight difference in form factor. Next time around they can just put a touchscreen on it and load it with Android 5.0.

32
Karunamon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember when I was a little kid, getting one of those kid's "laptops" with a monochrome display and a bunch of educational games.

The higher end ones cost as much as the low end chromebooks.

It's the future. Glad to be living in it :)

33
protomyth 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad they switched to ARM and keep working on this, but...

I just cannot get into the idea of a thin client given that storage keeps getting bigger / cheaper and bandwidth doesn't seem to be getting cheaper (a case could be made is more expensive). I like the cloud for backups / sync, but I still dream of an pocket device with a couple of terabytes.

34
klrr 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can I install GNU/Linux on it?
35
JVIDEL 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm more surprised that it took Google so long to launch a really cheap chromebook, after all previous models were almost the same than a lowend laptop with a Windows license.

Its weird since there were not many models to begin with and Google could easily make a ton of the things to bring down costs and thus price. They seem to be doing even more now, switching from x86 to a dualcore ARM, so its no longer a laptop/netbook but a smartbook and that explains the sub-$300 price. I wonder how small the SSD must be since its not even listed, only the size of the cloud gdrive is.

As for success, I don't know: it seems like a good offer but I get the feeling it would far more popular if it ran Android instead, though it would need a touchscreen for app compatibility.

36
bdg 2 days ago 1 reply      
For $200 (and that's after 13% taxes in Ontario) I picked up a cheap netbook with an n2600 inside it, which came with a windows license. I installed Arch Linux with LXDE. My system uses about 60MB of ram from console, 90MB of ram when I'm running LXDE. I boot up chrome and I'm at 170mb used. Processor use is for the most part almost always under 10% (and n2600 is gutless).

What I'm saying is that for $200 I can get a computer suits the needs of facebooker/instagram/pintrest users... and burn money on a windows 7 license, and whatever profit Acer made from the sale. Chromebook's over-priced.

37
coob 3 days ago 2 replies      
1) Why the old Bluetooth?
2) I bet flash performance on this thing is terrible.
38
lifeguard 2 days ago 0 replies      
These are interesting for users, but for hackers I always go back to sub-$300 laptops on sale from Fry's:

http://www.frys.com/product/7147992?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT...

I have got full Linux driver support on two other HP models in this price range.

39
alanh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm concerned that there does not seem to be any sort of warranty.

My family tried one of the original Chromebooks, and it lasted merely a year before physically breaking from normal usage.

40
adamc 3 days ago 1 reply      
A laptop I can't use when I don't have a network connection has pretty limited value. Does the chromebook have some mechanism for offline editing, etc?
41
laktek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone considering to use it for development? (Similar to the iPad + Linode experiment?)
42
aik 3 days ago 0 replies      
In all seriousness: At this stage yet -- does anyone care? What type of person would buy/use this?

(I don't mean to imply it's not good -- I seriously don't know who it's made for.)

43
RexRollman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was lucky enough to obtain a CR-48 from Google, two years ago this winter, and I still find it to be an enjoyable machine. The downside to the unit is that it is useless without an Internet connection.
44
Metrop0218 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'd like it if they weren't telling two stories. We have almost opposing operating systems being shipped by these guys.

We have Chrome OS on one hand which focuses on the web being the be all and end all of computing. Then we have Android on the other hand which focuses on client side processing.

Which one do they actually believe in?

45
dror 3 days ago 1 reply      
They really need to find a way to provide an integrated Android/Chrombook experience.

Hardware:
* Touch screen
* Detachable keyboard so you can use it as either a tablet or a computer
* 8+ hours battery life. Keyboard can have an extra battery.

Software:
* Android
* Chrome browser with all the abilities of the chrome OS

Price: $400 and under.

46
ilaksh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does either the regular one or the 550 have hardware accelerated graphics? Do they support WebGL?
47
nzealand 3 days ago 2 replies      
Perfect for Grandma except..... no skype.
48
mtgx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looking forward to a Google+ or blog post from a ChromeOS developer about why this Chromebook only has a 6.5h battery life, which is less than I would've expected. Is it because Linux/Chrome OS is not that optimized for battery life?
49
duxup 3 days ago 0 replies      
FOR SLEEPOVERS

They got me.

50
balancdreviews 3 days ago 0 replies      
Flash forward a few years...

With the amount of cash GOOG has, and the droppping costs of hardware, they can take an AOL approach if they so choose. Instead of free CD's, they could distribute free computers.
Load them up with Goog default search and all sorts of reconnaisance functionality to enable them to deliver more enticement to advetisers.

It's like signing up for AOL. It's hard for people to drop it after they've gotten used to it. Could people get used to free computers? I think so.

51
pgrote 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is the pre-ordering working for anyone? I've tried the Amazon link, but no luck. It still says, "Pre-orders will start at 12pm PST."
52
dschiptsov 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just Chrome is not enough.

Add GNU emacs, evince (if chrome still not renders pdfs), terminal with antialiased Source Code Pro Ligth font (same for emacs) and openssh-client and I will buy it.)

Well, SBCL, MIT Scheme or, sigh, Racket, please.)

OK, just emacs and fonts and openssh - 'M-x term' would be enough.)

53
ryanhuff 3 days ago 0 replies      
Get Minecraft to work on it and you will introduce the Chromebook experience to many, many kids.
54
andyhmltn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone please tell me why it needs to be $200? It's a web browser. That's it. I'm not knocking it don't get me wrong but I won't buy one until they are at least $100 cheaper. Google managed to release the nexus 7 that cheap so why not this? It doesn't require heavy specs or even storage. Just a keyboard, a phone processor and a screen.
55
ernestipark 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why does that blog post not have a single link to the product?
56
jasongullickson 3 days ago 0 replies      
They are getting better (although what's up with that hinge? Blech!). Still not as cute or clever as it's ancestor tho: http://litl.com/
57
metalsahu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have an iPad but it is primarily a consumption device and after a couple of hours it starts to feel like I have reached 'the end of the internet'.
A light laptop with a really fast browser and a physical keyboard is paramount so I can write, comment, chat, email and multitask. This Chromebook really hits a sweet spot for me both with size and cost!
58
waynesutton 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, but why don't chomebooks and the macbook air come with built in 4G/LTE? I mean remember netbooks? Mobile carriers were selling them with contracts.

We're going in 2013 and everything should come with built in 4G/LTE. If the nexus 7 had 4G it would be a winner.

59
pajju 3 days ago 0 replies      
Aren't these Chromebooks subsidized by Google to get into mainstream faster? I always felt there were big tie-ups. (See Asus Nexus tablet pricing)

And How much is a google user+account worth? An android or a chromebook device is worth atleast $$$+ for Google on long-run. And users are Locked'in with google's services! :)

It must be certain for every subsidized device that ships, Google must be sharing revenues.

60
kin 3 days ago 0 replies      
These devices are certainly getting better. Since it's so reliant on connection, the 100MB free/month is appealing.
61
obilgic 3 days ago 1 reply      
what is the battery performance for that thing, I am defiantly gonna get it, if it can at least get me through a day with out carrying charger.
62
celerity 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another, indirect, effect that I hope to see from this is cheaper MacBook Airs in the future. Competition! (I need a bit more than the terminal/SSH/text-editor to do my development.)
63
tapsboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
While $249 is good, ChromeOS should start seeing traction when they get this one out for $199 and an ARM Chromebox for $99.
Even better $49 for ChromeOS on an HDMI stick.
64
vrodic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice: Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor.

Another laptop (there are too few of them) with an ARM CPU. Too bad it will not be available in Croatia.

65
bgruber 3 days ago 1 reply      
i'm surprised that google isn't selling this on the play store.
66
vamur 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not bad, now if Google allowed installing at least some of Linux apps, such as file manager, Libreoffice, VLC, this thing could be a winner.
67
Krutet 2 days ago 0 replies      
What they should do is cut back on the bezel. Iv'e started to hate the bezel on most of my screens I have. It just feels and looks so unnecessary and old. Cut back on the bezel and make it a 13 inch screen in the same package and you have a clear winner!
68
mokash 3 days ago 1 reply      
What happens to your data if you manage to fill up your 100GB quota of free storage and you decide not to renew?

If you ask me, it's a very clever way to get people to continue paying for the service after the two year term is up. Not a bad idea.

69
WalterBright 3 days ago 1 reply      
It appears to have no local storage.
70
thisismyname 3 days ago 0 replies      
How do I get photoshop on this thing?
7
Small alexmaccaw.com
340 points by olivercameron  2 days ago   48 comments top 22
1
mattdeboard 2 days ago 1 reply      
I breathed a sigh of relief when there wasn't some tie-in to startup culture or programming or social media at the end of the article. Excellent post.
2
jazzychad 2 days ago 4 replies      
Two nights ago while I slept, for the first time I had a dream about going into space on the shuttle. I have wanted to go into space since I was a child, so in my dream I was extremely excited about going into space.

I dreamt of the launch, the G-Forces, the adrenaline rush, and finally the sky turning from blue to black as we escaped the atmosphere.

Then the shuttle turned over so we could see the Earth. As the cockpit window rotated and Earth came into view, the feeling of _sheer terror_ washed over me as I saw how small the planet looked. I had a panic attack in my dream from looking back down at Earth. I woke up a few minutes later as if from a nightmare. It was the strangest experience, and the imagery and feelings are extremely vivid in my memory. I wonder if humans have an innate emotional response to this size perspective, but this seems somewhat related to the Overview Effect described in the article.

3
comicjk 2 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect that the thoughts people have in space will be of the same order as those they have on the ground. Thus space tourism is unlikely to have much mind-expanding effect. We have profound quotes from astronauts because we don't send idiots into space. Yet.
4
pdx 2 days ago 3 replies      
Regarding the pale blue dot.

Has the photo been enhanced so we can see the earth, or is that actually how it looks?

What are those color bands I'm seeing? Does the earth stay in it's orange color band, indicating they are orbital lines around the sun?

5
jusben1369 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you live in one town all your life you get a better/different perspective when you travel to another city. The same goes for then visting other parts of your country and then inbetween countries and then continents. Each time the effect is more pronounced than before. You realize the insignificance of many of your "problems" when you met other people from very different socioeconomic backgrounds. I wonder if space is just the most absolute point of this effect.

Elegant blog post. If only because it didn't overcrowd us with thoughts but rather set the stage for pondering.

7
Ideka 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the Total Perspective Vortex, a torture machine from Douglas Adams' sci-fi book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says "You are here."

This, according to the book, completely annihilates your brain.

8
jasim 1 day ago 1 reply      
Relevant: A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil deGrasse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDRXn96HrtY
9
arscan 2 days ago 2 replies      
I would have thought that you'd have to be a lot higher up than Felix to experience the overview effect. Its one thing being able to see the curvature of the earth... its another matter altogether to be be in orbit and see the whole planet in 90 minutes (or being able to blot out the entire planet with your thumb held at arm's distance, as was the case for the guys that made it to the moon).
10
Alex3917 2 days ago 1 reply      
"With more people viewing the Earth from afar, perhaps the world will gain a little more perspective, and a better sense of proportion."

Interestingly enough the reason we have the pictures of the earth from space is that Stewart Brand started a petition to get them declassified because he thought seeing the pictures would induce the same sort of experience (and pro-social behavioral shift) as LSD. Apparently he actually had the idea while on acid, while sitting on his roof in San Francisco.

11
kyleslattery 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's Carl Sagan talking about the "Pale Blue Dot", it's definitely worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g
12
charlieok 1 day ago 0 replies      
I grew up with enough of an interest in space that I heard and internalized a lot of this as a kid. I think some IMAX movies attempted to recreate this kind of experience.

I wonder now much more impactful the real thing would be in terms of altering a person's perspective.

13
justatdotin 1 day ago 0 replies      
hoepfully the rest of us can rediscover a less costly way to get that same perspective ... the fact that this author concludes with excitement at space tourism suggests to me they totally miss the message roaring from the blue dot.
14
morsch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who assumed the Baumgartner's remarks were rehearsed or otherwise prearranged?
15
ultramundane8 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to believe that we all experience a weak Overview Effect from time to time. It's often a friend of existential nihilism.

But to have your entire life add up to a powerful case of that realization must be an extremely emotional experience.

16
SeoxyS 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of article that I come to Hacker News for. :)
17
studyedge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Makes me want to start a small side project that routinely sends oppressors and other individuals with ambition of world domination on a free ride into the space.
18
dhruvbhatia 1 day ago 0 replies      
To contrast, I absolutely love this video where Neil deGrasse Tyson provides an explanation as to why he doesn't feel small in the Universe:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU
20
mempko 2 days ago 3 replies      
although the first to do space tourism will be the rich.

They will hover over us and instead of thinking how small they are, will feel at peace having escaped the rest of us... who are now too small to see.

21
vbl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perspective is a powerful thing. How things looks depends a lot on where you sit.

Makes me wonder how this concept can be applied to more Earthly affairs.

22
kami8845 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was disappointed, a pretty inconsequential blog post reaching far for anything worth writing.

"So while the first astronauts to the moon went as technicians, they came back as humanitarians."

meh.

8
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars metro.co.uk
308 points by mtgx  4 days ago   107 comments top 22
1
theevocater 4 days ago  replies      
People have already been making this mistake: calling out Jeff Bezos over Amazon's one-click patent is a strawman by the name of tu quoque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque). This is a non-argument. Being a hypocrite doesn't make you less correct.

Regardless of past transgressions, Jeff Bezos is right. Governments and their people need to examine their patent laws (I would argue all IP laws) and figure out what the right amount of protection is necessary given our modern world.

2
TeMPOraL 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, maybe Bezos is a hypocrite. His company has a history of abusing the patent system and he's now realizing that software patents are a Bad Thing because he's just about to get on the receiving side of them [0]. So what?

Even if he doesn't have the moral high ground, it doesn't change that he's right. And that's a good thing; it's better to have one hypocrite in power with ability to change things for good, even if he does it for selfish reasons, than to have one hundred morally pure [1] people who don't have the power or means to do anything else than whine. Google, Amazon, and others may not be white like snow, but they would serve good as temporary allies in fixing things for everyone.

</rant>

(In general, I hate when people throw around the label of 'hypocrite'; quite often it's just an distracting ad hominem.)

[0] - but hey, "it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." (Upton Sinclair)

[1] - then again, how many of us are really so innocent? How many would stand to principle if offered a chance to patent some silly software "invention" and thus speed up career development?

3
SoftwareMaven 4 days ago 0 replies      
How ironic given the first ridiculous software patent I remember was Amazon's one-click purchase patent that it use as a cudgel against many e-tailers in the late nineties (and may still, for all I know).

EDIT: Not saying there weren't other ridiculous software patents; just that this one got a lot of press at the time and brought software patents to developers attention in a way that hadn't happened before.

4
adastra 4 days ago 1 reply      
I look forward to Bezos matching his words with actions.

It's pretty well known that Amazon's lobbying in DC is entirely focused on preventing Amazon from having to pay state sales taxes. Bezos has never lifted a finger to help any other tech cause -- note that Bezos didn't co-sign the open letter on SOPA from tech CEO's[1], and that Amazon didn't co-sign the company letter[2], for example.

If he does become active on this, that's great. But given his history I'd be shocked if he put real resources behind it. And until he does it will just be empty words.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/14/tech-execs-anti-sopa-lette...

[2] http://www.protectinnovation.com/downloads/letter.pdf

5
OldSchool 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think we all would love to see an end to patent threats in software not so much for the sake of the big players but for the sake of small businesses attempting to bring a product to life. If it took Amazon to make it happen then great. Heck, if Steve Ballmer brought an end to software patents I'd be thrilled.

Whatever ill will Amazon created amongst the technorati more than a decade ago pales now in comparison to Ballmer's inept continuation of Microsoft and the post-iPhone Apple walled garden and patent actions. Less obvious but significant are the erosions to privacy brought on with the help of Google. I vote Jeff Bezos "least evil" at this moment. Someone I know even said he was a "nice guy." Small sample, yes.

I'm not particularly hopeful that we'll see meaningful legal reform in software patents. There is too much money to be made by lawyers in filing and litigation. Their brethren in government making the laws are't going to one day just shut down this little parasitic industry that feeds many of their friends and likely contributors.

Until then, where's the most troll-free place from which to conduct a software business? Black and white immunity is not necessary, just a not-worth-the-effort situation for trolls??

6
suresk 4 days ago 4 replies      
This rings about as hollow as if it were Tim Cook complaining about closed ecosystems. Bezos likely realizes that as Amazon moves into making and selling mobile devices and tablets, they too will be targets for patent litigation.
7
DannyBee 4 days ago 0 replies      
They should just retitle this article "Jeff Bezos finally realizes he's next"
8
sehugg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Bezos's 2000 open letter on patents: http://oreilly.com/news/amazon_patents.html

Good sentiment, but it's twelve years later and the only positive action we've seen from Amazon concerning patent reform is an offhand comment to a reporter. How's that prior art database coming along, for example? Forgive me for not getting too excited.

9
Klinky 4 days ago 0 replies      
I completely agree with Bezos as it's absurd that companies can patent things like rounded corners or 1-Click shopping, oh, oh wait...
10
cloverich 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why is he a hypocrite?

To exist as a tech company today, you'd be insane to NOT patent as much as possible. Seriously, if you're developing tech to compete with Apple (or any large tech co), but have no IP of your own, you're defenseless. Thats the impression I get, anyways - that you're best bet is to patent as much as possible. The more vague, the more absurd, the better. It offers more bargaining chips. Because lets face it - can a non multi-million dollar company survive a couple of lawsuits by one of the tech giants? I doubt it.

Patent warfare is a systematic issue; its not unreasonable to attack the system (Gov't sponsored patents). That's what I take from this message. I'm sure there's a Game Theory term for this, but its clearly not something that can be resolved outside of the system. Anyone who stops the lawsuits (or threat of) quickly disappears.

11
stcredzero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sort of like 1973, when the largest stockpilers of nuclear weapons started to talk about limiting them. The weapons holder is in a unique position to know how bad the use of weapons can be.
12
antidoh 4 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone has credibility here, it's Bezos (for reasons listed in other posts). Not sarcasm.
13
waterlesscloud 4 days ago 0 replies      
Geez guys, when someone hands you a victory, take it.
14
conanite 4 days ago 0 replies      
The article ends with

  Mr Bezos would not be drawn on whether Amazon plans to
release a smartphone of its own.

Amazon's plans in the smartphone market may be influencing Jeff's argument.

15
lh7777 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars" seems a bit dramatic when you consider his actual statements.
From the article, he actually said (emphasis mine):

"...we're _starting_ to be in a world where [patents] might start to stifle innovation...Governments _may_ need to look at the patent system and _see_ if those laws need to be modified..."

If he truly believes that the patent system needs to change (and I really think he does), couldn't he have left those qualifiers out? As it is these just seem like timid observations, far from a call for governments to step in and do something.

16
krrrh 4 days ago 1 reply      
What a weak article. The interviewer had Jeff Bezos complaining about patents, and never brought up one-click? He never asked about consistency of position, or if it the uncertainty of being a new entrant into an established market had given him a new perspective on the factors that encourage innovation. The paucity of actual quotes or dialogue in the piece make it seem like the full interview (linked to from the OA) was conducted by sitting behind Bezos in business class and scribbling down what was overheard.
17
WalterBright 4 days ago 1 reply      
Realistically, the only way the patent wars can end is if Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft all get behind ending it.
18
chj 4 days ago 0 replies      
He had very good reasons, Amazon is going to sell a lot of kindle fire and people are going to come after them.
19
CrankyBear 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd respect this more if he hadn't patented 1-click shopping. Oh yeah, that was innovative. Now that he has "his," he wants to change the rules. Love your company Jeff, hate your IP policy and not impressed by your flip-flopping.
20
duxup 4 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't say exactly what change he wants.

The devil is in the details.

21
merwill 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think more important than the level of protection at this point is public knowledge and awareness of just what patents are out there. One project that might galvanize federal action just launched and is seeking crowdfunding to shed light in this arena.

Specifically, IP Checkups aims to map out the patents and shell companies of Intellectual Ventures, and potentially other mass aggregators, to foster public knowledge and the original purposes of the patent system. For more information, see: news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57532492-38/patent-activists-lets-light-up-intellectual-ventures-ip-portfolio/

22
milesli 4 days ago 0 replies      
The government has been pretty busy with the debates, I don't think they have attention to patent wars.
9
Things I wish I knew about MongoDB a year ago snmaynard.com
301 points by beastmcbeast  4 days ago   101 comments top 8
1
dia80 4 days ago  replies      
Genuine question:

In what use cases does mongo kick mysql's ass?

I've used it a couple of times in hobby projects and enjoyed not maintaining a schema. I read so many of these 'gotcha' style articles and for example one commenter here wants to have a manual "recently dirty" flag to combat the master / slave lag mentioned in the article. I know it's faster (tm) but once you have to take in to account all this low level stuff you have to worry about yourself wouldn't it just be better to rent/buy another rack of mysql servers and not worry about it?

Look forward to learning something...

2
lars512 4 days ago 2 replies      
The inconsistent reads in replica sets is something we've come across with MySQL read slaves as well. I think it's a gotcha of that whole model of replication, rather than a MongoDB-specific issue.
3
tomschlick 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm so glad this wasn't another case of someone just ranting about using mongo for the wrong purpose and being mad about it a year later.
4
nickzoic 4 days ago 0 replies      
The count({condition}) one is a worry. I'm guessing it is slow in the case where it has to page the index in in order to count it. I wonder if it is still a problem where the index is used a lot anyway. A fix in MongoDB would seem a lot better solution than having everyone implement their own hacky count-caching solution.

EDIT: Actually, looking at the bug reports, sounds like maybe lock contention on the index?

The master/slave replication problem seems bad but I think it can be worked around (for my particular project) with a flag on the user session ... if they've performed a write in the last 30 seconds, set slaveOkay = false. Users who are just browsing may experience a slight delay in seeing new documents but users who are editing stuff will see their edits immediately.

5
nevinera 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Range queries are indexed differently

If I'm reading your description right, this is hardly mongo-specific. Try it in mysql, for example:

(index is [:last, :first])

  select first from names 
where last in ('gordon','holmes','watson')
order by first;

An index is an ordering by which a search may be performed -
to illustrate, the index for my small table looks pretty much like this:

  gordon, jeff
holmes, mycroft
holmes, sherlock
watson, john

Unless the first key is restricted to a single value, it can't order by the second key without performing at least a merge-sort. They aren't in that order in the index.

6
jameswyse 3 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I love MongoDB for is it's geospatial indexing abilities: http://www.mongodb.org/display/DOCS/Geospatial+Indexing

Was a really nice surprise when I was building a location based web app.

7
chris123 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is MongoDB more marketing hype than quality product? I've heard it before and this article seems to point in that direction as well.
8
bengaoir 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I knew that it sucked.
10
Simplify your life with an SSH config file nerderati.com
301 points by koide  1 day ago   80 comments top 23
1
sneak 1 day ago 6 replies      
This overlooks ProxyCommand, the single most useful reason for using an ssh config file.

e.g.:

    Host internal-*.example.net
ProxyCommand ssh -T external.example.net 'nc %h %p'


Basically, specify as ProxyCommand whatever command needs to be run to give you i/o to the remote sshd - in this case, sshing to a bastion host and running netcat. This allows me to do, for example:

    ssh internal-dev.example.net

Which will (in background) ssh to the bastion host external.example.net. I can even do port forwards to internal hosts using -L or LocalForward directives. It's a huuuuge timesaver.

ssh even automatically replaces %h and %p in the ProxyCommand with a host and port, though you can of course replace those tokens with static values if it works better.

(Also, note above that one can use wildcards in Host declarations.)

2
ef4 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Personally, I use quite a few public/private keypairs for the various servers and services that I use, to ensure that in the event of having one of my keys compromised the dammage is as restricted as possible.

If you keep all those private keys on the same machine and tend to load them all into ssh-agent frequently, then there's little point in that. People forget that keypairs are not like passwords -- if Github gets compromised, nobody can do anything with the public key you gave them.

Unless you treat the keys very differently (like having a special key that you rarely ever decrypt), there's no reason to have more than one per device.

3
cmer 1 day ago 7 replies      
I now use Mosh exclusively over ssh. It's great on slow connections as well as on fast ones. For example, I can start an ssh connection at home on my laptop, drive to the office and resume like nothing ever happened. One of the best discoveries of the past year for me.

http://mosh.mit.edu/

4
swalberg 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you add the following to your .bash_profile, you'll get command line completion of your hosts:

  function _ssh_completion() {
perl -ne 'print "$1 " if /^[Hh]ost (.+)$/' ~/.ssh/config
}
complete -W "$(_ssh_completion)" ssh

5
jerf 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A few other useful things about SSH aliases, especially w.r.t. not just using shell aliases:

They set you up with a layer of indirection that you can change later. Git-svn doesn't like having the URL to the SVN server changed, but if you set up a git alias to "svn" instead, when the SVN server moves for some reason you won't have to do anything except change the svn alias contents. You can also share the resulting tree between multiple people easily because they can plop in their own "svn" alias that uses their own user instead. In general you can safely reference the SSH alias in any number of places (beyond just shell scripts) and know that you can trivially change the alias later without having to change all those things.

There are many things that will use SSH, but won't accept any parameters, or will accept only a small subset. Emacs can use SSH to access remote file systems by opening "/ssh:username@ip:port:/file", but it will only take username, ip, and port (AFAIK). With SSH aliases, you have the full power of SSH available to you, so you can use all these other nifty things people are talking about. I've also been using ddd to remotely debug perl lately and that pretty much seems to demand 'ssh host' with passwordless login and nothing else.

6
icebraining 1 day ago 3 replies      
A great option to enable for servers where you're constantly SSHing to (either opening a shell or pushing a repo) is ControlMaster, which lets you multiplex a single connection and cut down on the initial connection time (including authentication).
7
ftwinnovations 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Great tips but this one in my opinion is pure gold http://blogs.perl.org/users/smylers/2011/08/ssh-productivity...
8
jperras 1 day ago 0 replies      
Author here. Glad to see that this post was useful; I wrote it a while ago when I realized that people weren't password-protecting their Github private keys because it was "too complicated".

I've been meaning to start writing again, and my post showing up on the HN front page is a pretty good motivator. Thanks for that, everyone :-).

9
notatoad 1 day ago 0 replies      
i just switched over from using bash aliases (as described in the article) to an SSH config file last week. The best thing for me is that it doesn't just make ssh easier to use, it makes all the ssh family of tools easier. scp, sshfs, rsync etc all suddenly require less typing to use.
10
adanto6840 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've run into a few local networks that have routers, or other network security appliances, that are configured in such a way where my SSH connection would get dropped after XX seconds of inactivity.

Placing the following wildcard entry in my SSH config resolved the issue for those times when I had to use one of these networks...

  # Set Global KeepAlive to avoid timeouts
Host *
ServerAliveInterval 240

11
Newky 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good article, especially the LocalForward config was new to me.

One real usage that is invaluable for me, is the fact that the config is used for SVP also. This saves a lot of typing.

With a key based login set up, copying files to a server is a matter of

scp file dev:~/

12
the_mitsuhiko 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish the damn thing would support DNS. We have a bunch of servers to SSH into and I have to use the fully qualified domain name unless I want to hardcode all of them (and there are too many).
13
liveoneggs 13 hours ago 0 replies      
you can setup port forwards on-the-fly with ~C

~? shows the few things you can do over the admin channel of ssh.

  ~ $ ~?
Supported escape sequences:
~. - terminate connection (and any multiplexed sessions)
~B - send a BREAK to the remote system
~C - open a command line
~R - Request rekey (SSH protocol 2 only)
~^Z - suspend ssh
~# - list forwarded connections
~& - background ssh (when waiting for connections to terminate)
~? - this message
~~ - send the escape character by typing it twice
(Note that escapes are only recognized immediately after newline.)

14
easy_rider 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's another reason why. For specific hosts, ssh can sometimes feel terribly slow, especially with connecting, and especially on a mac!

Host -host-name-here-
GSSAPIAuthentication no
GSSAPIKeyExchange no

Fixes this issue.
source: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2011102011541796...

15
trotsky 1 day ago 1 reply      
no one ever uses kerberos outside of windows shops anymore?
16
nnq 1 day ago 0 replies      
Considering the large percent Linux users frequently using SSH, I'd stick a link to this (and to http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/290) in all newbie targeted Linux tutorials... I just hate the world for letting me live without this knowledge for close to a year since diving into Linux.
17
js2 1 day ago 0 replies      

  man ssh_config

18
skylan_q 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was very pleased when I discovered this. I was thrilled when I discovered that Emacs tramp mode makes use of this! :D
19
bonobo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice article. If only I had seen this last week, it would have saved me some time. I was trying to configure multiple github accounts last week, but I don't have enough experience with ssh.

...but now that I did manage to configure it, I wonder if it was really necessary. Github has a nice identity control, I think it was foolish of me to think I needed both a personal and a work account.

20
lallouz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I have been thinking about this problem for a while now. Glad to see the start of some simple solutions to make this more bearable.
21
grobot 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I find myself wishing ~/.ssh/config had include statements, so I could mix and match blocks which are only useful on certain networks / in certain contexts.
22
evanm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been doing this for some time now"getting my precious seconds back one login at a time.
23
mememememememe 1 day ago 1 reply      
But this is known for years. I've been using this since the second week of using Linux.
11
XKCD-style charts with D3 iel.fm
299 points by idan  3 days ago   32 comments top 15
1
jamesaguilar 3 days ago 4 replies      
If I'm honest, the most impressive thing about this is how much less concise this is than the mathematica version that came out earlier. I wonder if the difference is more a matter of the library quality or the syntax.
2
danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
It draws a nice sine wave
http://so.danwin.com/test/xkcd-d3/
3
nigma 3 days ago 1 reply      
For comparison a version in Python/Matplotlib is at http://jakevdp.github.com/blog/2012/10/07/xkcd-style-plots-i...
4
prezjordan 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nicely presented! And bl.ocks.org is also very clean (never heard of it before).

I would say this is the nicest result I've seen compared to Python, Mathematica, MATLAB.

5
eric_bullington 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well done! I actually was planning on tacking this one myself using svg filters but I've been too busy. I didn't see Mike Bostock's comment suggesting the custom line interpolator and wasn't aware of it -- d3 is gaining some cool new functionalities!

Thanks also for the great references. In spite of being a big proponent of d3, I somehow missed the "Toward Reusable Charts" piece Mike wrote earlier this year, which succeeds where I have struggled. I've been using the standard prototypal approach to creating reusable and easily configurable charts, which can be cumbersome for the caller. This functional approach with closures is so much cleaner and more reusable. It's the only way I'll make my d3 charts from now on!

6
mark_integerdsv 2 days ago 1 reply      
I still need to see a thorough rationalization for the use of this chart style.

Bonus points for using the Tufte 'lie factor' formula.

7
DanWaterworth 2 days ago 1 reply      
The graph is good, but I think I like the font more.
8
gojomo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now if we could only get D3-style animation in XKCD...
9
joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
This thing looks amazing. I didn't want to fire up Mathematica to render these charts but I love D3. Thanks!
10
suprememoocow 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to play around with the example, I've stuck it on jsfiddle: http://jsfiddle.net/KndsL/2/
11
gubatron 3 days ago 0 replies      
" // Compute the distance along the path using a map-reduce."
lol
12
vangar 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can't you just use a tablet and DRAW the graph like it was hand-made?

I don't understand...

13
sturmeh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Took be a bit to realise this wasn't a Diablo 3 reference.
14
heeton 3 days ago 0 replies      
Negative awesomeness?? Uh-oh!
15
languagehacker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, guys. We get it. Enough.
12
Free Flag Icons gosquared.com
299 points by timparker  3 days ago   75 comments top 23
1
hp 3 days ago 7 replies      
Using flags in your visual design can be tempting but in my experience it's a bad idea. The problem is that certain flags force you to "take sides" in political disputes that you likely aren't aware of and don't understand. You'll inadvertently make one side very angry with you, and you won't even really know what political statement you accidentally made.

It's OK if you stick to flags you know but if you start trying to have a list of all flags, there's no way to do that without making various groups angry.

I don't doubt that there's a "right" answer to all disputes over flags but do you really know what all the disputes are and want to arbitrate them as part of developing your software ...

Deliberately not digging up specific disputes because the whole point is, if you have to ask what they are or if you start debating them case by case, maybe this wasn't a can of worms that needed opening.

(also, the last time I encountered this was long enough ago that I'm sure the relevant examples have changed, and I never understood them well to begin with. But it was clear that flags poked more than one political group in the eye.)

2
crazygringo 3 days ago 3 replies      
For people saying "don't use flags", and "especially not for languages"...

I totally agree in theory, but...

In a lot of interfaces, having something visual helps a lot. Especially when you need to pick something from a list where you don't even know what language the user speaks!

Obviously, you can present a text list like "English (American)", "Português (Brasil)", "አማርኛ", "贛語", but it can look kind of ugly, how do you decide to sort them, etc.

Plus, a lot of times the language is tied to a country, because each country has their spelling and grammar differences, etc. That's why many times you don't see "Portuguese" in language lists, but rather "Portuguese (Portugal)" and "Portuguese (Brazil)" -- because there's no such thing as a general-purpose Portuguese.

So while flags aren't perfect, a lot of the time they help far more than they hurt. In a perfect world, there would actually be language-specific icons that everyone recognized. Suggestions, anybody?

3
rhplus 3 days ago 1 reply      
A bit of advice: avoid using flags altogether in your user interface unless you really, really need to refer to specific national/political entities. There's far too much room for error or offense, whether you're incorrectly assigning the wrong flag to a geographical region or have not represented the flag correctly. I haven't looked at the flag set, but I'm betting there are errors related to the correctness of layout, aspect ratios and colors and to the clarity of symbols and text.

Even more importantly, never use a flag to represent a language choice.

(* most major websites do avoid using flags, but one notable exception is Apple, which completely corrupts every single flag with their own shiny style: http://www.apple.com/choose-your-country/ ...)

4
morsch 3 days ago 2 replies      
Under what license are they released? There is no licensing information on the page, or on the parent "freebies" page, or in the zip file itself.
5
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 0 replies      
The website flags these as "vector" - they are gorgeous and I'm wondering if the actual SVG versions are available?

If you want one particular flag (instead of many for language purposes), I think these are very fine.

6
uvdiv 3 days ago 1 reply      
What were the criteria for including some disputed states (South Ossetia, Somaliland) while excluding others (Transnistria, Azawad)?
7
dagw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, awesome. I'll definitely be using this. In fact this is so awesome I actually gave my real email address.
8
pilsetnieks 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would help tremendously if the files were named by, say, ISO 2-letter country codes (where it applies).
9
Sembiance 3 days ago 1 reply      
No vector format? Don't get me wrong, these flags are appreciated, but to spend all that time making them in a bitmap format? Kinda seems like a bit of a waste, since flags seem PERFECT for vector format.
10
highace 3 days ago 1 reply      
How long did they take to make?
11
cheeaun 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it would be awesome if all these flag icons are hosted on a CDN and we can all link to it.
12
Zenst 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find selecting country via flags of a global map to not only be alot quicker than a drop down list, but also more intuative. As somebody who lives in Britian/United Kingdom, then selecting via a flag or mini world map is much easier. Reason being from my point of view is often there is no UK/British option and your slotted in as American English in some forms of language selection. Now if the application ror website wish's to do that behind the scene then fine, but with lists you tend not to have that mapping and on flags or a global map your none the wiser. Also educational value and easier upon all cultures that way, some might prefer there drop down lists on the right, some on the left so this avoids that. All in all it offers more positives as apposed to negatives over dropdown lists for country/flag selection.

So the option to have icons you can freely use without accidently stepping upoon somebodies IP can only be a good thing and counter any arguments about flag copyrights and images. Amazing how even the simplest common items can be copyrighted - swiss clock being one even Apple slipped up upon. So some free ones are always good.

13
BUGHUNTER 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the contribution. It would be great to have all flags, especially the small ones, in ONE file to avoid x requests on sites with many flags.
Here is one idea: offer a service for people who need multiple country flags on their site to generate the one big flag picture set they need for their specific set of flags - one big country-selector that spits out a big flags.png after submit would be a great promo! Thanks!
14
ilija139 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have heard about GoSquared, but have never tried it before. I just signed up and I'm truly amazed. The dashboard view is really useful feature. IMO this is as good as it gets for real-time website analytics. Awesome work guys!
15
chucknelson 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is anyone else surprised that in the age of "retina" displays, these only go up to 64px?
16
adaml_623 3 days ago 0 replies      
Had to look up this one when I saw it was included: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Mars
17
sailfast 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone that often designs things that are country / geographically specific this is a great collection. I also like it as an idea to drive traffic to your site. You're on my radar now and the other freebies look pretty slick too. Thanks! Definitely made the right impression.
18
jblz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another set that goes up to 128px:
http://icondrawer.com/flag-icons.php

They're free, but require attribution unless you buy a 'royalty-free license.'

19
visualidiot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, they're beautiful!
20
munyukim 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been looking for high quality flag icons like these; I would be definitely using them in the future. Thanks!
21
timparker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Change log + details added as a .txt in the .zip
22
halayli 3 days ago 2 replies      
These guys have bluntly copied woopra.com
23
bustaarama 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks!

Can't find any informations regarding a license (usage) ?!

13
Free Online Education Is Now Illegal in Minnesota slate.com
284 points by paufernandez  2 days ago   147 comments top 26
1
tokenadult 2 days ago  replies      
As correctly pointed out by another comment posted overnight in Minnesota's time zone, this blog post is just blogspam of the earlier Chronicle of Higher Education blog post, which was discussed on Hacker News beginning yesterday.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4671196

The title of the Slate blogspam piece is even more exaggerated and link-baiting than the title of the Chronicle piece; both titles are factually wrong. Both blog posts overstate the impact of the Minnesota notice to higher education institutions, which has resulted only in a fig-leaf change to Coursera's ToS directed to Minnesota residents, and has had NO effect on Coursera's operation in Minnesota. As noted in my comment on the first thread,

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4672038

I am a Minnesota resident, I am enrolled in multiple Coursera courses (and two of my children are enrolled in Coursera courses), and I will be speaking to my state legislators about this as a precaution after first speaking to the Minnesota Department of Education about this when business hours begin here. The sun will rise in the east here in Minnesota just like everywhere else today, and all is well with the world. Well, maybe not quite everything is well with the world, as two of the top eleven most active posts on HN just now

http://news.ycombinator.com/active

are both discussions of this very exaggerated story about Minnesota, neither checked with actual on-the-ground reporting on students currently enrolled in Coursera courses in Minnesota.

ONE MORE EDIT: Thanks to the several commenters (at various comment levels in various subthreads) who suggested policy considerations to bring up with the offices of my state senator and state representative today during the campaign season, and to the commenters who pointed to various possible interpretations of the relevant statutes and possible partisan political considerations related to this issue. I'll digest all that after giving blood today, and send an email to the state Office of Higher Education

https://www.ohe.state.mn.us/

and to my legislators. Over the weekend, I'll be doing homework in my Coursera courses [smile].

2
EzGraphs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Coursera terms of service:
https://www.coursera.org/about/terms

Notice for Minnesota Users

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.

Previously reported: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/minnesota-gives-cours...

Previous discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4671196

3
delinka 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't see how you can make such a determination about a online information site (i.e. one that provides information but not accredited diplomas or degrees.) You can learn all day from Wikipedia, will they ban wikipedia next? This really looks like politicians overreaching on behalf of some frightened post-secondary institution.

From the article's page, commenter Greg Shenaut points out that further reading of MN law would render this political "threat" moot. His comment pasted below:

Bottom line, they should have considered Coursera, since it offers no degrees at all, under their “Private Career Schools” statute (Chapter 141) rather than under their “Private and Public Postsecondary Education Act (136A.61-71)”. The latter act is concerned with (1) degree granting institutions and (2) schools that call themselves universities or colleges as part of their name. Coursera grants no degrees and doesn't call itself anything except “Coursera” (or coursera.org), so it is really bizarre that they decided to regulate it under 136A.61-71.

If they had made the opposite determination, then, under 141.21(10) and 141.35(17), Coursera would probably have been exempted from any need for official approval: “[The Private Career Schools Act] shall not apply to... schools with no physical presence in Minnesota, as determined by the office, engaged exclusively in offering distance instruction that are located in and regulated by other states or jurisdictions”.

4
imgabe 2 days ago 1 reply      
How could they enforce this? If someone from Minnesota takes a class, is Minnesota going to sue Coursera? Fine/jail the student? There's really no option that doesn't leave Minnesota looking bad.
5
ekianjo 2 days ago 1 reply      
When are we going to stop the nonsense to stop any disruption to any existing business by making laws against it? Just like in france recently they want to tax Google for referencing the contents of french newspapers on the basis that they are benefiting from their contents to put their ads - this never stops and the politicians are too easy to corrupt.
6
jeremyhaberman 2 days ago 4 replies      
It gets worse: religious schools are exempt from this law: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=136A.657

Here's an index of the relevant statutes (scroll down to the 'MINNESOTA PRIVATE AND OUT-OF-STATE PUBLIC POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION ACT' section):
https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=136A

7
nicholassmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
And once again a service discovers the thorny world of regulation framework that was design for a specific set of circumstances and is being applied like a hammer to an egg.
8
dschiptsov 2 days ago 2 replies      
Something is very wrong with that country.

It is not mere about depriving people from their right to free information access, it is an attempt to deprive people from their right to grow up, to improve their lives, to learn how they have been cheated and by whom.

For example, to learn that not just those finance guys, but the whole economic science has no clue about what's going on with the economy, except that it is very broken.)

9
jiggy2011 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems this would hinge on defining coursera as a "college"?

I'm assuming this was legislation passed in order to prevent people creating bogus for-profit universities.

But coursera doesn't charge money or offer accredited qualifications.

So how would this differ from any other educational site, like say stackoverflow?

Does it hinge around the fact that it is unofficially associated with certain existing universities like Stanford etc by using their logos and lecturers?

10
iwwr 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is an opportunity for Minnesota residents to learn about geoIP and how to circumvent it. I sense a fresh new Coursera course.
11
csomar 2 days ago 2 replies      
From my understanding, Coursera can charge a fee (say $1) and become fully legal. That could be a third option for Minnesota citizens.
12
abbasmehdi 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to learn which government official and department is responsible for this action so we can direct our dislike of this decision towards them.

P.S. The ML class Andrew Ng is teaching on Coursera is phenomenal by the way.

13
j45 2 days ago 0 replies      
Education, and self-education specifically is a fundamental human right.

I can't even begin to wrap my head around this.

14
jlarocco 2 days ago 4 replies      
Wow, there's a lot of hyperbole going on here. I'm a little disappointed people on HN are falling for it.

It seems pretty clear from reading the article that Minnesota isn't stopping anybody from taking online courses.

But to be officially recognized in Minnesota requires that the entity providing the education is registered as an educational entity in Minnesota. I'm pretty sure most states have laws like this. Here's why: I know nothing about biology, but without laws like this, there would be nothing stopping me from offering classes on biology.

In this case it's obvious Coursera is legit, but in a lot of cases it may not be so obvious.

15
Surio 2 days ago 2 replies      
EDIT I:

Based on feedback below, I have added my two bits to this conversation

Even supposedly conservative countries are opening up their elite curriculums like this NPTEL effort in India to disseminate the IIT curricula for free on YouTube: http://nptel.iitm.ac.in

Placed in context, this bit of news seems particularly galling!

================

I'm going to try this line again, particularly since tvtropes says: "On its way to becoming a Forgotten Trope, a Seen It All Suicide occurs when a cartoon character, having seen some outrageous sight, proclaims "Now I've seen everything!" and promptly produces a pistol and shoots himself on the spot."

Wat?[0] >>> Now I've seen everything! !Bang! <<< [1]

[0] That "Wat" feeling. Cf., https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat

[1] http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeenItAllSuicide

EDIT II: [This last line removed/redacted based on feedback from below]

16
jghefner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Makes me wonder if online for-profit schools have government permission to offer instruction in the state.
17
belorn 2 days ago 0 replies      
What defines as "instructions"? Most products has instruction manuals. Most companies has instruction manuals for new employes.

Written instructions are not that uncommon.

18
bennesvig 2 days ago 0 replies      
I live in Minnesota. I had never heard of Coursera, but I just signed up for my first course. I had also never heard of BuckyBalls before the government threatened to ban them and ended up buying some. Interesting how prohibition or threat of creates certain desires.
19
nicolethenerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is very worrying to me. Not because of the actual ruling itself (which seems fairly unenforceable, unless they're going to get Minnesota-based ISPs to block Coursera), but because of the precedent it sets. What else can states ask their residents not to read or look at? And what are the consequences if they do?

Additionally, while a private resident of Minnesota can happily continue using Coursera (at least for now) without consequence, this could have an impact on Minnesota public schools. If I were a Minnesota public school teacher, I would now be very reluctant to use Coursera in my classroom. All it takes is one student to tell Mommy and Daddy that they got assigned homework from an "illegal website," and there could be a shitstorm. (I realize that Coursera isn't really targeted at school-age kids, but what if it had been Khan Academy?)

20
sxp 1 day ago 0 replies      
FYI, this rule has been changed:"Obviously, our office encourages lifelong learning and wants Minnesotans to take advantage of educational materials available on the Internet, particularly if they're free. No Minnesotan should hesitate to take advantage of free, online offerings from Coursera."

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/19/minnesota...

21
jakeonthemove 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a classic case of a law that needs to be changed. When your country has an education problem, even charging the universities a fee for free courses is simply stupid.
22
jeremiep 2 days ago 0 replies      
In other news, smart people are now illegal aliens in Minnesota.
23
S4M 2 days ago 0 replies      
An U.S state is making illegal online education before even Iran does? Well, I hope they won't try to enforce this regulation by blocking coursera inside Minnesota, that would start to be really scary.
24
mikecaron 2 days ago 0 replies      
And this is a prime opportunity for Minnesota residents to learn about proxies :)
25
mkhattab 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they will apply the same restrictions to Udacity which offer course completion certificates? It's worrying that such a harmless mode of learning can be threatened by the stupidity of a few government officials.
26
tomjen3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should go to prison for this.
14
The Pirate Bay in the cloud thepiratebay.se
272 points by ponyous  4 days ago   68 comments top 21
1
morsch 4 days ago 2 replies      
The announcement is rather nebulous, as is their way. TorrentFreak has a more detailed explanation: http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-moves-to-the-cloud-become...

It's pretty much what you'd expect, though: The web site is now running on VMs on two unnamed cloud providers, accessed through a load balancer. All traffic is still routed through servers they control. The cloud providers apparently don't know that they're hosting the pirate bay, or pirate cloud as it were. If a cloud provider goes away, they can move to the VMs to another one. If their own transit routers go down, no data is lost and it's easy to get back and running.

2
charlieirish 4 days ago 1 reply      
For UK Visitors:

The Pirate Cloud

So, first we ditched the trackers.

Then we got rid of the torrents.

Now? Now we've gotten rid of the servers. Slowly and steadily we are getting rid of our earthly form and ascending into the next stage, the cloud.

The cloud, or Brahman as the hindus call it, is the All, surrounding everything. It is everywhere; immaterial, yet very real.

If there is data, there is The Pirate Bay.

Our data flows around in thousands of clouds, in deeply encrypted forms, ready to be used when necessary. Earth bound nodes that transform the data are as deeply encrypted and reboot into a deadlock if not used for 8 hours.

All attempts to attack The Pirate Bay from now on is an attack on everything and nothing. The site that you're at will still be here, for as long as we want it to. Only in a higher form of being. A reality to us. A ghost to those who wish to harm us.

Adapt or be forever forgotten beneath the veils of maya.

3
unreal37 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this all goes to underscore the fact that TPB doesn't actually HOST anything anymore. Not .torrent files, and not trackers. Not sure on what grounds authorities would have to raid them in 2012. There are no files there any more, just HTML web pages containing magnet links (which are specially coded URLs). The entire site can be downloaded in a few hundred MB...

It's like TPB has achieved Nirvana. It no longer has a physical presence...

4
andr 4 days ago 2 replies      
In practice this probably means several replicas of the site dormant in different cloud providers. The providers won't have a clue until they go live.

In effect, they are replacing their current legal protections with a game of cat and mouse as they switch between clouds.

5
shadowmint 4 days ago 2 replies      
obscure announcement is obscure.

basically seems like they've got a virtual setup now that lets them essentially deploy "the pirate bay" on anything that runs virtual machines.

Now if they had distributed user run VMs running this private server VPN they might have something to talk about, but is basically just a hosting change. Makes it easier for them to move around as hosting get wise and shuts them off (as it will inevitably do).

The real question is, are they doing something sneaky like having VMs running on known clouds using encrypted vpn traffic to hide the fact that those machines are pirate bay VMs, and relays to feed info in and out. ;) Just speculating...

6
mbq 4 days ago 1 reply      
Aren't the cloud providers capable of simply hibernating a VM on their machine to get VM's RAM contents and salvage all the config and keys/passwords/network topology info they want from this dump?
7
ericcholis 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm sorry, am I the only one that isn't impressed by this? I'm actually quite stunned that they are treating this like some new discovery. Pop onto HN any day and see thousands of people talking about cloud. Hell, some local IT staffing agency in my area has a billboard about cloud servers.

Cloud is mainstream now, why did it take TPB so long to catch up?

//Sorry if it sounds like trolling

8
belorn 4 days ago 2 replies      
In the end, I think it will fall on the dns system to decide if the site will survive or not. Currently, most TLD's just redirect any request of censoring by saying "go where the server is and solve the issue at the source". When that is no longer an option, the political pressure will increase.

Hopefully, TLD's like .se will stand fast and refuse to use the DNS system for censoring.

9
daemon13 4 days ago 2 replies      
Step 1 - What if their domain is shut down through registry?

This will cut short most of the users who do not remeber IP by heart.

Step 2 - go after static IP and shut it down through ISP.

This will cut the remaining users who remeber old IP by heart.

If executed simultaneously...

10
Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would have preferred fully distributed solution. This one is easy to take down. Also memory snapshots can be take from servers, so disk encryption doesn't help. Not best possible solution afaik.
11
sergiotapia 4 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad their search feature is absolutely horrendous. Searching for a simple term like "The Matrix" doesn't return any results at all.
12
daurnimator 4 days ago 2 replies      
sure "thepiratebay" as we can define it is linked to wherever the DNS entry points to?

That is the single point of failure, even in a move to the cloud.

13
eloisant 4 days ago 1 reply      
Well, DNS is still a single point of failure. You gotta hope The Internet Infrastructure Foundation is supporting them.
14
oneandoneis2 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's a nice advance and all, but I still think it was cooler when they were talking about putting masses of micro-servers into orbit to make their hosting truly impossible to take down :)
15
mansoor-s 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would love technical details. Anyone know if they have published them anywhere?
16
alz 4 days ago 0 replies      
how do they manage their databases, this would be interesting if the system is truely distributed
17
frozenport 4 days ago 1 reply      
"reboot into a deadlock if not used for 8 hours"

Sounds like a bug to me!

18
andrewmunsell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't TPB do something like Silk Road with Tor and a .onion domain? I'm not exactly sure how that works, but from the limited knowledge I do have, it seems like that sort of approach would be slightly more difficult to access but also more difficult to take down...
19
gleen 4 days ago 0 replies      
amazing
20
d0m 4 days ago 0 replies      
amen
21
benologist 4 days ago 0 replies      
Silly article, silly rhetoric.
15
Google throws open doors to its top-secret data center wired.com
265 points by Hurdy  4 days ago   96 comments top 19
1
fourspace 4 days ago 2 replies      
I had the pleasure of helping to build and manage these facilities, both hardware and software, for 5 years. It's nice to see some of Google's real innovations reach the public eye. Some of the smartest folks I ever worked with at the company build absolutely mind blowing tech that the outside never has the opportunity to see or appreciate.

In fact, while much of the content in the article has been written about before, it's still probably 2-3 years or more behind where Google is actually at. I left in 2010 and did't read about anything I had not experienced.

2
sounds 4 days ago 1 reply      
Single page article: (note: HN guidelines suggest always submitting the single-page article)

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/10/ff-inside-googl...

4
rpearl 4 days ago 2 replies      
There are some photos, such as https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/images/_300...

I wonder why they've mirrored the image (the left side is quite clearly the right side flipped--take a look at the machine identifier labels). What's being hidden?

5
DanBC 4 days ago 7 replies      
It's a shame that heat is just dumped outside most of the time.

EDIT:

The article talks about Google's impressive technical achievements. But there's a lot of energy that's wasted in industry. I don't mean "used inefficiently" (although that's bad too); I mean actually wasted.

I used to work at a tiny electronic sub-contracting factory. The morning shift would arrive, turn on the air compressor (2 KW), the reflow ovens (10 KW and 12 KW); and the other machines (about 7 KW).

But they'd do that even if the machines were not going to be running. All these KW were being used for no reason at all. And the machines are pretty inefficient anyway. (One of the owners thought powered machines looked more impressive. Energy costs were included in the rent so there was no incentive to think about when the machines were on or off. )

Counting that waste across all the tiny factories in the world, and including all the waste in offices - it's quite a lot.

6
mseebach 4 days ago 4 replies      
It's a nice piece, but nothing new in it, and most certainly no doors were thrown anywhere.
7
javajosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Google Platform people. Very nice work. As you may know, Randall Monroe (of xkcd fame) has recently started a feature called "what if" on their site. I would like to post a question to you along those lines:

What if Google was tasked with building an orbiting datacenter? How about a Dyson ring, or sphere? How would you do it?

If we were to use all matter in the solar system for commodity linux hardware, how much gmail storage would I get? How many flops? And what sorts of computation could you do on this monster?

Please answer! This should be fun...

8
seiji 4 days ago 2 replies      
Google should one-up Amazon and get into the Datacenter As A Service market. Service segments: normal cages (I'd rather lease cages from Colorful Pipes, Inc than Equinix), pay-n-go turnkey same-hardware in 3 georedundant locations, and lease-by-rack in multiples of 10 pre-populated racks (racks specified as compute-only or storage-only with 10G interconnects between racks).
9
brown9-2 4 days ago 1 reply      
In regards to the disaster testing:

How did Google do this time? Pretty well. Despite the outages in the corporate network, executive chair Eric Schmidt was able to run a scheduled global all-hands meeting. The imaginary demonstrators were placated by imaginary pizza.

How does one decide what will placate imaginary demonstrators? Who calls them off?

10
Tipzntrix 4 days ago 1 reply      
They have a team causing water leaks and stealing hardware to test their disaster recovery. That is some serious penetration testing.
12
Loic 4 days ago 2 replies      
I start to be annoyed with the "a power efficiency of 2 is the standard in datacenters". My servers are hosted in a datacenter with a global efficiency of 1.15, proved after more than a year in operation. Announcing that Google is doing 1.2 is simply announcing something wrong and I suppose Google is very happy with this number being provided to the press. It means that some competitor will use it as "Google is the best, they do 1.2, we are at 1.3 we are not too bad", where I bet Google is now near 1.1 or less (they operate without cooling in Belgium for example).
13
stock_toaster 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is unfortunate (for the rest of us) that datacenter tech is such a competitive advantage for Google. If they were able to share their breakthroughs more readily with others, imagine how much less of the "1.5% of all power globally" datacenters could be using.
14
francov88 4 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool article - would be amazing to walk through that facility.... love the Google coloured pipes from the pictures
15
wilfra 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good read but most of that is not new information. I read a lot of that in a book about Google over two years ago. The last ~ 1 page was new though.
16
dredmorbius 4 days ago 0 replies      
When they say that supercomputing is essentially a plumbing problem ... looking at these photos, no kidding.
17
bhauer 4 days ago 0 replies      
All caveats about chrome-dev aside, I find it amusing that this site's navigation does not work in Chrome v24.0.1297.0. Had to use Aurora to view it.

Maybe Google really is Sun v2 ("We are the dot in dot-com" == "Where the Internet lives").

18
Fando 4 days ago 0 replies      
An incredible article!
19
no_script 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously. I can't believe they require JavaScript to view this all this eye-candy and server porn.

http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/

I thought GWT was designed to "compile" rendered pages for a wide variety of browsers and permutations of configurations?

The pictures are very pretty, but that's really awful of them to release a PR site like this, and force users into using JavaScript.

Unforgivable.

17
Guerrilla guide to CNC machining, mold making, and resin casting coredump.cx
260 points by VBprogrammer  12 hours ago   30 comments top 10
1
pvarangot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This guide (or book?) couldn't be upvoted enough. With his comprehensive work I believe Michal has done more for home manufacturing and high quality hobbyist robotics than all 3d printing "revolutionary" and "disruptive" companies combined.
2
lifeisstillgood 10 hours ago 14 replies      
Is there a co-operative movement in the maker movement - one where the mysterious "Well equipped machine shop" is a co-op or subscription approach - it strikes me as very similar to airplane ownership - very few pilots own a whole aeroplane, and why should every maker own all they need

As an aside I have often felt this would be a fantastic Mythbusters franchise

3
mtdev 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article, I am glad MSDS was touched on before machining cast parts. The only thing I would add is that users should check MSDS before machining ANY material. There are a few exotic metal alloys whose dust can cause severe respiratory trauma.
4
delinka 8 hours ago 2 replies      
CNC machining is exactly the hobby I've wanted to develop. A well-timed post indeed. My eternal gratitude for your efforts to provide this information.
5
guavaroo 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is really great. I never knew about Creo Elements/Express going to give it a try.

If you use SolidWorks then check out HSMXpress, it's a great free CAM package.

[1] http://www.hsmworks.com/hsmxpress/

6
gravitronic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Dang. This is an amazing guide. This could have saved me so much time and money if I read it before buying a crappy mill and having to rebuild most of it from scratch.
7
kdsudac 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great guide! I've often thought about trying some DIY resin castings and this is by clearer and more thorough than anything else I've found online.
8
omegant 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This link is awesome!, you need to browse forums and pages for weeks or months to get all that info on your own!. Thank you!
9
justinschuh 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As a general rule, I never browse to any links from Michal Zalewski. If he's gonna pwn me, I'd like him to have to work for it a bit more. ;)
10
madlag 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Very impressive compilation of information for the robot hobbyist (among other stuff) !
18
Meteor releases authentication, accounts system, and new screencast meteor.com
258 points by debergalis  4 days ago   65 comments top 17
1
amix 4 days ago 1 reply      
Basing this on the screencast I think this looks amazing and they seem to be very productive. This said, I am unsure if this would produce codebases that are easier to maintain, since there is not a clear separation of concerns and everything seems to be connected. I think doing client-side JavaScript is hard and messy (even with Backbone or Ember) I could not imagine this would be any easier if I had to handle the backend on the client-side as well (especially a backend that's updated in realtime).

This said, maybe the current struggle of the client side is because the data is on the backend and needs to be fetched, updated and handled using a client-server model. With Meteror the data seems to live on the client-side which maybe makes things easier.

2
hbbio 4 days ago 12 replies      
"Meteor 0.5.0, available today, allows you to write secure realtime client-server applications in pure JavaScript. It's the only system of its kind in the world."

That's an outright lie.
cf. http://opalang.org

3
vikstrous4 4 days ago 2 replies      
I know these guys have good intentions, but they seem confused about the guarantees that SRP provides. It does allow the server to verify the user's password without receiving it, but it doesn't help in any was against offline attacks. If the "password" (in this case verifier) database is compromised, the attackers will still be able to brute force the passwords. If they implemented it correctly, they will be salted, but this only makes the attack slower. Furthermore, nothing can protect you if your password is password.

Also, I hope that they don't think this removes the need for SSL. It does not. In a web application the server sends the client the javascript to run. A man in the middle can modify it and defeat the whole point of SRP.

4
ehutch79 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm really glad auth finally got in this. With the biggest obvious stumbling block knocked off the list, I have some questions;

Is this production ready? Should I be using this for a greenfield project?

What is database access like? Postres, Mysql? SSL connections to mysql?

what's a typical setup/deployment look like?

5
davidlumley 4 days ago 1 reply      
While I'm not confident that being this tightly coupled to MongoDB is a great (or even a good) idea, I'm really glad to see Meteor get closer to 1.0 especially seeing as it's not another Rails clone.

The other concern I have is how testable is a meteor/derby codebase? I don't think I could commit to using something in a team environment without being able to _easily_ test things.

6
jemeshsu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are Meteor or Derby frameworks to be used on the premise that you have only browser clients? If my Meteor/Derby web app has server component, how easy it is to build native iOS and Android clients to access the same data on the server?
7
eranation 4 days ago 0 replies      
The other top HN page article today doesn't add to my confidence in MongoDB so more persistence options will be interesting. But still, production ready or not, this can be an excellent MVP creator.
8
chrisweekly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a huge milestone for a very, very interesting and ambitious project. I wish instead of nit-picking about the marketing language in a release announcement, people would take a minute to appreciate just how amazing this platform is becoming. Yes, ok, derby.js and socketstream and nowjs and opa and realtime-project-foo and etc, sure, maybe they are awesome too, but so what? Meteor is incredible, and contributing to this rising tide floating all the realtime framework boats. And that is something to celebrate imho.

To the meteor team: high five, keep it coming, and thank you!

9
ajays 3 days ago 1 reply      
This looks very interesting, but can anyone tell me how scalable is this? All the examples I've seen are small scale; but can it support, say, 1000 clients? 10_000 ? Higher?
10
prawn 4 days ago 2 replies      
I saw the following tweet from PG within the last hour and wondered if it was a reference to some tech company launch. Then I came here and saw this story. Still not sure...

@paulg: "Did anyone else see a fireball heading east over Silicon Valley at 7:44? (Meteor?)"

11
rbn 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've used the Auth Branch for a few month now. You can see it in action at http://www.classfy.com P.S: make sure you have the "www", or else you wont be able to access the page
12
zobzu 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the auth is top of the art, why doesn't it have persona? :)
13
leke 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm still trying to figure out the difference and advantage to learning this over node.js.
14
norviller 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the server code is being exposed to the client?
15
myhf 4 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like they finally took the suicide joke off their homepage.
16
propercoil 4 days ago 0 replies      
always when i see meteor i think it's the reverse polling comet server i used 2 years ago
17
talleyrand 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just like the Velvet Underground reference on the new party app demo.
20
TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports propublica.org
252 points by hornokplease  2 days ago   150 comments top 19
1
sologoub 2 days ago 3 replies      
""They're not all being replaced," TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. "It's being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time.""

In other words: "So, we have these machines that may be harmful and cause a PR disaster, so instead of doing the right thing (protecting people from harm, and all), let's move them to smaller airports, where it's much less likely to cause a stir."

This is so messed up!

2
driverdan 2 days ago  replies      
Backscatter doesn't pose any health risk to travelers. You get a much higher dose of radiation from the flight. The only real health concerns are for the workers who are exposed to them continuously.

X-ray, mm-wave, magic pixie scanners, I don't care what type they are, I'm still opting out because it's a blatant violation of the 4th amendment (when mandated, staffed, and managed by the gov).

I'll be celebrating when body scanners and other security theater is ended entirely. I'm not getting my hopes up.

3
jpdoctor 2 days ago 1 reply      
Let's see: Michael Chertoff was head of the TSA, oversaw the decision about the safety of the scanners, and held a financial interest in the company that made the scanners.

Sounds legit, nice work Mike.

4
cwb71 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the TSA is saying “if something slows down the lines enough and costs us headcount, we will eventually make changes?”

Sounds like a great argument to keep opting out!

5
crcsmnky 2 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm just naive but it seems that if the TSA were significantly more transparent about how they deploy new screening procedures, US travelers would hate them a little less.

Why not just say safety testing results were inconclusive and in the best interests of passengers we'd prefer a more efficient alternative?

Meh, whatever. I'm still going to opt-out until I'm required by law to go through whatever contraption they have deployed.

6
fjorder 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was rather encouraged by the headline, only to discover that instead of ripping out unnecessary security theater they're actually just wasting more money on new machines. Man do the companies making those things ever have good lobbyists! By screwing up they actually get even more business!
7
majorlazer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Asked about the changes, John Terrill, a spokesman for Rapiscan " which makes the X-ray scanners " wrote in an email, "No comment on this."

Rapiscan? Could they have chosen a worse name for their company?

8
JagMicker 2 days ago 2 replies      
I went through security at the Dayton airport last year. I refused the L3 "body scanner" (backscatter) machine. The TSA worker asked me why. I told him I thought it was an unnecessary risk. He laughed and basically told me that I was wrong, and that the machine poses no safety risk. But I still opted for the pat-down. Shortly thereafter, the TSA issued a recommendation that backscatter workers wear "radiation badges" to monitor their exposure. Never trust manufacturers of security products (like L3) on their word alone...
9
mikeash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Extremely misleading headline. The body-scanning machines are being replaced with newer body-scanning machines.
10
rayiner 2 days ago 4 replies      
I find the people complaining about X-Ray scanners in airports as if they're some unprecedented weakening of the 4th amendment to be a little bit silly. Where we're you guys in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, when things like stop and frisk destroyed the 4th amendment for inner city minorities?
11
linuxhansl 1 day ago 1 reply      
I never went through one of these and will never go through one. I rather get a pat-down.

I'm not that concerned about the health effects... This is a matter of principle. Everybody knows the security theater is just that... a theater. No need to participate in it any more than necessary.

9-11 by its very nature can never happen again. It could only work once, because the passengers still operated under the assumption that as long as they comply they will get out of this alive. After 9-11 this assumption is no longer valid and hence passengers will no longer comply.

This, btw, is exactly what brought the 4th plane down. Some of the passengers heard what happened over cell phone and then decided to do something about their own situation.

Edit: The usual spelling corrections.

12
hack_edu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The most frustrating part of all this is the astronomical cost of the defunct X-ray scanners, and now the cost of their replacements :(
13
pnathan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Money quote by the PR person.

> The radiation risk and privacy concerns had no bearing on the decision, Castelveter said.

/sigh

14
listic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is metal detector a different thing from full body scanner?

In Russia they have installed metal detectors (I believe) on entrance to suburban and subway train stations. Of course, with the huge amount of traffic the police officers simply cannot inspect every person who rings positive, so they just ignore the detector altogether.

15
marquis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I passed through one of the largest airports in the U.S. recently, being early and prepared to opt-out, and was pleasantly surprised to see the line moving faster than I'd seen it in a long time. Perhaps it's not just public perception but the very long waits this was causing.
16
Zigurd 2 days ago 0 replies      
There should be plenty of time to test them now, to see if they are dangerous, and to see if they were correctly calibrated while they were deployed. Right?
17
lsiebert 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the article, "The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing its X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer."
18
gasull 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right on time for the presidential election.
19
Tipzntrix 2 days ago 0 replies      
One small step for mankind....and one giant leap for privacy
22
This Is Why They Call It a Weakly-Ordered CPU preshing.com
235 points by octopus  2 days ago   39 comments top 11
1
ComputerGuru 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice blog post, though I personally prefer the ridiculousfish post [0] he links to in the end, that one's an instant classic.

He mentions Windows/x86 a couple of times. I only wish it were as simple as "this platform does not reorder." Having done low-level, heavily-multithreaded work on Windows for years: it'll behave like a strongly-ordered architecture 999 times out of a 1000 (or more). Then it'll bite you in the ass and so something unexpected. Basically, if you're doing your own synchronization primitives on x86, you have to pretty much rely on visual/theoretical verification because tests won't error out w/ enough consistency. I've run a test (trying to get away w/ not using certain acquire/release semantics) for an entire week to have it error out only at the last second (x86_64). Other times, I've shipped code that's been tested and vetted inside out for months, only to have the weirdest bug reports 3 or 4 months down the line in the most sporadic cases.

0: http://ridiculousfish.com/blog/posts/barrier.html

2
nkurz 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm oddly uncomfortable with this article. It reinforces the idea of Memory Ordering as voodoo, rather than as something that can (and needs to be!) understood to properly write low level multicore code. Neither it nor the linked articles go into any details of how memory and cores actually interact, and without these details it would be very hard to get from "this seems to work" to "this is bug free".

You can try running the sample application on any Windows, MacOS or Linux machine with a multicore x86/64 CPU, but unless the compiler performs reordering on specific instructions, you'll never witness memory reordering at runtime.

It may just be poor wording, but I don't think this sentence makes sense -- it conflates compiler optimizations with memory reordering, and implies that this is dependent of choice of operating system. While the author probably didn't mean this, it's clear from some of the comments in this thread that this is causing confusion to readers. Worse, it's just not true --- while this particular example might not cause problems, memory reordering is still an issue that needs to be dealt with on x86.

Analogies can be helpful for intuition, but I think this is a case where one really needs to understand what's happening under the hood. Treating the CPU as a black box is not a good idea here, and test-driven development is probably not a good approach to writing mutexes. Calling attention to the issue is great, but this is an area where you really want to know what exactly guarantees your processor provides, rather than trying things until you find something that seems to work.

3
qdog 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I don't like to use shared memory. It's not easy to do this for a variety of reasons.

At a low level, to try and make this work, you need to do more than worry about a mutex. You need the cpu's cache to be out the way, the memory area protected, AND the memory bus transactions to be completed!

So...if c++11 works, this is what it must really do(some of this is handled by the hardware, but these all have to happen...and if there's a hardware bug, you need a software workaround):

1) Lock the memory area to the writing cpu (this could be a mutex with a memory range, but safest, and slowest, is to disable interrupts while you dick with memory. That's unlikely to be available at high level).

2) Write the memory through the cache to the actual memory address OR track the dirty bit to make sure CPU2 fetches memory for CPU1's cache. AND go over to CPU2 and flip the dirty bit if it has this bit of memory in cache...

3) Wait for all the memory to be written by the bus. Depending on the implementer of the but, it's entirely possible to have CPU1's memory writes heading into memory, but not yet committed, when CPU2's request arrives, giving CPU2 a copy of old data! One way to try and fix this is...have CPU1 read-through-cache to the actual memory location, which the bus will flush correctly as the request is coming from the same device that did a previous write. (I used to do embedded programming and had to use this trick at times, it's possible this is the only bus that worked like this, YMMV).

4) Release the locking mechanism and hope it's all correct.

Realizing that a '1 in a million' chance of failure probably equates to months between failures at most, you see why bugs with this stuff appear all the time. If you MUST use shared memory as your interface for some reason, you better be really careful. And maybe look to move to a different method ASAP.

Edit: changed memory controller to bus, oops

4
mjb 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really interesting article. Multi-core ARM seems to be the first really mainstream processor architecture that behaves this way. There have been others, like Alpha, but none have achieved the ubiquity that mult-core ARM has achieved. I suspect a side-effect of this is that many of the "threads are hard" effects that are hidden by x86 will come back to bite a lot of programmers. I think we are going to be seeing a lot more "threads are hard" and "threads and weird" posts in the near future, and hopefully better learning material about threading issues in the longer term. Even more hopefully, this might drive more research and development into abstractions for providing parallelism and concurrency in ways that hide the complexity of threads.
5
lincolnq 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yay memory semantics!

A classic case where this sort of problem bit Java in the ass: the "double-checked locking pattern" for initializing Singletons. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-dcl/index.h...

I'm not sure if this was ever fixed / improved enough to allow the programmer to make this work.

6
callan 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those seeking more detail, Linux has a great reference on using memory barriers: http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt
7
hobbyist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do, the memory barriers in ARM architecture also flush the caches? In Intel x86 architectures the hardware handles the coherency between all the caches, so a CPU core can directly read from the cache line of another core if it finds its own cache line to be dirty.. Does this happen in ARM also?
8
tveita 2 days ago 1 reply      
Valgrind has tools that supposedly can find certain classes of load/store race conditions.
I've never used them in anger, so I can't vouch for them, but it would be interesting to do a test on the example in the article.

Memcheck is certainly a must-have tool for finding heisenbugs in low-level code - it would be wonderful to have an equally effective solution for race conditions.

http://valgrind.org/docs/manual/hg-manual.html

http://valgrind.org/docs/manual/drd-manual.html

9
makira 2 days ago 0 replies      
and this is why you don't implement your own mutexes and use the ones provided by the OS.
10
usea 2 days ago 4 replies      
A question: Why is it the CPU architecture that is weakly ordered, if it's the compiler that is reordering the statements? Couldn't you have a compiler on a weakly ordered arch that preserved order, and a compiler on x86 for example that could reorder your statements?

Isn't it the language spec / compiler that is in charge of this, rather than the CPU? I'd like to know more about this.

11
hresult 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. CPU reordering is an effect which makes it notoriously difficult to implement lock-free code correctly.
24
When A Daughter Dies freakonomics.com
228 points by jvilalta  12 hours ago   92 comments top 19
1
mcmatterson 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This hits close to home. I came within a hair's breadth of losing my infant daughter to cancer just over a year ago, and a few things come up in my thoughts:

- Not all medical systems are the disaster described here. We elected to move back from the US to our native Canada to undergo treatment, and our experience in ward (pre and post-op as well as on the oncology floor) was a dream (at least given the circumstances). We experienced nothing but exemplary inter-disciplinary cooperation, compassion for the patient (and family) experience, and a professionalism driven by clinical need rather than liti-mitigation. These qualities were exhibited even more strongly during the initial phases of treatment post-discovery, which unfolded along a timeline similar to the one discussed here.

- Academic hospitals are exhausting. My spouse ended up being the real hero in this story (she was still breastfeeding at the time, and only one parent was allowed to overnight in the room). My job was to make sure she and our daughter had recovered enough each day to make it through a night of vitals, endless beeping, and the occasional overnight chemo administration (don't even get me started about that).

- The need for patients and their families to drive the narrative of their hospital experience and be their own champion is critical. I had worked in healthcare for many years before this nightmare began (my old office was at the hospital across the street from her room) and knew the system very, very well. We divided up responsibilities so 'I looked outward, and [my spouse] looked inward', meaning that I spent my time making sure that the relevant referrals happened, that medications were administered on time and on dose, and so on. My wife looked inwards towards our daughter, making sure she was fed, entertained, and comfortable. This setup worked very well for us, and was a likely contributor to our level of care.

- The power of parents to be strong in the face of terrible (often inevitable) odds is truly inspiring. We were lucky enough to know with reasonable certainty fairly early on that we would one day be leaving the hospital and resuming a normal life. Many, many families we met were not so lucky. To see a parent express joy and love in the face of such long and terrible odds is a truly unique experience. I myself am a measurably better parent for having witnessed it.

2
tokenadult 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Steven D. Levitt's father Michael Levitt

http://www.med.umn.edu/gi/faculty/vamc/home.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2009-rst/5207.html

is a medical doctor and academic researcher in medicine at the University of Minnesota. I used to file his grant applications into the office file drawers as a duty of my part-time job while pursuing my undergraduate degree. Michael Levitt is perhaps the world's leading authority on intestinal gas and still has an active research program in diseases of the human bowel. He indeed has seen many patients at a research hospital over the years, the same hospital where my mother worked as a nurse for most of her career.

Dr. Levitt writes in the submitted article, "Overnight admission to the hospital is recommended for 'observation' and rest prior to the trip home. Fifty years of experience have taught me that admission to an academic hospital is not restful. I have stopped counting the patients who want to be discharged to get some rest." I have an immediate family member who was given excellent care at the same academic hospital Dr. Levitt knows so well. My relative is in excellent health now decades after that treatment. But indeed, even with best care, the patient experience at a research hospital is not restful, as world experts on the patient's case vie with medical students and a variety of other health science trainees and practitioners to learn from the patient. When a case is puzzling, as was the case of my relative, research-oriented practitioners are curious about how to understand the case, trying to find established, verified practice to help the patient, and otherwise working "empirically" (an ominous word--to me--used by my relative's main doctor to describe a procedure he attempted when he wasn't sure what to do next) to do whatever they can to help.

As the father of a daughter, I can hardly imagine a rougher kind of news to hear. Another immediate relative lost a fiancee to cancer years ago, and that relative's memories of that time are full of frustration. The various kinds of cancer are still so varied--as mentioned in the article--that there is essentially NIL prospect of ever having a general treatment that will be an effective first-line treatment for most forms of cancer. Instead, there will continue to be surgical treatment for come cancers, a growing variety of chemotherapies for a variety of cancers, in the best luck genome-matched to vulnerable cancer cell strains, and radiation treatment for other cancers.

Ultimately, though, we will all have to learn to die better,

http://zocalopublicsquare.org/thepublicsquare/2011/11/30/how...

because we will all eventually die of something. Meanwhile, if you are a parent, this submission is a reminder to cherish your children while they are here, and if you are a medical researcher, as Michael Levitt is, this is a reminder to continue to strive for better understanding of health and disease, while remembering the patient experience as new tests and treatments are devised.

3
enduser 11 hours ago  replies      
I lost my sister to cancer 9 years ago when she was in her early 20s and I was in my teens. Her experience with the medical system was humiliating, futile, and expensive. My parents have never fully recovered emotionally. It has taken me years to integrate the experience, and I still have ghastly memories of the pains she endured recovering from unnecessary surgeries. When I read something like this i feel how much I would like to see a change. It's only partly a techological change--it is also imporant for us as a people to let go when nothing can be done, not to make things worse out of a need to be seen doing something. Unfortunately when a panicked parent is demanding that something be done to save their child, someone will be willing to do something even if the first person knows that nothing can be done.

When it is my time to die I intend to fully engage with the experience of dying, and not to numb the experience with knife wounds, drugs, and over-stimulating hospitals. Until then I intend every day to live fully, with great sensitivity, and to remember that each day I live is one my sister did not have. There is no entitlement to health or longevity; some things cannot be predicted nor controlled.

4
dandrews 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I was struck by the amount of care that was seemingly influenced by fear of litigation. An ambulance driver diverted to a closer e/r despite having a physician onboard. A nurse wouldn't sanction ice chips without the admitting physician's chop. Exhausting and time-consuming tests needlessly repeated.

I once asked a veterinarian acquaintance of mine why he hadn't become a physician. "Wouldn't you rather drive something fancier than that pickup truck?" I needled, gesturing out the window at his old F150. "Yeah" he replied, "but those guys spend most of their time doing paperwork. I get to practice medicine."

5
javajosh 10 hours ago 1 reply      
>The purpose of this brief chronicle is not to criticize the practice of medicine.

Perhaps that wasn't his purpose, but that was the result. And it is a scathing, justified criticism, especially coming from an experienced doctor.

My father died of lung cancer, and we went through similar experiences with the health care system.

Before claiming that something is not a criticism, we have to ask whether or not we can imagine a better outcome, ask what is getting in the way of that outcome, and then make a change. This could be something small, like moving patients around less, and with less resistance. (The purely informational resistance in medical care is appalling, and this story shows it's real human cost. Electronic patient records is not about assuaging "people who can't be bothered to fill out forms".) Or it could be something huge, like revolutionizing what late-stage cancer patients, and their families, expect, and how they will be treated.

If you get late-stage cancer, the health insurance company should hand you $100,000 in cash, a large supply of morphine that can be easily self-administered, and a ticket to Hawaii. Huge bag of weed optional. The message is clear: you're going to die soon, so make your peace with it. Talk to your family.

My father fought until he fell unconscious, his personality ravaged by whole-brain radiation and chemo, in complete denial. He never got a change to face his sentence with courage, and he never really talked to me before he died.

So yes, the practice of medicine needs to be criticized.

6
noonespecial 10 hours ago 1 reply      
In the thankfully few times I've had to endure hospitals, I've always been struck by how unbelievable primitive what they're doing actually is. Sure there are some genuine technical miracles (dialasys, pacemakers, etc) but I always get the distinct impression that most of it is window dressing; a kind of theatre to make it seem like they're more in control and much less helpless than they really are.
7
citricsquid 9 hours ago 5 replies      
He described her as a "previously healthy 50 year-old daughter" and then she went from feeling weird to death in a month? I had no idea cancer could be so aggressive, is it 1 in a million that it can be this aggressive (from showing symptoms to death) or is this something common? This would explain why early diagnosis is so emphasised, I still didn't understand how much it could matter.
8
brudgers 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Stage four cancer? These are things I've learned from almost twenty years as a "hospice spouse."

It's probably time to call hospice, not the "We can beat this oncologist." It's probably time to write a living will and a sign the DNR. It's probably time to decide how and where you want to die.

It's most assuredly time to decide how you want to live the rest of your life.

9
VBprogrammer 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't want to de-rail the conversation too much but this line brought home to me one of the most sickening injustices of the civilised world - “When the chemotherapy does not work, you will have to finish the job.”

No one should have to plead with their father to end their life early, this should be a choice that anyone can make without fear of consequence to their loved ones. This should be a well established and regulated part of terminal illness.

10
VMG 10 hours ago 5 replies      
Very sad, very scary.

What is the cost-benefit ratio for a routine MRI scan every six months?

11
philwelch 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My father spent much of his last year of life in hospitals. It was a frustrating experience as well.

As far as the expenses went, he had Medicare in addition to supplemental insurance as a retired Marine. So he paid nothing out of pocket. I can definitely understand how this would add to the frustration of the experience.

A huge problem is that no one is actually in charge of a patient's treatment. The individual doctors were quite good, with maybe one or two exceptions, but there was never enough evidence of actual coordination between them for me to feel very confident. I saw him on a daily basis, but much of my time was spent staying on top of what half a dozen doctors and nurses were doing or planning to do at any given time and keeping everything coordinated. I worry about people who end up in the hospital without anyone else around to watch over them.

Hospitalization can be a very frustrating and disorienting experience, especially for older patients. The thing about hospitalization is that it's essentially a form of captivity. You could write a good psychological horror story that took place in a hospital, and it wouldn't be too far from reality.

12
jostmey 11 hours ago 1 reply      
An awesome book titled "The lives of a cell" by "Thomas Lewis" delved into the problems of Medicine (among other things) in the later 70s. He was amazingly prescient about the problems that Medicine faces today. He also offered some wonderful solutions for fixing Medicine.
13
jeffehobbs 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Heartbreaking. I hope for a cure for cancer in our lifetimes.
14
fabiandesimone 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh wow, this brought back some painful memories. My mom died of lung cancer 3 years ago (in a third world country)

I can't begin to tell you the things my family and me had to put up with.

15
platz 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I suffered a mini-panic-attack halfway through reading this, and had put my head on the floor until the nausea passed.
16
akg_67 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Very sad and heart-breaking. While reading the story, I couldn't stop imagining myself in his daughter's shoes and wondering "what would I do if I was in her place?"

Would I struggle and suffer in the hopes of living a few months longer or accept the fate and go in peace sooner. This reminded me of discussion with my wife during will preparation about how long should I be kept alive before plug is pulled.

17
velar 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Effective treatment against cancer can be found outside the USA, not inside. Eg: See http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/nov2012_Innovative_Laser...
18
maskedinvader 11 hours ago 0 replies      
very touching and heartbreaking read..
19
thrwaway1 10 hours ago 3 replies      
This reminds me of the story of Dr. Ben Carson, a famous neurosurgeon who also teaches oncology at John Hopkins. In 2002, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and successfully underwent traditional treatment.

However, Dr. Carson has stated publicly, both at conferences and on radio interviews, that he believes he was largely cured by a controversial holistic treatment called glyconutrients.

However, due to legal liabilities on the company's part, they banned all testimonials and would threaten lawsuits to anyone who publicized this information.

20/20 did a story on glyconutrients, disproving them based on glycobiologist Dr. Ronald Schnaar from John Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Schnaar said, "All of the sugar building blocks that we need in our body are made from the most common foods we eat."

Contrary to this, Dr. Carson says we do not get these simple sugars from our natural diet and said that his family, his employees and everyone he knows uses glyconutrients with great results.

He said he considered not having traditional surgery but he didn't want others mistakenly following his path to the detriment of their health.

Dr. Carson is not a glycobiologist. However, he is the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins and a colleague of Dr. Schanaar. He's been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and had a film made about his life story starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

But none of this information about his alternative cancer treatment is widely known. Not one word on his Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Carson) nor on the page about glyconutrients.

It's disappointing there's no unbiased scientific research to explain what is factually true. And it's unbelievable that such a high profile cancer survivor could make these claims with virtually no one knowing.

Dr. Carson's speech
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROzftYwJihg

Dr. Carson's Story in the Dallas Weekly
http://glyconutrientsarevital.blogspot.com/2006/08/dr-ben-ca...

Related Local News story on Baby Hadley
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK3U4mrqslk

25
How I Hired Someone On Craigslist And Quadrupled My Productivity hackthesystem.com
224 points by sethbannon  5 days ago   122 comments top 47
1
pg 5 days ago 3 replies      
Henry Moore used to live over his studio. Whenever the noise of his chisel stopped, his wife would call down and ask why he had stopped working.
2
tjic 5 days ago 5 replies      
As a productivity system, this is idiotic.

As a blog post that serves as link-bait, it is GENIUS.

...which is to say, I think it excelled at the REAL goal. ;-)

3
robterrell 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Social working" -- I always thought this was the most important takeaways from XP and agile methodologies, that the highest quality work gets done when we tell each other what we're going to do ahead of time (agile/scrum), and then collaborate in the most literal sense by sharing one screen (pair programming) to see that the work gets done in the best possible way. Granted there are surely lots of other takeaways, but those are two things I did take, and I only do one of them.
4
motoford 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting and funny experiment, but I believe it's success lies in the fact that the author lucked out and found someone who could actually help with his work for $8 an hour.

I didn't watch the videos, but from the text it sounds like the lady was more like a good coworker, certainly better than your average minimum wage slapper.

5
ashray 5 days ago 3 replies      
The most important thing I got out of this article isn't the productivity 'hack' but the fact that there's a program called RescueTime that lets you find out exactly how much time you spent on your computer doing what.. o_O I didn't know about that!

I have long suspected that I have an HN addiction. Time to quantify it!

For others: https://www.rescuetime.com/

EDIT: Haha, while setting it up I found that the rescuetime folks think that adult funsies are quite important :P

Ignore adult content. Data for sites we recognize as adult-themed will be rejected at our servers and no time will be logged.

6
neilk 5 days ago 1 reply      
Slap startup people hanging out all day in Mission cafés? Hell, I'd do that job for free!
7
ken 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've been looking for something vaguely like this -- i.e., accountability -- for my own work. I'd rather work on my own projects, solo, but the one thing that is missing from a more formal work environment (or even a startup that's just "2 people with laptops in a cafe", which I did for a while) is accountability.

I've suggested to my friends with startups that they should host "hack nights" where random people can bring their laptop and work in a shared space for a while. I think it'd also be a good recruiting tool for the company. They've already got a cool office, so why not invite people there to see for themselves, plus become known as that place where people go to hack on interesting things?

I think this is one thing that academia really got right (having worked there for a few years once): put a bunch of smart people together in close proximity, each working on their own thing, but loosely sharing with each other. Big companies, small companies, startups, coworking spaces, and cafés all get one piece of this but miss a crucial piece.

Maybe I need to start a meta-startup.

8
olalonde 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm actually working on a startup that solves this exact problem but with a twist: we outsource the slapping to India and use a shock-inducing necklace that can be remotely activated through Wifi. This will enable us to bring down costs and bring this service to the masses. So far, our virtual slappers have done an amazing job and the self reported productivity of our beta customers has gone through the roof.
9
jamesmcn 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is such an obtuse way to meet girls that it might actually work!
10
anandkulkarni 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is essentially pair-programming, and seems to be the reason he got more done -- a great idea to improve productivity.
11
TamDenholm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ignoring the moronic link bait about slapping, essentially what he did was apply pair programming to writing. It would make far more economic sense to do this as well, since the level of entry to get a person to pair with to write is far lower than for a programmer, so kudos.
12
utunga 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's not quite the same but the woman who comes around every couple of weeks and does my accounts, we both acknowledge is about 80% 'slap based' productivity and 20% her specialized knowledge at this point.

When she comes around I usually 'drive' the computer the whole time, and it's great to have her advice on things like withholding tax rates, but mostly it just makes certain that particular things get done on time where if they didn't happen they would have a tendency to snowball into accounting catastrophe.

13
fennecfoxen 5 days ago 3 replies      
The $0/hour is to redirect your most popular slack sites in (e.g. Facebook) using /etc/hosts. You can redirect them to localhost, or to something you personally find annoying. :P
14
hkmurakami 5 days ago 1 reply      
>Want a bicycle, but you'd rather not buy stolen bikes from the corner of Market and 7th? To Craigslist we go.

Ironic, since Craigslist is infested with stolen bike listings :(.

15
annon 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is no mystery to most of the third world, you just set up your own personal sweatshop.
16
bennesvig 5 days ago 0 replies      
The social element works. I've experienced big productivity gains by having someone I connected with on Hacker News call me every night at 10:00pm and ask me 4 Yes/No questions that I wrote. The pressure to not say no provides extra fuel to stay on track and get more done.
17
ekianjo 5 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with these kind of articles is that they focus only on the "one-time off" and then never talk about how sustainable the productivity increase really is. If this is to be a social experiment, it needs to be done on a longer term like a month or something. Anything less that is just anecdotal.
18
technology 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is explained by Dan Ariely in his paper - "Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment"

http://pss.sagepub.com/content/13/3/219.short

Procrastination is all too familiar to most people. People delay writing up their research (so we hear!), repeatedly declare they will start their diets tomorrow, or postpone until next week doing odd jobs around the house. Yet people also sometimes attempt to control their procrastination by setting deadlines for themselves. In this article, we pose three questions: (a) Are people willing to self-impose meaningful (i.e., costly) deadlines to overcome procrastination? (b) Are self-imposed deadlines effective in improving task performance? (c) When self-imposing deadlines, do people set them optimally, for maximum performance enhancement? A set of studies examined these issues experimentally, showing that the answer is “yes” to the first two questions, and “nO'' to the third. People have self-control problems, they recognize them, and they try to control them by self-imposing costly deadlines. These deadlines help people control procrastination, but they are not as effective as some externally imposed deadlines in improving task performance.

19
andyakb 5 days ago 0 replies      
one of my friends did something very similar [without the slapping] and had the same results. he is a high stakes poker player and paid somebody just to sit next to him and make sure he didnt surf the web, chat on aim, etc while playing poker. it let the "attendant" watch a skilled player at work, and it kept the player focused and earning more money.

is it best to will yourself to not get distracted? of course, but we all know thats easier said than done and for people with high hourly rates, it is often going to be worth it to just pay somebody to help ensure compliance.

20
joshmlewis 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like this concept, I laughed.

However, don't put a popup in my face while I'm reading your stuff to join whatever site it is. And don't bloat the side of the page with "share" stuff. If I like the content, I will share and/or signup, or at least bug me once I reach the end but not while I'm in the middle of reading and on a mobile device this is even worse. /rant

21
rickyconnolly 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would suggest reviewing the title of this position. In certain parts of the Anglosphere, 'slapper' has an entirely different meaning, and telling people you have hired one will spark a flurry of raised eyebrows
22
mangler 5 days ago 2 replies      
... and may be you don't call her a slapper in your blog posts or she may slap you for real. I would. She should...
23
spyder 4 days ago 0 replies      
Do it with a shock therapy device:
http://www.djspyhunter.com/teapot/2005/11/buzztrainer-usb-sh...
So we could see if it's the social aspect or the punishment that improves the productivity.
24
klous 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds of of pair programming, or pair everything like they do at Menlo Innovations [1]. I took a tour there recently and it was pretty eye opening. People are now even paying to learn the "Menlo Way"

[1] http://www.menloinnovations.com/our-method/founding-practice...

25
kevinconroy 5 days ago 0 replies      
And this, kids, is why pair programming WORKS.
26
maneesh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am the author of this piece. I used the same techniques that I talk about in this post until today---but without the slaps. The power is in the pair, having an accountability partner is important. One good tactic is to have two friends plan out joint Pomodoro sessions --- sit down, set a timer for 25 minutes, and ask each other how you did.
27
bravoyankee 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just look at the pile of overdue bills for a moment and the harsh slap of reality gets me right back to work.
28
jv22222 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea in theory, but, if I hired someone to help me stay on task from craigslist they (probably) wouldn't undertand various programming tasks I was working on... so most likely they would not be able to stay on task at keeping me to stay on task ;)
29
IsaacL 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Hiring a slapper off Craigslist" has quite a different meaning in British English...
30
yumraj 5 days ago 0 replies      
Okay... maybe I should hire someone to do the same when I go on HN and post comments like this one ;o).
31
digitalboss 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for recommendation for RescueTime - just installed, lets see what happens.
32
benzor 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's a neat and creative idea, but I wonder about its long-term effectiveness as they get to know one another better. It's easy to be embarrassed when making mistakes in front of someone you don't know at all, because there still exists that social awkwardness between the two. But get to know someone well enough and it's much easier to shrug off. Maybe he should just hire someone new every few weeks to keep things fresh?
33
digitalWestie 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this guy has a thing for slapping... http://hackthesystem.com/blog/how-to-get-slapped-by-50-colom...
34
gprasanth 4 days ago 0 replies      

  Do or do not, there is no try. - Master Yoda

And, this link seems very appropriate to link now:

4# @ http://iqtell.com/2012/01/what-master-yoda-can-teach-us-abou...

35
dorkrawk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Guilt (or at least empathy) can work in a similar way. My girlfriend is in grad school right now and always has a ton of work to do at night. I feel bad spending my nights goofing off or watching TV while she's hard at work, so I've been really good at getting real work done on my projects while she's doing homework.
36
37
freeslave 5 days ago 0 replies      
i finally blocked reddit in my /etc/hosts/ file and i am wasting way less time.
38
Nowyouknow 4 days ago 0 replies      
That graph/chart is REALLY throwing me off. I can't even process the post. Where do you get that chart?? I can input numbers into a graphical chart generator, too. How do you measure that shit and I know it's not BS?
39
draggnar 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why entrepreneurship is a collective process.
40
qoo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Who wants to slap my face whenever I browse Hacker News?
41
zemanel 4 days ago 0 replies      
his Math skills didn't improve tho, 98% is hardly 4 times more than 38%
42
subrat_rout 5 days ago 0 replies      
This slapapp has few advantage:
a. wont need update
b.No advertises

But one disadvantage
a. might quit one day

43
osmanizbat 4 days ago 0 replies      
SDD (Slap Driven Development)
44
rontseng 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I'll try one of these tactics in the future~~
45
jlebrech 4 days ago 0 replies      
wouldn't a service where people can watch what you do on screen be as useful?
46
rontseng 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is awesome interesting...
47
maxrage 4 days ago 0 replies      
thats bdsm
26
EC2 I/O scalyr.com
214 points by snewman  4 days ago   26 comments top 10
1
jread 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working on some similar analysis with EC2 and other providers. I think the big missing point in this post (acknowledged by the author) is with regards to EBS optimized instances and provisioned IOPS where we've observed a dramatic improvement in IO consistency. Another interesting observation I've experienced is that performance consistency often declines using multi-EBS volume raid, likely due to variations in spindle tenancy or network latency variations. EBS test volumes were 300GB. Better performance/consistency is possible using larger EBS volume sizes.

Here are links to a couple summaries of the analysis I've done on EC2, Rackspace and HP. I plan on writing a blog post regarding this analysis soon.

Disk Performance:
The value columns is a percentage relative to a baremetal baseline 15k SAS drive, where 100% signifies comparable performance. Benchmarks included in this measurement are fio (4k random read/write/rw; 1m sequential read/write/rw), fio " Intel IOMeter pattern, CompileBench, Postmark, TioBench and AIO stress:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/20765204/1012-disk-io-analysis/disk-...

Disk IO Consistency:
The value column is a percentage relative to the same baseline. A value less than 100 represents better IO consistency than the baseline. The value is calculated by running multiple tests on an instance, measuring the standard deviation of IOPS between tests, and comparing those standard deviations to the baseline. Testing was conducted over a period of a month on multiple instances in different AZs.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/20765204/1012-disk-io-analysis/disk-...

2
staunch 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the keys reasons I recently started my new project, Uptano (shameless plug: https://uptano.com), and all servers use dedicated RAID 1 (two drives) with 10K RPM or SSD storage.

The same issue applies to network performance. I've seen very expensive EC2 instances that couldn't even push 50 Mbit/s to the net, while instances of the same type could at least do a few hundred Mbit/s. AWS' answer was always to simply buy even more expensive instances, so less people are sharing, but that's a terribly costly answer.

I'm doing bonded (802.3ad) 2x1 Gbit/s connections on all servers, because that's what I wish EC2 had.

Multiple customers, with highly varied workloads, sharing the same physical server hardware is simply a fundamentally flawed idea. IMHO, it only makes sense to use a VPS for very small personal projects, where you don't want to justify ~$140/mo in server costs.

EC2 was a really novel thing and it brought lots of great technology to the scene, but they made a few fundamentally wrong choices.

3
snewman 4 days ago 4 replies      
OP here. We'd like this work to be a useful resource - everyone benefits when there's more / better information about how these complex cloud systems perform in real life. So please comment with suggestions, questions, or any other feedback!
4
kanwisher 4 days ago 1 reply      
Great article got all the way through it. It was similar to what we saw, is that ephemeral storage on large and xlarge are almost always the way to go. One thing missing from the article was a good comparison of $/iops and $/iops/storage between the instance types.
5
jordanthoms 4 days ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed the article, but it feels very incomplete without discussion of the solid-state, provisioned iops, and ebs optimization options. Would be interesting to see if those get rid of the bad apples and what sort of benefit they give.
6
frew 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really great article and neat product!

One question: on the throughput graphs, I understand why you normalized them per graph, but were there any differences between graphs (particularly in terms of EBS vs. ephemeral) that would be sufficient to drown out the variability within the throughput graphs?

7
zurn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, it shows "4-EBS RAID" getting around 2.6x speedup for
4k writes. They don't say what RAID configuration they are using, but it sounds odd.

A 4k write has to be synced to all the disks unless they have a <=4k stripe size AND are using RAID-0
AND are using stripe-aligned IO ops. It's also
possible they use 4k writes to cache that end up forming large dirty blocks which the OS then syncs as larger I/Os.
But that would be measuring something else than the benchmark claims.

8
jnsaff2 3 days ago 1 reply      
What size were the EBS volumes? Would be interesting how important the volume size is to performance.

If you only provision 1TB (or larger if they have them available now) EBS volumes then you'd have spindles dedicated to you whereas with smaller ones there might be a lot more variations because you share.

More background: http://perfcap.blogspot.com/2011/03/understanding-and-using-...

9
jaequery 4 days ago 1 reply      
i wish OP would've atleast included some "conclusion/final words".
for someone in the same boat of choosing the right platform, this benchmark serves no real help in deciding which to go with. a comparison with Rackspace Cloud for one, would be very helpful.
10
thegyppo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon's IO/IOPS performance is pale on comparison to a lot of providers (shameless plug): http://serverbear.com/benchmarks/io
27
Making Yourself a CEO bhorowitz.com
213 points by FilterJoe  4 days ago   33 comments top 18
1
mratzloff 4 days ago 3 replies      
This reminds me of the first time I fired someone. I spent probably a week mentally planning how to do it--thought about how the conversation would go in the car, in the shower, before I went to sleep. The guy had a wife and kids and I was getting ready to put him in the unemployment line. I felt especially guilty because he shouldn't have been hired in the first place; we were desperate at the time. That was a mistake I made against my better judgment.

When it came time to actually have the conversation at one point he stopped me (I was busy trying to soften the blow) and said, "This sucks, but I get it. I understand." And I realized that I had prepared him for that point for months and that what was coming wasn't ultimately that much of a surprise.

Since then I've resolved to just be straight with feedback. For most firing situations, it's simply because it's not a good fit. Being able to look forward to a better situation in a couple months is enough to make most people accept the decision.

2
sdh 4 days ago 3 replies      
Are these real CEOs or idealized CEOs? I've worked for CEOs who were horrible people and yet extremely successful (ie: running profitable businesses and having repeat success).

Sadly, the nice CEOs I've had were failures building companies.

From my observation, the quality that defines a CEO is that they are oblivious to their own faults and the feelings of others.

They are like bad dancers with confidence. They have no idea they look like an idiot or that they're making you uncomfortable, and if they did, they wouldn't care.

3
daemon13 3 days ago 0 replies      
The best book I have read [out of probably 100+] on management is "The Effective Executive" by Drucker.

The book is pretty thin and was written mid-last century but still holds it's value versus all else we have now.

In addition to providing a framework and mindset on how to become an effective executive, the book also explains why/how it's possible to have shitty people be great CEOs and vice versa - because being effective has nothing to do with personal qualities [nice, kind, mean, etc].

I recommend reading this book to anyone who would like to become a better executive or who would like to better understand the other side of truth.

4
ironchef 4 days ago 0 replies      
Related to the shit sandwich, one other thing I always liked @ ldcl/opsw was making sure there was constructive criticism during the performance reviews. While it was great that reviews were 90+% "You're awesome and I want to bear your children", having something to work on presented during those times always stuck with me. It definitely helped me develop (for example) way better time management skills (a weakness when i started there).
5
OldSchool 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you start a business and have majority ownership you can always be CEO, but CEO's not for everyone. You can most definitely read books on leadership, charisma, networking, etc, and go act out the role for a while if you're motivated enough. However if you're really a private-type technical person at heart, amazingly once you can afford to hire someone else to do that job (without losing your majority status) you may suddenly find that you don't want it anymore. If that's the case it will probably be better for your company too. Some engineers make great CEO's of course.
6
rweba 4 days ago 1 reply      
I liked his last sentence "This is how you get made" as it seems to simultaneously allude to the concept of "Made Men" in the American Mafia and to Horowitz's penchant for putting quotes from gangsta rap in his blog posts :-)
7
woodchuck64 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Don't clown people in front of their peers."

Okay, I gotta know: how did that strange typo-- down/clown-- get in there? That seems like a scanning error, not typing error.

Edit: Oops, I learned a new verb. Thanks!

8
kruken 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sage advice not just for CEOs but for anyone leading a team. Direct, constructive feedback is a great way to encourage open communication. Give early, give often.
9
wilfra 4 days ago 2 replies      
"More senior executives will recognize the shit sandwich immediately and it will have an instant negative effect."

Why would it have a negative effect? Even when you realize people are just being polite, most people still appreciate it, no?

10
AYBABTME 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think the author meant "leader" when he wrote "CEO". CEO is a broader term that englobes many other aspects apart from leadership only.
11
kevinw 4 days ago 0 replies      
While the "shit sandwich" tactic mentioned in this article is definitely a negative experience, I feel that in some cases it's better than coming out of the corner throwing full punches. If nothing else, it implies that one is at least trying to follow the broad advice in this article and avoid making issues into ad hominem attacks, even if the actual method used is flawed. Great article overall.
12
pnachbaur 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really valuable article. As a junior employee I find I'm treading a fine line trying to practice these values, especially when the 'culture' isn't always trickling down. I'd enjoy reading more about this stuff from that perspective, which I suppose falls into the category of 'managing your manager'?
13
Grovara123 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well done Ben - I'd also add that CEO's are really good listeners. Conversations should always be 60/40 the majority being with the opposite party of the CEO.
14
diN0bot 4 days ago 0 replies      
First part of the post is a song about wanting a big booty ho. :-/
15
combray 3 days ago 0 replies      
How are the skills he's describing any different from being a parent or a teacher?
16
majani 4 days ago 0 replies      
Come on Mr. Horowitz, quoting 2 Chainz in an intellectual article?! :D
17
tvladeck 4 days ago 0 replies      
BH really loves that boxing reference.
18
ezpassmac 4 days ago 0 replies      
The opening lyric is a little confusing. "She got a big booty so I call her Big Booty." CEO's aren't necessarily good leaders; that's not why they're the leader. CEO's are the founders. Find a better lyric, maybe? Right?
28
Jon Stewart: Lower entrepreneurial risk boss.blogs.nytimes.com
205 points by kdsudac  3 days ago   185 comments top 30
1
thaumaturgy 3 days ago  replies      
OK, so, I am ardently socially liberal, and I've had a man-crush on Jon Stewart that hasn't waned ever since his appearance on Crossfire.

But.

I don't think that decreasing risk will result in more entrepreneurship.

I would support a wider social safety net for entrepreneurs -- er, business owners -- on principle alone, because I think what we should be saying is that these people are vitally important to our economy and to our nation's future, just as much as larger enterprise is, and we should support that.

But the thing is, most people don't want to run their own business no matter how safe you make it. I've spent the last few years encouraging people around me to start or run or improve their businesses, but so many of them just want to be a professional in their field; they don't want to deal with all of the other aspects of running a business.

So don't lower entrepreneurial risk because you think it will open more businesses, because you think that the guy with a good paying job and some savings is worried about his health insurance. If he (or she!) wants to open or run a business, he (or she!) will do that regardless. It's one of the few probably universal aspects of entrepreneurship that the people who will do well at it aren't really happy working for other people anyway, they have this itch that they can't scratch unless they strike out on their own, risks or not.

But do lower entrepreneurial risk because you recognize the value of entrepreneurs and you want to make sure that small business owners with families can still get good health care and dental care and afford a modest living.

2
jcromartie 3 days ago  replies      
Countries with much broader safety nets for entrepreneurs are not producing the risky innovative companies that America is. But, as far as I can tell, health insurance really is the biggest factor keeping people from starting new companies.

For myself and my peers, with new families and houses and student debt, etc., it's the one thing that scares us more than anything else. The prospect of a business going under is nowhere near as terrifying of getting caught off guard without health insurance. It's positively paralyzing, knowing that it is something that could be essentially impossible to recover from, unlike simply writing off a failed venture. Hopefully the Affordable Care Act will mitigate some of that.

3
theinformantguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jon just nailed the problem in the head: frankly I'm tired of hearing rich kids talking about how easy it is just to leave everything you are doing and make a startup, and to add insult to injury the new buzzword is to say that you don't even need an idea.

Yeah sure you can leave your job or college and just start throwing darts at post-its to come up with an app idea if you have a rich dad who is willing to bankroll your adventure in the Bay Area. You need at least $36k a year just to rent a decent flat in that place, some families, not just people but actual families, live on less than that in this country.

I had friends on highschool who had tremendous hacker potential, but they also had problems, REAL problems like bad health and a poor family. Most of them are quite happy right now working for the evil corporations that pay them those $75k a year salaries that the rich kids laugh at. They depend on company healthcare and can't even dream to let that and their paychecks go just to give startups a try.

And that is just one side of the problem, the other is the facade of equal opportunities in startups, the idea that everyone applying to YC or other incubators is in the same level.

The social network movie made a lot of generic hacker culture statements but it forgot to mention that the zuck had a private programming tutor paid by his parents. Seriously, how many of you here had parents who could afford that? I tried to hire a Java tutor when I was in highschool and it was incredibly expensive, more than hiring several tutors for most of my school subjects.

I have met entrepreneurs with amazing companies that didn't get into YC, yet the guys from diaspora, the same guys who burned through a quarter of a million and did next to nothing, they got in, and with what? a meme app, because that's important, another memegenerator clone.

I'm using a throwaway account because I know this is going to be downvoted to hell, many of these rich kids make an overwhelming clique in HN and other sites, and they don't like when it when someone speaks up and shatters their BS.

The irony here is that this country is fast becoming like the third world hellholes that immigrant entrepreneurs where escaping from. The stories you hear from those places are becoming eerily familiar: a guy from South America told me how over there all entrepreneurs are rich kids, legacies from generations of crony capitalism and favoritism. Practically none are coders or hustlers, they get their parents to bankroll a clone a cookie-cutter startup and take advantage of the wage slave condition of engineers over there, after all what are those poor souls going to do? they can't afford to make a startup and don't have any connections to investors, so what is left for them? get a visa and come here? nice try...

And that is what America is becoming, a place not of opportunity but of class lockdown, social mobility is at an all-time low and everywhere you hear pundits whose idea of equality in America is actually that of Sweden's, which ironically is a socialist country.

But go ahead, keep believing we are all in the same league, by all means try to defeat my point by saying how you help other less fortunate entrepreneurs with your link-bait blog full of empty advice, keep saying that all of us who are not in the same position than you are a bunch of envious and resentful pricks, or that you are where you are right now because you worked for it when actually you are where you are right now because you were half the way ahead to being with.

4
arohner 3 days ago 2 replies      
The US already has the most lenient bankruptcy law in the world. It already has the highest "social tolerance" for entrepreneurial failure.

I'm in great health, and young, so I'm not worried about saving for retirement (yet). But starting a company is still really damned hard. It's years of hard work, too much time at the office, too much time away from friends and family. Too much fear that tomorrow no customers will show up, or they'll go to your competitors or you'll find our your DB backups don't work and you have to go out of business. It's fear that you're not managing employees correctly, or not hiring the right people, or not prioritizing the right things.

The government can't make any of those things go away. And the only issue it could help is money, which has terrible downsides to go along with it.

5
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 5 replies      
I have to respectfully go against the crowd here and disagree.

When you're leaving your job to start a business, the assumption is that you have some money saved. You're guaranteed not to be turning profit for a certain period of time. Depending on how lucky and how good you/your idea are, that could be anywhere from a month to a year or two.

Not having government health insurance just means you'll have to get your own. I am speaking here from experience: I quit my job, posted about it on HN, bought myself health insurance, and started my own software company.

How much did the health insurance cost me? 200 dollars a month. (Edit: yes, this is in the USA. IL to be exact.)

Yes, 200 dollars is not nothing. Yes, it would be nice to not have to pay that. But then again, I'm paying 1200 for my apartment, 80 for my cellphone, 80 for electricity, and I'm sure I can come up with some other monthly obligations that I have. Health insurance is maybe ~10% of my "maintenance costs" that I can't avoid.

Why aren't we arguing that the government should provide apartments for everyone so they don't have to worry about finding a place to live when they take the risk of leaving their jobs? Or require special restaurants that are publicly funded so that you don't have to worry about that, either?

I know a lot of people will take issue with this, but, keep in mind, I am not saying I'm against government health insurance. I'm saying that this isn't a very good reason for it. Going off on your own is and always will be a risky situation, unless you're already independently wealthy. By definition, it involves giving up a cushy job and steady pay for the chance of striking it rich on your own or (as in my case) doing what you love. That's the nature of the beast, and that's why we have both entrepreneurs and employees.

6
digisth 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the essence of the Peltzman Effect (http://www.angrybearblog.com/2012/01/peltzman-effect-why-eco... and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risk_compensation)

"Risk compensation (also Peltzman effect, risk homeostasis) is an observed effect in ethology whereby people tend to adjust their behavior in response to perceived level of risk, behaving less cautiously where they feel more protected and more cautiously where they feel a higher level of risk. The theory emerged out of road safety research after it was observed that many interventions failed to achieve the expected level of benefits but has since found application in many other fields."

7
scottchin 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the key comments made by Jon Stewart:

What we need to do in this country is make it a softer cushion for failure. Because what they say is the job creators need more tax cuts and they need a bigger payoff on the risk that they take. … But what about the risk of, you're afraid to leave your job and be an entrepreneur because that's where your health insurance is? … Why aren't we able to sell this idea that you don't have to amplify the payoff of risk to gain success in this country, you need to soften the damage of risk?

8
akurilin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Without some kind of medical safety net, quitting your job to start a business becomes the luxury exclusive to the really healthy, the single, the really rich or the really lucky.

If you have any kind of condition that requires continuous oversight, you're screwed unless you have a ton of money saved up to afford a very expensive insurance plan.

If you're initially healthy, but suddenly get seriously ill, you might be set back by 7-10 grand before your cheapo $100/mo insurance plan kicks in. Even then you might still have to fight against the insurance company to have the necessary care approved and covered. You might hit the limits of your coverage.

If you have a family, you better hope that your spouse's job provides you with a comprehensive family-wide coverage, otherwise you'll have to deal with the exorbitant costs of insurance.

It's clearly sub-optimal, but the conservative side will often argue in favor of this system. I've (anecdotally) been told that if we provide everybody with universal health care then the masses will all start shooting up heroin all day and we, the hard working citizens, will have to foot the bill.

9
vinhboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of people are talking in terms of "leaving" their jobs to start businesses.

For me, it's the opposite. I am considering leaving my business to get a job.

Why? Healthcare and retirement.

So I agree with the article. If we had universal healthcare, I don't think I would ever consider leaving my business.

10
rayiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely support this. I think a lot more experienced people would do startups if they didn't have to risk their families' health in the process. And I think there is a lot of benefit to experienced people doing startups versus young kids who can tolerate the risk because they have little to lose.
11
dools 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree entirely. I'm only one data point but I've only been able to get as far as I have in business because of the good graces of the Australian tax, welfare and health system.

Perhaps this is why the model for entrepreneurship in the US is so heavily geared towards huge, VC funded worldbeaters with far less "mircopreneurship" - a trait of the Australian economy that is said to be a mainstay of economic resilience.

12
bcx 2 days ago 0 replies      
We can pretty clearly see that lowering risk is increasing the number of software startups. You can see a pretty clear micro example of this just by looking at YC applications.

The number of YC Applicants has increased as the risk of doing YC has gone down.

When someone going into YC had an expected outcome of basically $25000, less people were willing to leave jobs to go start companies. Think about pre 2009 YCombinator.

Now consider post 2009 Ycombinator.

As the process became less risky: more guaranteed capital (the Ron Conway, Yuri Milner portfolio strategy), and more Acquahires. The value of the average company went up, the downsides went down, and the risk to starting a company went down. Thus, more people were willing to apply to YC, and Paul and the YC partners were able to accept more companies.

You could probably argue that this was a function of the popularity of YC. I believe that founders are rational, and the popularity of YC again decreased their risk. How many founders do not quit their jobs until they get into YC? (many)

This is a separate argument from whether or not we need government healthcare, but I think it's pretty clear that risk evaluation is absolutely part of being an entrepreneur.

(As an aside, dealing with healthcare is just one of many things that we as founders have to do that provides very little net benefit to our business. The less of this BS we have to do, the better we will deploy capital and the more focused we will be on important problems)

13
chubbard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great Scott! It's just crazy enough it might just work!

I've always felt that America's psyche is evolving us to a "Everybody's a CEO." mentality. With the introduction of 401K we upped the risk taking, driving white collar workers into consulting away from full time employment with benefits of incorporating, tax benefits of corporations, preferential tax treatment of capital gains vs salaries. These are all incentives to create your own corporation over being a salaried employee, but they all involve taking more risk. We are rewarding risk more and more while devaluing safety. Not passing judgement per se, but making an observation that America might be interested in this if they understood it. And that America might need this anyway because we are pushing more people into accepting the risk without their choice. (see 401K as an example).

Another side benefit to this is it might drive up competition for workers because more people might be interested in working for smaller companies because benefits are more equalized. Driving competition for workers means higher salaries too on a whole as they compete for the talent. That's the real societal benefit.

Now, if I could just figure out a way to pay myself entirely in dividends over a salary I think they might give me an honorary 1%'er membership. :-)

But on the other hand. All I know is that it won't be that much fun when everyone is doing it. It never is.

14
netmau5 3 days ago 2 replies      
This addresses a larger issue, but the specifics discussed hit home with me. I started my company several months ago and lost my health insurance. After paying into the system for the last 8 years, I feel like I've just been giving my money away. I had always been under the impression that I could never be denied for insurance if I had an existing policy but obviously that was misguided.

I'm overweight, I'm a smoker, and I have high blood pressure. Starting a company could literally kill me (on top of aforementioned dumb decisions). The rich used to pay 90% taxes and we still had Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Morgan.

15
martythemaniak 3 days ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is, you can lower entrepreneurial risk without lowering the rewards, at least in this case.

The US is by far the most wasteful healthcare spender in the world, with vast amounts of money producing very mediocre outcomes. But as we saw, the political will is barely there, perhaps in another decade or two.

16
blago 3 days ago 2 replies      
So sad that in the US people like him host comedy shows.
17
tlianza 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a fair point.

But - what problem are we solving? Do we think there are too few entrepreneurs, and this will help create more? How many is enough, and how much should we spend to create them?

The problem Stewart seems to be solving is that he'd prefer to remove ammunition from his opponents' argument, which isn't an actual problem.

18
dmix 3 days ago 3 replies      
We'll the USA already has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Maybe if they were paying less in taxes, startups would have more money for health insurance for their employees?

All entrepreneurs know that they can get better employee retention with health care policy. If companies could afford it, then would there not be a higher incentive to provide it?

That being said, I believe national health insurance is a good idea. Assuming government spending is significantly restricted in other areas.

19
pinchyfingers 3 days ago 3 replies      
Consider the organizational qualities that create successful startups: agility, speed and clear vision. Entrepreneurs live and die by efficiency and effectiveness. This is the exact opposite of what government programs give us. Believing that any government initiative will enable entrepreneurship is naive. Founders relying on a government cushion to lower risk will be inviting unnecessary encumbrance.

Government programs across the board, from corporate tax credits to welfare programs are universally gamed. Creating a government net to catch failing entrepreneurs will only increase the cost of doing business, while slowing down the pace of entrepreneurship.

Is the goal here to promote new businesses, or is that just an excuse to push for socialized health care? If the goal is provide health care, then the best option is to lower the barrier of entry for new businesses in the health field, whether insurance providers, healthcare practitioners or pharmaceutical companies. This is another topic, but there are many safe and legitimate ways to do this by cutting out corruption and waste.

20
cmcbride 3 days ago 1 reply      
or we could remove the tax break for employers that provide health insurance. If health insurance was tied to the individual it would stay with them in between jobs. You could also find plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles/less coverage if there was a market for insurance.
21
rglover 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started my own business right out of school. As a result, I better be damn successful considering I have a lot of student loan debt to mop up. I have wondered, why not offer advantages in these situations to people who start businesses (say a window of ~6-12 months after graduation)? Either some sort of tax break or little to no interest rate on my debt would be handy.

Another big one is health insurance. I've been swimming in open waters without insurance for about a year now. The only plans that I can get are abysmal with 5k plus deductibles (please direct me to a better deal if I'm being naive and something exists).

Even though I've taken the leap to build a business ahead of my peers, I'm getting the crap end of the stick.

Does seem a bit unbalanced.

22
goggles99 2 days ago 0 replies      
The risks that exist today "weed out" failures before they ever exist (failures are very expensive/bad for the economy). Most people realize that they do not have a good enough concept, enough time/dedication/work ethic lack a high level of life/business/leadership/social skills/self confidence.I could go on and on here.

If people have little/no risk to follow a venture, we will see a lot more people quitting their 9-5s and starting garbage businesses.

HMM - This sounds a lot like people getting home mortgages who have no business getting them... I know that John was a big fan of the affordable housing act as well.

Why does John Stewart stop there? why not lower entrepreneurial risk even more and guarantee that if someones startup business fails that they get money to live on from the govt for the next 18 months? Oh wait we already have that (unemployment)

How about I become a full time entrepreneur then? I could probably make more money per year starting failed business after failed business. I have money to live on and free health care so why not? This sounds great for the economy. This Stewart guy is sure a genius!!!

23
elviejo 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting when I lived in the US
it was surprising how many of my coworkers on their early twenties were averse to risk... they wouldn't start a new business venture and their reasons were:
- I have student loans
- I need health insurance
- I need to build a foundation so that my kids can go to college.
- After the economic crisis, it isn't worth it....

But living in a contry were:
- You don't have student debt
- Your health services are warranted
- Your kids can go to college and even great colleges for free...

Makes being an Entrepreneur SO much easy...
that you wouldn't believe.

24
tristan_juricek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Better social nets probably would create much higher wages as employees think "screw this I'm gonna at least try it on my own", so companies have to up the ante.

But I don't see more entrepreneurs turning into economic growth. That takes a specific, rare entrepreneur that focuses on building growth, rather than replacing a paycheck.

On the flip side, I don't see less taxes becoming economic growth either. Taxes have to be pretty damn high to change your operations. The amounts usually talked about are not going to cause a company to say "hey let's build a new product".

The question should be "what's preventing companies from growing" instead of this class warfare framework. In the US, I see big companies being limited from growth by their own C-level executives' eye on their stock take - which makes no sense until you realize the amount of money they can gain from short term manipulation. But I see more of a problem due to bad skill sets - too many people have the wrong set of skills. A retail store clerk is not going to help anyone grow these days.

25
sodafountan 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think that this would result in hundreds of thousands of bad ideas hitting the marketplace and then the government having to bail out all of the crap that didn't succeed. Risk is there for a reason, it's to stop you from doing something stupid, to make you think twice about the decision you're about to make. I don't believe that we need government to bail out risk takers... not with the amount of national debt that we already have.

You know what happend the last time there was no risk? Banks lended out sub-prime mortgages to just about anyone with a job that walked in the door. You know why they were able to do this? Because those sub-prime loans where bundled up and then sold off to investment banks which then packaged them as mortgage-backed securities. We all know how that one turned out... Risk is a necessary part of life, we need to accept it.

26
3143 3 days ago 1 reply      
Humans are complacent and humans are risk-averse. Increasing reward and decreasing risk play to different aspects of human nature.
27
superdude 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to quit my current day job and work on my business full time if I could be guaranteed health insurance. When I graduated, more than anything I wanted a job with good health care. I could not risk joining a company that would drop me or not cover me if I got some major health problem. So I got a job with not the highest income but a very low likelihood of losing health insurance...state government.
28
margaux 2 days ago 0 replies      
FYI if you live in San Francisco and make less than 54k a year you can get Healthy San Francisco (http://www.healthysanfrancisco.org/). It can be free depending on how much you're making. When I had a startup I broke my arm and had to get surgery, it was only $100 bucks.
30
skylan_q 3 days ago 0 replies      
who is going to provide this safety net?
29
Google Voice lost my business number. How I got it back, and what I learned. sultansolutions.com
194 points by jjkmk  1 day ago   112 comments top 20
1
silverbax88 1 day ago  replies      
This week I had an epiphany when dealing with both Google and Microsoft on support issues. The issues are this: when you need an answer to a question about something from your bank, such as, say, a fee that suddenly appears on your statement, you can pick up the phone and find someone at the company who will at least give you slow service to answer your question.

But with Google and Microsoft, there is no support department. You need to know how a specific service is charged? Good luck. You need to know why a needed parameter is missing on their API documentation? Forget it.

Basically companies like Google and Microsoft want to toss their products out into the wild and then go back behind closed doors to noodle on something else. It baffles me as to why enterprise businesses are able to do this.

2
wtallis 1 day ago 1 reply      
When Google Voice was new, I signed up and got a number, but my account never got properly activated to send or receive calls. After more than a week of trying to get support, I payed the fee to get a different number. Unsurprisingly, that number didn't work either, but the financial transaction did at least get me a line of communication through which I could dispute the charge on my credit card and force Google to react. Two or three days later, my account was fixed and the number switch and fee were reverted.

Bringing a financial transaction into the mix is always the most reliable way to get in touch. Google may play hard-to-get with their users, but they can't do that to a bank.

3
mgkimsal 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I own a Samsung Galaxy 3, a Nexus 7, run over 10 paid Google Biz Apps accounts, and will continue to use and recommend Google services to my clients and friends."

Why? Vote with your dollars. Oh, wait - you're already paying them and realized you have no reliable support.

Look, I use gmail too, and google search, and adwords. The gmail going away might be somewhat problematic, but I also run my own mail servers for other addresses, and shifting to those as my primary for everything wouldn't be too hard - a small PITA, but not devastating.

I expect a better level of service for something I'm paying cash for. To continue to support them just means its harder for other companies that might be providing good service to get traction.

I've recommended twilio and tropo to various people, and the first reaction is "oh it's like google voice?" the second reaction is "WTF? I have to PAY?! Google Voice is free!" This seems suspiciously like MS 15 years ago using profits their dominance (monopoly) in one market to get in to another market.

4
raverbashing 1 day ago 1 reply      
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was shut out of Google Apps (yes, the paying one) for "abuse"

Just like that, leaving them locked out of their (company) emails.

There is a support line but it's helpless, it said "Your account may be unlocked in 72h"

Yes, may be unlocked. This is not a proper answer to a paying customer Google.

So I lost my confidence in Google Apps, if I need a similar service better contract from somebody else.

(It's been a while but I still haven't heard the rest of the story)

5
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is true that Google has no support for free (or mostly free) services but they do generally for paid services. When I have issues with my google hosted (and paid for) domain a real person answers the email and follows up. At some point I expect them to just flip the bit and bring up a customer support service for 'real'. I suppose they could buy zendesk or something like that but here is an interesting question, how much would you pay for your Google stuff? A gmail account, a hosted domain, docs, etc? $10/month? $100/month?

At NetApp I got a chance to sit in on some meetings where support costs were being evaluated and there is a pretty clear calculus that can be done. (I recommend all engineers at an enterprise products company experience it since the 'cost' of s bug (and thus the value of testing) is pretty clear) So I wonder if Google decided to add revenue from all of their products in this way (clearly they do that right now for Google Apps) would folks sign up? I know a number of Youtube 'publishers' who would if only to have someone to call up when they get a robo-takedown.

6
davidw 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had my own Google frustrations lately:

http://journal.dedasys.com/2012/10/16/the-dreaded-google-loc...

Nothing as serious as a phone number that was already in use, but frustrating nonetheless.

What's even more frustratingly difficult is that they do provide a tremendous amount of value with a series of fairly integrated products.... leaving would be very difficult and costly.

7
option_greek 1 day ago 1 reply      
Something has to be done about these kind of goof-ups when dealing with Google customer service. It's ridiculous that their primary contact point for servicing paid customers is a online forum manned by volunteers.
8
ed209 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to look for the best product on the market when I was considering a new service.

I no longer do that. I now look for the product whose support will be there for me when disaster strikes.

No matter what product you choose, at some point, something bad will happen.

9
lazyjones 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great article that highlights the main issues with fast-growing billion-dollar behemoths like Google: "[...] I was so dreamy eyed about Google that I didn't take the proper precautions [...]". It's insane that they get away with providing 1st level support for critical infrastructure to paying customers using a forum manned by volunteers!
10
sejje 1 day ago 2 replies      
Has google ever commented on the "no support" policy?

It's incredible to me that this is their stance.

It also seems to directly violate "Do no evil" pretty frequently--effectively shutting down someone's livelihood, in this case.

11
amalag 1 day ago 0 replies      
So the amount of money google needs to pay dedicated support staff to field customer complaints will not be covered by their Google voice revenue. Or they simply don't care and a few numbers falling through the cracks won't hurt their revenue.
12
zdw 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is there a comparable solution to Google Voice?

I'd like voicemail, web and phone apps, text message support, and the ability to port a number in.

Bonus points for fax support, which GV doesn't have.

I'm sure that others are looking for a similar solution in light of this.

13
tga 1 day ago 1 reply      
Besides the support issues, it's worth noting that Google Voice is also impossible to use when you are (temporarily) outside of the US due to their braindead geographical IP limitation that blocks you from even accessing the site.

For my voicemail-to-email (and occasional forwarding, etc.) I am currently using Sonetel (http://www.sonetel.com). $1/month for a US number and you can contact real humans when things go wrong. (no affiliation, I'm just a happy customer)

14
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
TL;DR "Google didn't help at all. I got lucky and was able to re-register with my number before someone else did."
15
tammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, based on the title I assumed the issue was resolved easily.

Almost two weeks with no number, then being forced to buy the number back?

16
damncabbage 1 day ago 4 replies      
Offtopic: I'm sorry, but the font you're using is horrendously unreadable; the "i"s (for example) are mostly missing:

http://i.imgur.com/cwn1Q.png

17
Tmmrn 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about just calling the general google phone number and asking them to connect you to someone who can help with google voice?

http://www.google.com/intl/en/contact/

18
stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised the article didn't end with explaining how he got his phone number out of Google Voice.
19
bravoyankee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google, I don't get you. You treat free service users like kings and paying customers like serfs. What's up with that?
20
brindle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google does provide customer support but the end user is not the customer. The customer is the consumer of the data that is gathered on the usage data that is collected from the end user.

I lost an gmail email account, and I had no recourse. In all fairness I was not actively using it. I had registered and received the account so I could have my name. When I decided to start using it, the password no longer worked.

I also had an issue with Skype and I was paid customer. No tech support. I discontinued that account

I have a Google voice account and I use it as my primary phone number. It would hurt to lose or have issues with this account.

       cached 22 October 2012 04:11:01 GMT