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Outlawed by Amazon DRM bekkelund.net
1422 points by paulsilver  4 days ago   479 comments top 96
cletus 4 days ago 7 replies      
The fact that Amazon can do this is obviously scary, particularly for those with extensive Kindle libraries. Personally I love the idea of ebooks but the publishers are doing their best to kill this market (eg Surface Detail in paperback is $6, as an ebook its $10 WTF?).

Now I can't speak to the truth of these claims. I have no inside knowledge but I will say this: be skeptical of such stories. I have seen other stories like this on HN where I have had some inside knowledge and I can tell you that there have definitely been cases that vary between being one side of the story to being a distortion of facts and events to being outright lies.

It's a common theme to have a post of "[BigCo] shut down my account for no reason". I describe such stories as "unverifiable stories in which the poster is a victim".

Like I said, this could all be exactly as the poster claims but it might not be as well. It could be as simple as the person having the same name as someone who got blocked in the US. Who knows? Amazon needs to be extremely careful to be right in situations like this or they risk undermining the ecosystem they've spent so long to create.

I don't mind buying Kindle novels because I tend to only ever read them once. And if they were $6 (like the paperbacks often are) I'd view them as a throwaway purchase.

But when it comes to technical books--books I'll often refer back to and that can cost much more--I'll have to make sure I either only buy the PDF version or I buy the PDF+mobi+epub upgrade from the publisher after buying the Kindle book (2 thumbs up to publishers who do this BTW).

cs702 4 days ago 8 replies      
Could you ever imagine a local retailer in your area breaking and entering into your home, taking away all your books, and then not giving you a straightforward explanation as to why they did so? Me neither. Breaking and entering into someone else's physical property, and talking away their physical possessions without explanation is so obviously wrong and illegal!

Yet that's pretty much what Amazon did to this poor woman, except in the digital realm: Amazon 'broke and entered' into her Kindle, took away all her books, and then did not give her a straightforward explanation as to why they did so.

More alarmingly, Amazon did this with impunity, because this woman never really owned "her" books or, for that matter, anything else she "purchased" on "her" Kindle. In the digital realm, what Amazon did to this woman is perfectly legal.

Legal or not, this looks, smells, and feels so obviously wrong, it ought to be illegal.

techsupporter 4 days ago 8 replies      
Tangentially related, I am getting very, very tired of "customer service" departments using phrases like:

"While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened."

This happens more frequently: Google says this all the time, based on posts here; Amazon now does the same thing; even apartment rental companies will say "you've been turned down on the basis of this report that we don't know the contents of."

If your company can't reveal specific reasons or steps behind why an action was taken, DON'T TAKE THAT ACTION. Even my credit card issuer will tell me exactly why my card was flagged and they deal with ACTUAL MONEY. All these statements do is infuriate customers, create bad press, and drive away other customers. Scammers will just back up, look at their entire operation, and hammer away again with 300 new accounts so all you've accomplished is pissing off customers who want to do business with you.

Arjuna 4 days ago 2 replies      
I am curious: could a story like this happen in the United States?

According to my reading of the legal case (I am not a lawyer, but it would be interesting if any of you are could comment - grellas, perhaps) regarding Amazon's remote deletion of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, the settlement involving that case appears to protect what happened in this story from happening to users in the United States.

Of course, it goes without saying that I do not agree with how things went down in this story, where a person has absolutely no recourse with Amazon, with the proverbial door completely shut in their face. However, I find it interesting that, again, according to my interpretation of the aforementioned settlement, it appears that Kindle units that are purchased and used in the United States are afforded special protections by law from what specifically happened in the story (i.e., the settlement outlines very specific cases where remote deletion can occur, but they do not appear to apply with regard to what happened in the story).

Is my reading of this correct? If so, why aren't all Kindle owners afforded this protection?

Here is the citation from the settlement [1]:

"For copies of Works purchased pursuant to TOS granting "the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy" of each purchased Work and to "view, use and display [such Works] an unlimited number of times, solely on the [Devices] . . . and solely for [the purchasers'] personal, non-commercial use," Amazon will not remotely delete or modify such Works from Devices purchased and being used in the United States unless

(a) the user consents to such deletion or modification;

(b) the user requests a refund for the Work or otherwise fails to pay for the Work (e.g., if a credit or debit card issuer declines to remit payment);

(c) a judicial or regulatory order requires such deletion or modification; or

(d) deletion or modification is reasonably necessary to protect the consumer or the operation of a Device or network through which the Device communicates (e.g., to remove harmful code embedded within a copy of a Work downloaded to a Device).

This paragraph does not apply to

(a) applications (whether developed or offered by Amazon or by third parties), software or other code;

(b) transient content such as blogs; or

(c) content that the publisher intends to be updated and replaced with newer content as newer content becomes available. With respect to newspaper and magazine subscriptions, nothing in this paragraph prohibits the current operational practice pursuant to which older issues are automatically deleted from the Device to make room for newer issues, absent affirmative action by the Device user to save older issues."

[1] http://assets.bizjournals.com/cms_media/pdf/KindleCase1.pdf?...

jwr 4 days ago 5 replies      
I treat all E-books purchased with DRM as rentals.

When making a decision whether to buy or not, I look at the price and consider whether I'm willing to pay this much to rent the book for an indeterminate amount of time, possibly as little as 3 months. Quite often it turns out that the price is too high. But I never delude myself that I actually "own" any of the DRM-restricted content that I paid for.

andyjohnson0 4 days ago 6 replies      
Its getting to the point where I am seriously considering closing my Amazon account. I just don't like the way it does business any more. Can anyone recommend a good online bookseller in the UK? Is Waterstones any good?

The Guardian is running a story [1] today about how Amazon forces publishers to cover the cost of 20% VAT (sales tax) on ebook sales, even though it only pays 3% to the Luxembourg government (where it is based for tax purposes). It also insists that if a publisher offers a better price to another retailer then it must offer the same price to Amazon.

They also pay no corporation tax in the UK, despite sales of more than £3.3bn/yr [2], through being based in Luxembourg.

I was going to jump ship to The Book Depository, but Amazon bought them last year. Its hard to understand why this was allowed by the competition regulator, and it doesn't give me much confidence that the UK government has much interest in limiting their control of multiple markets.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/oct/21/amazon-forc...

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/04/amazon-brit...

lancewiggs 4 days ago 6 replies      
I wonder whether this is related to Linn living in Norway, purchasing from Amazon.com and somehow Amazon.co.uk are getting in the middle, perhaps because they run Europe from there.

It's the game that many people play - trying to find the best Amazon (or Apple) store when they live and travel between countries. This means a constant struggle to find a combination of credit card, store with enough content (The US is best) and a local address (virtual and actual) to satisfy arcane internal rules.

Please Amazon - please move to one global store where any credit card from any country can purchase any edition of any book. Please Amazon and Apple, let us combine content from multiple stores into one account, and let us have a global price based on the best market. Yo usell more stuff, we but more as well.

Meanwhile take the chance to collect, and pay to the local authorities, consumption/sales tax based on the location of the IP address, not the credit card or address of the buyer. That way if someone is standing in the UK, buying content from the USA, then they pay UK tax (VAT), making it fairer versus the physical and local virtual alternatives.

pwg 4 days ago 1 reply      
This post really brings into focus just how right Richard Stallman was when he penned "The Right to Read":


chanux 4 days ago 2 replies      
I e-mailed amazon using a feedback form[1]. following is what I wrote. I appreciate if other kindle owners can do the same to help Linn and for the greater good.

Dear Amazon,

Your service was really nice to me so far. But I happened to read a news that was not comforting. Following is a link to the story.

This makes me hesitant about making any future purchases. I understand your right to act against any abuse but I also believe that users have a right know what was really going on, especially when they are being totally banished.

This email is to direct your attention towards the problem so you can have another chance of finishing things in a nicer way. I strongly believe DRM sucks but I also believe there are valid reasons for it to be there. The problem is not black or white. I'd like to see a solution that is acceptable for both parties (Amazon and the customer).

Thank you

[1] https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/kindle-help.html/r...

oliwarner 4 days ago 2 replies      
User pays money for something. Company withdraws products without notice and deliberately harms the user's device. Yes this is awful but the solution is as simple as it's always been:

1. Complain. Keep complaining all the way to the top.

2. Sue. If complaining doesn't get you want you've paid for (or your money back, inc the Kindle you now can't use), you've just been robbed and you need to take legal action. You might think you're under a billion and five EULAs but when challenged, courts seem to side with the user when the EULAs attempt to restrict rights that they're not allowed to impinge upon. There are various sales laws that are protected well beyond the words of an EULA.

If you don't do anything about it, you make it worse for everybody else because <<insert horrid company here>> thinks they can get away with it now.

kabdib 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have a physical library of about 5K books. Should he want to, my son will be able to read those books.

The DRM'd books are a different story. I still want my son to be able to read them, but I have no assurance that the ebooks will be available to him fifteen years from now.

So I yank the DRM from all of my Amazon purchases. These I put on backups. I do not share them.

I would like to see legislation about the ownership of digital content, requiring that purchased content be accessible /at all times/ -- held in escrow, if necessary. Clearly defining a purchase is probably part of this.

dendory 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a comic book fan, and a while back I started buying comics digitally from Dark Horse's digital store. Being also a HN reader, I'm very aware of what these companies can do, how accounts are closed without notice, wiping all your previous purchases, etc. So obviously as my spending went up in that one digital store, I became concerned of what could happen, especially reading their FAQ that clearly state all my money gave me nothing other than a right to access their online system. So I did like any good geek and I poked around, used a few web developer tools, and found a way to save those comics to PDF, for backup purposes. Now, whenever I buy a new title, the first thing I do is save it as PDF, before even reading it. So now I'm no longer worried about what this company might do, and I encourage everyone who buys goods digitally to do the same. Of course it sucks that we have to do this, but right now that's the only option. Don't let yourself at the mercy of faceless corporations.
andrewpi 4 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently Amazon didn't wipe her Kindle: https://twitter.com/webmink/status/260432600814981120
mysterywhiteboy 4 days ago 1 reply      
The lack of transparency from Amazon here is worrying.

Because it appears to be Amazon UK dealing with the account holder
I'd be interested to know if she would get anywhere by submitting a Subject Information Request [1].

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 an individual can submit a request for personal information held by an organization and they must comply within 40 days.

Whether she would get the information she is interested in, i.e. which account she is linked to, is another question.

[1] http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information/ho...

jiggy2011 4 days ago 1 reply      
So even if we assume that Amazon was correct and that this account was closed because it was linked to another account that was closed because of 'abuse'.

I don't understand how that would justify or require revoking access to stuff that was already bought/licensed? You could simply deny the offending user access to buying new stuff instead.

nowarninglabel 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've had some friends caution me over the fact that I have a "license to read" my Amazon purchased books as opposed to "own" them, however that really never hit home until now. I understand this is the way the business model works, but the customer service presented here is terrible, no indication whatsoever as to what the real problem is and no way to find out, which is sad because usually Amazon has pretty good customer service (well in my experience, I've been using Amazon for about a decade now, and customer service sucked until around 2004 or so I think when it seemed to get better).
jiggy2011 4 days ago 1 reply      
Surely this is what a small claims court could be used for?

I haven't read the Amazon TOS but is it really as simple as "you rent this book for as long as we feel like and we can revoke it for no reason"?

In which case I would be somewhat surprised if this really held up in a court, for example what happens if you buy a book and they immediately decide to revoke the license 1 second after purchase?

run4yourlives 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm not saying this to be rude, so I apologize in advance if you personally take offence:

In my mind, you're a complete idiot if you are an e-book consumer at this point in time.

You essentially rent the book for a price often higher than owning a physical copy of the exact same material. All this for the slight mobility advantage, and instant purchase ability. You can't share your ebooks with friends. You run the risk that the publisher might decide you're no longer worthy of that purchase.

I question the sanity of any person that has done a pro/con comparison and actually judged e-books to be superior. My guess is that most people don't bother to actually think about these purchases.

e-books can and should be revolutionary, but what is on offer now is essentially nothing more than window dressing - and people are eating it up.

pixelcort 4 days ago 0 replies      
The worst part about this isn't so much the remote wipe of the device, but the eternal banning of the customer without recourse.

It doesn't matter if it's 30 or 50 years from now; this person has been told that for the rest of their life, until they die, that they are never again able to become a customer.

Sounds like a long time to be banned without being told why.

MattBearman 4 days ago 2 replies      
I know it's not the best attitude, but if this ever happened to me I would simply pirate all the books I'd purchased from amazon, side load them onto my kindle and keep reading guilt free.

A part of me would like to dump amazon due to stories like this, but at the end of the day the whole set up is just too convenient (I can find, 'buy', and start reading a book in less than a minute directly from my kindle)

The worst part is that attitudes like mine are probably a big part of the reason Amazon will continue to get away with this. The even worse part is that I just don't care enough to do anything about it.

I wonder how many others there are like me who should know better, but enjoy the convenience too much?

AngryParsley 4 days ago 3 replies      
First, it's important to note that we don't have very much information yet. Given what I've read so far, I assume stupidity on the part of Amazon.

Before everyone starts hating on Amazon specifically, remember that this same thing would happen with Apple, Xbox Live, or Barnes & Noble accounts. It's not that all these companies want to have DRM. It's the content owners who dictate the terms of licensing.

epaga 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just had the following support chat with an Amazon rep:

Me:I have really enjoyed Kindle on multiple devices so far but I just read the following account of a different Kinde customer and am appalled at Amazon's treatment of this individual: http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/
Is it really true that at any moment, Amazon could delete all my books and not tell me the reason? If so, I strongly request that Amazon revisit its DRM rules & regulations. Thanks!
Hi Elakkiya!

Elakkiya:Hello, I'm Elakkiya from Amazon Kindle support.I'll be happy to help you today

Basically it comes down to these terms cited by Amazon Exec Michael Murphy in his letter: "Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion."
Is this true?
Without needing to cite any reasons whatsoever, is Amazon able to delete all my books?

Elakkiya:I'm sorry for the inconvenience you had about this.
May I place you on hold for 1 to 2 minutes while I check this for you?

No inconvenience so far for ME
just for the person in that article
so I'm asking if it is factually correct

Elakkiya:Thanks for waiting.


Elakkiya:It seems there was some problem with the account. This is the reason for the account closure.

Me:obviously. :) the appalling thing is that amazon doesn't want to tell her what problem
so my question is: does Amazon not NEED to tell its customers which problem an account has before closing it?
obviously amazon needs to have the right to close accounts
but i'd say in those cases it also has the responsibility to state why
more than a hand-wavy "there were problems"

Elakkiya:May I place you on hold for 1 to 2 minutes while I check this for you?


Elakkiya:Thanks for waiting.


Elakkiya:On further going through this issue, I see that I need to transfer your concern to the appropriate department who handle these kind of issues.

please do that. will they respond via email then?

Elakkiya:Yes, you should hear back from them in the next 1-2 business days.

Me:great. i assume you have my email since i'm logged in, right?


Me:Thanks, Elakkiya. Have a great day!

Elakkiya:You're welcome.
Thank you for visiting Amazon.com. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

chillax 4 days ago 0 replies      
Seems the blog is getting hit hard now. Here is the Google Cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Awww.b...
rdl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have hundreds of Kindle books, preferentially buy Kindle books, and also have 150+ Audible audiobooks (also owned by Amazon).

I've always been afraid of what might happen to vendor-controlled content (either cloud servers or DRM), so I maintain a local de-DRM'd version of every file. For Audible, I actually had to go through a download, aac playback in iTunes to mp3 compression, mp3 file split workflow to make Audible books work with the RNS-E audio in my audi (it has built-in SD slots to play MP3, but the iPod in interface won't work with Audible due to DRM restrictions in their app).

It's a shame that you have to go through all this trouble just to use things you've legally purchased. It's sort of ok when the system just works (like Steam does now, although it didn't always), but horrible when you don't trust the vendor much and where the software doesn't work very well (EA Origin...).

I don't think I'd buy anything where there wasn't at least a technical workaround to rip to servers and formats under my control.

bencevans 4 days ago 1 reply      
If they do that with books, this could happen with AWS?!

Dear Sir/Madam,

We've deleted your EC2, S3... Services and Permanently suspended your AWS account due to it's been linked to another account somewhere on the internet. In other words your companies services/product/startup is offline without notice and we don't care.

snitko 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can absolutely agree that the story is very disturbing, however I also believe that it is an Amazon's right as a private company to do whatever the hell it wants with products an services it provides. The problem is not that it can or cannot legally wipe out the contents of its devices, the problem is that there's not enough competition yet. If Amazon was in a very harsh competition with any another company for ebook market (which I believe it currently isn't) a story like this would undoubtedly drive a substantial amount of customers to competitors. What Amazon currently does, it enjoys a temporary situation in which it is a market leader. Since ebooks is not exactly a very regulated industry, I don't think it's too long before we actually have a serious competition.
jnazario 4 days ago 4 replies      
an increased number of stories like this will make the book pirating underground a lot more attractive to a wider audience. it exists, it's not quite napster-like yet but it's getting there. no DRM, a potentially wider catalog, etc.

this is a risk for publishers and loss-leaders (like amazon) alike.

rmc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Should have pirated. You get a better product.
donapieppo 4 days ago 1 reply      
A sentence like "We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters" is the best explanation of the evil of monopoly.
robk 4 days ago 0 replies      
She should clearly pursue this in small claims court in the UK. She should be able to do this with a foreign address even. Easy and effective. https://www.gov.uk/make-money-claim-online
scotty79 4 days ago 3 replies      
I have a Kindle but I don't want to have to do with Amazon. What is the best open firmware so far I can flash into it?

I'd like to retain ability to send documents from my computer to my Kindle over the internet.

mikecane 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is new information here:

Rights? You have no right to your eBooks.

Edited to add: So this seems to be a case of a used Kindle's UDID being tied to a previously-suspended account and she got caught in the dragnet by buying that device used without knowing of its history. At some point -- if someone can get through to a live human being at Amazon -- this should all be straightened out. This is yet another reason why everyone should be careful buying used electronics with UDIDs (see eBay and Craigslist for all the "clean ESN" mentions for used phones!).

akavlie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Something very similar happened to my seller account late last year. The emails were very similar -- including the cause for the closure (alleged linkage to a previously closed account). Story here:


My story got to the top spot on Hacker News and, thanks to the exposure there, Amazon reversed its decision. At no point did I get anything that looked like a personalized response -- just terse form emails that didn't divulge any details.

What surprises me the most about this story is that they use the same approach with the consumer end of the business. I figured that the ham-handed treatment I got was due to Amazon's lack of care for that particular piece of their business, and that any issue with buyers would be taken up with more personal attention, and provide ample opportunity for appeal. Guess I was wrong.

einarfd 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems that the Norwegian consumer protection agency have heard about this case and have started looking into it (link in Norwegian http://www.itavisen.no/904648/forbrukerraadet-helt-haarreise... ).

It's going to be interesting to see if they are able to get any traction on this.
They actually might since her contact in Amazon seemed to be working for Amazon.co.uk, and Norway is part of the EU's inner market.

SEMW 4 days ago 0 replies      
> How will she ever find the means to get her books back? By suing a large corporation half-way round the earth?

IANAL. But for anyone in a similar situation, consumer protection law is usually better than you think. Don't assume you can't sue, or have to sue in another country, just because the contract says you do. Consumer protection laws can trump contracts!

In particular, for anyone in EU or EFTA at least (i.e. part of the Brussels regime for determining jurisdiction to sue, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brussels_Regime ), who is acting as a consumer, you can sue in your own country: "A consumer may bring proceedings against the other party to a contract either in the courts... in which that party is domiciled or in the courts... in which he is himself domiciled."

If Amazon want to do business in a country, they have to abide by the consumer laws of that country.

I am not a lawyer. Get yourself a lawyer and know your rights!

DiabloD3 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is why you should use a DRM removal tool and use a third party e-book reader on an Android tablet.
miles 4 days ago 0 replies      
Update: Simon Phipp sez, "Kindlegate update: Linn says her account was mysteriously re-activated after my article published."

via http://boingboing.net/2012/10/22/kindle-user-claims-amazon-d...

mark_l_watson 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have sympathy for the lady (and others) who lost their Kindle books.

However, I am going to take the opposition view here because I feel like people don't understand 'the beast' also known as Amazon.

Amazon optimizes on low margins, and cheap prices for goods (both physical and electronic). Amazon optimizes on the benefit to the mass majority of their customers at the expense of a small minority who do occasionally get "thrown under the bus."

I buy lots of Kindle books, but there are a few things I do to mitigate risk. First, for technical books I try to buy from publishers who have daily 30% to 50% off sales where I get PDF, a MOBI (Kindle format), and a iPub files. Secondly, I buy a physical book if I think that a book will have long term value (for example, I would read it several times during a financial meltdown when electricity is scarce, and we spend most of our time grubbing around for food - this has happened in Argentina, Russia, Iraq, etc., and it may well happen sometime in the USA). Thirdly, I buy "good deals" on the Kindle; for example, I am reading James Joyce's "Ulysses" right now and I only paid about $2 for it - a great bargain.

shismijuh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I own 2 kindles. Got one more for Mum also. I need to get my books out ASAP. Somehow, feel very cheated. Nobody can walk into your house and take away your paperbook. This is theft! And then the arrogance of no explanations.
bborud 4 days ago 0 replies      
What did we expect?

When everything works we all ooh and aah over how great Kindle and a thousand other things like it are. When someone tries to bring a more expensive product to market we scoff and criticize and shake our heads.

Well kids, "cheap" has its price, and the price is shitty, impersonal, bullshit customer service. Amazon has been great at customer service for many years in their physical goods-business, but to push cost down for electronic services, this is what you have to expect.

In the future things will be cheap and human interaction will be at a premium.

conradfr 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is a Kindle usable without an Amazon account ?
engtech 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a fun game to illustrate why we should be interested in protecting consumer rights to maintain their own libraries of digital goods.

Go back through the New York Time Best Seller list in 5 year increments, and see at what point you start reaching books you've never heard of and that are no longer in print.

It's pretty revealing that except for novels that are in school curriculum or transferred to another medium (book, TV) the majority of best sellers are only relevant for 15-20 years.

If you're in your late 30s or old, try to find a new copy of some favourite novels from your adolescence. Good luck.

qw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the database is down. Here's the cached version:


capisce 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's very frightening, makes me reconsider buying more e-books from Amazon...
chris_wot 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting link to an Amazon.com Kindle Help discussion by the blog author:


gliese1337 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I will not buy proprietary readers like Kindle, nor access to any digital media for which I do not get my very own copy of a file I can back up on my very own hard-drives. The story doesn't particularly make me hate Amazon- it's just one anecdote, and I've had great experiences with Amazon customer service myself- but it shows what can be done. No matter how much I might like Amazon's other services, I will never trust any company not to do anything that they are technically capable of doing. To keep them from screwing you over, don't give them the power to do so.
brokentone 4 days ago 0 replies      
Whether the story is completely true, whether it has another side, or if it's a complete farce, we understand this situation could happen under the agreements we make to Amazon and just about every other digital services provider (yes, we've jumped from goods to services). When we understand that, don't take action, and continue purchasing from any of the companies that legalese themselves onto a fortified high ground that disadvantages consumers to this degree, we're part of the problem.

The very fact this story is this popular is because we all understand it could happen to us, think that by upvoting it, commenting on it, and sharing it, we're making a difference, but then we go right back to Amazon and purchase more things. Perpetuating the cycle.

jordanthoms 4 days ago 0 replies      
If she has made any recent purchases, doing a chargeback would be an option.
tsotha 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would think this is actionable in the US. Her being in Norway complicates things.

I've spent more than $1k on ebooks for my kindle. If Amazon did this to me they'd definitely have a lawsuit on their hands. Not because I would win in court, but because I could use it as a springboard to do millions of dollars in damage to their reputation.

damon 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to hear Amazon's side of the story. It just doesn't seem like something any digital retailer would do.

Assuming Lynn did no wrong and this is entirely a fraud algorithm problem on Amazon's side, you would think there is a higher authority within Amazon to dispute the problem. It's a shame they they didn't offer her anything in terms of dispute resolution or fraud prevention.

I'm going to email Amazon's feedback link as chanux did, I hope the larger HN community does the same.

antihero 4 days ago 0 replies      
A random idea but perhaps she logged in with her account onto a public computer that had been used by someone for fraud? I don't know, she should use EU law against Amazon - it should apply as they're operating in the EU.
adrianscott 4 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who will take Amazon's action and level of customer service into consideration when deciding on a cloud hosting provider, Amazon Web Services vs. others?

Accounts are accounts on Amazon and will they link a consumer account you or your developers use with an account you use for hosting business web sites on EC2?

Or, reading the blog entry, will they mistakenly link another account with your other Amazon accounts, including the one you use for EC2?...

SeanDav 4 days ago 0 replies      
Which is why I never purchase DRM goods if I can possibly avoid it. Support vendors that don't have DRM.
sbochins 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think I'll ever buy into a closed system like Amazon ebooks. Seems like you can have so much eggs in one basket and they can just smash your eggs w/o giving any reason. I don't read a lot of books for my free time. I have a safari books account at work that I use a lot. It is nice since it is kind of like Netflix. It's just a subscription, so they can't pull anything crazy like Amazon is doing here. I also like the feel of actual books, and they are nice decorations in your house.
sami36 4 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one thinking there is more to this story than what has been leaked so far ? I don't usually step up to the defense of corporate America but in my dealings with Amazon, I haven't encountered anything but stellar customer service.
I hope Amazon releases more about the specifics that led them to take such a draconian action. This is either a terrible mistake that'll come with profuse apology & additional scrutiny at their (maybe trigger happy) fraud processes....or a last ditch action to deal with a serious violation. Either way, this will need to be explained, for now conclusions are being drawn on the basis of nothing but speculation.
njharman 4 days ago 0 replies      
> get her books back?

They aren't her books, they aren't even books in the physical sense. They are the copyright owner's "books". All she had (and paid for) were licenses to display (in limited fashion) "books".

Linn might not like this, she should fight (infinite, broad) copyright which is the root of all this evil, not Amazon.

arandomJohn 4 days ago 0 replies      
First a disclaimer: I think this is outrageous and hope that her account is restored.

Now my questions:

Does her account use her home address? That seems unlikely as she is in Norway but is dealing with Amazon US. What are the rules for purchasing content when you're not resident? Could this be the problem? If so that sucks.

Secondly, it appears that she began her Kindle odyssey with a used Kindle. Could that be what links her account to a fraudulent one? A unique ID from one of her devices has been used by someone else in the past?

tobyjsullivan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding the policy violation, is it possible the problem was the fact she lived in Norway and was using amazon.com?

My experience, as a Canadian, is that Amazon encourages use of amazon.ca (your local version of their site) and you have to go through some tricks to use Amazon.com.

Many of my friends did because that was the only way to get a kindle and books for years. Are they all at risk of this?

asgeirn 4 days ago 2 replies      
The worst part is the blatant arrogance of Mr. Michael Murphy, who does not at all consider the possibility of it all being a misunderstanding or some error on Amazon's behalf, and giving the customer no option to rectify the issue.

These are two options for who Michael Murphy is:



Karunamon 4 days ago 0 replies      
I understand the fear expressed here by a number of people that this might happen to them, but honestly? I think the answer here is pretty mundane and deserves a bit of perspective.

Some low level intern screwed up somewhere. While that hardly excuses Amazon for their exceptionally horrendous CS in this case (usually they're know for being good on that front), ask yourself:

  * How many customers does Amazon have?
* How many instances of this have ever happened?
* How likely is it to happen again?

The answers there are "a hell of a lot" (>100M), not many, and not very.

One cockup with one customer hasn't shaken my faith in Amazon's ecosystem. They're going to have to try a lot harder in order to achieve that goal.

Look at another platform like Steam. I'd say they have even more issues because they'll actually dismiss people from the service for things like card chargebacks or restrict multiplayer account-wide in case of cheating. They've had errors too. They're rare and statistically insignificant, just like in this case.

And for the love of god if you're going to downvote me, please at least bother to explain why so we can all learn something.

chanux 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds disturbing to me since I too live far away from Amazon's jurisdiction and I clearly know I would be even more helpless in a case like this.

Amazon's service was so sweet I didn't mind the DRM, the metaphorical diabetes. It seems now is the time to open my eyes and (again) realize 'RMS is always right'. I think I will stop buying any amazon e-book at least until I hear something good regarding this issue.

Nursie 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's almost as if they want to drive people to alernate ways of acquiring content...

I still read a mix of kindle stuff and paper books, but the kindle is invaluable for travelling light. This is disappointing to hear about.

davidw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much this is going to cost them in lost sales.

If everything is as stated - I have no reason to doubt it - it's very disappointing.

tux1968 4 days ago 0 replies      
We simply must stop signing all power over to corporations in exchange for use of their toys. Until people start voting with their wallet, these types of things will only become more common.
frownie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Damn you all, you're so naive...

1/ Amazon is a private company.
2/ You don't buy books from them, you buy a license to read them.

So by buying a book, you agree with their power.
If you don't like to be in such control, then please, apply one of the start up credo : find a better competitor.

But don't complain, please.

(and the same goes with Apple who surely has some super control on your phone, and don't complain about FaceBook when they'll kill your account when you don't behave.)

Welcome to the privacy nightmare you all voted for by buying their shiny stuff.

Another option is : court ! Hey but you don't have enough money ? Hey, but that's what happens when you deal alone with a megacorp : you're just a small insect.

Funny people often forget that...


DenisM 4 days ago 0 replies      
Apparently, Amazon did not delete the books from her Kindle. See the twit:


e12e 3 days ago 1 reply      
FWIW, I'm from Norway, and this story seems legit - although it hasn't (yet) blown up in dead tree media over here. I think it just might.

On a related note (unfortunately not an alternative to everything Amazon offers):


guiambros 4 days ago 0 replies      
Update: seems her access was just reinstated. No further comments from Amazon, but their PR team did clarify that account status has nothing to do with access to your book's library" -- this is positive news, but still need further clarification. How can I download my books without my account?

"We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer's ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help. Thank you for your interest in Kindle."


jamesaguilar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oof. That would be horrible. I need to crack the DRM on my books and move them to a safe place ASAP.
antihero 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is theft. Yet if someone were to get caught shoplifting, they'd face jailtime.
frobozz 4 days ago 0 replies      
IANAL, but I believe that the Personopplysningsloven is compliant with Directive 95/46/EC; of which Article 12 has provisions against the behaviour exhibited by Amazon in this exchange.
realrocker 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am really infuriated by this. It's high time one of us build's Kindle's competition. DRM "must" not be handled by the store. If DRM has to exist, it should be the prerogative of the author not the store owner. What the hell man!!
Tooluka 4 days ago 0 replies      
Never ever buy e-books from Amazon, only physical books and things. Especially because all e-stuff on your Amazon account can be permanently deleted without any option to restore (except to buy it again).
wolfhumble 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like her account has been opened up again for some reason . . .
http://goo.gl/MZVzZ (Norwegian website digi.no via google translate)
crististm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, DRM at its finest. Until enough people get screwed by DRM, the R from DRM will come from Rights instead of Restrictions.

Unfortunately, I see no shortage for stories like this in the future.

noonespecial 4 days ago 0 replies      
So now corporations also have no-fly lists? Fantastic.
lucian303 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, that's the last time I buy a kindle or any books from Amazon. ePub and other non-DRM formats exist. Luckily, I have only bough a few books so far that were not free.

Of course, for the ones willing to search, the truth is out there ... but the truth is copyrighted. That's what they forgot to mention in the X-Files.

clumsysmurf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was recently interested in purchasing eBooks from Morgan Kaufmann. "The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience" costs $89.95 USD; surely for that insane price your eBook would be DRM-free, right? Wrong. Both ePub and PDF use Adobe Adept (Inept) DRM.

You can try to find the Kindle/iBook version, but as this article points out "its a license to read" ... and very often, the quality of the digital conversion is very poor, especially for literature with illustrations.

DRM-free PDF is the only way for me.

NaturalDoc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Its real simple folks. Refuse to do business with Amazon or any affiliates (sites hosted with AWS, amazon affiliates). It was once said if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. The solution is to make Amazon feel your displeasure in their bottom line.

It is pathetic what we have allowed corporations to do to us when we are the one's providing them the power to do it. Maybe we, as a society, have just become too lazy and complacent to worry about being trampled on?

olalonde 3 days ago 0 replies      
This guy sounds like a total jerk. Reminds me of some exchanges I had with Paypal's customer support.
donniezazen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stallman becomes more relevant everyday.
shmerl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Breaking DRM and making personal backups should be the first step for those who use such services.
FiloSottile 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hate when retailers make piracy tools necessary even if you paid. Head to the Apprentice Alf's Blog.
cagenut 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is even more scary for people/startups with their entire business on ec2.
gbeeson 4 days ago 0 replies      
This entire situation is the foundation of my reluctance to completely shift to 'online media'. I have always understood that I would be leasing the media and that it could be terminated for cause just as the article related. Rough stuff.
rawoke 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sucks big time !! I'd be so pissed if this was me !

I've mailed amazon to hear if this is the norm.

I don't really expect a response, but hopefully a few 1000's emails like that will at least let them give the situation more attention ?

russelluresti 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why it's extremely important to use programs like Calibre to back up all your Amazon or Nook or whatever else purchases.
isharabash 4 days ago 1 reply      
We're only hearing one side, has anyone else questioned how true this story is?
pleskon 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The fact that Amazon can do this is

It is detailed in the contract few people bother to read prior to signing!


> The problem? Microsoft has your operating system,

> Google has your email, eBay has your stuff, PayPal

> has your money, Amazon has your books, Facebook has

> your social life, etc.


The problem is YOU GAVE each of those entities information out of hand with misplaced trust.


> We need to push for a universal option for arbitration

Push for less inane contractual terms first. Then change the cultural ethos of wrong-tolerance.

celticbadboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is something that's always in the back of mind.

Yes the Kindle is awesome, but how hard is it for a bookstore to come to your house and repossess a book?

jonno 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been on the fence about Kindles for me and the kids. Think this has tipped the balance. I had heard rumors about how draconian Amazon was being, seems it was true.
amalag 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another reason to buy a Kobo instead of a kindle.
jksmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
Need something that hacks Amazon's control of Kindles.
lollancf37 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well my Kindle 3G doesn't work anymore, I was planning on buying the new one...
Now I know I won't.
Thanks for the reminder
atas 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's why we still need local storage.
js951534 4 days ago 3 replies      
Pfft only more reason to use "free" websites for ebook downloads such as coinread.com
The Future of Markdown codinghorror.com
756 points by dko  1 day ago   295 comments top 53
dgreensp 23 hours ago 13 replies      
Wow, I wasn't expecting my email to Jeff to end up as a front-page blog post!

The point here is that Markdown doesn't have a spec, nor do any of its variants to my knowledge, so I was proposing to come up with some Markdown-like language that does have a spec. Under discussion here is the more ambitious (but also appealing) plan of writing an official spec for Markdown, the same way JavaScript got a spec in the form of ECMAScript that we now identify with JavaScript itself.

A spec is a long, tedious, human-readable document that explains the behavior of a system in unambiguous terms. Specs are important because they allow us to reason about a language like Markdown without reference to any particular implementation, and they allow people to write implementations (Markdown processors) independently that behave identically. The Markdown Syntax Documentation is not a spec (it's highly ambiguous), nor is any implementation (not human-readable; some behaviors are probably accidental or incidental and difficult to port perfectly). The hard part of writing a spec is codifying the details in English, and secondarily making decisions about what should happen in otherwise ambiguous or undefined cases.

My motivation for working on a Markdown spec is first and foremost avoiding "bit rot" of content, which happens when we write content against one Markdown implementation and then later process it with another. We don't have this concern with HTML, JSON, or JavaScript, or at least we know what bounds to stay within to write code that will work on any implementation. This is achieved through specs, even if only implementers ever read them.

I would love pointers to Markdown processors that are implemented in a more principled way than the original code, for example using standard-looking lexing and parsing passes, but that still handle nested blockquotes and bullet lists together with hard-wrapped paragraphs.

blasdel 1 day ago 9 replies      
John Gruber's original Markdown.pl is one of the worst small programs I have ever read, completely riddled with outright bugs and misfeatures that continually bite its users in the ass. It's awful even by the already low standards of hand-written many-pass regex-based spaghetti-parsers.

Nobody should be using the original script, and unfortunately many of the other implementations out there are direct transliterations that replicate all of its absurd errors, like where if you mention the MD5 hash of another token in the document, the hash will be replaced with the token, because it uses that as an inline escaping mechanism! Reddit got hit with a XSS virus that got through their filters because of it: http://blog.reddit.com/2009/09/we-had-some-bugs-and-it-hurt-...

See the changelog for what started as a PHP transliteration and turned into a rewrite that squashed 125 (!) unacknowledged bugs: http://michelf.com/projects/php-markdown/

The worst part is that he outright refuses to either disclaim or fix his implementation, and so far he's repudiated everyone else's attempts to do so. He's a terrible programmer and a worse maintainer, he really still thinks the documentation on his site is comprehensive and canonical. As much as Jeff Atwood leaps at every chance to play the fool, there's no way his directorship can be anything but an improvement.

raldi 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'd also advocate for accepting reversed ()[]'s on links.

In other words, let the user type:




...and have both work exactly the same.

It will save a lot of trouble -- and especially when linking to a Wikipedia page whose URL contains parentheses.

X-Istence 1 day ago 6 replies      
I might be the only one, but I actually prefer Markdowns handling of a single "enter" without spaces at the end to mean that the paragraph is not finished. It makes writing blogs and various other stuff in Vim much simpler, and I can more easily reformat text to wrap at 80 characters, and have better control over it.

Could I soft-wrap in my editor? Sure, but that would mean that the text files sitting on my hard drive now have very long strings in them making it harder to grep, making it harder to add to git (change a single character, entire line is now a diff :-().

I hope that doesn't become the default.

kaptain 22 hours ago 1 reply      

Why get all angry at John Gruber? As many have already noted, he created Markdown for himself and released so that others could use it. AFAIK he didn't put any license/restrictions on it outside of calling himself BDFL. Whatever his skills as a programmer, writer, or his role as Mouthpiece of Apple, the vitriol is unnecessary (but absolutely fanscinating to watch). My panties bunch up naturally, no need to allow my feelings regarding Gruber to bunch them further.

Why get his approval? In the same spirit that Gruber created something for himself, you should just create something for yourself. I find it hard to believe that Gruber was the first person that conceived the idea of user-friendly text-markup. The new standard could just be inspired by Markdown and that would be a win-win: a respectful nod towards Gruber as well as the ability to move towards something 'better'.

antirez 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I love Markdown, and I hate Markdown.

I love it because the world needs an easy-for-humans way to format in pure ASCII without any tool. It is much simpler than using even the most well designed GUI. You can even write books with it, and you can focus on content.

But I hate Markdown. I hate it because it is superficially good: a lot of Markdown seems to make sense at a first glance, but if you look at it more closely you see that a lot is broken in its design (IMHO the fact that the reference implementation is broken is the minor of the issues).

It is surely possible to fix it. However it's better to have a broken Markdown now that no markdown at all. The fact that Github and Stack Overflow and Reddit are using it makes it absolutely obvious how useful and great the concept is. The actual design, implementation, and specifications can be fixed now. So kudos to the original inventor, but it needs a second pass from people that can give it a more coherent shape, with clear behavior, minor surprise, and parsing in mind.

dfc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really hope that they borrow a lot if not everything from pandoc[1]. My only real complaint with pandoc is the table formatting, but I think fiddlosopher is adding org-mode like table support.

If you have not taken a pandoc for a spin I highly recommend you do so soon. In addition to being a great markdown dialect the pandoc tool set is the swiss army knife of text formatting. It is amazing how many formats pandoc can read and/or write.

[1] http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/README.html

EDIT: I spoke too soon, Fiddlosopher continues to impress. I just checked the open issues and a little less than a month ago he added "limited org-table support." Based off of the rest of pandoc "limited" probably means something like 85% to 95% :)


SeoxyS 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm the author of a Markdown text (prose) editor[1], and can attest to Jeff's statement that all Markdown's parsers suck. The official perl regex-based implementation is a joke. Sundown is great, but only works for cross-compilation to other markup languages; it doesn't work for syntax highlighting, which is what I'm more interested in.

I ended up writing my own in Objective-C. It's not very pretty, and it doesn't use a formal grammar (just a lexer + custom grammar code), but it does the trick. I took a few liberties with the spec: throwing in GitHub-flavored code blocks.


[1]: http://getmacchiato.com/

eob 22 hours ago 1 reply      
As a heavy LaTeX user (phd student; can't escape it), I'm convinced that there is a small enough subset of LaTeX that actually gets used day-to-day that someone could figure out a way to shim it into something like Markdown.

And then, for the LaTeX that you can't shim in, just have some escape hatch that sends fragments out to a renderer.
If I could only have:

    * Math mode
* Citations and Bib files
* Labels and References

Then I'd be willing to go through a lot of extra pain to get all the weird tables and precise image placements that are inevitable in a 2-column ACM format.

EDIT: Having just investigated Pandoc, which many here are talking about, I realize this might be exactly what I've been looking for :)

StavrosK 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not that psyched about automatic return-based linebreaks. Everyone thinks they should use linebreaks to align their text, and the system should just ignore all single line breaks.

The current behavior of Markdown solves this problem very well. I don't want the newlines I enter for non-wrapping editors to remain in the generated HTML.

christiangenco 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not just move to Pandoc[1]?

1. http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/

engtech 1 day ago 2 replies      
From the comments on the blog:

   "I'm reminded of the guy who decides that there should be 
one standard because there are n divergent implementations.

So he goes and writes his own. Now there are n+1 divergent implementations."

That is probably the most likely outcome, but kudos to Jeff for trying.

The idea of Markdown is great, but I found the implementation of links is less than obvious. (haven't tried it in 4 years, so there was probably other issues that I had that I've forgotten)

The problem I inherently always end up having with "parses to HTML" syntax conventions is there are always warts where the syntax is harder to remember than the HTML it is supposed to parse to.

starpilot 1 day ago 1 reply      
It'd be nice if it Markdown was added to HN, at least for a consistent way of quoting that's better than using the code tag (which frequently cuts off text for some reason in mobile Safari).
kbd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's hoping they can finally work natural _underline_ support in...

Edit: I've wondered whether the original Markdown didn't have underline support because <u> was deprecated/removed from HTML. FWIW, <u> is now back in HTML5.

wreel 1 day ago 4 replies      
I found that I've moved on to reStructuredText. It doesn't seem to be marketed as much as Markdown (the only reason I know about it is because of Sphinx) but I feel that it's a bit more capable. Simple tables are exceptionally easy and it handles URLs with parens in it just fine (a common pain when trying to link to Wikipedia articles with Markdown).
zeitg3ist 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Didn't Gruber co-design Markdown with Aaron Swartz[1][2]? Is there any reason why everyone refers to Gruber as Markdown's sole inventor/BDFL? What's Swartz opinion on all this?

[1] http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/001189
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown

zrail 1 day ago 0 replies      
(shameless plug) I wrapped Pandoc[1] in a web service and added on nice PDF exports and called it Docverter[2]. It will convert basically anything plain-text, including Markdown, into almost anything else plaintext, HTML, RTF or Docx. I also added rich PDF exports that go through a HTML intermediary.

If this gains some traction I'm sure I'll be adding support for it at some point.

[1]: a wonderful almost-everything-to-everything text converter http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/

[2]: http://www.docverter.com

_pdeschen 1 day ago 1 reply      
A BNF grammar would be nice to start with.

IMHO, pandoc markdown support is the mother of all implement featuring lots of goodies (table and footnote to name 2)

kibwen 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How would one go about taking a project with a large corpus of non-standard markdown (e.g. Github, Reddit) and converting it to any standardized form, assuming that a standard is chosen that is not 100% backwards-compatible with all existing markdown flavors?

I don't think such a thing is feasible. I also don't think it's feasible for any proposed standard to simply look at the largest users and say "okay, we'll accept the idiosyncratic extensions of all of these differing flavors in an unambiguous way."

So assuming this pushes forward, there are (to my mind) two possible outcomes:

1) A backwards-incompatible standard emerges. No existing project adopts it, but new projects do. It gains legitimacy only once Github, Reddit, et al fade into obscurity.

2) A backwards-compatible standard emerges. Every large existing project adopts it, but the standard is so full of cruft and TIMTOWTDI that in ten years it gets usurped entirely by a challenger that emphasizes simplicity.

olalonde 18 hours ago 1 reply      
What I really miss in Gruber's markdown is a way to hint syntax highlighting. For example, on Github:


nickpresta 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like the Mou text editor for Markdown: http://mouapp.com/

Mou + the (built in) Github theme = best Markdown editing experience.

juliangamble 23 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the canonical implementation of markdown?

> The problem with writing my own Markdown parser in Clojure is that Markdown is not a well-specified language. There is no "official" grammar, just an informal "Here's how it works" description and a really ugly reference implementation in Perl. http://briancarper.net/blog/415/


jlongster 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm excited about this too. I just wrote a blogging engine for node that allows you to edit posts in a web-based editor:


I absolutely love the simplicity of Markdown, especially with github's addition of code fences/blocks. It's so trival now to add code and have it automatically highlighted. It's not nearly that simple in other formats (to get autohighlighting I guess).

Excited to see what will come of this.

Tloewald 14 hours ago 1 reply      
If it were up to me, I'd simply ask that markdown add support for h3 (other than hashes, e.g. Underline with hyphen and spaces) -- two levels of headings is all too frequently insufficient, inline links to images be rendered as image tags, inline links to videos etc. likewise become video tags, etc., the way other inline links become anchor links, and some form of table support be standardized.

Aside from that (and implementation bugs) I've been very happy with markdown.

nkwiatek 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not a huge fan of the current Markdown mark. I'd encourage the creator (dcurtis) to push it, because currently it feels like a first-stage idea " or perhaps, an execution without an idea at all.

There are many questions " "What is Markdown?", for starters " that feel unaddressed by the mark. Instead, we get the brute force approach: splitting up the word into smaller word parts, which is what you do with a word if you don't know what it means, or you have to gesture it in Charades.

Rather uninspiring for an idea so beautiful that Jeff and others can get so excited just thinking about it, but what else can you expect from such a mark whose approach is so stubbornly literal? I take that back " only one word part actually gets to be represented literally... the other only managed to become a letter, in a moment I can only imagine involved the creator muttering "good enough". He must have found this mark uninspiring as well, given that he sought to put a box around it.

At least consider that the down arrow on its own is an overloaded concept, particularly on the web. Without context " and a mark should not need context " M" could read like a hotkey or command of some kind. This kind of ambiguity is utterly unnecessary " you're making a mark; it can be whatever you want it to be. Push!

antidaily 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can't be the only one who loathes Markdown.
ddlatham 1 day ago 0 replies      
If everyone gets on board, great.

If only a couple sites band together, then I see it more like this:


buster 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a reason why i should prefer Markdown over restructuredText? rst sems to me has all i need, it has specs, it has decent documentation, it has tools, it's not only used to output HTML but all kinds of stuff.

rst just looks more powerful and yet still as readable as markdown.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 1 reply      
This would be so freakin' great. Would especially love a couple of the github things in there like '''lang that would totally be awesome.
matthewowen 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you've ever been involved in producing content management systems for non-technical users (typically involving TinyMCE/CKEditor etc etc) then you'll probably welcome this as much as I do.

Dodgy HTML, content pasted in from Word (with crazy styling intact), and a general encouragement for users to see text content in terms of styling rather than structure are all things that it will be delightful to see the end of.

TazeTSchnitzel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
OK. But please fix one thing first:

  1. hello
2. foobar

Should not render as:

  1. hello
1. foobar

There's the start= attribute for <ol>, at least use it!

TeMPOraL 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Somebody please make a web-usable of Org Mode the language; it's like Markdown, but older, richer in features (while being as simple as Markdown) and is in daily use by many hackers for note taking, outlining, TODOs, organizing your life, etc.

I'm very happy that GitHub has an Org Mode renderer, even if rudimentary - I don't have to rewrite my notes and READMEs to Markdown.

kickingvegas 21 hours ago 0 replies      
So, pulling an old man card: creating a formal spec for Markdown paves the way for adding more syntax which negates the main benefit of it: a lay person can interpret Markdown as a text file. If you want to add more syntax, we are better off using/extending LaTeX or troff.
lmm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
All three of the "gotcha" changes suggested here are wrong, and changing them would kill what makes markdown great.

The one change for good I can think of would be removing the ability to embed HTML.

jacobr 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In a comment area (like on HN) it rarely makes sense to be able to add headings. Could some features of the specification be optional, so that a parser can be conforming even if it disabled those features?

Are there any parsers (preferably in JavaScript) which currently let you toggle features like that?

ianstormtaylor 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It has always bothered me that _text_ is not underlined text, but italicized text. Why not /text/ for italicized text. It shows exactly what it is doing. And text for bold text.

I also see no reason for text and _text_ to produce the same output. It just seems like a fault in the original spec to me.

dysoco 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a non-web developer I cry every time I need to use HTML: It's really "ugly" in some way (And I'm used to ugly languages).

But I have learned to love Markdown too, I hope in the future, distant future: Someone will create a language that integrates HTML and CSS into a nice Markdown-like language.

jeffio 11 hours ago 0 replies      
We recently added Markdown as an option in our hosted reseller CMS (YikeSite) in hopes that some of our customers would choose it over the WYSIWYG editor.

You can play with it here: http://www.markdowncms.com

If there was a standardized Markdown, we would implement that for sure.

blackstag 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I love markdown. I even created my own version which I have become addicted to -> http://blackstag.com/markdown. I'm fairly confident I will be the only one to appreciate my personal version, but hey - It's the ugly child I have come to love.

I'd certainly be interested in switching over to their version, provided some of the noted kinks get worked out.

madrona 1 day ago 0 replies      
Multiline support, please.
alexchamberlain 14 hours ago 0 replies      
An effort appears to have been started on http://markdown.github.com/.
MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is one of the reasons I've never bought into the Markdown hype and generally avoid using it. Semantic HTML5 tags makes to-HTML compiled languages mostly unnecessary.
DanBC 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please please use <> to delimit URLs instead of ().

This is an [example link]<http://www.example.com/>;

dhaivatpandya 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love Markdown, and, this is an awesome effort! I'm working on a Markdown editor/platform that could really benefit if this sort of stuff wasn't so fragmented: http://www.nimblenot.es/ yes, that was a shameless plug
jiyinyiyong 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Read this if you use Markdown alongwith Chinese: http://ruby-china.org/topics/6335
adam-p 21 hours ago 0 replies      
And if you like Markdown... I wrote a Chrome/Firefox/Thunderbird extension that lets you write email in MD and then render it before sending: https://github.com/adam-p/markdown-here


happypeter 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Markdown is really a important part of my life now, YES, it will be super cool that the world can have one single spec for it.
donnfelker 9 hours ago 0 replies      
More Atwood link bait.
twodayslate 1 day ago 2 replies      
What is wrong with bbcode? All the forums use it. Why are there so many alternatives for these things?
DannoHung 21 hours ago 0 replies      
lorenzfx 15 hours ago 0 replies      
what I really miss from markdown (and even more from reStructuredText because I actually use it a lot) is strikethrough (which github does support)
saosebastiao 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Please, please, please include a specification for table creation
rsl7 1 day ago 0 replies      
yup. i'm there.
Amazon EC2 currently down. Affecting Heroku, Reddit, Others amazon.com
582 points by fredoliveira  4 days ago   294 comments top 82
pg 4 days ago 5 replies      
Convenient that we're too backward to use AWS. That means everyone can at least talk about it here when AWS is down.
jasonkester 4 days ago 2 replies      
For added fun, their EC2 console is down. I got this for a while:

  <html><body><b>Http/1.1 Service Unavailable</b></body> </html>

... then an empty console saying "loading" for the last 20 minutes. Then recently it upgraded to saying "Request limit exceeded." in place of the loading message (because hey, I'd refreshed the page four times over the course of 20 minutes).

On the upside, their status page shows all green lights.

diego 4 days ago 8 replies      
The N. Virginia datacenter has been historically unreliable. I moved my personal projects to the West Coast (Oregon and N. California) and I have seen no significant issues in the past year.

N. Virginia is both cheaper and closer to the center of mass of the developed world. I'm surprised Amazon hasn't managed to make it more reliable.

btilly 4 days ago 3 replies      
As https://twitter.com/DEVOPS_BORAT says, At conference you can able tell cloud devops by they are always leave dinner for respond to pager.

Also, What is happen in cloud is stay in cloud because nobody can able reproduce outside of cloud.

(And many other relevant quotes.)

jmvoodoo 4 days ago 4 replies      
All of our EC2 hosts appear to be functioning fine, but they can't connect to their RDS instance which renders our app useless. If you scroll down the page you'll also see that RDS instances are having connectivity issues. Not sure if it's related but for RDS users the impact is far worse.

EDIT: We are also using multi-AZ RDS, so either Amazon's claims for multi-AZ are bs, or their claims that this is only impacting a single zone is bs.

run4yourlives 4 days ago 3 replies      
Heh, the cynical side of me would like to point out that this is a great way to get people to stop talking about wiping a user's kindle. :-)
incision 4 days ago 3 replies      

I have to deal with a number of folks who will be overjoyed to read this news when their tech cartel vendor of choice forwards it this evening.

There's a huge contingent of currently endangered infrastructure folks (and vendors who feed off them) out there who throw a party every time AWS has a visible outage.

ojiikun 4 days ago 4 replies      
Per the linked dashboard, some instances in a single AZ in a single Region are having storage issues. Calling EC2 "down" is a bit dramatic, provided AMZN are being sincere with their status reports. Any system that can competently fail over to another AZ will be unaffected.
benwerd 4 days ago 5 replies      
This would be a great time to post a guide to architecting systems for failover using AWS. Anyone got a great guide?
dave1619 4 days ago 1 reply      
Our app is down because it's hosted on Heroku and it's frustrating because it seems like N Virginia is the least reliable Amazon datacenter. Every year it seems to go down a couple times for at least a couple hours.

Heroku should offer a choice between N Virginia and Oregon hosting (I think they're almost comparable in price nowadays). That way people who want more uptime/reliability can choose Oregon. Sure it will be further from Europe (but then it will be closer to Asia) and people can make that choice on their own.

But basing an entire hosting service on N Virginia doesn't make sense anymore, considering the history of major downtime in that region.

fredoliveira 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most frustrating issues here is that we have to deal with Amazon's status page for information. It's a complex page, divided by continent instead of region, which means at least 5 or 6 clicks to figure out progress. They should learn from these issues about how people want to be informed - to date, they haven't. Also, they have a twitter account, which would be the perfect fit to keep everyone up-to-date with what's going on; to at least show a human side to these issues. Alas, they're not updating that either.

I've been working with AWS since early 2006 when they first launched - I was lucky to be granted a VIP invite to try out EC2 before everyone else, and ended up launching the first public app on EC2. This might be the first time when frustration has overcome my love for these guys.

rdl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why the fuck do the two most critical services (ELB and Console) have depends on their historically most unreliable pile of shit (EBS)?
Ramonaxvh 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is the kind of stuff I think about when I hear people talk about the cloud and promise that downtime is a thing of the past.

Cloud hosting is not drastically different from any other type of service and is still vulnerable to the same problems.

blhack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, am I in a time machine? Didn't this exact thing happen last year, and didn't these exact people explain exactly how they were going to make sure it never happens again?

What the hell is happening here?

jaysonelliot 4 days ago 2 replies      
I suppose this explains why Airbnb is down now, as well: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/airbnb/

I was just in the middle of booking a stay in a Palo Alto startup embassy for this week, too!

ceejayoz 4 days ago 2 replies      
My dashboard says "Degraded EBS performance in a single Availability Zone". It then lists each of the five zones as "Availability zone is operating normally." http://cl.ly/image/202F3B0I371g
gtaylor 4 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know if this really is just one AZ? Seems like an awful lot of larger sites are down. I'd expect at least some of them to be multi-AZ by now.
kellyhclay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't update my list fast enough, but other major services experiencing problems are Netflix and Pinterest. Lots of other (smaller) sites are starting to fail too.


d0m 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, on the first hacking health event, our server was running heroku.. and heroku went down. 3 months later, we have the second hacking health in Toronto and all AWS is going down.
orourkek 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's degraded performance for some EBS volumes in a single availability zone - isn't this title a bit sensationalistic?
rsync 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of an ad campaign we sometimes run on reddit:


... which you'll be able to click as soon as reddit is back up :)

patrickgzill 4 days ago 0 replies      
You have a virtualized platform, on top of which are many pieces like load-balancing, EBS, RDS, the control-plane itself, etc.

You have burstable network connections which by their nature, will have hard limits (you can't burst above 10Gbps on a 10Gbps pipe, for example; even assuming the host machine is connected to a 10Gbps port).

Burstable (meaning quite frankly, over-provisioned) disk and CPU resources.

And if any piece fails, you may well have downtime...

It is always surprising to me, that people feel that layering complexity upon complexity, will result in greater reliability.

hornbaker 4 days ago 1 reply      
Update from http://status.aws.amazon.com/:

2:20 PM PDT We've now restored performance for about half of the volumes that experienced issues. Instances that were attached to these recovered volumes are recovering. We're continuing to work on restoring availability and performance for the volumes that are still degraded.

We also want to add some detail around what customers using ELB may have experienced. Customers with ELBs running in only the affected Availability Zone may be experiencing elevated error rates and customers may not be able to create new ELBs in the affected Availability Zone. For customers with multi-AZ ELBs, traffic was shifted away from the affected Availability Zone early in this event and they should not be seeing impact at this time.

jeaguilar 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is affecting more than a single Availability Zone, but probably for reasons that have been seen before. One reason might be that an EBS failure in one AZ triggers a spike in EBS activity in other AZs which overwhelms EBS. (I believe this is what happened in April 2011).

Does anybody have any experience with migrating to Oregon or N. California in terms of speed and latency?

1SaltwaterC 4 days ago 0 replies      
ELB is also fucked. Seen that nobody mentions it. Some of our load balancers are completely unreachable.

Just one multi-AZ RDS instance claimed the automatic failover. However, the 200+ alerts over the automatic failover due to internal DNS changes to point to the new master shows that things aren't as easily described by the RDS DB Events log.

Some instances reported high disk I/O (EBS backed) via the New Relic agent (the console still has some issues).

So far, this is what I see from my side.

bdcravens 4 days ago 0 replies      
Noticed that Rackspace was down for a bit - I presumed they're getting hammered on their WWW as people are considering an infrastructure switch?
thehigherlife 4 days ago 0 replies      
I jokingly said the internet was broken this morning as I've been having weird connectivity issues all morning. Funny that I was sort of right.
foxylad 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not wanting to shill for Google, but we've been very happy with Appengine's reliability - particularly since moving to the HR datastore. Have other Appengine users had any significant downtime apart from MS datastore issues?
lgleason 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now is a good time to stroke your dev pair :)


jbarham 4 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW here's Google App Engine status page: http://code.google.com/status/appengine
tyw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I reacted quickly enough to get a new instance spun up and added it to my site's load balancer, but the load balancer is failing to recognize the new instance and send traffic to it... yay. Console is totally unresponsive on the load balancer's "instances" tab. If I point my browser at the ec2 public DNS of the new instance it seems to be running just fine. So much for the load balancer being helpful.
jasonlingx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am frankly surprised so many still use EC2 considering how frequently it breaks. It's not cheap, so the only reasons to use it would be reliability or scale right? Why not just get lots of boxes at Hetzner and OVH (40 EUR a month for 32GB of RAM and 4x2x3.4GHz cores) and scale up / redundansize that way?
robbiet480 4 days ago 0 replies      
I made this to express my outrage and hope to help others easily express theirs too! http://robbiet480.github.com/StopLyingToUsAmazon/
cupcake_death 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I'm being daft. Why does this sh*t never seem to affect www.amazon.com
gorkemcetin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Countly mobile analytics platform servers are also affected from this issue (http://count.ly). Waiting and waiting. :)

@caseysoftware thanks for the links, we now have something to read and implement this week.

lucb1e 4 days ago 0 replies      
Dropbox runs on S3, they are unaffected? And Heroku's website seems okay. Only reddit is down. That's because of this?
blaze33 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hosted on heroku with a hosted heroku postgres dev instance, I observed a drop in the db response time :

- from a consistent average of 10ms over the last week

- to a new consistent average of ~2.5ms

beetwen 17:31 and 17:35 UTC. AWS started to report the current issue at 17:38 UTC. My app then experienced some intermittent issues (reported by newrelic pinging it every 30s). Don't know if it's related, could it be some sort of hw upgrade that went wrong ?

I did a push affecting my most used queries but that was one and a half hour sooner, at 15:56 UTC, so probably unrelated.

mattbillenstein 4 days ago 0 replies      
I thought at least Reddit had learned the "don't use EBS" rule from past outages - I was bitten by the April/2011 outage and switched everything over to instance storage shortly thereafter.

For most applications I think architecting EBS out should be straightforward - instance storage doesn't put a huge single-point-of-failure in the middle of your app if you're doing replication, failover, and backups properly.

And EBS seems to be the biggest component of the recent AWS failures upon which they've built a lot of their other systems.

j45 4 days ago 1 reply      
How does Twilio manage to stay up when AWS goes down, and how much of that can the average developer reasonably do?
Naushad 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Console itself is down, <html><body><b>Http/1.1 Service Unavailable</b></body> </html>

Its high time AWS does something now.

Yrlec 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this just affect normal EBS or EBS with provisioned IOPS as well?
fsckin 4 days ago 0 replies      
My instances just came back up.
LaSombra 4 days ago 0 replies      
Coursera is also down.
gavinlynch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Disappointing, but I guess not totally unexpected. Our prod site was down for a bit with many others.
jaequery 4 days ago 0 replies      
isn't it about time they supported a multi-regional failover system?
espeed 4 days ago 1 reply      
When is Google Compute Engine supposed to be open to everyone?
gourneau 4 days ago 0 replies      
These semi-regular outages are why I am going to use the Google Cloud Platform for my next project.
orph 4 days ago 0 replies      
Adding insult to injury: when trying to view instances in the console I now only see "Rate limit exceeded".
johansch 4 days ago 0 replies      
The emperor has no clothes!
traderd65 4 days ago 0 replies      
Building infrastructure on top of Amazon with global replication across multiple availability zones can sidestep such failures and guarantee uninterrupted operations to customers - www.pubnub.com is unaffected by AWS being down.
rynop 4 days ago 0 replies      
EIP remapping is all messed up as well. api errors. console for it does not work either.
sigkill 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't it worrying that there are so many services/sites that are so dependent on Amazon EC?
losvedir 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh, my heroku site is down.
stinky613 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhere Steve Wozniak is saying "I told you so"
potomak 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why you should think about a multi region architecture to prevent these types of service interruptions.
mtgx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Time to switch to Google's Compute Engine.
lgsilver 4 days ago 1 reply      
Two of our four EC2 servers are down. Both have RDS connections and EBS storage. Looks like the RDS connection has something to do with it...
playhard 4 days ago 0 replies      
As of now , I don't have a problem with my site. Elastic beanstalk with ec2 small instances.
johnmurray_io 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here comes another round of Hacker News posts about how you should never host your app in just one availability zone...
justplay 4 days ago 0 replies      
i read in my book that amazon is the best cloud service provider and seeing this thing can't really prove it.
I am still confused which cloud service i use ? Amazon is only one which Indians are currently rely on ,since latency is bit smaller for amazon servers as compared to other providers.
pcorsaro 4 days ago 0 replies      
My site is currently down because of this.
briandear 3 days ago 0 replies      
I fixed EC2 using this one weird trick..
GigabyteCoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's back up now.
gailees 4 days ago 0 replies      
At least HN isn't down! :D
halis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks I have a friend whose site is down from this and this helps shed some light on it.
Revex 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just recently signed up for a EC2 (3 weeks ago) and my small site is also down. :-(
nell 4 days ago 0 replies      
The tech industry is manufacturing its version of "Too big to fail" entity.
Lashawndazqd 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this is going to be an attack or hardware/software failure..
Cordiapxq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Workplace productivity is going to skyrocket today
bas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some of our sites are affected. Good times!
timmythebest 4 days ago 0 replies      
a ton of other stuff is down too... www.reddit.com, netflix, www.freewebsite.com and a bunch more
Latricerzj 4 days ago 0 replies      
Single point of failure?
zenwheels 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perfectly timed with our product launch, now our site is down too - www.zenwheels.com
interro 4 days ago 0 replies      
just checked my site and it is up now!
zenwheels 4 days ago 0 replies      
Woot, Back Online www.zenwheels.com
taigeair 4 days ago 1 reply      
back up :)
cryptoz 4 days ago 0 replies      
gailees 4 days ago 0 replies      
nixme 4 days ago 2 replies      
There have been multiple tweets mirroring the status page: http://twitter.com/herokustatus
valhallarecords 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is why I trust Google's data centers http://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/#/
Codhisattva 4 days ago 0 replies      
Worst infrastructure ever.
lr 4 days ago 3 replies      
pg, or someone else from HN... Could you please edit this title for accuracy? Maybe, "Poorly designed sites taken out because of problems in one Amazon availability zone."
Show HN: I spent two years working on an HTML5 game. I finally released it ektomarch.com
498 points by fiblye  4 days ago   145 comments top 54
fiblye 4 days ago 11 replies      
Demo uploaded to mediafire because I don't want to completely kill my server: http://www.mediafire.com/?hh5x0jcvvkiwd5i

I tried to get it out fast and just barely tested it, but it should be stable. The demo has three bosses, ~25 areas, and a good taste of the gameplay.

My server seems to be intermittently dying, so Chrome Store link for anybody interested in purchasing (buying through my site would be preferable, though): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/subbania/epnejcjdg...

The demo now lets players skip cutscenes by hitting the Enter/Return key. Z/X/C (or 1/2/3 if you don't have a QWERTY keyboard) control actions and the arrow keys control movement.

kylelibra 4 days ago 2 replies      
Congrats on shipping. You should post this on /r/gaming on reddit, they are really supportive of indie devs producing games.
mike-cardwell 4 days ago 3 replies      
In the comments of that page:

Q.) "I'm really interested in the game, but dont want to support paypal. Is there any other method of purchase?"

A.) "The only easy way for me to distribute through my own site was with Paypal. I did have Amazon Payments, but Amazon randomly locked down my account for reasons unbeknownst to me and they only gave me generic automated responses."

This is becoming a habit.

wpietri 4 days ago 1 reply      
Neat! Please release a simple playable demo. The video is enough to intrigue me, but not enough to get me to buy. (I just bought Osmos for my Android tablet, and it was the playable demo that pushed me over the line.)
tayl0r 4 days ago 2 replies      
Knowing what you do now, with the memories of the terrible bugs you had to work through due to Chrome / OSX, would you still choose HTML5 over other cross-platform game engines like Unity?
mcmire 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's pretty impressive. I know this because I spent a good nine months working on a clone of one of the Zelda games (I didn't make it very far, although granted, I went down a huge rabbit hole) and it is tough. So many things you have to think about if you are designing your own game engine. Mad kudos for sticking with it.
elliottcarlson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Would you be willing to provide a follow-up on how your launch of the game goes? Always interesting to hear various metrics after a product launch.

Good luck!

jay_m 4 days ago 1 reply      
I really love the music and audio from the trailer video. The gameplay and art style looks great too. I'll be buying this in a couple of days once my exams are over. Congratulations on shipping!
areeve 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious as to your reasoning behind spending 2 years developing this in HTML5? The art style is great and all, but you could have knocked up a game like this in an engine like Unity within 3 months and deployed it to iOS, PC/MAC, even Xbox Arcade.
almost 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks really cool and $2.99 it really wasn't a hard decision. I look forward playing it!

Well done for getting it out, 2 years is a bloody long time!

stackthatcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
After seeing the trailer, all I can say is: wow, just wow. The mood is a post-modernish film noir mixed with vintage 8-bit style. And the visual effects are striking. Very much looking forward to buying and playing.

Lately, I've been spending a crap-load of time coding in JavaScript, and in spite of its obvious quirks (and haters) very much enjoy it. I'll be interested to see how you managed complexity on such a large code base.

Kudos, man: you shipped.

mgkimsal 4 days ago 1 reply      
is it really B&W?

was that a stylistic choice only, or are there some performance benefits?

some of the artwork reminds me a lot of Yellow Submarine stuff.

scotty79 3 days ago 1 reply      
Please consider allowing people to pay with bitcoins for your game.

http://mtgox.com has a shopping cart that is trivial to integrate and allows people to pay with their bitcoins (also buy some if they don't have them yet).

sskates 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on your release! I love the camera effects, definitely adds a lot to the atmosphere.
jqueryfan33 4 days ago 1 reply      
Bought a copy. Good stuff. Some feedback:

- get the option to skip cutscenes back in
- these octopus dudes come way too close. It is too hard to dodge them.
- if you get killed, you should start over in the sub-area you were in, and not the main level.

Spoom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! This is very encouraging to me as I'm also working on an HTML 5 app that I plan on using with CocoonJS to distribute as a native iOS / Android app, in addition to the web version. Have you looked at mobile HTML 5 "players" like CocoonJS? You could double your potential market if it works (though it requires that the game be drawn entirely through a canvas, not sure if that's what you did here).
sprokolopolis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats! this looks great! It brought back memories of an old game that I loved as a kid called Sea Dragon:
shardling 4 days ago 1 reply      
Did you use any existing js frameworks in making the game?

I've been writing a little puzzler/platformer using Crafty JS, and it seems to have a pretty flexible approach.

Fair amount of bugs/undocumented behavior, but hey, I can always go straight to the source. :)

sgdesign 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love the style and artwork, and if this was an iOS game I would definitely buy it.

But for me the problem of browser-based games is just that: they're browser-based, and the browser is just not the environment I like to play in.

I'm not familiar with what's involved in porting this to iOS but if you can, you should definitely consider it.

mitsche 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bought it on impulse because I love the aesthetics of it (both sound and imagery).
TazeTSchnitzel 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great!

Any chance of IE9 or IE10 support? I hear it's pretty fast for 2D games (certainly in my experience it has higher FPS than Chrome and FF)

robbiea 4 days ago 0 replies      
website was down for me, then i refreshed and it was up. If anyone is having a problem viewing, go here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/subbania/epnejcjdg...

It has the youtubelink & buy now button.

jiggy2011 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks cool , I like quirky games.

Since it uses JS , can I use my 360 pad or am I stuck with keyboard?

tsieling 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations, it looks really playable and responsive. Fun style, too.
rrbrambley 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome. Congrats.
jjacobson 4 days ago 0 replies      
You are really good at your own game! Love the demo video!
fmoralesc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool stuff. Congrats!

It's nice you also released your notes for it. ;)

comex 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bug report: In Safari, holding down X makes the level disappear(!) instead of continuing to fire.
jeromeparadis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice! It takes dedication to release something like this.
The look is awesome, the atmosphere sounds creepy and intriguing. I haven't played it yet but looking forward to purchase it.
msie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great looking game, love the music, but I don't want to play a Nazi.
hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love, love the art on this.

You should host a playable demo on your site!

ommunist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Play your destiny against the chtonic gods of despair. I like the setting. Great taste and gameplay looks well weighted. You rock, man!
You shall carve your niche with it, but it won't be Quake.
(Disclaimer: I formerly led JavaME games production)
wslh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Any opinion about SVG? the last time I used it on Google Chrome was very buggy (objects leaving a trail behind)
pacomerh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very inspiring man, also love the music/fx. (High hopes for JS + HTML5)
shawnphoffman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. The sounds made my dog freak out like I've never seen her before.

Good work!

jschrf 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, nice work. I really like the art style.
padenot 3 days ago 0 replies      
This does not work out of the box on current Firefox nightly (19).
donkeylipstick 3 days ago 0 replies      
The dialogue scenes are way, way, way too long. To the point where I didn't even want to play anymore since the dialogue was taking too long.
becomevocal 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, and I have bought in support. Kudos on shipping!
altschuler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any way to transfer progress from demo to full?
johncoltrane 4 days ago 0 replies      
The artwork is beautiful. I second the request for a playable demo, though.
Narretz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks really cool, and I love that the tech is pure html / js. I'd wish there was another option to buy except PayPal though.
quattrofan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love the strange atmospheric music, also the visual style is cool. Good job.
martinbc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great work! Needless to say, you have to play listening to Pink Floyd?
tby 4 days ago 0 replies      
why in the world would you pick a nazi as your character?! D:
treenyc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the theme of the game as well, very occult.
yogrish 3 days ago 1 reply      
why most of the games emulate Mario? I am not a gamer, but for me, the first impression appears to be like mario...though the plot and creatures are different.
austinsarner 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this inspired by In The Hunt for PS1?
p0nce 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was very sceptic then I saw the trailer.
ntide 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks amazing, I bought a copy. :)
ralphholzmann 4 days ago 0 replies      
What's with the all seeing eye?
smweber 4 days ago 0 replies      
Also bought a copy - good work!
trifu 3 days ago 0 replies      
can you talk about your sales so far and if it's been promising?
taskstrike 4 days ago 1 reply      
The boundary of html5 has been pushed far beyond this before.

In this the author said most HTML5 games are pacman, etc. If you look at Bastion for the chrome store, it's a very complex game with great graphics on HTML5.

Zynga May Have Just Laid Off 100+ Employees From Its Austin Office techcrunch.com
445 points by hornbaker  3 days ago   210 comments top 33
danilocampos 3 days ago 13 replies      
Conceptually, I love every bit of bad Zynga news. I like to be reassured that a company will, in the long term, fail when its products are cynically designed to manipulate. That a company will fail when their strategy assumes it's okay to blatantly, consistently, continuously lift design from other firms and products.

Practically, though, bad Zynga news feels terrible. Because the guys who architected this repugnant exploitation machine already got paid. They made millions selling their stock before the market truly understood what a shit business they were running. Meanwhile, front-line employees sat with their plummeting stock locked up.

So any bad Zynga news is nothing more than notice that yet another group of hardworking folks is, somehow, getting fucked over, despite their leadership enjoying tremendous rewards.

Very frustrating to watch.

pud 3 days ago 6 replies      
Startups are hard.

Even big startups are hard. Zynga is startupy, even though they're public.

There's a lot of schadenfreude on HN when it comes to Zynga. Articles about Zynga's problems regularly make it to the top of HN.

Some people think games are frivolous. They're not. Entertainment is (almost) a basic human need. Some people think Zynga players are somehow being tricked. They're not. They're being entertained.

Some people say that Zynga steals ideas. Firstly, I'm guessing 99% of the people who say that are just repeating something they've heard. The other 1% should know that everyone steals from everyone. Unless you're the first guy to ever make a dynamic website, have usernames, top-bar navigation... you stole a lot of ideas too. And the ideas you stole are more fundamental than the plot of a game.

(also, if you know my history (i used to make fun of companies like this for a living) yes, i understand the irony of me writing such a supportive comment.)

alaskamiller 3 days ago 2 replies      
The irony of all this is that just less than 3 years ago Mark Pincus and Zynga was riding high.

Pincus was voted as the CEO of the Year at the Crunchies. He was chosen to be the closer to Startup School, he projected Zynga as a place for people to want to go to there: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1041758

This is a story parallel to Lance Armstrong's own rise and fall. About how if you were to drill down, really drill down, to find the next ethical, justifiable company that used Facebook to great benefit for humanity you're going to be looking for the 27th, 28th, 29th place organizations. Because frankly, as cynical and as well-duh it is now, what did we spend the greatest of our generations will and brain power on?

A Facebook ponzi scheme.

Now the tide is turning, pendulum swung, omega alpha etc etc and all those wonderful metaphors.

Where to go now? Go fixate on and fix something else. But remember, be nice to everyone on your way up. They're going to be the same people you see on the way down.

edash 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hey Zynga people, we're based in Austin and hiring for front-end. And our culture is pretty much the anti-Zynga: bootstrapped, slow growth, sane hours, no deadlines, strong design focus, and respect for our team and our customers.

Let's get coffee at the downtown Medici: http://www.paperlesspipeline.com/jobs

untog 3 days ago 1 reply      
During the Apple event, no less. Maybe I'm very cynical, but that seems like a deliberate attempt to bury the story.
eekfuh 3 days ago 1 reply      
The general consensus is that they timed it to coincide with Apple's announcement, so that the news of them laying off employees would be buried by all the Apple press.
mkinsella 3 days ago 2 replies      
Also rumored to have shut down their Boston and Chicago offices.
Karunamon 3 days ago 0 replies      
That ship is sinking fast. Heart goes out to those who are now out of work, but a part of me can't help but be glad that the "exploitative spamming social games" market might be dealt a mortal wound.
duck 3 days ago 2 replies      
Based on this I don't think they'll have a hard time finding new employment:


dkrich 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised to see so many people suggesting that Zynga's problems are purely moral. I think that gives them too much credit. I personally have no problem with their business practices from a strictly moral point of view. Caveat Emptor.

No, for me the problem is much simpler. Its a shitty business run by very poor business minds. That may sound dramatic and sensational, but let's consider the facts: they paid $250 million for a company of 15 developers whose most valuable asset was a mobile version of Pictionary that had been on the market for just three months. Completely unprofitable, they built a multilmillion dollar state of the art office in San Francisco. That's something you do when you are wildly successful, maybe. I work for a company many orders of magnitude more successful than Zynga and our office looks like a dungeon. So what? That's being wise with cashflow. That's a company I want to invest in. Finally, a friend of mine works for Zynga and he was regularly taking all expense paid trips. For his one year anniversary he was sent to England and Ireland as a reward.

I don't think of Zynga's management as sinister evildoers. I think of them as immature and completely unfit to manage a company. I say good riddance but I do hope those laid off find better opportunities soon.

ericz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know why everyone is so critical of Zynga trying to hide this news among the Apple stories -- what is the argument for not doing so? "Hey guys, lets make sure EVERYONE hears that we're closing down offices and laying off employees, this is going to be important"

Would you have acted differently?

dave1619 3 days ago 2 replies      
It seems to me that Zynga's biggest mistake was 1) not expecting that social gaming craze to take a dive and 2) not figuring out early enough what to do next when the social gaming craze died down ... those two things are related.

So rather than predicting and pre-empting the dive in social gaming, Zynga is in a tough situation where they're facing the harsh reality as it comes. As a result, they're stuck with a huge, bloated company not prepared to quickly pivot or create innovation in new product categories.

I don't know what else Zynga can do right now but to downsize and to refocus the company on building what's next and not what was. It's almost like they need to find a new product strategy and business model. And it will take a lot of insight, leadership and team to get it done.

What they have going for them is that they have a lot of cash and a lot of experience in the social gaming genre.

But what they have going against them is momentum which includes employees losing faith in the company.

kylelibra 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has this been corroborated outside of that tweet yet?
sdoowpilihp 3 days ago 2 replies      
If any of the Zynga engineers are reading this article, we are looking for a few good engineers where I work. We develop with Unity3d and Obj-c for the front end, and Scala for the back end. We also are willing to consider remote for great candidates.


DigitalSea 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was bound to happen. What goes up and steals other companies designs and game ideas must come down. It's unfortunate the front-line employees who worked for Zynga and only did as they were asked and weren't the perpetrators for coming up with game designs to rip off have been shafted in this situation.

They're nothing more than a money hungry company that deserves to perish. The real question here is: will this have a knock on effect for Facebook stock and perhaps have a chain reaction?

If I were Facebook I'd seriously be considering an acquisition and then priority number #1 being turn the image of Zynga around, perhaps even re-brand to Facebook Games.

jfernandez 3 days ago 1 reply      
Way to try sweep it under the rug by announcing it during all of Apple's product news. Classy act Zynga.
niggler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good to see Zynga starting to focus on profitability ...
dreamdu5t 3 days ago 0 replies      
I forgot I'm living in a world where people equate jobs with prosperity.
hiddenstage 3 days ago 2 replies      
Farmville was a great social game and their Words with Friends acquisition was very good... then they started making Farmville clones, blatantly ripping off competitor's games, and paid $200 million for Draw Something.
colinbrauns 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I were them, I'd head straight to the bar. I'll buy a few rounds for anyone who got laid off in Boston because... that just sucks. I also recruit for 100+ local startups, and can help you transition.
tayl0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any idea what kind of severance package the developers received?
msds 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else unable to access the article? I'm getting 404s - although this exact url is linked from the front page. It's techcrunch, so this must be a sign of interesting politic.
jasondenizac 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel bad for all the Zynga people. Not for being so unceremoniously let go, but for the flood of recruiting emails they'll be receiving already. Good luck, people!
tb303 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just can't believe that my tweet launched the entire story. That was insane.

My friend IM'ed me at 11:27a PST yesterday saying "Dude, my whole studio just got laid off. We have 2 hrs to vacate. Can you email someone?" Hit twitter, and it was off like a rocket.

tbranyen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Zynga is clearly a household brand you can trust.
leothekim 3 days ago 0 replies      
Done during the iPad Mini rollout no less, while the press was distracted. Nice one, Pincus.
rapind 3 days ago 0 replies      
With classy moves like this, I can't understand why we all hate on them so much...
williamle8300 3 days ago 0 replies      
...It's interesting how companies like bring their skeletons out on the days Apple makes their product announcements.

Sort of softens the blow of it; at least a lot attention is diverted to Cupertino.

Reebz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Startups are risky beasts, but this action appears to lack backbone and tact.

This concerns me because this is Zyngas leadership tone on display. It does not invoke confidence.

davidcee 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is just me , but do you need 3000 + people to run a social gaming company , even if it is a big one ?
Sorry for those that have been fired , but didn't anyone put the brakes on the hiring somewhere along the track ?
That payroll must be mind-blowing.
nvr219 3 days ago 0 replies      
Zynga is such an horrible company.
imadethis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not a big surprise, especially after having spoken to a few people that have worked at Zynga before. High turnover of employees, quality over quantity, etc. Can't say I'll miss their products or their techniques.
kinnth 3 days ago 0 replies      
really gutted for the talented people who work there. 100 people have to find jobs tomorrow, that's never easy.
The Hardware Renaissance paulgraham.com
442 points by nqureshi  3 days ago   204 comments top 50
tptacek 3 days ago 7 replies      
As I understood it, from having worked at a (successful) startup that sold hardware, the big problem with hardware isn't that it's hard to make. Rather, the two big problems are margin and, worse for a startup, inventory costs. Airbnb can add 1,000 new customers with no infrastructure changes, but for a hardware startup to take on 1,000 new customers, someone will have to finance the inventory, and someone will need to predict the amount of widgets to stock in that inventory, and that gets very expensive quickly.

I don't know how much the inventory issue is mitigated by the fact that YC companies with working offerings seem to be immediately able to conjure up 500k-1MM in funding.

Also, YC's major successes haven't been hardware companies, have they? The last essay I read before this one suggested --- in agreement with the conventional wisdom of VC's --- that a company needs to be Dropbox-successful to move the needle for YC. Not that YC isn't, I'm sure, thrilled to have hardware product companies with traction in their portfolio.

Let me just add a banal point: YC's business strategy is, obviously, "throw everything we can at the wall and see what sticks". If you're considering your first company, that's probably not your best strategy. Even putting aside the big-ticket problems like inventory and margin, there are a lot of other things that suck about hardware: lead times, managing supply chain, QA and managing defects, field recalls, shipping. These problems are so big that major hardware companies have people who don't just have one of those tasks as full-time jobs, but are also famous for being able to deal with them.

mixmax 3 days ago 3 replies      
15 years ago I did a hardware startup, development was extremely hard and I woved never to do a hardware startup again.

Now I'm not so sure.

Our problem was twofold: First hardware development was not generally something you just did in your sparetime, it was for the big boys. This meant a lot of convoluted processes for dealing with suppliers, expensive and unreliable dev kits and tools, long lead times and all sorts of other hassles.

Second the turnaround time for a prototype was at least two weeks. If you made a small mistake you'd find out two weeks later when your prototype arrived. This adds up quickly and slows you down tremendously. Not because we made a lot of mistakes, but we had to be absolutely sure that something worked before sending it off to be prototyped. No testing a new idea in an afternoon or two.

These things have totally changed with the commodisation of hardware and the looming 3D revolution.

With a makerbot, a raspberry Pi, an arduino and a shelf full of components you're prety much ready to go and can hammer together a working prototype in no time. If you feel cheap you can buy a nice box for your arduino and call it a finished product.

robomartin 3 days ago 2 replies      

  "And in particular, don't be deterred from applying to Y
Combinator with a hardware idea, because we're especially
interested in hardware startups."

How are you planning on funding hardware startups? From your site:

  "Usually $11,000 + $3000 per founder. So $17,000 for two
founders, $20,000 for three or more. Occasionally we
invest more. The goal is usually to give you enough
money to build an impressive prototype or version 1,
which you can then use to get further funding."

A real hardware startup would require at least an order of magnitude more money than this. Unless they walk in with all the required tools, you could burn $20K just in software licenses (Solidworks, Altium Designer, Xilinx Foundation, Keil, etc.) and not have much left for other stuff. Heck, my DSO alone cost me about $20K. The computer I am typing this on probably has $50K in hardware and licenses on it.

I could personally consider the idea of presenting a hardware startup to YC, but I would need to know that this is not about (with the utmost respect) finding a few starving 20-year-olds that will kill themselves for a $20K investment. From my vantage point, if you are not throwing $250K+ into a hardware startup it just isn't going to happen. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Then again, this ain't my first rodeo.

Now, if the idea is to throw some money at a project to cobble-together a smoke-and-mirrors prototype and then go raise a few million, well, for the right project this could work.

Again, I say the above with respect for what you do. I have done a lot of hardware/software/multidisciplinary development. It's very different from pure software web/mobile startups. Very different.

jgw 3 days ago 5 replies      
It's quite curious how hardware design lost its cachet.

When I was in Computer Engineering at Waterloo (class of '98), many of my classmates were vying for coop jobs in FPGA, ASIC or board-level design. I happened to be one of the lucky ones and it set me on a path to a career in ASIC verification.

Today when I look around at my industry, it's downright shocking how little young blood there is around. The youngest ASIC guy I've met in the last 6 or 7 years had a Master's and three years experience - and we all regarded him as the newbie.

Only in the last few months have we seen the occasional new-grad's resume cross our threshold. I'd not yet call it a trend, but I hope it becomes one. We have horrible languages, horrible libraries, horrible tools - a huge, shaky mess of infrastructure built on technologies stretched far beyond what they were originally built for - and it's so deeply entrenched that few of my colleagues seem to recognize it. We really need a new generation of fresh perspectives to shake us all up.

Let's hope it is indeed a new renaissance that Mr. Graham heralds.

jd 3 days ago 3 replies      
If pg is correct and hardware startups are making a renaissance then we can expect to see startups soon that sell shovels for hardware startups. For web startups we see shovel-style products that help with customer support, A/B testing, virtualized servers and so on.

In the same way we can expect startups to pop up that make life easier for hardware startups. For instance startups that make prototyping hardware easier. Or that simplify shipping goods all across the globe. Or startups that make it easier to find the right suppliers and get good deals with them.

Pretty exciting!

SiVal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't know why hardware is suddenly rising like a phoenix? One word: Apple.

Apple used to talk about ease of use and "computer for the rest of us", and they still throw some of that into every presentation, but it's no longer the lead. After Steve Jobs rejoined Apple, it was all about the look and feel of the hardware, not ease of use of the software. "Look, candy colors!" "Look how small! Feel how light! Look at those curves! Oooh, you can never be too thin. Did I mention thin? I meant thinnest!"

Then the small, thin, candy-colored devices emerged, and they made Apple the most valuable company in the world, with the media hanging on its every move. And what are they talking about, the software? No, silly, a Windows machine can do anything a Mac can do. Apple wouldn't be so successful without the full package of hardware, software, and services, but it's the HARDWARE more than anything else that everyone talks about.

This has given Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and other big companies serious Apple envy, which shows up in their "strategies". How can it not affect small startups as well? It's the environment these little companies are born into.

tteam 3 days ago 1 reply      
Spot on PG. I think we are qualified to add value to this discussion here. We have bootstrapped our plug device (TonidoPlug) couple of years back. Lot of people ridiculed and cautioned us when we have started. Now it is one of the top rated NAS product in amazon without any recognizable brand name. We have built the entire software stack around it. Now, We OEM our software stack to other Consumer Electronic companies. We have done all without any external investments. Also there are fundamental changes happening in the industry that will aid provide impetus to the growth story. 41% of CE sales are done via online now. So we don't need to pay hefty margins required by Best Buy OR other brick and mortar companies. We can sell directly to end customers and pay the amazon sales tax :)

Also many CE companies (Exception of Apple) stopped innovating or don't have access to the exceptional software skills. Typically they buy units from Taiwan ODMs, buy software stack from companies like us, put their brand and sell to their existing channels(Staple, Best Buy).
There is no value addition provided by these companies in the entire supply chain except their distribution. Now even the distribution is coming under attack because of the direct sales model. For instance we ship units to more than 75 countries.This situation is so true when you take a look at home networking products (Consumer Routers, NAS, DVRs). You can do a heck a lot of innovation there and people use it daily.

Now we are sitting with exceptional know-how, ODM relationships, a software stack that can run on all the embedded device (Routers, DVRs to NAS products) and mobile apps on all the popular mobile OS'es. In couple of years we can challenge the incumbents and build a company that can generate 50-100 million in sales and challenge the incumbents. Even if the margins are tight, we can still make at least 20% net margin. We are ready to accept investment from YC if PG is interested.

austinlyons 3 days ago 1 reply      
"We know there's room for the next Steve Jobs"

I'm not sure if hardware hackers want to be Steve Jobs... they want to be Woz!

"Woz soon followed with the machine that made the company, the Apple II. He single-handedly designed all its hardware and software"an extraordinary feat even for the time. And what's more, he did it all while working at his day job at Hewlett-Packard"


anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
And in particular, don't be deterred from applying to Y Combinator with a hardware idea, because we're especially interested in hardware startups.

This is great news. I felt a bit old and stupid at Startup school, because I want to make hardware (albeit for a niche rather than a mass market), but anyone I talked to seemed to find the idea weird and most of the concepts from the stage were along the lines that software - particularly internet software - was, is, and ever shall be the sole basis of a successful startup. It was a relief at the end of the day to hear Joel Spolsky discuss the viability and possible desirability of building a nice little $10m company in just as much detail as building a $1b one.

macrael 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think it's fascinating how much money people are willing to pay for hardware compared to software. It's hard to convince people to pay anything for software, but these kickstarter projects are getting lots of people to pay hundreds of dollars for hardware.
3pt14159 3 days ago 0 replies      
Patents. That is what is stopping hardware. Go ahead and try to have something listed in Best Buy without having an army of lawyers breathing down your neck.

Every. Single. Hardware. Startup. I know, has either gone bankrupt due to lawsuits, or hasn't ever reached product market fit.

femto 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd suggest that there is a huge opening for a startup that does manufacturing process. This company could earn money by selling its process to others, and dogfooding its own product in a few lucrative niches.

For example, the company might start by pulling all the open source EDA, CAD, CNC, and similar, software into a cohesive whole. It would then bring in one of the open source ERP systems and integrate it with the engineering toolchain. Keeping on doing this for every part of the process: ordering, inventory, manufacturing/robotics, testing, sales, distribution, support, financials. The idea is to (as nearly as possible) completely automate the process of scaling hardware based business from a prototype to a product. Achieve this goal and hardware becomes as easy to scale as software.

I've been building hardware for the last 30 years, and invariably most of the work goes into making the process run smoothly (ie. designing the process) rather than designing the product.

tocomment 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm still struggling to understand the logistics of starting a hardware company.

Let's say I have an idea for a portable mini-fridge. What kind of engineers do I need to contract to design it? Where do I find them? Do I need approval, testing? What kind of regulations do I need to follow? And finally how do I get it manufactured? Do I actually need to go to China and meet with factories?

I wish someone would put together a step by step guide for these kinds of questions.

amirhirsch 3 days ago 0 replies      
The trend towards more hardware-product startups in the sf bay area is real and there is more evidence than just the increase and quality of yc hardware companies that pg wrote about. There are new hardware focused incubators (like Lemnos Labs), more hardware hackathons, and there's been growth in the sensor and hardware meetups for the past couple years.

However, it's possible that innovation in hardware technologies is out of reach of startups. I'm differentiating here between hardware-tech and hardware-product startups. Of course there are hardware startups that are attempting to bring new technology to market (go Integrated Plasmonics, and 3Scan!). Interestingly, a good indicator of whether a startup is developing an innovative technology is that Peter Thiel is invested in it--many of his fund-ees are slaving away in labs scattered around SF. The failure modes of these hardware-tech companies will be more interesting than the hardware-product startups. These companies may take a much longer time to develop tech, then the product using that tech, and then fail, because the market they try to disrupt with their technology may be disrupted by other technologies with better economics--energy tech is full of these sorts of baby elephant skeletons. Still, successful investment in real hardware innovation that wins leads to companies like the next GE, Intel, or AT&T so it makes sense for investors with deep enough pockets to aim for these.

Hardware products that simply integrate existing commodity components (like Blossom Coffee) have a pretty well understood binary risk profile, they either they hit or they don't. The new hardware renaissance PG is observing is based on the reduced cost of production, and new ways to crowd fund these sorts of companies: things you might prototype in TechShop (shared tools space) and sell via Kickstarter.

waterlesscloud 3 days ago 5 replies      
"So if the ease of shipping hardware even approached the ease of shipping software, we'd see a lot more hardware startups."

So what kind of startup can facilitate that change?

Kilimanjaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Toys, toys, toys!

It's all about toys!

I want to see iPhone controlled toy tanks with cameras and laser sensors, so me and my brother can kill each other without moving away from our desks.

I want to see usb telescopes, microscopes, thermometers, stethoscopes so my kids can play scientists.

I want to see more e-toys so kids grow more interested in technology.

guelo 3 days ago 0 replies      
pg didn't mention China but I think the increasing ease of accessing Chinese manufacturing is hardware's AWS equivalent.
follower 3 days ago 1 reply      
BTW the "applying" link is 404.

It's linking to <http://ycombinator.com/apply>; instead of <http://ycombinator.com/apply.html>.

mahyarm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think Shenzhen is more the hardware SV than the bay area. Or more "Designed in California, Made in China". Look at this article by bunnie huang illustrating this fact:

Akihabara, Eat Your Heart Out

jncraton 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like the unification of hardware and software (as Apple has done) is where a lot of real value lies. I'd love to see more startups selling innovative hardware/software products.
state 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find these essays really refreshing not only because of their content, but because they're evidence of someone searching for points of uncertainty and investigating them. PG seems to be always looking for what does not make sense and trying to figure it out.
nickpinkston 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great that PG is talking Hardware Startups - I seem to remember him being less than enthusiastic before, but either way I'm glad that he's seeing a lot of the same things we on the ground are seeing.

A few months back I announced on HN that I started a http://www.reddit.com/r/hwstartups, so I wanted to mention that we're growing a pretty good community over there as well.

ErrantX 3 days ago 0 replies      
Physical things are great. They just haven't been as great a way to start a rapidly growing business as software.

The same issue applied to software not all that long ago. As with software, the wide availability of consumer-level, cheap or even free tools to make stuff is driving a renaissance for hardware.

And with so much hardware hacking then, as with software, some will see explosive growth.

It's good to see in my mind because hardware can be infinitely more important/useful than software.

dccoolgai 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good read with some great points... more and more people are coming into the fold and realizing what you can do with platforms like the Arduino in the space of physical/embedded computing. This is where real innovation is happening. Coming from a software dev background, I picked up an Arduino about a year and a half ago - and it is awesome...it's just so much fun...it's like the feeling you get when you make a great web app but times 100 because it's a real physical thing that moves, senses the world around it and lights up (or whatever). Even if you don't believe it's the "next big thing", if you are a sofware dev, you should get into it because it's so much fun and it makes you better developer when you learn about things about digital logic like shift registers.

I really think the culmination of all this will be what I see as the next logical step after "mobility" in computing (i.e. the idea that you "take your computer everywhere with you"): "ubiquity" - or, in other words, the idea that everything around you - the table you are sitting at in your restaurant, the walls in your office, things that farm your food and control your air conditioner, are computers..and perhaps the most exceiting thing is that this next revolution will (hopefully) be ushered in and controlled by startups. Exciting times.

hansc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, I did bootstrap a hardware product: www.growguard.net. Agree, it's not the best looking product, but engineering, designing and puting it in manufacturing cost less than 5k!

A couple of years ago, I was the CTO and cofounder of another hw startup (FTTH space), we did get this thing off teh ground for less than 300k and it is now doing very well and one of the top-3 in it's niche

jwr 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's impossible to bootstrap a hardware company. You need capital, otherwise you'll never get out of the tar pit that is small-scale production. So hardware companies will always be much harder than software companies, if only for this reason.
padobson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon Web Services has been an integral part in opening up the web to the glut of software startups we've seen over the past 10 years.

Fulfillment by Amazon[1] could be a big part of the rise of hardware startups.

Couple 3D printing with a logisitics powerhouse like Amazon, and hardware could be as easy to deploy as a webapp soon.

1. http://www.amazonservices.com/content/fulfillment-by-amazon....

gruseom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Coincidentally, HN's own robg just posted his new hardware startup here:


Personally I think the biofeedback thing sounds very cool. I ordered a biofeedback device from some outfit a few years ago and never came close to getting the thing to work.

dschiptsov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Time to resurrect and rethink hardware Lisp Machines as a servers of content like this site?)

Hardware machines are much better than Virtual ones..)

capex 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of these hardware startups would grow into an YC of its own. If a hardware incubator can solve the problems of inventory, distribution and shipping, it would pump out products at a much faster rate, with a higher chance of success. You don't doubt Apple's newest product for a reason.
SeoxyS 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article serves as a perfectly timed confirmation of my plan for what I'll do next, once I've achieved everything I can where I am right now.

I've been planning to apply to YC and start a hardware-focused startup in the home-automation space.

DanBC 3 days ago 0 replies      
People have mentioned lead times in this thread. Just so I can calibrate my expectations - what do people reading HN consider to be a "long lead time" for hardware?
riffraff 3 days ago 2 replies      
> And one of most conspicuous trends in the last batch was the large number of hardware startups.

OT, but please be kind to a learner of the english language: should that sentence be "one of _the_ most conspicuous" or there is some rule by which the article can be used or not in this form?

kyro 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great, now I've got to learn electrical and mechanical engineering. Where's the Rails for hardware?!
hnriot 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure 8% is really indicative of any trend, also I think the sample size is way too small to draw any kind of conclusions. And no examples of what this 8% are up to, at least in broad terms?

If you look at the bigger picture, rather than the little world of YC you'll see lots of hw in medical, aviation, military, communications etc etc.

Saying that the number of companies that would be attracted to YC for money has risen from X to 8% doesn't really speak of any trend.

There are some examples from kickstarter that spring to mind, like for example, Brydge (bluetooth keyboard/speakers for iPad) and the game controller world has its fair share of hw innovation (like Connect for example) but real hw innovation is out of reach of startups, you need chip fab plants and cross disciplinary skills that are expensive and
locked up in the big company r&d departments. The real companies doing hw are not going to YC for money, they go to their boss.

johnmurch 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am surprised there was no mention of the Rapsberry Pi. Open sourcing hardware and allowing one to build their own "widget" is a game changer. You don't have to know about board layouts anymore, you now have a product/package ready for production that is $25/$35 that has HDMI, 2 usb (easy wifi enabled), ethernet, and audio. Just build software and put on SD card.

There are a TON of software products you can build off of this and sell.

capkutay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good observation. On top of that, it may be nice to find a solution where you can easily monitor data flowing out of electronic devices in real time. Certainly a lot of software products you can build on top of the coming hardware era.
etanol 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have the funny impression that, before, hardware was taken for granted, i.e., people bought the Comodoer64 to code in BASIC.

Now seems that software is taken for granted, e.g., you download TCP/IP Arduino implementations to connect your circuits to a LAN.

iag 3 days ago 0 replies      
PG, thoughts on this?

"How I Plan to Bootstrap Aspiring Hardware Engineers"


saurabhpalan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am just glad YC is realising the potential of HW companies. Being a Hardware Engineer, I have been feeling out of place in Silicon Valley Startup Scenes.

Hope that trend changes soon.

antonp 3 days ago 0 replies      
The interesting question is in which industries will we see the first Twilios, Stripes and Clevers for hardware? Home automation? Cars? Health?
tty2020 2 days ago 0 replies      
Difficulties of a hardware startup, compared to a software one, is mainly of storage, selling channels and after-sales services.
The inability to iterate quickly is also one of its problem.

Unless someone come up with a solution for these problems, I don't see a renaissance of hardware in the form of many startups (but can be in other forms, since now Win 8 is encouraging hardware creativity)

known 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it may eventually boiled down to http://www.aliexpress.com/
andyjsong 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would be the advantages of applying to YC rather than Lemonos or a hardware specific incubator? I would think initial pool of capital is the biggest hindrance.
fieldforceapp 3 days ago 0 replies      
pg, do you have a quantified list of hardware startup business models that you can share? For example, as a startup, what are the realistic sales & distribution channels that we can model, financially?

What we're worried about is designing the wrong product at the wrong price for what seems like a limited set of distribution channels with some rather onerous fixed costs and low margins -- certainly compared to software/SaaS sales. How do you wade through that swamp?

bsahr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else find the bottom line about the (250 word) piece being reviewed by 7+ folks a bit excessive? Honest question. Just feels like a very heavy burden to meet before getting public word out on an idea.
peterjs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Which would be the companies mentioned in the essay? I have tried to search for a list of yc companies, but the sites I've found were quite outdated.
skarmklart 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about combining hardware gadgets with the SaaS model? Will HaaS be big in the future?
itsnotvalid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I need to learn design of PCB...
adv0r 2 days ago 0 replies      
at the Dublin websummit an hardware startup (smartthings) won the competition, confirming the tendency.
Guerrilla guide to CNC machining, mold making, and resin casting coredump.cx
424 points by VBprogrammer  5 days ago   37 comments top 15
pvarangot 5 days 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.
noonespecial 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some people make you wonder if they're not like Shakespeare is rumored to have been; so phenomenally productive that they might be a myth, an amalgamation of the work of several brilliant people, piled up behind one convenient name.

Michal Zalewski is that kind of guy.

lifeisstillgood 5 days 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

OldSchool 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is -something- very appealing to engineers about fixing or making physical stuff as a hobby after spending your work life in a virtual world where words create things.

I always thought it was my working class roots showing through but I've managed to collect a fairly complete set of metalworking, woodworking, automotive, electrical and HVAC tools over the years. The excuse at the time? I could learn it and do it myself and keep the tools forever for what it costs to pay someone hourly once. (note: if you're in the midst of a one-in-a-lifetime cash cow, just hire out this stuff and kick the hobby down the road.)

I have however run across certain trades that require developed skill not just a knack for learning quickly - among them: drywall floating, window tinting, body and paint. Others are highly scalable big jobs that just aren't suited to a one-man attack.

There is an element of burnout in that most of this physical work is a lot harder than what we all do for work!

dkhenry 4 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a used CNC mill off e-bay a while back and this is exactly the kind of resource I have been looking for to really get some use out of it. Still what we need is a really good open source CAM program. Most of them are proprietary, slow, or just useless on complex projects.
mtdev 5 days 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.
delinka 5 days 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.
kdsudac 5 days 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.
gravitronic 5 days ago 1 reply      
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.
omegant 5 days 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!
juanre 4 days ago 0 replies      
I became a mechanical engineer because I was fascinated by machine tools, but ended up writing software and devising printing algorithms for a living. This article is a treasure. Just the kind of field guide that people like me need to go back to the world of atoms and build stuff.
justinschuh 5 days 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. ;)
gbeeson 2 days ago 0 replies      
About this guide - wow and wow. Incredible work; good read for beginners and beyond. Very complete bit of writing here!
guavaroo 4 days 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/

madlag 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive compilation of information for the robot hobbyist (among other stuff) !
UsesThis: Rob Pike usesthis.com
401 points by mace  2 days ago   179 comments top 41
nnq 2 days ago 6 replies      
The whole "everything in the cloud", "let someone else worry about storage" view, at least the way he promotes them, are more like VCS than let's say Git (or pick another DVCS)... you have a conceptual "central" point of failure, even if this "point" is a network of servers distributed around the world.

I want STORAGE ON EVERY DEVICE (not volatile!), and and automatic system to sync it with all my other devices, WITHOUT NEEDING THE CLOUD, just set up and ad-hoc mesh network and sync everyth (yeah, there's gonna be smth like "merges" for OS settings and music collection changes but I can do with that). The "cloud" should be just infrastructure, nothing else added, and I shouldn't be distrupted when my connection to it fails... "Always connected"? No, no, no, I'll always want to be able to work offline and be able to sync/merge/push/pull even my OS, its settings and software (and be able to "branch" my and keep multiple versions of software and all that).

DVCS should be the models for how to do everything in the cloud, with simpler interfaces for different level of user needs/competency.

Rob Pike's ideal of "homogeneity" in computing really misses the distinction between distributed and central syncing, the security and reliability implications etc. ...and large local storage capacity and "enough" computing power on all devices is needed for this. I'd rather be "part of the mesh" than "connected to the cloud mesh", because I think the distinctions are important and they require different things from "client devices" (all devices should be "clients"! no servers "in the cloud" for me please!)

epaga 2 days ago 6 replies      
Slight critique here - I feel like he's using this to push an agenda rather than just telling us in detail what tools and software he uses to get his job done.
He mentions a few things but in far less detail than anyone else I've read on usesthis. Instead he gives paragraph after paragraph of "world view" about moving things to the cloud...interesting, yes, but not what I'm after when I read usesthis posts... :-/
andrewflnr 2 days ago 4 replies      
I can't get behind the idea of every computer I interact with being a dumb terminal. I don't want to assume I'll always have a connection to the mother machine. Even in some ideal world where I always have a high speed connection that never fails, can you guarantee that the server itself won't go down? Not really.

I would like to see a nice balance: I basically work locally, and anything I do is synced ASAP to "the cloud" and thence to other devices (and other people). But if I'm in the hills or the server goes down, hey, I still have a perfectly good computer in my pocket.

buro9 2 days ago 3 replies      
> When I left work and went home, I could pick up where I left off, pretty much. My dream setup would drop the "pretty much" qualification from that.

For me, Dropbox has brought me that.

I still use Github and the like, but my computers now share such a similar setup (all Linux, install Go, install Dropbox, install Sublime Text 2, done) that I can walk out of the office without doing anything special to my machine, go home and pick up literally where I left off.

My git repositories are cloned into my Dropbox folders so that when I move from one place to another but am not ready to check in (local branch in state of flux) I still have that in multiple locations.

As Sublime Text 2 stores the project and file info in a plain text file, that state comes with me too.

My $GOROOT is also in my Dropbox folder, so if I've grabbed something via "go get" that also follows me around.

I view Dropbox as an ever present working cache, not as storage. Things like documents are in Google Drive and accessed via the browser.

On Friday I went to a meeting at 3pm that I thought would just be 20 minutes. It turned out that it took 3 hours, and I hadn't closed ST2 or anything I was working on... no problem, I went home instead of back to the office and my work was exactly where I left off with the same files open in ST2.

I think the only thing that doesn't follow with me are the undo buffers in ST2.

n8agrin 2 days ago 5 replies      
I want no local storage anywhere near me other than maybe caches. No disks, no state, my world entirely in the network. Storage needs to be backed up and maintained, which should be someone else's problem, one I'm happy to pay to have them solve. Also, storage on one machine means that machine is different from another machine.

I'm always shocked that this hasn't happened faster. I've expected Dropbox, Amazon, Google and Apple to move into this space more aggressively, but at best they've all only just scraped the surface of what's possible.

batgaijin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I always wonder, how do people like this justify their level of trust for cloud providers and the government?

It's as if a majority of the hardcore hackers have gone "Fuck it, I'm being watched anyway, they might as well be backing up my stuff as well."

Are we past the point of it being a topic of debate except by people like me who have the illusion of choice?

kaptain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rob Pike doesn't want a dumb terminal. He wants a powerful new infrastructure.

  My dream setup, then, is a computing world where I don't have to carry at least three computers - laptop, tablet, phone, not even counting cameras and iPod and other oddments - around with me in order to function in the modern world.

I can relate to what he wants: he cares about his data, not about what his data is on. Every time I upgrade machines or move to a different machine, I have to either reconstruct my environment or I have to tolerate an absence of some data that would be nice to have. How amazing would it be if I can could use any 'terminal' anywhere and have complete access to all of my personal data without having to tote around a physical piece of hardware that's 'mine'.

Any geek's 'bat-cave' is testament to this need: a Mac Plus sitting underneath a table next to Commodore 64. On top of the table lays a 486 DX/2 PC with Super VGA and a Soundblaster compatible card decaying inside. Everywhere strings of SCSI, RS-232, Ethernet spaghetti encircle cases of floppies (both 5.25 and 3.5). Where's the data? Anything precious has made it's way through different formats to whatever you're on now. Everything else is slowly rotting away.

Outsourcing the batcave to this ubiquitous seems much more appetizing to me. Plus it leaves me room for my 1st and 2nd gen Transformer collection.

mturmon 2 days ago 3 replies      
He plants a couple of nice flags:

"This is 2012 and we're still stitching together little microcomputers with HTTPS and ssh and calling it revolutionary."


"In summary, it used to be that phones worked without you having to carry them around, but computers only worked if you did carry one around with you. The solution to this inconsistency was to break the way phones worked rather than fix the way computers work."

Andrex 2 days ago 2 replies      
I want no local storage anywhere near me other than maybe caches. No disks, no state, my world entirely in the network. Storage needs to be backed up and maintained, which should be someone else's problem, one I'm happy to pay to have them solve. Also, storage on one machine means that machine is different from another machine. At Bell Labs we worked in the Unix Room, which had a bunch of machines we called "terminals". Latterly these were mostly PCs, but the key point is that we didn't use their disks for anything except caching. The terminal was a computer but we didn't compute on it; computing was done in the computer center. The terminal, even though it had a nice color screen and mouse and network and all that, was just a portal to the real computers in the back. When I left work and went home, I could pick up where I left off, pretty much. My dream setup would drop the "pretty much" qualification from that.

Interesting that someone so steeped in the "old ways" of Unix dumb terminals is also, seemingly, such a good matchup for the "far future" vision of Chrome OS. What's old is new again?

shadowmint 2 days ago 0 replies      
I clicked the link seeing the high point count and thinking I might find some gems of productivity I could pull into my own daily routine, but instead I found some discussion of clouds and terminals and other things that are philosophically interesting but tangibly well argued and discussed ad nauseam.

Of course, the article is tiny and talks abstractly about something that everyone has an opinion on, so of course it has up lots of votes.

I am disappoint.

16s 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm hesitant to move to the cloud until privacy issues are fundamentally addressed. All these vendors pouring over user data is not in our interest. I think it will take laws and government action to stop this sort of privacy invasion. Until that happens, I'll keep my local storage.
mdonahoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you haven't seen acme in action, it is pretty crazy and interesting. Basically it makes heavy use of the mouse, and any typed word can be invoked like a command.

Here is a tutorial.

damian2000 2 days ago 0 replies      
His dream setup:
"... carry a computer screen around, as long as it rolled up and fit inside something the size of a pen and had touch input when unrolled. As long as it had no local storage."

How last century. I thought he would have at least suggested a hologram projection screen combined with some bio implants. ;-)

pgbovine 2 days ago 4 replies      
i will +1 his love for the 11" MacBook Air ... people are always skeptical that i can do pretty much all of my work on it (yes, even some coding), but after almost two years, i still haven't found its small size to be too limiting.
mseepgood 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like how his photo matches the colors of the blog design (pink & grey), obviously on purpose. This tells me that he pays attention to detail. Not every Unix hacker would change his clothes for some random interview on the web.
sturadnidge 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think his phone system analogy is correct. Yes, you can pick up any phone and make a call, but you can't receive a call to 'your' number from any phone. i.e. there is still state associated with the phone network, and landlines are not portable in the same sense that mobiles and laptops are.
lazyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of us do not like the cloud as much as Rob Pike because we are worried about censorship and corporate misconduct (what do you do if your stuff is suddenly gone one day?).

The "always accessible" and "continue where you left" paradigmata we can still relate to though: I've been using screen in ssh / putty windows for almost 20 years now, I used VNC for some time (even wrote a 16 bit client for DOS that ran off a floppy disk and with 2MB RAM...) for the same purpose.

Something like VNC but with a "responsive" UI that adapts to the device currently used (tablet, laptop, desktop) while still retaining all the state needed for the user to continue where he left, that'd be something novel and useful after all these years.

stcredzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
> What would be your dream setup?
I want no local storage anywhere near me other than maybe caches. No disks, no state, my world entirely in the network. Storage needs to be backed up and maintained, which should be someone else's problem, one I'm happy to pay to have them solve.

This is exactly my idea of changing from our current memory hierarchy to take advantage of the new SSD and cloud capabilities we have now: "Fat Cache."


codewright 2 days ago 1 reply      
A surprisingly ideological interview. Combined with my run-ins with the go-nuts, I have to imagine there's some sort of general cultural coding cohort I've not fully understood yet.

This intersection between an obsession with minimalism of a particular sort and dispossession is unknown to me. Seems common to the Go programmers I talk to.

awakeasleep 2 days ago 0 replies      

    My dream setup, then, is a computing world where I don't have 
to carry at least three computers - laptop, tablet, phone, not
even counting cameras and iPod and other oddments - around
with me in order to function in the modern world. The world
should provide me my computing environment and maintain it for
me and make it available everywhere. If this were done right,
my life would become much simpler and so could yours.

Wow that sounds like a dream!

programminggeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Using ssh, screen, and a prgmr instance, I can access my stuff and have the same state for almost all of my dev work anywhere I can use a chrome browser with the ssh plugin or any ssh terminal app. That is pretty close to what he's talking about I suppose. As of now my iphone, ipad, and laptop can all jump on my little instance and I'm good to go.

That being said, I don't think going 100% cloud is for everybody yet, but we're getting closer.

fghh45sdfhr3 2 days ago 0 replies      
I dream of Rob's dream setup as well. I suspect many people do. But I hope it shouldn't be too hard to make it a reality.

A smart phone which is always connected to remote storage (the cost could be a problem here?), and how about an electronic paper keyboard which rolls up to the size of a pen, that's somehow attached to or part of the phone.

Sit down somewhere, connect, unroll the keyboard, and there is your computing environment.

nicholassmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like his ideal, all the work being accessible no matter what device you've got in front of you but the whole idea only works with ubiquitous network connectivity. I commute a couple of hours most days through areas where the 3G quality is non-existant to poor, occasionally reaching 'Usable', so I'd be doomed to being unproductive. Caching gets you so far, but there's still plenty of rough spots to the idea.

It's definitely a nice idea though, maybe some day it'll happen. Nice to see Rob Pike getting a usesthis.com post, slightly (but not much) surprised to see him using Macs as his primary choice.

seacond 1 day ago 0 replies      
Many of the things he says I agree with, others I don't. I think that's the thing with computing. Everyone's tastes are at least slightly different. We don't all want exactly the same things.

I think the big failure is programmers' inability to bring these desired advances, like what Plan 9 achieved, to a wider audience. I mean, he says he had this wondwerful environment at Bell Labs, but almost no one outside of Bell Labs gets to experience that pleasure. Why not? They open sourced it too late? I'm not sure I buy that. It's still better than UNIX, so what's changed? It's like there's some assumption that people just don't deserve anything better, and there's no point in working towards it. Except if you're at Bell Labs.

We're stuck with old UNIX, with all of its historical cruft. Like him, I've just learned to cope with it. (It's funny he's complaining about argv limits (see 2004 Slashdot interview). That seems to suggest he likes to compose super long argv's. No? Maybe he does not like xargs? I never did. But then I've seen similarly unexplainable limits in the Plan 9 port to UNIX. Why can't I have a Plan 9 sed command file with a very large number of commands?)

We could certainly have better. Perhaps it's simply a matter of getting behind the right projects, instead of just following the money and being lazy... working at Google and buying MacBook Pros. That's sort of like giving up. Complacency.

Honestly, "grep'ing the web" just doesn't sound all that "amazing" to me. I don't care how many servers they have running, Google is not Bell Labs.

prunebeads 2 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, I switched to a tiled WM because I didn't want to go back and forth between keyboard and mouse all the time. I want an editor which I can handle using keyboard alone, and only use the mouse when I really have to (web, drawing, games - perhaps I should use a trackball).
Acme relies too much on the mouse for me, but I like the idea a lot.

There's another couple of issues: syntax highlighting, large scale refactoring (which is not easy either with vi or emacs atm).

However, once you get accustomed to a certain workflow, it becomes difficult to accept something new. Maybe I should give it a shot.

peterwwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Payphones are annoying. It might be broken, or have gum jammed in it, or someone might be using it, or you have to track one down, and you have to be sitting at it to receive a call.

Cellphones are in your pocket, come with your personal phone directory, are cheaper per minute, and you don't have to stand still to use them.

I'm really surprised that Rob thinks people would want to deal with a computer-as-payphone model. And wireless data networks suck ass in North America. His ideal world is probably at least 20 years away.

On the other hand, I love thin terminals. Screw local stateless networked computation. Give me a snappy remote interface to a beefy terminal server and i'm happy. That's an interface you literally can pick back up at any time with no performance cost due to being far away from the data.

meaty 2 days ago 1 reply      
At the risk of causing a flamewar, it sounds like he wants Microsoft surface. It has all of those attributes when backed by SkyDrive apart from the fact you can't roll it up.
notJim 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some very interesting stuff here. Everyone should look at this screencast about the acme text editor: http://research.swtch.com/acme. This thing is wild and crazy in a way that's totally unexpected. I have no idea if the ideas are actually good, but they sure are different.
mrpollo 2 days ago 0 replies      

  "The world should provide me my computing environment and maintain it for me and make it available everywhere."

Reminds me of the mini glass that Tony Stark is carrying with him all around the 2nd Iron Man movie, see here: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/9694286/iron-man-computer.jpeg

In the movie Tony (Iron Man) can control the infrastructure around him with this device, just like Rob Pike described.

cturner 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the no-local-storage dream. But what about when you're at the airport or the hotel network is broken or on holiday in indochina, and want to do some hacking? There's probably no network, or if there is it'll be expensive, slow and unreliable. Though I struggle with git, I love it that you can easily keep a tree pulled (even if you don't actively use it), and use that when you need it.
pi18n 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've wondered for a while now, why isn't Plan 9 rising along with cloud computing? It seems like it would mesh very well with having many computers connected in a network, and might make tasks like massively distributed map/reduce more accessible.
fra 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The terminal was a computer but we didn't compute on it; computing was done in the computer center. The terminal, even though it had a nice color screen and mouse and network and all that, was just a portal to the real computers in the back. When I left work and went home, I could pick up where I left off, pretty much. My dream setup would drop the "pretty much" qualification from that."

It exists! It's called a sunray


fafner 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm a bit surprised that he is happy with a Mac Book. His editor acme requires three mouse buttons and Apple is designed for one mouse button use. Does he use an external mouse all the time?

And I'm a bit disappointed that he's not using Plan9. With the current ease of VMs there are no driver and installation issues and he could move the snapshot around.

aperture 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it was a good post overall, but what got to me was his lack of doing anything about his issues.
When Mr. Pike wanted a revolutionary OS, plan9 was created.
When Mr. Pike wanted a language fixing problems dealt with in C, Go was created.
When it comes to a machine that's roll-able without persistent local storage, he merely wishes for it to be a reality? I can understand if, through working with Google, the only research in that area is tied to the Chromebook, but still. He certainly has the capability to cause influence (First link on hn), but he's not getting into the core of the problem. I love this guy just as much as the rest of the community, but I find it puzzling steps aren't already being taken to make this next dream of his a reality. I also agree that cloud is not the answer for everything, so it would be enlightening for a new tablet-esque roll able device to be made that swims against the general Mac-inspired cloud tablet trend. But if Rob Pike isn't going to make it a reality, I doubt someone else will release it in his vision or to his liking. Perhaps he has a few ideas or tricks to make things "just work". And that's what I'd look forward to.
wwkeyboard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe we can ask him what its like to be coding at 50?

For a serious question, does acme lend itself to a chording keyboard? It seems like this is taking another step towards Engelbert's vision in the mother of all demos.

wowoc 2 days ago 3 replies      
All these esteemed people must be such individualists. They all use Macs.
car54whereareu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rob also uses tinted glasses and that shirt.

I doubt the awesome bits of plan9 that he compared to a telephone (pay phone) can be replicated by a higher level service like amazon/google cloud something, git or some other dvcs. 9p is a protocol after all.

He also mentioned doing computing somewhere else, and not just storing data in the cloud.

So please tell me I just need to configure git differently or sign up for amazons newest whatever.

This seems relevant as well http://doc.cat-v.org/bell_labs/utah2000/

dschiptsov 2 days ago 1 reply      
ACME screencast is definitely worth looking. It is the "everything is text [streams]" and GUI concepts together in action.
Millennium 2 days ago 0 replies      
Count me in as another "synchronized local storage" person, for the typical two reasons: I don't want to rely on a connection to the cloud, and I don't want to have to trust the cloud storage providers.
njharman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dude has style!
bovik 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a weird dude. That's all.
The most dangerous code in the world stanford.edu
382 points by gmcabrita  2 days ago   128 comments top 21
tptacek 2 days ago 4 replies      
The worst example from this paper is Curl's API.

Curl has an option, CURL_SSL_VERIFYHOST. When VERIFYHOST=0, Curl does what you'd expect: it effectively doesn't validate SSL certificates.

When VERIFYHOST=2, Curl does what you'd expect: it verifies SSL certificates, ensuring that one of the hosts attested by the certificate matches the host presenting it.

When VERIFYHOST=1, or, in some popular languages, when VERIFYHOST=TRUE, Curl does something very strange. It checks to see if the certificate attests to any hostnames, and then accepts the certificate no matter who presents it.

Developers reasonably assume parameters like "VERIFYHOST" are boolean; either we're verifying or we're not. So they routinely set VERIFYHOST to 1 or "true" (which can promote to 1). Because Curl has this weird in-between setting, which does not express any security policy I can figure out, they're effectively not verifying certificates.

moxie 2 days ago 4 replies      
I agree that these APIs are fundamentally difficult to use correctly (sometimes it almost seems as if they've been designed to trick you), and that developers commonly get them wrong, but this paper is perhaps a little more inflammatory than it should be.

They cast a really wide net, looking for as many examples as possible where non-browser applications fail to do SSL validation correctly, but then conclude that this will result in a security compromise without fully examining the implications.

For instance, they point out that many SDKs for Amazon FPS don't validate certificates correctly. But I didn't see them mention that the FPS protocol does its own signature-based authentication and that credentials are never transmitted in the clear: it was essentially designed to operate over an insecure transport to begin with.

Likewise, they point out an "unsafe" construction that an Android application that I wrote (TextSecure) uses. But they don't mention that this is for communication with an MMSC, that this is how it has to be (many don't present CA-signed certificates), and that the point of TextSecure is that an OTR-like secure protocol is layered on top of base transport layer (be it SMS or MMS).

So I think the paper would be a lot stronger if they weren't overstating their position so much.

3pt14159 2 days ago 1 reply      
The title should be renamed to:

Many security flaws found in commonly used SSL libraries.

Other than that, it is a great find.

mrb 2 days ago 1 reply      
How ironic. Even these guys hosting a paper about SSL can't host their stuff securely on an HTTPS server.

<base href="http://crypto.stanford.edu/~dabo/pubs/pubs.html>;

This causes the page to throw an HTTPS warning: "this page loads insecure content" due to the css loaded over HTTP.

rolux 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the PDF linked in the article:

"Not the most interesting technically, but perhaps the most devastating (because of the ease of exploitation) bug is the broken certificate validation in the Chase mobile banking app on Android. Even a primitive network attacker"for example, someone in control of a malicious Wi-Fi access point"can exploit this vulnerability to harvest the login credentials of Chase mobile banking customers."

pjscott 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sounds like it might be easier to list the options that actually do the Right Thing. If you're using Python, for example, the correct way to make HTTP requests is to ignore the standard library's urllib and (shudder) urllib2, and use Requests instead:


It validates SSL certificates correctly by default. How about other languages?

kzahel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I notice that whenever I use "wget https://github.com/[...]" I always end up typing wget --no-check-certificate because the first try never works.

I suppose my web browser has an extended list of CA that my OSX lion does not know about.

justinhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I came across this issue when using node.js to make secure requests as a client and after setting up tests with bad certs found it silently worked anyway. To get it working you need to be at a certain version of node.js and make sure you set the options up carefully. Testing with a bad certificate is essential for this stuff. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10142431/my-node-js-https...
mindstab 2 days ago 0 replies      
So of all the possible futures we could have, ones where we use computers to give us crypto, good security and privacy etc, instead we end up with Masamune Shirow's admitted guess of Ghost in the Shell where people can't properly use their arms due to 5 different version of the driver installed and people having 10 different viruses IN THEIR BRAINS and are constantly getting hacked and having their bodies taken over.
scott_s 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have only read the first two sections, but the prose in this paper is a breath of fresh air. It is clear and strong.
andrewcooke 2 days ago 0 replies      
they make this point in the paper, but still it surprises me - the level of testing for payment frameworks seems surprisingly minimal. it's pretty easy with openssl to roll your own certificates to test a bunch of different issues. you'd think that the people involved would have quite an incentive to test well.

i'm not saying that this would solve all the problems, or that you should develop critical financial software by having people that don't understand much writing tests. but tests are pretty much common culture now; you'd think people would have considered this. and the argument the paper makes is not that the programmers are clueless, but that they are confused by the API, so they should be able to think up some useful tests...

of course, integration testing with sockets is a bit more complicated than unit tests (perhaps something toolkit apis should support is a way to allow testing without sockets?), but it's not super-hard. [edit: hmm. although testing for unreliable dns is going to be more tricky.]

purephase 1 day ago 0 replies      
I noticed this the other day in Rails. ActiveResource::Connection in 3.2.8 is affected in that the default OpenSSL verification mode is "OpenSSL::SSL::VERIFY_NONE". A developer has to explicitly set it for SSL validation.

You can see it here:

I'm pointing it out as it was not mentioned in the paper.

Edit: It looks like it has been that way since SSL was first implemented in Connection.

zippie 1 day ago 0 replies      
The title is a bit sensationalist - there was incorrect code and it made the copy/paste rounds. Presumably all incorrect code is dangerous to some degree but I'm certain there's a more fitting title for this story.

At any rate, here is a pull request for PHP which attempts to address the issue:


davyjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly related, link to Peereboom's rant on the OpenSSL library (a bit dated): http://www.peereboom.us/assl/assl/html/openssl.html
drallison 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone who does any development should read this paper. It is not just for SSL specialists!
jyrkesh 2 days ago 3 replies      
So how soon until we start seeing developers fix these gaping holes? And, more importantly, how soon do we start seeing app-specific exploits that take advantage of this problem?
khakimov 1 day ago 0 replies      
2010, Certificate verification is essential to TLS.

require 'always_verify_ssl_certificates'
AlwaysVerifySSLCertificates.ca_file = "/path/path/path/cacert.pem"

http= Net::HTTP.new('https://some.ssl.site, 443)
http.use_ssl = true
req = Net::HTTP::Get.new('/')
response = http.request(req)


adamfisk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone have an example of good cert verification in Java? The concept at https://github.com/iSECPartners/ssl-conservatory is great, but it needs examples in more languages. Our case is pretty weird (some self-signed certs between peers, cert pinning of sorts in that we only accept equifax as a root signer, no default signing authorities accepted), but anyone see holes in the authenticate method of our trust manager at:


? This code is intended for deployment in potentially dangerous regions for getting around government censors.


felanthropop 1 day ago 1 reply      
And odds are the guys that wrote this paper don't have any clue that even if those writing the CLI tools/libraries/frameworks that use SSL had locked them completely down, developers and sysadmins would write scripts to agree-to-all, fake auth, etc. to get around security, because we have jobs that have to get done and security is not what we are all paid to do. Security is only critical when it fails. People claim to want security. They may even have an office of security. But even if that office of security is scanning all the apps, taking production apps down because they didn't throttle their probes, and maybe even looking at code- they cannot do the job of the developer.

It is destined to be flawed as long as insecurity is allowed. Only when every exploit is exploited continously will people be vigilant.

citizenoftmrw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are Rack-based middleware affected by these vulnerabilities (or did I lose the plot)?
ritratt 1 day ago 0 replies      
"...bad implementations of SSL like OpenSSL..."

<falls off chair>

My experience with WPEngine chester.id.au
362 points by lasonrisa  2 days ago   240 comments top 37
dotBen 2 days ago 13 replies      
Ben, one of the co-founders of WP Engine here and as someone wrote below[1] - yes, this isn't the most wonderful thing to wake up to in the morning and sort out while still in your PJ's ;)

Ok, so first and foremost I am incredibly sorry, Jacques, for the experience you had. I can say with confidence that your experience with WP Engine is out of the ordinary, but no excuses. I'm writing this as a way of owning up to mistakes that were made on behalf of our company, as well as transparently engage the discussion here. There's a couple of points I'd like to make, if I may...

We're in the process of moving to complete 24/7 support right now (we do have emergency 'site down' 24/7 cover) - as any entrepreneur on HN will tell you, getting your startup to take off is hard and scaling the human aspect is perhaps even harder. With mostly US-based business customers it wasn't as much of an issue to begin with but we're now addressing that.

Obviously if we'd had that 24/7 support in place we could have addressed this more immediately.

However, one of the reasons that your site experienced problems was that there were some aspects of the site development that simply didn't scale. Like any scale-orientated PaaS, we can provide the infrastructure to enable you to scale but your code needs to work in partnership to fully achieve that.

As Sean, my head SysAdmin wrote on a ticket to you, some of your pages were performing a sort on 188590 rows in memory each time. That just doesn't scale. From your post, I'm guessing this is the issue that also occurred when you tried Pagely. While it's awesome that the good folks at Pagely were able to work with you a little to try to address your problem, like most PaaS providers (eg AWS, Heroku) we don't provide consultancy services - there is an amazing WordPress community of consultants and dev shops out there and its just not what we want to get into. Just like Heroku won't fix your Ruby code.

We have many, many clients who are very happy with WP Engine but as a growing business there will always be customers who find that the service isn't right for them, and even occasionally have a bad experience.

So lets try to make this right. I can see that we've already refunded you all the hosting fees you paid for your account, and I'll also make sure we pick up the $500 migration bill that you incurred. If there is anything else we can do please let me know.

I will also take time once I've finished my coffee and out of my PJ's to analyze your case further and see what else we can do internally to ensure this doesn't happen again.


Ben, co-founder WP Engine

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4692775

alexandros 2 days ago 6 replies      
For all who are thinking about moving to WPEngine:

Your staging server does not use WPE's caching technology, which your production server will use. WPE will not give you details on how their secret-sauce caching works. This means that things that work on staging will break on production. WPE also refuse to turn off their caching on production, but also refuse to turn ON their caching on your staging server. This means there is no real way to test. Things that work with their staging server, and even work with the standard WP caching plugins, will break in WPE production.

Their solution? Buy another production site to test on.

That website is now moving from WPEngine after having its launch botched by the aforementioned issues, and after not being able to make a basic paywall work with their caching. Once they realised the use case, WPE simply suggested moving elsewhere without making any further effort to accommodate.

I had a similar reaction to the post yesterday by asmartbear as Jaques, but he made the extra effort to actually write the blogpost, so bravo to him. WPE enjoys this sterling reputation that misleads a lot of people into using them, but their comfort zone it seems is limited to vanilla WP installs with little deviation.

jacques_chester 2 days ago 2 replies      
Of all the things I've ever written on the blog (and ok, most of the earlier stuff is as tedious as watching the guy who watches the grass grow), it's sorta sad that only the one with the sensationalist title has ever made the front page at HN.

So, while I'm here, go look at my very nice bloggers. I regularly submit their stuff.


Take, for example, this recent extremely intelligent discussion of privacy in the current internet:


Or this discussion of the roots of order/chaos good/evil dualities in agricultural society: http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2012/10/16/war-and-peace/

This confronting moral conundrum from the Massacre of Srebrenica: http://clubtroppo.com.au/2012/10/24/srebrenica-should-the-so...

This discussion of the deadening effect of media laws upon Australian free speech: http://catallaxyfiles.com/2012/10/24/the-deadening-of-free-s...

and so on and so forth.

I am enormously proud of all my bloggers.

ryanwaggoner 2 days ago 1 reply      
I host several sites on WPEngine and we've had some relatively minor issues. But we're getting ready to switch to multisite and now I'm nervous. We're generally happy, but we haven't been blown away.

Jason, if you're not scrambling to deal with this mess, you will be soon. And the main message I have is that you need to back off the marketing side a little and let the technical and customer service side catch up.

Godaddy makes an incredible amount of money, but they're still a terrible company from a technical and customer service perspective. But their marketing is so effective that they can get away with that [1].

I wonder if Jason Cohen's position in the tech community and general marketing prowess has allowed WPEngine to get ahead of themselves? I know when I read Patrick's blog post about WPEngine, I was really excited and it was a service that I wanted to like. And I do like them, but I'm not excited about them at all anymore.

1. Interestingly, Google is the exact opposite, and their customer service makes me want to take a spoon to my own eyes.

ck2 2 days ago 5 replies      
WPEngine uses NFS/NAS which is a show-stopper. Dreamhost has the same issue, and GoDaddy (still?)

You never, ever, use NFS on something with hundreds of files to load for every page (ie. WordPress).

Every file takes 2-2.5ms to stat/load on NFS (from my tests on WPengine) which seems small but adds up fast.

It means you instantly have 700ms or more of overhead on the SERVER side to render a page (not transmit to the browser, just to render).

You can somewhat get around this by using an opcode cache and turning off file stat but there are still some files that have to be checked like static data read from the disk and turning stat off has other issues when editing code like having to flush the cache.

heliodor 2 days ago 1 reply      
The typical customer support process is bad for the complicated edge cases, which sometimes end up in threads like these. But it's good for business. You don't want your engineers attending to one person's problem. That's called consulting. You want them building product. Building perfect software is bad from a business point of view. In WPEngine's case, the takeaway from all this is to add a line to the customer requirements list on their website (useful for filtering out the undesirable bottom 5% of customers) that says they will not accept any of the few potential customers that use the native WP commenting system because it's poorly built.

I'm not sure if it's true, but based on the poster's description of WPEngine's customer support experience, it sounds like their customer service is the typical poorly structured (from the customer's point of view) customer service experience I've encountered and/or witnessed many times from companies both large and small.

Some startups don't provide phone support. It's nice to see WPEngine does. Sometimes you just have to talk with someone to beat it into their heads that you have a complicated problem. They can't email email you back a link to some topic-related doc page and move on. They're on the phone with you and they have to make meaningful progress before hanging up.

In the case of email support, 95% of the tickets are answered with a link to a doc page and that's the end of the case. The metrics are excellent and every pats themselves on the back. 95%! And the volume was soooo high! Acknowledging positives is necessary, but measuring failure requires different metrics and 95% success does not necessarily imply 5% failure because each one uses different metrics. You think the the metrics on their dashboard will take into account this thread, for example?

The system breaks down when the customer has a more serious problem. It takes support a few emails back and forth to realize it. The case is handled by random folks based on availability, further degrading the experience. The person who'll pick up your latest reply to the thread isn't going to thoroughly read the whole thread, and by this point you've interacted with five support staff already. Finally, they realize it's outside their control and pass it off to Engineering, where it languishes for a month. Creating a system where the engineer is not allowed to reply directly to the customer but instead has to reply to support who then replies to the customer only removes the stress off the engineer, so they can care less and not solve the problem. Meanwhile, the support staff learn to drop lines like "Sorry for the delay. We appreciate your patience. The engineers are still looking into it." without any second thoughts.

cooperadymas 2 days ago 1 reply      
May as well throw in my own experience with WPEngine...

We run a relatively small member site (<1000 active members) that operates on WordPress. We tried migrating the site to WPEngine, but could never get the membership plugin working as expected. Over a course of about 2 months we tried everything possible to get it working, and talked with their support on a near daily basis.

Overall, their support team tried to be helpful. They weren't always responsive (sometimes we wouldn't get a response for a day, or we would be waiting on hold for a long time), and we ran into the problem of different support people telling us different things about how their system was setup. Eventually one of the co-founders got involved in the support, but we still were not able to resolve the issue.

I managed to find 2 other people using the plugin that had run into the same problem with us on WPEngine. WPEngine claimed that other customers of theirs used the same membership plugin without any issues. I don't feel they lied, but we clearly weren't alone in this problem.

In the end, we moved to another WordPress host and were able to get up and running in no time. Unfortunately, WPEngine refused to refund us fully for the 2 months we wasted trying to get our site setup because we went past the 60 day money-back period. (We had paid for the 3rd month already, and they gave us a partial refund of that month only.) It was a relatively small amount of money, but after all the trouble we had with them it would have left a much better impression if they would have refunded the entire cost we paid.

I'm sure that WPEngine has thousands of happy customers, and our experience was largely unique, but there are many things I felt they could have done a better job of.

qeorge 2 days ago 1 reply      
A hosting company without 24 hour support is not a hosting company.

Go with Rackspace. They're expensive compared to budget hosts, but they seem to have an army of sysadmins available 24/7/365 that never say "that's your problem" / "not in scope".

PS: that redirect bug is probably a mismatch of your site_url setting in either wp_blogs, the wp_options table of your primary blog, or the wp-config.php. If the domain set in any of those 3 places doesn't match you get that endless redirect loop. Could also be htaccess sending you to www or no-www, and your config is set the other way. Its an annoyingly common issue when moving MU sites, and they should have been able to fix it.

csomar 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a seasoned WordPress developer and entrepreneur, the OP is making wrong assumptions. If I was the WPEngine owner, I won't be bothered by seeing him go.

WPEngine provides WordPress hosting services. They are professional and they do it for $250/month (which plainly means that their target audience is professional bloggers). For $250/month, they don't provide consultancy service as why your particular setup couldn't install in their server. This is your responsibility.

Setting up a WordPress blog can be easy (5 minutes) and complicated (Professionals charge up to $350/hour). What you are asking for is someone to move your blog. Fine. You are responsible for that. WPEngine offers you a "6 hours coupon" from another service. That is, they are not responsible for that.

Page.ly are probably doing this to get more clients. This is the wrong thing to do, because their support service can't scale this way. I have been doing this to bootstrap my services and it had more negative consequences than positive ones.

tl;dr: The OP is expecting WP consultancy services for signing up to WPEngine.

brokentone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I run one of the largest WP installs outside of WP.com, and we've seriously struggled with performance issues. Sounds like a lot of this complaint is a WP design/performance issue. If you're looking to be create a WP serving platform, it will require a huge amount of custom configuration, a huge amount of hardware (even with the best caching), regular DB maintenance and reconfiguration, and core hacks. Automattic redirects the core dev when they need something, generally only enough to add their hooks, then they write a plugin, release it to the community, but always keep it a few versions back (HyperDB support for 3.4 anyone?)

The WP core team doesn't write code with performance, scalability, orthogonal design, good standards or any such thing in mind and you regularly hit gotchas. However... if you sign up to be a WP platform, you're kinda asking for it.

Obligatory performance tips:
1. Cache the heck out of it. CDN, varnish, optcode (APC), query caching on MySQL.
2. As has been noted, file stat'ing is massive. You have to have an exclusive install as close to each serving node as possible, even with optcode caching.
3. Core hack - Modify admin comment searching. Does 5 column wildcard lookups across the entire table. Not scalable. (http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/20487)
4. Core hack - Remove content reallocation on user delete. With large user tables, you lose the ability to delete users (core fix pending: http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/19867)
5. Clean and optimize your DB regularly - Old post revisions are a huge gain
6. Add indexes intelligently - WP doesn't include all the indexes you need
7. Horizontally scale your DB (whether through MySQL clustering, or HyperDB + DBs with roles)
8. Tune everything. I've found that NGINX/Apache and Percona/MySQL make little difference, but setting the right config for each daemon makes huge difference.

Tyrannosaurs 2 days ago 4 replies      
I want a two word tl;dr summary of every article in the title:

How fast is... Apple.com? (tl;dr: not very);
Wired's Review of the Microsoft Surface (tl;dr: pretty interesting).

druiid 2 days ago 2 replies      
This story and comments have been flogged to death a bit already, but I do have a couple questions/concerns here.

While perhaps the issue ended up mostly being due to a Wordpress core issue, I question why this was an issue for a service that someone is expected to pay $250/month for?

The OP was able to, without a team of engineers/admins get the same content running on a VPS with no issue. I then question exactly what one gets when they pay $250/month for this service? To expect to get any sort of scaling capability out of a $8-$30/month shared hosting account is asinine and anyone running more than a small amount of traffic under such circumstances deserves what they get.

Why then if the end service was not capable of sustaining traffic/memory to the same degree that some shared providers are willing to go, would one pay $250/month? I think this is a question the creators of WP Engine genuinely need to answer...

typicalrunt 2 days ago 3 replies      
WordPress, like most LAMP apps of its era, makes a series of architectural assumptions that turn out to have horrible impact on non-functional qualities … but that's another rant for another day.

Until I came to this sentence, I was coming to the conclusion that CMSes fall down fairly quickly once you add in large data, large traffic, or complex installs. For the life of me, I can't see why people continue to use CMSes for large projects anymore, when they could potentially code something up faster in Django/Symfony/Rails and, here's the kicker, know the codebase inside and out.

My client has simple marketing (read: 99% static) websites that are built on Drupal. Sounds good at first, and it almost makes sense... and then you get to the non-functional requirement that it needs to withstand a marketing event that can bring 2k+ concurrent users for over 24 hours. Then you watch Drupal meltdown the server.

graupel 2 days ago 1 reply      
For sites that are large enough/can afford it, I cannot say enough good things about WordPress VIP - we have 20+ sites on VIP and could not be happier with it.

Since they 'are' WordPress they can make pretty much anything that does not modify core, work. It's not for everyone, but for the right sites (high traffic/high availability/generating revenue) it's fantastic.

thenomad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Worth interjecting a counterpoint here, I think.

I've been running a site about the same size as the OP's (500k-ish visitors a month) with WPEngine for nearly a year now, and so far I'm very impressed. It's smoother and faster than it was before, we've only had one outage of more than an hour (and they responded by crediting me with a full month's hosting!), and I've found their support to be absolutely top-notch.

I wrote a review of their service after a month - which I don't think I ever submitted to HN, d'oh - and all the points I make in it still stand: http://www.mmomeltingpot.com/2012/03/wpengine-review-after-1... . My key point there, which I stand by, was that moving to WPEngine saved me money over an apparently cheaper self-hosted solution, because I no longer had to spend 2-3 days a month faffing around with server problems. (I believe Patio11 had a similar experience.)

(Note - there's an affiliate link in there, because I find that with money I can buy goods and services, but I added that after writing the review.)

Just recently I've had an extremely helpful dialog with one of their support engineers which ended up troubleshooting a problem I didn't even know my blog had - which subsequently boosted my available ad inventory by about 25%.

Overall, WPEngine aren't perfect - and I'm still checking out other options from time to time - but I've found their support and general solid hosting more than worth the admittedly pretty significant cost.

ry0ohki 2 days ago 0 replies      
I posted my own reason of why they sucked (and WP-Engine responded) the other day http://jamespanderson.tumblr.com/post/34114537491/why-i-cant...
krmmalik 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've had a radically different experience with WP Engine and would happily recommend them to others, and have done so.

I went through 3 or 4 different providers, and the only place that i was really happy with setup, infrastructure and support was WPEngine.

As some of the other guys have stated regards the caching and their suitability to vanilla installs, i think that is most likely the case, and yes mine was a pretty vanilla install in the grand scheme of things, but i'd still choose them over anyone else.

Tombar 2 days ago 0 replies      
We have a similar experience trying to move a large local newspaper in WP (500k+ posts) from our architecture to WPEngine, after over 1200 U$D spend, sadly we rollback to old setup.
dugmartin 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a bit of a meta comment but it must really suck to wake up on a random morning and find a blog post like this about your service as the top story on HN.
gozmike 2 days ago 2 replies      
My experience with WPEngine : Jason Cohen saved my ass.

We went live on a WebbyNode VPS, thought we had configured our system well and suddenly we hit the top spot on HN. The server was on fire and Jason personally showed up and worked on migrating our site over.

Your configuration may have posed problems, you may have had what seems like a shitty support experience, but this public bashing doesn't help anyone in the startup community and reads as if it's motivated by emotions rather than a real problem-focussed attitude.

Give these guys a break and work with them one on one to find a solution to your problems. I'm SURE they'll move mountains to make you happy because that's in the team's DNA.

betageek 2 days ago 1 reply      
"After a few hours of copying files, I flip the DNS switches"

WAT! Just add the domain to your hosts file with the WPEngine IP and test the site first, it's crazy to change your DNS without checking the site works first.

sgdesign 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've been hosting a couple WordPress sites on PHPFog (http://phpfog.com) as well as DreamHost. For some reason DreamHost is faster, but the PHPFog UI is much nicer. Both have great support (DreamHosts' is 24/7 if I'm not mistaken) and relatively cheap.

That being said, once you have the sort of requirements that the original poster seems to have, I don't know if any of those companies would be suitable…

ashray 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the article comments:

> It's a quiet backwater. Collectively the sites would have maybe 20k unique visitors a day. 50k is a big day hereabouts.

I'm not quite sure why this blog is such a huge problem to host. It appears that the author has some customizations (plugins..) that are really slow. In fact, I would suggest to the author to hire a good developer, fix those core issues (say slow SQL queries, etc.). It might cost him a few thousand dollars upfront, but he can continue running the site on $20-$60/month hosting.

Paying $250/month for that kind of traffic sounds over the top to me.

I know that Wordpress can be slow but it can also be quick. Why not route your traffic through cloudfront ? Why not leverage full page caching for anonymous users ? These are things worth looking at IMHO :)

saltcod 2 days ago 2 replies      
All of these sites have fairly standard themes. All could be hosted, worry-free, at WordPress.com.
caleywoods 2 days ago 1 reply      
Posted by Patrick Mckenzie almost a year ago:


I haven't tried it but it seems to be a good experience for some people.

_neil 2 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for Page.ly. We had a slightly awkward setup (for a multisite blog) but their support was excellent.
destraynor 2 days ago 0 replies      
My least favourite part of this type of sharing is when all the competitors come along to now try to pitch their wares. It's not clever, it's not classy, it's just lame.

I don't doubt this was a shit experience, it certainly sounds incredibly infuriating.

Jason & his team work super hard, and have thousands of happy customers, so they're doing lots right. Even the greatest of companies can screw things up now and then, especially in non-straight-forward situations. I'm sure he'll put it right.

ssharp 2 days ago 1 reply      
There appears to be a huge gap (maybe sweet spot?) in WP hosting. The lower end is well covered by companies like WP Engine, Page.ly, and ZippyKid. The high end is covered by Wordpress.com.

Somewhere in the middle, and probably closer to the low end, exists a need for less commoditized services to support more complex installations.

It doesn't appear like WP Engine is really positioned or resourced to actually support these needs and this is not the first time I've heard of these troubles.

m0th87 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone have experience with ZippyKid? How are they?
vampirechicken 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious for a side-by-side comparison of your linode vs the wpengine host: cpu, ram, etc.

If you can perform the comment sort in memory without hassle, what is is about the size of RAM provisioned by wpengine that makes this impossible?

My opinion, but for for $3000 per year, you should have been provisioned with as much ram as a linode VPS.

hippich 2 days ago 0 replies      
For what it worth - they are hiring. Probably to this exact reason - to bump up quality of their service (although their recruiter was not responsive, I guess I did not fit their requirements :))
tedchs 2 days ago 0 replies      
As my two cents, although I am a Linux engineer, I don't want to manage a Web cluster just for Wordpress, so I use WPEngine in production for about 10 sites and it has worked very well and support has been sufficiently responsive.

Reading about this, I get concerned when people conflate "performance" and "scalability". Performance is about time-based metrics such a requests-per-second. Scalability is about the question of whether I can add more hardware proportionately to my request load and continue to perform. WPEngine's marketing claims are about scalability, not performance.

This guy's WPEngine code was apparently doing a 189k row sort when serving certain requests, which is not going to perform well on any hosting platform, including DIY.

nakodari 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am using http://presslabs.com/ to host two of my blogs, one of them is a tech blog that gets a high amount of traffic every day and there has been no migration or downtime problems so far. I couldn't be happier.
jaequery 2 days ago 0 replies      
what an eye opener
Uchikoma 2 days ago 0 replies      
Uh uh.
wyck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why did this get so much traction on hackernews?

This was posted on Reddit and killed with one comment the tl;dr of it : The client was incompetent and irresponsible and likes to blame people when things go wrong.

jasonkester 2 days ago 4 replies      
The important lesson to be learned here is that even though higher price points tend to shield you from the bulk of toxic customers, you'll still find the occasional toxic customer at even the highest price point from time to time.

As nice a guy as this blogger probably is, he's the bane of services like WPEngine. There is no way to service the needs of his complex edge case of a system for anything like $250/month. They are guaranteed to lose money on him, and the only hope they have is to convince him to leave the service as rapidly as possible to avoid being sucked into the time sink that dealing with him is going to become.

This is the reason you have a "refund" button on the customer page of your admin console. A quick email apologizing for not being able to meet the needs of his unique setup and a refund of his payment, as soon as it became apparent just how impossible things were about to become would have solved this completely.

Or at least one hopes so. The tough thing about dealing with toxic customers is that they grow on you slowly and you don't notice at first. Then one day you realize you've spent four hours just digging into issues and writing emails to this one person who you're probably going to have refund eventually anyway.

I've never met the guys on the WPEngine team. But I feel for them after reading this.

The rise of the “successful” unsustainable company asmartbear.com
352 points by yannickmahe  3 days ago   128 comments top 22
cs702 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interestingly, Mark Pincus, who was Nguyen's co-founder in two of the 'pump-and-dump' schemes listed in the article (Freeloader and Support.com)[1], seems to be on an eerily similar path with Zynga.[2]


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

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanvardi/2012/10/05/zynga-kee...

api 3 days ago 7 replies      
This is diplomatic and charitable. When I see a repeat pattern of GroupOn and Zynga type companies I see someone who knows how to pump and dump. It's not quite fraud but it's getting close, given how loose these sorts of people typically play the truth.
mindstab 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm surprised no one's mentioned Twitter.

They are one of the most successful internet things and yet they still don't seem to have any really solid way to monetize that. They are now part of culture but are they revenue positive?

The things they are doing lately don't make sense until you take that into account:

Restricting 3rd party apps and APIs? Seems to be driving users away... Except that if all your users are costing you money, then less users is in fact good.

And the only money making thing they seem to have is "paid tweets" that you are forced to see (aka ads) and so yeah, obviously they don't want 3rd party apps and APIs that could filter that one weak still mostly crappy source of money. So if they loose some freeloading users, why would they care.

So yeah. Why has no one else mentioned Twitter in this discussion as the grand-daddy-king of unsustainable companies?

michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
The takeaway from this is that VC-istan has turned into a celebrity economy.

The most relevant trait of a celebrity economy is the importance of visibility (and the vicious politics surrounding who gets to be visible). If everyone (most relevantly, the investor community) knows you're a 5.5, that's better than being a 10 that no one has ever heard of.

This has been my observation. I've met plenty of very successful founders (people that the HN crowd would have heard of) who are just not very impressive.

It also gets under my skin when VCs say, "we don't invest in ideas, we invest in people". To which I say, "then most of you should be fired, because you suck at that." Honestly, VCs are a lot better at picking ideas. Sure, a lot of these "social" apps are lame, but VCs actually do an excellent job of choosing what ideas to fund, given the constraints they face and their objective function (variance-agnostic expectancy maximization, 1-10 year payoffs). That they do well. On the other hand, they seem to be doing a lousy job of picking people (and at that, I would do a better job than 90+ percent of them).

nsns 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think this is actually related to a larger (sea) change currently occuring in Internet culture: a transition to mass media; like TV, the music industry and Hollywood before it.

The internet was very different a few years ago - a source for information and creativity, but easy access and growing acceptance (no doubt related to the rise of mobile platforms), have changed all this.

Some startups today are just like pop acts or Hollywood productions: 1 out of 10 makes a killing, the others fail spectacularly. That's the mass media (gambling) busines, not a "bubble".

wtvanhest 3 days ago 1 reply      
What I am about to type is not an excuse for some of these companies, but rather an observation about all companies.

Sustainability is relative. Very few companies "last forever", so the real questions are... What is an acceptable pattern of growth and what is driving the shorter lives of these companies?

hammock 3 days ago 5 replies      
Why does this idea exist that every company needs to be sustainable? Is it not the natural way of markets that 1) an opportunity is identified, 2) exploited for profit, until 3) competition drives profitability away?

So long as capital stays productive, from a societal point of view it shouldn't matter whether it stays in one company for 20 years or moves from company to company every three.

nicholassmith 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately it seems like a lot of the time people are building companies for exits, rather than long term products. There's exceptions of course, but how much of that is now the expectation that to get the funding to do something you've got to be aiming for $xm dollars at exit.

I've got no problems with people exiting like that, but it makes me wonder where all the pressure to sell up and move on comes from.

ergest 3 days ago 1 reply      
Finally someone is talking about this! I've always felt that the "new" tech companies bring very little value to consumers and are thus not profitable long term (but of course the early investors and founders already made their money) The incentives of many VCs and "angels" are at opposite ends with sustainability, consumer value and long term success.
zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's really only one underlying truth here: snake oil salesmen have been around since the day commerce began. The internet just broadened their methods and customer base.
webwright 3 days ago 0 replies      
People might not remember this but Amazon was lambasted as an unsustainable company for many many years. People also said that Facebook would never make money.
arbuge 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pump and dump works very well in tech unfortunately. Few VCs apply Buffetesque expectations of company durability to their investments, and (morals aside) objectively they don't need to. Alot of it is about selling to a greater idiot - either the hoi polloi on the stock exchange after an IPO, or an acquirer with rose-colored glasses if that's too much of a stretch.
jpdoctor 3 days ago 2 replies      
Rise of? Apparently the author wasn't around during the 90s?
joonix 2 days ago 0 replies      
But Nguyen understands the arithmetic of Silicon Valley, and anyway he isn't one to reflect. "I never get emotional," says Nguyen, who hasn't spoken to his parents in six years. "I can have the biggest argument with someone, and five minutes later, I won't even remember that it happened." He's not even particularly attached to his name. In third grade, he had a crush on a classmate whose mother asked him his name. "I go, 'Vu.' She goes, 'Bill,' and I go, 'Aha!' And all my friends have called me Bill since then," recalls Nguyen. "My whole point was, I don't care what people call me. It's like, whatever's easier for people, I'm totally cool with it." He adds, "There is no Vietnamese person in the history of the world born with the name Bill. It's a total facade."

...This guy's a psychopath.

javajosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It does seem like a smart buyer would take into account the difficulties Bill Nguyen has had handing over companies to new owners and keeping them healthy. It's not necessarily malice, but something is going wrong. If a smart buyer sees it, then a smart investor is going to anticipate this, and perhaps be more cautious investing.

But we do not see this behavior, and hence the mild outrage of this post.

We gnash our teeth and tear our hair because of the irrationality of buyers and investors, because if only they were rational they'd invest in my idea, not his! :)

Sakes 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that there is nothing inherently wrong with these talented pitch men, people that get everyone excited about some venture even if there is no clear path to long term growth.

If you could marry these people with others who have a proven track record of creating sustainable businesses maybe you would have some unstoppable force?

But then again, maybe in order to pump and dump, you have to make certain decisions that are bad for building a company and good for raising funds.

OldSchool 3 days ago 0 replies      
When Margo Georgiadis joined and then soon left GroupOn before the IPO, that said a lot. I'd imagine she had a hefty equity path lined up that she walked away from, so she must not have been pleased with what she saw. Unfortunately the markets tend to be pretty irrational so I didn't attempt it but we all could've made some extra $$$ shorting GRPN stock.
001sky 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great piece. As a business matter, its a "brilliant" arbitrage. Annuity != Perpetuity. If you can buy low (A) and sell High (P) you will do great. And its a lot easier to build an (A) than a (P) type biz. Lack of visibility (due to tech disruption) and short-attention-span (due to tech disruption) combine to make this a potentially evergreen business opportunity, especially for the unethical.
welebrity 2 days ago 0 replies      
We are still in the verrrrry early days of the internet. Yes, now in 2012. There will be bigger online companies/assets/entities than there are today. Just wait & see. Every new industry has its "pitchmen", and an anxious horde of "brilliant investors" who chase the supposed money(see: suckers) like a gold rush. History has way too many examples. Nguyen charmed the greedy masses, and everyone enjoyed their rôle. Only time highlights the mistakes by the start-up, the VC, and the eventual buyer. Tuesday morning QB-ing at it's best. In Silicon Valley, there will still be Nguyen adVoCates lining up for the next company . . . Black & White?
majani 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what people who strike it rich on vaporware tell their children when asked what they did to make money?

I mean what does Mark Cuban tell his kids? "I built this website and it was shut down, but I'm bloody rich anyways, so..."

I mean I personally would feel like a horrible role model to the children after that. Does this sort of information turn your children into thinking the end justifies the means?

jacques_chester 2 days ago 1 reply      
My experience with WPEngine was terrible.
dochtman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also, Facebook.
Restoration of defocused and blurred images yuzhikov.com
344 points by Terretta  5 days ago   28 comments top 12
teuobk 5 days ago 1 reply      
This tool appears to be an open-source (and faster) replacement for Focus Magic, in that it allows the user to perform parameterized deconvolution. By that I mean: if the blur kernel can be approximated by either a line or a filled circle, and you're willing to tweak the dimensions and angles of the blur kernel, this can do a decent job of recovering your photo.

If the true blur kernel is more complicated -- perhaps a wavy line -- then you probably need a blind deconvolution tool, which this is not (yet?).

If you're interested in blind deconvolution in general, Dr. Levin of MIT put together a nice overview paper a few years ago: http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~levina/papers/deconvLevinE...

(Disclaimer: I'm the developer of Blurity, a blind deconvolution product)

iskander 5 days ago 0 replies      
The deconvolved images have some pretty nasty ringing. If you use an algorithm which places a realistic prior on the pixel gradients you will probably get cleaner results.

For example, check out: Fast image deconvolution using hyper-laplacian priors (http://cs.nyu.edu/~dilip/research/fast-deconvolution/).

edit: I changed the link to the author's page, which has Matlab code and a GPU implementation.

noonespecial 5 days ago 2 replies      
The example where it made unreadable text legible was patricularly jarring to me. I've been mocking CSI for years now. I'm nervous.
unfasten 5 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone would like to see another example, here's one I just did. The original photo was taken with a Galaxy Nexus and no flash. It's a grainy shot and not the best starting point, but I was curious how it would do with a lower quality starting point.

Original: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur.jpg

Using the program I was able to get: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur-edited.jpg with the following parameters:

    Defect type: Out of Focus Blur
Radius: 17.4
Smooth: 72%
Correction Strength: 23%
Edge Feather: 34%

It's by no means a perfect end result, but you are able to make out a decent amount. Here's a clear shot of the insert for comparison: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur-clear_shot.jpg

planckscnst 5 days ago 1 reply      
Very impressive. It reminded me of a demo from Adobe at MAX 2011 that showed promising results; it was more focused on eliminating defects from real images to produce a more aesthetic result. http://youtu.be/xxjiQoTp864
0x0 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, pretty good. I wonder if there will be any scandals coming from various blur-redacted, sensitive documents, if they can be de-blurred as well as this demonstrates?
thenomad 5 days ago 3 replies      
Unintended Consequence the First: amateur porn producers have been "anonymising" their photos for nearly a decade now with heavy blur filters over the subjects' faces.

That's a decade of compromising images about to become significantly less anonymous...

donpark 5 days ago 1 reply      
peripetylabs 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just a couple technical notes:

1. The article states "the operation which is opposite to convolution is equivalent to division in the frequency domain" which is not correct. 2. "Deconvolution" has no mathematical definition (as implied by that quote), it is the name of various algorithmic approaches used in signals processing. 3. Finally, the Wiener filter is not deconvolution, it is just a filter.

Nonetheless, a great article, with great illustrations.

nemo1618 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I was a little unimpressed with the results until the text deblurring at the end. It was so crazy, I had to go back and actually read the article instead of skimming it :)
matt2000 5 days ago 1 reply      
Enhance! It's real!
OldSchool 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice article that visually shows anyone what is (or at least used to be) third-year or better engineering material!
The island where people forget to die nytimes.com
322 points by adam  2 days ago   146 comments top 21
physcab 2 days ago 1 reply      
I cringed when reading the HN comments to this article. Seriously folks, this article isn't about how to get to the fountain of youth. It's also not about quick fixes, so unfortunately if you want to get to the good stuff, you're actually going to have to read the entire 7 pages. Trust me, if you have an open mind, its worth the read.

It's enlightening for me to read accounts about how others live their lives and derive happiness from simple pleasures. Breathing fresh air, enjoying the company of others, eating food that you've grown. This is such a stark contrast to the lifestyle I have lived for the past 28 years. I've worked at software companies for the past 5 years and have spent most of my waking life in front of a computer screen. Even though I am happy, I do admit that I wonder if life is supposed to be more than this. And here we have incredible proof of someone who had broken out of their Comfort Zone, possibly had to give up many of their "luxuries", and changed their life completely.

The point of this story isn't that this man beat cancer and lived to be a centenarian, its that by changing his life he dramatically improved his happiness and began to take advantage of all the things we take for granted.

reasonattlm 2 days ago 11 replies      
Arguing anything other than differences in levels of exercise/activity and calorie intake has a large mountain of evidence to overcome. The effects of those two are very large, the effects of everything else comparatively small per decades of animal and longitudinal human studies.

Nonsense about antioxidants in the diet is exactly that: nonsense. The weight of evidence suggests that, if anything, ingested antioxidants have a net negative effect on long term health. But there's money to be made keeping up the lie:


Lastly, beware of pseudo-pop-science that opens with one person's story. People manage to survive cancer without treatment all over the world; one story is not remarkable and tells us nothing. In general the whole blue zones thing has little to no value in any serious consideration of health and longevity: it's about on the same level of credibility as diet fads.

binxbolling 2 days ago 2 replies      
TIL that even if you study longevity for 10+ years, you're never allowed to share anecdotes (or god forbid, close with a joke) ever again unless you're prepared to be crucified by twentysomething pseudo-experts in Silicon Valley.
dschiptsov 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is not that much about diet, it is about having less stress and worries of all kinds, and have good habits, such as mixing periods of physical activity and with total rest (taking naps).

It is not like staying all the time in a passive stress (or depression) - having a high level of stress hormones without any physical activities.

And the last but not least, there are emotion contagiousness - one can see it a subway. "Toxic people" is very real thing.

Then comes the media with its pressure about sex (which is about youth and health) and wealth (which is a weak substitute for the two former), and these material pseudo-achievements that one must accomplish.

All these factors together, plus many more - such as drinking water, air, soil in which vegetables and grapes grown, contributes to longevity, of course. But it seems like there is no one which makes it all - no shortcut, no way to buy it.

I believe it is much more about the state of the mind, which influence everything, including inner bodily processes and rhythms. Mind is first, environment is second, adversaries is third. ''Hell is other people'', you know.)

kghose 2 days ago 0 replies      
CWuestefeld 2 days ago 10 replies      
I hate this kind of reporting. I read through the entire first page without the slightest clue as to what the article is actually about -- I'm pretty sure it's not all just for one guy's life story.

But by that point I was tired of reading, and quit.

Cut it out with the pathos and human interest, and get some of the real point in there quicker.

superasn 2 days ago 0 replies      
The point that interested me most was how instead of a quick fix or a band-aid approach the whole being healthy is interwoven in their lifestyle. They don't exercise to reduce a few kilos, rather it is impossible for them to not exercise because there isn't any other way of getting around. Same with food, they're not trying to eat healthy like us but the food they know to cook is just healthy.. it's not as a quick-fix to reduce weight.

This point is interesting to me because I was recently reading a book called 8 Weeks To Optimum Health and the author (Andrew Weil i think) mentions that it is good to add a little turmeric to your diet. Now having been lived in India all my life, we all have been eating turmeric all our lives without ever giving much thought to it. It's not something we do to remain healthy, but rather something without which you can't food here. I don't remember not eating it for the last 30 years. Unfortunately, we counter-balance it with fried samosas, etc but still the point to take is when a society as a whole develops good habits it often becomes way too easy for everyone to follow through without missing a day of that (for decades).

OldSchool 2 days ago 1 reply      
That the guy survived lung cancer seems more likely a misdiagnosis or rare spontaneous remission than some kind of cause-effect.

My vote however does go for: stress level, diet, and enough physical activity. Genetics too but you can't control that.

sbierwagen 2 days ago 1 reply      

  Another health factor at work might be the unprocessed nature of the food they 
consume: as Trichopoulou observed, because islanders eat greens from their gardens
and fields, they consume fewer pesticides and more nutrients. She estimated that the
Ikarian diet, compared with the standard American diet, might yield up to four
additional years of life expectancy.

Oh boy, 4 years.

Eureka. You've done it. You've found the secret to eternal life.

  She also pointed out a preliminary study of Ikarian men between 65 and 100 
that included the fact that 80 percent of them claimed to have sex regularly,
and a quarter of that self-reported group said they were doing so with
“good duration” and “achievement.”

If you had asked me the same question in middle school, I would have said that I was having all sorts of sex too.

  Although unemployment is high " perhaps as high as 40 percent " most
everyone has access to a family garden and livestock, Parikos told me.
People who work might have several jobs. Someone involved in tourism,
for example, might also be a painter or an
electrician or have a store.

This is a common pattern in the very poor. When you don't have any savings, you can't afford any interruptions in your income stream. Consequently, they're forced to be jacks of all trade, master of none. This makes it impossible to specialize in any one field, and lack of income means they can't make any capital investments.

  "When everyone knows everyone else's business, you get a feeling of 
connection and security. The lack of privacy is actually good, because
it puts a check on people who don't want to be caught or who do
something to embarrass their family."

I'd hate to be homosexual here, or be a member of any kind of minority group.

Anyway, the effect is almost certainly due to a "small study effect" sampling bias. In a tiny population (one island) a handful of exceptions (164 people over 90) massively affects the average lifespan. There's no randomization or blinding at all: observational studies like these are exquisitely sensitive to methodology errors, especially when examining small effects.

skittles 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stories like this are a little dangerous when taken at face value. Americans sometimes get diagnosed with cancer and then have spontaneous remission too. We don't know anything concrete about this guy's case. It's also not a good idea to say that a Mediterranean diet is ideal for anyone that doesn't have a Mediterranean ancestry. Greeks have been eating the same sorts of foods for a long time and are most likely more adapted to them than I would be. My hypothesis is that any society that doesn't drink sugary drinks, eats enough fat (olive oil, goat cheese in this case), doesn't often overeat, and gets plenty of exercise should have a healthy population.
antman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: Greek islander.
Their diet is not that different from many other Greek islands. What I find different is the total lack of stress. It's not that people wake up late. It's that they are worry free. You go to a cafeteria sit and wait and noboby comes. You get up go inside and ask for a coffee and they show you the coffee pot. Or they smile and tell you that you are free to make it yourself. They will probably not move a finger. Then you leave the money on the table and leave. When the article says they wake up late, there are no shops in the morning. They are open when the owner feels like it, and the system works quite well since everybody else knows it... Doors in villages are unlocked. Funerals and marriages of the locals are a special occasion but people don't dress up that much. Everything is serene and simple. Comming from Athens this is very very frustrating at the beggining but I grew to like it. The place is very different from anything else I have seen.
ozgune 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this article has some sort of selection bias. After all, communities that have the lowest and highest rates of cancer in the US are small towns of <100 people.

It's easy to find several small towns in the US where people have unusually high longevity. After all, you have many to choose from.

What's more curious is to make a hypothesis around diet and exercise, and then show causality across all similar islands in Greece.

JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 1 reply      
The easiest way to live past 100? Use your father's birth certificate.
enraged_camel 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of something I've noticed lately.

I spend every Saturday afternoon, and most Sunday afternoons, taking 2-3 hour naps. They are great for decompressing and relaxing. I actually enjoy them a lot more than the normal sleeps I get at night. There's something very satisfying about waking up and finding out that it's still the same day!

On a related note, most of my friends who complain about being "stressed out" never spend their weekends actually relaxing. Instead, they rush from one activity/event to another, drive from location to location. Then when the weekend is over they say in dismay, "I can't believe it's Monday already." My guess is that if they spent their weekend being laid back, the weekend would feel a lot longer and they would be re-energized before the next week starts.

csl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dan Buettner also held a presentation at TED in 2009 called "How to live to be 100+":


viggity 2 days ago 6 replies      
would anybody like to give a TL;DR synopsis?
nspattak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I come from a near by island and I had heard some of the facts about people in Ikaria before reading this article (eg that they do not wake up ealy) as well as some more that I did not see mentioned in the article (eg I have been told that they do not lock their stores, they just leave them open in case anyone needs something).

I would really*very much AND strongly like to give a hint to all those who are skeptical about this article that they should consider that a vastly different way of their life can very well exist. You do not HAVE to be a well educated smart hard working entrepreneur to exist on earth. People existed well before that and will do for some more time (if our "civilized" "modern" world does not succeed in destroying our planet.

I would also like to point out that the western world (especially the "civilized" world) has actually failed in the FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN NEEDS, ie food and sleep. Having lived in a place where organic food was the only food I am sick and tired of seeing people eating "healthy" food which in fact is nothing more than a company's new product.

padobson 2 days ago 0 replies      
If nothing else, the article made me want to eat some Mediterranean food.
julnepht 10 hours ago 0 replies      
While reading the story of this man that cures his cancer without resorting to modern medecine is endearing. I cannot stop thinking about Steve Jobs that tried to cure himself of cancer without modern medicine and of the fatal consequences of his actions.
goldfeld 2 days ago 2 replies      
Really interesting to see this here on my first morning after beginning my segmented sleep experiment. I took a quarter pill of melatonin yesterday around 6pm and slept from 6:30 till 8:30, then quickly fell asleep again till 11:30. I then failed to fall asleep at 2:30am after a wonderful mellow productive night programming session, and had to skip the second sleep.

During the morning I found, completely by chance, some articles on a fasting diet from the mark's daily apple blog. And I had been without eating since first falling asleep (and still am), so I eagerly gobbled it up as validation on all those breakfasts I have skipped.

And finally I talked with my roomate about living long as related to these little body hacking experiments.

mapster 2 days ago 1 reply      
I heard tell or a similar tale in he Med. where he natural hot springs were a trace radioactive. It was thus hypothesized that this small, consistent dose was partially responsible for the almost zero rate of cancer on the island.
GitLab, open source github clone, reaches 3.0 gitlabhq.com
320 points by georgebashi  3 days ago   100 comments top 23
khet 3 days ago 8 replies      
Github like any monopoly will come back to bite us. That is why I think we need an open source Github.

That said, the interface seems a bit too "inspired" by Github. I hope they rethink how an application like this should work for themselves rather than allowing Github to influence their designs.

I see this quite frequently among opensource projects, they try to make clones rather than making a better product.

TLDR: Think about how the UI should work in your application. Its different for everyone so don't blindly clone others.

SkyMarshal 3 days ago 3 replies      
Amusing that it's hosted on Github [1].

There's also Gitorious, which has been around a while and is mature, full-featured, and provides both a SaaS [2] and the FOSS software you can host yourself [3]. I keep backups of some of my repo's there.

[1]: https://github.com/gitlabhq/gitlabhq

[2]: http://gitorious.org/

[3]: http://gitorious.com/

mercurial 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's not quite a "github clone" in the sense that it's supposed to be self-hosted. It would make it more of a trac/redmine concurrent, depending on how much work has gone into the wiki and project management part. Is anyone actually using it?

And ironically, the source code is hosted on github.

callmebison 3 days ago 1 reply      
See also RhodeCode, which is more of a BitBucket clone (supports git & mercurial).


If you are looking for something a bit different, there's also fossil.


potench 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused by one thing. I found this awesome jpg checked in on the GitLab Django demo project: http://demo.gitlabhq.com/uploads/note/attachment/2449/687474... Seems like everything else on the demo repo requires me to log in but I can access this file without authorization... Why is that?
Found it in the Django demo project attachments tab: http://demo.gitlabhq.com/django/files which requires login.

It's gloriously ironic! A photo mocking Rails security attached to a private repo... that's not secure.

waffle_ss 3 days ago 0 replies      
We've been using GitLab for about six months and it has been great. The developers iterate very quickly and they are totally receptive to pull requests (have had a couple accepted and one rejected for good reason).

If you install it on Ubuntu, their wiki has instructions that you can pretty much copy and paste; the most complicated bit probably being the gitolite setup, which is what it uses internally for repo auth.

InclinedPlane 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using gitlab for a while, and so far I like it. It has a few weaknesses here and there for sure, and the UI has some wonky aspects, but overall it works quite well.
FuzzyDunlop 3 days ago 0 replies      
I liked Gitlab when I ran it for myself for a while. It was great; couldn't knock it in anyway except for (at the time) setup instructions that weren't detailed/accurate enough to rely upon, especially regarding the main dependency gitorious. The big sell for this is simple, or even trivial, setup.

I was just a single user so most of the functionality was a loss, so I transferred to bitbucket (free private repos) knowing full well the potential risks. It saved me the effort of keeping my own server up to date and secure (I'm not the pro, I can trust github or bitbucket to know and do better) at the cost of no longer being self sufficient.

That said, I'd recommend this for any organisation that wants its own github, doesn't want to pay enterprise money, and doesn't mind doing all the hard work itself. And that's not faint praise, because it was fucking good when I did use it (while it was mid-Twitter Bootstrap conversion).

mattdeboard 3 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome. I hope this is fairly straightforward to roll out. I've tried out Gitorious and iirc it was pretty messy.
_pferreir_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am using it for a small project in my company and I'm pretty happy with it. It's nice for enterprise-level projects that are not Open Source.
You could pay for GitHub or even get a private BitBucket repo for free, but some companies just prefer having their own thing.
kennytm 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not mentioned in the release note, but I find implementing "Mix commit notes with merge request notes on MR show page" (https://github.com/gitlabhq/gitlabhq/pull/1630) the greatest change in 3.0. We are using merge requests as a tool in code review, and this commit finally allow us to go through all comments of an MR in a single page. It would be perfect if the issue "Save few lines of code with Merge Request comment like github does" (https://github.com/gitlabhq/gitlabhq/issues/1007) is implemented, as this would allow us to finally reliably comment directly on the "diff" tab. 
benjamincburns 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the grammar mistakes are beneficial for adoption or if it drives people away (no, really). The "who is already use" line on the homepage reminds me of "All your base are belong to us." I could see it appealing to a certain audience of programmers, IT support, and the like -- particularly those with a background in gaming.

Has anyone done any A/B testing on something like this?

[Edited: I'm _really_, _really_ not trying to be the grammar police here. I'm in no position to do so, and my grammar is faaar from perfect. I'm just wondering about the actual impacts (or lack thereof).]

floydprice 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great! Well done guys you deserve real credit for building and maintaining such a well written and well thought out piece of software.

Congratulations on reaching 3.0!

paddyoloughlin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Timely for me.
At my workplace, we are migrating to git and the devs would like to use github, but management is expressing reluctance to either rely on an external host or fork out for github enterprise, despite our arguments.

I was already planning on installing gitlab this week to try it out.
Anyone here got any advice or suggestions on using it as a Github replacement for a small team?

stevedomin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's great that this kind of project exists.
But why copying so much on Github ?

There is always room for something new.

ergo14 3 days ago 0 replies      
Actually there is one other interesting project that has some high profile users and can be used as self hosted bitbucket/github:


It supports both hg and git, adn while the ui could look better - its very functional and can do a lot.

mapleoin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Also , even though I share you sentiments on Windows, adding: "Gitlab does not run on Windows and we have no plans of making Gitlab compatible."

AFAICS Gitlab is server software. You can run whatever you want on your dev machine.

I assume you didn't mean you want to run your own GitLab server on each dev machine, I don't see how that would make sense.

adnans 3 days ago 1 reply      
We've been using Gitblit (http://gitblit.com/) in the office for new projects and are quite happy with it. It all comes together when you hook up Groovy push scripts which we use to notify our Jenkins instance to test and build which in turn pushes it to our dev server for deploy.
sandGorgon 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does this handle ssh key lookup - does it do something like Github? (key lookup in mysql? )
Evbn 3 days ago 1 reply      
GitHub should GPL their UI and compete on server execution.
allr 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks great. Currently using Bitbucket, but always a good thing that an Open-source alternartive exists!
yakshay 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does the web editor support editing files in a bare repo ?
MatthewPhillips 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fonts look really horrible in Chrome on Windows. That has been a problem for a long time and they've still not done anything about it. I know that Google doesn't let any employees use Windows so that explains why they overlook stuff like this. But it's a big deal, so I'm uninstalling Chrome from all of my Windows computers now.
When A Daughter Dies freakonomics.com
320 points by jvilalta  5 days ago   178 comments top 25
mcmatterson 5 days 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.

tokenadult 5 days ago 0 replies      
Steven D. Levitt's father Michael Levitt



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,


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.

enduser 5 days ago 9 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.

dandrews 5 days 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."

javajosh 5 days 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.

noonespecial 5 days 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.
VBprogrammer 5 days 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.

citricsquid 5 days ago 6 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.
brudgers 5 days 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.

nnq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not to be insensitive (I've had a few encounters with cancer myself, from both the p.o.v. of a healthcare professional and from that of a relative/friend of a patient), but WHY is this on the front page of HN?! The story is (unfortunately) very typical and repeats time and time again in all parts of the world... but this type of description really brings no new information to "the anti-cancer game"... I know it touches everybody's emotions and stuff, but is this really the place to have these conversations?
lostlogin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Your point number one occurred in New Zealand too. And the US is pressuring the NZ government to abandon its very successful drug purchasing agency as part of a free trade agreement. Having one agency purchase drugs for 4 million people creates a fair bit of bargaining power, which US companies do not like.
philwelch 5 days ago 1 reply      
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.

VMG 5 days ago 5 replies      
Very sad, very scary.

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

newbie12 4 days ago 0 replies      
We are all working on the wrong things. How can society not be spending far greater percentages of GDP on health care research? Yet the medical establishment, supported by Congress, operates as a guild that keeps people/innovation out, and the system wastes billions of dollars a year on futile treatments in the last year late in life, instead of finding cures.
jostmey 5 days ago 2 replies      
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.
jeffehobbs 5 days ago 1 reply      
Heartbreaking. I hope for a cure for cancer in our lifetimes.
sireat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Selfish question here: can one actually screen reliably for most cancers from age 40 to say 60 and actually do something about it?

That is say, do as complete as possible cancer screening every 3 months?

The worst seem to be the ones like pancreatic cancer, you have a very little chance of catching it before it has spread.

I just want to see my daughters grow up that is all.

platz 5 days 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.
fabiandesimone 5 days 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.

gbeeson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great read and for myself, someone who is not part of the medical community though who is a father of a daughter, I can imagine the professional and personal frustration that must have been felt. Thanks for the write up - could not have been easy (even clinically) to put together.
akg_67 5 days 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.

maskedinvader 5 days ago 0 replies      
very touching and heartbreaking read..
velar 5 days 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...
thrwaway1 5 days 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

Dr. Carson's Story in the Dallas Weekly

Related Local News story on Baby Hadley

johnx123-up 4 days ago 1 reply      
FWIW, my Indian friend says there's a medicine for cancer in South India with Siddha. When I searched http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddha_medicine some editors seem to have removed references to cancer from the article.
Simplify your life with an SSH config file nerderati.com
317 points by koide  6 days ago   83 comments top 23
sneak 6 days ago 6 replies      
This overlooks ProxyCommand, the single most useful reason for using an ssh config file.


    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.)

ef4 6 days 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.

cmer 6 days 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.


swalberg 6 days 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

jerf 5 days 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.

icebraining 6 days 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).
jperras 6 days 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 :-).

ftwinnovations 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great tips but this one in my opinion is pure gold http://blogs.perl.org/users/smylers/2011/08/ssh-productivity...
adanto6840 6 days 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

notatoad 6 days 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.
Newky 6 days 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:~/

the_mitsuhiko 6 days 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).
trotsky 6 days ago 1 reply      
no one ever uses kerberos outside of windows shops anymore?
nnq 5 days 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.
easy_rider 5 days 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...

liveoneggs 5 days 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.)

js2 6 days ago 0 replies      

  man ssh_config

skylan_q 6 days 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
bonobo 6 days 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.

lallouz 6 days 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.
evanm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Been doing this for some time now"getting my precious seconds back one login at a time.
mememememememe 6 days ago 1 reply      
But this is known for years. I've been using this since the second week of using Linux.
grobot 5 days 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.
How To Strip DRM from Kindle E-Books and Others wired.com
314 points by DanielRibeiro  3 days ago   103 comments top 16
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 4 replies      
I have started going back to real books for any book I might want to keep, loan, or give to a friend when I'm finished. It would be nice not to be screwed over by DRM yet again. I like my Kindle, but it doesn't help me read. It helps Amazon make money. The only thing it does is for me is to help me carry lots of books around easily.
DanBC 3 days ago 3 replies      
The Wired link adds nothing. They link to (http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/ebooks-formats...)
oneandoneis2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Since I disapprove of Amazon's DRM policy, the only books on my kindle are tech books from O'Reilly (DRM-free) and fiction from Project Gutenburg (DRM-free)

I know I could download ebooks from Amazon and just remove their DRM, but I think it's better to vote with my wallet.

After all, they sell the Kindle at cost and rely on you buying books from them to make any profit. So don't buy their books and maybe they'll learn..

RexRollman 3 days ago 2 replies      
The real problem is there is nothing that requires companies to provide continued access to DRM-encumbered media; they can turn it off whenever they want.

In my opinion, if a company can't or won't provide a way for a customer to access their purchased files, then they should be required by law to provide a way for the customer to un-DRM those files.

Derbasti 3 days ago 1 reply      
Frankly, I don't care about DRM for fiction. I generally only read fiction once, anyway (and donate the paper book afterwards).

For technical books it's a different story, but then the Kindle is not a medium that works well for diagrams and special formatting that you would expect in technical writing.

So in the end, Kindle DRM does not hurt me much. Then again, it is so easy to strip that I think Amazon does not care, either. It's just a pacifier for publishers.

danso 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does removing the DRM also remove the highlight tracking/syncing provided by Amazon? If so, that'd be a deal breaker for me to use this other than as last resort backups
CookWithMe 3 days ago 2 replies      
He publicly admitted that he cracks his ebooks. IANAL, but his missteps would be much easier to proof in court, compared to the case of the Norwegian kindle user.

But for some reason, I strongly doubt Amazon will ban him...

gizmo686 2 days ago 0 replies      
With respect to the conversations about the legality of stripping the DRM from e-books (in the USA). I just looked up the Librian of Congress's 2010 DMCA statement, where it is stated that one of the classes works which qualify for exception from the no disabling DRM clause of the DMCA is:

"Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book's read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format."

I suspect that it is in error, but this excemption does not specify that the reason for disabling DRM is to use it for one of the mentioned purposes, only that stripping DRM would be nessasary for the mentioned purposes. The lack of enforcement probably makes this a moot point, but if all of a e-book's versions have DRM, and you get in trouble for stripping the DRM off, this would probably hold up as a solid technicality.

Granted, it is still illegal to distribute software designed to aid people in lawfully stripping DRM from e-books.

Source: http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-120...

incision 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've always just sort of tolerated the Kindle.

Lately I've been doing most of my reading via Safari. I pay for the "library" level plan and feel it's worth every penny, in spite of the horrendous mobile app. Every few months, I spend Safari token on an ePub copy of something particularly good.

I'd like to see all publishers offer the option to purchase a print + DRM-free digital copy for not much more than print alone just as O'Reilly and Pearson do today.

cadab 3 days ago 1 reply      
I found this link to be more helpful, in regards to what plugins to use. (Note for Windows + Kindle)


runjake 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is from 2011 and hugely outdated. As far as I'm aware, the newer Topaz Kindle format hasn't been cracked and thus the DRM cannot be stripped. It's been a long time since I've bought a book that wasn't Topaz-imprisoned.
makmanalp 3 days ago 3 replies      
All you lawyers: Is removing / tampering with Kindle DRM legal in this case? Considering we bought the material?
ansible 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sadly, I would be glad to pay a reasonable price for books without DRM, but my options are still quite limited. I've been waiting patiently for Tor's ebook store to open (promised "by the end of summer 2012"). Baen is fine for a couple genres, but I don't trust Smashwords because of sockpuppet reviews. I don't want to pirate, I am glad to give authors their fair share.
edufernandez 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any good command line tool for doing this?
ixacto 3 days ago 0 replies      
http://thepiratebay.se/browse/601 + a spiral binder + a laser printer.

Knowledge should be free.

daeken 3 days ago 1 reply      
All you do is spam this site, and half the comments under this are obvious sock puppets of yours. Why are you not banned yet?
If I was your cloud provider, I'd never let you down joyent.com
284 points by chillax  3 days ago   163 comments top 34
anonymouz 3 days ago 4 replies      
With the lifetime account fiasco still ongoing [1], they should probably shut up.

[1] Joyent/Textdrive sold lifetime shared hosting accounts for a one time payment in the beginning. Those accounts would exist "as long as we exists". A couple of months back they sent an email that they are "discontinuing" lifetime accounts. After uproar from the community they offered refunds. Many people (including me) agreed to the refund, but then they decided to make another 180 degree turn, not paying out the refund. Instead they are now spinning off a new "Textdrive" that is supposed to "take over" the lifetime customers. No details about funding/general outlook/etc. of this new company has been provided so far. Questions to this end are shrugged off as "everything is perfect, just trust us, ..."

Incidentally, the new Textdrive Forum (discuss.textdrive.com) seems to be down at the moment...

comice 3 days ago 4 replies      
If this is gloating about the EC2 outage, then ugh. I can't find out if it is because the whole of joyent.com is actually down for me (net::ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT)
staunch 3 days ago 3 replies      
My new startup, Uptano (https://uptano.com), is a cloud provider (still hurts me to write "cloud").

..and we've had 100% uptime in our short run so far. Our systems are highly redundant and as decoupled as possible. Still, I wouldn't for one second claim that I, or anyone else, could do better than AWS on reliability.

AWS does a great job on reliability. I do think EBS is a terrible technology that should die in a fiery pit, but they do a damn good job of keeping everything up.

If they really do believe their 99.9999% claim, I'd love to see them make a bet. How about Reddit gets $1M if they move and it falls below that?

UnoriginalGuy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, that web-site is down, this couldn't possibly be more ironic.
wisty 3 days ago 5 replies      

No, I don't hate Joyent. I can't even figure out what they offer. And I don't see "Python" or "Postgres" or "Redis" in their tech stack page, so what would reddit (a Python / Postres / Redis site) want with them? They seem to be mostly node.js / Mongo, which is a nice tech stack but isn't the one reddit is built on.

Clicking around their dev docs seems to suggest you can install your own stuff on their "SmartMachines" (are those Linux VMs?), but there's a heavy node.js bias to the docs.

lolwutreddit 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is no way they can achieve that uptime claim, nor should they try to say they have 99.9999% aka "six nines". That's 31.5 seconds a year, and even a well-designed network is going to have that much at some level. I mean, the VPSes might be distributed across hardware, but a failure of some component might mean that it's still "up", but seriously degraded during the transition. How useful is that for "uptime"? It becomes a bragging right. How about if all routes to a large provider, like Level(3) are down for a reset period, or are re-routed through Cogent, which is maxed out on all peering with L3 at 99% packet loss levels? Is that really uptime? Sure, that's out of their control, but the situation with their own website being down for some people right now underscores that lofty claims are meant to be broken.

Now that they're beating that Joyent drum a little more: watch them fall down under a DoS attack that Amazon could bat away at this point. I'm by no means supporting Amazon, but Joyent is still a small company with big claims. I predict they will fall apart when Sun stops making hardware, and when their engineers argue over whatever trendy "wrong way to do it" Node-type technologies that they're jacking off over next.

alanh 3 days ago 1 reply      
It should be “if I were your cloud provider.” It's a possibility and a wish of theirs, so it should be expressed in the subjunctive. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/subjunctive-verbs-was-i...
hboon 3 days ago 0 replies      
After TextDrive's lifetime hosting encounters, I'd never trust Joyent again, cloud or non-cloud.


carson 3 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone remember Joyent's Strongspace service? http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2008/01/21/joyen...
im3w1l 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Unable to connect"

well that was rather ironic..

opendomain 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do not want to be a jerk here, but the only reason I joined was the promise of "lifetime" - they can NOT just cancel our accounts does it does not suit them. Please contact me webmaster @ opendomain ORG if you would like to join the class action lawsuit. We already have quite a few people signed up.
djhworld 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Lindsay Shaw is a member of the Joyent Marketing and Communications Team.

This says it all really, just a bit of PR to boost awareness of their product...and the HN community has taken the bait.

davidw 3 days ago 3 replies      
If I were a grammar nazi, I'd be quite irate.
zerostar07 3 days ago 0 replies      
I 've been using their vps for years, and they didn't let down (apart from less than a handful of reboots, the uptime was basically around 400 days). The thing is they kept their prices unchanged for 4 years which is odd.
irahul 3 days ago 1 reply      
Umm The blog post is down. If you can't handle traffic to a blogpost, I don't see how reddit would take your offer about "no downtime" seriously.
bslatkin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Uptime comes from how you design and build a system, not which IaaS provider you choose.
armored 3 days ago 0 replies      
Joyent, you so cray. Thanks for reminding us that "Never" and "Lifetime", "100% Uptime Guarantee" and "Fanatical Service" are all bullshit indicators. You've got a good cloud, you don't need to make promises that you can't keep.
Hansi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ironically the site's SSL is not configured correctly... Doesn't work when using the "HTTPS Everywhere" extension unless you manually change it to not opt for HTTPS on the site.
thejosh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I read a post quite a while ago from the reddit admins bitching out EC2 after one of the last dramas, I remember they said it would be a huge migration to migrate all data across to a new provider so they would have to be solid.

I wonder how their current EC2 pricing would compare to Joyent?

ianstallings 3 days ago 0 replies      
Saying you have a more robust cloud than Amazon is laughable. It's really as simple as that. This is a joke.
BraveNewCurency 2 days ago 0 replies      
This from the company that patented the 8-day outage.


instakill 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry, and I really don't mean to be a grammar nazi, but it's "if I were". It's a subjunctive.
welebrity 2 days ago 0 replies      
If something "sounds" suspicious, it usually is. I had one of the early "truly unlimited" mobile data plans w/VZ. They actually honored it until I made the blunder of changing my plan. I was grandfathered in, but they kept sending me teasers to get me to switch. Once I did, going back was not an option. They got what they wanted . . .
photorized 3 days ago 0 replies      
Re: "We've given our other partners 99.9999% uptime."

That's neither technologically possible nor commercially feasible.

Companies need to stop saying that.

jjtheblunt 3 days ago 0 replies      
were, not was. learn english modal verbs and subjunctive before soliciting business.
j_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
Or switch to us-west-2 to immediately solve more than half their problems?
tzaman 3 days ago 1 reply      
They should send this open letter to Heroku as well :)
ParadisoShlee 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Error 102 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED): The server refused the connection."

The page is down.

IheartApplesDix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this the top post?
stratosvoukel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one finding the post a bit sexist as well? Since when are successful 9gag memes like "Overly attached girlfriend" pc?
dobata 3 days ago 0 replies      
because of all the "success" with twitter back in the days
RiceJazz 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I were a serious cloud provider, I would check my grammar.
jredwards 3 days ago 0 replies      
What, no ent jokes?
Amazon reopen wiped Kindle account translate.google.com
283 points by EwanToo  3 days ago   150 comments top 22
cletus 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a good outcome and something that should probably be enshrined in law: if you've purchased ebooks (or in fact any digital media) then you should absolutely have access to it regardless of the state of your account. The only time this shouldn't apply (IMHO) is when the payment itself is in question (eg you used a credit card that got reported stolen so any items bought on suspect transactions may be suspended pending investigation).

It shouldn't surprise me that some give credence to conspiracy theories but it does. Amazon panicked and reversed itself because a story about removing DRM was on the front page of HN? Seriously?

What you'll find with customer service departments is that what they do is largely prescribed by scripts. Call centers work like this (to the point of there being checking to see that people don't deviate from the script). They will have procedures that must be followed.

The Mark Fiore example [1] springs to mind. Some saw some global conspiracy. The more likely explanation is that the procedures defined for those approving apps just hadn't taken such a scenario into account when being written ie it was an oversight (a "mistake" as Steve Jobs called it).

We're all too willing to accept bugs in software. Procedures that humans need to follow--particularly if they need to follow them rigidly--have bugs too. The more discretion you give those following the procedures, the more you tend to just add inconsistency.

[1]: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/pulitzer-wi...

EDIT: to clarify, I think the original story getting as much of an audience as it did certainly helped and may well have been instrumental. It's kind of sad that that's the case. I was referring to some commenters putting forward theories about the DRM removal story being the catalyst for action here, which is ludicrous.

jiggy2011 3 days ago 7 replies      
So moral of the story? Make sure you have a blog with significant readership if you want good customer service?
podperson 3 days ago 5 replies      
It's astonishing to me how Amazon, which is more of a monopoly in many respects than Apple has ever been or Microsoft currently is, is essentially walmarting entire industries and gets almost no negative press over it. (It's even getting help from friendly congresspersons to strengthen its ebook monopoly.)

I've been forced to withdraw my $20 ebook from Amazon because I simply cannot afford to price it at $20 in the kindle store (Amazon pays the same royalty for books priced at $10-20 as books priced at $10, and it pays lower royalties than BN or iBooks). I'm not allowed to price my ebook so that I effectively get paid the same (which entails selling the book at $40 for Kindle and $20 for everything else) because that violates Amazon's "you cannot sell for less elsewhere" rules.

Similarly, Amazon sells book readers that are incompatible with rival book formats, including ePub. No-one complains.

Nursie 3 days ago 2 replies      
They reopened it because people heard about it and then started talking about stripping DRM and resorting to piracy, so somebody, somewhere decided to make this go away as fast as possible and as quietly as possible.


sodomizer 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is the real outcome:

"Account status should not affect any customer's ability to access their library."

Amazon has realized that they can quarantine suspect accounts, but not cut off the customer's right to their purchased books.

Every other manufacturer is now going to follow suit. The end result is a win for the consumer.

pasbesoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find the lack of transparency on Amazon's part entirely unacceptable.

(I can imagine and understand -- although not always agree with -- the desire to e.g. keep some technical aspects of fraud detection private. Beyond that, I have zero sympathy.

And even in the event of some so-called "fraud detection", we have powerful entities who on the one hand want to benefit from a "global market" while on the other hand simultaneously seeking to restrict same when doing so is to their benefit. For example, taking advantage of lower "third world" production costs while insisting upon receiving "first world" prices for their own goods.)

P.S. I've had two friends communicate that they are backing out of pending Kindle purchases, since I shared this story with them. (In case any Amazon types are browsing by here.)

zizee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some people might be thinking "Well done Amazon for correcting this mistake" or "Amazon just caved due to pressure of bad press" but I am thinking that if Amazon can wipe a kindle remotely, I do not want such a device and will purchase a product which does not have this "feature".

Seriously, fuck them.

wissler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't matter to me. The fact that Amazon can break and enter into my devices with impunity is completely unacceptable. The fact that I can't back up my own purchases without hacking is completely unacceptable.

I'll continue using Kindle for free content but I'll be buying only real books unless there is very clear legislation, or a change in Amazon's technology, supporting my right to keep and control my own purchases. Amazon (and not just Amazon) has too much power here and has repeatedly demonstrated that they will abuse it.

brador 3 days ago 2 replies      
If the writer wanted to make Amazon pay for the wipe she has certainly achieved that with her post.

My Kindles hit Ebay a few hours ago. I'm out of the Amazon digital ecosystem.

axx 3 days ago 1 reply      
I bet it was exactly like this:

1. Kindle-wipe Story on Hackernews.

2. One engineer at Amazon saw the story, told it some Executive above him

3. The Executive "nerds, let them talk THIS is real business!"

4. One day later "How To Strip DRM from Kindle E-Books and Others (wired.com)" on Hackernews

5. The Executive "OH SNAP! REOPEN REOPEN REOPEN!!11"

doki_pen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Support Policy:

If you feel that your account has been erroneously disabled, then got viral with your story, only then will we investigate your claims.

yason 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I were her, I would so immediately copy the ebooks that are available again, for now, then find a way to free them from DRM and close my Amazon account myself.

Then I would go lobbying for a law that would make it a legal requirement to make digitally restricted products available to the user in unencumbered format if the user's account gets terminated or if the company goes out of business. So, basically the user would buy the song/book/movie but hand over the appropriate storage to the company for as long as the account remains open. Then, if the storage gets shut down the user would still own copies of his/her files.

eykanal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have any native english publications covered this story? Strange that the only new source to publish a follow-up to what was a very popular story would be some random Norwegian newspaper.
Aardwolf 3 days ago 8 replies      
Does anyone know if Kindle supports reading normal (by which I mean without DRM or so) PDF files, even PDF files where each page is an image rather than text? Is it possible to put PDF files on it through USB as "mass storage device", or at least in some way that supports doing it from Linux through USB? Is it possible to do this without Kindle account?

Because, the hardware of the device looks nice to me, especially if you'd add a water proof cover around it.


chanux 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's good to hear Linn has her stuff back but this doesn't guarantee future situations like this would have similar good endings. What I infer from 'no explanations' is it's mostly a PR plaster.

It's sad that such problems will be solved only by huge exposure to the story. Not something everyone can have all the time. Happy but sad.

thomaslutz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Like e.g. with Google actions without explantations, but the refusal to give them are the worst for me as a customer.
sgt 3 days ago 2 replies      
That's a very bad translation - although I'm still impressed because it's programmatic and the technology has come pretty far (and I am grateful to Google for providing Google Translate in general!).

So "Amazon did an about-face" actually means "Amazon did a change in direction" or even "Amazon did a 180 degree turn".

donniezazen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am just surprised the way these companies work. They don't even owe as little as information to their customers and our government enable them to do that.
dmbaggett 3 days ago 3 replies      
The big deal, I think, is that it's scary for people who buy all their books on Amazon to realize that all those books can be taken away for no obvious reason, and with no recourse other than to make a public stink.
dkrich 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing one Michael Murphy is polishing up the old resume right about now.
zvrba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meta-comment: I've read the article in english and norwegian side-by-side, and I'm impressed by google's translation.
How I automated the boring parts of life stevecorona.com
281 points by mmahemoff  2 days ago   209 comments top 42
BenoitEssiambre 2 days ago 2 replies      
With Fancy Hands, how do you deal with tasks (such as buying tickets) that require the use of your credit card, password, account info etc.

If there is a solution, they should mention it on their front page because I'm sure half the people who go there ask themselves: "Wouldn't I have to give my credit card info to complete strangers for this to be useful?"

This seems to be the weak link with these services.

wahnfrieden 2 days ago 7 replies      
Living in NYC makes it easy to automate some more boring things, thanks to its population density:

- Drop off my laundry at the laundromat's wash and fold service to pick up the next day. There are even a bunch of services and laundromats that will come to your apartment to take your laundry and drop it back off for you.

- Seamless has about 100 places that deliver to my apartment, about 400 that deliver to work. You can schedule your dinner delivery time.

- I've had friends my age hire a maid to clean weekly apparently without costing much, or just Taskrabbit for one-off things.

- Fresh Direct for delivery groceries.

- No need for a car, so I can be productive on the train or at least read depending on the commute.

- Cabs are incredibly cheap here.

mehulkar 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious if anyone else is curious about the distinction between automation and delegation. It seems like a better description of OPs life hack is the latter. I'm not sure if this is relevant, but if you take the universe or the world or a society and the amount of work being done as a zero sum equation, handing off buying plane tickets isn't really automation because you're not reducing the total work in the system; you're just changing where the resources come from.

You could say that delegating work to "experts" means the work is done more efficiently so you save resources, and that's a step in the right direction towards automation, but not automation.

Note: I'm very interested in words and the contrast between what they mean and how people use them.

ivankirigin 2 days ago 1 reply      
The things I want to automate are expensive to do so. I'm talking about things like the dishes and the laundry and commuting. I have a house cleaner that comes periodically, but I'd be spending a lot more (and have a lot more intrusion on my privacy) if it were daily / nightly.

The automated driving component might work. Maybe if I lease a black hybrid, have the driver be my employee, and let him do uber on off hours, it could actually net money. But setting this up sounds complicated. If only I could automate it.

chimeracoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unless I'm gravely mistaken, the cost is dramatically understated. $25/month will only buy you 5 'requests'.

Related: $1/day is a really bad way to present a pricing plan of $25/5 requests. Yes, that's technically correct, but I don't want to amortize the cost over the number of days in the month; I want to amortize it over the number of days I actually use the product (or, better yet, the number of times I use it - so $5/task).

bluetidepro 2 days ago 1 reply      
First off, great article! Although, it's just a few quick tips, there was some solid advice in there and some new tips I had never heard. For example, maybe I've been living in a cave, but Amazon Subscribe is new to me, so I appreciate the great tip there!

I, personally, had a bad experience using "Fancy Hands" and cancelled my subscription just the other month. Although, I do admit it was mainly because I just couldn't get the $25/month out of it (like you did).

I am curious, how did Fiverr work out (quality wise) for your proofreading? I have debated using this service before for proofreading, but had not yet actually tried it.

whalesalad 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love Steve's posts because I can always relate.

I definitely need to start using FancyHands (got the email from the guy who created it recently about how he was killing an old company and putting all effort into FancyHands). Unfortunately some of my current tasks require calling my lawyer and doing some other things that really only I can do.

I do need a dentist though, and a handful of other things. Time to delegate!

crntaylor 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think you should make it clear that your link to FancyHands is a referral link.
mhd 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting, wish more of this would be applicable in Germany, especially the virtual assistant part, most of which seem to be English only. Although in the case of FancyHands, it's not due to English being more well known in the former colonies, for once…

And apparently Steve uses 10 Q-Tips per day.

andrewljohnson 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's not automation, it's hiring other people.
smackfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of Amazon grocery subscriptions but practically it just feels like the time you would need to spend managing the subscription and figuring out the optimal schedule is more than the time it takes to replenish the stocks every 4 months. Or dealing with stuff like Amazon directly selling citrus Listerine but not mint Listerine.

(Except cat litter, that is totally worth getting delivered from Amazon just to avoid carrying it.)

rmrfrmrf 2 days ago 2 replies      
I got all excited about Fancy Hands, then realized that this is just a post to farm referral dollars and give free advertising.

FH had a message on their pricing page that immediately turned me off. Sometimes, it's better to not be so dynamic (i.e. I would have signed up had I not seen the message below):

"Steve Corona knows you'll love having Fancy Hands.
Sign up now and get 50% off your first month or 5% off your first year."

lazyjones 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Subscriptions for things like toilet paper are a bad idea. Unless your consumption is 100% constant and you know exactly what it is (unlikely if you ever have any people visiting you). Ordering such things every couple of weeks takes just a few minutes and you will always get exactly what you need.

IMHO, the whole post is not very useful and the 2 affiliate links are pushing it ... How much does one earn with such a HN post? Please disclose.

danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's been a personal goal of mine to make it a habit to write scripts to automate a repetitive task, no matter how minor or rare the task. As long as the solution takes 9 minutes to code to deal with 10 minutes of grunt work. I'd argue, though, that the benefits of practice (and habit building), that it's worth spending 12 minutes of scripting time per 10 minutes of code, even if you never have to run that script again. Obviously, TMMV.

Using Mechanical Turk for proofreading/editing has always appealed to me. I wonder what the OP's results were with that that led him to choose Fiverr instead? As a writer, I would be paranoid about throwing any of my (commercial valuable) work online to the crowd...what if you wrote a script to break your manuscript into sentences and paid 2 cents per sentence? You could only catch within-sentence grammatical errors. But you'd vastly reduce the fear that your work is floating out there for someone to misappropriate.


There's a grammatical error (I think) in the last sentence of the post ("half an hour an Amazon"):

> You can automate almost all of the boring parts of your life, today, for less than 25 bucks and half an hour an Amazon. And make sure to have your assistant email me telling me how much time I saved you.

gasull 2 days ago 2 replies      
You can automate tasks in the house (e.g. a maid) with http://redbeacon.com disclaimer: I'm an engineer at Redbeacon).

I also automate groceries at http://shop.safeway.com .

In San Francisco you can automate laundry with http://sfwash.com . Great service.

Poiesis 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm trying to outsource some tasks myself--mostly home repair--but I'm running into quality problems. I end up with a result that is not up to my standards, and it feels like I have to spend overly much time vetting people or dealing with tha back and forth about quality issues, etc. If I'm paying good money to get a task done, I don't want it to take up my time. If it does, I feel like I might as well have done it myself.

I'm working on changing this mindset but it's proving difficult.

ShabbyDoo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish my bank/brokerage/etc all had the equivalent of "valet key" logins where I could set-up and manage accounts for others which only had a subset of my own rights. For example, I'd like to hire an assistant to reconcile/aggregate/classify my financial records, but I'd either have to take a lot of time to gather everything up or expose the ability for this person to steal from me. My brokerage account includes the right to buy/sell securities, but I only want my bookkeeper to be able to view my transaction history.

One problem I see is that access to one's financial records sometimes is used as a proxy for identity, much like the presumption that, if you can read an email sent to a particular address, you must "own" that email address. Didn't PayPal once (or even still does?) debit N cents from one's bank account and then ask what amount was charged as a way of verifying new users?

gasull 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else find useless virtual assistants? Isn't it easy enough to buy your plane ticket at hipmunk.com and book an apartment at AirBnB?

I think it takes me longer to describe what I want to the assistant than doing it myself.

didsomeonesay 2 days ago 2 replies      
That is not automation. That is delegation.
Antiks72 2 days ago 1 reply      
If I didn't have my wife I would so do something like Fancy Hands. For those of us that have ADHD, procrastination is a real killer on our quality of life.
vinodkd 2 days ago 1 reply      
since nobody has posted it yet, here's the obligatory link to an old esquire article that takes this idea to the extreme. Presenting: "My life outsourced" http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0905OUTSOURCING_214
Tipzntrix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think delegating is a little different than automating. Granted it's out of your hands either way though.
mseebach 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something I'd pay to have "automated": a "ghostwriter" to help me organise my thoughts and experiences into blog- and tweet-sized chunks.

I think I have something worth sharing, I just don't have the discipline to get it written down.

nazgulnarsil 1 day ago 0 replies      
How I automated non-essential purchases:

create an account on slickdeals

set up a deal alert for your desired keywords

don't think about it again until you get an email alerting you to a good deal

This removes a cognitive load for me. I no longer waste time researching trivial outlays.

padobson 2 days ago 0 replies      
My sweet mother, subscribe and save? Hacker News pays for all the productivity it costs, one hundred times over.
qwerta 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have daily job and children. On side I have an huge open-source project. Procrastination was my huge enemy.

I solved it by 'will'. TODO lists, monthly shopping, booking everything on time... It is easier than you think.

driverdan 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I first heard of Amazon Subscribe I really wanted to use it but the bulk sizes are just too large. As a single guy all the quantities they have are about double what I need. 40 rolls of toilet paper, for example, would last me a year or more.
stephenhuey 2 days ago 0 replies      
A couple years ago, I listened to an interesting interview with Ted Rosen on the Founders Talk podcast:


I still haven't become a Fancy Hands user, but I do remember him saying lots of new parents turn to them for help when a baby arrives, so perhaps that'll be me someday.

dutchbrit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any FancyHands competitors in Europe?
aymeric 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have been using virtual assistants for the last 3 years, and I will never come back.
A VA in the Philippines cost $5/h and can be very helpful.

(disclaimer: I run the outsourcing marketplace http://taskarmy.com where you can find screened virtual assistants: http://taskarmy.com/virtual-assistance-outsourcing)

enraged_camel 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does FancyHands deal with task failure? For example, if I make a request and the result turns out to be "sorry, we weren't able to do it because..." does that count towards your monthly total?
jongold 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been interested in a virtual assistant since 4HWW came out - never thought I was busy enough to justify something like GetFriday.

I dealing with general fake-work but seems like there's just as much work involved in getting someone else to do these things as just doing them yourself?

Also - any recommendations for other services to compare to?

mkrecny 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this. And I think being in the business of Automation is pretty cool too : http://edu.mkrecny.com/thoughts/automation-as-a-service
nessus42 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does Fancy Hands differ from the "concierge" service that already comes with my credit card for free?

Is it just that I can make a request via a web form, rather than via a phone call?

spuz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to have a service like Fancy Hands. Is there an equivalent in the UK?
wildmXranat 2 days ago 0 replies      
So basically, pay for and outsource the tasks that you don't like or find mundane. This is cost prohibitive and a way around or optimising them would be better. I just need to get busy enough to feel forced to.
Jolandatsv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Immediately I think of that Robot in Rocky 3 that serves them food and the like..
hanginghyena 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon automatic shipping....

Of course, you could probably rig a replenishment system using python, some hardware, and the Amazon API... An erp for your home...

MatthewPhillips 2 days ago 0 replies      
> CTO at Twitpic

Does Twitpic still not allow you to export your own pictures or did they give up on that?

hornd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just an FYI: websense seems to be blocking your domain, classified as adult-and-pornography.
GotAnyMegadeth 2 days ago 1 reply      
According to my works content filter this is NSFW
elliott99 2 days ago 0 replies      
Startup School 2012 Videos startupschool.org
273 points by kogir  2 days ago   59 comments top 23
edouard1234567 1 day ago 3 replies      
My favorite talk was the one given by Jessica Livingston.
The way she simplified what it takes to be a good entrepreneur, resiliency and drive and the "monsters" you'll meet along the way was amazing.
My least favorite moment was Uber's founder talk. I love and use the app but his talk sounded too much like 30 minutes comercial on Uber... A special award to Ben Horowitz for humor and to Robert Scoble who managed to speak (ask a question to Ron) even though he wasn't on the speakers's list :
w1ntermute 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's with the shitty video player? Can't even go full-screen? Why not just post the videos on YouTube?

And the quality of the actual video isn't even HD?

jaredsohn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the first year that the videos are linked to directly from the startup school page. A much better experience than having to search through justin.tv, youtube, lanyard, etc. to find all of the videos. Also, nice to find the list of speakers on the startup school page, since I think it traditionally has been replaced with the most recent year's list of speakers each year.
nashequilibrium 1 day ago 2 replies      
My best advice is just go and watch the BOS videos, I have been blown away. Their videos beat any conference on tech entrepreneurship in my opinion. I measure this based on substance. The Clayton Christiansen talk alone is worth more than watching all the startup school 2012 videos! This is just my opinion.

PS: Already a down vote. Be man or woman enough to state your case.

dkokelley 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those wondering, just before the 3:00 mark of Mark Zuckerberg's interview, the "Startup School" sign attached to the podium spontaneously fell.
dave1619 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gotta say that Startup School 2012 had some really great talks. I had the chance to attend in person and it exceeded my expectation. The speakers shared some great insights and stories about their startups and each one gave a different perspective.

My favorite speaker probably was Joel Spolsky (and his slow, organic growth vs land-grab talk).

I love how Joel used Fog Creek to fund StackExchange's development and now Trello, which both seem to be land-grab businesses. It's almost like Fog Creek is it's own startup incubator now. Maybe a new model of funding/startups?

ronyeh 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are my bite-sized reactions to each talk:

I felt a recurring theme was "don't give up"... so I'll really try to remember that lesson when I hit future roadblocks.

I enjoyed attending and meeting some of you in person. Definitely looking forward to next year's edition!

verganileonardo 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Ben Horowitz (recording unavailable) "

This recording will never be available? I would like to watch his talk...

sharjeel 2 days ago 1 reply      
The slides are out-of-sync for me, atleast for the Uber video.
nilsbunger 2 days ago 1 reply      
Flash required? I'm curious - why? Is it easier to publish videos with a flash wrapper?
xianyi_lin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacked together a quick script for downloading the videos for viewing offline (requires rtmpdump):


checoivan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for doing this and putting them up, the talks are amazing.
nodesocket 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ben Horowitz (recording unavailable) is a shame, since in my humble opinion he was the best. I just love his attitude, and passion for hip-hop.
cloudwalking 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Ben Horowitz (recording unavailable)

NOOO! This talk was fabulous!

tomkinstinch 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm glad the audio is good because it was pretty crummy that day (at least from the balcony).

I had to strain to hear what the speakers were saying.

Was the volume OK for those on the main level?

dmazin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aside from maybe Jessica Linvingston's talk, Spolsky's was the only one that said something very interesting to me, even though it was basically 12 years old.
prisonguard 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is the best way to strike a balance between the speaker and slides while recording/editing a talk?

I find it hard watching talks where only slides got recorded or others where only the speaker gets recorded.

For the latter, I'll normally download slides and use them to move along with talk.

asher_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
The slides are out of sync with the video for me, and the video stops periodically. Is this happening for anyone else?
swrobel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anywhere to download MP3 or other audio-only versions to listen in the car?
ddrmaxgt37 1 day ago 0 replies      
The slides for the talk by Travis are wrong.
nasir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice talks specially Jessica Livingston.
capsicum 1 day ago 1 reply      
How to download the videos for viewing offline ?
bizodo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flash player?
Billion laughs wikipedia.org
269 points by khet  6 days ago   63 comments top 7
dguido 6 days ago 7 replies      
Probably should rename this to "billion reposts."

Can we move beyond this simple issue and discuss more complicated aspects of security on HN?

wtallis 6 days ago 2 replies      
So, how much memory would a real-world parser actually consume given this file? I'd try it, but I had to RMA my workstation's motherboard yesterday, leaving me with a machine that only has 3GB, which is the obvious minimum for a full expansion. But I could imagine an XML parser might use UCS-2 internally, inflating this to 6GB. Or, some parsers might be clever and not attempt a full expansion.
astrojams 6 days ago 2 replies      
It isn't obvious at first glance that this small xml file actually expands to billion "lols". You really have to give the bad guys credit for ingenuity.
caseydurfee 6 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a legitimate use case for being able to recursively define entities like that?
ilcavero 6 days ago 4 replies      
so, how do I protect myself against this?
alexrbarlow 6 days ago 3 replies      
I have to say, i love this, crazy, for a language that is really for transferring data.

I guess you could do this with YAML too?

055static 5 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't work with my sed-based XML parsers. :(
Under the hood of Windows 8, or why desktop users should upgrade from Windows 7 extremetech.com
268 points by evo_9  3 days ago   178 comments top 16
knowtheory 3 days ago 4 replies      
A meta-comment:

I'm really pleased to see an article like this at the top of HN. It's informative and side-steps both the marketing bullshit about the metro interface and all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that metro has engendered.

More like this please.

learc83 3 days ago 11 replies      
Whenever someone talks about Windows 8, the question that pops up in my mind is: why include metro in the PC version?

Why would I use anything but the Desktop mode? I can already make apps fullscreen if I want, but I definitely don't want to be limited to only fullscreen mode.

So what advantage does Metro have for a desktop user?

at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to say it, but I'm becoming a but of a Windows FanBoi.

After using Win 8 for a few weeks now, this article confirmed some of the things I was seeing, but not sure if it was just me seeing a new shiny toy or it really was happening.

The two things I've already noticed are it starts up a lot faster, and comes back from sleep a lot faster as well. It's also a lot more stable. Almost no crashes when I was running several Adobe apps at the same time. I'm running with 4GB RAM and was impressed with the performance. I can only imagine how well it would run under a much faster processor and even more RAM. The real winners will be desktop users for sure.

Losing the Start button was not a huge issue. I use an app launcher and just hitting the WIN button takes you to the main metro screen with all your apps. It's not hardly as confusing as everybody is crying about.

nemo1618 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat, I've been using Win8 since the first preview was released and I still learned some new tricks. File History, for instance, looks handy if you can afford the storage space. And I wasn't aware you could refresh from a user-created image; how exactly does it differ from a system restore though?
conradfr 3 days ago 2 replies      
MS say Windows 8 eliminates most reboots needed by OS upgrades. Great, but didn't they already say that for Win7 ?

The new Task Manager looks great though, and the document history might be proven to be useful.

I think I'll wait Windows 9 to upgrade my desktop & laptop.

JeremyMorgan 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the equivalent of a plain looking girl dying her hair some crazy color.

Personally I don't understand this concept of forcing a clunky and strange UI on people and having change just for the sake of change. Both suffer from huge amounts of backlash, yet their creators stand by it, for one simple reason: They have to change, so things don't appear stale. These interfaces aren't better, they're just new.

It's really that simple, we've had 10 years of the same type of interface in Windows, Linux and OSX and they need something new. Apple of course knows they have something good with OSX and are unwilling to slap their users in the face, and they generally don't fix what is broke.

dested 3 days ago 1 reply      
"In Windows 8, Metro apps run on top of a new application architecture called WinRT, which is a low-level set of APIs that run just above the Windows kernel. WinRT is the Metro equivalent of Win32, which is the API that Desktop apps use. "

Didnt we just read an article yesterday about how this isnt true? WinRT is built on top of win32, not parallel.

robomartin 3 days ago 2 replies      
From the article:

"By installing Windows 8, companies will implicitly force its employees to use a new interface that could severely dent productivity. "

This is, by far, the biggest issue with Windows 8. And, at least for me, the most confusing aspect of Microsoft's decision making process.

I would be surprised if ANY business with more than two employees willingly shifts their PC's to Windows 8. Imagine having one hundred employees grind to a halt due to the UI shift. Deadly.

I would really love to have the opportunity to hear from Microsoft on this one. Why is it that we don't even have an option to disable Metro (or tablet mode, or whatever they want to call it) on a desktop system? What was the logic behind that decision, if any?

grannyg00se 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best windows 8 articles I've read to date. This actually has me considering an upgrade for the anti-virus/malware as well as the faster boot, leaner run-time, and Hyper-V included.

I'll definitely go check it out at some retailer to see if I think I can get over (or minimize) the horrid multi-tile slate touchpad-friendly floating window interface.

robk 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Incidentally, if you want to perform a full “cold” boot (without the kernel being hibernated), simply select Restart from the shutdown menu or run shutdown /s /full /t 0."

Why should it require a command line statement with three switches to simply shutdown?

mertd 3 days ago 3 replies      
What is the deal with boot time as an OS metric? Is it really important to boot 5 seconds faster than the previous iteration?
Someone 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, who is right? Ars Technica claims WinRT runs on top of Win32 (http://arstechnica.com/features/2012/10/windows-8-and-winrt-...), this text claims it runs just above the kernel.

Also, completely unrelated: I hope that 'single keypress' for resetting your PC to a blank slate is somewhat exaggerated. If it isn't, leaving your PC alone for seconds becomes truly dangerous (yes, technically there is no difference; giving anybody local access to your PC puts your files at risk, but having a system make vandalism easier? I sure hope it asks for your password first)

thomaslutz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I tried the final Windows8 (64bit) from DreamSpark in the latest VirtualBox again today (after giving the RC a shot).
There were improvements, but it was slow as hell and finally crashed hard when I tried starting the Maps application. And it was gone as fast as it was installed.
Perhaps it is usable after SP1, but it certainly isn't usable (for me) now.
gutyril 3 days ago 1 reply      
"...and unproven tablet market." that's so true.
joestringer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else familiar with "Arbitrary Free Protection"? 'cause it's only turning up one search result for me.
magoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Windows 8 is so good
Followup to "I bought more than 1 million Facebook data entries for $5" talkweb.eu
266 points by tlrobinson  1 day ago   89 comments top 19
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 14 replies      
You really don't want to mess with the Facebook police. They'll delete your life.

I wish I had something more substantive to say here, but the problem is that we give Facebook an extraordinarily huge power in our personal lives. It's not just some random web service.

randallu 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recently had cause to log in to facebook (first time in 6 months) because my account had been compromised and was used to place a bunch of ads ("find hot guys in your area") which they had apparently approved (and ran to ~$100 in a few hours).

I was impressed with the account recovery process ("you entered an old password -- do you want to recover your account?"), but I felt like they were completely optimized for recovery versus preventing the intrusion in the first place (ala Google's two-factor auth).

Anyway, in this case they obviously took the wrong approach with the blogger and I hope it blows up in their faces. (Microsoft and everyone else used to not be nice to security researchers, Facebook will no doubt learn that cooperation is a better strategy too).

rorrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks like FB is really unhappy about people stealing their profits, selling user's information.
bobsy 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Is selling such information even illegal? Is it against Facebook's terms?

By using an app you are giving them access to a whole bunch of your personal information. I always assumed that many were scraping data from my profile. This is why I have never use Facebook for authentication.

When I read the original post I figured Facebook would want the data so they could narrow down who the probable culprit is. I would have thought finding a common app among a million users probably wouldn't be too difficult.

That said the nature of this conversation is ridiculous.

davesims 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I tried to ask what they would do next but they said it would be an internal legal investigation.

"By who?"

"Top. Men."

mikk0j 1 day ago 0 replies      
I spot-checked some of the profiles in the original post screenshot. Four out of five were realtors. So it could be the profiles in the screenshot were ranked by profession, or that this is a lead for where the leak came from. Or coincidence.
accountoftheday 1 day ago 1 reply      
What surprised me is that Paypal is facilitating the payment for gigbucks, the marketplace where this is (still) offered.
obilgic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is not that a good thing that fb is taking this issue seriously and going after the people who sell this information?

On the other hand, they are trying to solve this issue secretly, no disclosure. And we dont yet know if they are taking any privacy measures to prevent this kind of data leak.

stfu 1 day ago 0 replies      
So Facebook is not only the x largest state, but also acts on the same level of paranoia as government agencies do?
nasir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would say without facebook your life becomes much more productive regardless of security issues. I rather prefer to be in touch with certain few people through other media rather than having a bunch of schoolmates which only stalk my profile. There would be no difference in having them because after all I would not have any contact with them even on facebook.
kylelibra 1 day ago 0 replies      
"According to Facebook you are not allowed to read this post, so beware."
MojoJolo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't know why Facebook reacted like that. But as I understand, those information are not from Facebook itself. They are from an unknown third party app. Also, anyone who has a knowledge in Facebook API can mine those information by creating a Facebook app. I'm sure those app like "God wants you to know" have more than 1 million Facebook information.

By reacting like that, I think Facebook can be considered as guilty as charged.

DaSheep 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Well this sounds like a good example of social engineering. Someone was really interested on his data an he just send it to them for free :/ I mean "Policy - Police", "It's secret", "we're recording you" are classic social engineering techniques used to put the target in a uncomfortable situation. I used them a few times, too.
edictive 1 day ago 0 replies      
Haha: I'm guessing the app that leaked this info is called “facebook”
chrischen 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a like button on that page. I was logged in to facebook. Now facebook knows I read that page!!!
philip1209 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know someone who generated thousands of links to facebook profiles, including non-linked ones. They crawled for images with facebook meta data, pulled the facebook IDs, and used those to generate the profile links.
finkin1 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is pretty insane. Did you ever agree to the confidentiality of the conversation you were having?
oharo 1 day ago 1 reply      
this is so normal. ark torrented all the fb accounts for their yc demo day
iPad mini apple.com
259 points by k33l0r  3 days ago   343 comments top 55
jpxxx 3 days ago 5 replies      
There is no obvious reason this product isn't going to sell in huge quantities.

Less conceptually fragile, less expensive, more portable, same software stack, same media stack, same OS, same UX, same premium experience, same monstrous manufacturing and distribution reach, same monstrous advertising and product awareness engine.

Every single one of the children you see in restaurants working an iPad so mommy and daddy can eat in peace will have one of these by January.

Schools will buy in by the hundreds of thousands, regardless of actual utility or how successful digital textbooks eventually become.

This is the new travel iPad. This is the status gift for the developing world. This is the throwaway iPad if you're rich or the first one you look at if you're less so.

It's priced to make Apple the margins they want while still inviting comparisons with less expensive and similarly sized tablets. It's going to suck the oxygen out of the $300-$500 price range for anything with a screen.

And it's cheap enough to substantially distinguish itself from the main iPad line, which is selling millions a week. That's all it had to do, pricing-wise.

I don't want or need this, and I don't think it was particularly necessary for the health of the iPad line, but they dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts when designing this product.

AlexMuir 3 days ago 10 replies      
How underwhelming.

At 7.9 inches, it's perfectly sized to deliver an experience every bit as big as iPad

What does that even mean? Either it's perfectly sized, and the iPad is the wrong size. Or it's not. There can surely only be one perfect size to deliver an iPad experience??? Either it's 10" or it's 7.9".

I think Apple's marketing has always been the same - it's just that for a while they were ahead of the curve and so their hyperbole was justified. The iPhone was amazing. The Macbook Air is still amazing. But there is absolutely FUCK ALL amazing about a smaller fucking iPad.

nirvana 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've been looking forward to this product since the rumors started. I've owned iPads and iPhones and iPod touches.

The iPhone (original and 4S) were both great devices but too small. I could carry them everywhere, but the reading and browsing experience was cramped, by necessity of the small screen.

The iPad (original and Retina) are big, and lovely for reading and browsing, but too big to hold with one hand. This really is an issue for me, the way I sit when I'm reading... it ends up limiting my use of what otherwise would be a fantastic device.

So, the mini seems perfect. Light enough to hold, big enough to get a fantastic reading and browsing experience. I know it will be a little cramped compared to the iPad (well, expect it will be, but the same resolution original iPad was not cramped at all) but that's a fine tradeoff for being able to use it, literally, everywhere.

I like that they decided to start at $329 with 16GB, about perfect pricing for me. We spent over $650 on our retina iPad with LTE, and ended up not using the LTE much at all.

For our startup, which is heavily involved in iOS, and all of us have iOS devices, we will probably buy 2-3 of these minis.

In fact, I think I'm personally, done with the iPad and iPhone... I don't need the phone part (which is why I've mostly bought iPod touches) .... only went with it because the original iPad was not as portable as I'd like.

So, I'm totally stoked that this device is as it was rumored... I see no downsides to it at all.

rryan 3 days ago 2 replies      
One of the best parts about my Nexus 7 is that it fits perfectly in my back pocket (and even front-jeans pockets but that's much less comfortable). Having a tablet on my person (i.e. not having to reach inside a backpack to get it out) has been a great convenience.

The increase in width from the 7.9" screen is surely going to mean that this won't which is a pity.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you who are wondering, this is how a market evolves. When Apple built the iPad they took their best guess at what the 'right' size for the device was. Designers debate this stuff all the time, and I'm sure they looked at the iPod/iPhone screens vs MacBook screens etc. The 10" form factor was very successful for them.

Other folks have smaller form factor devices, the Dell 'Streak' [1] being an early example of an Android based device that started out at 5" and 'grew' to 7". 5" was not very successful and mocked as being an unwieldy phone, the larger size was better.

Laptops got 'huge' the 17" one being the pinnacle, and then 'small' again with the most popular models being 13 - 16"

Other tablets came out in 6, 7, 9, 10, 11" sizes at various levels of acceptance or not.

The Kindle was the first e-reader with a solid market foot print, it was 'small'. E-readers of 7" are common.

So dialing all of that together you end up with a bunch of different designers trying different ideas and some of them are successful and some aren't. The same designers look at the successful products and try to extract what aspects of the design were critical, which weren't? How did people use them, how did people think of them, what did people want that they didn't get.

So this market is evolving.

So the folks at Apple see these things and try to capture as much of the market as they can. They saw folks buying a bunch of Kindle fires and Nexus 7's and hey, they could do that.

I'm completely conflicted because I like the idea of an A6x iPad but I really like to 30 pin connector on my 3rd Gen iPad.

[1] http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/mobile-streak-7/pd

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dell_Streak

stcredzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect that lots of women will be buying these with the 4G wireless. That form factor could fit into a lot of purse and pocketbooks quite comfortably, but the screen is still much more usable than a phone. Having that around while shopping will be awesome for users.

I also suspect that lots of doctors will buy these. I suspect this will fit very nicely into a lab coat, and the form factor will be a much better fit for doctors with easier one handed operation.

quux 3 days ago 6 replies      
Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave ;)


bobsy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really understand the point. Don't Apple now have 4 devices which do the same thing?

iPod + iPhone.. as far as I can tell are identical apart from the iPod cannot make calls.

iPad is a giant version of the iPod... which I really like to use to browse the web on the sofa.

We now have the iPad Mini which is that awkward size which is too big put in your pocket and yet you don't want to put it in your backpack as you could put your netbook / iPad / laptop in your bag.

I am sure they will sell plenty. I just don't really get it. Its like innovation has stalled at Apple. How many sizes can we make the iPhone?

Beyond this the iMac is incredibly disappointing. Its thin! Oh well. No SDD. No Retina Display. Probably has a little spec boost over last model. Its disappointing. Glad I didn't wait for it.

hkmurakami 3 days ago 4 replies      
>There's less of it, but no less to it.

I must say, I've consistently been impressed with Apple's copy writing.

bluetidepro 3 days ago 8 replies      
Why does it cost more than the Kindle Fire HD but has way worse specs? Apple have shot themselves in the foot with this launch. I'm so disappointed in the iPad Mini.
blinkingled 3 days ago 2 replies      
The app situation they highlighted vs Nexus 7 was pretty damning for Google although I have a feeling Apple cherry picked apps that make the N7 look especially bad.

On the plus side for the N7, they screwed up on price though - for the ecosystem and build quality advantage may be a $50 premium would have been attractive esp for lesser screen resolution and older CPU/GPU. The N7 also feels like it should be more single hand friendly than the iPad mini.

monkeyfacebag 3 days ago 3 replies      
Apple stock is down on the news. Although I'm personally underwhelmed by this announcement, I'll bet analysts are more worried about the lower priced iPad cutting into margins than they are Apple's ability to ship them.
rickdale 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have the same reaction the other companies are taking towards apple products nowadays: Meh.
metadept 3 days ago 1 reply      
With their announcement speech so full of contradictions, it seems like they're struggling to differentiate the Mini from the cheaper Nexus 7. The major appeal is its small size, but in comparison to the Nexus 7 they emphasize how much larger it is (albeit lower total resolution). Seems to be a clear case of presenting weaknesses as strengths, which will, unfortunately, probably succeed with many existing Apple customers. The two compelling advantages over the Nexus 7, the presence of a second camera and the availability of cellular capability, were barely mentioned.
robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
For me the iPad Mini highlights what I think is a serious problem with iBooks: Landscape orientation should give me the option to read a single page at full screen width. I have never found the two page display to be useful. When looking at PDF files online it is great to rotate to landscape and read full width with nice-big type. This is particularly true at night after a long day in front of the computer.

The other thing that iBooks is sorely missing is the ability to use two fingers to zoom in and out of a page. I really don't understand why we have to look at a page with a one inch white border all the way around the page on a digital device, which forces a smaller font to fit the same content.

I think that the iPad mini might just stress the need or a better user experience in software such as iBooks.

jbigelow76 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks good. The 7.9" screen size may hit the sweet spot for smaller form factor tablets, my rooted Nook Tablet feels just a wee bit small at 7". I'm not an Apple fan but I'll be surprised if Apple doesn't sell these things by the truck load.
Achshar 3 days ago 7 replies      
The resolution, they are putting retina displays in macbook pros but launch a tablet with non-retina display. Why?
spot 3 days ago 2 replies      
wow, it's way more expensive than the nexus 7. $330 vs $200 for the bottom.
hiddenstage 3 days ago 0 replies      
After clicking on "Shop iPad" it's interesting that they place an ad next to the iPad mini for the regular iPad saying "Just as stunning. Twice as fast." The regular iPad is only $170 more.
confluence 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh look it's my Nexus 7 with more marketing speak.

Apple is now on the back foot and is heading towards market saturation and commoditisation via Android and intense foreign competition. Consequently I have held a large short position from 700 and will continue to do so following my sale of AAPL stock following the Samsung case - unless something changes.

You can only win in the brutal consumer electronics space by inventing the future. Otherwise you're just another commodity producer. You can't defeat the entire market by just doing more of the same.

Not impressed.

jeswin 3 days ago 1 reply      
The best priced tablet out there right now is the Barnes and Noble Nook HD+. 9 inches, 1920x1200, for 269 bucks!

If it ran vanilla Android, it would have been a no-brainer for many of us.

ableal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apple are exploiting one obvious flaw of the current "accepted wisdom" - that 16:9 movie-oriented wide-screens are to be foisted on all devices in sight.

Personally, I'm grateful someone is sticking to the 4:3 aspect ratio. If that made a comeback on laptops and monitors, so much better.

bane 3 days ago 0 replies      
IMHO Apple learned the lesson of aspect ratio for watching video with the iPhone 5, then forgot it again with this device. They missed out on a huge opportunity to start kicking their entire lineup towards the new aspect ratio and slowly eliminating any sort of Android-like fragmentation that will induce in their lineup.
zerohm 3 days ago 0 replies      
1. Apple releases new product

2. Critics yawn, criticize etc.

3. AAPL goes down

4. Many speculate as to what Jobs would or would not have done, joke about rolling in grave, call for Tim Cook to be fired etc.

5. Apple makes a mint's worth of money, AAPL hits new high.

It's been happening for 5 years. It's not just unsurprising, it's predictable.

Kylekramer 3 days ago 1 reply      
My reaction: I imagine Google/Amazon/B&N must be very happy with this. I am sure Apple will sell a boatload and possibly even own a clear majority of the space, but Apple just threw a huge wave of interest into a market where they are being very clearly undercut on price and not offering that much differentation.
DannoHung 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's gonna sell like hotcakes. Also, they probably just iced the iPod Touch.
anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that they also released an iPad 4 but hardly anyone is talking about that. I presume that this is to address the complaints some people had about the iPad 3 performing less well because of the additional overhead from the retina display?
tayl0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate that you can't use the iPad mini as a cell phone. It's small enough now that in a lot of situations you can carry it around with you. And in those cases, it would be nice to only have to carry your iPad mini and leave your phone at home.

Sure, with the 3g model you can still use iMessage, Whats App, Skype, etc- but you're missing out on regular voice calls and SMS.

From an engineering perspective- is it that difficult to add a sim card slot and the extra cell antennas?

maxpert 3 days ago 0 replies      
$329 for WIFI only? No thanks!
chucknelson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Was hoping for $299, but it still looks like a nice product.
DenisM 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hello, fragmentation.

Resolution might be the same as iPad 2, but pixel density is different. Therefore an area that is clickable on iPad2 or iPad3 may become too small to click on the iPad mini.

So we had two platforms - iPad2/iPad3 with one tap area size, and iPhone 4/iPhone 5 with another, and now we have three.

sneak 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's really annoying that the only way to get LTE in Germany on these things (and an iPhone5) is through the shittiest carrier ever.

Why is it so hard to build an iPad or iPhone that speaks LTE on 800MHz?

pooriaazimi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Change title to " iPad mini" (an space at the beginning so HN doesn't automatically capitalizes it, and lowercase m)
treskot 1 day ago 0 replies      
So now with iPad Mini here, what do you think of "Apple's Contradictions" : Think different each time? - http://blog.cloudmagic.com/2012/10/25/ipad-mini-steve-jobs-a...
wavesounds 3 days ago 1 reply      
Someone invent a screen that can change size already, sheesh.
tiredoffps 3 days ago 1 reply      
Apple: Pay more for less......and again in 6 months.
edgeman27 3 days ago 0 replies      
What baffles me is the ease by which someone can walk while using and iPad mini with a bicycle between their legs at 0:38.
pacomerh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Want it or not these units are gonna sell like pancakes. All the same goodness but now more portable equals a win. Anyways, I was hoping for a little more fanboy vs apple-hater drama on this thread, I always find that entertaining.
smackfu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised competitors haven't attacked the $129 3G upcharge more directly. That seems like about $100 of profit right there.
bashzor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny how it's only 1.9 square centimeters larger than the iPhone 5, and I'm guessing it lacks a call feature. Who does phone calls nowadays anyway right? And this old iPod Touch is incredibly obsolete now anyway, nobody uses that anymore.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have nothing against Apple fans.

That said, if you own an iPhone 3G, an iPhone 4, an iPod, an iPod Mini, an iPad, and then go and buy an iPad Mini, I am judging you.

disappointment 3 days ago 0 replies      
'tis a fine product but $190 for an extra 48Gb of storage? Can we not kill this practice already? I was pretty pissed that Google pulled the same stunt with the Nexus 7. It's 2012. Flash storage is cheap and widely available but Google and Apple (and probably Microsoft) don't want us to have it. It's very irritating behaviour.
tharris0101 3 days ago 0 replies      
The size of the normal iPad is perfect for me. I don't see me ever using this product. On the other hand, I think some people will like this more or this will fit their needs/price range better. Not a very exciting announcement by Apple but not an awful one.

I'm more excited about the new iMacs. They look great.

andrew_wc_brown 3 days ago 0 replies      
When my macbook pro died and I had to get the logic board replaced I tried using my iPad (3) to replace basic web maintenance for the week.

I couldn't add a mouse or command-tab between programs. (without jailbreaking).

I'd pay for an update for these software features.

stinky613 3 days ago 0 replies      
The iPad mini looks like it could be the perfect remote for smart homes
bitwize 3 days ago 0 replies      
No NFC. Less screen resolution than a Nexus 7. Lame.
mdonahoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Think they will make a larger iPad? 13" maybe?
sigzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not the "right price point" for me....
boh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there's so little talk about the new iMac. It's pretty amazing.
taytus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was so ready to buy this but a non-retina tablet at the end of 1012 sounds like a big no no for me, I pass.
mokash 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's only a tiny but smaller. Should have called it the Slightly-smaller iPad instead.
billsix 3 days ago 0 replies      
But does it come with sandpaper?
ashleyblackmore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't watch the videos on linux. Nice.
ahall 3 days ago 0 replies      
Career Day - A parent introduces programming at her son's school therealkatie.net
258 points by dhotson  1 day ago   60 comments top 17
riklomas 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's currently a non-profit in the UK working in primary schools with kids aged 9-11 called Code Club. They use MIT's Scratch to teach children how to programming using drag and drop blocks.

Link: http://www.codeclub.org.uk/

I've been in one of the schools when they have the after school club and it's amazing how much the kids get really quickly. They're making their own games without needing any help from the assistants, the drag and drop element of Scratch makes it a lot easier than getting syntax wrong and getting frustrated. Some of the kids love it so much that they're disappointed when it's half term and they can't do it that week. One kid now wants to be "a programmer or stuntman" when he grows up.

They're in around 300 schools in the UK now and have roughly 15 children per club, so that's an extra 4000+ children in the UK learning to code each week.

Disclaimer: I help out Code Club and develop their site

andyjohnson0 1 day ago 4 replies      
This was an interesting read, but it'd be useful to know roughly what age the children were. I'm not familiar with the US school system, so I don't know at what age careers days are usually held.

She showed the children a Python program with a while loop, and says they "got it". I've tried explaining iteration to a (bright) seven year-old by using indented text and they found it hard to comprehend, but the equivalent in a graphical lego programming environment was obvious to them.

jtchang 1 day ago 3 replies      
It might be slightly odd bringing up the topic of women in programming but in a few decades it might seem archaic that we were even worried about the problem.

Kids today (both male and female) grow up with so much technology around them. My bet is that this will drastically influence the number of women entering technology focused career paths in the coming years.

jawns 1 day ago 1 reply      
I did a high school career day earlier this year, talking about both my job as a frontend developer and my book ("Experiments on Babies" -- http://www.experimentsonbabies.com). About a third of the kids in each session were totally tuned out. Another third seemed interested, but I guess didn't want to seem overly interested. And the final third were really attentive and asked lots of good questions. I guess that's probably typical.

One of the things I tried to impress upon the kids is to look at where the jobs are, and what they pay. I don't think that's emphasized nearly as much as it ought to be. For instance, prior to making the switch to full-time development last year, I was working as an editor at a newspaper. I loved it, and I was good at it ... but the newspaper industry was (and still is) in the tank, and there was very little job security. And, of course, there's an oversupply of people with journalism degrees, so the wages aren't much to write home about.

I told them I wasn't trying to talk them out of pursuing a highly competitive, not-so-highly-paying career. But I think students should know, going in, what they're getting themselves into.

henrik_w 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have given talks in both my daughter's and son's classes (when they were in grade 2) on what I do at work. Not on programming per se, but on how an SMS is delivered to a mobile phone (so we also got into programs, databases etc).

What struck me the most was the sheer number of questions I got. 4 or 5 hands in the air the whole time when I was answering questions. A lot of smart questions and comments. Very intense and high energy. Contrast that to giving a talk to adults - usually there a lot fewer questions.

Overall it was a great experience, and I recommend it if you have the opportunity.

Newky 1 day ago 5 replies      
The argument for not teaching children scratch.
"You don't need to start kids off on some fake programming language like Scratch."

I have no real affection for scratch, but I feel that he was making the argument that children should learn to program in an environment that models (at least to a point) the one in which a developer develops in, at least with regard to language preference.

I feel at this point, the language choice (barring ease of use etc) is pointless. Whether you use scratch, python or Haskell, if it piques the interest of a child, then nothing will stand in the way if that student wants to go on and learn every programming language available.

If you think of the first language you ever learned, and what you are now programming in. For me, my first language (a type of kiddy basic) gave me what I needed. A concept of execution flow. How to make things come up on the screen, basic 2d programming and it made it very easy to make some GUI based stuff.

My point is that don't hate any language (even if it is a fake language like Scratch) if it builds the initial building blocks in a child (or adults) head.

sosuke 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Every kid has a smart phone. I guess my son wasn't being dramatic when he said he was the only one without one."

Ha! My inner child feels somewhat vindicated.

bhousel 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the past few years, I have spoken to local middle school kids (7th or 8th grade) at their "career day". They are all totally fascinated with what I do, because kids nowadays (yes I know I sound old) live their whole lives online and surrounded by technology.

The school where I visit is really average, some rich kids some poor kids, all kinds of backgrounds. The format of this career day is that each class period somebody will come and talk to the class that is somewhat related to the subject - so I usually end up speaking to a math or computer class. In a class of 25, there are probably one or two kids who already know some limited programming (or have made a website). Almost everybody that age is online (all Facebook, a handful of Twitter) and plays console video games. Probably about half have cell phones.

When they ask me questions, it's usually about how to steal their friends' Facebook passwords, conceal their browsing history, or build their own video game. I do spend some time talking about privacy, reminding them that their behavior online can stay around forever and that they should be careful who they are talking to online.

SiVal 1 day ago 0 replies      
re: "whole numbers" and "decimal numbers"

The terms don't vary much by district; they vary by age. Kids younger than these use the term "number" to mean positive, decimal, integral numerals. That's all they know.

Kids at this age are introduced to some new distinctions: fraction vs. whole, negative vs. positive, and decimal fraction vs. common fraction. At that point, they will use the term "whole number" to mean not some type of fraction and "decimal" to mean a number that uses this nifty, new fractional notation that has digits on the right side of the decimal point.

A few more years pass, and they no longer see "fractions and decimals" but just "numbers." At that point, they switch over to referring to integers and real numbers (with no emphasis on exactly how a fraction is represented), and if they begin working with binary numbers, they'll use the same term, "decimal", to make the distinction of base, not type of fraction notation.

The term "float" is not a mathematical term. Many older math professors don't know it. It is a tech term for a form of storage and display of approximations of real numbers.

These terms are not regionalisms; they represent the distinctions being made by the students at their stage of development.

nadam 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Getting kids excited about programming today means that one day, you're more likely to have competent juniors. If you plan on being in the workforce eleven years from now, the fifth grader you talk to today is your new hire in the future."

Wait another 2-3 years, and you will be their new hire.:)

Seriously, I wouldn't think of them as 'juniors' or 'new hires', that will be only a very short temporary state. Think of them as your future colleagues, competitors, hacker friends, fellow tax payers.

Great article though!

Qworg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did career day at my daughter's school, when she was in 4th grade (ages 9-11). It was interesting that the kids were far more interested in computers than in robotics. They were even more interested in gaming, which I kind of expected (be prepared to weigh in on which console you prefer, and expect to have at least one of the kids tell you your choice sucks).

I'd recommend it for any technical parent - what you do is definitely cooler than being a lawyer. =P

hising 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great read, I felt a bit excited after reading it. I look forward to do the same thing at my boys school. One thing I am wondering about kids and programming is when they are suitable to start taking in the concept of programming, it is probably different from kid to kid. It is such a great tool to teach a kid, to actually be able to build stuff on their own.
ionforce 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great article. But expecting children to know what integers and especially floats are is ridiculous. Integers, maybe, like definitely in a higher grade level. But floats absolutely not. They are whole and decimal numbers!
emehrkay 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The kids repeat questions. Over and over and over again. Not variations on a question: the same exact question. I would just repeat myself until the teacher intervened.

Just like trying to give the computer the same input over and over again. I find this hilarious, kids are the best

tnuc 1 day ago 3 replies      
>I comforted myself that I was at least a step above the nutritionist.

How is this person a "step above" a nutritionist?

natmaster 1 day ago 0 replies      
What grade / how old are these students?
Windows 8 Arrives microsoft.com
244 points by dragonquest  1 day ago   209 comments top 26
engtech 1 day ago 5 replies      
Windows 8 Pro upgrade for $39 dollars ($15 for newer PCs). [1]

That's... reasonable.

I might consider buying a copy of Windows 8 Pro at that price and then waiting until it hits SP1 to install it.

I might even spin up a VM to try it out.

I like that the $39 upgrade applies to anyone with Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. I think they're realizing that a lot of people don't upgrade OS because they don't want to upgrade their hardware.

(like my old Win XP laptop that I use as a VNC terminal to other machines).

The only reason why I wouldn't want to jump in with two feet is that I have a general dislike for the Xbox dashboard and I suspect that Metro would be very similar to it.

[1] You can use this tool to check that you have a genuine version of Windows http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=52012

[2] Windows OEM licenses are transferable if it included the hardware


[3] Windows retail licenses are transferable


Here's a direct link to a PDF for Windows 7 Home Basic in English


[4] Windows Anytime Upgrades are pretty much considered to be OEM

a. Software Other than Windows Anytime Upgrade. You may transfer the software and install it on another computer for your use. That computer becomes the licensed computer. You may not do so to share this license between computers.
b. Windows Anytime Upgrade Software. You may transfer the software and install it on another computer, but only if the license terms of the software you upgraded from allows you to do so. That computer becomes the licensed computer. You may not do so to share this license between computers.
a. Software Other Than Windows Anytime Upgrade. The first user of the software may make a one time transfer of the software and this agreement, by transferring the original media, the certificate of authenticity, the product key and the proof of purchase directly to a third party. The first user must remove the software before transferring it separately from the computer. The first user may not retain any copies of the software.
b. Windows Anytime Upgrade Software. You may transfer the software directly to a third party only with the licensed computer. You may not keep any copies of the software or any earlier edition.
c. Other Requirements. Before any permitted transfer, the other

luma 1 day ago 9 replies      
I've been running Windows 8 since they release the RTM version to TechNet subscribers on my primary laptop (about a month now).

Short version - outside of Metro it's basically Win7SP3 and it works great. Metro is every bit the usability disaster that people have claimed when not running on a touch screen.

The good news is that you really don't have to interface much with Metro at all. It replaces the start menu, but it does so in a manner that works with how I'm used to dealing with the start menu already. That is, I already just hit the Win key and then start typing until the thing I want pops up, and that behavior has carried over.

So, yeah Metro is awful for all the reasons everybody has already laid out. Despite that, Win 8 has been a solid performer and I won't be loading Win7 back on this system.

My primary home system will continue to run Win7 until I am comfortable that my production applications will all run successfully (and by that, I mean "games").

w1ntermute 1 day ago 1 reply      
jerednel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I happen to think that Windows 8 is a welcome refresh. At first, I was confused by the dashboard but I am finding it easier and easier to navigate around.

For instance, going to the traditional desktop is as easy as clicking the "Desktop" tile. And opening a new tab in the metro-IE was a bit confusing but after figuring out that double finger pressing the touchpad brings up the tab list and url bar it has become easier.

I also like the new native mail client and calendar apps.

For the record, I am running Windows 8 on a 2011 macbook air via bootcamp and it runs perfect. Guild Wars 2 also gets about 10 fps more than it does on the mac client for what its worth and makes it actually playable on an Air :)

Following this tangent a bit more, I feel like if the drivers were updated enough to support 3 finger left and right gestures to wipe between the different screens I wouldn't revisit OSX for a while.

Windows 8 is a fun operating system.

Permit 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone whose University participates in Microsoft DreamSpark will be happy to know it's available for free there already.
at-fates-hands 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see this as a pretty big leap. Remember, this OS isn't about forgetting about Windows or forcing change on anybody. It's about creating an ecosystem similar to what Apple has. They want you to use their apps (Office, Bing Search, X-box Games) across all of their products (Desktop, Surface, Windows 8 phone) and make it so you can access the same info anywhere you are.

I'm surprised more people haven't picked up on this rather bold move.

rossjudson 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've gotten to look Metro more than I did at first. I still don't stay in it; I mostly just head to the desktop and use the newer, flatter Windows 7 I find there.

The elephant in the room for me is the horizontal scrolling. I'm sitting there spinning the mouse wheel vertically, and what's on the screen is moving horizontally. That's a total disconnect.

Why this emphasis on horizontal scrolling? I don't see how the horizontally scrolling items are in any way easier to use than a vertically scrolling set of items. Seems like different, for difference's sake.

jiggy2011 1 day ago 3 replies      
Well looks like this is judgement day for MS then.

The price is much lower than for previous versions of Windows, this makes me suspect that we should start expecting new releases of Windows much more frequently, similar to how Apple does it.

With the radical changes going on in Windows 8 it wouldn't surprise me to see a tweaked and improved Windows 9 in less than 2 years.

learc83 1 day ago 2 replies      
Metro reminds me of the Acer Computer Explorer (I think that was the name, I was 11 at the time) that was installed on my very first computer (windows 95).

The computer booted up to a home screen with icons for all of your programs, and you had to click exit to desktop to get into windows.

chollida1 1 day ago 2 replies      
Or without the referral link code:


tonyedgecombe 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using it since the RTM and it seems fine.

However I can't say I am any more productive than I was with Windows 2000.

jaybill 1 day ago 4 replies      
And it STILL doesn't play DVDs without additional software! sigh
whalesalad 1 day ago 1 reply      
Microsoft has a problem with not specifying fallback fonts for non-Windows machines: http://wsld.me/KPlc

Looks like they're setting the font explicitly to 'Segoe UI' and nothing else in many spots. Telerik, a .NET CMS provider does a similar thing.

roryokane 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Ars Technica's five-page review of Windows 8: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/10/window...
mbesto 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm trying to download it from GB and looks like it only allows from the US. So I hopped on my US-VPN and still redirects me to the GB site. Anyone have any idea how I get around this? (Note - I have a valid US credit card and am prepared to pay in USD)
foohbarbaz 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only way I am going to see Windows 8 is with a new PC (which is a few years away, next purchase is probably an Apple product), or at work.

At work the IT dept will hopefully skip this version all together, or take a few years before "approving" it.

zwischenzug 1 day ago 1 reply      
...and screws up my evening by apparently breaking flash. We only warned our clients 4 months ago.
mikeratcliffe 1 day ago 2 replies      
Meh, the interface makes no sense without a touchscreen.
itry 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will this thing behave nicely when I put it on a machine which already has grub and several linux partitions? Or will it insist on killing grub or even do worse stuff to my machine?
Tooluka 16 hours ago 0 replies      
So how can I buy it? (full, not upgrade). I thought that they'll sell digital Win 8 Pro for 79$ but can't find any option for this at MS store.
mtgx 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't think regular users will like this much, and forcing them to go into Metro will only make more people hate it, rather than like it. Fan bases grow when the growth is natural, not when it's forced.


lucb1e 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Quick question: Which build is released as consumer version now? There's already been a release preview, I wonder if they are the same.
niggler 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Windows 8 has been available for months for free on Microsoft BizSpark (http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/)
Syssiphus 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Run for the hills!
fady 1 day ago 1 reply      
i like how the kids look super into the new surface (pic 4).. i bet those peeps were either "paid" to be there, or set up so that they would all look so interested in that device.. srsly, why would someone buy a surface?
propercoil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Someone once said Windows 8 looks like a 5 dollar app. That sums it up for me
       cached 27 October 2012 02:11:01 GMT