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The Future of Markdown codinghorror.com
865 points by dko  4 days ago   326 comments top 53
dgreensp 4 days ago 14 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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'.

dfc 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 :)

engtech 4 days 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.

StavrosK 4 days 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.

antirez 3 days 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.

kbd 4 days 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.

starpilot 4 days 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).
christiangenco 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just move to Pandoc[1]?

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

wreel 4 days 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).
zrail 4 days 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 4 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
What I really miss in Gruber's markdown is a way to hint syntax highlighting. For example, on Github:


nickpresta 4 days 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.

ddlatham 4 days ago 0 replies      
If everyone gets on board, great.

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


dysoco 4 days 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.

juliangamble 4 days 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 4 days 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.

ChuckMcM 4 days 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.
jacobr 3 days 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?

nkwiatek 3 days 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!

matthewowen 4 days 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.

ianstormtaylor 3 days ago 3 replies      
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.

buster 3 days 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.

Tloewald 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

antidaily 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can't be the only one who loathes Markdown.
TeMPOraL 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

TazeTSchnitzel 3 days 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!

madrona 4 days ago 0 replies      
Multiline support, please.
DanBC 4 days ago 1 reply      
Please please use <> to delimit URLs instead of ().

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

jeffio 3 days 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.

MatthewPhillips 4 days 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.
alexchamberlain 3 days ago 0 replies      
An effort appears to have been started on http://markdown.github.com/.
zeitg3ist 3 days 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

blackstag 3 days 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.

dhaivatpandya 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read this if you use Markdown alongwith Chinese: http://ruby-china.org/topics/6335
adam-p 3 days 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 3 days 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.
twodayslate 4 days ago 2 replies      
What is wrong with bbcode? All the forums use it. Why are there so many alternatives for these things?
DannoHung 3 days ago 0 replies      
donnfelker 3 days ago 0 replies      
More Atwood link bait.
lorenzfx 3 days ago 1 reply      
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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Please, please, please include a specification for table creation
rsl7 4 days ago 0 replies      
yup. i'm there.
Tell HN: Let's Be Civil
653 points by raganwald  2 days ago   128 comments top 32
mquander 2 days ago 8 replies      
The root cause is not incivility, it's inanity. Why do we have threads about these not-exactly-revolutionary things sitting all over the front page? Who votes for this stuff?

The Surface one up there is just some guy's blog review. It's not poorly written, but why are we reading randomly selected Surface reviews? There's an entire post right now that is basically a Samsung press release via CNET, describing some (totally unquantified, of course) minor uptick in sales for the latest Android phone. There is literally nothing to talk about there except to proffer essentially baseless flames, praise, or speculation.

I would have no qualms asking the moderators to fix this. I can't understand any metric by which these are useful posts to have on the front page. There is lots of much better stuff sitting on the New page which is being crowded out by noise that I could go read in two hundred other places. "Intellectual curiousity" is not referring to what you have every time a phone comes out which is 20% lighter and 10% longer.

msbarnett 2 days ago 5 replies      
One of the smartest things why the lucky stiff ever said (in my opinion): "When you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. so create."

Notionally, this is a forum for creators, but it seems increasingly pre-occupied with utterly unproductive posturing over whose tastes are 'better'. It's a troubling trend.

9oliYQjP 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've always wondered if the down-vote should actually just be an arrow pointing sideways. People use the down-vote like it's a thumbs down. If they don't agree with an opinion, then it's a thumbs down. But really the cancerous comments are ones that, in an offline conversation, a group would quickly and politely move past and ignore. The sideways arrow would represent brushing these comments aside.

Besides, you're supposed to up-vote comments you don't necessarily agree with so long as they are well argued. That is what a good debate is about.

nagrom 2 days ago 0 replies      
The replies about iPad vs. Surface vs. Android tablets have reminded me of nothing so much as the kind of silly arguments that console fans have over Playstations, Xboxes and Wiis.

I think that the reason is the same: when you spend money on one, you buy into a community and an ecosystem. You become a part of a tribe and naturally begin to see the world in an us vs. them paradigm.

It's worth noting that this is an irrational behaviour set, and best avoided if you want to learn anything objective. In typically-emotive arguments like these, you have to make the decision yourself and realise that, whatever you choose, you'll likely justify it to yourself afterwards however you can. Once you start to realise that, you begin to realise how inconsequential "what type of tablet or console you own" is, and the less likely you'll be to fall into that destructive us-vs-them mindset.

lotharbot 2 days ago 0 replies      
A reminder: let's be civil, not just in tech discussions, but in all of our discussions. Even when someone touches on a pet peeve, don't give in to the temptation to bend the rules a little bit.

In particular:

* yeah, I know you really like [company] and really don't like [competitor], but please don't say mean things about those who disagree with you, and especially don't say mean things about the staff at those companies without very good reason

* it's election season in the US, which means more than the usual number of offhand derogatory comments about the other side's politicians and voters. Please refrain from this.

* I've seen a few shots taken at other peoples' religions. Principled disagreement is OK, but try to resist name-calling.

* There have even been a couple of recent arguments about nationality that have involved some unnecessary name-calling.

* As a final heads up, remember that even deleted posts may be cached by various external services that grabbed them via the API. It's good to think better of something after the fact and take it down as soon as you can, but it's even better to avoid posting nastiness in the first place.

As a community, let's do a better job of controlling our own posts first and foremost, and let's do a better job of downvoting and flagging when others cross the line.

brianwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for saying this. The comments I saw on yesterday's post by Marco Arment really upset and concerned me.

Hacker News is usually a pretty nice place to hang out, but that comment thread reminded me of the ten minutes hate from 1984.

jusben1369 2 days ago 1 reply      
Was I the only one who saw the irony that the author asking for civility didn't even make it one paragraph without having a dig at people who use the word "fanboi" by calling them faux hipsters? That's not very kind now is it?

These threads remind me of reading newspaper articles that discuss how uncivil our current political discourse is compared to the far more civil past. And you can read essentially the same article from a 1880's/1950's/2012 newspaper archive.

Tloewald 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that conflict of this type arises when people are forced to make difficult choices between similar options with real but minor differences which have a large switching cost. Hence Nikon vs. Canon and Android vs. iOS. And of course religion.

The conflict doesn't arise when switching cost is low or the differences are too minor (e.g. Sony TV vs. Panasonic TV, Verizon vs. AT&T, Unitarianism vs. Baha'i fail to generate rancor on both counts).

The conflict would appear to arise from people struggling with cognitive dissonance. In other words, if an iOS or Android user were supremely confident of the superiority and perfection of their chosen platform there would be no dissonance and and no outward invective.

Just as Freud (correctly, for once) observed that the most passionately homophobic individuals were often in denial of their own urges, the most fervent boosters of a platform are probably plagued with doubts about it.

dmpk2k 2 days ago 0 replies      
I concur. HN suffers from ye olde bike-shedding: people argue about trivial things, because the hard stuff is beyond their ability and/or inclination.

I regularly see long and technically strong articles sink with less than ten votes and zero discussion, while those lambasting Apple yet again get dozens of votes and comments. Add hair-splitting with strong passive-aggressive undertones, and what's left is vacuous and mildly toxic.

acabal 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Uncivil"? "Inappropriate"? "Bile"? "Divisive incivility"?

Those are pretty strong words. All I've seen is a few geeks trading opinions about--ultimately petty--consumer electronics issues.

It's all just opinion. Nobody's said "Person X is ignorant waste of consciousness and they should kill themselves" (which would be uncivil, inappropriate, bilious, and divisive.) They just have opinions about products. Products that in the grand scheme of human achievement really aren't that important.

You're just causing even more drama with this self-righteous post. It's all, like, your opinion, man; take it easy, let the geeks bicker (relatively politely) about fruit versus miniature eiderdown, and save the outrage for things that are truly worth it.

Edit: I'm not going to upvote this parent meta-post, and neither should you, dear reader, for it itself is the one causing drama, not the majority of posts on HN in the past few days.

BrentOzar 2 days ago 0 replies      
For whatever it's worth, I'm the guy who wrote the Surface review trending today. I love reading HN every morning while I walk my dog, and I was dumbfounded that my Surface review made HN. That was a WTF moment for me. It's not the kind of stuff I come to HN for.

Don't get me wrong, I was honored - but it's off topic.

hooande 2 days ago 1 reply      
As hackers--and I include in this definition those who hack software, hardware, social behaviour, and marketplaces--our mission is first to UNDERSTAND and then second to INFLUENCE.

Maybe I can help with the understanding part. Here are some things that I've observed, as a hacker, about humans:

1. (most) people like to form groups and then compete with other groups

2. (most) people enjoy feeling superior to other people

These are things that seem to have been true in any part of the world, throughout all of human history.

So what's our plan here? Are we going to turn hackernews into the only collection of humans to ever live that defies these rules? Is there some technical solution that will change fundamental aspects of human nature? Maybe getting rid of the voting arrows will remove all of the meanness and tribal thinking on the planet.

I say all this because I don't understand the impetus for your post. Of course it would be nice if everything everyone said made an insightful contribution. But you know that people aren't like that. No amount of blog posting or commenting is going to change how people interact with each other. It seems like your problem isn't with the hacker news community, but with the nature of human socialization.

This looks like a clear case of selection bias. It's hard to do good as a hacker if you isolate yourself in an ivy tower of ycombinator hackers and geniuses. Making things does take some understanding of the average person and how they behave. If you truly think that hackernews is negative when compared with just about anywhere else, then you might be out of touch.

brennenHN 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think there is a reason why consumer electronics conversations get so heated that is even more important than what you've mentioned: the nature of the products forces us to choose between them. And we spend a decent chunk of money on them.

The multiplicity of products that we have to choose between and the lockin we experience once we've made the purchase (we have a contract for the phone and have made significant monetary commitment to the devices in general) mean we have to make a hard decision and then try to feel good about it.

Once we've picked, if we admit that another device is better, then we're saying that we made the wrong choice and that we have to live with a subpar device for another few years. Most of us tend to get defensive about our purchases instead, even when we are trying to be objective.

The truth is that there are trade offs between all of the devices that are related to our priorities, our personalities, and our social circumstances all of which make us feel personally invested in a gadget decision. This makes it hard for us to come from an objective place to talk about some of our favorite topics. Many of us are looking for validation more than information (I've definitely been guilty of this).

The trick, then, might not be to try and be more objective, but to take criticism of the products less personally. Headlines are meant to get clicks, not express thoughtful opinions. The intricacies of the tradeoffs are worth considering, but you won't find them in most tech coverage. Save your hate and try to understand why the competition is valuable to others and what your product could learn from.

Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
You see, I had no idea of this current crisis until I read this thread. Really, what were reading threads about iPad Minis or MS Surface's going to add to my life? They are good products possibly but at this stage just small refinements on an existing category of device. So I never bothered to click. Sometimes I'm dismayed that people are wasting their time not just reading but writing long comments about these things. And not just new product releases but also nebulous, insight-free articles like that one about 'no more big ideas.' I suppose no one should be on their high horse though: few articles are 'essential reading' when it boils down to it.
grey-area 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you disagree with the balance of stories on hn, the most useful thing you can do to fix it is visit /newest and vote up stories with interesting content. Nowhere near enough people do this and as a result many stories just slide off the new submissions page unread.

Re lack of civility, this is a normal feature of anonymous interaction which stems from lack of accountability - the only way to deal with it is to impose social sanctions on the users responsible. Everyone can do this by refusing to be baited, and calling out others for antisocial, insulting, or extreme comments.

Actions will have more impact that meta discussions.

skibrah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for writing about this. Bickering about biases that an article or commenter might have is the least productive thing imaginable. We all have biases, we all have one product that we prefer over another. If you have a well developed reason for that preference, I want to hear it and hope that you'll share it. But, when I come across a post/comment that is clearly of no substance, my first reaction is to ignore it and move on with my day. Life is too short to waste time and typing on attacking someone for sharing something of little value.
smackfu 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's because HN has become the defacto comments section on every blog that has turned off comments. The comments are pretty much the same, just moved to a different place.
ek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amen - the launches of both Surface and iPad mini are to me terribly exciting events, and I am impressed with both Microsoft and Apple. One of my favorite parts of being a technologist is that I get to observe how people adapt the myriad of available technologies and software/hardware systems to their own unique needs, and this extends to even myself. I've been through Macs, Windows machines, and more Linux distributions than I can count, as well as handhelds from both the Android and iOS camps, and I've been happy each time I have switched setups.

As hackers, I believe we all subscribe to the old mantra that one should use what is best for the job at hand, and arguments about whether Microsoft Surface or iPad Mini or so on and so forth are the "right way" detract from the quest for knowledge in which all of us participate.

w1ntermute 2 days ago 0 replies      
How about this? pg is not willing/interested in implementing stricter filtering - it's a discussion that has come up many times in the past, but nothing has changed.

So can someone create a 3rd party site that displays HN, but removes/hides these off-topic posts? Then everyone would be happy. There are already some similar implementations (like http://ihackernews.com for a mobile version), so it can't be that technically difficult. It would also be great for users to be able to specifically block certain domains (e.g., I could get rid of all Gruber and Marco blog posts from the list of links I personally see).

Edit: this could also be done with a browser extension, but that wouldn't work on mobile devices (I think)

hnriot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having a meta discussion about this community doesn't seem very productive. The community is what it is and asking people to be civil is a waste of yet more bytes on a server.

As is evident by the comment threads on the tablet releases, people have strong opinions, supressing these with calls for 'civility' are nothing more than asking for people to only post comments that you approve of, which seems extremely bourgeois to me. I enjoy seeing the comments where people express strong opinions because I am able to learn for example what kind of person is going to like the Surface and who won't. There's signal in the noise and in a public forum it's not about what you want to read. If I could down vote your thread I would because I find it extremely distasteful to see someone wanting to read just what they enjoy. It's really no different to me posting an ASK requesting that we focus more on Python or jquery plugins. Please, less of the high horse rhetoric.

white_devil 1 day ago 0 replies      
So you're not happy with the current level of self-censorship in the name of political/social correctness, then? I find it far more than sufficient.

As for the issue you're talking about, this guy here is obviously a flaming Microsoft-fanboy: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4706624 .. I wanted to call him one, but refrained from doing so, mostly because I thought it would be met with a negative reaction.

But you know, talking to fanboys is really frustrating. Their posts are full of such obvious, annoying bullshit/misdirection that it's just really difficult to ignore, but on the other hand, going through the effort of shutting them up is pointless too.

That's why it's tempting to just call a fanboy a fanboy, instead of wasting a lot of time and effort in a civil discussion with them.

zenocon 2 days ago 0 replies      
The meta-commentary on here has become a parody of itself. Spend more time with your family, or outdoors, or doing just about anything else.
pixelcort 1 day ago 0 replies      
On [Coinbase's announcement yesterday][1], I was concerned that the top 14 root-level comments were all focusing on the security implications of the announcement; it was as if there was nothing else to discuss other than that.

In many other discussions it seems like one controversial sub-topic ends up dominating as well.

Perhaps downvoting controversial comments isn't always a bad thing? There seems to be a big fear of the downvote button, but in some cases, even if a comment is useful on its own, in the end it sparks massive amounts of arguing back and forth which could be avoided if it were just downvoted instead.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4703443

lsiebert 2 days ago 0 replies      
The root cause is simple human tribalism. We are, in general, people that pride ourselves on our intelligence, but we often don't turn that intelligence towards our social tendencies.

Liking or disliking Apple or Android or Windows... well sure. people can have preferences. But self identifying or rejecting people based on their computing software? Being rude to people because of their technology preferences?

Ask yourself, why do we do that? Does it make sense logically? Not really. But at an emotional level, it feels good to have a group of people who one can feel part of, and a group of people that are outside it that one can disparage as not being one of us. Making moral judgements based on what tech company a person likes? Human tribal groups.

The truth is, we can do better then that.

jmitcheson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know there are a million and one people offering arm chair suggestions, but IMO it's about time that HN got sub-forums and moderators.

I'd like to see a /startup or similar, moderated by entrepreneurs to set the tone of what posts or comments aren't welcome.

For that matter, a /front-end would be cool too. HTML/CSS/JavaScript demos posted here grind my gears so much; the comments are all negative and totally not constructive.

facorreia 2 days ago 2 replies      
OP mentions downvotes. Are downvotes possible on HN? Are they reserved to some users only? Being a member for 4 years with less than 300 points, I don't have downvote icons on my page.
urbanredneck 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am at a loss for these arguments, I like what I like and I make no apologies for it. I prefer one system over another for a variety of reasons and I am not a fan of a company as it is a company. I may use their products because of reasons that make sense to me personally.

Performance, cost, usability, etc. are all factored into the system I use, the phone, tablet, etc. are all purchased based on these factors. If you do not like a particular product just do not buy it and if for some reason someone asks for your opinion on a product you can give it without being fanatical about it, it is just a product.

countessa 1 day ago 0 replies      
>>"What understanding would my comment add?"

Agree - this should be the default in any comment. It would be interesting to see a "karma" score for those who hold their tongue when they have nothing constructive to say, but obviously, that's pretty much impossible in an online format. In a way, the karma on a forum encourages opinions whether vacuous or not.

10098 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's because we're so pathetic that we actually associate ourselves with the gadgets we use, and thus, we somehow perceive any attack/criticism of our favorite tech as an attack on us.
jebblue 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is Microsoft using people in some way to try and take over the psychology of HN'ers.
lexy0202 2 days ago 1 reply      
Jessica Livingston: What Goes Wrong foundersatwork.com
510 points by nswanberg  4 days ago   88 comments top 27
nadam 3 days ago 4 replies      
Two of the problems can be easily avoided: 'cofounder disputes' and 'investors' are not problems in case of single-founder bootstrapped startups. :)

One thing I would add to the topic of 'determination': Are we speaking about determination to make a startup successful or determination to try out as many ideas in our life as possible, learn as much as possible and try to make at least one startup successful in our life?

I mean first we have to analyze what we optimize for:

If we optimize for the success of a given startup then it is obvious that the optimal strategy is to never give up on the startup.

If we optimize for the success of a person in his lifetime then it is different. In this case we have to examine all kinds of opportunity costs. Could it be a better strategy to very quickly abandon a startup when it seems that people do not want the product, so that we can start much more startups in our life, to increase the chance of at least one becoming successful?

ericdykstra 4 days ago 2 replies      
Here's a link to the video version of Jessica Livingston's talk from Startup School: http://startupschool.org/2012/livingston/

It really is great! I encourage everyone on HN to read or watch it if they have not already. As a not-yet founder, it has a lot of interesting advice that I don't think is documented anywhere as concisely and practically as it is here.

btilly 4 days ago 1 reply      
The link assumes that you know who is speaking. But it doesn't give that critical piece of information.

Founders at Work was written by Jessica Livingston, who is a cofounder of ycombinator. She's married to Paul Graham. But do not think that she's in there just because of the personal connection. Her book is truly excellent. And in previous articles I've seen Paul say that the #1 thing that they want in a founder is determination, and the person that they rely on to spot it during the interview is Jessica.

cs702 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is excellent -- and very much in the spirit of Charlie Munger's often-repeated saying: "All I want to know is where I'm going to die, so I'll never go there."[1]


[1] http://www.pbs.org/wsw/news/fortunearticle_20031026_03.html

pmarca 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is extraordinarily accurate, based on my experience.
tarr11 4 days ago 1 reply      
Worth the read just for this:

The pizza place was very confused by this, but they send the pizza guy without a pizza, Kyle answers the door, and the pizza guy says, "The site is down."

mck- 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Mixergy interview with PG (Feb 2010)[1] mentions Jessica working on a second edition of Founders at Work.

PG: "You know, that is her deepest wish. If she is watching this, she'll be laughing so much at this point because that's what she would like the most too to be able to spend more time on the new version of Founders at Work. There's a new, she's working on a new edition, with a bunch of new interviews."

Any updates on this?

[1]: http://mixergy.com/y-combinator-paul-graham/

mynegation 4 days ago 4 replies      
Very interesting. Statistically speaking, women are better than men in reading non-verbal information. I wonder if this is a part of YC success.
dools 3 days ago 3 replies      
Arguing anything other than differences in levels of persistent hard work and skill in your particular field 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 startup and longitudinal entrepreneurial studies.

Nonsense about hustle is exactly that: nonsense. The weight of evidence suggests that, if anything, hustling and creativity have a net negative effect on long term health of a startup.

But there's money to be made keeping up the lie.

Lastly, beware of pseudo-pop-science that opens with only a few people's stories. People manage to succeed as founders all over the world; these stories are not remarkable and tell us nothing.

In general the whole "determination" thing has little to no value in any serious consideration of startup success: it's about on the same level of credibility as diet fads.

goronbjorn 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is another great piece of writing by Jessica Livingston (I was at Startup School for the talk as well).

Is she ever going to pursue writing a sequel to Founders at Work?

loumf 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in a take on this topic that is based on data, check out Noam Wasserman at BoS 2009 (his talk at BoS 2012 was very similar)


He has been collecting data on start-ups and then looking at survival lengths and outcomes. He wrote a book on the topic


LiveTheDream 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are people really having such trouble with the context of this article? The author's name is in the headline (maybe it was modded in later, to be fair), but also there's an "author" link[0] in plain sight. PG's essay's don't have a "who am I" introduction, and if you didn't know who he was then you'd simply click on the obvious "bio" link.

[0] http://www.foundersatwork.com/author.html

biscarch 4 days ago 0 replies      
Having started riding this roller coaster I particularly enjoyed a view of what pitfalls to be aware of in the future.

Also, since I just survived a dual-founder breakup (company intact), it was encouraging to know that this was probably a bigger bullet to have dodged. (For those curious, post-breakup I reached out to an old friend with whom I've shared some tenuous situations and we have applied to YC for the next batch)

Edit: I forgot about the pizza comment! When she asked how to contact someone in Lake Tahoe, I audibly said pizza (in my empty apartment). When the solution was pizza, I had a celebratory moment.

faramarz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome read!

Jessica mentions the Codecademy team launched 2 days before Demo Day and managed to signup 200k users. If I remember correctly, they launched on HN through a Show HN thread.. and so on..

What I really want to know is, how many of those initial 200k users stuck around? I was one of them and I have only signed in maybe twice since their launch.

So what does that mean? they leveraged the curious users to get VC interest? Did they really engage me, us, the 200k? is that a false positive?

I guess if the net result is a positive one Today, none of this really matters.

brianmcdonough 4 days ago 0 replies      
Jessica's speech follows one of the themes she established in "Founders," - overcoming emotional responses being a key to success in startups (and life). Her skill in communicating complex ideas is subtle, but more impressive because it lacks the usual dose of ego and/or one-upmanship. The sole intent being to help people who can listen well enough to use the information to help themselves.
alid 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love this! It's one of the best pieces of startup advice I've read in a long while; I've sent it to my startup friends. New fave quote: "Determination is really two separate things: resilience and drive. Resilience keeps you from being pushed backwards. Drive moves you forwards".
Rajiv_N 4 days ago 1 reply      
I know this is a minor issue. But when I publish something I want people to inform me of problems. Please note that I don't mean to be disrespectful and just want to help. So here goes:

3rd sentence: "There's a talk I've always want to give at the beginning of each batch...". I think this should be either "I've always wanted to..." or "I always want to..." right?

001sky 4 days ago 0 replies      
In order to make something people want, being brilliant and determined is not enough. You have to be able to talk to your users and adjust your idea accordingly. Ordinarily you have to change your idea quite a lot even if you start out with a reasonably good one.

-- This is a great point. Even outside of startups.

michaelnovati 4 days ago 3 replies      
I saw this talk at Startup School. Honestly, as someone working in industry who tried doing a startup during school, there's a huge thing missing.

CMD+F for "luck" = 0 results.

Luck is a huge factor and sometimes you just need to move on to either something new, or working for a company to fill in the gaps, and trying again soon.

ww520 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Great advices. I especially like the resilience part. Those rejection stories really hit home, as I have gone through similar experience recently. When reading them, the line "when life deals you a lemon, make lemonade" kept flashing through my mind.
andrewhillman 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the best articles I have read in a while. Obviously you see a lot over 7 years/ 500 startups.
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I read this yesterday thinking it was from pg, strange feeling.
uhwuggawuh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are those Pokemon in the first figure? If so, I have severely underestimated the coolness of next-generation Pokemon.
bcooperbyte 3 days ago 0 replies      
Loved it. Very informative. Being an entrepreneur is a tough road, but with preparation, belief, and determination things will eventually take its course.
nanodeath 4 days ago 1 reply      
A byline would be helpful, here...
seacond 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Investors tend to have a herd mentality."
ghshephard 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't mean to be impolite, but do you honestly not know that "Founders" is one of (if not THE) seminal work on the culture of startups and their founders?

I guarantee you cannot name three books that have done a better job capturing this topic, because they don't exist.

Claiming that Livingston's relationship with YCombinator/Graham is the reason why the book is so wonderful, is like claiming David Pogues relationship with the NYT is why he's such a popular tech reviewer, or Manohla Dargis is such an amazing movie reviewer

It misses the point of both their contribution, and talent and is frankly, quite rude.

Nexus: The best of Google, now in three sizes googleblog.blogspot.com
484 points by cleverjake  11 hours ago   392 comments top 53
fr0sty 11 hours ago 7 replies      
And someone finally implements the killer-feature for the "Family Tablet": Multi-Account Support:

> But what makes Nexus 10 unique is that it's the first truly shareable tablet. With Android 4.2, you can add multiple users and switch between them instantly right from the lockscreen. We believe that everyone should have quick and easy access to their own stuff -- email, apps, bookmarks, and more. That way, everyone can have their own home screens, their own music, and even their own high scores.

klausa 11 hours ago 7 replies      
Flagship Android device, unlocked, without contract, for $299.


From the marketing video it looks like Android 4.2 gained Swype-like keyboard.

It seems that they're no longer using tablet UI, even on Nexus 10 (i.e. it has status bar on top, navigation buttons are in the middle of the screen). That's weird, and I definitely don't like it, but it might not be that big of a problem.

rryan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a video by the verge which provides a lot more detail, hands on demonstrations, and interviews with the Android team.
ericdykstra 10 hours ago 5 replies      
No LTE is a deal-breaker for me on the Nexus 4. I would pre-order one right now if it was included. I think I'll wait for the next great Android phone that has LTE. The Nexus S is a pretty good phone, so without an upgrade in internet speed I don't see any reason to upgrade.

As for the Nexus 10, I hope that it gets enough sales to start pushing developers to make tablet apps for Android, and for Google to make the split between phone/tablet sized apps better in the Play Store.

bitcartel 11 hours ago 4 replies      
It won't be long before the usual suspects start claiming

- screen resolution isn't important

- multi-user accounts are overly complex

- low prices mean the devices are cheap and nasty

monkeyfacebag 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Hopefully this starts the ball rolling on Android tablet apps. I really love my Nexus 7, but the app selection is definitely inferior to what's available for iOS.
drivebyacct2 8 hours ago 3 replies      
This stuff is blowing my mind.

On every single spec, Nexus exceeds the iDevice equivalent. The Nexus 4 has two NFC radios, a higher res screen, is thinner and lighter and is less than half of the price of the iPhone 5. (edit: That's unfair, I forget about LTE, though I understand why Google skipped that)

Similar things hold for the Nexus 10.

Am I the only one really surprised?

(This is of course not to mention the numerous new Android 4.2 features that everyone except the Verge has ignored)

netcan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a test period for the post Jobs Apple.

Apple has a loyal mac user base willing to pay an Apple premium. A business that won't just disappear overnight. They had a good head start on iphones. Combined with the obscure phone prices on plans, Apple can easily get their premium here. The tablet market they pretty much had to themselves.

Now Android really is mature. Great devices at great prices that compete with iOS devices on features and not just on price.

Lets see if they can keep up their margins.

JVIDEL 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't know what's more insane: the N10's 300dpi screen or how hard is to find a laptop with a 1080p screen for twice the price of that tablet.

The N4 is bonkers too. Sure there are other phones with HD screens now, but with a quad Krait? the only other I know is the Mi2, and good luck getting one at launch.

The N7 with cellular is really tempting since with a little hack you could have a tablet+phone hybrid (using a Bt headset). Too bad it still uses the Tegra3, a SoC that couldn't keep up with the dual Krait.

But overall I think Google just brought a gun to knife fight...

achompas 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The "iPad mini vs. other 7" tablet" battle has been going on for a week, but if nothing else I hope these new Nexus tablets force Apple to move away from $100 jumps for memory and $130 jumps for radio.

The ~$450 I paid for a 32GB iPad mini would net me two base Nexus 7s. Alternatively, for $100 less I can get an equivalent Nexus 7...with cell radio. Those jumps add up!

slewis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The phone comes with wireless charging built in. Looks like that's a first. Does it come with a charging pad as well?

I think I'd buy a phone just for this feature.

stcredzero 11 hours ago 1 reply      
With regards to tablets, one of the next major battlegrounds is going to be in the enterprise, with Apple, Google, and Microsoft duke-ing it out. From that perspective, Surface makes a whole lot more sense. If they can perfect Surface, they will be in a fierce position to defend their enterprise territory.

With regards to the emerging enterprise tablet market, Google is playing serious catch-up. If Microsoft can come late to the game, but demonstrate the tenacity they have in the past, they might pull another "IE over Netscape" on Apple.

pooriaazimi 11 hours ago 5 replies      
The screen for 10.1" model is great: 2560x1600 (300ppi) - iPad (3 and 4) are 2048x1536 (264ppi). Which means it has 30% more pixels (409600 vs. 3145728).
melvinram 11 hours ago 6 replies      
Someone forgot to tell their marketing team: http://www.google.com/nexus/

Edit: Basically the website still has old info about old devices.

suprgeek 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The Pricing on the Phone for the Given specs is very impressive.
Howvwer I would wait for the reviews for the Nexus 4 to come in and wait for a few months. This phone is made by LG and every person I know who has bought any LG telecom product (Phone/Tablet) has had Quality issues with...
yumraj 9 hours ago 1 reply      
In the era of beautiful Surface and iPads why oh why did the Nexus 10 have to be so ugly, when Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 are pretty.
The specs on Nexus 10 make me want to buy it, but the shape is just not helping me make that decision.
Raphael_Amiard 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you Google, for making the Nexus 7 16gb 199$ 1 week after i bought mine .. I love this tablet, but the one thing i really wish is i had the 16gb version, but couldn't afford it at the time.
Aardwolf 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Now all we need is 3 SIM cards for the same mobile contract, so you can use all three devices without swapping SIM cards all the time and without paying for 3 separate contracts.
aviraldg 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure they'd written this beforehand and scheduled it to be posted but forgot all about it when they cancelled their event.
arrrg 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Arrrgh! That Nexus 4 looks delicious, absolutely awesome. But why does it have to be such a monster! With their flagship product, can't they shoot for a happy middle ground and not for monster sizes?
mikeevans 10 hours ago 0 replies      
>Nexus 4 comes with wireless charging capability built right in. Just place your Nexus 4 on a compatible wireless charging mat to charge -- and retire the wire for good.

One's not included in the box though. I wonder how much they plan to charge for that accessory.

mfringel 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Since I see a lot of "Hey, doesn't X do that too?" remarks, I just wanted to say:

Execution counts.

It's not enough to say "Hey, X does that, too." There has to be a qualifier on how well/poorly/etc. it does it. Otherwise, we're meaningless comparing feature checklists, which could be done by a small perl script.

anonymouz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the wireless charging feature. It's the kind of thing that, viewed pragmatically, isn't really all that important, but it has a slick futuristic ScFi vibe to it that makes me want to have it.
programminggeek 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Ok, um, did anyone else notice that 4.2 is called Jelly Bean, like 4.1 was called Jelly Bean?

Up until now it was Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. Did they run out of tasty treats already?

drivebyacct2 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Quite frankly, I haven't seen these mentioned anywhere except in a very long Verge video so I'm making a list of Android 4.2 features:

- Google Now will now automatically detect packages you are going to receive and will notify you of their progress. You can now dictate calendar events (also, in 4.1 they added the ability to say "navigate home").

- You can take 360 degree panoramas

- Quick Settings & Multi-user accounts

- You can swipe the lock screen to reveal informational widgets. (quickly check your calendar, etc)

- Swype functionality built into the keyboard. (Even cooler than Swype though because of where it shows the word and the suggestions)

I've also yet to see anyone mention that the Nexus 4 rests in a capacitive, magnetic dock.

mbesto 10 hours ago 2 replies      
And soon enters the paradox of choice. Do I bring my smartphone, mini-tablet, tablet and/or my laptop in my bag? Wait, why did I buy all of these again?
neovive 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I've been very happy with Galaxy Nexus so far. The specs on the Nexus 4 look impressive. Anyone going to upgrade their Galaxy Nexus for the 4?
neya 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, they nailed it! Well done Google. Samsung displays are one of the best there ever is (apart from LG). For $299 I think its a killer deal!
shimon_e 3 hours ago 1 reply      
FYI, the Nexus 4 is quad core. However, the Nexus 10 is only dual! I've tried switching to a tablet at the beginning of the year but web browsing performance wasn't good enough for me. Hope the dual core downgrade won't make that much of a difference.

edit: I was under the impression they both were Samsung Exynos arm processors. Turns out the Nexus 4 is using the Snapdragon S4 Pro and the Nexus 10 is using a A15 Samsung Exynos.

fumar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have Galaxy Nexus. I was thinking of upgrading to the Nexus 4, for better battery life. But, LTE is missing from the device. On the other hand, the price is great. I wish Google used some muscle to make carriers bend towards Google's needs. I am grandfathered into a Verizon unlimited plan, and would love to stay.

I am excited to see the screen on the Nexus 4.

vasco 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there anything country specific on the phone? Seriously thinking about crossing the border to buy one. Would I have problems with the store or anything?
metalsahu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a new phase of the tablet wars. During phase 1, an iPad was not only more polished (both hardware and software) but also much cheaper than the competition. In 2009, no other tablet maker could match iPad on cost for equivalent specs because Apple had completely optimized the supply chain. Non-iPads mostly sucked!

Fast forward 3years, tablets are no longer a novelty and users have figured out that the product is more function based rather than status driven - unlike Phones where brand plays a part in the purchase esp because majority of the usage happens in front of other people.

One sign of this change in consumer behavior was signaled by the launch of iPad 4 within 6months of the iPad 3. Felt like Apple saw a glitch in the matrix and had to make sudden changes. Q3 earnings confirmed that iPad sales were down.

What now? Well, the door is wide open. People will pick based on personal preferences as there is no clear "objective best": iPads, Kindles and Nexuses are all interchangeable.

beggi 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok so, 4th generation of Nexus phones is called Nexus 4 and the tablets with 7" and 10" screens are called Nexus 7 and Nexus 10? What..? Also, this greets me when going to the product page (not trying to buy the phone, just trying to look at the phone): http://cl.ly/image/2t2R0L1L0H0F
saturdaysaint 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been a happy iPhone customer since the first model, but I think a good low-price competitor is going to be a real challenge for Apple - an affordable and desirable unlocked phone strikes me as a big breakthrough. Whether Google is going to make a push to spell out the saving to contract-happy U.S. (and risk alienating carriers and competing handset makers) is the real question.
mladenkovacevic 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Miracast support. I hope more devices (TVs and set-top players) really jump on board with this protocol.
jebblue 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Nexus 4 looks interesting but a bigger screen would be nice and I could go to the Nexus 7 now that they have one with a phone option and MicroUSB for connectivity! Ah, it has no camera well a 1.2 MP front facing one but that's it. Maybe the Nexus 10, big, would take some getting use to to replace a phone with it and it has an 8MP rear facing camera, but no phone option. :-(

When I can get a 7 with phone and at least 32 Gigs or preferably expandable storage like my Nexus One which I've had 32 Gigs on now for a year or two and an 8MP real rear camera and a front facing camera and MicroUSB then I'll upgrade from Nexus One to Nexus 7 or if the 10 gets a phone I might go to that.

The 10 would be a strong option for me now if it had at least 4 Gigs RAM, 64 Gigs storage or expandable and a phone as well as rear and front facing cameras.

georgemcbay 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Those look like some very nice devices at very compelling prices.

I'm still a bit disappointed though. I've been waiting/hoping for a Nexus hybrid (ala the ASUS Transformer). I'm really sold on that form factor and hope they do something with it on a "Nexus" device. The continued lack of this makes me wonder if they just haven't gotten around to it yet or if they are avoiding it due to Chrome OS related strategy tax.

hack_edu 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Have detailed specs of the Nexus 4's components been released yet? One of the most surprising features of the Nexus S was the superb Wolfson DAC audio, which is almost unheard of in a phone. If the Nexus 4's compares I'll preorder today.
chm 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wonder why they chose not to add a full-size HDMI port. A lot of people have HDMI cables/TVs at home, but I guess most of them do not have micro-HDMI cables. The device doesn't ship with one, either.

From the viewpoint of the customer, this feels awkward. I guess the business people and engineers see it otherwise...

computerbob 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I just bought the nexus 7, but I might be buying the nexus 10. Finally being able to have different accounts on one tablet is awesome.
codeulike 11 hours ago 2 replies      
What, no 3 hour long livestreamed press event?

edit: oh, they had one planned in NY, cancelled due to the hurricane

codeulike 11 hours ago 2 replies      
By launching three flagship devices with three different manufacturers (LG, Asus and Samsung), do you think they are trying to say something about Android and hardware?
nachteilig 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been an iOS device guy since the beginning, but these low pricepoints on a flagship Google device make it very, very tempting to at least give Android a try. Well done, Google!
Inufu 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Now I have to decide between the Nexus 4 and the Droid Razr Maxx HD :-/
manishsharan 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone please comment on how PDF and ebooks from Manning's programming books render on Nexus 7 vs. mini-IPAD ? That, for me, is the deciding factor.
Achshar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Won't anyone think of us folks in India. I really want a tablet and I would get nexus 7 if it were available here at that price. Also google music and play store won't hurt either.
dholowiski 11 hours ago 5 replies      
As expected, very little support for other countries (specifically Canada where I am). Movie purchases, and HSPA, but no magazines or TV shows, no google music. Nexus 4 not available in Canada.

[edit]Correction - magazines now available in Canada (Woohoo!) they just didn't say so. Now, can we please have google music?

nodata 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't give us Sun-style crazy version numbers please Google! 4.2 should have got a new name!
Alcedes 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess google is going after budget conscious. No LTE is ridiculous and their excuse that they don't want carrier interference is lame. Does Apple have to deal with carriers interfering with deploying LTE? Please, the real reason why they don't support LTE is the Nexus is not a big seller. So it makes little sense to create multiple sku's. Gotta love that Google spin.
blissofbeing 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Do any of these support LTE?
pjmlp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
SDK site still lists Android 4.1 as latest version. :(
sergiotapia 11 hours ago 6 replies      
The idea of owning a tablet by Google creeps me out to no end. I just can't picture myself using this without the lingering feeling of having Big Brother tracking me, watching me, keeping tabs on what sites I visit and what content I post online.
The little ssh that (sometimes) couldn't naguib.ca
476 points by LiveTheDream  1 day ago   61 comments top 22
js2 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is insane. The closest scenarios to this I've seen in my career:

1) A private frame relay network that one day stopped passing packets over a certain size. Worked around by lowering the MTU at both ends till I was able to convince the frame relay provider that yes, the problem was in their network. This was relatively straight-forward to diagnose, but it was still odd being able to ssh into a box, then have the connection hang once I did something that sent a full-size packet (cat a large file, ls -l in a big directory, etc).

2) A paging gateway program I wrote (email to SMS) that worked fine when testing on my Mac, but couldn't establish connections to a particular Verizon web site when I ran it from a Linux box. Turned out that the Linux TCP stack had ECN enabled and at the time the Verizon website was behind a buggy firewall that blocked any packets with ECN bits set.

3) A Solaris box that could randomly be connected to, but not always. Turned out someone had deleted its own MAC address from its ARP table (yes, you can do this with Solaris) so it wasn't replying to ARP packets for itself. As I recall, it could make outbound connections, and then you could connect to it from that same peer until the peer timed out the ARP entry. Then the peer couldn't reach the Solaris box again.

None of these are nearly as complex as the scenario in this story.

mikeash 1 day ago 3 replies      
Well, while we're at it, here's my crazy MTU-related war story, although not as crazy as that one!

I was troubleshooting with a user of an audio streaming application running over a LAN. The user could stream classical music but not rock music. Seriously. Classical was fine, but when streaming rock, the connection would drop after a few minutes.

The application took chunks of audio, compressed them with a lossless codec, and then sent each chunk in a separate UDP packet to the other end. It tried to use IPv6 whenever possible because it was generally more reliable in the LAN environment, although it would happily use IPv4 if need be.

After a huge amount of boring troubleshooting going back and forth with this guy, I finally figured it out. Somehow, he had set his network interface's MTU to 1200 bytes. IPv6 won't perform automatic IP-level fragmentation for MTUs below 1280 bytes, so larger packets simply could not be sent at all. The streaming application would try to send an audio packet larger than 1200 bytes, get an error, and bail out of the connection.

Why did it only happen with rock music? Turns out to be pretty simple. Lossless codecs are necessarily variable bitrate, and classical music compresses better than rock music. When streaming classical, each chunk of audio consistently compressed to less than 1200 bytes, but rock music produced occasional packets over the threshold.

The user didn't know why his MTU was turned down and didn't need it, so we turned it back up and everything worked just fine.

gwright 1 day ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of a problem I had with a T1 circuit corrupting packets.

Shortly after bringing up a second T1 into a remote location we discovered that some web pages would show broken JPG images at the remote site.

Some troubleshooting revealed that this only happened when traffic was routed over the new T1. The old T1 worked just fine. Pings, and other IP traffic seemed to work over either line but we kept seeing the broken image icon for some reason when traffic came over the new T1.

We tried several times to confirm with the telco that the T1 was provisioned correctly and that our equipment matched those telco parameters. Still had some mangled bits going over that new T1.

Finally had the telco check the parameters over every span in the new (long-distance) T1 circuit and they eventually found one segment that was configured for AMI instead of B8ZS (if I can remember correctly, certainly it was a misconfigured segment though).

The net result is that certain user-data patterns that didn't include sufficient 0/1 transitions would lead to loss of clock synchronization over that segment and corrupted packets. Those patterns were most likely to occur in JPGs.

Once they corrected the parameters on that segment, everything worked as expected.

Quite a bit of head scratching with that one and lots of frustration as the layer-1 telco culture just couldn't comprehend that layer-2/3 Internet folks could accurately diagnose problems with their layer-1 network.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 1 reply      
That is an awesome story. If you're in devops I would suggest you look at the sequence of events, especially the debugging decision tree. You can't always get access to all of the machines but you can create 'views' by going through them. Sort of like astronomers using a gravitational lens.

We had a similar issue at Blekko where a 10G switch we were using would not pass a certain bit pattern in a UDP packet fragment. Just vanished. Annoying as heck, the fix was to add random data to the packet on retries so that at least one datagram made it through intact.

alexkus 16 hours ago 0 replies      
On a related note I used to be the person who got to go see customers who had problems with our software that the support desk couldn't solve. This often meant one or two day trips to glamourous industrial estates on the edge of various cities all around the world.

About 3 visits in a row I went to look at problems (core dumps or errors) that the customer could reproduce at will, only for them to be unable to replicate the problem with me present on site.

I sat at one customer (in sunny Minneapolis) for 2 hours in the morning with the customer getting increasingly baffled as to why he couldn't get it to fail; it had been happily failing for him the previous evening when I was talking to him on the 'phone. We gave up and went for lunch (mmm, Khan's Mongolian Barbeque). A colleague of his called him midway through lunch to tell him that the software was failing again. Excellent I thought, we'll finally get to the bottom of it. Back to their office and ... no replication; it was working fine.

As a joke I said I should leave a clump of my hair taped to the side of the E450 it was running on. The customer took me up on that offer and, as far as I know (definitely for a few years at least), the software ran flawlessly at that customer.

It's the closest I've got to a "'more magic' switch" story of my own.

SoftwareMaven 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why good DevOps people are worth their weight in platinum. As a developer who has done just enough administration to be dangerous, I can easily say that my job is always far more enjoyable when there are good DevOps folks around to keep my systems happy and shield me from the crazy place that is the Internet's wiring.
windexh8er 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So this is one of those times that I find myself torn between labels.

A little background... I was brought up in the network ranks, I worked as a network / sys admin in high school, ended up working for an ISP as a junior network engineer in college (while I went to college at one of the first Cisco NetAcad baccalaureate programs - which was a combo of network study and Cisco curriculum and certifications) and have gone on to work in every major vertical since then for the past 10+ years; government, finance, healthcare, retail, telecomm, etc. I always tell clients and potential employers that having a network background generally gives me somewhat of an edge in the industry I primarily focus on: security, and I generally will study and take Juniper & Cisco tests and work on labs just to stay current. Most software devs and security folks I've run into (keep in mind there are a lot of really good folks who have a better grasp on network than a lot of seasoned engineers do) are generally overzealous in the thought that they truly do understand IP from a debugging and troubleshooting standpoint.

Case in point: I interviewed for a "Network Architect" position with a very well known online backup company (think top 4). The interview was the most bizarre I've ever had, not that it spanned more than 5 interviews, but that every time they positioned a complex network problem it was generally solvable within 5 to 10 minutes of pointed questions. The software dev who was interviewing me was baffled by how I came to a reasonable solution that took them over a week, in some cases, that quickly - and it was pretty simple in the fact that 1) I've seen something similar and 2) that's what I studied and still have a passion for over the course of 20+ years (when I found the Internet in 1991).

Most of the time when I run across a "magical" problem it's because someone hasn't looked at it from L1 up. As this article showcases you generally have two generic stack angles to approach it from - application back down to physical, or the inverse. Having been in network support - by the time you get a problem like this it's often so distorted with crazy outliers that really have nothing to do with the problem your best bet is to start from that L1 and go back up through the stack. Reading into the problem the author describes I think there were some key data that was missed and/or misinterpreted. There most surely would have been key indicators in TCP checksum errors and it was glossed over pretty lightly in the explanation - but it's interesting that those items of interest are often cast aside when digging into something like this. Nobody in this thread has indicated where a bit error test or even something as simple as iperf, or similar, would have been able to more accurately showcase/reproduce the problematic network condition.

But back to the labels remark - I don't believe, as some people have said, that this is a DevOps role largely. I don't mean to cut down on DevOps folks because I think, at some level, if you're a jack-of-all in any org then that's your role, it is what it is. However, this would be a problem most suited towards a professional network engineer - and you don't see much of that need in the startup space until people get into dealing with actual colo / DC type environments, otherwise it's often very simple and not architected with significant depth or specific use cases.

Long story short: network professionals are worth the money in the case of design, build, fix of potentially issues that may seem complex to others, but can be solved or found in minutes when you know what you're looking at. That being said, I'm impressed that the OP dug into it to get to a point where he could ask a specific person (who was probably a network engineer / tech of some level) to validate/fix his claim.

greenyoda 1 day ago 0 replies      
The striking thing about this story is that even after the problem was solved by re-routing traffic around the bad hardware, the author continued to investigate until the ultimate cause was tracked down. This almost obsessive desire to understand the true causes of problems (whether they be related to operations, software development, or whatever) is one of the things that makes people really good at what they do.
jwr 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, I had this problem! Exactly the same symptoms, although I never got as far as dumping actual packet contents. But I did verify that packet loss (of various sizes) was not the culprit. It was SSH (and some monitoring TCP connections) that failed (hung), always precisely at the same moment.

I suspected the VM code at the time, but it is very likely that my packets had to go through the same router (geography would support this).

I'm so glad somebody debugged this problem. Also, I'm quite glad that at least this time I'm not the only person with a weird issue (I have a knack for breaking things).

swordswinger12 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love reading weird bug stories like this. Is there a place where lots of these types of stories are aggregated? Maybe a book about them?
ComputerGuru 1 day ago 4 replies      
Off-topic: can someone provide a good reason why SSH w/ the HPN patches is not the default for every SSH install on every platform?

Today, people are relying on SSH for binary transfer more than ever. SFTP and SCP are the new defacto file transfer standards between machine to machine over a secured connection. Source control like GIT (or even SVN) make heavy use of binary transfers over SSH. The performance benefit to the entire world is immeasurable. Yet unless you explicitly go out of your way to manually compile and install SSH-HPN, you don't get it.

That said, given how slow SSH is on Windows (GIT pushes and pulls are exponentially slower than on *nix or OS X), does anyone have a good link to a Putty HPN build?

soldermont001 1 day ago 0 replies      
A dev submitted code and broke our build once, when we looked at what he submitted there appear to random syntax errors in it. On his workstation the code was correct however.

We tracked it down to a switch that was corrupting packets enough that the TCP checksum wasn't sufficient protection, and the packets would simply pass their checksum despite having been altered.

The out come was that we always use compression, or encryption, as an added layer of protection.

lysium 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can anybody think of an explanation why the 'bug' happened only after the 576th byte?
acdha 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Great story - I've had MTU and firewall fun before but nothing so subtly treacherous.

I've been wondering about something not entirely unrelated we see sporadically from a small but widespread number of users. We serve deep zoom images and the client appears to run normally but sends malformed image tile requests - e.g. in the URLs "service" is consistently garbled as "s/rvice", "dzi" as "d/i". I've seen this from IPs on every continent and user agents for most common browsers as well as both iOS and Android. My current theory is that it's some sort of tampering net filter as a fair number of the IPs have reverse DNS / Whois info suggesting educational institutions but have thus far failed to confirm this, particularly since none of the users have contacted us.

rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be pissed at a transit provider who mangled packets like this.

The more ambiguous situation is that early Juniper routers would fairly frequently re-order packets. That's nominally allowed, but a lot of protocols didn't like it.

There are way weirder things on satellite or other networks (spoofing acks, etc.).

kabdib 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice analysis.

I had a similar problem, less hairy, involving a bad bit in a disk drive's cache RAM. Took a day or so to figure out a solid repro.

Stuff like this does happen. Handling bit errors in consumer electronics storage systems is an interesting problem, and one that I'd love to see more attention paid to.

geofft 1 day ago 2 replies      
Awesome story.
zanny 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm curious how the kernel was able to diagnose that a single one bit always being fixed on the 15th of 16th bytes in the packet was corruption. That sounds like some intense algorithmic profiling especially if its being applied to every packet.
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wonderful! Thank you, author and submitter both!
narpaldhillon 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant work. Thanks for sharing
seiji 1 day ago 2 replies      
Weird connection problems like that sound like tcp timestamps breaking things. You can try turning it off across the board and see if your problems immediately clear up: http://prowiki.isc.upenn.edu/wiki/TCP_tuning_for_broken_fire...
The most dangerous code in the world stanford.edu
387 points by gmcabrita  5 days ago   130 comments top 21
tptacek 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 days 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 5 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.

mindstab 5 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.
justinhj 4 days 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...
scott_s 5 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 5 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 5 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
jyrkesh 5 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 4 days 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)


felanthropop 5 days 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.

adamfisk 5 days 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.


drallison 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone who does any development should read this paper. It is not just for SSL specialists!
citizenoftmrw 5 days ago 0 replies      
Are Rack-based middleware affected by these vulnerabilities (or did I lose the plot)?
ritratt 4 days ago 0 replies      
"...bad implementations of SSL like OpenSSL..."

<falls off chair>

Why I'm returning my Microsoft Surface RT ozar.me
350 points by magsafe  2 days ago   280 comments top 45
Anechoic 2 days ago 7 replies      
"The diagonally-oriented camera is strange. In the one orientation it's optimized for, it's slightly annoying. In any other orientation, it's almost intolerable. "

"The built-in front-facing camera for Skype is angled so that it'll work great when the kickstand is open, but again, only for Danny DeVito, or maybe for people who want to show off their chests in Skype."


"The Touch Cover is one of the Surface's biggest innovations. I thought I would hate it, but I didn't. It's not like typing on a completely flat surface: each “key” is raised slightly, so while there isn't any mechanical feedback, it does feel a bit like a keyboard."

"The Type Cover (the one with real keys) just works. I've got big hands that often struggle on undersized keyboards, but I can type very quickly on the Type Cover."


"He showed me Office, which was almost unusable: it was extremely sluggish, and touch targets were tiny and difficult to hit."

"So quickly, in fact, that I can outrun Microsoft Word on the Surface. I get the feeling that the Surface RT's CPU or Word code just can't keep up with my typing. Here's an example video:"


"The standard gestures don't help, requiring many in-from-the-edge swipes that not only aren't discoverable"

"After waiting over a minute for the machine to boot and launch the mail app, I got a blank gradient screen. User interface 101: if the app needs to be set up on the first launch, offer to do that, please. Folks from Twitter suggested that I swipe out from the right side and click Accounts"


So, can we conclude that these observations might be real (V. 1) problems without resorting to ad-homs regarding the author?

ConstantineXVI 2 days ago 6 replies      
I've had mine since 10AM yesterday; and I'm actually fairly pleased, at least for effectively being a new platform. Thoughts, in no particular order:

- Love the build. Very solid overall.

- 16:9 means it's one long tablet. Oddly, it's actually fairly usable in portrait; can't say the same for my old 16:10 Transformer (maybe just better balanced?)

- The touch cover is, like most say, surprisingly usable. Desperately needs a way to no-op Caps Lock though.

- Screen res lower than iPad, but still usable. Difference not near as noticeable as between iPad 2/3, but too many factors in play to make an objective call there.

- Metro takes getting used to, but I like it (even with KB/trackpad).

- It's the first time I've seen proper desktop Gmail and Google Docs usable in a tablet browser.

- Performance is generally decent. Not blazing, but decent.

- Windows RT appears to still contain far more of Windows than we've been led to believe. Even `csc` is installed, but missing a few dlls.

- No SSH client for Metro yet. That's one of the risks you take on a new platform (esp. a non-Unix one), but still aggravates me.

- Snapping is very, very handy; nice solution to bring proper multitasking to a tablet UI.

- When touch-scrolling over on desktop apps (what few remain), the entire window "bounces" at the head/tail of the content. Odd decision.

- No central notification bin (like Android's shade or iOS's Notification Center). Have to rely on scanning Live Tiles if you miss anything.

- The back camera seems to exist only to make the iPad 2's back camera feel better about itself. Has to be the blockiest camera I've ever seen.

- Handwriting recognition is pretty solid. Wacom junkies will be very pleased when so-equipped tablets ship. (Capacitive styli still suck)

- None of the Twitter apps have really thrilled me. Given the circumstances, I'm not that surprised.

- OS-level share support is a smart move; similar to Android's impl but more thorough (sharing pops up a share pane from your selected app in the sidebar, instead of bouncing you out of your current app entirely).

- Printing is mildly unintuitive; you have to open the "Devices" charm and pick your printer. No one is going to guess that's how to print.

- On the bright side, our network printer/scanner was detected and installed immediately, with zero user intervention. Very, very far cry from the WinXP days.

- There's no way to see your precise battery life outside of the desktop (in the classic sys-tray).

- Presumably due to the use of pressure sensors vs. capacitive, the Touch Cover isn't quite as accurate without a solid surface underneath.

- If you're not using the keyboard (watching movies, etc.), flip the cover backwards with the kickstand out and it's nearly as stable as a laptop.

- The intro tells you about the basic edge swipes (right for charms, left for app switcher, top/bottom for menu); not mentioned is swiping straight from top-center to bottom kills the current app.

- Screenshot is Win+VolDown.

- Wordament can be played while snapped. This is dangerous.

- IE lets you swipe on the outer edge of the page for back/forward, which would be smart if this didn't occasionally clash with the app switcher.


(PS: I typed this entire post on the Touch Cover.)

dangrossman 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm excited about the prospect of a Windows 8 tablet. I'm willing to spend as much as it costs to get one. Unfortunately, nobody wants my money.

Yesterday was the big retail launch. I was on a mission to check out what my local stores had and, if they had anything that could do the job for me, buy it. I've always wanted a tablet, but only if it could be as useful as a laptop when paired with a keyboard. The new Windows 8 tablets are supposed to be just that.

Best Buy had one (1) Windows 8 tablet. It was a Asus Vivo Tab running Windows RT... supposedly. I don't want an RT tab, and this store didn't even have a working floor model of the one tablet they were selling. The one they had was stuck on a "failed to automatically repair Windows" screen. It was also glued to the display stand so I couldn't pick it up and get a feel for the hardware.

OfficeMax had zero (0) Windows 8 tablets. Heck, they had no Windows 8 touch screen laptops either. Or price tags. Or product specs. Or anything I could play with, really. There was one employee there setting up a display model of some laptop while complaining to another about how they were supposed to have tags for the computers but had none. Their electronics section was a joke.

Staples had one (1) Windows 8 tablet. It was a Samsung ATIV running Windows 8. Success! I actually spent some time playing with this one. Again, I couldn't really get a feel for the hardware, or specifically the weight, given it's got a pound of security alarms and tethers bolted onto the back chaining it to the display area. Beyond that, the specs just weren't up to snuff -- with 2GB RAM and 64GB storage, I'd just barely be able to run enough software to occasionally use it as a portable development machine. With nothing installed on it, there was only 14GB of free space -- the OS and preinstalled apps were using 50GB of the 64GB out of the box.

So all those trips were a waste of time. There's no Microsoft Store anywhere within 4 hours of me, so those 3 were the full range of retail options here.

I'm basically looking for a Surface Pro (Intel Core processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB storage). It's amazing that despite knowing Microsoft would be building this, nobody else built something comparable, and stores aren't carrying even the few tablets/hybrids they did build.

powertower 2 days ago 2 replies      
Surface with Windows RT is supposed to be a stripped down version of Windows, that runs 99% in Metro-mode, not Desktop-mode.

Right now there are two exceptions to this: Office (preview version - buggy) and a Desktop-mode version of IE. Everything else is 100% Metro. And I don't think you can even install anything yourself on it except via it's App Store. Hence it's Desktop-mode is not really there for the benefit of the consumer. And the Office offering will need to be further ported and refined for RT before everything is worked out. I'm not even sure why they put Office on it.

It's a device made mostly for browsing the internet and running some apps while holding it in your hands. Which is what the bigger market is for.

While this was a good and honest review, I think his use-case is off on this one and he will be better suited waiting for Surface with Windows 8 Pro.

I would also be curious to know what his height is, so I'd know what "for short people" means... The pics I've been able to find of the author, he's at least 6'2", maybe even 6'5".

If you are as toll as the author, you could probably either move the device away a bit, zoom out the image, or perhaps put something underneath it's stand to angle it properly.

mtgx 2 days ago 4 replies      
You'll probably return that one, too, after you see the poor battery life on it. Also, you may get some tablet usability with Metro on it (not many apps to choose from, though), but after using Windows 8 on a PC, I can say Windows 8 is worse in usability than Windows 7, so you will be definitely taking a step back when you'll be using the desktop mode.

After using Windows 8 I just see no good reason for anyone to use it on an old PC instead of Windows 7. I only see drawbacks, such as the forced Metro interface, and the inconsistencies in the desktop mode UI, which seem like a patched-up job done 6 months before the release or something, to make it more "Metro".

stevenwei 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me, the user experience issues are the biggest failures of all:

    - A mail app that opens to a completely blank screen with no cues on how
to continue.
- An infinite login dialog that doesn't allow you to cancel and back out.

Wanting software that offers a pleasant and intuitive user experience doesn't mean that you want software that's dumbed down for grandma, and I'm sad that people are portraying it that way.

I've read my share of man pages and hand written my Xorg.confs many times in previous lives, I'm no stranger to complex and arcane software setup procedures.

But in 2012, in the world of smartphones and tablets, this is stuff that should just work. The answer to "the mail app is completely blank on launch" shouldn't be "sorry, you failed to read the manual". Ever.

And while I greatly respect Microsoft's attempt at entering this market, someone on their team, at some point, had to look at these issues[1] and say, "okay, this software is ready to ship anyway". That does not bode well.

[1] The alternative, I suppose, is that no one noticed. Which is even worse.

georgemcbay 2 days ago 1 reply      
I posted about this before:


and I still think it is true... IMO Microsoft made a mistake by leading out with the RT. Leading with the Pro and then offering the RT as a feature-reduced lower cost version would have cut down on the confusion as to what RT really is and lessened the initial impression that the Windows 8 experience is kind of underwhelming.

xbryanx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ahh, so they made Word behave like it does on OS X. Standardization.
option_greek 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is off topic but, compare this review to the one written by Marco Arment and you will know the difference between constructive criticism and fanboy-ism.
magsafe 2 days ago 0 replies      
An old post from an ex-Microsoftie, which might explain some of this Windows RT mess:


shardling 2 days ago 1 reply      
> I think the kickstand angle was designed for airplane use by short people, because the screen hardly goes back at all.

Huh, in the Anandtech review they thought the kickstand worked well everywhere except airplanes.

gojomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
The advice to "wait for the one due in a few months that needs a fan" makes me wonder if this author's sweet spot for tablets is anywhere near mine. I hate fans. (And does such advice mean the author is literally a fan-boy? A fan-fan-boy?)
magic5227 1 day ago 0 replies      
What genius decided RT was a good name? Honestly.
pithon 2 days ago 1 reply      
The experience he had trying to save the Word doc looks exactly like me every time I have to set up "Windows Live" inside a PC game.

Has anyone else tried the SRT? This post alone is enough to scare me away.

jiggy2011 2 days ago 4 replies      
He seems to be using the Surface RT in desktop mode in that video. I thought this was not supposed to be possible, is that untrue?
jimbobimbo 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lag in Word is more likely caused by an option that makes Office use accelerated graphics. I don't know why this option even exists - I've yet to see someone liking how typing in Office applications works with it being on...
mladenkovacevic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Bugginess and software weirdness aside, the thing that struck me as most awkward is the keyboard/touch interface paradigm. It required him floating his entire arm to reach out and touch specific dialogues. This seems like a huge sacrifice of touch precision and a strain on your arm. I predict that most people get a Bluetooth mouse for it and use it in either laptop mode or tablet mode - not a combination of both.
dhawalhs 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am extremely happy with the surface RT and more specifically IE10. Finally a desktop class browser on a tablet.
stcredzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the comments:

> I admit, I fully expected a tablet version of my laptop. I wanted it to do everything my laptop could do, but with the added bonus of the touch screen, so I can play my games that make my phone freeze up while I'm sitting at my kids dance or karate classes.

If you're technically savvy enough to understand and follow focus of GUI elements, and don't mind a stylus, then there are a number of existing tablets that will fit this bill. In fact, they've been around since ~2000.

trotsky 2 days ago 1 reply      
tl;dr - microsoft word on a brand new cpu architecture, ui style and input system is a bit laggy.
joejohnson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was excited when I heard Microsoft was making a tablet and entering this market. Apple doesn't face any strong competition in this market, and because they are so far ahead of their nearest rival (Samsung?) they don't really need to innovate for a cycle or two, and their designs could stagnate.

But the Surface will not be true competition to Apple. This product fails in too many ways, and I predict that the iPad will remain dominant for at least a few years to come.

edandersen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Biggest issue so far for me with Surface's WinRT - no alternative browsers, so no Adblock. I can't believe this is what the desktop web really looks like.
brudgers 2 days ago 2 replies      
I bought one of those Microsoft touch mice. I was getting ready to install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, and after watching the video, it looked like a great option...and simultaneously, my Logitech Mouse had a dying mosfet switch so I was in the market for a new mouse anyway. [Really, I wasn't just rationalizing buying sexy technology].

It wasn't the first time I've bough I Microsoft mouse. I bought one back about a decade or so ago when another Logitech mouse died. It suffered the same fate as the Microsoft touch mouse. It was returned to the store and exchanged for another Logitech - for exactly the same reason.

Neither was acceptable for my workflow. Unsurprisingly, I spend a meaningful amount of time using CAD/BIM software. The touch mouse zoomed in when I adjusted my grip ("drawing" with a mouse largely involves holding it). There was no way to program the gestures. Likewise, the earlier Microsoft mouse had lots of buttons, but no way to program the middle button as a middle button - as an early "many button" mouse, the middle button had some dedicated function and I had about a decade of muscle memory and projects to push out the door.

The author is experiencing the same thing. The new device isn't tailored to his workflow. It probably isn't reasonable to expect it to be. It's competitors aren't; most people don't have a similar workflow; and it's still version one of the software (Word for RT).

This doesn't excuse the devices performance. But it also puts the author's experience in perspective. Right now, he's somewhat of an edge use case.

drivebyacct2 2 days ago 3 replies      
I want a video of people using these as laptops. That's my biggest fear about springing for something like these.

Even RT could be tolerable with the right apps as a remote machine with that keyboard, similar to what people do with Android+Transformer. I can program on it, work on remote machines.

That having been said, assuming it's somewhat usable on a lap, I'll wait for the Pro too, I have several things that need x86.

goodereader 1 day ago 0 replies      
We did a review of the surface tablet here - http://goodereader.com/blog/tablet-slates/review-of-the-micr...

also vs the ipad 3 here - http://goodereader.com/blog/good-e-reader-videos/microsoft-s...

the pro might be a better investment, but most of the apps crash/buggy, not really worth being an early adopter with this product.

Metrop0218 2 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the life of an early adopter. It is a bit buggier than we'd like, but you know we'll receive updates before the year is up that will address a lot of the problems. I do wish that it could've been shipped with higher performance, but Windows on ARM was a big endeavor. Achieving the amount of polish that we see on Intel's chips is going to take a bit of time.
tlogan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I played with Microsoft Surface and my problem with it is that IT IS A LAPTOP. The interface is pretty much made for laptop (you need to have keyboard), and size is a little too big for tablet. It is not something I might be using while watching TV.

It is weird combo of laptop and tablet.

tjdetwiler 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's great to see MS trying something new and exploring interfaces that aren't just a rip-off or evolution of Apple designs.
Groxx 2 days ago 0 replies      
And this is one of the reasons I despise modal dialogs of all kinds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W...

When they go bad, they're catastrophically bad.

paul9290 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was thinking of making this my next PC purchase, but after watching a video in this blog post I see i would be forced to use the touchscreen as there is not a built in trackpad on that cover/keyboard thing.

Overall the design looked cool, as I am interested in tablet with an attached keyboard with a trackpad. Though I want a tablet/PC type of device that allows me to use it as a tablet or a PC laptop. I guess the Surface is not what I imagined.

cboss 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Quote: "The problem with Windows "apps" is that they are made inefficient and un-optimized by default"

As a WIN32 developer for the last ten years I would have to agree that a good bit of software today for Windows lacks performance. Why ? IMO a lot has to do with mindset of not only developers, but also those who produce the programming languages developers use. I would venture to say that most programmers would admit that the computer they develop on is likely a more advanced computer than most mass market PC's. They like i5 or i7 CPU's, 8,16 or more gigs of memory, SSD's, etc. The mass market PC though, to be affordable comes far less equipped. This is why when I write software, my development PC is closer to a more mass market PC. I need to feel the problems with performance the moment I compile and run. Now if you write apps which run fast on a slow PC, imagine how they will run on the higher end devices.

moistgorilla 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the risk you take by being an early adopter.
lnanek2 2 days ago 0 replies      
So...this is a good opportunity to write a word processing app for the Windows 8 store. Score! It's well known what people like with those...
Maakuth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope someone works around the UEFI secure boot soon, I would be very interested in having this as a Linux tablet.
kyberias 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's as if the author really hurried to return the device so that he can write the blog article. Insane.
madoublet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Brent, thanks for this. It is odd because Windows 8 Pro is really smooth. Lets hope someone at Microsoft gets a hold of this and they release an update sooner-then-later.
pedro-alejandro 2 days ago 0 replies      
People are using the surface primarily without a mouse, the way a tablet is supposed to be used. Yet there's still so many tiny touch targets all over the place when classic Windows stuff pops up. I cringe when I see video reviews of people trying to laser-tap these and miss a few times until they get it.
werdnanoslen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Still waiting on decent linux-capable tablets...
anonymfus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Update of Office for final version was available at the day of launch. Why you did not install it?
BindersFOW 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi everyone. The author brings up great points and its really important for MSFT to address the kickstand's adjustability or even adjust the camera angle automatically.
Regarding the other points of the author, i think he should install the updates after which Office RT becomes a productivity beast. Also, there is one aspect of the surface and windows 8 in general nobody has touched in this whole thread which is smartGlass. Coupled with Xbox, this device becomes a wonderful companion to the vastly improved xbox-kinect bundle and so far, i really don't have any complaints about it except the fact that i can't code on it although someone mentioned csc works on it sans some dlls.
mandelbrot 2 days ago 1 reply      
In the email video he could be seen typing his password. Even though you cannot see the actual keys the reflection gives some idea about what is being pressed. Do you think you could guess his password from that?
dzhiurgis 2 days ago 2 replies      
qwerty keyboards were designed to slow down the typists thus preventing typewriter jamming. Perhaps MS should redesign it again to make it even slower, so the Surface would be able to keep up?
prayaagk 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think his post and reason are highly analytic. Rather its result of working so hard to find out even smallest issue with Microsoft's new product No product are perfect in that regard. Remember first iPhone ? first Android ? first iPad ?

Camera viewpoint doesn't cover your face when you put tablet on kickstand mode? put it little away. what's wrong. Other leading tablets in market doesn't even have one. Its been stated design wonder along with cover with keyboard. Should appreciate instead.

All issues noted in this article are exaggeration except the live sign-in bug while saving office doc.

seanica 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope he's changed his password. In one of the vids it's fairly easy to workout what he was typing to login.
alpb 2 days ago 4 replies      
Are all the HN upvoters are retarded? This is not Surface RT. RT does not have a classic Windows Desktop environment. It only has metro.

This is a Surface Pro, which has not been released yet. Slowness is totally understandable because that guy installed an OS X on an iPad, which is the same thing as using Win8 full desktop environment on Surface RT hardware.

The lactose-tolerance mutation slate.com
308 points by MaysonL  1 day ago   163 comments top 28
Spooky23 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Access to milk is a great thing, because you get the calories and many nutrients needed to sustain life, and all you need is a cow, goat or sheep (which is mobile) and pasture.

Compare that to cereal crops like wheat or maize or vegetable crops, which require long uninterrupted growing seasons and irrigation.

Why is this important? When a troop of rampaging soldiers cuts through your village and pillages everything in sight, you grab your cows and family and boogey out of there. Essentially, you have a mobile food supply.

In the event of a drought, you have options as well. With wheat or vegetables, no rain == no food. With a dairy animal, you go kill the guy who controls the next pasture and let Old Bessie the cow feast on the grass. (The other key development was the introduction of potatoes, which remain buried under the ground safe from the rampaging army above -- my Irish ancestors subsisted on potatoes hidden from the English taxman and a cow that lived in the house.)

In Europe and the Near East, these things were really important, because there was always pillaging armies marching across the continent. Today, it's unlikely that some Mongol horde is going to loot my supermarket, so I drink milk and eat cheese because they are really tasty.

pdog 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Various ideas are being kicked around to explain why natural selection promoted milk-drinking, but evolutionary biologists are still puzzled. [...] Those who couldn't drink milk were apt to die before they could reproduce.

The success of the lactose tolerance mutation may be partly due to sexual selection[1]. It's been proposed that neoteny[2] is a key feature of human evolution. The ability to drink milk as an adult is a neotenous trait, and it may have been "accidentally" selected for when other beautiful features were sexually selected.

David Rothenberg's book, Survival of the Beautiful[3], argues that biologists are sometimes "blinded" by natural selection and ignore sexual selection.


[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_selection

[2] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoteny

[3] - http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/thoughtomics/2012/10/25/...

zeteo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I guess I must be missing something, because there's a rather obvious explanation of the article's central paradox: lactose has calories. To wit, it takes about 10kg of milk to make 1kg of hard cheese, i.e. 6000 vs 4000 calories. So if you have milk directly, instead of cheese, you get ~50% more calories. This would presumably make quite a difference for semi-starving pastoral populations in 10,000 BC.
ImprovedSilence 1 day ago 5 replies      
I don't know what it is, but I frickin love milk. It's one of my 4 main liquids (water, milk, coffee, beer) I put down a gallon about every 4 days. In college, I'd drink a half gallon a day. Usually when I eat anything that makes me thristy/is a little salty, like red meat, I"ll crush the milk too. Pasta? it's so carby, I've got to have milk to get some protein to level out the glucose release. Hungover? not only does milk rehydrate me, it gives me much needed calories/energy. Why I'm so dependent, I have no idea. Friends and family know to stock up on extra milk when I visit. It's like water to me. I can't explain why, or how I got to this point.

edit: Growing up, we always had 2% in the house. From college on I drink skim, occasionally (once every few months) I get 1 or 2%, just to up the fat content (I'm a runner, not terribly concerned with weight gain, more or less trying to maintain body mass...)

edanm 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm slightly lactose intolerant.

Here's a tip for others - you can buy Lactase pills at a pharmacy and take them just before you eat any meal that contains milk. This gives you the enzymes you need without your body producing in it.

And it's really awesome. I only started doing this a year ago, but now I can eat many more cheeses, drink milkshakes, etc., without feeling bad. And it happens surprisingly often - every time you want to eat pizza, pastas, etc.

Seriously, is you're lactose intolerant, give it a try - it improved my life considerably.

arn 1 day ago 9 replies      
Well, as another datapoint to study, asians are said to have a near 90% adult lactose intolerance rate. So whatever beneficial natural selection for Europeans that propagated the always-on lactase mutation, the same cultural/agricultural circumstances didn't hold true for asians.
goggles99 8 hours ago 0 replies      
WOW - I cannot believe the false premise this entire article is based on. This is Epigenetics, not mutation or evolution!!!

The article itself says
>Two hundred thousand years later, around 10,000 B.C., this began to change. A genetic mutation appeared, somewhere near modern-day Turkey, that jammed the lactase-production gene permanently in the “on” position.

This is NOT a genetic mutation. The gene was already there but not turned on past the toddler years. I searched this entire page of comments and no one knows or points this out?

6ren 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Everywhere that agriculture and civilization went, lactose tolerance came along.

Odd that they don't mention physical displacement: invasion, dispossession, death. The gene would likely have coincided with other developments of civilization, such as weapon technology, greater numbers, greater cooperation, specialised soldiers etc. Maybe there's evidence against it, but odd it's not addressed, with a puzzlingly high "selection differential". Another factor might have been sexual selection, if the new folk were healthier looking etc.

Note they are talking specifically about the West - agriculture and civilization spread throughout the East without this gene.

brc 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's an interesting article, on a topic I've read about before. I think the answer is that is no one answer - maybe milk became fashionable, and the guys who had a regular supply of milk attracted more females, and thus more offspring. Maybe it was fashionable and, if being consumed as yoghurt, somehow acted as medicine to a bacteria getting around at the time. Maybe it was fasionable, had medicinal qualities and gave you stronger bones, so you were more able to survive childbirth and things like battles or hardships.

I'm just glad I'm not lactose intolerant, so thanks to whoever in my billions of ancestors decided to keep at it.

bane 23 hours ago 1 reply      
It's because it's delicious and goes really well in lots of foods.

It moderates strong flavors, smooths out acidic drinks, fluffs up eggs among many other thousands of beneficial food uses.

Other dairy products like butter and cheese are key to an immense palette of flavors and cooking techniques.

Dairy is so delicious that I've even seen people with violent milk allergies put up with the consequences just to scarf down a few bites of custard or ice cream.

dave1619 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism, celiac disease, and perhaps even acne are direct results of the switch to agriculture.

Really? A plant-based whole foods diet is probably the best cure out there for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. (google Dean Ornish, Neil Barnard, John McDougall)

The author tells a good story but his bashing of agriculture is unsupported.

WA 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I read once a theory that the enzyme that splits lactose in the body is destroyed by sunlight. People living near the equator have a much higher lactose intolerance because the constant sunshine destroys the enzyme.

Likewise, people in Sweden for example have a 100x higher lactose tolerance, because there's less sunlight throughout the year.

zacharyvoase 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Would pasteurization (or lack thereof pre-1862) have any effect on the research?
hcarvalhoalves 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The ties between agriculture and herding are not clear. Mongols are nomads and have a diet that is basically just milk.

I believe the benefit of drinking milk is obvious. A herd can take calories from grass and drink mud, while the human enjoys a source of clean, caloric, nutrient rich drink that can go anywhere. Farmers, on the other hand, can just be ran over, pilled or sieged by enemies.

Shenglong 15 hours ago 1 reply      
though not in the Americas, Australia, or the Far East.

Does anyone know why some East Asians (such as myself) are lactose tolerant? Is that evidence of interbreeding in the past?

zaroth 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, mampires...

"We became, in the coinage of one paleoanthropologist, “mampires” who feed on the fluids of other animals."

thalecress 1 day ago 0 replies      
Calories. Cheese has only about 60% the calories of a starting volume of milk. [1]

Plus, animals can graze on land you can't farm, and they're very portable.

[1] http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/the-indo-european-a...

robmcm 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It could be a lot more simple, such as a bacteria that grew on cheese, or a virus that milk protected you from.

This would support massive switch to tolerance (simple survival of the fittest).

It also supports the spread, as a bacteria or virus would not have made it out of the "islands" (himalayas, oceans) and so tolerance wouldn't have been an advantage.

josephjrobison 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I do value the importance of milk from a survival standpoint, but I think today's milk is a bastardized version of milk our ancestors survived on that they drank directly from the cow. With the whole factory farm system and terrible diets most (American) cows eat, not to mention the steroids and antibiotics that a lot of cows are given, I don't believe the idea that milk is a nutrient packed elixir.

Not hating for those who want to feel good about their love for milk, but I don't think today's milk is much more than a treat and baking ingredient.

thomasfl 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It really sucks living in norway with lactose intolerance. Just about every kind of processed food got milk in some form or another in it. Bread, hot dogs, caviar, potati chips. It's mad cow milk disease!
ekm2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Man was drinking milk long before there was a western civilization.
teyc 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps people who tolerated milk reared cows. Given that those who were exposed to cowpox survive smallpox, the advantage conferred would have been huge.
ckdarby 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel a little odd drinking this while I drink a glass of milk >_>
finnw 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The title sounds like the name of a Big Bang Theory episode
bifrost 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have an obvious bias here (I have a cow milk allergy) but I will be very happy when the use of cow milk becomes nonexistant!
mitchi 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I hate the taste of milk. Pour yourself a glass of milk and drink some of it. Now go away and come back 5 minutes later. Drink again. It tastes bad now.
I quickly changed to Soy Milk and I drank a lot of that instead. However, recently I have stopped all soy products because of the estrogen catalysers in them. I'm now on Almond Milk, I hope I'm good now.
krob 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm lactose intolerant. I guess I'm a caveman :(
ck2 1 day ago 5 replies      
Because cereal tastes terrible with water?

Because the dairy industry in the US alone gets $4 billion per year in subsidies from taxpayers?

Killing Your Startup on a Thursday Night techcrunch.com
296 points by sethbannon  1 day ago   56 comments top 17
cletus 1 day ago 7 replies      
Two problems I see. The first is:

> I still had a job, which made everything near impossible, that I couldn't afford to quit. I worked during the day as a report writer, snuck in emails and business calls for Altsie over my lunch, and worked late into the night to take care of hundreds of necessary details to keep the project going.

combined with

> Despite my downward physical spiral, I managed to marry the love of my life

I appreciate that people have lives too but you just can't do two jobs and have a personal life. Sorry. Something has to give. I've read many tales of where having just the startup has put a strain on personal relationships.

I wonder what the situation was with the cofounders. How many were there? Were they full-time? If so, that could be a problem (in that they might end up feeling that they've gone "all in" when you haven't).

> Two years building and eight months running Altsie took its toll.

Two years to launch? i wonder how much quicker it would've been to launch if it had full-time resources. For something that isn't hugely technically sophisticated (correct me if I'm wrong but this doesn't sound like that kind of startup) that is (IMHO) too long. People talk about MVPs for a reason. You need to prove your idea and get feedback ASAP.

Whatever the case, eight months doesn't seem long enough to prove anything one way or the other.

I don't mean to be harsh so I apologize if it comes across that way. Lucas, good luck to you. I would suggest that when you wish to try your next venture (assuming you do), you do so when you can dedicate it to yourself full-time.

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm struck by two things in this story, the expectations Lucas started with, and the lessons learned (or not).

Lucas says "I put three years of my life into building and running Altsie,..." ... "As we approached launch last May" and "Two years building and eight months running "

What are the expectations on a business where you are looking for people to integrate a new thing (going to a bar to catch an indie movie) into their lifestyle? A week? A month? a year? five years? If you look at the restaurant business most seem to require a 3 year 'boot' cycle, the first year nobody knows about them but perhaps the local food critic trys them. The second year they have some foot traffic and perhaps they get written up in a more widely distributed guide, then the third year they have people coming who have read about them in the guide or found them on their phone's 'maps' product and they get to see how successful they are going to be. I can't imagine that any idea which requires people to change their behaviors in the real world could really be tested in less than a year.

The other thing that was sad to read was this bit, "I'd signed up to fight on the front lines. I still had a job, which made everything near impossible, that I couldn't afford to quit. I worked during the day as a report writer, snuck in emails and business calls for Altsie over my lunch, and worked late into the night to take care of hundreds of necessary details to keep the project going."

There is a reason YC and others ask you to quit your job if you're doing a startup. There isn't a lot of excess time. If you have a spouse or partner who can bring in enough income to pay the bills and maybe health care that is one thing, but being both the 'stable income source' and the primary mover of the new venture? Not a good idea as Lucas discovered.

Now the most important thing to do is to capture all of the things you learned into something you can use in the future. What worked? What didn't work? How did you spend your time, could you have out sourced any of that? What were your costs and how did you evaluate the business? What variables did you guess at? Did you guess high or low? People who have been through the ringer are twice as valuable as people who haven't done it yet because they have a better idea of what they need to know to make forward progress.

I hope that Lucas' next venture is a lot less stressful on his health/psyche and much more satisfying overall.

andreasklinger 1 day ago 2 replies      
Fascinating how many people make very strong judgements about his life, story, product and decision with a very shallow level of information.

It's a bit sad to see. Especially because i believe that many people here know (or should know) how complex these topics are.

In my opinion great article. Thanks for sharing that honestly.

bmelton 1 day ago 4 replies      
Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't you email your co-founders and have that discussion before you start closing down accounts and making the move completely permanent?

Perhaps one of them has an idea to cut costs, or would like to open source the code, or can line up a buyer for the assets, or ... something.

Telling your stakeholders/investors/cofounders after you've pulled the trigger seems like the exact backwards way to do it.

joshmlewis 1 day ago 1 reply      
To me it sounded like the guy had a good idea, it was slow growing but it was also not his main focus. He had paying customers, distributors, and producers using his service, it had roots. It may not have been worthwhile in his eyes to keep up, but to me it seemed like he had a good idea, good people behind it, he just needed to keep going a little while longer. Did he give up too early right when things seemed to be at the end? I guess we'll never know. Startups are hard. If it was easy everyone would do it. Not to downplay this guys dedication, it seemed he had a lot, but 3 years of working full time and growing a startup, that seems like it would take a toll on anyone. I guess everyone can't just take a leap and quit their job, but something has to give I feel. When you're starting a company it absolutely needs at least one persons complete focus.
Joeboy 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Altsie was a new, live theater market for the growing pool of independent films that don't make it to the big box theaters. We basically turned bars into movie houses, with all the infrastructure (business profiles, showtime dashboards, and ticketing) housed on the web

I have no idea how good a business idea that is (I guess not such a great one), but it sounds like a great idea and I wish something like it could be successful. In my moderately sized UK city it's impossible or very difficult to see a large proportion of new releases on a big screen.

davedx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like reading these articles, especially when they're not pure software startups. It's incredibly hard to make the decision to cut your losses and fold. But you can always try again. (In fact, accepted startup wisdom says you should try, and try, again).
arbuge 1 day ago 0 replies      
He has my full respect, not just for what he tried to do but also for writing this post. One can only wonder how many unwritten stories like this there are out there - most people who give up don't blog about it. People would probably be better served by getting a full picture of the startup scene, including stories of some of the failures besides the successes, but there's a natural survivorship bias which happens instead.
mvip 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was the most refreshing post I've read in a long time.
advertising 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of the things I can relate to:

Definitely identify with gaining weight. It's brutal how quickly you can fall out of shape.

After playing basketball 6 times a week since college I barely get out once every three months. I'm 30 now and feel 40.

Aside from the up and down roller coaster ride, the hardest part for me has been balancing a relationship that began at roughly the same time that my co-founder and I went into business together. I have no idea how you could possibly balance anything else (like a real job) outside of a startup and a new relationship for extended period of time.

There are times my relationship has been a distraction to our business. But well worth the juggling act :)

jeremyjh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this up, this was a great article and exactly the kind of thing that attracts me to hacker news (if not why I sit and F5 it all day).
shredfvz 1 day ago 3 replies      
Pretend for a moment it's July 1, 2009, you're Lucas, and you must answer the following 3 questions correctly, else you might spend the next 3 years chasing your vision for $0:

1. What pain does my idea solve?
2. Does it solve it for a large number of people?
3. Just how painful is it for not being solved?

Do you know plenty of people who are in pain because they can't find a venue to watch an indie flick? Does not being able to find an indie flick at an appropriate venue eat at their thoughts 24/7? Are they going to go nuts finding a solution if you don't provide one? How much money would solving this problem be worth to them?

Admittedly I know diddly about Altsie, and I'm not one for indie flicks, but let's compare Altsie to Airbnb. Airbnb solves a basic human need: that of housing. How painful is it when you don't have a house? Immensely. How much money are you willing to pay for a roof over your head? Thousands per year. How many people are searching for your solution. A shitload. Now replace housing with "Indie Flick", and objectively recalculate.

After doing so, you might think three years is a long, loooong time investment, hugely out of proportion to the level of pain Altsie solves, not to mention the price of solving that pain.

whelps 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Elon Musk said that running a startup was like eating glass and staring into the abyss. When I first heard those words they sounded brave and romantic.

I honestly don't think anyone understands what it really feels like to build a company until you do it. Before I started running my first startup, I thought that the hardship and mental anguish other people describe was somewhat like what I already experienced during hard times at other companies. It wasn't. You pour your heart and soul into a startup and push to the side your physical health, hobbies, family and basically everything else. Then after a year or more of doing everything possible to try and succeed, you potentially end up with nothing. Like Lucas says, you don't really end up with nothing, but it sure as hell feels like it at the time.

brennenHN 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was a great story and I have a lot of respect for Lucas after reading it, but there are a few things that I want to notice.

First, Altsie is a pretty awesome idea! I really like the idea of going to a bar to watch an indie movie, I'm sure producers would love to get their film shown, and bars want extra customers coming in. This is something that definitely could have worked.

Second, the technology behind this product is trivial, a 2 year build is a huge warning sign. I cannot find on the site or in this description anything that should be hard to put together, and the fact that Lucas spent a few years building this in his spare time instead of hiring someone to do it in a (few) week(s) shows a dangerous prioritization of money over time.

Third, it takes a strong presence of mind (or maybe just good communication with your partner) to realize that what you're doing isn't making you happy. Kudos on letting it go.

jack7890 1 day ago 3 replies      
Any reason this is entirely in italics?

UPDATE: Must have been a bug. It has now been fixed.

chris123 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a quarter... :)
Snapps 1 day ago 0 replies      
that almost felt real... some interesting perspective, no doubt.
Startup School 2012 Videos startupschool.org
275 points by kogir  5 days ago   59 comments top 23
edouard1234567 4 days 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 4 days 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 5 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 5 days 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 5 days 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 4 days 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?

verganileonardo 5 days ago 4 replies      
"Ben Horowitz (recording unavailable) "

This recording will never be available? I would like to watch his talk...

sharjeel 5 days ago 1 reply      
The slides are out-of-sync for me, atleast for the Uber video.
nilsbunger 5 days ago 1 reply      
Flash required? I'm curious - why? Is it easier to publish videos with a flash wrapper?
checoivan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for doing this and putting them up, the talks are amazing.
ronyeh 3 days 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!

cloudwalking 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Ben Horowitz (recording unavailable)

NOOO! This talk was fabulous!

nodesocket 4 days 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.
tomkinstinch 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

xianyi_lin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hacked together a quick script for downloading the videos for viewing offline (requires rtmpdump):


asher_ 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
Anywhere to download MP3 or other audio-only versions to listen in the car?
ddrmaxgt37 4 days ago 0 replies      
The slides for the talk by Travis are wrong.
capsicum 4 days ago 1 reply      
How to download the videos for viewing offline ?
nasir 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice talks specially Jessica Livingston.
bizodo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Flash player?
Followup to "I bought more than 1 million Facebook data entries for $5" talkweb.eu
271 points by tlrobinson  4 days ago   91 comments top 19
DanielBMarkham 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like FB is really unhappy about people stealing their profits, selling user's information.
davesims 4 days 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 4 days 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.
bobsy 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

accountoftheday 4 days ago 1 reply      
What surprised me is that Paypal is facilitating the payment for gigbucks, the marketplace where this is (still) offered.
stfu 4 days 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?
obilgic 4 days 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.

nasir 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
"According to Facebook you are not allowed to read this post, so beware."
MojoJolo 4 days 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.

edictive 4 days ago 0 replies      
Haha: I'm guessing the app that leaked this info is called “facebook”
DaSheep 3 days 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.
philip1209 4 days 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.
chrischen 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a like button on that page. I was logged in to facebook. Now facebook knows I read that page!!!
finkin1 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty insane. Did you ever agree to the confidentiality of the conversation you were having?
oharo 4 days ago 1 reply      
this is so normal. ark torrented all the fb accounts for their yc demo day
Facebook, I want my friends back dangerousminds.net
269 points by vospeweb  5 days ago   186 comments top 57
chaz 5 days ago 8 replies      
If you're posting 10-16 posts a day and you forcibly put each of these into 100% of your fans, you're going to shrink your base. If you did that to me, I'm going to hide or Unlike your page. If you emailed me those posts, I'd be hitting unsubscribe in half a day. The Facebook News Feed isn't an RSS reader, and the Like button isn't Subscribe.

I would suggest just posting once a day, and using the Promoted Posts for the occasional big news that you want to make sure everyone reads.

Facebook pages isn't a panacea for brands or publishers -- not by a long shot. That panacea is one of those Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas.

jrockway 5 days ago 4 replies      
If I'm reading this correctly, the problem is that something that the author thinks should be free costs money, so Facebook is now "demanding that a $365 million dollar ransom gets collected from all the Mom & Pop businesses who use Facebook."

Uh huh. "Mom & Pop business" seems to be the new "won't somebody please think of the children" line designed to extinguish all rational thought. I'm getting a little tired of it.

(I'll save my rant on why I think most Mom & Pop businesses should be out of business for another day. I have to say I'm amused when I see a restaurant in my neighborhood apply a bunch of signs that say "absolutely no laptop use" and then go out of business a month later. Idealism is a bitch.)

tomasien 5 days ago 4 replies      
Look I can understand the "oh it's so convenient that you can now pay to promote your posts" but the "turning down the volume" on the Newsfeed was done because our Newsfeeds were getting overrun. People added too many friends, thousands more than the 150 it's been proven we can reasonably empathize with, and people were doing more and more on the network.

You can STILL see posts of your favorite bands by going to their pages, which is how you used to have to find updates: by checking for them. The Newsfeed is new, and it's not a right.

quanticle 5 days ago 1 reply      
>'I despise it.' Hear that beleaugered holders of Facebook stock? That kind of talk would make my blood run cold. How many companies can you name that you actively despise?

Actually? Quite a few. I despise Comcast. I despise the big-4 cell phone companies (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint). I despise the oil companies (BP, Chevron, Texaco, et. al). Notice a pattern? Despite my (and presumably many others) despising these companies, they are all enormously profitable. I think Facebook has got to the state where they at least think they have a monopoly on their users' social graphs and are willing to raise access prices sky-high. I'm not surprised it happened. I'm surprised it took this long.

patmcguire 5 days ago 1 reply      
I could tell the general path the HN discussion was going to take - free service, free country, etc. - but the bigger issue is all the companies that have been paying Facebook millions for page like campaigns.

I'd be angry if I'd given Facebook money under the old system only for them to change the value of what I got from them. The basic takeaway is that the rules that were in place where I might be willing to pay $2 for a like - a person who likes your page sees your post - had to be changed because there wasn't that much user attention in existence. Now it's been inflated to be worth about a tenth as many views, which is what you were buying, only Facebook called it a "Like" and it somehow means something completely different now.

I guess the moral of the story is don't invest in anything whose value can be arbitrarily changed by someone else.

stephengillie 5 days ago 1 reply      
Were they your friends or your customers? Or were your customers our actual inventory, what we sell to advertisers?

You built a business inside someone's shopping mall, they started charging rent, so you complain. And at $4 CPK for promoted posts[1], you'll find FB advertising to be slightly cheaper.

[1] CPK aka CPM aka cost per 1000 views. Calculated from: To reach 100% of of our 50k+ Facebook fans they'd charge us $200 per post. Edit: $200 / 50 = $4, thanks Ryan.

SCdF 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not too concerned about this from a marketing standpoint. It's unfortunate that people started to view 'likes' as an RSS feed replacement, but that opinion will change now most stuff doesn't get through.

What really frustrates me is that I'm missing entirely non commercial messages from my actual friends. I've missed posts from my girlfriend for godssake, it's ridiculous.

I understand that they need to make money, but the entire reason I and others are on facebook is to connect with our friends. Facebook needs to allow us to do that and then augment our experience with monied options, not imply that most of your friends will never see your posts unless you open up.

Don't make me go back to email. It's still there, waiting, full of delicious SMTP guaranteed delivery.

scott_meade 5 days ago 0 replies      
"But I can't pay them $2000 a day and $672,000 a year for the exact same product that I was getting for free back in March!"

Another in a long, long list of customers whose plans fall apart when a free or one-price-for-life service realizes it cannot continue with business as usual. Today's pro tip: Do not build your livelihood around a third-party's free service. Eventually that service will either 1.) shut down, 2.) kick you out of their ecosystem, or 3.) start charging you.

I'm not sure what is more surprising: that people continue to build businesses with these Achilles heels or that they seem shocked when the third-party changes the game.

padobson 5 days ago 1 reply      
User: Oh, hello Facebook. Can you help me find out what my friends are doing?

Facebook: Oh, definitely. Just have a look at your NewsFeed and see what they're doing.

User: Wait, I've got 2000 friends. Why am I only getting a NewsFeed post twice an hour?

Facebook: Because we decided that's the information that you're most likely to want.

User: But what if I want to know what everyone's doing at any specific moment?

Twitter: Can I be of assistance?

User: Oh, hello Twitter.

joe_the_user 5 days ago 1 reply      
Serious bait-and-switch in the title.

He want control of his fans, his like-ees. Not his (Facebook) "friends". Most of us know that is not a bug but a feature.

Now the problem that Facebook makes it to share one's email address with one's own real Facebook friends is annoying and something to complain about. But trying to leverage that to complain about not being able to push your feed is problematic. This is exactly what use Facebook for. An experience where you aren't bombarded with everyone's BS.

sequoia 5 days ago 4 replies      
The whole premise of this article is "Facebook gave me this access to their platform for free hitherto, so I'm entitled to this access on those same terms in perpetuity; it's unfair for them to start charging for it." I don't see the author explaini why s/he is entitled to these same terms forever.
engtech 5 days ago 1 reply      
I had hoped this article was going to be able how to convince your friends to communicate with a medium other than Facebook.
DanBC 5 days ago 1 reply      
> At Dangerous Minds, we post anywhere from 10 to 16 items per day, fewer on the weekends.

This is why I don't like many pages, and it's why FB needs clear and easy to use controls for what does or doesn't show up on my wall.

veb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't use promoted posts, and yet I still manage to get this: http://cl.ly/image/2t0b340Y3h2S

I only have 300,000 likes too. ;-) Basically, the trick is engagement. Give the audience what they want, when they want. Timing matters, pictures matter. Do it right, and you don't need to pay anything.

P.S. Making money from advertisements, pfft how ancient and boring! shamelessplug use Teespring instead.

graue 5 days ago 0 replies      
This post is pretty overboard with its exaggeration. But one thing I find interesting is the concept that Facebook is a paid publishing platform. They'll deliver your posts to 15% of your followers as a freebie, but to reach 100%, you pay. And I hadn't thought of it that way before.

That perspective actually gives me increased hope for Tent (https://tent.io), the decentralized social networking protocol that could one day be a Facebook alternative. When Tent was announced here on HN, a common criticism was that if you're popular, and you host your Tent server yourself, you end up paying a lot for the bandwidth cost of sending each post to thousands or millions of followers. Whereas the perception is that on a centralized social network you can send a post to millions of followers for free.

For now, that's still the case on Twitter, but on Facebook, apparently not. If you really want significant reach, you pay to publish even to people who already (by liking) signed up to follow you. So the situations aren't actually that different. I guess there really is no free lunch.

drone 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a brilliant product plan to me...

"See what we can do for you? See the traffic we can drive and link to you? Want more? Choose your level of traffic, choose your price."

The article makes the assumption that 3rd-party businesses that have been suckling at the teat of the social graph are the value to the facebook users. They're not. The users, the actual people are - businesses are just there to help pay for the whole thing, and follow the personal users. I say this as a business owner who uses facebook heavily, and occasionally pays them for the right to get a little bit back out of them.

I've yet to see a single person in my timeline say "I'd stop coming to facebook if all of these businesses didn't have pages here."

brudgers 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not seeing how this is unfair. Facebook is a business and the companies which set up fan pages are not typically charities (and so what if they were).

Facebook has a level of PR software as service which is free. They have another which is premium. If a company wants to spam their "fans," they have to pay.

If a business wants to have a high level of control over communications with it's fans, customers, likers, or whatever they are called, there's no free lunch. Either pay a third party (e.g. Facebook) or invest the hard work.

tankbot 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, I admit I didn't read the whole linked 'article'. This was because no less than 3 ads containing movies/audio auto started when I loaded the page. Anger spike. Back button. Fuck you, dangerousminds.net.

Using your blog or whatever to make specious (I assume) arguments about what someone else should/should not be doing with their business is your prerogative. Just don't expect people to actually listen to what you're saying while you beat them over the head with ads for trucks and cooking shows.

Again, I didn't read the whole thing, or even half before I bailed. But am I wrong in assuming this site uses the popular activity of Facebashing(tm) as a ploy to shove ads at unsuspecting visitors?

mindstab 5 days ago 0 replies      
Author Warren Ellis also noticed this recently when digging into how to promote his new book:


His conclusion? Not Facebook

mcantor 5 days ago 0 replies      
How is anyone even surprised about this? If you're making money off of someone else's platform, it's only a matter of time before they're gonna ask for a cut.
jonknee 5 days ago 2 replies      
They're doing the same thing with non-fan pages. If you want your content to go to your friends you now have to pay for the privilege. It's nuts. I haven't been on Facebook since I saw this, they can keep their social graph.
wtvanhest 5 days ago 2 replies      
OK, I get that DangerousMinds posts a ridiculous amount and would definitely be deleted from my account and probably should have to pay for advertising on an ad platform, but what about other use cases:

I run a nonprofit alumni association here in Boston and I use FB as a way to update alumni of changes in events so that we can limit the numbers of emails we send. We were using Facebook as sort of an information platform and don't profit or make any money in any way.

I am very careful to not post too much, even entering in to specific agreements with the national alumni association so that they do not to post ads on our page for their merchandise etc.

What am I supposed to do now? Should I pay out of my pocket to reach users who definitely want to be reached already?

Facebook provides a great service, and they should be compensated, but I will now have to look at other options to potentially reach our group.

And the flip side of this is that I would like to see posts from everyone I am friends with that I haven't explicitly blocked from my feed, going through all those names to re-add them seems like an amazing amount of trouble for me.

The OP is hard to sympathize with, but he/she has a good point.

Lasher 5 days ago 1 reply      
This doesn't make sense to me as a user or as a page admin.

As a user, if my friends post something I want to see it. If my daughter's karate school or my favorite band posts something, I want to see it. If they're spammy, I'll unsubscribe. I would like to make this decision for myself, not have it made for me. If it has to be made for me, I would prefer it be made based on some approximation of relevance and quality, not because someone paid $5 to spam me with it.

As an advertiser, Facebook has consistently promoted ads as a way to build a following via the 'like' button. So I pay Facebook to gain exposure to build a following of 10,000 fans and now I have to pay again if I want to reach them all?? Classic bait and switch. I wonder how many past advertisers would have paid to build up their 'likes' if they had been told very clearly up front "Just because someone likes your page does not mean they will see your posts in their news feed".

thetrumanshow 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that Facebook has quietly evolved into what is basically an alternative for email list marketing. On the plus side, they are effectively training businesses to see the value of such things. Given that a certain % of those folks aren't going to want to pay Facebook due to their bait and switch tactics, I would expect companies like Constant Contact to be sitting on the verge of another round of explosive growth.
KaoruAoiShiho 5 days ago 1 reply      
He's confused, he thinks he's facebook's customer. Facebook's customers are its users. Keeping the uexperience up is the first priority.
gruseom 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dangerous Minds is probably the best blog out there on the history of pop culture. (If there's one that is good or better, I'd like to know about it.) I started reading it regularly after running across it from three or four different angles. The main author can be shrill about controversies, but he's vastly knowledgeable about every nook and cranny of the last 50 years' worth of hipness.
cjc1083 5 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook would be far more successful, and a better experience, if they simply charged for the service. Even a nominal fee of 20$ per year will exceed their add revenue. Potentially charge users only 5$ per year, and business a larger amount based on some metric.

The add supported model is terrible for social networks and needs to go. If you can afford a computer, smartphone, etc. Then you can pay 5-20$/year for an account.

Free limited accounts for people <18 years old, which have limited access to adult content? (Idea, but may work to both hook future customers, and protect kids)

vbo 5 days ago 0 replies      
I keep bumping into this reference to facebook acknowledging only 15% of "fans" will see a given post, but I've never found an official mention of this. Where is this information coming from and what was the context in which it was mentioned?

What follows is speculation, but it's easy to imagine that out of a total fanbase, only a certain percentage "catch" your post while it's fresh, before it's buried behind newer stuff coming in from the ever-increasing number of pages people like. While it may have been the case that back in the day the response one got from posting something on a facebook page was much better than it is now, it's also true that facebook was never as popular as it is today and that users' newsfeeds were never as busy as they are now. And as people subscribe to multiple publishers and their attention gets diluted, you can't expect their engagement with all of these pages to remain at pre-growth levels (or grow).

There's another twist to this. Too many posts from pages thumping activity from friends may alienate users. How do you balance these two types of information? Someone's going to get less airtime, and since (I assume) the bulk of posts comes from pages, they get silenced based on whether or not you interacted with them recently and whatever other criteria facebook can come up with. Same for friends you don't care much for.

Whether or not facebook can be more transparent with regards to how it determines which posts to show and which to hide is another issue. Does the average Joe care? Will he mess things up if given controls that are too advanced? Note that Facebook doesn't censor information, it merely filters what you see by default. You can still go to individual pages or profiles and see their full activity.

There also seems to be a backlash against any commercial endeavour facebook may have. "Facebook is selling your information!" - is it? where can I buy this information? is it really selling in the sense that most people would understand? No. But that's the term that is being used. "Facebook is making people pay for airtime!" well, kinda. Personally I think that should be "Facebook is making people pay for ADDITIONAL airtime" for all the reasons stated above. Maybe they got into this mess due to poor communication but I don't buy the "broken on purpose" argument. That's against facebook's interest in the long term.

I don't mean to defend facebook, just bring into discussion the potential complexities behind developments which people tend to imply are malicious.

fkdjs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't logged into facebook for a long time but this seems to be what's happening.

x) Disallow users from merely being a fan of the page, instead replacing that with "like"

x) Now make it so businesses can post to their page and the post shows up in the newsfeed for those who like the page. Previously only friend updates were shown. So liking a page has the side effect of getting spam by the company.

x) Facebook has now successfully facilitated spam, which is necessary for

x) Their new spam-prevention algorithm, leading to the end goal:

x) Now that Facebook has facilitated spam and we accept limited posts, the antispam filter can be circumvented by paying Facebook.

Voila, Facebook is now the post office, and spammers pay the post office to bulk spam you. Imagine if you went to local businesses and said, "Hi, I like you guys", that resulted in spam to your snailmail mailbox. You said, "Cut that out, that's wrong." So they fixed the problem they created, but now that the businesses are hooked, they can charge them for the ability to send out spam.

Facebook could easily make it so users are in charge of their filter, but this is counter to how Facebook wants to make money, so the UI is horrid for this and no one does this in practice. Imagine a UI where users rank friends of order of importance, with an easy UI, and the most important friends of mine are the ones who I am more likely to see. O wait, I have just described g+. Facebook will never have such an intuitive interface("close friend" is horrid), where you the burden of filtering is put on the user. Facebook wants to control that filter.

Eventually it will get to the point where you don't even need to like a page, you will get spam from the highest bidder, decided by auction. One of the main purposes of 'like' was to get users accepting communication from companies, once that was done, then they went in to monetize the link, before that it was just friend to friend chit chat, which doesn't pay the bills.

obiefernandez 4 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook already touts the benefits of paid media over "organic audience" for marketers, so I fail to see how this is a huge difference from what they've been doing. For example, see the case study information presented at http://allfacebook.com/understanding-paid-and-earned-reach-o...
crucialfelix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another factor to include is that as time goes on everybody adds more friends and more likes so the available consumable stream space is divided among more posts. So this also contributes significantly to lessening the number of people who see your posts.

But who knows what special sauce is in FB algos. If I were them I would certainly distinguish between companies, news/blogging, musician/art and image macro posters. Those all have very different usages and annoyance levels.

Probably the interaction rate is factored in, but that also gets spread thinner and thinner. Obviously God and George Takei are winning the game, so the game isn't unwinnable.

dcminter 4 days ago 0 replies      
Anecdatapoint: I've seen a handful of people post this link on Facebook. All of them are promoting something. So far I've seen no other users post it.

FB's job is to keep the average user (who won't put much effort into sanitizing their wall whatever they clicked on in the past) happy while getting enough money out of their userbase as a whole to stay in business and keep the stockholders happy. It's not their job to keep the promotors who use FB as a tool happy.

code_duck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely - I find the utility of Facebook vastly decreased by the fact that my News Feed is so heavily filtered, automatically, and poorly. I want to see everything by everyone on my friends list. I do not want some algorithm to go through and decide what it thinks I'm interested in, because it is wrong.

That's about my consumption. On the other end, I have a friend, an artist with 5,000+ friends. He told me that the engagement on his posts dropped drastically, from like 200-300 'likes' per photo to something like 20 earlier this year, and as such he's considering not bothering to use the site any longer. Apparently Facebook thinks those people aren't interested in his content? Or they want him to start paying. That isn't going to happen.

unreal37 5 days ago 0 replies      
(A very confusing set of comments to follow on this post, because everyone seems to have their own opinion. 144 comments, 144 different opinions.)

I will say, if your posts show up so frequently in my stream, I will unlike your page. Facebook is definitely saving you from a lot of unlikes. Facebook is not Twitter - it's baby pictures from your friends.

I trust Facebook to control what to display to me MORE than I trust advertisers to post only things I would be interested in. That they can pay money ($200?) to get it there, that filters it too. They'll only pay for interesting stuff presumably. So thank the Lord Facebook pages don't get to control my stream directly.

bishnu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Stream ranking is one of the biggest drivers for engagement on social networks. Period. Yes there is a small percentage of power users who are upset their streams aren't exhaustive but most users barely even scroll down when they load up FB, so it's imperative that important items appear at the top.

The story here is now that Facebook is willing to be paid by brands to degrade the news feed experience for their users :)

conradfr 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have the opposite problem. Bands etc that I "page-like" and who post too much take over my newsfeed and I only have the option to hide everything or view everything (if FB wants).

IIRC there was previously a "see only important messages from this person" choice and it was better.

ekianjo 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's the outrage for ? Facebook has never said they would never change the rules of the game. You benefit from their platform, they own it. If you are not happy with it, you should not put all your eggs in one place and have backup plans (twitter, google plus, and others) to reach your audience so that competition works properly.

Facebook is a company, it's not a democracy asking their users what they should do. They can destroy their business if the want to, and your responsibility as a customer is go and look somewhere else to signify that their new rules do not work for you anymore.

kevinpet 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure what the internal thinking at Facebook is, but I suspect the hierarchy is something like:

1. Advertisers
2. Real users
3. Social media marketing scum

If they think most users would prefer not to see 10 posts per day after accidentally clicking a like button, then they're probably going to do that.

brokentone 5 days ago 2 replies      
Facebook has put themselves in an ideal situation. We're at the point in social media marketing that businesses can't survive without one, in fact they spend a lot of advertising money and placement in advertising their presence on Facebook, which is primarily an advertisement for Facebook. Every new connection, time on site, or new user to like your page is a huge win for them.

Do we as business and individuals really want to pay to promote our content AND be sold to advertisers AND build their network at the same time?

brianlovin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Um...am I the only one that would chalk this up to usage? Obviously not 100% of your fans are going to see your posts because 100% of people don't use Facebook every day, not to mention within the 2-3 hours your post would even be seen in their news feed. For the people that log in a day or two later, they most likely won't be scrolling through pages upon pages of updates in order to see yours.

This isn't Facebook scamming you - it's simply that 100% of your fans don't check 100% of your posts 100% of the time.

jakejake 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think that posts ever reached 100% of your friends or fans. I can't find the article but I remember something like 40% was the amount of friends who see any given post. I don't really mind it but it would be nice to have a little better understanding of the logic behind it.

A few years ago Facebook had a feature where you could weight your friends' from 1-10 and that would affect your feed. Now you can just limit by "only important updates" and such. It's not really clear what that even means.

ltcoleman 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do not currently have a fan page on Facebook, but if I did, I would have assumed that people who liked my page would receive my posts in their news feed. It seems odd to me that Facebook is allowing you to build a fan base while promoting their product but then charging you to reach them. Sure, I could go to their fan page but as a Facebook user, I like them so that I do not have to go to that fan page.

For example, if my Crossfit box posts a new WOD everyday, I would greatly prefer to have that in my news feed rather than having to go search out the fan page again. I could have just gone to their actual web site.

It would be very nice if you could use the search box to search on your news feed posts. If I could quickly do a search for the Crossfit box and get to the daily post.... awesomesauce!

magoon 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's the big deal?

$75 for a 17-30K user reach is $0.0044 per user or less.

I actually think that's a good deal if you're announcing a new product or important product update.

bherms 5 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook doesn't owe you anything. It's a free service you use and they have any and all rights to change their model at any time. Stop whining.
sodafountan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Look, I get the point, if I were advertising on Facebook I'd be peeved too. But look at it this way, the Facebook news-feed is one of the most valuable assets on the internet, its a personal look into one's life, it's viewed by millions of individuals multiple times over the course of a day. If Facebook just throws ads from all of the things that you've liked over the years into that stream then there'd be less activity in general because the user's wouldn't be seeing what they came for, there friends, less activity hurts everyone invested in Facebook. Less activity wouldn't happen though, I think you would see a lot of people unlike things that they're tired of looking at, and then you'd be in an even worse position. I think the Facebook promote makes perfect sense.
psychotik 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to know what your friends are up to, call them... maybe?
angersock 5 days ago 0 replies      
tldr: Facebook suddenly decides to monetize further the folks who outsourced their consumer relations.

Can't really do anything here other than sigh and shake head.

waltermorgan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook is screwing page owners and real fans of the page over - and it's been going on for years. Like used to be "Become a Fan". And a page owner used to be able "Send updates" to fans. There are lots of us who had tens of thousands of fans, who actually were fans. But "Fan" became "Like" and "Send updates" disappeared, and slowly posts that were shown to most of your fans were now showed to almost none. Through all these changes and monetization products Facebook has diluted it all to the point it's become useless.

Reasonable? No way.

wavesounds 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the problem here is assuming what the purpose of the 'like' button is. It's not a 'follow' or 'sign up for mailing list' or even 'add friend' button. I think the meaning of this button will have to be defined by users, the company and page owners over time, if one stake-holder has too great a voice then the button will fail, for this action to be useful all parties involved will need to gain from it and that means some compromise will be needed as well until the correct balance is reached.
edgesrazor 5 days ago 0 replies      
My major annoyance is that I'm not seeing the majority of Pages I Liked posts, but yet I see every individual friends' "Likes and Comments". I really don't want to see that my friend Liked a picture of a dead baby that 100,000 other idiots Liked because the text told them if they don't another kid will die.

Best part is, the only way to change this is to shut it off for each individual friend - not exactly convenient.

k2xl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I knew it was the end of facebook as soon as edgerank launched. just because i don't go to someone's profile doesn't mean i'm not interested in their posts. same with fan pages. it should have just stayed showing all posts from friends - then naturally people would start to unfriend those they don't want to see posts from.
bravoyankee 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you're posting 10-16 times a day on Facebook, you probably don't have any friends. That's waaay too much.
bjhoops1 5 days ago 0 replies      
Pssst. Hey. Let's all move to Google Plus and NOT tell our crazy aunts and grandparents.
suyash 5 days ago 0 replies      
Also there is no option to see "Photos" anymore like it used to be, I'm almost at the verge of abandoning Facebook!
antidoh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Tell me again what's wrong with RSS for update notification?
marcuspovey 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dead link.
smiddereens 5 days ago 1 reply      
So shoot them an email.
Mastering Linear Algebra in 10 Days: Astounding Experiments in Ultra-Learning calnewport.com
268 points by phenylene  3 days ago   75 comments top 23
oz 3 days ago 5 replies      
Ignoring the semantic controversy on 'mastery' and 'expertise', here's my story.

I dropped out of a CS program after first year. I was the classic case of a student who had always been told he was brilliant, so I never worked very hard. In high school, I coasted along simply on a fantastic memory, often 'studying' for the final exams that determine graduation the night before. I never learned how to learn.

Going to college was like being thrown into a bath of cold water. I had never been particularly conscientious, so being in an environment where I was now responsible for my learning was new to me. I skipped lectures, forgot homework that was due, turned in coursework late; the usual suspects. On raw talent though, I qualified for 2nd year, only failing Pre-Calculus. (I skipped the classes and tried to learn math from 1st principles. Ugh...)

I got a summer job at a small telecom startup. By time 2nd year rolled around, my student loan was denied, so I dropped out. I'd always hated school, so I didn't care. I never applied for leave of absence, nothing. I just didn't show up in September. That was 2006.

I was 20 then. I'm 26 now. I've had a lot of time (6 years!) to reflect on why I did so poorly despite being talented (not being conceited; my lecturers in 1st year said as much). There are quite a few reasons; but the major one is that I didn't know how to learn. So if something didn't immediately click, I'd give up in frustration, and decry the teacher as an idiot who couldn't teach (oftentimes true; but irrelevant). I didn't know there was another way.

Being around HN and places like LessWrong which exposes you to so many thought-leaders brought about some interesting side-effects, which culminated earlier this year. Upon reading an article on LW entitled "Humans are not automatically strategic", which was a reply to a Sebastian Marshall article "A failure to evaluate return on time fallacy", I had an epiphany that being systematic about things was the route to accomplishing great things. "Rationalists should win", the LW meme goes, and it's correct. I came to realize that for every goal, there exists an efficient path to achieve it. My task was to find that path, and execute ruthlessly upon it.

Since then I've made leaps and bounds in my personal development. I still slack off sometimes, but I won't fall into my old perfectionist way of thinking that I'm a failure. It's better to be 80% there than 0%.

I made the decision a few weeks ago to get my CS degree, albeit at a different, larger university. Since then, I've been devouring articles like this one. I recently bought two of Cal's books and wanna sometimes slap myself when I realize that if I had had this knowledge and the discipline to implement it 6 years ago, my life would be so much better. But c'est la vie. These articles on meta-learning are priceless.

So if you're in school now, or are going soon, pay attention to articles like these, Here are a few gems I've dug up recently:





Thanks to knowledge like this from Cal Newport and others, I'm going back to college full-time as someone with an above-average cognitive toolset, and a myriad of experiences that will suit me. I'm much more sociable, have a great eye for design having moonlighted as a freelancer some years back, and will now know how to engage my lecturers on an adult level rather than the kid I was 6 years ago. I'm going for a 4.3 GPA. I'm tempted to say wish me luck, but with tools like these, I'll make my own luck.

This rationalist will win.

PS If y'all have more articles like this, let me know. If you wanna chat privately, email's in profile.

EDIT: formatting; clarity

tokenadult 3 days ago 1 reply      
Cal Newport has the funniest definition of "mastering" and strangest definition of "world's most efficient studiers" (another blog post of his from a couple years ago)


I have ever seen. The shtick is getting old. Gee-whiz posts about a dilettante ramping up to a beginner's knowledge of a subject with little time and effort have nothing to do with the really challenging learning tasks in this world.

I'll be impressed when I see a headline like "Middle East diplomatic issues resolved by undergraduate who completed one course in international relations" or something like that. Show me someone who has solved a genuinely hard problem before proclaiming a new breakthrough in learning. For a refreshing change of pace from the usual blog post on quick-and-dirty learning, see Peter Norvig's "Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years"


or Terence Tao's "Does one have to be a genius to do maths?"


for descriptions of the process of real learning of genuinely challenging subjects.

dalke 3 days ago 2 replies      
There was effectively nothing about linear algebra on that page. After some link followings, it appears that http://www.scotthyoung.com/mit/1806-exam.pdf is the exam which the student was happy with (having done worse on the first version). The final score appears to be 66 out of 100.

Based on that test, I think the title is link-bait as it isn't "mastering linear algebra" but "passing an introductory algebra course."

tangue 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is written from a student perspective, where "mastering" means passing the exam. I'll stick with Norvig's 10 000 hours.
goostavos 3 days ago 0 replies      
People are kind of picking apart his use of the word "mastering," but I'd say that the crux of the article is spot on when it comes to learning techniques.

As an aside, I've never heard it called the "Feynman Techniques." However, one of my favorite things in the world is the so called "Feynman's Algorithm": (1) Write down the problem. (2) Think very hard. (3) Write down the answer. I just found to hilarious, but I digress.

There are two points of his with which I agree 100%.

Firstly, the process of writing a short summary paragraph of what you just read after reading a chapter or big section of a technical book. There is actually a fantastic book -- maybe one of my favorites of all time -- called, somewhat strangely, How to Read a Book. It's all about very active reading over passive, almost to the point of having a "conversation" with the text you're reading.

Ever since reading that book, I've gotten into the habit of writing a summary of each thing that I read. It really forces you to confront whether or not you "got" the point of what the book is saying. I usually find that there are quite a few bits that I either missed, or didn't quite understand, at which point I go through and search for the pieces I'm missing.

Secondly, looking at all of the low level pieces to understand the whole. This is something Salman Khan, of the Khan Academy talks about in (I believe it was) his TED presentation. Quite often, I find that there is some early concept that I glossed over which is slowing my understanding of the current material significantly. For me, doing this makes me being 'honest' with myself over the state of my current understanding -- which was kind of hard at first when I took this new approach to learning. So much of my 'ego' seems to be unfortunately wrapped up in 'what I know,' and thus I convince myself incorrectly that I do understand something, even when I don't, just because it's something that I "should" already know. Admitting to myself that I didn't understand, for instance, some basic math concept that I should have learned in high school was somewhat difficult -- as odd as that may sound. I suppose I have a fragile ego! But sometimes, getting a good grasp on my modern course work, meant stopping what I was doing, and going back a couple of levels and starting at the beginning.

The question of "What do I need to know in order to understand this" is, I find, an extraordinarily powerful one.

Su-Shee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suggest reading very carefully.

I absolutely believe what he writes, because he's quite precise about his experiment and how he did it and this really works for a couple of reasons:

* This guy isn't 20 anymore. He has actually explored and learned and trained "productivity and focus" which he blogs and writes books about - so he doesn't start like a 18 year old directly from school, unexperienced maybe in this level of focus and discipline.

* He was pragmatic in his goals - very much so. He didn't write "becoming the world's foremost expert in linear algebra" but "passing an exam". And so he did. He also didn't write "passing everything with a top grade" but "just pass, if better - wonderful".

* He actually did his math on "hours to put in" - a semester doesn't take full 6 months, you usally don't attend lectures/lab every day 3 hours a day but 1-2 times a week, 2 (university) hours plus preparation. If you carefully add this up, you actually get a surprisingly low count of actual course/lesson hours.

* Taking in a course in a focused manner is actually quite efficient and helps you (at least it does for me) follow the material without interruptions. You also can repeat as often as you like (he mentions a fast forward and replay button in his TEDx talk) - which btw. makes part of the success of e.g. Khan university material.

* He also put some effort and training into the right way of learning and _that_ pays off massively in terms of speed.

Also, one of the points he is actually making is part of what most of you critizise: Going through the list of MIT requirements is something different compared to "becoming an expert in X" - don't mix that up.

EzGraphs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Although this is an accomplishment and there is some practical advice of value in the post, the "rules" he posts include correcting his own papers and tests and a minimum 50% passing grade.


Would be more compelling if he was not selling books. Nothing wrong with making a profit but I'm just saying...

hdivider 3 days ago 1 reply      
Learning for exams and learning for yourself are obviously different kinds of activities, even if the level of depth and rigour are similar.

For maths-heavy subjects, I'm not really inclined to believe that traditional exams are the best way to assess a student's knowledge and understanding of the material (especially with regard to rote memorisation). Exams in such subjects haven't changed fundamentally in many many decades, even though we now have lots and lots of new things we could do with them.

For instance: do more with computers - like getting the students to solve real-world, many-tentacled, hairy problems by numerical methods, rather than giving them some carefully pruned equation that just happens to have nice analytical solutions. Or introduce more computer-assisted mathematical modelling (e.g. use classical mechanics, to start with). Or on the pure front, teach students to write or at least understand some interesting automated theorem prover.

Stuff like that.

I suspect that traditional exams have survived simply because they serve their purpose: a percentage of exam-takers fail the exam (which allows the exam-setters to claim that their standards of assessment are rigorous), and a fair percentage will pass the exam, some with flying colours. Whether or not the actual learning goal was achieved has not been determined, since the exam is deemed to be the only instrument that can measure that.

confluence 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm inclined to actually believing a lot of this.

When I got into university I found every course very easy, didn't attend any lectures, got all my workshops to run on the same day to reduce my face time and maxed out my free time to do whatever I wanted (work/friends/extra/etc). I'm a STEM major at a top 30 world ranked engineering school with good grades.

I've often asked if I could max out my classes and finish a degree within a year and a half - but I've never been allowed to skip more than a few subjects (tests/bugging the heads of departments).

University shouldn't be time capped or subject load restricted - people should be allowed to do as many as they wish - or you'll find more and more moving towards MOOCs instead.

SeanDav 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the achievements I am most proud of was doing a full year's university course in computer science in 6 weeks and passing. It was pure cramming though and very hard work. I got into a routine of full-on study from 9am-1am with short breaks every hour or so. 16 hours a day for 6 weeks.

Not something I would ever want to repeat and was first year level courses. Basically I was doing a correspondence 3 year degree while working full time. I got heavily involved in my work and decided that I wouldn't continue studying. Then with about 4 weeks to go to the 2 week final exams period I thought, what the heck let's give it a shot...

Amazing what focus and hard work can achieve!

gall 3 days ago 0 replies      
My best bursts of rapid learning are almost always project/puzzle driven. I didn't, for instance, set out to master FFT directly, but it seemed like something that could improve my abysmal performance on a Project Euler that I was working on, so I looked into it. I question (open-mindedly, not snarkily) the efficiency of ploughing through a course or series of courses. On the one hand there's the possibility of cross-pollination that having all sorts of cool bits of knowledge and techniques fraternizing in one's head for as long as possible promotes. On the other hand, there's the sense that the most efficient learning sequence is the one that matches the actual sequence of problems as they present themselves. Just-in-time learning of helicoptering, but if and only if you find yourself in a rooftop gunfight, as it were. Of course, then the issue becomes predicting forthcoming problems with enough lead time to learn the solution.
RVijay007 3 days ago 0 replies      
I also am inclined to believe much of this. I actually did the same thing while at MIT for chemical engineering. Took all the required freshman through senior level classes at the same time, each semester, and finished all the requirements for a chemical engineering degree in a year. I loved MIT for this reason - they had no rules/regulations on the number of classes you could take in any semester, and they didn't enforce prerequisites/corequisites. Very different than other institutions I've trained at. I was still able to participate in extracurricular activities and develop relationships with lots of people.

It's true that I didn't attend a lot of classes (since they all overlapped anyways), and had 2-3exams virtually every week. The only issue I see is that there is only so much you can do online. I also did the same thing with Chemistry and Biology, which had lots of laboratory classes, and I don't see how one could gain the practical experience of putting knowledge to work in those fields without a wet lab class. EECS however is amenable to this (for the most part - likely hard for an optics laboratory), and most of my EECS labs were really done in Athena clusters instead of a distinct laboratory.

peripetylabs 3 days ago 0 replies      
This person, Scott Young, did not "master" linear algebra. If anything, he mastered the curriculum. There's a difference, and in a year he won't remember a word of it.

He is, however, a master of self-marketing:

"To find out more about this, join Scott's newsletter and you'll get a free copy of his rapid learning ebook (and a set of detailed case studies of how other learners have used these techniques)."

6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
> However, eventually you'll reach a stopping point where you can't explain. That's the precise gap in your understanding that you need to fill.

This is a useful technique, giving motivation and focus. Though imperfect: it can't detect incorrect understandings that seem consistent. But to be fair, that's a tricky case.

navpatel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'll leave the discussion of how embellished this post/blog/exercise of MIT Comp Sci in 1 year is to other comments.
But! The explanation of Fourier transforms from Scott's notes (http://www.scotthyoung.com/mit/fourier.pdf) is one of the must succinct ones I've read. I've always understood what the transform does, but the nitty gritty on how the equation works was awesome
nnq 3 days ago 0 replies      
...this guy really knows how tomuch puts the "bait" in "link bait" ...nothing about linear algebra in the article but the perfect title to hook the bank of HN fish ...congrats to the OP for pulling this one off :)
alter8 3 days ago 2 replies      
> he completed all 33 courses (...) in less than one year.

> That works out to around 1 course every 1.5 weeks

WTF? What kind of university imposes that you take only one course at any given time? It's not just linkbait, it starts from a wrong assumption. When you take many related courses simultaneously, you see the pieces meshing together and that helps learning. That's different from taking them in a serial manner.

wbhart 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would imagine that the vast majority of students at Universities around the world who take Linear Algebra "master" it in 10 days. That is, the ten days before the exam, having spent most of the term drinking, socialising, falling asleep in lectures (or just staying in bed and skipping the lecture bit). I certainly know I "mastered" elementary linear algebra in about 10 days.
dbecker 2 days ago 1 reply      
He may have accomplished something impressive, but I had trouble appreciating it because the article seemed so pretentious, and I found that distracting.
infinitesimal 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny because the students at the competitive schools work their ass off for the entire semester/ quarter to learn this material. If you use the weakest possible definition for "learn," then you can claim you have learned anything you want. But that doesn't mean your skill will be comparable to someone who spent 3-5 months practicing non-stop.
gbeeson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not seeing this as link bait at all - more method for than what was being learned. Great read that gives a lot of interesting insights and methods - definitely not for everyone. A lot of the same information and ideas have been discussed on Study Hacks though it is great to see the provided examples.
frozenport 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought Linear Algebra was the easiest math-class?
teeja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Master it in 10 days? Forget most in 10 more.
Is it better to turn up the volume in the software or on the speakers? superuser.com
266 points by ivoflipse  3 days ago   94 comments top 22
SeanLuke 3 days ago 7 replies      
I was surprised by the best answer as it seems to me to be more or less wrong.

Let's ignore the discussion about dynamic range and bit depth etc., and assume that the volume control on your operating system controls the DAC rather than doing the stupid thing of digital volume reduction. The fundamental issue is signal to noise ratio on the analog line. If you turn the volume too far down on the computer and turn the volume up on your speakers, the sound on the analog line is too low with regard to the electrical noise and will be hissy. If you turn the volume up too much on the computer and turn the volume down on your speakers, then the signal will be so loud as to produce distortion either in the DAC or on the line itself. You're looking for a middle ground: as loud an output from the computer that you can produce without causing distortion in your loudest music parts. Once you've got that set, change the volume on the speakers to compensate.

jpdoctor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's try to put this discussion on the right track. (There doesn't seem to be any posts here from people who actually design analog circuits.) The SO post reduces to comparing two versions of noise: One from (A) software control of the DAC and the other (B) from hardware.

(A) Pretend that everything except the DAC was noiseless: The noise would be due to the nonlinearities and quantization in the DAC.

(B) Pretend that the DAC was perfect: The noise would be dominated by the noise-equivalent input-power introduced by the resistance present in the components (including the transistors used for amps).

In short: (A) is a function of how wide the range of bitcodes that you use. The smaller the range, the larger the noise component relative to the signal.

OTOH: (B) is a function of temperature: All of the noise power before the final dial to your amp is passed through as is the signal, so the ratio stays constant. There is also a constant noise power introduced after that final amp, but I would guess it is negligible compared to the amplified noise power.

So tl;dr = For a decent sound card, maximize the software volume and then use the analog dial.

martincmartin 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you can't tell the difference by listening to it, it doesn't matter.
colanderman 3 days ago 3 replies      
The "best" answer seems wrong or at best misleading -- I would be very very surprised if the user-visible OS master volume control, which typically controls the sound card directly, was not directly controlling op-amp gain at some later stage of the sound card.

Assuming this is true, the correct option would be to maximize any application volumes (e.g. YouTube), to maximize master volume to a level just below the sound clips (distorts) at the amplifier input, and to reduce the amplifier's pre-gain (if it has any) so the master volume control has a reasonable range.

This method will minimize the three (not just one) culprits of poor computer audio quality: quantization at the application layer, electronic interference over the physical connection, and clipping at the pre-amp.

shawnz 3 days ago 4 replies      
The best answer neglects to address something I've noticed in the past: Many phones and portable media players seem to clip when you set their volume to maximum -- that is to say, what reads as "100%" sounds more like "120%". I haven't measured this effect, and I've never seen it documented anywhere, so I don't know whether or not it's just my imagination -- but I've personally observed it with pretty much every phone I've owned.

On the PC, though, I rarely set my system volume to anything other than 100%.

zio99 3 days ago 1 reply      
Garbage in, Garbage out.

Max your software (usually this is 80% to prevent clipping and distortion), then attenuate speakers to 50% (analog boost is much worse than digital as it raises the noise floor).

Source: Mixing at studios for last 10 years

silvestrov 3 days ago 4 replies      
From "best" answer: Reducing volume in software is basically equivalent to reducing the bit depth

This is really only true when The Audio System represents samples as integers and not floats like CoreAudio does.

AngryParsley 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you're on a mac, you can obviate a lot of bit depth issues by opening /Applications/Utilities/Audio MIDI Setup.app. From there you can see all your audio input and output devices, and set their frequency and bit-rates. Most default to 44kHz/16-bit, but a saner setting is 44kHz/24-bit.

You can see the objective differences between 16-bit and 24-bit output in NwAvGuy's measurements of the 2011 MacBook Air's DAC: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/12/apple-macbook-air-5g.htm...

manaskarekar 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised no one has discussed battery life yet.

One of my 'weird unverified theories of life' is that turning the volume on portable device down (laptop/phone/mp3 player) and the volume on the speakers up saves the battery of the device itself. (For example when you're in a car.)

tocomment 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why do you guys think every sound application bothers to put a volume control? Wouldn't they figure every device that plays sound already have its own volume control?

For example if you built the YouTube player, what makes you think you need a volume control?

naner 3 days ago 1 reply      
This seems like it should be a simple straightforward issue, but I still have problems with ocassionally getting clipped audio (or some kind of distortion, I'm no audio expert) on Windows 7 with Realtek's "HD Audio" chipset/driver.

As far as I can tell, I rarely if ever have this problem with the same hardware in Linux with PulseAudio (though I can intentionally cause it using alsamixer by pushing "Master" to 100%) and didn't have this problem in the past on Windows with Creative Labs soundblaster cards.

guelo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Other posts here are making the point that the range in digital controls often includes some dB gain by the time you get to MAX. That digital boost can be very useful when using a laptop with barely audible speakers. I like how VLC makes it explicit with a volume control that goes up to 200%. It would be nice if OS level volume knobs worked the same way so you could always chose your level of distortion vs gain.
crististm 3 days ago 0 replies      
While we're at it - please use a logarithmic scale for your volume slider if you're implementing one.
PhrosTT 3 days ago 0 replies      
More of this on the frontpage please.
CamperBob2 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the software. Noise early in the signal chain counts for more than noise later. If you can get noise-free gain by changing a scalar value in a register, it'd be a mistake to turn it down in favor of increasing the gain in an analog stage later on.

For the case where an analog potentiometer immediately follows the DAC, of course, there's no practical difference.

c0nsumer 3 days ago 0 replies      
This gets even more different when devices contain a digitally controlled potentiometer between the DAC and the amp. I believe Macs do this, with the main system volume control actually stepping down the voltage of the signal being fed to the amp. Since this is an analog control one doesn't lose bit depth when turning down the volume and thus this is a fine system to use.

Not all machines work this way, though. One way to check is to hook up an external amp and headphones, turn the computer's volume way down and the amp up to listen levels. If the quality is crap the it's probably just decreasing the bit depth. Or you can do a teardown on the sound pathway.

(Oh, if it isn't clear by this point, keep all your apps turned all the way up for best quality. Only turn them down on an individual, as-needed basis. All-software stuff has to decrease bit depth to decrease volume on a per-app basis.)

gosub 2 days ago 0 replies      
I once thought about a naive streaming audio compression: If the client volume is 50% or less, send only the relevant bits.
opminion 3 days ago 2 replies      
Which reminds me, why isn't having a single volume control a solved problem?
maked00 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stupid idiot answers all.

Volume should always be controlled as close to the source as possible. Anything else is simply inefficient and a waste of processing power.

There is no reduction of bit depth. total hoo-eee.

armored_mammal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this one of those 'it depends' questions?
senthilnayagam 3 days ago 1 reply      
I tried increase volume via VLC and macbook pro speakers got fried, will stick with using external speakers and changing volumes on them
bitteralmond 3 days ago 0 replies      
+1 to the best answer-- always turn up your iPod before your speakers, folks. It makes all the difference.
Web Design Trends weavora.com
262 points by citizenblr  1 day ago   41 comments top 11
ef4 1 day ago 4 replies      
The first item, long single page designs, has always been a favorite of skilled marketers. It goes back even to pre-web snailmail marketing.

In comparison tests, longer copy almost always wins. You keep offering more and more reasons to buy, and you keep converting more and more readers.

This relates to one of the basic observations about selling: people don't like to change their minds. They won't spontaneously go from "no" to "yes". But if you offer a new piece of information, they can change their mind without admitting they were "wrong" before. Every new piece of information, or new story, is another opportunity for them to get to "yes".

Obviously, the copy also needs to be good.

webbruce 1 day ago 6 replies      
Another hot one growing is flat design which has little gradients and beveled effects. I made a Dribbble bucket here to see examples: http://dribbble.com/bcackerman/buckets/82543-Flat
Djonckheere 1 day ago 1 reply      
The last item cited, typography, could hardly be seen as a design 'trend' itself. That's like saying a designer's use of colour or negative space are regarded as stylistically in vogue today but may have been less prevalent or even nonexistent in use at points in the past. Typography is a core element of design. Period. It's not something that falls in and out of favor as a trend.
sachinmonga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Missing the biggest one: 3 offset columns to display entries, a la Pinterest.
jamesbritt 1 day ago 2 replies      
How did "2012" get in the post title? I noticed some of these trends are carry-overs from past years (focus on simplicity, the use of large photo backgrounds, the emphasis on typography, for example).

But in re-checking the site I didn't see any claim that these are somehow trends of 2012; in fact, they say, "Let's take a moment to look around some trends we witnessed in last couple years."

dilipray 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first thing to remember is not to change the entire design at once.unless it's totally horrible.

The prototype should never be better than than the final version because what we try to give is awesome design which work awesome as a static version but when it come to dynamic view developers keep changing things.that will completely change everything you need to change accordingly

sometimes people think that single page apps are better.it's true in some cases but not in all the cases

trello is the best example it can be a single page app but they dint.pjax is what you can really use for dynamic design but still when it comes to micro-blog or blog the ajax will just fine. but you should really try pjax technic for mega apps.

i work on django so thats what i suggest for others using pjax is awesome

arrowgunz 1 day ago 2 replies      
It should be "JavaScript" not "Java Script" in the list of tags displayed on top in the technical category.

Edit: Just correcting to help, not mocking.

dholowiski 1 day ago 0 replies      
The site seems to be down, does anyone have a mirror?
hkon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Who are responsible for these trends?
I'm sure many people have come up with designs like this before it got trending? Apple?
photorized 1 day ago 1 reply      
502 Bad Gateway
BaconJuice 1 day ago 0 replies      
very interesting, Thank you for sharing.
Rob Pike: Go at Google golang.org
261 points by jbarham  3 days ago   234 comments top 22
tikhonj 3 days ago 16 replies      
What annoys me a little bit about Go (and other projects similarly adherent to "worse is better") is the implied dichotomy between "research" and making "programming lives better". Do they think the point of Haskell isn't to make programming easier? That's what most of the research into the language is exactly about! This isn't just about Haskell either: most other PL research is also about making programming lives easier. And Go ignores essentially all of it.

Now, there is even nothing strictly wrong about ignoring research like that. It's just annoying how they revel in ignoring all recent progress in the field.

eternalban 3 days ago 11 replies      

Time for honesty: What bullshit.

- Go codebases by non experts are peppered with magical incantation (sleeps, etc.) to avoid the dreaded "all goroutines are sleep". Of course "they are doing it wrong", but that is the germinal point.

- A concurrent Go program will likely behave differently given 2 bits (just 2 lousy bits) of difference in the object binary. (runtime.GOMAXPROCS(1) vs runtime.GOMAXPROCS(2)). Imagine someone touching those 2 bits in a "large codebase". It is practically impossible to do the same thing in a large Java codebase and fundamentally change the programs runtime behavior. (Happens all the time in Go.)

- It is very difficult to reason about a Go routine's behavior in a "large codebase" without global view and a mental model of the dynamic system e.g. which go routine is doing what and who is blocking and who is not. Pretty much defeats the entire point of "simple" concurrency, to say nothing of "scaling". Programming in Go's variant of cooperative multithreading is actually more demanding than preemptive multithreading. Cute little concurrency pet tricks aside, Go concurrent programming actually requires expert level experience. "You are doing it wrong". Of course. Point.

- There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you can do in Go that you can not do via libraries in Java. Sure, the cute syntactic go func() needs to be replaced with method calls to the excellent java.util.concurrent constructs, but the benefits -- high performance, explicit-no-magic-code -- outweigh the cute factor in this "programmer's" book.

- On the other hand, there are plenty of things you can do in Java that are simply impossible to do in Go.

- Once we factor in the possibility for bytecode engineering, then Java is simply in another higher league as far as language capabilities are concerned. (Most people who rag on Java are clearly diletantes Java programmers.)

If Go actually manages to be as effective as Java for concurrent programming at some point in the future (when they fix the somewhat broken runtime) then the Go authors are permitted to crow about it. Until that day, go fix_the_runtime() and defer bs().

One thing that programming in Go has made me realize is just how awesomely Sun/Gosling, et al. hit that "practical programming" sweet spot. No wonder the modern enterprise runs on Java and JVM.

It just works. (But it is "boring" because it's not bling anymore. Oh well, kids will be kids.)

etrain 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty stoked on Go. I freaking love C. Love it. It's like they took C and went to the best disciples of C's creators and said "look - we've got these problems now nobody envisioned 40 years ago. Can you make C for us again, but better?" And they said "yes!" and it was good.

We get some nice concurrency primitives, garbage collection, cleaner syntax, something between structs and objects that fits the right feeling, automatic bounds checking, cute array syntax, and a big-ass, well defined standard library. Oh, and this concept of interfaces that is so well executed it's not even funny.

Except. I feel like they are forcing the fanboy mindset. At one point in this slide deck, there is the following bullet: "The designs are nothing like hierarchical, subtype-inherited methods. Much looser, organic, decoupled, independent."

I didn't see the talk. But that is the most vapid, meaningless description I've ever seen of a feature of a programming language. Rob might as well have said, "it's hipster better," which would have conveyed exactly as much meaning.

So here's my question - and I hope there are real answers - can someone point me to >3 real, big systems that are built using Go? I'll accept Google internal systems on faith.

eta_carinae 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was having lunch with a friend of mine who works at Google a few weeks ago and I asked him how popular Go was at Google. He said the only people using it are the Go team. Java and C++ continue to reign supreme at Google.
smegel 2 days ago 2 replies      
> It can be better to copy a little code than to pull in a big library for one function.

I just don't get this. If you statically link in small functions from a big library, you only get the little bit you need anyway. Are they saying you avoid compiling the "big library" over and over? But if it is already compiled, that should not be necessary. And the chances are you are going to be importing lots of "little code" from the "big library" anyway. Unless they are saying the implementation of net's itoa is somehow simplified and not a just a straight code copy...otherwise I don't understand this approach.

nnq 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thinks like this have an unnerving "smell":

"Dependency hygiene trumps code reuse.
The (low-level) net package has own itoa to avoid dependency on the big formatted I/O package."

...now, if this kind of attitude stays in the core dev land I don't really care about it. But when I'll consider Go as an alternative for a large project, I'll start worrying if people adopt the "it's OK to reinvent some wheels" philosophy when they start building higher level frameworks in Go... I mean, how hard can it be to split the "big formatted I/O package" into a "basic formatted I/O" package and an "advanced formatted I/O package" that requires the first one, and have the "net" package only require "basic formatted I/O" (or maybe even make "basic formatted I/O" something like part of the language "built ins" or smth - I don't know Go so I don't know the Go terms for this)?

lnanek2 2 days ago 1 reply      
I never liked Go, but I admit I like it a lot more if it means I don't have to deal with Maven and other dependency systems as much like the slides say. I've been doing Android since it came out, but before that I was J2EE, and it could be hell if Hibernate needed a different version of a dep than something else in your code stack, for example. Handling JARs by hand stopped working, and the countless XMLs files listing deps for all parts of the system and library started getting full of overrides and the like. Eventually Oracle rewrote all the class loading for their app server which allowed dependencies to have dependencies which were invisible to apps using them. So something as basic as class loaders had to be completely reworked to deal with this, and it was still damn complex and a pain in the ass.
ek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think all of the keynotes at OOPSLA this year were surprisingly engaging.

I've seen a lot of Go talks from various Googlers, and I have to say that this was the best-motivated, most humble, and most honest of them that I have seen. Rob knew he was speaking to an extremely PL-oriented audience, and structured his talk accordingly, and the result was fantastic. Go comes from a very different standpoint than almost all academic PL work, and in that respect, for those of us in academia, it's an interesting breath of fresh air and a reminder of the uniquely fine line between industry and academia in computer science.

isbadawi 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was a bit confused at slide 35 where he said that Go's declaration syntax is "easier to parse -- no symbol table needed" as I don't typically think of a symbol table being involved in parsing. Here's an interesting comp.compilers thread from 1998 about parsing C++: http://compilers.iecc.com/comparch/article/98-07-199
jlgreco 3 days ago 4 replies      
As a warning, there seems to be no mouse-navigation of these slides. You have to use a keyboard. (or touch, probably)
simonsarris 3 days ago 7 replies      
Sorry to veer off topic, but why is the golang site so ugly?

I clicked on the link in the second slide: http://golang.org

compare with:




Even Dart looks great: http://dartlang.org/

I feel a little guilty being negative about this, but presentation does matter, and Google ought to be able to afford it.

ExpiredLink 2 days ago 0 replies      

> Pain

> What makes large-scale development hard with C++ or Java (at least):

None of the points apply to Java.

wnoise 2 days ago 3 replies      
One of the few nice things about the C include mechanism is that it's pretty easy (and standard practice) to set up separate implementation and interface files. If the implementation of something changes, but not the interface, I don't want to have to recompile all the clients. This is lost in almost all "modern" languages.

(This is, of course, horribly broken in C++ which likes to inline everything.)

drivebyacct2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I miss uriel to respond to some of the really inexplicable posts on this thread. :(
lmirosevic 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Go has garbage collection, only. [...] Day 1 design decision." http://talks.golang.org/2012/splash.slide#51

Can someone tell me why GC was the obvious choice as opposed to say automatic reference counting?

pswenson 2 days ago 2 replies      
Didn't we try error codes back in the day? I think exceptions are brilliant. They let you write your error code in one place (at the top of the stack), instead of planning for every contingency at every level.

Once I discovered exceptions back in the 90s, life got a lot easier.

Of course Java ruined exceptions with the invention of the CheckedException, maybe this tainted the Go designers' thinking?

Evbn 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't get the interface stuff. If you had a method on an interface, you have to add it to all implementors, or clients won't compile. How is that different from Java? Java just adds the implements declaration, so Eclispse can help you find those implementations, instead of making you pore over compiler error listings.
lukehutch 3 days ago 2 replies      
Favorite quote: "While that build runs, we have time to think."
ybaumes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does someone knows wath is the reference to Tom Cargill and "PI" in the 16th slides please? I did not find anything on Google.
pdog 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't be the only one for whom this presentation is completely broken on the iPad (scrolling to fast and skipping multiple slides).
tomdeakin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent a year working on a project in Go, so got pretty used to the language. One thing I did wonder though was how would it fare on very large systems; how could Go hook up to work like MPI across clusters of computers?
ddon 2 days ago 0 replies      
slide show didn't work for me in FireFox... haven't tried it in Chrome :)

Update: was trying to use a mouse to switch between slides, but later tried, and figured out that it only works with keyboard :)

Career Day - A parent introduces programming at her son's school therealkatie.net
259 points by dhotson  4 days ago   60 comments top 17
riklomas 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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.

henrik_w 4 days 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.

jawns 4 days 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.

Newky 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
What grade / how old are these students?
A dozen USB chargers in the lab: Apple is very good, but not quite the best arcfn.com
249 points by pmarin  2 days ago   85 comments top 15
nicpottier 2 days ago 3 replies      
Too bad the Amazon Kindle charger isn't in the mix, it is my favorite just because it is so tiny and relatively high output. Would have liked to see same analysis for it.
GuiA 2 days ago 2 replies      
" Since the designers of the Apple charger went to a great deal of effort to build a high quality charger, I conclude they must not consider voltage sag worth worrying about. Or, more interestingly, maybe they built this sag as a feature for some reason. In any case, the chargers lose points on this."

I'm not versed in the arcane arts of EE" could anyone give me a basic definition of voltage sag? And would there be any reason to build it as a feature in a charger?

commandar 2 days ago 2 replies      
I bought up a half dozen Touchpad chargers when they were being cleared out for $5 a piece. I did it mainly because they were the cheapest 2A adapters that work with anything I'd come across, but it's good to know they're efficient and well-built as well.
kens 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of people have suggested additional chargers I should examine. To narrow it down, I've created a poll on the article page (upper left). If there's sufficient interest I'll take a look at your favorite charger, so cast your vote.
acgourley 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lesson here is that if you don't want to pay for an official apple charger, do not buy a counterfeit one just buy any name brand one with the right wattage rating.
kalleboo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got a nice charger from Buffalo (respected Japanese brand) that does a max of 4A (=can charge 2 iPads at once) and has 4 USB ports: 2 with the Apple power negotiation standard, and 2 with the Everyone Else/Android power negotiation standard.

It'd be nice to see an even broader test

mhb 2 days ago 3 replies      
Would be nice to know how the adafruit charger does:


mseebach 2 days ago 5 replies      
It's off-topic, but I've been trying to figure it out for a while: I have a two-port "Gear4" USB charger with swappable plugs, so it's great for travelling. However, my new work BlackBerry won't accept a charge from it, complaining about it being too low powered - however, the Gear4 charger says it's 2A, the BB charger is 750mA.

Does anyone know what's the deal?

polyfractal 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting review, I enjoyed the dissection and review of what most people don't even think about (wall chargers).

On a non-technical note, Apple chargers should lose simply because of how goddamned large they are. They basically eat two spots on a power strip and are easily knocked out of wall sockets because of their weight.

macleodan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have looked at some cheap car USB power supplies.


Unbranded, common on ebay.

They were both awful. I would be interested to know about a known good one.

rhizome 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure there is a guaranteed-success Kickstarter for a $10-20 clean-charging plug in this story.
afterburner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good to know Monoprice makes a good product.
adrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a fake IPad charger, it barely charges my IPhone and can't charge the IPad at all. It was labelled as an Apple charger when I bought it for $10 and had good reviews.
yooy123 1 day ago 1 reply      
USB chargers? Try this one, I wish I could afford it.


rhplus 2 days ago 3 replies      
This link just wouldn't have been quite as clickable: A dozen USB chargers in the lab: HP is the best.
Windows 8 Arrives microsoft.com
248 points by dragonquest  4 days ago   213 comments top 26
engtech 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 1 reply      
jerednel 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days ago 2 replies      
Or without the referral link code:


jaybill 4 days ago 4 replies      
And it STILL doesn't play DVDs without additional software! sigh
tonyedgecombe 3 days 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.

whalesalad 4 days 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.

mbesto 4 days 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)
roryokane 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ars Technica's five-page review of Windows 8: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/10/window...
foohbarbaz 4 days 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.

mikeratcliffe 4 days ago 2 replies      
Meh, the interface makes no sense without a touchscreen.
itry 4 days ago 2 replies      
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?
mtgx 4 days 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.


zwischenzug 4 days ago 1 reply      
...and screws up my evening by apparently breaking flash. We only warned our clients 4 months ago.
lucb1e 3 days 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.
Tooluka 3 days 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.
niggler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Windows 8 has been available for months for free on Microsoft BizSpark (http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/)
Syssiphus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Run for the hills!
fady 4 days 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 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone once said Windows 8 looks like a 5 dollar app. That sums it up for me
Congratulations on IE10: from Mozilla with cake limpet.net
243 points by mbrubeck  3 days ago   51 comments top 12
Too 2 days ago 1 reply      

  > Back when Firefox 2 was released (six years ago this week!), 
> the Internet Explorer team started a friendly tradition of sending Mozilla a cake
> as congratulations. This continued for Firefox 3 and Firefox 4.

This finally explains why they changed to the more frequent release schedule.

neya 2 days ago 2 replies      
You know what is so amazing about this tradition? It is not about the software or the companies that build them, it is about people sharing their 'love' and respect for each other citing the software as a reason. I simply love this. I think even we should team up and send pg, and his new YC teams a cake every year (without expecting a cake in return :P ) :)
davej 2 days ago 2 replies      
> "As you can see from their picture, the bottom border of the cake was slightly restyled in transit"

They should have doubled the padding to be safe.

lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like CIA and KGB agents in hot remote countries, the opposing camps turn out to have far more in common with each other than their "motherlands"
Magenta 2 days ago 2 replies      
This continued good-natured back-and-forth is nice to see. Kind of reminds me of something Stephen Potter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Potter) would have done, had he been in the tech industry :)
Raphael_Amiard 2 days ago 1 reply      
It gave me warm fuzzy feelings to see two members of the IE team with Firefox sweaters ! That's what you can call healthy competition i guess.
CKKim 2 days ago 0 replies      

  > Just 30 minutes later, Michael Bolan tweeted that the cake was gone.

This has me thinking of that scene in Mike Judge's Office Space where Milton always happens to be in the wrong part of the crowd relative to the cake and never gets a piece. Cruel but hilarious.

I don't know how many people there are in that office, but I hope it's sufficiently few that no-one got Miltoned :).

gprasanth 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does IE copy parts of code from Firefox? [Honest question.]
chris_wot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Absolutely no cake love for Safari?
ck2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are there like "icing printers" now or is that done by hand?
runn1ng 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't they.... hate each other?
happypeter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's talk, let's be friends, let's make the web a better place for everyone. No War!
Steam for Linux Beta steamcommunity.com
234 points by futureperson  3 days ago   62 comments top 8
presidentender 3 days ago 3 replies      
I installed Windows specifically to get Steam (and Visual Studio). If Steam works on Linux, I have very little need of Microsoft products outside the office.
pja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they might be going to announce something at the upcoming Ubuntu conference: http://cdr.thebronasium.com/sub/17746
rowsdower 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused. What was the point of posting this link? This is just the Steam group for the beta. It doesn't include any new information (or a way to get in the beta) that I can see.
aristidb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can somebody explain what precisely this page means?
jamesmiller5 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm quite surprised the domain is "steamcommunity.com" and not "community.steam.com", it made me hesitant to enter login details.
iddqd 3 days ago 0 replies      
The actual beta sign up page was just posted to the group.


jiggy2011 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ok , so I joined the group but I can't get into group chat from my Linux box.
rtcoms 3 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't kickstarter would be perfect for companies to create games for linux platform?

This way they will know in which games people are really interested and I also think that people will gladly support those kickstarter. Overall much less risk on investment.

An Alternate Universe (Microsoft Surface) marco.org
234 points by tnorthcutt  3 days ago   239 comments top 49
recoiledsnake 2 days ago 14 replies      
>The Surface is partially for Microsoft's world of denial: the world in which this store contains no elephants and Microsoft invented the silver store with the glass front and the glowing logo and blue shirts and white lanyards and these table layouts and the modern tablet and its magnetic power cable

Huh what? It looks like Marco's the one living in an alternate universe. I seriously doubt anyone would believe that. The whole "if you don't adore the iPad you're in denial" thing says more about the writer than the Microsoft store salesman. What bugs me the most about the Apple bloggers like Gruber, Siegler and Marco is their hate towards anything non-Apple, especially Android and Microsoft. It's one thing to like something, but to hate on something else because of that is very narrow minded.

cromwellian 2 days ago 4 replies      
Wait, so Apple invented the idea of a store with flat tables and sales staff with blue shirts? First of all, practically every high end women's shoe or bag store had that "Art Gallery" presentation style: hardwood floors, uncluttered and spacious, simply flat tables or shelves with few products. Although the sales people are usually dressed very sharp.

But Apple did not invent this style of presenting consumer electronics. Sometimes I feel like Marco, MG, and Gruber were born 5 years ago. Am I the only one who bought nice, industrial designed stuff from stores like Bang and Olufsen? The Beocom 2 came out in 2002 and some of the Bang and Olufsen stores had flat tables like that. And if you visited some of the boutique stores in Italy or Japan even 10 years ago you would find some with this layout.

And didn't BestBuy invent the blue-shirt guy? I'm kind of bored of the continued notion that Apple was the first consumer electronics company to obsess over industrial design, build quality, or retail presentation.

aik 2 days ago 5 replies      
Odd, I played with the Surface yesterday and the device I used was much different than the one described here. I have an iPad (and love it in many ways), however found the Surface fairly refreshing in several ways. For one:

I find that I can't really hold the iPad with one hand, partially because the shape and weight distribution, partially because it feels so incredibly fragile. I found the Surface to be shaped comfortably, even for one hand, and thought it felt much more durable than the iPad (this article states it doesn't feel light like the iPhone 5, however even though it's comparable in weight to the iPad 3, my first thought was that it feels kind of like the lightness and increased sense of durability of the iPhone 5).

>> I couldn't type on the Touch Cover significantly faster than with the on-screen keyboard.

Seriously? I type on the iPad a lot and resort to "pecking" most of the time, and I have fairly average sized hands. I instantly was able to use the touch cover like a normal keyboard. I made a few mistakes, but could easily see myself typing nearly as fast as a normal keyboard with a little practice. I have no such feeling with the iPad.

>> Apple's products say, “You can't do that because we think it would suck.” Microsoft's products say, “We'll let you try to do anything on anything if you really want to, even if it sucks.”

Wow, what a sad sounding world for people who like Apple products.

I'm not going to buy a Surface yet, but I'm seriously tempted.

ericfrenkiel 2 days ago 5 replies      
this is such a biased article with strawman arguments ("can you replace the sound card on the surface?") and silly comparisons(the author actually writes he could buy 2 ipad minis for 1 surface).

the criticisms about the store experience and salesmen notwithstanding, this is apple fanboism at its best.

It's far better to keep an open mind and experience new ways of interaction than to deride/scoff at alternative UI and UX.

I switch between Android, Windows, and Mac OSX; it's far more interesting to enjoy more platforms than forgo trying new experiences.

Todd 2 days ago 5 replies      
It's a shame to see Marco panning the Surface so thoroughly. It's apples and oranges. On the one hand, comparing brand new hardware (one day old) with 4th generation hardware and on the other hand comparing brand new software (again, one day old) with version 6 software.

Despite the criticisms of some of the execution here and there (e.g., the pointless animations), it's clear if you've done any reading that a tremendous amount of research and UX work went into this--but it's a v1 product and many of the apps are written by groups other than MS.

I got a chance to use the Surface today and the thing that I came away with was that this could be a person's only computer. As an example, you can browse the file system, run desktop apps, and copy files to external storage. I can't say that about an iPad. Everyone I know who owns an iPad (myself included) also has a second computer somewhere--often in the same bag.

The other thing I came away with was that Microsoft is open and Apple is closed. Why can't I plug a microSD card into any Apple product? Why can't I plug in a USB device? You can plug your camera into the Surface (it's a host) and download pictures to your local machine. MS has several capacities and price points, just like Apple, but they're not afraid to let you use external storage.

I believe in a future with open computing and, firmware lock downs notwithstanding, MS is far more open than Apple.

forrestthewoods 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post is 1/100th as useful as full write ups from Wired, Verge, ArsTechnica, or Anandtech. It's just not deep, insightful, or meaningful in comparison. I'd highly recommend reading those reviews if you're looking for anything insightful about the Surface.
wvenable 2 days ago 3 replies      
> People who dislike Apple's approach or whose requirements are incompatible with it will always exist in great numbers, and the Surface is for them.

I disagree. Historically, Microsoft software products have been more customizable and more flexible than what comes from Apple. PC hardware as well. But what we're seeing now, with Windows 8, is a departure from that. Microsoft isn't just copying Apple's store -- they're copying the fundamental mind-set behind Apple's software. Instead of a general purpose computing machine, they're both trying to sell closed consumer electronics products. In my opinion, Microsoft took their biggest advantage and tossed it. People who dislike Apple's approach or whose requirements are incompatible aren't going to find much of an alternative. Microsoft seems to think they can compete with Apple on Apple's terms.

paperwork 2 days ago 1 reply      
Quite a nice writeup.

It saddens me to see Microsoft disappointing, time after time. There must be great material for anthropologists to figure out how such an incredibly smart and talented group of people, with almost unlimited amount of money, can continue to be second-rate. In fact, comparing the cultures around Linux, MS and Apple is bound to reveal some greater truths about human/societal behavior which could be applied to improving the lot of countries and cultures which have stagnated.

mrich 2 days ago 1 reply      

  The pitches were aggressive, fast-paced, and competitively 
defensive: they often mentioned “other tablets” and didn't
let me forget which features were “not available on any
other tablet”.

This sounds like a description of the iPad mini keynote.

Magenta 2 days ago 1 reply      
Marco Arment enters a Microsoft store beady-eyed, looking for things to nitpick, sneering at everything, seeing the negative side of everything. Whodathunkit.

The article by this fully-grown adult is summed up as he bitches about how "he isn't told how to exit other stores." What a clown.

andrewfelix 2 days ago 4 replies      
How surprising, Marco panning Microsoft products.

That store experience does sound awful though. There's nothing more off putting than over eager sales staff interrupting your curiosity.

dmix 2 days ago 0 replies      
> it wasn't clear whether there just wasn't a hidden context menu at that moment or I just screwed up the swipe

This was the hardest thing for me when I was trying out Windows 8. Was never sure the menu didn't exist or my mouse wasn't in the corner properly.

myspy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know why it is so hard to understand, that some people want to have the best experience.

The iPad does not everything, but at what it does, it tries to be the best.

The Surface is trying to be best at everything, but that creates so many trade-offs, it drags down the user experience.

I left Win XP, and Windows 7 did not make me come back, because there are so many things that lack decision making in leaving features out rather than putting everything in. Metro is a step in the right direction, but it needs more finish.

A computer should help you, and guide you to achieve a goal. A Win PC usually needs a lot of work to bend him in a way which enables you to do your task. And I have enough of that.

Why do I need experts in an Office program? Why not making the Office program so intuitive, that it is super easy to create a set of documents? Why not cutting unnecessary features out? A Metro version of Office, which does that, wouldn't that be great?

Furthermore, I don't want to tinker, I don't want to dig through five layers of settings.

I want to see the IT world going on. And Windows was not really helping in pushing the world forward in the last decade. Apple did. That's why some of the praise and "fanboism" is justified.

Let's see who leads the next decade, but have an open mind and acknowledge the fact that people like Marco, Gruber, or MG have an idea of what they are talking about.

They give credit where credit is due. But MS has to do a lot more to earn that credit. Maybe they have to cut some things out of the Metro side and go dual platform. It will help to make Metro something that pushes forward the whole industry.

When a lot of people are used to Win 8, maybe it's a good thing to go separate ways with Win 9. The "professionals" will use their desktop and the rest is used to Metro and maybe they will see how it excels the desktop version with ease of use.

kordless 2 days ago 1 reply      
After reading maybe 1/4 of this I was left thinking if you can't say something positive, don't say anything at all.
tankbot 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's obvious that the writer is an Apple person but the piece doesn't feel too biased.

This makes me a little sad, I was rooting for Microsoft this time.

mun2mun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just look at the caption of third image. He is so much into trolling that he didn't mind pulling his son into it.
smackfu 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty much the same insufferable stuff he goes into when he talks about Microsoft on his podcast. A general ignorance because he never uses the stuff (except long wnough to look for flaws) but that doesn't stop him from being an expert in his mind. I just hit the two minute skip button until I get to the Apple topics where I think he has informed opinions.
hizanberg 2 days ago 3 replies      
Seriously? blue uniforms, white name tags, flat display tables, guru bars... It's like they purposely tried to copy every distinguishable Apple retail formula except they're pushing PCs.

Does noone have any creativity left anymore?

taylorbuley 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've got VMWare Fusion on a Macbook Air so I have the luxury of being able to pick my OS and application for most tasks (usually OS X, sometimes Ubuntu and rarely Windows). I took Windows 8 for a test drive today and I will be happily replacing the native OS X Calendar and Mail with the Windows 8 alternatives.
underwater 2 days ago 0 replies      
So apparently the stores are too much like Apple's, but the tablet is not similar enough.

The one to one feature comparison to the iPad is silly. The surface is not trying to be a carbon copy. Features like retina display come with trade offs in power, speed and cost that were obviously not worth the trade off. It seems that ever since Apple raised the issue pixels have gone from being something few ever thought about to being physically painful to consumer's eyeballs.

There were a few factual inaccuracies in Marco's post. The touch keyboard does allow you to rest your fingers on the surface. It's smart enought to recognize what is intended to be an actual keystroke. Rotating the screen does show a transition too; the screen shrinks, fades and expands.

pacomerh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy is naturally arrogant. I totally understand how Microsoft is missing the point but come on, what is the point of this article?, is he trying to point out that people are missing these kind of things?.
exodust 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why oh why did I read another pointless Apple fanboy article. It really isn't worth taking sides with these big companies and their sales tactics... Both play cheap awkward tricks. Both are trying to get your money and manipulate your habits.

The last line of the article says it all "I fled Windows 8 years ago with no intention of returning". Wow, thanks for that information. I really needed to know about your blind faith in Apple, and your feelings for Windows. I'm sure you attend Apple store openings and queue for the high-fives and woot-woots.

khalidmbajwa 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or does the Article really does comes across as quite snarky in tone rather than an honest observation of what he saw ?
RyJones 2 days ago 0 replies      
His impression pretty much matches mine, except I'm more enthused by the keyboard covers. I find OSKs intolerable; I agree with his assessment that Office is useless for creation - I will argue that having a full-fidelity viewer is very nice for attachment handling.
nextstep 2 days ago 0 replies      
I could not agree more with the distinction the author draws between Apple's products and Microsoft. Sure, Apple's ecosystem is limited, but Microsoft's offering is very rough and will do many tasks poorly at the cost of doing just a few tasks well.
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to see he went in there with an open mind.
mythz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks just like the Apple Store, but without the customers :)
bztzt 2 days ago 1 reply      
well, he correctly noticed that the gestures and animations take a different approach than Apple's but that apparently just makes them "wrong" to him - Apple's is the only valid approach.

fwiw, here's a good presentation of the design rationale behind the use of animations in Windows 8: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/BUILD2011/APP-206T

Gestures: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechDays/Techdays-2012-the-N...

dokem 2 days ago 2 replies      
> It was like arguing with a Tea Partier.

I'm sorry, but why was this comparison necessary?

mariusmg 2 days ago 1 reply      
This guy is biased. That's all.
hdra 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't why would an adult would even bother to write something like this.
radicalbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who finds this blind following of a specific platform all rather childish?*

Platform zealotry is the domain of children, the feeble minded and host of shills who feed on the above two groups (and the platform holder's marketing budgets).

* Rhetorical question (I expect that most HNers agree).

6ren 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel bad for Microsoft. When you are first with a new product with great benefits, everyone forgives your missteps, because it's the only one - the best there is. But when you copy, you are competing with something that has been through iterations of feedback and corrections and bugfix and improvement. You are held to that higher standard, even though you're just starting out!

Also, in the past, Apple regulated the user-experience with the Mac (whereas the PC was open), which seems to have been too constraining. It might seem that history could repeat here, but there's a crucial difference: tablets are now a consumer device, like Sony used to make.

rhplus 2 days ago 0 replies      
The pictures clearly show that the entire mall is empty, not just the Microsoft store.
petercooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh my.. this cringeworthy exchange reminds me of when Larry David tried selling cars :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neqO5y3Xaq8
ditoa 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am waiting to see the pricing on the Surface Pro. That is what I am interested in. I was very close to buying an ultrabook but am holding off to see how the SP is as a general computer as well as a tablet.
jemeshsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
For Apple we have MG, Gruber and Marco. For Microsoft, is there any? And for Google?
bornhuetter 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is just pure trollbait. It's disappointing to see it on HN, as it doesn't provoke any useful discussion whatsoever.
nnq 2 days ago 0 replies      
"It feels too much like using a Windows PC" ...bingo!

That's the point, Windows 7 and 8 offer great desktop experiences and having "one system to rule them all" is the selling point ...though I'd rather have an x86 version of the tablet with the ability to use exactly the same software since the type cover is basically a usable keyboard ...hope Intel does some magic with ultra low power x86 chips soon

rjzzleep 2 days ago 0 replies      
not a ms person here(not at ALL in fact).

but ok i get it, was reading, then started skimming, then got to the conclusion tl;dr.

apple store employees handing out stupid useless flyers in the middle of the street in gangs of 3 is better of course.

microsoft is giving out muffin fragments? i'm surprised they gave out anything at all.

Shinkei 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good lord... this is an article written by someone with an incredible bias. I mean he takes so many low-blows on the salespeople and belittles everyone and everything about the store. They are trained to sell things to an average consumer... not a tech-savvy blogger who knows his/her stuff. Most consumers don't even know what a sound card is or that a computer has ram. Marco needs to relax... not to mention that his mean-spirited article with identifiable employee faces could subject him to civil liability.
mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The MS store employee who says you can't see any pixels is obviously lying, and I'm guessing that's what Microsoft told them to say.
lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the alternate universe is one where "you can expand and alter even if it sucks" then can I boot BSD on surface?
brackin 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's true that the Surface is coming in at a 10" form-factor when the iPad holds 70% of the market and the real battle is happening on the 7", slightly lower end market.
jamesbrennan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article.

I get that some want the hardware upgradeability of MS PCs, but your can't do anything to Windows because its closed source. I buy Macs because I get the benefits of both a polished and (somewhat) open source operating system - not to mention its Unix. Also, in Apple hardware you actually know what you're getting - the majority of it is Intel. With other manufacturers unless you custom build your machine, its hard to know what you're actually getting inside beyond the specs on paper.

ezolotko 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is especially sad to read such an article after the release of iOS 6. Before, it was a bit rude, biased and all, but now I feel it cannot be justified anymore.
kirillzubovsky 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very entertaining. Thank you for posting!
olgeni 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of course, Apple clearly offers the best design, performance, user experience, documentation, reliability, and overall quality.


Can I have my UIGlassButton now?

Even Genius-blue-only would be a start.

davidpayne11 2 days ago 2 replies      
You need some credibility before you write articles about huge corporations that have achieved something. Atleast you must be somewhere near the top of the hierarchy where your subject is, to understand fully about them, so you can even consider writing about them. I fail to see how a guy with an app on an Appstore can think he is credible enough to write about a huge corporation that has taken risks he wouldn't even imagine taking himself and has had first hand experience and information about the market better than this guy. Microsoft is the one that makes the marketplace and Marco is just someone who submits his apps there. That's the difference in their positions in the hierarchy. What a shitty article.
China Blocks Web Access to The New York Times After Article nytimes.com
227 points by jimmyjim  3 days ago   120 comments top 16
wilfra 3 days ago 8 replies      
The truly sad part of this is most Chinese people wouldn't really mind the site being blocked because of this, nor even be all that surprised to learn what the article said. They don't get offended and angered by their government hiding things from them or abusing their power in the same way people in Western countries do, nor do they have a strong desire to learn the truth. They just accept this as the way things are.

Yes, there are exceptions, but those who feel different are in the minority.

blrgeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the differences between India and China seems to be that in India at least, there's a free 4th estate, and there is no way a Government would be able to block articles like this.

As a matter of fact, through the Right To Information Act, there's an activist who is currently raking up dirt on a whole bunch of politicians serially.

Makes me thankful of the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted!

untog 3 days ago 5 replies      
Well, at least we know the article is telling the truth now.
jcromartie 3 days ago 4 replies      
It happens in pockets of the US, too: Jerry Falwell's conservative Liberty University did a very similar thing.


EDIT: mircocosm was a poor word choice

kaptain 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone post a mirror or the content of the article? I'm in China.
Claudus 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, combining these two statements, it seems that they blocked both sites 30 minutes before the article was posted in Chinese?

If that's true, it's disappointing the Times didn't do a simultaneous release in anticipation of the block.

"HONG KONG " The Chinese government swiftly blocked access Friday morning to the English-language and Chinese-language Web sites of The New York Times"

"By 7 a.m. Friday in China, access to both the English- and Chinese-language Web sites of The Times was blocked (...). The Times had posted the article in English at 4:34 p.m. on Thursday in New York (4:34 a.m. Friday in Beijing), and finished posting the article in Chinese three hours later after the translation of final edits to the English-language version."

codyZ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure what's worse: People thinking that Chinese nationals do not care, that they are unaware, or perhaps both. Most of the people that I know in China, who are at all, remotely informed about anything knows not to get their news from regular news channels. Particularly anyone skilled enough to setup a Weibo account. Within minutes, most news gets out anyways via Weibo (Chinese Twitter)...

In fact it was two of my Chinese friends who told me about the article this morning....

bluekite2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I m anxiously waiting for one written for Vietnam. I lived there for a few years and the 2 countries closely resemble each other
zschallz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like its no longer blocked in China... http://www.greatfirewallofchina.org/index.php?siteurl=www.ny...
bennyfreshness 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I didn't really see much wrongdoing on part of the leadership, namely Wen Jiabao, as described in the article. Its mostly relatives taking advantage of political connections. Its a broken system, where the state is too closely intertwined with business. Hopefully the rumors are true and the new ruling coalition will make some progress in liberalizing the economy modeling it after Singapore's.
thomasfl 3 days ago 0 replies      
China blocked Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation's sites two years ago when the Nobel commitee awarded Liu Xiaobo the peace prize.
arbuge 3 days ago 0 replies      
So it has been, so it always will be. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
duxup 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was reading that article last night thinking... this is gonna get blocked.
ethana 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Times should not just only be blocked in China. Serious.
jonathanyc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Loving the racist comments on HN these days.
udonmai 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just want to say ... ''
Singularity Chess abstractstrategygames.blogspot.com
223 points by iamwil  2 days ago   28 comments top 15
reitzensteinm 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of the side projects I'm pondering is a multiplayer chess variations site, with an engine flexible enough to handle modes like this (and 4 player, etc).

A different variation would be promoted weekly, but you'd be able to play any of them whenever via email or real time.

Would that interest anyone here?

There is a great library of them here, except it's single player only which IMO takes a lot of the fun out of it:


simonsarris 2 days ago 2 replies      
The board looks neat but this concept seems only half baked, since it begins to confuse directionality once a turn is taken, and the new board greatly reduces the number of available moves.

There is just a single space for the pawns on the end to move to, after all, and it isn't well defined what moves the penultimate pawns could make should they move one square forward (can they attack end-pawns that have moved just one square?)

What might be a better variant would be to assign directionality to all pawns (starting as forward), and allow them to take left or right turns, perhaps diagonally. This greatly increases the number of game possibilities while introducing no new confusing scenarios.

dhx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Some further information on this chess variant from a 2006 blog post:


PostOnce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a card game that augments chess called Knightmare Chess, out of print now but not hard to find: http://www.sjgames.com/general/outofprint.html

Each player gets a deck of cards which change the rules of chess, for example, you can play a card that makes the board cylindrical, so the edges wrap, and you can move pieces from one side to the next, or another card that allows the king to move two spaces at a time, etc. I always thought it was a neat game.

oofabz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks pretty cool but the pawn rules are a hack. Since "forward" is no longer a well defined direction, I propose allowing pawns to move to any adjacent square, and capture to any diagonal square.
anigbrowl 1 day ago 4 replies      
There's only one chess variant that's more interesting than the original: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriegspiel_(chess)
radarsat1 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be cool to have an engine that supports multi-rule chess AI. I've always wanted to get around to writing an AI for Laser Chess [1] for instance, but it seems to me that since it's basically a search strategy, if you generalized the rules you could easily write an AI that can play any set of rules.

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

iamwil 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how this changes up the nature of openings. I don't know too much about chess openings, but usually it seems lik you want to control the center. But in this case, it seems like all roads lead to the center, so would it be wise to have pieces sitting there?
philh 2 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting aspect of the pawn movement is that a pawn on a semicircular square can capture, but not be captured by, a pawn on the semicircular square directly rimwards. In normal chess, all threats between equivalent pieces are mutual. (Well, except for the en passent rule.)

I think I agree with the others saying pawn movement is hacky. I'd be inclined to say that a pawn promotes when it reaches either side of the board, but this isn't great because you need to keep track of where a pawn started to know which direction it's going.

mck- 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any piece that crosses the Event Horizon (I'd say from B4 to G4) would get torn apart under its own gravity and just disappear into nothingness. Although from the piece's perspective, time would come to a standstill? Now how about that...
perlgeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it still an interesting game to play?

Don't get me wrong, it sounds interesting, but with such games you usually only know for sure once you've tried it.

NHQ 2 days ago 1 reply      
I made this with the goal of eventually incorporating other boards and variations. Currently there are 3 options (click on GAME): Standard, Fischer-random (960), and a 7x7 board with no queens. http://chessfoo.com
j2kun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love the idea! I want to try playing :)

But "Singularity Chess" is an awkward name. The center of the board is not a singularity in any reasonable sense of the word. The space of allowable movement trajectories appears to be nonsingular.

Maybe a more correct name, albeit drier, would be quadratic chess (because the transformation looks like a quadratic form).

cmccabe 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... a rook's pawn still on its original square could capture the opposing rook's pawn on its original square" not sure whether that should be permitted or disallowed."

It was at this point that I stopped taking this chess variant seriously.

colanderman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why does black have only 7 pawns?
Electronic demon costume is surprisingly unnerving hackaday.com
218 points by ari_elle  4 days ago   21 comments top 7
krupan 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found the video where he surprised everyone with it:


tlrobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Don't miss the very end of the video.
R_Edward 4 days ago 4 replies      
Anyone else think the costume would be about 17% more unnerving if the demon's face didn't look as if it had just been smacked with a cartoon frying pan?
papalalu 4 days ago 1 reply      
it's cool. but it is in no way unnerving.
chunsaker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not unnerving, but pretty awesome!
jkantz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Electronic Demon Costume - How To!
katabatic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Major props for the reading material at the end. That's one of the best books on programming ever written, imo.
Valve Linux Steam Client Beta Application valvesoftware.com
210 points by cskau  2 days ago   44 comments top 10
jiggy2011 2 days ago 4 replies      
Already filled this in.

2 Problems with it:

For some reason in chrome on ubuntu all of the text inside the select boxes is white on white so you have to select options to read them.

They specify that they are looking for "experience linux users" so if you want to game the survey you can answer the "how many years have you used linux?" dishonestly.

secure 2 days ago 0 replies      
For the people without a steam account: They are asking about several hardware details (CPU, GPU, resolution, amount of monitors, RAM) and will notify "selected people" in a few days.
jtchang 2 days ago 1 reply      
Downvote more...I'm greedy and want to be the first to use Steam on Linux.

On a more serious note this bodes really well for gaming and software distribution on linux.

tjdetwiler 2 days ago 1 reply      
One issue I have with steam is you need the client to reset your password.

I no longer have a windows machine to do that from.

ensmotko 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't really understand why they need to limit the number of beta testers - I think it was said that only about 1000 users will get access to the beta client.
darkstalker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Being an Ubuntu user is required? or can be run on any other distro?
Inufu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why do they assume that I'll be only testing on either laptop or desktop?
sirspazzolot 2 days ago 2 replies      
It only showed me a "submit response" button and no questions. So I clicked it and now I can't redo it.
pdknsk 2 days ago 4 replies      
I can only guess this isn't being upvoted to not make other potential applicants aware of it! :D
goggles99 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why should I install this when I sill still have to boot into windows to play all the games that are worth playing (of the games I am not already tired of)?

This should not even be news IMO. So mamy people say WebOS and Windows 8/RT will never gain prominence because they don't have the games of IOS/Android - Yet Linux gets a steam client and all I hear is excitement. do yo think that game devs want to create games for a 2% desktop market?

Nice double standard there - I understand it, but it is still an agenda/bias that I wish to call out.

       cached 30 October 2012 04:11:01 GMT