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The Worst thoughtcrime.org
740 points by ldayley  5 days ago   207 comments top 70
zacharyvoase 5 days ago 4 replies      
It's really quite something when an author manages to put down in words a thought or a feeling you were hitherto incapable of expressing. Bravo.

The dichotomy of best/worst " or, as I often think of it, acceptable versus available " is a tricky one, and it's not one which I feel I've yet solved. But I can certainly see how areas of my life tend towards the latter.

Take my dotfiles, for example. I spent ages writing a vimrc which sets up key bindings just so, the way I like them. Then one day I have to SSH onto a remote server and make a hotfix, and I start vimming files and get instantly confused when my muscle memory betrays me. I tried out Dvorak for a while, but then every time I had to help someone with their computer, or go to a client site, I was struggling to adjust to the 'normal' QWERTY layout. Eventually I realized it was better to learn the vim defaults like a pro, and then extend them without overriding them.

We can get very comfortable in environments we create for ourselves, expending huge quantities of energy to build a nest suited just for us. But Stoicism teaches us that fate is a lot more powerful than our nesting activities. One day a flood comes tearing through your house, or your hard drive fails, or you miss a credit card payment, and if you've wired your brain to only be happy in the environment you created, you are going to have a breakdown. In my childhood alone, I was evicted twice, moved countries several times, and had times when we were very well-off and times when we couldn't afford food. These things happen to all of us.

Nevertheless, in the Poisson distribution of cataclysms, before disruptive events, the Best approach may render you far more productive than the Worst. I consider this penalty to be my insurance policy; others have a different risk tolerance.

Just my $0.02.

crazygringo 5 days ago 9 replies      
I think the authors of "The Best" and "The Worst" are both right.

In fact, pretty much everything I own is either "the best" or "the worst" -- no middle ground. I identify the very few things that really make a difference to me (my laptop, my stereo, my kitchen pots & pans & knives, my jeans) and buy the absolute best I can afford. And I identify the things I don't really care about (the rug, the chairs, most kitchen utensils, my T-shirts, my toilet brush, my bike) and buy the absolute cheapest -- disposable, really.

So the real point is -- avoid the middle ground, which is muddled/confused life priorities. Do your best to figure out what actually matters and what actually doesn't, and spend accordingly.

awakeasleep 5 days ago 4 replies      
The dichotomy between Moxie and Dustin's posts illustrates an interesting split in the 'hacker' world.

Wheras Hacker and Startup seemed to represent the use of unconventional tools to achieve a unexpected results (often) in unpleasant or tedious circumstances, those connotations have become mixed with the sense glamor usually reserved for celebrities.

Now, the ostensibly boring (or at least detail-ridden, interesting only to those directly involved) practice of starting a business has taken a sort of crazy sheen, with list stories [1] written by starry eyed marketers praising the romance of the fast paced, powerful, and interesting startup industry shaping the public's view.

And Hackers, once conceptualized as loners fiddling with inscrutable technicalities, are now expected to attain material success and internet celebrity. After all, if you're a real hacker you should be pulling in at least $150k. (Though you'll have to spend some of that on a load balancer to handle your blog traffic.)

Dustin and Moxie seem to represent the two sides of this spectrum. Dustin, maybe hot off the aquihire of a desirable web property, looking for how to best direct his affluence. Moxie, pondering the important parts of the system he operates in, chooses to forgo what he considers symbolic representations of success with undeserved merit. It's as easy to imagine the dreadlocked Marlinspike talking to stallman (who is eating from his foot) as it is to imagine Curtis speaking to a crowd of socialites in a bell-aire hotel lobby.

At least for me.

A weird example I ran across, it struck me for its resemblance to a Cosmo article.
[1] http://tech.co/the-top-10-tech-cocktail-stories-of-the-week-...

imgabe 5 days ago 10 replies      
Thank you. That article about "The Best" bothered me in a way I couldn't completely verbalize. Beyond a certain threshold, the quality of objects just simply doesn't matter.

The example of flatware was particularly annoying, because, really, in what way does a fork ever actually "fail"? Have you ever had food halfway to your mouth when the fork just suddenly collapses or something? As a tool, flatware is completely superfluous. Just ask the billion some odd people who eat with their hands.

Anyway, maybe some people enjoy the process of endlessly researching and hunting around for "the best" of something. If you do, more power to you. Personally, I think when you look back at the end of your life you're going to remember the meals you ate and the people you ate them with more than the utensils you used.

m0nastic 5 days ago 3 replies      
If forced to decide between Dustin's reality and Moxie's, I think I'd chose Dustin's. A world made up of overly-reviewed, pretentious gadgets slightly edges out a utilitarian, post-apocalyptic, hellscape Bartertown where people scavenge through wreckage looking for makeshift utensils and clothing. I picture oil drum fires.

Thankfully, I am not limited by those choices. I can continue to do what I already do, which is decide the level of attention that things require of me, optimize the ones I choose to, and not spend inordinate amounts of time fretting about the others.

MattRogish 5 days ago 2 replies      
"Any reasonable person wouldn't feel liberated by a $50 fork, but constrained by it. One wouldn't be able to help but worry: is it being cared for correctly, is my friend going to mess it up when absentmindedly tapping the table with it, is it going to get dropped or stepped on if a dance party erupts in the kitchen? After all, it is the perfect fork, what if something happened to it to make it… not perfect?"

This is why, whenever I get something new and "perfect", I damage it in some slight way (nothing that hurts the functionality or will ultimately destroy the product). Every car I've owned gets a nick in the paint to remind me that it's just a "thing" and not to take it too seriously.

rthomas6 5 days ago 2 replies      
Could it be possible that there is a spectrum of choices which represent a trade-off between cost and quality? What if both authors took an already understood and practiced idea in our culture and took it to an absurd extreme? Every person will desire different quality for different items. Even Dustin Curtis doesn't get "the best" of all of his items. He says that he does, but if you keep reading, what he really means is getting "the best for him." That's what everyone does.

People just pay for as high of a quality as is justified to them by the price. Assuming perfect knowledge, that's theoretically what all consumers do. Different people desire different quality for different items, and have different amounts of money.

I love listening to music at work, so I did a lot of research and got a nice pair of $150 headphones with a $30 headphone amp. They're wonderful. Well, well worth the purchase price to me. Could I have paid $1500 dollars and gotten a higher quality set of headphones? Sure. But who the fuck would spend $1500 on headphones? It just wasn't justifiable to me. Some people will buy the $1500 headphones. Some people will buy the $15 headphones. None of these people are following some abstract philosophy. They're just regular consumers in a capitalist society, buying what makes the most sense for them.

tptacek 5 days ago 1 reply      
One guy likes a set of dinnerware. One guy doesn't care about dinnerware. Religious war ensues.
marknutter 5 days ago 0 replies      
I recently got into road biking and had to a road bike which can get quite expensive. I wasn't sure I would really stick with the sport in the long term so I bought a bike on the cheap end off bikesdirect.com. I have no doubt were a seasoned road biker to try my bike they would be frustrated by the overall quality of the ride. Because I'm a newbie, however, I have never ridden anything of better quality to compare it to, so it feels awesome to me. The point is, sometimes it's easy to forget that the worst products in a given category are still high quality, and that the premiums you pay for more expensive products give you diminishing returns. You end up having to trick your brain into believing the more expensive product is giving you increased value proportionate to the extra cost.
charlieok 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As different as these two attitudes are, I'll stick up for Dustin Curtis by pointing out one thing he expressed in his post: the pleasure of owning a small number of things.

If I keep a small number of possessions, and their total value is a small fraction of the money I have in savings, I don't need to be too concerned about preserving them. I can easily replace anything that is damaged, lost or stolen, so these occurrences don't have to be a huge source of stress.

I like the idea of being able to go through everything I have and organize, clean and maintain all of it, say, once a week. If that's too much of a burden, that's a sign that I have too many things. Thinking in these terms also makes it very easy to give away things to lighten this load.

This thinking is partly informed by my experience maintaining software. Running and writing software means constantly keeping it up to date. New standards and new versions of dependencies are constantly being published, and security flaws are constantly being found, as Moxie Marlinspike certainly knows. Code needs to be updated to keep up with these things in order to be considered well-maintained or secure. Minimizing that burden gives you a better chance of keeping the quality high.

debacle 5 days ago 0 replies      
I, like many others, see a lot of self-serving "founder" spam on HN and at this point it's not worth commenting on. Except for a few grossly abhorrent pock marks, it's easier to let the posts have their time on HN - if not, something else will fill the void.
gbog 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since I read "The Best" I wanted to write exactly this answer. Thanks.

I'd have added a cultural point of view: This debate is likely typically American, and Americans may have a problem with their owning stuff. I'd bet it is a perverse fascination on physical things, maybe induced by some TV/Movie propaganda.

For instance, I remember fairly well an American friend I had 5 years ago. We discussed one night long on "consumerism" and how bad it was. Then, the /next/ day, this nice clever guy bought an extremely expensive backpack filled with useless gadgets (an incorporated lighter, a water bag with a pipe so you can drink without taking a bottle out of the pocket, etc. etc.), showing it to me with tears in his eyes: it was so awesome a thing for a kiker like him!

I couldn't help remembering the "other kind of" hickers I crossed in Nepal: those Nepalese, they /walk/ from Snow mountains to India back and forth looking for work, and their "backpack" is an empty tissue thing with 2 rupees and one toothbrush inside, and they wear plastic slippers, and they sleep outside every day.

So what? So, "the Best" philosophy is both producing sometime very nice little pieces of perfection, like the iPod, and I understand why a professional designer would bend on this side. But I fear it is also pernicient and overall negative for normal people and the hole society, because it generates waste, frustration, greed, and so on...

Disc: I live in China, where the Best/Worst dialectic exists, but is obviously drawn along very different lines.

ryanwhitney 5 days ago 2 replies      
After years of having cheap, shitty can openers that made it a pain to do the task, I spent 20 minutes looking it up and bought the best that I could find on Amazon. While I may never figure out how to service it if something happens to it (the thought!), it has worked pretty well so far. Cans are opened with little to no effort. It stays out of the way, it does exactly the task it was designed for, and it does it well.
cjensen 5 days ago 5 replies      
The author of this linked article has made an error: he assumes dcurtis' flatware is inordinately expensive. It is not; traditional flatware really is absurdly expensive.

Much of the author's article is based on this assumption. I'd suggest he familiarize himself with "wedding gift"-style flatware. Then do a rewrite because I think there is a good argument still to be had.

geofft 5 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me strongly of the arguments between the "Worse is Better" and "Do The Right Thing" philosophies. Buying ridiculously cheap forks so you can treat them like they're disposable is a perfect example to me of someone living out "Worse is Better".


drivebyacct2 5 days ago 1 reply      
Halfway through reading this I closed it with two conclusions:

1. Thank God I didn't read "The Best".

2. Why the hell am I reading this.

I don't have the energy to have such a trite opinion, let alone read a thousand words about it from someone else. I hate these pithy comments but this stuff feels like "Hacker Drama", not "Hacker News".

Breefield 5 days ago 1 reply      
This reminded me of my father. Expensive things only complicated his interactions with other people, because of our ability to potentially break or abuse the object.

There is a sweet spot in-between the highest quality, and poor craftsmanship. As well as between expensive and cheap. I like to operate somewhere in the middle.

tripzilch 4 days ago 0 replies      
They may disagree, but they're trying to convey the same message. And both of them are IMO way too extreme about it.

What both Curtis and Moxie seem to want is to not have to think or worry about their possessions after they bought them. You can do this by buying "the best" so you won't have to worry about breaking[1], or you can do this by buying the (cheap) "worst", so you won't have to worry about breaking. If you get "the best", you'll have the added benefit of them being extremely pleasant to use, but a second hand fork eats just fine, too.

And IMO, they're both "consumerism", though someone may correct me if the following is not exactly consumerism, but something else:

> Partisans of the worst will get 15 sets of cutlery (out of a bucket that's an overflowing fucking sea of cutlery) for fifty cents at the neighborhood thrift shop, and as a result, won't have the slightest reservation if five of their housemates simultaneously decide to start a band that uses nothing but spoons for instruments. Partisans of the worst won't give a shit if someone drops a dish while people are hanging out in the kitchen. They can push their crappy bicycle to the limit without worrying if it gets scratched " without even being too concerned about it getting stolen.

Ugh. This is absolute bullshit. I used to feel this way, up to my first few years of college, but then I grew up.

If how much you paid for an object is the biggest factor in how much you care whether it breaks or not, isn't that consumerism too? At the very least it's disrespectful. At least Curtis cares about the things he owns.

See it's fine if you buy cheap dishes because you like to throw the type of parties where things sometimes break. In fact it'd be stupid to get expensive AND fragile dishes. But that's a whole different POV than when you buy dishes because you can just break them, Moxie makes it sound like he already stopped caring about such items the moment he bought them.

(also, it's nice to own some plates that share the same design. You can't really cook up a beautiful meal and then serve it up on heterogeneous plates--but that's a matter of taste)

You can also get plastic camping dishes. They may be ugly but they will not break. Same for cups. You'll have ugly plastic things in your cupboard drawers FOREVER!

And the few people I know that will say to get the most shitty bike possible so they won't care if it gets stolen, I usually want to slap in the face when I ask them where they would acquire such a bike. Invariably on the street, for 10 euros, from a junkie. Not saying the author would do that, but a real second hand bike costs at least 10x that much, which is more than I would not care about getting stolen.

He does address this later in the essay, but I think he still misses the point:

> Some amongst the best will resort to a resources perspective and say that in this increasingly disposable world, it's refreshingly responsible for those of the best to be making quality long-term buying decisions. But we're a long way away from a shortage of second-hand forks in the global north " let's take care of those first.

Because that still sounds to me like he treats cheap second-hand forks as disposable. And makes a mockery of the "Green" in the title of that section, we're also a long way from a shortage of plastic shopping backs.

Now most forks don't break easily. They just become increasingly shitty. Especially the half metal / half plastic ones that will come apart a bit but are still perfectly serviceable as a fork. Those ones are the absolute worst. I bet even most thrift stores throw them away.

Sorry if this post might just seem overly critical at Moxie, I have similar (yet opposite) problems with Curtis' post.

[1] as far as I can judge from the pics, nothing short of a disc grinder would damage those expensive spoons.

RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 0 replies      
This piece works well as a study in the absurdity of Dustin Curtis's thesis. That said, I can't help but observe myself leaning to The Best in some areas and The Worst in others.

For example, our cutlery drawer is full of decent, generic Ikea cutlery - except for a few random pieces that we have accumulated over the years, including an oddball fork and a couple of oddball spoons. I find myself actively avoiding using those oddball pieces because I don't like how they feel in my hand or my mouth. To that extent, I can appreciate just how much hedonic benefit comes from using cutlery that feels "right".

On the other hand, my bicycle is well over 20 years old and looks like a piece of garbage. In fact, it was actually retrieved from the garbage several years ago by a friend, who passed it on to me when he heard that my bike had just died. It's heavy and ugly, but these are features, not bugs: the heaviness means I get a better workout riding it, and the ugliness means it's less likely to be stolen when I park it downtown.

In short, both approaches to choosing consumer durables have their uses, and it's silly to elevate either to the level of a philosophy of living.


See also: http://www.jwz.org/doc/worse-is-better.html

tlrobinson 5 days ago 1 reply      
"But to me, “simplify” is about removing clutter"


"Partisans of the worst will get 15 sets of cutlery (out of a bucket that's an overflowing fucking sea of cutlery)"

A massive bucket of cutlery sounds like clutter to me.

I don't think Dustin was arguing you should spend so much money on cutlery that you worry about it getting damaged/stolen, but rather the act of thinking about what you're buying will prevent you from buying low quality and unnecessary things.

CKKim 5 days ago 0 replies      
Whenever these posts come up I question to myself whether an ideology for "stuff" is actually required, desirable, or helpful at all. They are usually thoroughly entertaining and informative, but I always leave feeling it's been therapy for the writer, a defense of their preferences whipped up into a reassuring formal-looking philosophy.

Like much writing, the damage is in the contextual assumptions imposed on the reader before the article even begins. Once you've started reading and focusing on the details of the piece, it's too late - you've unwittingly accepted the assumptions and are playing by the author's rules. In these cases, one such assumption is that an overarching, complete and consistent methodology can be applied to personal property in the first place (and that certainly if there's a good one then it can be knocked out in a few hours on a blog post...).

This is part of a larger pattern I'm falling into of scrutinously questioning the motives behind articles posted on personal blogs. I could be going in the wrong direction entirely but it seems very often to be validation-seeking behaviour, whether by submitting one's views for the approval of others, or simply that writing it all down gives it some mental gravitas to assuage personal doubts that the individual might be "doing it wrong". It certainly appears consistent with the range of submissions to Hacker News related to personal improvement (or, "lifehacking", as the internet seems to be running with these days).

Why did these authors write these two pieces? It's very difficult to analyse! If "for validation" seems a little condescending...well, I'd prefer it to the standard interpretation: "The Best" is unsubtle status-signaling, "The Worst" is equally unsubtle counter-signaling.

raganwald 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a hypocrite. Coffee, anyone?


stephengillie 5 days ago 0 replies      
Each of my forks cost 25c. Each of my knives and spoons too. They work great.

Buy the cheapest. Use it and learn your use case. If you ever need another, you'll know which quality of tool is the right one.

npsimons 5 days ago 0 replies      
First and foremost, I'd like to point out that the "The Best" article seemed to be roundly attacked here on HN, with critics and defenders alike chiming in; that might be a better indicator of why it stayed on the front page for so long.

Second, I'd like to point out that this article seems to be completely missing some of the points made, namely, when you invest in good tools you can rely on, you stop thinking about them because they just work, and you are therefore liberated to worry about more important things. Sure, you shouldn't let the things you own end up owning you, but if you have ever had something you rely on fail (and if you are working in technology, you have), you can appreciate doing research to make sure it doesn't happen again. Is this a waste of time? No. Is it stupid? No. Can it be taken too far? Yes. But it can also be taken too far in the other direction. The unexamined life isn't worth living.

BTW, partisans of the worst wouldn't get metal cutlery, they'd buy plastic and throw it out when they were done, thereby creating waste and showing how actually thinking about what you buy and whether it will last or not is a good idea.

binarymax 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised nobody here has yet mentioned Fight Club...

      "The things you own, end up owning you"

klawed 5 days ago 2 replies      
And then somewhere in between are the partisans of "good enough" When I'm eating food I like to get as close to "The best" as I can reasonably afford (I'll spend $50 on a steak but I won't fly to Japan just to get some fresh Kobe). On most other things, "Good Engough" is a good enough. And when I buy a car, I ask myself if I'll care if the bumper get's scratched - if the answer's yes, I look for a different car.
cllns 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Moxie starts posting more frequently, especially if they're these these HN-popular posts, though I'd be interested in his security stuff too.
pelle 5 days ago 0 replies      
As some one who's only "best purchases" have included portable items like a good chef knife, MacBook Airs, iPhones etc over the last 10 years I agree with this whole heartedly. I've been able to live and work in 8 different countries. Experience amazing things and work with fantastic people. It frees you from all kinds of things to not have that $5000 TV, $1000 monitor and $5000 sofa.

It was big step (with a lot of fear) for me recently to buy a $180 24" monitor and a $800 Aeron chair as it implicitly makes my life less portable. I have noticed how these purchases have changed my thought patterns. Now before thinking about the future I'm actually thinking what to do with the Aeron. The funny think is that I'll hardly think twice about spending $800 on a flight.

zafka 5 days ago 0 replies      
While I do like the look of the perfect spoons, I am an advocate of owning the worst. Actually I make my own bowls and plates, so while they are "perfect", it is okay to smash them, as I can always make another. When folks come over for a meal, they can pick the color and shape of their plates and bowls. And yes, my "silver" does come from the second hand store. Eventually I would like to cast my own utensils too....ah, too many hobbies, not enough time.
smoyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure either of these positions (the best or the worst) is really important. But it's absolutely important to be satisfied with your life, including what you "have". Just for the record, my favorite piece of flatware is a titanium spork from ThinkGeek.

And there's a lot more to owning "stuff" than anyone generally thinks about. So as I age, I'm actually finding that I want less stuff, but that the reliability of that stuff is important. The "opportunity cost" (paid for by time that you can't get back) can be high enough that it's hard to justify.

So ... things that simply "cost too much". Number one is TV/cable/satellite. It sucks time away faster than you could ever imagine. I haven't completely given it up, but I watch far less than the national average (and usually it's more about spending time with my kids). What else do you have that isn't really worth it? (my boat probably qualifies but I can't give THAT up).

I also see an issue with quality today. So much is designed to be thrown away, but I love to cobble pieces together enough to keep things working. Many devices in my house run on "Frankencords". An old computer power supply is a great source of +5V if you splice the barrel jack from a dead wall-wort to it. One of my favorite past-times is to fix things that other people have decided were junk ... just to say that I can.

I guess this is a long-winded way of warning everyone that you really can't buy happiness ... you have to find it within yourself.

lubujackson 5 days ago 0 replies      
The "best"'s problem is that there is no clear "best" of almost anything. (Especially that silverware.) I think the point, though, is that buying highly-rated things tends to pay off in ways you might not be aware of, such as avoiding silverware with toxic chemicals. So let's say to buy "better" stuff.

The "worst"'s problem is he is only really concerned about the cost. Ultimately, I think this is a shift many people have as they get older and more settled - they want to buy a chair that lasts, silverware that is nice, etc. When you're 19 and moving every other year it doesn't really make sense.

enraged_camel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Look, I don't know why two extremities are battling it out like this when the reasonable and rational answer lies somewhere in the middle.

I care deeply about an item if it relates to a hobby. As a geek, I research every part of a computer I am building thoroughly. I read reviews, compare specs and prices, run it by friends on tech message boards for opinions, etc. When the time comes to play Skyrim on uber settings on the machine I built, I get more enjoyment out of it, and feel satisfied in knowing that the components in it won't melt.

Same mindset applies to my other hobbies. I always try to get the best and most reliable matches when I go cross-country backpacking, because if a storm comes and I need to light a fire, I want to make sure the matches won't fail me. Last month I bought a new set of tires for my commuter bike, and I did actually get the most tires because for the types of trips I make, it matters.

In contrast, I don't give a crap about things that don't relate to hobbies. I moved to a new apartment recently and was in need of a new trash bin. I went to the nearest Walmart (conveniently located across the across the street) and purchased the cheapest one that had a lid. Had I done more research, I might have gone with a metal one that had a mechanism for securing the trash bag in place, but I don't care. Here's why: a trash can is not something I want to be proud of.

robocat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dustin's "best" philosophy:
* depends upon a search for an expert designer
* follows a "waterfall" process (large up front costs, infexible result)
* trusts that the expert has made good decisions for you

Moxie's is a hackers approach:
* A/B testing
* learn what matters as you go
* customise
* exploration and innovation

Both strategies have different costs and benefits.

eshvk 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Dustin Curtis also suggests that as a partisan of the best, he is taking on the hardship of truly understanding a domain in order to identify the best consumer good within that domain.

Really? I am sure Dustin can speak for himself but I would have thought it obvious that is impossible to objectively assert that something is the best and that when you say that something is "the best", you are implicitly solving a matching problem given your constraints.

In general, I am not convinced by your case as to why getting something that you personally think is the best is so bad. Sure, there might be some people who would worry about the best getting damaged or whatever. Then again, I would argue that your matching algorithm should choose something that doesn't get damaged so easily. E.g. One of the best investments I made was in getting a pair of Shure in-ear headphones. They weren't the most expensive I could have got but they were five times as expensive as the skull candy crap that I get. Guess what though? They have lasted me 5 times as long. Sure, there has been some change in the way I handle earphones but still there are many days where I close my laptop and remove my earphones and leave the entire setup on my bed and go to sleep.

Having said this, I get the idea that the cognitive load created by having to make decisions about what to buy can be annoying at times. I have been putting off the decision of buying a bike because there is so much research to do.

konstruktor 5 days ago 0 replies      
Most things that you can buy used are already so much better than the worst product you can buy new, but at a similar price. If you make the effort to bring something to the thrift store, donate it or put it on ebay, it shows that you believe it to be too good to throw away. This is usually stuff that has already seen some use (e.g. clothing that has been washed a few times) and is still OK, as opposed to shitty stuff you buy that breaks soon.
fudged71 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just bought a car for $1. The previous owner was frustrated by all the things that it wasn't great at. For a first car, I love the character of it, and learning how to fix, maintain, and control this beast. Like the article says, it gives me more experience and knowledge in this space, rather than reading textbook and articles about it.

In contrast, I love using LaTeX, even though it's a pain in the ass, because I know it's probably the best quality typesetting out there, and that people have spent decades perfecting it.

engtech 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why do I get the feeling that dcurtis' friends are going to endlessly chide him whenever they go out for dinner?

I wish one of my friends would write an anecdotal story like that.

weisser 5 days ago 0 replies      
I put on the song "Wing$" by Macklemore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAg3uMlNyHA) right before I started reading "The Worst" completely by coincidence but the similarities in subject matter are striking:

"We are what we wear, we wear what we are

But see I look inside the mirror and think Phil Knight tricked us all

Will I stand for change, or stay in my box

These Nikes help me define me, but I'm trying to take mine, off"

ricardobeat 5 days ago 1 reply      
> both ideas and material possessions should be tools that serve us, rather than things we live in service to

I think dustin and moxie are talking about different things. For me, the philosophy behind "The best" is exactly that: you don't need to worry that your friends will step on your cutlery, because it's strong enough to not get damaged. You don't worry about replacing it because of rust or wear, etc etc (enough with cutlery).

By going for "the worst" you end up with a lot of crap that you don't really use or care about. It's what almost everybody does. The opposite means buying only what you need; the best == expensive, so you'll buy less.

The author also dismisses the environmental effect of this mentality; millions of people buying buckets of 50-cent crap every couple months equals a fuckload of plastic waste. This is preaching consumerism, and I'm surprised by how many people fall for it.

petercooper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any reasonable person wouldn't feel liberated by a $50 fork, but constrained by it. One wouldn't be able to help but worry: is it being cared for correctly, is my friend going to mess it up when absentmindedly tapping the table with it, is it going to get dropped or stepped on if a dance party erupts in the kitchen? After all, it is the perfect fork, what if something happened to it to make it not perfect?

The flaw here is assuming getting "the best" also means it has to remain "perfect."

I tend to err towards the higher quality and (usually) more expensive side in my long term purchases but have no qualms about treating them as I would anything else. My 2 week old retina MBP has a funky dent in it now, for example. It's still a great notebook! And so would a $50 dinner set remain an excellent dinner set, even if someone did chip or tarnish it.

adambard 5 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps one ought to compromise on a "minimum viable fork."
jaggederest 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like Ikea tables, dishes, and flatware because I can smash them into tiny bits and chuckle while I work, but they serve their purpose as well as any ten-times-as-expensive model of the same thing.

I think there's a threshold effect relative to the longevity and expense of material goods. It's better to buy durable goods with quality, but it's silly to buy consumables with the same strictures because they inevitably will be consumed.

PilateDeGuerre 5 days ago 0 replies      

I read your "Money Machine"[1] in print and loved it. After becoming aware of your security work and browsing your website, I discovered you are the author. Small world.

My partner and I often fall asleep together listening to "Letters of Insurgents". Thank you for that!

[1] http://www.thoughtcrime.org/stories/money-machine/

rsanheim 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's the classis "Worse is Better" debate, lived out via consumer objects instead of lisp and c.

Paging Richard Garbriel to Hacker News...


jayferd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Forks and knives might not be the best examples here, but buying "the best" (as in the most likely to last the longest, has a generous warranty, and is relatively simple to repair) is often sound financial planning. It tends to be a more expensive outlay at the beginning, but it sure beats the disposable "planned-obsolescence" stuff we're usually suckered into buying.
ThomPete 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this can best be illustrated with drinking wine.

Some people have to have the perfect Amarone at precisely 21 degrees celsius in exactly those specific glasses in order to feel it's a good wine experience.

Other people, while they appreciate the same as the first group of people, can still enjoy a powerful wine a little to cold in whatever glass and still feel it's a great experience.

Quality of life really is about what you want it to be.

desireco42 5 days ago 0 replies      
I somehow missed this post of his, but you are spot on and rightfully disgusted with both his post and HN reaction to it.

Stuff doesn't make you more free, it enslaves you. The stuff you have, more you need to care about it. Thoreau would be horrified :) ( Said he writing on macbook air, simbol of cult of stuff)

joss82 4 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Fight Club's Palaniuk "sofa citation":

You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 5

mseebach 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that Dustin Curtis and Moxie Marlinspike between them has re-invented "trading up": http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2011/12/08/acting-dead-trading-up-...
by_Seeing 2 days ago 0 replies      
As my friend Phelan put it: "The Best" and "The Worst" are both fascinating reads, although, in my opinion the authors completely missed the point. Here is my three-sentence rebuttal.

The point is not to place one's possessions upon pedestals, only to bring them down for special occasions. In the same respect, appreciating something is not synonymous with being owned by it.

The point is to respect one's possessions, because they are the tools that enrich your life.

yaix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some people just need expensive stuff to feel good, others don't. Whatever. Don't question the other's way of living and just be happy with your's.
personlurking 5 days ago 0 replies      
I see a difference between having the worst flatware but the best laptop (I've used Apple for over 20 years and I'm perfectly content with it). By buying a reliable brand that I have experience with, I save a bunch of time.

All in all, I agree with the OP's article.

dwb 5 days ago 0 replies      
The right answer I'd bet, is, as it so often is, "yes and no." Both this and "The Best" are extreme points of view, and extremes never strike me as particularly realistic. There's a happy medium for pretty much everything.

I've never found too much trouble in judging how much research and care I need to put into any given purchase. How often will I use it? How long do I want it to last for? Is it likely to break? How much will I care if it does break? There's a limit to this of course, I don't go to Curtis' lengths. Not enough hours in the day. I have put a reasonable amount of care into buying a good laptop, desk, piano, headphones etc though. These are important to me. The list isn't particularly long.

For just any old thing (including, I would say, cutlery), I have a rule-of-thumb that's served me well: never buy the cheapest, always the second-cheapest. The cheapest of any particular thing so often has had an incredible number of corners cut, but the next one up is usually just fine.

marmot1101 5 days ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite song lyrics of all times:

"I've been losing lots of keys lately,
I don't know what that means
But maybe I've been better off with things that can't be locked at all"

I'm a happier person when I am using things that I don't worry about breaking or being stolen than I am taking care of nice things.

nyargh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I loved this. I admit I did not read Dustin's article, but it sounds like it could have been any one of thousands of fawning techno-fetishist blog posts made over the years.

I think an interesting thing that Moxie touches on tangentially, is that life does not go as planned; things break. Everything breaks, in fact. Learning to recover from failure is often more important (and personally rewarding) than learning to use the tool in the first place. You may choose to get better tools, but given time and use, these too will eventually fail.

Operating with the understanding that everything fails, allows us to be more flexible and pragmatic in our decisions and planning. Assuming that something will never fail only ensures that a disaster will eventually happen, and that you will be unequipped to handle it.

LanceJones 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can "the best" (or worst, for that matter) even exist without the element of subjectivity? In other words, is there a fixed set of quantifiable and objective measures for anything one purchases? Across how many attributes could you rate a set of kitchen utensils? I get "the fastest runner in the world" or the "top-ranked college basketball team in 2012" -- but the words "best" and "worst" rely on a person's [subjective] opinion.
RenierZA 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the discussion for The Best:
NarTh 5 days ago 0 replies      
These are the ways you guys choose to buy your stuff. Cool. Still, I dislike ideas that you should 'always' do something, always buy best, always buy worst.

I'll take time, care (and my limited funds ;) ) to research and buy what's best if I think research will be fun. Or interesting. Or useful in the future. Or the item is somehow important to me (and the spoon sure as hell is not). Otherwise - first thing that seems to be good enough should do just fine.

Wingman4l7 5 days ago 0 replies      
And the winner for The Most Ambiguous Title of the Year Award is...
venomsnake 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would never give up my keyboard with cherry blues. But if I happen to be in a situation where my "best keyboard" is unavailable I will hack with whatever idiotic input device I manage to get.

Same is with the ceramic knife, and everything else. I like the best, but I never allow myself the illusion that it is irreplaceable.

willholloway 5 days ago 0 replies      
To me the worst set of cutlery is not from the thrift store but a set made of lead.
owenjones 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why is everyone telling me how I should live and what I should buy or not buy in order to maximize my happiness?
nerdo 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a new subreddit for this "Best" thing: http://www.reddit.com/r/buyitforlife
vavarachen 5 days ago 0 replies      

Check out "Paradox Of Choice" by Barry Schwartz. It deals with this very subject but defines the two groups as "maximizers" and "satisficers".

Here is a good overview by the author at TED:

ISBN-13: 978-0060005696


blackman 5 days ago 1 reply      
sounds like they are both optimising for value
anish_m 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, what a fking wonderful nice philosophy. We should show the world that humans matter more than things.
mcnkldzyn 5 days ago 0 replies      
Glad I had a chance to read this today.
baconhigh 5 days ago 0 replies      

SO MUCH THIS. fuck yes.

trotsky 5 days ago 0 replies      
preach on brother marlinspike!
frozenport 5 days ago 0 replies      
A large portion of the HN readership are DIRTY HIPSTERS whose support of well defined, but gimmicky ideas often leaves me at a loss for words. Much as the fork example from the article.
Skrillex Quest skrillexquest.com
581 points by Wraecca  3 days ago   195 comments top 56
lazerwalker 3 days ago 5 replies      
What I find perhaps most fascinating about this is that it's almost certainly an advertisement (note the iTunes link at the end of the game, and the tagline at the bottom that the creator makes 'advergames'). If it is, in fact, an advergame, it's awesome to see folks like Skrillex (and/or Skrillex's marketing folks) willing to build something so cool and of legitimate artistic value to try to build up viral buzz.
mrcharles 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a long time game developer, the most impressive part of this game is that when you get to the end, and you don't have all the keys, you can simple break all the locks.

That's the kind of game design that the game industry needs to learn from.

xanados 2 days ago 1 reply      
This game reminded me of Sword and Sorcery EP[1]. It had a similar aesthetic and used music in the same way that this piece did, although it was music from Jim Guthrie who sounds completely different from Skrillex. The main character even looks like the character from that game. The gameplay is very different (SS is a two dimensional, puzzle based point-and-click sort of thing), but there is definitely a similarity.

1: http://www.swordandsworcery.com/

shaunxcode 3 days ago 2 replies      
I just upvoted something done with flash on hn for the first time ever. The zelda 1 esque levels were sheer genius. I would actually dig playing an entire game with that perspective/style.
sneak 3 days ago 2 replies      
Ugh, when I was a kid, electronic music didn't suck and you only started out with two heart containers.

Get off my lawn.

oacgnol 3 days ago 1 reply      
I totally get the theme but I can't help getting nervous goosebumps from the artifacts - I feel like I have to reset the display cable or blow into the cartridge! Well done.
imechura 1 day ago 1 reply      
Personally, I am a fan of electronica but have not been a fan of skrillex as an old fogie who is akin to resenting anything with the dubstep label. However after playing this game I am more inclined to check out some skrillex music. Therefore, as an advertisement, this in my mind gets an A++ in effectiveness. I would also point out that being an 80s kid the sample images in the glitches evoked memories of Duck Hunt and Mike Tyson's punch out which made an emotional connection with me that is in turn associated with some great samples of the musicians catalog. Double A++.

Last I will add that I am not a gamer as an adult but I thoroughly enjoyed this "game". My 5 year old daughter completed the game after I did an had no trouble whatsoever with the controls and the story line (I read the text for her). There is definable a market out there for non-gamers who would invest more time into games if the target was not as narrow. This market is likely larger than the Call of Duty/SOCOM market.

So to wrap up.. This is no my cup-of-tea per se, but it is one of those things that can cross boundaries and bring new customers into a market if executed as well as this is.

chroma 3 days ago 9 replies      
I hit start and 90% of the time nothing happens. The other 10% of the time, Flash crashes.

I'm using Chrome stable on Ubuntu 12.04. I have no extensions besides Adblock Plus. This is the only page I've encountered that crashes Flash on my computer.

cnp 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hope this site brings a little boost back to the Flash world, especially with Stage3D and all of it's possibilities.

Actionscript 3 was such an enjoyable language to code in, though I haven't been able to use it professionally in over a year due to demand; the extent of my 'interactive' work has been hacky, ill-performing CSS3 transforms, and WOW are they limited.

It's been all JavaScript, all the time, and I do love the community but then again I really (really) miss the rich immersive creativity that used to be so inspiring on the web.

gee_totes 3 days ago 2 replies      
I love this guy (Jada)! Once again showing that Flash, when used correctly, can create unrivaled experiences on the web. Also of note is the Perfect Strangers game:
mtgentry 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am the only one that thought the game was making fun of Skrillex? I thought all the noise cubes were supposed to represent his music..
fumar 3 days ago 8 replies      
Disclaimer: Personal Tidbit

I love electronic music. But, I can not get into Skrillex or American Dubstep for that manner. I feel like im missing something...

sgdesign 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is really awesome, definitely a good entrant in the "video games are art" category.

I do wish it wasn't Flash though. Not that I have anything against Flash itself when used the right way, but I feel like it's really hard to "own" a Flash game.

Unlike, say, iOS apps that you can download and come back to 6 months later, Flash games are a lot more of a flash in the pan (sorry…) and I think it's a shame in cases like this where the end result is so great and so much work obviously went into it.

alexmat 3 days ago 0 replies      
My ex-gf always used to say Skrillex sounded like videogame music to her.. I was like "whatever, you don't GET it", but I stand corrected. Should send her some "I'm sorry you were kinda right" chocolates.
tobyjsullivan 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's the most exciting black screen I've ever seen... I'm sure it was awesome when it worked.
jasonkostempski 3 days ago 0 replies      
I touched a chest. It took me a long time to get there. I can't move and horrible noises are coming out of my speakers. I'm tearing up at the beauty of it all.
natep 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool concept and enjoyable game, but it caused the Iceweasel 'plugin-container' on my laptop to use over 200% CPU, which I'm guessing is related to the circuit breaker flipping (twice). Running Crunchbang 11 on a Dell Latitude E6410...

Edit: And took me from somewhere near 100% battery to 67%. Crazy

jasonkostempski 3 days ago 0 replies      
Entering THE code actually did something. I'm seriously in love with this thing.
msg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I saved the world with a 28%, first time. :oD I might have done better if I'd noticed the timers.

I figured this was for an album or something. I hadn't heard his music before, but it is now on my radar.

Well done and spotted.

sheraz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Such a good example of how to market music today. Not a Skrillix or dubstep fan myself, but I can respect this.
jiggy2011 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with making this game in flash is that during the intro when the graphics go all fucked up I wasn't sure if that was supposed to be part of it or if flashplayer itself was having a fit.
btipling 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Neverending Story reference to Atreus seeing the Rock Eater after losing his friends to the Nothing was a huge flash back moment for me. Very well done.
heyitsnick 2 days ago 1 reply      
Okay, recreate that in HTML5.
chris_wot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Shows. Nothing on a iPad.
jorts 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got to the fairy then I couldn't control the menu. I like the idea of the game, although I was hoping it wasn't done in flash.
beemoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Was this created using Unity3D and exported to Flash or was it written with the usual Flash methods in the first place?
greenmountin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I played it through a couple times and then decompiled the flash using the free demo of Sothink. The secret word is (spoiler, use ROT13) "FABJ". Unfortunately, it's just a treasure not a substitute for getting all the parchments...
nemo1618 2 days ago 2 replies      
Pretty incredible what can be done in the browser these days. Anyone find out what happens if you get 100%? I only managed 58%.
lewisflude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, this is the guy who made emogame and emogame 2. Loved those games!
Roelven 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had to dig up this article again:

On how we all told each other that blowing into the cartridge actually worked, but it didn't. I used to do it as well of course, I'm amazed by how that "technique" turned into some sort of urban legend.

joejohnson 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is amazing. Nice use of song samples for sounds effects in the game.
NPC82 2 days ago 0 replies      
This game would be a lot more enjoyable with music that matched the theme. Impressive performance for flash.
pepsi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Those interested may enjoy the equally (or more) offbeat Goblet Grotto


davidcollantes 2 days ago 0 replies      
All I see is a dark page, with some social network links towards the bottom.
cnp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Desperate to learn who the developers were behind this!
gknoy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. This is tremendously well done! I was very pleased to get the Contra code right, too. :D
eminkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Saw this link on Twitter earlier, didn't click through though. Flash ran fine in Chrome, pretty fun game, love the sound effects. I'm only 23% apprentice... if anyone made it to the end.
siegecraft 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this promoting a particular tour, or release or something? Or it is just Skrillex brand awareness in general?
duked 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love Skrillex and the game is awesome and pretty fast, Great work !
slajax 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was really hoping this had something to do with dubstep.


snikch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Loving the fact there are FFVII sound effects too.
Wraecca 3 days ago 0 replies      
Skrillex's music is just like broken video game!
sasfasfasffas 3 days ago 0 replies      
Saved the world Ranking Apprentice %23 and I got to watch someone blow fuzz out of a painted gold NES cart. Awesome.
jontaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to nit pick but I think I found a bug...

Seriously though this is awesome! Much better than Halo 4 A+

snmcqueen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just played this for an embarrassingly long period of time.
misleading_name 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not very interesting on an iPad, black screen w dark gray writing and not much else.
nsoldiac 3 days ago 1 reply      
love the hidden humor and classic gaming references all over...totally worth a replay
circa 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always thought Skrillex sounded like a video game.
Techasura 1 day ago 0 replies      
my ad blocker plus blocked the site on chrome.
was puzzled for a while.
NickKampe 2 days ago 0 replies      
A whois of the domain points to Warner Music.
benhebert 2 days ago 1 reply      
Love the stunt. Skrillex is the biggest thing in music right now, no one even comes close. Very nice and tiny guy too.
trg2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible!
matthodan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well done.
ISL 3 days ago 0 replies      
HN FTW. Thank you.
luxxx 3 days ago 0 replies      
won't load for me, latest crunchbang, also tried on Mint 13, and it wouldn't work there either.....
ari_elle 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think if this page demonstrates one thing, then how bad his music is, when i am correct in presuming it's his music that can be heard throughout the game.

Here we have a modern artist, heard by millions, being swamped with prices, yet his music when in the context with a game which even was especially designed with the music in mind, can't hold up to the old classics in any way.

Soundtrack of most N64/SNES Games >>> Skrillex :D

To all downvoters: i personally am annoyed by the music after 2 minutes of playing, can't deal with this

Dell releases powerful, well-supported Linux Ultrabook arstechnica.com
510 points by iProject  3 days ago   347 comments top 73
chimeracoder 3 days ago 16 replies      
I was one of the beta testers for this laptop, so I've been using it for the last few months. [If anybody has any questions about it, I'd be happy to answer them - I've used many different laptops over the years for comparison.]

I couldn't be happier with it - I have a larger laptop that I use as my "main" computer at home (essentially as if it were a desktop), and the XPS13 is what I take with me everywhere and use for presentations, developing on the go, etc.

I've used Linux as my main OS for some years now, and for me the main appeal of this computer was the size/weight/battery life when compared to my larger laptop. If you've been waiting for a Linux ultrabook for portable development (or even just ultra-portable general use), this is it.

Compared to my work computer (a Macbook Air), the difference is enormous. Hardware-wise, the XPS13 just feels slimmer, even though the difference in size/weight is negligible. The biggest physical differences are the keys and trackpad - I'm typing this now on a mechanical keyboard, and I've gotten so used to the Das Keyboard that I can't stand the feel of chiclet-style keys. However, the shape of the XPS13 keys (slightly indented) alleviates some of the annoyances I have with most laptop keyboards (the Air included). The trackpad is highly sensitive, and I like the texture slightly more than that of the Macbook Air.

Battery life is great, even with Bluetooth turned on (though I usually leave this off - I still haven't found a real use for Bluetooth on my computers!).

I should mention the display - it's the perfect size for me. I actually dislike the Macbook Air on this one point - it absolutely kills my eyes by the end of the day (both the default size and default brightness/contrast). I have neither of these problems with the XPS13, but it's still crisp enough that I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

Overall, I'm incredibly happy that I got it, and I actually get slightly annoyed now when I have to use my Macbook Air for work - I wish I could be using the XPS13 instead. Aside from the fact that I'd rather be using Linux any day, hands-down, the computer just feels more physically appealing in itself. Even at its price[1], it's worth every penny.

[1] I should note that I received my testing laptop at a 20% discount, though after using it, I would be willing to pay full price for it if I'd had to.

dkhenry 3 days ago 16 replies      
Every time I read this I have to think to my self how silly it is to lead an article with
Some things (particularly components like trackpads and Wi-Fi chips) take some fiddling to get working

Thats total balony, trackpads and WiFi have been well supported in Linux for almost a decade. It is _rare_ to find a labtop that when you install la fresh modern distro on it , things don't work. Yes every now and then you get a vendor who insist on doing something different, but most of the time its a synaptic track pad ( well supported ) and a Broadcom or Intel WiFi card ( well supported ). I can remember back in 2004 taking my Government Issued Dell laptop and installing Fedora on it and everything working out of the box.

jrussbowman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bought one of these laptops shortly after the whole sputnik ppa was launched to replace a stolen macbook.

I guess you can call me a beta tester, but I paid full price for the laptop at Best Buy so I could be up and running in a day after being robbed.

First couple weeks were annoying as the fixes for the cypress touchpad were not available. Once Dell got the patches in their kernel it's been a great laptop.

Physically I've found it easy to carry and handle. It looks great with the aluminum lid and carbon fiber bottom.

I'm a sysadmin, I generally prefer Linux. My one foray into apply with a 13in MBP left me knowing that I wasn't going to go back to Apple any way. I'm not going to compare OS's, I'm just someone happier with Linux.

I tried other Ubuntu variants with the laptop. Bodhi and Mint both installed fine, newer versions included the touchpad kernel updates from the main Ubuntu distribution so it worked out the box. I did end up installing the sputnik ppa and using that kernel to keep the brightness keys working. Over all I didn't have a lot of luck with e17 and volume/brightness at all. However, I'm not sure if that's the laptop or e17 as I haven't had luck with those on my workstation at work as well.

The resolution sucks. I mean, it's fine for doing some general web programming in python with a full screen tmux terminal and browser(s) in another virtual desktop. You need to start remote desktop to Windows servers and such and you really begin to hate the vertical resolution limit. I solved this by hooking it up to a monitor when working and using the laptop display as a second screen for email and such. Now that laptops are coming up with higher resolution screens by default I'll not get something that low ever again.

The specs on mine are 4GB RAM, core i5 (2 core + hyperthreading) and a 128GB SSD. Video on all of them in Intel HD3000 I believe. I don't do a lot of virtualization, I can see why they would increase the RAM and CPU for the developer edition if they expect developers to be spinning up VMs. I've never really taxed the memory on it with anything I do. Caveat I'm a sysadmin who plays around with developing websites with Python/Tornado on the side, I don't do a lot anyway. I believe I was able to soak the cpu pretty good playing with golang a few times.

The only issues I've really had with the laptop are the resolution of the laptop display and the fact it runs really hot playing Team Fortress 2 in the Steam for Linux Beta. CPU core temps reach over 190F regularly while playing and if you block airflow out the back it will shut down on you (learned that the hard way). Really makes me miss my Alienware M11x for gaming purposes.

Other issues I've had with laptops in the past have been hinges. I have yet to experience any issues with the hinges on this laptop.

Over all the resolution is the one knock I'd give the system for a developer system, especially with the developer edition having more memory and cpu that the model I have. If you already have a monitor and plan to use it for extended sessions with the laptop I think you'll find it great.

memset 3 days ago 6 replies      
Here is a question (sorry to try and hijack this thread): this is a great laptop, but while we're at it, have people had good experiences with other ultrabooks?

My experience has been that things like EFI have made it impossible to boot linux on recent macbooks (I have tried!), and many ultrabook hardware just doesn't work on linux. Graphics won't show up, the thing won't boot, SATA hard drives not found, etc.

Many of the websites I used to rely on (eg, linux-laptop.net) have very out of date information. Ubuntu has a list of certified machines (http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/) but still, it doesn't tell me much about ultrabooks released in the past year.

Are there any new resources I'm missing? Or personal experiences people can share?

As for myself, I'm successfully running Mint on a Toshiba Portege ultrabook. But that is the flimsiest computer I've ever used!

irahul 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Some things (particularly components like trackpads and Wi-Fi chips) take some fiddling to get working.

Trackpads and wi-fi has been working for me for a long time(not implying this isn't a problem for many people), but what drives me completely insane is the video cards. If you are planning to run linux, seriously re-consider buying laptops with hybrid graphics. The graphic card might or might not run, the card switching will most likely not work, but you can ignore it since you can work with the intel card, right? Well, no. Most of the AGP, whether used or not, will eat up power, the fan will run at full speed and your laptop's behind will be hot enough to stir fry some veggies.

If you have a laptop with hybrid graphics, and you can't make it work, just switch off your discrete card.


Laptops in general, and linux laptops tend to run hot. However, don't mess with power settings a lot. Putting harddisks on powersaving mode(refer hdparm) so that they become idle puts unnecessary strain on the disk. You can try out experimenting with cpu frequency(cpufreq-set).

danboarder 3 days ago 2 replies      
"... retains the pilot version's 1366x768 display resolution."

Why would Dell use such a low-resolution screen? My phone is higher resolution than this laptop. Visual information density is very useful to "devops" Dell is said to be targeting and hi-dpi enables this.

Linus Torvalds is right in saying we need a new standard (he is advocating for a new 2560x1600 laptop standard, see https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/ByVPmsSeSEG ).

(edit - fixed resolution typo)

jwcacces 3 days ago 9 replies      
Nice, but that screen resolution is awful!

How did 1366x768 ever become acceptable?

I know it's a 13" screen but still...

driverdan 3 days ago 2 replies      
> The launch hardware costs $1,549

For the same price you can get a MacBook Air with a 1440x900 screen.

technomancy 3 days ago 2 replies      
> ... retains the pilot version's 1366x768 display resolution.

Close tab.

drivebyacct2 3 days ago 0 replies      
With a worthless screen resolution. I use a Galaxy Nexus, a Nexus 10 and a Korean 2560x1440 monitor. Using my 1440x900 13" MBA is already a slap in the eyeballs, and this is even worse.

It's a shame, I'd buy it in a second to be able to replace OS X with Ubuntu.

PhrosTT 3 days ago 3 replies      
Dell releases i5, 8gb ram, 256gb ssd, 3 lb., 1366x768, $1500 laptop. (price includes cost of $0 OS).

Wow what a deal. /s

zmmmmm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just another chiming in here with nerd rage at low screen resolutions these days.

Absolutely crazy to make a "developer" laptop that can't even display the full standard page size that web developers will target web pages to. The surface pro has more resolution. The Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 have nearly the same and the Nexus 10 is nearly double in each direction and all these Nexii are priced < $400.

jiggy2011 3 days ago 0 replies      
1366x768 , why oh why?

I don't care about whatever "cloud" software BS they've tacked on but if you're making a laptop for developers you should have north of 1000 pixels of vertical space.

Even 1280x1024 would be better.

rm999 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's great to see Dell doing something that resembles innovation, and it's great to see laptops that can run Linux out of the box. But honestly I just don't trust Ubuntu after they built advertising ('online scope results') into their interface. How much more will they cripple their distro as they struggle to monetize? I understand Ubuntu is free, but this fact doesn't benefit the end-consumer much because Microsoft gives Windows to OEMs for practically free and the cost of OSX is irrelevant.

Most people who should be using Linux know how to install it on a wintel machine. I'd rather see Dell put 100% of its open source effort into releasing Linux-compatible drivers for all its laptops instead of marketing niche products.

makmanalp 3 days ago 0 replies      
The laptop itself looks great, but what are the opinions on the profile tool? Doesn't something like http://vagrantup.com/ with vubdle, pip, rubygems, apt make it obsolete?

Also, linux dev environments are finnicky because every developer has their own miniscule variant that drives them crazy if it doesn't exist. Pre-made dev environments seem like the antithesis of this.


edit: It seems I have slightly misunderstood. It seems more like chef-solo for dev tool configs.

cllns 3 days ago 4 replies      
The Windows version of the same laptop is $50 less. Uh, what?

[1] http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-13-l321x-mlk/pd

[2] http://www.dell.com/us/soho/p/xps-13-linux/pd.aspx

emehrkay 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it too much to ask to go to dell.com and see pictures of their products?

Steps I've taken, and since given up:

1. Type in dell.com
2. Decide that I am looking for "For Home > Ultrabooks"
3. Scroll long page of laptops
4. Decide to narrow page down to 12-15 inch screens
5. Find XPS-13
6. Get taken to a configuration page
7. Sees no "view pictures of computer" button/link

The pics on ars makes the machine look good, the bottom kinda reminds of of the nexus 7's profile

edtechdev 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can get very nice, lightweight laptops that run Linux perfectly for much less, even from Dell (such as the Dell 14z which was only $300 on black friday). The main tips are to look for laptops that don't have dual graphics cards (nvidia optimus - although it will still work with http://bumblebee-project.org/ ), and google for the laptop model plus "linux" or "ubuntu" to see other folks' experiences with it.

The main issue now though are the new Windows 8 tablets (the Pro ones that mostly are not out yet) - we'll have to see how well they run Linux distros.

JanezStupar 3 days ago 0 replies      
This machine seems lame to me at best (1366x768? Really?).

I did a lot of shopping around about a month or two ago. There were only three serious contenders. Asus UX32VD, Sony Vaio Z 15 and Thinkpad X1 Carbon.

Out of this bunch, Thinkpad was out because of insane price in EU and because Asus had a better screen and massivelly better value. Sony didn't qualify because it felt cheap and I really dislike Sony as a company. So I the only real worthy computer was Asus UX32VD.

Running Ubuntu 12.10 I am super happy with it (although shame on Nvidia for not supporting Optimus on Linux). If I were buying a computer now, I would probably buy Asus U500 (15.4" and Quad Core CPU).

But I am still in market for a new Thinkpad, when Lenovo comes to its senses and releases something 14" with 1080 or 1200 resolution and Quad core CPU.

I have a feeling that next year the laptop market for developers will be awesome.

kibwen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it too much to hope that the drivers from this effort are not just free, but also open-source?

Other than that, props to Dell for even attempting something like this. The hardware ain't mind-blowing (as others have pointed out), but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

lobo_tuerto 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really liked what I read here:
The Last PC Laptop (codinghorror.com)


Here is the feature list for this laptop:

* Retina-esque 1920x1080 resolution in an amazingly high quality 13.3" IPS display

* Intel's latest 17 watt Ivy Bridge processor with (finally!) decent integrated graphics

* 128 GB SSD with fast 6Gbps interface

* Just under 3 pounds

* Decent 6 hour runtime

* Classy brushed metal case and cover

niels_olson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a budget-conscious hacker get a Samsung 550 Chromebook and load Ubuntu for $450? Or slog through the local electronics recyclers and get the equivalent for potentially even less?

If not on a budget, wouldn't you get a MacBook or a Lenovo?

Also, are these in a store where I can touch the hardware before dropping $1500?

I applaud Dell for making a go of it with Linux, targeting the right community, I just hope they get enough buyers to make better hardware for version 2.

weej 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was excited when I heard about this initial project, and was holding out for the official release specs. The display is a big disappointment, and show stopper for me.

I do agree this is a great first step and partnership for hardware manufacturers, specifically for device drivers.

I really do hope this is successful enough that Dell sustains the product line and continues to iterate on improving it over the next couple years. I would love a Mac Airbook alternative ultrabook for development.

Additionally, let's hope this spurs some competition in the market for other manufacturers. I've done ZERO market analysis, but it seems like quite a niche market that is rip for the picking (*NIX DEV Ulatrabook), and has the potential for decent profits w/ the right hardware specs and pricing.

Kudos to Dell for taking the imitative in the right direction. Let's see how it pans out.

> Edit spur competition

wildranter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not too shabby. Keep working on it Dell and my next notebook might be a XPS instead a MBP.

A few tips, just cram in a decent screen and glass trackpad.

vostrocity 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dell emailed me a number of times about this, but it never made sense to me personally. I adore Dell as a company, and the Dell Vostro laptop I bought in 2007 performs splendidly to this day running the Ubuntu I installed on it. The thing is, installing Ubuntu didn't take me too much effort in 2007, and it shouldn't today. Seeing as how they are targeting this Sputnik as a developer machine, almost everyone should be able fix up any quirks in a zip.

The pricing also doesn't make sense to me, but it may to some. I know some people, especially professionals who buy machines as part of their work expense, would willingly walk into an Apple store and buy a MacBook at its retail price. In that regard, this Ubuntu XPS 13 is not that out of line. However, in the Windows world, you'd have to be stupid to buy any computer at MSRP. In fact, it's pretty much not possible due to all the discounts thrown on. I've seen these XPS 13 Ultrabooks go down to $799 on the street, and that's with a nice Windows 8 license thrown in (and installed and configured nicely; you may not think this, but configuring up a clean Windows install onto a laptop can be easily as much of a pain as configuring a Linux install). You might not need Windows, but why not take it as a bonus even if you immediately throw Ubuntu onto the next partition? This option also means you're using the latest Ubuntu build instead of Dell's own channel based on LTS (could be a pro or con, but you could also opt for LTS yourself as well).

Canonical has the image that Dell uses for the XPS on this page: http://hwe.ubuntu.com/uds-q/dellxps/

All that said, however, I understand and applaud the idea of making a complete hardware/software package as seamless as a MacBook. I don't doubt this would make for a great option for consumers who want a smooth experience with Linux.

danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
So what's the point of this, for Dell's bottom line? Even with the relatively steep price, a developer-focused laptop is not going to be a best-seller. And in a few years, how many of those driver developers are going to be fully-focused on updating software for a niche laptop?

As much as I wish it were the case, what developers adopt is not always what will be profitable to the masses. And this ends up biting developers in the end. My Macbook Air is good enough that I don't think I need to go back to Linux...and I can be relatively confident that even if Apple continues to screw with the OS, the Apple OS X user base is so massive that niceties like homebrew will be supported as long, if not longer, than the niceties for a developer-focused laptop.

winter_blue 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just got a Dell Inspiron N5050 laptop (not from the US) that came pre-loaded with Ubuntu some time ago, and I have to say -- the Linux support is astounding.

Absolutely everything works. The integrated webcam, closing the lid putting it to sleep, the various built-in keyboard keys (for changing brightness, volume, ..), et cetra.

Can't say how happy I am with it. And it only cost $450. The specs are: Core i3-2570, 8GB DDR3, 320GB HDD, Intel HD 3000 Graphics (no discrete). The laptop looks and feels nice too.

cavilling_elite 1 day ago 0 replies      
My biggest gripe about the ultrabook series is the dismal screen. I ended up purchasing an Asus Zenbook (1600x900) and lived with the quirky mouse issues (patches and such) until the newest kernel. Now Asus Zenbook Prime has upped the resolution to 1920x1080.

Hopefully enough people purchase this laptop for a gen2 to come out and by then hopefully 1600x900 or 1920x1080 on a 13.3" is the standard.

CoffeeDregs 3 days ago 0 replies      
On ultrabooks: This looks very nice, but I'm a TrackPoint guy, so, while I am excited to see the ultrabooks, I can't use these or MacBook Airs. I purchased a Lenovo X1 Carbon about 2 months ago. It has a TrackPoint and I can't recommend it highly enough. So if you're a Linux user looking for a great ultrabook, check out the X1 Carbon (but make sure to get the 8GB model...)

EDIT: obviously, the X1 Carbon doesn't have the same level of Ubuntu support, but the out-of-the-box experience is perfect.

lambda 3 days ago 0 replies      
> 1366x768 display resolution

Bleh. What's so "ultra" about such a lousy resolution?

jonpaul 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how they plan to compete with Macs? The price is definitely not competitive. I care about computing experience. When it comes down to it, I haven't found a better *nix workstation than my Macbook Pro.

I love Ubuntu. I use it for all of my server deployments. I'd love an Ubuntu laptop that works well. But, it has to work better than my Macbook Pro for me to consider switching.

niels_olson 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Display: 13.3" HD 720p

Erm, gotta go, bye.

sergiotapia 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember owning a small laptop from Sotec. (Yes, Sotec, Google it; it's a brand that no longer exists!) I bought it in late '99 early '00 and it had this resolution.

I am not shitting you, I'll try to find an old CNET.com link for the review.

What is a laptop in this day and age coming with such low resolution?

acabal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, but I wish they had worked with the 14 inch one instead. It's more or less the same stuff on the inside. Hopefully with more programs like this from companies like Dell, companies like AMD and Nvidia will take their Linux drivers more seriously. (As in, at least get them to work, let alone play a game or two.)
lvillani 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those using other distributions than Ubuntu on their XPS13s, I am collecting the necessary kernel patches to get both the trackpad and backlight keys working here: http://lorenzo.villani.me/dell-xps13/

(Unfortunately, information to get this hardware working on other distributions is spread out across several web sites, git repositories and bug reports, that's why I created the page).

marknutter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like a fantastic laptop. It's great to see the effect that Apple has had on laptop design over the past 10 years.
cnlwsu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cell phones shouldn't have better resolution then a 1500$ laptop. Period.
grannyg00se 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm missing the point of these laptops that focus on extreme weight reduction. Can someone chime in on the relative benefit of these more expensive yet compromised machines? They seem to compromise on cost and features for the sake of lower mass. But most of the time your laptop is sitting on a surface while you are working. You aren't working while holding it in your hands like you might be with a tablet. So why deal with a 12" or 13" screen when you can have a 15" or more and still carry it under your arm from your home to the coffee shop?
nicholassmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a good first attempt, but it's going to need some work. The screen is pretty bad, but the one thing that puts me off is pretty much any Dell I've used has had a terrible keyboard and trackpad, but I've not used one for a while now so I'm hoping they've fixed that for this.
droithomme 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it the same situation with all Linux laptops that the vast majority of hardware peripherals for video and audio work don't work, or has that been solved?

I don't really need another terminal for accessing the web and email.

jwblackwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome to see more "native" Linux hardware coming out.

I'd love to be able to use Linux more, every time I've tried to make a switch though I've inevitably had to jump back to Windows because some bit of hardware just isn't compatible or working well enough.

lanna 3 days ago 0 replies      
$1,549 for a 1366x768 display?!? And they say Macs are expensive?
happywolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
If Dell shows solid support behind this ultrabook, I would consider to get one. My attention would be on upgrade and support. I am over the age where I would be happy just because the new version Linux happened to run on my laptop. Too many times the next version would bring some incompatibilities and I had to search for patches, and recompile the kernel and Fuck it, I just want to get work done and the last thing I concern should be the OS. Just for cars I damn care less for what OS is running under the hood, the same should apply to computers. Full operations is a must, not by chance. Sorry for the language, frustrated to see the current state of Linux still in a mess in PC/laptop after 10+ years (I ran Linux-only in college circa 1998). Yes I am using a Mac now. Not because it rocks, at least it doesn't suck that much.
JohnHaugeland 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't even get Dell to honor my warranty on my traditional Windows laptop, extended warranty purchased, which died in under six months.

"Well supported."

politician 3 days ago 3 replies      
Maybe this will help put some gravity around fixing Skype for Linux. Alternatively, does anyone know of a good video conferencing tool for Linux that also supports Windows as well?
hack_edu 3 days ago 0 replies      
But does it provide multitouch comparable to OS X in execution and function? If so, I'd switch tomorrow.
Surio 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone mentioned Steam/Linux and if some vendor has decided to become an early mover into that market:


And FWIW, I've had major problems with wifi and integrated graphics display as recently as Ubuntu 12.04! Virtual Linux on Win 7 works fine though. And I've been with Linux since Slackware 1.0/RHEL 5 (and several distros later....), still not given up on Linux.... continue to be hopeful....

I must be mad! (/joking to myself there)

jimrandomh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ctrl+F, type "resolution". See that it's 1366x768. Close tab. Sorry, Dell; I'd love to buy from you, but you're not even trying.
Nursie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, marvellous. Maybe they've released it in the US. Here in the UK I emailed them last week to enquire about whether they would sell me the exact same model with no OS (or anything but Windows), and he answer was just simply 'no way'.

I find that intensely annoying.

brudgers 3 days ago 1 reply      
The fact that this is news is shows why Linux is not a viable alternative to Windows or OSX outside a very narrow market niche.

And if you think I'm wrong, what does this get you if your organization was standardized on Fedora?

xradionut 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice try but, dang the hardware is limited. I have XPS 17 that's heavy, but several times more powerful. I'll continue to run Linux on my Dell in a vitual machine...
macco 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great day for Ubuntu. The first Ubuntu is served on a top of the line product - not on cheap low end hardware. The Sputnik is even more expensive than the Win8 version

It's saying: Ubuntu, because it's better, not cheaper.

bad_user 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I really want one.

When will this be available?

manaskarekar 3 days ago 1 reply      
The price is a little scary but I'm hoping the drivers from this will benefit other Dell laptops.
wissler 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's no way I'd buy this given the "ultra" low screen resolution, but maybe that doesn't matter to some developers. They need to target a somewhat higher screen resolution than the MBA if they want to grab my attention.
chj 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you're working with text a lot, developer or writer, retina display is a must.
meaty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Overpriced and can't get in the UK by the looks. I think I'd just go Lenovo.
dedsm 3 days ago 1 reply      
so my phone has the same resolution than this laptop
ttflee 2 days ago 0 replies      
According to my perl script, the count of word 'Mac'(including Macbook, macs, Macs, macbook, Macbooks) in this thread is 89 and that of 'linux'/'Linux' is 115, not including my own post.
johnward 3 days ago 0 replies      
The price is crazy. I know this one has less ram but it also includes a Windows license in the cost: http://store.vizio.com/ct15a5.html

*edit: plus the vizio TVs are really nice.

berserkpi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good. Linux driver support is a war almost won, yet, there are strange cases. So perhaps the emphasis the article does regarding this is... misleading.

Beyond that, seeing manufacturers making specific delivers for Linux is a nice symptom.

klepra 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't find any official information about battery life. Anyone know about that?
Personally good power management is what I miss with linux, it seems that I can only get around 2/3 of battery life in Ubuntu comparing to Windows.
ForFreedom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why would I buy something that cost USD 15XX. I'll just get myself a macbook.
ankitaggarwal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy to see they came up with a beautiful, unique and slim design of laptop with a powerful configuration. Design is pretty different from macbooks, yet as elegant.
Lambdanaut 3 days ago 0 replies      
With Linux on Steam coming out, whoever is the first to start building gaming Linux boxes is going to cash in big time.

(PS, It's not quite Dell with this under-powered laptop, but they're close! )

1tsmeagain 2 days ago 0 replies      
* are the keyboard keys backlit?
* Does clicking the trackpad make a loud noise? What about regular keyboard clicks?
znmeb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice ... any chance of a 16 GB RAM model?
scott00 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting thing I noticed on the tech specs (http://www.dell.com/us/soho/p/xps-13-linux/pd.aspx and http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-13-l321x-mlk/pd?~ck=mn) is the difference in battery life between Linux and Windows. IIRC Linux was 6:13, and Windows was 8:53. Thoughts anyone?
hdra 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is rather unrelated, but just now I was reading another chromebook released by Acer on The Verge, and I was left wondering, why does it seems like the vendor adoption of the rather new and unproven Chrome OS seems to be much higher than that of Linux desktop that has been around for the same time (if not longer) as Windows...
geekbri 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anybody tried using dual external monitors? That is a deal breaker for me.
fulafel 2 days ago 0 replies      
US-only though (maybe the title could be revised).
cblicious 2 days ago 0 replies      
completely unintersting , 8 GB of RAM only, for a developer machine soldered onto the mainboard ?!?!
sorges 3 days ago 0 replies      
But you should still buy it with built-in Windows? naaahhh
Tor exit node operator raided in Austria lowendtalk.com
487 points by Nyr  3 days ago   310 comments top 21
tomku 3 days ago 10 replies      
It seems like a lot of people are objecting to the raid/seizure itself in addition to the possibility of conviction, so I have a question. Is it reasonable for the police to investigate an exit node operator for traffic coming from his node, even if they know he's an exit node operator?

The way I see it, it's their job* to determine whether the traffic in question was relayed, or whether it was the exit node operator himself generating that traffic. In an ideal world, they could just call him up and ask nicely - but if he was actually guilty, he'd say "No, no way it was me!" and immediately start destroying any evidence. On the other hand, raiding someone's home or server rack and confiscating all of their computers isn't a great solution if most exit node operators are not guilty themselves.

I'm not aware of a good solution that avoids inconveniencing exit node operators without giving them some kind of blanket immunity to investigation that goes beyond just relayed traffic.

* - I'm aware that this might be impossible, but you can't know whether it will be ahead of time. It's possible that they could raid him and find no proof, even if he's guilty. It's also possible that they could raid him and find exactly what they were looking for. Like many investigation tactics, there's no guaranteed payoff.

AlexMuir 3 days ago 10 replies      
We need a community fund that can be used for things like this. The equivalent of a hardship fund with an aim of protecting our internet freedoms. It's good for the world, it's good for us individually, and it's good for business.

Everyone throws a few €£$ in a pot and a few volunteers administer it and do a bit of due diligence to ensure cases are valid. I guess in the US this is the EFF, but there are plenty of cases outside their remit.

It'd be like social security but for legal battles - but I don't think contributing/not should entitle or exempt anyone from funds.

drzaiusapelord 3 days ago 3 replies      
>Yesterday i got raided for someone sharing child pornography over one of my Tor exits.

Reason #1 why I will never run a tor exit node. I don't want to make it easier for child predators to get off nor do I want the legal issues they bring.

jeremysmyth 3 days ago 2 replies      
Tor can be used for good and for bad. It's the very same problem that Cory Doctorow talks about in his lectures about the War on General Purpose Computing, and it's not an easy problem to solve.

I'm an admin on a social/gaming site (a MUD with appendant forum, blogs, and other community elements), and we have had to make a few decisions about Tor in the last couple of years.

Some background: the site is quite old, and we have historically encouraged users to sign up without needing to provide a unique ID such as email address. They _can_ provide one, but don't have to. In the last few years we have had the problem of occasional griefers log on and cause whatever social havoc they can.

Now, my personal feelings about Tor are generally quite positive, and I like the freedoms it provides people who are otherwise restricted by their ISPs or governments from accessing legitimate resources. Like many others have said, Tor is a tool that, while it can be used to do illegal things, is also used to provide a very useful service to people who need it to get on with things you and I take for granted.

Now, back to our griefers: We have a number of banning mechanisms based on IP or domain, and they tend to be successful because griefers usually get bored when they can't access the site for a couple of hours. However, because a tiny minority of griefers are more persistent, more technically adept, and figured they could use Tor to damage our community, we did a little bit of analysis and found that few if any legitimate users of our site came from Tor exit points, and we chose to block them. The alternative was to require a unique identity during the sign-up process, and frankly we wanted as few hurdles as possible to new users (anyone who knows the MUD community knows that it's in decline, and low-friction signups are pretty desirable). So we blacklist Tor exit points from our signup process.

The unfortunate fact is that some Tor users do bad things with the fantastic tool at their disposal, and end up spoiling it for the legitimate (and extremely valuable) use cases that make it such an amazing tool. Yet its very anonymity means that there is no easy way to allow one set of uses while disallowing others. This is a hard problem, and one I'm not smart enough to solve.

error54 3 days ago 2 replies      
I fully support TOR and I think that overall it's a good thing for the internet but legally I don't know if he has a leg to stand on. Being an exit node operator carries these risks which he knew about so the court system has him there. The danger if he is tried and convicted is that all it sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the TOR network.

Who's to say where the blame stops? Can the relay operators passing the packets along be convicted too? I hope for the sake of the TOR network that he gets off on the charges because if he does not, less and less people will be willing to be exit nodes which essentially means the end of the TOR network.

hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 3 replies      
I can't empathize. With great power comes great responsibility. If you're protecting someone else's privacy by publicly running an exit node for Tor under your name, that's expected.

The open Wi-Fi analogy doesn't fly here. It's more than pure unawareness, you need to purposefully install Tor and route anonymous traffic to the internet. That entails being held accountable for what this traffic is used for.

If an analogy is needed, the right one is giving the key for your P.O. box to anyone with a mask, then complaining you're being charged because they've found child pornography there.

film42 3 days ago 1 reply      
I will need to wait for his local news to confirm the story before I will donate. I trust him, but you can't just say I need all of your money without proof, that's like a certain Nigerian prince.

I really hope this is fake because its really sad to see people like William get caught in the middle of a situation like this. However, with my gut feeling this is real, I will be waiting for confirmation to submit my donation.

iamtherockstar 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you go to a bank, rob it, and then walk outside to a waiting taxi, and have the taxi drive you home, is the taxi driver an accessory? I think that in the US you'd really have to make a case that the taxi drive had knowledge of what had transpired.
Irregardless 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's next? If someone walks across my lawn with a backpack full of child porn DVDs I'll be liable for aiding a felon? I'm sure the authorities would agree that's absurd, yet it's fundamentally identical to this case.
haarts 3 days ago 4 replies      
What if the guy had an open Wifi router? And the neighbors downloaded a movie? This goes to show law enforcement does not know what they are doing.

I run a node as well and noticed other (far less severe) downsides of doing so. Registering on certain forums won't work and purchasing games on Steam doesn't work. These parties just blacklist the entire list of IPs published running exit nodes.

dbaupp 3 days ago 2 replies      
I know little about the Tor community, but is there any verification of these sort of claims?
hosay123 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is William of Edis.at, the company offering the free Raspberry Pi hosting deal posted here a few weeks ago.
cwkoss 3 days ago 1 reply      

William has received more than $1300 in Bitcoin donations in the past 3 hours.


shocks 3 days ago 0 replies      
lazyjones 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd honestly like to know how he paid for all this stuff: up to 30TB/day traffic according to arstechnica (costs surely more than 1-2k euro/month), loads of servers - all with the salary of a 20 years old ISP employee?
synthos 3 days ago 5 replies      
Personally, I have 2Tb, and it's not legal (but not immoral). I can't imagine what legal uses an individual could have for 100Tb of storage.
rsync 3 days ago 2 replies      
You should not be running a ToR exit node from your home.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

systematical 3 days ago 0 replies      
So can an ISP be raided because child porn went over its network at some point? I didn't think so...so I don't see the difference here.
venomsnake 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well ... go on authorities. These pirate parties need votes. They are only at 5-6% now. Let's ensure that they can get at least 20% on the next elections.
dewey 3 days ago 0 replies      
his twitter account with some further information http://twitter.com/str0AT [german]
jborden13 3 days ago 1 reply      
People are working to verify that this isn't a scam.
How Syria Turned Off the Internet cloudflare.com
423 points by dknecht  3 days ago   82 comments top 20
kami8845 3 days ago 4 replies      
I love these highly technical blog posts on recent events by cloudflare.

Keep up the good work guys.

[1] http://blog.cloudflare.com/why-google-went-offline-today-and...

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
That is a frickin' awesome video. Does anyone know what tool that is, I think I want it running on my status displays.

For those who are wondering your edge router (or border router) "advertises" that it can route to a particular subnet. That information propagates around and packets find there way there. So someone in Syria told all of their border routers to stop advertising routes to Syria's IP blocks. Now the fun thing you can do is since they aren't advertising those routes, if you are sitting in a data center somewhere and have peering access and a ASIN id you can advertise those routes and all of Syria's traffic will start heading your way :-) Of course if that monitoring tool is still running it will have all these lines suddenly running off the screen toward your data center.

The traffic that is actually in Syria can't get out. So its not like you could snoop on Syria or anything.

muppetman 3 days ago 4 replies      
This tells us nothing about how it was turned off, only that the routes were withdrawn from the global routing table. Which isn't "how" it was turned off, by why it's stopped working.

There's some guesses in here, but the title is rather misleading. No one still knows why these routes are no longer being advertised, only that they're not.

DigitalSea 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is probably the best explanation of the Syrian outage I have ever seen. Cloudfare are exceptionally good at explaining things like this and even included a video of the Syrian traffic slowly dropping off. Expect those "cut" cables to miraculously be repaired shortly.
jimktrains2 3 days ago 2 replies      
My wife's first thought when she heard about Syria's lack of internet was that the sitting government is about to start a nasty offensive.

This was a good read and informative. One question, though.

> When the outage happened, the BGP routes to Syrian IP space were all simultaneously withdrawn from all of Syria's upstream providers.

Does withdrawn mean not advertised or was a message sent out saying these routes are no longer available?

biturd 3 days ago 4 replies      
I have a few questions not knowing all that much about BGP other than thinking of it in terms of a higher level DNS system for IP routing.

What gives Syria the authority to do this? What gives anyone authority to do this? What prevents malicious routing?. Could they route all traffic to and overwhelm another network? If it's ICANN, can they come in and revoke control and give it to a third party intermediary?

It has been rumored a small staff of 6 stayed trying to keep the routes up. Their current status is not known. I understand in those cases no intermediary would help. But from a pragmatic standpoint, I'm curious.

While I understand this goes against the "rules" but if I have a DNS server and the roots drop a zone, and I don't agree, I can add it back in. As a local user I could add to etc/hosts like in the old days.

The above assumes I had a large user base like openDNS or google pDNS to be effective. Can the same be done with BGP? Can major broadband providers decide to ignore the dropped routes and send traffic along?

I understand Syria would just toggle off some other "switch" and terminate core routers but it would at least send a tiny message of sorts.

How are they stopping satellite access?

How are they stopping cellular based access?

Is there any form of TCP over Ham radio? TCP over laser? USB over carrier pigeon (seriously)? What are the bare bones options here for getting data in and out and where is that closest point of access?

No one has put in long range wifi links of the 20 mile line of site type, or is that still too short a distance to get a few users online?

What about dialup?

If CloudFront can see this much traffic, they must be doing pretty well. What is the point of Facebook, reddit, and many others using CDN's and Amazon and such when they could probably half their hardware and push the rest to ClouFront. Or is CloudFront really only best for static sites that are hit hard and need lots if bandwidth. Dynamic sites would still bottleneck at the database/drive/physical/etc layer?

Thanks. Sorry if these are rudimentary questions. I haven't even met that many people who have had BGP access. I'm going to go look up what the format files look like now, just out of curiosity.

TaskConsidered 3 days ago 1 reply      
This doesn't necessarily explain HOW the network was taken down but, it does highlight the conflicting evidence between a "terrorist" style fire-sale attack, and a state-imposed outage to limit communications between dissidents.

Unfortunately, non of these hosting companies want to give an alternative to HOW to bring the network back up...

Anonymous seems to be the only group oriented at actually helping the citizens of the nation of Syria regain communication via alternative methods such as TCP/IP over HAM radio, and satellite links, personal wireless mesh networks using WiFi on mobile devices.

Everyone can bitch about HOW to take DOWN a nations internet but, it takes real humanitarians & 1337geeks to consider & implement HOW to bring a nations communications infrastructure back UP.

So, what are you waiting for...


squeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are a few really baseless, attack-y comments on the original post. I wonder if they're some kind of Syrian social media reactionary force.

CloudFlare, if you have access to their data, what's interesting about them?

JVIDEL 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great post, too bad the comments section is already full of syrian trolls trying to derail the subject from freedom of speech to some bullshit conspiracy from "the empire" against syria.

Guess they still give access to those who are loyal...

papercruncher 3 days ago 2 replies      
Distance between Cyprus and Syria is < 200km. How much money would it take to setup a wireless link between the two? Wikipedia tells me it's possible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Range_WiFi#Italy)
eik3_de 2 days ago 1 reply      
Since Google has also confirmed that Syria is offline now, we should spread the word about the telecomix dialup project: http://dialup.telecomix.org/

How could the information on that page be spread within Syria? SMS, MMS, Phone, Fax, Mail?

nir 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what caused them to do that. It doesn't seem like the regime's been pulling any punches so far, and the various YouTube evidence etc didn't seem to cause any increase in outside pressure. Why do it now?
biturd 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know enough about markets to find the answer to this. Does Syris have a "stock market" or some form of electronic exchange? I would imagine if they have money they do.

Did those routes stay up? If not, what are the repercussions of that going to be come open time? Or any foreign trade, anything that relies on network time, etc. the list is pretty large for services that need Internet at least infrequently in order to keep basic services up.

I can't imagine how many deaths there would be in the USA if this happened. All those televisions stop working, that's gotta be a few million heart attacks right there.

bernardom 3 days ago 3 replies      
They mention that there are four cables "connecting Syria to the Internet."

OK, I'm curious! How do they know? How many cables connect, say, Brazil to "the Internet?"

Is this publicly available somewhere?

saosebastiao 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its great to know how, but here is why:

Apparently, bombing people turns out to be bad PR when they tweet about it.

gexla 3 days ago 0 replies      
Easy way to shut off your internet connection. Quit paying the bill. ;)

Does the government have to pay for those lines? Or is that handled by some other entity?

SeanDav 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would imagine that some traffic could get through via modems, or does no-one use them anymore?
Derpsec 2 days ago 1 reply      
They've been blocking traffic in Syria to numerous social networking and email/voip sites since the revolution began, and nulling cell towers in every area where there are protests. This hasn't hampered the free syrian army or activists as since last year they've been passing sdcards to the border of lebanon, jordan, iraq and turkey and uploading their videos wirelessly from there. The FSA is running two border crossing with turkey anyways.

This seems to be like some sort of incompetence, more like they tried to set up some sort of spying choke point and it massively failed. ask nokia-siemens, they helped iran set up their chokepoint, most likely some infosec whitehats with zero ethics are currently flying out there to assist in the holocaust, er I mean rebellion put down, by working with Assad to get the tubes back up.

It only hurts Assad to keep the tubes out, his loyal base needs to buy their louis vuitton bags off alibaba to keep their minds off the constant public shooting of protesters and shelling of entire cities full of "terrorists"

caycep 3 days ago 0 replies      
What happened to Hillary Clinton's giant wi-fi airplane?
onetwothreefour 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Our thoughts are with the Syrian people and we hope connectivity, and peace, will be quickly restored."

Err... well, that's great. I'm glad that this information free blog post pimping your services ended with your sincere token of solidarity with the Syrian people.

For an article with real information from people who actually understand what a network is, go here: http://www.renesys.com/blog/2012/11/syria-off-the-air.shtml

(Yes, I'm a little annoyed. But that's just because a lot of companies are submitting their "informative" blog posts on HN while really it's just more pimping of said service.)

The greatest Google Mail feature you may not be using jgc.org
413 points by jgrahamc  5 days ago   172 comments top 63
dlss 5 days ago 12 replies      
I do use this feature -- I often select random blocks of text while reading. This feature means I often (5-10% of the time) have to click discard and then reply again to get my desired behavior.

In related news nytimes.com used to have a similar feature where the definition of words would pop up when you selected them. It basically caused me to stop reading their site.

cousin_it 5 days ago 2 replies      
The greatest gmail feature you're not using is probably "Undo Send", if you're not already using it. I have it set to the longest possible timeout of 30 secs, and would like an even higher value.
Matt_Cutts 5 days ago 2 replies      
The greatest feature for me is Send and Archive: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-in-labs-send-archi...
mibbitier 5 days ago 3 replies      
This is a horrible misfeature.

Often, I select bits of an email, to copy and paste elsewhere to check things. Then I hit reply, and wonder why only the currently selected text is there.

There should be a way to turn this "feature" off.

kahawe 4 days ago 3 replies      
While we are talking about greatest features and GMail... it would be awfully nice if they would finally implement some sort of sub-string search, given it's almost 2013 and they are synonymous with searching and finding things on the internet.

It is incredibly frustrating that in order to be able to find an email I received years ago I have to figure out exactly how someone might have written a certain term in that mail. And I cannot see any excuse for not offering that feature; limit me to a few substring searches a day if resources are an issue and I don't expect fully-indexed lightning-fast results, a simple "grep", so to speak, would be just fine...but please let me search my mails properly!

philwelch 5 days ago 0 replies      
This feature is also present in Apple Mail, which is fortunate because ever since Apple Mail caught up to Gmail's last remaining interface enhancement (having an "archive" button), the greatest Gmail feature I use is IMAP access.
AceJohnny2 5 days ago 3 replies      
That's interesting. Thunderbird has been doing this for a while, and I love it.
acangiano 5 days ago 4 replies      
In a related note, I hate how Google promotes top posting even when I select a specific quote.
davidw 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's neat. I used to cut down emails by means of ctrl-K in my browser, which, being mapped to emacs keys, means "delete this line". However, in their brand new email compose thing, Google has seen fit to override this, making that key combination point to "make a hyperlink" or some such BS, causing me much, much frustration. Yes, I know, you can still utilize the old way of doing things... but for how long until they decide that it's simply got to go and it's time for you to upgrade.

I guess RMS has a point.

rogerchucker 5 days ago 1 reply      
Best Gmail feature is "Undo Send" - period. It has saved me embarrassment countless number of times.
lhnn 5 days ago 5 replies      
So many people in this thread are saying they highlight sections of text as they read. I don't do that, and no-one I know does that.

What is the benefit? Is it intentional, or is it a habit with no real use?

smalter 5 days ago 0 replies      
A great Gmail feature that a lot of people don't use is "Send & Archive". It's very useful for keeping a clean inbox.
paulirish 4 days ago 1 reply      
The greatest Google Mail feature you're not using is definitely Forward All.
Forward an entire thread of emails, in chronological order, somewhere.
justindocanto 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused why this is on the top of the front page.
hackmiester 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, great, a condescending title! Fact is, I am using this. It used to be in the settings, I think, which is how I found out about it. And as others have stated, it's in a lot of mail clients. Apple Mail supports this, as does the iOS mail app, too.

"I haven't heard of this feature" != "no one knows about this feature".

languagehacker 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's a feature in Mail.app, too. Does that mean I should write a blog post about it? Will it get to the front page of Hacker News? Will it get to the top? What if I say it's the best feature you're not using on Mail.app? I'd be wrong, but people would still go to my site, right?

I honestly think HN should be doing more about linkbait like this.

shill 5 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, it's a slow news day on HN today.

Here is the email feature I want. If I paste a URL that looks like a post/article into a new message, I want the slug automagically split, title cased and copied into the subject line.

For example:


Would generate this subject:

    The Greatest Google Mail Feature You

Yes, this was a bad example because the title has been truncated, but I can fill in the rest manually. Most slugs contain the full title.

kirpekar 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's the one feature I hate.

I usually read through emails highlighting (selecting) the important parts with the mouse. So when I hit "R", Gmail quotes only my last selection. Discard, unselect, hit R again.

cloudkj 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just realized that this feature also exists in Outlook, which explains why many of my replies have strange quotes. I often highlight a user id or URL to copy for further investigation, then hit reply only to be confused by the condensed quote in the reply window. Now it makes sense :)
hardik988 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love this feature, and have been using it for a while.

Off topic, but a similar feature exists in Pinboard (https://pinboard.in). You can select some text on the page before clicking bookmark, and that gets set as the description of the page in the bookmark. It's a pretty handy feature if the page title is not enough to describe what the page is about.

jedbrown 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using this feature for ages, but it got much worse about six months ago when the last message in a thread became automatically "focused". Now when I scroll up in a thread and select some text, the message I'm selecting text from doesn't automatically get focus. I have to click one extra time to get focus on the message I'm selecting. Even after half a year, I still forget the extra click in about 20 emails per day, making the reply go to the last message in the thread, with the entire thing quoted. To recover, I have to discard my new message, scroll back to the thing I wanted to reply to, and repeat the process. I filed a bug report in the first week, but no response and the bug remains.
scott_meade 5 days ago 0 replies      
To turn this off in Mail.app: Preferences | Composing | Responding | "When quoting text in replies"... "Include all the original message text"
tete 5 days ago 1 reply      
Most mail clients seem to do this (maybe not so many web-based ones). Gmail has the problem of creating Tofu:


Brajeshwar 5 days ago 0 replies      
So does Apple Mail. So, when I used that feature in Gmail, I wasn't really surprised and actually expected it to be there.

Similarly, BufferApp post with the selected text instead of the title.

This is indeed a good UX feature and people should use this where it make sense - select text and put it in context with the next action.

MehdiEG 5 days ago 0 replies      
Like many, it's probably one of the first "feature" I bumped into with Gmail and that still annoys the hell out of me years later.
nachteilig 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mail.app does this too, except that I keep using it accidentally.
Tomis02 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's all nice and dandy, but check this out. For a few months now I've been noticing that emails from my inbox were being moved after a few days into spam, without any kind of warning. This happens once every two weeks, more or less.

We're not talking about false positives, these are emails that stay in my inbox for days before being moved to the spam folder. Which basically means I need to check my spam folder every day. Trust forever lost.

ralph 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like Gmail to do better as an email client confirming to standards. If someone sends me an email with the Resent-{From,To,...} headers then I want them shown to me. How can I forward an email as a message/rfc822 MIME content-type rather than a poor rough text approximation in the main body?
carbocation 4 days ago 1 reply      
jgrahamc - Offtopic, but usethesource.com is down.[1][2] Since it's still being linked from your blog, I assume this is unintentional and possibly went unnoticed.

[1] http://www.usethesource.com

[2] http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/www.usethesource.com

tammer 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great! Except lately I've come to despise ui elements that can only be discovered by accident. An easily usable and effective feature that I only find via a blog post is a feature that could use some visual feedback.
aidenn0 5 days ago 0 replies      
And I was about to say "Of course I'm not using this since I don't use gmail" but I use claws, which does this. Personally I would chuck any mouse-using client that doesn't do this.
hakaaak 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've accidentally used this feature a number of times, and it drives me nuts.

The greatest feature about Gmail that not enough use is 2-factor auth (even though it is not limited to Gmail- other web-based mail services provide it); it is a pain in the arse, but after you get hacked once or twice, you'll be happy you did it. Popular Saas apps are prime targets for being hacked. It may mean they are safer, but they are also riskier to use. If you're not using 2-factor auth, you should probably not use Gmail, unless a hacker taking control of your account wouldn't bother you or your contacts.

biturd 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure this feature is not on by default. You must turn it on in labs and then it is enabled. It's odd if that's the case because everyone posting here knows of it as if it were just part of the experience.

But I'm looking at the on/off radio button in labs in another tab right now.

atldev 5 days ago 0 replies      
This makes a good combo with my other favorite Gmail trick: followup.cc
koopajah 5 days ago 0 replies      
I thought most of the email clients did that already and I just checked a few which in fact don't! I'm pretty sure thunderbird does this if you want the same feature on an external application.
anigbrowl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I fail to see what's so difficult about simply deleting the irrelevant text in a long email.
dewiz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I often "hit" this feature by mistake because I "mark" the text I am reading. Personally I find it annoying and if I could I would disable it... any help apreciated.
chubbard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Normally titles like this are just insipid articles of link bait, but I agree this is a handy feature. Thanks!
conradfr 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a way in GMail (and Reader) to set a unread item as read ? It drives me crazy ...
jkaljundi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Same in Thunderbird
sh_vipin 4 days ago 0 replies      
That is a cool feature and was new to me. I liked it.

But you cann't reply to two different selections together. Probably because none of the browsers allow controlled selection using CTRL key.

dutchbrit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hate this feature - I always select something when reading, hit reply and then find out it quoted something I randomly selected..
codeodor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this "feature" new?

All of the sudden recently I noticed a lot of single word quoted replies happening to me, and I figured it was a bug.

upinsmoke 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Mail app on OS X has this for some time now.
nvr219 5 days ago 1 reply      
I tried using this feature in Apple Mail for a few weeks before turning it off because it was super annoying (I found it annoying for the same reasons mibbitier did).
shocks 5 days ago 0 replies      
Another useful feature you may not be using is the Priority Inbox.

No, wait. I'm lying. It's crap.

username3 5 days ago 0 replies      
What if I want to highlight and quote separate paragraphs?
hayksaakian 5 days ago 0 replies      
i don't think i'll be using it in the future

most of my email flows like a conversation, i don't need to bring back older parts if my recipient already has them in front of him.

rjv 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of a way to select multiple passages to be quoted automatically? A control+click/drag if you will?
Grape 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just noticed this feature today, I kept wondering why I was replying to sections of emails!
mdonahoe 5 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite feature is Mute.
hippich 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you select an area of a message and then hit Reply only the selected text will be quoted in the response.
tiglionabbit 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not all that useful if I want to respond to more than one quote, is it?
julesie 4 days ago 0 replies      
This feature is also available in the Sparrow desktop client.
zeedotme 5 days ago 1 reply      
the issue i have with this is that it deletes all previous messages from the email thread. So if someone wants to read back through previous messages or forward the email onto someone who does - no es posible.
3825 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have been using it since...
alexlimoges 5 days ago 0 replies      
I personally don't like that feature, for I often select a portion of the email (eg a name or an address to google it) and then when I hit reply I notice only the highlighted text remains!
alxndr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't lots of other email clients do this too?
skiplecariboo 5 days ago 0 replies      
any mail client does that imo.. Mail.app too
jgervin 5 days ago 0 replies      
Use this all the time. Apple mail has the same feature.
jdjiaikej 5 days ago 0 replies      
AOL had this feature in the mid-90s
shellehs 5 days ago 0 replies      
yes, the greatest feature, that ever email clients.
donniezazen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow!! This is fantastic.
Poll: Do you select text while reading?
377 points by cpeterso  5 days ago   360 comments top 223
aero142 5 days ago 24 replies      
When people see that I highlight text while I'm reading, they always want to know what practical reason it serves. The simplest answer is that it kind of helps me track the text, but it's less than that. It also isn't quite just a nervous habit. The only description that makes sense to me is that it feels like a physical connection to the page. More like spinning a pen, or rolling an object in your hand while you think about it. Like the mouse is my fingers and I'm just sort of fiddling with the page, like flicking through page edges of a book just for the feel of it.
patmcguire 5 days ago 7 replies      
For a long time the New York Times had a javascript thing that would pop up a dictionary reference for anything you double clicked on. As someone who compulsively doubleclicks to highlight and unhighlight, it bugged the hell out of me.
graue 5 days ago 1 reply      
I do it sometimes compulsively, but I think it started for a legitimate reason: clicking to make sure the text has focus. That way when I use up/down/PageUp/PageDown to scroll, the text actually scrolls. If there is a textbox that has focus, up or down jumps to that textbox instead which drives me bonkers.

Also, recent versions of Firefox have a bug where after you bookmark a page, if you've added a tag, the page loses focus and has to be clicked to re-focus (otherwise keyboard scrolling is broken). So far this has never bothered me quite enough to check if the bug was reported.

Edit: Since I cared enough to write about it here, I filed a bug report: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=815812

mason55 5 days ago 10 replies      
I just spastically double-click words all over the page while I'm reading. No real rhyme or reason to it, it doesn't help me read or anything. It's mostly just an unconscious tick.
CKKim 5 days ago 1 reply      
Having recorded myself using a computer and watched it back to analyse my habits, I've noticed that I don't begin highlighting when reading an article but if I consciously highlight part to reread for comprehension (or to look up a word) then this triggers twitchy highlighting for the rest of the piece.

The twitchy highlighting seems to follow three patterns: bored methodical clicking to help get through big dry paragraphs, fast erratic clicking when something is exciting, and sporadic clicking when I've stopped reading to think about something in the article.

When I worked in a high school I noticed almost the exact same behaviours as described, exhibited by students and younger staff. Pretty much all the computery kids were hyperactive click-highlighters and it was only the students who seemed positively uncomfortable around computers who didn't do it at all.

ColinDabritz 5 days ago 1 reply      
As a note, this appears to be in response to the top comment on the story "The greatest google mail feature you may not be using" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4838810

The comment complains about the behavior interacting poorly with text highlight reading:

I love reading (and highlighting to read) these sorts of discussions.

drivebyacct2 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand how people do this unless they just read really slowly. It's maddening to try to do and have it actually be where you're reading.

It also kills me that HN seems to embrace this practice, yet is also so incredibly skeptical of SSS and dyslexia.

gideon_b 5 days ago 1 reply      
When I read the title of this post I thought "WHOA, other people do that too?!" and clicked through to take the poll. Your poll is going to have a heavy selection bias towards people who select text while reading. People who don't select text while reading will probably ignore this poll and go read an article on erlang best practices or Paul Graham's favorite color.
fendrak 5 days ago 0 replies      
I select text compulsively while reading. I just double-click whatever paragraph I'm on to make it stand out from the rest of the text, and then just kind of keep clicking. Why? I have no idea, really. Just an odd habit!
WareSarah 5 days ago 1 reply      
Over 30% of people select text while reading. Markerly.com gives publishers a dashboard of text selection and copy and paste trends. We are about to roll out heat maps that show text selection - it definitely tells a story and differs article to article.

Source: I'm CEO of Markerly and I look at this data everyday.

dustmop 5 days ago 2 replies      
I used to years ago, but eventually wrote a browser extension Paragrasp to do it: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/paragrasp/lhhabjbh... for Chrome and https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/paragrasp/ for Firefox.
w1ntermute 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this might go back to our reading habits on paper. I've noticed that many of my friends who use their fingers to guide their reading on paper like to highlight text or move their cursor to mark their position when web browsing.

I've never done that though, so I never felt the need to do so on a computer either.

jacquesm 4 days ago 1 reply      
I do. But I'm also one of those people that will highlight text in 'real' books using a marker. I read destructively, you really don't want to be the next person in line after I'm 'done' with a textbook.

And being able to permanently highlight stuff on the screen so that when I re-visit a page later and it still contains my highlights is something I miss.

protomyth 5 days ago 0 replies      
If I could flip to a reading mode where the center line is the point of scrolling[1] and puts a little extra separation between the center line and lines above and below, I would not highlight. Maybe a subtle greying of the lines above and below.

[1] instead of stopping the scrolling when the first line is on the top or the last line is on the bottom, it scrolls to the middle before stopping.

bfung 5 days ago 0 replies      
I only do it when someone else is looking at the same screen as me, and there is a lot of text (not watching video together, but reading article). It's like a highlighter to coordinate reading.
mikeleeorg 5 days ago 1 reply      
No, but I tend to scroll, so the top of the browser window marks where I should read next.
Osiris 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a co-worker that constantly selects and re-selects text in everything from web pages to Sublime Text. I think he's developed some weird form of subconscious text-selection syndrome. He literally cannot stop doing it even when we bring it up to him.

It's really bad doing remote screensharing because the screen has to constantly redraw.

I've never seen the behavior before. It's quite odd. I never select text except for copy/cut operations.

antoko 5 days ago 0 replies      
I need to vote 3 times! I'm a yes to position reading, and place holder for sure... contrast issue is dependent on the regular contrast it doesn't happen often but I do use it that way.

Now I'm a self-confessed habitual selector I feel compelled to say that in no way, shape or form do I select text like some kind of nervous tic. I rarely select text when reading HN comments for example, they're mostly short enough so I'm not going to have to scroll or have time to get pulled on to something else before finishing.

I voted for reading position because that's the one I use it for most.

speednoise 5 days ago 0 replies      
This habit is an example of what Chris Noessel calls "One Free Interaction"[1]. Another prominent example is the bounce on iOS scroll views. There seems to be something about being able to fidget with a UI that makes it more comfortable to use.

[1] http://www.cooper.com/journal/2009/01/one_free_interaction.h...

noelwelsh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Science says yes:


More precisely, the paper above ("No Clicks, No Problem") demonstrates that tracking cursor movements provides useful predictive value of reader interest. Selecting text is a special case of this.

georgemcbay 5 days ago 0 replies      
I highlight text to increase contrast, but only in situations where the "designer" has totally failed and done something terrible like put dark color text on a black background.
fragsworth 5 days ago 1 reply      
On a related note, at least in Windows, when triple-clicking to select a paragraph, immediate subsequent clicks (any number) do absolutely nothing.

This really bothers me when selecting words because sometimes I triple-click instead of double-click by accident, and I want to undo this but it requires waiting.

bradleyland 5 days ago 2 replies      
I answered yes to the first three, because I find myself doing it for a variety of reasons at different times. The most common reason is to keep track of my place when someone calls me or walks in to my office.

The next most common reason is related to the first reason, and it's a shame that I have to do so. When you use text highlighting to track your reading (line by line), it's a sign that the site you're reading has poor typography. Usually:

Measure is too long - when lines of text are long, our eyes have a difficult time "tracking" back to the next line.

Leading is too small - Leading is the space between lines. The space between lines creates a negative void that our eyes follow back to the beginning of the next line. Not enough leading and the line is thin and hard to follow. Too much leading and your eyes get lost in a sea of space.

bradly 5 days ago 0 replies      
The only time I do it is when the the columns are very wide in paragraph text and flowing from one line to the next is difficult. Sometimes increasing font size so less words fit in a column accomplish the same thing, though.
me2i81 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it as a nervous habit.
cpher 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am absolutely amazed at the response this poll is getting. You people are a bunch of freaks! ;)

I frequently select text when I need to get up from my desk at home to deal with the kids (and not lose my place), but not to the extent that other here are describing, unless it's the random tick click thing.

I'm sure there's a psychologist in our midst that can explain this phenomenon. But, I'm still shocked that this post has generated this much attention.

stephengillie 5 days ago 1 reply      
When using a Chrome browser with adblock and flashblock and HTTPS, and JS disabled, sometimes text isn't where it was designed to be. Sometimes text covers images or runs into other text, and selecting is necessary to be able to read it.
incision 5 days ago 0 replies      

In terms of add-ons, I'd really like something that combines the function of a speed reader like spreeder [1] with the "articlization" of Pocket [2].

1: http://www.spreeder.com/app.php?intro=1
2: http://getpocket.com

eric-hu 5 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't answer, I'd like to choose "Yes, all of the above"
ColinDabritz 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am a selector, partly by habit/something to do, and partly to track position, especially in wider formats. Newspapers are in columns for a reason! On one site I frequent, it took me a minute to figure out why I kept going to random other websites. I was keeping the mouse out of the way on the (rather large) margins, and apparently the full screen border ad was clickable anywhere that wasn't the center content column or navigation. Just blank space down the page, but I'd click it to select rows of text, and get carted off to the ad website. I suppose that's one way to monetize a strange habit...
jacoblyles 5 days ago 0 replies      
Constantly. Spastically.

Unless I'm on the nytimes website.

ricardobeat 5 days ago 1 reply      
> If these are common actions, perhaps browsers (or add-ons) can provide purpose-built features for these functions.

Maybe this is one of those cases where nothing actually needs to be done. Highlighting is highlighting, it works great and fulfills different needs. There are lots of add-ons for focus, black-out, markers and other features, but none is widely used.

In adittion, we are moving towards touch interfaces. I haven't seen anyone frantically touching the screen to highlight text in those; as some have confessed here, I believe this behavior has a lot to do with the mechanical act of clicking, the sound and feedback that for some reason feels good and ends up becoming a compulsion.

msrpotus 5 days ago 0 replies      
To be honest, never really thought about why I select the text before.
pud 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else play with the highlighting on their iPhone constantly?

I can't read anything on my iPhone without constantly messing with the highlight UI. It's so fun.

lobster_johnson 5 days ago 1 reply      
I used to scroll. Then I started scrolling so that the line I am reading is always the first line in the window (thus obscuring everything above), which means I can read about tracking downwards, and I don't have muck about with text selection.
namank 5 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent question! I've been wondering this for the past two years...made an annotator based off of this idea.

I found that most people select because they are holding the mouse - they have to use it if they are holding it. Then sometimes you select to preserve your position while scrolling.

This also led me to believe that people digest information in chunks. Highlighted text serves as a "todo" - must finish reading the highlighted block of text before diverting focus to something else.

erickhill 5 days ago 0 replies      
I never consciously asked myself why I select text, until now. As a result, it wasn't something I did. Fascinating question. It is purely a mouse-driven habit, too, by the way.

I now wonder if all my years selecting text in old versions of Internet Explorer (to see how pages were built in HTML) was partly to blame? This technique was useful to see where clear gifs and other artifacts were often hiding.

lancefisher 5 days ago 0 replies      
I never even realized I did this until my wife asked me what the heck I was doing one day. I'm still not sure why I'm highlighting all the time, but sometimes it is to keep my place when I scroll the page. Other times it is completely subconscious.
emeraldd 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find myself semi randomly selecting things on pages when I'm reading through something quickly or skimming through a page. If something catches my eye, I'll select it as or before I read it.
Tycho 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do this cause I just like to interact with the graphics. Especially if it's a Mac and you have all those nice quartz effects like when you highlight, then click and drag so that the text is floating above some other part of the screen, disembodied from the article.

I pause to think a lot when I read, so this is just sort of fidgeting while my mind thinks about something, I suppose.

xyzzyb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting! I've never heard of this or even seen anyone do it.
millerm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes I do, and I really notice it when using O'Reilly's Safari bookshelf. Whenever you select text it pops up a window asking if you want to highlight or make a note, so irritating! If that mouse is in my hand I always select text that I am reading. I am not sure why. Perhaps it's just a reflex so I can keep track of where I am in the text. With so much noise on web pages, it must help. I'll have to test if I do this as often on other things. I know I have accidentally cut and pasted previous commands in a terminal and have been very upset with the consequences. I'm just sloppy with that mouse and middle button I guess. But those darn new line characters on a paste can be catastrophic.
kibwen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Restless fingers. The other people in my office must think that I'm playing games all day, considering that the uninterrupted rapid-fire stream of clicks I produce when my hand is on the mouse is indistinguishable from playing an FPS.
jakub_g 5 days ago 0 replies      
I select all the time, using either mouse or a keyboard. In addition to the mentioned problems with JS popups on click on NYTimes et al, there is another set of annoyances due to invasive keyboard shortcuts.

I select text from kbd with SHIFT+arrows (up, down, left, right) or CTRL+SHIFT+arrows (left, right) and scroll the page with arrows. I want to do something nasty to the webdev each time I'm on the page which overrides those shortcuts. Especially when it's sth like redirect to other article on ARROW_RIGHT (sigh).

Fortunately I have "Disable JS" button right in the status bar...

TL;DR: do not mess with my keyboard or I will find you!

SideburnsOfDoom 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just do it as habit. It's hard to pick the category from those above. It's probably a combination of "to track my reading position" and "to increase text contrast" but I don't consciously set out to do either of those. It's really just a harmless habit.
Falling3 4 days ago 0 replies      
We've all heard about the multitasking-induced attention problems. I tend to select and deselect text frequently as something to keep the ADD part of my brain busy.
Yhippa 4 days ago 1 reply      
In an HCI class I took over 10 years ago at university I did an eye gaze study where I was the observee. The professor noticed that I selected text as I went along to help focus on where I was reading.

Good to know that there are others like me out there. I wonder if there are any practical implications for this?

jmtame 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is how I can tell my roommate is reading: he constantly double clicks, probably once every other second.
ern 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to do this quite often when reading on a laptop with an external mouse, as an alternative to scrolling, so I could see where I was, especially on single page/printer friendly views.

Having an iPad and doing a lot of reading on Flipboard has "untrained" me, and I don't think I do it anymore on any platform.

raintrees 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some HTML/CSS design decisions leave me selecting to read, if not just copying and pasting into a text editor.
jamesmcn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I occasionally do, but some spam-happy sites will pop up all sorts of crap when you click on their page. So I'm fairly cautious about where I'm willing to click.
albertzeyer 5 days ago 0 replies      
I sometimes do it when fast-reading through something and click on some sections (single or multiple words) which got my attention. And then I read on.

It helps me to keep things in my short-term memory or to actually extend my short-term memory.

Aissen 4 days ago 0 replies      
No. It messes with my clipboard, hard. So I try not to do it, I like to have a clean clipboard history for re-use.

BUT: I tend to select-all + copy any text of a form (this comment) before submitting. You never know when browser/back/website/connection is going to abandon you.

bpatrianakos 5 days ago 0 replies      
I picked placeholder but I also just randomly select as I go along sometimes with no reason at all. So I kind of track my position but not really because I can track it fine without it but do it sometimes randomly anyway.
aaronpk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I select text for my own internal emphasis. If I see something important I select it as a way to reinforce its importance to myself.
kellishaver 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do it all the time, but when I do it's usually to increase contrast, or to mark my place in long text that I'll need to come back to.

I also do it to find the mouse cursor. The text cursor is thin and not always easy to find amongst a large wall of text, so I'll click and start dragging and look to where the page is highlighted in order to find it.

rjzzleep 5 days ago 1 reply      

but i'm surprised nobody brought this up yet:

you select text and it turns it into some speed reading format. tiny plugin and plain awesome

KirinDave 5 days ago 0 replies      
Compulsively. It bothers other people.
prawks 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't at all, but I still think it's a very interesting concept I'd love to see taken further. I almost felt bad hitting "No" because of it.

Maybe I'll become a convert.

piyush_soni 2 days ago 0 replies      
My God. I always thought I'm just one of those few who do it, be for a reason or without a reason - I just keep on selecting text while reading. And that's why - I ABSOLUTELY HATE those overly smart websites which on any random selection show a 'search/definition/wikipedia' buttons just below my mouse, and on the next select I accidentally press that stupid button!
endlessvoid94 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do it when I'm using a trackpad, but I do when I'm using a mouse.


davimack 4 days ago 0 replies      
1) When scrolling is erratic (due to the mouse, the browser, or what have you) and reading a long article, I highlight a word in the last-read paragraph to allow me to scroll that paragraph up and not lose it.

2) When pages have low contrast, but I don't want to say View / Style / No Style (alt+v, y, n - in firefox), I'll select the whole page.

3) When pages have extra-wide text lines without sufficient spacing between lines (i.e., they do not conform to typographical rules for reading ... for example, Hacker News comments), I'll select individual lines in order to better follow the length of the line.

4) When interrupted in reading a lengthy article, so as not to lose my place, I'll double-click (middle wheel button is keyed to double-click) my reading position to highlight just that word.

dpcan 4 days ago 0 replies      
HackerNews is the only place I've ever heard of this happening :) In the "wild", I've never witnessed it once, so I'm actually curious what it means. Do you select the entire block of text you are in the process of reading? Do you drag your mouse cursor along as you read? Isn't this horribly frustrating most of the time with all bad style sheets and ad overlays and embedded ads, etc, on most big news sites?
nhebb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't, but I've always wished there were a way to bookmark position within a page.
chollida1 5 days ago 1 reply      
I do this.

I just attributed this to ADD. But I do like the contrast.

petercooper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not only that but I also click randomly as well. This can get me into trouble, particularly on sites which have giant "background ads".

Notably, I don't do this at all with trackpads, only when using a mouse at the desktop.

mtinkerhess 5 days ago 1 reply      
I never thought about highlighting text to increase contrast. Is there some way to change the default selection text color and background color? I would love to make the selection background color black to really max out the contrast.
harel 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it. It does not help me in any way. It annoys people reading with me or sharing my screen. It baffles even myself. But by god, I cannot help it.

Have you tried selecting text and doing circles or rectangles? Amazing satisfaction!

zerostar07 5 days ago 0 replies      
I believe it should be a standard feature on browsers to have some identifier or horizontal line so that when scrolling or page-down, you know where to pick up.

I use highlight to mark the current position that i 'm reading, then mouse-scroll up/down to read some text i missed.

Ideally, i would like to keep the last 2-3 text selections that I made highlighted.

I also hate Nytimes and PLoS for hijacking my selections

olegious 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to select text much more than I do now. When I was taking the Series 7 exam, I was selecting so much text and clicking as I did so, that the exam software froze (I was about 75% done with the test). Luckily the system reboot didn't result in any data loss- I'm not sure who was happier, the test proctor or me ;).
bajsejohannes 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Yes, as a placeholder to pick up reading later

This is my answer, and it's a habit I picked up while using Skype, since they don't track my position very well when new messages comes in. (OS X)

eekfuh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to use it for sites that have low line-heights. Like this site. The wide page and low line-height make it really hard for me to read. For reading content I'd say a min of 160% line-height.
AaronBBrown 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought I was the only one who did this. Interestingly, I do it much less when using the Clearly Chrome plugin from Evernote. https://evernote.com/clearly/
hanleybrand 5 days ago 0 replies      
People make fun of me for doing it, but I can't stop. It's the one thing that makes google reader hard to use, because I forget and clicking on a news story makes it jump to the top of the page (note to google reader devs - your thing is awesome, probably needs an update, but GOD DAMN I HATE THE CLICK JUMP FUNCTION)
eps 5 days ago 0 replies      
I "select all" on pages that use bright on dark text, e.g. yegg's and jwz's blogs. Otherwise they are virtually impossible to read for longer than a minute.
instakill 4 days ago 1 reply      
Only select a sentence or two when I need to scroll back up and long page and get back to where I was reading quickly afterwards.
tambourine_man 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, to track my reading position, but only when I'm exhausted.

I doubt I'd have enough brain juice left at this stage to remember to use an add-on.

But it would be nice for very large texts, sparsely read and on normal attention conditions.

snogglethorpe 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do it habitually, but it's invaluable for all those web pages where the author thought blinking yellow text on a magenta background was neat...

[Not just myspace and old geocities sites...I run into this sort of thing all too often, even on "real" (modern, corporate, well-funded, etc) websites. Sometimes it's just that the site designer seemed to be going for some sort of artistic/funky look, but in other cases the site looks fine in ie6 but becomes unreadable in FF or chrome... >< ]

xentronium 4 days ago 0 replies      
* Contrast

* Search web for highlighted terms

* Open new tab with selected link (when no proper anchor provided or when I want to open some part of given link)

atesti 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the days before mouse wheels, I always used selecting to scroll: If you move the mouse downwards while selecting, you'll start to scroll. This was nice until mouse wheels were invented.

Nowadays I often still click the middle mouse button to enter a scroll mode where there's a cursor with arrows on the screen. Moving it scrolls. Unfortunately this feature was removed in Visual Studio 2010, but an extension brings it back.

stouset 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else want to answer "Yes" for all of those reasons?
Buzaga 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, and I thought about posting about this a here lot of times to know if people also do this because of how much I hate websites that remap the arrows to "next/previous article", it must stop!
fudged71 5 days ago 0 replies      
Only when I am changing font sizes on the page, to bookmark where I am. Browsers tend to jump around an article when you do this and it's easy to lose your place.
nsoldiac 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've gone through different phases of this as a tool to fight my ADD impulses. My main reason was to avoid that scenario where I would find myself reading and then snap and ask myself "where the hell am I in this paragraph/page/article?" I highlighted sentence by sentence as I read through, but it results in too many iterations. Then I highlighted whole paragraphs, worked better but reading through blue colored background when there's white background all around it made my eyes drift away to the lighter areas. Now I'm highlighting the paragraph prior to the one I'm in, it serves as a bookmark of sorts. It's still a work in progress but its damn better than not doing it!
thiderman 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was once developing a message board. It had a threaded message model and a high resolution of notifications, so when entering a thread with multiple new messages, the new messages where all highlighted with a different background color.

I implemented a JS feature where double click on a message body would send mark-as-read to the server via AJAX and remove the background color. When the feature entered testing, almost all the testers opposed it, as their behaviour with double clicking to select words or paragraphs they were reading was affected.

The feature was never deployed.

yeonhoyoon 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tracking the reading position with a visual guide is one of the fundamental techniques in many speed reading methods.


evancharles 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it to reduce contrast, not increase it. White on black is awfully harsh. Never use black: http://ianstormtaylor.com/design-tip-never-use-black/
guptaneil 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's such a relieving feeling when you realize that you are not alone.
prawn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it primarily as a way to track my place in the text when I scroll down the page. Or because, forever multitasking and getting distracted, I need a way to remember where I was up to.
austenallred 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do sometimes when I'm on a desktop, but other wise it slows me down way too much. And I'm rarely on a desktop.
thechut 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do this. I feel left out now
moo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Easiest way to read my comments on HN. After I've been down-voted.
fwr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Only if the text is multiple paragraphs, otherwise it's too much of a hassle.
eclipticplane 5 days ago 0 replies      
For long articles, or content I really want to digest, I copy the text into a text file in a directory in my home space (with original URL and under git control). When I get to it, I delete the lines I've read, or add notes to follow up with more research or comments. This is all under automated git commits, so I can track my reading backlog at any point in time, and can go back to an article 6 months ago that I may have "deleted" simply by searching my automated commits.
rogerchucker 5 days ago 0 replies      
Never select text on readonly documents (like reading emails) for purposes other than copying/pasting.
babebridou 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I manipulate a touch screen when I read a long and dense text but that's just to prevent the mobile device from sleeping.
benn_88 5 days ago 1 reply      
Holy fuck, I thought it was just me.

I think I do it more with black on white. I find it difficult to focus reading from a large bright screen.

I do find I end up not bothering to read a lot of articles I'd like to online, end up either bookmarking and ignoring, or just skimming over. Think it's because reading long articles in a particular layout is a chore. A layout browser extension might help, I should give it a try.

stadeschuldt 5 days ago 0 replies      
What also makes reading a lot more comfortable is the clipr bookmarklet: http://code.google.com/p/clipr/
wallywax 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do this, and another "silly" thing I do is when I copy something to the clipboard, I often hit cmd-c three or four times quickly. I don't remember why or when I picked up this habit. I imagine maybe at some point I had a system or program that didn't always register the copy the first time? Or maybe it's just completely random. But I don't even notice I'm doing it until someone points it out and asks me about it.
rdwallis 5 days ago 0 replies      
For those using selecting to track reading position, I built a chrome extension that specifically solves this problem.

I haven't started promoting it yet because of a bug in incognito mode but it's available at:


clueless 4 days ago 0 replies      
Coincidentally, I know of a new web service (http://amazd.com) that lets you record your highlights as you're reading an article (in the most natural way I could imagine) so you can save the parts that were insightful. That's the only reason I usually highlight text when reading these days.
Semyaz 4 days ago 1 reply      
The obvious reason that people do this is because of wider and wider screens. Some web pages or applications still show text that fills the width of windows. If you have to turn your head back and forth, then you are much more likely to lose your line on a large block of text. It's much easier to pick out the next line with a line marker.
rangibaby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I often double click on a paragraph to highlight all of it, and keep track of where I'm reading.
shn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Readability a lot for the last one year. FYI, using it ever more after I discovered that you can send the article to kindle with the stoke of a few keys (mine is Shift+Control+K)
chadgeidel 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen people do this and I've wondered why they do. Thanks for answering this intriguing question!
Zaheer 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of times I'll select some text on a page right before I scroll to help my eye focus and track where I am on large text pages.
graeme 5 days ago 0 replies      
No idea why I do it. I think I just like to do something with my hands.
geoka9 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have to, sometimes, when I read a site with a fancy new design (with grey text). Other than that, no.
alphang 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, it's one of the things I miss when I'm reading on a multi-touch screen - that extra tool of interaction with the page.
mcovey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I generally use the keyboard to do everything it can on the computer, including to navigate long articles. I use the arrow keys to keep whatever I'm reading near the top of the page. In fact, if there were an easy way to keyboard-navigate the entire internet, short of scrolling around with the arrow keys, I'd never touch my mouse.
chm 5 days ago 0 replies      
For me, it's just been a habit since immemorial times. Growing up in the 90s, I had access to Win95 from the start, and I can't remember not doing this.
fusiongyro 5 days ago 0 replies      
I usually don't need to unless the design makes it hard for me to keep my place.
macu 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad to see others do this.

I don't think I would use a browser plugin; selecting with the mouse is completely satisfying for whatever reason I do it.

I think it's a way for me to feel connected with the text, too. reading a book, I either trace with my finger or a piece of paper I slide down the page (not word-for-word, but by sentences and paragraphs).

s00pcan 5 days ago 0 replies      
No, because I'm using vimium most of the time I am reading in my browser.
demetrius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would hate it if browsers started getting in the way with my text selection. The best thing about it is that it works almost everywhere.

I don't select text when I read something in the terminal, though, only in GUI applications. I guess I don't like lines being selected completely for some reason.

MemorableZebra 5 days ago 0 replies      
Based on what people are saying here, I think there are a lot of different styles.

For instance I have a friend who frantically selects and reselects small portions of the text the whole time. I on the other hand just highlight a line and hold shift then down arrow at the end of each line I know exactly which line is next to be read.

ajuc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, but only if the text is unreadable(there's too much text in one paragraph).
bmunro 4 days ago 0 replies      
I repeatedly click and drag, click and drag. I have no idea why I do it.
pippy 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's one of the reasons I hate surfing snoops. I'd spend a lot more time there if I could highlight when I'm reading.
nirmel 5 days ago 0 replies      
The top story on HN is about how Gmail only includes the highlighted section of an email in the reply. This is the bane of my life for this reason! Highlight a paragraph to read it, hit reply, and only that paragraph is included in the response. Most unintentionally annoying feature ever.
nvader 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Evelyn Wood speed reading system recommends using your finger on a page to trace lines of text. When reading long passages on the computer, I achieve the same goal by highlighting. I generally only do this when reading longer content: never when reading comments on HN.
jandy 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't, and it bugs the hell out of me when I'm sat reading with someone else who does. Nothing more distracting than them going nuts with the mouse while I'm trying to read.

I get why people do it, but sheesh, take your hands off the mouse for a minute, it won't kill you!

DustinCalim 5 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone highlighting text for the contrast will love this Chrome extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hacker-vision/fomm...
jeffchuber 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes I do it as a tick. In fact I realized I was doing it while reading these comments.
woj 5 days ago 0 replies      
No, but I do scroll the page up, so that the line I'm reading aligns with the top of the browser viewing area.

Some sites nowadays add a floating header to the top of the page that changes size as you scroll down which is super distracting when reading the way I do.

wh-uws 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice to know im not alone in the world about this
ttflee 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to.

But I stopped selecting text right after... perhaps I began using a WebKit based browser. Sometimes, text selection in WebKit based browsers looks ugly and weird compared with that in Firefox, however, these browsers are just damned fast.

antijingoist 2 days ago 0 replies      
both to increase contrast and figure out where the heck I am. But I also have a safari extension that shades alternate paragraphs as I read them , so I do it much less often now.
pnathan 5 days ago 0 replies      
No. I avoid using the mouse if possible.
gruuby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was shocked to find out after my Google interview that you can see your collaborator selecting text in Google Apps. I was nervously selecting wafts of text constantly throughout the whole thing. I never heard from them afterwards :/
freedrull 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do it all the time without thinking about it. I have no idea why. Please help me. :(
Peteris 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just randomly select text as I'm reading. In fact I find it annoying when I cannot do so.
djbender 5 days ago 0 replies      
When the lines are ridiculously long and/or there isn't enough line spacing. Like on Hacker News.
jakespencer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just randomly select blocks of text on the screen. Usually text that I am not currently reading. I don't scroll, I don't use it to highlight where I'm reading. I just do it for fun.
thomasd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes, when the paragraph is wide, it's hard to continue reading on the same line and that interrupts and slow my reading down. I do it so that I stay on the same line. Sort of like a ruler
manicdee 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a heavy trackpad user, I'll scroll the window to the text I'm reading. Even if I'm half way through the page, I'll scroll the next paragraph to the top of the window. That's how I "record" my reading position.
danabramov 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it all the time. Also, when using Safari, I often pinch in and out while reading. The rendering gets blurry until I lift the fingers, and the moment the text is crisp again, I feel certain satisfaction.
andyfleming 5 days ago 0 replies      
For me, it helps me pick up where I left off reading when scrolling down the page.
sareon 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have on occasion, just when the text is one giant wall, I start having a hard time finding the next line without re-reading the line I just read. If I highlight the previous line I know not to read it.
shanehudson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, completely. Usually to track what I am reading or to change the colour, but sometimes for the same reason I draw random boxes with the selection tool on my desktop.. because I fidget.
darkstalker 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't do it. I've always seen people doing that.
pyroMax 4 days ago 0 replies      
No, but I obsessively scroll down so that the paragraph that I'm reading touches the top of the viewport. The last few paragraphs become a pain of course.
vostrocity 5 days ago 0 replies      
Back when I used a mouse, I always worried that my compulsive selecting drained my mouse battery faster than it needed to. It probably added a lot to my WhatPulse stats as well.
misleading_name 4 days ago 0 replies      
Usually - when I'm reading - I don't have my hand on the mouse... Just they keyboard, so no... Funny how many people do... It would seem distracting to me.
adnrw 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Yes, but for some other reason

It's a compulsive habit that I can't stop, it serves no practical reason whatsoever. I also bite my nails. Same problem.

sherjilozair 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, this poll didn't tell me a simple question: do more people select text while reading or not?
CmdrKrool 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I highlight from the middle of one line of text to the middle of the next line of text, trying to get the start and end of the highlight to line up exactly.
joaomoreno 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it as a nervous tick. It consumes me as OCD usually does.
TomGullen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, just by habit!
6ren 4 days ago 0 replies      
adblock the js that is triggered by highlighting (e.g. NY Times dictionary lookup).
jankeromnes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hell no, selection is too distracting, and the margin above / under the selected text is too small to allow comfortable reading.
minibus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I select text to copy/paste to Twitter. So frustrating that there's no comparable CTRL/CMD + C, CTRL/CMD + V commands on Android.
kevinSuttle 5 days ago 0 replies      
No, but I can understand why, based on the responses so far. Makes sense. I'd think they'd be more useful if they were saved somewhere.
spideyunlimited 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I'm reading something really intense, it helps me focus -both visually and mentally, on say two or three paragraphs at a time, before moving on.
utunga 5 days ago 0 replies      
i think i do it to make the text feel 'tactile' and thus more engaging
duncan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I select text and have osx's speech to text read it to me while i'm reading. That way I can read way more and way faster.
mhitza 5 days ago 1 reply      
Used to. Since using a touchpad I am no longer doing it.
afaqurk 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've always considered myself a slow reader. I feel that highlighting words/sentences on a web page helps me read quicker (for whatever reason).
gavanwoolery 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, because I am neurotic. (No, really.)
hhjj 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes i use text selection to scroll especially on trackpads : begin selection of text near window edge then scroll while selecting further.
digitalwaveride 4 days ago 1 reply      
With reading tools like dotdotdot.me selecting text makes even sense in the longterm. building a kind of memory...
danabramov 5 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't when I used default selection color. I remember starting doing it because I really enjoyed OS X yellow selection option.
shakeel_mohamed 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, usually for reading code if the syntax highlighting gets screwed up by one of the Chrome extensions I have installed.
knave 5 days ago 0 replies      
To be totally honest, it's part tracking my reading position and part to settle my idle hands & pacify my ocd tendencies
edzme 5 days ago 0 replies      
You all are nuts.
caffeinewriter 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do this, because it helps me remember important points, cause I tend to read highlighted points twiceover or more.
blktiger 5 days ago 0 replies      
I sometimes select text while reading to track my reading position. Sometimes as a nervous tic/add.
robertmarkbram 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes as a bookmark. Mostly however, because lines are too long (I will sometimes resize the browser to fix this).
swah 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like to read longer articles with the diigo highlighter.
gaetan 5 days ago 0 replies      
No, I read the whole page top-down and press the "space" key to scroll down to the next page.
phillc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, it focuses my eyes.

While pair programming, it tends to drive the other person nuts.

MarlonPro 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do that every time. And I don't need any app/add-on for that. Please, no.
cafard 4 days ago 0 replies      
But I do underline, here and there.
pixelden 5 days ago 0 replies      
Compulsively. I hate it when my magic mouse sometimes registers it as a right click.
desslock 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yep...trackpoint on Thinkpads tends to fix this problem for me.
sgornick 4 days ago 0 replies      
And how many also are OCD?
Randgalt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Also to copy the text to look it up in a dictionary
kashif_hn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, to track my reading point and sometimes to increase contrast.
markokrajnc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I used to do this several years ago. Not doing anymore. :-)
tuananh 5 days ago 0 replies      
i select text so that when i scroll down, i can quickly see where i was, to continue reading.
dewiz 4 days ago 0 replies      
correlations to age and wearing glasses would be interesting
mogop 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, to track my reading position
Yes, to increase text contrast
etsimm 5 days ago 0 replies      
No - but I've never used a highlighter in meatspace either.
JacobIrwin 5 days ago 0 replies      
checkout Hakim's fokus.js if you like to highlight while reading, I run the script in console when I am note-taking (hand writing notes, based on browser text) - very convenient!
imechura 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes. I do for multiple reasons
okonomiyaki3000 4 days ago 0 replies      
No I don't. I also don't move my lips while reading.
cnaut 4 days ago 0 replies      
I also do this to scroll the page at the same time.
BjoernKW 5 days ago 0 replies      
I used to do this for scrolling. Weird habit, actually.
walid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, I search for stuff to know more about the subject.
xissy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, but sometimes like difficult papers and articles.
digitalWestie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd say a combination of the top two.
sneilan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, it is a motor tic & possibly a bad habit.
MechaJDI 5 days ago 0 replies      
I typically don't UNLESS I'm on wikipedia...It's way too common for me to look up one article and end up with 10 or so tabs of different topics/words from the first article...
eaton 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, but I'm ashamed to admit it to my friends.
ARRR 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, to track my reading position
Shahor 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, for contrast and reading position
biddyco 5 days ago 0 replies      
woah, this is fascinating to me. I've never heard of someone highlighting text while reading
ryangallen 5 days ago 0 replies      
To mark my place when scrolling.
okor 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, to track my reading position.
axansh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes,for intra-page bookmark
jasonpbecker 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm super surprised people do this. Generational gap? I'm 25 and absolutely never would think to do this.
sherjilozair 5 days ago 0 replies      
It helps me focus.
LiquidEyes 5 days ago 0 replies      
"I like to move it, move it."
unit0x03 5 days ago 0 replies      
Select to copy, of course.
kemmer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes: OCD.
geldedus 4 days ago 0 replies      
yes, helps me to focus on the paragraph i am reading
md8 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, stimming.
lalitm 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, most certainly.
aferrari_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, many times i seek more about a word or expression. Or to translate.
slake 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes. All the time!
chucknibbleston 5 days ago 0 replies      
this is why I love the 3 finger drag in osx.
mchavezi 5 days ago 0 replies      
I do it to make sure I followed what is written.
calleskonto 5 days ago 0 replies      
No, i follow with the mouse but don't select.
levelboy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, I thought about asking this :)
vinojeyapalan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yes sir.
sebtoast 5 days ago 0 replies      
TianCaiBenBen 4 days ago 0 replies      
usmanghani 4 days ago 0 replies      
sharavsambuu 5 days ago 0 replies      
yes, always :)
xcirrian 5 days ago 0 replies      
snjha1712 4 days ago 0 replies      
freeduck 4 days ago 0 replies      
mitchi 5 days ago 0 replies      
List of Twitter Bootstrap Resources bootstraphero.com
359 points by michaelbuckbee  4 days ago   99 comments top 27
nachteilig 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's really interesting that Bootstrap is becoming another layer of abstraction to be found in a lot of projects, like jQuery before it.

So far I'm pretty sure that's not a bad thing.

nlh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a bit late to the comments here, but this is terrific! Thanks Mike.

One suggestion (take it or leave it): Consider adding some sort of simple rating/voting system to the list of resources.

One of my great frustrations with "big lists of things" is that I have an inherent need to evaluate all of them so as to make sure I'm not skipping something important. If I can filter the list a bit -- by seeing, for example, "200 people rated this component as excellent / up voted / etc", that helps. Likewise, it pushes the less-good stuff to the bottom of a section so I might not feel so bad for skipping it.

Just a thought. Either way, awesome resource and thanks for putting it together. Le Bookmarked.

javajosh 4 days ago 1 reply      
Hey Mike, nice list. Don't forget that Meteor has a bootstrap package built-in (http://docs.meteor.com/#bootstrap). You can add bootstrap like this:

    meteor create myapp
cd myapp
meteor add bootstrap

hcarvalhoalves 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think all these misses the point. Bootstrap is not a clean-cut framework meant to be extended, but a starting point to fork and adapt to your own site (hence "bootstrap"). Eventually, all bootstrap codebases diverge in a way no plugin or theme can be integrated anymore.
yesimahuman 4 days ago 1 reply      
Proud to be a part of the Bootstrap ecosystem with my tool Jetstrap. We've got so much work to do it's not even funny, but the community that has grown up around Bootstrap is so energizing. Exciting to see where it goes from here.
coderdude 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised to see that they chose to omit WrapBootstrap, given how the list is presented as being a comprehensive resource. Granted, I'm a bit biased.
maniexx 4 days ago 5 replies      
I think it may be a good occasion to ask the probably stupid question - Why is bootstrap so popular on hackernews?
As far as I am concerned, it seems to be just another CMS. But posts about it make the frontpage almost everyday seemingly. I'm a newb, so if I don't see something obvious, just tell me what to google.
sorich87 4 days ago 1 reply      
You left out https://github.com/sorich87/bootstrap-tour different and more popular than the other tour component you put). ;
reledi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great list. People here may also be interested in a GitHub gist I put together for myself (and which I'm constantly updating). https://gist.github.com/1718200
egor83 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great list, thanks!

Just one note - would you consider adding second level in the table of content? Like:


- Display

- Form

- Input




nickpresta 4 days ago 1 reply      
TWITTER BOOTSTRAP NOTIFICATIONS, FROM NIJIKO YONSKAI is gone: http://nijikokun.github.com/bootstrap-notify/

Thanks for the list!

adamalex 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks @bootstraphero for the multiple Fuel UX mentions. You can also see all the Fuel UX controls in one place here: http://exacttarget.github.com/fuelux
ekaln 4 days ago 1 reply      
For Joomla, it's probably worth mentioning that's it not just an add-on any more.

The whole of version 3 is built with Bootstrap: http://joomla.org/3/

codyguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good work Mike,
Sent you an email request to add bootui.com to the list. It's a template editor + templates. Double click and edit only. No HTML or css expertise required.
josephscott 4 days ago 1 reply      
For news about updates an RSS/ATOM feed would be perfect. I don't want to signup for another email list and following another Twitter account is totally hit or miss on updates.
brebory 4 days ago 1 reply      
Any chance of seeing a responsive build of the site down the line?
mullacnbg 4 days ago 0 replies      
We've just released opensource Bootstrap theme for Sencha ExtJS - http://bootstrap.newbridgegreen.com
soitgoes 4 days ago 1 reply      
I noticed the Django Boilerplate link seems to be dead.
Great list. Thanks.
zrail 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have any examples of the server side component of the FuelUX Datagrid? That looks pretty interesting.
J-H 4 days ago 1 reply      
Man, this is perfect. Definitely a must have bookmark for anyone using bootstrap. I mentioned something like this a while ago on a HN comment (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4595229), so I'm really glad someone came through!

On a side note, Why isn't there a place to add your own resources?

miles_matthias 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best things about bootstrap is how it encourages responsive design and makes it easy to do. Why in the world is any website associated with bootstrap at all not responsive?
jenius 4 days ago 2 replies      
Whatever happened to semantic and readable code?


riccardoforina 4 days ago 1 reply      
After Twitter, I'm here too! Can you please rename "django admin bootstrap" to "django-admin-bootstrapped", which is the correct name of the project?

Btw, that's a massive list :D

tjholowaychuk 4 days ago 1 reply      
i still dont understand what makes a bootstrap plugin, a bootstrap plugin, and not a jquery plugin? is it just the style?
__abc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love me some Bootstrap!
skadamat 4 days ago 1 reply      
Couldn't have made this ugly site using Bootstrap? :P
kategleason 4 days ago 0 replies      
How to set up a safe and secure Web server arstechnica.com
335 points by chinmoy  5 days ago   142 comments top 24
JoeCortopassi 5 days ago 2 replies      
For anyone that wants more resources like this, I've found articles in Linode's library to be very helpful: http://library.linode.com/lamp-guides
jiggy2011 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's also a good idea to install (and configure) at least some basic IDS like tripwire. You should probably have it do checks on a cron job
as well as doing chkrootkit.

Also a good idea to have your log files backed up somewhere else where your server does not have sufficient access to delete (or modify) them.

Also if you have multiple web apps running, chroot them if at all possible so that if something does break out it can't (so easily) wreak havok over your entire filesystem.

If you are using PHP also bare in mind that a common default is for all sessions to be written to /tmp which is world read and writeable. So if others have access to your server they can steal or destroy sessions easily.

I also didn't see mention of an update strategy for security updates. You can use apticron to email you with which updates are available and which are important for security.

You can set updates to go automatically (I recommend security only) but if you are more cautious
you might want to test on a VM first. But keep an eye on them! This is very important, especially if you are managing wordpress etc through apt.

And so many other things that I have probably forgotten.

Having some form of audit (that tripwire can provide) is vital in those "oh fuck" moments where something doesn't seem quite right and you start wondering if you have been pwned but have no real way of actually knowing.

barefoot 4 days ago 5 replies      
"...being locked to IIS as a Web server (or dependent on crippled Windows ports of better Web servers) means you'll be playing in the bush leagues. IIS is found running many huge and powerful websites in the world, but it's rarely selected in a vacuum..."

I sense a little bit of bias.

As a multiplatform developer I can think of a number of reasons why someone might opt to go the Windows Server route. ASP.NET MVC 4 is a first class framework and many prefer it over other popular alternatives on other platforms such as Django, Rails, and Cake. In addition, Visual Studio is arguably the best IDE available and publishing to an IIS server is dead simple.

As for cost, full versions of Visual Studio and Windows Server can both be obtained for free through the DreamSpark program for college students and through the similar BizSpark program for startups and small businesses.

rlpb 4 days ago 2 replies      
If you want a safe and secure Web server, use what your distribution gives you. Don't add third party sources if you can avoid it, ie. don't need features < 1 year old. It's hardly safe and secure if it's not had long enough for people to find problems with it anyway.

Instead, go with what your distribution gives you. The people who put your favourite distribution together work on making the system safe and secure as a whole. People who don't think it is safe and secure file bugs and they get fixed. And you have one place to get all your updates in case fixes are needed.

If you start adding third party sources, you're on your own as to managing any implications of the way you've put it together. Just because each individual component is safe and secure doesn't mean that it is as a whole. For example, Ubuntu add hardening (AppArmor) for various server daemons which you won't get if you just download apache from the project website.

If you need a guide on putting a system together yourself, then you aren't someone who can manage these implications yourself, and you're trusting the guide author in not having made any mistakes. Are you really in a position to judge his competence?

Just use your distribution's standard web server and you'll get your safe and secure Web server in one command.

zdw 4 days ago 3 replies      
Better hardware would be an HP Microserver (which should win the contest for "worst URL ever"):


Has ECC RAM support. Takes 4 3.5" hard disks, and runs very quiet and cool.

buster 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ah well, it's rather a "how i set up a small web server for fiddling around with stuff" not so much a professional article about security. Sorry, but the first page is like "mhh, yeah, geeks hate MS, let's use the other choices" under the hood.
Why? Because it doesn't really mention a technical choice against MS.
Don't get me wrong i would never ever use Windows Server but when i'd write such an article i'd have to find at least a few technical pros and cons for the choices i preset.
"Uhhh, the internet is more like a unixy thing" doesn't cut it.

This goes on with the choice for Ubuntu Server. Why? Is it an article about "safe and secure web server" or about "how does my grandma set up a server"?
There are much more choices in terms of reliability and proven track record like FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Debian, RHEL/CentOS. The choice was made because it's easier to set up and apparently the author is too lazy to _really_ do his homework.

In the end, i'd say if the articles title would be "beginners guide how to setup a server" i wouldn't comlain..

quandrum 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think it's time articles like these start suggesting an infrastructure as code product, like chef or puppet, to do the heavy lifting.

I feel like doing this stuff by hand should be considered insecure and outdated..

dschiptsov 4 days ago 12 replies      
Vurtualization is not for production. Why to have this useless layer, which messes up your CPU caches even more, interfere with you IO and complicates memory model? What for?

Virtualization was build for server providers to make easy money, not for server owners to gain performance advantages.

Vistualization is not for production. Production servers need less code, not more.

It is the same kind of mistake as JVM - we need less code, integrated with OS, not more "isolated" crapware which needs networking, AIO and really quick access to the code from shared libraries.

And, of course, a setup without middle-ware (python-wsgi, etc) and several storage back-ends (redis, postgres) is meaningless.


Well, production is not about having a big server which is almost always 100% idle, and can be partitioned (with KVM, not a third-party product) to make a few semi-independent virtual servers 99% idle. This is virtual, imaginary advantage.

On the other side, your network card and your storage system cannot be partitioned efficiently, despite all they say in commercials. And that VM migration is also nonsense. You are running, say, a MySQL instance. Can you migrate it without a shutdown and then taking a snapshot of an FS? No. So, what migration you're talking about? It is all about your data, not about having a copy of a disk-image.

It is OK to partition development, or 100% idle machines - like almost all those Linode instances, which have a couple of page request in a day - this is what it was made for, same as old plain Apache virtual-hosting. But as long as one needs performance and low latency, all the middle-men must go away.

edtechdev 4 days ago 1 reply      
This guide doesn't cover important things like the firewall and blocking attackers (shorewall, fail2ban) and properly configuring mysql, php, etc.

If you have a small server, I'd really recommend checking out these scripts that assist with configuring and setting up a server very quickly:

I personally used a fork of lowendscript last year to set up some servers, but if I had to set up a new server today, I'd check out some of the other other options at that link, like Minstall: https://github.com/maxexcloo/Minstall
But this Xeoncross lowendscript fork is still very active: https://github.com/Xeoncross/lowendscript

hardik988 4 days ago 4 replies      
Pardon my stupidity, but how would one go about getting an IP address for a server installed at home? Is it a static IP address provided by my ISP, or something else ?
patrickg 4 days ago 2 replies      
What kind of 'top' program is this shown in page 3 (direkt link to the image: http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/webser...)
babarock 4 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks that SSD are useless since most of the time the processing will be bottlenecked by the network overhead?
leadholder 5 days ago 0 replies      
I recently worked on a site run on such a server. I've set up my own servers before, and I think it can be fun, but this time it was the other guy's. I have to say it was pretty annoying because the little things that were not set up properly added up to a website that wouldn't deliver email, a shell environment with awful defaults...yuck. There was a lot of maintenance that was ignored because the guy just didn't have the time. Well, that's what commercial web hosts are for. It's amusing to think that some overburdened IT guys believe they're doing their clients a huge favor by running a vanilla web server in their network closet.
Charlesmigli 4 days ago 0 replies      
Article covers main parts of the webserver setup and gathers very interesting information scattered all over the Internet.
All the nginx setup and config things are REALLY useful, all the more regarding the poor quantity/quality of resources one can find out there. Really useful to me. I wish I had one guide like this when I setup my own webserver.
I made a tl;dr version but the main interesting parts stay all the nginx tricks for me http://tldr.io/tldrs/50b5ccb711c0ea5051000f29.
hakaaak 4 days ago 1 reply      
antihero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there really any benefit to using nginx over Apache 2.4 (Event MPM)?
jkuria 5 days ago 4 replies      
Frankly, articles like these are a deterrent to all but the most techie of people. Why go through all this and shell $270 when you can get an Amazon EC2 instance free for a year!
mrcrassic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I'd just pay $10/month or whatever and spin up a cheap VM on Rackspace, EC2 or similar with 256MB of RAM and a few gigs of disk storage. A simple web server really doesn't need a full on server (or desktop, even).

It's a bit different if you're expecting said site to get 100K+ views per day or is going to host some big database, but even then I'd probably run it in the cloud to save on bandwidth costs.

tzaman 4 days ago 1 reply      
This article would make a really nice screencast that would be much more useful to newbie sysadmins.
0ren 4 days ago 0 replies      

> Temporary files usually start with a dot or a dollar-sign.. to make sure that Nginx never serves any files starting with either of those characters...

> location ~ ~$ { access_log off; log_not_found off; deny all; }

Wouldn't that regex match temporary files ending with ~ (as it should)?

jimfuller 4 days ago 0 replies      
nice introduction article (on mostly how to setup nginx); the title should reflect this instead of focusing on 'safe and secure' ... if one was to store something valuable (lets say cc info) you would want to go far beyond what this article covers. #justsayin
madaxe 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only way to make a server 100% secure is to grind it into dust and fire it into a black hole.
Jailout2000 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a bias. Using Debian and not even mentioning forks like Red Hat. Downvoted, never recommend.
Meet the Obama campaign's $250 million fundraising platform kylerush.net
328 points by kylerush  4 days ago   159 comments top 33
patio11 4 days ago 4 replies      
Friendly advice: your rate just got another zero or two added to it. (This goes to anyone who can write a similar case study, too.)
zaidf 4 days ago 1 reply      
The wrong lesson from this would be to immediately try and get your sites' performance to similar numbers. But what isn't explicitly stated in this post is that at the root of it, these guys first figured out which metrics matter for their goals. Only then did the optimization pay back. In their case, a few seconds can make decent impact because of volume. Someone with 100 uniques/day may have a better metric than load time to optimize.
trotsky 4 days ago 1 reply      
When running numbers like the A/B conversion improvements, how do you model or isolate external factors like "conversion rates increase as election draws closer". Is it correct to assume that no one is willing to continue to run original, unoptimized pages for some percent of visitors as a baseline?
clarky07 4 days ago 1 reply      
At the risk of sounding like a troll, honest question here. Why wasn't the CVV part of this page? Seems like a lot of headaches and bad press could have been avoiding by just actually including it (and you know, less fraudulent donations).

Great work by the way with the optimizations. As patio11 noted, add a 0 or two to your rate and point people to this blog post.

luigi 4 days ago 2 replies      
Can you describe how you set Akamai to host the site? I'm familiar with using S3 to host a static site, and using a CDN to host assets, but it's not clear to me how a CDN can be set to host a full static site. Did contribute.barackobama.com just mirror something like contribute-s3.barackobama.com?

And why Akamai and not Amazon Cloudfront?

tomkin 4 days ago 7 replies      
I see a lot of concern for integration with API, hosting, etc. but what I don't see is disgust. Disgust because to become president of the US, you must participate in this monumental financial circus of who spends what. Is this what people want? To know the best candidate will need to raise over a billion dollars to compete? Campaign costs should be in line with needs. Remember when Color got $40 mil for doing basically what other startups manage to do with a couple thousand dollars? Why would HN readers champion this kind of spending? The reasons are probably in line with the SuperPAC reasoning, which is "in order to change the game, you must play within the game's rules". Sure. But when do you say enough is enough? In Canada, our candidates spend on their campaign, but dollar-for-dollar, they are getting more done with less money. Somehow.
akamaka 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for posting this fantastic write-up! I'm looking forward to reading more.

Does anyone know if other team members from the campaign have publicly discussed how other aspects of the online campaign worked? (Such as analytics, ads, CRM, social media, etc)

ccarpenterg 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a very good example of UI optimization: http://cdn.kylerush.org/kr/images/contribute-before-after-sc...
dccoolgai 4 days ago 2 replies      
First of all, congratulations and thank you for doing the work you did to re-elect the president. Your write-up there is really interesting. I have a couple questions:

1. According to FEC reports, Blue State Digital made millions of dollars working with OFA... With that in mind, why is it that the campaign tech team had to build the redundant donation API? You would think for millions of dollars BSD probably should handle that, no? I only ask because in all the post-election stories a big theme is the "we decided to do it in house"...which makes sense...but begs the question - If you were "doing it all in house" then why was this third party vendor making so much bank?

2. Since we have you here on HN, can you tell us (very generally) what you and the other OFA Chicago Digital/Tech/Analytics people are going to be doing now? Going back into politics? Forming political/non-political startups?

sshconnection 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems a little dubious to claim that the increase in donations was a direct result of increased speed. The nature of the election cycle seems like more donations would take place as campaigning ramped up and the election date drew nearer. Were those kind of external factors accounted for in your analysis?

Still, very interesting writeup and congrats!

stupandaus 4 days ago 1 reply      
Reading this write-up after having read Nate Silver's post[1] today on how the Republican party has a harder time getting Silicon Valley talent leads to an interesting thought. Going forward the party that can successfully target the younger, smarter base will have a SUBSTANTIAL advantage in developing better systems. Assuming there is not some ceiling on how much better technology can impact efficiency, these systems will translate to exponentially more effective platforms for the party with the brightest youth.

[1]: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/in-silic...

joering2 4 days ago 5 replies      
Thanks for the write-up.

Too bad that there were no checks in place to determine who is actually contributing. For that reason, many non-citizens were able to contribute, some from questionable places, and even Osama ibn Laden had posthumously donated, receiving congratulation later from Barrack's wife thanking him for his donation [1].

Since Romney was rejecting contributions that could not be confirmed as of where they came from, this race in terms of fund-rising was skewed from a get-go. Imagine a marathon where everyone runs on their feet and you -- against the rules -- are using a bicycle. Guess who's gonna win?

[1] http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/obama-accepts-osama-bin-laden-don...

For those who hate googling:




faisalchohan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do not agree to it. Has any one seen the Obama campaign spending on software and infrastructure. They spend half a million dollar on Microsoft software (the highest spending), and then all the highlights of the campaign are coming from Open source software.

What was the benefit of spending on Microsoft software. Why it is always that money is spent on Microsoft and benefits are highlighted of using open source software.

brown9-2 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is fascinating, thank you for the writeup.

I have a question about the donation API though, I feel like I am missing something:

We settled on a very simple solution of turning the hosted platform into a REST API. The only big change was adding JSON as an output option instead of HTML... We consumed the newly created donation API using JavaScript on static HTML pages which were served by our CDN (Akamai).

What operations did this API handle? Were donation submissions being sent from the user's browser to this API?

By the way, I think there might be a bug with your PJAX code on kylerush.net - when you click links to other parts of the site or to read other articles, the page title displayed in the browser stays as the initial title from the initial HTTP request.

delano 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty cool that Jekyll played a role in the campaign.
tterrace 4 days ago 1 reply      
Kyle, great post. You said the final donation was made via an XHR POST, did you guys have a plan B for users without JavaScript or were the numbers small enough to ignore?
danso 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, all of that with Jekyll as the CMS generator. I've been using Jekyll to generate static sites and have been proud that mass traffic rushes don't bring them down...but I haven't used it for anything that generates real revenue
rynop 4 days ago 0 replies      
How much did the infrastructure cost - roughly? I know your not gonna give it to me, but breakdown of CDN vs AWS costs would be sweet to know.
rbanffy 4 days ago 0 replies      
There were a couple comments about the legality of foreign donations, but I wonder whether foreigners can volunteer for a campaign.

Some causes are worth the hassle.

tlear 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am curious where this will lead the next election, I think it is quite possible that 2billion mark will be broken as everyone is looking at this an will be getting ready for the next round in 4 years. It is quite depressing actually
gideon_b 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love this: the $1.1B Obama campaign uses nearly the same stack as my single page personal website.
maximveksler 3 days ago 0 replies      
A tech* question:

How did you implement the fail-over to a different amazon region when one fails? I'm interested in common approaches to this SPOF and what have been done in this case.

*seeing the discussion that is going on around this post, it almost feels off-topic to post a technical question :)

ckluis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Simplifying the donation form seems like such a big, duh, but glad to see it was tested.

Great results (speaking from the management/tech side)

lindstorm 3 days ago 0 replies      
nckbz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice write up! :) It's really nice to see A/B testing promoted, as well as, a case for static sites integrated with web services. Those are the types of technologies I'm really looking forward to seeing grow in our industry.
benbunk 4 days ago 1 reply      
How many pages is Jekyll serving?
iblaine 4 days ago 0 replies      
Who do you have to know to go from CSU Fullerton to a job like that? Wow.
naterosenberg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Kyle, amazing post! You mentioned that the 60% speed increase led to a 14% donation increase. You used webpagetest.org to measure the 60% speed increase. How did you measure the donation increase? Is there some sort of A/B tool for CDNs to help quantify the impact of speed improvements on CR?
sakri 4 days ago 1 reply      
Kyle is right up there with whoever filmed the 47% video. Thanks!
mldriggs 4 days ago 0 replies      
So what're you doing now that the campaign is over?!? :)
scottmcleod 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the writeup
alvaromuir 4 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on amazing work.
tonetheman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool stuff
Redis crashes - a small rant about software reliability antirez.com
322 points by hnbascht  5 days ago   107 comments top 17
jgrahamc 5 days ago 2 replies      
His point about logging registers and stack is interesting. Many years ago I worked on some software that ran on Windows NT 4.0 and we had a weird crash from a customer who sent in a screen shot of a GPF like this: http://pisoft.ru/verstak/insider/cwfgpf1.gif

From it I was able to figure out what was wrong with the C++ program. Notice that the GPF lists the instructions at CS:EIP (the instruction pointer of the running program) and so it was possible by generating assembler output from the C++ program to identify the function/method being executed. From the registers it was possible to identify that one of the parameters was a null pointer (something like ECX being 00000000) and from that information work back up the code to figure out under what conditions that pointer could be null.

Just from that screenshot the bug was identified and fixed.

dap 5 days ago 3 replies      
Great post, showing admirable dedication to software reliability and a solid understanding of memory issues.

One of the suggestions was that the kernel could do more. Solaris-based systems (illumos, SmartOS, OmniOS, etc.) do detect both correctable and uncorrectable memory issues. Errors may still cause a process to crash, but they also raise faults to notify system administrators what's happened. You don't have to guess whether you experienced a DIMM failure. After such errors, the OS then removes faulty pages from service. Of course, none of this has any performance impact until an error occurs, and then the impact is pretty minimal.

There's a fuller explanation here:

CrLf 5 days ago 2 replies      
I find this idea of a lack of ECC memory on servers disturbing... This is the default on almost all rack mountable servers from the likes of HP or IBM. Of course, people use all kinds of sub-standard hardware for "servers" on the cheap, and they get what they pay for.

I haven't seen a server without ECC memory for years. I don't even consider running anything in production without ECC memory, let alone VM hypervisors. I find it pretty hard to believe that EC2 instances run on non-ECC memory hosts, risking serious data loss for their clients.

Memory errors can be catastrophic. Just imagine a single bit flip in some in-memory filesystem data structure: the OS just happily goes on corrupting your files, assuming everything's OK, until you notice it and half your data is already lost.

Been there (on a development box, but nevertheless).

shin_lao 5 days ago 3 replies      
This is an interesting post, especially the part about memory testing.

We have a simple policy: ECC memory is required to run our software in production. Failure to do so voids the warranty.

js2 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's crazy that an application should have to test memory. It should simply be handled by the HW and OS. e.g. Some details about how Sun/Solaris deal with memory errors:


Note the section on DRAM scrubbing, which I was reminded of from the original article's suggestion on having the kernel scan for memory errors. (I remember when Sun implemented scrubbing, I believe in response to a manufacturing issue that compromised the reliability of some DIMMs.)

apaprocki 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can't agree with this more.. And he is just talking about logging crashes. One of the best debugging tools you have at your disposal in a large system (a lot of programmers contributing code -- bugs can be anywhere) is logging the same stack information in a quick fashion under normal operation in strange circumstances so as not to slow down the production software. The slowest part of printing that information out is the symbol resolution in the binary of the stack addresses to symbol names. This part of the debugging output can be done "offline" in a helper viewer binary and does not need to be done in the critical path. We frequently output stack traces as strings of hex addresses detectable by a regex appended to a log message. The log viewer transforms this back into an actual symbolic stack trace at viewing time to avoid the hit of resolving all the symbols in the hot path.
erichocean 5 days ago 1 reply      
Although we use ECC in our servers already, I've recently been experimenting with hashing object contents in memory using a CityHash variant. The hash is checked when the object moves on chip (into cache), and re-computed before the object is stored back into RAM when it's been updated.

Although our production code is written in C, I'm not particularly worried about detecting wild writes, because we use pointer checking algorithms to detect/prevent them in the compiler. (Of course, that could be buggy too...)

What I'm trying to catch are wild writes from other devices that have access to RAM. Anyway, this is far from production code so far, but hashing has already been very successful at keeping data structures on disk consistent (a la ZFS, git), so applying the same approach to memory seems like the next step.

The speed hit is surprisingly low, 10-20%, and when you put it that way, it's like running your software on a 6 month old computer. So much of the safety stuff we refuse to do "for performance" would be like running on top-of-the-line hardware three years ago, but safely. That seems like a worthwhile trade to me...

P.s. Are people really not burning in their server hardware with memtest86? We run it for 7 days on all new hardware, and I figured that was pretty standard...

codeflo 5 days ago 0 replies      
In theory, there's nothing stopping the OS from remapping the pages of your address space to different physical RAM locations at any point during your test. So even if you have a reproducible bit error that caused the crash, there's a chance that the defect memory region is not actually touched during the memory test.

Now, this may not be such a huge problem in practice because the OS is unlikely to move pages around unless it's forced to swap. But that depends on details of the OS paging algorithm and your server load.

nicpottier 5 days ago 0 replies      
This kind of attention to detail is all too rare these days. I love Redis, because I have never, not once, ever had to wonder whether it was doing its job. It is like a constant, always running, always doing a good job and getting out of the way.

It only does a few things, but it does them exceedingly well. Just like nginx, I know it will be fast and reliable, and it is this kind of crazed attention to detail that gets it there.

jimwhitson 5 days ago 1 reply      
At IBM, we were very keen on what we called 'FFDC' - 'first- failure data capture'. This meant having enough layers of error-detection, ideally all the way down to the metal, so that failures could be detected cleanly and logged before (possibly) going down, allowing our devs to reproduce and fix customer bugs. Naturally it wasn't perfect, and it depending on lots of very tedious planning meetings, but on the stuff I worked with (storage devices mainly) it was remarkably effective.

In my experience in more 'agile' firms - startups, web dev shops and so on - it would be very hard to make a scheme like this work well, because of all the grinding bureaucracy, fiddly spec-matching and endless manual testing required, as well as the importance of controlling - and deeply understanding - the whole stack. Nonetheless, for infrastructure projects like Redis, I can see value in having engineering effort put explicitly into making 'prettier crashes'.

ComputerGuru 5 days ago 4 replies      
Page is down. Here is a formatted copy: https://gist.github.com/4154289
grundprinzip 5 days ago 0 replies      
I totally like this post, because main-memory based software systems will become the future for all kinds of applications. Thus, handling errors on this side will become more important as well.

Here are my additional two cents: At least on X86 systems, to check small memory regions without effects on the CPU cache can be implemented using non-temporal writes that will directly force the CPU to write the memory back to memory. The instruction required for this is called movntdq and is generated by the SSE2 intrinsic _mm_stream_si128().

tylerneylon 4 days ago 0 replies      
The memory check algorithm is a nice solution of the challenges he presents - easy to understand and effective.

Here is a variation which, unless I'm missing something, would be a little simpler still and require less full-memory loops:

1. Count #1's in memory (possibly mod N to avoid overflow).
2. Invert memory.
3. Count #0's in memory.
4 Invert memory.

I think this would catch the same errors (stuck-as-0 or stuck-as-1 bits).

One difficulty is that multiple errors could cancel each other out, at which point you can do things like add checkpoints in the aggregation, or track more signals such as number of 01's vs number of 10's. In the end, this is like an inversion-friendly CRC.

BoredAstronaut 5 days ago 2 replies      
This post reminded me of my time as a consulting systems support specialist. Lots of weird problem turned out to be bad hardware. Usually memory or disk, sometimes bad logic boards. For end users, this would often lead to complete freezing of the computer, so it was less likely to be blamed on broken software, but there were still many times it was hard to be sure. Desktop OS software can flake out in strange ways due to memory problems. I used to run a lot of memory tests as a matter of course.

I think the title of the article could be more accurate, considering how much is devoted not to issues about software reliability per se, but to distinguishing between unreliable software and unreliable hardware. I think an implicit assumption in most discussions about software reliability is that the hardware has been verified.

I personally do not think that it is the responsibility of a database to perform diagnostics on its host system, although I can sympathize with the pragmatic requirement.

When I am determining the cause of a software failure or crash, the very first thing I always want to know is: is the problem reproducible? If not, the bug report is automatically classified as suspect. It's usually not feasible to investigate a failure that only happened once and cannot be reproduced. Ideally, the problem can be reproduced on two different machines.

What we're always looking for when investigating a bug are ways to increase our confidence that we know the situation (or class of situation) in which the bug arises. And one way to do this is to eliminate as many variables as possible. As a support specialists trying to solve a faulty computer or program, I followed the same course: isolate the cause by a process of elimination. When everything else has been eliminated, whatever you are left with is the cause.

I'm still all jonesed up for a good discussion about software reliability. antirez raised interesting questions about how to define software that is working properly or not. While I'm all for testing, there are ways to design and architect software that makes it more or less amenable to testing. Or more specifically, to make it easier or harder to provide full coverage.

I've always been intrigued by the idea that the most reliable software programs are usually compilers. I believe that is because computer languages are amongst the most carefully specified kind of program input. Whereas so many computer programs accept very poorly specified kinds of input, like user interface actions mixed with text and network traffic, which is at higher risk of having ambiguous elements. (For all their complexity, compilers have it easier in some regards: they have a very specific job to do, and they only run briefly in batch operations, producing a single output from a single input. Any data mutations originate from within the compiler itself, not from the inputs they are processing.)

In any case, I believe that the key to reliable programs depends upon the a complete and unambiguous definition of any and all data types used by those programs, as well as complete and unambiguous definitions of the legitimate mutations that can be made to those data types. If we can guarantee that only valid data is provided to an operation, and guarantee that each such operation produces only legitimate data, then we reduce the chances of corrupting our data. (Transactional memory is such an awesome thing. I only wish it was available in C family languages.)

One of my crazy ideas is that all programs should have a "pure" kernel with a single interface, either a text or binary language interface, and this kernel is the only part that can access user data. Any other tool has to be built on top of this. So this would include any application built with a database back-end.

I suppose that a lot of Hacker News readers, being web developers, already work on products featuring such partitioning. But for desktop software developers who work with their own in-memory data structures and their own disk file formats, it's not so common or self-evident. Then again, even programs that do rely on a dedicated external data store also keep a lot of other kinds of data around, which may not be true user data, but can still be corrupted and cause either crashes or program misbehaviour.

In any case, I suspect that this is going to be an inevitable side-effect of various security initiatives for desktop software, like Apple's XPC. The same techniques used to partition different parts of a program to restrict their access to different resources often lead to also partitioning operations on different kinds of data, including transient representations in the user interface.

Can a program like Redis be further decomposed into layers to handle tasks focussed on different kinds of data to achieve even better operational isolation, and thereby make it easier to find and fix bugs?

chewxy 5 days ago 0 replies      
And people wonder why I recommend redis. Having run redis for over 1.5 years on production systems as a heavy cache, a named queue and memoization tool (on the same machine), redis has never once failed me. It's clear with antirez's blog post, his attention to detail.

This post is fantastic.

lucian1900 5 days ago 10 replies      
Perhaps using safer languages (and languages with better error reporting) would be a solution to these kinds of problems.
pnathan 5 days ago 0 replies      
there is an approach to hard real time software where antirez's idea for a memory checker is done.
Staples Announces In-Store 3D Printing Service wired.com
306 points by swohns  3 days ago   78 comments top 17
sawyer 3 days ago 5 replies      
Minor nitpick with the title - the 3D printing will not be done in store (yet), it will be done offsite and shipped for pick up in store.
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a fascinating announcement on two levels, the first is that these guys believe there is enough of a market to support the service, and two that the printers themselves are nominally turning cellulose back into wood carvings.

Has anyone seen a demo print from these guys? Something you could hold? I'm curious about three things: 1) relative density, 2) durability over time, 3) relative strengths in compression and tension.

noonespecial 3 days ago 0 replies      
How well it works, or even how well it competes with other online offerings isn't important. The most important thing about this development is that there's going to be a sign in the store advertising this service.

Regular people asking "What is this '3d printing' thing" is a huge step towards mainstreaming it.

nileshtrivedi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was curious about the price of MCOR IRIS printer mentioned and found this:

The Mcor IRIS can be ordered today through Mcor's worldwide reseller network for December delivery
at €11,300 (£10,200 or $15,866 USD), the manufacturer's suggested retail price per year for the three-
year Free D plan. The unique Free D plan includes machine use, free materials and service, and reflects
Mcor's commitment to unfettered innovation " encouraging access to and use of powerful 3D printing technology. Instead of discouraging use through expensive consumables, the company rewards use with a flat price.


jtchang 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Staples would be the last place I'd guess disruption coming from for the 3d printing industry.

Now when can I download a pirated schematic of an iphone and send it off to staples to get a fully working product.

qq66 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the way that 3D printing will take off before in-home 3D printing -- instead of having to get a small part or prototype shipped 2,000 miles, you'll drive 5 miles to your nearest Staples.
hansy 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a brilliant move by Staples.

- Get people through their doors (to ultimately browse and purchase stuff)

- Associate 3D printing with the Staples brand so that when personal units hit the market, people will "know" where to buy them

startupfounder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have an idea of what their cost structure will be and time frame for coming to the USA? Are there any other business that offer a service like this in the US?
nickpinkston 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's neat is that the MCOR printer uses A4 printer paper & PVA (Elmer's Glue) - so it's cheap and very-human safe (even more than the FDM type).
johnmurch 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great step imho.

I wish other large box stores would step up to the plate aka BestBuy. BestBuy should be reaching out to successful Kickstarter projects and start selling them in stores.
e.g. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/flomio/flojack-nfc-for-i... or http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thingm/blink1-the-usb-rg... or even http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pimoroni/picade-the-arca...

As for Staples other services - they still need to make it "easy". Focus on deals for startups like creating notepads, stamps, etc. monthly subscription and/or better design/offers. SXSW deals, etc.
Stuff they already do but don't market as aggressive.

Just my $0.02

klinquist 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if they would allow me to 3D print something they already sell in the store - for a cheaper price.
andyjohnson0 2 days ago 0 replies      
This made me think of William Gibson's book Idoru [1]. A entertainment celebrity AI takes advantage of a worldwide convenience stores' installation of nanotech object printers to enter the physical world by creating thousands of bodies running its personality. Written in 1996.

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

anigbrowl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Staples Easy 3D will launch in the Netherlands and Belgium

This partly because Mcor, the printer manufacturer, is European, but I suspect also because there's more demand in Europe thanks to the ubiquity of fast cheap broadband. It disturbs me that the US is falling behind in the digital infrastructure stakes.

biturd 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how long this company has been around and how visible they are. From days ago Iris used to be the name in pre-press digital proofing. Before you went to press, you better get an Iris or a ChromaPress to be certain everything was ok.

Even now, their printers are pretty heavily saturated within google image search. If not the sane company, I'm smelling a name change or a trademark issue.


TSR830-10Q 2 days ago 0 replies      
Random comment: Great to see this, Mcor technologies started in a little village in Ireland (the next village over from me).
I called them once and asked if they had a bureau service. They put me directly on to one of the founders who was really friendly and knowledgeable (we started chatting about C++, OpenGL & slicing algorithms). I tried to get some of my best graduates (I lecture on OpenGL) to apply for their C++ jobs but most of my graduates have a Dublin/City-only view of the world and I never could convince them to interview for it.
jcfrei 3 days ago 1 reply      
interesting to see that what apperently matters most to prospective 3d printing users is the availability of a large color palette. I'm sure staples did extensive research and I believe future 3d printers will not spread into every household until the pieces can be colored in every way imaginable (even if it's just a last step surface paint).
rmrfrmrf 3 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like that would be a waste of paper/natural resources.
JPL director: Curiosity may have found organic, not biological molecules lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it
296 points by pitiburi  4 days ago   162 comments top 25
tokenadult 4 days ago 2 replies      
This news was anticipated by an article in The Guardian as the speculation was building up, "Whatever the Curiosity rover has found, it's not evidence of life on Mars."


The author's evidence for that bold headline claim was earlier reporting on the issue as the speculation built up.

"Whatever Curiosity has found, it is not evidence for life on Mars. It can't be. Curiosity is not designed to look for life. Grotzinger has stated this himself. In a Nasa video about the mission, he says, 'Curiosity is not a life detection mission. We're not actually looking for life; we don't have the ability to detect life if it was there.'

"Following up the internet speculation, Jeffrey Kluger of Time talked to Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory spokesperson Guy Webster and was told, 'It won't be earthshaking, but it will be interesting.'"

Organic molecules (molecules containing carbon) are commonplace in many lifeless places around the Solar system, so this is hardly surprising. It is moderately interesting, but certainly not earthshaking, as previously reported.

AFTER EDIT: Replying to the first reply kindly posted to my comment,

I'm not arguing whether Curiosity has found evidence for life on Mars or not but I would like to point out a logical fallacy in the cited argument; in particular, the statement "device X wasn't designed to do Y" does not imply "device X can't do Y".

I take the statement made by the NASA planners at face value for a simple reason. While the Curiosity rover, with its cameras, would surely be able to detect Martian megafauna, if there were such a thing, for example a Martian elephant, I trust the statement that Curiosity is incapable of providing unambiguous evidence of microorganisms on Mars. I cited the Guardian article in my first posting of this comment. The issue of detecting life, or not, was surely discussed by the NASA mission planners, who included astute exobiologists. The mission profile of Curiosity does not include a task of detecting life on Mars, and the instruments on Curiosity are not reliable for distinguishing organic molecules made by living microorganisms from organic molecules made by purely physical processes. Whatever Curiosity detects with its molecular analysis instruments, it cannot be taken as evidence for life on Mars. That is the statement of the article, based on interviews with people knowledgeable about the planning of the mission, and that is a credible statement, given the amount of thought the mission planners must have devoted to this issue.

goldfeld 4 days ago 14 replies      
I want to summarize and add some commentary to the article[1] posted by macu as a reply to another comment.

It's amazingly interesting and well argued. In short, the author says first that any sufficiently advanced civilization will at one point send self-replicating probes that will eventually colonize all of the galaxy and even universe. And it takes only one match to light a fire, and this is important--that is, for a sufficiently advanced planet, it would take only one rebel, one mad scientist, to set the colonization, by robots, of every habitable body in motion.

Assuming the above is true, then why do we not see any sign of these probes? It follows that there must be a Great Filter that prevented them from ever being created. Things that qualify as such a filter are not plenty, and include the original formation of life and the transition from procaryotic to eucaryotic (taking a couple billion years).

Thus if we find life so easily formed on Mars or anywhere else (especially eucaryotic cells), we can assume these past events are not really Great Filters. Then, the only reason we haven't found a single probe is that any sufficiently advanced civilization destroys itself before it ever gets to that point. If it's not nuclear weapons, then there must exist technologies that are sure on our path to discovery while at the same time guaranteeing our extinction--again, think in terms of things that only need one outlier to use it in a way that compromises the existence of all on Earth for good.

So he concludes that we must pray that we never find life anywhere else, because it would in turn give us hope (but not assure us) that there might exist no Great Filter ahead of us, and the Great Filter was indeed in our conception as life--thus we are the one single unfathomably lucky planet to ever have harbored life. If nothing potentially impedes our expansion, we will be the one sending probes and expanding to everywhere.

Adding my own expansion on this, I believe it's extremely unlikely that there is some irrevocably cataclysmical tech to be discovered before ever we are able to send self-replicating probes--ones who can mine the raw materials needed for unbounded expansion.

I don't think we're that far from that point, and taking from our own anecdotal existence since it's the only one there is, even if we do annihilate ourselves before sending them out by chance, other civilizations might not have done so, if they existed. Thus indeed the only tech that would assure a Great Filter is the self-replicating technology itself. And that is a strong point--the author seems to ignore the fact that these probes wouldn't really be the expansion of humanity, it would be the expansion of drones. And what might the precursor techs for such a replicating machine look like? If superior AI is needed at any rate, we could think that the tech leading to sure extinction is indeed robots who decimate us humans. And since they would do this as early as chance would afford it, the robots eliminating us would be as dumb as possible--thus we can assume they would be incapable of advancing technology on their own; or of coordinating an event like launching themselves into space, and thus would never leave Earth. In this scenario, we can assume every civilization that ever got a shot in going to space ended up extinct, their planet ridden with dumb self-replicating robots who can never launch themselves into space.

Since self-replicating robots are the hypothesis of the author's argument, then indeed it makes sense that every potential civilization either never reached this tech (the Great Filter is in life's conception, or otherwise somehow denies the existence of self-replicating robots), or it must absolutely reach it, in order to colonize space, but in doing so it declares it's extinction.

So, like the author, I also hope[2] that we never find life elsewhere, that we might put our tiny hopes in thriving as a race, the only one that ever existed.

[1]: http://www.nickbostrom.com/extraterrestrial.pdf

[2]: Just an hour ago, I would have jumped with joy if this NASA announcement was indeed confirming life.

anigbrowl 4 days ago 2 replies      
Organic in this context means carbon-bearing - a necessity for life (as we know it), but not direct evidence of it. Encouraging, though!


phreeza 4 days ago 1 reply      
Organic molecules on mars are nothing new. Methane had been shown in very low concentrations using remote sensing (spectral) methods, but had not been detected directly on Mars so far by Curiosity. This might mean that it has now detected methane after all.

The reason why methane would be exciting is that it is broken down by UV radiation, so there must be some persistent source of it on the planet for a sustained presence.

InclinedPlane 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is just a regurgitation of a speculative statement by an uninvolved scientist. What is this, TMZ?
fredley 4 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone please explain the difference between an organic molecule and a biological molecule?
rpm4321 4 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know how this jives with Slate and The Atlantic reporting yesterday that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding and that no big discovery had been made?


Edit: Here are similar stories from PC Magazine and Mashable, which was apparently the original source of all of these articles:



pitiburi 4 days ago 2 replies      
Just to clarify.
This guy -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Elachi
in a conference in Rome today said that what they found in Mars was organic molecules. He said it was a "perhaps" because they still have to check the data. He also said that Curiosity can not say if an organic molecule is biological or not, so all they can say is that there are organic molecules. Again, perhaps, until the data checking ends and full data is presented.

All this reported by ANSA.

PD: it was in a conference in La Sapienza, in Rome, hardly a remote and/or obscure university/place.

pitiburi 4 days ago 3 replies      
Please keep in mind that Curiosity has not the capability to recognize biological molecules, only organic ones. That means that even if it finds current life, it will only be able to recognize the presence of organic compounds. That is why the "organic, not biological"; it may well be biological, but Curiosity cannot know.
dendory 4 days ago 3 replies      
Edit: It seems more Italian newspapers are reporting this quote than just this one site, but for an announcement of this importance, I'm still not going to believe it until we get some more confirmation.
forgotAgain 4 days ago 1 reply      
NASA seems to be backing off this:

Guy Webster, a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which operates Curiosity, said the findings would be “interesting” rather than “earthshaking.”

from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/science/space/undisclosed-...

politician 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am quite annoyed with the shield of political correctness that the scientific community has to wield w.r.t the "life on Mars" issues in order to preempt yellow journalists who will, without a doubt, use any turn of phrase to rile up the various factions for and against to generate clicks, sales, and burnings-at-stakes.

As if our opinions change the chemistry of a planet none of us have ever been to.

micahgoulart 4 days ago 0 replies      
Actually it's been confirmed to be just a big misunderstanding. The NASA director was talking about the whole mission as being "one for the history books". More details here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2012/11/27/nasa_mars_...
kamaal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Strange that none of the mainstream media has covered this.

Can anybody verify if this news is true? Or its from a trust worthy source?

netcan 4 days ago 1 reply      
What exactly is the relationship between organic molecules & life?
forgotAgain 4 days ago 0 replies      
This has become an example of an organization losing control of it's PR when it goes viral. This is damaging to the credibility of those involved. If / when the details are given they will be "historic" either for their scientific importance or the hit it has done to NASA.
zerostar07 4 days ago 0 replies      
How can they be sure it's not earthly contamination?
Achshar 4 days ago 0 replies      
If they found organic molecules in the very first test then it says something. The size of sample was very small and from an average patch of crust.
Syssiphus 4 days ago 1 reply      
The keyword here is 'perhaps'.
trafnar 4 days ago 1 reply      
may have found
CuriousityCure 4 days ago 1 reply      
The majority of any existing life would be subterranean as the article states.
fondue 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I'm pretty naive in wishing they'd accidently rolled over a fossil.
codeulike 4 days ago 0 replies      
They have Organic Farming on Mars!
Oh, wait ...
Syrian Internet Is Off The Air renesys.com
294 points by charliesome  3 days ago   57 comments top 18
bitcartel 3 days ago 5 replies      
Maybe time to name and shame? In the following news, the name of the country has been replaced with Syria. Can you guess the country? Bonus points if you know the year.

"For hundreds of thousands of Syrians, getting to work, school or the market has been virtually impossible since Syria's latest anti-terror campaign began. Now, they won't be able to get online, either."
"The Syrian army stormed the office building where six employees were believed to be staying in order to maintain Internet service during this difficult time"
"Explosions were heard and the fate of the six employees is unknown."

"Syria cuts off internet access. Most of the major internet service providers in Syria are offline following week-long protests. Syria appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night"
"Every Syrian provider, every business, bank, internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office that relied on the big four Syrians ISPs for their internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world."

"What Internet? Syria region cut off 6 months."
"20 million people without links to the outside world since the government blocked virtually online access, text messages and international phone calls after ethnic riots in July. It's the largest and longest such blackout in the world, observers say."
"Residents are without Internet links unless they flee to farflung places... One customer had traveled 750 miles just to get online."
"Region now has no e-mail. No blogs. No instant messaging. The government this month promised Internet access would resume "gradually," but it also said the same thing in July and not much has changed. So far, only four restricted Web sites, half of them state-run media, have returned."

Answers (link shortened so no cheating!)
[1] http://goo.gl/IpcrA
[2] http://goo.gl/WewSI
[3] http://goo.gl/BaFli

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
Did anyone else note the similarity with Vernor Vinge's excellent fiction 'A Fire Upon the Deep' and that headline? I guess it is going to be one of the metrics of civil war state if the country's Internet connectivity begins to fluctuate.
flexd 3 days ago 1 reply      
The article says they lost the connection, and also that it was restored a few hours later as far as I can see. I might be wrong but the title makes this out to be something they did on purpose, permanently. Which does not seem the case.
alx 3 days ago 1 reply      
btilly 3 days ago 2 replies      
During the Arab Spring, several countries blocked the entire Internet.

As the example of Egypt illustrates, this was usually a bad mood for the regime.

jeromeflipo 3 days ago 5 replies      
rdl 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be a fun time to have VSAT IP network bandwidth available over Syria -- there's probably a lot of space capacity since the US pulled out of Iraq (the US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were basically the best thing to happen to the satellite networking industry ever).

You can pretty easily get a $1k earth station which can fit in the back of your car and set up in 30 minutes by someone with an 8th grade education and ~4h of training.

cypherpunks01 3 days ago 0 replies      
What are the best blogs/pages to watch for internet network news like this?
charonn0 3 days ago 2 replies      
If history serves as an example, the Syrian government is desperate and on the verge of collapse.
paraschopra 3 days ago 0 replies      
hmexx 3 days ago 2 replies      
Try restarting the router
garazy 3 days ago 1 reply      
How relatively easy is this to do for governments? Are there systems in place in other countries which makes this extremely complex/impossible to do?
alicesa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shape of things to come :(
EGreg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here comes Anonymous lol
mirzmaster 3 days ago 0 replies      
A communications disruption can mean only one thing -- invasion.
shaaaaawn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Skrillex can't even drop it this hard
benjlang 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anonymous, now's the time for you guys to attack Syrian government properties online.
Alertify.js github.com
292 points by googletron  4 days ago   75 comments top 32
JoeCortopassi 4 days ago 7 replies      
Very cool library! The one thing all of these type of things lack (e.g. this, dojo.dialog()) is that they are non-blocking to the execution thread, unlike alert()/confirm()/prompt(). I know it's not their fault, javascript doesn't allow this natively, but i feel like that would be immensely useful for general user input, form validation and the like. Yes, I am aware that it can be done currently through workarounds, I'm just saying that allowing certain native objects to be blocking upon further user input, would be immensely useful and save code readability

EDIT: Care to explain why I'm getting downvoted? Said nothing offensive, and I'm clearly on-topic.

nailer 4 days ago 1 reply      
Since nobody seems to have noticed yet: bonus points for using native methods and not using JQuery.
danso 4 days ago 3 replies      
Pretty slick, animation-wise. If I could make one design-layman suggestion...the thick, black border belies the unobtrusiveness of the plugin. Maybe a lighter, thinner border would be a better fit for the use-case of this plugin?
tlrobinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's rather annoying it's modal but leaves most of the page visible and unresponsive to clicks. Maybe dim the background slightly?
lancefisher 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's the examples link: http://fabien-d.github.com/alertify.js/

I love that someone already made a pull request to update the readme with it.

duncans 4 days ago 0 replies      
One concern is the ordering of buttons. Windows users will be used to OK/Cancel whereas on OS X, etc Cancel/OK is the norm. I wonder if this is something this library should handle?
X-Istence 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the "prompt dialog" the buttons don't get highlighted when I tab over to them ... so instead my browsers buttons get highlighted, and I end up hitting back instead of Ok or Cancel...
corwinstephen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was literally talking to someone yesterday about how I couldn't believe a plugin like this didn't exist yet. Long overdue. Well done!
jarcoal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great on my iPhone. Thanks for the nice lib!
abredow 4 days ago 1 reply      
This looks beautiful. But I'm curious, do users no longer expect/like their platform's native dialogs for these things?
electic 4 days ago 2 replies      
HALP! Does anyone know of a jQuery plugin that has notifications like they do on OSX. For example, when you raise the volume or mute you see that rounded transparent square? Is there something like that for the web?
voltagex_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very slick. The only thing I'd add would be Chrome desktop notifications (optional) for plain alerts.
Kroem3r 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. Thanks for sharing. I think that I'd like to see the ability to <tab> off the dialog onto the underlying document restricted. The concept of 'semi-modal' is pervasive but undefined :)
dan_b 4 days ago 1 reply      
Really nice smooth animation.

It would be nice if the alerts appeared in the centre of the screen though... I find that jerking my eyes up to the top of the screen and then back down to what I was looking at quite intrusive.

eddiegroves 4 days ago 0 replies      
Degrades perfectly down to IE7, great example on how to do this - the design and functionality become less and less polished yet it still does the core tasks accurately.
fox91 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love it but I actually don't understand why you decided to put two completely separated features in a single library: the alert/confirm/prompt dialogs and the log/success/error messages.

I think that if you'd split this two things into two different libraries it would be better (e.g.: if i want only dialogs i'd prefer to include just them)

welder 4 days ago 2 replies      
Great work, but one suggestion:

Make the alert notification go away when ESC is pressed, like the Confirmation and Prompt notifications.

Reedx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great work!

I've been using apprise (http://thrivingkings.com/read/Apprise-The-attractive-alert-a...), which is pretty good, but going to switch to this. I really like how Alertify has the growl-like log alerts along with it.

bjhoops1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice! I've used jGrowl for this in the past, but this seems much improved, more feature-rich and with sensible default styles. Alertify FTW!
alpb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Stacking up of multiple alerts being triggered is not handled properly. I think it should show latest posted alert on the top. Overall, good job!
gbadman 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great stuff, I think this will take over from jQuery.noty for me.
SonicSoul 4 days ago 1 reply      
great stuff! i wish prompt dialog auto focused on the textbox. currently i have to click it first to type in. (on windows chrome)
umutm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like that it doesn't require any JS frameworks and still being lightweight.
hayksaakian 4 days ago 0 replies      
works surprisingly great on mobile
on a galaxy nexus (cm10) (animations are bit laggy, but thats fine)
nXqd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice work, I will look deep into it today :D
honbu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sweet, thanks for Sharing. Another lib to add to the list. Not sure how it compares to noty, which has many options.
sgtnotorious 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome! Smooth transitions!
digitalpacman 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty bad ass.
n1ghtfury 4 days ago 0 replies      
i like it, thanks for making!
leoplct 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very useful! Thanks! ;)
everlearner 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool library, i'll deep into it today :)
nubela 4 days ago 3 replies      
No examples?
Google acquires BufferBox (YC S12) financialpost.com
281 points by mmccauley  2 days ago   152 comments top 46
revelation 2 days ago 9 replies      
This is a german Packstation: http://images.computerwoche.de/images/computerwoche/bdb/1841...

Welcome to the future, America. I'd be happy to see what a startup under Google can do, but the competition isn't exactly asleep.

tptacek 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the best possible outcomes: very cool new business idea, continues operating, backed by Google, with founders compensated for the risk they took launching it. Awesome news. Congratulations!
htf 2 days ago 4 replies      
Self-driving cars + robot arm + bufferbox = extremely cheap, fully automated delivery service. Add a robotic distribution center http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdd6sQ8Cbe0 and you have an automated Amazon competitor. If, on top of that, Google turns your Google account into a bank account, you'll be able to buy literally with one click. Google's dominance in mobile with Android will ensure that everyone has a Google bank account through which you can make most of your purchases. If you're a manufacturer, Google will take care of all your advertising for free, just so long as you give them a tiny cut of each sale. Google will be a trillion dollars company.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know about you but I want to see a buffer box setup where one of the lockers just says "I'm feeling Lucky" :-)

Edit: and given a game of chance, and games in general. I wonder if anyone at Google has considered combining BufferBox with Ingress such that as you're playing the game if you 'win' a power up it is in the form of Google schwag in a locker, where the open code and which locker appears on your augmented reality glasses to claim your 'prize'.

relix 2 days ago 5 replies      
Slightly offtopic tangent:

So by now we're all aware that these are already ubiquitous in Europe.

The question I have is why it took so long to reach the US? Why didn't the main shipping companies there like FedEx and UPS step up and use their existing infrastructure to build something like this, much more easily than a startup could do.

rm999 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm guessing this is related to what I just read in the new Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/21567361-google-apple-facebook...

>Google is experimenting with a service that would let folk find goods online, order them and have them delivered within a day for a modest fee. This seems similar to Amazon's hugely successful “Prime” service, which costs $79 a year to join in America. Rather than try to replicate the e-commerce giant's extensive network of warehouses, Google is looking for partnerships with shipping companies and retailers instead.

I'm excited to see what Google can do. Amazon dominates e-commerce so well I'll often buy from them even if there are cheaper options elsewhere (because it's easier). Competition, as usual, will be good in this space.

sakopov 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another enthusiastic "Oh wow, Google bought us! We're going to be doing so many new things now!" followed by "Sorry we're shutting down" in a few weeks. Happens every time. Isn't that what Google does? They buy a company. Half of the team leaves because they can't go through Google interview and the other half is disbanded to work on other Google projects.
uptown 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's my guess - Google will offer a service where you can have some or all of your mail forwarded to a BufferBox. That mail will be scanned by Google - applying the technology they honed from scanning books, and possibly also the technology they purchased with re-captcha. So now you've got mail in digital form, which they'll make available to you online for review - with the option to have things you want handled in-person to either your actual mailbox, or to your buffer-box.

The problem is - people have no experiencing with Google related to mail - so they may be reluctant to trust them to be part of this equation. So they start with packages - offering a service to help out with package delivery, and acclimating people to Google being part of the mail-delivery equation. When people are ready, they offer the scanning service.

alexsb92 2 days ago 0 replies      
Incredibly happy for Mike, Jay, Aditya and the rest of the BufferBox Team! It seems like it is getting better and better for Canadian, and in particular Kitchener-Waterloo areas.
One of the other cool things is that I've had my desk at the Velocity Garage right next to theirs for the past month, and I only heard of the news this morning.
mmaunder 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd love some data on what the demand is for this. Don't most people have a fixed address that can receive packages? Can anyone share a typical need that a large demographic has? I'm sure I'm missing something, so enlighten me....
IanDrake 2 days ago 3 replies      
>Eventually the company plans to charge $3 or $4 per package.

Wow, not sure that was ever going to be feasible. Won't be an issue now that Google bought them. Good for them!

Evbn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Typical Google, investing in ways to provide customer service that has no human contact ever.
2arrs2ells 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations, BufferBox! Can't wait to see what you guys are able to do with Google's resources behind you.
lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing I take from this is Google is very comfortable with software, and electronic hardware, but less so elsewhere.

Buying in bufferbox will just be early stages of a "buffer region" of satellite companies all bridging the virtual pure world of the google core and daily life.

Anything that currently has a key, is inefficiently owned and not shared, is fair game

xhedley 2 days ago 1 reply      
The UK equivalent is CollectPlus http://www.collectplus.co.uk/faqs#local_shop_section
. Instead of picking up goods from a locker in a public area, you pick up your parcel from a convenience store. The convenience store use their Paypoint terminal to identify you and your item and get the item from their stockroom back of house. The advantage for the convenience store over lockers is they don't waste front of house space on items which can be held back of house.
Paypoint provides a terminal network across 24000 UK stores to take cash for utility bills, BBC TV licences, cellphone topups and so on. Collect+ is offered by 5000 of these stores, it piggybacks on the existing network which is obviously way more efficient than building a brand new network with extra hardware.
I suspect this convenience store network approach rather than lockers would apply even better to countries which do e-commerce as "cash on delivery", for example Russia.
yason 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the Finnish equivalent:


We've had these for about a year or two. The company behind this is the privatised Finnish postal service.

littledot5566 1 day ago 0 replies      
In Taiwan, every convenience store acts like a post office where you can pick up packages, even if they are on the same street. Because there are so many 7-11's, Family Mart's, etc., the system works extremely well.

In Canada now, I think the only instance that is as wide-spread is gas stations. I could see Buffer Box stations at selected pumps in the near future.

dudurocha 2 days ago 2 replies      
This reminded me of Jessica Livingston's presentation. One of the monster were the big companies who would 'aquihire' you early on.
DigitalSea 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not a new idea as pointed out, but very cool nonetheless. Google is stepping up its rivalry with Amazon a few notches here, it'll be interesting to see what comes of Bufferbox now.
pajju 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this acquisition strategically fit in for Google?
Tyrant505 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google is getting more "physical." Congrats guys.
brandnewlow 2 days ago 0 replies      
Terrific news! Congratulations to the team. When I heard you present at YC alumni day, the concept and quality of execution was clearly among the best. Not surprised by this at all!
TootsMagoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats for sure. Now let's speculate on what Google will do with them? Are they going to get into online retail and compete with Amazon? Will Google be able collect data on what is stored in the compartments? Any other ideas?
salimmadjd 2 days ago 4 replies      
Where were these services during the Cold War era? I could imagine endless movie scripts of sending secret packages of stolen material prototypes etc. via these services. I guess drug lords and assassins might still be able to use them :)
polskibus 2 days ago 0 replies      
even the backward Poland had such boxes for at least several years now: http://inpost.pl. I'm really surprised Google picked them.
rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, congratulations. I'd love to get one of these (although bigger than the one in front of YC) once I have an office.
fakeer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it real acquisition this time by Google? Because there wasn't any press release link and very recently there was a rumour of a company being acquired by Google.
tomkit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who is liable for the security of the package at these stations? In a normal exchange, it is the merchant up until delivery to a residence/office (or signature). In this case, is the station operator liable for stolen/lost goods? For the German one it looks like it's operated by the delivery company (DHL), but in the case of third party operators, e.g. Buffer Box, I'm assuming Buffer Box is liable?
cmaxwe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I shipped something with Bufferbox a few days ago and am waiting for my pickup notification. Hope Google doesn't steal my package... :-)
zio99 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to aditya, jay, mike and all who helped out at UWaterloo. Fun fact: They went through Velocity here first - never underestimate the power of tractions guys. Congrats!
alexakarpov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yay Waterloo!
(swings his pink tie around)!

this definitely suggests an attempt to threaten Amazon on their home turf.

Mistone 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's great to hear the company moves forward intact at google.
That kind of google acquisition seems fairly unique. Well done BufferBox!!
fatbat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thought it was a great idea along with Amazon Lockers. Just did not know they would be acquired that quick!
Any hints as to the financial terms of the acquisition?
marcamillion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow....never saw this one coming.

This could be awesome. Congrats guys. Look forward to seeing what the future holds.

cllns 2 days ago 0 replies      
So many Europeans surprised they do something better than America.
rocky1138 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats! We have a few of them here in the Communitech Hub in Kitchener/Waterloo. Our CEO swears by them :)
khangtoh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yet another acqui-hire.
okstr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to the whole bufferbox team. Waterloo ftw.
woggg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who at Google is doing due diligence? I just searched for "Atlanta" in the locations page and got a 500.
matthuggins 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article didn't even tell me what BufferBox is.
viraj_shah 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well... that was quick. Great job!
rishi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats! BufferBox has an awesome intro video.
bhouser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats Mike, Jay, Aditya!
void-star 1 day ago 0 replies      
congrats to bufferbox, and kudos on an excellent slogan: "let us handle your package" <immature snicker>
maked00 1 day ago 0 replies      
a) Huge risk that USPS grabs this idea and run with it
b) Perfect MO for terrorists
jonathannorris 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the BufferBox team!
B&N Decides That Purchased Ebooks Are Only Yours Until Your Credit Card Expires techdirt.com
280 points by chanux  3 days ago   131 comments top 17
pilif 3 days ago 10 replies      
As far as I understood the article, this is about a second download of a book purchased some time ago. I think in this case, it's not as clear-cut as the article makes it out to be.

To stay with the real world analogy: while the article is right that nothing will glue the pages of a physical book together once the credit card expires, it is also the case that purchasing a book once doesn't entitle you to go to the bookstore and demand another copy of the book because you lost your initial one.

I can see a technical reason which prevents the redownload by locked accounts. Or rather, I can imagine the additional work such a feature could require - work that obviously isn't going to be paid for by anybody (or rather paid for by customers who do have valid accounts and buy more media) - the card of the affected account is expired after all.

IMHO, if we want to demand that an electronic media purchase is a traditional sale, then we can't rurn around and demand that it also isn't and that we should have right to infinitely ask for additional copies - however cheap it might be to create them.

javajosh 3 days ago 5 replies      
The simple fact is that the ebook experience sucks all the way around. I gave it a shot with the Nook Touch, and I really dislike it, even if DRM wasn't an issue.

Over the years my subconcious has grown used to indexing the story according to certain physical properties of the book. "Oh yes, that happend about a cm in on the right side page, like halfway down" is something I might think- but this coordinate system doesn't work with an e-reader. Seeing the cover art each time counts, too. I also rather like (and miss) the small stains, tears and incidental damage that normal books get. There's also the matter of distraction - now that my book is a device I can't help but fiddle with it. Finally, even though the quality is very good on my Nook Touch, I can see the pixels and I find it distracting.

Maybe some or all of these concerns will go away in time, but then there's also the (rather stunning) fact that ebooks are MORE expensive than the paperback - this, even though the cost of production is negligible, and typically you can't share or bequeath your e-library, etc.

And then on top of all these objections B&N does something asinine like this...let's just say that I'll be perfectly happy reading paper books for a long long time.

dansingerman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having had to get my hands dirty in the murky world of Adobe DRM, I am pretty sure this is actually an implementation problem with how Barnes & Noble have implemented it.

As crazy as it may seem, I believe in the B&N case the DRM licence is based on the credit card details.

Hence no more credit card, no more licence.

One day I may do a longer post how horrifyingly awful Adobe DRM is technically, (never mind the ethics), but knowing what I know, this is not any sort of surprise.

yk 3 days ago 2 replies      
The problem with ebooks (as with software and other files) is, that they are simpy not physical goods. From the viewpoint of a consumer, a nice advantage of files is the essentially zero costs of replacement, so that I can resonably expect a vendor to replace a copy lost due to an accident. (Unlike with a physical book, where replacement costs actual money.) On the other hand, I have the means of production for an ebook. ( A computer, production of files means copying, just as producing a car means copying a prototype.) This means, I can actually compete with the vendor of an ebook, by pirating it. ( A car does not need DRM, because I would need a factory before I can start to pirate it.)

So I believe, that analogies like "glue the pages of a book shut" and "selling" are misleading. The much more interesting question is, what is a reasonable default licence for digital goods? Or to pose the question slightly differently, what can each side of a default licence agreement reasonable expect of each other?

kabdib 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's really simple: I buy ebooks, then break the DRM so that I can make a backup. If it wasn't possible to break the DRM, I wouldn't buy them.

Non-DRM'd books are better, of course.

I want my descendents to be able to read my e-books just as easily as they can read my physical books. So my conversions include collapsing rich text to plain text, which I am reasonably sure will survive format changes over the next 100 years.

spohlenz 3 days ago 1 reply      
This issue has nothing to do with DRM, and is simply the result of a system that requires an account to be in good standing (i.e. has a valid credit card) before any downloads can be made.

Obviously this is an issue that should be fixed, but there isn't even any evidence that any attempts were made to contact B&N - just someone encountering an error message in B&N's software.

I'm as against DRM as anyone else here but this is a non-story.

sami36 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think it's DRM related or a publisher requirement. I think it's of B&N own initiative to keep your credit card on file in order to facilitate potentially future purchases. Either way, it's misguided & customer hostile. as long as this policy is in effect, I'll never buy an ebook from them again.
vertis 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would blame this on a badly designed system rather than deliberate attempt at DRM.

i.e. Product owner goes to dev: We want to make sure that customers always have a valid credit card on file so that when they go to purchase it doesn't distract them (etc, etc).

Dev makes it so that you can't do anything with the website until you've updated your expired credit card.

pseingatl 3 days ago 0 replies      
There isn't a ''real world'' analogy. This is a sale of goods and as such is governed (in the USA) by Article 3 of the Uniform Commercial Code. All sales, whether the goods are digital or not, carry an implied warranty of merchantability. This means that the product sold can be used under normal circumstances. Here, the buyer received nothing for his money. Do not be distracted by the digital world of downloads, DRM and software licenses, the UCC nevertheless applies. B&N has stores all over the country and is subject to small claims courts and perhaps even class actions. After a few lawsuits they will wake up and stop this practice.
lnanek2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly, amazon has been pulling bullshit like this on me as well. I'm always flashing new ROMs and swapping phones for my job, many books on the amazon Kindle app simply refuse to download any more saying I've exceeded the license. ;/ They really need to put in the description that the book will be useless to me...
venomsnake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that Louis CK really nailed down the way to distribute digital content. Few streams per key + a drm free download, that is up to you how to back up with no obligations after that for him.
epo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This has nothing to do with DRM, it is a crappily designed customer authentication system. If B&N had any sense they would offer customers the ability to redownload their purchases at any time after say, 120 days, for an additional 25c.
JimmaDaRustla 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got the solution: cloud media! You must stream your product from a central server as you use it, and the server can ensure that you aren't reading more than one book at a time, nor are you reading the same book in multiple locations.

I guess we are good ways away from that...

sasfasfasffas 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nook was the second major entry as a consumer e-reader but lost because they didn't think about user experience. You went into the store to download and buy ebooks? Convenience anyone? No? What about the lower secondary color screen before the color came out. Why? Then it was a rootable android device, not so bad, but they just didn't focus on what was important. Their online book store sucked compared to Amazon. They just couldn't compete. Also had a mortar business tying them down, but that isn't much of an excuse because Amazon had a ton of other stuff on their plate. Seriously, from what I hear from someone that interviewed- they had no clue what they were doing on the online side and wanted to reinvent it but didn't know how. It has been a huge fail.

I like their mortar stores but I haven't shopped there is ages, so I imagine that others are the same. They need to drop the nook or at least completely reimagine it and rebrand it (nooks are for english muffins), start up a second online team completely physically separate from the current one hiring top talent for UX and focus on a non-backlit color e-ink screen for whatever the rebranded ereader is called. The mortar stores aren't cheap to run either, and most stores are way too huge for the amount they sell. That needs to change also.

Basically, they need serious, serious help. It is a shame that B&N used to be the epitome of a bookstore, but now it is seriously flailing against a company that sells more other stuff than it does books. But who knows, maybe taxes will kill the Amazon giant.

justindocanto 3 days ago 0 replies      
This website has not shown up properly for me once in the last 10 minutes... No style sheet, missing end of html or times out each time... Incase anybody from the site reads this.
monochromatic 3 days ago 1 reply      
> strip the drm off of the ones you purchase so you can you the book you BUY on all your devices

This attitude right here is part of the misunderstanding, and part of the problem. You haven't BOUGHT the ebook. You've paid for a license, and in all likelihood, that license prevents stripping the DRM.

lucian303 3 days ago 0 replies      
First suicide: 1gb of space on the Nook Tablet for user data.
Second suicide: This


The EC2 firewall is broken daemonology.net
277 points by cperciva  4 days ago   53 comments top 10
minimax 4 days ago 1 reply      
PMTU discovery on the Internet is generally unreliable. Very few people understand that it exists, and even fewer understand how it actually works. Most ADSL (PPPoE) providers rewrite the TCP MSS on TCP SYN packets traveling over their network to account for the PMTU discovery brokenness. [1] You see the same thing happen with VPN connections where the PMTU is effectively reduced by the size of the overhead for the encapsulation protocol.

1. http://www.cisco.com/en/US/docs/ios/12_2t/12_2t4/feature/gui...

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the RFC quoted :

"A packet-filtering router acting as a firewall which permits outgoing IP packets with the Don't Fragment (DF) bit set MUST NOT block incoming ICMP Destination Unreachable / Fragmentation Needed errors sent in response to the outbound packets from reaching hosts inside the firewall, as this would break the standards-compliant usage of Path MTU discovery by hosts generating legitimate traffic. "

That would be great, next tell the folks at SBCGlobal to fix their damn network as well. I don't know how many folks we've had to 'patch' by manually walking the MTU down on the local router until packets actually get through. It really really sucks and leads to sending way more small packets than needed.

csense 4 days ago 2 replies      
There should be some sort of open-source testing environment for common breakages. For example, maybe a bunch of VirtualBox VM's running Linux. Maybe a unit test for the problem mentioned in the article sets up machines A, B, FW, and C connected A <-> B <-> FW <-> C, has B fragment packets, and has A perform path MTU discovery to C. The firewall configuration under test goes on FW and running the test will catch this problem.

With a good enough framework of this type, all the testing could be done "out of the box" so all you have to do is set up a disk image or IP address of a firewall box to test, and the testing is fully automatic. The firewall under test can run any OS or firewall that will run as a VirtualBox client -- or even be its own box connected to the testing machine's Ethernet port. Heck, if you had machines on both sides of some third-party you don't control, like your ISP, you could even use it to probe their network configuration for issues without any special cooperation from them.

If the test suite gets good enough, maybe eventually pressure will build on vendors to make their products pass and we'll see firewall brokenness start to disappear.

As well as cloud services like AWS, such tests could be used by Linux distros, operating system vendors, and network equipment manufacturers.

I'd build it myself, but I'm not a networking expert and I'm not particularly enthusiastic about becoming one.

revelation 4 days ago 2 replies      
This sort of shenanigans will be over with IPv6. Blocking ICMP is not an option there.
kami8845 4 days ago 0 replies      
OK so I can see how it violates standards. How many of the millions of users that send traffic through EC2 does this affect however? I can see how they would be reluctant to mess with Firewall rulesets. Even if it they only apply it to new users that would mean fragmentation ... Keep it simple stupid. Again it depends on how many users this affects and from the sounds of the blog post - vanishingly few
mike_heffner 4 days ago 1 reply      
"While at Amazon re:invent I had the opportunity to complain to some Amazonians..."

So what was their response? Was their response the `ec2-authorize` command to run?

zurn 4 days ago 1 reply      
In my experience this is the rule rather than the exception, most firewall configs are broken in some way and there are often several firewalls on the path. I turn them off where circumstances allow.
el_cuadrado 4 days ago 1 reply      
The shit is always broken, and always was. I understand some idealistic network engineers may disagree, but this is a fact of life. Deal with it.

And this 'news' definitely do not deserve the frontpage of Y.

jrockway 4 days ago 0 replies      
What's with the comments on the article:

"johndurbinn • 29 minutes ago I'm bouncing on my toes wah me soopsoak dat hoe"

"Tony Stender • 35 minutes ago Fix this it needs word wrap and zoom capabilities"

I'd downmod them but I'd have to create an account to do so.

kv3 4 days ago 3 replies      
It doesn't stop ssh or my web traffic.
Why should I care?
Amazon Announces new Data Warehousing Product amazon.com
260 points by secalex  4 days ago   93 comments top 16
dude_abides 4 days ago 3 replies      
This has the potential of really disrupting the enterprise data warehouse sector. All the MPP vendors today (HP Vertica, EMC Greenplum, Teradata) have exhorbitant pricing and ridiculous licensing. With their pricing - 1000 $ per TB per year, I would be really worried if I were Teradata (Not so much if I were IBM).
bravura 4 days ago 8 replies      
Does anyone have insight into how painful it is for non-technical people to query their data warehouses?

I'm building a tool that allows business people and non-technical analysts to query their data warehouses using natural language. (Currently, you must ask a technical person to write ad-hoc queries for you, or build you a dashboard. This bogs down your data people.)

Does anyone have insight into the demand for such a product?

[edit: I'd love to chat with anyone with insight into this topic. Reach me at Joseph at metaoptimize dot com]

23david 4 days ago 3 replies      
Have to say that this is pretty amazing. The price is so low that it's a no-brainer to just give it a try. For the same 2TB capability, a Vertica license would run between $20-40K, with high annual subscription fees.

The bigger question for me is why Amazon has been able to figure out the technical details necessary to run this kind of service for this price. It's just ridiculous. Talk about taking the oxygen out of the market...

kanwisher 4 days ago 0 replies      
Should be interesting if this will be a viable competitor to column oriented sql engines like Vertica or other OLAP solutions like SAP HANA. It would be nice if there was a simple SQL based olap solution that I can spin up for offline reporting that can scale terrabytes of data
zrail 4 days ago 3 replies      
Now if only Amazon would offer PostgreSQL on normal RDS.
kzahel 4 days ago 1 reply      
It seems that the price (~$1 / GB / year) in the best case (3 year reserved) is comparable to S3 at its lowest tiers (~$0.1 / GB / month)
monstrado 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious what technology they are using to power it. According to the website, the technology described seems very similar to what Cloudera recently open sourced (Impala), which sits along side Hadoop allowing ad-hoc MPP style querying on petabytes of data.


23david 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool that this will support regular sql queries and queries can be sent using postgresql drivers. Postgresql drivers are super stable and supported everywhere. Driver support is usually overlooked with 'Enterprise' Data Warehousing solutions. I recall that it was really hard to get the Vertica drivers installed and stable under Linux.

I took a few screenshots from the keynote and included one showing the mention of Postgresql and ODBC/JDBC support. Included here if you want to see for yourself: http://wp.me/p2sRpx-1e

sologoub 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe a naive question, but how does this compare with Google Big Query?
K2h 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's called Redshift!

wow.. I just finished reading the sci-fi book a few weeks ago - "Redshift Rendezvous" by John E Stith. I wonder if this is where the name comes from? In the book Redshift is the name of the space ship that runs cargo mission through folded space, the obvious problem that since you are traveling within just a few m/s of the speed of light just walking on the ship while underway causes color shift - thus redshift.

I read that Stith has a physic degree and worked as an Engineer for NORAD Cheyenne mountain. That made me really interested in what novel he would come up with.

rpicard 4 days ago 3 replies      
What is the use case for something like this versus a regular RDS service?
23david 4 days ago 0 replies      
Update! The entire keynote is now available on youtube:

The discussion about Amazon Redshift begins at 52:50

mgl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks impressive and very interesting, signed up to review and compare with Teradata/Netezza.

Can we run more complex in-database processes implemented as stored procedures on this platform or is it going to be limited to pure SQL querying/analytics?

And does anyone have an idea how to upload 1 TB of data to this service using Internet connection from your in-house company server? ;)

polskibus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot find information on whether Redshift supports queries in MDX. Lots of DWs today are run on Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services and its MDX spec is now supported by several DW vendors. MDX support would mean it would be easy to switch the DW engine and leave your visualisation suite (or Excel, what the hell) and make it for an easy switch to the cloud - you'd just pick a different data source in your tool.
alexatkeplar 4 days ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome - we'll definitely be plugging SnowPlow into this.
baltcode 4 days ago 1 reply      
So is this the Amazon clone of Google's Spanner?
YC W13 Will Be Smaller ycombinator.com
257 points by jkopelman  11 hours ago   131 comments top 31
edw519 11 hours ago 13 replies      
Why was 66 ok and 84 not?

Maybe it had less to do with magnitude than direction.

I look forward to reading about yc start-ups, but increasingly find myself shaking my head, wondering how some of them will ever amount to sustainable businesses. I've always attributed this to the fact that yc must know a whole lot more than me.

But pg's recent disclosure that so many yc start-ups have co-founder issues really got me wondering. I find it unimaginable that any team can work itself into such a good position and then blow it away over seemingly petty issues. Is it possible that some trend other than scale is at work here?

ivankirigin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You mentioned looking for predictors of failure. What have you learned since writing this essay on mistakes that kill startups?
jcdavis 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd be curious to know what broke. Companies in the last batch having a harder time getting funding?
tomasien 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any chance that there's a small "valley gold rush" effect going on, sort of what happened in the late 90's and early 00's in SV when people saw the valley not as an opportunity to build something awesome but rather ONLY to get funding and get rich?

From what PG seems to be saying, it's more of an organizational problem, and I'll take him at his word. However, I just feel like I've seen a lot of (admittedly impressive) people applying to YC because they see it as the path to easy VC funding and lots of press only. And maybe a resume booster. I can see the effects of that being that it becomes harder to identify who is earnest and who is not, especially with such impressive people throwing themselves into the pool.

Either way, I think it's nothing but a positive to see YC continuing to innovate and tweak.

rdl 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish there were a way you could publish the predictors of failure in a way which wouldn't let people "game" the system unreasonably.

Actually, I think you have always published many of the predictors of failure. http://www.paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html seems like a good start, but there are probably more specific indicators during an interview or during 3 months before Demo Day.

The ones which seem most relevant are all variants "not making something people want" -- either not making something effectively at all, or that which you make is a bad idea/market, or making something which is a good idea but crap implementation. Obviously several potential causes of each.

tptacek 10 hours ago 1 reply      
50 is still a huge number. Airbnb's class, just 4 years back, was only 16.
rdl 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Potential ways to get past the 66 bottleneck:
1) Try it in the winter. I theorize (without as much data, obviously) that "summer projects" are more likely to be drama filled than something Jan-Mar.
2) Consider 2.5 or 3 classes. You'd still end up with 150+ companies per year. I know it would sort of screw with the current schedule, but there could be some overlap, although at the cost of partner happiness. Maybe have the .5 session be split over a longer period of time, with interviews happening slightly offset from S and demo day slightly offset from W. The longer period would be useful for certain kinds of startups.
3) Invest in a human cloning startup. Once there are 80 clones of each partner, scaling becomes easier. This may take tens or hundreds of years to be effective.
buro9 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it is the large batches themselves. What if, instead of a bi-annual intake of two large batches YC moved to an always open intake with classes starting every month. That is, to stream many small batches continuously. Effectively running 12 academic years concurrently rather than 2.

Everything from lean manufacturing to project management has come out in favour of the small batch size, maybe the thing to do is to work out how to split the existing large batches into many smaller batches.

This might also help increase your learning as you would have a much tighter feedback loop.

msrpotus 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious: what did you find were the predictors of failure? Was it a matter of focusing on problems (with the assumption that the teams with the least problems were, on balance at least, more likely to be successful)? Or did you find that there were certain counterintuitive factors that made a team likely to fail, even if they seemed solid?
Uhhrrr 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Might this have something to do with Dunbar's Number of ~150?


brudgers 5 hours ago 0 replies      
At 86 companies YC is more likely to hit up against the limits of Dubar's number than at 66 companies (or 50) - assuming, of course, that Dunbar's number is meaningful.

As an aside, funding to the point of creating financial carcasses in the previous cycle could have effectively lowered the Dunbar number for that batch.


tlrobinson 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm curious how you fix the post-lunch bias without overcompensating? Eat small snacks throughout the day instead of lunch?
sjtgraham 8 hours ago 1 reply      
> We don't plan to stay at 50, or whatever exact number of startups this batch ends up having. We've never had a predetermined batch size; that's just the number we ended up with when we tightened our filters as much as we could.

Congratulations to those of you that were accepted into W13. It looks like W13 was the most difficult to get into yet.

ig1 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What were the predictors of failure ?
talkingquickly 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be very interesting to hear more about what the key predictors of failure you looked for were?
salimmadjd 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think 50 is even a large number. YC's real value to investors is selectivity. As long YC maintains that brand, investors will continue to have a YC-biased perception making it easier for these startups to raise funding. The same selectivity makes getting into YC enticing as it validates them and their ideas. I'm sure the reason behind the cutback has been scalability ( I made that comment before and it made PG defensive a bit) however, the move ensures the longevity of YC's mystique.
hiddenstage 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Did YC bring in less interviewees this batch than summer 2012?
kellysutton 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the math behind YC and incubators can sometimes falsely justify an increase in the quantity of companies accepted.

If you look at each class and say, "Well, last year we had 5 breakouts out of 50. Why not increase that denominator to change the numerator?"

Unfortunately when you do this too quickly, the numerator doesn't change. It stays the same or sometimes even decreases (in my example, holds at 5).

Staying focused while growing is a very difficult thing to do.

blueprint 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What does it mean that the interview process is "decentralized"? Seems pretty centralized to me: only YC partners or friends of partners do the interviews, and they even require traveling to Mountain View in general
peterjancelis 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Dunbar's number is the amount of social relationships an average human can have: 150.

Maybe at 84 startups the total number of founders went above 150?

rikacomet 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it was the right decision, as said, the result of going mainstream, has started to show, if instinct of more than 1-2 partners say that its better to slow down a bit >> rethink >> adapt then its best to do so. Slowing down won't hurt you in any way.

Perhaps the answer is quality, due to a overshoot of no of companies funded, the quality went down, and then it hit you guys, that 'hey! the last of many haven't been any AirBnB or Reddit' so its better to slow down a bit, and let the levels go up again on it.

"Excessive fishing in a lake can be best balanced by under fishing" that is what this looks like to me.

deepkut 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that Josh Kopelman submitted this.
kenjackson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Were the choices announced?
namank 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Give yourselves more time by adding a month to each session. Reduce the number of sessions per year and increase the duration of each.
perry5000 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I think that the real story is that alternative investments (e.g. venture capital) have really dried up. Venture capital firms across the valley are having a very hard time raising cash. Groupon, Zynga, Pandora, and the disappointment with Facebook's IPO have pushed away a lot of institutional investors. I don't see capital returning anytime soon until we see some big, successful Silicon Valley IPO stories.


Tichy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Curious: what methods are you using for your analysis? Feeding data in some software, or just pen+paper+brain?
alexirobbins 4 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the indicators of failure that you focused on?
replayzero 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think smaller is always better, it would be fine to take on 10 companies and just hot house them. I think that would be awesome.
senthilnayagam 9 hours ago 1 reply      
YC has gone mainstream , highly competitive, but so are the egos of the cofounders, not everybody is willing to work straight for 12-24 months for a potential exit on the same idea
pebb 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Must be due to the Series A crunch eh?
BallinBige 7 hours ago 0 replies      
manage growth --- always the hardest thing for startups and those around them
Show HN: Interactive SICP xuanji.appspot.com
252 points by zodiac  22 hours ago   46 comments top 10
zodiac 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Hello everyone, OP here. This is my first Show HN post.

I guess most of you should know what SICP is. I took a class where it was used as a textbook (only the first 3 chapters, unfortunately) and loved it.

Most of the syntax-highlighted code fragments can be clicked on and edited. Either click somewhere else after that or press ctrl-enter to re-evaluate the scheme code. There are also some auto-graded exercises which involve writing code, as well as some multiple-choice questions (inspired by coursera)

So far only the first section is up. I don't think I can finish converting the whole of SICP to this format, so any help is much appreciated! I've tried to make the API as short as I can, but still able to run arbitrary code (eg for auto-graders). The main code is in isicp/coding.js and the content is stored in chapter-specific html files. All this is done via client-side javascript. I used biwascheme for the scheme interpreter and codemirror for the editor.

dschiptsov 20 hours ago 4 replies      
SICP is an advanced text, and using it to teach amateurs how to program is, probably, a mistake.

Brian Harvey have done a great job to simplify and make it more freshman-friendly. I think his CS61A is the best intro course available (but I don't think that the sentence ADT is a such great idea, and it make things little messier, not more clear).

The HtDP2 approach is also remarkable, but problem is it is part of Racket promotion (word dr.racket is used hundred times in the first chapter). The idea to make changes in a program visible, via using graphical primitive functions is brilliant, but controversial one - it is too soon (but it kicks and makes a progress visible)

I think that functions with multiple arguments, first-class "citizens" (values has a type, everything is a pointer), pairs, lists, then generic functions and environments must be taught first, and visualized interactively, similar to that python tool. Then, after, you can teach parts from HtDP and then SICP.

People who really enjoyed this initiation will go through whole books themselves.)

sudhirj 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The site doesn't seem to need a server to function - so it would be awesome if you could add a cache manifest to make it available offline:


BlackJack 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Looks awesome. I think exercise 1.2 is broken. I enter in:

(/ (+ 5 (+ 4 (- 2 (- 3 (+ 6 (/ 4 5)))))) (* 3 (* (- 6 2) (- 2 7))))

and it tells me the result is wrong, but wolfram and my own REPL confirms the result.

firesofmay 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Good initiative. I wish it was done in clojure/clojurescript, would have been great. But still its a nice way to learn.
One suggestion. Add paredit mode to balance the parens.
Without paredit mode one has to worry about balancing the parens and its a painful experience. It's like coding in notepad.
Looks great! Looking forward to more chapters :)
zodiac 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Sorry for repeating myself, but I really need contributors for this - I can't finish it just working on my own on weekends.
ghubbard 17 hours ago 0 replies      
SICP - Structure And Interpretation Of Computer Programs

Is an MIT computer science textbook.


arikrak 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If I ever get up to Scheme, I'm adding this to my chart of interactive resources for learning programming.
Surio 21 hours ago 0 replies      
"Green Bar" on the right: It is the navigation menu that comes into focus once you click on it. You can focus on the content w/o getting distracted by the ToC. :)

To OP. Don't worry. It is intuitive enough (for me at least (-; )

Tyr42 22 hours ago 3 replies      
uhh, It's got some sort of green bar, but it's stuck waaay over to my right and I can't read it.
Chrome OSX
2D Game Art for Programmers 2dgameartforprogrammers.blogspot.in
249 points by selvan  2 days ago   81 comments top 15
VMG 2 days ago 5 replies      
C++ Game Programming for Artists

* First we pick a nice API, let's see, yeah SDL with OpenGL is a good choice

* Let's create a full screen surface and set the happy little flags to make it a double buffer

* Let's just write some happy little class wrappers for our main game components. There we are.

* We start with a happy little box twirling around. Just gently use the OpenGL API and map the textures so that they fit. A happy little light lives in the upper right corner. Now lets add some other boxes over there.

* Ever so softly write some game logic. If you're feeling adventurous, try using multiple threads, but don't forget to use some locks.

* To finish it all up, we just plug in the user input. How wonderful!

See you next time when we write an operating system!

arocks 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have found Inkscape to be quite an under-appreciated tool. It is much easier to learn than Illustrator for a beginner, quite light on systems resources and has great keyboard shortcuts.

Earlier when there was a logo to be designed I used to use GIMP. But I find Inkscape's text handling to be much superior (especially with manual kerning) and flexible. In fact, I do most of my website mockups with Inkscape these days.

MetallicCloud 2 days ago 6 replies      
One thing that I would really love in tutorials like this is why certain decisions are made. I am a terrible artist, but I would like to learn how to draw something that doesn't make people want to puke, if for no other reason than to give a real artists a starting point, but this tutorial doesn't help.

Even at the first step, it says 'Lets start building the body with 3 rectangles'. But if I started with a blank page, and though 'How am I going to draw a helicopter', my first thought wouldn't be draw three random rectangles and start from there. Learning tools is important, but I want a tutorial that shows me how to break complex objects into manageable parts.

jdludlow 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the same blog, this is the starting point where he breaks down a very simple process of drawing with circles and introduces some basic concepts.


dsirijus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Being a little disillusioned with Adobe tools, and assembling a game dev enviroment on Linux, I am trying to setup some of my game art workflow using Gimp/Inkscape/Blender/other.

What I'm hoping to acchieve is have a bunch of scripts in Python (as all those listed apps are conveniently scripted with it) to speed up the asset generation, and possibly explore some of the design aspects achievable through procedural methods, as designers using Adobe tools do have a slight tendency to be uniform in their output.

Many of the methods in these articles may well be in part scripted, for instance http://2dgameartforprogrammers.blogspot.in/2012_02_01_archiv...

bitwize 2 days ago 2 replies      
Or, How to Draw A Helicopter:

1) Draw some rectangles

2) Draw the rest of the fucking helicopter

robomartin 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an engineer I find CorelDRAW far more useful (and usable?) than Photoshop and Illustrator sometimes. I do use Photoshop for quite a bit of work. However, CorelDRAW makes some things that require jumping through hoops in Photoshop really easy. It's almost like a melding of a technical drafting and an artist's illustration tool.

It can, for example, ingest AutoCAD geometry and use it for further illustration. Since I've been using AutoCAD for a long, long time this aspect of it comes with no effort.

In the case of the OP's example, I'd probably find a 2D or 3D model of a helicopter for either ACAD or SolidWorks; load into the appropriate tool; edit, stylize, simplify; export as a flat 2D DXF and then import into CorelDRAW. From there you can manipulate further, stroke, fill, shade, etc. Do it all in layers and then output whatever it is you might need.

Maybe this can be done in Photoshop, I don't know. It seems that I am always Googling for how to do the simplest things in PS. Yes, of course, I don't use it enough. That said, things like having to jump through hoops to draw a stroked circumference drives me up a wall sometimes. In a program like CorelDRAW it's just a matter of drawing a circle without fill, which makes far more sense to me than having to draw a path and then stroking it.

I've done some pretty interesting graphics in CorelDRAW for such projects as photorealistic renderings of product models that are not only interesting graphically but also dimensionally accurate because of the link to the underlying CAD data.

For a lot of the work I do on the web and iOS apps Photoshop can be simpler to wrestle with.

xedarius 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've always found Photoshop difficult to draw in, and haven't really enjoyed drawing on a computer since Deluxe Paint. However, Inkscape (a program that I've not seen before) looks great, and I will be trying out the tutorial. Thanks.

I'm also tempted to say we should all post our helicopter drawings!

loso 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to learn how to draw, besides the basic drawing courses or books, another good idea is to learn about Photography when it comes lighting and composition. I know a lot of people on this site have DSLR cameras so learning how to use those properly would be a great step. Photography lessons are great in helping to learn how to see the world correctly. A lot of what you will learn will be transferable when it comes to learning how to draw.
SpriteAttack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the mention of my blog on the Hacker News. I just which there would have been a link to the earlier posts. The post got harder and more complex (with the helicopter pushing the limits of what could be considered easy to follow art tutorials for beginners).
colkassad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here is the direct download for the portable Windows version of Inkscape:


eli_gottlieb 2 days ago 2 replies      
Makes me wish I could draw worth a damn.
tudorizer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lovely tutorials.
chinchang 2 days ago 0 replies      
superb! What else does a linux artist want :)
Wraecca 2 days ago 0 replies      
2D is the BEST!
A Tutorial on Anonymous Email Accounts eff.org
240 points by Garbage  3 days ago   104 comments top 27
kibwen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Don't overlook the Google-related footnote at the end:

"Google keeps logs of IP addresses for 18 months, after which they keep logs of three-quarters of the IP address. Three-quarters of an IP address may be still enough to breach your pseudonymity in the case of an FBI investigation."

Contrast this with the explanation from Google's own Privacy FAQ[1]:

"We strike a reasonable balance between the competing pressures we face, such as the privacy of our users, the security of our systems and the need for innovation. We believe anonymizing IP addresses after 9 months and cookies in our search engine logs after 18 months strikes the right balance."

I'm quite surprised to learn that Google equates "anonymizing IP addresses" with "chopping off an octet". I suppose I'm a bit naive.

[1] http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/faq/

driverdan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Use an email provider wholly owned and hosted in a country that's non-cooperative with your country, preferably one with an official language that differs from your country's. That alone will help you avoid standard subpoenas / legal requests.

Add Tor and encryption on top of that and there is almost no chance of government interference, unless you're a terrorist / subversive.

INTPenis 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why use email? I know some drug dealers who are pretty IT savvy and they simply setup Pidgin with OTR on their computers. Some had Macs with Adium.

Then they would message each other to go on OTR.

That's all you should send in an e-mail or text message, "go on OTR".

gesman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here is the better [and shorter] version of this tutorial:
1. Download Tor
2. Signup and use tormail.org
3. Done.

I surprised eff.org didn't even mention tormail.org - this email forces you to use Tor, essentially forcing you to never make mistake of using non-Tor browser.

Devilboy 3 days ago 1 reply      
The EFF is right, this is still way too hard.
sprash 3 days ago 1 reply      
Much easier to use is Bitmessage:


It works similar to Bitcon, is decentralized and does not rely on trusted third parties (e.g. for signing).


Derpsec 3 days ago 1 reply      
Holy shit, seriously who is running the EFF these days? I haven't checked in since the 1990s. This was the absolute WORST article on privacy I've ever read in my life.

FUUUUUU... did they just advocate for people to use Hushmail? The same proprietary, for-profit organization that when contacted by the FBI they present the user with a decoy login screen so they can capture your password in the clear and then decrypt your entire history to hand over to the feds?

Nobody should be using hushmail in 2012, not after multiple court cases that have detailed exactly what hushmail has done for the feds. Hushmail has sold their users out so many times I can't count. It's useless cloud encryption nonsense.

If you really want to send an anonymous email, you use mixmaster, torrified. Period.

If you need a method to be contacted by people who are clueless you then sign up to privacybox.de a free service provided by the German Privacy Foundation and you upload your public PGP key and have it forwarded to a tormail account. Reply through mixmaster encrypted

If you're really paranoid you have mixmaster post encrypted emails to alt.anonymous.messages and skip centralized email servers like tormail all together


This is how send email torrified with Jondo live privacy CD, or just install mixmaster on your own linux/bsd computer and use full disc encryption + pgp.

Screw the EFF after reading that tutorial. It should be burned to the ground and an entire new organization built if this article is their best advice.

forgotAgain 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that a government sponsored virus would look for a fingerprint for something like Tor. Whose to say the virus isn't a virus but rather a part of a retail product placed there in cooperation between industry and government.

If you want true security you need to use open products.

mtgx 3 days ago 1 reply      
What about Opera's FastMail.fm? They are not even based in US, so that might help. I see it's not free anymore though, but it also has no ads, so no tracking for that either.

They could've also used RetroShare for both encrypted chats and mail, and it should've been pretty anonymous as well since it's P2P. This is not something most people would be willing to do, but for someone like Petraeus, it could've been useful.

For most people using something like Jitsi for encrypted chats and video-calls is much more bearable, although you still have to watch-out where you sign-in from and where you create the account, so you'll probably have to follow the whole Tor browser part EFF mentioned in the beginning, if you want anonymity as well.

cookiecaper 3 days ago 0 replies      
I2P's mail system may be safer than this (certainly much more anonymous since you don't have to transfer any money at any point in the process), depending on the content of your mail and the level of trust you feel for the person running I2P's mail system.
glomph 3 days ago 1 reply      
Of course Petraeus could not exactly have installed tor and started visiting hushmail.org without instantly being considered suspect.
Xylakant 3 days ago 0 replies      
if all you want is to receive mail, the CCC offers anonymous one-time adresses: https://anonbox.net/index.en.html
dbz 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is also Tor Mail as an anonymous email service.
bredren 3 days ago 2 replies      
In many cases, hard core security around email isn't necessary. For light privacy, where you simply don't want the other party to immediately be able to google your address (i.e. craigslist or online dating) I want to recommend Gliph Cloaked Email. https://gli.ph

I run Gliph and am happy to answer questions about the level of anonymity you can achieve if anyone has any.

bstpierre 3 days ago 1 reply      
What about something like mixmaster[1]? Obviously more complex than using tor browser bundle with a webmail provider, but is it still viable for geeks? What are the risks?

[1]: http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/483

holri 3 days ago 2 replies      
Probably easier and more secure to just boot in a tails live system (usb, cdrom). This system uses tor and has everything installed and configured to protect your privacy.


techsupporter 3 days ago 2 replies      
What about running my own e-mail from my residence or contained within a data center on a computer that I personally own (that is, not leased from the hosting provider) and connected to the Internet via a subscription in my own name? I'm rather curious about what legal areas this might fall into.
runn1ng 3 days ago 3 replies      
They say that Hushmail keeps your mail in plaintext. But does it?

From what I heard, they encrypt your mail even on their servers.

However what kills the service for me is the need to pay if you don't use it reguralry - and there is no way to pay for hushmail anonymously (read: with bitcoin).

josscrowcroft 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is using something like iPredator [0] VPN secure enough for logging into a pseudonymous email account? If you never (ever) use a different IP address to log in to that account?

[0] https://ipredator.se

tekknolagi 3 days ago 1 reply      
And I wrote a blog post about something similar, but it hits a lot more bases than just using Tor. Tor has issues of its own.


ommunist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, after reading this I realised that the first thing is to monitor and tame your outgoing traffic. So I renewed my Little Snitch license. And started to consider wiping the Skype off the machine.
Ruscour 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd use Tor way more if it wasn't so damn slow. Of course security is a priority, but it's just not usable for me.
hayksaakian 3 days ago 0 replies      
You could use one of the several temporary mail boxes to exchange messages.

Presumably you'd save anything important on a flash drive or something remote.

pwniekins 3 days ago 0 replies      
Man, what a weak article. I was expecting some cool tutorial on setting up tormail or something equivalent.

Hushmail? Seriously? They have no qualms with cooperating with authorities at the drop of a hat.

oron 3 days ago 0 replies      
Plug : If all you need is to receive an email Air Mail is right for the job - http://getairmail.com
baconhigh 3 days ago 0 replies      
worth mention that hushmail are known to turn over email accounts at the drop of a hat
JimWestergren 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about sharing secure notes via LastPass?
Ninja IDE: written in Python for Pythonists ninja-ide.org
227 points by mmariani  5 days ago   132 comments top 40
sho_hn 5 days ago 5 replies      
Can someone explain to me why this is at the top of the front page despite a website devoid of useful detail, while this completely fails to catch on: http://scummos.blogspot.de/2012/11/kdev-python-14-stable-rel...

(Seriously, check it out - KDevelop's Python plugin and Microsoft's PTVS are currently the two projects doing serious work on static analysis of Python for live editing purposes. Here's a nice subthread comparing the two: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4725634)

kghose 5 days ago 6 replies      
It is FOSS (GPLv3). The license information was a wee bit hard to find (Wayyy down on the about page http://ninja-ide.org/about/) and I first thought it was some frankenstein freemuim product where you had to apply for a free license if you were an OSS devel (like PyCharm) etc. etc.

I gave it a whirl:

1. Snappy, which is nice, since PyCharm can be sluggish on my Mac
2. No VCS integration
3. By default very strict code checking is turned on, which turns my (functional) code into a sea of underlines, which is not so pretty

It looks to be an interesting start, but it will need VCS integration before it looks suitable as a PyCharm replacement.

I didn't look in detail at code completion/code assist, which PyCharm does very well.

ketralnis 5 days ago 0 replies      
I realise these are at first blush, but:

* Scrolling is way too slow. This isn't nitpicking, this is really very important to me

* I like PEP8 warnings and use them in other editors, but I don't like not being able to pick which style stuff I care about

* I don't like the PEP8 tooltips. They cover up my code and that's the worst possible place to put them. Even if I do plan to "fix" the issue, coming up over the code that I'm typing right now is never okay.

* It's really quite a lot of work through some confusing terminology to get a test run of the IDE going on an existing project. I don't want to move my code into your workspace. I don't want to import my existing project (that sounds scary)

* Some glaring bugs seem to indicate that this is more young than is indicated on the very flashy project site. For instance, if I try to import a project but cancel the "select a directory" popup, I inconsistently get it either removing my previous selection or crashing the whole IDE

kstenerud 5 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool all around, but it needs a lot more stability work. It crashed a few times just scrolling around in some of my python projects, and there are quirks such as complaining "This font can not be used in this editor" if I open the font selector and then click "Cancel".

Also, changing the margin line doesn't seem to take effect unless you quit and restart the IDE.

unohoo 5 days ago 2 replies      
What would really help is a small demo video just to get a whiff of what the IDE feels like. The description and screenshots are somehow not enough for me to download and install an entire IDE and take a test drive. If there is a demo video somewhere, my apologies - I was not able to find it.
jra101 5 days ago 1 reply      
Would be nice to be able to selectively disable some PEP 8 rules in the style checker. I don't care about lines longer than 80 characters and I don't like separating functions by two empty lines.
spindritf 5 days ago 0 replies      
"For Ubuntu Users: You can add the NINJA-IDE PPA and install it from there (you will get automatic updates!)"


Thank you.

gatox 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hello, I'm part of the NINJA-IDE Team, and first to all, I would like to thank everyone for the feedback (good ones, as much as bad).
Currently we are working to make NINJA-IDE compatible with Python3 (among other features) and taking care of several issues to ensure better stability (and guide the development process with tests).

I hope we can find the time to take care of some of the stuff mentioned here as videos, screenshots, user guide, etc.

It's a lot of work, but we are proud of what we can achieve with a free software project.

Thx everyone!

hoka 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'll definitely give it a shot.

From a usability perspective, your download button could be better. It doesn't download right away (which is fine), but redirects to downloads/win for me. Might be nice to have it auto-scroll to the win downloads since it took me a while to figure out what was going on.

Here's a screenshot from Win7 32-bit: http://i.imgur.com/2RT6u.png

That random pink line makes it unusable for me.

yuvadam 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't know about the IDE but that font is horrendous.
mikle 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to be that guy, but after almost a decade doing Python one thing I learned is that we prefer Pythonista, not Pythonist.
recuter 5 days ago 0 replies      
Something something second system syndrome, just use vim/emacs/sublime. 'etc.
buster 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow.. how did this not make it to HN before? Already version 2.1.1 and never heard of it?
zlapper 5 days ago 1 reply      
As others have already mentioned, PEP8 validation is enable by default, which is a little excessive in my opinion (specially with the line < 80 chars rule). It would be great to be able to disable individual rules, a la Ecliplse/Netbeans.

All in all it looks very nice, thanks for sharing.

wcoenen 4 days ago 1 reply      
My experience when I tried it on Windows 7:

0) Downloaded and installed it. For some reason the installer was in Spanish. Launched the IDE itself. Fortunately it was in English.

1) clicked file - new project, selected python, named it "test"

2) tried to type the project location, it wouldn't let me. Selected the project location via the "Examine..." button instead. (The filesystem browser launched in program files instead of my home folder.)

3) typed print("hello world") in __init__.py

4) hit F6 to run. This doesn't seem to do anything except pop up a save dialog. The only output I get is "Failed to start" with no further indication of what is wrong.

Chosing a "main file" in the project properties didn't seem to make any difference. I don't know how to make this thing execute code.

stevoski 5 days ago 1 reply      
How does this compare to PyCharm?
shill 5 days ago 0 replies      
I am already extremely satisfied with PyCharm. I'll keep an eye on this though. Being able to write plugins in Python is promising.
veeti 5 days ago 1 reply      
Although vim has almost completely sucked me in already, does this thing have support for 1) separate indentation settings for different file formats and 2) separate indentation settings for different "projects"?

I've been looking forever for a text editor that does this and surprisingly few do.

endtime 5 days ago 2 replies      
Having very recently switched to Sublime Text 2 (from Komodo Edit), I'm curious if this offers anything that can't be done with Sublime + mature existing plugins...?
jlujan 5 days ago 0 replies      
On mountain lion, it requires X11. Not sure why as my PyQT apps do not.
masukomi 5 days ago 0 replies      
am i the only one who's really wishing there were some real screenshots to check out before downloading the thing?
dmd 5 days ago 1 reply      
Crashes on launch for me.
nirvanatikku 5 days ago 1 reply      
Crashed while scrolling =( Was curious, but can't see myself moving away from PyCharm/Sublime.
btipling 5 days ago 0 replies      
It can't seem to create or open JavaScript files. How does one use it with Django?
rxc178 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is nice, but one quick question, why's the windows installer in spanish?
azinman2 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tried it out on existing code. Was complaining that spacing wasn't a multiple of 4, when I set it to 2 spaces in the prefs. I even reloaded it and verified the setting.

Back to Sublime!

gruuby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot use an IDE that doesn't feature a vi mode for the editor. I'd be very, very lost. I'm yet to find an IDE that doesn't get in my way, vi mode or not.
indiecore 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, it would be good to have some screenshots and stuff though, I'll definitely check it out.
ezolotko 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tried it on Windows.
Why it is never a commercial-grade UI in projects like this?
Why it is not like Idea?
Why it is not like Visual Studio?
Why it is still glitchy, blinky, brogrammer-art thing?
pablosanta 5 days ago 0 replies      
It keeps crashing on me. I'm on Lion. :(

Looks good though. I thought it was going to be YET ANOTHER ECLIPSE distribution, but apparently it's not. It seems to be pretty fast. Hope they fix the crashing issue on Lion soon.

misleading_name 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks pretty, but I opened a 200 line python file on Mountain Lion and it crashed after 30 seconds. Also the scrolling was annoyingly "jumpy".... just not smooth.
DodgyEggplant 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wing IDE is great
neil_s 5 days ago 0 replies      
The name of the IDE emphasizes that its not just yet another IDE, and yet I don't see anything new here, or any difference from existing IDEs, other than heavy Python support.
pacman128 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tried it out on Windows. Was liking it, but then discovered that it is converting my files to UNIX format when saving them on Windows!
jotaass 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just tried it. Looks nice but a bit lacking on the code completion, i think. Maybe I need to give it another chance.

Also, I think would be nice if there was a way to interact with the console after running a script. I realize this may be sort of an odd request, but it is very convenient when you're not quite sure on how you want to solve a problem, and you need to try out some solutions interactively. I greatly enjoy this in spyder, my current python ide of choice.

silasb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is this based on QT Creator?
ninetax 5 days ago 1 reply      
It would be great to see some screen shots.
zdanozdan 5 days ago 4 replies      
whats wrong with emacs ?
datashaman 4 days ago 0 replies      
QT toolkit. urgh...
gfosco 5 days ago 1 reply      
As soon as I see the words "cross-platform" on an IDE, I'm no longer interested. Looks really nice though, they did a good job with branding.
Norway is building thorium reactor smartplanet.com
227 points by sasoon  1 day ago   96 comments top 15
marvin 1 day ago 8 replies      
If I am correctly informed (would love to hear from people who are involved in the project), this project is being done in spite of the Norwegian government's stance on nuclear energy.

Thor Energy and its associated researchers have tried to stir up support for thorium reserach for years now, but there has been very little support and large amount of uninformed opposition ("nu-cu-lar is baaaaaad"). A number of physicists, notably Egil Lillestøl at the University of Bergen, have talked to official figures about this for a long time about this without getting any kind of traction.

Thorium energy seems to be a very promising candidate for safe, clean and cheap next-generation nuclear power. If these researchers manage to develop something without official support, it would be impressive indeed. That the Norwegian government isn't willing to support clean energy research is really quite baffling, given that the energy sector is hands-down the largest contributor to the Norwegian economy. And Norway has the world's second-largest known thorium reserves. For all our supposed good policies, we are still subject to mob rule and completely uninformed detractors.

pjscott 1 day ago 3 replies      
This isn't one of the fancy liquid fluoride thorium reactors that people immediately think of. It's a scheme for incorporating thorium into the fuel mix in existing reactors. Still very cool.
NatW 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those who haven't seen it, I highly recommend this video on liquid-fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR): https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=...!

I passed the video by my uncle who was an expert/engineer dealing with control and safety of water cooled reactors. This is what he had to say:

"I found the video very informative technically, as well as being effective in countering many of the the arguments of those who profess to be against nuclear power in any form. I also found the details of the design of the liquid thorium fluoride reactor intriguing. To become an advocate for further investment in this concept, I would have to learn more about how the concept deals with the safety issues involved in the handling of fluorine gas and fluoride materials."

jfaucett 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems this has sparked some debates on nuclear vs renewable energy so I thought I'd add a ted talk that explains some pros/cons of each for those interested: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mackay_a_reality_check_on_ren...
ScotterC 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interestingly this has already been done in the U.S. kinda. Back when I was working on Indian Point Units 2 & 3 I found a paper about Unit 1 where - about 30 years ago - they mixed in some of the fuel bundles with Thorium to see how well the neutron flux would turn it into Uranium and possibly breed more fuel. It was really fascinating but, although they had some success, there was really no need for it in the U.S. because Uranium is not in short supply and as this article points out, solid fuel reactors kind of dismiss all the advantages of thorium.
kayoone 1 day ago 2 replies      
While germany is getting out of nuclear power altogether... their "Energiewende" plan is very ambitious but i wonder if its not better to invest into nuclear power to make it saver instead of getting rid of it completely. I dont know much about it though, what do experts think?
allerratio 1 day ago 0 replies      
The title is misleading. They only test thorium in an already built conventional reactor. Meanwhile in Germany they developed a conceptionally more safe reactor type powered by thorium, built a test reactor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVR_reactor) and an industrial reactor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/THTR-300). They're both shut down now, partly because of safety concerns: Water leaking into the cooling circuit can lead to explosions (which happened in small amounts)

So I guess only time will tell if new reactor types really are better than current ones.

gingerbreadman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kalpakkam, India has already been in works for years! The design for it according to wikipedia had been started in the 80's.


patrickk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Peter Thiel's class had an interesting part on Thorium: http://blakemasters.tumblr.com/post/23787022006/peter-thiels...
teeja 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"I think from a long-range standpoint--I'm talking about humanity--the most important thing we could do is start by having an international meeting where we first outlaw nuclear weapons and then we outlaw nuclear reactors, too." - Hyman Rickover, January 28, 1982
gregsq 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's no insinuation in my posting this link, and it's not directly pertinent to Thorium reactors, but the free PDF downloadable from here is a good reference for these kinds of discussions, I think. Helped me with perspective anyway.


henrikgs 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to an article in a norwegian newspaper[1], there are much bigger challenges in extracting the thorium from the ore in Norway. The thorium in India is supposedly easier utilize.

The technology today requires use of a lot of nasty chemicals to extract thorium. I think this is a big issue for the government in addition to running nuclear reactors.

[1]In norwegian: http://www.aftenposten.no/okonomi/Gigantisk-energikilde-i-Te...

Andrea1 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A Liquid Fluoride Thorium Ractor is as safe a unit as is possible. Look it up online. Much safer, cheaper, and more versatile than a bulky CANDU. It can be throttled and scaled which is a huge advantage. There is plenty of easily accessable thorium worldwide. It also can generate radioisotopes that are extremely useful and much more readily extracted from the reactor than those currently used.
Time to begin building these.
Empro 1 day ago 0 replies      
zachshallbetter 1 day ago 0 replies      
no way!
Gmail and Drive - a new way to send files gmailblog.blogspot.com
224 points by neya  5 days ago   93 comments top 23
guelo 5 days ago 12 replies      
Totally off topic but blogspot is just awful. Why does everything have to be a complicated buggy JavaScript app? There's nothing wrong with serving up good ol HTML pages, especially for simple text and images content like a blog.
munin 5 days ago 1 reply      
> Have you ever tried to attach a file to an email only to find out it's too large to send?

Yeah! Some jerk who runs my MTA set the size of acceptable attachments really low! I wonder who did that...

$ host -t mx mydomain.com

mydomain.com mail is handled by 0 aspmx.l.google.com.

Oh... I see.

simonsarris 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is lovely. Very welcome.

Sending and sharing files are two of those things that are just now sluggishly rolling over to discover that it's a new millennium.

Dropbox and Drive are making great strides lately and I'm really thankful for it. Using Dropbox to have the same "folder" across three computers is the first time synced sharing ever felt intuitive enough for my (71 year old) father to regularly use, and now he can use this to reliably send larger files to people without any worry of fouling up permissions (that would otherwise be difficult for him to understand).

WayneDB 5 days ago 2 replies      
I never liked the idea of hosting my own files on someone else's server (Dropbox) or sending them through a middle-man.

That's why i just run my own "cloud" on my own premises. If I want to give someone access to a file, I just throw it on my Synology DiskStation and the receiver can get at it via FTP or HTTP client.

revelation 5 days ago 1 reply      
So can we use that to send binaries to people? Because gmail will absolutely not allow you do that. They will go as far as inspecting archives to look for binaries and ban you from sending them.
stephenhuey 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is long overdue. I've been inserting links to Google Docs (the old name for Drive files) into emails forever, but plenty of people I know don't realize how easily they can do that and give up if a large file cannot be attached to an email. I'm also surprised by how many Gmail-using friends of mine don't even know there's some hefty free file storage a click away even though the link to it has been at the top of their Gmail for years.
danbarker 5 days ago 3 replies      
I've been paying for Google Drive for several months because I really, really want it to work, but it's actually kinda useless as it causes constant instability and 120%+ CPU load on my 2012 Macbook Pro. This means that I frequently close the application down, so it's not actually covering me and if I lost my computer, the most recent files probably wouldn't be covered. There's been an open issue about this in the support forums for months and there's no news on when they're going to fix it...
tedmiston 5 days ago 2 replies      
A welcome feature, but we can't ignore the paradigm shift's tiny repercussion: once the sender deletes the file, the receiver will no longer be able to access it (assuming they've lost, deleted, or not yet downloaded their own copy). Lately I've used shared Dropbox folder links for larger attachments, but the same problem seems to persist with any hosted solution. A solution that pleases both the sender having control over their files and the receiver having long-term access is tough to imagine.
paulirish 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been dogfooding the "Gmail will double-check that your recipients all have access to any files you're sending" feature for a month now and it's FANTASTIC. If you use Google Docs a lot, this saves so much permission pingpong.
benaiah 5 days ago 1 reply      
So, in other words, Gmail just added a feature that Hotmail/Outlook.com have had for years.

golf clapping

kissickas 5 days ago 1 reply      
> Now with Drive, you can insert files up to 10GB

Hmm, how much space do I have in there now?

0% of 5 GB used... Now it makes sense.

yason 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is how email could work too. The sender would host it (by himself or in cloud) and the recipients go fetch it when they want to read it. Updates and comment threads all collect into the same place. No spam either since nobody would be pushing tens of megabytes of messages to your inbox.
csmatt 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's about time!

I use Google's cloud-based services for as much as I can, but it's still not seamless and is annoying when I have to open a new window to access a service run by the same company providing the one in the page I'm on.

Next step: Please allow me to easily save PDF's and other documents directly to Drive from a URL. I shouldn't have to download a file to my device and then upload it to drive.

jdbevan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is no-one else worried about these TOS applying to their email attachments?

you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).

EDIT: I guess it's a moot point if you're already using Gmail.

kamakazizuru 5 days ago 0 replies      
this is awesome! it might also just tip the scales from dropbox over to drive. I cant believe something so obviously powerful took so long! I do hope that it will allow me to share files with non-gmail users as well!
goronbjorn 5 days ago 1 reply      
There is a really good third-party Chrome extension that effectively does this already and also works with Box and Dropbox: https://attachments.me/
fudged71 5 days ago 1 reply      
Question: so with this, I can send an attachment and change the file before the recipient opens it? Will they see if it has been modified? Will I see when they have accessed it?
mitko 5 days ago 0 replies      
plug: my friend built a chrome extension that does a superset of that - it is called Cloudy and integrates with filepicker.io which lets you choose files from multiple cloud storages:

disclaimer: I work for a Google competitor

ivanb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is this minuscule feature worth the front page?
agumonkey 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this will cause storage optimisations on their data centers.
kexek 4 days ago 0 replies      
Would be perfect if they add this Google Drive attachments functionality to Sparrow. Someday.
facorreia 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems very useful. I bet I'll be using that a lot.
stephengillie 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry for being pessimistic, but any speculation on the vulnerabilities this connection opens?
       cached 3 December 2012 05:11:01 GMT