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I love you, dad notch.tumblr.com
1072 points by kjackson2012  4 days ago   209 comments top 45
edw519 4 days ago 3 replies      
Notch, if you're reading this, my deepest sympathy. I understand the devastation of losing a parent; I lost my mother about a year ago. I'm still not "back to normal" and don't know if I ever will be.

I used to do art, music, and comedy, and even practiced my religion, often just for her. I loved to make her laugh and it was so easy to make her proud. In the past year, I have done none of that stuff and don't know when or if I ever will.

Programming is one of the few things I've ever done that I never did just to say, "Hey Ma! Look what I did!" She never understood it. So in the past year, it's one of the few things I've been able to do. I've written a ton of code and taken great comfort it in.

I won't even attempt to give advice; none of the advice I've received from well-intentioned others in the past year has been helpful. I just hope you, me, and others like us find comfort in the wonderful memories of beloved parents and find a way to move on with our lives.

More about my mother here: http://edweissman.com/betty-weissman-1930-2011

DigitalSea 4 days ago 2 replies      
This story hits close to my heart. I lost my mother a little over a year ago due to chronic alcoholism. She had been drinking for years, battled post-natal depression and one day we convinced her she was really sick and needed to go to the hospital. Her liver was in the process of shutting down, she was so dehydrated and malnourished her veins had shrunk making it difficult for doctors to take blood or put in drips. I remember the day that she went to hospital I forced her to go to the doctors and every test they ran came back red, her cardiogram yielded a weakened heart rhythm and it was at that point she realised she needed to go to the hospital, little did we know it was too late to help her.

The doctors were shocked at the state she was in. He offered to call an ambulance, but my mother wanted to be driven to the hospital instead. I knew she would try and talk her way out of it by refusing an ambulance, but finally convinced her there was no way she wasn't going. She was obviously scared and we all told her that going to hospital meant she'd get better and she probably wouldn't be in there very long, I didn't expect she would be dying in hospital two days later.

As soon as she was admitted she went straight into the emergency ward. She was under watch 24/7, hooked up to machines that monitored everything. She was still very much with it, just not as energetic. She could hold a conversation, she just looked aged but wasn't delirious or anything. We thought she was going to get better, she was in emergency for one day before being moved to a ward where she wasn't being monitored as carefully. I think it was a mistake moving her to a ward so soon.

She never told anyone she was scared or needed help. Apparently she would call my dads sister and cry to her when everyone was asleep saying she was afraid of dying. My dads sister tried to take her to the doctors repeatedly, but I think knowing something was wrong and being scared stopped her from wanting to go to the doctors until it was too late.

She was on 4 saline drips (one in each wrist and one in each knee) to try and hydrate her body. I still remember seeing her lying there with 4 drips, I didn't even know they could do that. She started showing signs of recovery, was more level-headed, but tired and lethargic. She actually seemed like she was getting better, her pulse was getting stronger and the hydration she was getting was helping her, and then at 3am one morning after being in the hospital for 2 days we all got a call that she went into cardiac arrest and they tried to resuscitate her for 1 hour before giving up.

I often wonder if she would have lived longer if she didn't go to hospital. Part of me thinks that her body couldn't handle four drips pumping saline into her body 2 days straight constantly, she had a weak pulse and the fact her veins had shrunken to me thinks she should have stayed in the emergency ward for a couple more days.

She left behind her son (me) and 5 daughters one of which only just turned 8 years old. It's made my dad incredibly strong, I've never seen him cry before. I still remember that day vividly, he's had his fair share of alcohol related problems and has been battling depression and a nervous disorder his entire life due to being abused as a child but I think he's stayed strong for us. I am worried that one day a switch might flip in his head and he'll have a breakdown, but I don't really want to think of that.

I know how you feel Notch, you never quite get over losing a parent. I partially blame myself for my mothers death. She had a drinking problem for years and I did nothing. She was obviously in decline and although everyone tried to get her to go to the doctors, she wouldn't. Did we try hard enough?

Thanks for sharing your story Notch, I think there are many who have lost a parent due to an alcohol incident like yourself. It's hard to tell people you lost a parent to alcohol, let alone talk about losing a parent in such a horrible way.

People say drugs like marijuana are bad, alcohol is the worse of them all.

My mother was 48 years old.

jbail 4 days ago 6 replies      
That gave me chills.

I'm constantly impressed by people that have the ability to share their personal life with the world in an honest way that reveals the vulnerabilities we all share as humans. It is so much more refreshing than the opposite, where we pretend our lives are perfect and we never experience moments of doubt or melancholy.

It is rare to see someone make a post like this. This is precisely what makes it so refreshing and beautiful.

tharris0101 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've never met Markus Persson, but its obvious from reading his tweets and posts that he is a good person. If anyone deserves the success he's had, its him.
speeder 4 days ago 7 replies      
I am very happy that my parents are married to each other, and my alive grandparents too, and that they don't have issues like this (what my father "abuse" is coca-cola, he rarely drinks, and noone smokes).

And I am very sad to see that all other families are crumbling.

I am seeking a girlfriend that wants to be a mother, and I am not finding, most of them are self-centered, and come from divorced families, the only girl that ever became my girlfriend (and is still a good friend) was the only one that I found that still had married parents.

steferson 4 days ago 0 replies      
My uncle hanged himself after years being an alcoholic, the alcohol destroyed his family and pushed him away from everybody.
Near the end of it all he was acting delusional, lying to his bar friends about how good his life was, just stright up making stuff up, like having a huge barbecue in his non existant farm, or so I heard through my dad.
He killed himself between christmas and new year. His son spent christmas in my house, and I had the idea to go visit him, and days later he killed himself.
For the longest time I blamed myself, I kept thoughts like "maybe if I had gone...", I kept believing that maybe the wanting to go see him was God's way to stop the tragedy from happening. I no longer blame myself, though I do wonder if having gone there would have changed anything.

Anyway, powerful blog post

redad 4 days ago 11 replies      
My father has substance abuse problems too (alcohol dependency for 20 years) and it has destroyed his relationship with my siblings and my mother, he's going to lose what little he has left very soon and I genuinely fear he's going to do something very similar to what is mentioned here. I am the only child that will talk to him without contempt and I have long since left home. He lost his own father very recently and that pushed him deeper.

What do I do? How do you deal with a situation like this?

recycleme 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of readers will probably have some self-reflection after reading this. It might even push some to give their parents a call, or sort out some issues. Even someone with a perfect family will remember that nothing lasts forever. Enjoy your time friends.
singleserv 4 days ago 1 reply      
While there are sympathetic ears, I thought I would share my own story, just so I can let it out.

I'm the son of immigrants who worked hard to get me the best education that they could afford. My family have been through hard times and good times, and back to hard times recently since the housing bust.

Money had always been a thorn for as long as I can remember.

Some time during college, while tasting such freedom (education afforded by grants and loans from my father), I began to experiment and grow more distance from my parents. My mother was having a hard time for various reasons, and she was very disappointed that I didn't call her every week as she had asked.

I stopped calling, and sometimes ignored the calls. The relationship began to sour, with hateful messages left in voicemail, admonishing me for something or another.

It wasn't always bad. I would go back for holidays and such, but they would always say, that I need to visit every Christmas and Thanksgiving, because that is the right thing to do. It was always like that: I need to do something because it is the thing to do. I can't be friends with someone at school because they had a quarrel with my friend's parents, and it is the right thing to support your parents. I have to break up with my girlfriend (way back in highschool) because I need to focus on my college education. I need to repay them when I become rich because they provided for me.

I haven't seen them in 3 years now. I'm afraid my father is forever doomed to be guilted into providing for my mother, who forever states how she hates my father being inadequate in so many ways. She says she can't leave him because she has no way of sustaining herself. He says he loves her, and that she is ill and doesn't mean what she says to me and him, but I can't tell if he's lying to himself because the alternative is too sad to contemplate, him having cut off his relationship with his own mother and family because she compelled him to do so a long time ago.

Anyways. There's too much to this story. I can go on but the details don't matter.

I wish I had a cool story about my dad saving a dog in the ice. I don't. But I did have a loving family once. It got ripped apart by money and lies and insecurities, and I've been left with estrangement and a sense of longing for over three years now. I could give them a call, as I've done before, but I've been there once and it didn't help -- I feel like I'm healthier this way.

I'm thankful for my dad who continues to say that he believes in me, through sparse email correspondences. I'm thankful for my mother who insisted that I be educated well. I wish we had it better, and I wish this guilt doesn't last forever.

lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you

We have to stop pretending our professional lives are divorced from our personal - they grow out of one another, and in programming like other forms of writing the end result depends hugely on who we are as people - Hemmingway would never have written about a boy wizard.

Notch's work flows from who he is, and that flows a lot from who his father was.

Keep on flowing

phaus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've had the misfortune of personally knowing at least 3 people who have killed themselves while mixing medication with alcohol. One of them was on antidepressants, but the other two weren't being treated for any sort of mental condition.

There seems to be an awful lot of people out there who think the warning labels on medication are to be taken about as seriously as the tags on a mattress. I promise you, the warnings are there for a reason. You can be an otherwise perfectly happy person and end up shooting yourself in the face if you have a bad reaction. If you are taking any sort of medication that prohibits alcohol, please follow the directions. Your friends and family members don't want to read your obituary.

lectrick 4 days ago 2 replies      
Did anyone else just stare at the screen for a while after reading that?
thispassisweak 4 days ago 1 reply      
This hit pretty close to home. My father just moved in with me after calling me last week and telling me he was going to kill himself. I managed to calm him down and convince him to move in with me for a while, so hopefully this is the beginning of the road to recovery.

Reading the comments helps to know there are others helping to carry the burdens of their own families. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories.

chubbard 4 days ago 0 replies      
That was a touching story, and I'm sorry to hear about your father's death. My best friend's father was an alcoholic. I watched as my best friend struggled trying to build a relationship with him. I don't think he ever had any of the touching moments you described with his father, and I think it still affects him to this day.

It sounds like you have good memories about him, and knew that he loved you. And for the most part that's all we can ask from our fathers.

eranation 4 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most honest, deep, meaningful and moving posts I've seen here in my short history in HN. I wish you'll never know sorrow again, my deepest condolences.
gprasanth 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why do bad things happen to good people?
toadi 3 days ago 0 replies      
My father was a alcoholic too. I hated him too and haven't seen him for years. Never wanted to have kids becaue I always think I'm not good enough.

Now I have a kid and even I'm doing better then my father I feel bad because I think I could do better. Because I want my own life and take care of him. Don't know if I balance it right....

Anyway your yought can make you strong or break you... You never know...

peterhost 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haven't seen it mentionned a lot in comments, but it also happens that drugs are not the culprit. Your brain might be, or more largely your DNA. Drugs and alcohol are just ways (self destructive) to try and cope with the fact of simply being alive.

I had such an alcohool problem when i was 26 or so (some serious, drink alone thing). Only 10 years afterwards was i diagnosed with a problem in neuro-trnamitters, which another drug (medecine) just made disappear. I've been living 6 years in a world without fear and mental pain, since, something i've never experienced before. My brain was the main culprit.

I just wish we could advance our understanding of the brain so as not to serve people anymore of "god hate you" / "it's your fault" bullshit.

I'm gonna kick some creeper's asses tonight in memory of all the suffering ones (yeah, creeper's are good scapegoats, i know it's not their fault either;). Thx all of you for sharing, i've spent an interesting evenig reading the whole thing.

rdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Even though I think drugs should be decriminalized or legalized, it's clear there needs to be a lot of effort put into helping people who have problems with them (including alcohol).

If you add up all the years of life destroyed by drug addiction, and all the external harms, spending all the money we currently spend on prohibition on treatment would be a bargain.

colmvp 4 days ago 1 reply      
"I now have an entire life to live without him existing." Beautiful but sad words.
Aco- 4 days ago 0 replies      
Brought a tear to my eye, that last paragraph was intense.
PhrosTT 4 days ago 0 replies      
The strongest plants grow in harsh conditions.
tinok 4 days ago 0 replies      
This post and comments here made me leave work early to go home and hug my kids extra tight this evening.
jggonz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing, it helps you and all of us that have lost a loved one. I lost my father to liver cancer this past January. He was my best friend. Almost every day I replay wonderful memories of conversations, funny moments, and life events we experienced together. I now seek for ways to connect to him and keep those memories alive. I am working on writing them down, so that I can somehow show my toddler some day the wonderful father I had. I collect the tools that we shared to work on electronic projects and cars. The thought of holding something that my dad held in his hands makes it easier.

Keep loving your dad, and each time you replay a memory in your mind, write it down... It'll keep you two connected.

bond 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, didn't expect that ending... :(
kayoone 4 days ago 0 replies      
I dont know if Notchs recently failed marriage has something todo with this but it looks like he had a very very tough last year :(
ruggeri 4 days ago 0 replies      
Like others here, I was touched by the honesty of this. Thanks.
kiskis 4 days ago 2 replies      
What is interesting is that he did Ludum Dare competition just days after this. Maybe that was a good therapy for him as well, but in any case that's quite respectable to be able to focus after a tragedy like that.
simonebrunozzi 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry to hear this. I love my dad, who is still alive, and I think I should try to spend more good time with him, now that we live far away.
My sympathy to you, Notch.
bstahlhood 4 days ago 0 replies      
Notch, I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. You are strong. Thank you for all your awesome contributions to the the gaming and programming communities.
richardlblair 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I could put into words how sorry I am that this happened.
asfdfdasfafdsss 4 days ago 0 replies      
Notch, I'm so sorry. I know what it is like to lose a parent. It sucks and it doesn't seem to go away.

What a great post. Thanks for sharing your life with us. Please continue to make your dad proud, and be a path for the rest of us in similar circumstance.

c141charlie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very moving. Now inverse the situation, where it's your child who dies. The pain would be at least 2x worse. And this is what happened in Connecticut today.
bogatyrjov 2 days ago 0 replies      
I understand when somebody writes an article in the format : "When I founded XXX, <some incredibly touching story>" or "I am <11-15> years old and this is my side project, check it out". But when You tell about someones death in your story to promote your product, if it is your close relative... I think it is disgraceful.
slajax 4 days ago 0 replies      
+1 for being transparent with your personal life. Very commendable.
acremades 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am sorry to hear you had to go through that Notch. My heart and prayers go to you and your family.
pacmon 4 days ago 0 replies      
This was a very lovely note to read. My father died about two hours ago. I miss him immensely.
sbate 4 days ago 0 replies      
I love Notch even more. Grumpy swede.
shanellem 4 days ago 0 replies      
Incredibly touching post.
zunky 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing and my deepest sympathy.
quizotic 4 days ago 0 replies      
beautifully written, and resonates with all us who have lost their dads. Thank you.
theltrj 3 days ago 0 replies      
tragic, so sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing
ranza 4 days ago 0 replies      
and now i cry...
sonabinu 4 days ago 0 replies      
my heart goes out to you Notch.
lewisflude 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thinking the unthinkable anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com
944 points by aaronbrethorst  2 days ago   433 comments top 48
unimpressive 2 days ago 9 replies      
> “Then I'm going to kill myself,” he said.

I remember doing that.

> He's been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

I remember that.

> A few weeks ago, Michael..threatened to kill me

I did that too.

She forgot to mention the time(s) he threatened to run away. (I'd be surprised if he didn't.)

After a marathon of transfers, expulsions, and incidents, I was at the end of the line. My parents interrupted my electronic solipsism for a moment to tell me the truth. It was a long conversation, but it can be summed in a sentence.

"Son, you're out of options, if you want to have a future you need to play nice at this next school."

Maybe I'd been delivered that message in the past, if I was, I don't remember it. This time it clicked for me. I realized that I'd had my fun hurting the faculty of various schools, but if I wanted to see the day after tomorrow, I would need to stop hurting people.

Before I continue on with my story, I would like to share an anecdote about handwriting:

For the longest time my handwriting was awful. My whole life in fact. When I was learning, I had a mean, evil instructor. She would yell at me when I wrote the letters wrong, it really seemed to bother her. So I wrote the letters the wrong way on purpose, because making her mad was more important to me than drawing Latin runes. Eventually I had learned how to handwrite, entirely wrong, out of habit.

As the years passed by, the root of this badness became obscured in other peoples memory. My mom attributed it to mental illness, everyone else did too. But I knew better. I know better. A few months ago, I decided to improve my handwriting. I would pick a font and learn to write in it. There wouldn't be any tutorials of course, I'd just copy the symbols until they looked right.

At first it was just trial and error, I would try and write the symbol the way I saw it on my computer monitor. (The only one that eluded me is that weird 'a' that looks more like an '&'.) Then, once I figured out how to write the symbol, I would practice the motions over and over on paper. I eventually moved on to writing whole sentences, entirely in this new script. Then whole paragraphs. I stopped short of essays, because by then I had basically mastered the points where my current writing lacked.

Then at school I would apply it, even when it was slower than my normal note taking, I would slowly and methodically do my symbols the new way; the right way. Occasionally I would fall back into my old habits, but only for a moment. Slowly I got better, faster. Over the course of days it became a habit. Over the course of weeks it became second nature. Over the course of months it faded into the background.

Back to my story. I knew I couldn't do what I was doing anymore. So I sat myself down and listened to Linkin Park's Breaking the Habit, over and over, on repeat. The problem is that it's stupid easy to threaten to kill people. It's stupid easy to be a terrible person. I decided I didn't want to be that person anymore, partly because I couldn't be.

I got to school, and did the last overtly malicious thing I can think of. (At least, that can be characterized by my earlier behavior.) There was a boy, let's call him Jacob, Jacob had earned a reward for his good behavior. I knew this before he did, because I was in an introductory one on one with the instructor, to explain the rules. She told me to tell him she wanted to tell him something. But not to spoil it.

I went up to him and promptly relayed that he was in major trouble. He went into the head instructors office crying. I hadn't meant to do that. I figured when he heard that he had actually received an award it would lift his spirits even more. It was a pretty stupid idea.

He came out of her office drying his tears, but still sobbing a little. It hurt me to see this. He didn't deserve that, and it was all my fault. I'd ruined what should have been a happy moment in his life. Of course; the instructor had words for me, they were scalding as I remember them. But as I contemplated Jacob, they were just background noise. I cried.

And after that, things got better. I stopped lying, I stopped calling people names, or threatening to blow them up. Occasionally I would fall into my old habits, but I'd rebound. Eventually, I was so well behaved that they couldn't justify keeping me at a specialty school, I was filtered back into the public school system.

I often think about what my younger self would think of me now, I don't think he would like me very much; in fact he might even threaten to kill me. If he did, I'd probably laugh. I'd tell him the truth:

"You can kill me, but that won't solve your problems."

forrestthewoods 2 days ago 10 replies      
Post like this terrify me. What if there isn't anything that can be done? It seems like there are some people that are just born broken or at some point they break.

Men who experience schizophrenia it often stars in their late teens or early 20s, and late 20s/early 30s for women [1]. I had a friend in high school who was completely normal in every way. During his first year in college he literally just went crazy. It wasn't a singular event but over 6 months he lost it and he's never been the same. He has access to mental health care and after several years his parents even had him committed for a few months. Nothing helps and even his parents have finally accepted that he will never be the same or even normal.

I don't know what we as a society are supposed to do in these cases and that's what terrifies me above all else.

[1] http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/ment...

DanBC 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here are some numbers from Gloucestershire, a rural county in England.

In a population of about 800,000 people there are about 4,000 people on the books of specialist MH treatment services at any time.

There are about 2,000 people with a diagnosis of psychotic illness (eg, schizophrenia). There are about 3,000 people with a diagnosis of mood disorder (eg, depression).

There are about 60 beds for 'adults of working age'[1] with a MH problem. Most treatment is successfully provided in the community by community and home treatment teams. Staff visit people in their homes daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, whatever. Treatment is not just medical and drugs, it involves therapy, but it also involves occupational stuff. (Occupational stuff does not just mean 'work' (although that's important and there are specialist teams focussed on 'place and train' return to work) but includes meaningful social activity, education, exercise, family and friend networks, etc.)

There are no beds in county for children. Children with a need for a psychiatric in-patient stay are sent out of county. (Apart from a short time each year when adult drug and alcohol re-hab is used for children.)

There are a small number of beds in a low-secure forensic unit.

There is an estimated 30,000 (thirty thousand) (high end) or 22,000 (twenty two thousand) (low end) people with a probable diagnosis of one of the personality disorders.

PD is a difficult diagnosis. It used to be a diagnosis of exclusion. Someone with a diagnosis of PD would not be committed to MH hospital, because PD was thought to be not treatable. PD is no longer a diagnosis of exclusion. Someone with a diagnosis can be committed to a MH hospital. But they are much more likely to find themselves involved in the criminal justice system.

Gloucestershire has had a well known incident where someone with a mental illness has killed - (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1182902.stm) (etc).

The serial killers Fred and Rosemary West lived in Gloucestershire. They killed maybe 13 people. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_West)

We hear a great deal about these significant murders. We hear very little about the every day murders - the murders by the sane. Very many children are raped or abused or murdered by their sane parents; very many people are murdered by their sane spouses; very many sane people commit acts of violence every day. We don't hear too much about the number of ill people killing themselves. (UK: about 1000 murders a year, about 4000 suicides per year.)

People with a mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime than to be the perpetrators of violent crime.

The US does have serious problem with terrible care for people with mental illness. Do you really need a spree killing to start that discussion? Do you walk past the homeless and think it's okay so long as they're not killing anyone?

[1] Historically services have been split between "old people"; "adults of working age"; "children and adolescents"; and "people with an IQ < X". There are problems with these arbitrary divisions, and modern services are moving away from them.

jetti 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was reading this and it made me sad. Not because of the obvious content but because of the diagnosis being thrown around and how when reading them my immediate thought was "I hope it isn't a personality disorder". I say this knowing full well that many insurance companies will NOT cover anything related to personality disorders because they feel that they aren't curable.

I still remember when I called my insurance company at my first job after college to see if they would cover an exam to diagnose an autism spectrum disorder for myself. Their response was as follows: they would cover it if I was found not to have autism and they would not cover it if I did have autism. I remember taking time in the private room I was in at work and just crying. It was just so backwards. In fact, I have been putting off going back for further testing solely because the official diagnosis won't benefit me but could only harm me. At least now if I go see a therapist, the individual symptoms would be listed as reason for the visit instead of possibly something that no insurance company would cover.

adrianhoward 2 days ago 2 replies      
I always get rather nervous when I see posts like this. Things like this obviously happen. However - statistically - people with mental illness are no more likely to commit violence than anybody else.

See http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm for example.

When people with mental illness are violent it's usually for the same reason everybody else is. It's usually aimed at family when it does occur - not the world in general.

The story that gets portrayed in the media of mentally ill people being a major danger to the general public is just that - a story. The facts don't back it up.

And those with mental illness have to deal with the bigotry and prejudice that results from this story.

dr_ 2 days ago 3 replies      
I feel for the parent who has written the article, and whereas I agree we must do more to address the needs of kids with mental illness, I disagree with the stated premise of the article, that it's easy to talk about guns.
It's actually not easy to talk about guns in this country, which has led to a lack of any serious gun control regulation. It borders on insanity when we look at the type of weaponry we allow our citizens to purchase, all in the name of an amendment written in a long gone era, where the survival of a fledgling democracy was still uncertain. Just as islamic extremists have hijacked the interpretation of their Koran to serve their purpose, so has the NRA hijacked our constitution to serve its own purpose. And so it's time to come and call out the NRA for exactly what it is - a terrorist organization.
Despite whatever mental illness may be afflicting these young unfortunate individuals - the answer to preventing what happened in Connecticut from happening again is extremely strong gun control regulation. To the point where even those few who are allowed access cannot keep weapons at home. I know this does not make the lives of families of people with mental illness any easier - but at least it prevents tragedies of this sort from occurring.
bambax 2 days ago 11 replies      
> Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom.

There are crazy people in every country on earth, many (most) of which have worse "health care" systems than the US; yet only in the US do kids shoot other kids with automatic weapons.

I very much doubt it has anything to do with mental health (nowhere else in the world are young children medicated for being kids to such an extent as in the US, BTW).

I think there are two main reasons why there are so many shootings in the US
1/ it's a behavior that has ceased to be "unthinkable" (and every reporting of every new incident adds to the problem)
2/ guns are everywhere

I know HN frowns upon any kind of "political" discussion, so I'll won't elaborate too much, but can someone please explain why a school teacher would have three guns in her house, one of them a Glock semi-automatic pistol??

- - -

Also, if I had had a "soccer mom" that told me I couldn't wear a this or that color of trousers when I was 13 (13!!), I would have called her names, too. I have three kids of my own. They can dress any way they please.

rdl 2 days ago 1 reply      
This woman is saying she both doesn't have the ability to handle her son, and is afraid of him. He's repeatedly threatened to kill her, and is old enough to be a credible threat.

I'm all for individual rights, families taking care of their own members, etc., but it sounds like society would be better if there were a way for her to give him to the state or some specialized institution, rather than just waiting for him to be the next spree killer (or just run of the mill killer, or even just suicide).

This clearly falls in the "public health" category of expenses even most libertarians would be fine with taxes and the state covering.

msutherl 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is incredibly important.

Every time I talk to people from outside of the country about the US, the first thing that comes up is the difficulty of obtaining proper healthcare.

ojbyrne 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is the standard NRA line. It's not about guns, its about mental illness. But in fact its about the intersection of easy access to guns and mental illness. It's terrifically hard to screen for mental illness. It's stupidly easy to restrict access to guns.
eloisant 2 days ago 2 replies      
It good to talk about mental illness, but the debate on guns is still relevant.

Here is a similar incident in a country with no easy access to gun:

With a truck and a knife, it's 7 deaths instead of 28.

HorizonXP 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mental health care isn't that easy to obtain north of the border either, here in Canada.

I had to wait nearly 1.5 years to get the help I needed. I've dealt with issues for over 25 years, and only recently have I identified them. I still struggle with them. During the last 1.5 years, I nearly failed out of my Master's program.

Here's hoping I can finish it.

jerrya 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this woman's blog post is interesting, for all the obvious reasons as well as the consideration that Aspergers and other forms of autism are associated with Silicon Valley children.
dreamdu5t 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but what is "society" supposed to do exactly? Last time I checked, mental health professionals don't know how to cure or fix kids like this. What exactly does it mean to say we don't have enough mental healthcare? This article did nothing to help me understand that.
stcredzero 1 day ago 1 reply      
> At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You'll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

Right there, is why we needed health care reform. (And still need more.) I'd like to meet one middle class person who's not on a big company's premium plan tell me otherwise.

maurits 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sobering read, reminds me of this rather depressing NY Times article: "Can you call a 9-year old a psychopath".


alvaromuir 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm sorry. Im a parent. This lady needs to control her kid. Vote it down if you want, but when 'Michael' snaps and shoots up a school then everyone will say shouldve couldve woudldve. She is clearly ALLOWING this behavior. Funny, no mention of a father.

From experience, mothers are way more tolerant of out of control kids.

This is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Zak 1 day ago 0 replies      
There have been suggestions that this woman's son has issues in part due to abuse at the hands of his parents: http://sarahkendzior.com/2012/12/16/want-the-truth-behind-i-...

I don't know enough about the situation to make a claim one way or the other, but it's worth taking note.

f1codz 2 days ago 0 replies      
> In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.

I think it becomes all the more important to talk about weapons when you have a mentally inflicted person in your family.

> methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me

This is exactly what i'm talking about.

> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9...

This is an article i just read after reading this post. According to it: Lanza's mother was a big fan of guns. And taught her son how to shoot. And they had lot of weaponry at home.

I do not know of mental history of Lanza. Assuming if there was a bad side to it, it is obviously very inconsiderate to have such a child being introduced or even be in periphery of any kind of weaponry.

> God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

Amen. Also, in retrospect, it is really important to regulate access to weapons, especially in a case where there is a bad mental history.

patrickgzill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Divorced 4 years ago, children angry, this kid probably needs discipline more than he needs drugs, many of which aren't even properly tested on developing brains.
kcodey 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thank god a post like this was brought up. This incident in CT has undoubtedly brought up a national debate about gun control, but I hope to God it sparks a debate about mental illness, the real cause behind all of these mass shootings.
javajosh 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know a) how often this sort of pattern presented itself historically, and b) what people did back in the good old days? For example, what would a small rural town have done to support someone like Michael? Would they have treated him somehow? Would they have assumed he was possessed by a demon and tried an exorcism? Or would they have found a way to get rid of him in a hunting accident, and had a dirty little town-wide secret? Or what? It's a really hard problem, obviously, and history might at least give us some ideas (possibly some very bad ones, granted).

Of course, since his outbursts are so episodic, it would be interesting to consider installing some sort of drug system in the kid, remote-controlled that either knocks him out or just sedates him when he gets belligerent, similar to how diabetics have insulin dispensers. It would be interesting to see if his "sweet, sunny" self would accept this leash on his evil twin, or even the particularly interesting possibility that he can be taught to observe the episode and trigger the device himself. It would also, of course, be interesting to get an fMRI of his brain before and after an episode - he could advance our knowledge of the biological basis of rage and hatred. Heck, if he's really that smart he'd probably do well to consider a neuroscience track so he can study himself, eventually.

SeanA208 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reading this nearly brought a tear to my eye. I can't imagine what it's like for a mother to fear her own barely-teenage son and worry about the implications of his condition for the remainder of her life. I agree it's important to discuss mental illness and how it should be handled, but what is she suggesting should be implemented to address situations like this?
antidoh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Outlaw guns, knives and rocks, and wink them out of existence, and these people are still there.

Treat them, and some of them will come back.

Outlawing guns doesn't solve this problem. But outlawing guns is the kind of "solution" we like, because a) there's a clear, specific action to argue over, and b) we can focus on it long enough to get the law through and then fool ourselves into thinking we've done something.

jamornh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This blog post reminds me of a New York Times article about Child Psychopathy... I'm not sure if it is the same as Schizophrenia but if they are not the same, I would say the child in this article sound closer to being psychopathic rather than schizophrenic... There are certainly not much the system can do for you in either case.

If you're interested, here's the chilling article by the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-...

doctorpangloss 2 days ago 0 replies      
Children are a severe puzzle. What can we tell mothers like this?

Is there a long-term self-care situation for a child that misbehaves, even if his IQ is "130"? Do we tell her to modify her expectations"that no test can change his disabilities?

Or do we embrace the neurotypical? At low expense the taxpayer can pay people to study kids like these and build an environment where their "high IQ" can thrive.

We are weird with children in this country. Our constitution does not establish any interest, state or federal, in them. We have gun rights and not children's livelihood rights. We abrogate responsibility of the hard question"treat like disabled or treat like special genius"to fallible and powerless parents.

The discussion is not, What do we do with moms or guns? It's what do we do with children.

tribe 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article [1] seems to highlight a number of issues with the original.

[1] http://thegirlwhowasthursday.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/you-ar...

zybler 2 days ago 2 replies      
Right now I can understand why it's a gun control problem rather than a health care problem. But what about when one day 3D printer is everywhere? Printing of firearms would be made possible by high-quality 3D printer and it would be next to impossible to control. Just as it is impossible to control piracy. We have to deal with this problem, before it is deemed too late.
bjm1 1 day ago 0 replies      
After reading the story, one big glaring question. Where is the father? He's not around. Boys need fathers. If you want to screw up a child, take away the father.
pmorici 1 day ago 0 replies      
"And it's impossible to predict what will set him off."

If I had to go to a school that had such ridiculous rules as having to wear black or tan pants I would probably be pretty ticked off too on a regular basis.

shanester 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how I feel about this post but it does make some good points. As someone who grew up with 2 mentally unstable brothers, a bi-polar single mom, and a con-artist dad I feel like I have seen a wide variation of mental conditions that range from genetic, to environment, to choice. I have never once seen a person "fixed" of their mental condition besides depression. One of my brothers went on to be a convicted rapist serving time in prison. My other brother was forced into a mental facility and is constantly sedated due to his considerable talent at making threats. My mother died of a sudden brain aneurism, which may or may not have attributed to her mood swings. My father is on the move enough to avoid most victims of his cons and we talk on the phone once or twice a year. The outcome for each of them has only one commonality, nothing changed. Sometimes the most difficult answer is to admit there is no answer and certain people are stuck with certain personality traits. Sometimes the only solution is to give them a peaceful environment that will keep them and others in the community safe.
_feda_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I live in northern ireland where the state of mental health institutions is probably closer to eastern europe than it is to other western institutions (at least it is in my limited experience). Patients are usually prescribed a bunch of vague, cure all drugs and left to rot. There arent any activities or things to do for patients. Patients tend to get worse rather than better because of effect of the drugs and the general malaise and hopelessness of the place.

Mental hospitals are more or less the lowest common denominator when it comes to treatment of mentally ill people. It takes more money in the short term to do house calls, and to support people in normal life, but in thelong term it is more beneficial to keep these people in the mainstream of society, and not artificially compartmentalized and ostracized.

agotterer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with many of the points you made. But I have some questions. Knowing what you know about yours sons condition, would you ever consider taking him out and teaching him to shoot a gun? You said you lock up all the sharp objects around the house, but do you leave out your pistols and semi-automatic guns?

We definitely need to do and learn more about mental illness. But in the case of Adam Lanza, his mother shouldn't have owned guns and should have never been able to purchase one with a child that's unstable and has a history/record.

forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 1 reply      
We have a mother that is proud of being anarchist loving Che Guevara, a man that will kill those people he did not agree with.

She is having an anarchist child, he does not want someone else to tell him what to do, and reacts aggressively when forced to.

Probably that could be a good thing, Bill Gates had the same issue, as a child he wanted to be left on his own, his parents went to the doctor and the doctor said: leave him, if he wants to leave home or make a company while being a child let him, and they did. It took a lot of money from their family to find a phychologist with common sense.

Not all children are created equal, the round pegs in the square holes are just that. We designed standard schools that more or less work for 95% of the kids.

Those 5% that not, they could burn in hell. If someone is introvert, she must be healed of his disease staying with a majority of extroverts that wont understand him, will isolate and humiliate her because of their fear to what they don't understand.

newobj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Armchair Doctoring on Hacker News, my favorite kind of thread.
gridaphobe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is it so hard for people to conceive of the possibility that there may be multiple issues contributing to tragedies like Friday's? Mental illness is certainly an issue that does not get enough attention in the US. Gun control is also an issue that does not get enough (real) attention. These /two/ issues, and likely others, are together responsible for the shooting.

We need to address both.

geden 2 days ago 0 replies      
which came first - the controlling mother or the breakaway child?
shanev 1 day ago 1 reply      
I never see diet mentioned in articles dealing with mental disorders. Research[1] shows that eating a natural foods ancestral diet free of gluten and casein can reduce symptoms of ADHD and autism. The recent rise in mental disorders seems to be correlated with the rise in diabetes. Could it be all the sugar and processed food we are feeding our children now? Why are we so quick to prescribe drugs with fatal side effects without looking at diet first?

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229105128.ht...

Acumulator 1 day ago 1 reply      
C'mon guys... The kid is not ill. He is angry and pissed of at the world. He has established different society norms for himself and his behaviour is off limits, but he is still in control of his brain and his body. And he understands what he's doing. He is not brain damaged. Don't treat him as one, cuz it would piss me off to.
imperialdrive 1 day ago 0 replies      
As some point, as a loving parent, shouldn't you possess the right to have your son/daughter peacefully put to sleep for the sake of Everyone, and for the Love of God? It's almost too painful to imagine the combined heartache that resonates from the 1 in a million that simply need to be reborn instead of suffer through their glitch.
tempoman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nobody wants to consider the fact that there are children that are unwell. Regardless of whether it is physical (leukemia, bone cancer, any one of a whole host of really nasty immune system related and quite deadly genetic predispositions) or psychological. Schizophrenics have been cute little babies too, with parents that love them very much and want the same wonderful life for there children as anyone else. And that goes for all of the people who have any kind of autism spectrum issue, borderline, bipolar disorder, chronic depression and so on. They exist. Their parents exist and many of those parents are in hell. In absolute hell.
You would do well to remember that, one day you might be the father or mother who is crying themselves to sleep every night wondering what will become of your child or whether they will survive their next suicide attempt. Whether they will ever be able to make it on their own. When the next call from school will come because they've hurt someone. Blaming them accomplishes nothing. It's just a sign that you are lacking in empathy or have never loved something so much that the thought of them suffering is physically painful.
jpeg_hero 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to consider that if the mother, by keeping the troubled child "Michael" in the middle class artificially, she is some how enabling a possible shooter (but still unlikely).

If the child was shunned now, sure, he'd end up homeless in LA, but he would be so busy struggling with his daily existence that he wouldn't have the resources or time to go on a mass rampage.

The father seems to understand this.

xinliang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, the boy is indeed very naughty. But his behaviour or temperament is very likely to be caused by the environment he is livening in (ie. his family and social background).
One obvious inappropriate thing his mom has done is that the mom chooses to threaten the son when he did anything wrong. Threatening only creates fear. And fear is no good, because it will most likely make the son more rebellious. An alternative would be love and care. To have a deep talk with the son, to find out what the root cause of his rebellious reaction is and to help the son cope with the society better may be a bette method. When America has an alarmingly high psychiatric problem rate, it is clear that most of them are not caused by genetics, meaning, they can be changed for good.
Surely, the mom has tried to talk to the son. But the depth of the talk is questionable, simply because when the mom finds it urgent to have a serious conversation with the son, the son may have already developed a distrust against the mom, and the talk can be very difficult.
When the mom gives up to call the police, even the 13-year old son may yet to have a serious mental problem, he will develop one.
elchief 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thinking the unthinkable: boys of single mothers have bad outcomes.
jijji 1 day ago 2 replies      
Where is the father? Boys need a father growing up.
jasongaya 1 day ago 0 replies      
alxp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Angry white adult males don't go to the doctor. Get their guns.
The Web We Lost dashes.com
617 points by kzasada  4 days ago   153 comments top 34
cletus 4 days ago 9 replies      
I think this is an example of seeing the past through rose-coloured glasses.

Yes there was Flickr but you could discover photos. Thing is, Flickr is still there and you can still use it. What's clear from this is that Flickr didn't (and doesn't) cover what is the use case for most people: sharing photos with a limited group of friends and family.

Technorati? Honestly, I think this is an example of living inside a very small bubble. I'd honestly never heard of Technorati until long after it had waned.

I don't agree that the monetization of the Web has degraded the value (to the user) of links on sites other than links on sites aren't the primary discovery mechanism like they used to be, which is actually a good thing (IMHO).

> In the early part of this century, if you made a service that let users create or share content, the expectation was that they could easily download a full-fidelity copy of their data, or import that data into other competitive services, with no restrictions

This is only true to a limited extent IMHO. The primary services for creating information 10+ years ago were email providers. Because Web-based mail was a latecomer, services like Yahoo Mail and Hotmail grew up in an era where many people used Outlook, Thunderbird and other desktop email clients so they had to support POP3 (and later IMAP) and you could use those services to export your mail.

But that isn't the same as designing your services for interoperability. That was an unintended consequence.

As the idea of "your mail, everywhere (you have an Internet connection)" became dominant, so did Webmail. POP3/IMAP became less important.

Again, I consider this a net positive change.

> In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites

This I disagree with. Having your own domain and Website 10+ years ago was pretty unusual. Administering your own site is not easy, particularly as malware became more prevalent. This has declined because no one wants to run their own Website (or email server for that matter) because it's a crazy amount of effort for very little real gain.

The only real problem I see with the present state of the Web is that Facebook wants to own all your data. It wants to be your identity. It wants to be your Internet. That's bad. It's bad for the Web and bad for consumers. But honestly, I don't see it coming to pass. Facebook is just as susceptible to disruption as so many behemoths that have come (and gone) before it.

10+ years ago Microsoft dominated your computing environment. Many couldn't envision a future that would break free of this grasp. In a few short years Microsoft has diminished their control of your computing experience in ways few could've predicted. I'll just leave this as an example of the danger of extrapolation:


smacktoward 4 days ago 9 replies      
I agree with Anil 110% that the Web he's talking about was, in many, many ways, a Better Web than the one we have today.

The problem is that it's worse than the one we have today in the only way that most people care about: it's harder. To participate, it expected you to know how to do a bunch of things that seem trivial to tech folks but frighteningly complicated to everybody else. You had to buy a domain. You had to choose a Web host. You had to know how to connect the domain to the Web host. You had to choose the right software to do what you wanted to do. You had to install that software, and configure it properly.

The reason hosted services became popular is because they let you skip all that stuff. You fill out a form and you're up and running. Someone else worries about all that other stuff for you. This makes those services accessible in a way that the Web of 2000 was not.

Of course, to get that accessibility, the hosted services make you give up a lot of things. You lose access to your raw data. You lose your privacy. You lose the ability to change vendors if the one you're on turns evil.

But to non-technical people, those losses aren't obvious. They don't understand what they've lost until losing those things turns around and bites them. It's like DRM: people don't understand why DRM-encumbered music downloads are bad until their iPod dies and they want to move their iTunes-bought music to an Android phone. "What do you mean I can't do that?" is what you hear the moment the penny drops. But before then, they don't understand the risk.

This is what will need to be overcome to make tomorrow's Web like yesterday's was: it'll need to be as easy for people to use as today's is, or you'll need to educate the entire world about why they should put up with it not being that easy. Otherwise people will keep on blindly stumbling into the heavily-advertised walled gardens, not realizing that's what they're doing until the day they decide they want to leave, and can't.

10098 4 days ago 6 replies      
Maybe I have changed, or maybe the Internet has changed, but I used to meet people on the internet. I used to make friends online, and some of these friendships gradually mutated into "offline" friendships. There used to be message boards, IRC and web chats where people would talk, form groups, become friends or enemies.

People used to have blogs on livejournal or other services, some were trying to create content, write interesting posts. I met a lot of new people through that medium too.

But now everybody is locked inside the narrow bubble of their own social network. People don't become friends on facebook - they usually "friend" their IRL friends. You can't fit a good meaningful post into a tweet. And you can't have a normal discussion without sane comment threads like on livejournal - and I haven't seen that on any of the popular social sites.

That's also a part of the web we lost.

saurik 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is an example in there of how creating a single sign-on service in 2005 being "described as introducing a tracking system worthy of the PATRIOT act". That was years after this kind of thing was considered a problem, however, and it was somewhat rightfully so, and I believe the real story is that things actually got "better" as we came to understand these services more. I am not certain things actually got worse over the last ten years: in some ways they really got better.

Going back to 2002, Microsoft had been working on "Hailstorm", which was a very poorly chosen name for something that people rapidly became afraid of ;P. It was later renamed to "My Services", but it included Microsoft Passport (yes, this is mentioned in the article, but I don't think it is given enough weight), a single sign-on service provider that Microsoft was encouraging other websites to use. It would provide details about you, including your e-mail address, to the sites you connected with.

I had remembered a bunch of people being angry about it, so I did a Google search for "Microsoft Password mark of the beast", and came across an article written at the time in some random magazine called "Microsoft's Passport to Controversy -- Depending on whom you ask, Passport is either a useful consumer convenience or the mark of the beast".


However, it should be noted that one of the fears at the time was not "man, vague centralization is bad", it was "omg, Microsoft doesn't just want this service to take over the web... they want this service to take over the world". Now, of course, you read me saying that, and think "ugh, stop with the rhetoric: that's just an example of people freaking out about something we find common-place; that's what the article is about: did you read it? ;P".

But... it was actually for real. Microsoft was lobbying to make Microsoft Passport be the new US National ID system, and it wasn't just a pie-in-the-sky goal... they were lobbying to make it happen, had the ears of the right people, and were making serious progress on it. For reference, there was an article written about the situation in the Seattle Times with the title "Feds might use Microsoft product for online ID".

> Forget about a national ID card. Instead, the federal government might use Microsoft's Passport technology to verify the online identity of America's citizens, federal employees and businesses, according to the White House technology czar.

> On Sept. 30, the government plans to begin testing Web sites where businesses can pay taxes and citizens can learn about benefits and social services. It's also exploring how to verify the identity of users so the sites can share private information.


I thereby feel the need to note that, even as late as 2005, if you were going to start talking about building the world's next best "single sign-on" provider, this is what you were being mentally compared with: yes, the one service mentioned (TypeKey) ended up having "much more restrictive terms of service about sharing data", but it is looking at the past through rose-colored glasses to think that things have gone downhill.

Let's put it this way: can you seriously imagine Facebook or Twitter ever being considered as the official login system for the IRS? I can't in 2012, but that was the honest-to-goodness reality of "the web we lost" from 10 years ago. At some point, in the last 10 years, it became more, not less, clear to everyone that this kind of service needed limits. There was backlash in 2002; but I believe it was much more fringe-concern than it would be now in 2012.

> Yesterday, appearing at the conference, Gates reiterated the goal, saying he expects governments in many countries will find it difficult getting to "critical mass" with authentication systems they develop on their own. He said some governments may opt to use companies such as Microsoft or America Online as "the bank" that registers people for online usage.

agentultra 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's rather funny when people talk about the, "social web." Before the social graph, technorati, and flickr there were newsgroups, email lists, HTTP, IRC, etc. The Internet itself is a social tool. Perhaps the term refers to some epoch of which I am not aware but it seems to me from a big-picture perspective that we've only narrowly improved the experience since Eternal September.

The "walled garden" networks will always strive to find their value in lowering the barrier to entry for new participants on the web. Facebook makes it super easy to share your photos with your family and friends and passively update them on the minutiae of your life. Twitter does the same thing to large degree in a more public fashion. Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest... all of the same zeitgeist: user experience.

But the cognoscenti are certainly aware that the web is the sum of its parts and walled gardens are antithesis to participation within its ecosystem. However the problem is and has always been participation: there is no single sign-in, no simple user experience, no common parlance for the mainstream to absorb. We got about as far as blogs and stopped there once MySpace, Facebook, et al took over.

I'd prefer a return to the roots but I think we'll need software and services that provide a better user experience and product-based focus rather than the service-oriented approach that has become popular.

untog 4 days ago 2 replies      
Funny that he says all this then has a Facebook comments box at the bottom of the page.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that IMO- people are far more likely to have their real names on Facebook, and thus leave sensible comments rather than total drivel. But it makes a point that he doesn't include in the article- sometimes these centralised information stores can be useful.

joebadmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
After all that, I can't comment on the piece with OpenID or any other service I actually use. Facebook, Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL? Really?

The way out of this mess is for people with loud voices to support efforts like Tent.io, open, decentralized, standardized protocols that don't lock us into corporate silos: https://tent.io/

mrb 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am suprised nobody mentioned it already, but the Google Wave Protocol [0] was exactly about bringing some of these properties back to the Web: easily discoverable information, real-time data feeds, decentralization of content, running your own "site", etc.

The author said "we've abandoned [these] core values", and this is precisely why Wave failed: people don't care enough about these values.

[0] http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2009/05/hello-world-meet-goog...

unimpressive 4 days ago 1 reply      

I hate to add emoticons to this quite serious discussion, but I can't help but think that we've lost; over the course of 40 years, a lot more than the cooperation and interoperability described here.

We lost operating systems that expect the user to eventually learn a programming language.

We lost the expectation that a user will ever learn one.

We lost the early expectations of a peer to peer Internet.

We lost the hope of encryption protecting anybody beyond a few stubborn nerds and activists.

We lost the idea of client programs, forcing more and more of our data into computers we don't control.

Were losing the idea that the public can manage their own computers, as we have thus far seen a poor job of it.[0]

Were losing our memory that these things were possible, that they ever could have been or could be.

Were losing the chance to change these things for the future, should we wish to.

[0]: I remember reading over 50% of computers on the Internet are in a botnet, if anyone could indulge my laziness and source this; I would be grateful.

jasonkester 4 days ago 2 replies      
Anybody remember meaningful URLs?

As in, site.com/view?postid=1234 or site.com/view?userid=1234. Back when "the URL [was] the new command line" and you could easily discover all the content from a site and rework it as you liked. You could tell how many posts a blog had or how many users a site had by pluggin in a few numbers and doing a binary search. No need for an API or a feed. Just look at the URL and you could see what you needed to mess with.

Then SEO happened and URLs started looking like site.com/10-shocking-secrets-about-cat-odor-control-devices, which you can't really do anything with except shorten them to shrt.nr/Ssk and make them even less meaningful.

It always surprised me that nobody complained when we started losing that.

gfodor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Microsoft Passport. I haven't thought about that in years, and recalling how the tech world recoiled in horror then for things we have eagerly embraced now is illuminating.
kamjam 4 days ago 2 replies      
Meh, I disagree with a lot of that. You speak as if the internet ONLY consists of social now. Your points are nostalgic and looking at the past through rose tinted glasses IMO.

Five years ago, most social photos were uploaded to Flickr

You can still do this. People choose not to. I don't want strangers viewing my social pictures, esp if I had kids. These are private moments to be shared with my friends.

Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site

You still can, it's your site. If you decide to monetize your site and display AdWords then that's your call. You don't have to be a sheep and follow what everyone else is doing.

In 2003, if you introduced a single-sign-in service that was run by a company...

Don't use them and create an account. No one is forcing you to use them, but for some of us (me) it's just easier to link several sign-ins together with my Google account. These are generally sites I trust. If I don't trust them then I'll use a disposable email account anyway to register. If the "average man" on the street doesn't know better then that's his/her problem, it's the same basic principle as identity theft and people guard against that. It's time they did the same online.

In the early days of the social web, there was a broad expectation that regular people might own their own identities by having their own websites

Really? A few people maybe, but most non-tech people I know really couldn't give 2 hoots. Wordpress and all the blogging sites have made a lot more people I know open their "own" sites than would have been owning a domain name and all the other hosting and "headache" that goes with it.

Five years ago, if you wanted to show content from one site or app on your own site or app...

Yes, agree it is bad, but that's business. The same thing happens in the real world, just because it is online the principles of business do not disappear and unfortunately not everyone is that tech-savvy and some of those people who pumped millions into a business may not "get" the web like you.

I don't think we have "lost" any of these. People have just decided to move on as the technology has advanced. The internet is a lot more open and a lot more accessible to many more people than it has ever been. As a developer I may care about the above (I don't) but as a regular joe, I don't think I would waste 2 seconds, no matter how long I have been using the web.

aes256 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like the author is wearing rose-tinted glasses to me.

While much of the observations may be true, the web is still a far richer and more valuable resource than it was five or ten years ago.

ricardobeat 4 days ago 2 replies      
I think people are missing the point. Yes, Flickr is still here and you could use it. But Flickr never really got to mobile (a major strategy failure). Do you know since when Flickr has similar functionality to Instagram? Today - they just released a new version with filters.

The point is, you can't build much on top of instagram, twitter, facebook, whatever. APIs are encumbered by pricy licenses, nobody wants to collaborate. Open standards for sharing data are dying. RSS is dead. Mash-ups are dead. Everything is behind private APIs and walled gardens, the web doesn't connect everything anymore.

quasistar 4 days ago 3 replies      
Just a few reasons today's Web trumps anything from the 'Technorati' (seriously?) era: Open API's that reply in JSON, Cloud VPS's at $0.02 per hour, 10 Gb ethernet, 54 Mb fiber in my house, multicore computers in everyones pocket, GPS at everyones fingertips, web frameworks like Sinatra (yes, it took more than three lines of code and two bash commands to publish 'Hello World!' to the web back then), caching solutions like Redis, data crunching pipelines like hadoop, payment processing like Dwolla...need I go on? There will always be folks hankering for the glory days of alt.religion.kibology and compuserve. Ignore them. Create something game-changing instead.
krakensden 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't understand why he thinks the pendulum is swinging back. Is there any particular evidence of that?
benwerd 4 days ago 0 replies      
This. This is the web I care about. The principles that keep me doing what I do for a living. I love this web, and how it works.

But the thing is, I love the web we have now, too. I love the interconnectedness and the fact that you don't need to be technical to find, share and create amazing stuff. You just have to have imagination and humanity.

So, let's go back. Let's take the web we've got today, and let's consciously retrofit it with the plumbing we had back then. Let's take the services we all work on and stick in those APIs. Let's make it all work better together, so that the sum of all the web applications is far more than all the web applications separately.

Think about the back-end services we all value: Stripe. Twilio. AWS. What unites all of them is that they're incredibly simple to develop with, and to connect into other applications. That's why Twitter succeeded in the beginning, too: because its API was simple enough that people could build apps for the nascent mobile app ecosystem. This is good for all of our products, as well as for the web's health as a platform.

It's not hard. That's the beauty of it: all these APIs and standards are simple to build and simple to use. That's why they survived. All that has to happen is an understanding that being closed is not a better way to serve your users or run a tech business.

chris_wot 4 days ago 0 replies      
"...They're amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they're based on a few assumptions that aren't necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks."

Oh my gosh. This is the GNOME project!

dimitar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really miss old-fashioned forums.

I know you can point out that they weren't that different from this site or that facebook groups are not that different, but it doesn't feel the same.

I hope they enjoy a Renaissance someday soon and cohabitate with 'social media'. Maybe a new, shiny framework or CMS for making them?

fleitz 4 days ago 0 replies      
The web we lost is still there, it's just that's it's just as accessible as it was 10 years. We post photos to Facebook not because of the technical superiority but because our friends and family can see them.

You can still put your photos on flickr where no one you know will ever see them.

nnq 4 days ago 0 replies      
We moved in the wrong direction a bit, but still, we moved further and that's all that matters! "Average people" "wanted"/needed the web to become like this because they want "everything in one package" kind of deals and that's the only way they could swallow it... but they've swallowed the "red pill" even if was hidden inside a poisoned cheeseburger, so they're on the right track now.

And we had to move in this direction to get the "average Joes" and your grandma on board. Facebook pushes everything in the wrong direction IMHO, from privacy and censorship and content monetarization to technology (PHP, Hiphop, C++, hackathlons?! what new "toxic" technologies and ideas will they support or "invent" next?), but they and those like them brought "the people" online.

But now that they've survived the poisoned cheeseburgers and digested them, it's time to reap the benefits of the red pill. Now that we've taken the detour necessary to get the non-techies on board, it's time to steer the ship in the right direction!

endlessvoid94 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think most of the frameworks, libraries, and tools we use to build these new services can do an awful lot more to make this kind of thing easier. I actually suspect we'll enter a new age of programming soon, where a lot of the cruft and boilerplate of managing filesystems and metadata around your data (from databases) will be handled automatically, making this kind of thing much, much easier.

Who knows, though. I'm optimistic.

papsosouid 4 days ago 0 replies      
>we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world

No, we didn't. They did. The users of this new non-web never saw the old web, they weren't online then. People seem to forget that the entire internet connected population back then is like 5% of the current internet connected population. Those of us who liked the web are still here, we're just outnumbered.

yo-mf 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Anil missed something in his allusion to AOL. There was an Internet before AOL that a few of us were actively using. There was a thing called “the web” that some folks were toying with while the masses toiled in Prodigy and AOL. Were those services bad or evil? No, but they accelerated the onramping of the next generation of Internet adopters that then quickly moved to the wild and free Web. With the development of the web came all sorts innovation and novel services that brought order to the often chaotic web.

We are on the same onramp now as we were in the late 90's. Facebook, Twitter, et. al. are just another stopping point to whatever comes next. We lost some things along the way, we abandoned some of our anonymity, and in some ways our freedom and experience suffered. But we have also gained tremendously in the decade since. We have smartphones with apps that guide us to cool places and discovery new experiences. We have apps that make our shopping experiences easier and cheaper. We have apps that let us express ourselves in sounds, pictures, videos, text, and to share those expressions of ourselves to the world in a few clicks. We can find any number of experts and sites that offer assistance without flipping open phonebooks or blindly Googling the world.

Yes, we lost something. I also agree that we have forgotten some of the earlier values that made the web such a joy. We got enticed by free apps and gaudy user experiences. However, there will be a backlash someday and the next generation of Internet users will jump outside of these walled gardens to take control of their own online identity.

return0 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would advocate it's a good thing that we have closed social platforms. Most of the content they generate does not leak to search engines and that's a good thing, because most of it is trivialities. Imagine a researcher looking for medical information having to filter through all kinds of anecdotal nonsense to find true scientific studies. It's like browsing youtube and expecting to randomly bump on gems. IMHO, most social stuff is of little value. People still publish in traditional platforms the important bits [with the exception of closed scientific journals; but that's a different issue].
lifeguard 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent writeup. I think it misses an important trend in the Web's population: fewer nerds. It used to be a lot of work to get a PC with a broadband connection. Now every cell phone has cheap broadband and a suite of apps built in. The Web today is mostly populated by users who are not enthralled with the technological underpinnings that make it possible. And that is natural. The the lamentable effect is that now there is a market for accessible communication and media. And this is overwhelming the traditions of sharing and valuing anonymity on the Web.

I imagine the nerd population has grown, and accelerated over time. It is just that the non-nerds are getting on-line much faster.

meerita 4 days ago 0 replies      
I Think Anil went too melancholic with this article. It doesn't give us any clue of the bad things, he just feels the current web isn't right, to my point of view, "the past was better" argument always fails, because in the past there were more chaos than current one, just look how bad was the web 10 years ago with crappy websites coded with HTML and gifs, search engines that didn't do a good job, no webservices at all functioning properly.

Adapt of die.

azio 2 days ago 0 replies      
We also lost Flash. Screw you Steve Jobs for killing it. I remember the days when futuristic sites were built using it with all the advance animation and stuff that nobody is doing these days.
vividmind 4 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook is web's McDonalds.
aaron695 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry but I think this article is totally wrong.

Tags for instance are a classic example of something people raved about, thought would work than were a total failure.

It was found filenames actually gave more useful information to the user than tags.

(PS if it's not obvious hashtags are not tags)

joey_muller 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find myself disagreeing with my cofounder on things like giving the user more and more control. It adds too much complexity. Providing the basic, minimum requirements will be sufficient for 99% of our customers. I'd rather focus on them than the small sliver of folks who'd want that extra control.
barce 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Facebook benefited lots from what could be called "Net Neutrality" in 2003.
rastem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it humorous that the comments on that site are only enabled if you login with Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail.
mattmanser 4 days ago 2 replies      
This guy has the most awesome title ever!

Director of Public Technology Incubator Expert Labs

Listen to him! That's like master of the universe. On steroids. Go Anil, go!

Cards Against Humanity: Results of "pay what you want" cardsagainsthumanity.com
506 points by thaumaturgy  21 hours ago   148 comments top 26
MicahWedemeyer 19 hours ago 7 replies      
It seems like one takeaway is that a significant portion of people will just pay the default as stated, even if given a choice. I think people just have a hard time deciding what something is actually worth, so they'll take whatever advice is given. So, when pricing your products, if you're wondering if you should charge more, the default answer should be "Yes"
gergles 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Argh, I saw this two weeks ago, did a "remember to buy this when you get home" thing, and then forgot. I hope the expansion cards are made available somewhere. I enjoy CAH and am glad to send money as new bits are made available.

It'd be interesting to see if the "pay what you want" strategy works for you guys a second time now that you released such detailed data. You'd think it might make people more likely to pay exactly your equilibrium point just to see if they can get away with it.

gawker 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I think it's absolutely great that they've donated all the proceeds to Wikipedia :) Congratulations. It's heartwarming to know that although there are some free loaders, you were still made a pretty penny.

On the other hand, how come all the design work, copy writing, etc are considered free? That's just masking the actual cost of the product.

Caerus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I ordered this pack and paid the default $5 by mistake (with a bit of laziness), and would bet quite a few others had the same experience.

When ordering, you had to enter your amount before adding it to the cart, with $5 as the default. There wasn't an option to change it later that I could find. By the time I realized it couldn't be changed, I was through most of the ordering process and didn't feel like starting over.

It would be interesting to see how much better they would have done with either a more intuitive checkout (assuming I missed an option) or had more options in the process.

mhb 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Little Monkey Caye (Caribbean island for $55K):


amirmc 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Even though around 20% of people didn't pay anything, they were still able to turn a profit.

I'd love to compare the results of this with other 'pay-what-you-want' schemes.

Edit: "We did all of the web design, video production, motion design, and copy writing ourselves, so these were free." I wonder if the cost of this would technically have put them at a loss (I suspect not).

matthooks 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey guys,

I developed this site. I'll be around for a little while if you have any tech questions.

Edit: Please note that this pay what you can was just for the holiday-related expansion set, not the full game.

jsilence 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the effect would be if you'd simply state the production cost per unit on the ordering page, while still allowing people to pay zero $.
mephi5t0 21 hours ago 10 replies      
I am surprised there were jerks that paid 0. Really? You can't afford give them five bucks? You spend more on beer OR lunch OR coffee in Starbucks if you feel kinky. At least humble bundle not allow you to pay 0 :)
j45 19 hours ago 1 reply      
CAH is one of the funniest and most enjoyable games I've ever played. I was shocked to discover it was pay what you want, and the cards were completely open to print for myself.
IheartApplesDix 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Why did they not donate to Wayback Machine instead? Wikimedia is doing just fine and their fund raising is mostly for advertising and marketing. The site is at zero risk of running out of operating funds. Personally, I'd rather see money go to historic records than revisionist, popular encyclopedia.

Source: http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Plan/Movement_P...

Last financial report: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Financial_Reports/Financ...

Bjartr 20 hours ago 0 replies      
How the heck did I miss this
psc 17 hours ago 0 replies      
What these stats don't show is how many people will go out and buy a full $25 set or have already done so. The expansion isn't particularly useful without the main set, so even if everyone paid $0, it would still probably be a good promotional tool.

Plus the cards are awesome, I don't see how anyone could not want go out and buy the full set and the expansions after seeing this pack.

rickyconnolly 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I really enjoy the flow and layout of this site. Is is a bootstrap derivative?
achy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
They should have randomized the default value within a range that automatically narrowed / increased proportionally against the trending of people accepting the default. They could have optimized their return pretty quickly. 'Pay what you want' can be used for both publicity AND pricing optimization.
ececconi 19 hours ago 3 replies      
You know I never thought too much about Cards Against Humanity before this, it always popped up as a best seller on Amazon but I didn't feel like giving it a whirl. This story alone, is making me very intrigued on what the game is like to play.
xxpor 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> We did all of the web design, etc. so these were free.

That's not entirely true. Opportunity cost is still a huge cost.

alexbosworth 9 hours ago 0 replies      
$36,550 to the credit card companies against $70,066 profit?
RaphiePS 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they could have made more by using Humble Bundle's model of unlocking an extra if the buyer pays more than average. Keeps the attractive flexibility of pay-what-you-want, but actually incentivizes people to pay up.
grogenaut 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It'd be awesome to post the names of all of the freeloaders or just choose some random ones and put them on cards in an expansion pack to server as a warning to other "freeloaders".
geetee 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I would have tossed in a few extra bucks if I knew it was going to charity!
kcwebz 18 hours ago 0 replies      
They need to change their name with all this awesome contributingness to Humanity... well Wikipedia anyway.. I'm sure its helped us all at one point or another.
ececconi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Cards Against Humanity did something pretty amazing for Humanity.
joezhou 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Please at least open source the web design part next time so we can all contribute!
limbo 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems that most people do not mind paying a bit more to great products, which is great news for individual businesses.
Breakthrough 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Lol best graph ever, "% of the chart that looks like Pacman"
How to Make Your Site Look Half-Decent in Half an Hour 24ways.org
487 points by tagawa  2 days ago   137 comments top 36
jspthrowaway2 2 days ago 6 replies      
This thread is bringing the worst of Hacker News out of the woodwork. The author is not claiming to be a design expert, nor is she publishing a "how to design" guide. She's demonstrating a skill which I think a lot of developers could use: taking Bootstrap, which is a good start for a front end these days, and making it not look like Bootstrap. She even says this in TFA. It's for developers without a designer to make their site look half-decent in half an hour. That's the TITLE.

Since we all like MVPs and demo days here, I would think this is applicable to a lot of people on Hacker News. You want to stand apart from the other ten demoing startups that used Bootstrap as well, don't you? Put a little effort in, which is all she is advocating.

Based on the quality of the majority of the comments here it seems like most people opened it, saw the ugly design of the site which is only publishing her work (she didn't design it), made it a few paragraphs in, then ran back to comment about how articles like this are killing our profession, making them ill, making them cry, or how she shouldn't be giving design advice.

Dreadful. Truly dreadful. You're better people than this.

gruseom 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've come to dread looking in on these threads. It feels like walking into a swarm of wasps. Boy is the content/nastiness ratio low in this one. It makes me sad and, as someone who has spent a lot of time here, ashamed.

To the people making and upvoting these putdowns: you don't come across as caring about design; you appear to care about feeling superior. That is not smart. It is a mean person's idea of what it is to be smart. As HN has acquired a reputation for being a smart place, it has become a mean place.

Do you guys know what "mean", in the sense of "nasty", means? It means common. Look up the root. The more you reinforce your wish to feel smart in this way, the more common you in fact become. It's hard to see this, because self-image is always telling us the opposite, and that feels good " really good. It's the opiate of the jerk.

In my experience, if one really wants to get smarter, one must work on inhibiting this. I was going to offer a tip or two, but who would want them?

Incidentally, these self-appointed protectors of Design against the masses appear to me to be significantly more mediocre in this way than some of the other subgroups here. Perhaps it's sample bias. Or perhaps it's because there's so little objectivity to any of it that one gets a purer strain of identity politics " "Leave Design to the Designers" and all that.

On another note, thanks to the OP for the helpful and playful article!

54mf 2 days ago 8 replies      
"I am a programmer. I am not a designer."

Then perhaps you shouldn't be giving design advice.

"I am a designer. I am not a programmer. Here's how to build a half-decent web application in half an hour. First, download PHP..."

All due respect but the author knows just enough "design" to be dangerous, so to speak. Bootstrap is well-designed (dull, but well-designed), and the author's redesign is more of an "un-designing". Arbitrarily adding fonts, colors, and background images take a perfectly usable layout and make it look like something straight out of 2002.

(Do people still use "pimp" as a verb non-ironically?)

[Edit] A note of clarification: I mean no disrespect to anyone doing web design, whether their job title starts with a capital-D or not. I just wouldn't recommend that most of them dole out advice about it.

AYBABTME 2 days ago 1 reply      
6 months ago I had no damn idea what was bootstrap. Neither did my neighbour. Now I know what it is, and with this short, pragmatic article, I have a few pointers on how I could make something 'decent' to my neighbour although I have 0 skills in graphic design.

And my neighbour still has no damn clue what is Bootstrap, so whatever if it still 'looks like Bootstrap'. The audience doesn't care.

Nice submission, if you ask me.

choxi 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would encourage people to check out http://getskeleton.com instead of Bootstrap.

Bootstrap has a very rich design already, so it's not a great scaffold to build on top of because there's very little room for you to add flavor and customization to it without making it look like a frankenstein design.

Skeleton is really minimal, it basically just does typography, some basic form styling, and a grid system. It's a much better base to work off of and add to than Bootstrap.

kstenerud 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a programmer and a non-designer, I don't understand how this will help me. Why are each of the successive design tweaks better than the previous ones? I've seen pages with flat designs and with gradient designs, with images and icons and without, and with various fonts, and they all look fine to me. How are you supposed to tell the difference between good and bad design?

And to take it further, if an average person like me can't even tell the difference, what's the point of it?

DenisM 2 days ago 2 replies      
Most important takeaway from this for me is that you can get designer themes for Bootstrap, similar to how you can get themes for Wordpress:


tommoor 2 days ago 3 replies      
I clicked through thinking this would be about balance, spacing, typography, information heirachy and colour. An understanding of these basics will give you a much better starting point than css3, background textures and webfonts. There's a damn good article on this somewhere if anybody knows the place...
zaidf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just use themeforest if your business' core competence isn't design? Buy a theme from a designer who spent hours taking care of nitty gritty details that would take you days and weeks. Your blah niche customers would most likely not notice or care if randomly land on another site with a similar template.
monsur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice article, but what's going on with the screenshots on that page? They are greater than 1MB, 02-fonts.png is +5MB and still loading.
FiloSottile 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of this other similar submission and thread:

Customize Twitter Bootstrap To Not Look Bootstrap-y

thenomad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Worth it for the links alone, many of which I'd not seen before.

I AM a semi-competent coder/designer, and I got a decent amount of new information out of this article. I don't agree with all of it, but I didn't expect to.

Great info, well-presented, easy to understand, make me think. Five stars, would read again.

Stratego 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article is not nearly as bad as it makes itself look at first. Speaking of appearances.

Saying you're giving lousy advice isn't an excuse for giving lousy advice.

> "I want to make my sites look attractive."

Sure, but you should worry about making them usable and solving a design problem first: how do I best convey the usefulness of this product to its potential users?

> "Design seemed to consist of complicated rules that weren't written down anywhere, plus an unlearnable sense of taste, possessed only by a black-clad elite."

Design is about solving problems elegantly, I'm tired of fellow programmers rehashing the idea that (interaction) design is like modern art, it couldn't be further from it. But "seemed" makes it sound like that was just the past, how about today?

> "I decided to do my best to hack what it took to make my own projects look vaguely attractive."

Let's make thing "vaguely attractive", that's the ticket.

> "And too often now, I see excellent programming projects that don't reach the audience they deserve, simply because their design doesn't match their execution."

Couldn't agree more, except their design is their execution. If you mean to expose your work to the public and fellow professionals, it's your job to make it compelling.

> "I really think that Bootstrap is one of the most significant technical achievements of the last few years: it democratizes the whole process of web design."

Because web design was such a dictatorship until now. Yes, I'm nitpicking, but if you make no effort to learn HTML & CSS, I highly doubt you will by using bootstrap. Why would you? It looks "half decent" enough as it is. I hope I'm wrong.

The rest of the article, as others notes, is not nearly as wrongheaded as its introduction makes it sound. Still, I wish developers would stop trying to "hack" design and actually have the guts to learn it, as designers do with programming.

rbn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not a fan of the design of the site it self. Waaayyy too many layers.
amix 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would recommend reading "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug. It will teach you the most important aspects of a usable design - - which are much more important than just doing a pretty design.
WMcNC1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was looking alright until that background image came along, awful. Not very fond of the font either - not necessary to be loading other fonts in, especially that one.
muratmutlu 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it looked better at stage 2 before all the work was done to it. That font doesn't really look good
ashray 2 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be an article that would tell me how to fix my existing sites. You know like, make the font larger, increase line height, that kind of thing.. I know that for new sites I should start out with bootstrap...
emehrkay 2 days ago 1 reply      
ishbits 2 days ago 0 replies      
I thought the article was fine. I learned a few things.

I'm a developer that sometimes needs to tack a web interface on during the prototype phase. And I use Bootstrap. And I want it to look like Bootstrap. Should the time come for a designer, I'd hope the no frills approach would somewhat convey the desired usability of the app.

This article gave me a few tips - if only a no nonsense guide to using web fonts!

pimentel 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've never bought a template, but couldn't I simply get the source of a template's example, when it's available?
sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if I should be happy or terrified that I know and use these tips on a daily basis. I'm just starting out as a UI front-end guy after years of solid backend work.
TommyDANGerous 1 day ago 0 replies      
I personally liked the design of 24ways.org. I liked the article she wrote, even though I don't use bootstrap and design all my sites before I even code them, the tools she provided are some I've never heard of and will definitely look to utilize in the near future. Great post.
cmwelsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I liked the first one the best. Just because something is there, does not mean you have to use it.
bilalq 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I certainly wouldn't recommend this kind of article to most people, I wish professors from Computer Science departments would try to add just a little styling. It's painful to go through most of their sites.
neya 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally, it's a beautiful article in my opinion.
capex 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everything was sort of okay until the Corben font was introduced onto the page. A complete crime against design, in the way its been used.
vicks711 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful article. I am planning to launch a MVP and was struggling with a design of the website.

Though I have dabbled with CSS and know the basics I am basically design challenged. This article helps a lot.


styts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the summary. Although, as a programmer, I've known most of the things mentioned, it would have still saved me some extra time (better spent writing code than designing).
moe 2 days ago 1 reply      
That has to be the worst webdesign I've seen in months, and I'm talking about 24ways.org.

We're supposed to take design advice from a site that looks like a car accident?

No thanks.

LiquidEyes 1 day ago 0 replies      
she would have been better off leaving the comic sans quip out of the article. That ruined any shred of credibility the author had in my eyes.
tbirdz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't want to take this advice, from someone with such a poorly designed site.
timmm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've seen another 'designer' with this exact same layout. Heh.

Drew Mclellan was his name.

recroad 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm crying. Why is this the #1 story? And how can a person with such a hideous looking site give design advice?
richforrester 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not a fan.
dropdownmenu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I never knew that I should use bootstrap and then extend it with custom CSS to make my site look better. I would have never thought to do that! /sarcasm
The Pinboard Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud static.pinboard.in
469 points by adulau  3 days ago   171 comments top 46
tptacek 3 days ago 5 replies      
I would like to take this moment to announce PICPC-VC, which is an automatic follow-on investment, structured as uncapped convertible notes, of $50 available to any founder accepted into the PICPC program.
pc 3 days ago 2 replies      
Stripe will happily waive the first $37 in fees.
wilfra 3 days ago 2 replies      
I applied. Anybody have tips for the interview??? Can any alumni put in a word for me??? What if I use my product to deliver a 6-pack to one of the pinboard founders, will that improve my chances??? Please help!!!
aiurtourist 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is wrong for a variety of reasons.

First, you should never accept angel investment from non-accredited investors (i.e., individuals with a net worth of at least one million cents).

Second, the real value of the investors is their network. In this case, Maciej Cegłowski's network is a collection of links featured in an indexed, polished, simple-to-use product. Why accept money from him when his network is already available for free?

Third, seeking outside investment prior to building a prototype has been heralded as a path to madness. You should at least have some sort of Bootstrap-based splash page on a .io domain before you accept his sizable investment.

kanamekun 3 days ago 5 replies      
Just a note on word choices... the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" was the name of the colonial empire that Japan built through conquests and occupation starting in 1940.


Not sure if this is part of a joke or not, but Japan's history of war-time brutality during World War 2 is pretty extreme.

mrkurt 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like that might be too much money. You're in danger of having people coast along with no real hunger.
il 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The project aims to draw attention to the fact that if you have access to technical labor, the startup and operating costs for an online project in 2013 are negligible. The biggest obstacle to creating something useful is finding the time to build it and attracting an initial pool of paying customers."

Good thing that in the brave new future world of 2013 labor and marketing are completely free of all costs, opportunity and otherwise.

zdgman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thinking of applying as a single non-technical founder. All I have is an idea but I am sure with the $37 dollars I could hire an awesome programmer to put it together for me!

EDIT: Seeking technical co-founder to help build out idea. Must be prepared to sign NDA before equity can be discussed.

danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Before I joined it sometime this year or last, I thought Pinboard seemed like the silliest, most likely-to-peter-out trifle of a service. But now it stands alone from all the other pinning services I used to use, including Instapaper.

In other words, I trust this guy with knowing how to execute (and to the point, probably recognize) successful minimally-viable products.

paul 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems perfect for my recipe site. I hope my application gets accepted.
danielpal 3 days ago 5 replies      
It does seem like cost are negligible today, but on deeper analysis theres a lot of costs beyond simply hosting.

Just from memory for my startup (Authy.com), initial costs were:

Domain: $1000+

Design: $3000

Video: $3000

Hosting: $400

Depending on your skills this initial costs will vary. An although I agree you don't need external investment to cover them, you should at least plan to invest $10,000US to cover your initial costs.

jere 3 days ago 1 reply      
How I hacked the Pinboard Co-Prosperity Cloud
nthitz 3 days ago 4 replies      
> Is this a joke?

It is not a joke.

> I have no understanding of the concept of humor...

So it is a joke.. Or at the very least tongue in cheek. (With some exceptions,) I doubt hosting is what most VC funding is spent on.

Edit: as he said, "The biggest obstacle to creating something useful is finding the time to build it and attracting an initial pool of paying customers." If you have access to those you probably have $37. I get that he is trying to say technical costs can be negligible for startups. I fail to see how Investment Co-Prosperity Cloud helps anyone in anyway. And thus, I think it's a joke (even if the funding is real).

programminggeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, I'm in. I have an idea that will cost precisely $37 dollars to start. This is such perfect timing.
chmike 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand people ridiculing him. This funding is for entrepreneurs and business projects with a particular profile. A project like Pinboard.

When Y combinator started the amount of money was also ridicule.

What you get with his funding is visibility and this is rapidly growing in value because everybody will now look with high curiosity what are the 6 selected projects.

It looks like he is attempting to undercut Y combinator and might succeed. Look how he targets a niche market that is discarded by Y combinator : single founder projet. He applies all the advises given by PG himself.

I'm looking forward to see how he will execute, but this is already a very good start.

If I had a close to finished project and no traction because of no visibility I would apply. Because the visibility will be much bigger than with an article in techcruch.

rtfeldman 3 days ago 3 replies      
My application: "I'd use the $37 to buy $20 worth of stamps and envelopes, then $17 for a disposable camera and photo development costs. I'd photograph myself putting the stamps on the envelopes and get the photos developed. Then I'd put the photos in the envelopes and mail them to you."
lucisferre 3 days ago 0 replies      
> How is this different from other incubators?

> Participants receive almost no money, and are expected to do everything themselves.

So not really all that different than many (most?) incubators.

troymc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would use the money to buy signals. Since they're a buck, I could buy 37 signals.
rdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will you be offering $1.12 in expense reimbursement for the interviews? Will you do checks or cash?

($1.12 won't even cover the minimum BART or Muni or VTA fares now, I think, unless you're a child or senior or disabled or something)

justhw 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you get rejected, shoot us an email pinboard@funnelpanel.com for a forever free funnel analytics platform.
bobfunk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great idea :)

From Webpop we'll offer a free project and a startup template (http://app.webpop.com/themes/startup) for anybody accepted into the program.

For some people this might be enough to completely skip the Linode and buy one more beer.

rdl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to take this opportunity to offer PICPCReject membership to anyone rejected by the horrible elitists at PICPC.

We don't have any funding yet, so we can't make any specific promises, but I hear the dumpsters behind Denny's have a wide variety of semi-rotten food available for "Tuesday dinners".

mmelin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Watch out for the PICPC Mafia.
jeswin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Applied! :)

Wrote a poem about it on the Collaborative Poetry app that I just launched. http://poe3.com/38

tibbon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should start a similar fund, but instead of just throwing large amounts of money at the companies like PICPC, they should help introduce them to their vast network of highly engaged people... perhaps on Twitter.
gregpilling 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have emailed and offered support of $20 per startup, plus use of my manufacturing facility. I think this is a great idea, and since I started my company with a credit card I can relate to the unfunded startup.
andrewcross 3 days ago 1 reply      
To take this to the next level, I vote for crowd-funding at the end of it all. I'd put $20 behind my favourite startup from the class and cheer them on. Almost like fantasy sports, but for startups.
cdcarter 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is flawless. I have a little script that I've been working on that has helped my life immensely and I know it could help others too. I've been too lazy to make it into anything more, though. This is giving me just enough to actually write down what it is and why it's helpful, and if I get it will totally make me go further.
cwiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm announcing microcrowdfunding flush-investment platfrom Flushstart. We all have pockets full of change by the end of the day. To participate in Flushstart you you just flush all the change down the toilet and Flushstart employees collect your investments in the sewers. You automatically get equity in all projects listed in Flushstart. I just started the platform by flushing 10 cents.
justhw 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a get-together day to meet fellow applicants? Perhaps a dinner?
evv 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll wait for the blog post inviting hardware startups too, followed by a post about how $37 gives founders too much runway, and half as much ought to do it.
debacle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The PR speak bit was golden. I'm thankful to have not read enough start-up news to write something similar.
khet 3 days ago 0 replies      
We're in a bubble.
harichinnan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps you could all use the money/freebies to fund this.


dudurocha 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do you accept startups from Brazil? I would love to apply!
scheff 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maciej Ceglowski is the Flounder of Pinboard.in - http://idlewords.com/resume.htm

We all flounder sometimes, but it's good to admit upfront that it's your full time (pre)occupation.

toddynho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wait, I'm confused - I'd at least expect you to mention something about us getting into the PR circle jerk as part of the program? Is that not part of it?
ececconi 3 days ago 4 replies      
Is $37 an ode to 37 signals?
davemc500hats 2 days ago 1 reply      
this could have been so much more fun at $42 instead of $37 or $50... #justsayin
jfb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the name. Too, I love the service.
obilgic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just sent my idea, let's see he agrees with me to spend my entire winter break just working on this idea... Mostly, because of motivational purposes
brackin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why doesn't PICPC-VC have a Dropbox or Airbnb in their alumni yet?
itslogic 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand all this angel investment speak but the thing I am curios the most is simple.

I apply
I make it "big"

Does pin board owns any of my company because they invested $37 a month and provided exposure?

I really don't understand who doesn't have $37 a month to be self-funded but I'm interested on exposure.

geargrinder 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is $1 less than it takes to sponsor a child for one month through Compassion International (an organization that supports 1.2 million children in the most poverty-stricken areas of the world). Would the money be better spent sponsoring a child or sponsoring a startup?
shail 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am building a bookmarking site. Can I apply?
GPBenoit 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article is a waste of time.
Dear Open Source Project Leader: Quit Being A Jerk lostechies.com
409 points by derickbailey  4 days ago   179 comments top 33
jasonkester 3 days ago 13 replies      
This isn't restricted to open source project leaders, or even open source developers. You'll find the same childish elitism in pretty much every field of human endeavor.

Programmers certainly do it. Laughing at noobs and being mean to them is pretty much the sole purpose of IRC, unless I'm mistaken. Surfers do it. Climbers do it. I've even seen rocket scientists do it.

The interesting thing is watching which members of a given group behave this way.

It's not everybody. There's a certain skill range where you find this behavior. Generally it ranges between "reasonably good" and "better than most people I know", and it grows exponentially in that range (though, again, only in people who are given to such behavior).

But there it stops. Once you hit a threshold of "better than pretty much everybody in the world, even those who have dedicated their life to this stuff", you don't really see this sort of elitism anymore.

I live in the climbing mecca of Fontainebleau, and can watch first hand as 7a boulderers from around the world descend and act like jackasses trying to scootch their butts off the ground on problems that are hard (but not world class) while scowling with superiority at the lowly rabble that might dare touch the holds of their project. It's best to simply wait until they give up before going over and doing the problem.

But occasionally you see a guy working an 8a. That's pretty stout by anybody's definition (even at font), but he's not shouting or swearing at it. He's just calmly doing his thing, uninterested in being the center of attention, and more than happy to talk to anybody who walks up without the least hint of snoot.

I think you find the computer programming equivalent of that guy from time to time too. He's the "bourne shell" guy that another comment mentions downthread, and he's above the elite.

The cool thing is that you don't have to be as good as him to act like him. All you need do is not be a dick.

tinco 4 days ago 4 replies      
I've never seen an opensource leader make fun of an honest attempt at contribution. What I have seen is a lot of ignoring and rejecting attempts.

Miguel de Icaza had a blog post on this I think. The problem with large opensource projects is that they have a lot to do, and simply don't have time to thoroughly follow up on all the small contributions that are ridden with naieve errors and plain formatting issues. Not to mention the big ones that come with architectural changes without explanations.

I think it's unfair to call these charity workers jerks, just because they are trying to make light of a dire situation.

Yes it can hurt if your contribution is coldly cast aside, and yes it would be much better if they warmly took you in and taught you in their ways, but if the OSS project leaders don't keep up the constant stream of contributions, improving the project all the time the project will die and all work will have been in vain.

On a side note: which project will you be contributing to this christmas? It is charity time after all and a bunch of hem could use a commit or two from your hands :) just be sure to read their code-style documents ;)

tytso 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author thinks an open source elite is someone with high visibility in a project that is "well known by tens or hundreds of thousands of people"? That's a pretty low bar. Personally, I'd call someone in that category a wannabe. On the internet, it doesn't take a lot to have that much recognition.

I consider people who are "the elite" to be folks like Larry Wall. Or Guido van Rossem. Or someone like Ian Lance Taylor (who has hacked on many things in the GCC/binutils toolchain). Their projects are known by a bit more than a mere "hundreds of thousands of people", and they are definitely not jerks.

The reality is if you want to be very successful, especially in a project where all of the contributors are volunteers, you can't be a jerk, because then people won't want to work with you. In the very early days of NetBSD, there were a quite a few people who were quite disagreeable to be around on the core team list. One of them was in my work and social circles, and it's one of the reasons I choose to work on Linux instead of NetBSD. But even NetBSD is known by more than "hundreds of thousands" of people.

And that's the key --- yes, being a jerk will probably be a strong negative factor if you want your project to be one of the really top, well-known, successful projects. But you can a jerk and still have a moderately successful OSS project. Because at the end of the day, for better or worse, people will overlook someone being a jerk if they have a good, solid product to offer. This is true outside of the OSS world as well, of course. As far as I'm concerned neither Larry Ellison nor Steve Jobs would win the nicest person of the year award. But their products were sufficiently good that people were willing to overlook their personality traits, and indeed even idolize them as positive examples of leaders in the Tech industry.

Zelphyr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Based on all the "I don't know what you're talking about. I've never seen this." comments I think the author should clarify that its not just the OS project leaders who are guilty of this. The smugness of core developers, and even contributors is worthy of a South Park episode.

If you're a young developer, or seasoned for that matter, and the urge to put down the work of someone else tugs at you, consider this;

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Steve Bourne, inventor of the Bourne Shell (as in, /bin/sh on every Unix system ever). Here is a guy who was literally sitting next to the guys who invented Unix WHILE THEY INVENTED IT. And all this time later he's surprisingly humble, friendly, and genuinely interested in what other, younger developers are doing.

If a guy who has earned the right to be smug several times over treats people with respect, what right do we have to do otherwise?

bryanh 4 days ago 2 replies      
I've not seen this at all.

In my experience, most open source project leaders are very congenial and gracious that you're spending time on their project. I did some poking around and couldn't find any OSS leads that disparaged their contributors.

Not sure if the lack of examples was an attempt to not "name and blame" or if there aren't many good ones. OP, to be clear, this isn't merely leads saying "this code/feature/suggestion is inappropriate" to pull requests, but honest malice?

mindcrime 3 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more. I've seen this type of attitude from F/OSS "leaders" over the past couple of decades, and it always galls me to no end.

This is why I commit (no pun intended) to try my best to not be like that with any of my projects. Now, to be fair, none of the Fogbeam projects have a lot of outside contributions to date, but every time someone has contacted me, I've tried to respond in a polite, reasonable and appropriate manner.

One thing to consider, when interacting with people you don't know, is that you don't know what you're possibly getting. We got a request once, for permission to take our code, make it work with MySql, and use it for some academic research. Now that was already allowed by the license anyway, but I took the time to respond to the guy, and had a few chat/email interactions with him as worked on his project, even though I had no idea who he was, how important the project was, or if anything would ever come of it. A year or so later, I get an email saying "Hey, here's a pre-print of the paper we published, it's being presented at $PRESTIGIOUS_CONFERENCE, and we mention your project in the paper". That turns out to be a nice "feather in the bonnet" for us and helped get the project some visibility it would not have gotten otherwise.

Honestly, I don't see any value in being dismissive, insulting or demeaning towards anyone, just because they aren't already an expert in your project.

Symmetry 3 days ago 1 reply      
I expect a major driver of this is that people always tend to underestimate how much tacit knowledge they're using and so to assume that people who disagree with them are fundamentally stupid, malicious, or crazy when they're really just coming from a different background.


ynniv 3 days ago 2 replies      
I played pull request with a framework recently. There was something that I wanted to do that could only be done if the framework had fully chained a JavaScript function (ie, forwarded all parameters, included "this", and returned the result). It was an easy fix, but it turned out that what appeared to be an omission was intentional due to very specific edge cases in JavaScript that prevented someone from doing something undocumented but maybe useful. A conflict between two users doing things that the framework did not intend seems like a tough decision, one that makes sense to roll with the status quo. Except that from the issues database, I can see that I was not the only person to ask for this change. My pull request was actually proposed 3 or 4 other times, and there were plenty of other people who had found a sort-of-workaround and were shipping code using this workaround. So I sat down and spent a good amount of time investigating the edge cases to figure out what should be done, wrote it all up, linked to the other people who were having problems or working around them, and submitted a new pull request. Again, the results were unsatisfying: closed because they didn't think people should be doing that. Except that they already are doing it in a hackier way. I guess that other lone guy who was doing something really strange but filed his bug report first wins after all. This whimsy is disrespectful, and pushes people to use something else, start their own, or spend time telling the world that you don't know how to play nicely. In the end, maybe that doesn't matter to some maintainers. They had their fame and their fun and they move on.
nullc 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is an unfortunate flipside to this" people who show up with ALL CAPS demands, proclaiming your incompetence, because of some missing functionality that they believe to be so obvious but can't seem to completely explain on their own.

The best way to respond to that is to politely request what you need and then ignore if they won't be helpful. ... but humans don't always respond in the best way: Another possible response is to respond harshly and critically in order to generate a hierarchy: "I am not here to serve you. Your patches may be accepted if it suits my fancy.". Neither extreme of being high and mighty nor of allowing people to simply abuse you is ideal.

Spearchucker 3 days ago 0 replies      
That this still happens is sad.

I was on the receiving end way back in 2002. I'd just written an RS232 library for the .NET Compact Framework that ended up in the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework Core Reference[1]. It was also referenced by an MSDN article[2], so got a lot of attention.

I left a bug in there which broke anything that didn't use default settings. The abuse was astounding. It was the last code written on my own time that I ever published.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/book.aspx?ID=5960...

[2] http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa446565.aspx

marcamillion 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was exclusive to the Rails community - but it is good to see it's not.

I am glad someone is speaking out against it, because it sucks.

One of the major reasons people don't learn to be better developers is because of "elite developers" that have come before them that take pride in humiliating them.

This article is very on-point. I nearly stopped learning Rails because of the torment from #RubyOnRails on IRC. But then I remembered it is the internet and everybody is probably a dog.

I am glad I didn't stop learning - and I am very conscious of this with "noobs" now.

codex_irl 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've called out more than one "leader / boss" out in meetings / code-reviews for being excessively mean & shaming noobs who are genuinely trying their best & are hungry to learn.

Constructive criticism is a great thing, but telling someone they will never work again in this industry because they make a small CSS error on their first ever post-college project is another.

I've been fired from one job for standing up in a meeting and calling the boss a self-important asshole & refusing to retract it.

Life is too short to let these type of people get you down, we are all just floating on a rock in space & going to die in a few years....what's important: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/14su4p/he_sang_to_her_...

lazyjones 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've seen this a couple of times but not after pull requests, but simple (verified even) bug reports or feature requests.

Let me quote a recent example from IRC:

> XXXXX interesting how the number of new github issues went down since i started ignoring them :)

> XXXXX could be coincidence, but i suspect having a few open tickets discourages the more frivolous requests we usually got there"

Nice attitude there! After reading several such comments and some diatribe on github (following a bug report), I really had difficulties justifying the use of the software developed by this guy, especially after having been warned about this earlier by a co-worker ("the project is fine, XXXXX is the only problem with it") and not taking it seriously because I thought he was exaggerating (I'm not really into personality cult etc.).

debacle 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with others. This is useless without context - I have never seen this actually happen.

"stupid pull request of the day site:twitter.com" returns one result, and it isn't negative in any fashion.

tjbiddle 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of other angles we can look at this as well: The user ("I need.."), The cocky contributor ("This is right, accept my pull request!"), The belittled contributor ("I'm not sure.. but let me try.."), The helpful leader ("I can't accept this because it will break xyz.") The douche leader (As the article stated: "LOL!"), and the cocky leader ("No, that's wrong." - And then they realize later it's actually right, but they're attitude made them not look at a worthy contribution in the right light correctly.)

The article makes a good point - But there's a lot more we can take out of this, that being that for any community to succeed, it needs to be just that: A community. A place where others help each other grow.

Karunamon 4 days ago 7 replies      
A part of the hacker mindset ("hacker" as used in the jargon file, and in this site's title) is intolerance of stupidity. Ignorance is one thing, that can be learned away. Stupidity is wasting developer's time by asking questions that are addressed in the documentation or that can be instantly solved with five minutes on Google, or submitting pull requests that go against a published style guide, are plainly wrong or buggy, and so on.

I'm going to come right out and say this: Some people should not contribute to a FOSS project. Whether that's because they can't deal with other people or because they're not willing to put in even a modicum of effort to work effectively with other people. If you go up to a group of people who are used to doing things according to procedure X and you blithely ignore it, you really should not be surprised when your efforts are met with derision at best and hostility at worst.

While I understand the point the author is trying to make here, and even sympathize to a point, the mindset isn't going to change, nor should it. The bar to entry is a part of what make high quality projects high quality.

joering2 3 days ago 3 replies      
My favorite comments I will never forget from my ex-CTO:

"you are wrong about this, because I say you are wrong." [turned out: he was dead wrong!]

"stay home if you want to answer phonecall from your dad." [knowing he is in the hospital]

"today you have been all day on the phone." [after talking with dad for 3 min 35 sec]

"stop pinging google to check if the net is working."

"ping doesn't tell you anything."

"I hate those Chrome tabs -- they are affecting my search results."

"I'm a CTO - I can be rude."

"Don't work here if you have family."

"If we succeed with this project [24-months period], we may get million dollars bonus" [perfectly knowing its impossible and simply not true]

"I fixed Asia!" -"Cool!" -"What did you do?" -"At 3am? I was with my wife and kids." -"Well, I hope that helped alot in your career." [next day, after he IT-supported Asia at 3am]

"You see my desk? Apple, Apple, Apple..."

"You are on a McDonalds French Fry Guy schedule, ha!" [after working 14 hours straight from 7am till 9pm]

"You work long hours and are not paid for those, because you are upper managment and should be proud of it". [after working 14 hours straight]

"Don't ask for that, you are not upper managment!" [when something failed to work and needed to figure the details to troubleshoot]

"You are upper managment, you should know this!" [when I didn't know something IT-related]

"You won't get the bonus, you are not upper managment!" [bonus question around Christmas time]

[email provider down; on the phone with support] "Why are you calling them? chat-support is faster!"

[days later, the same issue; on the chat] "Stop wasting time on chat, just grab a phone and call them!"

[after 12 hours straight work on 8hr schedule] "I completed the project, I am going home" -"Fine with me, as long as you are Symfony Framework specialist" [next day after staying extra 2 hours to understand basics of Symfony Framework] -"Never mind, we won't use them anyway!"

Those were the perks.. there were some better here and there, but honestly I started making notes way too late. But my tech-friends always loved to ask whats new with my CTO. They used to call him "Chief Toilet Officer", because frankly speaking he couldn't do shit right.

joshfraser 3 days ago 0 replies      
Open source projects work best when they have a benevolent dictator. You need someone who isn't afraid to say "no" to bad ideas, or else you'll end up with a total clusterfuck. It's just as important not to forget the "benevolent" part. I'll always remember Brad Fitzpatrick telling me "no" to one of my dumb suggestions for PubSubHubbub. He explained his reasoning and took the time to tell me what I needed to fix. He knew he was smarter than me, but he gave me the chance to figure that out on my own instead of pushing me away.
zzzeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
this blog post has a major omission of any specifics whatsoever. I've never seen this kind of behavior, and I'm having a great urge to say something like, "oh well because PHP/Ruby/etc". But that is all prejudicial.

Won't we be given some specifics so that we don't have to guess what famous OSS author actually typed "HAHAHA" at a pull request ?

spot 4 days ago 1 reply      
useless without pointer to the actual behavior.
sp332 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chances are, mr or mrs open source elite, you have been on the receiving end of this in your life.

Exactly, and that's why they do it to others! That may be their default (not consciously-chosen) behavior because it's what they got used to.

carlisle_ 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have to wonder how many people see Linus Torvald's behavior and think what he does is OK. Linus walks a VERY fine line, and his insults and demeaning comments are usually directed at people who "know better."

I have had a few drinks so it's hard to properly articulate what I mean, but maybe somebody else knows what I'm talking about.

sonabinu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Glad that someone is talking about this. There are times when a little encouragement can go a long way. A novice maybe very excited about learning and being belittled at that stage can be deflating. This is especially true of people who come from a totally different field, or are young and enthusiastic about contributing.
grogenaut 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lots of sports analogies on here. I'll toss in mine. I've made a habit of trying new things and have gotten over the "you look stupid when you start" part. Skiing, Snowboarding, knitting, sewing, coaching, aussie rules. Everyone's a newb at some point. I have found that I compare myself to other skiiers / boarders a lot. But that is mainly a safety thing so I know if I should follow them down other parts of the mountain. So competitive but for a reason. I think I get more pissy about etiquette and safety, but generally from people who look like they should know better. 16 year old coming into the lift line at high speed, I see you. I'm a large large man, you're gonna get hurt if you hit me and I played college ball, I'm gonna make sure I don't get hit. Soooo... anyway. Unless you're trying to get ranked in real life, you're really just competing against yourself. You're the one who will decide if you have the time to put into whatever to be good enough to compete at a low national level. There are exceptions, but in sports you can use your brain and experience to make up for physical deficiencies. In Cerebral events you can use persistence and experience. And I've tailed off so Fin
fijal 3 days ago 0 replies      
This completely doesn't ring the bell for me, but maybe Python community that I typically interact with is different. Maybe we're such jerks that we don't even know how much of jerks we're.
jongold 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just taking a second to thank you for all your work on Marionette, and your seemingly endless contributions to Backbone/Marionette questions on StackOverflow Derick - I'm nowhere near the level to be contributing to Marionette but your humbleness inspires me to use your code every day :)
saosebastiao 3 days ago 0 replies      
The worst behavior I have ever seen comes from a commercial open source project. I know they aren't paying customers...but they are bug finders and bug reporters, user experience testers, and even feature-expanding code contributors. I would be appalled if I employed the guy.
kmfrk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see this in GitHub projects (so far), but this is the usual experience when asking for help on Stack Overflow or Freenode.
boboblong 1 day ago 0 replies      
What major open source project is the harshest on newbies? I want to try to contribute to it.
hnruss 3 days ago 0 replies      
From what I've seen, most of the contributors to large projects are one-time contributors who just want to implement their one cool idea for the project. Maintainers who want to encourage those sort of contributions need to do everything they can to lower the barrier of entry to contributing, which includes being positive towards new contributors.
b1daly 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was high school I had the opportunity to work with an aspiring music producer. It was great fun and a formative experience because he had a notably kind and supportive demeanor, coupled with focus. He went on to become a superstar producer and to this day when I run into him he has exactly the same demeanor.

This leads me to think some aspects of personality and how we treat others are innate. Jerks can be talented and successful too, and just remain Jerks. It takes all kinds.

fellars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having used Dericks (the OP) Marionette package and interacted a few times with him, I can attest he practices what he preaches.
TeeWEE 4 days ago 0 replies      
What is this, I don't even…
Two-for-one: Amazon.com's Socially Engineered Replacement Order Scam htmlist.com
380 points by disillusioned  12 hours ago   104 comments top 25
temphn 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The title of this link is very misleading. Amazon is actually going out of its way to provide excellent customer service, and is being exploited by a scammer. It is therefore not "Amazon's Scam", but a scam perpetrated against Amazon.

As to whether or not something should be done, this is a sensitivity/specificity tradeoff. Too far in the other direction of distrusting customers and Amazon ends up like Paypal.

citricsquid 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I suspect this is a result of their attitude towards re-orders due to delivery issues, it would make sense that if CSR's are told "if a user wants a re-order, just do it" that they'd not really consider the implications of allowing them with a new address, because their attitude is do whatever to keep the customer happy.

I had a delivery of a game go missing (~$60 cost) so I opened a live chat and explained, then they shipped me a brand new order (which arrived!) without any hassle or confirmation that my prior delivery had really been stolen. This seems like a trivial thing to abuse (and I'm sure many do). After my free re-order was placed I thought "that was cool, I'll order from Amazon in the future just in case...".

jdietrich 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Sears built the reputation of Craftsman tools based on their unconditional lifetime guarantee; They also created a cottage industry of people searching yard sales, thrift stores and scrapyards for rusted old tools. A British clothing retailer (Marks & Spencer) was famous for an extremely liberal refund policy, which also made them a magnet for shoplifters and petty fraudsters.

I'm sure Amazon know how much this sort of fraud is costing them. I'm sure they've calculated that it's worth the cost, at least for now. Shrinkage is just another cost of doing business.

ghshephard 11 hours ago 3 replies      
90% of these attempts at scamming the CSRs could be prevented if Amazon allowed me to provide a SMS address that they could send a message to for confirmation.

Every time I login to gmail over the web from anywhere but my personal computer, I take an (at most) 5 second pause while Google SMS's my cellphone and has me enter the 6 digit code. Failing that, in my wallet, I have a list of 12 Backup "Nuclear Codes" should I for some reason lose my iPhone and need to login to email in the intervening period while I get it replaced.

Trivial to implement, very secure.

edanm 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This thread reads like a giant love-letter to Amazon. As well it should.

Amazon is one of the best companies in the world . I've been buying physical books from them for the last 8 years. I've recently started buying audiobooks at Audible, and have even more recently purchased the new Kindle Paperwhite, and have been burning through many, many ebooks. The one time I had a problem with a physical shipment, they resent the book, no-questions-asked. From the looks of this thread, their customer service has stayed amazing.

My favorite Bezos quote, showing an approach that, over the long term, is amazingly profitable: "There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp."

By the way, I agree with the OP, asking a simple question to verify the credit card number would not hurt the customer service process, and would probably prevent some fraud.

forgingahead 10 hours ago 4 replies      
It's a scam, certainly, but it's actually great customer service policy. If the only risk is the loss of value of a product to Amazon, and there is no personal data loss for a customer directly, then it's actually an acceptable loss policy to Amazon.

They (and most good businesses) would prefer the majority of their customer base be able to get refunds and deal with order issues swiftly than have to jump through hoops to prove who they are. Certainly an SMS PIN or other authentication method would make it more secure, but there is no further customer benefit. The monetary loss to Amazon is basically a rounding error so why make things more complicated?

vinhboy 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't get it. What does the dot-email have to do with them social engineering their way to your order numbers?

Is the fact that they used a dot-email the weak link here, and what thankfully allowed you to catch on to the problem early?

If that is the case, why would an attacker use a dot-email, when they could just use any email.

michaelhoffman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I reported this to a friend of mine who works in fraud detection at Amazon.
shalmanese 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It could also be that Amazon waives it's same address policy only around Christmas as it knows that a) people are travelling and b) a missed Christmas present is a bigger deal than a normal missed package.

It might have figured that this would be an acceptable loss given that it can only be exploited once a year.

nchlswu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a strange issue with my Amazon account a while back where I couldn't log in and when I finally could, all my account history was lost. I can't recall if it was my mistake (I've used dot-emails before), but this definitely reminds me of it.

As a Canadian shopper, the abuse of these shipping depots is a bit concerning to me, as I've used one of the depots mentioned in the post. These are such high volume shipping locations (to so many different addressees), I'm sure Amazon has shipped tonnes of orders to these locations and I'm wondering if they've investigated them before? These centers are very easy targets for abuse and I know Nike keeps a database of these addresses and blacklist them.

I'm not sure if they do it to prevent grey market exports or fraud, but (from a consumer perspective), I hope Amazon doesn't go this route.

whyleyc 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Couldn't this be fixed by Amazon just requiring you to be logged in when you start a chat with them ?

Tiny bit of extra hassle for the user but is made up for by the fact that Amazon wouldn't need to bother asking any security questions to verify identity.

damian2000 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Its amazing that this scam seems like its being pulled off from outside the US, via a re-shipping service in Oregon. Anyone know how vulnerable international Amazon customers are to this same scam? I'm thinking that the scammers require some sort of re-shipping service, which are generally not as widely available as they are within the US.
brechin 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Amazon actually distinguishes between accounts with the SAME email address but different passwords. I don't know of any other site that uses email as an account identifier and lets multiple people use the same one.
zobzu 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like to point out that this is almost ALWAYS the problem.
People ALWAYS get hacked, not because they use "love123" as their passwords, not because their pc/mac wasn't up to date.

Nope. They get hacked because the security question ask for a pet name, or a school name, or a friend name. Freaking easy.
They get hacked because support gives information without authenticating people.And so on.

Dear companies, stop doing that. Thanks.

KaoruAoiShiho 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow Amazon customer service is amazing.
bcoates 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the deal with these reshippers? It seems like the weak point in the scam, Amazon should either blacklist their addresses or coordinate with them to authenticate where the package is actually going.
Shank 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll vouch for the ease at which Amazon sends replacements for broken products. I've ordered obscure replacement phone parts (namely touch screens and lcd panels), but had issues with a couple. Amazon gladly refunded the defective ones on the spot, which allowed me to buy others right off the bat.

I really hope this gets stopped - I'd rather not have Amazon's generosity thrown down the drain because of a few scammers.

mjt0229 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As I recall, Apple was the weak link in that identity theft, although Amazon was not blameless.
munger 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks to Chris Cardinal for taking the time to write this up! I think it's important to be aware of current fraud like this since a lot of HN readers are probably also amazon customers (as I am myself).

Also interesting to know about gmail "dot blindness" - kind of like "plus addressing" you could use it to track who adds you to spam lists, by giving out different versions of your gmail address to different vendors (not that most people have time for that - I've never done this).

Plus addressing looks like this: myusername+whatever@gmail.com sends to myusername@gmail.com, but some site's email regex check do not allow this, so dot addressing could be used instead.

rckrd 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised Amazon was not suspicious that a service request had come from a location where the account has never been logged in from before.
ars 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"And up until early this afternoon, the whois information for my domain"

Whois information is archived basically permanently by many online databases. Changing it doesn't help anything - the old values are easy to find.

disillusioned 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I will say this, since it's somewhat amusing, but it's the first time I've been scammed for negative $43 dollars. I wonder if the scammer figured that he could get me some hush money and hoped I'd let the rest slide?
javajosh 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Hey, I have an idea: how about stop using Amazon and start buying and selling from your local community, small businesses, like with actual people who can get to know you and who aren't susceptible to this kind of nonsense?

The cool thing about dealing locally is that you no longer have to wade through bureaucracy to get customer service - you can walk up to a flesh-and-blood person and talk to them face to face! And, unless they have masks from "Mission: Impossible" you'll be very, very difficult to spoof!

prostoalex 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How did this Chris Cardinal guy find out about the original camera order, if he didn't have access to htmlist@gmail.com?
prlin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Witty how he flips the Amazon "smile from a to z" upside down into a frown.
Building my Own Laptop bunniestudios.com
344 points by beambot  2 days ago   88 comments top 29
beambot 2 days ago 4 replies      
Incidentally, the guy creating this is Bunnie Huang -- the guy who designed the Chumby, was famous for Xbox hardware hacking, and did an awesome (open-hardware) MITM attack on HDCP at CCC [1,2].

[1] http://events.ccc.de/congress/2011/Fahrplan/events/4686.en.h...

[2] video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37SBMyGoCAU

3amOpsGuy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be conscious about the LIPO battery choice & potential fire risk.

They're absolutely fine when treated with care (i've had many for years for RC planes & helis and never had more than minor issues), but i'd be concerned people are used to not having to care about their batteries.

If you discharge them below ~ 1.1v per cell (higher for cheaper ones) they don't quite explode but it's not a slow burn either: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcwOwf55Rtc

There are other options like li-ion or, slightly lower voltage per cell but you can pretty much abuse them and they won't blow up: A-123's.

EDIT: for clarity, discharging to 1v alone shouldn't cause a fire, it's the act of charging them from that state.

guylhem 2 days ago 2 replies      
If only for the integrated FPGA, I'm interested!

One suggestion: it could be made cheaper and maybe more interesting by removing the screen altogether (there's an HDMI port !) to do a C64-like computer, with a tiny smartphone-like internal screen.

We all have multiple screens already - such as tablets or smartphones we carry.

noonespecial 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's like watching a Jedi construct his own light-saber.
jacquesm 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is an absolutely awesome project, mad props to the guy for envisioning it and pulling through. The cost must work out to something terrible but I can totally see why someone would do this.

Having an FGPA on there is a very clever idea, it adds flexibility to the design in a way that a prototyping area would but much cleaner. The one corner with all the PWM and other connectors is the most interesting part, I really wonder what kind of plans he's got with this but it goes way beyond 'just another laptop'.

If someone did a 'Bunnie Huang uses this' post I'd be all over it, the tool collection to create a design like this would be extremely interesting reading.

6ren 2 days ago 1 reply      
Moore's law is not decelerating - transistor density is doubling on schedule, with process shrinks happening like clockwork. Smartphone performance has actually been doubling yearly - better than Moore's Law.

If there are fewer transistors, it's because we haven't worked out how to use them effectively; or they aren't demanded by customers. If not in demand, other ways of improving performance won't be in demand.

It's this pattern of improvements overshooting demand that Clayton Christensen wrote about.

Zak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been looking for a laptop-appropriate ARM board that takes DIMMs for quite some time, as all the SOCs are very tight on RAM. Designing a motherboard is a bit beyond what I know how to do, but I really want to build a laptop with a custom composite shell, an ARM CPU, a high-res 4:3 screen and lots of battery.

I hope it gets updated to a Cortex A15 CPU.

mrb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The integration of an FPGA on the motherboard is one of the most interesting features that differentiates it from regular laptops. The author points it can be used "for your bitcoin mining needs".

I couldn't find which model of Spartan6 it is exactly. However if it is an LX150 (the one with the most logic units, used by the entire Bitcoin community), there is no way he can fit a decent heatsink for proper thermal dissipation. A typical mining implementation generates so much heat that heatsinks this big need to be used (actual picture of one of the first dual-LX150 boards built specifically for mining):

pasbesoin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Don't know whether this fits, but here's something I'd like from the power system: Automated battery maintenance. I'm plugged in, a lot, and I forget to / blow off periodically cycling my battery. (Admittedly, maybe I'm unusual / an edge case, in this, and my thoughts here are of little general value.)

I'd like a power system that can be made to periodically and contextually select to run from battery, even while plugged in, so that the battery can be cycled in a manner that maintains its capacity.

So, when, every some weeks, I do need to run from battery, it's still in decent shape. Without my having to manually ensure this on an ongoing basis.

I doubt its' a priority for Bunnie, but what the heck, I'll throw the idea out there. When else do I have even a chance of having any input into a laptop's design?

Oh, and thank goodness for an(other) open alternative to "secure boot" (maybe nice in principle, but very potentially malicious in current execution).

JDuMond 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's great to see that dedicated hackers can get their hands on the hardware and data-sheets needed to design and manufacture these kind of high performance projects. There still remains one huge barrier before we'll see a large number of projects like this: the costs of the equipment used to validate the signal integrity on high speed digital systems like this immense. I'm hoping that soon enough Moore's law will work it's magic in the prices of signal validation equipment and at least a few hacker spaces will be able to gather enough cash to pony up for a 10 GHz scope and a nice logic analyser.
CaioAlonso 2 days ago 2 replies      
>so it's possible to build a complete firmware from source with no opaque blobs

So this means that this will probably appeal to the free software people that only use 100% free computers?

otoburb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps RMS will either contract Bunnie to create a replica for him, or he'll use Bunnie's open schematics to create his own. Then he can upgrade from his Yeeloong laptop or at least have an alternative with a bigger screen.

From what I recall, one of RMS's concerns was open firmware, which Bunnie has as one of the project goals.

robomartin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Unless things changed in the last few years HDMI requires a non-trivial license fee of $5,000 to $15,000, if I remember correctly. There's also a per-unit fee. If you are not a signatory of the contract you can't buy HDMI chips.

How are they getting around that?

caublestone 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. In a time where it seems the big pc designers are shifting appeal to the facebook heavy consumer market, developers need a new source. Id love to see this snow ball into open source phones, tablets, glass etc. and an open ubiquitous wireless network.
jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like RMS is very close to being able to upgrade his laptop.
flashmob 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ultimate hackers laptop would be one without a wide-screen! Bring back the 4:3 displays that we had in the old day please. These were good for reading and editing text/code.
You can't buy any decent laptop without a wide-screen, so you will have no competition in this area.
grannyg00se 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome. I'd love to have this integrated into a Thinkpad keyboard along with some kind of HDMI display glasses that don't suck.
iamtherockstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
FPGA development has been one of those things that I've really wanted to get into, but each time, I spend days trying to get a toolchain set up (using the free Xilinx tools on Linux and/or Windows), and by then I'm tired, and decide to take a break. By the time I get back to it, the toolchain doesn't work anymore (because of some licensing crap) so I have to start all over.

I don't think I've been this excited about hardware in a long time. I'd kickstart this thing in a heartbeat.

marshray 2 days ago 2 replies      
I liked the part (literally) about the Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA.

Who knows what kind of cool stuff that could lead to?

CamperBob2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shame there's no external high-speed bus for that FPGA. If there were, this would be an interesting platform for software-defined radio and high speed DAQ products.
gallerytungsten 2 days ago 0 replies      
For further reading, I highly recommend Bunnie's book on hacking the Xbox.
JagMicker 2 days ago 3 replies      
Analog battery meter? Why go through all this trouble, and then take a step-back by including some analog meter?
tsahyt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quad-Core GHz+ CPUs are "good enough" for every day code development? Seriously? We really do live in a world of bloatware if we need 4 cores to support an IDE or a classic editor + compiler/interpreter setup. This really reminds me of May's Law and that it needs to be addressed.
primitur 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm "building" my own laptop by getting a Motorola Lapdock and an MK802 PC-on-a-stick and glomming them together .. oila! Upgradeable laptop! :)
Nux 2 days ago 1 reply      
WANT! I will buy one.

Meanwhile maybe someone can come up with something based on the Raspberry Pi. :-)

shaunxcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
The raspberry pi expansion header is genius. I really hope this sees the light of day.
chrisu_de 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to know how much this costs.
gaussianblur 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hope to see a tablet come next!
mcot2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Samsung already has a cortex a15 chip. If this takes a year it will be woefully out of date using an a9.
I Don't Understand bjk5.com
326 points by rsobers  1 day ago   90 comments top 37
kstenerud 1 day ago 5 replies      
I first noticed this effect in college, when the prof would be talking about something that didn't make sense to me. If I remained silent, he'd never explain (of course) and I'd remain ignorant. However, whenever I asked him, everyone would start furiously writing down his explanation in their notes.

So I got into the habit of saying "I don't understand". Inevitably, there would be quite a number of other people who also didn't understand, but were afraid to ask, so I'd just ask first. That stuck with me throughout my career and served me well. If you don't understand, ask.

Also, contrary to common sentiment, there is no minimum competency level that grants you the privilege of saying "I don't understand." Ignorance is not a monopoly of the elite.

zaidf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Making a clear statement such as "I don't understand" also is a great signal to your coworkers. It kills confusion and builds trust: I know that if you don't understand, you will let me know. That is much better than having someone who I have to poke to admit that they don't understand something.

Another personal favorite is stating unequivocally, loud and clear that "This was my mistake". It is tempting to just fix the mistake but even if you have fixed it, if there isn't clear declared ownership, you probably haven't addressed the root cause.

Doing this keeps you honest to yourself and also removes the awkward air where no one knows who is responsible for this mistake because no one has taken ownership. To pull this off you need an environment that won't punish mistakes by default.

There are absolutely fireable mistakes but if you do this right, the employee should volunteer to be let go because he realizes the gravity of his error.

chernevik 1 day ago 2 replies      
I am but an egg. Very new as a developer, not particularly good.

The smartest programmer in my workspace frequently looks for me when he's trying to solve something hard. There are a dozen people around us, at least, who are better able to _solve_ whatever problem he's working on. But they don't ask as many questions. I ask a lot of questions. Midway through explaining stuff he's solved his problem.

And meanwhile I've learned a ton.

rsaarelm 1 day ago 1 reply      
That the most experienced devs say this the most might not be just about status games. You need to have a very solid shared background to be able to jump to understanding something after the sort of short verbal explanation "I don't understand" can be replied with.

If I go to an university lecture on advanced math, I won't understand things, and can say so. But it's unlikely the lecturer can say anything in the span of five minutes that will make me understand, since what would actually get me close to understanding the content of that lecture are several semesters worth of studies leading up to it.

The senior devs might be the only people on the room who do have such a solid grasp of their stuff that they can fill in their understanding with just a few minutes of explanation. Junior people don't understand either, but they might need to work over the new thing for hours, not five minutes, to get a proper handle on it, and you can't give an hours-long answer to someone who says they don't understand.

DigitalSea 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can see why there seems to be a stigma attached to admitting you don't understand something, especially if you've just started at a new place and you want to make a good impression and reassure them they made the right choice hiring you. I've been guilty too many times of not speaking up when I don't understand something and it comes back to bite you. It makes you look more incompetent being ignorant and not speaking up and then ultimately failing to deliver, than it does to admit you don't understand something thus lowering expectations of the outcome from your work.

To be honest most senior developers are guilty of not creating the right kind of environments for people to comfortably admit they don't understand something and then it brings the whole team down as a result. With exception of where I work now, the senior developers at all other large companies I've worked at made you feel stupid for admitting you didn't understand. There's no weakness in admitting you don't understand, but because of the way companies these days throw words like Agile and lean around, it's no surprise people are afraid to speak up when a company works in the form of 3 week sprints.

While it comes down to the volatile environments managers and senior developers have created over the years, a bad economy doesn't exactly help when it comes to admitting you don't understand something you were hired to do either.

ColinDabritz 1 day ago 1 reply      
One expression of this that I hear from newer devs (and clients) sometimes is "Can't we just...?" and what it really means is "I don't understand", but in a more socially safe way. If I address the question as if it were "what am I missing that makes this seemingly simple solution not viable?" it usually addresses the question and spreads better understanding. I also find that if someone is having trouble understanding my design, it is only rarely a lack of understanding on their part, and more often a lack of good design and good communication of that design on my part. "I don't understand" is a cue to try to make your architecture, design, and code more understandable.
hardik988 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've always used the words "I don't know". My mother kept telling me she hated hearing those words. I can imagine that she was pissed that I didn't take a guess, but guess what? I hate guessing! I hate making decisions and jumping to conclusions based on partial knowledge.

Almost every environment I've been in - whether it be high-school or grad-school, a corporate setup, a startup,; I've found that "I don't know"/"I didn't get you" goes a long way. The other person in the picture usually goes out of their way to make me understand what I'm missing.

rmc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher from 2,500 years aging said this. "Wisest is he who knows he does not know".

And er, Donald Rumsfeld, when talking about unknown unknowns.

sachingulaya 1 day ago 0 replies      
I started saying "I don't understand" years ago. A few very intelligent people have looked at me like I'm an idiot when I've said it. Don't expect it to make you look good in front of everyone.
delinka 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find that people not only have different views of The World, but also different internal definitions and understandings of basic terminology. This guy has the understanding that some assumption is implied in the implementation of an algorithm. That guy has never assumed that was the case. Both have tremendous amounts of experience in writing software systems (for example.) I've seen this exact scenario cause dozens of minutes of superfluous conversation because neither of them bothered to hear a detail that would allow them to realize there was not a full understanding between them. To address this case, my personal habit has become to listen carefully, consider the very words being spoken, identify those little things that aren't clear, have bred assumptions, or just plain don't make sense, and then interrupt ... even if by the time my brain has done all this the speaker has moved on.

It's leagues better than working under the wrong assumptions for days, weeks, months...

azernik 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's an Israeli saying that encapsulates this effect exactly (if somewhat abrasively): "Whoever asks, is stupid for a moment; whoever doesn't ask, stays stupid forever."
barbs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Totally agree. In fact, when I was working at my first programming job, I realised I'd reached a milestone in competency when I could confidently say "I don't understand" without fear of ridicule or feeling stupid or worrying about slowing down the rest of the team.
rsobers 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's so critical to foster a culture where "I don't understand" and (to risk going off on a tangent) "I don't think that's right" is acceptable, even if its an intern to a CEO.

Reminds me of The Checklist Manifesto which cites how OR nurses and doctors who communicated best--they know each others names and nurses can tell doctors "stop"--had fewer surgical errors.

spdy 1 day ago 0 replies      
This should be promoted in any company. If you cant say it or its "not cool" to ask these kind of questions get a new job.

It works against the biggest problem we all have miscommunication.

drivebyacct2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I speak up and protest when I don't understand. I "fight" back and challenge the logic of code|process|etc when I disagree. I don't do these things out of disrespect or because I think I'm "that smart". I do it because I need to understand and I don't. So I pick at it until I have a complete understanding. (Sometimes this is "Because." and I can accept that)

This also has the nice side effect of bringing a different perspective to an existing problem. It's a habit that has left several managers going "wow, you sure know what's going on, or you found problems that we'd not considered". I just shrug and reply honestly, "I'm just trying to understand."

It's of course also invaluable advice for students of any ages.

tibbon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm managing a project right now, and I've found that frequently if I don't understand something, then saying this is indeed helpful. It felt silly the first few times, as I'm supposed to know the hows and whys as the project manager. But it offers me an opportunity to learn, and a few times has found sections of code that weren't really understood by anybody (perhaps from prior developers or cut/pasted from god knows where).

Great advice.

damian2000 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing that irks me is when you're given some sort of spec document and just told by someone senior the equivalent to RTFM; no questions tolerated ... you have to read and understand the document by yourself, and that's it. That's happened a couple of times to me... and its totally unproductive.
MrVitaliy 1 day ago 3 replies      
My analysis professor used to say, if you state that some part of the proof is trivial then it should be easy to just write it out. And when you have a hard time writing it out or it takes too long, perhaps it's not trivial after all.
avmich 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Just last week I've practiced "I don't understand" again. Now I don't particularly like jeopardizing my position at work, but looks like that question wasn't met well. A manager running the meeting (plans for next year) frowned upon a person who seems to be not understanding what he was talking before. In retrospect, I might missed some explanations - didn't quite get them at the time he gave them, possibly didn't pay enough attention - but that was the reason for my question!

The matter was important to "get". Hard to say if the annoyance was justified... but the result is this question may also backfire, even if it shouldn't.

eclipticplane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've asked interviewees very difficult questions for this exact reason. I want them to say "I don't understand" or "I don't know" rather than bullshit me an answer. Of course, after saying "I don't know," I instruct them to elaborate on how they would work out the solution -- co-workers? Google? Experiment?
lilsunnybee 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Background and what social class you came from play a very big role in this too. While an upper class kid may feel perfectly entitled to say 'i don't understand' in any situation, this behavior is often implicitly if not more overtly discouraged for people from lower class backgrounds. When you say 'i don't understand', the unspoken subtext is 'i don't understand: this is important, and my understanding is definitely worth whatever time it takes for you to explain it to me personally, regardless of whether anyone else is having a problem or not'.

Equality among people academically and vocationally needs to be backed up by strong support and activism for greater social and economic equality. Otherwise trivial efforts to promote more participation are a farce, and nothing is ever going to change.

thewisedude 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There are multiple levels in which I agree with the above sentiment.
Some of my teachers had these quotations to encourage questions!

1) If you say you dont understand, you may appear to be a fool for a few minutes, if you pretend to understand (while you dont)... you are a fool for life.

2) To learn something knew, you have to set your ego(pretending to know lest you appear ignorant) aside and start humbly with basics.

Bockit 1 day ago 1 reply      
I agree very strongly with the sentiment of the article, and would like to add that I think the flipped side of the "I don't understand" is just as important.

I.e., You're trying to explain something and someone doesn't understand, you should be patient with the person. I don't think it's always (or even greater than 50%) the case, but enough times after finding out what the lynchpin of understanding was there are ways I could have improved my first explanation.

dpcan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope this isn't the case. I've been sure to speak up when I don't understand since the beginning. Don't people appreciate it when you want to make sure you get it right the first time?
lizzard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would often do this in class (or at work, in meetings) either because I really didn't understand, or because I could tell a bunch of others didn't. But it is fine to phrase it something not being clear, asking if they can try to explain a different way to make it more clear, or trying to rephrase whatever it is myself.
marquis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Living in a country where you're learning the language is a good way to get used to saying 'I don't understand'. When I was really bad at the language I just often sat there and hoped someone would translate for me but as my confidence increased I was able to say 'Can you rephrase that for me' or 'I don't get the cultural reference'. Now I love asking questions, as so much extra knowledge comes with it and you can get people to go off on wonderful tangents.
d0m 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to say I'm always right because when I'm not I say it (or I admit I'm not sure). It came out as being arrogant so I stopped using it publicly. But it's true. When I'm not perfectly sure, I never act like so. I'm only comfortable arguing back when I'm totally sure, i.e. can point to the right explanation in a book or something similar. Friends find it a bit annoying.. because whenever they ask a question, I'm rarely comfortable answering yes or no.. it's always, well, it depends ;)
alan_cx 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I don't know" shouldn't be feared either.
hayksaakian 1 day ago 0 replies      
With all the emphasis on confidence in modern culture, its dishonest to say you should in general admit you don't understand something.

In a negotiation for example, if you admit you dont understand something, the other party can use that factor to take advantage of you.

It also hurts your credibility in front of a wider audience when giving a speech for example.

While I do think being humble should be respected, modern culture will look down on those who admit they don't understand.

jamesjyu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also, people who never say "I don't understand" will never get explanations of concepts they don't understand. The more you say this phrase, the faster you'll learn.
malingo 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Expressing vulnerability requires a great deal of maturity, and is well-rewarded.
asimjalis 1 day ago 2 replies      
As an instructor I have the opposite problem. How can I encourage students to say “I don't understand”?
shanellem 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really liked this article, but I think the very best devs are the ones who admit they don't understand and then ask specific, intelligent questions.

Anyway, admitting you don't fully understand something is the first step to fully understanding it. Great article!

leemor13 1 day ago 1 reply      
Creating a culture where asking questions and identifying when one doesn't understand something is what we strive for, but there still seems to be a stigmatism when one expresses their confusion.

How do we create an environment where one doesn't feel it's wrong to ask for clarification without being subject to "looking stupid"?

vishalsankhla 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well said, plus this gives the person a chance to think through more of their idea and explain it in more detail. Lot of times developers simply "assume" that other people get it, while that may not be the case.
gculliss 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
dennish00a 1 day ago 0 replies      
The same is true of scientists: the best among them say "I don't know" or "I don't understand" all the time.
Ole Roemer and the Speed of Light amnh.org
315 points by tmoretti  4 days ago   68 comments top 16
nikcub 4 days ago 5 replies      
A solution to an accurate measurement of longitude for shipping was one of the biggest scientific problems of the time and involved some of the brightest minds in the world working over decades and centuries.

After losing almost 2,000 sailors and 4 Navy ships in an accident attributed to poor navigation, the British government offered the Longitude Prize - which was worth millions of dollars in todays money.

From Gallileo and his method of timekeeping by tracking the moons of Jupiter, through to John Harrison and his invention of the chronometer - which ended up winning most of the Longitude Prize - the effort that went into finding a solution had many side effects for science and the solution opened up the world to better navigation and the eventual colonization.

The entire story is chronicled in the book 'Longitude'[0], which was a best seller in 1998. It is well worth a read. Wikipedia is also a good starting point for finding out more.[1]

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Longitude-Genius-Greatest-Scientific-P...

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

maeon3 4 days ago 2 replies      
What I take away from these stories is not how to calculate the speed of light, but how to discover things previously not known. Observe something on the edge of what is known, (the orbital period of IO), take better measurements than ever before (creating new measurement technologies), observe unexplained phenomenon (the annual increase/decrease in the orbital period of IO), and apply tried and true mathematical principles: (given the distance between planets, and the observed orbital period, solve for speed of light).

It's this process that will answer other unanswered questions in our physics engine, another one for example being whether or not photons degrade, or if it is possible to remove the higgs boson from matter, rendering it with no mass.

axomhacker 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love these kind of stories. Such stories fills me up with an immense sense of appreciation for scientists/philosophers/thinkers from the post-middle-ages.

Also, why I'm absolutely loving the coursera class on astronomy: https://class.coursera.org/introastro-2012-001/.

If you have not peaked into it yet, the way Dr. Plesser explains concepts and bridges them with the historical advances leaves a lasting impression. I wish we had classes like this back in school.

acqq 4 days ago 0 replies      
To put it in perspective, Newton's "Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica" was first published 11 years later.
prezjordan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Very thorough explanation, awesome! What I'm more curious of is, how did astronomers measure the radius of the earth and moon several hundred (1000?) years ago?
bjornsing 3 days ago 0 replies      
Our little startup started it's life at Ole Römers väg (Ole Roemer's road) in Lund, so I've looked up a few versions of this story. The one I like the best* has a more dismal tone: Ole discovered the finite speed of light, but was outmaneuvered by Jean-Dominique Cassini who had a complex theory based on tables. I sometimes use it when I want to explain how important it is to try and see past "social truth" to find the real one.

I can's say which version is more accurate, but there's a scientific inaccuracy in the OP that makes me a bit skeptical of the author: The distance between Jupiter and the Earth will have no impact on how long Io is hidden behind Jupiter. It's the change in distance been Jupiter and Earth from when Io disappears behind Jupiter to when it reappears some minutes later that will affect the timing.

So IMHO the illustration in the OP is wrong, the timing will be approximately the same in position 1 and 2. Position 2 should be moved so that it is at the far right (or left) of Earths orbit.

(*) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/ancestors-einstein.html

lmm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Arrgh. The original, better title had stood for at least four hours, and was the name under which I knew the discussion.

Is there any kind of site/extension that displays hacker news, but gives stories the titles they were originally submitted under? If not I guess I'll do it myself.

vishal0123 4 days ago 4 replies      
For those who don't know, a more accurate calculation of speed of light was done in ancient india and had been mentioned in rigveda:
redwood 4 days ago 0 replies      
Love this: "He later served as mayor and prefect of police of Copenhagen and ultimately as head of the State Council."

A real renaissance (or post-renaissance) man! I love imagining a scientist heading up a bunch if police!

robolav 4 days ago 3 replies      
Adam Savage explains how light was measured in a ingenious experiment in 1849: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-simple-ideas-lead-to-scientifi...
rimantas 4 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a book with collection of stories like this?
imglorp 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a little unclear on how was the +/- 11 minutes variation measured throughout the year? Huygen's clocks lost about 15s/day, which would give them around an hour and a half a year.

source: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/huygenss-clocks-...

rcthompson 4 days ago 0 replies      
The distinction between philosophy and science (and math, engineering, etc.) is a very recent one (less than 200 years old). You may have heard the term "natural philosophy" as an old term for science, but it betrays that fact that what we now call science was just another branch of philosophy.

Remember that Descartes also authored major mathematical works. Philosophers of that day could and did do a little bit of everything. Anyway, his argument, and the other arguments of them time, were based on things like the fact that if the speed of light were finite, you would notice things like the sun, moon, and earth being out of alignment during an eclipse, since the earth's shadow would lag behind it. Since no such misalignment was observed, the speed of light must be infinite. Later philosophers pointed out, of course, that it was also possible that the speed of light was finite but very fast, and the eclipse lag time was immeasurably small. Then Roemer settled things once and for all.

lectrick 3 days ago 0 replies      
The NOVA series was good, for anyone curious.


lectrick 3 days ago 0 replies      
Loved this. Interesting how it was an accidental discovery based on a different pursuit at the time. That is almost a trope of life itself...
Pr0 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive!
Want to learn to code? Don't copy and paste, type out other people's code shockoe.com
308 points by tomasien  4 days ago   177 comments top 84
danielweber 4 days ago 6 replies      
When learning code out of a book for a new language, one trick I found that worked really well was to read the code, then close the book and try to type as much of it from memory as I could. I would futz with it for several minutes exploring various ways of making it break, seeing if I could 1) predict how I was breaking it, and 2) use the error messages to fix my mistakes.

Then I would open up the book again and compare it to what I had typed, examine the differences between them, and see if/how they explained the errors I was getting.

nileshk 3 days ago 5 replies      
I agree with this especially when you are doing tutorials for this reason: when you type out code, you inevitably make typos that cause bugs. This forces you to learn what some of the common possible error conditions are and forces you to learn to find and resolve them. Learning these things when you have the safety net of a tutorial is ideal, because if you can't figure it out you can always compare with the tutorial's code and learn what your mistake was, and you still get the benefit of learning about the particular error you experienced.
nollidge 3 days ago 3 replies      
OK, so:

> This website uses CloudFlare in order to help keep it online when the server is down by serving cached copies of pages when they are unavailable. Unfortunately, a cached copy of the page you requested is not available, but you may be able to reach other cached pages on the site.

I'm probably being significantly thick-headed, but what exactly is Cloudflare even doing if it's not properly caching pages before traffic hits? And why would they want to advertise that fact on the error page?

tchock23 3 days ago 4 replies      
As someone who learned to code recently (last 3 years), this advice is good but dangerous in the long-term.

I started by typing out other people's code from various books or tutorials, but found that it produced a feeling of "success" that made me lazy in taking the step to producing my own code from scratch. I had that feeling of progress, without actually making real progress.

In my experience the best way to learn to code is to pick a small-ish project that you personally want to use and just get started. You'll screw up a bunch of times, but it's the only true way to learn coding.

danso 4 days ago 2 replies      
Don't have time today to provide citation but I believe the act of writing and transcribing involves a different part of the brain than reading...this is my layman's theory as to why writing and reading is so much more stimulating than just reading, even when you can easily comprehend the code on sight
jmspring 3 days ago 2 replies      
In the old days of tape drives (at best) hooked up to our TRS80s, Commodores, and the like. The only way to run programs in popular magazines at the time was to type them in. If you didn't have storage and wanted to try the program again, you typed it in again.

It was a pain, but certainly learned things (like how poor / slow a typist you might be).

This slow process allowed you time to see and think about what was going on.

CurtHagenlocher 4 days ago 3 replies      
I also agree strongly with this statement.

When I was in school, I found that the most important part of the notetaking process was manually writing the notes during lectures. Reading them afterwards rarely helped me remember or learn more. Reading notes written by someone else was next to useless.

rlander 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another trick that's helped me a lot over the years:

open up your favorite library on Github, go back to the very first commit and start reading, commit by commit. If you don't understand something, just copy the difficult section, line by line, on a repl, inspecting variables and/or function results.

debacle 3 days ago 1 reply      
I did this with some of Zed Shaw's work, at his request in the foreword, and I found it helped a ton with at least learning the syntax.

Understanding the data structures, not so much, but when you're trying to learn a new language the greatest initial friction is the syntax.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
So a long time ago there were two C compilers on the Amiga, one (Lattice C) was the "official" C compiler and it was very slow, the other "Redhat C" was really quite fast. The nice thing about the fast C compiler was you could compile and know right away where the syntax errors were, the slow compiler ground along forever.

A side effect of this was that before kicking off the slow compiler I would do a careful read of my code to be sure I hadn't done anything stupid. Often finding other bugs along the way before I finally kicked off a compile. Whereas programming on the fast compiler was more iterative and it made me a rather lazy since I could just compile/edit my way to a clean build without thinking too hard about the code.

Writing code slowly let me write better code.

morsch 3 days ago 2 replies      
That may be an effective way to learn (ie. it works), but I have my doubts that it's a very efficient one (ie. you could learn more in the time you spend retyping that code) or a very entertaining one (ie. other ways of learning to code are more interesting).
Jun8 3 days ago 2 replies      
In a different domain, the journalist Hunter J. Thomson was known to type entire novels to learn the style of master novelists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_S._Thompson):

"During this time he worked briefly for Time, as a copy boy for $51 a week. While working, he used a typewriter to copy F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms in order to learn about the writing styles of the authors."

clebio 3 days ago 1 reply      
A corollary, a comment on method, and an anecdote:

Related, this approach also reveals syntactic errors in printed books. This re-enforces the principle, since it shows that even published authors make mistakes. It also means that, even following the text verbatim, I have to account for code errors and the standard bugs (as others note here).

Somewhat related to other comments here regarding closing the book and trying to recreate the code or underlying logic, I often think of REPL iterations in relation to industrial-scale engineering (rocket launches, bridge-building, etc.). If the cost of the test-iterate cycle is not seconds or minutes, but months and millions of dollars, we'd think very carefully about the logic and edge-cases. Granted, I like that fast iteration is possible, but in cases where that's not an option, you'd just have to use other approaches. Mostly, that would mean truly, deeply understanding what you're asking the machine to do.

Despite being a fan of Gonzo Journalism, I've never heard the anecdote about transcribing entire Hemingway novels. Re-typing code examples verbatim seems sort of obvious, but re-typing narrative fiction, not so much. So it's sort fascinating to hear that anyone in fact did that (and for exactly the same reason).

Kaivo 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is essentially what Zed Shaw propose in his "Learn Code The Hard Way" books. It definitely helps to type in everything and can be applied in almost anything we need to learn.

It's this memorization trick teachers usually told us to do, basically rewrite the notes you've taken or things you need to remember. It's somehow boring to apply and while doing it you don't necessarily realize you are learning but it does work great.

Then it's extended with programming where what you typed is used interpreted by your computer and turns results from what was typed.

Mc_Big_G 4 days ago 2 replies      
Even more important is to go over every line and don't go on to the next line until you are sure you understand. Just like you can read without understanding you can type without understanding as well. Forcing yourself to understand will make you a much better programmer.
pnathan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I learned to code essentially from books. I tried the type it out method. It was... um... a dismal failure. I would type it in, and I would have no idea what happened. It was all in code. There was magic in them thar characters, and the magic wasn't working.

So I regrouped and started writing my own code. Lots of code. Very bad C++ code. Excruciatingly bad code. Over and over again. I desperately wanted to understand, and I studied the books time and time and time again, taking those concepts into my very bad code, and after time, my code became less very bad and just... bad. After about two years of this, I was barely marginally competent, but I did pretty much understand how to write code. Then I went off to college and learned computer science.

agentultra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Basically how I learned to code as a kid: type out the programs from Byte/Compute magazines. I eventually found books on BASIC in the library and typed out the examples from those. Then I'd modify them to add my name in there or make the dot jump a little higher. Eventually I was writing my own programs.

I assume it's some sort of "kinesis" style loop in the brain that is at work when you do this. "Hands-on," learning is a very useful tool.

jcoby 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is how I learned to code. I sat down with the Turbo C book and typed out the examples. Later on (early-mid 90s) I would download code from CompuServe. Instead of using it wholesale I would try to recreate it using my own style and naming convention.

It lead to a lot of frustrating moments though. I remember sitting there and fuming trying to figure out where a variable came from. (This was when C++ was starting to get popular and variables started popping up everywhere. I was trying to figure out where in the world a counter was being declared in a for loop. Turns out it was being declared in the for loop.)

A bonus of this process is that I made a TON of mistakes and was exposed to dozens of programming styles. Because of this I can just skim code and error messages and have a general idea of what to look for.

tjic 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is so true.

After 20 years, I've recently switched from csh to bash (so I can use rvm), and I've been applying this neuro-hack to less-used command. When you copy-and-paste, there's a kind of finger-learning that you miss out on.

Apreche 4 days ago 0 replies      
Even with a computer science degree I still do this. If I read a tutorial or a book about a new library or language, I type all the examples. By the time I'm done, I know what I'm doing.
larrik 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found this to be true as well, though I feel old that I learned HTML at a time that "Google" wasn't an option...
bluishgreen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure about just typing, but working thru things for yourself helps, even if it a repetition.

This is how I taught myself mathematical problem solving (and math as a side effect). I would read the problem statement, instead of looking at the solution, try to solve it for upto 15 minutes or sometimes even for several days depending on how much value I am planning to get from the solution.

The Brachistochrone problem(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachistochrone_curve) is an example of a problem that I tried to solve for several days. Newton solved it in 3 hours, and when you learn math like that you don't take things for granted. You can admire the amount of insight that went into the steps. You can also internalize the knowledge obtained thus exponentially more effectively than you would by listening(and falling asleep).

Yhippa 3 days ago 1 reply      
Tommy, I saw the domain name of this post and went to the main site. My suspicion was correct, you're from Richmond. I am too and went to Virginia. Awesome to see a Richmonder on the front-page of HN!

I agree with this a lot. Just the act of typing it out is better (even if just marginally) than straight up copying and pasting especially early on in your career. There are some pretty complex tutorials for Java EE that rely on copy/paste and even with the context it's hard to absorb a lot of it.

tharris0101 3 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding the Hunter S. Thompson anecdote:

I've heard this story many times over the years and was always found it amusing but was skeptical that it did HST any good. I mean, what use is it to blindly just copy something letter by letter?

I did Nanowrimo on a whim this year and it was a lot of fun (I doubt I'm actually any good at it, though). In doing it I found myself going to Gatsby and a Hemingway book (The Sun Also Rises) for examples of clear, direct prose. I thought back to this Thompson anecdote and thought to myself that if I ever wanted to really pursue writing, a straight copy of one of those books would help my prose ten fold.

So I agree with this article. Type out the code you're borrowing from, don't copy and paste. Also, tchlock23 is right in that you also need to start some small projects from scratch and suffer through them with minimal help.

dfan 3 days ago 0 replies      
The way I learn math and physics is to write out every equation. I can nod at something I don't fully understand and move on, but I have great difficulty writing something I don't understand and moving on.
dschiptsov 3 days ago 0 replies      
When you're re-writing the code from the video to you editor, you are mere copying, you're not inventing, not producing the code. But it is useful nevertheless. Copy-pasting makes you dumber, while re-writing trains you, but very slowly.


Eventually you must try to re-invent and re-write some of the classic procedures without trying to recall a memorized text.)

There are some immortal procedures: http://karma-engineering.com/lab/wiki/Tutorial5 to re-invent.)

lsiebert 3 days ago 1 reply      
So one thing that I want to point out, many, many tutorials and books for coding teach bad design practices or provide code that is overly verbose, to make instruction in a particular element clearer. Java is particularly troubled by this imho. So if you are going to use code you find, you should look at good code. I recommend code from a mature open source product.
tomasien 4 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Hacker News took down our server! Damn! Hold on while I re-start
tomasien 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now that there's 171 comments on this thread, I hope it won't bother anyone for me to ask that at a few of you help us out by Beta testing a game we're releasing.

letterlasso.com signup with your email and we'll send you a testflight email in a couple weeks. Anyone who happens to see this and is willing to help us, it would really mean a lot!

kurtfunai 3 days ago 0 replies      
For roughly the first year when beginning to learn to code, I refused to use an IDE or any editor that had intellisense. The result was having to remember the syntax of different languages, method names, etc.

I was in college at this point, so it made spotting syntax errors easy for multiple choice questions or debugging on tests.

I also approached coding problems on paper before typing a line of code. This helped to grow how I approached problem solving, rather than whether the page would run properly or not.

If I were to start fresh I'd still take the same approach. I'm a huge believer in repetition for remembering, and writing out code rather than copy/pasting or have it be autocompleted, eventually pays off.

kaolinite 4 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't agree more. Never download the resources that books put online (code samples and such) - it's tedious writing out a load of code but you learn a hell of a lot faster.
mikeash 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't reach the site, but I completely agree with the title. I'll even retype my own code when refactoring things a lot of the time, just to make sure I understand what I'm slinging around.
tsahyt 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is so very true. Copy & Paste never made anyone better at anything (except for muscle memory in your left hand). For a while I typed out every single piece of code I used from the internet and it gave me a deeper understanding of what's going on in this code. I reflect on the code while I'm typing it.

I also do this with math these days. Whenever I'm learning a concept I'm writing out all the definitions and theorems, which gives me time to reflect on them and helps memorization. In general, writing is an excellent way of learning.

pavanky 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is important to have a look at the code and have it imprinted as an abstract algorithm / pseudo code that you can reproduce easily later. It feels such a natural thing to do, I am not sure what kind of people would not do this.
gauravpandey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I too felt the same and said it here:

"The right approach is to get your hands dirty, get inside the core of the code and understand it, thus implement it well. We should also try to remember the code as much as we can at the first place so if we face a similar problem later, we can solve it in no time. Also I would suggest not to copy paste it and try to type it on your own (if the code consists of a few lines), this approach will definitely help you to remember it for later use. The coding ninjas, the coding beasts, the rock start programmers, whatever you call them, all the great programmers definitely have one thing in common and that is they are like living library of the programming language and framework they use. They spend maximum time in getting things done (not finding the solutions to the problems they have already worked on before)."

tomasien 3 days ago 0 replies      
If Shockoe.com is still down, there's another copy here


We're restarting our server because we weren't quite prepared for #1 on HN server load

moonboots 3 days ago 0 replies      
I created http://typing.io primarily to help programmers practice typing, but it also allows users to explore open source code like jQuery and Rails by typing through instead of just reading.
alinajaf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I totally agree with the central thesis of this article, typing out the code for open source projects I like has been my secret weapon for learning technologies faster than most people think possible.
ianstallings 3 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to agree because typing it out helps you commit the code to memory. But these days I do cut and paste because I read every single line of code and understand what it does before I do.
rshlo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a CS major and coded all my life. The best way to learn is just to give yourself tasks, like building something specific and then try to make it.
From copy and paste you just learn the syntax, which is useful but not that much. From building something from scratch you learn the principles which is far more important.
joeld42 3 days ago 0 replies      
As simple as this suggestion is, it's probably the best advice on the topic ever.

I still do this when learning a new language, and I've been programming for almost 20 years now...

to3m 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found a similar tactic useful for learning APIs: don't reuse example code, and don't reuse other people's code. Doesn't matter how annoying the API is - always write your code by hand. Re-type bits out of the code you were thinking of copying, if needs be! It's much easier to spot things worthy of note as you type them in than it is by reading them.
jongold 4 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely - wish I'd actually done this in school for every subject; always thought I was too good to write notes but now seeing the value of it.
corysama 3 days ago 0 replies      
Multiple times I've heard the same advise for copy writing. As in, I've heard a few people tell stories of digging out the works of great copy writers and hand-transcribing dozens or even hundreds of them in pen while taking notes along the way. "Here is the call to action. Here is where he's adding urgency."
hdra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed. But don't just type it out line-by-line though. I find trying to re-implement the codes works better, it would give me a better idea on how something works, and how people usually deal with certain problems.
manish_gill 3 days ago 0 replies      
Recently, I've also started creating notes while studying something I don't understand. Just a small dev_project.txt file, where I type out bullet points about how I think the code is working. If after some time, reading it again it's taking me too long to get something, I just take a look at the notes. :)
coroxout 3 days ago 0 replies      
I try to do this when learning a new language/framework from tutorials and ebooks, but it hadn't occurred to me to do it when using other people's plugins or finding answers to code problems online. I like the idea a lot.
jdreaver 3 days ago 0 replies      
I too have been doing this with Zed Shaw's work. My biggest piece of advice is this: make sure you read the code and try to understand it before you type it in. When you are given

  char *names[] = {"Bob", "Dole", "Bananas"};

don't just write out the text as you see it (which is what I did too often). Think through and say "ok, I am creating a variable called names. There are brackets, so it must be an array, and there is an asterisk after char, so it must be an array of pointers to char. Then I construct it with string literals..."

I caught myself writing whole source files from a book without understanding a single line. I agree with danielweber when he says to try and reproduce the code before typing it out verbatim.

pixie_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I was a kid I typed out every example in a logo book and learned nothing. It doesn't matter if you type it out or not, either way, learning means going line by line and understanding the code.
habosa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great point. It's why I always buy paper copies of programming books despite most having free or cheap PDFs online. When I can copy and paste I become tempted to do just that and I never learn anything.
csense 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kids these days have it too easy with this new-fangled Internet thingie. When I learned to code in QBASIC from dead-tree books, I didn't copy-pasta because I couldn't.

Now get off my lawn.

rizwan 3 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, this is one of the things that Big Nerd Ranch makes you do when learning iOS development (probably all their programming classes).

It is one of the key things that helps you get a "feel" for writing code, imo.

felipeko 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have the same experience as most people here. I usually just study by reading or trying to recreate the scene/code/history in my read, and works greatly to understand and memorize. When i write it takes time and feels like wasted time.
bdcravens 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think CodeSchool.com is great, and well worth the cost. You actually don't type out a tutorial, but rather, have to think about the material covered, and code a similar version.
tjbiddle 3 days ago 0 replies      
It really does help - I had done this in the past, and I need to start doing it again. No matter how experienced you are, I think this would always be helpful as it can open your eyes to new ways of thinking about how to go about solving a problem.

That being said, word of advice: Make sure the code works before you start copying it, nothing is more frustrating then grabbing something OS - typing it by hand, then finding out it doesn't work (Granted, if you learned enough from typing it - hopefully you understand it well enough to fix it but you could have also picked up bad habits if it was broken to begin with.)

dllthomas 3 days ago 1 reply      
When teaching people to code, I'll dictate for a bit, and then start asking questions as I go, and move them gradually toward building things on their own. Really only a technique that works one-on-one but it's worked very well.
mandeepj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I totally agree with the title of this post and often times I have pledged to myself to never copy and paste even though I always get the idea first what is this piece of code is doing but still most of time I end up making mistakes with copy + paste.

At the end, the time spent to rectify the errors resulting from copy + paste is much more than I thought I would save.

thucydides 4 days ago 0 replies      
Also: use a REPL. I typed all the examples from the Well-Grounded Rubyist into irb, played with the examples to test edge cases, and ended up learning Ruby faster than I thought possible.
ndcrandall 3 days ago 0 replies      
I went through the entire http://ruby.railstutorial.org/ by Michael Hartl and decided to type every code sample in vim (and in certain cases predict how to create the code before looking). It was a lengthy process, but I definitely got more out of it. Even still I find myself copy pasting code snippets, but after this little reminder I will be typing everything out by hand. It's a great way to really learn a language!
darkstalker 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's what I've always done. Sometimes I even rewrite the code when I'm typing a part that I can optimize.
why-el 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a lot easier with eval languages, you just make your own REPL and the sky is the limit.
polarcuke 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with this article, typing the code out (as long as you are focusing on it and not just typing absentmindedly) really forces you to read all of the code, which should help you understand what is happening. Just as in the article I have also found myself unable to write my own code at times due to working off of other programs or snippets. When I type it out though I gain a much more thorough knowledge of the api or language.
rburgosnavas 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great article and I absolutely agree with the message. I'm learning Java and I use Eclipse as my IDE of choice. The main advantage of using it is how easy it is to access JavaDocs for class, methods, and what not, but I've made a conscious effort not to rely on 'auto-complete' features if I'm implementing something I've never used before. But it is tempting to just use that for everything.
davidarkemp2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just out of curiosity, how many people took their first steps in programming by typing out code from a book or magazine?

- When I started out, including a floppy disk with a book or magazine was a rarity, so BBC Basic, Spectrum and PCW-9512 had to been typed in by hand, with frustrating hours trying to figure out why they didn't work (usually typos)

manuscreationis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Could not agree with the sentiment of this article more.

Do not copy and paste code when you're trying to learn

Always type it out

ErikAugust 3 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed. A good way to get better at coding is to go completely offline without any books or help whatsoever. Write as much code as you can from memory and try to solve your problem with your own existing knowledge.
suyash 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll add my 2 Cents: Also try to write a program first on a paper using a pencil and then on your Editor. Full blown IDE's are not the best way to get started for relative beginners!
eranki 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like doing this and changing all the variable names as well so I'm forced to keep track of what's doing what
jordonwii 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is something I really just learned through experience. I'll frequently just look at the example, type it out, and then immediately start fiddling with it.

I learn coding through doing it myself, not from simply seeing someone else's work.

computerslol 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wholeheartedly agree. I spent my first few years doing this, and it helped expand my framework vocabulary faster than my co-workers at the same level.
JonFish85 4 days ago 0 replies      
In some ways I disagree with this: I think that it depends a lot on the type of person writing the code. In the past I have found when I copy the code it is essentially a copy-paste level of thinking (i.e. none at all) that takes longer. There are times when I feel that when I am typing out example code I pay less attention than when I copy paste. When I copy/paste, I at least usually try to look for the important parts of what is going on, but when I am typing it out, I am too focused on making sure I have a comma instead of a period, or matching parentheses, etc. And not to mention I tend to leave out comments that probably should be there in the interest of being sick of typing.

To be fair the case I am imagining myself in is the times I have looked up something relatively simple like opening a socket or something pretty mundane, so this may not apply to all situations.

hadem 4 days ago 0 replies      
I fully agree. This is much like studying for a big test and writing out notes before hand.

When I come across something I don't fully understand, I'll take a few minutes to investigate that bit of code to learn even more.

emersonrsantos 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is an old trick. Bach learned how to compose by copying his father's music when he had about 8-10 years old. His father won't let him toying with his compositions so he copied as much as he could.
RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cloudflare landing page: "This website is offline - No cached version is available".
tomasien 3 days ago 0 replies      
Site's back, woot!
sddhrthrt 3 days ago 0 replies      
it probably helps more to type out the program in a logical order - in the order of execution, like a pre-order traversal of the (module-dependency) tree.

say, in c, you could type the main, and when there is a function call, go there and type it, understand, come back.. that way you get the flow of it and you'll understand the whole code in one go.

Yes, it helps to type.

zobzu 3 days ago 0 replies      
i always type the code too for similar reasons, people often asked me why i do that "cause its slow", but i like it. i remember and understand better that way.
sonabinu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Totally agree with this strategy. I have used it to learn mathematical proofs and it is awesome!!!
chlee99 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cannot agree more. This how I learn't Java in University, C#, Javascript and SQL at work.
drumhead 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started using this method after reading one of Zed Shaws books, and it really works. I repeat an excercise 9-10 times, until its automatic. Its rote, but I'm actually starting to understand concepts. I'm also able to apply what I've learnt when I'm writing my own programs. Its not easy and maybe its not the best way but its working for me.
anExcitedBeast 3 days ago 3 replies      
How is stuff like this news to people? This is fundamentals, people. Fundamentals.
shahed 3 days ago 1 reply      
The site is down for me.
yujingz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why I Love Being A Programmer in Louisville erniemiller.org
307 points by emiller829  1 day ago   181 comments top 46
edw519 23 hours ago 10 replies      
The single biggest problem with working remotely is that you have to be excellent at a lot of things that don't matter when you're on site. And since your energy is a zero sum game, being excellent at these things steals energy from building.

You need to expend time and energy on:

- preparing precise specs instead of explaining and interacting

- interpretting imprecise specs instead of questioning and interacting

- writing precise emails

- interpretting imprecise emails

- guessing body language and tonality from written communication

- dealing with conference calls and web-based meetings

- building relationships without benefit of breaks and meals

- understanding the human terrain without benefit of gossip and the water cooler

- being noticed and recognized for who you really are by new people

- being included when you're "out of sight, out of mind"

You kinda get the idea. If you can be excellent at these things, great. Otherwise, be prepared to see your work suffer.

calinet6 1 day ago 4 replies      
Based on several experiences doing startups with remote people versus local, I would now be extremely hesitant to hire someone who would not relocate or work locally.

Companies"especially small ones"are defined by their culture, and I really think culture is best developed and maintained in person. We recently had three of our team members move away for various reasons, and they're now working remotely. It has been a shake-up. I won't say it's a bad thing, because I truly want them to be happy, and I'm truly willing help them make it work, but it has been a surprising culture shift for our entire company. At this point, I think we'll make it work, but the day-to-day work experience for all our employees has changed dramatically and that's not something to take lightly.

Find a place you truly want to live (which definitely doesn't have to be in the Bay Area) and find a company that you want to work for locally. Go into the office every day. Talk with people about more than work. Connect and develop relationships. Work toward a true culture that exemplifies what the company stands for both internally and externally, and make it meaningful to everyone involved.

That's what makes me happy, and that's what I'm optimizing for. Am I in the absolute number one place that I want to be in, period? Maybe not. If I had my say I'd be living and working on the east side of the Sierra Nevada within 1 hour each of Mammoth mountain and the Yosemite highlands"and that may be my eventual destination.

But right now, location is far less important to me than the people I spend each day with, the people with whom I work, and the company culture that I'm helping to generate and preserve. That's what moves me forward each day, and I truly believe that will make my company more successful and sustainable.

I understand you though. I went through a time in my life where I was more attached to places than people. Turns out I was in the right place all along, but I just hadn't run into the right people. That changed for me, and now I truly believe that location is a small price to pay. It's complicated"it is of course better to have a great employee working remotely than a poor one in the office, but I think it's even better"perhaps exponentially so and especially to a startup"to have that great employee in the same room.

*Edit: I'd like to add, that part of this is the "who moved my cheese" problem, of going from a 100% local company to a significantly dispersed company. We are adapting as a whole and each week we improve our process and culture. The challenge has become "how do we maintain a culture and coherence remotely?" I think in time we will be successful at that, and continue to be a strong group, but it's still a challenge, and one that you'll have to weigh against other challenges if you so choose.

marknutter 1 day ago 3 replies      
There will always be dogma associated with the belief that in-person interaction is more valuable than remote interaction, much like the same dogma people some people have about preferring physical books to e-book readers. People aren't able to truly quantify the benefit of working on-site, but they will flail their hands vigorously in an attempt to qualify it.

On the other hand, it's very easy to quantify the benefit of remote workers. You increase your potential labor force if you remove geographic restrictions, which cuts costs and improves productivity. I personally was able to quantify the benefit of working remotely in terms of distractions. I work remotely on a medium sized team and I occasionally travel to the headquarters to work on-site. My productivity always drops when I'm on-site because of the constant interruptions and meetings, both initiated by others and myself.

wtvanhest 1 day ago 6 replies      
After living in Florida (Orlando, Naples), CA (Santa Clara), Boston and DC, I like to apply "The Efficient Frontier" to locations I choose.

Essentially the efficient frontier is a finance concept that says that combinations of assets can be graphed and form a line called "The Efficient Frontier" where only portfolios of assets on that line should be considered.

Sorry for the link to wiki, but this is a really short article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient_frontier

When I consider where I live, I want to optimize to make sure I am on that frontier. Instead of risk and return on the axises, I think of a multivariant optimization, but essentially what I am saying is that many cities do not make it on the efficient frontier when looking logically.

For example, is there anyway that Louisville has as rich of a history as NYC, or DC, Boston or even SF?

Does Louisville have better night life than any other big city (DC, NYC, SF, Boston?)

Does Louisville have better skyline than any other big city (DC, NYC, SF, Boston?)

Does Louisville have better live performances than any other big city (DC, NYC, SF, Boston?)

Does Louisville have better museums than any other big city (DC, NYC, SF, Boston?)

Does Louisville have a better hipster scene than any other big city (DC, NYC, SF, Boston?). Its probably better than Boston's, but I don't care whether hipsters are part of the culture or not.

And the OP's biggest point, that he likes to drive to rural areas in 15 minutes. Its more like 20 minutes from SF, but some of the best mountain biking, trails etc. is right there. Boston has the same thing 20 minutes away. IMO DC and NYC are harder to get to rurual areas.

Liking Louisville is completely understandable if you just like being familar and don't want to move and have to make new friends etc. but it should be 100% understandable why a recruiter cannot imagine someone wanting to stay when viewing the opportunity as an outsider.

[ADDED] I reread what I wrote and it seems like I'm bashing Louisville, more my intention was to put out the efficient frontier concept for selecting a location.

[To unalone and the OP] Sorry for coming off as pompous. It does read a little that way, but I used the OP's criteria, not my own. The OP could have made a much better arugument by specifying what he likes about the criteria, but he didn't do that so I just asked the questions rather than making an assertion about them. Notice that I didn't specify whether DC does have better nightlife than Louisville? I instead just asked the question which the reader can answer on their own.

jasonkester 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well said.

It's not that your city isn't fun and exciting. It's that your office is in a building in that city, whereas my office is anyplace I feel like being at the moment.

Now I might feel like being in your city for a while. Possibly even in your cool office. But for half the year I'll probably be someplace completely different. Because I can.

The author hit the nail on the head when he explained why this gig is so great: we can do it from anywhere.

The good companies have figured this out and are encouraging their people to do just that. Since that's now a viable option, it's tough to understand why people are still working for companies that don't give that option.

michaelochurch 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like this idea a lot, but here's the issue that I find. For most projects, I get to a point where I actually care (sometimes that happens way too fast) about the health of the project, which means that I want to be in a decision-making role-- not necessarily "management" but some sort of creative or technical leadership. Getting that seems to require in-person contact. It requires trust so it rarely happens when people haven't shared physical space.

What you're paying when you suffer Manhattan or Bay Area rent is the career benefit (?) that it confers to live in such a place. You may be overpaying; you probably are. I don't think anyone has good data on this, which is why the extortionist mega-landlords who set prices (by limiting supply through NIMBY regulations) can get away with so much. No one has a good handle on what it's actually worth to live and work in a star city. I think a lot of people pile into star cities because they're driven by FUD and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

I don't know what "the right answer" is but I can see the appeal of living in these high-rent areas. It really sucks, though, because we're in an uncanny valley where people are just mobile enough to stratify by ambition (with a lot of noise in the mix; I am not saying that people who don't live in expensive places aren't ambitious, but the correlation exists) in their 20s, but not enough to render location obsolete.

pwthornton 22 hours ago 5 replies      
This post missed one of the biggest reasons to not relocate for a startup:

A lot of smaller startups lack long-term capital. You could be relocating for a job that isn't there in seven months. Relocating to join an established company that will honor your multi-year contract? That's one thing. But relocating for a company that may not be in great financial shape (and may have never even made profit) is another thing entirely. Uprooting your entire family for what could be a massive risk is a lot to ask, especially when employees can remote work to see if the job is a good fit for a year or two. Startups really should be offering more remote employment if they want to be able to attract more established talent.

I would also quibble with his cost of living calculations. He doesn't say whether or not these short trips involve walking or driving a car. Based on my knowledge of Louisville and the tenor of his post, many of them may in fact be car trips, which are much more expensive than walking or public transportation trips -- both financially and physically. If you live in a truly walkable area, you don't need a gym membership. Exercise is called living your daily life.

Old cost of living indexes just factored in housing and some other data, leaving out transportation. When you factor in transportation, often a households second highest cost (and highest in rural areas), many of these areas become much cheaper. We live in the DC area right on the Red Line and only need one car because of it. All of our trips this past weekend -- going to parties, to the movies, to stores, to get pizza -- either involved walking or public transportation. While my housing is assuredly more expensive than someone living in Louisville, my families transportation costs are incredibly low.

So when we talk about cost of living, we have to factor in everything. I'd still bet that Louisville is cheaper than NYC, but it's a lot closer when you apply an apples-to-apples comparison. This is particularly true when you compare housing in the same metro. Much of that exurban housing is suddenly a lot more expensive when you factor in transportation.

untog 1 day ago 0 replies      
The OP is not willing to move to work for your startup. That's fine. You may not hire him because of that. That's also fine. Another company may be more than happy to hire him. Great.

There isn't a right and wrong answer here, IMO. In my experience, working in the same location and working in different locations are very different working experiences. For some companies and employees, one will work. For others, it will not. I will be very hesitant to ever enter into a remote working situation again- I did not like it at all. But that's just me.

All that is required is for you to make sure you work for a company that matches you- don't get angry if a company/prospective employee doesn't match what you want. That's where the article's complaints about recruiters ring true- they don't know/care. But they don't know/care about anything other than the buzzwords on your resume, so this shouldn't be anything new.

(Ironically, just this morning I got a LinkedIn spam message from "CultureFit Staffing". Anything but, folks...)

subway 1 day ago 0 replies      
As one of those "Highlands Hipsters", I couldn't agree with you more. I've relocated a couple times for jobs in TX and CA, but found myself missing Louisville enough that I was spending a significant portion of my income flying back here.
Before leaving SF I was absolutely terrified I wouldn't be able to find a local job doing the kind of work I enjoy, and it turns out even though I was right about being able to find something local that really interested me it didn't really matter -- within a month of beginning my job search I had 3 competing offers for remote work. This experience has helped me realize that far more companies are open to remote employees than recruiters would initially have you believe, particularly if you're willing to make a 2-3 day trip to one of the coasts every month.
VLM 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This topic is like discussing watching television or religion. If you think a well written and logical essay will change the opinion of an addict, you have another thing coming. Some of the more ridiculous rationalizations are pretty hilarious to read. You really can do almost anything abusive to a human being, and at least a fraction of the victims will thank you and take their oppressor's side.

I also live in a non-tech center area, where my tech job household income is approximately 4.5 times the median wage. Needless to say the odds of my getting $472K per year in Mountain View are extremely low. Laughably I had a conversation with HR at a well known employer in the area and their pay rate was something absolutely ridiculous compared to the $472K I'd need to live an equivalent lifestyle in CA, barely 10% more. I have no interest in a massive terrifying downgrade in the standard of living for myself and my family. I have no interest in moving from "CEO neighborhood" to "cardboard box under the overpass". Sorry HR.

(edit: whoops I crossed household and individual income. Doesn't change the overall outcome, I need 100% to 200% pay raise to move and live an equivalent lifestyle and they offer 10% to 20%... its not going to happen)

MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a few HNers who live in Louisville, myself included (want to grab a beer some time Ernie?). 1 major downside: probably 85+% of local programming jobs are .NET. Maybe another 10% are Java, 4% are Ruby, and the remaining 1% is hard to come by.

Working remote is awesome, I hope to do it again some day (Clojure or JavaScript for me, if anyone is hiring) but its very important that everyone is on the same table about expectations. You get into the habit of working long hours for a couple of reasons: first because you are home anyways and might not have anything else to do (not a terrible reason), and secondly because you want to show the company that you're working hard -- something that isn't an issue when working locally.

I've turned down a couple of good opportunities because I didn't want to relocate. Of all of the reasons to relocate to a new city, I think doing so for work is possibly the work reason. It's too easy to fall into a trap where work becomes your life.

jconley 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I've worked remotely off and on for the last 10 years. I'd say at least half the time I have been out of the office. I have managed remote teams in Mexico, Ukraine, India, Arizona, Switzerland and even randomly dispersed developers/artists all over the world. Remote teams can work very well.

What doesn't work very well is having a few remote people and a large mass of people in an office all working together on the same project. There is significant high bandwidth communication that happens when people are together physically. This leaves remote workers out to pasture. Things get missed. Tension builds.

The same effect occurs when you have multiple offices working on the same projects. I've been in the middle of this first hand as well. You can quickly end up with teams doing a lot of internal communication without talking to the teams in other offices. Rivalries will build. It will probably become an "Us vs Them" situation as animosity over small things snowballs.

This can be combated largely by explicit written communication. Use chat rooms. Use good issue tracking. Use internal social networking.

silverbax88 1 day ago 2 replies      
I agree with the bulk of the article, with one exception:

"Don't take (or keep) a job because you like the people. If you're a decent person, you'll find people you like (and who like you) at any job you take."

This is patently NOT true. The people you work with, in my experience, matter far more than any other factor.

netcan 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's funny that this article is even necessary.

Not wanting to move for a job is the default for 99% of the world.

armored_mammal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like having co-workers and actually going in to the office, but you'd have to start talking MASSIVE salary increase to get me to go NY or SF with the cost of living so high, commutes so awful, and onerous laws so numerous.

Concur with author 100%. There are lots of nice cities in the US that are way cheaper and more livable than the big 2, and moving from one of them to effectively make less, commute more, and have less personal time, even after taking a hit on the cost of living adjustment is pretty questionable.

If I were to move to SF I don't see how I could afford a place that was both close to work and had a garage where I could tinker unless I felt like commuting 2 hours each way. But I'm also spoiled by a real estate market where you can a decent house for under 200k, sometimes close to 100k, where I'm living now.

bmelton 1 day ago 2 replies      
Great, thoughtful article. As someone whose office is in Mountain View, but lives and works from home in Annapolis, MD (the entirely opposite coast,) I definitely relate.

The compromise that I've made is that in spending a few days in Mountain View every 6 weeks or so. It's not terribly inconvenient for me, allows me to pad my frequent flyer miles, and I generally enjoy California. I think that the cost of living between California and Maryland are a lot closer than Louisville would be, so I've always got my eye open to possibly relocating somewhere even cheaper than here -- my home town is Memphis, TN, which is damn near free to live in comparatively, but I really like Annapolis, its proximity to DC and Baltimore, and the knowledge that almost everything is within a couple of hours.

The biggest trouble I have is that I really like the bigger cities. I love the time I spend in and around San Francisco, and on occasion I'll spend time in NY, which I also enjoy. I can't ever tell though if it's just because I'm effectively a tourist, or how much I would enjoy it as a permanent residence. Ultimately, I think I'm plenty happy anywhere with a temperate climate and the ability to work from home, so I'm occasionally torn on job offers I receive to work in sexier locales. Grats to Ernie for having found his ideal place. The spot I'd move to to maximize dollar value (Memphis) is too hot to be perfectly happy, and all the places I've found with better climates tend to be more expensive -- so perhaps I'm still searching for my idyllic setting, or perhaps it's just a matter of the grass being greener.

justanother 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Lower Florida Keys here, haven't had a job within 300 miles of my home since 2003. Although I've lived in a few large cities with decent job markets, I settled here for reasons of personal choice and sanity. Like the author of this piece, I'm utterly unwilling to move (I'd sooner change professions; I'll be a USCG licensed boat captain soon). I understand the tradeoffs involved, and I work in a partnership of like-minded individuals around the country. The partnership gives us healthcare and retirement benefits, while the senior partner in LA has physical access to a large job market to keep us stocked with contracts, if we need more work.

Yes, there are tradeoffs. I probably won't advance in your company or have a prestigious resume, even though I've been working on Internet technologies since the early 1990s. I don't want to be a founder or first employee, I want to be your first contractor. You can even meet me, too; I've been known to fly out to conferences and company meetings.

For my part, I use the partnership's Redmine ticket system religiously, and the customer can see the solid results I deliver by working for the agreed-upon amount of hours (or more!) per day/week/month, and if the customer doesn't like the results (experience suggests most do, but some are better suited to cheap stuff from India), then they do not renew the contract.

Besides my zipcode, I get an interesting choice of working situations. I've been on conference calls while I had two divers in the water getting lobster. A week ago, my office was on the tailgate of the truck as my wife and I worked blue crab fishing holes. I may even be on the sailboat moored near a coral patch reef, a few miles out to sea (there is LTE up to 5nm out to sea generally, around here). I don't tell all clients about this; Some are cool with it, others would prefer to think I sit in an office all day. It doesn't matter, because in the end I'm serious about productivity, regardless of my surroundings (and this is why you won't generally find me trying to work from the countless bars down here, experience suggests it's bad for productivity, to put it mildly).

It isn't for every company, and it isn't for every developer. But it certainly works very well for some companies and some developers.

binarymax 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glad you said this and glad it was voted to the top. Sometimes, while lost in the feedback loop of HN and startup news in general, its easy to lose sight of the fact that our world exists in a layer that shouldn't tie one down to a physical location.

I've been living in a small coastal town now for 4 years, not close to much of anything related to my field, yet I am working and happier than I could ever be in some metropolis.

dreamdu5t 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any tech company that doesn't want to hire remote workers will simply lose out on a pool of great talent that others will be smart enough to utilize.

Employers will avoid remote workers at their own loss.

charliepark 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really enjoyed this, especially the line "Life's too short to spend so much of it in between the places you truly want to be." So, so true.
donretag 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I completely understand where the author is coming from and then some.

I am also on the receiving end of many of those same emails. However, I actually live in California, in beautiful Monterey. Every single Silicon Valley recruiter does not think it is a big deal for me to move two hours away. I am so close, why not? If I wanted to live in Silicon Valley, I would live in Silicon Valley.

BTW, I do not believe in working remote. Working locally has numerous benefits for both the employer and employee.

scottmagdalein 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this Ernie. I've been considering a job far from home because I like the people and the organization. The job role is a step down from where I am in my "career path" and leaving all of my family, separating my son from his extended family, are real issues for me.

Optimizing for happiness, put in the context of actual real-world happiness, is a strong point. I'll keep praying about it...

desireco42 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It works for 37 signals. It shows you that companies that treat their devs as people (like 37 signals) instead of resources or head count can develop superior software and somehow have their people happy without the need to make fake enthusiasm.

I would say startups are probably most likely to be able to take advantage of this.

BTW, this post makes me want to move to Louisville and join Ernie :) (not really, Chicago is really nice).

codex_irl 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been working remotely for 3 years now, full time & would find it very hard to go back to commuting full time.

I can get more work done, experience less distractions - to be honest I don't really give a dam what a companies culture is like to a large extent, tell me what you need done & when you need it done by, if I think its achievable then I'll make it happen. I don't want to play xboxes, get free lunches or any of that nonsense - I want time with my family & lots of money for future security - that & working from a location of my choosing is all that really matters to me, in return I'll work my ass off, remain loyal & ensure my employer is getting value for their $

Hawkee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I absolutely agree with this. I recently moved across the country to a city where there is very little tech work, but this move wasn't for work. I moved to support my local church, and not as a pastor or worker, but as another member. I can't imagine a better reason to move. Because of this I wouldn't consider moving even 2hrs north to DC for triple the income. Through this experience I've realized how little value money really has in terms of true peace in my heart. Living month to month, contract to contract even gives me a richer experience of life that I wouldn't trade for the world. Working 9-5 making 100k+/year would certainly be easy, but I don't live for money.
emiller829 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Hello, inexplicable title change. I picked the latter part for the purpose of it being relevant to more than Louisville. Ah well.
mattdeboard 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Louisville's general awesomeness makes me embarrassed for Indianapolis. It really blows us out of the water. I wouldn't expect someone to relo out of Louisville either.
digitalengineer 1 day ago 1 reply      
I agree, but don't a lot of new opportunities arise from the people you meet (by change, via friends or whatever) IRL?
ianstallings 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey to each his own. Not everyone has the same circumstances and I can completely relate. I moved to NYC to get involved in the startup scene but only after my daughter had graduated high school and I was free to do my own thing. It's not for everyone that's for sure. I can't even get some people to visit NYC let alone live here. So I get it. But to see it how I see it let me give you this analogy - I see NYC as a gold mine. It's not all bad but it's not all good. The money that can be made here is astronomical. But it comes with sacrifice. Some people are not willing or simply can't sacrifice their current lifestyle to move here.
emiller829 1 day ago 0 replies      
Put in different terms, this means Louisville COL is 92.4% of national average, and NYC is 223.8%.
jumby 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, this morning was spent shredding powder in the mountains. This afternoon I am coding. Why wouldn't everyone demand to live where they want? Revolt and make these companies wake up & realize that remote workers produce equal or better than those who are local. There is 0 benefit for local devs and I have been doing this for 5+ years. Sure, a recent college grad might be worth to have local, but folks with legitimate experience and who contribute, who cares any more?

As for salary? I demand Bay Area pay wherever I live. I also demand to watch my daughter grow up and not suffer through any more BS commutes on 85/101.

pavanky 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The cost of living in Louisville is 7.6% below national average. The cost of living in NYC is 123.8% above national average. In other words, I'd need to earn over twice as much money to maintain the same quality of life in NYC.

This is false. You only need to make twice as much as you are spending. I don't think anyone making something like $100k in Louisville would be spending all their money and then would need to make $220k in New York.

electic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am not terribly sure why this needs to be an article. If you don't want to work somewhere or for someone, be respectful. Kindly pass. Being declarative, boastful, and at times a bit cocky is not a good quality to broadcast to all employers.
bad_user 23 hours ago 0 replies      
> The population has deemed they would rather pay 15 times more to live in San Francisco than KY

Price is not necessarily correlated with value, but rather with supply and demand. And in the case of SF, no, it's not because of the population that the demand skyrockets.

grannyg00se 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not so sure about the claim of working anywhere in the world. Decent internet connectivity is not that widespread.
thisisdallas 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I definitely agree with the OP. If I could work remotely I would in a heartbeat. Be that as it may, I do understand how a lot of companies/startups would be hesitant to offer a remote worker a full time job plus benefits. In all honesty, if I owned a company, I would most likely prefer on location workers than remote workers.

Also, I didn't see anything in the post about the great local coffeeshop scene in Louisville :)

bjhoops1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kudos on the "frind a way to make workouts work into your schedule" - I used to work at a company that serviced the health club industry, so we all got a free membership to one of our customer's gyms just down the road. All the developers would go work out over lunch (and contrary to stereotypes, a lot of them were jacked). That routine was fantastic and is the thing I miss most about that job. It also made everyone more productive in the afternoon.
bjhoops1 1 day ago 0 replies      
God, this is so annoying! Literally 100% of the recruiter emails I get are for locations far from my home of Kansas City.
cciesquare 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Sorry but this comes off as really pompous. Essentially what you're saying is that I am so good, you will be hired on your terms.

If you had gone in with the mind set, "I want to work locally, and relocating isn't something that works for me." I can respect that, but when you say I wont locate for YOU, comes off as saying, hey I make the decisions not you. Or an attention grabbing title for a post.

For a full time employee, remote work is like a long distance relationship, more often than not, they just do not work. Heck contract remote work is already difficult as is.

32bitkid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good article but I would quibble on the point about "time ≠ money". To me, one has a finite amout of time, that must be "spent" no matter what you do, the goal is to maximize the "trade" value for your time. With my job, I trade my time for money " which I can then turn around and trade money for someone else's time. With my hobbies, I trade my time for for skills/knowledge. When I'm relaxing, I'm trading for my own sanity. You can't really "waste" time; instead of you simply trade it for something of little or no value.

In that sense, money is time... and time can be represented as money.

fasouto 1 day ago 1 reply      
100% agree, I moved from Switzerland back to Spain for similar reasons.
Now I'm freelancing for a couple of companies in NYC and my quality of life and productivity improve a lot, the only drawback it's the 6 hours of difference.
lerouxb 23 hours ago 1 reply      
But... how do you deal with living in a deeply red state? ;)
andreipop 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Where did you find stats on average cost of living above national average?
mikec3k 16 hours ago 1 reply      
There's no way I'd live anywhere outside of the bay area. I love being in a city and not having to worry about the policies of a red state government.
jcdavison 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome article.
ehosca 18 hours ago 0 replies      
bourbon... that's all i need to know ...
Ray Kurzweil joins Google kurzweilai.net
302 points by dumitrue  3 days ago   161 comments top 19
cs702 3 days ago 4 replies      
Thanks in part to the popularity of his books, movie, and speeches, Kurzweil now knows pretty much every AI researcher in the planet, and we can safely assume he's aware of even very obscure research projects in the field, both inside and outside academia.

Joining Google gives him ready access to data sets of almost unimaginable size, as well as unparalleled infrastructure and skills for handling such large data sets, putting him in an ideal position to connect researchers in academic and corporate settings with the data, infrastructure, and data management skills they need to make their visions a reality.

According to the MIT Technology Review[1], he will be working with Peter Norvig, who is not just Google's Director of Research, but a well-known figure in AI.


[1] http://www.technologyreview.com/view/508896/what-google-sees...

GuiA 3 days ago 4 replies      
Saw him give a talk promoting his latest book last month, was heavily disappointed. Ideas are presented in a way to fit nicely together, but ultimately lack any depth or critical insights. I recall someone calling it "creationism for people with an IQ over 140"; it's a fair description.

It's a shame, he's brought many great contributions to our field, but I fear he has jumped the shark a while ago. Maybe going to Google will force him to work on solutions to problems of which the correctness can be more easily assessed.

waterlesscloud 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's seemed pretty clear to me for some time that Google's real mission is AI/singularity oriented and everything else is just a step along that road. It may not be what the day-to-day view is in the trenches, but it seems like the high level plan.

A hire like this one certainly reinforces that perception.

I don't know if it's truly possible to accomplish, but it's fascinating to see a major company taking steps in that directions.

brandall10 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm somewhat surprised there are comments debating what use he could be to Google or what interest they might have in him - Google is one of the primary backers of Singularity University. They already have a working relationship. Now he's an employee. Don't get how this could be a stretch.

Singularity U as far as I understand is not really there so people can more quickly get to the point of uploading their brain to the cloud or anything - it's essentially for business strategists who want to have a better grasp of where things will be in 5-10+ years out. If the Goog believes strongly in the Kurz's ability to do this then it seems like a pretty nice score for the Goog.

6ren 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad. http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/douglas-r-hof...

I see what DRF means, and The Singularity is Near did seem mostly a perfunctory literature review, with important issues not discussed, just skimmed over. (For example, he doesn't discussed the causes of accelerating returns, doesn't support the causes with data, only the effects. Another example: is it necessarily true that we are intelligent enough to understand ourselves? We're effective when we can something decompose hierarchically into simpler concepts... but what if there isn't such a decomposition of intelligence? i.e. the simplest decomposition is too complex for us to grasp. Hofstadner asks if a giraffe is intelligent enough to understand itself.)

But I thought he supported his basic thesis, that progress is accelerating, compellingly. Really did a great job (seems to be the result of ongoing criticism, and him finding ways to refute it).

jonmc12 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given Kurzweil's age and stated goals, I'm thinking there is no way he is going to Google unless they are investing in life extension / prevention of death.

Read between the lines - "next decade's ‘unrealistic' visions" - is likely nothing less than brain computer interfaces with the end goal of extending life by storing the entire human mind on a machine. Certainly not far off from Kurweil's timelines on Law of Accelerating Returns. I can understand why the PR does not say this, but it seems clear this is where Kurzweil would want to invest his time.

dhughes 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think he's eying their massive server farm as a spot to park his brain. He just called shotgun for the Singularity.
nealabq 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's Kurzweil's motive?

He's a visionary who can deliver a finished product. I think he must have some pretty specific ideas, and he wants to partner with Google.

A few guesses:

- New interfaces to replace keyboard/mouse/touch. Voice, gesture, face, brainwaves. Sign language with humming, blinking, and pupil pointing. Works with tablets, TVs, wearables, cars, buildings, ATMs, etc.

- SuperPets (r) that can pass the Turing test. And do the shopping.

- Surgically implanted Bluetooth. (It could literally be a tooth!)

- Hover skateboards.

- The Matrix. (Or the 13th Floor, which was a better movie in my not-so humble opinion.)

I don't think it'll have to do with life-extension though. That's just too crazy far out-there.

michaelochurch 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder how the blind allocation process will treat him. His domain expertise is AI, but he didn't do any of that At Google, which means it doesn't exist. So is he going to have to spend 18 months maintaining a legacy ad-targeting product while the 26-year-old Staff SWE next to him works on its replacement? How is he going to handle that?
dinkumthinkum 3 days ago 1 reply      
The problem is, and I don't want to be mean about it, is that Kurzweil is a crackpot and charlatan. This is not to take away from his intelligence or his technical achievements, which are indisputable. However, even Nobel prize winners can be outright crackpots and crazies (Nobel disease).

I don't know exactly what Google's motives are here, I suspect it's something less than actually bringing about some of his, let's say, loftier ideas.

nonsequ 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can anyone shed some light on what 'Director of Engineering' might mean at Google? It sounds rather unassuming for a person of his stature.
ilaksh 3 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if this will be a wake up call for some of the people who think his predictions of super-human AI are a joke.

I mean even if you don't believe in the Singularity, you must believe in Google, right?

zephjc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Google continues its move towards the ad-driven singularity.
pbw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems sad, I'd like to see Kurzweil form another startup and get bought by Google, rather than go work for them. I assume he could self-fund something, I don't how his hedge funds are doing.

But maybe he's been there and done that, and wants mucho resources from day one. Maybe the AI space has grown up and it's hard to start up companies now, you need the resources and big data sets to do anything significant? Or he's just after the free lunches.

scarmig 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if his political/visionary/famous aspects played a positive, negative, or neutral role in the hire.
samskiter 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is the real let down prediction:

In 2008, Ray Kurzweil said in an expert panel in the National Academy of Engineering that solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth's people in 20 years.


nnq 3 days ago 0 replies      
gotta love this guy:

> 1%... you're pretty much finished... try that with product submission schedules [1]

...so now we know who to blame for future Google product delays.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zihTWh5i2C4

EDIT: added the source link

joey_muller 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, Google's stock should rise on this news. Many folks may not know Kurzweil keyboards (for music), but they are excellent. I can't wait to see where he leads us next.
TommyDANGerous 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google will build Skynet, and Skynet will take us over.
Show HN: Scratchpad.io - a real-time HTML and CSS editor scratchpad.io
279 points by brycecolquitt  21 hours ago   81 comments top 44
arscan 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Its a little thing, but i like how you literally don't need to click on any buttons to save / create a new one / etc. I also like how you can create your own customized path to help you remember the link... just type in a new path and start editing, and you now can share that custom URI.

I think its important to create as little friction to usage as possible, and you've done that.

bluetidepro 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The first thing that I loved about this, that drives me crazy on other real-time online editors, is that pressing "tab" actually creates a tabbed space, and doesn't change the active textarea. Nice job!

Any plan on open sourcing the code to do the real-time editing? I would love to use this real-time editing concept in a project I'm working on.

meric 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like you've made sure any recursion only goes one deep? (Awesome)


Every change forces a reload on the iframe. I wonder if there's a way to prevent that.

<iframe width="640" height="480"

rjvir 21 hours ago 0 replies      
For a first time coder, being able to see your page change live is very helpful in getting to learn HTML and CSS. This is an amazing complement to the book you are writing - nice work Nathan!
geuis 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, this editor rocks. Nice use of Ace.js.

One of my biggest frustrations with jsfiddle is the crappy coding area (not to mention the default selection of Mootools among others).

pxlpshr 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really great, especially as a compliment to the learning tools coming to market.

For front-end designers looking for a similar effect within your own text editor and browser window, I can not live without the CodeKit app now. It does a similar real-time effect each time the template files are saved. Also supports less, js debugging/minification, and other production processes.


Aardwolf 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"Press ⌘ + i to toggle fullscreen view"

What is this thing, I don't have such a key on my computer?

overshard 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't wanna down a nice looking project, very well done on the interface but, another one? There are already like 7+ of these I don't really see the need to produce another one especially one that is HTML+CSS only when many of the others feature JavaScript and more.

What features do you provide that say, http://jsfiddle.net/, http://cssdesk.com/, http://dabblet.com/, http://rendera.heroku.com/, doesn't? (Just the first 4 items that came up in a Google search, the list could go on...)

stuaxo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems very slow in firefox, can't keep up with my typing and missed the characters inbetween.

Not sure if it's supposed to just say 'Loading...' at the top the whole time either..

jakozaur 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Have the realtime plus:
And you will rock!

Right now, you are just awesome ;).

mahmoudimus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh man this is incredible - I want to find a way to embed this into Emacs, this is so useful.
gailees 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Finally....they had something close to this on codecademy, but this is exactly what I need when trying out new stuff!
robot 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly off topic: You use "enough to be dangerous" with a positive meaning, as in enough to make a real difference in the world, while Alexander Pope quote you use is probably negative: "A little learning is a dangerous thing." as in, someone who knows little can do more harm than good.
mixmastamyk 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Great work. (love things that are "clean")

    Press ⌘ + i to toggle fullscreen view

I don't have this key and suspect a lot of others don't either. ;)

quarterto 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Not to detract from what is a pretty cool project, and I hope OP had fun making it, but: http://codepen.io is this and quite a bit more. It supports HTML+JS+CSS as well as e.g. Jade, SASS and CoffeeScript- if that's what floats your boat- and some nice social features, like featured pens and saving to Gists.

Other commenters have pointed out a myriad of similar such services. I'm surprised Codepen hasn't come up already.

@brycecolquitt, you are obviously very talented, and I look forward to whatever you come up with in the future. I just hope it's not in a space as hotly contested as this.

mattlong 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nice. Love the responsiveness and good use of (OS-aware?) keyboard shortcuts.

Bug: (Chrome Version 23.0.1271.97 on OSX)

Expand the side panel and select a document from the RECENT list. The editor area doesn't update completely; the text loads, but there are only line numbers up to the length of the previously viewed document and it's impossible to move the cursor below the last line number (http://i.imgur.com/h9nMh.png).

EDIT: Correction, the line numbering is correct, the problem is with the line-height in the editor.

dergachev 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats awesome. Also looking at the source, I discovered it's using keymaster.js and firebase.js, which are new to me. And the implementation of scratchpad.io is very simple and elegant. The design is beautiful, and the code (in scratchpad.js) is so simple that it makes for a good tutorial on using firebase and ace.js.

In fact, if anyone else is interested in forking the code and experimenting with it, feel free to fork my plunk and go to town:


(Hope you appreciate the irony of forking scratchpad.io via Plunker. Also, it'd be wicked if Plunker could automatically "fork" html webpages, pull in all the required resources and/or updating path references).

edwinyzh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm building a similar one (it also allows you to inspect html elements like using Firebug or Webkit's Dev tools), and it's a native Windows app (and really fast one!) http://liveditor.com
dmor 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to be able to work in realtime (a la Etherpad) with someone else - would take pairing to a whole new level. Also, style management could quickly get messy - I know you are trying to keep the UI as simple as possible, but I would love to be able to quickly toggle between HTML and CSS on different tabs (instead of scrolling).
randylubin 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is perfect - love the immediate feedback for my own prototyping.

Could probably use the multi-user sync for front-end technical interviews.

tomasien 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool! I'm going to use it for debugging.

Quick thing: I have a page quickramen.com/test/test that has links that navigate around the page. If you click those now, it loads the code again in another mini-window and doesn't go anywhere.

JUST a bug to be aware of if you're keeping a log!

scott_karana 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Absolutely amazing.
A couple things that bother me, and they might just be from Ace.js:

When typing text into a <p> or an <h1> for example, if I type "I'm", I get the smart double quote feature, and end up typing:

I'm going to the zoo'

Likewise, if I go back into the stream of some text in a <p>, and want to wrap it in a span, if I click at the start of it and type <span id="foo">, I get another span on the other side of my cursor, pushing the existing text over.

Otherwise, utterly fantastic tool. Trying to use it for real work already :)

ams6110 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice work and all, but what's wrong with a local .html file your favorite text editor, and a browser? I've been doing that for years to play around with html, css, and js.
sachleen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty nice, I'll probably be using this for debugging and examples.


Open the about panel by clicking the icon in top left (three horizontal bars). Close the panel by clicking the same icon.

Maximize the preview window by clicking the arrow in the top right of the edit panel. Click the arrow to view the code panel again.

The about panel pops out as well and the arrow button covers the show/hide about (three horizontal bars) button. Expected behavior: it should return to the view that I had before maximizing.

joebeetee 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Beautiful. Love the fact that out of habit I pressed Cmd+D to delete the line and it worked :) Nice work
chaselee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Really nice execution on this. So simple and just what I'd want if I was just starting to learn how to code. Bravo.
kurtfunai 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you for this! I'm in the process of teaching my brother HTML/CSS, and this is the perfect tool for when he is not sitting next to me.
JimmaDaRustla 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I use Livejs for the same effect, but this is much smoother obviously since it can trigger on key press rather than polling the resource constantly from the web page.
ph0rcyas 16 hours ago 0 replies      
How is this different from codemirror? Codemirror's preview utility easily handles this (and much more versatile in other ways):


gbadman 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Nicely done on Scratchpad. The interface seems to be the right combination of simple and intuitive. It would be great to see the source code as many others have said.

I'm particularly curious as to how you've done the collaborative bit given that you don't have explicit control over the order of operations of edits.

hybrid11 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Really cool, kinda like brackets.io, but online!

Is there anyway to make the text editor pane resizeable?

mrmirz 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I would assume realtime editing will be supported by the browser developer tools fairly soon.
aleem 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Sinatra.io does something similar, also built on Firbase. I believe their code is on github if anyone is interested in implementation.
anuaitt 6 hours ago 0 replies      
it will be great if we can pick some templates like bootstrap and start coding right away from the application.
ewolfe 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What would it take to implement javascript? Is it merely trivial, or was it left out for security?
zapt02 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Very impressive. Love the dark color scheme.

LESS/SASS possible? :)

danielfriedman 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! I constantly look for live editors but haven't found a good one for front-end. I tried Adobe Brackets, Firebug (for in-window editing) but all had their complexities and constraints. Scrathpad.io is by far the most intuitive and best one for HTML and CSS out there!
iamhenry 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Will you be able to make new projects and make them private?
gailees 21 hours ago 1 reply      
It'd be great if the command tip wasn't only for Mac btw
kine 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really cool. Nice work
path411 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Would like the option to import a url to edit.
schpet 19 hours ago 1 reply      
pjrvs 17 hours ago 0 replies      
i wish i could adjust the width of the code section. otherwise it's pretty neat.
matt_ 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Get this added to repl.it
What You Really Need Is A Market, Not An Idea pfinn.net
272 points by route3  1 day ago   54 comments top 21
callmeed 1 day ago 2 replies      
This post appears to simply restate what it attempts to argue against (niche ideas and the previous brainstorming post).

Niches are markets. Dog walkers probably could use some kind of SaaS app. Restaurants desperately need better websites. And if you have a passion or (especially) deep knowledge of those industries/markets/niches, there's nothing wrong with experimenting with ideas.

No one is arguing against doing market research"in fact, multiple people stated that as the first step in the HN post mentioned. And I doubt the OP on that thread was saying "make some ideas up out of the blue with no basis in industry knowledge". C'mon.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4917661

duopixel 1 day ago 3 replies      
I think the article oversees an important factor in startup success: the needs of the market is a vast land, and surely there is an intersection with a passion yours.

I can't envision the founder of Bang & Olufsen being indifferent to sound quality, or the founder of Herman Miller being indifferent to office furniture. I chose these companies deliberately because I don't know their founders, but I'm sure they were passionate about their field.

I can't fathom building a company for a market that might be lucrative, but is meaningless to me. I'd rather build 10 failed companies than create a profitable CRM for telemarketers.

corford 1 day ago 1 reply      
An idea without a market is largely useless (from an income generating perspective at least). But as a single founder currently slugging through the mountain of work needed to get something off the ground, I know I couldn't do it if my heart wasn't in it and I had no passion for what I'm working on other than plugging a hole in a randomly identified market.

Despite having an entrepreneurial streak and coming from an entrepreneurial family, I was 29 before I finally decided to quit my job and pursue the idea I'm now working on. A big reason it took so long was because I was only willing to risk everything on an idea that I believed in AND had a demonstrated market. Having one or the other wasn't enough.

It isn't all roses though. Even if you think you've got a good idea and a valid market for it, it's still all for nothing if you can't get in front of and retain a critical mass of customers. That's the piece of the puzzle I'll shortly be faced with and I'm not relishing it.

babuskov 1 day ago 3 replies      
Riiiight... Mark Zuckerberg researched the worldwide market before starting Facebook. Kevin Rose researched the market before starting Digg. And all the other successful entrepreneurs are known for this.

"Research the market" approach is good if you want to build a regular bootstrapped business. If you're building a startup, you should actually build an MVP and "Test the market".

Please don't get me wrong, but I still believe that building a couple of duds and failing is the better way to go. If you're building something truly innovative and disruptive, most people you ask during "research" won't even know that they need it.

Tyrant505 1 day ago 1 reply      
"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them" - Jobs
ahoyhere 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice to see another one of my 30x500 alumni rocking the HN charts. With great, solid advice. Congrats, Paul. Great post.
jere 1 day ago 1 reply      
Paul, did you apply this to Hoppy Press? Just curious what the market is for hand made beer art.
mthoms 1 day ago 1 reply      
This belongs on "the best of HN" (if such a thing exists) and should be required reading for any aspiring startup founder.

In the online startup community very little space seems to be devoted to methods and tips for researching markets. Perhaps this is an opportunity itself? Someone should research this niche and then start an on online information resource if the demand is there.

(edit: yes, I realize how meta this is)

hodder 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was the person who started the link referenced in the article, "Can we brainstorm a list of sites like bingo card creator", and admittedly the post was either a poor idea, or at the very least poorly phrased.

Coming from a business background, I just assumed that any idea people would put out there would have been small solutions to small problems... not "sitcom startups". I guess I was wrong. Really the only thing I was looking for were problems that could potentially be solved with minimal capital, and only 1 or 2 people. I wasn't looking to bypass market validation, or solving poeple's problems.

So, going back to the underlying question of starting businesses, how do you go about finding a market, finding problems, finding solutions to those problems, and finding paying customers? Preferably all without wasting a ton of time or money?

I hope Patrick replies to this thread and walks us through his process. Did Patrick start with the teachers market because he knew some teachers? Did he ask them what problems they had? Did they complain to him that were dying to play classroom bingo, that the existing solutions are terrible, and that they would pay him if he provided a solution?

I know some people involved in trades, some in education, finance, and consulting. Several of these people are either the business owners themselves, or have the authority to pay for software solutions to their problems. These are primarily offline markets. How do you suggest going from here, to paying customers? Asking them outright what problems they have? What problems they have that software might provide a solution? What problems they have with current software solutions they use?

urlwolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
This post is gold.
And agrees with Amy Hoy, Rob Wailing, Dane Maxwell, and many others who have been writing about boostrapping for a while.

If you dedicate 70% of the time to find the market and isolate the pain point, risk decreases hyperbolically :)

sgdesign 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great article, and definitely something I could recommend to a lot of people.

But what about passion? Identifying a market is one thing, but should you go after it if you don't have any interest for that particular domain? I know that's what Patrick did with BingoCardCreator, but I personally don't think I would be capable of that.

Of course market research is primordial, but I still think there's something to be said for following your passion and building something really cool. You might not make as much money, but on the other hand maybe you'll enjoy the process more.

mbesto 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Pmarca Guide to Startups, part 4: The only thing that matters
keithpeter 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Be prepared to adjust the binoculars as go -- you may discover a market existing where you didn't know one existed. Like teachers needing bingo cards."

Why do teachers need bingo cards? Because they need easy ways of making interactive and attractive games and puzzles for their students. And they will pay for stuff, but not huge amounts. You might get a monthly fee for a Web based authoring system if the figure is low. We have to be careful about putting students on Web sites, so probably not a fully Web based membership system.

Plenty of room there, UK has around 600,000 teachers, US must be 5 times that. Similar for Europe and other continents.

rsobers 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel like this has been said a billion times. (Isn't this what Steve Blank's customer development methodology is all about?) I do realize, though, that now matter how many times we say it, people fall into the trap of thinking their idea is enough.

In very rare cases where there is no market yet, ideas do matter (e.g., the automobile).

gelizondo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well said.

I think that a lot of entrepreneurs also completely miss the concept of loss aversion. No matter how much pain your potential idea may be solving, some people are simply in love with their current shitty situation.

Matt_Mickiewicz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great read, if you pick the right market, it's easy to become profitable very, very quickly.

In our case, we picked "Developer Recruiting in SF" as our initial market after years of personal experience dealing with incompetent recruiters, expensive job board ads that didn't produce results and talking to hundreds of founders/CEOs/CTOs who where all complaining about the same thing.

eriksank 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am involved in a bunch of smaller things, each with different people that I met along the way of doing other things -- serendipitiously -- and I never felt the need to drop everything to do a big, risky startup around a "great idea" or a "great niche market". None of the smaller things I do, actually has a full-time person working on it. That's the beauty of websites. They are always there, but there is no need to attend to them on a full-time basis. It's all running on solar power and wind energy ;-) I may do something bigger one day or another, but I don't see the pressing need to actually make that happen. It will only happen by serendipity.
IceCreamYou 1 day ago 0 replies      
Marc Andreessen nailed this point years ago:


armenarmen 1 day ago 1 reply      
having built stuff (that failed) based on "a good idea" I can not agree more with the post
zeynalov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Similar discussion about ideas - http://www.vusal.me/essays/ideas/
aaroncray 1 day ago 0 replies      
What you really need is a new category not a market.
Ask HN: What unknown technical blogs or sites do you read?
269 points by llambda  1 day ago   79 comments top 47
msutherl 1 day ago 3 replies      
I try to keep my subscription to an absolute minimum since I like to leave some time for reading books. After a lot of culling, I'm currently subscribed to some popular feeds:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/ general web design / dev)

http://www.alistapart.com/ long form web design / front-end)

http://dailyjs.com/ (Javascript / node.js)

http://createdigitalmusic.com/ (digital music / software)

http://www.creativeapplications.net/ (new-media art)

And a handful of unpopular ones:

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/ (absolutely my favorite blog in the world " self-describes as "refactored perception)

http://www.tempobook.com/blog/ (same author as above, posts related to his last book)

http://worrydream.com/feed.xml (not really a blog, but Bret Victor writes some of the best long-form articles on interaction design around " read all of them)

http://www2.technologyreview.com/rss/video_rss.aspx (Tech Review videos, sparsely updated " mainly because the editor's interviews are awesome/hilarious)

http://idlewords.com/ (breathtaking travel blog from the founder of Pinboard)

http://www.loper-os.org/ (awesome / hilarious posts by a software heretic on the general terrible state of things in technology " keeps me in touch with Alan Kay-esque thinking)

http://we-make-money-not-art.com/ (the only contemporary art blog I like from a very dedicated Italian writer)

http://vagueterrain.net/ (occasionally published digital art magazine, themed topics, guest curated)

http://theixdlibrary.com/ (occasional classic UX articles)

http://www.markboulton.co.uk/ (occasional forward-thinking posts on web design, focus on layout and grids)

http://informationarchitects.net/ (same as above, but focus on typography)

All of these feeds have been selected for a very high signal to noise ratio and most of them are updated only occasionally (which I prefer), with the exception of Smashing and DailyJS.

JoshTriplett 1 day ago 6 replies      
I find Planet blog aggregators a useful and surprisingly unknown resource. Great way to get a view into the blogs of a whole project community without having to follow a pile of them individually; I recommend following the Planet for any project you regularly use or have a strong interest in. I personally follow these planets regularly (via a bookmark folder that I open into tabs):

Planet Debian: http://planet.debian.org/

Planet Freedesktop: http://planet.freedesktop.org/

Planet GNOME: http://planet.gnome.org/

Kernel Planet: http://planet.kernel.org/

Planet Mozilla: http://planet.mozilla.org/

cowboyhero 1 day ago 2 replies      

It's not a blog, but a collection of weekly email newsletters.

At the risk of sounding like a shill (because I'm pretty sure Mr Cooper posts to HN), I have to say these are each brilliantly done. There are separate newsletters for JavaScript, Ruby, HTML5, and Dart (but sadly no Python).

Great way to keep up with changes in these areas once a week, and pretty much the only third-party emails I not only look forward to receiving, but actually open and read.

Gravityloss 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://newspacewatch.com/ - Newspace sector news. Clark Lindsey knows what's going on. If you want to set into context what SpaceX does, this is the place: Usually it's something that other companies have already done on a smaller scale.

http://www.43rumors.com/ - Micro four thirds camera news, only interesting if you have one or are going to buy one.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/ - Automotive sector technologies. This is the engineering style site: just mostly text and more in depth press releases. No fancy word plays or car show girls. I do wonder though, why we are not in a better position as a new massively improved cheap battery technology is discovered every week...

http://planet3.org/ - Climate scientists write thoughtfully. Also in the comments. It's not as massive as realclimate and it's much less formal.

powertower 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fringe energy and "science" type stuff...



By following the links and discussions, you can get pretty deep into it; down to the published papers in respectable journals and granted patents. But be warned, there are a lot of crack pots that pollute the matters (as expected for this category). So you have to take what's good, and throw away what's bad. But it does give you a different perspective on things.

kami8845 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hacker News

If it's good enough it will make it's way on here. If not, there's no point in me repeatedly checking their site or collecting it into a big RSS dump where I have to wade through 99% crap to get to the good bits.

Hacker News does a great job of giving me the HREFs I like to click on and that's one of the reasons I keep coming back.

anoved 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jonathan's Space Report (http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html) is an exhaustive accounting of human activity in space (manned or unmanned), with a focus on recent launches. Released every few weeks. Back issues run to 1989 and continue to the present day.

Emily Lakdawalla writes some very good explanations of space science for the Planetary Society - very accessible, but with more detail and intelligence (IMHO) than you get from other media outlets.

larsberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Probably the most unknown area I read and/or hear about today are private G+ circles. For example, much pre-publication PL/compilers work is mentioned in "limited" posts. I've heard similar things are happening in ML areas, though I have no personal insight into them.
msbarnett 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mike Ash's Friday Q&A is easily one of my favorite technical blogs http://www.mikeash.com/pyblog/
bbunix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since it hasn't been mentioned yet - The Risks Digest - http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks

See just how wrong things can, and do, go.

vjeux 1 day ago 3 replies      
Shameless plug to my own blog: http://blog.vjeux.com
sbierwagen 1 day ago 0 replies      
sgdesign 1 day ago 1 reply      
May I suggest my friend Tim's blog? I'm pretty sure it's unknown, it seems he writes it mostly for himself. But there are some great technical articles on it:


apaprocki 1 day ago 0 replies      

Slava always has great live presentations and has a great blog.

FrojoS 1 day ago 0 replies      

PS: Awesome thread! So many nuggets.

rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://theinvisiblethings.blogspot.com/ - blue pill company, etc.
http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/ - cambridge (uk) security group
hncommenter13 1 day ago 0 replies      

Mix of interesting technical articles (most related to search and information retrieval) and tech industry prognostication.

icebraining 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, I've been enjoying Joey Hess' build log of git-annex assistant [1], and I like Julien Danjou's [2] too, even though he writes more about Emacs, while I'm a VIM user.

Then there's Old New Thing, LtU and John Resig's blog, but those are less obscure.

[1]: http://git-annex.branchable.com/design/assistant/blog/

[2]: http://julien.danjou.info/blog/

kephra 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://www.bernd-leitenberger.de/blog/ <- a German blog focused on rockets and space techologie
MaxGabriel 1 day ago 1 reply      
It may not be living up to its name if it is popular, but NSHipster is a great blog on Objective-C
Nick_C 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like Chris Siebenmann's blog. He writes daily about unix sys admin on a university network, mainly using Solaris, RHEL and ZFS.

It's interesting to see the tools he uses and the problems he encounters, useful when you do some amount of admin on your VPS.


yread 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure if it's unknown but
is pretty good for MS technologies (and sometimes web in general
asmithmd1 1 day ago 0 replies      
a very smart physicist turned quant's take on many topics - always excited to see a new entry


gits1225 1 day ago 0 replies      
My recent subscription: http://bartoszmilewski.com/ The blog in one sentence: Think in Haskell, code in C++ & multi-core to spice it all up.
_feda_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
as for technical blogs, the only ones I get consistently useful information from are:
http://blog.sanctum.geek.nz/, from which I've learnt a great deal about vim and also about some obscure but historically significant unix tools which otherwise I'd never have known of.
http://archlinux.me/ Every now and then a good in depth article pops up pn this one. Dev blogs are great for learning about the nitty gritty details of a project aswell as getting a grip on the problems devs are facing right now.
vertis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really enjoy http://afreshcup.com/. It's mostly a linkblog, but Mike Gunderloy always finds interesting things to share.
tomcam 1 day ago 0 replies      

By far the most comprehensive, most underrated Python framework (actually, any web framework) that I know of. Incredibly complete library. Fantastic community. Most responsive project creator/manager-place is a dream.

bbunix 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Risks Digest is great http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks
goronbjorn 1 day ago 0 replies      

never ceases to have interesting, substantive content.

mgonto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read http://www.blogeek.com.ar/ It's about Scala, Java, Ruby, Play mostly.
ejstronge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not as much a blog as a repository of beautiful data visualizations, occasionally coupled to the story behind the visualizations' creation:


pocketstar 1 day ago 0 replies      
im not sure how unknown it is but hackaday.com

I frequently see an interesting project posted on hackaday, then a few days later it has gone 'viral' on engadget, lifehacker, hn, ars etc...

andyrubio 1 day ago 2 replies      
They're not unknown to me...
boringkyle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone got one for musicians?
hemtros 1 day ago 0 replies      
a link aggregator called coder.io and articles on codeproject.com are too good.
yaphets_pis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why 256 bit keys are large enough stackexchange.com
265 points by mef  1 day ago   128 comments top 18
mjs 1 day ago 4 replies      
Doesn't that Schneier quote only apply to symmetric algorithms (e.g. AES)? I thought asymmetric algorithms (e.g. public/key systems like RSA, as in the original question) have completely different characteristics and rules.

"NIST key management guidelines further suggest that 15360-bit RSA keys are equivalent in strength to 256-bit symmetric keys."


UnoriginalGuy 1 day ago 11 replies      
I wish I knew more about encryption. Unfortunately it isn't a very accessible area, even if you have a degree in CS you aren't really qualified to even touch the stuff, you need a maths degree at the very least.

Plus every time anyone brings up the subject the answer is always the same: "If you roll your own crypto you're an idiot." Which is not very encouraging. Likely why crypto' libraries are so antiquated and terrible.

casca 1 day ago 2 replies      
The reason 256 bit AES keys are large enough is that in order to brute-force them, one of 2 things needs to happen:

(1) We need to build computers out of something other than matter


(2) A weakness in AES must be discovered that will need to reduce the search space significantly

We can disregard (1) as it will probably require changing (almost) all encryption algorithms that we currently use. (2) will most likely break all key-lengths so any use of AES will be weakened.

bajsejohannes 1 day ago 1 reply      
This a very good explaination of why 256 bits is enough against a brute force attack. The goal of breaking cryptographic systems is of course not brute force, but to reduce the actual key space you have to search. This is frequently measured in how many redundant bits you can shave off. So for AES, we might find in the future that 256 bits isn't enough after all.
ars 1 day ago 1 reply      
One reason for extra large keys is for headroom in case of partial breakage.

Usually when a cipher is broken, they don't break it fully, but rather reduce the keyspace. By making your starting keyspace even larger you make even a broken cypher secure (up to a point).

hartror 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow computer science meets Greg Bear, I think I need to now go write a short story featuring a supernova powered super computer.
cjg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Something that many of these answers fail to address is that a 256-bit key isn't big enough, if you can do 2^128 computations.

This is due to the probability of key collision. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_attack

Not that I'm saying 2^128 calculations isn't a lot, but compared to 2^256, it's a tiny speck.

Tichy 1 day ago 1 reply      
" To record a single bit by changing the state of a system requires an amount of energy no less than kT, where T is the absolute temperature of the system and k is the Boltzman constant."

How does that work? It seems odd that is is independent of the size of the system.

dfc 1 day ago 0 replies      
For further reference and a more detailed discussion of algo / key length selection take a look at NIST's Recommendation for Key Management [1], specifically section 5.6 "Guidance for Cryptographic Algorithm and Key-Size Selection."

[1] http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-57/sp800-57_p...

Jacobi 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Using brute force is not very effective on 256 keys. But this doesn't exclude the possibility of a breakthrough that reduce enormously the search space. For example even for AES there is an attack faster than brute force by a factor of about four !
mtgx 1 day ago 1 reply      
So even a quantum computer wouldn't be enough then?
pfortuny 1 day ago 0 replies      
I honestly think that the title should be '256 bits are enough against brute-force' because otherwise this is way way way misleading.
donpark 1 day ago 0 replies      
IMO the most vulnerable part of AES is not the side-channels but key generation. Compromise the source of entropies, preferably only for processes with specific signatures, just enough to be crackable on-demand then capture everything on the wire remotely.
lectrick 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the 256 bits are a buffer against non-brute-force attacks, such as undiscovered algorithm weaknesses which may speed up by some factor, the cracking speed.
ppierald 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to note that the length and strength of your AES key is no different than the complexity of your password. Once either is compromised, then you are totally exposed. So your attacker will take the path of least resistance. He can either brute-force the key or he can just break into your server and steal your config file or his you over the head with the proverbial $5 wrench.
ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
128bit will be crackable in 2030 with government-sized resources, last time I read about it?

You can be sure taxdollars are powering mind-staggering supercomputers that the public doesn't know about right now.

NicoJuicy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just use the slowest algorithm to delay brute-force attacks :
oellegaard 1 day ago 2 replies      
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - Bill Gates, 1981
Brython - Python to Javascript translator brython.info
260 points by toni  3 days ago   68 comments top 20
madhadron 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to do this kind of thing on the server side, Python provides enough introspection to turn functions in a live Python image into JavaScript. Here's a minimal example I tossed together a while back:


I have a bunch of notes somewhere on translating a big hunk of the basic language, including how to generate continuation passing style code in JavaScript from less ghastly Python.

The difficulty is providing all the class semantics and the standard library.

fijal 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm genuinely shocked that this made it to the top of hackernews. I would expect better. While the idea of having the Python interpreter in the browser is very likely better than having a compiler Python -> JS (if we care about Python), the implementation here is both half assed and really bad. It takes quite a bit of effort to create a python interpreter that can be called python. This is nowhere near there. On top of it double-interpretation in dynamic languages is very slow and I doubt someone is willing to pay that price here. A good example of low quality is here:


this is both incorrect (exceptions are propagated, http://paste.pound-python.org/show/28457/) and has wrong complexity. It's not even a dict at all!

mahmoudimus 3 days ago 4 replies      
Wow! This is so awesome. This has been tried before, but I don't remember why it never succeeded.

I wonder if this can get the appropriate community to make it a decent alternative compared with TypeScript and CoffeeScript - or maybe I'm missing something here?

DanielRibeiro 3 days ago 2 replies      
Repl.it has supported python on the browser for a while: http://repl.it/ an an interpreter, not as a translator, though).

It also supports ruby, scheme, lua and others[1]

What made it impractical was the slowness. Emscripten seems to work fine for clang[2], not so much for interpreted languages. Maybe the translator path can solve this issue.

[1] http://repl.it/#:languages

[2] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/demos/detail/bananabread

dbaupp 3 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really nice! It seems like the other side of the Python-in-the-browser coin to Empythoned (https://github.com/replit/empythoned) used by repl.it (http://repl.it/).

(Ignore this...)The mime-type is wrong though, there isn't an authoritative mime-type for Python, so it should use a private subtype like text/x-python or application/x-python.

GauntletWizard 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is long overdue - The DOM is a great model of objects, but javascript is not the way forward. For all the admittedly great work that has been done to improve it, it's still a mess of a language.

Native support of Python would be my dream (I don't see why there's not 3-4 competing languages in the browser; though the complexity of such is a decent argument against), but this solution seems to be a great stopgap, as well as compatible with future in-browser python implementations.

T-A 3 days ago 2 replies      
Also worthy of mention in this context: http://pyjaco.org/about and http://pyjs.org/
javis 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. I hope one day we'll have the option to use Python as a scripting language for the web.

I've messed around with Python turned on in Chrome, and I think it'd make a great alternative to JavaScript.

jachwe 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks really cool. And i love Python.
However, I think the Python Syntax will make it hard to minify the code, which is probably not that important anyway when not in production. But for production usage it would be cool to have a real compiler instead of an interpreter.

But yeah. Cool stuff.

1st1 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good luck with compiling anything without having AST trees and proper parser infrastructure. In it's current state this thing won't fly.
ct 3 days ago 2 replies      
Python needs to be natively supported as a scripting lang in browsers. Google, MS, Firefox - make it so!
alecthomas 3 days ago 1 reply      
Once upon a time I wrote Oink, which generates JS from Python on the server: https://github.com/alecthomas/oink

It has support for many of the Python niceties: classes, list comprehensions, positional arguments, and so on. Interesting experiment, but I ended up thinking that Python is not the best language for the browser.

tnuc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting. Certainly a step in the right direction.

Are there any specs as to the speed of using this? Javascript can be a bit slow on most days, does Brython make it worse?

awolf 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think compiler is the wrong way to describe this. A computer program that translates between two different high level languages is typically called a language translator.
kelvin0 2 days ago 1 reply      
OK, how about :

1) getting Python ==> LLVM bytecode

2) then using emscripten (https://github.com/kripken/emscripten/wiki) to run LLVM in browser?

An option to perform the first step seems to be :

Or 'simply' getting CPython ported on emscripten?

Any opinions on this suggestion?

TommyDANGerous 3 days ago 0 replies      
What? This is insane. Python replacing javascript, insane as in that is super cool. If I could do the exact same things I can do in javascript/query but with python syntax, that would be magical.
danjaouen 3 days ago 0 replies      
While this is an awesome effort, I don't see myself using this without list comprehensions/generators/itertools/etc.
leetrout 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a lover of Python myself, this is awesome.

However, as others are noting things that are missing that we pythonistas can't live without (generators, classes, etc)- I feel it is worth a reminder that Javascript 6 (Harmony) is going to have a lot of these built in.

Brendan's slides have a great overview of what's to come (and makes me hope writing JS outside of CoffeeScript will become more bearable since I'm so spoiled by Python:


asimjalis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very nice. Can this approach be generalized to embed Clojure, Haskell, and other languages into the browser? I love the pervasiveness of JavaScript but I dislike writing it. This is a very good tradeoff.
halayli 3 days ago 0 replies      
No support for python classes?
Doing Game Gravity Right hut.fi
245 points by Charles__L  17 hours ago   63 comments top 14
ori_b 14 hours ago 6 replies      
This is still Euler integration, which has poor accuracy whenever the derivative varies with time. The standard numerical integration method is 4th order Runge Kutta. RK4 is also popular for solving many forms of differential equations.

A good summary is here: http://gafferongames.com/game-physics/integration-basics/

podperson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's an interesting post, but perhaps a simpler way of looking at the whole thing is you should be using average velocity over the time elapsed rather than the just-calculated new velocity.

This becomes:

velocity_new = velocity_old + acceleration * time_elapsed

position_new = position_old + (velocity_old + velocity_new) * 0.5 * time_elapsed

It makes immediate, intuitive sense (at least it does to me) and doesn't require even thinking about differential equations (at least for constant forces).

brianchu 12 hours ago 0 replies      
For other simple methods of numerical integration, look at the Trapezoidal Rule and Simpson's Rule, two staples of high school (or college) calculus.

Since we're talking about gaming, it bears noting that Box2D (and most physics engines, for that matter) uses the Semi-implicit Euler method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symplectic_Euler_method). The author of Box2D mentions that this is a better method than Verlet integration because calculating friction requires knowing velocity.

tzs 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Udacity has a course, "Differential Equations in Action", that's about numerical solutions of equations of motion and other differential equations from physics, biology, and so on. http://www.udacity.com/overview/Course/cs222/CourseRev/1
chrismorgan 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is known as the midpoint method.


tlarkworthy 14 hours ago 3 replies      
you are still doing it wrong. dt should not be affected by framerate.

use an accumulator to have a fixed dt no matter the framerate. With a variable step size you risk all kinds of weird bugs linked to the hard to debug rendering context. The size of dt should be consider a system parameter, tuned for your game and fixed in concrete.

Xcelerate 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This same thing is used in molecular dynamics simulations. For instance, there is an algorithm called RESPA that is used to break integrations of different types of particle interactions into appropriate timestep intervals. Bond vibrations must be calculated much more frequently than non-bonded interactions.

The algorithm (reversible RESPA) is formally derived from the Liouville operator (which governs the time evolution of any property):

    A(t) = exp(iLt) * A(0)

For instance, A(t) can be position or momentum. The Liouville operator must be symmetric in order to generate a reversible numerical integration algorithm.

The result of all this is basically that:

    p(t + ∆t/2) = p(t) + ∆t/2 F(r(t))
r(t + ∆t) = r(t) + ∆t p(t + ∆t/2)
p(t + ∆t) = p(t + ∆t/2) + ∆t/2 F(r, t + ∆t)

where p is momentum, r is position, and F is force.

lnanek2 12 hours ago 0 replies      
His improved graph actually still doesn't hit the peak at all frame rates. The right way to do things from the usability perspective would be the calculate the peak and make sure the player can hit exactly that at some point. Otherwise areas that are supposed to be reachable may not be, as he says. The code for that wold be a lot more complex, though, so it may be the wrong thing from a business perspective, spending large amounts of your dev time on a small edge case of users and user situations.
Strilanc 9 hours ago 1 reply      
You can cut down the amount of error even further by not iterating. Instead of iteratively updating the height, just store the initial position, velocity and time. You still compute the current position as pi + vi * dt - a * dt * dt/2, but intermediate results are discarded to avoid compounding floating point errors.

Of course, you will need to update the initial position/velocity/time whenever the jump is interrupted or modified. The reduction in error is also quite small.

ww520 15 hours ago 1 reply      
TIL that I have been doing acceleration calculation all wrong over the years. Thanks for the insight.
pfisch 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Why does this even matter? If you have a large delta time then your game is fucked anyway. Collision detection will likely also be broken and the game is unplayably choppy anyway so it doesn't even matter.
raldi 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain the jumping parabola graphs? I can't make sense of the description.
Trufa 13 hours ago 1 reply      
What id don't understand is, wouldn't this be only half more correct? I'm not really sure if my question makes sense.
jpatokal 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't exactly a new development, as the article in question was first posted on May 13th, 2000.
UChicago receives package for Indiana Jones uchicagoadmissions.tumblr.com
224 points by CesareBorgia  5 days ago   68 comments top 16
Jun8 4 days ago 3 replies      
Two small details that makes this truly fantastic: That it was addressed to the actual building (Rosenwald Hall) that Indiana would have worked (a lesser fanboy would have addressed it to the Oriental Museum) and that it has no ZIP code, since those would not be in use at that time (adopted starting from 1963).


gecko 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sadly, the author of this package was unaware that Dr. Jones was denied tenure, and is no longer on faculty.


ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is fun, I wish the notebook had a hand drawn picture of a Stargate in it :-) (I know I know, don't cross your franchises, always thought it would be an interesting in an Aliens Vs Predators sort of way to squeeze out another movie).

That this has happened now though, at a time when my college age daughter is being deluged with colleges trying to get her attention, suggests to me an attempt at a viral campaign by the admissions department to raise UChicago on the radar of prospective students.

kqr2 4 days ago 1 reply      
Slightly off topic...however, the University of Chicago is also known for its quirky Scav Hunt (or Scavenger Hunt). So an Indiana Jones package is not altogether out of place.


  On what other campus could students be summoned to 
assemble (in various iterations) a live elephant, a
nuclear breeder reactor, a life-sized battleship, a bust
of Abraham Lincoln made out of pennies, a book printed in
the American colonies before 1776, and the official
exorcist of the Archdiocese of Chicago?


There was even a documentary on it:


lazerwalker 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to think this is the start of a particularly awesome admissions application.
jmharvey 4 days ago 4 replies      
I sometimes wonder how effective stunts like this are.

About 10 years ago, I had a job opening the mail in an MBA admissions office. Most of the application was required to be filed online; the only exceptions were a transcript and two letters of reference. My job was to open the mail, file the allowable papers, and throw out everything else.

Easily 80% of the mail that came through the door went into the trash. People submitted all kinds of things, from hard copies of their entire application to photographs to fancy art portfolios. The first day was heartbreaking as I felt like I was throwing away people's life's work, but when I asked my boss for advice, she said it was a conscious decision on the part of the admissions committee: they didn't want to unfairly disadvantage people who followed their instructions.

After a while, this system made sense. More people tried stunts to bypass the regular admissions process than there were slots in the admitted class. Submitting banned supplemental material was less an indicator that someone was a creative thinker than that they'd read a book that said admissions stunts work.

moskie 4 days ago 1 reply      
My first instinct was that this is the start of a viral game for a new Indiana Jones movie.
secabeen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, the consensus at this point is that it's actually the product from this ebay auction:

What likely happened is that this item was shipped but somehow came loose of its modern packaging, and the USPS delivered the themed mailer to UChicago per the address label.

a1k0n 4 days ago 1 reply      
They went to all that trouble, and spelled Illinois wrong on the address label?
arscan 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are some websites out there that detail exactly how to make replica grail diaries. I think that answers the "How" question. Why they would do this though? I have no idea ;-
timdiggerm 4 days ago 0 replies      
It belongs in a museum!

I'm not kidding. Or at least, mostly. They should put it on display.

swohns 4 days ago 1 reply      
When people ask why I chose UofC, I tell them it's because Indiana Jones went there.
draq 4 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, nice calligraphy, I think its written using a soft nib pen. Also: Who is the "Guardian of the Ark"?
kaonashi 4 days ago 0 replies      
They should have mailed it to the Marx brothers.

…I'll see myself out.

mathattack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to find out if this was part of an application, or some other prank.
mintplant 4 days ago 1 reply      
So, the beginnings of an Alternate Reality Game, perhaps?
EFF: Stop Congress from Reauthorizing the Warrantless Spying Bill eff.org
221 points by mtgx  4 days ago   42 comments top 7
alrs 4 days ago 2 replies      
I live in California.

I just called Feinstein's office and registered my opinion. According to the staffer, Feinstein supports the extension. Her office can be reached at (202) 224-3841.

I called Boxer's office as well. After dialing <3> to speak with a staffer, it rang several times and then hung up. (202) 224-3553.

halviti 4 days ago 1 reply      
With the amount of effort that the executive branch took in order to get this legislation, even going as far as attempting to invoke the states secret privilege [1], I wonder what sort of public outcry it would take to actually get this unconstitutional legislation off the books. Furthermore, if it could be done, I wonder what would become of the 10's of billions of dollars in facilities and equipment that have been squandered by the government to spy on its own people in the name of freedom.

I would love to hear ideas on how we can get this message out to the average population, and actually get them to care about it.

Sadly, I think a lot of people don't care. Which is almost more worrying than the legislation itself.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_secrets_privilege#AT.26T_...

StavrosK 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's bills like this that make me hope that encrypted communications software like Silent Circle[1] becomes widespread. It's a good way to make large-scale wiretapping impossible.

Disclosure: I currently work at Silent Circle.

[1]: https://silentcircle.com/

mcantelon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Who's pushing for this? Where does support for this come from?
tomjen3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, that is not going to have any effect. What the military-industrial-congressional complex wants, the military-industrial-congressional complex gets.
AutoKorrect 3 days ago 1 reply      
in the end, this would mean nothing. Think about it: the President already has an extra-Constitutional kill list, why stop there?
cbc0201 4 days ago 7 replies      
First, your "Take Action" link doesn't work. Second, I don't really care if "NSA's Supercomputers" are scanning my emails, text messages and even my phone calls. They're not really interested in my activities. Third, I'll let you in on a little secret, Its not just overseas communication!

If it keeps safe, what do I care!

PowWow - Collaborative Screen Sharing powwow.cc
217 points by siong1987  3 days ago   71 comments top 28
wooster 3 days ago 2 replies      
I remember the PowWow McAfee founded that did collaborative web browsing.…


davidcollantes 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting on how no replies have been received on how it works. Mind it, I have not installed it, but, is there a server(s) to connect to, is it peer-to-peer? Care to provide more details? Thanks!
protomyth 2 days ago 0 replies      
You know, you probably could have chosen a better name. If for nothing else you are competing on searches with all of the actual Pow Wow websites that tribes and dancers have set up to catalog their events.
jsherwani 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey all! I'm one of the co-founders of PowWow. This has caught us all by surprise, but we're thrilled to see the response we've been getting so far. If you guys run into any issues, please let us know. We're in very early beta right now, so your feedback is very important. Feel free to reply in the comments here, or email us at everyone@powwow.cc. Happy PowWow-ing :)
shravan 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is super slick. Just played around with it with a friend and there's almost no lag. My CPU spun up quite a bit but nevertheless color me impressed. I'm curious how this is implemented though?
watty 3 days ago 1 reply      
> It's like Google Docs for any application

Isn't this a bit too misleading? The appeal of Google Docs is that two people can work on a spreadsheet at the same time. They can be working on different cells or even different sheets of a workbook. PowWow allows one person to work on a spreadsheet at a time but allows you to quickly and seamlessly switch who is working on it. In other words, only one person can type.

rockyj 3 days ago 5 replies      
Looks nice! I wish it gives support for Linux as well. Good screen sharing tools for Linux are virtually non-existent (and I am often ridiculed for it).
georgespencer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great. There's a UK company with similar branding doing conference calling (they advertise all over the tube with really terrible posters). Called PowWowNow.
joshchan 3 days ago 3 replies      
mosfet9 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great! The two-cursor feature would also be extremely useful when two mice are connected to one computer. We do pair programming at work and I could see a tool that allows two people sitting at one machine to each have their own cursor totally transforming the way we work. Is this a feature you plan on developing?
89a 1 day ago 0 replies      
"You are both always in control"

First thing you see in the video is that this isn't true

kstenson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are you guys aware of powwownow? it's has voice/video conferencing. Although not exactly like your product, it does share some similarities.


yeet 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using powwow since early development days. It is a great product, been useful to me many many times. it is good to fix your mom's computer or to help your peer programmer across the sea.
king_jester 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool product, not so great name. Using pow wow like this can be considered offensive to native peoples.
bahman2000 3 days ago 1 reply      
favicon.ico for my label-less bookmarks please :)
warmwaffles 3 days ago 0 replies      
pair programming with this has the potential to be awesome
nXqd 3 days ago 1 reply      
We cannot work parallel with this screen sharing right ?
So it just looks juicy with cursor look like google docs :D
the1 3 days ago 1 reply      
no linux, android, ipad support
bosky101 2 days ago 0 replies      
mixergy has a great interview with the founder talking about hitting $1M+/year for the product that started it all (ios), and a phd's journey from pakistan to the bay area.

just search for "iteleport mixergy interview"

very inspiring story. congrats to J & team.


Ganthor 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does this differ from Goinstant (http://www.goinstant.com/ )? It was aquired by Salesforce in July 2012 for $70MM.
mgillett 3 days ago 3 replies      
Really like the concept and the product feels great. I'm curious as to why voice chat was not included though. Is that planned in an upcoming release, because it seems like a pretty big setback. You may not be fighting over a single cursor anymore, but you're still fighting for control, and it's hard to coordinate that without talking to one another. I don't want to have to use up additional resources by entering a Skype chat either.
mparlane 3 days ago 1 reply      
Two mice but surely not two cursors?
666_howitzer 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish someone thought me code with this.
equator 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive! I can see myself using this someday!
propercoil 3 days ago 0 replies      
any version for ubuntu/other debian derivatives?
saiko-chriskun 3 days ago 0 replies      
awesome!!! been wanting something like this ;)
jczhang 3 days ago 1 reply      
this is awesome, any chances for a PC version?
zillwc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool.
Indiana Jones journal mystery solved uchicagoadmissions.tumblr.com
217 points by CesareBorgia  19 hours ago   45 comments top 6
ghc 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Seeing this resolution to the mystery made my day. It's refreshing to see that all this buzz was the result of a glorious postal mishap, not a concerted effort to hijack our attention with a viral marketing stunt.
akdetrick 19 hours ago 2 replies      
This article is missing an image of an old map with red lines connecting Italy, Guam, Hawaii, and Chicago.
rsingel 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I was initially underwhelmed, but on second thought, it turns out that crazy, huge system of machines, trucks and humans that routes letters and packages around the country is pretty amazing. Going to go with damilocampos on this one.
polyfractal 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Mildly disappointing ending to what I hoped to be some epic story/gimick/whatever.

Amusing that the USPS thought the vintage (fake) Egyptian postage was real though

ekianjo 15 hours ago 3 replies      
How can the contents of a package "drop" out of the package and then be routed to the wrong place? Sounds like 18th century postal service going on there...
draq 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Who has ordered his own replica journal?
       cached 18 December 2012 16:11:01 GMT