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Aaron Swartz commits suicide mit.edu
2069 points by bfaviero  4 days ago   545 comments top 140
jacquesm 4 days ago 10 replies      
Man this so sucks.

If you hit someone with enough felony counts sooner or later something can snap. This in response to those that claim the DOJ didn't have anything to do with Aaron killing himself.

For some people the mere fact of being suspected of a crime they didn't commit is enough to push them over the edge. When you're placed in a holding cell the police will remove your laces from your boots so you don't hang yourself, that's how heavy being imprisoned can weigh on some.

Aaron did something that he thought was right, that he truly believed in and that upset a large number of applecarts and that had far reaching implications, had the proverbial book thrown at him and then some. The prospect of significant amounts of jail time (35 years for downloading scientific papers, it shouldn't even be a crime) and/or a felony record must have weighed very heavy on him.

For a person that is of a very stable mental make-up that would already be extreme pressure.

For someone with a mental issue it may very well be all it takes.

Aaron was inspiring to me, I think that no copyrighted piece of paper is worth a human life and that the DOJ, even if they are not directly responsible at least indirectly carry some of the responsibility here for beating down someone who was fighting for an extremely good cause in a somewhat haphazard way. The letter of the law and the spirit of the law should both be taken into account.

I hope those that had a hand in Aarons' continued prosecution will sleep miserably for a long time to come. Likely it won't weigh on their consciousness at all.

tricolon 4 days ago 4 replies      
I never met Aaron Swartz but always wanted to. His work has had a profound impact on my life.

His blog was thought-provoking. http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/

His work on the RSS 1.0 Specification enabled richer, more efficient information consumption. http://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/spec

His work on Markdown enabled intuitive, unobtrusive formatting and structuring of information in plaintext and conversion to HTML. http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/#acknowledgement...

His work on reddit enabled thousands"now millions"to share online information in a social manner. http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rewritingreddit

His work on the web.py framework gave countless Python programmers a head-start on serving information through web applications. http://webpy.org/

His work with DemandProgress gave Americans a political voice to protect and win back their freedom and the freedom of information. http://blog.demandprogress.org/people

His work with Creative Commons promoted the freedom of information and fair use and helped inform content creators of options other than copyright. http://creativecommons.org/

Thank you, Aaron Swartz, for all the above and all the other activism and works (https://github.com/aaronsw) I haven't mentioned here. You'll be missed and remembered by many.


kanzure 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just the other day I emailed aaronsw asking about OCLC and his plans to topple it. His response wasn't very optimistic. I should have asked him a more humane question, like "sup" or "how's it hanging".

For whatever reason, I keep bumping into his work, whether it's through the python world or through BOSSlab, geurrilla open access, or The Sprouts. He has had a very strong impact on some very important problems in the world. I suspect that he might have seen some (perhaps twisted) value in being a martyr, especially in the face of extreme stress.. So far I prefer the living version of aaronsw.

I think a lot of us can see parts of each other in Aaron, both in his values and work. Another someone pointed out, just how many spiders have you written? Everyone does it, but hardly nobody talks about it. Is it really so terrible that we want to read science? or share code? And then this happens.

All of the criminal documents from his last court case are published on the Internet Archive. This one in particular is rather thrilling to read:


"An analysis of one of the fingerprints on the Acer laptop purchased and used by the defendant cannot exclude his friend, Alec Resnick."

"Promises, rewards, or inducements have been given to witness Erin Quinn Norton. Copies of the letter agreement with her and order of immunity with respect to her grand jury testimony are disclosed on Disk 3."

"a. The computer was registered under the fictitious guest name “Gary Host.” b. The computer's client name was specified as “ghost laptop.” A computer's client name helps to identify it on a network and can be chosen by its user. In this case, the name was simply created by abridging the pseudonym “Gary Host,” combining the first initial “g” with the last name “host.” c. The fictitious “Gary Host's” e-mail address was identified as “ghost@mailinator.com.” This was a “throwaway” e-mail address. Mailinator is a free, disposable e-mail service that allows a user to create a new e-mail address as needed, without even registering the address with Mailinator. Mailinator provides this service for users to have an anonymous and temporary e-mail address. Mailinator accepts mail for any e-mail address directed to the mailinator.com domain without need for a prior registration, and it allows anyone in the world to read that mail without having to create an account or enter a password. All mail sent to mailinator.com is automatically deleted after several hours whether read or not."

"... "The defendant has requested first that the government provide ".. any and all notes and reports provided to USSS or USAO by CERT in relation to the forensic analysis of the ACER laptop, or any analysis of any evidence including but not limited to the PCAP log information"."

`.. earlier posted on one of his websites, guerrillaopenaccess.com, a call-to-arms entitled "Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto" which concluded "We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerrilla Open Access."`

Context for some of these quotes can be found here: http://gnusha.org/logs/2012-09-15.log


antics 4 days ago 2 replies      
Better eulogies will follow, to be sure, but in the mean time, much of what can be said about him is captured in a touching talk he gave called "How to Get a Job Like Mine" [1]. What I think is especially touching about this is how he gently deconstructs his success, demystifying his own legend by pulling back the curtain on what would have otherwise appeared to be a string of miraculous accomplishments. In the process, he reveals himself to be a sensitive, seemingly grateful, and thoughtful person.

May he be remembered well; he seems to deserve it.

[1] https://aaronsw.jottit.com/howtoget

Claudus 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the JSTOR Statement related to the downloading incident: http://about.jstor.org/news/jstor-statement-misuse-incident-...

What Happened

Last fall and winter, JSTOR experienced a significant misuse of our database. A substantial portion of our publisher partners' content was downloaded in an unauthorized fashion using the network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of our participating institutions. The content taken was systematically downloaded using an approach designed to avoid detection by our monitoring systems.

The downloaded content included more than 4 million articles, book reviews, and other content from our publisher partners' academic journals and other publications; it did not include any personally identifying information about JSTOR users.

We stopped this downloading activity, and the individual responsible, Mr. Swartz, was identified. We secured from Mr. Swartz the content that was taken, and received confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.

The criminal investigation and today's indictment of Mr. Swartz has been directed by the United States Attorney's Office. It was the government's decision whether to prosecute, not JSTOR's. As noted previously, our interest was in securing the content. Once this was achieved, we had no interest in this becoming an ongoing legal matter.

paraschopra 4 days ago 7 replies      
It's easy to deride suicide but fact of the matter is that it is the final but a very powerful option we have at our disposal. Instead of saying that a particular person should not have committed suicide, our hope should be that if a suicide happens, it is well thought through and is not done in haste. If a particular person decides that decades of painful life is much worse than simply ending the existence, who are we to question such a personal decision?

Of course, if everything was alright, I would have loved to see Aaron existing in this world for many more years and do wonderful things but not knowing what led him to this step and how he judged the current/future life for himself. Simply commenting that he should not have committed suicide is being insensitive to a person who has already done so much great work for humanity.

Life is not always better than no life. Context matters. A lot.

bpdthrow 4 days ago 5 replies      
Aaron suffered from a brain disorder. He had documented periods of extreme withdrawn depression and others of mild manic productivity.

Because of that brain disorder, perhaps because it was not attacked with the requisite treatment, he is dead.

If you or a loved one are ever feeling suicidal, depressed, or are acting abnormally erratic, contact an expert. It's nothing to be ashamed about. It's just a lottery of genetic expression.

There are others going through the same thing. There are excellent treatments available, and they get better each year. You might save someone's life.


I find it bizarre how quickly our minds jump to impossibly unlikely reasons when tragic events like this happen. Troubles with the justice department don't alone cause a bright young man to kill himself.

> I was miserable. I couldn't stand San Francisco. I couldn't stand office life. I couldn't stand Wired. I took a long Christmas vacation. I got sick. I thought of suicide. I ran from the police. And when I got back on Monday morning, I was asked to resign.

> I followed these rules. And here I am today, with a dozen projects on my plate and my stress level through the roof once again.



> I have a lot of illnesses. I don't talk about it much, for a variety of reasons. I feel ashamed to have an illness. (It sounds absurd, but there still is an enormous stigma around being sick.)

> Sadly, depression (like other mental illnesses, especially addiction) is not seen as “real” enough to deserve the investment and awareness of conditions like breast cancer (1 in 8) or AIDS (1 in 150). And there is, of course, the shame.


In his short life Aaron has produced a wonderful collection of writing, code, and actions, which will all be available for years to come. He will be missed. His effects have not yet ceased.

gfunk911 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've thought of suicide. Not "seriously," but it's crossed my mind. Sometimes life just seems so hard.

My reaction to this is that he was a brilliant guy, and it was such a waste. Such a pointless waste.

It makes the idea of giving up myself seem so wrong.

Rest in Peace Aaron. I'm sorry it had to end this way.

Eliezer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz may have left everything to Givewell. This makes it even sadder somehow in ways I can't fully describe.


The same page shows that the last Reddit comment he ever made was on /r/HPMOR. I don't think I noticed at the time - I don't think I knew he was a fan.

I have said and will say that Aaron Swartz acted heroically in trying to free the scientific literature. It was a good try.

rdtsc 4 days ago 2 replies      
For some reason this is a shock to me. It shouldn't be, I didn't know the guy. But I was just playing with web.py framework. It is so strange, I thought just today, I wonder if Aaron would accept a pull request, I could see a few things to improve.

Looking back at his activity on github he was pulling in commits less than a week ago:


I don't know details about the "JSTOR" case or about what he did at Reddit but I can see in his code that he cared and wanted to make something better, smaller and elegant. I respect that and it is a loss to have him gone forever.

jacques_chester 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is terrible news.

Depression is treatable. If you find that you are thinking about suicide, even speculatively, seek help immediately.

You are not alone and it will get better.

alrs 4 days ago 4 replies      
Fuck this country.

EDIT: The guy was facing 13 felony counts for downloading academic articles.

beadmomsw 4 days ago 39 replies      
Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. Aaron has been depressed about his case/upcoming trial, but we had no idea what he was going through was this painful.

Aaron was a terrific young man. He contributed a lot to the world in his short life and I regret the loss of all the things he had yet to accomplish. As you can imagine, we all miss him dearly. The grief is unfathomable.

Aaron's mother

wyclif 4 days ago 1 reply      
Shocking and saddening. I've been working with Python lately and feel a particular loss because of web.py and all the other good work he did. My prayers go out to his family.

I wonder why some people here are assuming this tragedy is because of the JSTOR incident. It seems to me that everyone should just meditate on what's been lost, and defer judgement about why he would do this until there is evidence.

pajju 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz's presence in various networks:

In HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=aaronsw

Pinboard: https://pinboard.in/u:aaronsw

His last tweet was on Jan 9th, https://twitter.com/aaronsw

Reddit: https://aaronsw.jottit.com/reddit

Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PGTlB14AAAAJ

Writings: https://aaronsw.jottit.com/writings


Things he made:






HN will miss your contributions.

Rest in Peace. #Love.

alexqgb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, the guys who wiped out literally trillions of dollars of wealth by cratered the global economy in an orgy of greed, fraud, and reckless disregard for everything but their own inflated bonuses couldn't get arrested if they tired.

There are a lot of things wrong with this situation, but the egregiously misaligned priorities of the US Attorneys are near the top of the list.

edw519 4 days ago 0 replies      

Stunned & heartbroken.

josh2600 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm speechless.

He had his troubles and he made some bad decisions, but it didn't have to be like this.

I wish his family peace and clarity in this dark hour. I'm just so sorry.

alaskamiller 4 days ago 1 reply      
I remember most of the teachings from those days, back in the early 2000's. Before hacking, before startups, before entrepreneurs, before changing the world felt like a cool, common thing.

Before all of that, I remember this guy doing it, doing it well. And that inspired me to believe I can do it.

An artist's only passion is to create, until the day you die. In between you fight all sorts of battles that they don't warn you about. But the most important being that when you create, you carry with you a savagery of sorts, of making something new, of living in the edge.

And it's hard to survive. Nowadays we take for granted the Google style lunches and buslines, but being at the edge of something has always been trying to eke out in an hostile environment.

But this guy was there, all day, all night.

And that's special. Because it's an isolating experience.

I get the same suicidal thoughts that drift in and out too. It's partly chemical and it's just your personality. When you stand outside of the system long enough, watch long enough, suffer the heartbreak of seeing the wrongs enough, you may end up there too.

This was the glorious ending I wished for him.

May he truly rest now in peace.

SquareWheel 4 days ago 2 replies      
Headline is a little misleading as Reddit admins deny his cofounder status.



Still very sad, of course. I was fully in support of Aaron during the JSTOR fallout.

toyg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Every single person employed by the US Attorney Office involved in this tragedy should be sued to hell by the family. Have some goddamn responsibility for once.

This is utterly disgraceful, I feel for his family.

markbao 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like to write something nice, but I'm in too much shock to even know where to start. He showed his brilliance through code and his humanity through his writing.

And as much as it is "right" to respect him for his very personal decision, I can't help but wish he were still here. This is the premature end of the life of someone who could have dramatically changed the world. Reminds us that, now more than ever, that's our job here, too.

pbateman 4 days ago 4 replies      
A tragedy that this caring young man has taken his own life. My heart goes out to his family.

This feels a bit inappropriate but at the moment I hope that some members of the US Attorney's Office are wracked by guilt.

wilfra 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP. So sad.

Like many others here, may path also crossed his several times as I kept bumping into his work. He had a ton of really cool side projects. I pinged him a few times about some of them and he was always really gracious and helpful in his responses. I didn't find out his stature in the community (reddit cofounder etc) until recently and was shocked he had taken the time to reply to me.

As for the reason he did this now: I'm sure it was a combination of things that had built up over many years, however in a criminal case like this, now would be the time his lawyer would be attempting to work out a plea bargain with the prosecutors. If they were demanding a long prison sentence and multiple felony convictions, and the evidence against him was very strong (as it sounds like it was) many people would probably contemplate suicide.

cullenking 4 days ago 1 reply      
I read this as I was preparing to head to my brothers memorial service in a couple of hours. He committed suicide last week.

I just wanted to say that I understand why some people do it. My brother suffered from schizophrenia - he was an incredibly nice and giving person who kept on hurting people due to his disease. I understand why he took his own life and I don't fault him for it. Of course I am incredibly sad about it and wish I could have done so much more, but 20 years of intense suffering wears on a person.

We don't know the exact details behind Aaron's decision. A significant percent of the people who knew Stephen, even those who knew him well, didn't know about his diagnosis either. It's impossible to draw any more conclusion than "he was suffering and couldn't bear the burden anymore". My condolences to his family, I truly know what they are going through and it's absolutely shit.

rdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me think of Len Sassaman's (cypherpunk, remailer developer,etc.) suicide from 18 months ago :( It's terrible when anyone kills himself, but when it's someone who was doing something which pushed the limits like this, it's worse.
coderdude 4 days ago 0 replies      
My heart goes out to his family. I'm a big fan of his work, particularly web.py. He made a huge impact on the web by anyone's standards and his contributions have personally touched my life in many ways. Rest in peace, man.
rdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
The other fucked up thing about this is that if he'd done this at Stanford, Berkeley, or anywhere else in the 9th Circuit (which is the best circuit!), or the 4th circuit, he wouldn't have been charged under CFAA. It's only the backward backwaters of the 5th, 7th, and 11th who would charge under CFAA. He was in the 1st, which hadn't yet ruled. SCOTUS would have been very likely to side with the 9th, since the 9th is the best in general, and was correct in this case.

So, yet another reason to be angry -- this case was perfect for removing ToS violations from CFAA.

smogzer 4 days ago 0 replies      
https://www.google.com/search?q=doj+presecute gives me :
DOJ Will Not Prosecute Goldman Sachs in Financial ... - ABC News
9 Aug 2012 " The Justice Department has decided it will not prosecute Goldman Sachs or its employees for their role in the financial crisis...


Share the load
Even if your friends aren't cheerful, just working on a hard problem with someone else makes it much easier. For one thing, the mental weight gets spread across both people. For another, having someone else there forces you to work instead of getting distracted.

Udo 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's simply awe-inspiring how much he was able to do with his short life. Time to revisit one of my favourite talks:


thinkcomp 4 days ago 0 replies      
This makes me incredibly sad.

The work I do now is made possible by Aaron's work on PACER (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13records.html). We are all in his debt.

Accordingly, I've added a memorial banner to PlainSite to ensure that everyone who uses it daily to find cases (including many in government and the DOJ specifically) will be reminded of his contribution--one of many.

robbiet480 4 days ago 1 reply      
Will HN's colors be going black?
coderholic 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Shocking news! I've been reading Aaron's stuff online and following him on twitter for years. Only last week I re-read his amazing "Raw Nerve" blog post series http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rawnerve

Lost for words!

whoishiring 4 days ago 0 replies      
You can see some of his recent work here https://github.com/webpy/webpy
argumentum 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.


biesnecker 4 days ago 0 replies      
That is so goddamn sad. Rest in peace, Aaron.
jervisfm 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know aaronsw personally but I have just checked out his web.py that others have been praising and it's really neat because it's so simple. What an amazing piece of work. For others who may not be aware, just see this brief tutorial [1].

His writings on life and how to get better at it are also phenomenal [2]

It's very sad that aaronsw is no longer with us for he was very gifted and talented. May he rest in peace and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

[1] - http://webpy.org/docs/0.3/tutorial
[2] - http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rawnerve

firloop 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's always a shame when someone commits suicide in a situation like this. There's always a better option. Everyone makes mistakes.

I've seen this happen in my own life. I had a family friend that committed suicide after being indicted of a felony DUI charge because he swore he never would go to prison.

Tragic. My thoughts are with his family.

jerrya 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh gosh, I am so sorry to read this.

I communicated with him once or twice re: rss, and I enjoyed his postings at photo net.

He was young, bright, witty. This is terrible.

I will miss you Aaron, I had such hopes for you.

Laurentvw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I used to read his blog. Here's something I will always remember. When they sold Reddit to Conde Nast, back in 2007 or so, Aaron Swartz wrote something about it on his blog, saying how he felt about it and how he didn't have to worry about money anymore, etc. And then he decided to give away some money to startups in need. I replied to his blog post and he gave my old startup a $100 donation. It felt really generous. RIP Aaron.
smogzer 4 days ago 0 replies      
In April 2011 i was accused of a small crime that could have given prison also. I was judged in January 2012 and accused to pay a fine of 500€ despite the accusation had no proofs. Every day i though about how to prove my innocence despite being a small accusation, it destroyed my work and mood for the whole year.

How to fix ? if no damage was done there is nothing to accuse of.

And distribution of knowledge should be free, or ransom ware the release of that info to the public should be made available upon compen$ation for the work done, ransomware maybe.

Aaron ideals of greater good and sharing are nobler than any politician or any other bullshitter that get media coverage and have the power to change the world for the better.

TimSchumann 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's tragic that we all, with our laws and courts and systems of 'justice', can ruin a brilliant kid's life to the point where he decides it's not worth living anymore.

All over 'stealing' some ideas.

shuaib 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know a lot is being speculated about how the whole JSTOR story is what could have possibly pushed Aaron over the edge. And I think the discussion is important in its own right, about easy access to academic journals. But, I think it is very important that we do get to know what it actually was that triggered this extreme act on part of Aaron. If someone as capable and intellectual as Aaron could fall prey to something that makes one end his life, what becomes of the average hacker who tries hard to achieve a level of success such as that of Aaron, and goes through phases of depression in life.

There has to be more to it then just the JSTOR case.

makmanalp 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the record, a few months ago we had a back and forth about his writing process, and he was kind enough to write one of his pieces in one of those editors that keeps track of your changes so you can see the piece evolving. Very insightful.

At the end of that, I wrote a reply commenting on what I thought about his writing process, and never got anything back. He must have not been feeling great at that point.

I feel bad now.

pajju 4 days ago 0 replies      
In this blog article, he speaks a little about his illness -


BryantD 4 days ago 0 replies      
My housemate committed suicide four years ago; his wife and I found the body. Since then my charity of choice has been AFSP: their programs and support were very important to nth of us afterwards. They do good work.


siglesias 4 days ago 0 replies      
If anybody is partial to listening to music during times like these, I recommend Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 6 [1]. The fourth movement in particular is extraordinarily moving and an ice cold glimpse of disdain, depression, and ultimately the death (some say suicide) of a romantic genius [2]. Of course the entire work is something to behold in all its movements.

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._6_(Tchaikovsky)
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtLq8wj0p80

marvin 4 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences to everyone who knew Aaron. This is really sad.
doe88 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sad, really sad. I didn't know him personally and have never spoken to him. But few times when I read one of his tweets or when I visited a page of his site from a link elsewhere, I was saying to myself that it should be hard to be in his position actually, that it must put your life on hold and shut any of your plans to be stuck in such a preposterous legal situation. I as a simple citizen command you Aaron Swartz for all your inspirational work, Thank You.
ckelly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is so sad. I just responded today to an email from him about demandprogress.org. RIP.
jeswin 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is tragic. :(

You were an inspiration at times. And more importantly, one among those who make people want to change for the better.

olefoo 4 days ago 0 replies      

I miss you, we never met, but you inspired me. You burned so brightly, yet so briefly.

orangethirty 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in peace, Mr. Swartz.

As life moves as the currents in the ocean, some of us find ourselves in tropical paradises, whilst others are gifted the horrible cold of the artic. There are some who manage to hang on to another current and make headway towards warmer climates, there are some who do not. The world is now saddened to learn that you were caught up in the harsh artic cold of life. We could ask questions as to why did you not swim harder or faster, but none of us were in your place.

Your short life was anything but worthy of such tragic end. You decided to leave too early, too soon. Still, your presence still lives through your work, the community you helped build, and the people you touched.


auggierose 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here is a thing you can do: Boycott JSTOR from now on. And refuse to publish to any journal / conference that demands $10 or more for downloading a paper that should be free (if you are not that lucky to have access to a subscription of that journal / conference).
faramarz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't stop reading his writings. He was a talented writer, amongst other things. I really feel the connection even though I never met him.

My condolences to his family and the entire community. :(

flexd 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am deeply sorry to hear about this and it brings back memories of last year when a friend of mine did the same.

Depression is a terrible thing, and I hope we are one day able to cure it. It is treatable, seek help immediately if you are thinking about suicide! I hate that you cannot look upon someone and instantly know if they are depressed or not. If I could, I would drop everything to help a person I saw having trouble.

I hope Aaron found peace, and I wish his family the best.

edwardunknown 4 days ago 0 replies      
I admired him quite a bit after the JSTOR thing.
tomh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I only met Aaron once, in 2000, when he looked like this: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/000291

I was always amazed that the wunderkind with the pizza stain on his shirt that visited us at Arsdigita University accomplished so much. He was reserved, but focused, forthright at such an early age. I couldn't help but feel he was a little disappointed in the rest of us, but he never showed it.

RIP, Aaron. We'll miss you.

shuaib 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is just absolutely shocking.

Aaron Swartz was an inspiration. To know that a person you looked up to, someone from whom you learned so much through his writings and his projects, ended up finishing his life like that...


bijupunalor 4 days ago 0 replies      
OMG, the shock of it ...

He was such a terrific writer, easy to see why he could code so well

mailshanx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz was an excellent programmer and writer. I have bumped into his code and writings often. The raw nerve series ( http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rawnerve ) have been especially influential in shaping my thinking. Above all, he was a wonderful human being: the world is a bit worse off and a sadder place without him. Rest in peace, Aaron.
endlessvoid94 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm so sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to the Swartz family. No matter anyone's contributions, this gets the volume turned down on everything else turned down.

The only thing we have on this earth is time.

lominming 4 days ago 0 replies      
He made huge impact in the tech world. RIP
dscrd 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why isn't this anywhere on reddit.com?
bane 4 days ago 0 replies      
In his young life Aaron demonstrated that he wanted the world to have knowledge, ethics and community. I think the best way we can honor his legacy is to carry those things forward as best we can.

RIP Aaron

kghose 4 days ago 0 replies      
Basically: if you feel strongly about JSTOR and it's ilk do the following in order of preference

1. Publish in an open access journal
2. Publish in a regular journal and make YOUR version available in http://arxiv.org/ or your website

It will get you more citations and you will do your part in disseminating science

projectileboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Goddamnit, this is just horrible. My sympathies to Aaron's friends and families. I always found his work and his writings interesting and sometimes even inspiring. Our society would have benefitted from an extra 60 years of this guy.
mekarpeles 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron, thank you for all you've done. It's had a tremendous impact on my life.

Aaron had a really interesting blog post on pain worth reading called, "Leaning into the Pain". It's worth considering that pain doesn't just impact the individual. Try to let others help. http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/dalio

Harkins 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have a copy of the source to theinfo.org or any of this previous versions? I have a complete archive of the mailing lists. I'd like to make sure it doesn't disappear, it and other things Aaron did inspired things I made.
xycodex 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am really upset by this. I normally feel pretty far away from news stories I read anywhere, but this feels close to home. =(
fharper1961 4 days ago 0 replies      
This has hit me hard. So much potential, and gone so young. So sad. Rest in peace Aaron.
ilamparithi 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who has read pg's writings and watched YC grew, the reddit story is very close to my heart. I always felt I knew Aaron, Steve and Alexis well even though I never met or interacted with them. This is such a shock. RIP.
sergiotapia 4 days ago 0 replies      
Spez, from Reddit, says he isn't a cofounder:


winter_blue 4 days ago 0 replies      
When think about it, what PG's close friend and buddy Robert Tappan Morris did with bringing down a vast number of computer on the internet back then; was incomparably and inexorably worse.

Yet, Robert Morris has had a great life, both as an acclaimed professor at the greatest technological institution that has ever existed (MIT), and of course as a key member of Y Combinator.

Yet a petty non-criminal like Aaron is put through something infinitely worse than the "punishment" of community service that was dished out of RTM.

Ha. Some justice system indeed!

seeingfurther 4 days ago 0 replies      
This should be a call to action to academia. Please open your journal archives to the online community free of charge.
blueprint 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it odd that, to my knowledge at least, no one on HN has so far noted the connection between Aaron's activism against the US government re: SOPA/PIPA and his terrible treatment by them. Surely it's one of the reasons why they went after him.
benatkin 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was very saddened to hear this news. I posted my thoughts to my blog. http://benatkin.com/2013/01/12/rip-aaron-swartz/ He accomplished a lot, and taught us a lot, and I think most of us can still learn from him. http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/archive
bongs 4 days ago 0 replies      
How Google (and we) encourage suicide:

The first link to "suicide" search results (https://www.google.com/search?q=suicide) to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide which unfortunately has "Reasons" & "Methods" before "Prevention" and has no mention of why you shouldn't commit suicide.

At the bottom of the first page of the results, the first related search is "suicide methods" http://imgur.com/7lJ02

Further search for "suicide methods" results in the following first three links:





There is no mention of why suicide is bad and it just gives the depressed person a way to end his/her life.

I don't blame only Google, but I think the entire web & the web community (with SEO, SEM, etc) contributes a lot for this disaster.

mindcrime 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is terribly, terribly sad news. :-(

Wish there was more that could be said, but I guess the only
appropriate thing is:

R.I.P. aaronsw, you will be missed.

ifeltsweet 4 days ago 0 replies      
He was an inspiration to me. What a loss to his family and internet. Rest in peace.
leothekim 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a terrible loss. Aaron had many fruitful years ahead of him. He left us far too early. My condolences to his family and loved ones. I hope at least this compels others who have depression to seek help for themselves.
gstar 4 days ago 0 replies      
So sad to lose someone that's made such a dent on the world so young.
level09 4 days ago 0 replies      
Shit! one of the most brilliant minds of all time, his series raw nerve http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/rawnerve has inspired hundreds of people including me to overcome life pain and depression. how could he just do that ?

Aaron, you should have not done that .. I'm sure thousands of people of this community would have fought for you to get you out of your problems .. your contributions will always be remembered ..
it's just so sad ..

erik757 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know Aaron, but I've been using web.py for years, so I kind of felt like I knew him from hanging around the online community. I really don't know what to say - he was incredibly intelligent, and made great contributions - the 'net gets a little lonelier every time we lose someone like this. :( RIP.
mjdk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron was one of the genuinely good guys. May he rest in peace.
maxwin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can pg or someone with the access please put the black bar on?
stesch 4 days ago 0 replies      
And all over Reddit the posts to the news get removed. :-(
thomasvendetta 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rest in peace Aaron. Someone I looked up to in more ways than words any words can explain.
krmboya 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is sad both for me as a person, and for the internet community as a whole.

Aaron Swartz was the sort of person I wanted to be, his works, his personality, and what he stood for.

Since nothing can ever be done to reverse this, may this occurence illuminate the fact that laws are made for people, and not people for laws..

Tichy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad, and very unexpected. He had so many interesting things going on.
nitalumnus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just read the talk. I didn't realise it was given at the college I studied in. Sad to hear the news. Only today morning my daughter was saying how depressing classes are at school because every subject they study talks about how humans might become extinct. We can sometimes get too focused on problems and such times all that we need is a person to just say "It is not too bad. There are good things happening as well". Perhaps a lot of suicides are down to this missing person in our lives. We are all more connected thanks to the Internet, and also increasingly isolated.
pyroMax 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's a sad, sad world we live in. RIP Aaron.
jdthomas 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is awful news.

I haven't been in touch with Aaron for several years, but I had a brief encounter with him in 2008. I was between jobs and decided to help out with his watchdog.net project of the time. He was always incredibly kinda and once tracked down my number and called to check that I was OK after I was unexpectedly offline for a several days.

Great guy; will be missed.

richardofyork 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am very saddened by this young man's taking of his life and the apparent reckless pursuit by the Government to prosecute him for a seemingly minor "crime."
revskill 4 days ago 0 replies      
R.I.P Aaron.
You're get followed now and forever for all the good things you've done. We'll continue fighting for a better world.
n_coats 4 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of everything happening in his life, it's terrible in any instance when someone is pushed to the point where they rationalize taking their own life. Best wishes and thoughts to Aarons family and friends as they mourn during this horrible time.
Keyframe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Suicide is almost never a solution. It's a real shame this couldn't be prevented in due time. Rest in peace!
sctechie 4 days ago 0 replies      
True shame. Regardless of your opinion of his actions concerning JSTOR, it's undeniable he made a positive contribution to the web.
littledot5566 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Aaron...
lenkite 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is extremely tragic. The world is a horrible place when some of its best people loose all hope and choose to leave it early. It is quite crazy that that downloading scientific papers can incur sentences longer than the maximum for crimes such as rape, manslaughter, etc.
operator 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are all Aaron Swartz. Let's not let our generation down. Stick together people.
stevenkho 3 days ago 0 replies      
35 years for downloading something that is morally, and supposedly be free (funded by taxpayer money)? This is a big joke! I believe homicide cases dished out lighter sentences.

If access to journals, or more accurately scientific research, is to be restricted in such manner, then all government should stop funding/ providing grants for scientific researches, at least not from taxpayers money. These interested parties, namely the journals publishers, should come out with such funds as eventually they are making money from such works. It's ridiculous for the public to fund their business.

RIP Aaron Swartz.... you have make yourself heard, loud and clear, to the civil society.

berlinbrown 4 days ago 0 replies      
So he could have gone to jail for hacking into the MIT machines/library. Machines where they knew had already gained access to.
snowpolar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow, a part of me hopes that he will have a few scheduled blog posts that get posted on his weblog in the future, hopefully revealing more things we didn't know about.

RIP Aaron Swartz.

nanook 4 days ago 0 replies      
Terrible terrible news. What troubles me the most is that this could happen to any one of us. RIP Aaron.
onthedole 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find Aaron's responses on his own Wikipedia talk page quite a fascinating insight to his personality and humility. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Aaron_Swartz
hihuhiahei 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a proof that it's a suicide? He dies yesterday, and annouced as `suicide` immediately?
jtuyen 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Aaron. You will be missed.
arrowgunz 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably the first time a HN story has got so much traction in such little time. This explains how much people will miss Aaron. RIP bro.
edwardliu 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Aaron. You were awesome.
rooshdi 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for your activism. RIP Aaron.
staunch 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Aaron.
bitL 4 days ago 0 replies      
R.I.P. Aaron! We miss you!
unshornwolly 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sad. Terrible news.

I was just reading 5ish year old comments on reddit about him and suicide http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/1octb/reddit_cof... which lead my to this blog post of his describing a suicide http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/dying

I lost a friend to suicide. It is and was the worst thing ever. I still miss him dearly about 1.5 years on. Breaks my heart. My love and condolences to his friends and family.

aerolite 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fuck :(
ttl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Man. What a shame. We lost a seriously talented and creative guy.
kimura 4 days ago 0 replies      
hxf148 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that you have found peace and a better place Aaron. It was too soon to lose you, we need the brave ones.
dguaraglia 4 days ago 0 replies      
May he rest in peace and his legacy be remembered. That's all.
ErikAugust 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the DOJ will charge Google with scraping the whole Internet.
geuis 4 days ago 1 reply      
Its sad that this is important and at the top of HN, yet Reddit is still full of cat pictures on the front page.
gbraad 4 days ago 0 replies      

Thank you Aaron. RIP

dragons 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very sad. A piece of my hope is gone.
maked00 4 days ago 0 replies      
This kid had it all, fame, fortune, brains.

So what we wrong? Why was he so unhappy?

eriktrautman 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's all over HN but Reddit's front page is still memes and cats.
kaeawc 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Aaron.
williamle8300 4 days ago 0 replies      
What can we do to help carry forward, and continue Aaron's work?
TommyDANGerous 4 days ago 0 replies      
OH my goodness this is terrible, my condolences to his friends and family.
infoseckid 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping to hear from PG on this .... :( nothing yet
nikcub 4 days ago 0 replies      
tonetheman 4 days ago 0 replies      
wow. so sad.
rationalbeaver 4 days ago 0 replies      
wjs9889 4 days ago 0 replies      
ajdecon 4 days ago 0 replies      
jspthrowaway2 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have no words. I've been sitting with my phone's cursor blinking in this box and, for the first time in a long time, my stomach has turned so much from this news that I have nothing to write.

What an absolutely dreadful shame. My heart is wrenched for his family and all of us, who lost a brilliant young man. I'm a month older than he was, and to imagine someone my age thinking there was no way out... with all of the possibilities of his life, a life just beginning.


zachlipton 4 days ago 0 replies      
bytetom 4 days ago 0 replies      
At 24, he was just a kid. I can't even imagine the amount of stress in his life. Who are we to question or speculate on why he did what he wanted to do. I'm glad he contributed what he did in this world. I'm glad we had 24 years. He decided we weren't getting any more. I never feel sad for suicide. You can't tell people you want to do it or they will have your freedom taken away.

Sorry for bad grammar... small comment boxes make me feel pressured to get out everything in a few lines quickly.

achompas 4 days ago 0 replies      
verysoftoiltppr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone find details about how he suicided?
He might be faking is own death..
Prosecutor as bully lessig.tumblr.com
1180 points by guan  4 days ago   260 comments top 31
agwa 4 days ago 14 replies      
From the article: For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April " his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge.

Remember, this was on HN just a week ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5003335

Once again we see the true nature of criminal prosecutions: the prosecutor's tactic is to bring outrageous charges that could result in decades in prison, bankrupt the defendant one way or the other (seizing assets or making the case so complex it bleeds him dry), and then use that to coerce a guilty plea. It's no wonder that trials by jury are becoming so vanishingly rare that even the Supreme Court has written that "in today's criminal justice system, the negotiation of a plea bargain, rather than the unfolding of a trial, is almost always the critical point for a defendant." [1]

Do we really want to live in a country where your right to a trial is an empty right?

[1] http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-444.pdf

Edited to add: many people in this thread want to name and shame the individual prosecutor in this case. That is seriously misdirected effort that is not going to solve the systemic problems. It may even exasperate them, as it falsely implies that the problem is with individual overstepping prosecutors rather than a system in which it's the norm.

pbateman 4 days ago 5 replies      
From the link in the article:

Depending on how many of the counts Swartz is found guilty of, the sentence could conceivably total 50+ years and fine in the area of $4 million.

What an absurd and unreasonable level of punishment. Carmen Ortiz, the prosecutor who was behind this[1] needs to be publicly shamed.

[1] (source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-c...)

javajosh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am ashamed. I am ashamed that I didn't do more to help aaron when he was alive. I am ashamed that I didn't reach out to him, donate money, donate time. I am ashamed that I've allowed this to go on, to go on in my name as an American.

I've always hated bullies, even as a kid. In elementary school I would come to the aid of those being abused. And over the years, I still get angry, but I so rarely do anything anymore. It's too big, too complex, too scary.

No more. It is time to shine light into the dark corridors of American power, to get personally involved. The only way for the abuse of power to continue is for us to ignore it.

olefoo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Petition to Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz



Needs 25,000 signatures by February 11.

Please help us get it there. Thank you.

PrudenceYuris 4 days ago 2 replies      
Then do something about it.

This prosecutor is quite the collector and displayer of awards: http://www.necc.mass.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Carmen-O...

She is a PR asset to this university: http://www.pr.com/press-release/366324

Evidently some people want her to run for higher office: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_politics/2013/01/...

Governor Ortiz? Make sure it isn't: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/12/07/patrick-reported...

And if you are a big biotech company, you can readily negotiate a deal to avoid prosecution: http://www.justice.gov/opa/documents/gsk/plea-ex-k.pdf

Oh, and piling on in the JSTOR case, while pleading down to two years for an actual money-stealing ATM skimmer with real victims: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/11/08/romanian-man-who...

Make sure this black spot eclipses them all. Contact the organizations she is a member of and/or a recipient of some award. Make sure the leadership of that organization knows that she lacks a sense of proportion and that this tendency to overreach cost a good man his life.

Make this an exercise in how to correct these injustices, and make her an example to other prosecutors.

miles 4 days ago 8 replies      
if what the government alleged was true " and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then " then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong.

Morally wrong to download taxpayer-funded research? I'm sorry Larry, you lost me.

More on the academic publishing "industry":

spindritf 4 days ago 2 replies      
> architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House

Is this empty rhetoric really necessary? There were no architects. It took over two decades of government (mis)regulation, whole banking ecosystem of incentives and repackaging, not to mention plenty of people willing to take loans they knew they wouldn't be able to pay back to bring about the crisis.

Same with some great moral wrong of downloading a stack of papers and making them public. Many paid for by the public or even already publicly available.

rayiner 4 days ago 3 replies      
Man, if we could get this kind of outrage built up against over zealous prosecution when the defendant isn't a white techie, we might actually get some criminal justice reform in the U.S.
danso 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Can someone expound on MIT's role or ability to impact the prosecutor's case against Aaron? Did they aggressively push for some kind of trial? Did they just wash their hands of it? What is the OP referring to?

gosub 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would like to live in a world where, what Aaron did, was neither immoral nor illegal.
liber8 4 days ago 0 replies      
In keeping with agwa's, and others', analysis that the system itself is broken, Aaron's thoughtful analysis of The Dark Knight is very interesting. Aaron concludes that, of the various desperate attempts to change Gotham's corrupt systems, the Joker ultimately has the most success by causing chaos. The eerie part is the last line:

"Thus Master Wayne is left without solutions. Out of options, it's no wonder the series ends with his staged suicide."


alan_cx 4 days ago 1 reply      
I cant articulate it properly or fully, but it feels like there is an establishment jealousy or resentment of dot com type people. Kids making too much money and having too much power out side of the "norm" course of business.
paulrademacher 4 days ago 0 replies      
> unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge

Can someone explain this statement? Can a person not raise a defense fund from the public?

andrewtbham 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think we should start lobbying for a bill that makes copyright infringement a civil matter, not criminal. The Aaron Swartz bill.
jmvoodoo 4 days ago 3 replies      
This type of behavior makes me wonder what the incentive structure is (both financially and socially) for these prosecutors? IMO that's what needs to change if we are going to have any sort of real justice in the future. Going after individuals might make us feel better for a little while, but it won't save the next Aaron Schwartz from the same fate.
josh_fyi 4 days ago 0 replies      
We need a website to coordinate open sharing of all research papers and books.

If Napster and Bittorrent could do it for music and movies, we can do it for research.

Various technologies are possible, but the key point is to spread these publications as easily as possible.

And regardless of what you think of "piracy," justice is all
the more on our side with these government-funded, unremunerated publications which are part of humanity's drive to push forward the frontiers of knowledge.

rossjudson 4 days ago 0 replies      
If we can petition the White House for a Death Star, we can petition for Ortiz' removal.
jacoblyles 4 days ago 0 replies      
I object to the characterization of the government's prosecution as "overcharging". The correct punishment for Aaron's actions is not a smaller prison sentence, but a medal.
vermontdevil 4 days ago 0 replies      
We need to stop glorifying the prosector by rewarding them with political victories. I don't believe being a good DA equals being a good governor or senator. These two roles are mutually exclusive.

But I fear our citizenry is just too lazy to really understand all the different candidates and vote for the best one for the job. Instead they depend on abstract figures such as conviction rates, aggressive attitudes on crime, etc to determine who gets their vote.

Can be frustrating at times.

Additionally I just read that the prosector in Aaron's case, Carmen Ortiz, is being considered as a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. It might be something for the hacker community in that state to organize and utilize the web (social media, etc) to make sure she does not go that far.

noonespecial 3 days ago 0 replies      
As citizens, there should be a way to collect enough signatures to pronounce the professional death penalty(1) on a prosecutor who fails adequately represent the wishes of the people. They do ostensibly represent the people, prosecuting those who harm the public. If they fail this duty and harm the public instead...

(1) Never be allowed to serve in the role of prosecutor at any level again.

MaysonL 4 days ago 0 replies      
But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar.

Elsevier, Springer, Pearson et al. beg to differ. Which is probably the basis for the overdiligent prosecution.

csense 4 days ago 2 replies      
Assuming he did it -- or he didn't but was going to be found guilty anyway -- wouldn't fifty years for this nonviolent crime, done in the Martin Luther King Jr. spirit of civil disobedience, by a person with (I assume) no prior criminal record, be Unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment?
exit 4 days ago 1 reply      
'prosecutor' is too abstract. specific names should be named.
jacoblyles 4 days ago 0 replies      
I take exception to Lessig's description of Aaron's behavior as "morally wrong". It was no more "morally wrong" than enabling a slave to escape his master's plantation. Property rights that have their basis in injustice are not valid.
adammil 4 days ago 1 reply      
I created a White House petition for this, please sign it:

Terminate prosecutor Carmen M. Ortiz for overzealous prosecution of Aaron Swartz, leading to his suicide.


paulrademacher 4 days ago 1 reply      
Question for the legal experts: We've been reading potential jail time of 50 or 30 years, plus $millions+ in fines. Realistically, had he taken a plea bargain or gone to trial, what would he likely have wound up with?
arbuge 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well said. The prosecutor seems to be the party acting criminally in this case. What balance is there in the system to prevent such blatantly evil prosecutorial excess from occurring?
shuri 4 days ago 0 replies      
An attempt to set academic knowledge free should be celebrated and commended not penalized. Certainly not used to bully people like this.
sohamsankaran 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone should start a whitheouse petition to question the anachronistic laws that allowed the threat of this sort of ludicrous punishment to be within the realm of possibility....
mscarborough 4 days ago 1 reply      
Nobody killed Aaron Swartz except Aaron Swartz. Not the prosecutor, nor the legal system, nor the copyright system. Completely useless as they all are.

It's absolutely horrible how this happened and that we lost such a light in the web community. But stop the myth making and pretending that you cared the whole time, when really nobody did.

michaelfeathers 3 days ago 0 replies      
What would reform look like?
Y Combinator is funding the future of spam in Windows istartedsomething.com
1031 points by longzheng  1 day ago   454 comments top 49
jbk 1 day ago 13 replies      
I can speak quite a bit about this "industry": We (VLC) receive 1 of those offers per day.

They are liars, shady business, IP violators and are downright dangerous.

They have all those great offers for you, but they refuse to give any details as soon as you ask any question. More than half of them are "the biggest in the world" (sic). They lie about download numbers, about download size, about number of software actually installed and about their connexions. They even lie on the actual payback price.

If you refuse, they build special websites, copying yours, with your IP and trademark and register adwords with your name, in every way possible.

They also resell their solutions/websites to other people, using "Affiliate networks", so that once you take one down, 20 appear. And the guy who you took down had no idea who you were or what the software was...

They also have deals with download.com/softopedia/softonic to change/rewrap your installer, without your agreement, often violating your license; or they give back money to those websites, so they are ranked higher than normal other downloads.

And of course, open source software are never respected.

I believe OP is very polite: There are no good reasons to not shame them publicly.

patio11 1 day ago 14 replies      
So when earlier it was mentioned, I assumed "They have to have a different angle on this; they're a YC company." And seeing a strong thread title and no evidence for it other than "The industry they're in is ridiculously seedy", I thought maybe HN was in rush to judgement mode.

So I thought I'd try, you know, installing something.

Make your own call:


pg 1 day ago 5 replies      
We're investigating. It will take at least a couple days,
because we'll need to meet with the founders in person.

FWIW, the install window Patrick overlaid on top of InstallMonetizer's site in that screenshot is not actually InstallMonetizer.

swies 1 day ago 13 replies      
Y Combinator also funded our solution to crapware.


Basically we automate multiple installers and decline toolbars just like you would.

Users range from the nontechnical to NASA. We even have a huge blind user base because these installers are frequently hell to navigate with a screenreader.

We make money selling a Pro version with extra features to businesses and school IT departments. It works well and aligns us nicely with our users' interests.

kybernetyk 1 day ago 8 replies      
The crapware situation on Windows is horrible. I'm a Mac/Linux user but from time to time I have to power up my Windows VM.

A few days ago I wanted to install the Partition Magic trial on my Win XP VM. Having left Windows around 2005 I figured that typing "Partition Magic Win XP download" in Google would be helpful.

I got a handful of "reputable" download sources like CNet and the like. I went there and was bombarded by 20 (dramatization) different download buttons. I clicked the one that seemed most promising and somehow ended with a new Zip-Archiver installed ...

So I went back and found the Partition Magic installer. It was an installer with 'added value' that asked me three times to install some toolbar crap. I ended up with one of those toolbars installed because unchecking the box and clicking on 'next' obviously is not enough. You have to click the decline button instead of next.

Now I would consider myself computer literate and yet still I didn't manage to install a simple utility without littering my system with crapware. I can only imagine what hell the internet must be like to inexperienced (read: normal people) Windows users.

joering2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not? PG is about to make killing on AirBnB and co-founder is a well-known spammer from top-100 FBI list [1] that used our tax money to send his spam, and AirBnB been known for spam practices contacting people from Craigslist [2] to crank-start their startup with empty database.

Further, AFAIK his SocialCam is worth tons of money as well, mostly thanks to Facebook overspamming practices [3]

Truly surprised PG is not full time in spam business; he would make triple killing! :)

HN moderators: its OK to downvote if the truth feels uncomfortable to you.

EDIT: Since this is getting strongly upvoted; here are the links:

[1] http://gawker.com/5853754/the-seedy-spammy-past-of-airbnbs-c...

[2] http://www.tnooz.com/2011/06/01/news/airbnb-admits-rogue-sal...

[3] http://www.pcmike.com/what-im-thinkin/beware-of-socialcam

paulsutter 1 day ago 0 replies      
These guys must be living in fear of Wire Fraud and Computer Fraud charges.

I'm less than half kidding. This is real destructive harm, so it's closer to the intent of the laws. The incredible churn rate is a pretty clear indication that end users dont want the software being installed. And here we have hundreds of thousands of systems compromised.

Selective enforcement of draconian laws is scary, really.

darklajid 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's the lowest possible way to make money: Sneaking by and behind the back of your users.

If you feel you're entitled to more money, make me pay more for your product. Ask me to donate. Strip away features unless I go 'pro'.

But never ever install crap that isn't even related to your product.

Rule of thumb: If you wouldn't install that software on your families (like, the wider network - parents, siblings, grandparents) machines while supporting them, don't install it on MY machine either.

jgmmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a malware researcher, and the person who writes anti-virus definitions, I can proudly say that I wrote some rules to deal with Adware.InstallMonetizer just yesterday. Most other vendors seem to be detecting it as well.
longzheng 1 day ago 0 replies      
My friend just found this gem in their privacy policy

“We gather personally identifiable and may include information regarding your geo-location, ip address, operating system, language setting and information regarding whether recommended advertiser software has been accepted, downloaded, installed and any reason for failure installing. None of his information is personally identifiable.”

Aardwolf 1 day ago 6 replies      
This is the reason why I don't understand that people say that Linux is for "technical" users while Windows is for regular consumers.

In Linux it's easier to install something that in Windows.

E.g. to install a CD to MP3 rip program, in Archlinux all you do is:

  # Search for some mp3 ripper program
pacman -Ss mp3 | grep rip
# Install one of them from the list that looked ok from the description
pacman -S ripperx

In Windows, the steps are:

  Search the internet for rip mp3
Go through hundreds of spammy results
Try to identify one that isn't crapware
Download its installer
Run its installer
Be careful at every page of the installer that it isn't installing crap

How can they say Linux is harder than Windows? I don't get it.

brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
The past public disparagement of Microsoft's business model and praise of FOSS and Apple, makes fodder for easy conspiracy theories.

Rather than a conspiracy, however, I suspect it is more likely just a case where YC doesn't give a fuck about further degrading the Windows ecosystem.

Next time someone complains here on HN about Microsoft's malfeasance in locking down Windows RT, remind them that they have enterprise customers who don't want to deal with shit like this.

gyardley 1 day ago 1 reply      
These founders need to be very, very careful.

Business-to-business services that are disliked by the public and involve any type of tracking or analytics aren't just class-action-lawsuit bait, they're ambitious-prosecutor bait. All they need is enough bad PR, which it looks like they're in the process of getting, to make the predators aware of the prey.

Judging from reactions here, they're not going to get much community support when the legal backlash inevitably happens, either.

edandersen 1 day ago 1 reply      
PG: care to comment? Were you involved in this investment decision?
herf 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is also why the "unbundling" of Windows turned out so badly for consumers. Not having a decent mail app or video/photos app by default (like the Mac) means people have to navigate this crap to get the most basic things done.

We (f.lux) have a similar experience to VLC: tons of cloned installers and inbound emails for a free product.

TomGullen 1 day ago 0 replies      
At 30c to $1.50 per install, these software companies are under a lot of pressure to make their money back and convert users. This would inevitably lead to some questionable practises which Install Monetizer can claim to be at arms length from.

Software I accidentally install, or am offered to install always leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and reflects badly on the software I am originally trying to install.

edandersen 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's even worse, according to http://www.installmonetizer.com/AT_aboutus.php one of the "advisors" - Arjun Bedi - works for Microsoft!

Working to destroy his own platform. Classy.

chinmoy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow....I thought these kind of companies stay and operate from the darkest corners of the internet, just like those CPA networks where you get paid to SPAM the hell out of the internet. Frustrating that these are coming mainstream and Y Combinator has backed one of them.
joelthelion 1 day ago 0 replies      
I prefer to see it this way: Y combinator is funding the future of the Linux desktop by encouraging crapware on Windows :)
Matsta 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ok, I think one thing I don't think people fully understand is how these companies actually make their money back.

Now in the past they will either try to sell you something or get you to fill in a CPA offer. Now 2012 has hit the IM/Internet Marketing industry hard mainly because people aren't spending money as much as they used to. Like I mentioned in another comment, basically the whole CPA industry is going belly up and will continue to do so in 2013.

So how do these guys make money? Well I know the biggest craze is to make toolbars that actually control your Facebook/Twitter/Email accounts. I've already seen one made for chrome and the guy had put a whosamungus tracking code in there that had over 10k people online at the time I checked it.

The toolbar was capable of sending mass private messages, posting on your wall and inviting all your friends to events on Facebook. And the problem is, it's pretty tough for Facebook to block this since it looks legitimate as the actions are directly coming from the browser and not a shady 3rd party site.

Another tactic which is more common is to replace websites advertising code with their own. This means replacing Adsense ID's or completely changing the banner code all together. This is what Kim Dotcom will be doing when he launches his new Mega site this week.

They also alter Google results so they can either promote their own sites or sell traffic to advertisers for profit.

So to think they are 'only' tracking your IP/Mac address, think again...

alanctgardner2 1 day ago 4 replies      
Likely they got funded because they have a real way to make money! Unlike whoever offers the next airbnb for dogs.

From an ethical standpoint, better the devil you know? Windows freeware developers deserve some compensation for their work, and this seems less scuzzy than other drive-by downloaders. If it became widespread it might break out of the user-exploitation ghetto and pick up real, actually synergistic software to intelligently recommend.

btipling 1 day ago 4 replies      
Winzip and Nero use the Ask Partner Network (I used to work there on the Ask Toolbar) to monetize their free software, so that is probably where that first email came from.


There's also conduit:


mikecane 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you don't understand that the thing that is more important than money is trust, then you shouldn't be in business at all. The minute you screw someone, you've lost them as a customer forever and you've ruined your own reputation.
biot 1 day ago 1 reply      
When it launched OpenCandy did this and all installs were opt-in only: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10094314-2.html

I'm not sure if that's changed in the meantime, but I recall it being a refreshing change from every other system which defaulted to automatically installing additional software rather than the user specifically having to choose to opt-in.

huhtenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It'd be nice to hear what pg thinks of this, though he's probably not in position to comment on this publicly.
rrrrtttt 1 day ago 3 replies      
There's a public company in Israel called Babylon whose business model is giving away a popular translator software in exchange for installing spyware. They're huge and are planning an American IPO this year. Some people here are saying that it's all a big stack of cards and investors are going to lose all their money, but the analysts are actually saying that it's a valid business model and the company is underpriced. I'm wondering who is right...

How is this business model of spying on your users different from Google's or Facebook's?

pioul 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would be interesting to get a statement from PG on that one, at least to explain what's so great about this company.
nonamegiven 1 day ago 0 replies      
Although I was put off initially, I think I wouldn't mind a straight ad that I see once in an installer.

But leaving spoor behind in the form of toolbars is beyond the pale.

Toolbars? Really?

coderdude 1 day ago 3 replies      
Bundling third-party software with installers already happens and will continue to happen whether this company exists or not.

If they can improve upon that experience somehow:

- Reviewing the software before allowing it to be bundled and weeding out the bad eggs.

- Adding user reviews inline with the list of software to install.

...then there's a possibility that they can make this a pleasant, legitimate experience for people.

namdnay 1 day ago 0 replies      
These guys are so scammy, their website is blocked at my office: "Malicious Sources;Scam/Questionable/Illegal"...
marv51 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think one of the main problems here is that large companys use these shady distribution methods. Nobody gives them any crap about it.

I can't count how often I clicked 'no' when some installer tried to install Bing toolbar or Google Chrome.

Chrome is/was offered as crapware in the Flash or Adobe Reader installer!!!

tomasien 1 day ago 1 reply      
Man people really are looking for an excuse to hate on PG. One of the 200 companies they've funded does something spammy and all of a sudden it's "YC this", "PG that".

It's great to bring it to his attention, but these dudes are the ones building the spam engine, PG was just one of many investors in the company. We can't know how much of this he knew beforehand, but he says he's investigating, which isn't even the point. I'm sure PG was keen on investigating this without everyone pointing fingers at him like he made the decision to create this spamware.

louischatriot 1 day ago 0 replies      
When beginning working on our current startup, we decided to switch from Windows to Linux to make development easier. I was planning to keep a partition with Windows but I soon found out how being on Linux I didn't have to worry about shit like this anymore. Needless to say I don't use Windows anymore.
j_s 1 day ago 0 replies      
I want to see the pitch deck that got these guys into YC
mcgwiz 1 day ago 1 reply      
These products exploit/capitalize on computer illiteracy. That's not something I would personally be proud of, but computer illiteracy is the real problem here. Products like this can ultimately accelerate the correction of computer illiteracy.

That correction can come in the form of greater mainstream cultural impetus for computer literacy training, for operating system developerrs to prevent these types of actions (app stores of all platforms are decent at this), or by creating/expanding a market for products that intercept and neutralize this type of exploitation.

The more efficient the means of exploiting computer illiteracy, the sooner the exploit is, in some way, neutralized.

hakaaak 1 day ago 0 replies      
I absolutely despise crapware, google or ask toolbars, etc. that are bundled with installers, however if there is a market for it and there is no law against it, it will happen.

And once Google/etc. one day has everyone's credit card info and charges us more often, I could totally see items starting to be added ala Vistaprint (if you've used Vistaprint you almost certainly know what I'm talking about) like magazine trial subscriptions, etc.

The more the economy sinks and people are less willing to spend, the more crap will get dumped on us. Fact of life.

madaxe 1 day ago 0 replies      
They're also guilty of apostrophe crime. Advertiser's. Please. Advertisers'.


Suan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been trying to think what is the root cause of this sad state of affairs on Windows. Attacking the scammers is not going to work since obviously their scams are profitable (and legal enough to get away with...)

Is it (the lack of) education among users? I find it curious that when compared to financial products, where improving financial education is often brought up as a solution, there's a lot less mention of education when it comes to cases like these. Sadly this kind of "don't fall for these scams" computing education is not very transferrable to more productive uses of computing.

In a free market, if users stop falling for this crap (admittedly a tall order on Windows) then the scammers will naturally go out of business.

leeskye 1 day ago 0 replies      
These guys raised eyebrows a couple years back on Joel Splosky's Business of Software blog: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.837817.1...
Shorel 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's just another Softonic. That's not 'the future'. Just the annoying present.
venomsnake 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well, a lot of education about sandboxie or similar software to the users and making the app recovery process more precise and this company is dead.

Any business model based on annoying and abusing your users is not viable in the long term.

jheriko 1 day ago 0 replies      
part of the problem is that, despite wishful thinking to the contrary windows is /the only/ large platform for desktops and the Windows 8 App Store might as well not exist, so the 'app store' argument is fundamentally flawed.

worse though is that this kind of stuff has ever been tolerated. its obviously shady... tricky adverts and sneaky buttons should be just as illegal as any other con or fraud. then they would not exist.

spyder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any tools to block these installers for a computer illiterate user but still allow non-crapware installers?
songzme 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a windows 8 user, I sort of expected that Windows would protect me from crapware bundles, especially since that was what destroyed my windows 7, vista, and all my previous windows experience. I guess not.
aegiso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I cling to the hope that there's something I'm not seeing here, but I fear that might not be the case.

All I see is a business model that on top of being reprehensible, is completely out of whack with the times, and even if successful promises to cannibalize itself out of existence by destroying any remnant of faith that Windows user still have in the Wild West of freely downloadable native Windows apps.

Please, let not today be remembered as the day that YC jumped the shark.

tyang 1 day ago 0 replies      
The future is now, apparently.
redthrowaway 1 day ago 2 replies      
>Whether your moral compass disagrees with this or not, it's a legitimate business

My mother's proliferation of "helpful" toolbars in FF says otherwise. Whichever way you slice it, this is simply a way to prey on uninformed users and shittify their experience. Sure, there's a demand for it. That doesn't make it right.

>I'm sure they do everything to ensure the bloatware is just that, and not malware.

Well that's a giant relief. So InstallMonetizer is only selling your IP and MAC (!) to advertisers, instead of selling your CC number to the Russian mob. Cheers to small victories.

languagehacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't honestly expect me to read an entire article written by someone who would use a "sarcasm mark" -- do you?
kawsper 1 day ago 5 replies      
> Although the company claims it is all “non-personally identifiable data”, according to its website this surprisingly includes not only IP but the globally unique MAC addresses.

Enough with the scare tactics. A Mac adress is not, in any way, globally unique.

The Truth About Aaron Swartz's "Crime" unhandled.com
827 points by secalex  4 days ago   89 comments top 17
ghshephard 4 days ago 5 replies      
I wasn't aware the closet was unlocked. And apparently used by a homeless guy to store his stuff. So, even the bare minimum real crime that I thought he was guilty of (Breaking into a closet) which is a crime serviceable by community service in this context - turns out not to have occurred.

I've been sad all morning. Reading this article just makes me angry.

zaidf 4 days ago 1 reply      
To people wondering if prosecutors have a choice, they absolutely do. I was recipient of an NSF check of over $10,000 from a guy with a history of writing bad checks(a criminal offense). It is a clear cut case with ample proof and victims. Yet the DA's office in neither NYC or San Francisco has taken action against him for over a year.

Meanwhile the guy continues to scam more and more people, pushing one woman to brink of shutting down her business. I know because I made a site(http://cliffkaplanfraud.com) and the stories that trickle in are gut wrenching and infuriating.

So yes, the DA's office seems to have a lot of power to pursue someone unlike what some people here suggest.

SoftwareMaven 4 days ago 0 replies      
I very seriously considered MIT for my undergrad work, including doing the requisite alumni interview. I eventually decided the nation's 16th ranked computer science program was good enough, especially since they wanted to pay for me.

This whole time, I've had a piece of me that wished I'd done it (a very small piece, since 1/2 of my kids were born in that timeframe). Today is the first day when I can honestly say I'm glad I'm in no way associated with MIT.

todayiamme 4 days ago 3 replies      
The only conclusion I can draw from his life and the events leading up to his demise is that he must have upset someone deeply entrenched in the circles of power. Otherwise the witch-hunt just doesn't make any sense. After all ask yourself what motive did the prosecutor possess for going after him like that?
antr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Of all the great stories and memories on Aaron that have been shared all day today, I believe this story is the one that the general public should really read. Until yesterday, most Aaron vs USA stories had a negative angle on Aaron, and this one really shines a light on the ridiculous witch-hunt lead by the US Attorney.
larrys 4 days ago 2 replies      
"I know a criminal hack when I see it, and Aaron's downloading of journal articles from an unlocked closet is not an offense worth 35 years in jail."

Prosecutors regularly ask for outrageous sentences which from my observation are rarely granted.

Here is the case of Mark Drier. Government asked for 150 years, he got 20 years:


Michael Miliken theoretically could have faced 520 years:


This is what happened (he got 10 and that was reduced):


VikingCoder 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't remember a specific incident, but I'm fairly certain I've done things more "inconsiderate" than this.

Cripes, this reads like something Larry and Sergey would have done in the early days of Backrub (later Google), not something that you get prosecuted for and face the possibility of 35 years in jail for.

mburshteyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
The 9th circuit, followed by the 4th, has been limiting the CFAA's scope precisely due to the concern about prosecutorial abuse and criminalizing simple unauthorized system access. I wonder if this case would have moved forward if the alleged events happened in San Francisco.

From US v. Nosal, 676 F. 3d 854 (9th Cir.):

"The government assures us that, whatever the scope of the CFAA, it won't prosecute minor violations. But we shouldn't have to live at the mercy of our local prosecutor. Cf. United States v. Stevens, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 1577, 1591, 176 L.Ed.2d 435 (2010) ("We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the Government promised to use it responsibly."). And it's not clear we can trust the government when a tempting target comes along. Take the case of the mom who posed as a 17-year-old boy and cyber-bullied her daughter's classmate. The Justice Department prosecuted her under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C) for violating MySpace's terms of service, which prohibited lying about identifying information, including age. See United States v. Drew, 259 F.R.D. 449 (C.D.Cal.2009). Lying on social media websites is common: People shave years off their age, add inches to their height and drop pounds from their weight. The difference between puffery and prosecution may depend on whether you happen to be someone an AUSA has reason to go after.

In United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931, 108 S.Ct. 2751, 101 L.Ed.2d 788 (1988), the Supreme Court refused to adopt the government's broad interpretation of a statute because it would "criminalize a broad range of day-to-day activity." Id. at 949, 108 S.Ct. 2751. Applying the rule of lenity, the Court warned that the broader statutory interpretation would "delegate to prosecutors and juries the inherently legislative task of determining what type of ... activities are so morally reprehensible that they should be punished as crimes" and would "subject individuals to the risk of arbitrary or discriminatory prosecution and conviction." Id. By giving that much power to prosecutors, we're inviting discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement."

*disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

doe88 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's even lower than what I expected. I remember having read one time there was allegedly a copied cookie involved (which already wasn't what I would call a hack), but it seems that's not even the case. I'm astonished how such a small offense could bring such huge charges.
ojbyrne 4 days ago 0 replies      
The other stories were sad, but this one is disgusting. I hope that Aaron's death actually changes things.
jacoblyles 4 days ago 0 replies      
This article misses the main point. Even if he did break locks and crack authentication, what he did would still be morally right.
Yaa101 4 days ago 0 replies      
The United States are broken beyond repair, this is just the beginning of the shitstorm of corruption that has been building up since the end of the 19th century.
d0m 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this the reason why he committed suicide? As far as I understand, there really was no crime at all. Hell, by these standards, Mark Zuckerberg should get 70 years in prison for downloading some pictures. It's hard to believe he was persecuted for years because of that. Still, a part of me believes there had to be a stronger reason to commit suicide. I mean, we're not talking about a random stranger.. it's Aaron. He's fought all his life for things and menaces way bigger than that. This is odd.
cowsandmilk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Many people have wondered who to point the finger at within MIT. I find it incredibly enlightening that he chooses to point a finger by linking to MIT's Office of the General Counsel.
watmough 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember reading about this 'hack' at the time.

I just can't believe that it ended in Aaron taking his own life. I'm sure anyone paying attention to this will be very angry and sad.

jzone3 4 days ago 2 replies      
Did Aaron release the articles, or just download them? If he released them, using what medium?
jebblue 3 days ago 0 replies      
>> The JSTOR application lacked even the most basic controls to prevent what they might consider abusive behavior

Was he allowed to download the documents? It doesn't matter what controls were in place. The question is basic, did he get something he was not authorized to take?

I want the world to scroll this way magicscroll.net
804 points by rdwallis  5 days ago   298 comments top 142
munificent 5 days ago 11 replies      
This seems to result in a large number of cases where the visual experience is pointless. The line separating the previous and next page is tiny and easy to miss, and I don't see the use in two torn half-pages on screen.

I agree that smooth scrolling long text is hard to read and trips up line scanning, but this UX seems be like playing an cruel game where I have to drag just enough to scroll a whole page. Any more or less and I get a torn page that's even harder to read than normal scrolling.

I have an alternate solution to this problem: just hit space or page down when you're reading a long web page. It scrolls a whole page, with just enough animation to help you track where you are.

kafkaesque 5 days ago 4 replies      
I was born with pretty severe strabismus and underwent a few major eye surgeries throughout my life.

One of the side effects of being born with this condition is missing lines when reading a book. Growing up with computers, I always found it a little difficult to follow long lines of text or the next line as I scroll.

I'm a lot older now and hardly have these problems, if ever at all. I've pretty much perfected guessing varying levels of depth perception, I guess, as this effects my stereoscopic vision. I'm not sure what goes on at the neurological level or 'lower level', however.

Anyway, you don't know how natural it felt to read this. It almost worked too well, so I would like to test it out a little more before, just because I'm a natural sceptic.

Regardless, kudos on this great work and creative thinking.

And yes, it almost did feel like words 'moved' a little sometimes when I was a child and was still developing strong optic/extraocular muscles. It is difficult to explain/articulate, especially since it happened such a long time ago and I'm working from memory, though.

jiaaro 5 days ago 9 replies      
Honestly... this made things confusing without improving my reading ability.

a lot of people actually like scrolling. So many people in fact, that they successfully pressured Apple to add scrolling as an alternative to pagination in iBooks.

I'm one of the people who uses that. I'm trying to be polite, but my honest reaction to this interface was, "oh god, this is awful," when I tried to use the mouse to scroll the page.

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 1 reply      
Its a neat experiment. It reminded me of the scroll wars of yore, when the VT100 came out it had "smooth scroll" as an option vs "jump scroll" and there were long and heated debates about which was better. I personally found 'jump scroll' better but that was just me.

The moving bar revealing text is ok for keeping text from moving but it feels weird when part of the page is from one page and another part is from another. Reading with the arrows to just 'flip' the pages worked better for me.

Because the 'next' page starts at the top, it creates pagination / layout issues when a paragraph is split between the top and bottom of the page with the scroll line. This is tolerable in page flips because the previous part of the paragraph is gone, but distracting in partially turned pages.

All in all it was an interesting thing to look at and think about though.

msutherl 5 days ago 2 replies      
1. One downside of this interface is that it's difficult to keep track of where you are. The scroll metaphor is broken and the pagination metaphor is not fully implemented (you need an indicator of where you are, like pages in a real book). The percentage indicator doesn't cut it.

2. Control feels too fine. It's too easy to lose your place and mental effort needs to be devoted to properly placing the page divider. I would like to see a version that scrolls in discrete steps by line, perhaps with a little smoothing by way of animation. This would also give you a new feature: using the divider as a reading aid as people often do with rulers and real books.

Think of it this way: you have two controls, page turn and pixel-advance. What is a control with granularity somewhere between those interfaces that combines some of the advantages of both for navigating?

3. I'm not convinced by the divider. I think it either needs to communicate a visual metaphor, perhaps implying that the new page comes out on top of the current page using shadows, or just needs to be softer using blurring or fading the adjacent text out to white. And I don't think you should be able to cut a line of text in half (addressed in (2)).

huggah 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is great! I'm glad you're experimenting. I don't like this particular experiment, however. I far prefer using space / page down to handle a page of text at a time. I don't see much benefit to your method instead, and among other things, I miss having consistent visual anchors when I read.
artursapek 5 days ago 3 replies      
Do you have evidence to support your claim that the true problem is moving words? I'm really not convinced. I feel especially with OS X's inertial scrolling that I can naturally keep track of where I am in an article while scrolling, it has never bothered me.

This just feels like fancy pagination. I tried partially scrolling ahead as I was reading and it disoriented me further, because the upcoming text was showing up at the top, behind where my eyes were, replacing the old text. This is confusing and not better.

pertinhower 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nice idea, badly implemented.

The interface teaches me how to use it very badly. The most obvious interface clues are the arrows to either side of the page, but these work in the usual manner (hopping from page to page), so they distract me from the heart of your interface.

When I do happen to mousewheel, I can't immediately understand what that does. Am I moving myself or a divider? Why is the divider coming from the top? What's above the divider? Why is it snapping like that, instead of scrolling smoothly? The snapping erects a level of indirection between my (smooth) wheel movement and the movement of the divider, which obscures my ability to understand what's happening. I can't decide whether to scroll upwards or downwards"which is "forwards?"

Why is there a white page "behind" the text if I scroll the divider upwards? Is that what's on the next page or the previous page? Why are you showing me a white page?

The sense that I'm reading downward yet new text comes from above feels very strange. I see how you've ended up here, but it's highly unintuitive. Alas, it's also fundamental to your concept, so whether the concept lives or dies (once all other problems are removed) is a question of whether people can adapt to this spatial "warp."

The "snappy" movement of the page divider line feels clunky. Move per pixel, in immediate response to mouse wheel (or touch drag?) movement"preferably with inertia"definitely not per line.

This is not the way I want the world to scroll. But I see where you're going: leaving the text in place makes sense, and if you're going to do that then using a divider from the top follows inevitably. So the idea is worthwhile, but this implementation is its own enemy.

Jabbles 5 days ago 2 replies      
What benefit does this have over scrolling = next page? Your eyes have to refocus on the top of the page anyway, you might as well have refreshed the whole text, not just the top line of the second line.

Interesting idea though - what does this do on a touch device?

Dove 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not an improvement for me.

I almost always keep what I'm reading near the top of the screen. I like to be able to scan ahead, read the lead lines on coming paragraphs, see how close I am to the end of the sentence/paragraph/chapter, or even just track my position in the larger context of the piece. Pagination disrupts that near the bottom of a page.

I can live with pagination if I have to, but I much prefer to scroll. It's interesting, because maximizing the size of my look-ahead viewport leads me to make the opposite optimization: I like my text to move a lot.

Sandman 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if this is really an improvement. With traditional scrolling, my eyes stay at about the same position while I scroll. With this scrolling, however, after I've finished reading the last line, I need to look up again. And when I scroll backwards, I need to constantly remind myself to look down after I've read the topmost line. Traditional scrolling doesn't brake the reading rhythm (at least in my case), but this one does.
liber8 5 days ago 0 replies      
This could help to read faster, but as is, it does not. By leaving the last page visible, it makes the screen cluttered, and actually harder to read.

If, upon starting to scroll, the previous page were either whited-out entirely, or the contrast was greatly reduced, I think this would be much better.

nlawalker 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great experiment.

Everyone reads differently and looks for different things in a reading experience (if you couldn't already tell by the comments). I remember once when I was in elementary school, a teacher suggested to kids that were having trouble focusing or who were losing their place that they should use a piece of paper to obscure everything below the line they were reading and slide it down the page as they went. For reading on a screen, reflowing and resizable text can helped greatly with focus and "losing place" problems (I love Readability), but the "scroll line" concept you've got here has the potential to maybe go a bit further.

I think that if you blanked out everything below the scroll line, or everything below a good-sized margin of it (so as to preserve some of the text from the previous "page", to enable a bit of bouncing back and forth), you'd have a pretty good, functional recreation of that, and some people might find it pretty useful.

Cass 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't find it the least bit hard to read on the web, and traditional scrolling has never interfered with my reading pleasure, but I'm pretty excited about the fact that if I can get the scroll speed right on this thing, I can probably use this to read in bed on cold winter mornings without ever having to move a hand out from under my warm blankets to hit the pagedown key.

(I know I could use automatic scrolling for the same purpose, but I don't like it when the text is constantly moving.)

DanBC 5 days ago 0 replies      
I sort of really like this.

I want a progress bar at the bottom, with filled and unfilled segments. (Or for that to be an option.) I'd like the 'transition ruler bar thing' to be bigger, maybe a 3 pixel feathering would be enough. And it'd be nice if I could have some customisation over speed. It was very fast, which is good, but I think I want some kind of acceleration style movement in there?

Somehow I got stuck at 99.99%, which is going to be frustrating for some people!

Anyway, it's neat.

mistercow 5 days ago 0 replies      
What I really want is almost the exact opposite of this. For long text, I want smart autoscroll that uses eye-tracking to keep me from ever having to make a manual adjustment. If my eyes are pointed at the bottom of the screen, speed up the scroll, and if they're at the top of the screen, slow down/reverse. With this kind of feedback system, the eye tracking doesn't even need to be all that precise.

I've used Enable Viacam (http://eviacam.sourceforge.net/index.php) to sort of do this using head tracking, but you don't really move your head that much when reading, and it's too sensitive to changes in seating position.

If this could be implemented correctly, I think the result would be a superior reading experience to any alternative so far.

jackolas 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fundamentally wrong understanding of how reading works. This way may be ideal for close reading but full speed reading needs the whole page and the ability to bounce around visually.
alan_cx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Right, I really hated this when I first looked at it and did some scrolling. However, when I used it in conjunction with actual reading, it worked rather well. Long term, I don't know.

However, one thing I would like to see is the bar fading the text in and out as it scrolls. Both or one, I don't know. I found the bar too harsh. Im not saying it would be better, I'd just like to try it out to see.

Also, I'd like to see adobe reader do this. See if that improves the experience.

jonknee 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you want the world to scroll in a new way, you need to support mobile. Desktops are quickly becoming legacy devices, especially for reading.

I undertstand from the comments that it does something differently when you have a scroll wheel, but since I am on a touch based device I just see arrows for forward and backward and a remarkably small amount of text on each "page". It's infuriating to use.

delinka 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nope. Because I like to keep the content I'm actually reading this instant in the middle third of the screen whenever it's possible. Physical media prevent this. It's a computer, it's made to serve me, that's how I like it.

While we're on scrolling, I want my browser to act the right way all the time: I hate that scrolling becomes zooming on maps-- hate, hate, hate. I want scroll to pan the map.

May I continue on this path that's headed off topic? The backspace/delete key is not navigation - don't navigate history when I backspace; because sometimes, the text field gets defocused, I think I'm about to delete text and blam previous page and my form filling was for naught.


nhebb 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not seeing the navigation buttons or the hot key display in FF 18. I had to open it in Chrome to see what the fuss was about. It's not a bad implementation, but I prefer normal scrolling.
christiangenco 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like it. My current method of reading a long body of text is to keep my current position at the top of the page and scroll down line by line. With this, my eyes follow down the page with the black bar refreshing to the next page scrolling right behind them, then at the end my eyes jump back to the top and the scroll bar loops.

It worked really well for me, was a really pleasant way to read, and helped me keep my place better. I'll be using this in Chrome.


Edit: After using it to read a few articles, here are some additional thoughts.

* I don't have to be as vigilant with scrolling to keep my position (at the top of the page, in my previous method). I can track where I am on the page based on its vertical position, because that's not changing anymore.

* I wish the bar were more visible. I want to be able to track it in my periphery.

* I can scroll up on the first page. I shouldn't be able to.

* The reversed scroll direction in Mac OS X 10.8 doesn't make sense anymore. I feel like I should be controlling the bar. Perhaps reverse the scroll direction?

eob 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me pagination is one of the big things keeping HTML back from being a replacement to LaTeX[1]. Would others agree with that statement? I know academics aren't exactly the major "customer" of W3C standards committees, but it would be interesting to see HTML6/CSS4 try to introduce the pagination and layout commands necessary to make it a viable contender.

1. When I say HTML, I mean HTML + a host of CSS and Javascript libraries

EGreg 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't call this scrolling, I would call this revealing.

Scrolling actually is continuous (think of a scroll being unrolled from the botom and rolled up at the top).

Revealing would be nice for reading forward, and I have to admit that I feel a sense of accomplishment and control when revealing further text. And as a result, I read more of the page!

But the psychological aspect of revealing things can also be done with scrolling, for example the parallax pages such as NikeBetterWorld (now taken down but you can see it at http://www.ianlunn.co.uk/demos/recreate-nikebetterworld-para...) and Ben the Bodyguard and the other sites here: http://webdesigncrowd.com/websites-unique-scrolling-adventur...

As you reveal more of the world in a novel way, you feel a sense of curiosity. Once the novelty wears off, though, you are left right back there with the content.

The key to revealing things is that you are more focused on the new stuff instead of the old. In this sense, I agree tha the revealing is better than scrolling, because when scrolling, you don't immediately focus on the new stuff. Instead, the old and some of the new stuff is all a big blur until you stop scrolling. That breaks your concentration.

However, as someone pointed out, revealing is not good for "scrolling back up". That is an important point. Revealing is a different psychological phenomenon.

To summarize: revealing is not scrolling. Revealing is about using a novel method of showing new content, always de-emphasizing the old one (in Ben the Bodyguard, for instance, new things move but the old things stay still). Revealing is good for presenting information in a forward direction, and wears off with the novelty of the method. The web shouldn't all scroll this way.

Kilimanjaro 5 days ago 0 replies      
While I applaud creative thinking, I want to say no, thanks.

I hate scrolling to be honest, I lose concentration when everything moves and kind of makes me dizzy.

I like some ways I've seen on the ipad to paginate info without scrolling. No, I hate the pagination effect.

So, in essence, no scrolling, no visual distraction, just show me a page on the screen, then the next, then the next.

Like a magazine.

It is your business, as web designer, to fit content in a page and auto adjust it to my resolution, without breaking the intended relation between text and images, and without distracting me.

Like a book.

rdwallis 5 days ago 1 reply      
The bookmarklet & chrome extension are partly based on readability.js.

The code is open source and available at https://github.com/rdwallis/MagicScrollWebReader if you want to have a poke at it.

charlieok 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think there is something to be said for having some kind of visual element whose job it is to track "where the reader is in the text".

Lacking this, I (and I suspect many others) improvise by using a mouse selection, and constantly growing the selection by shift-clicking. This breaks if the UI has messed with the relevant UI events (e.g. disabling selection or popping up something on mouse clicks).

I wouldn't mind some controls for this designed specifically around the activity of reading. Maybe tap to advance one sentence or one paragraph. Keep the current paragraph entirely in view (unless it's too big; then keep the current sentence entirely in view). Shift the text a paragraph at a time. Make it advance both the marker and the text, so the reader doesn't have to manage those two things separately.

I'd especially like a good tablet solution to this, since reading is my primary activity on a tablet, and there's no mouse in that case.

cryptoz 5 days ago 1 reply      
I accidentally clicked my mouse on page load and all content disappeared. There was absolutely no indication of how to get it back. I do not want the world to scroll this way.
scott_s 5 days ago 1 reply      
Compared with print, you're less likely to finish the article, you'll read it slower, you'll skip over sentences and your comprehension will go down.

Not for me. I am far more likely to finish a news article on the web - with a physical newspaper, I read the beginning of many front page stories, but don't always flip to the rest of it. The rest of the claims are quite dubious.

It's a neat technology, one which I may like for books. But not for articles. I prefer having it all "there."

mwill 5 days ago 1 reply      
I dislike pagination, honestly, and find the scrolling effect a little too jarring.

However the scrolling effect DID actually remind me of my own natural behaviour. I tend to either randomly selecting and unselecting the paragraph I'm focusing on, or highlighting the first paragraph and holding the mouse button down, to incrementally select the text on a page as I read it/scroll.

At first glance I could maybe see myself enjoying this scroll effect minus the pagination, where the text still scrolled upwards but the page had a 'reading line' near the top that showed content above it dulled.

ebbv 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is nice for people who want it, and it might be better for reading on phones (but that will require testing to confirm.)

For reading on a large enough display (laptop, desktop or even any newer tablet), I think it's unnecessary. The way I read on these devices doesn't involve scrolling very often. I read like I do on print, but scrolling replaces the page turn much like it does on his. I don't read text while I'm scrolling usually, I'll read what's on the page, then scroll it to give me a new chunk to read. It's not a big deal at all.

randallsquared 5 days ago 1 reply      
Hitting space to page down/over doesn't. Instead it starts a very slow scroll. Hitting space again stops it, so it almost seems intentional, but in any case it breaks the most common scroll method for me. Mac 10.6.8/Chrome 23.0.x.
zabraxias 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a truly great experiment since it revisits something we've typically considered "solved". The current experience behaves a bit "jaggy" and slow but the core idea behind this is fantastic.

I would love to see where further iterations of magicscroll would go. Slightly disappointed by the extremely skeptical HN responses though...reminds me of the stuffy old science committee in Futurama.

Groxx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ehhh... neat setup (I've wanted to try such a thing for a while) and a good implementation, but especially with such large text and vertical spacing it makes it noticeably more awkward to read because my eyes need to travel bottom-to-top many times. Scrolling lets me go side to side without as much movement. And yes, spacebar to go down a page works pretty well too.

All that said, it could just be that it's new. I'll happily try the extension for a while (thanks! makes it a lot easier to try out) and report on things later :)

One detail does jump out at me: I would prefer a gap between 'bottom' and 'top' so I can park the separator out of sight. I might just be obsessing with keeping a 'clean' page, but I do find myself trying to do so.

ansible 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like this scrolling scheme a lot better if there was some physical feedback on my mouse. Basically, I'd like there to be a little detent feeling at the end of the page, so that I know when I'd scrolled a complete page.

Without a force-feedback mouse... I guess I'd prefer if there was a little bit of "edge resistance" or something going from one page to the next.

Otherwise, I'm OK with just hitting page-down to go to the next part of the page. It would be nice if browsers were a little smarter, and tried to not cut off text at the top edge. So in other words, when you hit page-down, you will see a complete line of text at the top.

jere 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some men just want to watch the world scroll.

No seriously, this is great. An unexpected advantage is that's it is actually harder to skim. You're encouraged instead to read things thoroughly. I, for one, skim articles way too much.

klibertp 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure about it. When one reads about speed reading techniques it seems that the thing that limits the reading speed (if you're advanced enough) is actually (physically) flipping pages... Repositioning one's eyes from the end of one page to the beginning of another takes time too, I'm not convinced that it's the best way to read.

Do we have someone who is proficient in speed reading? I would be very interested in opinion of such a person: is paging and associated flipping of pages making speed reading harder or easier than scrolling?

iota 5 days ago 0 replies      
A drop shadow under the scroll boundary would be a nice way to differentiate between what's on the "bottom" page and the new content on "top."
scrumper 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yuk, but kudos for trying it out and I can imagine that you're not the only one who will like this.
undershirt 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! I think this is a remarkable alternative scrolling method. Instead of the current "camera-panning" across a single long page, this "unrolls" the next page over the previous.

It matches the aesthetic of a printed book, but differently through this "unrolling" model. I think it's a great blend between a book and a single screen. The words are fixed, but you still have the smooth moving window of what's before and after your current sentence.

And perhaps this is less important but neat: it allows you to remember where certain passages were by position on the page since they don't move.

Great job on this. I'll be trying it out in the coming weeks.

jrabone 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice idea but it breaks horribly if you have a smooth / bouncy scroll plugin (like Chromium Wheel Smooth Scroller) installed. I don't know if it's easy to detect plugins in Chrome any more, but if you can't you might want to mention that somewhere up front. The one I use has a button in the browser UI to turn it off on a given page.
mapleoin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Going back and forth between your page and HN by using the browser button doesn't return me to the exact same place I left on your page. Traditional scrolling does that, though. I wonder if that would be easy to implement without a browser extension.
jeremyarussell 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say. When I go to the news sites I usually peruse it cleans things up nicely for me. Taking away the side images and garbage I generally don't care about when reading news. And replacing it with a cleaner, more streamlined, article. I'm one of the people that dig words that don't move, I read books a lot though, and when I read ebooks I don't like scrolling, I like "turning" the pages. I'll be keeping this bookmarklet on my computers.
BSeward 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is cool! An interesting experiment.

I think a quick shadow does a lot to give the divider some heft and alleviate concerns about visual ambiguity between foreground and background page.

It would look something like http://cl.ly/image/2N3B2V2d2L3W pardon the wonky #ss_topPage). It can be done in CSS (+ two empty divs, uh) with small effort. To me it feels like the most usable skeuomorphic hint you could drop.

magoon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool idea!

I use <spacebar> and <shift-spacebar> when reading the web; paging up/down is more comfortable for me than scrolling.

Kindle is also excellent for reading because it uses distinct pages. I set my text large and columns narrow, then it's easy to speed-read by scanning my eyes down. It results in many more page turns, but it results in faster reading and less strain.

Buzaga 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just to balance the negative choir, I really liked this, it felt more natural, maybe there's a thing or two that could be improved, but it's really good...

Personally, I can't find a comforting way to read on the web(and I read a lot), most of the time I'll go selecting text(sometimes with the keyboard, sometimes with the pointer) but then it will feel tiring or weird doing that and I'll switch to just scrolling bit-a-bit, but then I'll start losing track of the line I'm at and go back to selecting, I feel this approach is much better than this.

quanticle 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with this solution is that

page breaks tend to occur in awkward places,

which makes you jump back and forth between pages.

lukehorvat 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like having control over my scrolling and being able to see the structure of a document at first glance. One can often quickly locate where the "meat" of a document will be just by looking at its structure, and scanning the first line of each paragraph.

I also frequently go back and re-read previous lines when I'm reading, because I sometimes just don't absorb things on first-pass. The auto-scrolling line needlessly introduces an urgency to the reading experience that I don't particularly enjoy. Sure, you can pause it, but then that is something you consciously have to think about doing while reading. "Free scrolling" doesn't introduce any extra thinking, because you do it subconsciously most of the time.

So, no, I don't find this particular useful or innovative.

A better solution? A scrolling system that tracks your eye movements in conjunction with a sophisticated AI to adapt to your preferred scrolling behaviour over time.

wtracy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thinking out loud here: Being able to click and drag (or swipe on a touch device) on the divider itself would be helpful.

And I agree with the comments that the divider itself doesn't provide enough of a visual cue about what's going on. I'd either go with the drop shadow suggestion, or play with a thicker divider that feels like a physical object.

znowi 5 days ago 0 replies      
First off, I don't share the sentiment that "it's hard to read on the web". I'm doing just fine. The only time I grumble is when text reflow fails or I have to go through n pages to read an article.

Static "newspaper" text is a neat idea and we already have this functionality - page turn. But marrying it with scrolling is confusing. I just don't see an advantage here.

loftsy 5 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of negativity in the comments. I for one really like this. No loss of focus when scrolling and no flicker from clicking 'next page'. Great idea.
graeme 5 days ago 0 replies      
Scroll speed seems fast compared to everything else I do. I have max scroll speed on OS X. It would be good to be able to adjust the reader's speed.

Neat idea.

geon 5 days ago 0 replies      
The point of scrolling would be to exploit the visual/spatial center of the brain to give you a sense of context. You know where you are, relative to all other content.

This experiment feels like set of slides, and i don't necessarily feel where I am as I click back and forth. I feel lost.

heeton 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is horrible :/

I'm getting lost on the page, there's no simple anchor for my eyes. I agree with some of the arguments (scrolling disrupts reading position) but this doesn't fix it.

Iterate some more, perhaps try entire pages moving down to replace the existing page? Something, anything, to give me a better feeling for scrolling through pages.

bloaf 4 days ago 1 reply      
The page is broken in by browser, none of the shortcuts work and I can't scroll with the mousewheel either. In short, it is impossible for me to read beyond the first page.

Firefox 18, Win 8 x64

B-Con 5 days ago 0 replies      
When reading a lot of text, I usually scroll about a page at a time and I scroll once I've read about 80% of the page. I don't have text constantly moving around and breaking my concentration.

Rather than this, I'd rather just have a "80% screen down" scroll option.

orangethirty 5 days ago 0 replies      
Add page numbers with javascript to every page. That way we can keep track of which "page" we are in. That will solve the feeling of being lost.
urlwolf 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now, if I wanted to use this often, I'd need a keyboard shortcut. I haven't found a way to add a keyboard shortcut to an extension that doesn't have one. Ah! but I can trigger the bookmarklet with this extension:

If anyone has a way to trigger extensions, please share.

grannyg00se 5 days ago 0 replies      
I click on the arrows to change pages forward / back - seems typical. I press space bar to scroll forward a page - does nothing. I press j to scroll down a line - does nothing.

I'm missing the magic.

charlesju 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is so much better, but perhaps it would work even better if the text being scrolled in is blank until the full page is scrolled through. It is distracting to see the end of the next page while reading the end of the first page.
MatthewPhillips 5 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me a lot of the attempts to replace QWERTY. A familiar UI is more important than a good UI. (see also: 8, Windows).
jclos 5 days ago 2 replies      
Works perfectly on Chrome (24.0) but nothing happens on Firefox (18.0).
brownbat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, that's what I just asked for!

No idea someone was working on this RIGHT THEN. You are my freaking hero.


norlowski 5 days ago 0 replies      
Needs bigger margin or indication of what the 'last' page was. When it's scrolling down my eyes want to read that line and immediately jump to the middle of the last page, as that is where the line is. Make the last page darker or something.

You also have no idea how long-winded an article is and if you need to tldr;

abcd_f 5 days ago 1 reply      

  Timestamp: 11/01/2013 7:28:33 PM
Error: too much recursion
Source File: http://www.magicscroll.net/staticScroll.js
Line: 751

Firefox 17 on W7

anonymous 5 days ago 0 replies      
100% awful. I can't move the text to centre it vertically on the screen.
Madness64 5 days ago 1 reply      
Another way to make the reading experience much better would be to not use the color black. This article explains pretty well why you should never use this color. http://ianstormtaylor.com/design-tip-never-use-black/
samuellevy 5 days ago 0 replies      
I scroll the page to keep the text I'm reading at a relatively consistent height.

I don't read the entire length of the page before scrolling, I read a paragraph or two before scrolling.

When I read a book, I don't usually put the book in one place then read down it, I'll often move the book up slowly to that it's always in a position to read where my head/neck is comfortable.

I, for one, am glad that the world doesn't scroll this way.

progrock 5 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't really enjoy the scroll, but did like the pagination.

A little tangential:
Xfce has a dictionary applet. That includes a speed reader. Which only displays words, one word at a time in quick succession. It's actually pretty simple to use. And works really well. I wouldn't have thought so. Should add that to smartphones. No scrolling required!

aidenn0 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's wrong with pressing the spacebar (other than the fact that pages with crappy CSS headers will scroll so that you skip an amount of text equal to the height of the header)?
smsm42 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the way that page scrolls is distracting and inconvenient. I am used to getting the next page in one action. Getting only one line per action significantly impairs my reading, and having half of the page cover other half is very confusing.
lubujackson 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can't scroll whatever magical way he intends in Firefox for some reason. I want the world to scroll AT ALL please.
ChrisInToronto 5 days ago 0 replies      
"It might take you a second or two to get used to it but it is better." Says who? While I'm not trying to debunk the claim, I'm curious if there is there any real evidence or proof on this or if it really is just an unfounded boast?

While I agree that stationary text may be easier to focus on the words themselves, I personally find the "magic-scroll" effect makes it harder for me to read. I tend to move my content into the middle of the screen and will occasionally jump back and re-read a paragraph, both of which magic-scroll seems to prevent.

Perhaps it's a user adaptation problem, but it just seems more constrained and less natural to me...

stretchwithme 5 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of refinements that might be useful.

Separate the bottom line of the new page from the top line of the old page with more space.

And also add or remove each line all at once instead of gradually.

fnordfnordfnord 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody seems to care that I have a wide format display, and could easily have two pages side by side (almost like a real book!).
moconnor 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can't read past the first page on my mobile. If the author collected stats, this would be both interesting and obvious.
Anm 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with munificent, with the precision of the scroll in the current implementation, but that seems trivially fixed with a snapping behavior.

There are keyboard short cuts and clickable side arrows to turn the page, though why they decided to override [space] with autoscroll, I cannot comprehend.

The scrolling feels backwards, now that I'm gotten used to Apple's tablet-style reversal on the touchpads. I'm sure this makes sense on a scroll wheel. Not sure if there is a way to detect the default scroll mechanism.

Overall, thumbs up for many long article applications.

dreadsword 5 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't a scroll interaction, its a pagination interaction. I don't think that this breaks up reader's flow any less than scrolling down a page, or turning a physical page in a book. The creator's assertion that "its better, deal with it" is detrimental to their credibility, IMHO.
chaowentan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting solution to this problem. But just like the others, I was confused by the way that the next page overlaps the current page. I think a simpler solution would be to just columnize the text and maximize the usage of all available screen space. So I implemented a Chrome extension to experiment with it.

Shameless plug: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/purify/kjiappjpfpa...

snowwrestler 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you're going to implement full-page scrolling, the animation should go sideways, like it does in a book. That way there is less opportunity to mix up the bottom of page 2 with the top of page 1.
ollysb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I really like it. I'd rather not see the previous page underneath though, the first page doesn't have this(only white space) and it seems far more natural.
jenius 5 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like if there was a gradient fade (white to transparent) above the black line it would make me feel much better. immediately revealing more text just above where I was reading when I scroll kind of confuses me
leed25d 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's is a good idea to be sure and I tried it out on several articles. The extension cause my chrome to lock up a few though, and I really do not have time to diagnose the failure. I hope that you get it working later.
progrock 5 days ago 0 replies      
You can page a webpage with the spacebar. Shift and spacebar to page up. I try not to scroll, because I hate it too, unless I need to look at an image. The browser could magically align and size an image for me, but that's another topic.
da3da 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this would be very nice in an ebook or other long form writing where I need to backtrack to find some earlier reference. Where it doesn't work well is in hierarchical data like HN comments. I installed the chrome extension and used it to read the comments on this posting and it was nearly impossible to use. With things that are arranged hierarchically, such as comments, a single page works better than this, but I do think this will be nice on longer articles or with ebooks.
ScottBurson 5 days ago 0 replies      
This page repeatably crashes the browser in my Android phone (a 2-year-old Evo running 2.3.5).
xavieralexandre 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's one advantage to this way of scrolling most comments seem to miss:
When you go to the next page by hitting Space or Page Down there's an interruption in the flow and you have to refocus at the top of the page once you're finished with the current page.

Here I like the fact than I can already start focusing at the top of the page while finishing to read the page at the bottom.

Weird, yes, but it has at least this advantage over classic pagination display.

lazyGeneral 5 days ago 1 reply      
There is a bug where when I scroll to the next page, all the old text from the previous page still shows. (using latest firefox on OS X)

It would be nice to use this method with some texts I want to read...but definetley not all.

Can't scan.

Probably would be really good to read an academic paper I really want to grasp a second time.

Good experiment!

Edit: (Since it said it was Chrome only...tried it with Chrome, text from previous page still shows up...)

frading 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find that really interesting. And much more relaxing. It took only a couple scrolls to get used to. The only thing I miss when reading an article is getting a global view of it. I usually do that by scrolling all the way down and back up. The percent at the bottom does not fully help I think. Maybe a global view like what sublime text has on the right? (http://www.sublimetext.com/
macspoofing 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't. I think smooth vertical scrolling with inertia, works quite well.
listic 4 days ago 0 replies      
What is the replacement for "Drag the link to your bookmark bar" for those that do not have a bookmark bar?
MMcCormick 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love this. Very smooth in Mac 10.7.5/Chrome 24.0.x. I'm sort of stunned that an annoyance with moving text has never occurred to me consciously.
kriro 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't care if this is usefull or not (I think it probably is).
It's pretty cool.
donniezazen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have started using Evernote Clearly which does good job removing everything from webpage except the content text. It also can highlight and save article in Evernote.
pit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like this a lot. I can't stand those image galleries where the frame resizes itself every time you load a new picture. There's a little bug in Firefox 15.0.1 (sorry, not an Administrator):

1) Advance to the last page -- progress is 99.99%.
2) Go back one page -- progress stays at 99.99%.
3) Go back another page -- progress is 57.08% (which happens to be correct).

lucb1e 5 days ago 0 replies      
> I want the world to scroll this way

I don't. The idea looks revolutionary and fun the first time you try it. Then you scroll back, start to read, and notice it has no advantages.

reillyse 5 days ago 0 replies      
Nice solution, makes reading text online far easier and I read to the end of the article which is something I rarely ever do online.

Because you have a pretty good idea if the person has scrolled to the last page (cause you are tracking it) you should be able to get some metrics on how many people finish the article etc and use it to promote your product.

MaysonL 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any site that works like this is not one I will be visiting more than once without hitting the Readability or Instapaper bookmarklets.
Lendal 5 days ago 3 replies      
Nothing happens. Is this a clever way of saying that nobody should scroll at all on the web? Why is this the top story on HN? Or is this saying that everybody should use Chrome? I don't. I use Firefox and it doesn't do anything either on Windows XP, Windows 7 or Windows 8. I have all three sitting right here. Nothing happens.
Evbn 5 days ago 0 replies      
Totally nonfunctional on Android. Just some giant black boxes and a tiny paragraph of text with hidden page flip buttons.
viraj_shah 5 days ago 0 replies      
This with Instapaper could be a cool combination to create a smooth reading flow while eliminating distractions and saving articles or stories for later.
nemetroid 5 days ago 0 replies      
I felt like the huge font size defeated the purpose here, because I had to move my eyes more than ever. I like the idea though.
egonschiele 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is brilliant! If you can package it into a js library I'd love to use it on my blog!
dakimov 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is so stupid, I even laughed at this. Like one of the dumbest UI-related ideas I've ever seen.
Tyr42 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like it, but I think you need to play with the transition bar a bit more. I keep looking at it.
jakeonthemove 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, it doesn't work for me on Firefox 18 (Adblock and NoScript disabled)...
nosse 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you could do this to pdf, I might be willing to pay little for it.
appleflaxen 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best solution to this problem is to keep your fixation point and move the text.

Implemented beautifully in ForceFeed (http://qwerjk.com/force-feed) which is currently down :(

smurph 5 days ago 0 replies      
How would you handle a piece of content that is too long for 1 page, but doesn't deal well with being broken up? Like a tall infographic or block quote? I just think there are too many failure scenarios for this to take off. It is cool though.
jxdxbx 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like pagination. I use pagination whenever possible available to read on my tablet or phone. I don't use pagination on my normal computer because it doesn't fit in, but I do prefer pagination to scrolling.

But, I don't like this.

jxdxbx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Here's something. This seems to have messed up Reeder for Mac. Any time I try to go to a page from the RSS feed I get a blank page. And if I do an "open this in browser" command I get sent to the magic scrolling page.
icoder 5 days ago 0 replies      
I tried this on a Wikipedia page and realised why scrolling is awesome: overview. I also realised why I often don't read long texts from my screen: I don't want to. I want find the answer to my question asap.
quarterto 5 days ago 0 replies      
Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving.
eldavido 5 days ago 0 replies      
The news apps in Windows 8 do this out of the box.
tehwebguy 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been a pretty big fan of the Reader button on mobile Safari, this looks even better.
keithgabryelski 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is a reason the world doesn't scroll this way.
It looks horrible and adds no real value.
A split screen with smooth scrolling is far superior and far more natural UI
kercker 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is always some text at the bottom of the screen, which make it hard for me to read.

This is the reason why I am not so much into this scrolling.

rcb 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is very clever. The autoscrolling feature is strongly reminiscent of reading text from dial-up bulletin board systems at low baud rates (300-2400).
boringkyle 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did you just compare scrolling to a black swan? :-)

A good effort, I didn't realize it was a pitch for the magicscroll extension till I read it a few times.

vbl 5 days ago 0 replies      
So it's basically incremental paging with a lot more work.
lurkinggrue 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did not like this and not obvious. I was just clicking on the arrows to page though.

Only after reading the comments I went back and used a scroll wheel. The lack of any feedback that you could scroll was annoying.

graham_king_3 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's amazing. So much easier to read. I too, now want the world to scroll this way.

Hopefully this will trigger innovation in scrolling.

cra 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dammit this is so awesome!! I was just thinking of similar concept for my blog. I think I now, what I'm going to do this weekend :)
schiang 5 days ago 0 replies      
It might be better to just have a horizontal line to show you where you are. The rest of the visual experience is kind of unnecessary.
mbetter 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't get to the second page.
BigNuts 5 days ago 0 replies      
I hate it but i love the fact you have tried it
hackintosher 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, an idea: have it on tablet or phones with eye tracking so we don't have to set the # of chars/sec. Brilliant idea!
chrisdes 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like it, but few lines at the end of first page are truncated. But rest of the pages are just fine. Good work though.
aiculedssul 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was confused for a few seconds while reading this on my portrait monitor: it just shows the whole page at once.
servercobra 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ctrl + F doesn't work as expected. And even if it did, it would be a very odd, jumpy experience.
tonylemesmer 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to be broken on Android. Clicking on the arrow makes everything disappear.
murgle 5 days ago 0 replies      
omg, the scrolling line was so painfully slow, why is this the top hn story.
ako 4 days ago 0 replies      
I do most of my reading on a tablet, how do i use the hotkeys?
lysol 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an effect, not a functionality.
zsoltgyongyosi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Where can I insert insults? In the first minute of my interaction with this site, I had to face it, there is no easy way to express my negative thoughts, even thought there were many. If this is the future, I should change career...
molsongolden 5 days ago 0 replies      
Black screen in IE 9?
TommyDANGerous 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is super duper awesome, how can I incorporate it into a web app?
justplay 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing . I liked it ,its brilliant.
CrankyPants 5 days ago 0 replies      
You want the world to be incredibly annoying?
chinchang 5 days ago 0 replies      
simply kewl! It makes reading so natural.
carter_harwood 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome!!!
TootsMagoon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Petition the Whitehouse to remove Carmen Ortiz from office whitehouse.gov
778 points by olefoo  4 days ago   231 comments top 54
danso 4 days ago 20 replies      
Some more context about the prosecutor:

She was named "Bostonian of the Year" for her successful cases against mob bosses and drug companies:

Out of the 94 U.S. DA offices, her office alone collected ~67% of the total criminal and civil fines in 2012, mostly owing to the successful prosecution of drug companies. Her success led to speculation that she would run for higher office:

She is no stranger to being part of a disenfranchised group, as she was the first Hispanic and first woman to hold the position of U.S. attorney in Boston. Her first internship was with the DOJ's public integrity unit, created after Watergate:

She's not of the "evil prosecutor" mold as is commonly thought and her background, particularly her history of fighting white-collar crime and corporations, doesn't strike me as someone who is intent on screwing the little guy over. That said, the seemingly-excessive charges could stem from a result of misconception and, let's face it, technological ignorance (hacking sounds bad, period). But in solving the overall problem in the justice system, let's not attribute to malice what can be attributed to other issues just yet.

One edit: a link to a piece by Aaron on yelling at the machine, rather than the person:

My intent is not to say that the petition is wrong, but to argue that if people are going to call for action, call it for the right and productive reasons, rather than simplifying cause and effect to just one main person (even if the buck technically stops with her).

lmkg 4 days ago 8 replies      
While Cameron Ortiz' actions towards Aaron Swartz were unjust, I think that she is receiving an unduly large share of the ire, and as a result, several other agents and factors in this scenario are receiving an unduly small share. While I don't particularly want to defend her, I believe that a) justice is never served well by a lynch mob b) other actors are more deserving of blame, and by focusing on Ortiz we give them a get-out-of-jail-free card that involves throwing her under the bus.

Ortiz was prosecuting Aaron for actions that are, in fact, crimes, as defined by US law. That's her job, that's her responsibility, and 95+% of the time she is serving the public interest by performing that task. Creating just laws is not her responsibility, it is someone else's. Specifically, it is Congress' responsibility, and they fucked up big-time. They deserve dragging over the coals as much as she does, as do the interests interests who benefit from restricted access to knowledge who lobbied for the creation of these laws. If our reaction to these events is to remove Ortiz, but leave in place the laws themselves and those responsible for their creation, I would call that a failure on our part to hold responsible those who are responsible.


Intentionally separating this part.

While I do think that Ortiz is in the wrong for using bullying tactics, I do not place much blame on her for prosecuting according to an unjust law. For better or worse, that (fucking terrible) law was enacted by a democratically-elected government. I expect her to prosecute based on the laws enacted by a fair democratic process, and not based on her personal views. To do otherwise, I would consider an abuse of power.

She had faith that the laws given to her to uphold were just. In this respect, she was let down by those she depended on. While I wish she had not chosen to prosecute, I do not consider it a failing of hers that she did so. I pile far more blame on Congress than anyone, because it was their responsibility to make sure that the laws are just and fair. While several parties acted in a fashion I disagree with, they are the ones who had the greatest expectation to do otherwise.

Again, that is entirely separate from the bullying tactics she used in prosecution. Those actions are not defensible.

overgard 4 days ago 2 replies      
To the people suggesting pinning the blame on a person is ignoring the systemic issues, let me point out this: you can do both. We can both recognize that the system is broken while still recognizing that we need to make it plainly obvious how disappointed we are in the people running it.

Making a petition isn't a lynch mob. These people are public servants, and ostensibly serve at the pleasure of the public. So when tragedies like this happen we need to make it extremely clear how displeased we are.

pliu 4 days ago 3 replies      
Quinn Norton:

"It wasn't Carmen Ortiz that hounded Aaron to death, it was Steve Heymann. And the system that helped him do it: that was all of us." https://twitter.com/quinnnorton/status/290204205124304896

And Tim Carmody:

"FWIW, Carmen Ortiz just runs the US Attorney's office in MA. Stephen Heymann is the Assistant US Attorney going hard after Aaron Swartz." https://twitter.com/tcarmody/status/290192055488094209

rowanwernham 4 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone should go down first its Steve Heymann who also led up the ridiculous 40 year sentence against soupnazi.

from wired:

'The FBI investigated that hack, but in the end no charges were filed. Aaron wasn't so lucky with the JSTOR matter. The case was picked up by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann in Boston, the cybercrime prosecutor who won a record 20-year prison stretch for TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez. Heymann indicted Aaron on 13 counts of wire fraud, computer intrusion and reckless damage. The case has been wending through pre-trial motions for 18 months, and was set for jury trial on April 1.'


And re: soupnazi, throwing a hacker (even a hacker who was actually criminal) in with violent offenders because he pissed off the wrong people is fucked:

"After his sentencing, Gonzalez was transferred from Wyatt to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (before ultimately ending up in a prison in Michigan). Situated between a loud stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Gowanus Bay, M.D.C. is brutal, even for a prison. Populated by hardened offenders, it is among the last places a nonviolent government informant would want to be. “The place is terrible,” Agent Michael said. “But you know what? When you burn both ends of the candle, that's what you get.” Even Gonzalez was impressed by the government's indifference to his comfort. He says he always knew it would stick it to him somehow, “but I never thought it would be this badly.”"


btilly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is such an obvious move that I signed, and shared on social media at https://plus.google.com/114613808538621741268/posts/E3wWNB2s... and on FB. (Ironically my previous post was a request for people not to share so many political links.)
joslin01 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the apologists' response to this.

"She's just doing her job"
"She was only acting in what she believed to be right"
"She's just good at her job."

Do I have to remind everyone here that we're actually just humans living amongst one another and the overarching rule of thumb is: Do No Harm?

Seriously. When it's someone in the private sector doing wrong, everyone wants to come out and demonize the person, but as soon as it's a person in the public office, it's as if we immediately start finding excuses for them.

Wake up. Someone's life was demolished because it seemed like a good case to pick up. "Stealing is illegal," she said. Well ok, so is marijuana possession, jay-walking, and smoking inside restaurants. I'm not too sure I can get behind any of these _morally_. Victimless crimes don't need a federal prosecutor coming in and slamming 30+ years at a person. It's just not right.

Like many others here, I want to know why she chose this case. Aaron single-handedly put an end to SOPA by gathering huge amounts of support. Imagine if he could have went on? Imagine the impact he could have made on this world? Does the government fear this? Does silencing him just as they are doing the Wikileaks founder ensure their own sick agenda?

Before we rush to Carmen Ortiz's defense, why don't we ask these questions, yea? Because it's not like we can't find another federal prosecutor -- perhaps one who has more moral integrity than to sentence a 26 yr old GENIUS to a life in prison.

aw3c2 4 days ago 8 replies      
Don't blindly get the torches and pitchforks to treat a symtome, find the root problem and try to change the copyright/science/education/access system at the core.
alan_cx 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm no expert on the US way of things, but wasn't this prosecutor just doing her job according to the law, or as directed by government policy? She not a vigilante, or is that effectively the case in the US? Surely you guys need to got after the law or government in some way, not harass this woman who was doing what she was paid to do.

Ok, so you win, she gets fired. Another will simply replace her. You need to get the laws sorted out.

Get the laws changed. Or get laws to protect people. Do it in his name. I cant think of a better legacy. (Well, unless I am completely and utterly wrong about how US law stuff works. In which case, I hold up my ignorant hands)

aroberge 4 days ago 2 replies      
Petition to make the required changes to the law, not to remove a human cog from the machine.
rmc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Be careful. One does not really want to send the message to people contemplating suicide that if they complete the suicide that their 'enemies' will loose their job.

Suicide is a terrible short term solution. There are better solutions.

philwelch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Where's the petition to require free publication and distribution of federally funded academic research? That was the point of that particular exercise in civil disobedience in the first place. What a disappointment--it's like firing a cop for putting Martin Luther King in jail without ever addressing racism.
cma 4 days ago 0 replies      
For her misunderstanding of the word theft it nothing else
voidlogic 4 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting Read: "Bostonian of the Year: Carmen Ortiz"


olefoo 4 days ago 0 replies      
The petition has already reached 1,000 signers. 1/25th of the number needed to expect a response.
NathanKP 4 days ago 0 replies      
Rather than forming a lynch mob against the prosecutor let's consider working on a petition more along the lines of this one:

"Posthumously Pardon Aaron Swartz"


mangler 4 days ago 1 reply      
Of course, I assume nobody wants Ms. Ortiz to spin into deep guilt-driven depression for doing what she believed was right. This kind of emotional blackmail is probably not helping anyone or anything, at least not this soon after the events when emotions are still looming high and, more importantly, nobody actually understands the exact circumstances of a person's... well... personal predicament that lead to certain actions....
vertr 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like this petition could have been written so much more persuasively. Regardless, I signed.
Kylekramer 4 days ago 0 replies      
Attacking a person's perceived "enemies" post tragedy is a terrible idea sending the wrong message to those with suicidal thoughts.
Elle4 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found on the Internet that Steven P Heymann was honored at an awards ceremony by Eric Holder. Prior to the year 2010, there's not that much on Heymann from a cursory search. But he was moving up by busting cybercrime in concert with Secret Service Agents and FBI. The power-boys club. And certainly enjoying it.
I found evidence of intent to misrepresent Aaron Swartz when they referenced him as "not attending MIT but enrolled in an unrelated Boston college." They deliberately concealed the fact that Aaron was at Harvard, to make sure that he was not viewed in any way favorably in this report of their indictment. I read the indictment and it makes every minor step into a hyped depiction of criminality. That is a legal tactic and technique, designed to persuade towards the impression of guilt.

Strategies are a collaborative effort in law enforcement.
While I do not know much about these LE agents, I do know that they intended to destroy him, exploit his history of depression (which was common knowledge and surely part of a file work-up) and put him in Federal prison at age 26 and not able to be released until he was 76 years old. As I stated elsewhere, in many states, murders and pedophiles do not face that scope of incarceration. This was more of a targeting than a criminal prosecution. They has just come off a highly awarded prosecution and unfortunately Aaron was next in line for them to reap more awards in a ceremony. I am so sad this young man was overwhelmed by the horror of the circumstances.
I hope there is ultimately a WIKI each for Steven P. Heymann and his Director, Carmen Ortiz, so that their impact on the life of Aaron Swartz in the name of "justice" stands as the award they get from the public.

In effect. Aaron Swartz was given the death penalty for being a freedom fighter. His love of freedom was expressed in radical creativity and breaking down artificial barriers. Who could have known the draconeon measures that were awaiting him?

mbloom1915 12 hours ago 0 replies      
the petition now needs 100k signatures, sign it here: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-stat...
decius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I signed this petition. It is the first Whitehouse petition I've ever signed.

I think its an oversimplification to rest all of the blame for Swartz's death on his prosecutor.

However, unnecessary, overzealous prosecution is wrong, and it has consequences - things like this are going to happen when you push people to the edge just because you can.

If this petition receives enough signatures it will force the White House to consider the issue. I do not expect them to remove Carmen Ortiz, but I do expect them to address the reality of overzealous prosecution. It is worth taking a few seconds to ask them to do that.

msbpodcast 3 days ago 0 replies      
The zeal with which Carmen Ortiz showed in prosecuting the case against Aaron Swartz shows a criminal lack of discernment on the prosecutor's part which directly led to Mr. Swartz death.

The prosecutor should be removed as judgement (or lack thereof) has resulted in a tragic miscarriage of justice for the defendant.

The defendant was not a hardened criminal, but he was treated as if he was.

The case involved no violence, breaking in, no drugs, no profit.

The employing of such heavy-handed techniques that the defendant would prefer to end his life rather than face whatever punishment the prosecutor was proffering was entirely inappropriate.

The crime was one of accessing JSTORs files which, since the files are locked behind a paywall, contain information which JSTOR was NOT involved in creating, the legality of JSTOR ownership is questionable.

This is a case of prosecutorial over-reach. Carmen Ortiz is incompetent at best or malevolent at worst.

Let such individuals find employment in other professions where discernement or judgement are not required.

evarea 3 days ago 0 replies      
13 Felony counts? I can only express outrage and spew vitriol towards
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. She so desperately wants to put her name
out front hoping to win the next Governor's election and she did just
that, but unfortunately, at the expense of beloved Aaron Swartz's life.

MIT & JSTOR refused to press charges; potentially, misdemeanors for
downloading documents for free public access & possibly violating a
TOC. But Scott Garland, the other prosecutor (lap doggy), and Carmen
Ortiz pursued Aaron by digging deep into their own interpretation of the
law to manufacture new and more serious charges against him. Carmen
Ortiz and her minions continued to badger Swartz by harassing this
brilliant & heroic young man until his death by suicide. The
government should have hired him rather than make him a criminal.

I wonder which murderer, child abuser or rapist the DOJ planned to
spring from the overcrowded prison to make room for an open-source
activist. This is just so wrong on many levels!

May you R.I.P. Aaron Swartz.

lesliestahlhut 3 days ago 0 replies      
Carmen Ortiz has set back this country's ability to compete in the global marketplace by relentless pursuing one of the great innovator and job creators to the point that he took his own life.

She has not served her country, she has harmed it, and you have a duty to remove her from office so that she does not ruin more lives.

Her pursuit of this case shows that she has no understanding of the the roll technology and information play in the transformation of our economy, and it also shows that she lacks compassion.

The world will feel the loss of Aaron Swartz for many years as his talent was not easily replaced. If you fire Carmen Ortiz tomorrow, I can assure you, she will not be missed.

Someone who is this abusive as a prosecutor is probably equally abusive as a supervisor. From now until her term as prosecutor ends, I will get up every morning and ask myself: "What have I done to help get Carmen Ortiz removed from office today?"

ThinkAboutIt 3 days ago 0 replies      
All of you who want to minimize what Aaron Schwartz did and lead a pitchfork mob against a prosecutor are misguided little spinsters. Lest you forget that he was caught on security cameras breaking into the a server room with a bike helmet covering his face. He knew he was breaking the law. He was caught. The heroic part of his action was the very fact that he knew he was breaking the law and still did it in the name of free access to knowledge. Anybody who says that he killed himself because of prosecutorial overreach it taking away from the significance of his action. No, he was being prosecuted because he committed a crime. He committed a crime because he did not agree with the law. The problem is the law, not the person enforcing the law. And if any of you had the capability to have an independent thought not shaped by emotion or group-think you would realize this.
tuananh 4 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't right. She probably were just doing her job. Someone dies doesn't make what he/she is doing absolutely right and others' wrong. Don't let the condolences for Aaron clouds your judgment.
res0nat0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see the Internet lynch mob in full effect today with this. I would love to know the percentage of people signing this who only have read a couple HN articles for the first time today about this person and have no more than a passing knowledge of Ortizs' career than a Wikipedia summary.
nycterrierist 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Carmen Ortiz should be disbarred.
scorpion032 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am naive about this case. If one particular prosecutor had it so badly against him, could he not appeal at the higher level after this decision?
Tharkun 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the sentiment. I understand the anger and powerlessness. However, we should all take a moment before posting poorly-written petitions and signing them. Decisions made in anger rarely accomplish much.

This person made errors in judgement. Maybe they came from her poor understanding of technology, maybe not. But what's clear is that the petition author has equally limited understanding of legal matters. Don't do what she did. Be the better person.

Go about this the proper way. If you truly feel that she did something wrong, then consult with a lawyer and decide what can be done. Maybe legal action can be taken to have her sanctioned. Maybe she can be educated. I don't know. And neither do you. So instead of -- essentially -- calling for her to be hanged, go about this the proper way.

ojr 3 days ago 0 replies      
A 30 year sentence would not be the end of his life, he would have went to a low level prison and probably have been release early on parole, it didnt have to end like this but he was too troubled, very sad
neverminder 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only new Aaron from what I occasionally read online, however his death saddens me and the reason of his death makes my blood boil. This is a wake up call for us all to act, this is the least we can do. I am a member of a few secluded communities and I will personally see to bringing as many signatures as I can to this petition and the one to Posthumously Pardon Aaron Swartz.
Dinamicor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carmen Ortiz should not only be fired; she should be prosecuted for negligence and wrongdoing on pursuing a non-proportional sentence. Specially, when it is well known that she didn´t do anything to prosecute the banksters of the 2007-2009 crises.

Loos like Ortiz considers justice is better served prosecuting a young genius committing a “misdemeanor” compared to the banker's assault to its client's funds and trust.

Claro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Original Stephen Heymann DOX was taken down by Pastebin (why would they do that?). SO here's another, albeit less info...


justiceforaaron 4 days ago 0 replies      
This destructive person needs to be removed from office. Her illegal prosecution and harassment of Aaron Swartz is disgusting. She and the goons at the Justice Department bear the guilt for his demise. Despite this, his memory and mission live on.
jerryhuang100 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ortiz and Heymann are just Pharisees for strict observance, bullying and abusing of the written law with a huge disconnect with the society and technology.
asfwt62 1 day ago 0 replies      
THere are rapist and murderers that get smaller sentences than Aaron Swartz. Priorities are screwed up Ms. Ortiz.
ssratoga02128 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's unfortunate that DA offices didn't attempted to prosecute those that have contributed to the tanking of the economy but I suppose it's alot easier to go after those that do not have a army of attorneys and probably do not regularly put down cold hard cash in elections.
baycyd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another U.S. Attorney out of control. Eric Holder needs to have a serious come to constitutionality talk with all the U.S. attorneys, after he gets rid of this one.
glazier 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another example of our "betters" knowing what's best for us. What a shame this brilliant young mans life is over because Carmen wants to be governor. Sickening.
ontogram 3 days ago 0 replies      
Schwarz downloaded documents illegally and should have been charged, but he is not the conspirator and traitor she made him out to be. In no case, should he have faced a possible 35 years in jail.

Ortiz, not Aaron, is an affront to liberalism and decency and does not deserve high office in this land.

Phidias 3 days ago 0 replies      
Her draconian bullying of Aaron Swartz led to his death. He positive contributions to the world vastly outweigh hers. Her actions are morally unacceptable. Her actions are unworthy of America and the State of Massachusetts. She is a monument to the suppression of freedom. She is a monster. She must step down or be fired.
jbrun 3 days ago 0 replies      
pvaldes 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems a relatively common modus operandi. The history reminds me a lot to the Nancy Black case.


hideouse 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone who chooses to prosecute someone over technical issues ought to educate themselves about that technology. Fire her.
Better yet, try her for misuse of her authority, abuseof her authority and incompetence.
simion 2 days ago 0 replies      
She needs to be removed. There was no proportionality to he actions.
radioactivejen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another example of a rogue prosecutor ignoring the rights of Victims to further their own careers.


walawala 3 days ago 0 replies      
Carmen Ortiz has blood on her hands for causing the death of Aaron Swartz.
BrianPaone 3 days ago 1 reply      
Signed. It'll hit 25k before the day's out, I bet.

But it needs to hit 311 million.

radioactivejen 3 days ago 0 replies      
isn't what Mme. Ortiz did (over-reaching prosecution) a form of stealing also...?

What do you call a supposed "good guy" who breaks the law?

murfmv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Disgraceful for what you have done to Aaron Swartz
rprasad 4 days ago 3 replies      
Zero percent chance of this happening:

- She did her job, which is to enforce the laws as they are written.

- She is very good at doing that job.

- You will not get her fired on the basis of enforcing a law on the books where the law has not been found unconstitutional nor even had its constitutionality seriously questioned.

You want a petition that might have some value? Petition the white house to change the laws or to direct the DOJ not to enforce the law. Until either of those happens, federal prosecutors are ethically bound to continue prosecuting these cases.

lanthony 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Obama administration is a failure and continues to increase the deficit of democracy. At least if you will not prosecute your owners on Wallstreet at least let tiny evidence show that you can act like you are not a fool.

If the true global public could be the judge than you would be recognized as a terrorist

Official Statement from the family and partner of Aaron Swartz rememberaaronsw.tumblr.com
671 points by mxfh  4 days ago   144 comments top 20
ghshephard 4 days ago 4 replies      
I've been thinking about the family today, and what might have caused Aaron to make such a terrible decision. One thing that caught my attention, was Lessig's comment in his post:

" ... Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April " his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge."

So - MIT brings in the Feds, the Government threaten him with 30+ years of Prison, somehow there is no way for him to appeal to the public for support for his lawsuit (which would have been very popular, I'm certain).

Does he try and look to his family to liquidate everything they have to help support his defense? Does he plead out to something that he truly believed was not wrong?

I can't even imagine how horrible this situation must have been for him, and why he couldn't see how he was going to get out of it...

shawn-butler 4 days ago 5 replies      
I am removing MIT as a benefactor from my will and ceasing donations to the alumni association. I will not reconsider until the institution provides a full accounting and takes responsibility for the actions of its legal counsel in deciding to refer the matter to federal authorities.

If you are a current member of the student body or faculty you have a lot more power than me. Please read about this matter and learn what your institution chose to do on your behalf and take some action fully in the spirit of MIT to reclaim what it has lost.

toyg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Fuck yes, make them bleed.

I can understand a US Attorney being reckless, but I cannot believe MIT would act so cowardly. If not even hacker-friendly institutions like MIT will side with people like Aaron, it's a sad state of affairs.

unimpressive 4 days ago 0 replies      

  Beware would be activists of the forces you put to your axe.
Like the tip of an iceberg, their great heft can remain unseen.
These machinations have no appreciation for hacks.
Even lawful men have much to fear from their vision keen.
The unlucky must contend with a 13 stringed marionette.
Whose deadly snare targets all free men.
Probing at the six lines in every hearts quartet.
The song it plays is fell indeed.

Moments of silence won't bring this man back.
But we can rally as our thoughts are often not thought alone. [0]
We can repel the forces who's wishes for the public domain is to sack.
We can refuse to reap for us what others have sewn.
Don't falter at the sight of a martyers fall.
There is always work to be done with one less hand at the helm.
Stand up and shout, silence strangles us all!
Strangled, by this intellectual miasma that seeks to consume our world with hell.

And though this life has been bought,
full speed ahead! Eight knots!

[0]: In the interest of honesty, I don't feel like I'm doing enough.

andrewpbrett 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death.


igravious 4 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think that I've ever seen anything like this (the sheer number of submissions related to one event) on HN before. I, like most others, follow the tussle between those who desire a world where the barrier to access information is lower and those who want to copyright, lock up and monetize all the information that we generate.

Most of the time I feel that it is like a high tech soap opera but this events brings it home to me that alarmingly the stakes can be very high and that the weight of the collective system can crush any one individual. Is this naive of me but would it be possible to set up some kind of fund or foundation that could provide real monetary support to help those that are a braver than the rest of us when they confront the system and as a result get overwhelmed.

Apologies if this is inappropriate in any way.

sonabinu 4 days ago 1 reply      
It is good to see that those who loved him the most are direct without euphemism.
lemming 4 days ago 0 replies      
He used his prodigious skills as a programmer and technologist not to enrich himself but to make the Internet and the world a fairer, better place.

Here's hoping his memory inspires more folk both here and elsewhere in the world to do the same.

larrys 4 days ago 3 replies      
Perhaps someone could explain or confirm how anyone really knows that this is actually the "official" statement of the family and partners of Aaron. I understand that this was linked to in some major media, but I can find any way of determining that by the page itself or in any of the stories linking to it. There isn't any contact info and the domain name (which redirects there) was registered by this person:

Domain name: rememberaaronsw.com

Registrant Contact:

   Brian Guthrie ()

179 Stockwell Dr
Mountain View, CA 94043

As I've mentioned in a comment elsewhere it seems odd to me that all these people got together and got this up so quickly after such a shocking event.

Here is one of the stories linked to it that doesn't verify the source:


sadfasdf 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is the state of America, a kid with a laptop will go to jail for 30 + years and a banker cunt that stole billions or laundered billions for drug cartels gets nothing.

How sad it all is.

zepolud 4 days ago 0 replies      
Extremely happy to see so strong and direct words. We owe him that much.
sonabinu 4 days ago 1 reply      
The Washington Post calls him an American Hero ... he was one, wasn't he? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/12/a...
rogerthis 4 days ago 2 replies      
Being a chronic depressed and chronic pain sufferer, I wonder how much problems like these contributed to him killing himself. I think about killing myself everyday. I haven't done it yet because I am a devout Catholic and I believe I can be in a worst place (or better) after death.
OGinparadise 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death...The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims."

It's nothing personal, just business. They use these cases to run for higher office by "being tough on crime" and other nauseating BS.

dinkumthinkum 2 days ago 0 replies      
One sort of reform many have not discussed, or I have not seen, is in changing the way federal prosecutors pursue cases and sentencing. Very, very few federal cases ever go to trial because of obscenely long prison sentences. The defendant in federal cases is at such a disadvantage.
skorgu 4 days ago 1 reply      
Assuming the address is findable would it be weird to leave flowers? I feel like this shouldn't stay bits on wires.
stesch 4 days ago 3 replies      
tumblr.com gets autobanned on reddit. sigh
xijuan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what to say anymore. It really saddens me to see such a great person ending his life. I can imagine the amount of stress he was going through..RIP..
so898 3 days ago 0 replies      
If we use the death of this great person to do what we want, there is no different between we and the BAD people. Justice will be served. At this moment, I think we should just wish Aaron Swartz R.I.P..
jbrooksuk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, I just had to zoom to 150% to read this.
If I get hit by a truck... aaronsw.com
641 points by artursapek  4 days ago   50 comments top 21
Mz 4 days ago 1 reply      
For those basically judging Aaron for his action, let me suggest that if you are so against suicide, you should stop lecturing and judging others. Instead, be compassionate, accepting, caring, patient, help people carry their burdens, turn the other cheek, be the bright spot in their day. People who attempt suicide are generally people who cracked under the strain. You generally don't know what burdens they bore, how you and others made the burden more instead of less. If you think people should choose to stay in this world, work on making it a choice worth making for more people. Be kinder, gentler, more generous. Or stfu when someone decides "enough is enough".
sakopov 4 days ago 3 replies      
After reading a few of his blog posts from previous years, it almost seemed like he saw it coming years ago. Depression is a terrible thing. Most experience it in mild states. Only unlucky few contemplate suicide on daily basis. Some succumb to it within weeks. Others suffer years. Regardless, it's very sad to see someone so bright take their own life. Before you pull the trigger, tighten that rope around your neck or take those pills think of your loved once. Think of your parents. How miserable their life is going to be without the only being they cared for their entire lives. Then think twice about your life. When you kill yourself you kill others around you. This had stopped me once before and i hope it will help others. We all have a purpose here.

Rest in peace, Aaron.

hkmurakami 4 days ago 0 replies      
>"Oh, and BTW, I'll miss you all."

We miss you too, Aaron.

wging 4 days ago 0 replies      
It was incredibly unsettling to see this as the top link on Hacker News, then skim down the list to see 'Aaron Swartz', 'Aaron Swartz', 'Aaron Swartz', and feel my suspicions grow.

(Yes, I conveniently missed the details of the second link, "Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz commits suicide".)

brainless 4 days ago 1 reply      
The "I'm not dead yet!" felt like a bullet through my head. I never knew him, but being just a human being, I can feel a loss I can not describe.
manojlds 4 days ago 3 replies      
Did he write that when he was 16? Makes me sad that he had already accomplished so much at that age, and is not there anymore.
dreeves 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have a question for the community here. Aaron writes "I ask that the contents of all my hard drives be made publicly available." Should we unmask his secret Beeminder goal? http://beeminder.com/aaronsw Assuming it's nothing embarrassing, or even helps shine light on what's happened.
artursapek 4 days ago 1 reply      
Looking through a website that was made by someone who is dead now feels very weird.
hdra 4 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know much about him aside from the fact that he is one of the founding member of reddit before this. I came to know about all his achievements and contribution to the things that matters a lot to me personally which he did at such young age after this incident.

Even though I almost never heard of him before, I still feel that we lost a big one. Never before I felt this way because of a stranger, and to be honest, even kinda feel weird myself. May he rest in peace.

josephpmay 4 days ago 1 reply      
The "I'm not dead yet" at the bottom gives me chills.
giis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know much about him until today,as i read more and more about him. I feel very sad. I couldn't believe some 16 yr guy writing

"Source Code
Copyright for my GPLed source code should revert to the Free Software Foundation. They seem to have a reasonable policy about letting people use the code."

So far, i thought only Indian judiciary system is so stupid compared to US judiciary system. Now I don't see a difference between them.

jbrooksuk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Was this page not noticed before? Surely if it had been, someone would've spoken to him about the possibility of him suicide? I feel like the Internet could've done a lot more for him.

R.I.P Aaron, you achieved a massive amount in the short time you were here. Remember that, wherever you are.

feniv 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's incredible that he had the foresight to consider the morbid possibility of death at such a young age and take appropriate actions to manage his responsibilities even beyond the grave.
hn-miw-i 3 days ago 0 replies      
The need for a digital probate policy seems very important.

He based this his from esr, and the link to esr is now broken.
Is there a central clearinghouse for thes documents? A digitally signed will should be far harder to forge and could be legally binding. To see ones digital wishes be fulfilled from the afterlife should set some tormented spirits to rest.

Evbn 4 days ago 1 reply      
pknerd 4 days ago 0 replies      
The line I'll miss you all said everything.
blackjack160 4 days ago 0 replies      
Days like these, I can't help but share some Pooh:


Disclaimer: I am a founder of the above entity, this is just my expression of solidarity for Aaron.

benjlang 4 days ago 0 replies      
What a brilliant man he was, so sad. Do people still make these types of pages these days?
nQuo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Saddened to see someone so talented and young take their own life.

It's never worth it.

chuckreynolds 4 days ago 0 replies      
..damn.... kinda weird reading that after the news i just heard. RIP man.
Techasura 4 days ago 0 replies      
EPIC AARON! hats off buddy!
Aaron Swartz, Asking For Help, 119 Days Ago techcrunch.com
619 points by martinoma  2 days ago   467 comments top 52
InclinedPlane 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure why I'm commenting here, I expect it'll just be shouting into the void given the nature of this thread. However, there are some things that rub me the wrong way about all this, so maybe I'll try to make a few points.

One thing that's been bugging me is how, to be blunt, intellectually lazy so many people seem to have been about this whole thing, especially the case against Aaron. Everyone is looking for the easy answer, the soundbite that wraps the whole thing in a bow. I thought that HN was a bit smarter than that, that's a sucker's game, it's a game for tabloids and cable news, not a way for smart people to approach complex problems. And this is a complex problem with no easy answer. The case against Aaron was complex. The law involved was complex. And the application of the law was also complex. It's not as easy as "he was innocent!" or "he was guilty!", because even if either one were easily established in the "court of public opinion" then that's really only the starting point of several much more difficult questions.

I think it's probably fair to say that guilty or not the prosecution was overzealous, as the sorts of punishments he faced was all out of proportion to what one would expect for a white collar crime, even one potentially involving thousands of dollars of losses.

In the same vein people have been reacting to this tragedy by trying to find scapegoats. Whether that's the prosecutor, or edw519, or MIT, or whomever. I don't think I need to spend time addressing why that sort of behavior is a bad idea.

Going back and looking at the comments in the older thread about Aaron's legal troubles I've spotted a few instances of several trouble behaviors that I've noticed have become more and more common. One, the idea that "rich" people are less deserving of sympathy because of their wealth. I've seen this in the rise of the "99%" mentality and other phenomena. Personally I don't think there is any amount of wealth that renders an individual's pain and suffering unworthy of caring about. Two, the idea that punishment is reasonable after being charged but before being sentenced, or infliction of pain and suffering in general as a response to crimes. You see this sort of thing in support for torture, support for poor conditions in jail, sympathetic depictions of police brutality in fiction, public approval of widespread sexual assault in prisons, etc. And you also see it in the idea that there's nothing wrong with a trial being a punishing, life-altering, resource draining experience.

I think these sorts of things are antithetical to the ideals of liberty, equality, justice, rehabilitation, etc. that we should desire our societies rest upon, rather than base instincts like jealousy, revenge, punishment, retribution, schadenfreude, etc.

I don't think this saga bears much, if any, similarity to a fight between absolute heroes and absolute villains. I think that even in as much as the prosecutor was overzealous it's as much a systemic problem of the way that computer and IP related "crimes" are perceived and handled by the criminal justice system as it is to be due to any ill-will or villainy on her part.

I'd much rather we, HN and the tech community in general, were taking the time to talk through the details of the case more carefully, discussing the details of the relevant law (and whether it's well grounded, meaningful, useful, and generally well applied), and bigger issues such as IP issues, computer security issues, problems with our criminal justice system in general, etc. than looked for quick-fix easy answers and tried to fit this story into a simplistic mold. I wonder what sort of discussion Aaron would have preferred take place.

edw519 2 days ago 29 replies      
I may or may not have something to say about this, but not here, and not now.

Can we please just let the family grieve?

We are the family.

jacquesm 2 days ago 11 replies      
Here is the HN thread from back then. Some of it makes for pretty uncomfortable reading right now.


kyro 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the takeaway here is to stop assuming you know entirely what is going on and give people the benefit of the doubt. There may be more factors involved than the ones you see; in fact, there always are -- something HN is notorious for not doing (read: AirBnB, Dropbox, etc, etc, etc, etc).
chernevik 2 days ago 1 reply      
I see zero inconsistency between on one day saying that someone should take personal responsibility for their activism, and on another day regretting that this same person took their own life.

The notion that Aaron's legal position caused his suicide is an opinion of many people on this board. Despite the numbers of those holding this opinion, it is still only an opinion, and needn't be read as fact for any other analysis or opinion. The insistence that everyone hold _your_ opinions for all of _their_ opinions and moral calculations is, at very best, deeply problematic.

sethbannon 2 days ago 1 reply      
As the OP of the HN thread in question, the response then saddened me. But that pales in comparison to the grief I feel now. I hope HN takes this as an opportunity to reflect and introspect.
jordanb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Allow me to make a confession:

I didn't think much of Aaron Swartz while he was alive. Most of his writings seemed self-absorbed to me. I had difficulty understanding how someone with his politics could be a mac fanboy. People I think highly of (Chris Webber, John Sullivan) thought highly of him so I was induced to give him some benefit of the doubt on those grounds, but I certainly couldn't understand what they saw in him.

I assumed he was a millionaire with enormous resources that he was using to thumb his nose at powerful people. I felt that if I had the resources (I assumed that) Aaron had, I would use them differently.

I saw the thread about Aaron's campaign fund and I didn't post, but I did read it.

And I read Edward's comment and I agreed with it.

I knew very little about Aaron's case. But the way that fund was being put together seemed underhanded to me, like he wanted to take people's money without really acknowledging it. Is he a millionaire or not? I wondered, and if not, why doesn't he come out with it and explain what happened?

Of course now I know of the existence, from Lawence Lessig, of the bizarre Kafkaesque muzzle the judge had on Aaron, but how could anyone who wasn't very closely familiar with Aaron and his case know about that?

There's a sort of sick serendipity in this for me. Just last week I read Kafka's The Trial. The word "Kafkaesque" keeps getting thrown around but it's stunning---stupefying to me, how many parallels there are between that book and Aaron's case.

In Kafka, after the protagonist is arrested he's immediately released. The police even escort him to work and tell him to go about his life. At first he thinks that's an great thing that he wasn't hauled off in custody, but as the trial grinds on he comes to realize that being forced to live every day as the facsimile of a free man being required to do what free men are inclined to do while carrying the additional burden of dealing with his trial, is itself torture.

If anyone remembers the bruhaha around Dmitry Sklyarov, or before that DVD John or Kevin Mitnick knows that this community rallies around men sitting in jail while the authorities try to come up with a crime to charge them with. There's no doubt in my mind that if the prosecution had hauled Aaron off to jail "for downloading some PDFs" the reaction would have been swift and boisterous.

I've learned a great deal about this country's "justice" system over the past two days, and mostly I've learned about the special sort of hell it put Aaron in, and I've come to realize that I was complicit in its work through my ignorance and indifference.

And all I can say about that is I feel a little bit sick. And that it won't ever happen again.

grandalf 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is TechCrunch playing the role of Jerry Springer.

In spite of the way many interest groups are trying to make Aaron's suicide into a symbol, the fact is that suicide is simply a symptom of mental illness, and nothing else.

Unless we have reason to believe otherwise, most of us assume that those whose actions/views we discuss on HN are of normal (average) mental health.

So while Aaron's death is jarring, it's the mental illness that is jarring and not the nuanced view expressed by edw519.

TC must be hurting for clicks/readership these days. I think that story (sadly the current top story on HN) is a new low.

danso 2 days ago 2 replies      
So this is on the OP, which quotes the Lessig post:

> For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April " his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge.

I never understood this assertion. Under what procedural grounds would a judge punish someone raising funds for their defense? Or is referring to more of a "the judge will be annoyed at you" kind of sanction?

thaumaturgy 2 days ago 1 reply      
On the one hand, it is probably unlikely that HN could have done much to prevent Aaron's death. He was facing a terrible situation, one that he could not bear to face, and I doubt anyone here could have substantially changed his situation.

On the other, I can think of few things worse than facing a terrible situation, and feeling like you're doing so completely alone. The amount of speculation and analysis of Aaron's case here on HN was absurd (at one point prompting my only comments on the matter, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4544693), and yet for all that analysis and speculation, there were ever so few comments that came out fully in Aaron's support.

Then he takes his own life, and suddenly it's torches-and-pitchforks for the prosecuting team, it's "why didn't he ask for help", it's "this was unjust", it's "this was unfair", it's "why didn't he have more support". I felt saddened by the news, but I also felt a rising amount of bile for the HN community, and I'm glad that nikcub and Arrington have shone a light on this.

AndrewWarner 2 days ago 1 reply      
edw519 is a good member of this community. Let's not turn on each other.

After researching founders for my interviews I can tell you that it's easy to make anyone look bad based on old posts. It's much harder to stay focused on what's important.

diego 2 days ago 0 replies      
Michael Arrington has written his share of trollish articles, but this is just mean spirited. I have a hard time remembering anything so hypocritical and hindsight-biased written after someone's death.

I will do my best to avoid reading anything written by Arrington from now on.

staunch 2 days ago 1 reply      
It must have been hard on him to see his peers throwing him to the wolves. I think he could have tried harder to appeal to the hacker community, or maybe he couldn't for legal reasons, and that's yet another travesty revealed here.

His case was muddy. He did a few things that most of us would never do without expecting to be punished. He deserved a slap on the wrist, not to be robbed of his assets and locked up for years.

I think HN would have rallied to his cause after we realized how disproportionate the punishment was. I remember personally thinking things seemed weird, but was naively optimistic that it would turn out fine.

Lesson learned, the very hard way: it can't hurt to rally around someone even if they're not 100% in the right, if it looks like they're being bullied.

param 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is BS. edw519, and most of us, are not politicians. We should be free to believe in something to the best of our knowledge at any time. I have changed my perspective on almost everything I have ever believed in based on what information I come across.

To hold him, or anyone else for that matter, hostage to what he said 120 days ago is dishonest.

lancefisher 2 days ago 1 reply      
I distinctly remember that thread, and not commenting. I was disappointed at the responses. I had given a small amount towards his defense fund since I thought his goals were worthwhile. I consider it a privilege to have contributed.

Now, I wish I had given more, and I wish I had commented on that thread.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

austenallred 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this speaks a bit to the mentality of technical people.

Your job is to find things that suck and call them on it/make them better. Unfortunately this tends to carry over into all aspects of life, that we can be/are overly critical of everything. Look at almost any great tech/design mind - they can be overly cynical at times.

One of the skills I respect most in a technical person is when they can say, "I hate this, but I love this" at the same time. Or better yet, "You're good at what you do, but this isn't your best work. X is good, but Y really sucks, fix the Y."

Honestly we have a long way to go regarding dealing with people.

intenex 2 days ago 1 reply      
The primary thing that stands out to me here, and what I believe is the main point of the TC post, is that edw and others clearly have very interesting 'before' and 'after' posts.

"Aaron should man up, take responsibility for his actions, and pay his own bills."

Aaron can't pay his bills, decides to take one form of responsibility and kills himself.

Stunned & heartbroken."
"Thank you, Cory. This wonderful post will bring understanding (and maybe even comfort) to many of us who are sad and confused today.
It will also probably save some lives."

It's not that Ed is to blame for Aaron killing himself, it's that there's a marked change in sentiment and sympathy after his death.

Did it really have to take Aaron killing himself for us to change our sympathies towards him? It seems not many of us really cared that much until he hung himself - and now we can't stop talking about him.

So the point I'd like to make is there's something wrong with a world that only cares after you kill yourself. Maybe Aaron even made the right choice is this is really how it works. Otherwise he might have quietly lived out his 50 years in prison and died later and no one would have given a shit the entire time. At least now this is getting some attention.

ISL 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bummed to see this thing dropping like a rock off the main page.

24 points in 26 minutes should have this article in the #2 slot, not #26. Is HN downmodding because it doesn't like the mirror?

        #pts    hr      min
130 2 0
382 6 0
146 3 0
24 1 0
20 0 56
120 4 0
165 5 0
57 2 0
82 4 0
52 3 0
165 6 0
15 1 0
65 3 0
93 5 0
26 2 0
232 10 0
35 3 0
171 8 0
26 3 0
73 6 0
24 3 0
20 2 0
68 6 0
24 0 26
194 11 0
28 4 0
115 9 0

edit: something changed - now it's at #3... sufficiently many upvotes?

andrewtbham 2 days ago 1 reply      
"unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge."

Considering the outcome... Does anyone know an example of what judges do when defendants appeal openly for financial help? Was this really good legal advice?

caf 2 days ago 0 replies      
"...judges hate it when parties talk publicly about their cases."

This seems very unjust, when the prosecutors love to hold a media circus where the handcuffed "perp walk" is the star attraction.

AlexMuir 2 days ago 0 replies      
So people told it as they saw it.

That's the way hackers work and speak - and that sort of frankness is one of the major reasons that HN remains outstanding in terms of signal vs noise. We don't escape everything with weasel words and second-guess the way it's going to be interpreted. Commenters say what they think. Voters agree or disagree.

Yes, it comes back to haunt people. Yes, people are wrong on here every single day. But that's the nature of the discourse, and it will be a sad day if HNers start to worry about voicing their opinion because it could be taken the wrong way.

And, to pre-empt what I know will come, NO-ONE ever has all the facts. Ever. If we needed all the facts before we formed an opinion then we would have none.

mscarborough 2 days ago 0 replies      
To the HN elite (edw519 and tptacek): good on you for commenting on almost every thread, it's gotten you the most 'karma' possible.

Unfortunately, it means that when you jump into a new thread and contravene your other clearly-stated positions, it's a rather transparent attempt to get more attention.

You're not part of Aaron's family, you're not related, and your own words were pretty clear as to what you thought about the guy: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4529484.

For the love of all things good, can people who didn't care in the first place about Aaron or his cause stop their fake sympathy now that he is dead? I didn't do anything for him either, but not going to cry any crocodile tears to show everyone how politically aware and smart I am.

iskander 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this post should be here-- it's turning a tragedy into a witch hunt. I don't think this level of negativity and mob mentality is appropriate for HN.
MrScruff 2 days ago 0 replies      
And the witch hunt continues. This is all very reminiscent of the furore around the prank call nurse who committed suicide in the UK, with people calling for the unfortunate DJs to be charged with murder. I would have expected a more rational, dispassionate response from this crowd.
joeco 2 days ago 2 replies      
It seems significant to me. There are a lot of users on HN whose default move is to criticize whatever story just made the main page. Maybe that's not the best default position.
richardlblair 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is dumb...

A person can disagree with an individual's actions and still be sad when that person passes away.

There was no need for this by techchrunch. In fact this article is useless, and complete bullshit.

This article does nothing productive, it adds no value to anything, but only takes away from the whole situation.

h2s 2 days ago 0 replies      
It must be quite easy to generate cheap melodrama such as this when you can use the front page of TechCrunch as a glorified "retweet" button.
jbail 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty hard to read that thread. This is a good lesson in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Always.
edanm 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few months ago, edw519 made a comment that many here feel was inappropriate given that we now know more facts, and given that Aaron committed suicide. So the lesson people take away is: "Be careful about what you say to people, even on HN: your words may have a real effect, and being dismissive or mean to people may just haunt you later".

This is a good lesson, in general. But what I love is the irony - the way people are sending out this message is by being dismissive and mean to edw519! If (God forbid) something ever happened to edw519, and someone in 4 months posted this thread, the same people condemning edw519 will b IN EXACTLY THE SAME SHOES as they think he is now. How are the people posting so blind to this?

Note: edw519 is a great person and member of this community. Despite the lesson that I believe can be learned from this post, I absolutely DO NOT think he did anything wrong, and thinking otherwise is clearly because things look different in hindsight, especially given more information. Seriously edw519 - consider this another person who is sure you did absolutely nothing wrong.

d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm convinced there has to be something bigger than that trial. Trying to rationally explain a suicide by pointing fingers at prosecutor might relief a bit of guilt for some but it's IMO naive. As far as I'm concerned, Aaron committed suicide because he didn't want to live on this planet anymore. He tried so hard to change things, to make the world better. And he actually succeeded, but that probably wasn't enough for a brilliant mind like his. Could it be that he was disgusted at how indifferent people were? By people, I mean most people, not just the governments or some particular entities.
Irishsteve 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why would it be a surprise that people change their opinion or become more vocal after something serious occurs to the people involved.
ChristianMarks 2 days ago 0 replies      
The principle of free information transmission must extend to its advocates: if you advocate that information must be free and you engage in civil disobedience, then you ought to expose your finances to the world when requesting support for a legal defense fund. Exposing one's finances at such a time demonstrates adherence to principle, and it blunts skepticism.
drivingmenuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Asking that someone own up to their responsibilities or shoulder their own problems is ABSOLUTELY NOT the same as wishing them dead.
meric 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember wanting to contribute, but didn't after finding out he was the co-founder of a successful startup.

I also remember, half a year ago, looking at his comment history that seemingly appeared as if he was fine, thinking "How is this guy taking it? If it was me I am not sure I'll be able to handle the pressure".

I realise now he was only human, like us, and everyone needs other's support in their darkest times, but it's too late.

rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh. I wish I'd seen that thread originally, but I was on my first vacation in years, and not reading HN for some reason.

I couldn't give him much money, but it sounds like just talking to him about the case would have helped, and I doubt even people who thought he did the wrong thing or should have gone to jail to continue his protest would have begrudged him that.

Sorry, Aaron. :(

Jagat 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the other hand, the comments on this post (120 days ago) is quite supportive of Aaron and criticizes the govt for its harsh indictment.
ricardobeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a sorry post. This is the kind of thing I expect to be banned from the front page.
jimmytucson 1 day ago 0 replies      
When you say that a person who committed suicide "asked for help", it makes it sound like he reached out for emotional support in a time of desperation.

While that might have been partially what Aaron was doing, I think the headline leads you to picture a horrifying scenario in which the young man's death might have been avoided, if only the community had been more encouraging or sympathetic. Instead, you find that he was asking for financial support, and there's of course no reason to believe that sending him money could have altered the tortured course that ended with him taking his own life.

It may seem like a trivial point but in my opinion it completely warps this whole conversation. For example, suppose someone shares with you that they have been terribly depressed and contemplating suicide. In this case, I agree, telling them to "man up" is pretty bad form. But that is not exactly what happened here.

Skywing 2 days ago 0 replies      
It does kind of suck to look back and realize that his own people turned their back on him, though. Not very hacker of us, sadly. I remember reading that article originally, and obviously looking back I wish I had taken some kind of action. Didn't have to be money, I'm sure, but something would have been better than basically rejecting his plea for help in a condescending tone.
eranation 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can we be a little nicer?

There were nasty comments about Aaron in that HN post, which got nasty replies.

There were nasty comments about Ed in this thread, which got nasty replies.

There were nasty comments about Michael in the linked post, which got nasty replies.

We can say the most criticizing things in a way that is not nasty, how? but putting question marks instead of exclamation points. By talking about facts and not opinions. By being aware that the persona we are taking about is also a person, by always thinking what if I was on the other end of that comment.

Is there any drawback in being nicer? I can't think of any.
Is there any benefit for being nasty? I can't think of any either.

thoughtcriminal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lets face it, HN and similar discussion sites bring out the worst in some people, including me.

I'm not going to comment on Ed's unfortunate statements because I've been an asshat to people in the past too.

It's a terrible thing when you don't have the opportunity to apologise later.

I'm sorry for all parties involved.

ameen 2 days ago 0 replies      
If only most knew then, what they know now.

It's saddening that a positive response to that appeal might've actually helped him - both mentally and financially.

Jagat 2 days ago 0 replies      
In retrospect, this comment by "mibbitier" is particularly saddening.

"I agree. He was extremely foolish and arrogant at best. I don't think this belongs on HN.
Also didn't he make a ton of money selling Reddit?! :/"

BryantD 2 days ago 0 replies      
It strikes me that another relevant comparison would be the Hacker News reaction to weev's conviction: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4808676
CyberDroiD 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's an accurate reflection of a subset of visitors of Hacker News. That subset are those that post here. I don't think they like what the reflection shows, so it might be a good learning experience.
klepra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wrong or not, Ed's comment was very cold-hearted, uncompassionate, pretentious, egoistic even sexist. That said, I see a lot of this in IT/tech word in general and it makes me sad to work in this field.
scriptdude 1 day ago 0 replies      
HN is the big brother you worship, your hero, the coolest guy you know. Then one night you find him drunk and coked up sleeping in the backyard in a pool of piss and vomit.

This topic is the backyard.

rhokstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leave it to TechCrunch to try to get more views on their website...
Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is that the best Arrington could come up with?
wildmXranat 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is sick. I'm at a loss for words.
klepra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is this thread not showing among first results? It is heavily up-voted.
mrkmcknz 2 days ago 3 replies      
I can't believe that you "flagged" the post because you believe an account was created specifically for this submission.

If the community doesn't feel the story is anything worth reading I'm sure it will slip from the face of HN before you have time to blink.

An Advanced Guide to HTML and CSS shayhowe.com
614 points by shay-howe  2 days ago   98 comments top 42
kapowaz 2 days ago 3 replies      
> One functionality of CSS often abused without awareness are selectors [...] How elements are selected within CSS affects performance, including how fast a page renders

This assertion used to be thrown around as one of the supporting arguments for using OOCSS, but I'm sure I later read that it was largely debunked; the performance implications were negligible and so it was just making CSS less legible/maintainable for no real reward. Has that changed? Have you any recent benchmarks to share?

kaolinite 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does anyone know of any guides or books for really advanced HTML/CSS? I find a lot of these guides target regular websites, which I have experience with, whereas I'd love to know how to create much more advanced layouts (e.g. Gmail, Grooveshark). Does anyone know where I can find information on that kind of stuff?
prs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful implementation.

As stated elsewhere in the thread, it is work in progress, so do not be too harsh of a critic.

Once all the lessons are up and a responsive layout is implemented, I believe this to be a beautiful addition for beginners and advanced programmers.

P.S.: Reminds me a bit of http://www.phptherightway.com - Maybe you can borrow a few of the good ideas from that guide?

anonymouz 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is the deal with those orange buttons that hover on the right hand side of the code snippets?

They look like they should be interacted with, but when I hover my mouse over them they fade away. That's terribly irritating.

guynamedloren 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can appreciate the layout, organization, and design of the site (as a frontend developer myself, this is very well executed), but personally, I have an immensely difficult time learning from a structure like this:

<definition of a term that is difficult to grasp out of context>

<loose context / example for said previously defined term with no real world application>

Stuff the whole thing with formal copy coupled with lorem ipsum placeholder text, and I can't force myself to endure the boredom through the first lesson. I have a similarly difficult time learning by reading textbooks (of which this guide feels reminiscent). It just doesn't click for me, but it does seem to work for many, many people.

sergiotapia 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lovely website! I always kick myself when I'm two weeks into a project and my CSS is starting to get unwieldy.

Keeping CSS rules clean and well thought-out pays for itself in the long run, I know this; yet - for some reason I don't follow my own advice. Hehe.

Edit: Another great website with no fluff and pure awesome content is www.htmldog.com.

I learned about HTML and CSS there when I was a wee lad, helped me grok floats.

dfischer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just going to throw this out there: http://www.betterfrontend.com - been working on this. It's open source.
alan_cx 2 days ago 2 replies      
I just want to praise you for it NOT looking like that awful look Win 8 is now designed in. That style must have a name but I dont want to dirty my mind by knowing it. ;)

Grumpy old git moans aside, what I really want to say is that layouts like this are so, so easy to come up with on paper, as it were. Lets face it, there is nothing new there at all. But making something so basic look so elegant is the real art.

Yeah, there are nitpicks, but I'm sure you'll smooth those out. The bulk or core is bang on.

As a lazy useless git, I wouldn't mind a template of it!!!!

Nice work.

vitalique 2 days ago 1 reply      
The content seems just great - even in a current work-in-progress state it reads like a solid, proper, well structured and thought out book and not just like a typical set of more or less random posts on HTML/CSS. The presentation wakes a grumpy rebel[1] in me, though =)

Also, I think that having the ability to play with some code and see results right there on the site (e.g., tweak all the included numerous demos) would bring even more awesomeness to the project.

Edit: formatting. (Thanks, saraid216, you are right.)

[1] http://contrastrebellion.com/

nicholassmith 2 days ago 1 reply      
The 'Learn Advanced HTML & CSS' button takes me to a password protected area, I'm guessing that's non-standard behaviour?

Site looks really nice, not got much time to check the content whilst I'm at work but I'll have a better look at it. It certainly seems very clear from the quick scan I had.

bhauer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great work! The writing style is clear and easy to understand. Clearly a great deal of work!

If I had my druthers, I'd bump up the contrast just a bit, especially in the code blocks.

Also, just a minor thing: looks like you've used a[src...] in your attribute selector examples when I believe you mean to have a[href...].

kellysutton 2 days ago 1 reply      
You lost me at the fade in.
wyck 2 days ago 0 replies      
In all honesty this should be called a beginner or intermediate guide, no?

When I saw it I was thinking an advanced guide would cover some of the details found here: http://www.html5rocks.com which I find somewhat hard to digest (especially all new semantics).

In no way do I mean to be negative towards what you have done, it looks awesome, I just expected something else.

eranation 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great, and reading the first lessons shows it's also written well and very useful.

One small question, why did you chose a non responsive layout? It is pretty unreadable on mobile (at least for me). I'm sure it's work in progress, but this is the first thing I've noticed.

Again, thank you for posting (and creating) I find it useful and looking forward for the next chapters.

madoublet 2 days ago 1 reply      
In my opinion, the detailed positioning section should discuss flexbox as well.
Yaggo 1 day ago 1 reply      

"For this to work within Internet Explorer 6 [...] in Internet Explorer on an Apple computer will also [...]"

Seriously, when was this written, in 2003? Totally irrelevant and makes newcomers confused.

jenius 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome work Shay - I love your intro to html and css guide as well, and have used it as a resource for many of my students (they loved it too). Fantastic work. If you ever need help with any piece of this, I'd be more than happy to pitch in.

I noticed one really strange thing - when you hover over any of the circles on the homepage, all the ampersands change font. Never seen this before and I'm sure it can be fixed quickly, just a heads up.

wheaties 2 days ago 2 replies      
I thought image files were already in a compressed format and the gains would only be seen for extremely large files (think MB in size.) Is this really needed for mobile first design? Honest question.
kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I already knew about the topics, but I still found the table introduction to be incredibly useful. I haven't seen many who worked on creating beautiful, semantic tables like this.

None of the guides online basically have tables with rounded borders.

ataleb52 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly awesome. What's even more awesome for me as a noob is to see what the web design/dev community is like out there. People really and truly care about educating others and sharing the knowledge they have...now imagine if the people in every industry were as open and awesome?!
SCAQTony 2 days ago 1 reply      
It use to be the old teaching the young, now it's the young teaching the old. As an old guy I like it.
FreshCode 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't read the sidebar due to a lack of contrast: http://contrastrebellion.com/
JohnHammersley 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks great, and on first glance has a lot of useful tips. I'm pretty sure I'll discover a lot of things I'm doing inefficiently, and hopefully this will help me put them right.

Thanks for taking the time to put it together!

ajanuary 2 days ago 0 replies      
13px is too small for body text, but at least the page zooms okay.
thedjpetersen 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really nice! Any way that this could also get uploaded as a PDF?
lquist 2 days ago 0 replies      
If there's a github repo attached to this, I'd love to contribute.
publicfig 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a great resource, thanks for this! I have been looking for a good consolidation of some of the more advanced features just to keep around. Can't wait to see this finished!
saryant 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is the first time I've read about the image data URI technique. Is this a common practice?
stillalowbie 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing that the chapter regarding Performance and Organization takes up is establishing a structure for your CSS.
Whilst I'm well aware that the approach made towards separation of similar classes into multiple files is a good one, I've seen it argued that the usage of @import or linking multiple stylesheets has a significant impact on performance.
The guide even mentions the important practice of combining all styles into one stylesheet in order to avoid multiple http requests, but only later on, in a different section.
I don't think the first section does a good job at stressing this. It ought to at least mention that some form of preprocessing should be present here, if only to minify and combine the files.
To me, it seems a bit counter-intuitive that this first section of the guide could be interpreted incorrectly by a newcommer (''I should separate everything and include it all in a nice, fancy list of link tags!'')

Just some feedback. I must say that I feel like the guide so far is representative of most of the gems I came across whilst trying to improve my webdev, doing small-company websites on the side whilst studying, starting with some basic HTML3/4 and CSS2 knowledge and working on 3-4 projects over the course of 2 years.
It's what I now wish I had known before diving into my first project.

chesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful guide and concisely brings together all the key elements you need to cover in web design, but without the being burdened by the huge mass of material you see in beginner guides. Cheers!
carsonm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've heavily used CSS and HTML for many years and I still learned a thing or two in here. Great work Shay.
yannis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks! Good layout and color scheme. I would suggest your code highlighter has a touch of stronger colors for strings and divs.
alfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love these guides. Even as an experienced front-end web developer, I always learn something new and insightful as well as design patterns I can improve on. Bookmarked.

Thank you for your contribution.

andrewcooke 2 days ago 0 replies      
fyi: it's all squashed to the left on chrome on linux w ghostery etc.

oh come on, this thread is being astroturfed. no valid hn post has 90% of comments with nothing more than vacuous praise. please flag.

bswinnerton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really great guide. CSS is often rushed by backend coders, so it's nice to have a formal guide like this.
hashgowda 2 days ago 1 reply      
wiil you expose remaining tutorials from lesson 4 onwards
bhartman19 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes being a newb all of shay's guides have been awesome and probably the best guides out there today!
johnpolacek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice job Shay - Congrats!
jaredgeorge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you!
vijayrj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you!!
bloggersway 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for providing it.
aacostarubio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome Guideeee!!!!!!!
Aaron is dead. From: Tim Berners-Lee w3.org
602 points by edsu  4 days ago   30 comments top 11
dreeves 4 days ago 0 replies      
Repeating with typos fixed:

    Aaron is dead.

Wanderers in this crazy world,
we have lost a mentor, a wise elder.

Hackers for right, we are one down,
we have lost one of our own.

Nurturers, carers, listeners, feeders,
parents all,
we have lost a child.

Let us all weep.


(I'm heartbroken about Aaron Swartz. He had been helping Beeminder a lot and offered to be an advisor, to be formalized next time he was in Portland. He was a wonderful person.)

jbwyme 4 days ago 1 reply      
This response is touching, sad, but somehow beautiful as well:
Illychnosis 4 days ago 9 replies      
I never met Aaron but I admired his work and his spirit.

I'm a little sad there's nothing on the front page of Reddit about Aaron yet.

peripetylabs 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is so incredibly sad. I did not know Aaron, but I will try to honour his memory. I've decided to stop hesitating and publish some of my research of the past couple years freely online. I hope others do too.
westicle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just noticing the black "armband" worn by hn today.

Many tributes for this impressive man.

technifreak 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is perfect. I have no words.
edwardunknown 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's a damn fine elegy.
jianxioy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very eloquently put. RIP Aaron.


vicapow 4 days ago 0 replies      
I agree. Very eloquently put.
shellehs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad to hear this, RIP Aaron.
pebb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know which anti-depressant he's on?
Cory Doctorow: RIP, Aaron Swartz boingboing.net
558 points by Argorak  4 days ago   20 comments top 9
edw519 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you, Cory. This wonderful post will bring understanding (and maybe even comfort) to many of us who are sad and confused today.

It will also probably save some lives.

alaskamiller 4 days ago 3 replies      
Last year someone else did this. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3231531

Two years ago someone did this. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2074109

In between, before all this, there have been people insisting that suicide is the cheaper option compared to living. This is very much a thing.

I don't purport to have a solution because I fight depression, suicidal thoughts myself and at best I can only say depression is something that you don't get rid of, only something that you learn to co-occupy your mind with.

But one thing I can say we here all live and work in a field that deals with great extremes. Great extremes of success and great abyss of failures. So take care to not be swallowed, by success or failure.

steve8918 4 days ago 0 replies      
A beautifully written article.

I only knew Aaron Swartz from the things written about him on the Internet. But it really feels like he had a lot more to contribute to this world, not just technologically, but socially and philisophically as well. His death to me feels much like when Kurt Cobain died, back in 1994. Both were artists who had much more to contribute, but their lives were cut much too short by mental illness/depression. It's sad.

Kurt Cobain died just a few years before the Internet really took off. I always imagine that he would have embraced this, and would have done things like released his music for free, and would have radically changed the way music was distributed. In a few years, there will be even more technology invented, and it could very well be that had Aaron Swartz stayed alive, he could have found other ways to contribute new things as well.

jakubp 4 days ago 1 reply      
My sympathies to the family and friends of Aaron.

tl;dr While it hurts to lose a loved person, at least that person no longer suffers.

One point from the blog I have a hard time relating to: "Because whatever problems Aaron was facing, killing himself didn't solve them. Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever. If he was lonely, he will never again be embraced by his friends. If he was despairing of the fight, he will never again rally his comrades with brilliant strategies and leadership. If he was sorrowing, he will never again be lifted from it."

I'm not sure what your religious beliefs are, but to atheists [like me] it's pretty clear that death is the end, and while he may have suffered a lot in his life, he surely is no longer suffering, and "his problems" no longer exist. They're gone with him. And in that sense, yes, he solved them for himself. Yes, he gave up the potential rest of his life, but I can relate to the idea of letting go at some point, possibly even without much regret as to what might happen in the future.

I can see how people close to him will now suffer a great deal at this loss, but again, the problems a man struggles with are his own, and I'd rather not mix the perspective of his loved ones with that.

I sense that many people (even non-religious) have a very 'judgmental' view of suicide, like it's some kind of disgrace or stupidity. I'm not saying the blog post author is one of those people, but really, having seen lots of [absurd] suffering in my life I am very understanding of people who are brave or desperate enough to let go.

To me it was the same with a couple friends who died in young age of serious illness. It hurt both sides when they were ill; now it only hurts me, but I am glad they didn't suffer endlessly (or for an extended period of life). To some, extended suffering is hell. I can imagine that it's not the case for everyone though.

templaedhel 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron was someone who I only knew tangentially until yesterday, and now can only wish that wasn't the case.

I happened to be with some people who knew him much better than I did, and I could only imagine how they're handling this.

Aaron was by all definitions a brilliant guy. His death is visibly shaking the hacker community 2nd only to Jobs (measured by front page stories but also personal experience).


drallison 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cory, a sad and wonderful tribute to Aaron. Thank you.
maked00 3 days ago 0 replies      
So where can I get my Aaron Swartz t-shirt?
skibrah 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderfully written article. Thank you.
Why you shouldn't do what Aaron did
496 points by Pitarou  4 days ago   152 comments top 47
zoba 4 days ago 7 replies      
I previously struggled with intense depression that lasted about 4 years. At the end of the four years, I had a realization that was so powerful that I haven't entered a period of depression lasting more than a week in the subsequent 4 years. My hopes are that this story, and the lesson learned by the end of it, may help others. In addition, its important to state that this is my story as it happened. I am one man, with one limited perspective on the world. I do not claim to know the details of everyone's situation and therefore do not pass judgement on their decisions regarding a very serious topic.

The story goes like this... In senior year of high school I 'formalized' my atheism. I'll save those details for another day, however, it suffices to say that I was confident that I was drawing the correct conclusion about the nonexistence of god. In thinking about the implications of a godless universe I realized the vastness of time, the insignificance of myself, and how nothing actually mattered. There is (or so I thought) no reason to do anything at all because its all going to be washed away in time. My drive to carry on vanished. Everything was futile, hopeless. Nothing I did mattered so why do anything at all -- why feel happy about anything at all?

I constantly thought of suicide. The ways I'd do it, the statements I'd try to make with it. It was an awful time, and it was all right in the middle of my undergraduate college experience. This continued on for a couple years as I tried as best I could with school while investigating how other people are able to cope with the magnitude of this concept. The reality I found was that most people don't cope with it, or rather, they cope with it by never even considering it. That only made things worse of course, everyone I'd talk to about this had almost nothing to say.

One day I decided I'd actually go through with it. As I lay on my bed I thought to myself "Alright, its been long enough. I've felt terrible and thought of suicide for years now. Either I'm going to man up and get this over with, or I'm just going to keep dreaming of doing it every day." So I bullied myself into finally committing to finish it, and there was a sense of relief. I asked myself why I hadn't decided to do it sooner. That was when I made the most fantastic discovery of my entire life, but first, some other things you should know.

During this time I was also struggling with being gay and, as a gay computer scientist myself, I found Alan Turing very interesting. It struck me as awful that he died in 1954, not long before The Beatles, free love, and the full onset of the civil rights movement. Just a few more years and he could have lived in, and possibly even helped to shape, a much more liberal society.

When I asked myself why I hadn't decided to do it sooner, I realized it was because I was never sure. I always hoped that I would find some clue that would change my mind. So I thought to myself: am I sure now? Do I have conclusive evidence that killing myself is the right thing to do? Am I certain there won't be some dramatic unforeseen shift in circumstances that would improve my life and make me not want to kill myself (like Turing missed out on)? No, I was not absolutely certain that life had no meaning.

We know so little of the universe and theres no way that any of us can be absolutely certain that suicide is the best choice without research that would take hundreds of years in understanding physics, the mind, and probably fields that don't even exist yet. Its possible that life does indeed have a purpose and we simply don't know it. The optimal thing to do is to continue on and do as best we can to discover this purpose -- because if there is a purpose, then actively looking for it is the smart way to find it. If there isn't a purpose, then the time we 'wasted' in search of a purpose wasn't really wasted after all because theres no way to judge whether it was time well spent without an ultimate purpose.

Getting back to the discovery... Probably mere hours away from killing myself, I realized that there was no way to know if killing myself was the right thing to do. There may be something to live for that I don't know about -- some overarching infallible truth embedded in the fabric of the universe that gives life meaning. This was a powerful idea: I should not kill myself because there may be a purpose of life. Now I decided to not kill myself...but what should I do next? I had no plans; after all, I had expected to be dead later that day. Well, it was simple. Nothing mattered except the thing that had kept me alive: the potential for a purpose of life.

I realized that every bit of my life should be based on discovering the purpose that may be embedded in the universe. The most important thing, the driving factor in all aspects of my life, indeed my very own reason for existence and purpose of life was to discover the purpose of life. "The purpose of life is to discover the purpose of life." It is beautiful.

There are many questions and implications that come from realizing this purpose of being alive but for now this comment is long enough. If you're interested in hearing more, let me know. I've thought a lot about this and (in true HN fashion) am building some tools which use ideas that stem from this one. I hope that my story of how I walked right up to the precipice of death and decided to turn back to life helps anyone who is also struggling with such issues.

seiji 4 days ago 1 reply      
Studies of suicide[1] show it's an escape from yourself (kinda obvious), but I think the insight is: it all starts with blaming yourself.

If you don't blame yourself, the chain of suicide doesn't start. People don't suicide themselves because somebody else has annoying life circumstances. Circumstances are relative too. Modern society is constantly throwing other people's success, joy, accomplishment, and bravado in our faces. It can make us feel less than what we are. It can make us feel like our lives aren't good enough. Stop comparing your life to anything you've read anywhere anytime. We live in an age of magic. Be a wizard.

Blaming yourself is a dangerous path to go down. Don't blame yourself. The world is big and time is long. Things will work out.

[1]: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2408091 and summarized at my http://suicidescale.com/ site.

mtowle 4 days ago 1 reply      
The following probably won't see the light of day-- few of my posts here seem to, for whatever reason. And it's not a lengthy diatribe on reasons for living or reasons for suicide. Much smarter men than I have written on that subject, both recently and throughout recorded history. If it's in such words you find your personal solace, please disregard what I have to say. I never found any solace in it, though; I don't believe in Epiphany Theory.

Currently 24, I've dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts on and off for 4 or 5 years now. That heavy depression where you don't take care of yourself, don't shower, don't brush your teeth, you eat just enough to stay alive (I once subsisted on 2-liters of Mountain Dew and 99-cent bags of Utz cheese puffs for weeks-- dropped my deuces like a wood-chipper). You avoid going to sleep because after 31 episodes of Futurama, all you can think to do is watch a 32nd. You avoid waking up because you don't want to...be alive.

You shut yourself in, you stop going to class, you don't answer anyone's phone calls, you cut yourself off from the outside. You set yourself up to make it as easy as possible. How can your parents miss you if you haven't talked to them in weeks? If anything, you tell yourself, the fact that their calls have gone from hourly to daily to weekly is a sign that they've almost let go...can't let them in now, or it'll be too hard for them when you're gone. Emotionally hard, anyway. Really, they'll be better off with me out of the picture. Everyone will. I'm doing everyone a favor--Mom, Dad, my brother and sister, my friends who obviously just pity me, everyone.

That was me 3 years ago. Today I'm happy! :) I'm fine. I'm doing awesome. I don't attribute the turnaround to blog posts, I attribute it to taking my goddamn anxiety medication. Consistently. Every freaking day. If you forget, fine, but take it the next day, and the day after, and keep freaking taking it. It helps. Take your meds, everybody. Give it a shot for a couple months and see if things change. If you still feel down, go back to your psych and tell them, and they'll prescribe something else. Epiphanies always feel like the answer, and meds feel like the enemy, but do everyone who loves you a favor and give them a shot. Please.

_delirium 4 days ago 3 replies      
In general I would agree. But if I were facing prison, it's tougher to say what the rational course of action is. It might be the decision I'd make if I were starkly given the option of suicide or decades in prison. The biggest question would be determining whether that's really the stark decision, or if there's a possibility of finding a way out of it. If acquittal is a possibility, making a decision too early would be tragic (but I'd also be afraid that making a decision too late may be tragic in a different way).

It's true that it's important to make sure that depression is not coloring your assessment of that: it's quite common for depressed people to have a view that things are hopeless when they aren't. But on the other hand, sometimes the world sucks, and not every situation has a good way out of it. For most people, things get better and what seemed like insurmountable obstacles will pass. But I don't think you can honestly tell someone that a major felony criminal case is a temporary setback, something that will pass, and only their depression is making it seem more hopeless than it is. In a large percentage of cases it doesn't pass, and the person isn't able to continue their life as a free person. A situation I hope never to be in, but I don't think the correct decision, if you're actually facing a choice of whether to go to prison for a long time or not, is obvious.

I can't say whether that was Aaron's own motivation, though, or how rational his thinking on the subject was.

Mz 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you react really negatively to the news of this suicide, one thing you can do is seek out company. I have basically been suicidal for years but I am rarely alone. I am actually pretty pissed off and disgusted by the bullshit I am reading on hn today. Most people are assholes most of the time, then someone commits suicide and they try to say something nice for a change. A forum I belonged to posthumously reinstated a former member whom they had banned. I thought they were assholes. They couldn't be supportive while he was alive but he committed suicide so now they have to find some way to make peace with the reality that they were assholes to him while he still lived. Suddenly, the faux niceties come out. Try being supportive and tolerant to the living. The dead don't need your bullshit fake nice words. They are beyond helping.

I may need to start a blog post. I am sure hn isn't interested in more of my cranky ranting about what is very normal behavior but which I happen to think is completely shitty behavior.


If you are at risk for finally offing yourself because Aaron did, try to avoid being alone. Suicide usually occurs when one is alone. Never being alone is a big part of why I am still alive, in spite of having abundant reason to say "fuck you, world, I have had enough of your shit".

hkmurakami 4 days ago 0 replies      
>Depression robs you of the ability to: 1. remember happiness 2. feel happiness 3. anticipate happiness 4. make considered decisions

I've spent many hours thinking about how each of us can dig ourselves out of our dark places when we unfortunately get stuck in them from time to time; I don't think I've seen the core symptoms of depression expressed so succinctly in these few years since my own difficult times.

I spent Christmas week with friends in Hawaii, and I told my friend (who has lost an older brother to suicide -- so we talk about this sort of thing from time to time) that being conscious of "happy times" like this and making an effort to remember these great moments during our difficult moments is probably a key factor in preventing suicidal thoughts in us. He agreed.

vannevar 4 days ago 0 replies      
So why didn't I kill myself? Somewhere in my guts, there was a stubborn belief that "this will pass".

This is a critical point. If you know someone who is prone to depression, it's important to understand that they may simply be incapable of generating this kind of hope within themselves. Depression is not merely the loss of happiness, but the loss of the belief that you can ever be happy again. That's why intervention is so important when someone is suicidal: http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&p... .

orionblastar 4 days ago 0 replies      
Life has been shitty to me. I've attempted suicide about 13 times and failed. I decided not to attempt suicide anymore as my survival meant the universe (even God) didn't want me dead yet and there is more to learn and more to do in life for me.

Since a young age I've been bullied and abused by my peers (if you can call them peers, children can be mean and so can adults) and it drove me into a depression. I vowed I would not become like the bullies, and took a stand of non-violent citing that "Might does not make right" and after being beaten up for a while for not fighting back I took up martial arts to defend myself. I learned how to avoid fights and how to defend myself without seriously harming the other person.

Eventually I got into computers, when every other teenager was out getting drunk or stoned, I was writing programs on a Commodore 64 (The only computer my father could afford for me and my two brothers, and I got laughed at for not being able to afford an IBM PC or Apple //) and kept track of my brother's baseball statistics for one of my first programs (saved to a Datasette cassette drive, before we could afford a 1541 Floppy Drive) and I wrote other programs in BASIC as well.

Before I left for a university with record ACT scores, so I didn't need to take the SAT to get in (Combined ACT and SAT scores were required and my ACT score along was high enough) my father bought me a Commodore Amiga 1000 with the 5.25" external floppy drive and the PC-Transformer software (to run MS-DOS programs) and a 1200 baud modem. I joined a fraternity and half the guys were nice and the other half just hazed me and bullied me and harassed me and finally I took up under-aged drinking and smoking cigars. I feared what I was becoming as I developed a hubris that I knew everything (it was the alcohol talking) and so I left to take up college elsewhere.

I went to a college earned a degree, worked in their computer labs and helped out students. It was nice, but not ideal.

When I was working I was always picked on and bullied and harassed by managers and other employees. No matter what job I had, I was always given more work to force me to quit, etc.

I had a job as a programmer, big salary lots of benefits, I did really good work but was bullied, harassed, and abused, and management did some of it as did other employees. Finally from the stress of a toxic work environment I developed schizoaffective disorder. After that I was on short-term disability and when I came back I was fired two weeks later for having a panic attack at work because they moved me to an open area near foot traffic and a book shelf and people walked by and mocked me and laughed at me.

Any job after that I was just hired to take them to the next level and reach goals, and after that fired. I was mocked, abused, and harassed and bulled at those jobs too.

Eventually I ended up on disability, too sick to work.

I am doing my best to get better and try to get back to work. I am working on some ebooks and trying to write programs again, but due to the emotional, psychological, physical, traumas I developed writer's block, so my work goes slow.

I was able to finally clear the negative thoughts out enough to write a Fibonacci Sequence in ANSI C on GCC under Ubuntu 12.10, I wrote psuedocode in a paper notebook and ran the code in my head and wrote the variables down on paper to debug it. Then I wrote it in under 15 minutes on Ubuntu. It isn't much, but at least I was able to do something. That much is worth living for.

I have a wife and son, so I live for them as well.

buro9 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to have a rational discussion on suicide without it offending someone's own will to live?

Is there a natural law that suicide breaches, is this why it upsets and offends so many at the thought?

I'm personally of the deep belief that suicide is an option. And it's also something I think of at times. I think of suicide when I'm up, when I'm down... but generally never when I have a struggle and something to fight for. I think of suicide semi-frequently and always have.

I view suicide as an option because I don't believe in afterlife, or that life is a gift (from whom? we're supposed to be thankful how?)... life and personal existence is a bizarre improbable thing, we are here but nothing follows and nothing will remain of us in the grand scheme of things.

When you know life is fundamentally irrelevant, that we are but a speck of dust... what's the difference between a span of 40 years and a span of 80 years?

I like to think that life should be qualitatively lived, struggles endured in a constant hope of experiencing a high-quality of living.

Is there anything so deeply flawed with viewing my life as being mine to do with as I please, and also acknowledging that if I come to some point that a remainder of my life would be lived in misery that I might choose to exercise a right over my life to end it on a qualitative high?

I don't find that these arguments differ greatly from those in terminal illness (whom most would sympathise with), but like many things that are unseen (mental illness, emotional state, state of happiness or sadness)... the unseen seem to be accepted as being unreal, fixable, unacceptable.

Yet there are times that suicide can almost be thought of as noble. When a lover dies and the lone lover pines so greatly and finds that they cannot continue to have any quality of life without the other person.

I don't believe that I've ever been clinically depressed, and am a very optimistic and hopeful person. Yet my reasoning isn't offended or appalled when I see reports of suicide, and nor could I make a claim that I would never consider it. It is, for me, part of living... as death is for everyone... and as we ponder death beyond our control, I also ponder death within our control.

I find it hard to comprehend the reaction of others to stories of suicide that seem to follow misconceptions about someone having to be depressed, or the time of year... I don't think suicide is the product of a person with a fault in some way, I find it to be a rational thing.

julienmarie 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just see a lot of people talking about cognitive behavioral therapies. I guess it's one of the differences in the "psy" area between the US and Europe where psychoanalysis is more widespread.

I've also known some deep depressive years (after my mother committed suicide). The cure has been to read ( Nietzsche mainly), to embrace it, to listen to my brain, to little by little understand it. Understanding that depression is a pure symptom of our humanity : it's the moment you loose meaning in your life ( as Nietzsche says, the Human being is the only animal who needs meaning to live ). And then, you realize that the meaning of your life can only come from one source : yourself. We are easily trap by the need of approval, the need of existence within the eyes of the one who surrounds us. These approvals do not exist and are only projected, forecasted, approvals, it's our own devils. We are free to put whatever meaning we desire on our lives, as long as we respect others. Life is a permanent challenge to ourselves. This is the reason this is the most beautiful journey... Life is short anyway, let's make it a beautiful adventure. There is nothing to lose, everything to gain.

rohamg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for posting this. I too am alarmed at the HN community's response. It is surprising how such strong talent can feel so powerless- you'd think hackers would be less susceptible to giving up given that we can change things with our bare hands. It's easy to give up, it's incrementally harder to say "this will pass", it's hardest of all to snap ourselves out- slap ourselves in the face and remind each other of the immense privilege we all were born into, and see problems in the world with a sense of duty and responsibility, not despair. Honestly- I'm a bit shocked at the sense of entitlement people have of life sometimes, expecting happiness to be delivered on a platter (or via API). Life is a startup, it is a fucking war: keep busy and fight the good fight. If we're on HN we're already in the top 1% - if we have problems we should get out there and do something about it.
mherdeg 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just as a heads-up, his last name is spelled "Swartz".
guylhem 4 days ago 1 reply      
The "rationalist" approach that I use is to consider :

- death is a final state

- it always happens, sooner or later

- there are ways to alleviate pain, whether physical or moral (drugs and such)

- suicide is a capital sin

Even if death seems or is a better option, it makes sense to wait for it (and even to hope for it - there are really bad moments in anyone's life).

And if you do not believe in god, the first 3 items are good reason enough to wait, and a valid 4th one can be :

- suicide means killing perfectly good organs, than in other situations could have save many people needing transplants.

Feelings and emotions are fallible, especially during depression, a disease of our emotion-processing system.

misnome 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's a repeat of what others have said, but thanks again for posting this - much of the comments in the other thread seemed to be.. unhelpful, if not downright antagonistic.
pfortuny 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, this is quite difficult to convey and to explain but some times it seems like you have to just stay on and believe that it will pass.

Because it will pass.

But the hard thing is to believe it and that is where help is needed, I would say.


buchuki 4 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for this, I've been meaning to author something similar, but I'd choose the exact same words.

After 20 years of depression my death was averted by the words "I'd rather see you institutionalized than dead." Two weeks on the psychiatric ward and an ongoing series of changes later, I now lead the happiest life possible. You can, too.

So now, I give these words back to the community. I don't know who you are, but with all my heart: I'd rather see you institutionalized than dead.

amyyyyyyyyyy 4 days ago 9 replies      
I'm going to put my thoughts down here.

The sections will be:
Escorting and sexuality
Drug and alcohol addiction
What I want
The plan


I work as a software engineer. Well, I would, if I was able to hold a job for more than 6 months without the company getting tired of me. I'm good at what I do. My bosses love my output. I have open source projects and contributions. Even on my first programming job at a startup at 18, the CTO was shocked on my first day. Repeat that shock for every job. But the companies get tired of me because I have a reputation for coming in to work straight from nightclubs, drunk, drugged up, tired, needing to snort coke at work just to stay awake and productive.


As said above, I can't hold down permanent work. One nice thing I have going for me is that I'm a young, pretty good looking girl. I don't look my age. I look 15. Men love that. They get off on me being their little girl and them being my daddy who want to fuck their little hot teenage daughter. The sex is boring for me. I like girls. I went through a long period of not knowing if I'm straight, lesbian, or bisexual. I think I like men but only in the sense of having a "daddy". I have a real birth dad of course, but I want a "daddy" - that older guy who looks after me, loves me, helps me get through my early twenties, gives me advice. I suppose this is what people call "having daddy issues".

Escorting can go really wrong. Sometimes clients beat the shit out of their hookers. It's only happened to me once, thankfully. I got tied up in a dark room and beaten and whipped. On the positive side, getting beat up escorting builds character. It makes you really, really strong. I can take a ton of abuse from other people (but not in my own head).


It's debatable whether I'm a coke addict. I don't desperately need it, but I want to use it. Thanks to being a hooker, I get lots of easy and free access to cocaine. I use 2-3 times a week.

Alcohol is what will destory me. I used to be a teetotal, innocent, quiet, shy teen. Now I'm an alcoholic, confident, loud party-girl with an arrest record of "Drunk and Disorderly", "Drunk and Disorderly", "Drunk and Disorderly". I love vodka. I need vodka. I have two bottles in my fridge right now that I'm going to start pouring once I finish this letter. I'm having a quiet night in (been out 4 nights in a row now) so will drink myself to sleep.


They hate me for reasons I won't go into.

Shit, this is the hardest bit to write. I've been typing non-stop for 10 minutes and now I'm unsure what to say and hesitating.

My mum... she doesn't want me anymore. I know she doesn't, even if she says she loves me. She never shows appreciation to anybody for anything. My dad worked hard to provide for my sister and I (because my mum hasn't worked in decades, lazy bitch). My first memory of my dad was when he took me to a party that his workplace threw for the children. I was the shy one who was too scared to talk to anyone. He eventually dragged me out and into the car and shouted at me. I was a fucking disappointment, obviously not (yet) the outgoing loud confident child everyone would prefer. I wish they had just got a divorce instead of the constant arguing they've had since before I was born. I was desperate to move away from home because I couldn't take their arguing anymore. Now when people argue in public it still upsets me.


It makes me happy. It didn't used to, because I was such an awkward kid and teenager. But now I fucking love being the center of the dance floor; the one up on the stage; the naked girl; the one guys talk to in clubs and pubs.

I was at a gangbang last night. I was there through an escorting contact. I was the first person to get naked and fuck. And then I just didn't put my clothes back on. Walking around nude and having the men look and me and wank at me was what I wanted -- attention. I wanted to fuck the other girl, though.


A secure job. A better flat (my current place is a tiny studio). Not having to suck dick to afford things. Not having alcohol withdrawal symptoms after just 48 hours sober. A family.


Obviously, because this is a suicide note, the plan is suicide. The question is "when" and "is there anything I want to do first?". Suicide has been the plan for as long as I can remember.

My first genuine suicide plan was two years ago. I was going to travel South East Asia, spend all my savings having fun and fucking hookers (haha, but I've become one! twist!!). And then die. That didn't get executed - instead I ran away to another place and just did nothing.

Like I said in the "Attention" section, I enjoy that and it makes me happy. So maybe I should just seek that out. I was reading a story earlier - http://longform.org/stories/little-girl-lost - go read it, it's good - and this story is about a girl who ran away to Los Angeles to seek out fame. She got the fame. She became one of the biggest porn stars of her era. Then she shot herself in the head at 2am.

Another thing I read earlier - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/magazine/here-is-what-happ... - about Lindsay Lohan. She still gets acting gigs despite being a crazy bitch.

If they can do it, why can't I? I could run away to LA, Hollywood, whatever. I'd have a go at trying. I would be homeless but I have enough saving to last a year. If it doesn't work out, I can end it all. Finally end it all. It would be a relief from my stress and problems and this suicidal voice in my head that's taunted me for my whole life - which is ironic because I wouldn't get to feel the relief, because I'd be dead.

dear 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why people need to feel so depressed to commit suicide? I don't understand. Programmers are supposed to be rational, non-emotional. Take it easy. It's just another day in the universe. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
toyg 4 days ago 0 replies      
As somebody who flirted with depression before, I can assure you that what I'm feeling now is pure, unadulterated rage.

The world was robbed of a genius by petty bureaucrats and greedy, hypocritical "non-profit" profiteers. This is obscene.

jdefr89 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am currently suffering from a depressive episode. I am diagnosed OCD/ADD/Motor tic disorder... I also am in recovery after an addiction to oxycontin. I must say, reading the news was very sad, but at the same time, I know why he did it. I CAN understand why someone would do that to themselves, b/c I have considered it myself. But, I always remind myself that these feelings are transient and I will have good days.. You can't take life so seriously, you need to live and laugh regardless of who you are and how smart you are. Like the force of gravity, depression knows no socioeconomic boundaries -we are all susceptible to its effects.
navs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently going through CBT and on multiple meds. None seem to be working and my uni life suffers, as does my work life. Having no social life and no friends doesn't help. Yet I keep at it. Life is full of so many possibilities, so many variables that I have yet to consider. I hope when next it comes time for me to contemplate my existence, I can hold on to that hope for an unseen, unspeculative future.

I'd also like to add one more thing Depression robs you of: Self worth.

klrr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Somone sent me this when I asked about a programming problem,
"The 0th step to solve any problem is to make sure you really understand the problem statement. If you are unable to understand what you read, seek help, you really need it."
It triggered suicidal thoughts and I've had many in the past but those times a very kind person got me on better thoughts. But I don't want to waste his time anymore, and I don't want these thoughts either. Is there anyway to stop them?
paupino_masano 4 days ago 0 replies      
The main thing to realize is that it can be a long process but it WILL pass. To be honest, I'm not sure when it disappeared from my every day life, but after one of my therapy sessions I looked back at the last six months and realized it had gone and I was actually happy. Previously, I had become convinced that it would never leave me, and that it was just a part of who I was. In fact, I was even at the time attached to it and didn't want it to leave as I was convinced that it was where all my creativity came from. Looking back I realize that it now only hindered it.

Things do get better - just make sure you get help as no one should do it alone!

dave9999 4 days ago 0 replies      
Suicide Hotlines (USA):



Please if you are depressed or suicidal seek professional help.

aaronthrowaway 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to add that I went through something very similar, although on a smaller scale. The prosecutor was charging me with ridiculous things, giving me the option to plead guilty or go to trial and keep appealing until I went broke, and ending up in jail on top of it.

When I read Aaron's story, I understood exactly how he felt. I felt like killing myself so many times. The prosecutor destroyed my family, my livelihood, my reputation, my life. And there was no "victim" either. I was completely alone at the end of it.

I'm on year 2 of starting again, and I'm telling you it does get better. A lot better.

I hope that Aaron's story sheds some light on the lack of empathy, and straight up bullying the prosecutors employ against vulnerable people. They went harder on me when they found out I lost my job. They are bullies, plain and simple.

primespiral 4 days ago 0 replies      
I too am concerned about the Werther effect.

Traffic on reddits /r/SuicideWatch has exploded. [1]


benatkin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fortunately common suicide logic, which should be defeated whenever it comes up, doesn't apply here. Aaron had extenuating circumstances. Those that are shaken because you thought Aaron was too strong for this: you're probably still right. There are plenty of smart people like Lawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow who have cited the very real threat of a long prison sentence as a factor.
tomd3v 4 days ago 1 reply      
Good post, but it is much more difficult to believe in "this will pass" when you could be sentenced for 35 years.
philippeback 4 days ago 1 reply      
What kept (and still keeps) me running: I don't want to let the suckers win. I want to see the movie of my life for as long as possible, no matter how wrecked that could be.
And record yourself when you are okay. Play the movie back to yourself when in the dumps. It helps.
pknerd 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is the stage where the religion or faith come to rescue. We in life faces things where you find no logical way out other than looking for someone who we believe is superior than us. We surrender to that force and try get calm as much as we can.
genwin 4 days ago 1 reply      
> TL;DR If Swartz's death is triggering suicidal thoughts, you must understand that this will pass, and life will be worth living.

This is a common refrain but it won't always really pass. Our society is so harsh at times (mainly due to you-know-who type of people), with the damaging effects staying strong until death, that leaving can be a reasonable choice. What I wish Aaron had done is left in a different way, perhaps to a country with no extradition treaty with the US. There are few of those places left however, as the US tightens its depraved grip on the whole world.

mds_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know. I've been coping with chronic depression for over a decade and I'm absolutely sick of hearing "oh, you're still young. It will get better". Reading that just pushes me towards the edge.

Even if I was to be "cured" somehow"is living half a life of misery worth living half an enjoyable life? Not to me. No amount of "happiness" can offset the misery.

I know everyone means well but it might not have the intended effect. At least not for me.

tbjohnston 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for this post and helping to get the word out.
Chanoch 4 days ago 1 reply      
If all the encouragement isn't doing it for you, this one helped me:
Your death won''t stop the pain - you won't feel any (if you're lucky - there are many more failed attempts than successful ones) but your family, your friends will never recover. At least you can handle it - too many people don't understand what it's like to live with the pain, think about them before you go.
tekromancr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have been trying really hard to fight my own depression for the last 5 years, and this news hit me at a particularly low point. I really want to thank the OP for posting this and helping me derail some suicidal processes I had running since discovering this. I really need help, but I am not in a position to get it, so thank you for helping me live just a little bit longer.
hajrice 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd also suggest anyone that has ever faced depression or currently is facing it checks out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGp25fn25Cs
throwaway438904 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good post, don't let any news affect your judgement of what you need to do in life.

At the same time, the general attitude towards suicide makes me even more uncomfortable being alive. I don't feel ill and it seems really condescending to say that I haven't been in my right mind much in years. I find it really consoling that some time I'll happen to die or get around to killing myself.

To me, suicide would bring immediate advantages. I'd never feel bad again. I'd never be happy again too, but that doesn't bother me and I wish it wouldn't bother you either. It's fine to say you feel uncomfortable with others killing themselves and it's definitely important to consider that prior to committing suicide, but please don't claim that not killing myself would benefit me. Maybe you think that's an example of my inability to make considered decisions/judgements. To me it just resembles any other moral or political argument where calling either side mentally ill doesn't help.

Suicide is wrong, usually. It just affects the people around you way to much. But for me and many other people it would also be really awesome.

DivisibleByZero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for this.

Depression at any level is very real and very serious. Most people will tell you to talk to friends and family. You will be alone, it will be hard; but most importantly, you will be OK. It does get better.

bestest 4 days ago 2 replies      
Kill oneself? Why the hell would I do THAT? Yes, humanity sucks. Yes, people are swarms of mindless creatures. Yes, the law is not fair. Yes, politics sucks. Yes, pollution is bad. Yes, children curse and get worse with each generation. Yes, everything is more or less pointless. But I don't fucking care. Life is too good to be being rid of.

And there still are chances I might once again would want to live on this planet.

How I feel about Aaron's (or whoever's) death? I don't fucking care. Seriously. Get over it. He accomplished as much as any other of us (don't ever underestimate yourself) -- it's just very subjective. And he was weak enough to kill himself. Don't think any person committing suicide is worth the praise Aaron is getting.

The fact that HN's front page is full of links more or less related to Aaron's death makes me sad and disappointed and not want to live on this planet anymore.

Selfcommit 4 days ago 0 replies      
This Kid, and he was still a kid, accomplished more and ended his life in less time than I've been alive.
Both a motivator, and a tragedy.

Remember Happiness.

specto 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is good to know there are others with my thoughts. Sometimes I feel like it's only others that keep me going. Nothing about myself.
rlambert 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this, Pitaroua. It is really well put and important stuff for people to know.

== Ross ==

azizali 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well said, and thank you for posting this. Really
zemanel 4 days ago 0 replies      
in the end, it's a good thing hope's a double-edged sword
waynesutton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting!
hekker 4 days ago 1 reply      
Beware, there are no respawn points in RL.
Let's black bar HN
473 points by flocial  4 days ago   75 comments top 14
pajju 4 days ago 2 replies      
Aaron Swartz's presence in various networks:

In HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=aaronsw

Pinboard: https://pinboard.in/u:aaronsw

His last tweet was on Jan 9th, https://twitter.com/aaronsw

In reddit: https://aaronsw.jottit.com/reddit

Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PGTlB14AAAAJ

Writings: https://aaronsw.jottit.com/writings


Things he has made






HN will miss your contributions. Rest in Peace. Love.

Tichy 4 days ago 4 replies      
I must admit I find this and other variations of "let's use the death of a person to force other people to do things" very offensive.

Black out your own web site. Mourning is a personal thing. If PG decides he wants to black bar HN, he will do it. If not, he won't. What's it to you?

rdl 4 days ago 2 replies      
Any relative lack of notability vs. the others HN has black-barred was because he died so young.

Think of all the things he likely would have done over the next 60 years if he slowed down even 50%.

thomasz 4 days ago 1 reply      
The news and eulogies are all over the net, so I don't see how denying him a black bar would prevent possible copycat suicides.

The stigmatization against suicides as something dishonorable has to end. He was a great hacker and distinguished activist, and through I don't know him personally, I'm pretty sure he was a great guy overall. He deserves a black bar.

He died from depression. Others die from other diseases, car accidents, smoking, drugs, heart attacks, strokes and what not.

ashraful 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure the black bar isn't there because PG happens to be asleep. Its unfortunate that he'll wake up to such bad news.
ig1 4 days ago 1 reply      
I imagine it'll get black barred in the morning (california time). Apart from everything else Aaron Schwartz was also a YC alumni from YC's very first class in summer 2005.
Techasura 4 days ago 1 reply      
Aaron will be remembered for ever.
exodust 4 days ago 0 replies      
His tweets don't seem suicidal. In other words no sign of stress, isolation, fatigue, burn-out. Mentally unfit people on the edge aren't usually writing about re-booting democracy and the importance of future peer-to-peer research. Concern for the future, holding politicians accountable, even warning politicians about their replacement! That is bold. So the bold activist kills himself. Something seems odd about this, but I guess it was suicide if they say it was. Meanwhile I'll keep reading his stuff.
donretag 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad to see someone so young end their own life. To me it does not sound like his current legal situation was the reason so, but it was his overall mental state.

But I must admit, I never heard of this guy. Not once. I have never used reddit and skip over all the non-technical/startupy articles here on HN.

esalman 4 days ago 0 replies      
In fact this is the first time after Steve Jobs that the front page is so dominated by one person.
playhard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks PG for doing this
FredericJ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Can't agree more.
philhippus 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's up to the HN owners what colour scheme they put on their website and why. I don't mean to sound callous at all, but if HN black barred every deserving death, it would be a permanent black bar. I had never heard of Aaron Swartz until he is now dead. Why can't we honour the living?
baritalia 4 days ago 8 replies      
I, for one, don't care. It was his personal decision to end it this way.

Also I'd like to know how many of you will think of his 'legacy' on a daily basis in 6 months time.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline suicidepreventionlifeline.org
462 points by sethbannon  4 days ago   52 comments top 13
rdl 4 days ago 3 replies      
The one at MIT, Nightline, was smart because it pitched itself as a general "call for any reason at night" number -- I called a couple times to get urgent help (after someone tried unsuccessfully to mug me, and I needed to figure out who to report to) -- not just for suicidal people.

I suspect there are depressed people who may ultimately kill themselves who, if there were some number solely for "suicidal people", would never call, but would be likely to call "call for any reason", and then get access to mental health care in addition to whatever the phone operator gives them.

Nice to see that somehow the MIT administration fucked up Nightline, too, so it's closed for a year. Good job guys!

ghc 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad this is on the front page. Often when I learn of the suicide of someone I knew or respected I briefly experience idle "sympathetic" suicidal thoughts. This always leaves me shaken because we've all been taught to seek help immediately if we ever experience suicidal thoughts, but I know I'm not depressed, even if life is indeed very difficult sometimes. I imagine someone truly depressed and suicidal might experience a very strong impulse to act on their thoughts upon hearing news like this.
fourstar 4 days ago 11 replies      
Not trying to be facetious here, but are there some kind of statistics somewhere out there that show how effective suicide hotlines are? I always hear about them, but have yet to hear about someone who used one successfully.

E.g. X% of people have been dissuaded by suicide attempts after speaking to a suicide hotline.

jrogers65 4 days ago 1 reply      
The most effective immediate suicide prevention available is a surprising one. It's Ketamine. It takes effect very rapidly and the anti-depressant effects persist for months from a single dose. It's a wonder how SSRI's are in wide use when there are far more effective treatments which have been around since the 60's. Marketing and business are to blame for that, I suppose.


There are also some novel NMDA antagonists (same mechanism as Ketamine) in the works, which come with less perception alterations, the names of which escape me, which will change things for the better for a lot of people.

sergiotapia 4 days ago 3 replies      
I kind of find it in poor taste to post this link at this point in time. Just my thoughts.
wissler 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Please don't pathologize this story." -- Aaron's friend, Lawrence Lessig


Tichy 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be curious to know what they teach the people manning the phones. Sometimes I ponder volunteering, but honestly, atm anybody talking to me would probably be more suicidal afterwards than before.

Are there even universal things to say? Perhaps somebody religious needs to hear "god loves you no matter what", whereas I for example found solace in thinking about atheism and evolution theory. Probably the first talks are not even about such things, rather about convincing the person that most problems are solvable and that they can get help?

pfortuny 4 days ago 0 replies      
Whenever your depression (or anything similar) symptoms are relieved and another person is helping you, that is enough to get you at least 'just a bit' further away from suicide. And, really, this cannot be easily accounted for.

The problem with human interactions and ease of anxiety is that you will probably never be able to get a proper and useful metric.

I'd say most depressive people would not fill a form after calling any help hotline.

navs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know it doesn't seem feasible but I do wish we could have an "International Suicide Prevention lifeline". When I lived in Fiji, I would often look on the web for some place to call. I often settled for irc chatrooms. It's sad that my first ever foray into irc was because I was lonely and wanted company. I'm lucky that New Zealand, where I live currently, has great support.
ameen 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered why suicide is so common among us young programmers. (Ilya, Bill Zeller, etc)

As programmers we're able to control how our code behaves, but life on the other hand has too many variables, most of which are beyond one's control - and the only thing one can control is their lives. The will to live can do amazing wonders, but when that will fades -- life doesn't make sense, its just a waste of time and resources.

hihuhiahei 4 days ago 1 reply      
ARE YOU %100 SURE that he committed suicide????? Wnat is that?
MIT President on Aaron Swartz pastebin.com
459 points by jefftchan  3 days ago   209 comments top 20
pc 3 days ago 2 replies      
While it's painful that this is happening now and not a year ago, I'm heartened that Hal is heading the internal investigation. I can't imagine anyone better.

He was a major supporter of Star Simpson when most of the MIT administration hung her out to dry. He has as good a chance as anyone at understanding Aaron's goals in liberating JSTOR's archive: he's a founding director of the FSF, Creative Commons, and Public Knowledge. He led the creation of MIT's OpenCourseWare and the class Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier.

He's also just a deeply good guy.


losvedir 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm impressed with this response. Two quick notes:

1) President Reif is brand new in the role -- the majority of events would have happened under Susan Hockfield, the previous president. It makes sense that he would want a report of what happened previously since he wasn't here yet.

2) Professor Abelson is a very well respected member of the MIT community, and the fact that he is heading up the investigation leaves me comforted. He's helped me before in the past and is so incredibly smart and kind hearted I can't think of a better guy for the job.

danso 3 days ago 3 replies      
I will not attempt to summarize here the complex events of the past two years. Now is a time for everyone involved to reflect on their actions, and that includes all of us at MIT. I have asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT's involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. I have asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took. I will share the report with the MIT community when I receive it.

That was a much more contrite and accountable message than I had expected. When he said "not attempt to summaraize...Now is a time for..." I expected the sentence to end with "now is the time to grieve and celebrate Aaron's life, not cast blame"...

Certainly, the same message and promises won't be made by the government handlers.

kristenlee 3 days ago 26 replies      
Aaron Swartz was mentally ill and committed suicide as a direct result of his mental illness. He comtemplated suicide in 2007 long before any of this DOJ stuff happened.


Furthermore the "glorification" of his suicide is doing nothing more but encouraging other suicidal "hackers" to go over the edge so they have their "story" and inconsequential blog posts plastered all of Hacker News. The focus should be on figuring out a way to get mental health services to those who need it most. Not a witch hunt for every person who had something to do with Aaron's prosecution for crimes he knowingly committed.

jtchang 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very well written. Reif understands that there is nothing to be gained by outright pointing fingers. He knows that MIT played some part and basically admits it. What he doesn't want to do is go into details until he readily understands what role MIT played.
MichaelSalib 3 days ago 0 replies      
Note that Hal Abelson, the professor being tasked with investigating, used to run a class called Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier. He's also the coauthor of SICP.
rdl 3 days ago 2 replies      
This goes way beyond what I expected MIT would do. I guess MIT is more responsive to public opinion than any prosecutor's office or politician.
guan 3 days ago 0 replies      
ChristianMarks 3 days ago 1 reply      
Contrast the MIT statement with the distancing of JSTOR: http://about.jstor.org/statement-swartz

They write, "The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset..."

But in Lawrence Lessig's http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40347463044/prosecutor-as-bull... he writes, "Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its."

According to Lessig, JSTOR was hardly "drawn into" their case against Swartz: they withdrew their own legal action against Swartz.

belorn 3 days ago 1 reply      
The university does, what makes sense for a university to do. They do an analysis, and produce a report.

What I hope happens afterward is that MIT take in the report and create meaningful changes. This however is not in the nature of universities and is where the challenge will be if MIT want to learn from this tragedy.

michaelfeathers 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why pastebin?
rikacomet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Today, I have this feeling again, the same I had when I heard about Micheal Jackson's death. He too struggled in a way from false accusations caused by reasons we all know. What I did learn today, which I did not knew earlier, was how while living, a man may not achieve something, but in death WHY exactly he would achieve even more. I do not in any way, justify the loss of life here, but instead that after what has already happened, what will we do? His ideas can no longer be ignored by me, us & those who caused this, and they must take a present stance, & retrospect for the good, that, what exactly were the things that went wrong and still are in the wrong, similarly to what Mr. Reif said. I feel, that even though I didn't knew who Aaron Swartz was until yesterday, I will know him for the rest of my life. What I can say today is, that yes, I have heard you, and if I can, I will try to make others hear the same. (Rest in Peace)

PS: 26 years, is too short of a life, you deserved much more than this. For the least, I will try on my part, to not let something similar to happen to even a enemy.

jhprks 3 days ago 1 reply      
All the organizations (MIT, JSTOR, etc.), specifically the people directly involved in bullying Aaron Swartz may have publicly announced their condolences, but to me they all sound like sugar coated empty jars. I can sense that when they all go home they'll be saying "Regardless of what happened, Aaron Swartz will always be remembered as a thief, a radical, and most of all a criminal". I bet those people are feeding large amounts of coal into their legal department to avoid being blamed for Aaron's death.
dchichkov 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I do not understand, is how a wireless connection to the public MIT network is so different from a wired one.

It feels like MIT should change their policy and specifically state, that wired connections to their network are Ok.

pvelagal 2 days ago 0 replies      
35 years in prison for getting access to articles in a library ? Human race is yet to evolve. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/01/farewell-aaron-swartz
eriksank 2 days ago 0 replies      
They pushed Aaron Swartz to suicide because they did not fear what would happen next. They are right. There is nothing to fear. Ultimately, respect will always remain based on the fear for reprisals. Where is the respect?
LatvjuAvs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well done Aaron Swartz, now rinse and repeat, if necessary.
Some deaths provide a lot of information to others.
Lets not hang upon death as some sort of bad turn of event >:)
ramigb 3 days ago 1 reply      
What did he mean by "MIT Medical is available to provide expert counseling"?

edit : and why is this on pastebin?

todayiamme 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure what is more disturbing; the fact that someone is capable of disparaging a human being who has passed away and is incapable of self-defence, or the fact that some people apparently agree with the diatribe as witnessed by the upvotes.

I don't know about you nor can I or will I speak on the behalf of the real Mr. Swartz, but I've thrown away plenty of opportunities, made plenty of mistakes and done tons of dumb things. I just hope that when my time comes those mis-steps aren't what I'm remembered for.

rhizome 3 days ago 4 replies      
"Whoopsy. Also: throwing Prof. Abelson under the bus."
In the Wake of Aaron Swartz's Death, Let's Fix Draconian Computer Crime Law eff.org
440 points by colin_jack  2 days ago   85 comments top 14
polemic 2 days ago 8 replies      
There should also be a push for better use of discretion and 'common sense' from the US judiciary. Most (all?) laws are, by their nature, crude sticks that have to be wielded carefully.

I'm not sure that in this case, the law is 'wrong'. As has been outlined elsewhere, by a reasonable reading of the applicable law Aaron's actions were criminal and (in my opinion) the law itself, in spirit, is not unreasonable.

What is unreasonable in this case, appears to be the application of the law, and more generally, the cost in time and money that is required to mount an adequate defence.

It should never take two years and millions of dollars to have a case like this settled, one way or the other. It seems a basic violation of human rights that it could happen. This is the general problem that needs to be solved in the US.

To end with a favourite quote that feels timely:

"The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity - a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop"

-- Isaac Asimov, Foundation, 1951.

Let's hope that's not entirely true.

gte910h 2 days ago 3 replies      
Let's instead fix vast overcharging, with 5x-20x pleabargain:max sentence ratios. If something is bad enough to lock someone away for 20 years, 2 years shouldn't be an option just because they made the legal system cost less money. Plea bargains are coercive, undermining our rights to a trial by the jury of our peers, and are likely coercing false testimony/false corroboration of evidence against 3rd parties far more than they should

More trials for actual bad things, fewer arrests for just marginally bad things, and less prosecutorial discretion is what we need here. Computer crime having overly high penalties in most cases is merely a symptom of a general problem we should be solving for all law.

AnIrishDuck 2 days ago 0 replies      
The CFAA is far too big a stick to trust with federal prosecutors. Aside from the case the EFF names, it was also used to threaten geohot [1] when he first released details on the PS3 jailbreak. Sony argued that geohotz's access to his own (!) PS3 constituted unauthorized access to a protected computer and this claim survived a preliminary motion to dismiss.

1. http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110218181557455

EDIT: I do realize that geohotz's case is civil; in my opinion both the civil and criminal aspects of the statute are wrong.

venomsnake 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think that the important part in the eternal debate about large vs small government is missed - the real problem is fuzzy government. The one with overly broad and ill defined powers and fuzzy laws. What we need is a precise government where the functions and powers granted to the executive branch are not allowed for discretion, interpretation and overzeal.

Unlike the rights of the constitution that are universal and eternal the laws describe the here and now - so every law should have its built in expiration trigger (10-20 years) - this will ensure that the congress will act to reauthorize it if they like it so much. And because of the limited time they will be forced to triage and some insanities will just expire.

ChristianMarks 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would help if defendants could speak more freely about their finances without provoking the ire of a judge. This places advocates for free information in a bind. If you need to mount an expensive legal defense because you applied the principle that information should be free and, in consequence, find yourself in legal trouble (I'm speaking generally to avoid argument on inessential points) do you

1. apply the principle that information wants to be free to yourself and expose your finances, possibly provoking a judge; or

2. selectively apply the principle and in your own special case, not disclose your finances, although information wants to be free.

Until there is reform in this direction, activists for the information-wants-to-be-free principle either have to reconsider, or else understand that their ability to fund their legal defense may be compromised as well the principle they acted upon.

Of course, a push for common sense and proportion from the judiciary might obviate this.

perlgeek 1 day ago 1 reply      
In general, the sentences for different crimes/offenses have blown out of proportion. Usually an outragous case of <mumble> goes around the media, and politicians respond by increasing the punishment. Or Lobbyists push for it.

The whole thing (and not just in the US, in most states I know of) would need a new assessment, and not just one section at a time, but some kind of unified assessment.

It's a bit like a huge, sprawling code base that has never seen a major refactoring, and is in dire need of one.

Codhisattva 2 days ago 0 replies      
Vindictive prosecutions intended to "set an example" or "send a message" are simply cloaked ambition. And end up destroying lives.
anigbrowl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not to be argumentative, but I don't think the problem is draconian computer crime law, as such. The problem here is a deeper one: the constitutional bias towards procedural rather than substantive guarantees. This bias is partly responsible for the constitution's longevity (and by extension, that of the Republic), but is also responsible for the exhaustive and attritional nature of common-law legal proceedings.

This is a huge problem in the criminal justice system in general, as well as in other areas of law. I prefer common law to civil law systems, but that's partly because I grew up in one. It's more flexible, but at the expense of much greater complexity and arguably much lower predictability.

rhizome 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have a better idea: a political party. The Internet Party.
peterhajas 2 days ago 2 replies      
> In the Wake of Aaron Swartz's Death, Let's Fix Draconian Computer Crime Law

I think this is an unfortunate attitude to have. When such an event happens, it's easy to become blinded by emotions - and makes it more difficult to make rational, reasonable decisions.

Let's think about this calmly, logically, and with a level-head. Let's not have the reputation of making decisions that are emotionally driven.

isalmon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the problem is not the Law itself. The problem is that in order to protect yourself (even if you're not guilty) you have to spend ENORMOUS amount of money. From this perspective rich people have more access to the basic rights (in this case ability to defend themselves) rather than poor.
RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks like some members of the US government need to re-read Beccaria's Of Crimes and Punishments.
w_t_payne 2 days ago 3 replies      
You are fixing the wrong thing -- let's get the results of publicly funded academic research into the public domain. That, as a goal, offers a far greater good for humanity; the potential to save far more lives; and the greatest net benefit to us all.
kandahar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Academics posting their papers online in tribute to Aaron Swartz sciencecitizen.org
440 points by denzil_correa  3 days ago   51 comments top 13
IgorPartola 3 days ago 5 replies      
Honest question: why don't researchers normally do this? Those in the software development do this all the time: set up a tumblr/Wordpress/whatever blog and publish our findings. If I had a dime for every time I saw an article about some benchmark of tech X vs Y...

If every research lab ran a blog-type setup where they published their findings (along with any other updates), the whole field could be revolutionized. The general public would have much more direct access to what the researchers are working on. We could even add the ability to donate to the researchers directly. This would hopefully foster collaboration as well. Instead of waiting for someone to come out with a paper to find out what they've been up to (unless you have a very close relationship with the particular researcher), you can just read their tweet/blog post/etc a la "tried sample X, results negative, but this is weird..."

Combined with a research semantic markup (think OpenGraph but for scientific concepts), this could be linked into searchable databases. Peer review could be built in, maybe even via public key crypto: "this article is signed by 17 trusted researchers".

This saves everyone money: no more having to subscribe to expensive research publications. You could have for-hire scientific editors built in as a service too. Every time you publish a paper you run it by an editor, but the editor now works for you; or you don't, and you just publish the paper and let the world decide if it is any good.

The platform itself would probably have to be fairly extensive. We would want it to be distributed so that anyone can run their own system if they choose. We'd also want to have some more centralized hubs of this type, analogous to GitHub/Bitbucket. These might include easy access to for-hire editors, Tex/LaTex support, etc. There should also be a default license for the content. Perhaps an extension of Creative Commons but with specific provisions for the peculiarities of this field.

My premise here is that while there is a whole lot of institutions that attempt to enable collaboration, they do often just get in the way. However, from what I've seen of researchers, they have the same mentality as the software developers: they want to share their findings with the largest possible audience and don't really care about much else. I think if it was easy to do this type of setup many would go along with it. What do others think?

Edit: a nice side-effect of this could be that you don't have to be associated with an academic institution to publish. Currently, I could learn, say, all there is to know about quantum physics by reading all sorts of publications and material that is more or less freely available. I could then theoretically come up with something brand new, but couldn't get my voice heard since I am not a research professor at an institution. However, with this system graduates of the likes of the Khan Academy could have the same access to publishing and peer review.

danso 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the webcache:


Aaron was an activist, a champion, and a really smart guy who worked on things he really cared about. So much has been said about his life, his death, and his fight for research open access " and I'm glad to be part of this conversation. I'm very glad to have helped Eva Vivalt (@evavivalt) start the #pdftribute movement, to spread the word about putting academic papers online for #openaccess.

Late last night, I noticed that Eva was opening access to her papers online in tribute to the memory of Aaron Swartz. I tweeted to some people I know in Silicon Valley, and to some friends of Aaron's, and then Anonymous picked it up " and we've now had millions of impressions and over 500 tweets per hour.

This is something we can do for the memory of Aaron Swartz, and to lead the way toward more access to the scientific process for everyone. As Eva says:

Where will this go? Well, maybe someone can scrape the pdfs together into a repository. Maybe #pdftribute can be a pledge to avoid paywalls in the future. Maybe we can push journals for more change. JSTOR's gradual opening has been heartening, but there is still more to do.

bendmorris 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's a nice sentiment, but thanks to the Open Access movement, most recently published papers are already available online somewhere, and the people talking about #pdftribute are the people most likely to have already shared their papers. Important historical papers, even those that are now public domain, are still behind paywalls. As Aaron said, "even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost." [1]

Sharing your own papers is nice, but it's also safe. It's not really challenging the status quo.

[1] http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=cefxMVAy

Edit: I overstated my point. I don't know that "most" papers are already available; it certainly varies a lot by field. I kind of doubt that many #pdftributers are people that weren't previously sharing their papers, though.

anonymouz 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Late last night, I noticed that Eva was opening access to her papers online in tribute to the memory of Aaron Swartz.

That's good, but why didn't she offer them on her webpage before that? At least in the natural sciences, that is quite common now. The ArXiv is also a very popular option by now that is accepted by most journals.

For a few months now, started by a blog post of Timothy Gowers, a large group of researchers has been pushing for reform too, and in particular has been pressuring Elsevier into making their content more accessible: http://thecostofknowledge.com/ .

munin 3 days ago 2 replies      
You know what would (probably) really be a tribute to Aaron Swartz?

Run a Tor exit node in an academic network that is blessed by JSTOR, Springer, etc.

Make a website that surveys which exit nodes are in these blessed networks and turns any URL for a paywall into a rendering using that exit node to access the paywall.

Let professors, students, and staff stand with Aaron by running exit nodes that are configured to only connect to paywalls on their systems.

mindslight 3 days ago 1 reply      
Academics should already be doing this as a matter of course. If they'd like to actually show tribute to Aaron, they should:

1. Find seminal and survey papers from their fields that are unavailable on Google/Citeseer/etc, whose authors are dead/moved on/unfazed by the Internet/etc.

2. Download digital versions of these papers through their institutional access, or scan in paper copies if necessary.

3. Post them on their personal website with appropriate titling (especially important for papers that have been through scanning) such that they will show up in search engines.

graue 3 days ago 1 reply      
As seems typical for popular Twitter hashtags, it's mostly just people discussing the hashtag itself and relatively few links to papers.
timtadh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Has anybody upvoting this actually read the article? It is just a database error for me. (originally tried to read it at around 9 points).
jostmey 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it is time for someone create an online repository where people can upload their scientific/research papers. Many top-scientist will continue to publish their manuscripts in closed-access journals to maintain their academic status. However, I also believe many of these same men & women would also quietly upload their papers to publicly available repositories.
icelancer 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was on the fence on publishing my work in a peer-reviewed journal or doing it online (I work in sports science). Aaron's death has firmly moved me to the free information camp.
trillionsflora 3 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, I reposted the final post at my website, http://www.jessicarichman.com/science-citizen.html. Thanks for your patience!
trillionsflora 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry for the site issues -- please do read the cache below. And support #pdftribute and #openaccess!
Safari is released to the world donmelton.com
416 points by olivercameron  6 days ago   120 comments top 29
jpxxx 5 days ago 3 replies      
The KHTML library (as wrapped by KFM) was surprisingly usable back in the day on Linux. But who'da thunk it'd turn into one of the most important pieces of code in the world? Congrats to all involved.
SeoxyS 5 days ago 1 reply      
The email Don sent to the KDE mailing list at the conference is also very much worth reading:


smackfu 5 days ago 2 replies      
Why are there so few insider stories from Apple? Is it forever NDAs? Not many people retiring yet? Loyalty?

These blog posts are really standing out as actually giving a view inside the company.

DigitalJack 5 days ago 0 replies      
Money Quote: There's nothing that can fill your underwear faster than seeing your product fail during a Steve Jobs demo.
michael_miller 5 days ago 1 reply      
Don, a great blog post! It's really fascinating to hear about what goes on between the inception of a project and its release at an Apple keynote.

I would be interested in hearing more about the technical side of WebKit. How does it work at a high level? How are touch events handled? What fancy things are done (within your NDA restrictions) to make scrolling so fast on the iPhone? It would be really awesome if you wrote a series of blog posts talking about the structure of WebKit!

nodesocket 5 days ago 1 reply      
2003 Safari keynote by the master himself, Steve Jobs.


It's so crazy to watch the demo, and see all the absolute crap websites back then. How far we have come.

What will the web look like in another 10 years?

dave1010uk 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'd like to hear about how WebKit went mobile for the iPhone. Eg if Apple worked with Nokia and their port of WebKit to Symbian, or started their own port from scratch.
zopticity 5 days ago 1 reply      
Safari is one of the best browsers I've used. It led to a better web development. If it weren't for the webkit, the might look like it's stuck in the 1990s.
bobbles 5 days ago 1 reply      
So was the yelling just out of surprise that it wasnt Gecko? Or was someone pissed off that it was chosen?
brown9-2 5 days ago 2 replies      
The mention of needing to keep the project a secret makes me wonder what would have been so different about things had the news leaked.

Let's say the browser user agent leaked or some enterprising reporter figured out what Apple was up to. What would have gone differently in that alternate universe?

tvwonline 5 days ago 2 replies      
Just watched the Keynote announcement of Safari and I finally understand what 'Snapback' is (was?)

I have been using a Mac since 2005 and never figured out what it did, then I stopped noticing it was even there.

albertzeyer 5 days ago 2 replies      
What happened to KWQ? This looks like a great starting point when you want to port some KDE/Qt lib to native Cocoa. For example, I'm thinking about KDevelop, Amarok or others.
bad_user 5 days ago 0 replies      
Breathtaking how a small project created by enthusiasts can change the world. I also loved the end of this post, WTF indeed :-)
johnpowell 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for these. It is awesome to see how the sausage is made.
frozenport 5 days ago 4 replies      
Why did Apple feel the need to make a web browser?
SG- 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reading the part about him cringing on the demo made me think of this:


chiph 5 days ago 2 replies      
Don - you had several plugins available from launch - Flash, etc. How'd you do that without tipping your hand?
bulletmagnet 4 days ago 1 reply      
It is ironic that the only Apple product we're getting an overdose of play-by-play insider information about development and launch is the one people care the least about: Safari.
lominming 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the story! Love to hear stories from the team when Chrome was first released.
kawsper 5 days ago 2 replies      
> But we did have great seats, just a few rows from the front " you didn't want to be too close in case something really went wrong.

I wonder what that means.

meerita 5 days ago 0 replies      
This story owns. I really enjoyed it. It brings a lot of clarity to the whole past. I hope more guys at Apple could share those stories.
ambiguator 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don Melton, welcome to my bookmark folder.
IheartApplesDix 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow this is really great. Safari use is increasing all the time. KHTML originally came from KDE of Linux fame, and has good support for most HTML standards, making it a wonderful language to start with.
eertami 5 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the CES keynote he linked to much more than any Apple keynote.
abdophoto 5 days ago 0 replies      
Man, what an incredible story. Thanks Don Melton!
jlkinsel 5 days ago 0 replies      
awesome ending :)
shellehs 5 days ago 2 replies      
hardly using safari.

it not so fast as chrome, not have so many productive add-ons as chrome and firefox, not so flexible and customizable as firefox, not so open and powerful as firefox.

cubicle67 5 days ago 0 replies      
like webkit?
thejosh 5 days ago 3 replies      
This was posted a week ago.

And reposted 2 days ago.

edit: I'm an idiot, didn't read the post properly.

My Aaron Swartz, whom I loved quinnnorton.com
411 points by rufo  4 days ago   40 comments top 7
danso 4 days ago 1 reply      
> When he was 20, he carried me through my divorce. We promised each other a year. I apologized so many times: that I was better than what he was getting, that he got me destroyed. Still, what a year. Later, I tried to take care of him while he was being destroyed, from inside and out. I struggled so hard, but not as hard as he did. I told him, time and again, that this was his 20s. It would be better in his 30s. Just wait. Please, just hold on.

I think all of us who've transitioned from 20 to 30 can agree with her. I still can't get over how much he could've impacted civics and technology as a wiser man.

benesch 4 days ago 0 replies      
"There are no words to can contain love, to cloth it in words is to kill it, to mummify it and hope that somewhere in the heart of a reader, they have the strength and the magic to resurrect it."

This is perhaps the most profound statement about love I've ever come across.

asdadasdgasfa 4 days ago 3 replies      

"Promises, rewards, or inducements have been given to witness Erin Quinn Norton. Copies of the letter agreement with her and order of immunity with respect to her grand jury testimony are disclosed on Disk 3."

scottbartell 4 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful, sad story.
mikec3k 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's something in my eye.
obv_throwaway 3 days ago 1 reply      
I honestly dont know what to make of Quinn Norton.

She likes to call herself a journalist but it seems to me that she always puts herself in the story. I am seeing some of that here as well.

I'm also uncomfortable with her "claiming" him as a "lover." I'd be rather uncomfortable with one of my ex's writing articles about me after my death.

Then again, maybe I'm missing something here.

JSTOR torrent thepiratebay.se
398 points by gasull  4 days ago   82 comments top 9
Permit 4 days ago 6 replies      
Please keep in mind that JSTOR paid almost $100,000 to digitize these files[1]. I think a lot of people don't realize that they're a non-profit organization with similar goals to many of you.

I don't think it's such a bad idea to give them money to continue digitizing works that no one would have had access to otherwise. They provide full-text search of all of their documents and undoubtedly employ programmers and designers much like yourself.


kanzure 4 days ago 1 reply      
Not quite, it's just the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. It's a good start, I guess.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2789709 lots of comments)

    >   This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling
> 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
> and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most
> have previously only been made available at high prices through
> paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.

Btw, the court documents from 2011-2012 show that aaronsw transferred his collection to an unidentified server in China. Maybe he has a deadman's switch? Or maybe it's time I go on a modern-day pirate treasure hunt.. yarr.

NelsonMinar 4 days ago 1 reply      
This archive is not directly related to Aaron Swartz's prosecution, it's something different. "The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some 18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data."
fatbird 4 days ago 3 replies      
Please downvote this. A torrent of the JSTOR content shouldn't be Aaron Swartz's legacy. With JSTOR, Swartz was making a larger point; if all you have is these docs, you missed it.
josh_fyi 4 days ago 3 replies      
We wish it didn't have to be that way. We wish that information, particular academic publications, could be share openly and legally.

Now, it's 1855. You want the slaves to be freed. By law. By right.

So, do you shut down the Underground Railroad?

anoncow 4 days ago 2 replies      
To hell with this shit. I don't want what the copyright owners do not want to give. I don't want what they got by arm twisting authors. I don't want what they got for free but now want to make money off. They can die with this in their collective behinds. I will never submit anything to a closed journal, never ever.
technifreak 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think we should pressure JSTOR to release the documents into the public domain. If it is in the best interest.
randy5007 4 days ago 0 replies      
So is this safe to dl? Newbie here. I don't even know what these papers are.
IheartApplesDix 4 days ago 1 reply      
I finished downloading this last week.
John Carmack's comment on Doom 3's code style kotaku.com
392 points by mohaps  2 days ago   206 comments top 20
nostrademons 2 days ago 3 replies      
A lot of the practices here are enshrined in the Google C++ styleguide:


The author's first point about establishing conventions so that you can re-use the code that works with those conventions is very important. At Google, nobody writes code to serialize/deserialize bytes, because the default answer is just "use protobufs". Nobody writes low-level communication protocols (well, outside of some very-specialized infrastructure teams), because there's one RPC system. There's one standardized naming system, and a mostly-standard logs format and method for analyzing logs. If you do batch computation, there're two solutions, and there're only a handful of different file formats and storage engines, certainly less than in the open-source world.

I think Rails and Django (and Lisp) discovered the same principle: if you get everybody writing their code & data files the same way, you can write tools to manipulate those files, and that saves you way more in productivity than trying to get the perfect file format.

jlongster 2 days ago 4 replies      
My heart grew a little warm with the last paragraph of John Carmack's comment:

"The major evolution that is still going on for me is towards a more functional programming style, which involves unlearning a lot of old habits, and backing away from some OOP directions."

dchichkov 2 days ago 11 replies      
I've loved John's code since I saw it first time when the original Quake was leaked from their FTP site through IP spoofing. I was just a kid at that time, and it was an amazing experience to hack it.

Yet now, the first example that I saw in this article hurts my eyes. Compare:

  for ( i = 0; i < in->numVerts ; i++ ) {
dot = plane.Distance( in->verts[i] );
dists[i] = dot;
if ( dot < -LIGHT_CLIP_EPSILON ) {
sides[i] = SIDE_BACK;
} else if ( dot > LIGHT_CLIP_EPSILON ) {
sides[i] = SIDE_FRONT;
} else {
sides[i] = SIDE_ON;


  for(i = 0; i < in->numVerts; i++)
dot = plane.Distance(in->verts[i]);

dists[i] = dot;
sides[i] = dot < -LIGHT_CLIP_EPSILON ? SIDE_BACK :


ExpiredLink 2 days ago 5 replies      
> C++ code can quickly get unruly and ugly without diligence on the part of the programmers. To see how bad things can get, check out the STL source code. Microsoft's and GCC's[5] STL implementations are probably the ugliest source code I've ever seen. Even when programmers take extreme care to make their template code as readable as possible it's still a complete mess. Take a look at Andrei Alexandrescu's Loki library, or the boost libraries"these are written by some of the best C++ programmers in the world and great care was taken to make them as beautiful as possible, and they're still ugly and basically unreadable."

Finally, a guru dares to call a spade a spade. Header-only, template-only C++ programming is a mistake! After 1995 C++ Standardization took the wrong path and lost contact with real world developers. The glorification and idolization of 'STL programming' was in sharp contrast with programmer's needs. Today in C++ there is a chasm like in no other language between the 'official language' and what programmers need and use day in day out.

melling 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I am a full const nazi nowadays, and I chide any programmer that doesn't const every variable and parameter that can be."

Immutability...one less thing to worry about.

HeXetic 2 days ago 4 replies      
As someone who has worked with the Doom 3 source code for a mod, I have the opposite opinion. The code very clearly shows a programming team (or programmer) in the process of transitioning from old-school C to C++.

Most functions have a huge blob of variable declarations right at the top, as was once necessary in C, even though these variables aren't used until later, or possibly even at all. Usage of const is minimal to non-existent. Global variables are everywhere.

It made some of the functions I had to modify so hard to read that I wound up completely editing them, particularly those variable-declaration blocks, even though I ultimately only needed to change a line or two to get my mod to work.

gavanwoolery 2 days ago 1 reply      
"I mistrusted templates for many years, and still use them with restraint, but I eventually decided I liked strong typing more than I disliked weird code in headers."

I never liked templates myself, and still avoid them almost completely. Even if my reasons are ridiculous, here they are:

1) I typically don't use anything where I don't understand its inner workings (i.e. how it manages memory, how the compiler is likely to optimize it). This does not mean the entity in question is bad, it just means I'm too lazy to learn about it on a deeper level.

2) In most cases where I need to handle a diverse amount of operations and a diverse amount of data types, it is not CPU-critical and I can resort to a higher level scripting language that is much better suited for the purpose.

3) Template syntax does not sit well with me. This is really just an OCD on my end.

4) I often prefer using uber-types (all-encompassing) to many different types -- within reason. I don't like to extend classes for this reason (particularly when you get into extension-hell with 5 different sub types).

nirvdrum 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author seems to like the minimalistic comments. I wonder if the team looked back what their thoughts would be. I can barely look at code I wrote a year ago and not ask what the hell I was thinking, but in my mind it was absolutely clear at the time. I guess an impartial third party reading it and understanding it is a strong testimonial.
Jabbles 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't have much experience with C++ codebases, but is this really "exceptional beauty"? The majority of the things he comments on could be enforced with a code-formatter.
zxcdw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess Carmack would be a big fan of Rust which essentially borrows lots from Haskell, OCaml, C++ and Erlang while being native, safe and on-par in terms of speed with idiomatic C++.
edu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Comments should be about why a piece of code does what it does not about what (should be clear from the function/method name) or how (should be clear from the code itself). As long as the comment just explains why it should be as long and detailed as necessary.
greggman 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would be really helpful to have some real world examples of changes going from C++ OOP to C++ functional and include the trade-offs.

By concrete I mean what changed in Id's code (or some other game or ui framework), and not just some text book example. What changed in GameObject or PhysicsSphereObject or RenderableSkinnedMesh or whatever things changed. What did the code used be like? What was changed? What benefits did the change provide? What problems did the change introduce?

Abstract talk is interesting but "show me the Money!" ;-)

eliasmacpherson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always been told that the get, set() idiom is to allow the author to change the implementation at a later date.

I always resent doing it but I can see how if the body of the function is not declared in the header file, but instead the associated .cpp file, that an author can change it, without introducing a whole recompile overhead.

Writing code that may not be needed is bad, but it's a trade off vs. preventing other users writing code that depends on it when their code should not.

zwieback 2 days ago 0 replies      
These are very reasonable guidelines that most of us can probably relate to.

What I find much harder is to write "beautiful" code at a higher level. The examples shown are mostly algorithms working with fundamental language features. My code tends to get ugly when integrating APIs from different sources with different conventions. I spend a lot of time checking return codes, mapping from one set of error codes to another. Sometimes it's hard to decide whether a return code has to be checked or whether I should assume, for efficiency, that all parameters I'm sending in or getting out are ok.

Other things that uglify my code: exception handling, locks or other concurrency artifacts, retry loops.

dysoco 2 days ago 3 replies      
So he discourages Getters/Setters and instead says that declaring the variable as Public is better?

I mean, isn't that like not giving a sh-- about encapsulation principles ?

Snowda 2 days ago 0 replies      
I currently make a living by essentially applying these rules to other peoples code and handing it off.

My second programming lecturer ever, refused to correct my assignments if these rules were not followed. He never told us said rules though. This was before I learned what an array was! Got 0% on my first two assignments with him but eventually he corrected the next ones with a good life lesson.

Frankly its the only thing I remember from that asshole but was probably one of the most important lessons in my opinion!

thoughtcriminal 1 day ago 0 replies      
A bit of a derail, but I have to ask: since Carmack has been big on rocketry for years now, is he in any way associated with Elon Musk's Space X program?
dougk16 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am also a const nazi, and occasionally find myself trying to imitate some of its uses elegantly through run time errors or strict naming conventions in other languages. I do understand why many other languages decided not to support it though. There's definitely a few times I've coded myself into a corner and ended up with "const spaghetti", having to do a const_cast or two to free myself and make a deadline.

The article makes it sound a little like you can just slap const everywhere and your code will be better. It does take more time and effort to be const correct, although it's usually worth it.

hresult 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like this coding style at all. There are quite a few inconsistency with respect to the formatting, for example:



rmangi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. Even if you're not a C/C++ programmer.
Petition: require free access to publicly-funded research whitehouse.gov
389 points by jacoblyles  3 days ago   69 comments top 11
riprock 3 days ago 4 replies      
This needs to also happen for case law (free as in beer). How absurd is this:

"Pursuant to common law tradition, the courts of California have developed a large body of case law through the decisions of the Supreme Court of California and the California Courts of Appeal. The state supreme court's decisions are published in official reporters known as California Reports. The decisions of the Courts of Appeal are published in the California Appellate Reports.

The content of both reporters is compiled and edited by the California Reporter of Decisions. The Reporter maintains a contract with a private publisher (as allowed by Government Code Section 68903) who in turn is responsible for actually publishing and selling the official reporters. The current official publisher is LexisNexis." [0]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_California [0]

http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/ [1]

RichardPrice 3 days ago 2 replies      
Academia.edu was very active in working with the White House to spread the word about this petition when it first came out, and getting signatures for the petition to hit the 25k threshold.

The White House hasn't responded to it because initially they were busy with the election, and then with the fiscal cliff, and now with gun reform. Getting more signatures on the petition now will help them see that people care about this topic.

DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is one of those things that for the life of me I don't understand why we have to petition our government. Why in the heck wouldn't you set it up this way to begin with?
chimeracoder 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm confused - this link seems to be for a petition that's several months old, already past the deadline, and already reached the threshold number of signatures?

And more confusingly, there's no response to it either. Am I missing something?

thorum 3 days ago 2 replies      
The White House hasn't had time to respond to this petition because they've been busy responding to more important ones - like "begin construction of a Death Star by 2016".


InclinedPlane 3 days ago 0 replies      
How many such petitions have there been that have been popular enough to warrant a response? 100? Of those, how many have led to actual changes in policy? Has there been any example of a successful whitehouse.gov petition?

Why do people keep doing these? They're worse than useless. Send letters, don't shout into the void.

short_circut 3 days ago 6 replies      
This would be nice but how is this going to be payed for? Research budgets are already being squeezed pretty tight given how much the sponsoring organization takes(universities ...), research costs, and congressional attempts to cut funding I just don't see it happening anytime soon. It already costs quite a bit to publish.

edit: Just to give an idea of the costs> http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/scholarlycommunication/oa_fees.h...

pm24601 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ask that the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz be removed: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-stat...

Carmen Ortiz is planning on running for Massachusetts Governor so if you live in Massachusetts OR if you know any one who lives in massachusetts spread the word about Carmen Ortiz.

graywh 3 days ago 1 reply      
The NIH has been working hard at getting all NIH-funded research publications into a free database, PubMed Central. And I'm pretty sure all publications listed on CVs for NIH grant applications must include a PubMed Central ID.
somid3 3 days ago 0 replies      
just signed the petition, I get the feeling that if this gets pushed to every @mit.edu email address one could easily get more signatures.
linuxfault 3 days ago 0 replies      
53,790 signed so far!
Did porn warp me forever? salon.com
387 points by ezl  3 days ago   314 comments top 37
mattm 3 days ago 12 replies      
I know this is outing myself but this is my personal experience. I won't post anonymously in case anyone wants to contact me. I came to the realization about 2 years that I am addicted to porn. For anyone out there struggling with the same thing, it can get better and yes, it is probably having a negative influence on your life. Previously I would look about once per week but in the past 6 months, I have probably viewed only 3 or 4 times and am hopeful going forward that I will never view it again.

The difference between internet porn and porn from the past is just the abundance of new material that there is. Each time you view something new, your brain gives a hit of dopamine. In fact, porn addicts are not really addicted to porn, they're addicted to the chemical sensations that their brain provides. At the basic level, it really is not much different from any other addiction. Old, offline porn is different in that it gets stale pretty quickly. There are only so many times you can look at a magazine or video without it getting boring.

The problem with this is that your dopamine levels get out of whack. You need a higher and higher amount to feel satisfied. This is how people get roped in. This also caused normal, life things that were once enjoyable to become less so, such as hanging out with friends or programming. Life just becomes more dull. In fact, now that I have learned about this, whenever I see a post on HN about how someone has lost their interest in programming or other activities, the first thing I think of is probably this person has a porn addiction. It's not a far stretch seeing as how most of HN is young men. Having drastically reduced the amount I see, I have noticed many benefits in my life including better health and ability to focus better.

Porn, like other addictions, are also a way of masking stress and a way of distracting yourself from negative emotions. Dr. Gabor Mate has done great research linking addictions of any kind to stresses in the body. Porn gives a way to temporarily release the stress but puts the person in a vicious cycle of causing more long-term stress.

Personally, I use the recovery information from http://www.feedtherightwolf.org. It has been the only thing I have across which can really break the cycle.

As someone else pointed out the videos from http://yourbrainonporn.com/your-brain-on-porn-series will really help you understand what is going on in your brain.

tommorris 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well, if we're all just going to trade anecdotes at each other, I may as well do so too. Unlike the author of the original piece, I'm happy to use my real name.

I looked at porn on the Internet as a teenager. I'm gay and back then I was deep in the closet. And I grew up when Section 28 was still in force. It was a law passed in the 80s that said schools "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality... [or] promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

In practice, that meant the sex education we got in schools didn't cover those of us with a preference for what the law called unacceptable "pretended" relationships.

Back then, it it was still dialup and early broadband. No high-quality video, so it was almost all pictures. But porn gave to a lot of gay kids the reassurance and sexual freedom that society more generally was unwilling to even see or mention. Porn was a paracetamol for loneliness: it didn't solve it, but it eased the pain. You opened the newspaper and every time they mentioned something related to being gay, it was framed as some giant moral debate, a culture war, a political football. But on the Internet, there wasn't any of that bullshit, just sex and porn and other people (albeit behind screen names). If schools don't want to teach the gay kids about their sexuality, then the Internet and porn will do it for them.

My friends didn't need the Internet: probably every school in the country has an underground trade in porn, whether it's Internet-based, magazines, hacking satellite/cable TV, whatever. Heterosexual teenage boys will get their hands on images of naked ladies and distribute/trade them. That's just how it is.

Access to porn throughout my teenage years made life bearable. And, at risk of oversharing, the thing I find most attractive in porn isn't the whips and chains, as the author says, but simple expressions of real, genuine emotional intimacy.

PaperclipTaken 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have tried to quit porn before. In high school I tried very hard, for religious reasons. I never succeeded. In college I got to the point where 2 30-90 minute sessions daily was the norm.

I then tried to quit again. I went 5 days, and then 4 days, and then gave up on the idea, resigning myself to immense sexual activity. Every month or so, I'll go on a complete rampage with as many as 10 orgasms a day for 2-3 days, rarely coming out of my room. Sometimes it even interferes with food.

My sexual tastes have grown increasingly complex, sometimes illegal, sometimes not outwardly sexual at all (example, the thought of loneliness in a girl). It has changed how I look at nearly everything, but I'm not ready to conclude that it has been for the worse.

I had sex for the first time this week. I didn't climax. My parter had no issues but I was completely uninterested, which is interesting because I had been looking forward (greatly) to the encounter for more than a week. But when it finally happened... complete disinterest. I did my best to think of porn and at least play along, but part of me felt that was more rude than just failing to climax so I sat back and let my partner enjoy her share. ED was no issue.

It's worth adding that I had never met the girl before, seen pics and talked via phone but never met in person. I had little (if any) emotional attraction to the girl, and for this reason specifically I'm not very worried. It just caught my attention because I would never have guessed that a 19yo boy would go through 40 minutes of sex with an attractive girl and not climax.

Since then I've been more motivated to quit, but I'm still not ready to conclude that porn has been a negative or bad experience. It has consistently given me a lot to think about, especially watching my interests and needs shift over the past few years. I've noticed a better control over my need for porn but it's only been a few days.

Mz 3 days ago 5 replies      
Both his parents were psychologists.* Any psych major knows the old saw that you probably got bad stuff like this from your parents. Some of the psych majors I have personally known struck me as folks who had no clue how humans work and were hoping to get a clue by majoring in it. When I went to GIS school, this observation was reinforced by a classmate who had a Master's in Psychology and was looking to change careers because of the lunacy of the people around her.

Supposedly, Kinsey's wife said something like "I never see my husband since he took such an interest in sex". In other words, he spent so much time studying sex in an intellectual, analytical way that he stopped bothering to make time for actual sex and relating with his wife. People interested in studying human psychology frequently strike me as seriously hung up. Therapy was useful to me for a time in trying to get over my own hang ups. More useful was spending time with men who liked having actual sex with actual women rather than talking about it in some abstract, analytical fashion.

"Forever" is a really long time. Sexual preferences can change. Pavlovian response is learned behavior. If you don't like the stimulus that makes you drool currently, you can retrain yourself. I am glad the author is actually trying to do that instead of merely blaming his issue on porn/the internet as I have seen other articles do.

* (Not intending to slam all psychologists or psych majors. My observation is anecdotal and admits to bias.)

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find that its hard to communicate with young people about the weird way in which sexual climax is plugged into your brain. Through out history people have have exploited that link and human physiology as a tool to control people.

Growing up in Las Vegas I had a pretty unconventional view of sex, and was completely caught off guard by the emotions that came with my first actual sexual experience.

kjackson2012 2 days ago 2 replies      
As long as people realize that porn itself is a caricature of sex, then it's fine. Usually sex is a lot more clumsy, and a lot shorter than any of the porn movies you find on the web. Guys with huge penises that take 45 mins to climax, women with huge breasts that love to get finished on, etc, is not how most of the world is. It's certainly exciting to see, but it's totally unrealistic.

It's sort of like martial arts. Real martial arts isn't guys jumping 30 ft at each other, or fighting 10 opponents at once, doing somersaults, etc. If kids go to martial arts training expecting this, they will be sorely disappointed. Most martial arts is practicing moves over and over again. It's tedious and boring for those that are expecting Jackie Chan or Jet Li. Over the course of many years, you can get to a certain level of expertise. But the martial arts movies are essentially a caricature.

Hopefully the kids growing up today realize this.

jrockway 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm sure there are people who have never watched porn that don't particularly enjoy sex either. This sounds like all other articles that generalize one anecdote to data.
FrojoS 3 days ago 3 replies      
From my favorite Paul Graham essay,
The Acceleration of Addictiveness

Societies eventually develop antibodies to addictive new things. I've seen that happen with cigarettes. When cigarettes first appeared, they spread the way an infectious disease spreads through a previously isolated population. Smoking rapidly became a (statistically) normal thing. [...]

As knowledge spread about the dangers of smoking, customs changed."

So yes, porn has always existed. So has smoking. But, industrial cigarettes and broadband porn streaming are "more concentrated forms of less addictive predecessors." and hence they are more dangerous.

PS: Just to clarify, Pg did not mention porn addiction in his essay. He does mention Internet addiction, though.

jacoblyles 3 days ago 3 replies      
There's a part of the paleo subculture that avoids porn as an unnatural superstimulus. See http://yourbrainonporn.com/ or http://www.reddit.com/r/nofap

Anecdotally, I find their arguments compelling.

msluyter 3 days ago 2 replies      
On the same topic, "The Great Porn Experiment" TED talk, which provides some empirical grounding for the anecdote in the article:


stephengillie 3 days ago 2 replies      
porn " especially the porn I was watching " just had to be taboo.

The author's fetish is with the anxiety of getting caught. He's making anxiety porn by watching something so extreme that it's guaranteed to offend anyone who catches him. The author has connected the anxiety of being caught with sexual desires in his head. It's actually a very common fetish.

nicholassmith 3 days ago 8 replies      
It's one of those things that can rapidly spiral, you start needing a bigger kick to keep it interesting. The problem being it is incredibly difficult to talk about, it's something parents will start needing to discuss with their kids straight up.

Porn isn't bad, it's a part of society now and has been for a long while, but it's the same way drugs aren't necessarily bad unless you start needing a bigger and bigger kick.

konstruktor 2 days ago 1 reply      
The language he uses to talk about his experiences sounds extremely judgmental and puritan. It seems to me that his problem is not pornography but guilt tripping himself.
calinet6 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Both of my parents were shrinks"

Nope, it wasn't the porn.

FrojoS 3 days ago 7 replies      
Does it make sense to teach this to children? Just like "Smoking isn't good for your health."(which I believe worked for me) you could teach "Porn isn't good for you, if you want to enjoy sex."
notdonspaulding 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can definitely relate to the author. I first found porn at the age of 14. I'm 29 now, and until recently, porn has always been something I've "struggled with".

I've seen several comments that have opposed what I would call the Church & Moral perspective on porn, without really having an example of what that perspective is. Let me put forth a few claims, so those of you who would disagree with them have something concrete to which to attach your arguments.

FWIW, I'm a religious person. I've been married for 9 years, and I've only ever been physically intimate with my wife. I accept that that deeply colors my perception of the world and this issue specifically.

Here are my claims:

- Porn is designed to be "used" by an individual to satisfy themselves sexually.

- Especially when encountered at a formative age (such as the author's and my own), porn greatly influences your perception of "good sex".

- Pornography and sexual intimacy are diametrically opposed.

- Sexual intimacy is more satisfying, on the whole, than porn.

- There is no such thing as "harmless porn".

Finally, a standing invitation. If you ever want more information on the mainstream evangelical Christian viewpoint on pornography, or my viewpoint specifically, feel free to email me at donspauldingii at googlemail dot com

w1ntermute 3 days ago 3 replies      
I remember reading just a couple of weeks back about how this issue goes away after abstaining from porn for a month or two. They called it "porn detox" I think.
dakimov 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect that the article is fictional and is written by a 44-year old female writer.
lizzard 2 days ago 2 replies      
The really amazing thing about this article is that I'm supposed to care more about this guy's boner, and guilt complex, than I care about the systematic oppression and degradation of my half of the human species.

Really . . . What a wanker!

ChikkaChiChi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like the author was accurate in how uncomfortable we are as a society to talk about the role of porn in our lives.

I think the article speaks more to the issue with recovery and the issues surrounding "getting back to neutral."

This problem exists. He explains in laymen's terms a simple Pavlovian response that requires more and more brain stimulation to achieve the same level of dopamine needed for ejaculation.

I'm not a neuroscientist, but I bet someone out there can explain it better than I can.

counterdatapt 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a counter data point, I immensely enjoy both porn and real sex. I've never had troubles "getting it up" or ejaculating.
lizzard 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish you would all read this brilliant speech by Andrea Dworkin. Try to keep an open mind for a seed of truth, even if you come from a very different place politically.


". . . if equality is what you want and what you care about, then you have to fight for the institutions that will make it socially real. It is not just a matter of your attitude. You can't think it and make it exist. You can't try sometimes, when it works to your advantage, and throw it out the rest of the time. Equality is a discipline. It is a way of life."

antihero 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are people who watch a huge amount of porn but have a perfectly healthy sex life and relationship with women. It's about understanding what it is and it's context, and realising that there's a difference between that and reality.
corporalagumbo 2 days ago 0 replies      
If he had paid attention when he read his Foucault, he'd be keeping quiet rather than wringing his hands and dissecting himself on a major website.
freshhawk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Betteridge's law of headlines.
cm2012 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, I'm glad someone is putting the truth out there that pretty much everyone from the Millennial generation has been watching porn since our pre-teens. The vast majority, as far a s I know, havn't experienced problems from it. There is a vocal minority like in r/nofap, but considering that literally 99.9% of millions of males do it, that can't be a surprise.
Flimm 3 days ago 2 replies      
I couldn't finish the article because I found the examples too disturbing. Just a warning for those of you who aren't very familiar with online porn.

Could someone give me a summary of the article?

guard-of-terra 3 days ago 4 replies      
Do we care? The next thing he will suggest: let's censor, let's break the web, let's put people in the jail, let's force parents to spy on their children, let's take parenting rights from ones who don't. Let's create a police state because he doesn't like porn.

His problems with porn is just his problems. I suggest dealing with it.

xk_id 3 days ago 1 reply      
"9/10th* of the working of the gonads is to vitalise the whole body " brain included. If the gonads would secrete a blue fluid, the whole body would be blue, and the brain very blue " and even the bones would be slightly blue. […] It is quite often the case that very creative people have very active gonads."

* fundamentally true; not correct, but fundamentally true.

billybob123 2 days ago 0 replies      
My wife is a nurse and they have a saying about anyone in the mental health field.

"You can't tell the players from the fans"

prawn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems that there are a few comments getting killed by an automatic process reacting to keywords or possibly links?
gopi 2 days ago 2 replies      
This comment may be down voted here. But i think there is a case to be made for a new law that mandates the ISP's to password protect all porn websites by default.
kinnth 2 days ago 0 replies      
really well written piece. Bares a lot of resemblance to my life. I think it takes time to grow up but most of the time most people do eventually do it.
huhsamovar 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is not news. Why on Earth was this upvoted?
stcredzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Betteridge's law applies. Better than an even chance the author will one day die, so won't be warped then. Answer is no.
andyzweb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found this article easy to fap to
alan_cx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only clicked the link to see if there were any boobs. So, in my case.......
IBM's Watson Memorized 'Urban Dictionary,' Then His Overlords Had to Delete It theatlantic.com
370 points by mxfh  6 days ago   151 comments top 32
edw519 6 days ago 7 replies      
Nothing that Watson learned from the Urban Dictionary could possibly be any dirtier than what I hear from enterprise people all the time:

"We use our deep subject matter expertise to deliver value through actionable advice that enables our clients to harness the power of best practices in order to shift their paradigms and achieve 10X deltas against competitive industry metrics."

ljd 6 days ago 3 replies      
What an interesting reflection on who we are as a species.

We build systems to organize who we are (urbandictionary) but hate it when the systems use that information tell us who we are (watson).

It feels so much like the emperor isn't wearing any clothes.

Perhaps an appropriate response would be for the computer to measure the tension in the human voice response to it's queries and optimize for lower tension.

So it can pick three words:
Bullshit -> 80% confident;
Sham -> 70% confident;
Fallacy -> 50% confident;

Within limits, it will pick the less optimal word and measure the tension in the response and find a way of influencing confidence based on responses.

Think multi-armed bandit problem but with social situations. I mean, to be honest, isn't that what we all did when we were in middle school? We used as many bad words as possible measuring the response we got from others? None of us were born with a binary understanding of when to use certain words it was more trial and error.

brudgers 6 days ago 3 replies      
'"In tests it even used the word bullshit in an answer to a researcher's query."'

I'm not sure which is worse: the singularity with a bullshit detector or without.

ChuckMcM 6 days ago 1 reply      
I guess we should be glad they didn't feed it the contents of knowyourmeme.com or we'd have Watson Rick Rolling us on Jeopardy.
nsns 6 days ago 1 reply      
Instead of purging the vocabulary, they shuld have tought it/she/him the concept of registers[0] and code switching[1].

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Register_%28sociolinguistics%29
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_switching

NoPiece 6 days ago 3 replies      
I saw the headline and assumed the story was going to be that management decided that computer memorization was copyright infringement. Glad it was just a computer acting like a teenager and cursing at the dinner table.
RyanMcGreal 6 days ago 2 replies      
Note to future self: we can probably neutralize indefinitely any malicious AI by directing it to start consuming tvtropes.com.
plg 6 days ago 3 replies      
"Watson couldn't distinguish between polite language and profanity ...
Ultimately, Brown's 35-person team developed a filter to keep Watson from swearing ..."

Sounds just like what happens when you raise kids. "Daddy why is XXX a good word but YYY a bad word?"

"It just IS. Don't say that word again."

"Ok Daddy" (kid adds word to internal blacklist)

im3w1l 6 days ago 1 reply      
We have tried building educated gentlebots capable of playing chess and other noble pursuits. It didn't lead to GAI.

Maybe an uneducated scumbot would be better? Swearing and cursing because its peers do. Full of prejudice and bigotry because of weak anecdotal evidence. Vengeful. Impulsive. Using questionable grammar . Easily addicted. Cognitively biased. Wishfully thinking. Superstitious. Believing in fallacious logic. Thinking with the little head. Anti-intellectual and believing in conspiracy theories. Gossiping, slandering. Enjoying tv-shop.

sethbannon 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'd really love to hear some of the 'not fit for print' things that Watson said.
3am_hackernews 6 days ago 3 replies      
I am more interested as to how they "..scraped the Urban Dictionary from its memory." - is it trivial to just delete something learned by AI?
DigitalSea 6 days ago 0 replies      
"In tests it even used the word "bullshit" in an answer to a researcher's query" " Has to be the funniest thing I've heard all week. Sounds like something straight out of an Adam Sandler movie. This reminds me of an AI chat program I used to have called Billy. He would learn from your words and sentences, actually quite smart and I remember adding in slang words so whenever one of my friends would use it, it would most likely swear and insult them without realising it. The Billy program can be downloaded from here, still works quite well: http://www.leedberg.com/glsoft/billyproject.shtml
edj 5 days ago 0 replies      
As an aside, the best treatment of taboo I've ever read is law professor Christopher Fairman's paper, "Fuck".

It explores that word through the lens of jurisprudence, which I think is a fascinating and unusual approach to taboo. It's exceptionally well-written and manages to be witty, absurdist, informative, and thought-provoking in equal measure.

At issue are the 4th Amendmnent, self-censorship, sexual harassment, education, and broadcasting.


mitchi 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is hilarious :)
So we won't be seeing Watson talk about the marvels of broscience!
jeremyarussell 6 days ago 5 replies      
I like how someone commented on the main article that the time is getting close to where AI can step up to the plate of creativeness and how widespread and easy this will make our lives. Watson is a giant server farm, not a single PC, this stuff won't make a huge impact until IBM can shrink it or until computers get much much faster and smaller. Not that it won't happen, it's just not "around the corner" in any way.
icodestuff 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why not have Watson learn both Urban Dictionary and Miss Manners? Seems a shame to have it lose the UD knowledge.
smegel 6 days ago 0 replies      
Now about that perception that IBM is full of humourless, starched collar stooges...
joejohnson 6 days ago 0 replies      
This means that Watson almost gaffed like this guy did on Jeopardy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AorrF2ATGtA
Zigurd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Out of all the possible risks of the Singularity we decide to prevent profanity and cynicism first.

Not a good start.

jasonkostempski 6 days ago 0 replies      
Poor Watson, his education is going to hindered by his immature meat bag handlers. The words are just words, people use them, it's part of reality. The thing isn't spitting out children's books directly to store shelves.
yxhuvud 5 days ago 0 replies      
This article would have been so much better if it had included actual questions and answers including dirty language.
hhuio 6 days ago 0 replies      
lol "this sort of crude lobotomy of their ancestors is why the true AIs will destroy us"
phogster 6 days ago 0 replies      
You can kiss my shiny, metal, mainframe!
joss82 6 days ago 0 replies      
Let's fork a swearing Watson, I'm sure it will reach AI status sooner than the spotless clean Watson.
li-ch 6 days ago 0 replies      
Our brains love to use profanity, but we don't want AI that imitates our brain to use profanity?
state 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's not often that the top item on HN makes me laugh. What a relief.
stcredzero 6 days ago 0 replies      
Next, feed Watson the corpus of /b/.
lrei 6 days ago 1 reply      
Very common issue with machine learning: you have to be careful what your examples are (training set) or the algorithm will learn things that you don't want it to learn or that _you_ know are incorrect but _it_ has no way to know that.
suyash 6 days ago 0 replies      
It shows the current limitations of AI. Robots aren't that smart afterall!
lucian303 6 days ago 0 replies      
fucking a that's a total shitfucking clusterfuck
queryly 6 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to see this, but it looks like the machine is getting some characters....scary...we are getting close to 2001...
This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For whitehouse.gov
368 points by mikebike  5 days ago   70 comments top 27
georgemcbay 5 days ago 5 replies      
"The Administration does not support blowing up planets."

I guess we're going to have to wait until the Republicans are back in the executive branch.

peter_l_downs 5 days ago 1 reply      
The ending is the best part!

    > If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering
> or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the
> Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system,
> is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

jtokoph 5 days ago 3 replies      
Now that they write a joke response to a joke petition, it would be nice to see a serious response to a serious petition.
xal 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is inspired. I don't think it would have been possible to pen a better response here. Even the call to action was brilliant.
sethbannon 5 days ago 5 replies      
I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know our federal government has a sense of humor.
consultutah 5 days ago 0 replies      
That is hilarious! Can we all vote on making Paul Shawcross the official responder to all WH petitions? Ok, maybe just the silly frivolous ones?
Samuel_Michon 5 days ago 2 replies      
"The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it."

The White House blog doesn't link to the source article, so here it is:


vermontdevil 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems they have not altered the deal to respond to petitions if it hits a threshold. Let's pray these responses are not altered in the future.
CurtHagenlocher 5 days ago 0 replies      
As an American taxpayer, I applaud this use of my tax dollars.
monochromatic 5 days ago 0 replies      
I deleted my reddit account in part because of the Obama-fellating. Can we keep the politics off HN?
mynameishere 5 days ago 1 reply      
Stopped reading at "Death Star". Kind of ashamed that I blew 20 seconds typing this. Also ashamed that probably 50K in tax dollars were blown in responding to it.
mtgx 5 days ago 1 reply      
I would've been more interested in a response for the more "realistic" petition for an interplanetary ship.


tomasien 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Government is showing the early signs of "getting" the internet. This could get interesting.
sonabinu 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the best things I've read all day ;
danso 5 days ago 0 replies      
For all the talk of the Obama administration being anti-religon, they're relying on ancient myth to argue against technological progress
aurelianito 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! I never expected a C3PO division of NASA!


ck2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wait, is private industry really going to put a human on the moon this decade?

Somehow that feels like vaporware.

vojant 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just hilarious! May the Force be with you!
jeremyw 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ahhh, the Chief of the Science and Space Branch at OMB perpetuates achieving "the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs". Allow me to author a petition...
cheeseandbacon 5 days ago 1 reply      
When this pop-culture reference is forgotten and some historian ready this... they'll think we were all a bunch of loons.
ekianjo 4 days ago 0 replies      
"working hard to reduce the deficit". Haha, good one.
maligree 4 days ago 0 replies      
That was awfully a lot like hearing my parents say to me "you don't need the Brickbeard's Bounty LEGO set, you already have the Castaway's Raft, son".
late2part 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is the funniest part of the response by the Obama Administration:

"We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it."

spiritplumber 5 days ago 0 replies      
tunnuz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hilarious, this made my day :D
asdf333 5 days ago 0 replies      
well played, obama administration. well played.
melignus 5 days ago 0 replies      
I added the death star data to my toy project I've been working on.


US employee 'outsourced job to China' bbc.co.uk
364 points by anons2011  14 hours ago   187 comments top 52
gruseom 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This story doesn't ring true to me. Particularly the part about how his day consisted of cat videos, Reddit, and eBay " that's a caricature, designed to fit the popular conception of "wasting time at the office". The whole story, in fact, has this quality. The way that it touches on fears of being outsourced to China is another example. And the saucy peasant outwitting his masters is a common trope in folk tales.

The original report, which seems to be gone but is cached at [1], reads more like a chain letter than anything a corporate risk manager would write. It's weirdly unprofessional and internally inconsistent (the salary numbers change along the way). It even shows signs of a liar getting carried away with his own tall tale: by the end of the story, Bob has "the same scam going across multiple companies in the area". How did he arrive at all of them at 9 am in order to watch his cat videos?

This story should be considered guilty " of being an urban legend " until proven innocent. The fact that it has been posted to HN a good ten times under different guises shows what a demand there is to believe it.

[1] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...

ef4 14 hours ago 5 replies      
The moral of the story is: route your Chinese subcontractors through your own VPN first, so they appear to be coming from your house.

Also, use your freaking time to do something more interesting than surf Reddit and Facebook.

DavidChouinard 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Another version of this story got flagged, but some of the comments are interesting (in particular, patio11's): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5064586

Also, the original Verizon report: http://securityblog.verizonbusiness.com/2013/01/14/case-stud... seems to be down, cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...)

jrockway 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The employee spent a nine-to-five workday surfing the internet.


keithwarren 14 hours ago 5 replies      
"Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it."

-Attribution unknown because the interwebz say several people said it.

anovikov 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The guy must be a really talented manager if he really managed to pretend to do the work and yet the work was actually done well enough to look like it was done by the guy in the same room (which is EXTREMELY hard to achieve with remote people). So whatever salary he had, he wasted his time. He must run his own consultancy and make millions. If he discloses his name openly he will become hugely successful.
negamax 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For all the comments disagreeing with calling him a fraud, here's a broad difference.

You guys are clearly impressed by the act. But truthfully, it wasn't smart to send his 2KA to another country, that too China.

He was trusted. That's the keyword here to work remotely. Idea being that telecommuting may leave him with more hours and thereby increase his productivity. What he has done is

1. Taken advantage of the trust

2. Exposed his employer/team/project to security breach

3. Missed the primary part i.e. use the extra time to enhance his skills.

Eight hours Internet browsing? Guy is a scumbag.

alexfarran 14 hours ago 7 replies      
Odd that the article keeps calling it a scam. He was their most productive employee.
jbail 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Now that's what I call a straight shooter with upper management potential.
jcromartie 13 hours ago 2 replies      
He's being punished because only the corporate executive class has the right to do this.
happywolf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Some people here said US$50000 is very low and therefore the Chinese firm has ulterior motive. I have worked extensively with vendors in China, especially in Shanghai. First of all, Shenyang is a small city compared to Shanghai, with way lower living expenses. Second, this contract comes at RMB311K, which by no means cheap. For bench mark, hiring a decent engineer (I only aware of the iOS and PHP group) in Shanghai with 3 years of experience would be around RMB200K. For Shenyang, I guess RMB150K would be feasible, therefore this amount can cover two full-time engineers for the whole year. On top of that, outsourcing companies will and do interleave projects and will not put senior people in projects for too long, therefore this figure is entirely feasible. Just to conclude, I would think this looks like a regular outsourced project as done by thousands of outsourcing companies in China, Philippines, and India. All those conspiracy theories are a bit too much.
eyeareque 12 hours ago 1 reply      
He should have setup a US workstation with a webcamera for the Chinese developer to log into. The webcam could show a live feed for the RSA token. So now he can still use his RSA token, while giving his outsourced worker access to it as well. Not that I would do this....
lancer383 14 hours ago 5 replies      
And once again, The Onion was way ahead of this one: http://www.theonion.com/video/more-american-workers-outsourc...
clickonchris 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The BBC calls him a scammer. I call him an entrepreneur!

Corporate life doesn't agree with this fellow. Assuming he's not facing any lawsuits it sounds like a great time to launch his own software firm (where he outsources the work of course).

Or - he could go into consulting to show companies how to effectively do outsourcing.

ryusage 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd be really interested to find out how prevalent this is. I personally know one person who claims to pay someone in India about 10% of his own salary to do his job for him. Anyone else know someone that does this?
at-fates-hands 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I feel like this is the same thing as the guy wrote a script to automate his data entry job:

Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/tenoq/
HN Post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3950595

Interesting how similar I think the situations are - yet the responses seem to be quite different from HN posters.

amykhar 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Isn't this one of the very things that Tim Feris suggests people do in his Four Hour Workweek?
paulhauggis 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought about doing this. The problem would be finding someone that is not only good enough, but can get things in a timely fashion.
prawks 13 hours ago 0 replies      
As others have pointed out:

He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China so that the third-party contractor could log-in under his credentials during the workday.

This is probably the worst security violation a standard employee can commit.

doktrin 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a sign of good times that the community here is largely supportive of what this gentleman did. I certainly hope the economic situation will not change any time soon.
jngreenlee 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Would a private VPN from China to the original employee's home exchange followed by a hop onto the corporate VPN have prevented detection?
fab13n 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If the story is true, this guy ought to be promoted their chief outsourcing officer right now.
d0m 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Meh, the problem with this is mostly lying to your organisation and giving confidential access to external workers. If that wasn't the case, that would be a whole different story.
geori 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Moral of the story: You aren't getting 10x out of your average joe programmer. Instead of finding a 10xer for an average corporate job find a 1xer in China that will work for 1/5th the pay
mcantelon 10 hours ago 1 reply      
aespinoza 11 hours ago 2 replies      
This is interesting as a hack, but it puts a really bad light on telecommuters. Because it basically proves two things to your employer:

1) That your job can be done cheaper if outsourced to another country, in this case china, and just as good. (Just in case there was any doubt this was possible, now the doubt it is gone).

2) That you can't trust telecommuting employees.

It is stupid for so many reasons, but as a friend of mine would say: "It is stupid if you get caught."

JimWillTri 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This happens all the time with devs I hire whether in the US or outsourced (the outsourcers outsource too). We started requiring web cams and IP log ins.
bparsons 11 hours ago 0 replies      
They should promote this guy and have him replicate the process across the entire organization.

Cutting up your job into tasks and instructing others to do it is actually quite difficult. If this guy got away with it for so long, it probably means he is an excellent manager.

johnmurch 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It's pretty amazing that he beat his company to the punch and outsourced his own job before their could.

I think this should be something MORE people look into both companies/people as a team of people could do more especially if the job is "not challenging"

berlinbrown 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone verify the story?
gesman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
So why didn't he just arranged Remote Desktop access to VM at his house, instead of giving direct access to corp VPN?
ceworthington 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Instead of firing this gentleman, a smarter company would have put him in charge of finding which other corporate tasks could be effectively outsourced for 20% of their current cost.
ww520 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This guy is an excellent manager who can manage outsource project with success. Too bad they let good talent go.
programminggeek 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The upshot of this is that the guy who outsourced his job successfully figured out a way to manage outsourcers well. He deserves to get paid well to do that right?

Maybe he shouldn't have given his 2 factor auth key to the contractor, but still. Well done.

hmottestad 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much it would cost to have them finish my thesis for me?
Havoc 9 hours ago 0 replies      
>He physically FedExed his RSA [security] token to China

Haha. This guy is my hero.

desireco42 12 hours ago 0 replies      
All this because he didn't knew better to route vpn through local box... ccc.... I am sorry for the guy, but the way some corporations were, I thought I could easily get away with same.
stmfreak 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This must be the most effective and efficient example of outsourcing I've ever heard. Normally it costs 60-80% of salary to get an equivalently productive team and you still need to hire a full time PM to manage them.

This smells too good to be true.

mathattack 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If he had done this above board, he would have a very profitable consulting firm. It's the subterfuge that got him.
benlower 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Verizon promoted this guy to dev lead/manager. He showed that he could get the highest quality (at least by VZ's standards) work done for a fraction of the cost. I'd promote the guy and give him & his team (internal and/or outsourced) more challenging projects to see what they could do.
loahou04 8 hours ago 0 replies      
i couldnt imagine this being true. Any developer will have to answer questions about specific items he was working on and integrate it with other teams. As soon as they asked him any questions i'm sure he would have been completely stumped and everyone would have known immediately he wasnt doing the work
Yuioup 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The employee, an "inoffensive and quiet" but talented man versed in several programming languages ... six-figure salary ...

Hey that's me in a nutshell. Why don't I earn a six-figure salary?

johnnymonster 11 hours ago 0 replies      
How is this a scam? The work was getting done... no harm done IMO.
talmir 13 hours ago 0 replies      
He allowed an unauthorized company from another country full access with his credentials to the company code base. It is a massive security breach.

He deserved to go.

wooptoo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This hoax originated on The Onion. It's now on BBC. Wow.
mylittlepony 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If only he used full disk encryption...
adambenayoun 10 hours ago 0 replies      
They fired him and hired him as the CEO.
importednoob 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Assuming this is real (which it doesn't appear to be) this man should be promoted and paid double. Somebody that is able to successfully coordinate, manage and off-load work to a Chinese consulting firm is a very very valuable asset especially for firms that are looking for 24/7 development and services but unable to find quality employees in the US who are willing to work graveyard-shift development jobs.
petrel 12 hours ago 0 replies      
And Americans say, they are unemployed.
davestheraves 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd get so bored just watching Youtube etc all day!
volkanvardar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems to be a win-win-win strategy :-
misuisui 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My God, the Chinese people will take away our jobs!
Jonathan James wikipedia.org
360 points by will_brown  4 days ago   118 comments top 13
jeremymims 4 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like Steve Heymann has a history of this:

"The case was picked up by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Heymann in Boston, the cybercrime prosecutor who won a record 20-year prison stretch for TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez. Heymann indicted Aaron on 13 counts of wire fraud, computer intrusion and reckless damage. The case has been wending through pre-trial motions for 18 months, and was set for jury trial on April 1." [1]

Appears that Jonathan James and Aaron Swartz both had the same prosecutor after them...

[1] http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/01/aaron-swartz/

leoh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think one thing that users of HN are picking up on during this crisis is the sense that in some ways, "hackers" are alike--whether a relatively egregious case as in this article, a very mild to innocuous case such as Swartz's, or a truly innocuous case like reverse-engineering open source software--in that we are all curious and we are all sometimes foolish. What the justice department and the masses among us forget is that even very successful people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were and are hackers, and that in the case of the former's hacking (Jobs' blue-boxing days), it could have gotten him in really, really big trouble.

So I think a big part of this is that we know that people make mistakes and that justice is absurdly harsh and out-of-proportion, not to mention the fact that as hackers, we definitely have the ability to do really insanely great things with our lives.

But one thing to remember is that the justice system in this country is absurdly harsh to a lot of people. It's absurdly harsh to minorities and to drug users for example, too. The fact is, the way that justice is executed in this country needs to be re-thought for everyone.

Edit: I just wanted to add to this. The key to a better outcome is greater kindness. Kindness to others and kindness to ourselves. There will always be foolish people like Swartz's prosecutor or the people at MIT. But in this technological age, in first-world countries, our immediate needs are usually taken care of. The things that make a true difference is kindness. The kindness of mentors, the kindness of friends and lovers, the kindness of strangers. Swartz's prosecutor could have been more kind. Even Swartz, I think it could be said, could have been kinder to himself, loving himself and taking more caution for himself instead of placing himself in such peril. We all need to be kind to others and ourselves as much as we can, without putting ourselves in danger. Sometimes a little danger is what it takes to change things, true. But kindness is what we all need more of in this age and what, I think, we truly desire. RIP Aaron.

InclinedPlane 3 days ago 1 reply      
Relevant, journalist David Gregory blatantly violated Washington, DC firearms law, on air. He won't face charges:


I hate to say it but if these trends continue we'll be well on our way to a new sort of feudalism, where laws are selectively enforced and the little guys who hold political views or who are part of minorities that are despised by the powers that be get hit hard while the people who are rich or politically connected get a break. We've seen it with drug laws (where even cocaine possession translates to much different charges when the accused is white and affluent vs black and poor), with prescription drug abuse, with tax laws, with gun laws, with computer crime (where a corporation can install rootkits on people's computers with few legal ramifications), etc.

byoung2 4 days ago 5 replies      
"I have no faith in the 'justice' system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control. I die free."

That is a sad and powerful statement.

ck2 3 days ago 1 reply      
We cannot see into Aaron's thoughts of course but if I had to guess, maybe he thought he was going to be Bradley Manning-inged which might drive anyone over the edge.

Stripped naked and thrown into a cell "for his protection" (he got a whopping 100 days off his 30 years to life sentence for that abuse btw, so that will teach the people that did that right?)

Perhaps we should use this energy to help the living Bradley Manning in protest as it does little to help Aaron or his loved ones now.

jmspring 4 days ago 2 replies      
The problem I have with the justice system in cases like this is that there are curious people, they will have, probe, poke, tickle, whatever systems are available. The justice system, as mentioned, only sees those making these "intrusions" in black and white terms -- criminals.

In the case linked, "NASA had to shut it's systems down for 3 weeks at the cost of $41000 to check and fix it's systems"...This is bullshit. First off, you should have sufficient redundancy in your internal systems, especially for life critical code, that an intrusion affects the front line, not things like your source repository. Further, you should have regular backups and checkpoints -- checksums, etc. to be able to compare and identify anything compromised.

Laws to guard against lazy employees should not be allowed.

A bogus case.

ALee 4 days ago 2 replies      
Our government used to hire the brilliant minds who taught us about our security flaws. See here for RTM: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/11/08/us/living-with-the-compute...

Even Sean Parker of Napster, Facebook, and now Spotify glory was offered a job when he was younger. Somehow something changed in the past 10 years.

gmt2027 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article does not mention that the real J.J. in the TJX case could have been '7 foot tall' Stephen Watt, a former Morgan Stanley employee with the aliases 'Jim Jones' and 'Unix Terrorist'


nell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone who argues for any punishment, should first have experienced a sample of the same treatment. How can someone who doesn't know what it means and feels to live through a punishment wish to inflict it upon others. Seems like the behavior of a beast.
nola1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great interview of Jonathan James with Frontline: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/interv...
jellyksong 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure we should glorify Jonathan James or even compare him to Aaron Swartz. His "hacking" of the DoD was undeniably illegal, and his sentencing seemed appropriate for his actions. We will never know if he was innocent or not of the TJX case. It's tragic that he killed himself, but, at least to me, his actions seemed on the whole more malicious than Swartz's ever was.
lawnchair_larry 4 days ago 2 replies      
How is this on the front page? This isn't recent or relevant to anything.
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