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Why the Fuck? raganwald.posterous.com
887 points by mehulkar  1 day ago   490 comments top 127
raganwald 1 day ago 36 replies      
My fellow HNers:

It does depress me, daily, that I do not have a career in physics or chemistry or biology or medicine where I could work on "big problems." The simple truth is, I'm not smart enough, I don't work hard enough, and I've been napping when opportunity knocked a few times in my life.

That being said, sometimes a man in a saloon has a few drinks and yells at the television, telling the coach of some football team what to do next. Just because he's drunk and in a saloon doesn't mean he's wrong, just boorish.

I lamented the fact that it's easier to upload and simultaneously tweet about a picture from my phone than it is for Scott to lead a normal life. There are lots of reasons why this is so:

1. The barrier for entry (education, &c) is higher in medicine and bioinformatics.

2. There are regulatory obstacles for businesses.

3. The problems are harder to solve than it may seem to the man in the saloon.

4. Some people feel the monetary incentives are to avoid medicine.

p.s. "Hypocrisy" is one of those empty criticisms, like "Unprofessional." If someone says to you, "smoking is bad," it doesn't matter whether he smokes. Maybe, his advice is actually more relevant if he's an older fellow who smoked and now regrets not making a different choice when he was your age.

pg 1 day ago 4 replies      
Essentially he's asking why person-hours are expended on things that make the most money rather than things that are important, for some definition of important.

There are several answers to that.

1. The most obvious is that people need to make a living. People can and do work at some discount in order to work on things they think are important, but it rarely stretches as much as 10x. I expect most workers either don't care or can't afford to.

2. A lot of people do work for nonprofits (the biggest of which is the government), but the number of such jobs is constrained by the amount of money nonprofits can raise.

3. The number of people employed on frivolous things seems larger than it is, because e.g. things designed for entertainment are by their nature more visible than infrastructure. So it is dangerous to draw conclusions based on anecdotal evidence.

benihana 1 day ago 6 replies      
Oh goodie, another arrogant whine by raganwald where he can't understand why the greatest minds (implying people writing code are somehow the greatest minds) aren't doing what he thinks is important.

This post makes two incorrect assumptions. First, that the things he derides (Google automating targeted content, Facebook introducing new search features that are tangential to their current features, Apple changing form factors) aren't beneficial to society as a whole. Second, that problems he would like to see solved are more important than problems other people would like to see solved.

haberman 1 day ago 5 replies      
In my five years at Google, I am not sure I have met a single engineer who is "trying to figure out how to get Scott Hanselman to click on ads."

I have met tons of engineers who work on interesting problems like building models of query patterns to detect spiking queries (Google Trends and Google Hot Trends, all publicly accessible: http://www.google.com/trends/), Gmail, Maps/Directions/Traffic, improving (machine) efficiency of Google Search, and tons of systems problems/architectures like MapReduce, Dremel, etc. And people I haven't met are working on everything from Flu Trends to Driverless Cars.

This oft-repeated claim that Google is squandering a bunch of engineer talent building things that don't improve humanity reflects a distorted view of what Google engineers do, one that is easily refuted even by the publicly-accessible information about Google's engineering accomplishments.

glesica 1 day ago 4 replies      
To launch a Facebook clone you sign up for Heroku or AWS, push some Rails code, and start promoting yourself. To launch a medical device you spend years cutting through regulation and red tape, negotiating with and marketing to an industry that is probably threatened by your existence and will do its best to stop you.

Screw up at Facebook, you get yelled at on Twitter and your share price dips for a few days. Screw up a medical device, you get sued out of existence.

This probably doesn't explain the whole thing, but it is certainly related.

untog 1 day ago 4 replies      
"Reginald Braithwaite is a software developer at Leanpub, where he and his colleagues take the friction out of writing and selling books"

Why the fuck are the greatest minds of our generation toiling away on a book publishing platform? Oh, right, because you think it's important. Guess what- we all have different opinions. Is book publishing more important than dating? Before you laugh, think about it- finding someone to share your life with is very important to a lot of people. A lot more than will ever publish a book.

It's pretty depressing to see this upvoted as far as it has been on HN. What is it actually saying? It's like one of those stupid motivational posters (only negative)- all emotion-tugging, no depth.

Why are you making a book publishing platform and not following your own advice?

johnbender 1 day ago 2 replies      
It appears that Diabetes research receives over a billion in funding each year just from the NIH [1][2]. As far as I can tell this doesn't include private funding for cures/treatments.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the data here, but it looks like many people and many millions of dollars are devoted to solving real world problems like the one Scott Hanselman has.

[1] General Disease research numbers http://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx

[2] Diabetes funding by project http://report.nih.gov/categorical_spending_project_listing.a...

shazow 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why do we play videogames? Why do we create art? Why do we eat tasty unhealthy foods? Why do we go on hikes or climb rocks?

Why do we write posts complaining about other people not saving the world?

We do things we enjoy, things we're passionate or curious about, things we care about or have no choice but to do them. Glamour is a factor. Money too.

Perhaps if I had diabetes, or someone very close to me was suffering from the disease, then I would spend some time thinking about how to more efficiently manage one's blood sugar levels. Perhaps if I were closer to the realities of obesity, then I Move You (my former startup focused around getting healthy through social pressure) would have worked out differently. I learned that this isn't something I'm passionate about, but I know there are others who are.

cynicalkane 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bad incentives.

Maybe smart people don't care about money all that much, but they want their lives to not suck, their effort to not feel wasted, their identity not wrapped up in the service of dysfunction and politics. There are not many places where you can better humanity for a living and live the life such a person deserves, and it is not the job of humans to sacrifice themselves for no reward. That's why people who do so, effectively, are so rare.

Here's a guy who left the ivory tower for Google: http://cs.unm.edu/~terran/academic_blog/?p=113

I'm concerned that the US " one of the innovation powerhouses of the world " will hurt its own future considerably if we continue to make educational professions unappealing.

DigitalSea 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hate to sound rude, I mean well. But why the fuck is Raganwald whining about start-ups that aren't solving real problems instead of solving the problems himself? That's what really irks me about today's society. People bitch and whine about things, wanting people to change the world and yet don't do a single things themselves to make it happen. I hate the mentality that it's up to everyone else to solve serious problems when Raganwald is wasting his time whining about people not solving real problems behind his computer screen oblivious to the fact there are people out there trying to make a difference. Curing things doesn't happen over night. After the initial study, it can take upwards of 10 years before a new drug can come to market.

Maybe people aren't solving medical issues because it's not easy. Case in point: a man by the name of Thomas Shaw engineered a syringe that after it's use the tip retracts inside of the syringe to prevent people from jabbing themselves, an obviously genius idea, right? He's worked on the design for over 15 years and has failed to crack into the market, although accomplished many other notable contracts and things other budding start-ups wanting to crack into the medical market could only dream of. Other companies have copied his device, he's had to fight even though his device has been proven to be the best in comparison to others.

The medical industry is not only tightly regulated, it's heavily infiltrated by super lobbyist groups. Doctors taking kickbacks for exclusively using a particular medical supplier or company regardless of safety or price.

Having said that, what makes this guy think people aren't out there solving problems? While diabetes is a serious medical issue, it's manageable. But I would much prefer resources are allocated to illnesses where they're only treatable for so long before you die, like you know cancer and leukaemia. Be grateful you have a condition that if managed properly you can still live a normal life unlike those who are bed ridden and slowly dying from cancer because even though the treatments they have can cure them if caught early they make you extremely sick in the process.

bhickey 1 day ago 3 replies      
Because research pays terribly and not everyone has the luxury of martyrdom.

Want to be a grad student? 80-90% pay cut. (Unless you go to Switzerland and then it's closer to 70%).

Want to be a university research programmer? 70% pay cut.

Removing economic considerations, would I rather be researching auto-immune disease? Sure. But 'doing good' means compromises like buying a house at 45 instead of 35.

No one asks doctors to make these compromises.

Edit: If someone wants to deposit $2m in my bank account I'll quit my job on Tuesday and go to grad school.

jholman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Okay, wait, what? You seriously think that Google isn't making huge positive impact on humanity? I mean, please discount the following argument based on the admittedly-confounding fact that I have drunk the kool-aid and am on payroll, but...

First, I claim that the improvement from searching with AltaVista etc, to searching with Google, has made the web orders of magnitude more useful. And Google search continues to get more effective.

Second, I claim that the web, as an information-interchange platform, is hugely impactful to society, on the same level as curing diabetes, and more useful to society than the kind of incremental improvement in diabetes management that was Raganwald's case study.

Third, I claim that making hugely awesome projects profitable (or at least sustainable) is part of making those hugely awesome projects actually have impact. With no revenue ever, Google wouldn't be able to have all the positive impact it has.

Fourth, Google has done and is doing lots of other shit that is also hugely impactful. Along with, let's all explicitly admit, lots of bullshit stuff that it's fair to mock. Google Books. Google Health (which admittedly failed). Mother-fucking Maps and Earth (which admittedly were _founded_ outside of Google, but were bankrolled into awesomeness by Google ads). Maps and Earth are a big deal in solving real-world macro-scale ecological problems, even aside from the huge convenience they provide their normal users. Google.org. And in the sexy-so-it-must-be-bullshit department, the self-driving cars _could_ save hojillions of lives and help reform oil dependence.

So if you want to decrease "useless busywork", and you want to increase real solutions to real problems that affect real people, Google is doing that. And also some bullshit stuff involving social/mobile/local whatever whatever.

justsee 1 day ago 4 replies      
Elon Musk chose to do PayPal (a rather disliked company on HN) which enabled him to work on Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX (which HN rather likes).

Isn't it possible that some of these people toiling away in the corporate womb are acquiring capabilities and capital so they can be reborn to do important, but potentially unprofitable 'change the world' projects?

MatthewPhillips 1 day ago 6 replies      
Who says programmers are the greatest minds of our generation?
Shenglong 1 day ago 0 replies      
My friend is in the process of completing his residency in emergency medicine. When I asked him what the most difficult part of his job was, he told me, "having to see one obese person after another, knowing what I tell them will almost certainly have no impact."

Lots of people have already mentioned the incentive factor (well covered by Bill Gates in his comment about baldness: http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_unplugged.html), so I won't speak about that. Rather, it might be worth thinking what solving these real problems involves.

Fixing obesity? Working with obese people day in and day out, trying solution after solution with no success? It's not just that these things aren't glorious - but they're also soul crushing. When you make a social network, people around you get excited for you. When you make a weight-loss application, well... not much happens.

For an industry that is already prone to depression and mental illness, it's not entirely difficult (although it may not be right) to see why things have developed the way they have.

chewxy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because those who can market themselves lean to 'easier' spaces.

Think of it this way. I'm a very terrible programmer. My understanding of the O notation is abysmal at best. If you ask me to write a distributed database, I probably won't do a good job at it.

But you know what I can write? Webapps! Any Tom Dick and Harry can write them. People who can market themselves well and can write the easy stuff wins. And with that comes the compound effect of the rich getting richer.

Example: I write the next social network and I market the hell out of it. Now I'm the cool company that people who are really good in computer science want to join, since you know, I've scaled out to the point where data is big enough to warrant the term 'Big Data', where information retrieval is now a problem.

Imagine instead if I were say a very very good biologist. That also typically means my focus is very very narrow, and doesn't lend itself to marketability. I cannot start a company saying I want to create a drug that turns off production of the PRSS3 enzyme. No, I'd have to market it as "I am creating a drug cure for prostate cancer". But I can't and I won't (if I am being honest with myself), because all I know about prostate cancer is the PRSS3 enzyme. There are other factors that causes prostate cancer.

People who are experts in their fields are generally stuck on the narrow field they're in. A PRSS3 researcher would know everything there is to know about the PRSS3 enzyme. He/she would probably suck at marketing it though. Same with say, information retrieval experts. The people who don't give talks at XYZ conference. The people who work behind the scenes, engineering everything - they don't market themselves well.

As a result, the people who best market themselves win. The easiest things to make are also usually quite easy to market.

tl;dr: people flock to 'easier' spaces because that's what's easy to market to. Programmers flock to the latest SoLoMo startups, because SoLoMo is easy to market to hackers.

wow I'm so ranty today

kogir 1 day ago 2 replies      
Judging by all he's accomplished at Microsoft, I'm sure Scott could successfully lead a team to solve his problem and bring a product to market. But he doesn't.

I (luckily) would not have use for such a product. If he doesn't care enough to tackle the problem, why should I?

Same goes for Obesity. Most of it could be controlled by changes in diet and behavior. If people affected can't be bothered, why should I care?

YuriNiyazov 1 day ago 1 reply      
Because most people, Facebook programmers included, don't have the patience and the resources to undergo the amount of schooling necessary to reach the level of understanding to make an impact in these areas; and after they do, the amount of bureaucracy they will need to fight to make a dent will drive even the most resilient minds to take a job getting people to click on ads.
RoboTeddy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Probably because profit is only somewhat related to delivering actual utility.
moultano 1 day ago 1 reply      
Lots of people in the Googleplex, including my team, are working to make sure that when Scott Hanselman types [blood sugar monitoring] into Google he gets useful results. I'm working on this because I believe it to be the most important thing within range of my skills and experience.

People at Facebook are working to allow Scott Hanselman to be able to find friends of friends with diabetes to ask for advice.

crazygringo 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Why the fuck are programers strategizing how to pivot Facebook into being a dating site?

Umm... finding and getting a date with the right person can eventually lead to marriage, incredible happiness, new children in the world... seems like a pretty worthy goal to me.

cowsandmilk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does he honestly believe the greatest minds of this generation are all working at the googleplex?

Anyone in the biomed field knows there have been huge advances towards artificial pancreases over the last five years. The purpose of an artificial pancreas is to provide the "second-by-second efficiency" that raganwald discusses.

From googling (as I am an expert in other areas of biomedical research), there are several companies and universities going into clinical trials in hospitals during this time and UVA entered outpatient clinical trials last year[1]. FDA gave preliminary guidance on approval of these devices in December 2011 and final guidance in November 2012 [2].

As one example of the extremely intelligent people working in this field, I point to an interview with Ed Damiano[3], who describes some of the difficulties in the control algorithms around these devices. A big one is that the time delay within a single patient evolves with time, and this time delay can be on the order of hours. So, you have continuous glucose monitoring on a second-by-second basis, but if the patient doesn't respond to the insulin for hours, you can quickly overdose the patient. A lot of control theory work is extremely well established, but usually with a fixed time delay related to the physical parameters of the system. (at this point, I should point out that work on ad systems that learn over time and adapt to changes in individual users response over time to an individual ad may be very applicable here, meaning work on optimizing ads may someday contribute to better managing diabetes, who knows? cross-polination in algorithms is very common, one algorithm I have used in my biophysics research was adapted by Ephraim Katzir from work he did for the israeli army on detecting tanks in satellite photos....).

I don't know why raganwald believes "the greatest minds of our generation toiling away in the Googleplex". There's lots of proof this isn't the case and I know several people in the biotech field that are much smarter than anyone I've seen go to work at Google. In fact, just as it is easy to jump from a physics PhD into google or the finance industry, I've seen a ton of people do it from the biotech field (prominent example: D.E. Shaw[4]).

At the same time, don't forget that people work to cure or manage diseases such as diabetes so that people can lead normal lives with a vibrant social circle. Many social apps serve a similar purpose of helping keep us connected with loved ones. While there are specialized social networks for people with diseases, this activity is often mirrored on nonspecialized platforms. Additionally, while a specialized network may help you find people with a similar disease, facebook or gmail may be what keeps someone who has to have a specialized treatment at a hospital hundreds of miles away in touch with their friends and facetime can allow a patient to call the spouse and kids and read a bedtime story. When Intel comes out with a new power-efficient processor, they may be driven by tablets and ultrabooks, but those processors may allow new portable medical devices that save lives in the field as paramedics are now able to apply medical technologies critical minutes earlier to a patient. So, don't let your narrow view of technologies blind yourself to the good actually resulting from the work done at these companies. Not everyone will make the next vacanti mouse, but their work may save more lives.

[1] http://www.news-medical.net/news/20120514/First-US-outpatien...
[2] http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulation...
[3] http://www.diabetesmine.com/2011/02/behind-the-scenes-of-the...
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._E._Shaw_Research

jerf 1 day ago 0 replies      
brudgers 1 day ago 2 replies      
My son doesn't trust my recommendations in books. It's justified. He'd been reading a fantasy series. I recommended Sword of Shanara. He thought it sucked. Fair. I thought it sucked when it came out. I was the same age.

Yet, when I pulled Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy off the library last month, the title pulled him in.

"Flying is the art of throwing yourself at the ground" is a hit in middle-school. But that's not the part Reg got me thinking about.

The other two-thirds, of course, stayed at home and lived full, rich, and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

I'm in agreement with Reg. To a point. He is able to share his thoughts with me here, not because someone was seeking a cure for diabetes, but because someone wrote software to automate the building of web storefronts.

While steely eyed missile men took us to the brink of nuclear war, a B-grade actor, a lawyer, a playwright and a longshoreman helped bring down the iron curtain. The idea that we should seek work which matches our nature goes back to Plato's Republic. We don't know in advance phone sanitizers important.

Zarkonnen 1 day ago 0 replies      
My father spent most of a decade running a company developing a non-invasive blood sugar meter: http://www.diabetesnet.com/diabetes-technology/meters-monito...

After many years of struggle, the company folded from a lack of investment: medicine investors were scared off by the tech component, and tech investors didn't understand that in medicine, you have to prove, with studies, that your treatment or device actually works. This takes time, and frequent trips back to the drawing board.

steveplace 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why the fuck do we see this complaint pop up on HN every quarter?
lindowe 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of interesting startups right now in the mobile health space, but it is a significantly more difficult space to operate in. It takes years to get FDA approval for new medical devices, the healthcare industry is beholden to several large industry players, and the culture of medicine is resistant to rapid innovation. I understand and echo your frustration that silicon valley often only pays lip service to 'dangerously ambitious ideas', but there are also real reasons why people don't operate in these difficult business environments.
mahyarm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seeing how pharmaceutical companies and other medical related things have a lot of money thrown at them world wide, I think that isn't the case. Computing isn't the only place where 'the greatest minds of our generation' reside, there are a lot of them in the medical community.

Also there has been a recent trend of quantified self and medical start ups starting to gain traction, such as fitbit, mybasis.com, the tricorder xprize and so on. For quite a while it's been a software only world and just now we are starting to see an uptick in consumer electronics start ups.

Not everybody can work on curing cancer.

abrahamsen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure about the world, but the smartest people in Denmark are likely working within the Novo Nordisk domicile, trying to work on better ways to manage diabetes with second-by-second efficiency.

They don't post a lot here, because honestly, this site has few stories that matches their interests.

It is rather arrogant to believe that the greatest minds of our generation are to be found in our field, and not e.g. in biomedicine and other fields more relevant for diabetes treatment.

chaostheory 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel that Jolie O'Dell had a more eloquent rant on the same subject:

"However, more and more, I am royally pissed off that so many bright engineers, good entrepreneurs and capable venture capitalists are throwing resources into problems that no one really has. They're creating “bread and circuses” in a digital format " apps that are wildly popular, infinitely entertaining, and exactly what people want.

The only problem is that they don't really do anybody any good. They're not doing what technology is intended to do: Solve problems."


elisk 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why the fuck? I'll tell you why.
Because true innovation is too far and few in between, because it took us 60,000 years to realize that we can plant our own crops, that we can cultivate and breed our own farm animals.

Because it took us a good few thousand years to understand that there is more to life than just bashing each other with stones and sticks.

Because coming up with something new, and having the guts to share it with your community, and not being killed for it is still rather rare today.

Because it took us almost 1,500 to "accept" the fact that we're on a spherical object, not being held by a bunch of turtles. Because some of us are still not convinced that this is true.

Because most of the time we're not actually creating anything new, but instead try to improve something that was already there, because we're afraid thinking out of the box.
Because our society loves new stuff as long as it doesn't change their old views, and most of the truly revolutionary ideas are just that, shattering our older views.

Because we're distrustful apes that think that their youngsters are naive or just plain stupid. Because we think that our 5 year-old's are too young to see the naked body of a human being.

Because our society teaches our kids how to suppress originality from the very first days in schools and throughout their "education", which is just a pretty word for enslavement camps that teach our population how to be obedient, unoriginal parrots.

Because if you ask 95% of humanity who they believe more, their parents or the scientists that tell them something different than what their parents (and their parents parents) said or think, they'll tell you they prefer the "truth" of their parents, ignoring facts, experiments, and their own eyes.

Because we have patent laws that do nothing but prevent true innovation. Because a lot of the ideas that we have are already protected by some stupid law and we can't actually do that. Because we can't experiment with human embryonic cells because we consider them sacred and at the same time we allow the slaughter of millions of people around the world, deny them the food that we throw away in the garbage because we simply can't consume that much.

Because we distrust each other and we intimidate and sometimes execute those who do something different. Because we're so arrogant that we're always sure that we know best, and this new thing that someone just mentioned to you won't work because of a million reasons.

But mainly, because we're lazy as fuck, and we rather complain about why we don't have anything truly new and life improving, and replying to those rants explaining the reasoning behind it.

Why? Because you're too squared in. Because you're too afraid to truly say what's on your mind. Because you don't want others to think that you're crazy. Because if you don't conform, society will reject you. And new things, are by definition, non-conforming.

Now go and create something new. I dare you.

wissler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with Raganwald's sentiment, and I think most of the posters here at HN lack vision and standards and are just fat dumb and happy with the status quo. Well the status quo is not good enough, and YOU need to raise your standards and expectations about what is possible and you need to get a clue about the kinds of things that are holding us back, but first and foremost, it is YOUR ATTITUDE that is holding us back.
uladzislau 1 day ago 0 replies      
The answer is well known. All challenging real world problems require deep domain knowledge besides programming.

You need to have medical expertise to even consider providing solutions to people with diabetes.

That's why we have 100:1 ratio of useless, solving not existing problems projects to world changing ones.

quasque 1 day ago 2 replies      
Funnily enough, this is exactly why I gave up on software development and went to study a degree in the biosciences.

Ten years of fixing crappy websites, writing dull database interfaces, troubleshooting bugs in shit code written by people who didn't give a damn -- and for what purpose? The paycheck was good but money is not everything. It felt like such a colossal waste of life.

My mind is my best asset - I want to apply it to something that will actually make a difference and help people. And it isn't going to happen in software or IT.

Anyway, I'm well on my way to working in biomedical research as a career, so this has really paid off. Already interned in a lab for a while and it was amazing, just the feeling of finding out something new and real, even if it takes months, is such a rush. The previous software experience came in very useful too.

jowiar 1 day ago 0 replies      
2 brief points:

Consider the amount of human innovation dedicated to killing other humans more efficiently. Ads are an improvement.

Also, analysis techniques and technologies developed and funded with the goal of selling more ads translate to other fields, making life easier for researchers there. Just because the short term goal isn't curing cancer, that does not mean the work does not bring us closer.

ok_craig 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think one obvious point is that the minds dedicated to increasing ad clickthrough generate the revenue needed for other great minds to embark on projects like self-driving cars, glass, and, you know, only indexing the entire internet.

Also, not everyone on the planet is interested in becoming a doctor. People have different interests. The ones who are not people who want to solve those problems, instead support the economy that allows people who are doctors to do their work and make scientific advances. To simplify, if we were all capable of working on these things, and we all did so, it wouldn't be any better because we'd all die from lack of food, because none of us are doing menial things like being farmers and cashiers.

waterlesscloud 1 day ago 0 replies      
A year or two ago most of the responses to a blog like this were along the lines of "But facebook/google/mystartup is trying to change the world."

Now people don't even bother with that line.

That might be progress, actually.

sajid 1 day ago 0 replies      
The greatest minds of our generation are not working at the googleplex. They are at universities and research labs working on math, physics, molecular biology, etc.
agentultra 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suspect the rewards of an academic career are not on par with or even close to those of a career on the commercial path. The cost of tuition is prohibitive for most families and the rewards of a teaching/research career are mediocre at best compared to one in on a commercial track.

As well most schools have incentives to place students in commercial careers. It's what parents and students expect these days from an educational institution.

Finally it's extremely easy to get started and learn enough programming to be dangerous and difficult to learn enough to produce real innovation.

shaunxcode 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I can only speak for myself:
When I was younger I had nothing but the loftiest of goals. To implement the cybernetic fantasies that had been suggested to me either directly by my favorite authors, or by my imagination connecting the dots of how the world I longed to live in could exist.

I got older. I realized it was going to be nigh on impossible to get a large enough user base for anything of that sort to exist so I settled into a cycle of keeping a straight job whilst I focussed on tool refinement as a form of procrastination. "Once I have the perfect platform..."

I doubled down on my critical theory. Maybe once I REALLY understood what marx, beer, derrida, lacan, mcluhan, and debord were REALLY saying my next steps would be clear.

I became stuck. Entirely aware of the complexity and futility of the "all". For now I wait and attempt to inspire those around me to take a deeper look into their cybernetic heritage (past and future). Keep on refine, keep on read, keep on eval, keep on print.

nirvana 1 day ago 5 replies      
I can't speak to the other companies, though I know google want's "all the worlds info at your fingertips" which is a reasonably high ideal... I can speak to what Apple is doing as someone whose followed the company closely for a couple decades.

Apple doesn't care whether you buy the 3.5", 4.0", 7.85", or 9.8" screen.

Apple is bringing the personal computer to the 6 billion other people who weren't able to get in on the PC revolution.

Their slogan in the 1980s used to be "The Computer for the Rest Of Us." While it isn't used for marketing, the mission hasn't really changed.

There were two key issues that prevented those people from participating in the PC revolution.

The first was that you had to be trained how to use a computer. You had to be at least literate, and you had to spend the time to overcome the significant usability hurdle that even Mac OS X presents to the random person. (Eg: your grandmother.)

iOS has revolutionized computer usability such that your grandmother can use it, even if she never made it to high school (bless her heart.)

The second is price/distribution. PCs were for the relatively rich. And while Apple never seemed to compete on the lowest end, that's simply because most people who think Apple makes expensive products think about $300 laptop as "affordable". Instead, Apple put a $50 computer in peoples hands- the iPod shuffle. Sure, it might not be as full featured as a laptop, but you have to walk before you can run.

Lets also not forget that there's a big difference between a PC that draws serious amps and thus needs a house wired for electricity... and a mobile that runs on batteries and can be charged with solar power.

Apple is toiling away building the greatest development/ design/ manufacturing/ distribution machine in history. Of course they have some key partners in this- foxconn and their suppliers.

That iPod shuffle has been replaced with the inexpensive iPod touch, which really is a PC. And of course there is the iPad mini, also a new entry on the low end pc market.

Just because they didn't choose to make zero margin crap that nobody can use (Eg: windows running netbooks), doesn't mean they aren't working their tails off to address this under filled market. They are coming in from the high end, which makes sense given that they can't make the devices fast enough. Hence scaling the company across all those axis I mentioned.

I'm sure this sounds like a radical idea, because "everyone knows" that Apple is only interested in selling "shiny things to rich people". Just keep thinking that!

Whether android ultimately beats them to it, or not, their mission is pretty damn noble, as far as I'm concerned.

The post-PC era they created is going to empower a massive number of people.

dakimov 1 day ago 1 reply      
Dude, the folks doing websites aren't greatest minds. They aren't even engineers. It's a bunch of ADHD kids rushing for cash.

All this social web bullshit is not really even programming, and programming is not even engineering.

rickdale 1 day ago 0 replies      
The one word answer to your question is MONEY. Thats why the fuck. Also an old proverb from urban dictionary tells you, don't hate the player player hater, hate the game.
snitko 1 day ago 0 replies      
The incentives are in the wrong place. It's not that entrepreneurs don't want to work on important things, but rather that important things are regulated by the government. Good luck waiting 2+ years and spending millions waiting for your blood sugar measuring device approved by the FDA. It pays to work on Facebook-like things because government has not yet spoiled the internet with endless expensive regulations.
djt 1 day ago 1 reply      
My friend has a insulin pump similar to this


This seems to be a solved problem, if only someone could make a way for people to search out such things via the internet ;)

maxcameron 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reginald strikes again!

But the real question is why a mind as bright as Reg is doing biz dev at a services company in Toronto? Shouldn't he be saving the world?

timonv 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Obesity isn't a problem, it's an effect. People eat crap and don't work out and the media doesn't help.

Whether problems are 'real' is a point of perception. Obesity and the high rate of diabetes are only a problem in ignorance of the cause. That's yours to fill in. The same goes for the banking crisis, political scams and the facade we call democracy (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/democracy/).

I totally agree we should be addressing real issues in our society, however, addressing effects is like duct taping a drain - temporary.

opminion 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because the diabetes researchers use Google.
jiggy2011 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't have a degree in medical sciences so I have no idea where I would start.
mikle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is the author of this is currently working on curing diabetes? I think the chances are small he is. What I'm trying to say is that he is a hypocrite.
a_bonobo 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in working in bioinformatics, use Google to check for your local university and drop a mail to any of the bioinformatics groups, interns and research assistants are always great!

We love to have someone on board who's a) motivated and b) actually knows what he/she's doing, not many bioinformaticians know how to "properly" code, it's a lot of dirty hackish stuff.

sakopov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since we're talking about medical industry here, we're talking about insane regulations because human lives are at stake. I personally believe that software professionals working in this field must be professional engineers. Much like every other engineering discipline where you are obligated to take the blame for your actions. Unfortunately, given the current state of our industry, I would have to say from experience that more than 50% of devs are either self-taught or certified without any formal education. Not to say that all of them are terrible devs, but it sure as hell doesn't look good for us. I don't want people "hacking" medical industry like it's some kind of mind-numbing picture-sharing app. I want people building better medical experience.
jisaacstone 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was thinking about this the other (past few months)

Getting into _that_ industry, I mean.

I was wondering specifically if it might be possible to get some existing medical devices to communicate via bluetooth with a central server; to build an adapter so everything that sent out a vital signal was logged on disc and remotely accessible in real time.

I was in a hospital recently, and the vital signs were logged on paper, and abnormalities were signaled by a loud alarm, to be audible at the nearby nurses station.

But I don't know how I can 'weekend hack' this sort of thing. Perhaps I can grab some medical surplus, a bluetooth adapter and start hacking?

adventured 1 day ago 0 replies      
The speed of product innovation radically slows down when you have to seriously concern yourself with whether you might kill the consumer with a mistake.

There is a large class of engineering minds out there that simply don't want to work in that field of risk.

namank 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh my god why does every god damn person, including the author, think they are incapable of stuff?

Fucks sakes people, you don't need to learn physics or chemistry or math or whatever. You bunch of perfectionist want to learn the science when ALL you need to do is learn how to apply it.

EVEN if you're technically incapable, think about how you can make someone's life better. How you can help someone feel better about themselves. Go figure out how to solve a human problem if you can't do technical ones.

But, no matter what, do not give me excuses as to what you can't and why you can't. That, sirs and madams, is unacceptable. All of us, within our current skillset, have some knowledge that the world can directly benefit from. Find it, own it, be it.

petercooper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love the sentiment of this post. But why does water run downhill instead of up? Up would certainly be useful.

As in physics, there seems to be a gravity that pulls people towards the greatest rewards for the least effort.

Becoming wealthy by building a diabetes management tool is, I suspect, much harder than drinking some of Facebook's cream for working on their ad network. There are certainly people who relish and lean into such challenges, but it's not the majority and never will be IMHO.

saurik 1 day ago 0 replies      
> even if they don't sound glamorous when writing a "Show HN" post

Is this true? I feel like "Show HN: technological solution that allows people to forget they have diabetes" would cause a "woah, that's awesome" reaction. I mean, for another example, imagine "Show HN: I'm 14, please check out my fool-proof iOS dieting app"; or, at the far end of the scale, "Show HN: my weekend project - I cured cancer". I feel like these would be pretty "glamorous"; like, sufficiently so, that I'm having a difficult time keeping a straight face writing the titles of the posts, as they come off as the kind of thing way too epic for a "Show HN": if I saw these headlines, I'd immediately think "yeah, whatever, obviously total BS; maybe let's check out the comments to see what they failed to take into account" ;P.

desireco42 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why to fuck do you think that overweight people are the real problem, I would think endless wars and poverty and living on this planet without destroying it would be real problems.

I agree that masses of people are working on ridiculous problems, it is like those people in wall street working on how to squeeze out few pennies more during a trade. In part, it is because we live in capitalism and money is only measure of success, so if you make 40K and i make 60K, I am better then you and 150% better to be precise :).

Plus, these other problems are really hard and if you start tackling them you really stir up things.

I believe Elon Musk is, for example, a guy who is trying to work on real problems.

confluence 1 day ago 0 replies      
Simple. Ad work pays better and is less hard work. Same reason people become radiologists and gps instead of working in the er.

Make the other shit pay better and you'll be flooded with applications. I only live once and I don't intend to be a sacrifice on the altar of science when I can easily live a great life pushing cat pictures to a sedentary work force.

Do I feel bad about that? Not really. I have bills to pay.

will_brown 1 day ago 0 replies      
As it relates to developing pharmaceuticals and medical devices they generally require FDA approval. Please watch "Burzynski Movie: Cancer is Serious Business" it is about a Dr. who patented non-toxic cancer treatments that have better "survivor" rates than surgery+chemo on many types of cancer and it has even treated certain brain cancers in children that have never been successfully treated by current treatments. The Movie documents the FDA's continued harassment of the Dr. on behalf of big pharmaceutical companies, including multiple criminal charges that the Dr. was always acquitted for. Included is footage of Congressional hearing about this matter and a direct question to the FDA Director as to why the Dr.'s applications for FDA trials were repeatedly denied when his treatments had cured certain childhood brain cancers, and the response was he never had and never will approve applications unless they are from big pharmaceutical companies.

The best minds are busy preventing the best minds from taking a piece their pie (ie. Google protecting its market share), for the best minds to be busy making a difference (this is simultaneously why none of us have privacy on the internet, we cannot enjoy an internet experience without a bombardment of adds and why cure of diabetes is not the focus but rather treatment.

thetable 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been entertaining the thought lately that all the work being done on photosharing sites and other "unworthy" commercial projects may qualify as basic research in the sense that the short-term benefits for society may be hard to see.

In contrast to traditional science, today, in computing, big ideas and inventions come from commercial applications, and then move into the public domain where they are often used for greater causes. For example, a new database may be invented at a hot photosharing startup, but graduates that particular application and becomes something that _could_ be used to fight cancer.

nbashaw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because it creates value, whether or not you approve or understand it. Fun and entertainment are what most people spend most of their time seeking. Simple as that.
orangethirty 1 day ago 0 replies      
The line reached the restaurant's entrance. It was 12:00pm, people were on lunch break. Orders came in as Confederate batallion ready to strike us down. There I was. In the middle of everything. Knowing how the software that took the orders worked (and how to write it), and working in that restaurant.

Why the fuck?

At that moment, it was one of the choices I had. Being smart does not give you unlimited amount of choices. It only means that you can understand some things better than others. It does not grant super powers. Or even connects you socially. You are just smart.

Why are the smartest minds doing those jobs? Maybe they don't have a choice. In reality, few people (percentage wise VS. general population) are equipped to start, grow, and operate a successful business. Smart people can't just go and get funding and cure Cancer. Shit don't work that way. There is a lot more needed than being smart to do so.

Instead of asking why the fuck, focus on how the fuck can I build something to allow this people to build the cure for Cancer.

sshillo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because curing cancer and solving major issues doesn't make money right now. It takes major investment and years of research for something that may or may not give return.

Further, google is solving big problems. How bout better internet service, cars that drive themselves, making computers more accessible, a universal translater, etc.

How bout the fact that many of the top grads from schools go to work in finance. If we could get all those people to go work at google, the world would be a better place.

Mz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hey, dude, I will probably make money from a webcomic at some point. People like it when I am cute and funny. No one wants my "cure"* for cystic fibrosis. So I will likely pay the bills by making people laugh, then sereptitiously slip the health thingy under the door while folks aren't looking.

Chill. Life is more convoluted than you seem to think. For example, fiction is how humankind dreams up the future. We collectively write about things like traveling to the moon long before we do them. There are no small problems. Go watch the movie "It's a wonderful life", examine your bellybutton more privately for a bit, get laid or drunk or loose. Come back fresh.

Happy New Year.

* Not a cure, a means to be healthy in spite of the defect. Quibbling detail which everyone misses.

cromwellian 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only a small fraction of Googlers work on ads optimization. The money made from ads allows the vast majority of the rest to go work on other problems.
charlieok 1 day ago 0 replies      
Economics is about allocating resources in order to produce goods and services that people want and need.

A lot of people are spending a lot of time using google and facebook's products these days.

Assuming that people are spending time this way because they like what they are getting, and presumably need or want more of it, it makes sense to allocate resources to the upkeep and evolution of these services.

How to balance want vs need, and how to add all this up to get a useful total score is, of course, subjective and up for debate.

The person doing the complaining is, of course, highly encouraged to offer suggestions for improvement...

seehafer 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you knew the difficulty/incentive trade-off involved in making sugar management easier relative to that involved in getting people to click on ads, you wouldn't ask this question.

If web application developers had to jump through the same hoops that medical device developers did we'd all still be using AltaVista.

jamesaguilar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apparently all of society needs to be devoted to fixing diabetes before we do anything else. Meh. This article kinda sucks, as does the sentiment behind it.
rewind 1 day ago 0 replies      
It used to annoy me, but now I'm just amused when someone tells me what I should think is important when he's not even putting importance on those same things himself. HN trolling at its finest.
scottilee 1 day ago 0 replies      

Have you considered asking yourself this question? You "take the friction out of writing and selling books." You could start with yourself and helping with Diabetes.

MisterBastahrd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Individuals are motivated by different sets of wants and needs. Financial security just happens to be damned near at the top of the list.
thechut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well said, people need to focus on real world problems.

On the diabetes note, I'm close friends with the founders of Jerry the Bear[1], who's primary goal is helping kids with diabetes. There are startups out there doing real good, but they need to get more exposure.

1. http://www.jerrythebear.com/

wr1472 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow! This post has generated a lot of debate. I wonder is it because of the content or the delivery?

Playing devil's advocate, I would say that Raganwald has touched a raw nerve with those that are working on the types of apps he is having a go at. There are a lot of people who are attacking his point by name calling and responding to tone (ie. the delivery and not the content).

seanduffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm the Co-Founder & CEO of Omada Health (http://omadahealth.com), and any engineers who are keen to help make a dent in the diabetes and obesity crisis should please reach out. Our company has built a web-version of a landmark clinical study called the diabetes prevention program (http://goo.gl/shiaw) to help the 78 million people with prediabetes from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Diabetes prevention is absolutely possible, and there are technology and design solutions that can help.


pbreit 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I misunderstood the post but my first reaction is "I hate this sentiment". I refuse to listen to anyone trivializing the good put forth by Google, Apple and Facebook. They may not be perfect (no entity is) but it is simply ridiculous to suggest these 3 companies are wasting human brilliance on things of comparatively little import.
bhauer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't do anything to help with diabetes research directly, but my own little side project is predominantly about using charitable giving as a force to drive local community improvements. So what I can do, if not the research itself, is make a $50 donation to the American Diabetes Association on behalf of a favorite city-improvement tasks of interest to me [1].

Sure, it's using charitable giving to draw some attention to something of interest to me, and that may sound base. But what's wrong with a tiny incentive to give to good causes such as this research?

[1] http://btforce.com/348

noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it possible that one activity doesn't necessarily preclude the other?

Perhaps society is already running at its "cure diabetes hull-speed". What is everyone else to do? Sit around and cheer them on... hey that gives me an idea for this social app...

dinkumthinkum 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kind of a tangent by why are we wasting so much engineering trying to make hypertext documents and HTTP do do things that could be done with other software years ago, why are we wasting all focusing so much on limited constraint computing when we have a lot of horsepower we could be going interesting things with. LaTeX on a browser? Near, but we've has LaTeX for decades. I'm not trying to call anyone specfically out. I just can't help feeling we as an industry have gone so full barrel down the hypertext path that innovation as a whole has potevtiallt suffered. Just my rambles.
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 0 replies      
The greatest minds aren't necessarily selling ads, either. This came up in a comment thread about 6 months ago:


dannyr 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is pretty easy to dismiss that what Google, Facebook & Twitter are not that important.

These companies have impact that are not easily measured. Google gave people knowledge at their fingertips while Facebook and Twitter have become tools for democracy.

madiator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thats a very myopic view. Indeed its not good if everybody work on things that 'matter'; it is essential that some people do work on things that don't matter.

Not everybody can be doing and/or should be doing cancer research or whatever the author seems to perceive is important.

tomasien 1 day ago 0 replies      
Control f'd "vulgar" and "profanity" - only one hit. Really proud of HN for not making this about the use of the word "Fuck", which was used exquisitely and in its most potent form (which is "to add emphasis").
kolleykibber 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is this upvoted..? HN needs a homer simpson exclaiming boorring. Let's tell the truth. At least they're not bankers. The world is truly getting better,
thewisedude 1 day ago 0 replies      
I usually dont like to talk in sound bites. But I can't help but say this famous quote from Gandhi.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

This article has a very judging tone. People are doing whatever they think matters for whatever reason - Its their choice. If you think Physics/Chem/Bio research is more important than dating, please be the guest of the world.... learn it and do it!

If you improve dating (to sufficient levels) and people are having better marriages and in turn healthy family structure that could possibly be more effective(in some measureable way) than say finding cure for some disease. So I dont buy that doing a dating service is worser!

levlandau 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The market will be satisfied"--Marc Andreessen

i) It's probably never right to worry about technological stagnation.
ii) Tech solutions to big problems (including diabetes) never look like solutions to big problems at the start.

I worry about startups that complain about regulations. Want to become the hotel industry? Start by renting out air beds.
For now maybe it's just making some hardware that tells you how many hours a day you sleep. We all know that the answers here lie in the data. It's a mistake to try an obvious frontal attack on this problem though.

Maybe it's some hardware made by the guys up at Mountain View that you put in front of your eyes that eliminates the ned for a guide dog because it talks to you.

There are numerous (smart) engineers working on very useful and tractable problems in these spaces. They just look like toys now... that's all.

tubelite 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you get right down to it, the end goal of anything and everything is absurd. Life is a runaway exploding self-catalyzing chemical reaction and its ultimate goal is the replication of aperiodic crystals. It so happens that the replication process involves some fiendishly complicated side effects, rube goldberg to the goldbergth power machinations (viz. multi-cellular plant and animal bodies) which are very very interesting indeed.

So what if the smartest minds are focussed on getting clicks? That is only an issue if there weren't very interesting side effects, like indexing megatons of information and making it accessible by a simple search interface.

In fact, I would encourage Google to get its smartest minds to do focus on insulting everyone in the universe in alphabetical order. Space travel, here we come.

Tloewald 1 day ago 0 replies      
I's the same reason, unfortunately, that leads to all (most) commercial radio stations playing much the same music. People would rather chase a small piece of a big pie than come up with a new pie.

Great rant though.

ruswick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why? Because people don't want to change the world. Most people want a job that they can easily complete with minimal effort that still affords them a large salary. Most people want a comfy couch upon which they can stare a black rectangle on their wall for 4 hours each night. Most people want to sit on a beach for 2 weeks every winter. Most people want to pursue a lifestyle, not a legacy. An unremarkable life lived to achieve domestic success and hedonistic pursuits is an attractive proposal. I don't blame people for wanting one.
tunesmith 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't get the sense that there's an obvious, simple solution here that is just waiting to be implemented. I don't think it's that the only reason it doesn't exist is just because programmers are choosing to work elsewhere. Basically I think this question is probably built on faulty assumptions.
moneypenny 1 day ago 0 replies      
The benefit is that you know which tedious people to avoid when they tell you they work at Facebook/Google/etc.
armored_mammal 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I new of a job where I could program for a container agriculture company or something I would. Your comments ring true to me.
hbien 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're looking into making a big impact: http://80000hours.org/

The answer is usually not clear cut.

studentrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't need great skills to make an impact. I work in Cambodia and there are plenty of opportunities for web developers to bring opportunities and learning here for the local culture. Also I would compare the existing base of developers here to what I imagine it was like in the US in the 70s. Computer Science is just picking up steam and the folks who learn it are very bright. Quite a cool climate to be in, in my opinion. Cost of living is dirt cheap, you have all the western amenities, and internet is fast enough (5 Mbit down via my phone).
OafTobark 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why people gotta judge? Lead by example, or shut the fuck up (statement made by the excessive fucks in the article). Ignore what others do and do what you believe.
michaelbuddy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't forget a ton of brilliant minds are also in finance toiling away in fantastic paying jobs making the mega rich even more rich.
hawkharris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why the fuck does everyone always throw plastic beads in the air, drink tequila and eat catfish? Oh, wait, I'm on Bourbon St. in New Orleans.

Just saying it's easy to make generalizations based on the people, places and industries with which you're familiar. While I agree that too much emphasis is placed on ad-related tech careers, it's a cop out to say that engineers aren't finding important solutions, some of which improve the lives of people with disabilities. Other commenters mentioned Google Flu Trends and driverless cars, which are both great examples.

ilaksh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because the underlying 'economic' and political institutions are fundamentally flawed since they doesn't incorporate relevant information like human needs and social science, ecology, physics and developments in technology, etc.
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Didn't Steve Yegge have the same issue ? I wish there was less layers to important research, I always have a feeling that solutions would emerge if some people have met but they just don't know each others.
LatvjuAvs 1 day ago 0 replies      
One day I killed few children, few days later I happen to kill about two children.
Week later I killed one...

And so day by day, I kill few, mostly children, of course sometimes I kill adults too, but most targets are children.

Yet, I feel perfectly fine.

Every time when I walk past charity advertisement person.

tathastu 1 day ago 0 replies      
It actually takes a lot more to have a career in the sciences; the field is extremely competitive. More so than getting a job at Google or Facebook. I applied for a lot of computational biology post-docs (having a PhD in the field), and because I wasn't from a big-name university, didn't get anything, and wound up working for one of the so-called "WTF" companies.
krickle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bet if you pay them what they expect to get from their own companies, they'll stop fucking around and get right on it.
mangler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because millions of others have a much more desperate need for some love and some feeling of self worth. Even a surrogate one. There's no insulin for that...
dorkitude 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, that's certainly not what everyone of consequence is doing, just the risk-averse and as-yet-unrescued.

A lot of us work hard to rescue them :P

oliyoung 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, if you can't do something, support one of us who is http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nialg/the-diabetic-journ...
orion512 1 day ago 0 replies      
The greatest minds of today are not all specialized in diabetes. If they are not masters of a highly specialized skill, their main focus is probably earning money. Which is OK, because all this infrastructure being created is going to hopefully make the life easier of those who do specialize in curing disease.
dotborg 1 day ago 0 replies      
"the smartest guys" didn't want to work on health problems, ok, however

Google Search is pretty much crap lately, AdWords/Facebook ads campaigns are expensive and ineffective

maybe it's not that bad after all

crockstar 1 day ago 0 replies      
All I can say is "thank you." In spite of not being one of our greatest minds (far from it) this kick up the backside forced me to respond to an email and get involved in a project that might actually do some good.
roopeshv 1 day ago 0 replies      
similar to "Why should we be spending money exploring space when there are so many problems here on Earth that we need to solve first?".
JustARandomGuy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Diabetes. Overweight. These are real problems, affecting real people, that need real solutions...

Doing healthcare projects requires dealing with hardware, dealing with regulatory overhead, etc. It's much, much more difficult than building out another web app for social/ads/etc.

cynwoody 1 day ago 0 replies      
Too small; didn't read.

Raganwald needs to forget the font-size attribute.

hanula 1 day ago 0 replies      
That reminds me of this terrific example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOYCkHFMnVc
Funny/sad, but true.
HunterV 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this not unlike one yelling at a toy maker for not using his clever engineering to create "more useful" products?
I'm sure the toy maker would tell you that making a child smile is as useful and satisfying as a product can be.
rjzzleep 1 day ago 0 replies      
you don't need a degree in physics chemistry or biology to do great things.

And you don't need to be at google, to be qualified as a great mind. But people may not call you that then.

So what

ryanjodonnell 1 day ago 3 replies      
Diabetes isn't a problem that we need technology to solve. Sure it could help, but that's treating the symptom, when what we really need to do is use preventative care to treat the root of the problem - corn subsidies and education.
jmadsen 1 day ago 0 replies      
How smart can the guy be if he can't even express himself without using a word that is still considered by most people to be vulgar and unfit for public use?

"Vulgarity is no substitute for wit"

polskibus 1 day ago 0 replies      
5 letters as the answer: money.
saurabh 1 day ago 0 replies      
For money, obviously.
CleanedStar 1 day ago 0 replies      
As Warren Beatty said in Reds:


kcbanner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Check out Glooko.
natmaster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Audience isn't scalable.
boomlinde 1 day ago 0 replies      
andrijac 1 day ago 0 replies      
spuiszis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome title
AndrewKemendo 1 day ago 0 replies      
C.R.E.A.M. my friend, it all comes back to the C.R.E.A.M.
kylebrown 1 day ago 1 reply      
Diabetes is just another first-world problem.

What about the millions of children dying of preventable diseases in the third-world?

derpmeister 1 day ago 3 replies      
Because nobody cares about your diabetes and obesity. Lay down that taco and get some fricken exercise, FFS.
Tron Legacy (2010) jtnimoy.net
592 points by rsingla  20 hours ago   133 comments top 29
TallGuyShort 19 hours ago 2 replies      
In Tron and The Social Network it was very obvious that a real hacker had been involved in designing the terminal scenes. It makes a big difference to how seriously I take the rest of the movie - Kudos to them!
clicks 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting read, nice to see a movie making this kind of effort.

On a side note: I watched this movie on a streaming site... (i.e., I watched it in poor quality).

That was a bad choice.

The plot, storyline, and dialogue is kind of weak. The visuals certainly are not. Watch this in high-res quality, and think of it as an over-budgeted Daft Punk music video instead of a movie, and you'll have a great time watching it.

sriramk 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I just discovered Alias and my wife and I have been watching episodes back to back. The show does a good job of making the contents of various displays legitimate. In one scene, the 'tech guy' (Marshall) has to build some source code - and I saw various familiar libtool/autoconf symbols scroll by.
martinced 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Often when there's some coding stuff like a terminal inside movies, it's not only the programmers paying attention anymore. Very often because I'm the "computer guy" my entourage ask me: "Is it realistic?" or "Do you really use stuff like that?".

So it's not just to please "us" that they pay a little attention to being "correct". People like it when you answer "yes, we do this kind of stuff" and hate it when you say "no, it's complete utter rubbish bullshit". It's like if the movie creators where making fun of them by showing them bullshit and that they didn't like that.

In a way I care less than them: because I know when a movie is bullshitting me on a computer-related scene. Non programmers don't.

adunk 15 hours ago 1 reply      
A few weeks ago I watched the pilot episode of Lewis, a British TV detective/crime drama that is set in the surroundings of Oxford university, UK. One of the characters in the episode was a PhD student in mathematics and the key to the mystery could be found in one of the papers for his PhD dissertation. The detectives found the paper in question on the character's computer and opened it up for the viewers to see. Lo and behold, the paper was clearly typeset in LaTeX. Someone apparently went out of their way to make this little detail look just right!

Maybe its just me, but it seems like movies are getting better and better in getting those tiny but ever so important technical details right.

pyrhho 19 hours ago 6 replies      
How does he use Emacs without Ctrl, or Alt?

edit: For that matter, how did he type "ps -ef | grep -i os12" with no "|" key?

mcescalante 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Question for any graphics programmers or CG people: As a graphics programmer, how appealing is the CG industry? Based on this, the picture I got was that a lot of the programming he did was driven by shortcomings in the preexisting CG software that artists in the field use.

I'm a Computer Engineering student interested in the field and I haven't entirely decided if I'm interested in the applications of graphics programming yet, although I don't have much to go on because I have limited graphics programming experience.

subsystem 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm always suprised by the inflexibility of window managers. I would imagine we should be able to have something similar to this by now.
brennenHN 19 hours ago 2 replies      
The emacs part is cool, but this article mostly just illustrated how little I understand about the effects in movies. Each thing he talked about making seemed simple, but then the effect in the movie was mindblowing and overwhelming. Great read (also, the font is so big and beautiful, love that).
sergiotapia 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I always dreamed how much fun a job making these computer "GUI" scenes would be. You would go apeshit adding all sorts of dashboards and widgets and things that look pretty but not work.

See: CSI, NCIS, Bones, etc.

nicholassmith 18 hours ago 0 replies      
More importantly than emacs, design orientated people use wxWidgets? Frankly that's far more surprising!
sp332 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like movies are going to some trouble to get "real" computing into movies. I mean, real computers aren't dramatic so they don't get much screen time, but still. Another recent example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4047807
Wingman4l7 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For more of this sort of thing:
(that's short for Fantasy/Fake User Interface)
FaisalAbid 19 hours ago 5 replies      
The text on this site hurts my eyes.
coob 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Battle Royale used nmap before The Matrix trilogy did…
nathannecro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Holy cripes, I cannot actually read the copy at all. It does look like an interesting read though.
tobyjsullivan 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep"



rvivek 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty incredible stuff on the terminal. Aside, if you'd like to code up tron bots (AI), you can try them here: https://www.hackerrank.com/challenges/tron
atdrummond 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does he have an issue with Jurassic Park? Lex was using fsn, which would have been available at the time for IRIX - although not used in any serious production environments that I'm aware of.
RexRollman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it would be interesting to see an open source OS for mobile touch devices that worked like that.
draftable 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How can someone who is a designer choose such a poor font for their won website? Specially given that he is talking about designing text graphics
deltasquared 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder why he used eshell not term.
josephriley 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish there was an OS for a tablet with this UI. I would be in heaven.
antsam 9 hours ago 0 replies      
One more Tron movie please.
jthomp 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Fascinating read.
thoughtpalette 14 hours ago 0 replies      
First thing I did was go into the Chrome inspector and change the font.
morefranco 15 hours ago 0 replies      
incredible. simply incredible.
Stripe Checkout stripe.com
521 points by illdave  3 days ago   171 comments top 48
aresant 3 days ago 3 replies      
One of the bread & butter services @ ConversionVoodoo.com is fixing broken UI's around checkout / carts.

I have yet to meet a retailer that we can't hit at least 15 - 25% improvement in sales by testing and fixing their checkout.

Take those gains and multiply that times the entire internet and Stripe has the opportunity to make a major impact on the GDP (I'm only half kidding).

A few years back I shared one of our "low hanging fruit" cart optimization strategies that almost always works:


Despite being nearly 3-year old advice, moving security / trust symbols into the visual field of sensitive information remains an easy conversion gain that we see STILL work nearly every time to the order of 5 - 10% gains.

But the current reality is that even being able to test your checkout process on most of the leading "off the shelf" ecommerce platforms is an incredible pain in the ass (I'm looking at you Magento, Oracle ATG, etc)

If Stripe executes on this idea - scaled cart testing - every dollar that an organization pays for Stripe fees is easily cancelled out by a properly optimized checkout form. This is huge.

slig 3 days ago 2 replies      
For those of you reading Third-party JavaScript[1], check out their source https://checkout.stripe.com/v2/checkout.js it's uncompressed!). There's a lot of stuff to learn there.

[ 1]http://thirdpartyjs.com/

callmeed 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm hesitant to add this to https://www.bngal.com because it seems like there could be usability issues if you need to capture other information on a single checkout form (email address, shipping address, shipping method, etc.).

It seems like a customer would do the following:

- Fill out all data except billing info

- Click the "Pay with Card" button

- Overlay comes up, they enter billing info, then click "Pay $X"

- Overlay closes, token is passed back to form, form is automatically submitted via JS

The proof is in testing and data of course, but my gut tells me people prefer just a single form and button. That's why I like the original checkout method.

The mobile part is great BTW.

jhuckestein 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, good work!

It looks like `token` is the only callback you can pass to the popup and it receives nothing but the stripe token. Is there any reason not to include more information?

For comparison, this is what stripe.js gives you

id : "tok_u5dg20Gra", // String of token identifier,
card : { // Dictionary of the card used to create the token
name: null,
address_line1: "12 Main Street",
address_line2: "Apt 42",
address_city: "Palo Alto",
address_state: "CA",
address_zip: "94301",
address_country: "US",
country: "US",
exp_month: 2,
exp_year: 2012,
last4: "4242",
fingerprint: "BzXGiNioaEH4iECL",
object: "card",
type: "Visa"
created : 1358552058, // Integer of date token was created
currency: "usd", // String currency that the token was created in
livemode: true, // Boolean of whether this token was created with a live or test API key
object: "token", // String identifier of the type of object, always "token"
used : false, // Boolean of whether this token has been used,

My app uses this information. So as much as I want to, I can't just drop in the new code.

I could use Stripe.getToken but I don't see why I need the extra roundtrips to the server (one for stripe.js, one for getting the info about the token)

Edit: Never mind, I didn't read the docs carefully enough. The callback receives all that, my bad. In the stripe.js docs the parameter is called response and in the new one it's called token. Sorry ;)

vezycash 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey stripe listen. Redirecting to stripe.com is STRESS but its good for users because of security.

The overlay can (and would) easily be imitated by crooks who want to steal credit card details.

It would be much safer for users if you offer a paypal-like service where you store their credit details before hand. If you do this, then this is what should happen.

If the users has already logged in, then the overlay would simply be selecting the amount to pay (which coincidentally is shorter for users) and optionally, which source of fund to deduct from if user has multiple credit cards stored.

Security of funds is more important than ease of use.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
That is really nice. Love the integration hooks as well. Next up is a 'we know who you are' stripe cookie that would let you "pay with stripe" on web site A without entering any of this data. Or, for the paranoidish "Enter your StripeID: xxxx" pause "Enter the code we just texted you: xxx" thanks!
eagsalazar2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unless you are doing very simple ala carte purchases this button reduces total complexity by maybe 5%. If you are doing subscriptions, with coupons, with trial periods, creating users at the same time, wanting to show the user their coupon/trial status, last 4 of their CC, send emails on failed payments, cancel accounts on failed payments, let people update their card, etc, etc, etc it is still very complicated to get all that integration correct.

What stripe needs to do is sponsor the development of an official rails gem that handles all these things like ActiveMerchant (plus views people can then hack on like normal rails views). Many people are implementing these things over and over again, probably including stripe developers themselves for their own side projects. It is a huge waste of effort and source of bugs for everyone.

One nicely written gem that integrated easily with common practices for User models and people could integrate stripe with a simple "stripe_user :subscription, :email_notify" whatever. That would be awesome.

I realize rails is not the entirety of their business but I'm just saying it would make me and a lot of other people happy.

orangethirty 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dear stripe,

Hurry up and offer a ckeckout with stripe option. I'm tired of dealing with Paypal. Thank you.

goronbjorn 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is kind of similar to Gumroad's Overlay: https://gumroad.com/overlay
josscrowcroft 3 days ago 2 replies      
Christ alive I hope Stripe get over to the UK soon.
sjs382 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, and I've implemented it on two different sites so far. It's great to be able to tell a client "Just go to Stripe.com, link it to your bank account, and add my email to the account" rather than setting it all up from scratch.
sachinag 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why ask for the name on card? That's not auth'ed.
juzfoo 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just confirming, this is the same solution that was earlier published as Stripe Button right?
tocomment 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm confused, so say I put this button/form on my site.

How does my app tell the button the final price?

How does the button send the token to my app?

What does the user see after they pay? Does the button display its own receipt or do I build that?

kemiller 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can you style it to match your page?
pclark 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone ever tried making the credit card box freeform? Where there are no rules. Just type your credit card number, your 3 digit security code, your expiry date, and name, and the form works out what entry is what data. I wonder if it would be easier to out weight the confusion of a user trusting a computer.
substack 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a crazy coincidence, I just factored out my company's payment widget code into a reusable module a few days ago:

Basic example: http://substack.net/projects/pricing-widget/basic/
Fancy example: http://substack.net/projects/pricing-widget/browserling/

MicahWedemeyer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love it, but for my app we charge subscriptions with a free trial up front. Do you have any suggestions on how to phrase the wording so it's clear that the charge isn't going to happen right away?
askar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stripe is pretty cool. We've been using it on http://www.IslamicEventFinder.com and was the best library experience to integrate. A few things we noticed, the CVC check is not as impressive, it charges the card even if the CVC is not correct, at least we've seen in a few instances. Other than that it looks solid.

Would prefer some sort of a seal or something on the popup to indicate that their payments are safe, a few clients asked. At least an option to customize displaying that seal would be great and also may be the type of credit cards Stripe accepts.

Is this Checkout thing same as Stripe.js? I didn't get a chance to checkout (lol) this fully yet!

terrellm 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wow looks nice. Is an SSL certificate still required since the JS is on Stripe's secure server?
coderrr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone else not been receiving 'charge.succeeded' events on their Stripe webhooks? We have been receiving all events except that one, even when all charges are succeeding as verified through the management panel. This is a big problem as that is the event that's used to actually process a payment and create a new account.

The problem seems to have been going over for around 8 hours now.

We've received no reply from their support in 4 hours.

Anyone have any ideas how to get in contact with them at this time?

csense 3 days ago 0 replies      
The site describes the popup as an "overlay." Another commenter used the words "div popup."

I'm writing this on a machine with Chromium and Firefox on a nearly new Linux Mint 14 install (all packages are up-to-date) with no browser extensions or other weirdness. When I click the "Pay with Card" button in the article, both browsers open it in a new tab.

Are my browsers broken, is Stripe's code broken, or is there some miscommunication about what the button is supposed to do?

silverlight 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does this mean the older Stripe Payment "Tag" is deprecated? We're currently using it to great success, but I'm no longer seeing it mentioned in the docs. I don't really want my users to have to press an additional button -- right now as soon as they're on the payment page the form is right there waiting to be filled in.
frankdenbow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Added this to https://www.startupthreadsmonthly.com a few weeks ago and have had good success with it. Easy to implement and trigger from js. Still pulling in conversion numbers but users have said they like the flow.
knes 3 days ago 2 replies      
gaaaahhh please let me play with it! Can't you come to europe, or at least UK ?!?!


purephase 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very neat.

Just wanted to add, the demo works if you use the 4242 sequence for all fields (YMMV).

madaxe 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's nice that you say it works in all major browsers, but the mobile support is poor. No chrome.

Short-sighted... Mobile is growing at a crazy rate in ecommerce.

gfodor 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any Stripe employees want to comment on the idea of integrating this with a native iOS app via a web view? My guess is it will still be too clunky vs building your own, but the benefits of continued improvement may be worth it.
slajax 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Good job.

How about the ability to subscribe someone to multiple subscriptions now?

nudge nudge.

tocomment 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can anyone point me to a tutorial showing me how to integrate stripe with Django?

I think it would be clearer if I saw some examples.

Goopplesoft 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great looking checkout form. Stripe's adding some clutch features, somewhat seem to be evolving for just payments for developers to payments for developers and others.
jchung 3 days ago 3 replies      
Recurring payment friendly?
vickytnz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, all good and well … but I just used this with a UK Visa Debit card (which are pretty strict in terms of acceptance) on Gumroad, and not only did the thing not verify without a name, but my card got flagged for fraud and frozen until I contacted my bank! I'm pretty nervous about using it now.
humbyvaldes 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is cool but Im confused about the workflow

On a signup form:

1. Enter email

2. Enter password

3. Click the Stripe checkout button, div popup, fill in and click pay, popup goes away, Token created and added to the form

4. User clicks submit on the original form

Is that right?

nickporter 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for mobile support! You guys are truly awesome. If only you would allow me to accept payments without a business and bank account number, like PayPal does...
tocomment 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a way I can dynamically change the data-amount, data-name, and data-description fields with Javascript depending on what the user clicks?

I'm picturing the user clicking a checkbox for an add-on product without having to make a round-trip back to the server.

programminggeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is going to lead to phishing. Obviously the possibility is already there, but something tells me that once users get used to this, it will be lead to credit card fraud.

Not on a secure site? Well, the stripe widget just popped up, so it looks legit...

You get the idea.

koa 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of a tutorial or some skeleton code samples that allows you to build an embeddable website widget like this?

From what I can see, there are 2 iframes for the button and the hidden overlay. Clicking on the iframe button enables the overlay via some sort of iframe to iframe communication on the parent(host) page

zyang 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does it do address verification?
tocomment 3 days ago 1 reply      
What do you recommend if I need to support users without Javascript? (I'm guessing this button isn't for me?
zerop 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stripe, When are u going to support Micropayments??
melvinmt 3 days ago 2 replies      


It looks nice but every payment solution where the client can arbitrarily change the amount they're going to pay is inherently flawed.

pbreit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good idea but I hate the box rising from the bottom.
jcarden 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! I'm ready to use this.
pdsull 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great. Any plans to include a coupon code field with this?
flexterra 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to use this to replace Paypal's "Buy now" button on my blog
pilom 3 days ago 0 replies      
meh01 3 days ago 0 replies      
Needs support for a list of items (like PayPal shopping cart API functionality), not just one item.
A time for silence lessig.tumblr.com
490 points by danielpal  3 days ago   98 comments top 14
jacquesm 3 days ago 4 replies      
Lawrence Lessig is an amazing person, and this piece underscores that. I really hope he will find that a time-out will help to heal these wounds and will begin to close the gap. Of all the words written about Aaron's plight these hit closest to home for me and I am halfway torn between following his example of tuning out and re-connecting with those around me (who I've been somewhat neglecting in the last week) and switching into 'action' mode from idle.

If there is one thing that all this has done it is that it has shocked me like not much has done in the last couple of years and I thought I was pretty tough. Lessig is a giant, imagine how much it would take to hurt a man of such stature that he needs to recover incommunicado and contrast that with the piece written by Mrs. Ortiz.

Worlds apart.

BenoitEssiambre 3 days ago 7 replies      
At this point, the DOJ should apologize, investigate internally and fire those who were involved in Aaron's case.

If they refuse and insist that this is business as usual for them then it should be legislated by the government that all previous cases involving heavy handed plea bargaining under the current DOJ staff should be re-opened and re-negotiated under saner conditions.

This is clearly not justice.

Aaron Swartz himself wrote about this kind of situation:

javajosh 3 days ago 9 replies      
This attitude of not taking responsibility for anything, of simply denying reality, not to mention humanity, has a very specific beginning: George W. Bush's defeat of Al Gore. He demonstrated to everyone in government and in the private sector that you can reach out for power, nakedly, without respect to any kind of decency, and take it. And, gasp, the American people would not clamor for justice. They would not demand something (or someone) better. It was a watershed moment for government, when everyone realized: we can do whatever the fuck we want, and no-one can stop us.

And this thesis, hesitant at first, has been demonstrated again and again. By Bush himself - NSA wiretapping, gitmo, the TSA and the most epic 'fuck you' ever spoken to the American people: the attack and occupation of Iraq under false pretenses. Cheney's massive expansion of power of the office of the Vice Presidency was a more subtle but still important expression of this disregard for American oversight. Carmen Ortiz is an Obama appointee, but she is very much a product of the Bush era.

Bush was a wake-up call for all government employees: you have unchecked power. If you want to use it, expand it, abuse it then do it. No-one is going to stop you. Our justice system is so expensive that it's out of reach of most, and really, in the end, you're playing on the same team so go ahead and do what you want. 'Justice' has your back.

But the key to making this power grab work is to follow the Bush playbook: never, ever admit to any wrong doing. Do not, under any circumstances, even acknowledge the concerns of others - except possibly in tones of smirking dismissal and contempt. If you don't follow that playbook, then you give your opponents an opening, and weaken your position. Pretty soon you'll be explaining yourself, and when you're explaining, you're losing. You're losing power.

Stonewall, deny, and fight with every last tool given to you. Do not cooperate or discuss. Force your opponents to find leverage against you: don't just give it to them.

Ortiz is a smart woman, and learned her lessons well.

purephase 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very well put, and surprisingly earnest. I respect Lessig immensely and this sentiment only reinforces it.

There is a very pervasive and troubling thread of professional "politicking" invading every single aspect of our lives both institutional and private. No one cops to anything, no one apologizes, and no one ever sees the errors in their ways. Admitting otherwise is weak and will undermine ones political future, career etc.

It's sad that honesty is no longer the best policy.

RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Ortiz's statement is a template for all that is awful in what we as a political culture have become."
res0nat0r 3 days ago 2 replies      
Everyone is blaming the evil government over this issue. Shouldn't we be blaming Aaron himself; maybe just a little?

Shouldn't someone if they are going to commit an act of civil disobedience be aware just a little bit of the possible consequences?

phren0logy 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are few people I respect more than Larry Lessig, and stuff like this this is why.

Thank you for doing what you do.

Daniel_Newby 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do not understand the hoopla around this case.

Aaron Swartz picked a huge fight with the feds over, well, pretty much nothing. He then proceeded to run a spectacular PR campaign where he rubbed their noses in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the copyright laws.

They did what the feds always do: calmly, carefully beat you to death with a billion dollar prosecuting machine. What happened to him was a foregone conclusion. He basically threw himself off a cliff a year ago.

I am flabbergasted that folks like Lessig, people who appear knowledgable and together, were egging him on. Swartz may have been an overenthusiastic young man, but his elders and advisers knew about Steve Jackson Games. They knew about Mitnick and the hundreds of other crackers, hackers, and phreaks that have been crushed by the Feds. They as good as wrote his eulogy a year ago, and now they cry crocodile tears.

Count me in the ranks of the unimpressed.

Millennium 3 days ago 3 replies      
"Yes, Ms. Ortiz, you obviously can “only imagine.” Because if you felt it, as obviously as Reif did, it would move you first to listen, and then to think. You're so keen to prove that you understand this case better than your press releases about Aaron's “crime” (those issued when Aaron still drew breath) made it seem (“the prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain”). But if your prosecutors recognized this, then this is the question to answer:

Why was he being charged with 13 felonies?"

Swartz was being charged for what he did, not for why he did it. Crimes do not, as a rule, become "better" or "worse" based on why someone does them. I'll buy that this was a misguided attempt at civil disobedience, but the point of civil disobedience is to pay the price: that's where the protest truly begins, not when you do the deed.

jamesaguilar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honest question: how many felonies the MLK commit? If he committed a lot of felonies but was charged with none, that would be quite surprising.
pasbesoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
He is taking a break, for his personal need. I don't think he is advocating that we all do.

Time for us to carry the ball.

Personally, I have no hope in Congress. But I still do, perhaps, have some hope in the people. Who have the power to change Congress, and to reform the judicial system.

For decades, people clamored for "tough on crime". Many of those voices may not change; however, many other voices may arise to insist that we... well, in the nature of things here, "look at the data" and "make some sense".

P.S. I meant to add, that we currently -- as we did last year with SOPA/PIPA, have momentum and national attention. We should not miss the opportunity to take it and use it to (metaphorically) burn away at least some of the corruption before our eyes.

And this should give at least some pause, hopefully, to those seeking to foist ever more corruption upon us. They are relentless; such respite would serve us well while continuing to construct an effective response.

wissler 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a profound moral sense and courage. We need more people in the world like Lessig.
endlessvoid94 3 days ago 2 replies      
I know that in our most emotional moments, we tend to act rashly and sometimes say things we eventually regret.

I'm not saying Lessig will regret writing this, but I wonder.

Create 3 days ago 0 replies      
To the press " especially the press wanting “just five minutes” " I apologize. This isn't a “just five minutes” story, at least from me.


Why was '~' chosen to represent the home directory? stackexchange.com
400 points by rawland  1 day ago   146 comments top 16
robomartin 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Funny how all roads lead to a discussion of the merits of vi/m.

At least some of you now understand that these tools were designed as you see them today because they were dealing with crippled hardware (from today's vantage point). There was no magical study on keystroke efficiency at the inception. They had lemons and made lemonade.

Now, quit arguing and get back to reading Facebook!

Yup, that's me ducking in the corner.

sdoering 1 day ago 16 replies      
I really liked the additional info on the vim-navigation-keys. Really interesting to see, how the design of specific hardware shaped the "how to use" for generations to come.

I really have my problems, to wrap my head around "hjkl", as there is (imho) no logical mnemonic for the directions. It is sadly just "learn by rote".

kragen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If I recall correctly, control-^ (i.e. 0x1e, aka control-~) would move the ADM-3A cursor to the "home" location on the screen (i.e. the top left) if sent from the host. If you were talking to a host that was echoing your keystrokes (and maybe if you set a DIP switch for half-duplex mode?) then typing control-^ (aka control-~) would do that too.

The terminfo entry seems to confirm this (apt-get source ncurses-term && less +/^adm3a ncurses-5.9/misc/terminfo.src):

    adm3a|lsi adm3a,
OTbs, am,
cols#80, lines#24,
OTma=^K^P, OTnl=^J, bel=^G, clear=\032$<1/>, cr=^M, cub1=^H,
cud1=^J, cuf1=^L, cup=\E=%p1%{32}%+%c%p2%{32}%+%c,
cuu1=^K, home=^^, ind=^J, kcub1=^H, kcud1=^J, kcuf1=^L,
kcuu1=^K, rs2=^N,

I think the speculations about ^ in regexps coming from the same source are misplaced, because I think the ed editor was already using ^ to mean "beginning of line" before there were any CRT terminals.

The ADM-3A had direct cursor addressing, as referenced in the "cup" capability in the above terminfo entry, so the "home" feature was, strictly speaking, redundant. As you can see from the simplicity of the terminfo entry (notably its almost complete lack of escape sequences) logic was aggressively minimized in this termainal. I seem to recall from glancing inside the ADM-3As I bought at auction in my childhood that it was built almost entirely out of discrete 7400-series logic, so every extra control character involved adding several chips.

In light of this, I suspect that the "home" feature may have been retained for backwards compatibility with something else " maybe the ADM-3? But the ADM-3 terminfo entry doesn't mention "home", so I don't know.

More details about the ADM-3A can be found at <http://manx.classiccmp.org/details/11,5618>.

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a side note, stackexchange is getting pretty impressive.


Aardwolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why oh why did the ADM-3A keyboard not use a gamer configuration for its arrow navigation keys. What a noob designed that!

He could have gone for wasd or ijkl. But he had to go with hjkl!

Anyway, the fact that j looks like a down arrow is a very good thing that makes me remember it and allow me to play nethack.

saddino 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah yes, I used the baby blue version. Probably my favorite terminal until the HP2621a (which had a great character set, "modern" housing, and nice loud beep). Since I used the line editor to program I only really used HJKL as cursor keys in rogue. :-)
atuladhar 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use vim a lot, but as I was reading this, I realized that unless I was in a vim session (or pretended that I was in one), I couldn't remember which of the hjkl keys mapped to which direction.
shmerl 1 day ago 3 replies      
Still using Sun Unix keyboard with tilde on the right, and no obnoxious Windows keys ;) Control in the middle row on the left is also helpful in order not to stress the pinky.
dkhenry 1 day ago 2 replies      
What does the "Rub" key do ?
B-Con 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Badly off-topic, but I found it amusing that the user asking the question was "Lelouch Lamperouge". The juxtaposition of Lelouch and "home" brought that series back into my mind full-force.
johnlinvc 1 day ago 3 replies      
The ctrl location on that old machine is much more handy. I've changed my caps lock to ctrl for years.
DelvarWorld 1 day ago 2 replies      
100+ upvotes for a lmgtfy answer :(
randy909 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like it also explains why caret (^) was chosen in regex and vi to mean "beginning of line".
dbbolton 19 hours ago 0 replies      
So why was '~' chosen over '^'?
yeison 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for this post.
ebbv 1 day ago 2 replies      
So this is what HN has come to eh? Just random trivia links. Cat pictures can't be more than two weeks off.
U.S. Senator Questions Attorney General about Aaron Swartz senate.gov
384 points by danso  3 days ago   141 comments top 17
tptacek 3 days ago 27 replies      
This is the same hyperpartisan Senator who was at the forefront of the effort to deny habeas rights to Guantanamo inmates; he was also involved in the Bush wiretapping scandal.

Expect to see lots of superficial genuflection from Republicans towards the Swartz case; the GOP is in a constant low-grade conflict with the Democratic DoJ.

Here, let me put it this way: what do you honestly think Aaron Swartz would think about this clown using his name to score political points?

TWAndrews 3 days ago 2 replies      
Regardless of eventual outcome, I think it's probably safe to say that Ortiz's post-Justice department political career is probably done.

I don't see how she could win a democratic primary in Massachusetts anymore--too many other ambitious Dems who'd have field day with this, and Republican opposition will keep her from being appointed to anything requiring confirmation.

It's a lot less than she deserves, but there's some gratification in the thought that the over-aggressive prosecution which was most likely designed to advance her political career will prevent it.

politician 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Finally, the U.S. Attorney has blamed the “severe punishments authorized by Congress” for the apparent harshness of the charges Mr. Swartz faced. Does the Department of Justice give U.S. Attorneys discretion to charge defendants (or not charge them) with crimes consistent with their view of the gravity of the wrongdoing in a specific case?"

Interesting game of "hot potato" going on. Nonetheless, I applaud Sen. Cornyn for asking these questions.

danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's worth noting that Cornyn, though not an official PIPA co-sponsor, wasn't someone who was much against it either (until after the blackout)
msandford 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't care if this is blatant pandering or not; At least he's asking some of the tough questions. It's good to see someone other than Lessig saying "I'm not sure this was appropriate"
honu 3 days ago 1 reply      
The good news is that some good questions have been asked, and the reply will be available for scrutiny.

I'm not sure Cornyn was the best member of Congress to write this sort of letter. Yes, he is on the Committee of the Judiciary, but his political leanings might result in posturing that obfuscates the issues we care about. That being said, I'm glad someone asked.

greesil 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sure this senator is doing this for political points (+10 points for Gryffindor), but we can still be glad for the pressure applied to the DOJ.
smogzer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Puppets, strings, now it's calling for it's right of FOIA ? Can't they just recognize they should not have the right to mess with individuals, specially if no harm is done.

These prosecutors jobs is a dream job for psycopaths, jack the ripper would exceed in a job like this.

We need the hacker news party.

jimfl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cornyn has been gunning for Holder for a little while, asking for his resignation earlier last year.


Edit: spelling

denzil_correa 3 days ago 0 replies      
IF Only, this was done earlier. Any system which requires a health check when the water rises above your head is a bad system.
mitchi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Decent letter, I'm glad someone from the Senate stepped up.
I would add this :

Seventh, really? 35 years for a kid who learned his lesson and didn't do something horrible in the first place? Some decency and common sense people.

kh1411 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like them to question her why after 2 yrs of holding this over Aaron's head, depleting his finances, that they didn't think a plea deal for a misdemeanor instead of felony counts would be sufficient deterrent? When I read below Fri. Jan18th, I was incensed even more at how they treated Aaron:

"Last Friday, on the same day that Swartz hanged himself in his Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment, prosecutors from Ortiz's office stood in a Boston courtroom and allowed a former state representative named ­Stephen “Stat” Smith to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for rigging absentee ballots in three elections. Swartz's lawyers asked for the same consideration, that Swartz be allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Prosecutors refused.

So, given that Ortiz will not explain herself, we'll just have to presume she believes that illegally manipulating the outcome of elections, which are the essence of our democracy, is less serious an ­offense than downloading an online archive of obscure academic articles." (Excerpt fm article by Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe). http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/01/18/taking-heat/L1rfSF47...

ChristianMarks 3 days ago 0 replies      
Holder will reply that the prosecution had nothing whatsoever to do with the FOIA.
quahada 2 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of where you stand on Cornyn's politics, it's important that someone with authority is trying to find answers to this situation in a public forum.
stox 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is nothing new about this behavior, Len Rose went through much the same 20 years ago. Maybe we are finally getting a clue that the system is, in fact, broken.
d0m 3 days ago 0 replies      
These school baby killers should watch and listen more to politics; maybe they'd find a better target for their suicidal idiosyncrasies.
joering2 3 days ago 1 reply      
I couldn't read beyond: "The Honorable Eric Holder". Seriously now? This should sound like an insult even to Eric himself.




Carmen Ortiz Strikes Out harpers.org
373 points by pron  2 days ago   257 comments top 24
olefoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
It may be unfair to single out Ms. Ortiz, she is after all only one of many federal prosecutors; but reforming the american justice system is an urgent priority, and we must start somewhere. A society where justice is widely perceived to be available only to the most powerful and well-connected is one that is primed to fall prey to any number of severe and most likely violent pathologies.

The legitimacy of the legal system is the result of centuries of work by jurists, judges, legal scholars, politicians and others; each of whom added their effort to making it so that not only they believed the law had dealt fairly with those who came before it but also that it had appeared to be fair to the rest of society. When that legitimacy is eroded, for personal benefit, for career aspirations, to please those whose favor is sought, for any reason; it takes much less effort. But the damage is subtle, people give lip service to institutions long after they have become hollow shells of their former glory.

In this country, at this time; the law is an instrument of social control, of thievery ( read the literature on civil forfeiture, if that statement bothers you ), of vengeance, and only rarely and incidentally of justice. Most of us know this. But it is one of the truths that cannot be spoken in polite society.

At this time, most of us know but are unwilling to acknowledge, that the law is an outrageously powerful instrument that acts randomly and capriciously. If you happen to be of the wrong color, speak the wrong language, or practice the wrong religion in the wrong place at the wrong time; you can be given a status equivalent to Orwell's formulation of an 'unperson'. If you happen to cross the path of someone who has access to the controls of this fearsome legal apparatus, your guilt or innocence, your rightness or wrongness; is irrelevant. All that matters is whether they decide to take an interest in your case; if you are deemed a target, all that matters is what crime can be made to fit your situation.

It would seem axiomatic, that this is an untenable situation; that once this state obtains, it will not be long before the law becomes a disreputable joke, a sad reminder of former greatness, and a jungle in which everyone is a predator and fears becoming prey.

That is why the reform of our justice system is such an urgent matter. We have eroded the legitimacy of our courts to a degree that their proclaimed fairness is a dismal jest to anyone who has been in prolonged contact with them.

We have allowed our legal system to be infected with concepts of intrinsic guilt, of theft under color of law, of monarchical privilege, of illegal truths; all of which are antithetical to a functional and free society.

Vivtek 2 days ago 12 replies      
I agree with the sentiment here, but some of the specific claims are certainly wince-worthy. College prank? Greatest prodigy of his generation? Little to no commercial value? All those claims are a lot more complicated than that!

Not to mention it makes it sound like Ortiz was cooking this all up behind closed doors and everyone else was shocked! shocked! to realize how the "prosecutorial misconduct" had gotten out of control, when this is the way DoJ does everything it touches and everybody knows it.

dexter313 2 days ago 1 reply      
Important part:

Prosecutors Ortiz and Stephen Heymann turned to a standard trick while pursuing the case, mounting a total of thirteen felony counts against Swartz and arguing that his college prank aimed at “liberating” a collection of academic articles with little commercial value was a serious crime. Although each of these counts bordered on the preposterous, Ortiz and Heymann clearly reckoned that at least one or two would stick during the jury-room bargaining process. More to the point, they assumed that the risk of their success even on bogus charges would be enough to pressure Swartz into accepting a guilty plea on all the counts in exchange for a reduced sentence " which is what they offered him. The process was fundamentally corrupt and shameful. But observers of the American criminal-justice system also know that it was a common one.

waterlesscloud 2 days ago 0 replies      
This column is a little over the top in places, but it links to this interesting article on a retired federal judge who is familiar with Ortiz & co. commenting on the case.


DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Heymann responded by saying “Fine, we'll lock him up.”

Cruel and barbaric. This comment is horrifying.

Many people commit suicide in prison. Being under suicide watch reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk. (I know someone who was under "level 2 observation" (a member of staff within arms reach at all times) in a MH hospital. They managed to self harm so severely they needed to be transported to a general hospital for several surgeries.)

America sends many people to prison. America has awful mental health care. The care for people with mental health problems is so awful that prisons are often the largest providers of mental health treatment.

"Prisons are the largest providers of mental health treatment" should be a statement that we should only read in dystopian science fiction.

cardamomo 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a very intelligent, informed summary of the mounting case against the prosecutors. The author minces no words when describing Ortiz' and Heymann's strategy of charging Swartz with a battery of preposterous charges with the express intent of making any action except accepting a plea bargain (and thereby pleading guilty to all charges) the only reasonable approach: "[T]hey assumed that the risk of their success even on bogus charges would be enough to pressure Swartz into accepting a guilty plea on all the counts in exchange for a reduced sentence " which is what they offered him."

But what raises the deepest concern when I read this article is that the author continues on to describe Swartz's case not as a particularly bad example of prosecutorial oppression but rather as an exemplar of justice in the United States: "The process was fundamentally corrupt and shameful. But observers of the American criminal-justice system also know that it was a common one."

What can we do about this?

anonymouz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've rarely read a more sensational and one-sided piece. At this point, the bending of facts to serve the idealization of Swartz and the demonization of Ortiz starts to seem like nothing more than throwing gasoline into the fire of an enraged lynch mob.
lordlicorice 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Although each of these counts bordered on the preposterous, Ortiz and Heymann clearly reckoned that at least one or two would stick during the jury-room bargaining process. ... Prosecutors were also revealed to have offered a reduced sentence, but only if Swartz pleaded guilty to every charge

This is what really hit home for me. They weren't just filing court documents in a legal strategy to get a conviction. They were telling a man to his face that they expected him to plead guilty to patently insane trumped-up charges.

danbmil99 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting note -- the WSJ editorial report (a Fox show I doubt most HN folk regularly catch) had a segment on the Swartz case. One editor (Joseph Rago) came out strongly in his favor, speaking out against Ortiz and prosecutorial overreach.

I think it was Sun Tzu who said, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". It's important to realize there is still a strong strain of libertarian thought on the right, that is supportive of civil liberties and is concerned about the ever-increasing power and overreach of the government.

jrockway 2 days ago 1 reply      
It makes me sad how reactionary government is. Oritz was overreaching before Swartz killed himself. Why wasn't something done before someone got the death penalty for downloading a few free journal articles?

I'm happy to see the change and the backlash against Oritz, but I wish this happened sooner.

lizzard 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad the coverage of Aaron's death continues to deepen.
Fishkins 2 days ago 4 replies      
Why do they call it a prank? My impression is what was nothing of the sort.
rexreed 2 days ago 0 replies      
If only it didn't take a suicide to reach this point where there is finally a conversation and criticism of prosecutorial overreach and looking at the human side of the equation.
SagelyGuru 2 days ago 2 replies      
Damage limitation action stations:
1) Protect and support Ortiz
2) If the going gets tough, throw Ortiz to the wolves
3) In either case, 'problem' solved, resume business as usual
drcube 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm 100% behind changing the laws and punishing the overzealous prosecutor. Don't get me wrong.

But I'd like to see the millions of poor black kids whose lives are destroyed by the justice system every day get this kind of response, and not just when it's a handsome rich white kid like Aaron.

at-fates-hands 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wondering if anybody else is scared this is going to set a precedent for people who feel like they cannot endure a federal trial and simply opt for suicide instead.

Over the past several weeks, I've been completely numbed by all the outrage and media this event is generating. If I was a well known hacktivist and saw what has transpired here, it makes it look like being a martyr for your cause is considerably more beneficial than simply lawyering up and going through a trial.

tosser23 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is now taken as an article of truth that Ortiz drove him to suicide. Is there any direct evidence that he did it because of the prosecution or is it only assumed?
sociotech 2 days ago 0 replies      
It reads like a parody of journalism.
kenthorvath 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ortiz will answer for her actions, perhaps not as a matter of law, but certainly as a matter of common sense and decency.

No one should be exempt from behaving like a decent human being, and one does not need to break the law in order to be fired for executing poor judgment.

pavanky 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is going after one person going to achieve ? The problem is with the system.
bane 2 days ago 1 reply      
So serious question, what prevents Aaron's family from suing the pants off of the DOJ parties responsible?
malkia 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this does not lead to another suicide. Really - this is becoming a grilling contest.
amoxibos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anonymous need to get active on her. No one will make her life hell like anonymous can. She will quit by her own will.
meh01 2 days ago 5 replies      
"Her prospects look grim. Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.)"...

And that's when everyone should stop reading. Issa is a tea party loon.

How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp utsalumni.org
348 points by rrreese  1 day ago   131 comments top 26
nlh 17 hours ago 2 replies      
What a fascinating and engrossing read. Thanks for sharing.

What I found most remarkable was that despite NK's best efforts at total and complete isolation of the prisoners -- Shin was born into the camp and knew nothing of the outside world -- the human soul still inherently wants to be free. You can "nurture" a miserable existence all you want but it won't keep.

And in the end, what cracked the walls of the prison (metaphorically speaking) was an outsider with nothing more than stories.

No wonder dictatorships fear things like free speech and dissidents. Even the slightest hint of a better place (through words alone) can start the chain reaction.

sunwooz 14 hours ago 1 reply      
My grandfather escaped from North Korea during the 1950s by riding on top of trains and eventually riding a cargo boat into South Korea. Apparently the owner of the boat had to throw all the cargo overboard to accomodate everyone. He took a group of women from his village and escaped with his life, leaving behind his now-dead family. I am overwhelmed by the fact that if he didn't escape when he did, I would be in one of the prison camps doing hard labor and sorting through animal feces for undigested corn. Thanks for linking this article, now I have renewed my interest in the past and have requested family in South Korea to send me a copy of our family tree. Grandfather is now gone, and I wish he lived today, so I could say my thanks and hug him.
Permit 22 hours ago 4 replies      
I can't help but wonder if the world will look back on the situation in North Korea the same way it does the Rwandan Genocide and the Holocaust. The conditions in some of these camps are truly disgusting, and a former guard at one claimed that 1,500 to 2,000 of the workers at his camp were missing limbs[1].

I don't know what the answer is, but I think hindsight will lead future generations to condemn perceived inaction on our part.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_22#Conditions_in_the_camp

ColinWright 21 hours ago 2 replies      
sounds 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That this story ever got this much publicity is largely thanks to LiNK (Liberty in North Korea).


Please consider a small donation of money or even time (the "Get Involved" menu).

Or even just re-tweet, re-blog, and talk to your friends about this story.

unimpressive 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is still one of my favorite stories submitted to HN, even if it is devoid of technical content. The last time I saw it the new submissions swept it up like the rising tide.[0]


[1]: Going through my list of saved articles shocked me with how many I remember.

parenthesis 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Shin Dong-hyuk appeared in a Google talk:


grahammather 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This made me physically sick to read. The sheer scale of this tragedy and the utter depravity of nearly everyone involved makes me weep for humanity. I lost sleep last night as this story haunted me, reminding me that this evil is happening right now, still, to hundreds of thousands more like Shin.

Eric Schmidt owes this man a visit (if he hasn't already). If he can fly halfway around the world to pay his respects to the architects of this abomination, buttressing their hateful regime, then he can use his powers of publicity to call attention to the plight of those like Shin.

znowi 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, that was depressing. To tell the truth I couldn't finish reading the article. It feels so much as a fiction novel that the idea that it chronicles the actual events is deeply unsettling. How the fuck can this happen in our time? And how do we stop it?
CapitalistCartr 22 hours ago 5 replies      
I think we could liberate North Korea by creating a handheld TV/radio that received South Korean and Chinese stations and distributing them inside North Korea. I think the existing regime would change or collapse in a couple of years. It would cost us a couple billion, but we'd get a better return on that investment than a lot of our military expenditures.
bane 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Probably good to point to http://libertyinnorthkorea.org/
petercooper 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If this sort of stuff intrigues you, as it does me, check out "Gulag" by Anne Applebaum. I listened to it in audiobook form (27 hours!) and it was both fascinating and devastating to hear how the Soviets imprisoned, tortured, and, frequently, killed millions in such encampments.
damian2000 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not the same story, but this book is worth reading...

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag [by Chol-hwan Kang]


Author was nine years old when imprisoned at the Yodok camp in 1977. Inexplicably released in 1987, he states that the only lesson his imprisonment had "pounded into me was about man's limitless capacity to be vicious."

markross 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I strongly recommend reading the book that this extract was taken from. http://amzn.com/0670023329
shaggyfrog 12 hours ago 0 replies      
CBS/60 Minutes interviewed him; it was on TV a few weeks ago: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50136263n
Aissen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The original story, from 2007: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/09/world/asia/09iht-korea.4.6...

I still remember it vividly from that day.

warmwaffles 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Truely amazing story. I can not fathom the pain and suffering this man had to endure. It's odd that I was getting angry that he betrayed so many people, and betrayed one man that was trying to escape with him. But, in that situation, it really is a dog eat dog world and I'm sure Park would not have hesitated to leave Shin behind. Crazy article, makes you really wonder if NK will ever be able to rejoin SK or what will happen to the nation entirely
deliminator 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Another story about life in prison and subsequent escape
mr_luc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"Citizen of the Galaxy," by Robert Heinlein, jumped to mind when I read this story.

The protagonist, Thorby, is a freed slave, and most of the people he encounters in the story are skeptical that slavery still exists.

mbubb 12 hours ago 2 replies      
hacker news - this really bums me out. Last week HN was rightly all over Atlantic for shilling for Scientology.

This article is written by the unification church - right up in the same bat shit crazy neighborhood as LR Hubbard and his pals...

And the discussion - Korea is crazy and belligerent?

The country known as the hermit kingdom. Did not open to the west until ~ 1870s. The last time it was involved in trying to invade another country was as a vassal state of Kublai Khan. And yet such assertions go unchecked.

Korea is not belligerent and has much riding upon regional stability. We are talking about an economy that is roughly the scale of Italy's and a standard of living that is in many ways better than the US.

The biggest impediment to North South reunification is the immense disparity. The difference between East and West Germany was minute in comparison.

I am not Korean but love Korea. Have had the chance to work there (3 yrs) and know a slight bit of the history, language and culture.

There are many better sources of information on North Korea - don't give the Unification Church any more publicity. The Netflix documentary mentioned is a good one.

And stop with the misinformed ideas of Korea. It is not like China and Japan even though it is stuck in the middle. Korean language and culture compared to Chinese is roughly analogous to English with Latin. The base is completely different but Koreans borrowed Chinese philosophy and science.

Linguistically Korean has more in common with Mongolian and Hungarian than it does to Mandarin.

james4k 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a documentary on this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2149190/

Have not seen it yet, but I saw the cover browsing around on Netflix.

notdrunkatall 15 hours ago 0 replies      
That these camps exist today is a giant pockmark on all of humanity.
stretchwithme 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's Anthem all over again, times a thousand.
ttar 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Wait, in the middle of the story Shin was to be executed, then wasn't? What happened there?
selvan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a say in my language "Birds born in a cage too have wings". Sometimes its hard for me to digest how a society that has 99% literacy rate, could continue living like this, under NK regime.
davidroberts 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like I'm not the only UTS alumni who reads Hacker News...
O'Reilly donating ebook "Open Government" as a tribute to Aaron Swartz github.com
342 points by code_chimp  3 days ago   27 comments top 7
thangalin 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'd like to see more than an Open Government. I'd like to see a web site developed where people read about issues of interest, learn about the benefits and drawbacks to upcoming policies at a centralized location, see how those policies affect budgets (federal, provincial, or municipal), and provide a simple voting mechanism to get a general sense of how agreeable people find the policy. More than that, it would be amazing if people could contribute to the discussion in a moderated fashion (with moderators selected at random, for random intervals of time, to avoid herd-mentality).

Something like this:

1. https://bitbucket.org/djarvis/world-politics/wiki/Interests%...

2. https://bitbucket.org/djarvis/world-politics/wiki/Policy%20P...

3. https://bitbucket.org/djarvis/world-politics/wiki/Debate%20P...

4. https://bitbucket.org/djarvis/world-politics/wiki/Supporting...

For anyone curious about the project, check out:


wamatt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos for a thoughtful gesture from O'Reilly.

It does make one wonder, has openness in Government increased under the current administration or not?

While the reality might remain elusive, my sense is, at a minimum, the perception of openness, has strengthened with the public.

juddlyon 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's a nice gesture by O'Reilly. Salute.
ouroboros 3 days ago 2 replies      
for a split second there I read this as Papa Bear O'Reilly donating the book. During that split second my brain was almost fried trying to make sense of how he could have written a book titled "Open Government"
egeozcan 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a nice gesture! However I have a (maybe small) concern: They use creative commons no derivative license. Doesn't that make forking pointless, if not a breach of terms?
LuisD 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it on ResearchGate? http://www.researchgate.net
grogenaut 3 days ago 0 replies      
They mean Bill not Tim.
What we discovered about InstallMonetizer
303 points by pg  22 hours ago   168 comments top 44
notJim 21 hours ago 5 replies      
I dunno, 1. and 2. seem like a cop out to me. When crappy freeware Windows installers provide a checkbox (checked by default, of course) to opt out of Bonzai Buddy or a million Ask.com toolbars or some bullshit malware scanner, they are still shitty and sketchy, and it's disappointing to me to know that YC is now behind a company that makes such software. And saying this crapware is popular does little to assuage my concerns. If users are "choosing" to install these things, it's unclear to me how informed or aware of a choice they're making. I bet successful viruses and worms are also popular by this metric.

By the way, here's an example of what we're talking about: http://imgur.com/8SGXUPP. Oracle bundles the ask toolbar with Java installs now. This is the default state, i.e., the box is default-checked. Why, users love the ask toolbar, they probably have a 95% install rate!

SandB0x 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I think people will be wondering if this resembles the founders' ideas when they were funded by you, and if this represents the kind of company you wish to be funding.

You may of course defend the product on technical grounds (accept buttons, EULAs, etc) but I find it hard to believe that you truly think it is anything but a nuisance to end-users.

RyanZAG 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Confusing inept users into installing random toolbars[1] that break their browsers and force them to call IT pros to 'clean up' their computers is pretty scummy. Sorry, but it is.

You can make a lot of money doing all kinds of popular things -- pimping women, selling drugs, selling 'likes' on facebook, selling botnets that create fake clicks on advertisers, ponzi schemes, etc. Some are illegal, some are just barely legal, but they are all damaging to someone. This line of business is known as 'scummy' and InstallMonetizer is plain 'scummy'.

Simple fact, trying to rationalize it doesn't help.

[1] http://installmonetizer-review.blogspot.com/
" 3. Which type of bundled software does Install Monetizer include in your installation package?
Most of the bundled software are toolbars, though the company is always changing which software are available. When I first started Install Monetizer they offered just two softwares. A toolbar called White Smoke and good old Real Player. Today they have about seven install packages available. However, only USA Search and Facebook Profile turned profitable."

thaumaturgy 19 hours ago 0 replies      
People pay businesses like mine to remove the sorts of software that IM bundles. From the end-user's perspective, they don't understand how this stuff gets on their computer, and they don't feel comfortable removing it because they don't want to break anything.

Put another way: people "get" this software for free, and then pay other people to get rid of it.

And then other scuzzy companies have built a niche industry around the "PC tune-up", prompted by stuff like this software, charging a lot of money to people who don't know better. And, often all these companies do is run software that has been specifically designed to remove junk software.

A lot of this niche is exploitative, taking advantage of people who don't know better, and it's all supported by the bundling of this crap. That goes well beyond "opinion"; "opinion" might be, "Facebook is crap", but there isn't an entire market built around people paying other people to shut down Facebook accounts. Users aren't "choosing" to install these things any more than someone might "choose" to step on a pile of doggy doo in the park.

IM really isn't your responsibility though, so thanks for getting them to flush out the OSS-wrapped stuff at least.

powrtoch 18 hours ago 8 replies      
I don't understand all the moralizing going on in this thread.

VC is about funding the companies that could make a lot of money. When did we start expecting them to be the morality police?

Sure, if YC wants to build up a reputation for funding "honorable" startups, then they can choose to do so (and will choose to do so to the extent that they think it makes business sense). The comments here that say "This might be bad for YC's image and hurt YC long term" are all well and good. But lots of them amount to "this is bad and you should feel bad", and these just seem disconnected from the reality of market economics.

If YC doesn't fund some scuzzy but profitable company, someone else will. You can't solve job-outsourcing by asking companies not to outsource jobs, because the companies that play along will just get their asses kicked by those who don't. If you want to solve this problem, you have to do it at some other level (usually the laws and taxes level).

It's unreasonable to demand that YC pass on profitable businesses just because we don't like what those businesses are doing. I agree that IM doesn't seem to be making the world a better place, but that's not a problem that gets fixed by asking everyone to cooperate in starving them out.

Perhaps there's a line at which it's worthwhile to call out people for following the incentives that the market has given them, but I think this line is probably a lot closer to the "murder" end of the spectrum than the "installer checkboxes" end.

(Expecting downvotes, think I'm okay with that.)

withinrafael 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Paul, I'm one of the two people you're indirectly addressing with this HN post. (The second is Long Zheng.)

I wrote here: http://www.withinwindows.com/2013/01/16/installmonetizer-qui...

Long zheng wrote here:

I'll respond to each of your items individually.

1. OK.

2. Maybe. Or more likely users are mistakenly installing these applications because the offer screen is made to look exactly like the EULA acceptance dialog seen in every other installer.

But we don't expect this to be fixed. Anti-malware vendors have stepped in and are improving their definitions to catch this garbage but it's very much a cat/mouse game. (IM has been detected a few times, btw.) IM is very aware of this "threat" and designed their system around random domain names to mitigate detection issues as they arise. (Think about it -- Does IM, a legitimate company, really need to use fcgoatcalear.us and fcvalcsoi.us domain names? Come on.)

3. No idea where you got this information, given InstallMonetizer bundled software shows no actual EULA. The only EULAs shown during install are ones provided by the package author and the offer advertisers. Can you clarify this point, please?

4. Wrong. Existing IM bundles out there still send PII in the clear. This isn't something they can just flip a switch on and fix. (I saw IM edited their privacy policy to note the new hashing procedures but sadly that doesn't cover the bundles on the Internet today. So it's wrong.)

5. Yeah, I saw the company slip in the "Open-source software is a community product and you may not use our co-bundles with it" line. What a slap in the face of those who use commercially-permissive OSS libraries in their software...

thoughtcriminal 20 hours ago 1 reply      
InstallMonetizer can't in good conscience offer Babylon translation satanware.

Or, to put it another way, if they care one ioda about the enduser experience and staying in business, they should not add Babylon software to their bundle.

Babylon is diabolically hard to uninstall. Even after following instructions found on a number of websites, trying different malware removers and doing about:config on Mozilla, it still keeps propagating - EVEN NOW, months later.

I dare someone to install the Babylon software on their main PC and then try to remove it. Go ahead, follow instructions you find on the Internet. Good luck, you'll need it.

It's an ugly, ugly piece of work.

dsl 21 hours ago 2 replies      
These guys have gotten a lot of flack they don't deserve. A friend of mine builds and distributes what most people would consider "crapware" (toolbars, adware, etc.) and was flat out denied by IM when he tried to use them for distribution. Sure a bad apple or two might slip through, but according to my friend its rare to ever be denied by a distributor unless you're not willing to pay going rates.

It seems like they are working to clean up a dirty industry. Just like AdWords did to the PPC business.

d0m 19 hours ago 1 reply      
All the technical details aside, if you guys at YC ask yourself "Am I proud of funding this startup?" we both know what the answer is. In all fairness, PG said that YC funded another project from this company; I guess they've just used the YC name for credibility.

I find it quite ironic how PG went from building a spam filters to funding a spam company. Just for your information, this is what you've put your money and using your growth YC alumni for: http://www.kraftfuttermischwerk.de/blogg/wp-content/uploads2....

DoubleCluster 21 hours ago 1 reply      
> Every IM install screen has a decline as well as an accept button

Well, could you provide a screenshot of that screen? Usually users are misled into thinking they are accepting the install of the software they actually downloaded.

> The apps that get installed are "crapware." This one seems a matter of opinion.

Yeah... I don't think very highly of your opinion if you really think like that. Making someones computer slower or less usable by installing "unwanted software" is something that should be forbidden in my opinion. Really, do you have any idea how much hours of my life were lost by removing crapware from computers?

I did check the ycombinator.com website for any indication if the type of company or product was of any concern. I did not find anything about that. This probably means ycombinator is actually just interested in the money and not in making the world a better place. Silly idealistic me...

photon137 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Extremely disappointed. If integrity in all aspects of a business is a lower priority than growth, then I don't suppose there is any difference between Wall Street and Silicon Valley investors anymore.

Questionable practices should be just that - questionable - and remain that way. This "ironing" over by stalwarts like pg poses the danger of this stuff becoming the norm over time.

holograham 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for this explanation pg

This raises a question though: does this company make something that users want? When a user installs a specific program is he/she looking to install other software as well? Is the argument that InstallMonetizer bundles useful software that it feels will enhance the user's life in some way? (going off the adage that the consumer does not really know what they want i.e. they'd just ask for a faster horse)

oh_sigh 21 hours ago 1 reply      
What about opt-in vs opt-out? Would this company be profitable if all of their toolbars were opt-in only?

I'd be willing to bet a dollar that InstallMonetizer will tank if they relied on opt-in, but will make bank if they rely on opt-out.

davidpayne11 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"What we discovered about InstallMonetizer"

'We discovered that they are sneaky as fuck. But it's ok because we funded them.' - pg

For the rest of the community - See what withinrafael has to say in his comments below and how unethical this start-up is.

I for one, love YC. But such shitty tactics by start-ups and Paul defending them is terribly disappointing.

willwhitney 21 hours ago 0 replies      
While you may not have a right to tell the companies you fund what to do, you certainly have the right not to fund them. At the same time, you are running a for-profit business, and turning down a company you feel is likely to be successful isn't responsible to the other people involved in Y Combinator. And as far as I know, they could have entered the program with a different product and changed tacks partway through. All this to say that I do not have the right nor the information to question your professional decisions.

Personally, though... is this a product you're proud of?

glass- 21 hours ago 2 replies      
The vast majority of people are not deliberately choosing to install the software. They are "accepting" it by accident, by pressing the wrong button or because they are rushing through the installation and are not paying attention.

No consumer wants this stuff. The advertiser's software is a nuisance and gives no advantages to the end-user.

dgunn 19 hours ago 0 replies      
In a few months, I will, once again, uninstall 10 tool bars from my mother's computer. She doesn't want them but they are all installed. Why? Because allowing users to opt out of installs is effectively the same as installing through a drive by process. This type of software is among the lowest form. Whether it's legit or not, the end result is a nuisance to users. I hope their new product isn't as seedy.
dxdt 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Despite the defense of InstallMonetizer, their payment model and practices do not appear to be what you would find with a legitimate software business.

InstallMonetizer has been used by malware as a method to make money as early as April 2011. It was being silently installed by a large botnet, and I assume that the botnet affiliate was making money off the installs.

Their installers are also labeled as a malware by AV vendors, and treated as such by network monitoring infrastructure.

ddunkin 19 hours ago 0 replies      
You can stomp on the grey areas all you want on individual points, but you have to really look at the whole picture.

What is the end result of the software they produce? Without marketing buzzwords thrown in to mask the true intentions?

To bank on ignorant users and to leverage that ignorance to increase revenue.

Same people who do the AV browser pop-ups designed to convince your grandma that 'your computer is infected', they are using the same tactics with a different costume. I actually spoke with a spammer last year (I'm sorry 'content distribution network' as they called themselves) and the double-speak was just infuriating, that was all I could think about when reading this.

eps 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Woah. This is so off, so disappointing. Petty defence on technicalities, while stepping around absolutely bloody obvious ethical issues. Wow.
pbhjpbhj 15 hours ago 0 replies      
>They make "drive-by installers." A drive-by installer installs software without the user's knowledge. This accusation is false. //


A drive-by installer installs software without _express_ consent of the user. A default of accept or a checked "install" checkbox for a bundled product that is not labelled directly as the software being installed (ie you clicked a download link and it said SoftwareX) then it's a drive-by.

Adobe are doing this now. Last straw, if Adobe Readers vast girth wasn't enough well this certainly is.

Either the download must say "StuffYouWant.exe with CrapwareBloat.exe" or the installation of the later must only be done by non-default action. If these conditions aren't met then it's a drive-by installer and those consciously profiting from it need to check their morals.

lucb1e 18 hours ago 0 replies      
In response to point #2: Glad to hear you'll be choosing to install my new search toolbar! Did you know it comes with free 3D smileys?

Really though, if you weren't one of the criticized parties (for funding them), would you really think the same about points two and three? And even bothered to point out the first? Regardless of whether you should have funded them, your post sounds rather biased.

tomjen3 21 hours ago 3 replies      
>Every IM install screen has a decline as well as an accept button, and if the user declines, no software is installed.

Which is the default? Decline or accept?

watty 19 hours ago 0 replies      
PG, your funding a company who recommends users to install Bablyon which is considered a virus by many. Why don't you come out and tell it like it is? IM is a profitable business with potential to make you lots of $$. Stop the bullshit, it's making it worse.
andrewhillman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
By default add-ons should be unchecked.

I always get calls from my parents (this weekend with an AVG download) when they realize they downloaded a service and now they have extra services they did not want - toolbars among other things... it becomes my problem and it sucks.

JungleGymSam 11 hours ago 0 replies      
You can explain it any way you want but it's still a product that's meant to take advantage of an ignorant audience plain and simple. Any person outside their audience knows where and how to get the software they want. There is no use for IM's service outside of the ignorant mass of computer users.

Consider another angle on this software: it is a direct contributor to the daily stress of IT people and the "computer person" found in many families.

yuhong 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Beware that IP addresses are only 32-bit and MAC addresses are only 48-bit. So hashing them individually won't do any good.
kposehn 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I kind of figured this from the get-go. I met them at Affiliate Summit and was quite impressed with them, so the controversy felt a little overblown at first glance.

Glad to see they are the kind of people we can safely work with.

eCa 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As long as the choice to install (unwanted crap) or not is opt-out this can only be considered a bad-faith business.
hugbox 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The Windows app culture has really deteriorated. Even Oracle has started distributing malware with their Java installer. Applications that phone home, reboot the computer at random times, and modify system settings are not only tolerated, but expected.

It's hard to imagine a real-world parallel to this kind of behavior. It would be like if rape was a socially acceptable form of greeting.

In the future, I think all of this will give Microsoft a perfect excuse to shut down the independent application developers and force everything through their app store. Companies that develop for Windows better start thinking hard about their relationship with Microsoft.

speeder 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Good to know that you did something about it PG :)

I will remain liking your work! :)

But please, keep paying attention... I think that sometimes if companies can get away with doing bad stuff, they will (in that case maybe it was not malicious, but getting IP and MAC addresses is kinda dangerous for example).

kanzure 20 hours ago 0 replies      
"The usage info is (a) collected only for the first 30 minutes and (b) is only used to prove to the advertiser that the install is by a human and not a bot."

Well that sounds easy to spoof.

mehuln 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a company doing the right thing in these messy industry. They are growing and winning because they are playing by the rules and trying to do the right thing!
tomp 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Consider for a minute that one of the biggest successes in the past few years have been "crapware", e.g. Talking Tom, Draw with me (or something similar), and iFog/Fart.
charlieok 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So far I have read nothing about this except for pg's post creating this thread.

Having read only that, I am certain that I am not in whatever target market might appreciate IM's software (“A lot of the world's most popular apps and sites seem like junk to us”) and that I would hope that I never encounter it myself.

That said, I would likely enjoy an encounter with some other software from “this industry” far less still.

tylermauthe 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great example of how to be a level headed, clear-minded investor/entrepreneur, even when you're under fire... And just generally a great human being.

Good show!

dpweb 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Some of you guys are being ignorant, and too much time on your hands. What IM is doing seems legit from all the information here. It's giving devs some opportunity to make a living. If you don't like the wares don't install it. Simple.

If you were seriously concerned about internet privacy you'd be discussing in depth Google, Microsoft, etc.. policies which affect virtually all inet users and not some small operation like IM.

ltcoleman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I very much appreciate this response from pg. Y Combinator doesn't have to justify who it is funding in my opinion. This info was insightful to me. Thank you.
Eduard 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"We asked IM to switch to uploading hashes of the IP and MAC address instead, and they are going to start doing that." ... c:
donniezazen 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The standard practice of making decline option available is a nice way of deceiving non-technologically inclined users. But IM and related companies are here to make money. Most of the above points are the way how it works in Windows ecosystem.
rdl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like a pretty fair analysis -- both fair to the users/ecosystem as a whole, and fair to a portfolio company that you invested in.
wheelerwj 20 hours ago 0 replies      
thank you for taking the time to look into that!
kaeawc 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to hear the follow up
Responsive Web Design " Advanced Lesson shayhowe.com
296 points by shay-howe  1 day ago   47 comments top 15
gfodor 17 hours ago 4 replies      
As someone who's been asleep at the switch with regards to responsive design I get the sense that it's, well, hard. Has anyone written about the "responsive design vs forking the website for mobile" tradeoff? If I were to start hacking together a site today I would probably just create two or three completely different layouts and DRY things up as much as I could in code, instead of trying to get the stars to align and get my browser to render the same assets correctly in all browsers.

In other words, responsive design seems to bring under the fold a use case that does not exist: physically resizing a browser window from a desktop size to a mobile size and having a page render correctly as you do it. Its a nice trick, but unless you assume the same client is going to need to see the content "respond" to changes in window size, then it seems prudent to take that use case off the list and simplify the implementation around the real use case: a client with a pre-defined browser window size hits a page and renders it, full stop. (with some small flexibility since users on desktop browsers do resize their window by some % occasionally) (Ie, if you focus on this case, simplest solution may be to fork it at render time in code where you have to and keep the CSS/etc straightforward.)

cabalamat 22 hours ago 9 replies      
Is there any point in having medium-grey text on a slightly lighter grey backgound, other than to make it very hard to read? http://contrastrebellion.com/
monsterix 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is good stuff. Would be great if it went right in and also talked about limitations like fewer ports-per-connection, poor standards support e.g. stuff like unsupported position:fixed property, dead file-input field, terrible response times for tap/long-tap etc.

I mean responsive layout for presentation of content (blog/BS) is fairly easy. For an interactive web-app however, design logic goes quite in the opposite direction. To this end I found http://html5rocks.com a very useful resource.

Looking at current number of devices and independent implementations of browsers having different levels of support for web standards, (even on iDevices!) I feel that we are sort of back to 1995.

mddw 19 hours ago 2 replies      
As usual, nothing on cross-browser compatibility (respond.js, modernizr...), nothing on speed optimisation (a real problem in RWD), on backends issues (regarding the multiples images needed), etc...

It often strikes me, reading these tutorials about RWD, than the authors know all very well the theory but have never done a real (ie for a client) responsive website in their life.

It's all generic and general stuff, never how a stupid menu can be a real bother when you have to support two different states, touch and mouse, users without javascript, changing states, IE9 with no CSS3 transition support, etc.

Tutorials show you the easy way, the way which works only for cable users with a fancy Macbook and the last Safari or 4G iPhone users.

In real RWD, what should be easy becomes hard, and nobody'll tell you that.

(btw, i'm not a RWD hater. I just want to warn about its realities.)

gadders 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I spent a couple of nights last week reading the beginners course. I've put together a couple of simple websites already, but always using a "copy-paste-hack it about until it works" methodoly.

The beginners course was a great way to get the fundamentals straight in my head. Very well written and understandable.

Thanks Shay!

mnicole 22 hours ago 0 replies      
No mention of calc with hard definitions as a fallback? Besides Opera, it's fully adopted on desktop browsers (including IE), Firefox for Android and soon on BlackBerry.
ericdykstra 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a really good and succinct overview. I'm definitely saving this article both for self-reference and for showing other people who don't grasp responsive design. Thanks for writing this!
esschul 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think most pages are interested in getting a reasonable view in mobile. From my experience the cheapest and best way is to use media queries and say for everything with a viewport less than 700px, let the divs get a 100% in width. Add that to you base.css and it should already be 100x better for your customers/users.
kronholm 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I've only ever done responsive via JavaScript, as I often need to target as many old and new browsers as possible. It seems like my method is way easier and faster than this "new" fancy CSS way. Does anyone have any experiences with both approaches, and if yes, which do you prefer?

For those wondering: My method is pretty simple - I use a global ratio which is multiplied with width/heights, and a resize() function, which is called when the page is loaded and resized.

Edit: Long timer HN lurker, registered to post this. Also forgot to say I enjoyed the article, thanks!

webbruce 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great quality instructions Shay, nice work.
simonwesterlund 1 day ago 2 replies      
it is very funny that this page isn't responsive.
danielovich 1 day ago 1 reply      
This just makes one realize how broken the standards really are. All these things should, to some extent, be taken care off without the developer needing to apply it.

I know how things work, just sayin'...it's broken!

hawleyal 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Ew, float.

Hasn't everyone moved on to inline-block?

double051 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting how this site isn't following it's own advice. The layout is awful for anyone on a phone.
psvx 21 hours ago 0 replies      
My browser (chrome) freezed-up for a few seconds. Seriously.
Handling Growth with Postgres instagram-engineering.tumblr.com
288 points by mikeyk  4 days ago   83 comments top 17
oz 4 days ago 4 replies      
On a somewhat meta note:

>Over the last two and a half years, we've picked up a few tips and tools about scaling Postgres that we wanted to share"things we wish we knew when we first launched Instagram.

A common failure mode for myself and, I suspect, others, is thinking that we have to know every single thing before we start. Good old geek perfectionism of wanting an ideal, elegant setup. A sort of Platonic Ideal, if you will.

These guys went on to build one of the hottest web properties on earth, and they didn't get it all right up front.

If you're postponing something because you think you need to master all the intricacies of EC2, Postgres, Rails or $Technology_Name, pay close attention to this example. While they were launching growing, and being acquired for a cool billion, were you agonizing over the perfect hba.conf?

More a note to myself than anything else :)

calinet6 4 days ago 3 replies      
One of the largest services on the net, and their summary of their database experience is "Overall, we've been very happy with Postgres' performance and reliability."

Go Bears. That's awesome. And we should all take a hint...

elteto 4 days ago 3 replies      
I am really glad to see all the adoption and recognition that Postgres is receiving nowadays, there was a time when all you could hear about was MySQL (or maybe this is just my perception). It seems to me that it has picked up even more after the Oracle takeover of MySQL, but it could also be that their feature set has reached a pretty mature point, or maybe a combination of both.
jpitz 4 days ago 1 reply      
If high-performance PostgreSQL is critical to your job, here are some resources:


Query analysis tool http://explain.depesz.com

The mailing list http://www.postgresql.org/list/pgsql-performance/

Greg Smith's book http://www.amazon.com/PostgreSQL-High-Performance-Gregory-Sm...

#postgresql on freenode.net

joevandyk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dear Instagram,

How do you deploy database updates? With Rails-style migrations?

One thing that bugs me about migrations is that if you use functions or views, the function/view definition has to be copied to a new file. It makes it difficult to see what's been changed. I'm looking forward to http://sqitch.org/ for this reason. (slides: http://www.slideshare.net/justatheory/sqitch-pgconsimple-sql...)

atsaloli 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read scalability has been greatly improved in Postgres 9.2.
It scales pretty much linearly to 64 concurrent clients. Goes up to 350,000 queries per second!

Write throughput has been improved as well.

Check out Josh Berkus's (one of 7 core team members of the Postgres dev team) presentation on what's new in Postgres 9.2:


hosay123 4 days ago 2 replies      
> we're now pushing over 10,000 likes per second at peak

These kinds of stats always sound so impressive, but let's imagine:

    - 8 byte timestamp
- 8 byte user ID
- 8 byte post ID
- 128 bytes DBMS overhead
- 128 bytes for user->like index
- 128 bytes for post->like index

= 3.96MiB/second, or ~1015 IOPs/second, or 342GB per day absolute worst case. A single economy machine with an even remotely decent SSD could handle a full day's data at these rates.

andrewljohnson 4 days ago 1 reply      
We use a lot of PostGIS via GeoDjango, and I made a mental note to remember this article if I my postgres instances ever start ailing. Unfortunately, we haven't pushed these limits nearly as much as Instagram.
hcarvalhoalves 4 days ago 2 replies      
The partial index tip is great for that kind of problem (you need a fast query for a subset of your data).
gfodor 4 days ago 1 reply      
I enjoyed this article and also found a link to this one which I found equally interesting:


I worked with the Flickr-style ticket DB id setup at Etsy, and while it was lovely once it was all set up, it's way more complicated (requiring two dedicated servers and a lot of software and operations stuff.) The solution outlined by instagram of just having a clever schema layout and stored procedure that safely allocates IDs locally on each logical shard is elegant and I'm having a hard time blowing holes in it.

zrail 4 days ago 7 replies      
I don't understand why anyone would advocate for autocommit. It's a horrible feature that leads to broken data.
mixmastamyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone use one of these tools? First I've heard of them, and would seem to make my inner control-freak happy.

    pg_reorg can re-organize tables without any locks, and can be a better
alternative of CLUSTER and VACUUM FULL. This project is not active now,
and fork project "pg_repack" takes over its role. See
https://github.com/reorg/pg_repack for details.

mbell 4 days ago 1 reply      
That autocommit point just made thousands of Java EE/hibernate guys cry out in terror.
weaksauce 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone recommend a good guide to administering Postgres? Best practices etc.... The Postgres docs are fairly light about all that.
yRetsyM 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if Heroku does any of this sort of "here's what we learned" posts re: postgres?
willlll 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good to see people spreading WAL-E love.
dotborg 4 days ago 1 reply      
they read postgres docs, that's just.. amazing:)
So you think you can tell Arial from Helvetica? ironicsans.com
283 points by AlexMuir  2 days ago   175 comments top 79
ef4 2 days ago 14 replies      
I really don't consider myself a typography expert or designer, but I found that easy and got a perfect score.

There are obvious tells in almost all of them -- mostly lowercase "s", "c", etc, in which Helvetica is has perfectly level edges and arial is angled.

The only harder ones are some of the all caps examples like TOYOTA.

jsilence 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thank you, now you have ruined Arial for me.

Before this test I considered the differences negligible, without really knowing what the differences are. Now I consider Helvetica much more elegant and incisive.

calinet6 2 days ago 3 replies      
Yes, the differences are easy to see, as everyone has said.

But the important part is that there's a difference in feel and theme that's not really measurable and identifiable in direct comparison.

The subtle difference is far more important than trying to identify the tiny details that don't really matter. And in that sense, this game (while fun and interesting) misses the point.

jongold 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ruining the game for everyone; two things I love about Helvetica

" Terminals at right angles to the stroke. http://c.jon.gd/image/3Q0y2u323j3C . Arial looks particularly sloppy with jaunty terminals. It is possible to have a similar grotesque sans-serif feel with offset terminals (see Univers & Akzidenz Grotesk) but they're a crucial part of what give Helvetica its character.
- The uppercase R. Has a really strong leg compared to Arial's half-assed flaky leg.

jonathanjaeger 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's something interesting to do with the same test. Instead of guessing which one you think is Helvetica, choose the one you like better. Then see if Helvetica shows up more times than Arial (or vice versa).
mambodog 2 days ago 1 reply      
The MATTEL one was hard, but I just assumed the one with crappy kerning was Arial, and sure enough...
sp332 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://typewar.com/ quizzes you on letters from an increasing number of fonts, and scores you according to how many other people got a particular matchup correct. They also have "quests" that focus on a particular challenge, including Arial vs. Helvetica. http://typewar.com/quests/ I think my favorite part of the site is the statistics on how many people are confused by particular matchups.
neya 2 days ago 0 replies      
This one is fairly easy simply because they show you a comparison. In reality, if they showed you only one type of font and if they had asked you to identify which font it was (Arial or Helvetica), then it would have been a REAL challenge :)
quarterto 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yes. Yes I do. 19/20, and the one I got wrong was Mattel.
crntaylor 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is silly. I know nothing about the difference between Arial and Helvetica. If anything thought that Helvetica was slightly lighter, so in the first question I guessed at the lighter of the two fonts, which it turns out was Arial. Every question after that I guessed the heavier of the two fonts, and I got a 19/20 score.
aidos 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a question that's close to my heart. As a developer I've spent inordinate amounts of time getting Helvetica working properly in websites.

I can tell the difference between them, it's obvious when you know what to look for. Is it so much better that it's worth the effort required? Definitely not in my opinion.

I have a special place reserved in Hell for that font.

Swizec 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a programmer I got 11/20, so juuuust slightly better than random guessing. And I was trying so hard too!
viggity 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are (at least) three "bugs" in this quiz (i.e. artifacts from the alteration). The person who made them must have a crappy monitor if the differences weren't noticeable. That, or they were just sloppy. Still, fun quiz though.

Here are the bugs:


wging 2 days ago 2 replies      
A much more interesting question than "Arial or Helvetica" would be: "Which one looks better?" Then you could ask how well the answer correlated with Helvetica vs Arial.

This question is good for seeing whether people know what they're looking at, but the point of using one font over the other isn't to show you prefer the 'correct' font, but to be invisibly better than other choices in one way or another.

speeder 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am a designer (I mean, actually I am a coder that for some freaking bizarre reason got a design degree), and got a 19/20.

For "Mattel" my choice ended being random.

tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I didn't initially know all the obvious differences, but I picked the one that looked "right" or "better" and still got 16/20.

After reading tip offs here I got 19/20 (all except Toyota)

SquareWheel 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you just pick the fuzzier looking image you'll get the majority of them. Very neat idea though.
pwthornton 1 day ago 0 replies      
Too bad this test isn't a higer DPI. It's easier to tell the differences, and see the subtleness of Helvetica at higher DPIs. Helvetica is a font designed for print, but it also looks good on HiDPI/Retina displays.

On my Retina MacBook Pro this whole test is a blurry mess. I had to bring it over to my non-Retina display to take it. But the differences between Arial and Helvetica pop a lot more on a better display.

kalleboo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got about 50/50 but got bored and gave up after 16 so I don't know my score. I don't stare at small details on fonts normally like people here do, so I mostly tried to pick which one looked "right".
fotoblur 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got 19 out of 20. I missed the Panasonic one.

What I like most about Helvetica is the top of the t is flat rather than sharp and there is less stylizing overall. Arial, for me, breaks the philosophy of stylizing for stylizing sake. Helvetica, IMHO, was already perfect.

This makes me remember the Essay by Adolf Loos' Ornament and Crime (1929) (http://technical-english.wikidot.com/text-1-2). Albeit bordering on racist propaganda contains very valid points on ornamentation being wasteful which I believe was a hallmark of Dieter Rams philosophy, "Good design is as little design as possible" which highly influences Apple's industrial designer Jonathan Ive.

HSO 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to see how purportedly "design-conscious" people performed without the immediate feedback and the juxtapositions. Also, since these are logos, aimed at gut feelings, the test should be timed, e.g. you must answer within 1 sec or so.
ianstallings 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got through about 15 questions, had flash backs to the documentary "Helvetica" where it's just never ending stream of examples for 1 1/2 hours and couldn't take anymore. I'll take your word for it.
joejohnson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's a handy reference that shows the distinguishing differences between the two typefaces: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helvetica#Similar_typefaces
EEGuy 1 day ago 1 reply      
No typographer nor designer here either, but _subjectively_ speaking:

* This test quickly 'clued me in' that a logo should give a "commanding", "authoritative", "brooks no argument" look. Helvetica, yes; Ariel, no: Ariel made some logos look downright self-satirical.

* An email client I use has Ariel as its default font. In that (two-way communication) context, where accidental antagonisms can arise, Ariel seems to "look less antagonistic"

* So this test speaks to me about appropriate fonts for two different contexts, and personal point-of-view.

* Got 20/20, but might not on a 2nd run. I'm only human.

PeterisP 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to think that this doesn't matter, as both fonts in text seemed good to me - but now in these logos, all cases where I was able to distinguish them, the Arial version was butt ugly and the original far better looking even to my non-designer eye.
guessWhy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used the following heuristics (some parts added afterwards):

1. Helvetica has level edges, Arial is angled (as ef4 said). Particularly important were "t", "e" and "a", "S", "G", C".

2a. For capital letters, if there is an "R", the Helvetica one is curved in the bottom right part while Arial uses a straight line.

2b. For a capital "Y", the Arial one has the same length in all directions while the Helvetica one is shorter at the bottom. (Alexx indicated a difference).

2c. The jags/gaps in the capital "M" extend further to the top for Arial. This can be used to figure out MATTEL.

3. Otherwise, the one that looks fatter is Helvetica.

yardie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I flew right through them. The MATTEL logo gave me a slight pause, picking the prettier, more symmetrical choice made it easier to identify the remainder.
faramarz 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you know what you're looking for, the test is fairly easy. It get's tricky in case of ALL CAPPS that don't include the letter 'R'. I got MATTEL wrong.
gulbrandr 1 day ago 0 replies      
One service that I like from this site is the shorter thesaurus [0]. You enter a long word and receive shorter synonyms.

[0] http://www.ironicsans.com/thsrs/

Tyr42 2 days ago 0 replies      
I knew nothing about typography, guessed the first one with a lowercase r right, used that to get the rest of the lowercase ones. I only failed the uppercase ones. 16/20
gotoY 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good idea to call the images foo-helvetica.gif & foo-arial.gif. :)
Gravityloss 1 day ago 0 replies      
Didn't anyone judge them by how good they looked ? Not "pixel peeping" but the general outlook.

Arial looks vertically uneven somehow - the tops of the letters of a word seem to form a more solid straight line with Helvetica.

sejje 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a lowly developer and have never even heard the debate about Helvetica. I couldn't have told you the first thing about it. It took me two slides to figure out that "the one I like" is Arial, and pick the opposite. I missed three more, but they were incredibly similar (TOYOTA, MATTEL).

Anyway, this difference is quite obvious in general, I'm not sure what the author is on about.

nnq 1 day ago 0 replies      
...wow, this turn my mind into believing Arial looks better than Helvetica most of the time! Blasphemy!!!
jspiros 2 days ago 2 replies      
20/20. Mattel was the only one I was uncertain of, but the correct answer was slightly blurrier, due to it probably being an actual logo copy scaled down or up slightly, as opposed to a "freshly-made" duplicate for the purpose of the test.

Toyota was easy enough, as the capital "O" in Helvetica is more oval than round in Arial, and more round than oval in Helvetica.

I'm not a designer, I'm a developer, but I do enjoy typography.

bhauer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun short game. Enjoyed it!

I got 19/20. Messed up on "STAPLES" because I got over-confident and started selecting too quickly by the end.

The easiest way to distinguish the two, in my opinion, is that Helvetica uses horizontal cuts to letter strokes. So I should have seen that the capital 'S' in STAPLES had slightly off-axis cuts in my selection. Perhaps what tricked me is that the STAPLES logo itself is off-axis.

rtkwe 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd never bothered comparing them before, never used Helvetica that I can remember, and I got 17/20. 2 at the start till I noticed the obvious lower case differences. The only other one was MATELL which difficult, didn't notice the difference in the As.
moostapha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Terrible test. I got 19/20 based entirely on knowing what the original logos looked like on a few of them (Agfa and DEC, mostly). I thought I'd fail because I've never paid attention to those fonts.

If it was done with novel text, the results would have been different.

aneth4 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got one wrong. I attribute that not to my genius but to having seen the excellent documentary "Helvetica".

Turns out that's an excellent home date movie.

brainless 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun spoiler: do NOT look at the image SRC. I liked the game, but I did what any idiot would when they see such pages - Inspect Element. Damn!
keithpeter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done. I got most of those wrong! Which is why I leave typography to typographers.

Suggestion: wrong response page has a small graphic that emphasises a difference between Arial and Helvetica. e.g. the shape of the top part of the lower case r, &c

Then you have a teaching tool...

curiousdannii 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very easy for all but MATTEL. For MATTEL I went with the one which was kerned better, and no surprise, it was Helvetica!
andrelaszlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bad kerning gives it away on more than one occasion (American Apparel for example).
chris_wot 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's the "r" that's usually the give away. However, I would have to say that the capital "S" is also a giveaway, and the I'd have to say that the letters with Helvetica are somewhat fatter...
pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like it.

I couldn't tell at the start and so I guessed based on which logos looked best composed, then I noticed the uniqueness particularly in r and t letter forms.

This actually gave me a new respect Helvetica.

nvr219 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got 15/20. What I learned from this quiz is I actually prefer the lowercase S in Arial.
J2K 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fun test. Also if anyone's interested in Helvetica or typesetting in general just watched a pretty good documentary recently that got me more interested in the topic: http://www.helveticafilm.com/, also available on netflix: https://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Helvetica/70076125

Sorta similar to the 'Objectified' doc that was recommended by HackDesign but I actually liked this one better.

nej 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got a 18 out of 20. To me Arial looks a bit informal when compared to Helvetica. While Helvetica has level edges, Arial feels more loose and forgiving. I use both fonts in Applications but never really looked at them up close until now. Thank your or this test.
loup-vaillant 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got 3 out of twenty, 2 of which I was lucky to see the capital R. I guess I can tell the difference, though I'd be careful to reverse all my answers in the future.
Nux 2 days ago 0 replies      
"You answered 18 out of 20 questions correctly." I didn't even know the difference between the two until today (can't be bothered with fonts and suchlike).
theanalyst 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fun game, loved it, though G, lowercase edges can solve most cases. It comes down to kerning in the more difficult ones, Helvetica is a perfect Geometric Sans, and that should help in most cases
ruswick 2 days ago 0 replies      
I only missed one, which was do to negligence and not ignorance. Moreover, I'm not even cursorily trained in design or typography.

This doesn't seem that hard. Any perceptive person can determine the differences immediately through deduction and use them to differentiate throughout the test.

dutchbrit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shame that Arial doesn't come in light & medium weight (as windows alternative to Mac)
efnx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found the giveaway is in lowercase t, s, c and uppercase R. Helvetia tries to snap most terminating edges horizontally.
Kluny 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's very easy - all I did was think "Which one looks better?" and I got it right every time.
rgo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Missed American Airlines. But I think it actually looks more balanced with Arial, the original feels a bit squeezed.
el_cuadrado 1 day ago 0 replies      
20/20, although MATTEL was tricky. That pesky capital 'A'.
tbirdz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apparently, judging from my perfect score, I can easily tell them apart.
GIFtheory 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guessed that, given that Arial was probably a Helvetica clone, its designers probably added superfluous flourishes to differentiate it. That led me to notice the weirdly angled edges in Arial, which gave away most of them. So, yeah, proof of why Arial is dumb.
kunai 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ha, I remember taking this test quite a while back when I was obsessed with typography.

Took it again and got a 18. In terms of the actual font design, Helvetica always felt more "natural" and "composed," whereas Arial always felt much more focused on pure readability.

cgmorton 2 days ago 0 replies      
I played a different game called 'which one appeals to me more on first glance'. I ended up with a perfect 10/10 split.

Could it be that different fonts will be more aesthetically pleasing for different uses? Even if they're typographically similar??

Semiapies 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apparently, the answer is "Easily, unless it's all caps."
paul_f 2 days ago 0 replies      
I picked the one the "looked" better and got 5 out of 20 right. Guess I just prefer Arial.
andrelaszlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can clearly see the black brush on the almost black background in the SCOTCH logotype :D
Yver 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just picked whichever looked better and got 18/20. Failed on Crate&Barrel and Mattel.
aleprok 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not really good with the fonts and their differences, but after the first one which I failed I got 18/20 and the other I failed which was TOYOTA.
andrelaszlo 2 days ago 0 replies      
That was easy. I read this article about a year ago and once you've seen it, you can't unsee it :)


PetitPrince 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm no designer nor typographer and got a 16. I felt that most of the time the Helvetica variant was heavier (as in, more bold) most of the time. I had no idea of the different R and of the right angled stroke.
jbrooksuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
20/20 BUT it was almost 19 because of Mattel.
SifJar 2 days ago 0 replies      
18/20, and I'm no design/typography expert. As others have said, it was on capitals. But the point of the site is clearly to show people can't tell the difference, and I can.
uptown 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes - 19/20
Botched Mattel
adieulot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed that I can do pretty good just by quickly detecting which one is the most unfamiliar font, as I am and always have been on Windows.
paltman 2 days ago 0 replies      
richbradshaw 2 days ago 2 replies      
19/20 Mattel was impossible!
klrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, fun test, got 14 of 20 right!
JimmaDaRustla 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got 90%...what is the point of this?
fbomb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got 17 out of 20. I just picked the ones that looked better to me.
rkjaer 2 days ago 0 replies      
20/20 - a few hard ones though. Fun quiz :)
MrBra 1 day ago 0 replies      
can you tell a green field..
Implore HN: Celebrate and encourage young developers who post here
273 points by danilocampos  19 hours ago   103 comments top 28
kyro 16 hours ago 3 replies      
That blog article was one of the stupidest things I've ever read.

I never got the encouragement or support to pursue my hobbies at a young age, whether from parents or friends, and would've killed to have a community like this that could've praised me and pushed me forward.

To accuse a kid mentioning the fact that he's 14 in his submission title as being manipulative really reflects on how out of touch you are with the way humans operate. A kid his age is looking to show off his work, proud that he's not wasting his time on Power Rangers and Nerf guns, putting his focus and attention to furthering his meaningful hobbies. You encourage that, not dismiss him.

Time and time again, it's just remarkable to me how socially inept the lot of you are. When your child comes up to you and exclaims "Daddy, Daddy! Look what I've done!", you sure as hell aren't going to say "Heh, yeah, I did that too, but I was younger."

Cogito 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Should age be included in a post's title? In most cases, the age can be disclosed in the comments without losing any information, and in the process removing any 'negative' connotations.

I posted something on the thread that started this whole dance a day or so ago, however it probably merits further expansion.

Most arguments that are 'pro' age disclosure boil down to "We should treat younger members of the community differently". This comes in many forms, like how we should be supportive, how we should mentor the next generation, and how teenagers are often insecure.

I agree with them, at least in general.

Arguments 'against' age disclosure have a few flavours; some say that we should treat posts based on merit, that we should not discriminate based on age, but mostly it comes down to "Posts with the age in the title are 'gaming' the system (purposefully or not)" and the meta-argument that such posts encourage talking about community instead of the post.

I agree with this side as well.

The thing is, placing your age in the title of your post is link-baity. It may be unintentional or it may be coolly calculated, but in most cases if you remove that piece of information the post title is entirely uninteresting.

So we have two types of posts to consider. The first are those posts where the age of the person involved contributes to how interesting the post is to HN. A completely fabricated example: "12 year-old entrepreneur youngest funded by YC".

The second type of post are those where the age of the person involved contributes to how the HN community responds to the post. A young developer's first app would fall into this category.

In the first case, I believe this is useful information to have in the post title. In the second this is useful information, however I do not believe it is useful in the post title. For these posts, I would much rather see the age included as a comment on the post.

In any post that use of age in the title gets called out for being 'link-baity', 'manipulative' or 'gaming the system' the main counterargument is that knowing the age helps the community know how to respond to the post. The age can be removed from the post title, and placed in the comments, addressing both major concerns.

[edit] improved summary.

vishnumenon 17 hours ago 2 replies      
As the author of the "ugly and short-sighted essay" in question, I want to just mention that I meant no hard feelings to anyone of any age, and tried hard to critique the behavior, not the person, Sorry if it came across as ugly. However, I stand by my opinion. I believe that there are plenty of other places these teens can go for blanket approval and yes-men, such as friends and family. HN is, to me, reserved for unbiased and fair commentary. As an aside, I think everyone's post should be considered carefully and encouraged; however, it shouldn't be based on age. Also, in response to those who raised comments about how Mozart's age was relevant to his accomplishments, I must say that in our day and age, teens making apps is hardly that noteworthy anymore. Yes, it is impressive, but not exceptionally so.

Lastly, why exactly was my original post killed? What happened to it? I may not understand HN fully, but I thought something that fostered a good discussion would be kept. I can't even find the post anymore! Would it have stayed up if I had said I was 16?

lifeisstillgood 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Memo to self:

Make mentoring site (hackernewsmentor.com)
Where old and weary can openly agree certain SLAs
With the young and enthusiastic

If more of us see it publically more of us will be encouraged to answer a months worth of questions on perl

As for me - I could have done with a mentor not for technical issues - but for the life and career choices I made badly twenty years ago - but I would only have take. Advice from someone whom I technically respected.

davidw 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not be supportive and friendly to everyone? I always find the "say it to their face" rule is a good one for formulating even negative comments. Rather than channeling your inner comic book guy, it helps you think of how to state something unpleasant in a constructive, polite way.
joshmlewis 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm 19, and I can give credit to a couple forums (The Web Squeeze and Forrst) and Hacker News for making me successful. If it weren't for a handful of people out of the buckets of everyone, I wouldn't have had the encouragement or motivation to be where I am today. I skipped college, and am cofounding my second company now and leading a team of talented people. I would have never guessed I'd be doing that..even two years ago. If it weren't for you guys and other forums giving me critique, criticism, and encouragement, who knows where I'd be. I've learned soo much from HN, it's ridiculous, but it has helped me in more ways than I can acknowledge.

Anyone can be an encouragement to someone like a younger me, but a lot of people don't. The ones who do however can really make a difference in peoples lives.

luisivan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't agree more.

I started my first project, Asturix, a Linux distribution, at age 12. I have found all kind of complications, most of them related with being young.

I live in Spain, where there are a lot of prejudices against youth. Also, the educational system here doesn't empower any "21 century" value such as creativity or inspiration. Fortunately, the situation is changing thanks to the media and other young entrepreneurs and I are starting to be famous in Spain.

On the other hand, working and studying in Spain at the same time is really, really, really hard. Oh, and we have a youth unemployment rate of 54%.

Right now I'm 17 and have founded a couple companies, what has been really hard due to legal issues - creating a company in Spain being underage is practically illegal.
I have also started an incubator for hackers from 12 to 18 so they can create their projects in a easier way.

This is a beautiful age for discovering your passion, but if people screw you out it can be a difficult one.

The talent is there, but we have to let it grow.

jacquesm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just the blog article. It's also the attitude of people that will berate a youngster for being young and going out on a limb to show what they've made and making the mistake of telling us their age. That age thing is not a qualifier of pride, it's a guide to the mental state and the amount of experience the poster has. What amazes me most is that after seeing how one young developer gets treated that the next one still dares to post at all.

Danilocampos is exactly right. As far as career advice or tech advice, if you think I can contribute regardless of age feel free to contact me as well, j@ww.com . I can't promise to always be immediately available but I'll do my best.

justjimmy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a reason why there is an age of consent, why there is a youth criminal system, why there are age limits.

Some of you clearly lack empathy.

ddunkin 19 hours ago 4 replies      
How about we leave age/sex/race out of it all and accept them into the community as peers and equals?

I'm all about encouragement, but if we treat them differently because of age, we are just sheltering them from the real world (the Internet hardly counts there, I know). The Internet may not be the safest place to be taught how to accept criticism, but it is a lot easier to take (and more productive) when the attacks aren't personal and instead directed at an app.

ktrgardiner 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I think announcing your young age alongside your project is important because it opens up more opportunities for others to guide you and help fuel your passion and talent. Without the age, people will assume that the creator is old enough to know what they enjoy and what they want to pursue. But with the age, you'll have people with more experience saying "Since you obviously like X, you should look into Y and Z. Here are some great resources on those topics." Advice like that is invaluable and we should encourage scenarios that result in it.
devonbarrett 18 hours ago 2 replies      
As a 17 year old, I disagree, regardless of age, if someone creates or does something that is considered impressive, they should receive credit based upon that - not because of an arbitrary number that supposedly relates to their ability.
mmanfrin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Two cents: I worry that we run the risk of acquiring that awful trend of reddit's to append some personal relation to every post (e.g. "My Brother did this...", "My SO made me a cake", etc) which has become a terribly abused trope.

The user account of the 14 year old kid who posted the Show HN that prompted this was a brand new account. The App Author was listed under a different name than the user account seemed to suggest. It screamed 'manipulation' to me.

I'm all for encouraging younger developers, but at a certain point you have to step back and evaluate whether we're promoting things based on merit or a sense of communal nepotism.

qzxt 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If this is in relation to http://vishnumenon.com/2013/01/21/im-35-months-old-and-i-mad... then I think you miss the point. I agree with the author of that and it is the most common sense post I've read, so far, regarding this issue. The reality is people posting their age doesn't simply mean "I am new at this. I know you guys aren't. I want you to check it out and give me encouragement and guidance." Simultaneously the people throwing out the "age is irrelevant" argument simply miss the point, also. I'm 19 and I've been programming for as long as I can remember starting with my shitty commodore64 hand-me-down. Along the years I have received much criticism and help and am immensely grateful to the people who took the time out to answer every question I had, trivial and otherwise - and believe me, there were plenty of them. However the idea of constructive criticism on HN, and sadly, in the hacker community at large is ironically more political than logical. "Criticism" seems to be code for "I'm smarter than you and I'll be damned if I don't make sure you know it." The hostility towards, not just kids, but people's projects in general borders on the pathological and that's what needs to be addressed. I wholeheartedly agree that kids who are building fun projects do need that nudge and that encouragement to go deeper down the rabbit hole, however we should indeed distinguish between encouragement and patting on the back. The problem is the risk of creating a Hollywoood mentality (Hollywood may be the bastion of acting but really most people are more attracted to the prospects of fame than actual acting). We need to give them encouragement that lets them enjoy the process, not just massaging their egos, and moreover we need to get them to enjoy constructive criticism and see it not as "boo-hoo they didn't like my stuff" but as "hmm I never thought about that." The reality is, the poisonous, know-it-all, thinly veiled political nature of our culture doesn't provide this.
iuguy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm all for people shipping. Age isn't really a part of it. What I'm not all for is people creating an account, posting the thing they're looking to promote and only posting in that thread - otherwise completely disengaged with the HN community.

You can argue that lurkers form part of that community. My counterpoint would be that if you create a specific account and post the thing you're trying to promote in the first 10 minutes, you haven't lurked enough.

Yes I know you can lurk without an account, but to reach the stage where that's considered acceptable you have to travel through if they felt they couldn't register an account for more than 5 minutes, if they felt they couldn't comment and plenty of other ifs, yet somehow they can create an account and post what they're promoting in 10 minutes, then only interact with people in their thread?

Young people should be encouraged. Aaron Swartz was 14 when he worked on RSS. But being young doesn't give you a free pass at being a spammer, and that's what kicked this whole thing off.

trishume 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm 16 and Things I've written have made the front page twice, both times without mentioning my age. As a teenager, it feels really good to make the front page or #1 with no "omg they're young" bonus points.

Granted, it is encouraging to get bonus up votes for being young and achieving something.

pekk 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Other people shouldn't get encouragement and guidance and tolerance for their newness? Suggesting that you are an x years old child prodigy has become a cheap way of getting front page. If we are going to be nice to new projects we should be nice to them regardless of the claimed age of the author.
wuster 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Agreed. I always make the time of day to talk to high school or college age kids aspiring to be in engineering or the sciences. Paying it forward if you will, because I got the same help when I was younger.
dragos2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I read a couple of days ago a blog post written by a 17 years old in which he was stating a rather interesting fact.
He was saying he prefers to omit mentioning his age on forums and discussion boards (such as HN) because he wants to be critiqued for his work regardless of his age.

I found that to be incredibly accurate. Most of the kids want to just show-off their projects, but there are still a lot of them who want genuine critique.

So, if you want to get real opinions about your project and you post on HN or reddit, you should put on your big boy pants.

zmitri 14 hours ago 1 reply      
In a lot of communities, the "this is my first post" is often celebrated. On HN it definitely is not, which is kind of strange. Glad you put this out there danilo.
dm8 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree. Kids post their age to get attention. They want experienced devs to take a look at their code/app/project. Lets help them! All you need to do is a upvote or comment.
rhizome 18 hours ago 2 replies      
It sounds like this was inspired by a single incident, so is this really as large a problem as described? Also, for a fun game, replace the word "attention" with "money."
fizx 17 hours ago 0 replies      
ScottWhigham 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Getting young people into science and technology is the single greatest professional duty any technologist has.

What? I don't understand this at all. The "single greatest professional duty any technologist" has is unique to that "technologist". If, for example, I'm a 23yo kid who just graduated uni and in my first job, do you think for a second that I give a #$(* about "getting young people into science and technology"? Of course not. I'm so busy trying to figure basic life out that I don't have time for that sort of thing.

If I'm a 33yo dad who wants to start my own business, I don't care one whit about 'getting young people into science and technology' b/c, between working 60 hours a week and changing my kids' diapers, I'm sleeping.

Good for teens - glad for them - but this statement is just silly.

jsonmez 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's treat all fellow human beings this way.
We are all kids at heart.

We are all seeking approval.

Why admonish or dismiss anyone?
What good does it do?

I don't mean to diminish from your point, because I think it is absolutely correct.

deluxaran 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Age part should not be thrown away.
There are lots of young people out there, myself included, that are in need of advice, tips and help( even saying that something I've done is wrong and bringing some arguments, suggestions and whatever you thing it is useful is better than nothing, at least I know where to start improving my skills and work)
dear 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Who killed the thread?
kabirkumar 17 hours ago 2 replies      
My name is Kabir, and I am looking for young, motivated, and passionate individuals to help me with my great startup idea. If you are willing to talk, shoot me an e-mail at; KabirKumar@me.com

Lets get to work!

Mega has launched mega.co.nz
271 points by bavidar  2 days ago   257 comments top 57
gjulianm 2 days ago 19 replies      
I just found a weird things on they ToS [1] ...

8. Our service may automatically delete a piece of data you upload or give someone else access to where it determines that that data is an exact duplicate of original data already on our service. In that case, you will access that original data.

Duplicate check, I get that. But, how do they do it? They say the files are encrypted on the browser, so if I upload file X and other user uploads X too, they can't know they're the same because both uploads are encrypted. So, they can check only for duplicates of the encrypted outcome of each file. But, wouldn't that be inefficient? Probability of collision in encrypted files is (AFAIK) really low, something like 2^(-N), N being the size of the file on bits... If I did it well, it'd be a collision probability of 7.458E-155 for a file of 1MB.

[1] https://mega.co.nz/#terms

EDIT: Added example.

samwillis 2 days ago 2 replies      
To everyone asking about the encryption, it isn't really about protecting your data its about protecting themselves. They have created a service that is billed as a drop box competitor but it's not. This is megaupload2, they just need it to not look like they are marketing it as that.

They needed a way to deny any knolage of file sharing and have found a two pronged attack. The encryption means they can deny any knowledge of what they are serving, and marketing it as a drop box type tool means that they aren't marketing it as a blatant tool for illegal file sharing.

micheljansen 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone understand how their implementation of client-side encryption is actually supposed to make my data safer? After logging in for the first time, a 2048-bit RSA key pair was generated, but it seems that every time I log in I just use a username (email) and password. Does that mean the RSA private key is stored on MEGA's servers? If so, doesn't that render the whole "client side encryption" bit moot? If MEGA has the private key, they can decrypt the data or am I missing something?

The service seems to have ground to a halt, and I am not able to upload anything, so perhaps this all becomes clear once one starts using the service, but I'm curious about how the encryption is used in practice.

Edit: Found a bit more detail in the developer documentation: https://mega.co.nz/#developers
According to this, they use the symmetrical AES-128 to encrypt files, so why do I need an (asymmetrical) RSA key pair? It also says there that the private part of the RSA key is stored encrypted with the symmetrical AES key, but MEGA has that key, so what good does that do in case of an FBI raid?

One of the things that I was most curious about regarding MEGA was to see how they would manage to make encrypted file storage safe but user friendly. It seems like this is user friendly, but not safe at all, or am I wrong?

jtchang 2 days ago 1 reply      
Regardless of what you may think about KimDotCom he certainly has persistence. You'd think anyone would quit after a FBI raid and being sued into oblivion.

So what if the service falls flat? I don't really plan to use it until the kinks are hammered out anyway. The fact that he got it out there though is a statement on to itself.

georgeorwell 2 days ago 5 replies      
I see Kim Dotcom as a stereotypical gangster who makes money by delivering illegal products. He has the narcissistic personality and lifestyle trappings to go with it. He even wants to buy protection from New Zealand itself by bringing free fibre optic cable to the island!

It's just hard for me to respect the man, because he's not fighting for information freedom, he's fighting for as much cash, status, and power as he can get his hands on.

Kudos 2 days ago 1 reply      
They're not caching any of their static resources, that might explain the amount of bandwidth use Dotcom is apparently seeing.

Edit: They're not gzipping any of the 2.5MB in static resources either. I realise that probably doesn't impact their API calls that are failing, but it's still a big oversight.

benologist 2 days ago 0 replies      
His theory appears to be that by sharing keys via links to access encrypted files, instead of before which was exactly the same except to access unencrypted files, he will somehow be immune from persecution this time even though he still has the ability to identify infringing material by the traffic sources and bandwidth usage of individual files.

The tie in with web hosting companies adds an ounce of legitimacy to the affiliate program that originally led sites like the defunct tv-links.co.uk etc to throw traffic at their paywall last time but it won't be even close to enough if tomorrow there's millions of mega links on all the streaming and download indexing sites.

This will be very interesting to watch unfold.

zalew 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Warning: You are using an outdated browser, which adversely affects your file transfer performance. Please upgrade to Google Chrome."

is this a joke? I'm on FF19

hahla 2 days ago 1 reply      
Site is getting completely hammered as of 15 minutes ago, Kim posted this on his twitter (https://twitter.com/KimDotcom): "Wow. I have never seen anything like this. From 0 to 10 Gigabit bandwidth utilization within 10 minutes."
d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
The interface is very slick.. almost feel like a native application. Just the fact of being able to resize the various section of the window is very cool. Congrats for the launch, this takes lot of guts to start a service like that.
vyrotek 2 days ago 1 reply      
That loading/cloud symbol reminds me of something... (https://stripe.com)
xSwag 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure if MegaConz is meant to be ironic or not.
bluegate010 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Javascript for Mega looks very messy; all resources loaded via XHR, loading jQuery but using `document.getElementById` all over the place, using client-side Javascript to validate the integrity of all these XHR-loaded resources...

They say that this is their first Javascript coding; they should really get some talent on board to clean this up.

drivebyacct2 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, it generated a key... which is being stored where? I can't seem to download it?
neya 2 days ago 0 replies      
The big red button is beautiful. But adding just a


would have made a HUGE difference to the button itself and to the User's experience, clicking on it. Sigh, when will start-ups start paying attention to UX?

egeozcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Trying to access from Germany: http://i.imgur.com/Iw70r1U.png
edwardy20 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a million cloud drives out there (some with advanced privacy features), what's different about Mega?
vitobcn 2 days ago 1 reply      
According to Kim, over a 100,000 users registered in under an hour (https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/292702999078387712).
Pretty impressive, and it explains the slow responsiveness of the site.
micheljansen 2 days ago 2 replies      
After signing up, MEGA suggested that I download Google Chrome to use the service (I was using Safari). I was expecting some affiliate link there, but there wasn't any.
cgio 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reading the comments about de-duping,I think one can identify a very attractive monetisation path for mega. The largest percentage of traffic mega achieves, which is largely supported by the huge free space, the biggest the incentive for ISPs to resort to a service from mega for de-duping and caching mega traffic. It would not be unexpected if a "mega appliance" comes up in a few months for "distributed", high-performance mega usage. I do not remember the statistics exactly, but megaupload used to have a significant percentage of global traffic. Albeit, anyone could cache that traffic. Now, mega holds the keys to that. Some strategic and gradual approach is required, though, before ISPs take notice of that and pro-actively degrade mega's services (the other article about Google paying Orange for preferential QoS is relevant) before it gets the required momentum. Just a thought. What do you think? Is mega really holding a lock on this kind of information?
fredsted 2 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps he should have launched it like Gmail: Gradual launch with invites. Launching a file sharing site with this much media attention is surely going to crash it.
rorrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
It freezes during the registration process in both FF and Chrome.


It's because AJAX return "500 server too busy" error.

69_years_and 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think maybe Kim is a little smarter this time by not having his servers easily accessible by the US authorities, exactly where those servers are remains to be seen.

For me, mega.co.nz is at, which is Africa allocated, administered by afrinic.net who seem to be on a small island off the coast of Madagascar.

orionblastar 2 days ago 2 replies      
SSL Poor error, cannot connect to server.

Is it down, or is my ISP blocking the SSL certificates so I cannot use it?

I am using Google Chrome.

I assume the site was DDOS'ed or failed under heavy bandwidth.

thehodge 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just signed up; was quick, smooth and has a nice interface.. was expecting it to get tonnes of visitors and be down for the next few hours but either noone is there yet or they've been very prepared

EDIT: Spoke too soon

thoughtcriminal 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting a paid account. Help the brother out.
cmelbye 2 days ago 1 reply      
Heh, interesting that the site so proudly says "Made in New Zealand" despite the fact that New Zealand raided his home.
colevscode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Speedtest reports: 5 Mb/s upload speed

MEGA reports: 500 B/s upload speed


rplnt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Horrible site. Ignoring the fact it doesn't work in older versions of Opera, it's like early 00's and full-flash sites all over again.
Corrado 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to make a "Mega" adapter for OpenPhoto. Mega's prices are pretty good; better than S3 and Dropbox and in-line with Box.net.
nextstep 2 days ago 0 replies      
So far I'm impressed with how easy it is to sign up. This interface seems clean and polished.
andrewbaron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like people who care about encryption when using the service are essentially putting their faith in Kim Dotcom's hands. If the FBI, e.g. were to break the encryption, people would probably lose trust in the service. Dotcom is carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders in acting as the security agent.
denzil_correa 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful slick and clean interface. Hate him, Love him but you just can't ignore him.
Alphasite_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
How exactly does this work, if they don't have access to the original?

> 8. Our service may automatically delete a piece of data you upload or give someone else access to where it determines that that data is an exact duplicate of original data already on our service. In that case, you will access that original data.

navs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about the 'made in new zealand' line in the footer. Was there an NZ dev team involved? I'd love to know who.
arunoda 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can access their web app. But I cannot upload anything. even a 10 kb files. it says pending.

Seems like they can't handle the load.

DriesS 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of people say that megaupload is back, but if I'm not wrong this is totally something different then megaupload or do I make a mistake?

You can't share a link with the public anymore, only with an emailadres.

brianbreslin 2 days ago 0 replies      
completely not intelligent comment, but i read the url as Mega CONS. as in mega con-artist. never before had a NZ domain triggered that reaction in my mind.
markshead 2 days ago 0 replies      
It appears you can upload a file without creating an account. So without generating a key first. Or at least without generating a key that is somehow protected by a password.
fredgrott 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a question..maybe it has already been answered. From what I know of security we have hash and other collisions in Virtual Machine systems and obviously that can be used to gain access. with Mega using always two hosts for a a piece of data assuming that they might be using some cloud structure how would this type of attack be prevented?
Lisa2000 2 days ago 1 reply      
The site claims safer but it doesn't feel safer. The first click opens my files for me to select one to upload, yet why am I going to upload a file to a completely unknown entity? Who is/are Mega? What gives user confidence to entrust (confidential / personal / business) file uploads to Mega? There are a few steps missing here, I would work on building customer confidence. Unless you are aiming for uploads within a network of people who know and trust you for other reasons. Good luck.
rikacomet 2 days ago 0 replies      
The site is down for me, earlier, access was denied, to control the extra traffic.
dennisgorelik 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting "This webpage is not available"
zeynalov 2 days ago 0 replies      
For now, upload doesn't work.
GowGuy47 2 days ago 1 reply      
How much storage does the free version allow is my question... Couldn't find it any where
ForFreedom 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the web design. But its a wait and see how far they will get along. Any idea where their servers are hosted?
server farm?
B0Z 2 days ago 0 replies      
Last night I experienced 70% packet loss just trying to access the site. Hopefully it was just a launch hiccup.
alternize 2 days ago 0 replies      
hum, is it just me or is there really no way to change the email address and/or the account password?
attheodo 2 days ago 0 replies      
And embraces flat design apparently :p
dud3z 2 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like debug can be activated in the javascript console: type "d=true", navigate, look at your console.
jordanbaucke 2 days ago 1 reply      
registered. confirmed. nothing after that.
arrowgunz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Guys, any idea if they have an iOS app?
apathetic 1 day ago 0 replies      
and... it's down.
glazskunrukitis 2 days ago 1 reply      
Much ado about nothing.
alexqgb 2 days ago 5 replies      
The clean interface makes the tagline (lifted from Daft Punk w/o credit) that much more conspicuous. Clearly, some things haven't changed.
Taking payments online in Europe in 2013 jamesmaskell.co.uk
254 points by jmaskell  1 day ago   174 comments top 46
patio11 1 day ago 3 replies      
Vinetrade has the kind of business model that scares banks and card payment providers. We trade high value goods (prices in the region of £1.5-20k) that are rarely delivered to the buyer (they're stored in remote warehouses).

I love virtually all startups and wish for their success. That said: I'm thinking that when every bank in Creation was saying "We won't take CC payments for that. No, no, you simply can't convince us that is a good idea." they were actually being appropriately conservative about legitimate operation risks uniquely incurred by this business model.

If you don't have a Fraud Guy, I respectfully suggest either hiring or training a Fraud Guy very, very soon, preferably before enabling any form of credit card payment. Your Fraud Guy is going to have some recommendations, including recommendations which meaningfully interfere with the product team's ability to meet user demands. If you do not listen to your Fraud Guy's recommendations (or, regrettably, even if you do), you may eventually get an expensive lesson in why both BigCo and startups in related fields eventually have to hire a/several/an entire department of Fraud Guys.

One of your Fraud Guy's first questions is going to be "Is there any pathway by which I can take a credit card and turn it into cash using this service? If so, what is the timeline on that?" I am not a Fraud Guy, but I count two ways to cash out credit cards, just reading the website FAQs. If you are discovered by the adversaries to be the weakest link in the UK financial system with regards to cash outs, you can expect heavy, dedicated adversarial interest.

Silhouette 1 day ago 3 replies      
Agreed, the effort required to collect payments is absurd for a UK start-up today. I haven't added up how much time we've spent just trying to find a good way to let customers pay us, but I'm quite sure we would have launched long ago if we'd had a simple no-brainer option and spent the rest of the time building our service instead! As it is, we've been looking into options for months and nothing is perfect.

For us, GoCardless win in every respect except for scope: the bank accounts they can charge have been limited to UK only and are just starting to expand out to other countries in Europe, but global sales aren't possible for now so you need at least one other option if your customers are worldwide. No complaints so far in terms of integration, support, fees, or legal terms though.

Braintree is our other current plan: there's a multi-week time lag and the hassle of providing significantly more information up-front when you apply, but like GoCardless they seem to have good support and the information they ask for doesn't seem to be unreasonable, just time-consuming. Also, unlike a lot of payment services, their legal terms were quite short and so far red-flag-free. The fees aren't bad, but they need to sort out their presentation so they don't refer to obscure bank interchange rates rather than giving a straight answer on percentages, and the minimum monthly fee just to sign up is expensive if you're only expecting a modest number of customers in the early days. They do have some serious limitations in their fraud protection that make us wary of chargebacks, such as not supporting 3D Secure and the liability shifting that should go with it.

We've considered numerous other options, including most of the ones mentioned in the article, but ruled everyone else out so far.

PayPal is a non-starter due the fact that on their new web site it seems you can't even look up basic details without signing up for an account and all that goes with doing so. Combine that with a well-documented history of poor customer service and some dubious terms last time we checked, and for us they're not a serious contender. The one thing you can see before signing up is the fees, which are high even before all the nasty extra percentages they can add on if you look carefully enough.

Paymill should be a much better option, but I simply couldn't understand their legal terms, so they've rule themselves out immediately. If they want companies like us to look at them, they need to hire a lawyer who speaks English, and then they need to write terms that are clear enough that we could confidently accept them without paying a small fortune for a lawyer to review them in detail. The Rocket relationship doesn't inspire confidence about them as a long-term partner for such a critical business function either, though that could be overcome.

We did consider a couple of traditional payment gateway + merchant account set-ups, and actually there seem to be some quite decent payment gateways these days in terms of service, fees and integration options. However, the heavyweight merchant account guys seem to be so risk averse and offer such absurd charges and waiting periods that we're not going to waste our time applying and sitting around for a month or more for an answer in case they deign to work with us.

As an extra data point, we also considered outsourcing the entire payment collection process to FastSpring. They were expensive and their system didn't seem to have a lot of flexibility, though in return they did seem to offer to do a lot of the set-up work we would otherwise need to do ourselves. The deal-breaker here was that we got the feeling they didn't really understand the tax and data protection rules in Europe and that gave us little confidence that their system would cope with our statutory obligations. This was quite a while ago, though, so perhaps they've improved more recently, and in any case they might be a better fit for people with a different business model.

Bottom line: For us, GoCardless is a clear first choice, and then once we're up and running we'll look at applying for Braintree to broaden our reach, as they want to see a bunch of stuff when you apply that we'll have done anyway by then.

mootothemax 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not to forget the other half of the story: issuing invoices.

In Europe this can quickly become a pain, not only due to the extra information you need to collect (names, addresses and so on) but especially if you also need to collect Value Added Tax (VAT). This means asking for VAT IDs for companies - if they have them - and then calculating the tax based on whether the customer is in the same country as you or not. The complexity can rapidly descend into madness.

I have the added fun of having to issue bilingual invoices written in both Polish and English. Well, they could be only in Polish, but then the majority of people wouldn't understand them.

In the end, I bought a ready-made solution (http://nbill.co.uk/) which, whilst not being one of the most intuitive pieces of software I've ever used, gets the job done.

stevoski 1 day ago 2 replies      
Every time I see an article along these lines, I can't figure out why software startups don't just use a third-party payment processor like FastSpring or Avangate. It makes all these complications go away.

Outsource anything you can, especially the things that others can do much better than you because it is their core business. Payment processing is definitely one of those things.

I started my software company in Germany and have always used a third-party payment processor.

zimbatm 1 day ago 2 replies      
One big missing pain: EU VAT taxes.

According to the law you're supposed to tax EU customers if your business is in the EU. Obviously the tax is different for each country and changes from year to year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_rates_of_Europe . Businesses with a VAT ID can be exempted from the tax but only if they provide a valid VAT ID. At the end of the year your business then provides the list of transactions and VAT IDs to your state with the tax form and the state takes care of forwarding the taxes to the other countries.

According to the law you're supposed to check the validity of that VAT ID and because the data changes over time they provide an "API": http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/faqvies.do
That API forwards the query to country-specific databases and these databases go down. From their FAQ: "Some parts of the system may be unavailable at certain times due to the necessity to back-up the Member States' databases." Year right.. From my 1 month experience I've already seen two outages, one of them lasting a full day. And I'm not actively monitoring the service.

I've also had customers from Spain and Germany ask for their VAT ID to appear on their billing recipes, because of regulations again. It shouldn't be a biggie but Chargify doesn't support that field so I have to ask customers to use their Billing Address 2 field instead as a hack.

These are still things that I haven't figured out yet:

What happens if you provide invalid VAT IDs in your tax form ? I don't want to loose conversion because a state-owned service on which I have no control doesn't work properly.

I've read in multiple places that if the customer is in your business' country the rules are again different but I have no idea how.

obeattie 1 day ago 2 replies      
We recently switched to Braintree from PayPal Payments Pro. While we're not "small," (>£10million/year) the process was largely painless and I can't recommend them enough. We also needed to take AMEX cards and found setting that account up extremely easy (though we already had an AMEX account).

The only thing that does seem slightly annoying is all their support and accounts people are in Chicago, meaning the inevitable back-and-forth can drag on for way longer than it should for merchants based in Europe. Hopefully this is something they will get ironed out once they have some significant traction in the EU.

return0 1 day ago 3 replies      

  Unfortunately PayPal is pretty much an unregulated bank and
there are a number of horror stories about them closing accounts,
freezing funds and making life very difficult for entrepreneurs.

Actually, in Europe, paypal IS a registered, regulated bank in Luxembourg. That, to me, makes it more credible.

calpaterson 21 hours ago 0 replies      
> [Paymill] also require some business information and identification from you, but this does not appear to be particularly stringent

Actually, speaking from personal experience, it is particularly stringent. I had to give up in the end because the bureaucracy was taking too long.

From memory, you need a tax identification number, your VAT identification number a scan of your passport, to display your name and home address on your website and you need to post it all to Munich. I suppose this doesn't sound like too much but in the UK you have no reason to have a tax identification number unless you're self-employed and already trading. In the UK you don't have a VAT id unless you're making £77k. Outside Germany showing your home address on the web is considered a bit crazy. Consider now that if you're trying to get Paymill to authorise you are probably are not trading yet. It's not that appealing and I would recommend against it unless you have time to spend exchanging emails with customer service representatives who have a poor command of English.

Paypal's (admittedly lame and APIless) method of payment acceptance is to copy and paste a button.

skrebbel 1 day ago 2 replies      
I had never heard to Braintree, even though it seems like a just-as-mature and very comparable competitor to Stripe. Also, plenty fast-growing companies seem to have heard of them anyway, cause they're using them. What's the secret? Is it all just marketing, where Stripe markets though HN and the likes (so that people like me hear about them) and Braintree uses, say, sales people? Or have I simply been sleeping?
petercooper 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm in talks with one of the others on that list because I need Amex support.. but in the UK PayPal also do a tier called "Website Payments Pro". It's not the same as a vanilla PayPal account and includes a merchant account and API for doing card transactions. You have to go through screening to be accepted and I've found them to be very professional and helpful (as in, a far better service than the vanilla PayPal service). Only downside so far for me? No Amex.
jusben1369 1 day ago 0 replies      
SpreedlyCore is another path to go down. It's a cloud based credit card vault that connects to 40+ payment gateways with a good API and docs. We have PayPal Pro customers who use PayPal for processing but develop against our API. We support GoCardless as well. Due to the fact we vault your cards away from the gateway you can change or add a gateway at anytime. I work for Spreedly who is behind SpreedlyCore.
PanMan 1 day ago 6 replies      
Anybody used Paymill yet? Their docs all look fairly straightforward, and I'm strongly considering them for a project, but I'm interested in the experience of others.
jamesjgill 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't wait for Stripe to get over here - fingers crossed this will happen soon. And from what I'm hearing, it may not be too far off. We've integrated with Recurly (with Sagepay as our gateway) for our recurring subscriptions at GoSquared, but the experience has been one I would hate to endure again. Thanks for sharing your experience James!
omd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Going by the title of this post I was hoping it would give a solution to the segmented payment market here in Europe, but it doesn't. A more fitting title would've been "Taking payments in the UK" or Taking credit card payments in Europe".

The main problem we have here is that debit cards are a preferred payment method and each country has it's own system. From my experience and other reports I've seen up to 30% of the customers will use a debit card if that option is given. I don't know how many of them would cancel the sale if debit payment isn't possible.

Unless I'm mistaken only WorldPay offers some of the local debit cards, such as Carte Bleue in France, Bancontact in Belgium and iDeal in The Netherlands. Paymill seems to be the only one to offer ELV in Germany.

lflux 1 day ago 0 replies      
Paypal is actually a regulated bank - it's registered in Luxembourg so it can do business in EU.
kybernetyk 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm seeing a problem with Paymill: They clearly were built by Rocket to get acquired (possibly by Stripe) in the future. So I'd be careful with integrating their services as those services might be acquired and shut down anytime.
phatbyte 1 day ago 1 reply      
Never heard of Paymill, it seems a very good alternative on Stripe :D

Personally I've been using FastSpring and 0 problems so far. However they only work with apps, not webapps and such.

So it's good to know we are not left out in Europe.

Loic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please note that a lot of the difficulties with respect to taking payment for the OP are coming from two things:

- market place for alcohol;

- high value of the items exchanged, in thousands of £.

Everywhere in the world, this would flag a business as dangerous.

If you have a simple webservice offer and if you are banking with Barclays, you can get a merchant account with BarclayCard nearly "over the phone". They take a bit of money, have a 45 day retention period per default, but at the end, they are efficient with a reasonably easy to implement interaction API (if you take the hosted payment page).

biaxident 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have any experience with the user experience side of GoCardless? Do customers have any issues entering their account number and sort code, rather than the usual card information?

I really like GoCardless but feel that customers might be hesitant to enter that information, especially when they're not used to doing it.

glenjamin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Both Amazon Payments and Google Checkout are now available in the UK, at the same pricing level as PayPal.

The two main complaints levelled at PayPal in TFA are poor customer service and poor technology - two aspects that Amazon have been very good at in my experience.

Does anyone have much experience with these platforms and their use by "normal" UK consumers?

pathy 23 hours ago 1 reply      
What about using Klarna (https://klarna.com/)? Admittedly not credit card payment but also decreases risk as they take on the risk, according to themselves.

Reputable company based in Sweden so no dealing with American companies - more suitable for European markets.

pbreit 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The OP is still being naive. For 1.5k-20k transactions, you have to pretty much do (or at least start) payments the old fashioned way: 1) vet buyers and 2) wire transfers, bank transfers or checks. Going with the payment startup du jour is not prudent.
jvandenbroeck 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're talking about whole europe & not just the UK it's getting more complicated, credit cards are not that omnipresent here. You could try http://www.ogone.be/en/Extra%20Services/Payment%20Methods%20...
burgreblast 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why you would consider using Braintree in Europe (or anywhere) vs. going to Adyen directly.

The Adyen guys are smart, their technical platform is simple and robust, and unlike the Stripe/Square/Braintree guys, Adyen actually does the processing so they can offer better rates and are suitable for huge volume.

About the only downside is that "At-jien"'s b2b marketing is pretty terrible. They have some faux Apple videos on their site which I think undermines their technical sophistication.

dewey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting article. We are using Paymill and it's very easy to use (official extensions for Magento and other eCommerce systems). Our old payment provider was a pain to work with (uploading excel tables to process the payments...).
michaelfeathers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised there's no mention of Google Checkout or Google Wallet.
melicerte 18 hours ago 0 replies      
We are a startup operating from Belgium and we are using Avangate (http://www.avangate.com/online-payment-solutions/) for our product RBLWatch (https://www.rblwatch.eu/) and a few other things.

It supports recurring fees, and manage the VAT and currency issues for you. It takes those awful banks solutions away. Integration with our PHP code base went very easily.
And, in the end, we only issue one invoice.

I definitively recommend.

On the other side, Ogone is just... too 90ties. And it is really hard to deal with subscription and recurring fees.

shtylman 22 hours ago 2 replies      
You should look into bitcoin (at least know about it and how it can help you as a merchant). Any payment company that deals with credit cards is not just a payment company but a fraud detection service; at least that is what it should be selling themselves as. Fighting CC fraud (and bank transfer fraud) is a challenge as the system was not designed for the digital space.
jusben1369 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the larger ones not referenced at all would appear to be Wirecard. We've heard good things about them. Anyone here have a comment one way or the other?
pfortuny 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for posting this, it is really useful and detailed. The hassle of trying to work this out in Europe with a bank is really absurd.
jbrooksuk 23 hours ago 0 replies      
GoCardless isn't supported by Shopify which is a big pain. Braintree does so I'm awaiting an email from them now so I can start to open my online shop.

I recently blogged[1] about the need for Stripe to come to Europe whilst the market is there. Until GoCardless, Braintree Payments start making the API just as good as Stripes, then the need for them to come here is here.

[1]. http://james.brooks.so/blog/stripe-in-europe/

JoelJacobson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's easy to forget, just offering VISA/Mastercard won't be enough in a lot of European countries.

Online bank e-payment is the preferred method by customers in quite a few European countries.

Most PSPs only offer bank payment services requiring the merchant to sign up with each and every bank in each country, but there are a few PSP where you only need ONE single merchant agreement to offer payment by bank in _all_ the countries the PSP provides.

List of payment companies offering online bank payments via single merchant agreement:

Trustly.com: Spain, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Poland
Payment-Network.com: Germany, Austria
EUTeller.com: Finland

If you know if any additional online bank e-payment companies covering European countries, please reply. Thanks!

mmaunder 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't get it. Just call MerchantWarehouse (sp?) and get them to hook you up with a merchant account and an authorize.net gateway. We take payments from all over the world using them and get dinged around 3% total with very few chargebacks. It's really not that big a deal.
drcongo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for this. As much as I'm loathe to use Paymill, it feels like a decent option from the few available until Stripe comes over here.
krmmalik 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic write-up. Thanks for doing this. I was searching for an article exactly like this and it's good that i can learn from your experiences of the newer providers. I've used Worldpay, SagePay/ProtX and Paypal in the past and completely understand your frustrations.

Wish we had a dwolla equivalent too.

ViktorasJucikas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here at YPlan in London we're using DataCash as a PSP and BarclayCard as a merchant account. We talk to DataCash directly using their API, it's not that difficult to integrate and they're very helpful with any payment related questions.
smagch 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a stripe-like startup in Japan.

Interestingly, they used to provide a fork of stripe gem for Ruby API. But they gave up on developing on their own. They have stripe compatible ruby API now.

I have no idea why they don't implement on their own.

Jhsto 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's also a Finnish startup doing online payments in Europe: https://holvi.com/
Bentis2k 1 day ago 0 replies      
PayEx is large in the Nordic countries (Norway,Sweden,Denmark,Finland) but apparently has some global support as well.
Unfortunatly there's no public word on pricing.

See http://payex.com/business/services/Payment/online.payments

filvdg 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't think i saw someone mentioning http://www.ogone.com

Their solution is a bit oldfashioned ... needing to skin one of their pages and send over the customer for processing but they offer plenty of payment options like debet & webbanking payment options

BigBalli 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Not limited to EU-only but you can also find more info here: http://giacomoballi.com/2012/10/mobile-payments-what-are-the...
tope 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Braintree for appdesignvault in thr UK and have found their service to be top notch.

The only issue was Ayden settling the funds into our UK business account every 4 days and getting charged £6 for the privilege. A quick support email fixed that

tripzilch 18 hours ago 0 replies      
this may be a stupid question, I don't know anything about online payment processing, but is the new IBAN thing not supposed to make these things easier?
akshxy 1 day ago 2 replies      
wow, this post has made my day. Can anybody recommend payment gateways in Finland?
s667 1 day ago 0 replies      
I spent months applying via braintree, 6 year old business, have accounts and good record and large site, had to give passport scans, bank statements, company accounts and other documentation spend weeks going back and forth

only to be refused because "hosting" is considered high risk

if you are in europe dont waste time with braintree!

chmike 1 day ago 3 replies      
Paymill is germany only.
Twice aubrey.me
248 points by danielpal  4 days ago   58 comments top 14
gatsby 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fascinating story.

Fast Company did a piece on Bill Nguyen about 18 months ago: (http://www.fastcompany.com/1784823/bill-nguyen-boy-bubble) and included an infographic on his track record:


For a bunch of companies that have widely been considered failures in terms of product and number of users, he has had some unbelievable exits and financial successes.

rdl 3 days ago 3 replies      
The genius here was Bill Nguyen turning a failing company and a pittance $11mm offer from one failing company (Nokia) into an $80-160mm buyout from a real company (Apple), essentially though hustle alone.

But it's zero-sum genius. I can respect him for being good at playing a specific game, but it's not a game I want to play myself.

guptaneil 3 days ago 1 reply      
The point of this post is to talk about Bill's hustling when selling Lala, which is a very interesting story.

The author should have left the last word out to make a much more powerful story about Lala rather than changing the focus of the article to Apple's "genius," especially since there was no genius involved on Apple's part. Just good luck for Apple, and horrible luck for the Color team.

RandallBrown 3 days ago 2 replies      
I miss Lala, at least the final streaming iteration. It had iTunes Match for FREE years ago. You would upload your library to Lala, they would decide what they already had and just let you stream that, then anything they didn't have would get uploaded. It was iTunes in the cloud. Their webapp was phenomenal, especially by 2009 standards.

I had big expectations for Lala after Apple bought them. I thought they might actually get a true iTunes in the cloud built.

zaidf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Google was worried, they moved fast.

This is what I'm unsure about: how much of google's worries was a result of Lala being a worthwhile company and how much of it was a result of Bill's propping it up? Let's remove Bill for a minute. Let's say Mr. No-name-CEO reaches out to his contact at Google and presents the deal for Lala. My gut would be that Google guy would likely simply pass on the deal because he doesn't perceive Lala to be much of a competitive threat or a great product, not to mention the little traction they may have had was a result of Google's partnership(which I'm assuming they could easily opt out of). What am I missing? What made google worried, lala inc. or lala inc. with a salesman CEO with an acquisition offer?

aubreyjohnson 4 days ago 1 reply      
The title of this is a little misleading as I don't really discuss anything about Apple acquiring Color. I just link to the rumor articles.
ValentineC 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the post has disappeared from Aubrey's blog.

Google Cache of his original post: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:blog.au...

Gizmodo also has his post mirrored: http://gizmodo.com/5977076/the-amazing-story-of-how-bill-ngu...

capkutay 3 days ago 0 replies      
He was relieved of day to day activities by the board about a month or more before the Apple acquisition...was that acquisition really his doing?
speeder 4 days ago 1 reply      
I do not understood the tale :(

Why it was genius?

alpb 3 days ago 0 replies      
No mention of the Color in the article, I guess but that was a great story.
lnanek2 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is how the Finance people in NYC interview for a job. Give them a number and they'll shop it around and start a competition. :)
huytoan_pc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fascinating story but how is Apple genius here? Was it Apple's all along to acquire Lala, let Lala's engineers go before they exercised their options, somehow made Color a failure, then bought the all the engineers back on the cheap? The real genius (or at least real good biz person) in this story is Bill Nguyen, Apple just did what makes sense for them, it just happens that two of their acquisitions are Bill's companies.
brackin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The piece was removed for some reason?
sidcool 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is this top link?
I ported LaTeX to Javascript github.com
240 points by manuels_  3 days ago   70 comments top 20
csense 2 days ago 1 reply      
EDIT: I managed to find the answer to this question myself.

I want to generate a bunch of bytes programmatically, then have the user click on a button, and allow the user to save a file containing the generated bytes. This should run entirely client-side, with no talking to the server (except for static loading of the HTML page, JS files, images, css, etc). I've been wanting to do this since I wrote my first Java applet way back in the 1990's, and haven't been able to find a way; it's a personal long-standing unscratched itch for me.

Apparently with HTML5 it's possible to do this, since this project does it! I wasn't able to find where in the code the downloading happens, and I'm not sure what this concept is called, which makes searching difficult. Thanks!

EDIT: Browsing commits instead of the source tree was fruitful [1]. What I'm looking for is called Data URI [2]. The inverse operation -- programmatically processing uploads on the client side -- can be achieved with the File API [3]. Now I need a few days to think about what startups will become possible with these capabilities!

[1] https://github.com/manuels/texlive.js/commit/b7b7eef27846473...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_URI_scheme

[3] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Using_files_from_we...

manuels__ 2 days ago 2 replies      
Thanks for your hints! I added a 'Open PDF' button to circumvent popup blockers.

Yes, I used emscripten to port it to Javascript.
It was not that hard. Emscripten had three bugs I had to fix (the hardest was to find that the %g format was not supported by emscripten's sscanf).

But it was compiled almost like for x86: first convert the pdftex 'web' souce code to c using web2c, then compile it to LLVM bytecode and the LLVM bytecode to JS.

csense 2 days ago 0 replies      
A much more mature LaTeX JavaScript interpreter is MathJax [1].

The projects fill somewhat different niches, however. MathJax's ideal use case is adding math support to a CMS like a blog or wiki. This project looks like it's better for offering a Web-based LaTeX-to-PDF compilation service for articles with 100% compatibility with the original implementation.

Also, this project is a great resume-builder if the author is looking for a job that involves wrangling build systems or cross-compiling to JavaScript!

[1] http://mathjax.org

micheljansen 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some background would be nice. Wasn't LaTeX notoriously hard to port " to the point that a LateX app for iPad actually ran in an emulator initially [1]. Is this port based on web2c as well?

[1] http://www.litchie.com/?p=419

bstar77 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice, but this constantly crashes Safari when the content goes below the fold. The whole page goes white and then the browser dies.
fosap 2 days ago 3 replies      
Something completely off-toppic:

I don't like TeX. I use it and i like the output, but I have never realy understood the language and therefore I don't like it. The syntax for optional arguments([]) seems very odd to me, aswell as the separation between mouth and the rest. The support for named parameters is IMO very hacky.

Wouldn't be a Tcl based macro processor with the tex-Backend nice? Or is this silly?

shocks 3 days ago 1 reply      
Promising. I am getting some error messages though.

    lstat(/bin) failed ...

No such file or directory
warning: kpathsea: configuration file texmf.cnf not found in these directories:

albertzeyer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, I really would like to know how this was achieved...

Note that it is somewhat broken for me: http://imgur.com/twIG75m

manuels__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I added support for packages (you might have to refresh your browser's cache).

The first package supported is geometry. If you want to add another, append the required files to the supported_packages array.

This is what it looks like for the geometry package:

montecarl 3 days ago 1 reply      
This part of the document isn't rendered correctly in the resulting pdf:

    In printing, text is usually emphasized with an
type style.

In my pdf it looks like the every other letter, starting with the first, is missing from the word italic. It looks like " t l c ". Maybe something is wrong with the fonts. I'm using the latest Chrome on OSX.

wcdolphin 2 days ago 3 replies      
Just wanted to comment that this works better in Internet Explorer 10, documents seemed to compile significantly faster than on Chrome. Running Windows 8x64, for reference.
jdleesmiller 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! I looked at this approach for https://www.writelatex.com which does the LaTeX editing in the browser but compiles on the server), but I didn't get very far with it. It would be interesting to read more about how it works / obstacles you had to overcome.
sgarbi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant! this opens up for collaborative LaTex files generation online.
alexmic 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. Care to share some details on the implementation?
Vivtek 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does this presume a local Unix filesystem? It sure doesn't like the lack of a /bin directory on Windows.
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't quite get what is being done in Javascript...? Is it the whole typesetting/rendering?
jmix 3 days ago 5 replies      
Pointlessly awesome. Care to describe why it would make sense to run LaTeX on JS?
oulipo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fun demo, but I can't get the .pdf back right now!
motiejus 2 days ago 0 replies      
License of the toolchain?
aiculedssul 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Hurray, I'd love to hear more about every single software written in the past 70 years compiled to LLVM bytecode and then translated with Emscripten to JavaScript!"

I would hardly call this porting something.

EDIT: I just remembered I ported Microsoft Word to Linux by running it inside a Windows VM.

The End of Ragequitting codinghorror.com
237 points by Anon84  18 hours ago   91 comments top 27
raganwald 18 hours ago 12 replies      
If Jeff says that he equates suicide with rage quitting a game, I'm prepared to believe that he believes it. But I don't and I don't even think it's a comparison that's useful.

Perhaps he means it sincerely, but my experience with someone close to me committing suicide and the research I have done since then--including research prompted by feedback from HN to posts I have written--is that it can be dangerous to try to "reason" with a suicidal person.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into" is something I often say about bigots, sexists, and so on, but it applies to depressed people as well. You don't come back from the brink because of life lessons, or essays on the internet, or the love of a small child. Or this comment.

I won't even try to explain how being so depressed that you kill yourself is nothing like deciding that you don't want to "play the Internets" any more.

The metaphor I use is that suicide is the end-game of a crippling disease that attacks the brains ability to manage stress. I liken depression to AIDS of the emotional immune system.

When we're healthy, we have ways of handling stress. We have good days and bad days, but they fall within a certain manageable range because our body musters compensation for our emotions. The depressed person can be triggered by something bad and spiral into an extreme mood.

If we use my metaphor to explain why someone facing a lot of jail time would commit suicide, the jail time is like pneumonia: Something serious but beatable by a person with a healthy immune system and social support. But not beatable by someone with a compromised immune system, and deadly to someone whose immune system actually attacks himself in response to certain kinds of stress.

Long ramble here, but we can't talk people out of AIDS or Cancer or even the Common Cold. Good spirits and support have been proven to be very helpful, but not as a substitute for proper treatment or for understanding that if you are contemplating ending your own life, you are sick but what you have can be treated PROVIDED YOU AND YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK TREAT DEPRESSION AS A SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT CAN BE TREATED.

I am not telling Mr. Atwood to retract his remarks. But I am saying that I do not support trying to talk someone out of suicide by comparing it to rage quitting a game or walking away from the Internet.

I do support everything he is saying about the ridiculous injustice in the plea bargain system.

danso 18 hours ago 3 replies      
At Aaron's memorial this past weekend, his partner, Taren, shed some light on what he was going through in his final years:

> For a long time we didn't talk about the case very much. He wanted to protect me and he wanted to cordon it off from the rest of his life. He was worried that I would be subpoenaed, or that his other friends would be subpoenaed, and so he kept it all to himself. He kept all of the stress and the anger and the fear to himself.

> In December there was a hearing that I went to with him -- the trial was delayed because another hearing at this hearing -- the decision was made to delay the trial until April. And afterwards I -- we came out of the courtroom and I tried to give him a hug, and he pushed me away. And he said, "Not in front of Steve Heymann. I don't want to show Steve Heymann that."

The obvious, reflexive assessment of Aaron's situation is that he faced (or believed he was facing) an unsurmountable sentence and challenge, and that that fear was enough to cause him to commit suicide. But there's likely more to it than that...it wasn't just the fear or the hopelessness, but the isolation and other inconveniences that was a part of the struggle. Maybe Aaron felt ready to face the consequences, as they existed on paper (the charges, trial, and possible jail sentence) but the unexpected load of paranoia and loneliness, as Taren describes it, was something that ended up being insurmountable.

Of course, from the outside, it's easy to say, "Well, he should've realized he really wasn't alone. And that others were willing to fight along with him." But it's always easier to make that rational assessment from the outside.

tptacek 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Suicide is not a form of "ragequitting".

At some point in the next 50 years, society is going to learn that suicide deaths are morally comparable to deaths from leukemia or heart disease.

We're going to be embarrassed by things we wrote in 2013 that look at suicide from the vantage point of a "strategies" or personal choices.

It seems likely that things happened to Swartz that provoked his death. That's in the nature of the illness he suffered: a vulnerability to provocations to suicide. But those provocations are just as coercive as the genetic abnormalities that allow environments to coerce living cells into cancer. Swartz's death was nobody's choice; "nobody" includes Aaron Swartz.

yajoe 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a delicate topic with a lot of factors. I don't know if I would call a suicide due to depression 'ragequitting.'

Quitting, in general, is a healthy and normal action. It's why we all ended up doing what we're doing today (we had to quit something to stop being the proverbial male ballerina). Jeff himself leads the article with what he quit a year ago, and I interpret his view of that decision positively.

It seems like Jeff believes that there are 'ok' ways to quit and 'not ok' ways. Great. But, who is he to decide what is ok and not ok for others? I'm certainly not equipped to say so, and I don't believe Jeff is either. He is judging Aaron. When I was brought up, I was told that telling others what to do in absolute terms was also a form of immaturity. It's all a matter of perspective.

Aaron's death is a tragedy for many reasons and due to causes and circumstances I will never understand. I can't pretend to proscribe any decisions Aaron made. I appreciate Jeff using his articulate and otherwise entertaining writing to help express what he is feeling.

It's open writing like this that helps our community grieve; I just don't agree with Jeff.

radicalbyte 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Did Jeff just admit to considering ending his life? Jeff, I'm glad that you made the right decision. Don't give up. I've been in that place when I was younger. However viable it may seen in a moment, giving up IS the wrong decision.

Your podcasts (among others) got me through a lonely phase of my life (migrating to a new country.. having few friends.. and still learning the language). For that I'm grateful. I'm sure that you've had a similar positive effect on far more strangers.

It's funny, but you tend to see these thoughts in the empathic, idealistic types. I'm one of them. But you know what? There's nothing wrong with being idealistic. It's a strength. It's positive. It's energetic. It inspires people. Accept it. Embrace it. Know your weakness, and you can defend against those who'll try and abuse it. And you will win.

Mandela didn't quit. Ghandi didn't quit. MLK didn't quit. More close to reality: Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij haven't given up. Manning hasn't given up.

If Aaron's case has taught us anything, it's that we need to stand behind these people. If we believe that what they're doing is "right", then we need to support them. Publicly. Privately. They need to know that they're not standing alone. To quote Liverpool FC's theme song: "You'll Never Walk Alone" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youll_Never_Walk_Alone.

jacoblyles 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Depression is a monster, and it is more common than we think in the startup pressure-cooker. And nobody talks about it because you have to put up a facade of invincibility to woo investors, employees, and the press.

I had one startup friend confide that he had sought professional help for the stress he was under, and I thought he was very wise for doing so. Why, when I was heading into a dark depression while building a previous startup did I not seek help?

We need to support each other and destigmatize seeking help.

droithomme 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's two separate claims in Atwood's essay that I don't agree with.

First, a lot of social networking involvement is a waste of time and is emotionally exhausting. A lot of times it can be highly addictive and participation becomes dysfunctional. People quit communities all the time when they recognize that things are just not working out. There is nothing wrong with that and it's a good thing. When other members feel they have to defend the community to the point of attacking others just for leaving, using divisive and derogatory terms such as "ragequitting", then it is no longer a community or social board, but is a cult. Cults defame members who leave simply because they have left, which is perceived as an act of betrayal and heresy. Communities do not.

Second, Aaron didn't quit anything. He picked a meaningful date to end his life. Aaron was highly rational and carefully thought things through, it's clear in his writings. He knew he could have handled six months or 7 years in prison. This was an act of self-immolation, the ultimate protest of injustice. It is a time honored and effective last resort message used only in extreme situations of injustice, which is certainly the case of the judicial system in the US which has in recent years descended into a police state like system interested in power and control but not justice. Self-immolators almost never leave suicide notes. There is no need to since it is obvious to all why they have committed their protest. This is clear here, just looking around people are upset and they know and understand exactly why he did this and it has to do with the Federal Prosecutor, not a chemical imbalance in his brain. No one in Tunisia was talking about chemical imbalances in Mohammed Bouazizi's brain, it was obvious that his act was a protest as well.

Additionally, regarding depression, Aaron wrote he was glad he had insurance to allow him to see someone, and his family has stated Aaron has never been diagnosed with depression and was not depressed. Those claiming his action was because of suicidal depression have only weak circumstantial support for their case based on blog entries, and have to completely ignore all the circumstances of what was going on. Blogging that you sometimes feel depressed is not evidence of mental illness. Seeing a therapist is not evidence of mental illness. Occasional depression itself is not evidence of mental illness. It is a normal part of the human condition. Remote medical diagnosis here by the general public is similar to the remote lawyering in the commonly made but unproven claims that he did anything at all criminal other than misdemeanor trespassing. An indictment is not a conviction. Violations of terms of service do not rise to the level of criminality according to the Drew appeal decision, so the whole basis of the case is very questionable.

beatpanda 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a book written specifically for the mental health issues faced by activists: http://www.microcosmdistribution.com/catalog/books/3977/

Atwood's suggestion that anybody who "chooses the path of the activist" should be prepared to face the consequences does not even begin to address the challenges of being so engaged in such a thankless fight for so long, and then having to bear the weight of these insane charges with almost no publicity for your cause or public support.

Not to mention the weight of a wide swath of people not even understanding the problem Aaron was trying to solve in the first place.

Activism, especially on nearly invisible issues like this one, and most especially when you're on the opposite side of entrenched interests with shitloads of cash, is really hard work. It's also hard work for the people on the other side, except in exchange for their hard work they're earning millions of dollars.

molbioguy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
While I respect Jeff Atwood's comments, and I suspect he's leaning on the side of being inspirational, I think equating suicide with "ragequitting" (directly or indirectly) is unfair. The consequences are so different, it sort of trivializes suicide.

But also, I must admit that I am a little disappointed in Aaron. I understand that depression is a serious disease that can fell any person, however strong. But he chose the path of the activist long ago. And the path of the activist is to fight, for as long and as hard as it takes, to effect change.

I never knew Aaron, but I know that while one can choose to be an activist, one can't choose whether they have clinical depression. It is a serious illness that is hard to fight. And by all accounts I've read, Aaron put up quite a fight trying to deal with the extreme pressure he was put under. In that light, I think Jeff's comment is harsh.

mutagen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm uncomfortable with the comparison to ragequitting. However, a few points resonated quite strongly with me.

we should have been outraged. I am gutted that I did not contribute to his defense in any way, either financially or by writing about it here. I blindly assumed he would prevail, as powerful activists on the side of fairness, openness, and freedom are fortunate enough to often do in our country. I was wrong.

I too was wrong about this. While I don't know how much my support would have mattered, I didn't do much to support him. I can and will offer support to others.

The idea that Aaron killing himself was a viable strategy, more than going on to prevail in this matter and so many more in his lifetime, makes me incredibly angry.

My thoughts on this are still developing and I can't articulate anything finer than what Jeff wrote.

jlujan 18 hours ago 1 reply      
>Ragequitting is childish, a sign of immaturity.

I had never heard this term before. I agree with Jeff in general but there are very legitimate reasons beyond immaturity. One is maturity in the sense of picking your battles in life and knowing when your current activities are incongruent with your principles. There are many situations when the best course of action for everyone involved is to walk away. The result is not always having given up forever, but an opportunity to step back, reflect and reevaluate your approach. It is unfortunate that people do "rage quit" and give up entirely. Resilience is not always a function of maturity.

wissler 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Calling it "rage quitting" when someone is no longer interested in playing a game you want them to play is an intimidation tactic. It's really none of your business to tell someone what they must play and when and how.

In more civilized times it was called "conceding defeat" not "rage quitting."

comrh 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> I posted this as a comment on Coding Horror but it will probably get buried. I'm not sure if I'm missing his point but this is what I took away from the article.

I enjoyed this article, the romanticized idea of martyrdom and ragequitting in terms of 'infocide' like the cases mentioned seem to fit well, but Aaron's case was not a 'ragequit'. It was a response to a serious mental condition.

"But do not, under any circumstances, give anyone the satisfaction of seeing you ragequit. They don't deserve it. Play other, better moves " and consider your long game."

Depression and suicide is about hopelessness and constant pain. It isn't about sticking it to anyone and depression by its very nature makes 'considering the long game' impossible. For people plagued by it, there is no future, only the black dog looking back at you.

There are many conversations coming out of Aaron's death, copyright, information freedom, the overreach of the law, predator prosecutions but an important one that is being overlooked, in my opinion, is mental health. Programmers, activists, and in Aaron's case a person of extremely high intelligence, all seem to be more susceptible to mental illness.

Maybe, even if nothing else comes out of Aaron's death. No changes to copyright, no prosecutor's getting fired, no open data. Maybe at least we can all take the feeling's of the people around us a little more seriously. Look a little harder for the people that are hurting. And try to help them.

lifeisstillgood 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to volunteer for the Samaritans (phone based suicide "hotline" in the UK). I cannot pretend to know the physical causes / manifestations of depression or suicide - but I do know that people I talked to, some whom I / we could not save, were intelligent rational people who could discuss quite normally and naturally ending their lives.

It is not quitting, in a rage or not, to take ones own life. It is rational, even if most people on the planet cannot possibly agree or follow the reasoning.

MartinCron 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I know it's boilerplate, but it's jarring to have this section immediately below an otherwise emotionally moving article:

[advertisement] Stack Overflow Careers matches the best developers (you!) with the best employers. You can search our job listings or create a profile and even let employers find you

Kylekramer 17 hours ago 0 replies      
May not be the most sympathetic piece, but it nails the thing that has been nagging me: this reaction has been glorifying suicide. The suicide victim has been remembered in glowing terms much greater than he ever received alive and his "enemies" are having their heads called for by a large crowd. I don't know if any of it is wrong objectively but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
munchor 18 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the most important lessons many programmers should learn is to "not give up". One of the obvious reasons that comes to mind is not giving up on releasing your product. However, there are many more things that one should never give up on, like your Internet life or even your life. Sometimes it happens, but I think those people only did it because they were in extremely terrible situations.

Anyways, I am happy Jeff is not ragequitting. I'm not ragequitting either!

rdl 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Comparing suicide to quitting a game seems kind of offensively trivializing to me; similar to comparing killing people in a video game to having to kill people in war. I guess it's just a metaphor, but still.

(Also, sad to see Jeff Atwood was also contemplating suicide at one point. If you factor in "quality of life years", suicide is an even bigger problem than a lot of other health issues, since it disproportionately affects the young, and affects other people.)

falcolas 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> Play other, better moves " and consider your long game.

And when your long game appears to be sentenced to prison until you're 60 or being becoming a felon (with the reduced rights that are associated with that label), what then?

When being a felon of computer related crimes would result in limiting your access to your entire livelyhood (and your source of activism as well), what then?

In the best case, you spend 6 months in prison, away from your family and loved ones, are denied access to computers and the internet thereafter, you're financially destroyed, and many employers will not hire you due to your felony record... what would _your_ game plan be?

One way or the other, Aaron's life was destroyed. It sucks that he didn't survive that destruction, but I'm not completely sure I would either.

martinced 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"But do not, under any circumstances, give anyone the satisfaction of seeing you ragequit. They don't deserve it. Play other, better moves " and consider your long game."

I agree. Do not ragequit SO. They're not worth it. Simply ignore them on SO and never ever help them anymore by posting content there.

But do "rage" everywhere else you can: on Twitter, on /., on G+, on blogs. Wherever you can. Certainly do not try to fight your case on meta: meta is the problem, not the solution. Fight your case on another medium, where they cannot silence you (nor reverse your "rage").

There are just too many issues with SO that have been unadressed.

I did "silentquit" a 7.7 K account (probably more now) gained by mostly helping others. And now everywhere the topic comes out I point out that there are seriously bad moderators issue on SO and that meta is mostly pointless.

The one thing that pissed me off were crazy mods that did "team up" on new users and refuse to see their wrongdoings on meta. This made me sick and I quit. "Silentquit" on SO. "Ragequit" on the big bad Internet.

And, no, I won't "post this meta" or "link to the discussion or it didn't happen".

The very reason I'm posting this here is because, you SO mods and (co)-founders have no say in here. Here it's other people who are voting and they're not all pom-pom girls fighting your cause.

I'm not in a hurry. Usenet is still there (slowly dying, but still here). There are others resources like Quora and EE.

And others will listen to all these high-rep users who did ragequit (or silentquit) SO and address their very real concerns and, one day, we'll have something better than SO.

mnicole 17 hours ago 0 replies      
[This post may or may not be related to the issue at hand, but I think this is something worth noting in a thread like this.]

Whether or not they directly play into the two particular cases mentioned, I think we need to be aware of ourselves and how we can affect/worsen/underline these decisions. Every week there are "Why I quit HN"/"Lessons I learned from HN" and other posts on how someone felt after being thrown under the bus here, particularly if they didn't submit it themselves (and sometimes consciously so).

Despite Jeff's notion that Aaron would have prevailed indefinitely, HN threads on the matter were much more bleak. It is normal to be skeptical of your own success and possibly inundate yourself with thoughts of failure, and it is another to see the community you are a part of dismiss you and your purpose as well. Unfortunately we see that here a lot, especially considering some of these projects are people's honest attempts at making a better person of themselves or trying to find sources of income in a time where so many are still hurting.

I don't know whether or not Aaron's pain would have been quelled in any way had everyone rallied behind him. In my own experiences, the entire universe could be behind you and it probably still wouldn't make much of a difference/you'd still feel like a lone wolf. Still, there are people like Eugene Sprague in the documentary The Bridge who walked the span of the Golden Gate for over 90 minutes waiting for just one person to smile at him. No one did, so he went through with it.

Just something to be cognizant of.

vacri 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it ironic that Atwood complains about martyrdom being effective, then turns around in the next paragraph and complains that Swartz didn't fulfill Atwood's idea of what 'activist' is.
jack-r-abbit 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> stripped of the most fundamental citizenship right, the ability to vote

That is not entirely true. In the US, every state except Maine and Vermont prohibits felons from voting while in prison. Nine other states disenfranchise felons for various lengths of time following the completion of their probation or parole. Two states, Kentucky and Virginia, continue to impose a lifelong denial of the right to vote to all citizens with a felony record.[1]

However, it is entirely possible that he would never have been able to own a firearm or serve on a jury ever again. Everyone can probably form their own opinions on how much those matter to you.


keithpeter 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"And the path of the activist is to fight, for as long and as hard as it takes, to effect change."

One has to choose the battles with care.

UK resident, not my issue, very sad as per Tim Berners-Lee's post. A light lost (or was it a moth?)

elliptic 12 hours ago 0 replies      
To anyone who is really interested in the subject, I recommend a book called "Night Falls Fast." It's available as an e-book.
maeon3 17 hours ago 0 replies      
aaron's last posts on stackoverflow about the download scripts are just chilling.
promises 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really alarmed & surprised (I know I shouldn't be) to hear of Jeff Atwood's - apparently recent - struggles with depression & suicidal thoughts... he appears (to me, observing from afar, via podcasts, blogs) to have a robust, upbeat personality... never would guessed he'd be susceptible to any kind of unshakeable mental or emotional gloom. Scary that people can look like they have it together in every respect, when they are secretly researching their suicide. So glad Jeff was able to pull himself back from the brink.
When Haskell Is Not faster than C jacquesmattheij.com
237 points by DanielRibeiro  1 day ago   198 comments top 22
simias 1 day ago 9 replies      
This reminds me that when I was interested in learning haskell I was completely put off by their "introduction" page on their homepage. It was a couple of years ago but it doesn't seem to have changed much:


It looks like a very pretentious sales pitch to me. You have quotes like "Writing large software systems that work is difficult and expensive. [...] Functional programming languages, such as Haskell, can make it easier and cheaper." and a whole bunch of very vague and poorly backed up assertions.

After a couple of paragraphs brainwashing you about how good functional programming is, you finally get to some code. The first code you get is (of all things) a quicksort which is not used as an introduction to the language but as a way to boast that haskell is so much better and more expressive than C. I mean, look at that C code just after it, disgusting isn't it.

What they don't say is how much slower their implementation is, of course. They also give a link to a more direct (and faster) C-to-haskell version of the quicksort[1]. Hey, it's actually longer than the C version! And it uses 3 imports. And it's still slower than the original C. Oops. I wonder why they didn't put that one in the tutorial. I went back to common lisp after that, I have yet to write 1 line of haskell.

TL;DR: when I want an introduction to your language, I want to know what I can do with it and how I can do it. Give me some code to chew on, show off some features. Don't spend 10 pages telling me you're the best of the best and everything else is crap. This is the kind of article I expect: http://perldoc.perl.org/perlintro.html

[1] http://www.haskell.org/haskellwiki/Introduction/Direct_Trans...

gnuvince 1 day ago 3 replies      
> This article is in response to an earlier one comparing Haskell and C, which made the claim that Haskell beats out C when it comes to speed.

Perhaps my reading comprehension of the original post is different from Jacques' (or I'm just wrong), but I don't think that the original article made such a claim. Here's the TL;DR of the original article:

> TL;DR: Conventional wisdom is wrong. Nothing can beat highly micro-optimised C, but real everyday C code is not like that, and is often several times slower than the micro-optimised version would be. Meanwhile the high level of Haskell means that the compiler has lots of scope for doing micro-optimisation of its own. As a result it is quite common for everyday Haskell code to run faster than everyday C. Not always, of course, but enough to make the speed difference moot unless you actually plan on doing lots of micro-optimisation.

From this, I understood that in a larger program, most programmers wouldn't be doing the kind of micro-optimizations that they do for the Benchmarks Game. I figure that most code would be written following this pattern:

* Write code to follow the spec (usually without thinking too much about performance)

* Run the code, and evaluate its performance

* If the performance is good enough, you're done

* If the performance needs to be better, run a profiler

* Find the biggest bottleneck and optimize it

* Re-run the code and re-evaluate its performance

The original article took a micro-benchmark (a mistake in my opinion, because it's easy to micro-optimize every single detail of that code) and showed that in the case of Haskell, the first version was too slow, but that with the help of a profiler, finding the cause was easy, and the fix was trivial, while in C the profiler didn't show any problem with the code of the user, so it must be a problem in the standard library's code, and to fix it required changing the design of the program and making it more different than the spec. And I felt this was the author's real point; that to get the maximum performance from a C program, you'll need to code it not like a human would imagine it, but like a computer would, and it makes the code harder to maintain later on.

VeejayRampay 1 day ago 11 replies      
I still wonder to this day why Haskell programmers want their language to be loved so much.

At times it feels like that kid at the playground that spends half his time telling everyone how he's the best thing since sliced bread and cries himself to sleep at night wondering why no one will play with him and his monads.

Don't get me wrong, Haskell looks like a great language with obvious qualities and I don't knock anyone for using it, to each his own, it's just the never ending publicity and proselytism that really rubs me wrong. People adopt new languages, not the other way around.

sharpneli 1 day ago 3 replies      
I ran into similar issue few years ago where lack of knowledge combined with large amount of fanboyism clouded someones mind. In a popular language comparisons site there was a threading benchmark. It was simple, just start 256 threads. Haskell beat C by far.

I did strace. The C benchmark actually spawned 256 threads and the Haskell one spawned 4. The response I got was that it's a builtin feature in Haskell that it uses lightweight threads internally. And because pthread doesn't do that you cannot do it in C and therefore the comparison is valid. Even though C doesn't have the concept of threading and everything must be done with an external library in anycase.

I could dig the old thread up but I've given up with those. I have nothing against high level languages, I use them a lot. However I find it very weird that some true fans feel the need of creating enormously biased benchmarks and then being proud that those benchmarks show that their favourite language is the best.

dllthomas 23 hours ago 0 replies      
"Third, a comparison on speed between Haskell and C is almost meaningless, speed is not Haskells strongest point and it would be folly to bench it against C for that particular reason."

I disagree wholeheartedly. If I am choosing Haskell over C, I am giving up some (possibility of) performance. The question of how much is an important piece of information, entirely relevant to that decision.

As I observed in a comment on that other post, the actual performance of both the Haskell and the C depends on the amount of effort expended to make them faster (first in general, and then possibly on a particular architecture). At the limit, the C beats the Haskell by some margin - the size of that margin is informative; but that's also not the whole story - what the margin is earlier also matters, and for a particular project, it might matter more.

This is not to say that the particular benchmarks in the earlier article were good choices - I don't have a clear position on that.

nicholassmith 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice refutation. The problem about doing language comparisons for speed is that they generally require a non-trivial example, so you have to be an excellent programmer in all the languages you've compared.

Of course, language speed charts are generally as useful as PC spec charts and YouTube videos of Nürburgring laptimes when you're buying a new car.

mistercow 1 day ago 1 reply      
The original article did mention that switching to use lines instead of characters would probably speed things up considerably, but argued that this makes the program harder to understand, while Haskell makes the same optimizations automatically on the character-based program.

And that's a fine point to make, but I do think it was a little misleading and handwavy. The proper thing to do would be to make the change and show the difference both in code and performance, and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

benbataille 1 day ago 5 replies      
Could everyone on HN just take a course in languages theory so we can all stop with these stupid trolls about the best languages which have been emerging for a week.

Hopefully it would allow everyone to realize that a language is just some syntax and semantic and that a compiler is just a program like another. Nothing sacred here. Hell you can even do imperative programming in Haskell if you wish. Coding an interpreter to do so is not particularly difficult.

With a bit of luck, everyone would understand at the same time that the compiler is building what is executed therefore the expression"speed of a language" is utter nonsense. You can only speak of the speed of the implementation which, yes, vary widely amongst compilers for the same language.

So, yes, Haskell semantics encourage functional programming, C semantics imperative programming, both are Turing complete and yes GCC is currently better at optimising C code than any Haskell compiler, nothing new under the sun. Can we all go back to a normal activity now ?

bborud 1 day ago 6 replies      
If Haskell, Lisp and friends are so great for building large software systems then surely people are going to flock to them and do exactly that. And if that didn't happen, of course the proponents of these languages would sit down and try to figure out why this wasn't happening. Right?
JabavuAdams 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent. Documenting successive transformations on code is much more instructive than showing a final snapshot. This is one reason I really enjoyed doing live-coding when teaching programming.
confluence 1 day ago 2 replies      
The problem with fringe languages has always been the "all talk - no walk" nature they all seem to have.

Stop telling me why you are so awesome. Just show me with shipped product.

Until then it's just an intellectual circle jerk.

Talk less. Ship more.

nathell 1 day ago 4 replies      
Yawn. It is not possible to directly compare languages wrt speed: we only can compare the speed of their implementations and reason about the features that make a language amenable to optimizations.

And we all know this.

So why, despite this knowledge, do we engage in "language speed flamewars" like this?

That's a valid question, and it belongs in the field of psychology of hackerhood. Does anyone have a reply to wager?

spookylukey 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article starts by totally misrepresenting the original article (http://paulspontifications.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/when-haske...) by saying that it said "Haskell beats out C when it comes to speed".

If you bother to read even the TLDR of the original article you 'll find it says something completely different, which makes this article pretty poor as a response.

JabavuAdams 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a classic pattern: when advocating for one of several competing approaches, you spend more care optimizing your favourite approach than the competitors.

Prof. Geoffrey Hinton specifically calls this out as a pitfall in research. It's better to compare your promising new approach versus another group's approach (not your own implementation thereof). This, assuming that the other group has deep knowledge in tuning their competing approach.

ColinWright 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a quick point. He quotes me:

    You can't make a computer do stuff faster,
but you can make it do less work.

That's not original to me, but I don't have (and haven't been able to find) a good, definitive, original source.

JoachimSchipper 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is cool. However, in the spirit of contributing, comparing one byte at a time is not optimally efficient. It's possible to write clever optimizations by hand, but I'd be surprised if just using https://github.com/rbdixon/glibc/blob/master/string/memchr.c doesn't cause a meaningful speedup.
sunwooz 22 hours ago 0 replies      
What do you guys think I should learn next? I've been studying javascript/ruby and I would like to diversify what I can make. I don't want to rush learning new languages, but it's interesting to learn about paradigms that certain languages enforce.

What's important to me(not in order):

1) Being an omni-platform developer
2) I only know two high-level languages, so learning a low level language will benefit me.
3) I want to get into Natural Language Processing and deep neural networks/AI, machine learning etc.
4) I'm a self-taught programmer, so the amount of good resources online/amazon is a big factor.
5) I need a fucking job.
6) I like making web applications/web games, and I would like to make native applications/games as well.

waxjar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love to be able to reason like that about the program I'm writing. Really cool article.
Zircom 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a reason "Is" and "Not" are capitalized but "faster" and "than" aren't, because it's just been bugging all day whenever I refresh the front page and look over the list for anything interesting.
neopallium 19 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a bug that causes invalid output when the input file is larger then the BLOCKLEN. Set BLOCKLEN to 4096 and run the program on the test input file [1] (compare with output file [2]), to see the problem on a smaller input file.

The bug happens when read_sequence() is called with partial data saved from the last sequence, since (size == read) the first fread() will be asked for 0 bytes which causes the read loop to end early (n == 0).

1. http://benchmarksgame.alioth.debian.org/u32/iofile.php?test=...

2. http://benchmarksgame.alioth.debian.org/u32/iofile.php?test=...

dschiptsov 1 day ago 1 reply      
Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.)

When one programs a computer (in a way it suggested in TAOCP) and you know your data, your memory layout and your CPU instruction set nothing could beat it.

Of course, there are tasks so massive, that a decent compiler could save lots and lots of man hours, but it is a completely different story.

No Haskell (leave alone J* ) could beat a code by people who know what they do close to the metal.

In some languages the code could be shorter much more readable and elegant that C, but of course, it is not Haskell, or J* .

Thoughtfully crafted Common Lisp could be close to an ideal.)

rtkwe 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're going to do a response blog post link to the original article at the beginning when you mention the original.

I read the original but don't assume everyone has.

Your Mac Keeps A Log Of Your Downloads macgasm.net
236 points by fcukdigg  3 days ago   86 comments top 19
phwd 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is amazing, whoever feels comfortable about it should band together and see what files are in common, or domains. I want to delete this yet I don't. This contains all (most?) of the files I have ever downloaded, those I thought I lost when clearing browsing data from 2008.

My first few files

* Symantec_Antivirus_Mac.dmg

* http://msdn01.e-academy.com|http://download.e-academy.com/do... (MSDN Alliance: Free Microsoft Software for Students)

* http://download2.vmware.com/software/fusion/VMware-Fusion-1....

* http://download.skype.com/macosx/Skype_2.7.0.330.dmg

Scary yes (The torrent files) but so much history to look at.

    sqlite3 ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEvents 'SELECT datetime(LSQuarantineTimeStamp + 978307200, "unixepoch") as LSQuarantineTimeStamp, LSQuarantineAgentName, LSQuarantineOriginURLString, LSQuarantineDataURLString from LSQuarantineEvent' | sort

Ordered by date

ehamberg 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is used to show where a program came from the first time you run it. For example, if I download iTerm 2 and then run it, I get the following warning:


Evbn 3 days ago 5 replies      
Guys, guys, watch out, I just noticed that my computer has a copy of all my files on it. Who gave Apple permission to do that? Privacy is dead!
martinced 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Your Mac Keeps A Log Of Your Downloads"...

In your user account.

There's quite a difference right there. I thought it was some kind of "hidden" file (not unlike the GPS location which was saved by default on any iPhone with a GPS -- up to the latest iPhone!?) which had now been discovered.

It's just in your user account so it's no big deal.

tripzilch 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hm, they could also have tagged the file as "came from the Internet" in the filesystem metadata associated with the file itself. That way, the "came from the Internet" tag is only around as long as it needs to: for the lifetime of the file. Avoiding the privacy problem, but also more sensible for another reason:

If you'd rename or copy the file, the "came form the Internet" tag will remain or be copied with the file. With the sqlite database approach, either this association breaks, or you need to check the database every time a file is copied, moved or renamed and if it's in there, update the database, if you want to be able to track a file when it's copied or renamed.

I don't know if OSX has extra logic for this, or if they just allow the association to break. But with the metadata tagging approach, you only have to run the tagging logic when the file is downloaded (to set the tag) and when it's about to be executed (to check the tag), not with every other file-operation.

A strange choice, IMO: the sqlite approach makes it harder to achieve the intended goal because you need extra effort/logic required to track a file as it's copied, renamed or moved, while at the same time it makes it easier for an unintended goal: tracking users by keeping the information about the file around even when it's deleted and the "came from the Internet" warning is no longer useful.

barista 3 days ago 5 replies      
"You should not be downloading anything that you don't want anybody else to know" Eric Schmidt would say
schluete 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice article, but unless the database is "VACUUM"ed after the "DELETE" the rows are still readable in the database file.
This kinda defeats the purpose of the whole article b/c the user didn't gain any more privacy than he had before the deletion :
hoov 3 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one that disables this behavior by default?

defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool NO

Works like a charm...

julien_p 3 days ago 1 reply      
Files get a "quarantine flag" set on them as metadata when downloaded on OS X. Gatekeeper uses this (along with the developer signature) to check if an app is "safe" to open or not. Not sure where this sqlite database fits in, but it's very likely related to that.

See also https://support.apple.com/kb/HT3662

binarycrusader 3 days ago 3 replies      
And I suspect that if you had a virus scanner installed on windows every file it scanned would be logged somewhere depending on settings.

This post also fails to mention that this is specific to Safari at last check. I don't think Google Chrome integrates with this functionality.

Camillo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Files that aren't quarantines don't seem to end up in that log, unsurprisingly. No images, audio or video files, but applications and archives.
cynwoody 3 days ago 0 replies      
You could try something like:

    $ sqlite3 -column ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEvents <<END|pbcopy
> .mode tabs
> .headers on
> SELECT strftime('%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S', LSQuarantineTimestamp+ 978307200, 'unixepoch', 'localtime') as date,
> LSQuarantineAgentName as App,
> LSQuarantineDataURLString as URL
> FROM LSQuarantineEvent
> --where LSQuarantineDataURLString like '%bankofamerica%'
> order by LSQuarantineTimestamp;

Then open your favorite spreadsheet program and paste in the results.

The 978307200 number corrects for the fact that Apple is using 2001-01-01, the year OS 10.0 was released, as its epoch.

I got way fewer rows than expected. Apparently, downloads by Firefox are not logged. When I screened for B of A downloads, I was puzzled to see only downloads in the past year or so. That's because I only recently started using Chrome to access that site.

tehwalrus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't see any of my downloads, the database exists but is empty on my system (10.6.8). (and I've sure downloaded a lot of files...)
JC001 3 days ago 2 replies      
Strange, on my machine this file only contains the URL from when I installed Firefox and a bunch of URLs for Adium updates. Not any of the many other things I've downloaded...

Is it only listing things downloaded through Safari?

nextstep 3 days ago 0 replies      
At the end of the post, the author mentions using Automator to run a script to delete this frequently. Alternatively, you can use launchd to run scripts on a Mac. http://nb.nathanamy.org/2012/07/schedule-jobs-using-launchd/
newman314 3 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, there are 2 versions of this file.

Depending on how long you have had your Mac, you will have both com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEvents and com.apple.LaunchServices.QuarantineEventsV2

Naturally, both files will have to be cleansed.

atomical 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get 'Error: no such table: LSQuarantineEvent'
jqqqz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Install GNU+Linux, problem solved.
afandian 3 days ago 0 replies      
Probably not, no.
A cry for help heroku.com
232 points by alpb  4 days ago   86 comments top 13
brudgers 4 days ago 4 replies      
Technical details aside, marriage counseling is among the best decisions I've ever made. Or rather "are among" since we did it twice.

I haven't thought about it much recently until now. The first time was in our second year. The second was when our son was a little over a year. Now he's nearly as tall as me, and we've been married almost 17 years.

Both times the stress of work and professional goals played a role. Getting our relationship working again helped with both over the long term.

Udo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I said it before on the other thread. I'd be willing to consider taking over as project lead. I emailed the developer about this, haven't heard back yet.
alpb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry for reposting this guys. My blog went down and some stupid cache plugin revealed my db password, I had to remove the previous HN post and reinstalled my blog. Now it is back. I posted this again for people had no chance seeing this before I deleted the old post.

Thanks for everyone proposed helping the guy I mentioned in the post with their comments in the post I had to delete.

jaryd 4 days ago 1 reply      
User of PHPVirtualBox here and I just want to say it's a wonderful piece of software that has drastically simplified my life!

To the author: thank you so much for dedicating your time and effort to this project, and I wish you all the best.

noonespecial 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think its super awesome that this guy is actually looking to hand the project over to people who care that can continue it despite the raft of personal problems he's clearly dealing with. Most projects in these circumstances would simply be abandoned.

I hope the best for him.

jtreminio 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to help, but I don't think monolithic covers this:


nnq 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's good to have a "human face for a project", but do we really need to know about your marriage problems - really, can't one just say: "Hi folks, I'm too busy to keep working/managing this and need someone to take over! Keep this project alive and make the world a better place!"
artursapek 4 days ago 2 replies      
That's an oddly personal public cry for help.
yarou 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get it. Some developer is no longer able to maintain a project, it happens. So what? As John Nagle says:

The process by which language libraries are maintained may have a bigger impact on language success than generally recognized.

A common event for developers is finding a bug in some crucial library function. The big question is, what happens then? There are several models:

1. The library is commercially supported.
1. The vendor is responsive to bug reports. The user submits a bug report and the problem is fixed.
2. The vendor is not responsive to bug reports.
2. The library is supported by volunteers.
1. There is an community supporting the library, with multiple people permitted to make updates.
2. The library is supported by a single person who is active in developing the library.
3. The library is supported by a single person who is not active, and no one else can change the code."

This clearly falls into his last category of 2.3...We are supposed to feel sympathy for some anonymous person on the Internet? I thought Hackernews was a venue for interesting ideas and innovative startups. (edited to include the first sentence)

kamakazizuru 4 days ago 2 replies      
any idea why the domain shows up as heroku? :S
mikeevans 4 days ago 1 reply      
I posted a link to this same thing about a month ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4954033

Guess I should have made a blog post about it :P

adnam 4 days ago 0 replies      
Given the circumstances this must surely win the HN award for Best Link-bait Title.
maxxpower 4 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed that message last month when I was interested in installing it. Sadly I do not have the skills to takeover such a daunting project, hopefully others in the community will come through.
Leiningen version 2.0.0 released github.com
227 points by llambda  1 day ago   44 comments top 7
jballanc 1 day ago 3 replies      
For those not familiar with Leiningen: it is a command-line tool that handles management of project settings, build settings, dependencies, deployments, debug console, packaging...and a whole bunch more. It is trivially extendable, and a large number of plugins already exist. If you're familiar with Ruby, it's the equivalent of the "rake", "gem", "rails", and "cap" commands all rolled into one. In short, in this programmer's opinion, Leiningen is reason enough on its own to go and learn Clojure!
martinced 1 day ago 3 replies      
I always hated Maven and... Leiningen sadly uses Maven under the hood. So I've been kinda forced to use Leiningen, at least for now (because I still don't know Clojure well enough to do without it).

Wanna quickly add a private .jar file / private repo? Good luck. Oh, it's doable, sure (I did it). But it's a major pain in the arse.

People will say: "But you shouldn't use free-floating .jars". Well, guess what... I like 100% reproducible builds that do not need to connect to Internet to be build. So now to have reproducible builds we need to have not only our DVCS but also our local Maven repository. Major major pain. I much prefer to have my jars managed by myself and commit them directly in the DVCS.

People will complain that it's not the correct to do it: but meanwhile I've got an easier time reproducing builds than they do...

During all my Java years (more than ten) I always managed to dodge Maven and the rare projects I inherited that were using Maven were utter mess. People will argue that it's because of people, like me, who don't know Maven well enough, that the entire projects (and builds) became utter junk. Whatever.

Another area where Leiningen/Maven really do not shine is when you don't have Internet access (like, you know, in companies which have separate networks, including ones non-connected to the big bag Internet).

Major major pain.

And what happens if you have an Internet connection but some high-target repo gets rooted and a major Java .jar gets replaced with a version containing an exploit?

Millions of devs account instantly owned by automagic Maven updates to your project.

It hasn't happened... Yet!

But lately we've seen enough Java exploits that one can reasonably think it's not "far fetched" to imagine that such a thing could happen.

Also I hate working in an environment which can change automagically, against my will. So I'm "staging" my development by using a dev account which has no Internet access and another one which does (it's easy to do on Linux, where you can trivially use per-user firewalling rules).

I've always been amazed at how many devs cannot correctly configure a Java classpath themselves and need to be babby-sitted by a tool like Maven.

As soon as I'll understand better how Clojure and how Clojure builds do work, I'll do just like I've always done with Java projects: custom scripts building from known good .jar files.

Not some magical tool constantly "phoning home" and being a security disaster waiting to happen...

notdarkyet 1 day ago 6 replies      
I am still pretty new to clojure, but I really wish adding jars that are not located in clojars or maven was a little easier (and more straightforward).

Yes, I could always take the Java project, rebuild and upload it myself. It would be nice to just drop the jar in the libs dir and go from there.

Maybe this is already possible (but undocumented), but with all questions out there from a simple search there is no clear way to do this that is not some sort of a hack.

DigitalJack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Congrats to technomancy and all the contributors. Leiningen is a pleasure to work with.
vladev 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is giter8[1] for Scala. I wish they would join forces to make an universal JVM project templating tool.

[1]: https://github.com/n8han/giter8

pbiggar 1 day ago 1 reply      
I remember that cake and lein were merging about a year ago, and cake's major feature was fast startup time by reusing JVMs. Does anyone know if this was incorporated into lein2 - I can't see it in the release notes.
edwinnathaniel 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised that people have not appreciated Maven more seeing how there are many praises for Leiningen.

While using Maven is like a love and hate relationship in my case, the best tool by the next door neighbour (Clojure) is apparently a Maven like tool :) (perhaps Leiningen is heavily inspired by Maven?).

People may dislike Maven but I found that nothing out there beats its features and it really takes a lot of pain away in setting up (or even maintaining/upgrading) Java projects.

I'm super glad Clojure has Leiningen. NodeJS also has a promising tool in NPM (haven't had the chance to search around for the other related build/deployment tools though).

Microsoft hires designer behind "The Next Microsoft", Andrew Kim minimallyminimal.com
228 points by dbcooper  2 days ago   77 comments top 16
forrestthewoods 2 days ago 11 replies      
Poor kid. I bet he even believes he can make a difference. He's gonna get eaten up and spit out by the behemoth. In a few years he'll be as bitter and jaded as the rest of us.

http://www.bonkersworld.net/images/2011.06.27_organizational... When this image came out I saw it posted by over a dozen MS friends (in xbox no less) laughing/crying over how true it was.

bbx 2 days ago 4 replies      
Designers often come up with such kinds of "unsolicited advice", hoping to get noticed by the big companies, and it's actually the first time I see someone succeeding in this approach (which is a good thing I guess).

What strikes me is that he will be working in the Xbox division, which I already consider Microsoft's most coherent and elegant division, marketing-wise.

Andrew Kim has come up with a branding concept, but I wish Microsoft would have also considered approaching the guy behind this Windows UI concept: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/24/2822891/windows-desktop-ui...
Apart from the fact that it looks gorgeous, I believe it embraced the "flat design"concept in ways that Windows 8 has failed to elaborate.

bstar77 2 days ago 3 replies      
I thought the best part of his "The next Microsoft" was choice of font for the logo- it has a softness that fits the name perfectly but stands out boldly. I always felt MS' sharp, italicized font was inappropriate. Besides, any move away from italics is a good move, imo.

Old font:

New font:

mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh, so this is that marketing guy? I wasn't too impressed the first time around. I didn't think his changes would make that much of a difference or actually turn Windows 8 into a big success. When I first read this headline, I thought they hired that guy who remade how their desktop should actually look with the "Metro" design thinking, which was far better than what Microsoft has now. What they have now is basically the Windows 7 Basic theme. They didn't really metrofy anything in it. That's just one of the reasons why Windows 8 looks so incomplete and so disconnected from with its other parts.
lionspaw 2 days ago 2 replies      
Whatever you want to say about Microsoft, they have a pretty solid recruiting pitch. The kid is in for a rude awakening once he starts there though.
ricardobeat 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does he mean to say Apple has also approached him (products I like, fanboy)? That could be Google too, would make much more sense.
chris_wot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that he shows how to do design without skeumorphics.

Worst thing Steve Jobs ever gave us.

kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Andrew Kim was going to get hired by one of the big companies sooner or later. He's just so ridiculously talented that it had to happen eventualy.
jongold 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been following Andrew for years; this is great news.

For those of you who only know him for the Microsoft branding I highly recommend you read the rest of his blog. I think he's the most promising industrial designer of our generation; the next Ive/Rams.

kaze 2 days ago 2 replies      
Market a product whichever way you like. If the core engineering is flaky, the product will always be despised.
chucknelson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Inspirational. While I don't always like Kim's work, I admire how he kept putting his work out there, and it paid off.
ameen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been following Andrew Kim since 2010 (since his HTC Concept). Andrew's designs and general design sense has always inspired me. Looking forward to great things from Andrew.
argimenes 1 day ago 0 replies      
The guy talks about himself in the same breathless manner as Apple's marketing. Hubris comes to mind ...
woah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, new ads.
dakimov 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am surprised that his concept totally sucks. Both the font work and the logo. They are so utterly bad, that even I, being just an amateur designer, clearly see how it is bad and where it is bad, and even I could probably make something much better. Apparently, this is the reason why he was hired, as Microsoft is firmly set on the course of sucking.

(By the way, a note for the straightforward thinking folks: the fact that this particular design sucks does not mean the guy is not talented or promising, especially given his young age.)

Parsley.js: never write a single JavaScript line to validate your forms parsleyjs.org
222 points by guillaumepotier  2 days ago   78 comments top 22
jonnytran 1 day ago 3 replies      
Has anyone had any experience where adding or removing client-side validation has affected conversion?

Other comments talked about client-side validation being mainly for UX and user convenience. But I'm wondering if it has a noticeable effect on whether or not people actually submit the form all the way to completion (i.e. no errors).

I made a tool that I have server-side form validation. I found that saving the invalid input so that I could examine it later was extremely valuable in understanding what people were entering, so that I could make the tool smarter. A good example is like with Parsley's demo where it requires http:// for the website URL. After seeing that people tried to enter URLs without http://, I knew I could change my code to automatically infer it. http:// is obvious, but a lot of times, people will surprise you. I don't have stats, but presumably this kind of change increases conversion. I realize this anecdote is a different effect than what I'm asking about client-side validation.

jiggy2011 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a clean way to solve the low hanging fruit of form validation, stuff like isItAnEmailAddress().

What I always find messy in web frameworks is doing validations which are more complicated.

For example a radio button choice which hides another form element which would otherwise be mandatory but should now not be filled in at all. Or where supplying a value between certain dates changes another date field from optional to mandatory and also must check that these dates are between certain values dictated by the first date field.

robomartin 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is neat.

A couple of points:

1- Client side validation is easy to circumvent. If you use this you have to make sure it is for UI only and that the real validation happens server side.

2- Using regex for email validation is fraught with issues. Probably the most salient one is that there are a million expressions out there. People run a quick google search, grab one and move on without knowing what they just plugged into their code. This particular tool will, for example, pass "m@apple.comm" as valid.

Other than that, I am sure this is a great time saver.

Tloewald 2 days ago 0 replies      

Improve the demo by removing spellcheck from the name field and capitalizaton for ios (and likely other touch devices) where appropriate.

Along the same lines, demonstrate phone number field (number formatting), currency field, and automatically dealing with urls more nicely.

mobweb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks cool, but the demo right at the top of the "examples" page has two things that IMHO aren't as "UX aware" as described on the landing page:

- The "website" field requires the http:// part of the address
- After typing three letters into the "message" fieldarea, an error pops up and tells me the message needs to be at least 20 characters long, while I'm still typing away

I realize this could be tweaked by the user but the demo shouldn't have such logical flaws for a script that's described as "Super #UX focused". ;)

adamdicarlo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why use <input type="text" data-type="email"> rather than... <input type="email"> ? You're already using HTML5 data attributes, so why not use HTML5 input types? Added benefit is that the browser also has an idea of what kind of data goes there - this helps on mobile devices especially, where email fields won't auto-capitalize and might include extra buttons like the ".com" button and "@" right on the normal keyboard.
st3fan 2 days ago 5 replies      
Speaking with my security hat on: This is a really nice library, but you also do the same validations server side right?
5vforest 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. The jQuery Validation plugin has needed a successor for a long, long time.
rickharrison 1 day ago 1 reply      
This library looks great! I really like the functionality and the html requirement definitions.

I don't want to hijack, but I just want to link to the form library I wrote a couple years ago. It has a little less functionality, but it is a little lighter and has no dependencies. It is here: https://github.com/rickharrison/validate.js

thomseddon 2 days ago 2 replies      
The implementation just smacks of AngularJS. In fact, implementing something like this would be just short of trivial using Angular...!

If you like the concept of "extending html" as used here then you should probably checkout AngularJS: http://angularjs.org

niyazpk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nicely done. Beat me to it. :(

I am working on a library which takes a data definition, renders the form and then validates it before submitting it via ajax. It supports various hooks like manipulate the data before submission etc.

IMHO form rendering (in a standard way) is also a common pain point along with form validation. Anyone interested in this type of library? Any inputs will be highly appreciated.

hazz 1 day ago 1 reply      
The url validation seems a bit strict, requiring "http:// at the start. No one types that these days, and I think in practice it might be a real roadblock for less computer literate users. I notice also that "ftp://" is valid, but not other protocols like, say, "afp://" or "git://".

Other than that, great job! I'm actually really looking forward to using this in my next project - form validation is usually such a pain.

truebosko 2 days ago 3 replies      
I suppose this is more suited to when your models and schema are also defined on the client side?

Having just hit this situation (validating a form client-side), I found the best solution was to transport the form schema from the server (because I use Django, I can easily whip up a ModelForm), then push that into a simple Javascript Form object which renders the schema and adds validation. Maybe there's better ways, but that's what worked for me. Curious what others have done .. :-)

adorable 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great. How about internationalization?
Do you allow to replace the english error messages with messages in other languages?
joseph_cooney 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks very similar to the unobtrusive validation used in ASP.NET MVC (which in turn relies on jQuery validation) although this does seem to add richer configuration of behaviour (such as when the validation is triggered etc.)

from here: http://bradwilson.typepad.com/blog/2010/10/mvc3-unobtrusive-...
<input class="text-box single-line" data-val="true" data-val-length="The field LastName must be a string with a maximum length of 60." data-val-length-max="60" data-val-required="The LastName field is required." id="LastName" name="LastName" type="text" value="" />
<span class="field-validation-valid" data-valmsg-for="LastName" data-valmsg-replace="true"></span>

tantalor 1 day ago 0 replies      
"DOM-API" is redundant, as the DOM is an API.
baggachipz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Typo in the "Super Free" section on the home page: s/developped/developed
HugoDias 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suggest you do add this on cdnjs ;) https://github.com/cdnjs/cdnjs
d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very good, I'll give it a fair try in my next project.
durkie 1 day ago 0 replies      
thanks so much! very excited to use this in a project we're working on.
phatbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Loved this
cobalt2760 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice lib!
Nokia releases 3D printing files for Lumia phone cases slashgear.com
220 points by kenjackson  3 days ago   34 comments top 14
jeffbarr 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is excellent, but it it important to see it as more than something that enables you to print your own case.

Think, instead, about the number of times you need some kind of mounting bracket or adapter to connect two pieces of consumer goods to each other. Think about mounting a phone on a car dashboard, or on a bike or motorcycle.

If there are N of the first and M of the second, there's no practical way for any manufacturer to support all MN combinations. As soon as some more companies follow Nokia's lead here, you should be able to combine two models, apply any final tweaks or customizations, and print your own adapter, perhaps even iterating over time as you add subtle new features.

This is the future, and you'd better be ready for it!

slacka 3 days ago 1 reply      
My company has a variety of 3D printers and we actually produced several iPhone case/adapters in the past. It's a small company, so we all helped out by testing different case designs.

The first round of testing involved a simple case design utilizing all of the plastics and printers that we have available. Most plastics were too brittle and would crack when you snapped them on the iPhone. In fact, only 1 ABS was usable. The consumer models had a hard time with the curved surfaces and felt much grainier in the hand. But once I tried out the final soft-touch part that was produced using injection modeling, I would never go back to the 3D printed model. The difference it feels in your hand is night and day. Oh, and the mass produced cases cost < $.10 per unit. I think we spend more on packing than parts themselves.

3D printers are great for prototyping and hobbyists doing 1-offs. But the tech has a way to go before being useful to the average consumer.

zacharydanger 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is easily the most exciting thing I've seen out of Nokia in years.
jonemo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is nice PR by Nokia but not much more.

Nokia are wrong in saying that they are the first to do this. Granted, Apple didn't realese STL files (which are a huge list of coordinates describing the vertices of triangles). But for several years now Apple released very detailed engineering drawings of their products publicly: https://developer.apple.com/resources/cases/. These drawings are actually useful for someone who wants to design and make their own case, whereas Nokia's STL files only let you reproduce whatever Nokia designed for you (modifying STL meshes is possible but the format limits the possibilities).

I also don't understand why Nokia puts a "noncommercial personal use only" license on this. Isn't an accessories ecosystem something they should want? I would have loved to use this design for adding this Nokia phone to an online customization tool for iPhone cases which I run. Thanks to this license my website will stay iPhone4/5 only.

Footnote: One of the Nokia downloads claims to be "mechanical drawings" but it only contains STL files.

Footnote 2: And why on earth do I have to register as a Nokia developer to get this?

vellamike 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. It's been such a long time since I've read something about Nokia and thought, "wow, cool!".
FredFredrickson 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is quite awesome. It's the next logical step from all the custom phone case services out there (mostly for iDevices, it seems).
thechut 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very exciting concept for Nokia to come up with. Although, I'm not sure it's any more likely to make me buy a Nokia 820 even though I do own a 3D printer.
seferphier 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is very cool and may become the norm in the future when 3d printers are abundant.

Instead of purchasing expensive cases, consumers can just go and pick their design and colors and print their cases out.

prodigal_erik 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is clever, though it'll probably disillusion me about whether even tinkerers can take a principled stand against walled gardens.
josteink 3 days ago 0 replies      
While cool, the cynic in me says this is driven by nothing but desperation.
senthilnayagam 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hope every company starts offering STL files for current and past products.

call me lazy but don't want to signup and login to download it.

jmount 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its not like you are printing a phone- just a useless case.
senekisa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very cool
ML researcher replies to request to review paper for closed journal plus.google.com
204 points by robrenaud  3 days ago   24 comments top 13
michael_nielsen 3 days ago 1 reply      
The earliest really large-scale instance of this occurred in 2001, when more than 30,000 researchers signed a letter boycotting any journal which didn't make articles open access within 6 months of publication. The boycott meant not reviewing for, editing for, or publishing in, any such journal. Signatories included many of the best-known scientists in the world. One of the authors of the boycott was Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus, who had just completed a term as Director of the US National Institutes of Health.

It's unclear how many of those researchers followed through on the boycott. Some did -- I've met many scientists who say they send letters similar to LeCun's. I've also met some who signed, but who now admit (often sheepishly) that they didn't follow through.

Text of the letter is here:


minimax 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that Cosma Shalizi has been doing this for about six years now, and it's becoming increasingly popular in certain areas of academia.





rrmm 3 days ago 1 reply      
The machine learning community has been pushing for open access for quite awhile.

In 2001, the 40 editors of Machine Learning (some of whom I was quite proud to know), resigned to start the JMLR with this letter: http://www.sigir.org/forum/F2001/sigirFall01Letters.html . Note also their citation of the similar actions taken by the editors of Logic Programming in 1999.

EDIT: btw, the JMLR is at http://jmlr.csail.mit.edu/papers/ .
moar edit: http://jmlr.csail.mit.edu/mloss/ for relevant open source code.

tzs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Terry Tao made a good point when he joined the boycott of Elsevier journals. He said he would stop submitting to their journals, and stop doing editorial work for them, but declined to stop reviewing papers.

The reason he gave is that while he is at a stage in his career where there is no pressure to publish in any particular set of journals and so can exercise discretion in where he publishes, he recognizes that some mathematicians, for reasons beyond their control, are unable to do so, and he does not wish to penalize them.

For fields where many of the high impact journals are not yet open access, I think Tao's approach makes sense. Publishing in high impact journals greatly helps the careers of young researchers.

tokenadult 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very forthright reply by the researcher asked to review the paper. Right now, reviewing submissions to scientific journals is anonymous, and not well rewarded. Jelte Wicherts, writing in Frontiers of Computational Neuroscience, (an open-access journal) suggests new procedures

Jelte M. Wicherts, Rogier A. Kievit, Marjan Bakker and Denny Borsboom. Letting the daylight in: reviewing the reviewers and other ways to maximize transparency in science. Front. Comput. Neurosci., 03 April 2012
doi: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00020


for making the peer-review process in scientific publishing more rewarding and more reliable too. Wicherts does a lot of research on this issue to try to reduce the number of dubious publications in his main discipline, the psychology of human intelligence.

"With the emergence of online publishing, opportunities to maximize transparency of scientific research have grown considerably. However, these possibilities are still only marginally used. We argue for the implementation of (1) peer-reviewed peer review, (2) transparent editorial hierarchies, and (3) online data publication. First, peer-reviewed peer review entails a community-wide review system in which reviews are published online and rated by peers. This ensures accountability of reviewers, thereby increasing academic quality of reviews. Second, reviewers who write many highly regarded reviews may move to higher editorial positions. Third, online publication of data ensures the possibility of independent verification of inferential claims in published papers. This counters statistical errors and overly positive reporting of statistical results. We illustrate the benefits of these strategies by discussing an example in which the classical publication system has gone awry, namely controversial IQ research. We argue that this case would have likely been avoided using more transparent publication practices. We argue that the proposed system leads to better reviews, meritocratic editorial hierarchies, and a higher degree of replicability of statistical analyses."

alxbrun 3 days ago 2 replies      
In my opinion, Yann LeCun is one of the top celebrities in ML/Neural Net research. His voice really has weight.
ElliotH 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did a course this semester at university about bioinformatics. I was very impressed by their attitude to knowledge sharing. Almost every paper referenced by our professor and any citations in those papers that I used were published online for no charge. But even better than that, the data and code used to generate their results was shared too. Our professor noted that in the bioinformatics field a paper is considered pretty much worthless if the data isn't made easily available in one of a few archives.

I really hope the rest of acadaemia can follow through. It seems to be we might make more progress in all of the sciences if results are easily replicable and research is published to all.

georgeorwell 3 days ago 1 reply      
> I have pledged to no longer do any volunteer work, including reviewing, for non-open access publications, which unfortunately includes pretty much every publication from [commercial-publisher].

The volunteer aspect of peer review is the worst part. How much is an expert's time worth? How much is a two-sentence review worth to an author? If it were paid on an hourly basis using an honor system, it would be fantastic for quality and consistency.

That closed journals ask for volunteer review makes it doubly bad. But I still believe paid review for open access journals would be a good thing. I know, it is an unrealistic fantasy.

akeck 3 days ago 1 reply      
Professors and researchers should start charging for time spent helping the closed journals at the very least.

If you think your reviews are valuable, charge accordingly. You provide value to the publishing process and should capture that value. You are providing the service of "expertise". If you provided that service to a lawyer, you would earn several hundred dollars an hour.

There's probably a business opportunity in creating a clearinghouse for reviewers, editors, etc. and managing the accounting.

Edit: Grammaring more goodly

msutherl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would love it if somebody could register a domain and create a canned reply that we could copy paste when asked to review papers with appropriate links to all relevant open access projects.
Snoptic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Who is that guy saying that publishing in arxiv is career suicide? Why are there ML people playing paper chase at universities when they can quickly make a fortune in industry and retire to a life of academic leisure. Of all people, ML researchers should have noticed that the 21st century has arrived.
wink 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't want to derail the thread, but one of the people participating in that G+-thread (Mike Taylor) has written some very good articles at http://reprog.wordpress.com/ and I really can't remember if I picked up the subscription here or elsewhere
pitchups 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a great first step. But for this to really make a difference to the current traditional publishers - every researcher would need to follow this example. The other problem is access to all the previously published papers. So my question is : Who owns the copyright to a paper published in a major academic journal? Is it the original authors / researchers? One would think so since they are the authors. Or do they grant exclusive rights to the journals. If the authors own the copyrights, what is to stop them from uploading their papers to one of these Open access sites?
       cached 22 January 2013 16:11:01 GMT