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Meet Watsi, Y Combinator's First Nonprofit ycombinator.com
685 points by pg  2 days ago   167 comments top 57
kevinalexbrown 2 days ago 2 replies      
Aside from the human connection mentioned in the post, by far the most compelling aspect to me is the "fixed" attribute. There's something so satisfying about isolating a problem, then fixing it.

Many charities feel like an investment. This feels like a transaction.

Edit: Here by transaction, I mean it's something that has a very high chance that it's working out. When I order a shirt online, there's a high probability it will get to me. When I fund a new t-shirt company on Kickstarter, it's less certain.

tptacek 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is great. I did what you asked and used the site and it is indeed extraordinarily compelling. I might suggest a move away from Paypal (only because the Paypal checkout experience is more intrusive and annoying than the state of the art).

Our annual all-hands summit is next week, and we'll look for ways to work this into our charity match programs. Many people on HN have companies with employees; we were told about running charity matches by other friends who have companies and let me pass the message along: they work really well. Match programs have generated more goodwill for us than bonus programs. Start a match program!

I have a question:

The big charity in this space is Partners In Health, which has an extremely positive reputation (their cofounder is also now the President of the World Bank), spends 94% of their funding on program expenses, and has a CEO who makes less than 6 figures. (PIH is apparently a medical partner for Watsi).

Is the advantage of Watsi over PIH that 100% of funds go to program expenses, rather than 94%? Or is it that fine-grained funding is more compelling and will thus elicit more donations?

glimcat 2 days ago 2 replies      
So, the really cool part is this:

"At Watsi, 100% of your donations directly fund medical treatments. Watsi.org is separately funded. They pay all their operational costs from their own funding, and none from your donations. They even eat the credit card processing fees."

This works great with Watsi's crowdfunding-style model. It probably wouldn't help with things which need legs on the ground full-time, but it would be interesting to see more nonprofits looking at an "out of channel" donor model.

P.S. If you haven't clicked through to read PG's announcement and check out Watsi, go do so. Really. This is something YC is going to look back on and be proud of being part of 20 years from now.


eranation 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm so glad this was funded, I remember when it was initially posted, and the simple, brave solution, and I salute to YC for funding and mentoring this.

One small thing, although I just donated 50$ for two people, I found myself to be a bit uncomfortable with my actions,

I didn't really pay attention much to who I'm donating to, just clicked on the first picture that caught my eye without thinking, and donated 25$. Then I noticed, I'm donating to a 1 year old baby, with a cute photo.
I really want to think of myself as someone who pays more attention, reads and makes a decision based on facts, medical condition, urgency, and likelihood to succeed, but no, I just clicked based on prejudice, 1 second first impression, biased decision, without noticing I did so.

Then I saw a 37 years old woman and noticed she got much less donations although her total needed amount is higher, perhaps her medical situation is less severe, but I would be naive to think that that's the only reason. So I asked myself, am I doing some sort of unconscious decision that is not really fair and unbiased? I would lie if I say I didn't.

So I donated 25$ to her as well, just so I feel a little better with myself, and then I thought, well, this is a feature request.

So to avoid the "cute baby gets more donations" bias, what would make it a little nicer to me is to donate without knowing who it goes to, I'd like a button that says - "donate to most medically severe case", or "donate to most time sensitive case" and have someone else make the decision. This will make me feel a little more in peace with myself, and actually might make such biases less common.
Right now it might not have affect, but as it will hopefully grow to help more people, having such "donate to who needs it most medically" option will help prevent such gaps.

Also moving to a better payment system, Stripe or even Google checkout will make it a much nicer experience.

EDIT: the baby's profile was on the home page, where as the woman's profile was one click deeper, so this could be another reason, but this brings another enhancement, please automatically promote / rotate profiles that have less donations / most urgent medical conditions to the front page

Another feature I'm missing is to allow subscription, I would think many would be happy to donate 5$-20$ a month and automatically give it to those who have the least donations, or must urgent medical condition. Getting traffic is hard and critical for making this work, and not every day you get to HN front page, I would take advantage of it and offer a recurring donation as soon as possible.

PabloOsinaga 2 days ago 2 replies      
We (masporloschicos.com) have been doing roughly the same since 2005. (instead of health we focus on malnutrition)

Note- site is in spanish - targeted to the Argentine audience

We are a bit less granular though - instead of matching against an individual, we match a specific soup kitchen. But we keep donors updated with newsletters, pictures, letters from the kids and so on.

edit: this level of udpates keeps donors engaged. we dont allow one time donations - instead we require you to subscribe.

When we built masporloschicos.com I wanted to do it more granular (individual level), but we ended up doing it a bit more aggregate because it was really hard / expensive to get to that granular level.

I wonder how is watsi tackling this problem - because ultimately you don't want to spend a lot of funds (regardless of where they come from) on the administration/bureaucracy required to provide quality 1:1 matching.

So I just wonder how are they doing it?

corin_ 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm personally not a fan of the concept of donating to help a specific person, rather than a cause, but am unsure whether I'm a rare exception or whether many people have the same view as me - hopefully a few replies could help answer this?

When I say not a fan of the concept, I absolutely don't mean I disapprove. I don't have any problem with organisations raising money this way, nor with people choosing to donate money this way - I simply don't like donating myself.

Trying to chose between fighting HIV or starvation, cancer or... etc. etc. is hard enough. Looking at Watsi's homepage, does Chimwemwe from Malawi deserve my money more than Kirshan from Nepal? What about Lidiya from Malawi? I can see the point of view that it's nice to know your money has definitely made an impact on somebody's life, but personally I don't enjoy the burden of making that decision. I'd far rather be 0.0000000001% of a big solution than 100% of a small one when it comes to charitable donations.

All that said, the fact that I dislike it doesn't take anything away from my thinking that Watsi looks like a great site, my opinion doesn't change the fact that anyone raising money for good causes is great and if the method used here helps that then no complaints from me.

SoftwareMaven 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is really cool, but I'm curious how an investment in this is different than a charitable contribution. The contribution is awesome for the network it introduces Watsi to, but I can't imagine there will ever be a return on this kind of investment.

(This is not meant to sound negative. I am truly excited to see it, interested to see what the YC network can bring to it, and very curious about the investment thinking behind it.)

kalvin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Watsi is awesome. Kiva and donorschoose made "direct" p2p lending/giving popular long ago, but Watsi is the first that feels like, well, a YC startup (just from the site-- product, team, mentality).

Also be sure to check out givewell.org for very HN-friendly (rational/research-driven) tips on how you might think about giving in general.

sethbannon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very happy to see this. At the very least, it's great news for the nonprofit world, which needs desperately to learn some of the basic the lessons of the startup world: fail fast, iterate, focus on your users, and more.
jkuria 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is really great to see. I am just curious, how do they ensure that the funds are actually used for the intended person's health issues? How do you prevent scammers and posers who just want to get money? I have a bit of experience here and would say it is a non trivial problem if you do not have an operation on the ground. You could donate to organizations that you trust but then you get back to the same old problem: Distance from the human face and actual life you are impacting.

For those of you who want to donate to non health related issues there is also SeeYourImpact.org founded by Scott Oki, one of Microsoft's early execs. They also ensure 100% of the donation goes to the person and absorb all the overhead expenses.

Shameless plug: For our Hacker News Clone for African startus, business and technology we will be running ads for SeeYourImpact.org but strictly for educational needs. Check out the site here: http://AfriTech.org/about.htm
Actual news stories on front page: http://AfriTech.org

eduardordm 2 days ago 1 reply      

I wrote this minutes ago in a thread about the 3rd world. If you ever come across a startup that solves this please fund them:

"The biggest problems right now involve education and health. Example: 60-80% health problems follow the same pattern: you see a doctor, he asks for blood/urine tests, you get the results, go back to the doctor for a prescription. Build something that the poor can explain their symptoms and do those tests without going physically to a doctor and become a semi-god here. That would involve a website (or phone call) and portable blood testers. (Specially for things like malaria, E. coli, colera, dengue fever, typhoid fever, etc)"

justjimmy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussions about Watsi. Good to see they're getting more exposure.

"Thank You HN: From 30 people whose lives you saved"

"Show HN - We just built a site that saves lives"

tsycho 2 days ago 1 reply      
On one hand, I love it that I was able to donate to a person, and Watsi didn't require a login, email etc. (though I guess they have my email from the Paypal payment).

But this is one of the sites where a login would probably be a good idea, so that I can keep track of my donations and particularly the status/health updates of those whom I am helping, and also potentially for tax purposes.

Another site on these lines which I like a lot is Kiva.org (no affiliation, just a user). It's micro-finance, not donations, but all 3 people whom I lent to on Kiva, have paid me back so their enterprise has presumably succeeded. It feels great to be able to help some poor villager in Africa buy some fertilizers or a cow, and I like how Kiva makes it easy to keep track of them :)

Update: Watsi just emailed me a receipt that I can use for tax purposes, and promised to send me a email when the person I donated to receives treatment. So I take back my minor complaint above!

Mizza 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used Watsi when it was first announced here. It's a truly amazing offering, a great product with great customer support and outreach, and, as a user, it truly makes you feel like you're doing something good for the world.

A few weeks after donating, I later got an email from them letting me know that the boy whose heart transplant I had funded had died. It kind of wrecked my whole day, but I was still glad I got the notification. I didn't expect to have such an emotional connection to a person I have never even interacted with before. Godspeed, Watsi.

dasht 2 days ago 1 reply      
Paul Graham, or anyone "in the know", may we please hear a bit about what the equivalent of a term sheet looks like for a Y Combinator non-profit investment? Is Y Combinator giving a grant? Is Watsi issuing debt to Y Combinator? What's the financing model here?
jtchang 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. I love how they are moving so fast they simply publish results to a Google Doc spreadsheet.

This foreshadows an era where non-profits must aggressively publish their spending and compete on how lean they become. My guess is there are going to be a lot of niche sites that perform exactly like Watsi.

fghh45sdfhr3 2 days ago 1 reply      
How about a kick starter like nonprofit for social funding of scientific and medical research?
rdl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please figure out a way to take equity eventually (there are organizations which help non profits do this).

I, and a lot of other startup founders, have limited income to donate, but potentially have equity which could be worth a lot of money someday. It is a lot easier to donate equity than current income.

It adds overhead and complicates your "transactional" model, but it might be a good way to fund your overhead, or to fund longer term projects, and could eventually be a recurring income stream to pay for some number of treatments.

wave 2 days ago 1 reply      
The only suggestion I have is that it would be nice to see the patient's profiles get updated after being funded and treatment was given. We all like to see how our donations are making noticeable difference in people's lives.

I really like what Watsi is doing. They even "eat the credit card processing fees"

maxharris 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there any chance of expanding this to include Americans? Or even better - people that live near me, such as my zip code + the surrounding zip codes.

That way, there's at least a chance that I'd see the person that I helped someday.

jango 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Slovakia (a small EU country) we have a non-profit called "Dobry anjel" (Good angel) which helps families of children sick with cancer and other serious diseases. It is also collects donations, is separately funded and distributes all the donations "up to the last cent". Two possibly interesting tidbits: 1) The organization has re-distributed almost 17 million euros since its inception in 2006 (this is 23 mil. USD, over half a million USD in the last month alone -- our population is about the same as Minnesota), 2) Its co-founder Andrej Kiska is planning to run for president of Slovakia next year.

EDIT: Note on transparency: all the donors have their own website login information ("angel ID") to track every donation and see exactly how much was sent to whom. The stories of recipient families are provided, along with their address + telephone number. The donors have an option to remain anonymous or reveal their contact information. I never contacted any recipients or revealed my name to them but I have heard stories where the donors and families in distress got in touch and supported each other with prayers, encouragements, etc.. "Good angel" also makes it possible to keep sending donations to the same families if you choose to (otherwise the families will be chosen at random, which is the default choice -- or at least was the default for me when I signed up in 2007).

suchow 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a neat idea.

I have an unimportant question. PG's post says "They even eat the credit card processing fees", but Watsi's FAQ says, "As part of the cost of the treatment, we have included PayPal credit card processing fees (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction). These PayPal fees are unavoidable, and no portion of the fees go to Watsi."

Who is right?

aidos 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just love this. It was featured a few months back and by the time I got to it everyone had already been sponsored [0]. It's brilliant to see the real stories of people who's lives you can have a positive effect on right now.

I also use Kiva [1] which is brilliant in a different way. You can loan money to people so they can fund their businesses etc.

I'm off to donate to Watsi now.

[0] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424081
[1] http://www.kiva.org/

jmcgough 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the transparency - with a lot of nonprofits, I feel like I need to look into their expenditures to see where my donation is really going and to figure out if it's worthwhile. Watsi feels a lot more like kickstarter but directly targeted at helping individual people. Very cool idea.

How do they pay for operations costs - is there a separate donations channel?

febeling 2 days ago 0 replies      
Go and fund someone, and observe how a couple of minutes later you get the notification email that the funding is complete. This is a very powerful new thing.
brezina 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats @pg and team! I love seeing YC used for so much good. The impact continues
ryanmolden 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats, this is awesome news! I contributed to a couple of patients when I first saw you announce this on HN because I like the 'direct to patient, 100% utilization' nature of it. This is a reminder for me to go back.

I see from your website you are a 501(c)(3) charity. I will submit your organization for approval for the matching program at my employer, which I like because it allows me to 'stick it to the man' by donating to all kinds of things my employer might or might not support (this doesn't fall into that category though). They also match volunteer hours by employees at $17 bucks an hour (after the first 10 hours), which can be a great way to get free work and free money.

seeingfurther 2 days ago 0 replies      
One could think of this non-profit funding as YC's own charity donation. I like this type of donation much more than just hard cash. YC is committing what it does best, building great organizations around amazing teams. I wish more people, companies and orgs took this approach to donations.
kanamekun 1 day ago 2 replies      
Congrats on a great site, and the exciting news around joining YC! One quick question:

<< If Watsi didn't exist, many of the patients on our site would have likely died. >>

If a surgery isn't funding in time to save a patient's life, would you fund the remaining amount of the loan out of your own funds?

xfax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool concept, makes donating very compelling. In fact, I just donated to help fund Esther's treatment.

An idea to get more people to give more - make it competitive. For example, it'll be cool if I could create a group for my school and then get people to 'tag' their donations with the group ID. Would love to see which school can get the most donations!

DannyBee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really glad this is happening. A lot of the traditional funding mechanisms for non-profits seem badly broken, incentive wise. Then again, i've been in DC, where I guess almost everything is badly broken.
chamboo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is how all charities should be done. I will be supporting this charity, and I furthermore think it should be illegal to run a charity in any other manner than pure transparency. My hat is off to Watsi, and I feel this is a bigger deal than most people may realize. These are the types of startups we need to change the world. Not only do they do something good and useful for people, they also show the rest of the charities that operating with transparency is the only way to go. Thanks guys, this made my day.
orionblastar 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well it is good for people in Nepal.

But what about the USA, especially disabled veterans, people on disability, people on no or low income, homeless people, and others who cannot afford their healthcare and got shafted by the federal government?

There are some charities, but they collect funds with Quadriga Art, that keeps the lion's share of the donations and little to no money goes to the charity or people in need. CNN has investigated this company http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/26/us/senate-charities-investigat... http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/24/fund-raising-company-f... http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/25/charities-in-debt-to-f...

This is the reason why so many charities are broke in the USA and the money never goes to the people it is supposed to help. We can reform this problem by starting up a non-profit web company to keep the costs low for raising money for these charities and making sure the people in need get the money and life saving medical treatments and surgeries that they need.

callmeed 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious if there's a reason Watsi couldn't or shouldn't be a for-profit company?

I like the fact they're not taking a transaction fee. But, it seems to me that they're also a benefit to healthcare providers, insurance companies, and big pharma (after all, the money raised is going to end up in their pockets). Aren't there ways Watsi could make money from these companies?

st0p 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just donated some euro's, and I truely believe those euro's will be well spend. But it feels wierd (and somehow wrong) to crowdfund someone's health. I'm not questioning watsi, they are in it for the right reasons. But is crowdfunding something important as health for poor people the solution?

I think everyone is trying to do good here, but nobody is solving the real problems.

zhyder 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I've never been so excited about anything we've funded."

That's great! I'm excited that you're excited. I imagine we'll see a lot more non-profits in YC shortly. Will 2013 be the year of many such non-profits, like 2012 was for hardware startups?

woodhull 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure that GiveWell (whom I adore) wouldn't like Watsi very much.

It doesn't maximize the utility of donations to spend lots of money saving the lives of a handful of people vs. other interventions that can save the lives of many more people suffering from diseases like malaria at a much lower cost per patient than the interventions that Watsi is promoting.

I think Watsi donors will feel good about helping specific people, but I'm personally interested in my donations actually being maximally impactful. If you want to save the most lives per dollar, the sort of extraordinary treatments that Watsi funds are not a great way to do it.

alpb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kiva is a similar organization http://kiva.org where people can lend money to people in poor countries for their needs. I wish the same help for Kiva.
josh2600 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome.

I think this model of achieving more direct distribution through technology could profitably be applied to a number of for-profit and non-profit endeavors.

This seems like it could also be a better way of addressing hunger, contributing food to individuals but using a managed distribution system.

What a cool idea :).

got2surf 2 days ago 0 replies      
After spending the past week thinking about monetizing ads, the next social/local/mobile app, etc... that all seems so minor compared to Watsi. It's awesome to see people doing so much social good - best of luck and amazing job!
nsomniact 2 days ago 0 replies      
I lost a bet to a friend. I just used Watsi to fulfill it.
toddnessa 1 day ago 0 replies      
A really great idea. I have been befriended by a native pastor in Kenya. His son came down with something unexpected and had to go to the hospital. The hospital did not want to let the kid out until he was fully paid up and he couldn't pay it all . This escalated the bill even further. Something like this could have really helped.
namank 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad.

Not because of the non-profit nature of this startup but the endorsement YC has now given to non-traditional and perhaps massively big ideas.

benrmatthews 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amaingly transparent organisation too. You can see every patient they've ever funded and the outcome of their treatment in a Google spreadsheet, here:


white_devil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why would a venture capitalist invest in a non-profit? Does YC not want a return on their investment?
abraininavat 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really great project. Some thoughts:
1. In the interest of 100% transparency, what do you think about being 100% transparent with your tech? Would it make sense to open-source your technology stack?

2. I really wish you had the ability to donate on behalf of someone else, either to fund Watsi or to fund medical treatment. On Amazon I set up a wishlist that people can easily access for ideas of what to buy me on Christmas or my birthday. If I could set up something like that on Watsi instead, I probably would. And if your tech was open source, I might even implement the feature myself!

raheemm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not to be cynical but how do they ensure the veracity of the patients?
pratikjhaveri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just donated. What an awesome cause and an amazing effort by the team. I'm asking other organizations that I donate to, to follow Watsi's example in transparency.
vegasje 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really glad to see that Watsi got some more attention after their original HN debut (here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4424081). These guys are making it so easy to help people in need.
batemanesque 1 day ago 0 replies      
this could channel money away from preventative care, which is far more cost-effective than funding later-stage individual treatments. $50 given for the purchase of malaria nets would save a lot more lives than a single operation.
tadruj 2 days ago 0 replies      
A great site for millionaires to visit when they're bored or have lost their purpose.
chunsaker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Way to go, Chase and team. This has tremendous vision and I hope you come out of YC with a ton of velocity.
Golobulus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will there be some kind of illness directory? Or a way I could keep track of or sign up for notices of new listings? What about a widget that I could embed on my site for specific kinds of illnesses that readers/users might be interested in donating to? Congratulations on all of this, really great idea/implementation.
theklub 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow this is a great idea.
zopticity 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, I'm really taken away the fact that you're using PayPal. First of all, you're in YC, where's the brotherly support of using other YC companies? You got WePay and Stripe, and you're not using either.
rosstamicah 2 days ago 0 replies      
Next up, a YC L3C (a hybrid for and non profit)
macorama 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great Job!
Unlocking Cellphones Becomes Illegal Saturday in the U.S. mashable.com
523 points by bluetidepro  3 days ago   352 comments top 61
kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 13 replies      
I'm wondering if anyone could help me explain why this is a bad idea to others who might be sympathetic but don't really think about unlocking iphones. Like most people, I don't care about unlocked cell phones per se, it's just a consequence of a principle I very roughly characterize as "I want to do what I want with the things I own so long as there's no detrimental social effect."

I've thought of the gas station metaphor: "Imagine owning a car and legally not being able to fill your tank with gasoline from any vendor you chose." But I'm not sure what works best.

Please: I'm not characterizing the people I mean as dumb. On the contrary, they're smart people, who would otherwise see this as an obscure decision (indeed, how many people in the US actually unlock a phone?). I'm not asking how to dumb things down, I'm asking how to convey why decisions like this matter.

pg 3 days ago 9 replies      
Does it strike anyone as odd the the Librarian of Congress is deciding critical technology policy? How did that happen? Is this just a random anomaly, or a sign of some sort of sneakiness?
jdietrich 3 days ago 1 reply      
In most of the developed world, it's either illegal to sell a network-locked phone, or there's a legal requirement for networks to provide an unlock code at the end of your contract. Locking is generally seen as fundamentally anti-competitive and permissible only under strict restrictions, in order to maintain the economic viability of handset subsidies.

It's entirely reasonable that if your phone is discounted as part of a contract, you should be obliged to complete the contracted term or pay an early termination fee in order to keep the handset. What's not reasonable is the idea that the subsidy arrangement gives a network complete control over your device in perpetuity. Either the device is rented to you by the network, in which case they are responsible for it, or it's sold to you at a discounted price and is yours so long as you finish paying for it.

tokenadult 3 days ago 4 replies      
As phones become[1] no longer subsidized by network operators in the United States, this will become a non-issue.

[1] EDIT: I changed the former word "are" to "become" for clarity. What I mean, as some readers picked up and some did not, is that I expect United States mobile phone networks to get out of the business of selling mobile handsets at a heavily subsidized price (as is current practice in the United States), and thus get out of the business of needing to lock in contracts to gain revenue to cover the up-front cost of the subsidy. When handsets are sold at near full list price, the networks can charge just their network costs to customers who are free to shop with unlocked phones. The United States market is confusing in having different technical standards for basic voice phone service on different networks, but the networks are converging on similar technical standards for their data networks, so eventually most smart phone users will be able to shop for networks here.

Irregardless 3 days ago 5 replies      
If I remember correctly, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T have all settled class-action lawsuits regarding their locked down handsets after consumers claimed it was anti-competitive.

1 step forward, 10 steps backwards. How is this happening?

> Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1929, Dr. Billington was. . .

Oh, the guy who just decided unlocking smartphones should be illegal was born in 1929? Cool. That's how rotary phones used to work, right?

Claudus 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm an even tempered person, but seeing a law like this passed really makes me angry.

Dear government, how about passing a law that benefits me for a change? It's been a while.

dmix 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
Diamons 3 days ago 4 replies      
DMCA, as in the Digital Millenium COPYRIGHT Act? I can't believe what the fuck I'm reading here. I paid for the phone. I own it. I can do whatever I bloody please with it.

I'm furious right now.

grandpa 3 days ago 1 reply      
I couldn't figure out from the article what exactly it is that's illegal. Which of these situations cause me to break the law as an American?

1. I travel to Canada, unlock my cellphone there where it is legal, and bring it back to the U.S.

2. My Canadian nephew unlocks my phone while I am not looking.

3. I unlock my phone, but then never turn it on so it never connects to a carrier.

4. I buy a phone in New York, then move to Canada never to return. On arrival in Canada, I unlock my phone.

If it's really true that "unlocking cellphones is illegal in the U.S.", then only 3 should be illegal.

tburch 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you need to unlock your GSM Samsung Galaxy S3 or Note 2, here's how:

Dial the following keys #197328640#

Main Menu > [1] UMTS > [1] Debug Screen > [8] Phone Control > [6] Network Lock > Options [3]Perso SHA256 OFF > (after choosing this option, wait about 30 seconds, then go back one step by pressing the Menu button then select Back, now you are in [6] Network Lock then choose [4] NW Lock NV Data INITIALLIZ ..... wait for a minute then reboot your phone... enjoy!!!

This is a PERMANENT UNLOCK, and does NOT trigger anything for warranty

/standard disclaimer: I am not responsible if you don't follow directions and what you do with your phone. Credit goes to http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=34661189&...

pharrington 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apparently I'm totally confused and don't understand this at all.

"III. The Designated Classes
Upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, the Librarian has determined that the following classes of works shall be exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures set forth in Section 1201(a)(1)(A):


C. Wireless telephone handsets " interoperability with alternative networks Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable a wireless telephone handset originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption to connect to a different wireless telecommunications network, if the operator of the wireless communications network to which the handset is locked has failed to unlock it within a reasonable period of time following a request by the owner of the wireless telephone handset, and when circumvention is initiated by the owner, an individual consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of the computer program in such wireless telephone handset, solely in order to connect to a different wireless telecommunications network,and such access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network."[1]

As far as I can tell, software unlocking your cell phone was already illegal under the DMCA; in October this exemption was enacted, saying that software unlocking old phones will no longer be illegal; new phones purchased between then and this upcoming Saturday are also legally software unlockable; it's only new phones purchased after the 90 day period that don't fall under the exemption."

Is this interpretation accurate?

e: And of course there's the whole issue that software unlocks are primarily illegal because of their use to circumvent contracts after buying subsidized phones, but I don't have a well-reasoned opinion about that :\

[1]http://www.scribd.com/doc/111227035/DMCA-Rules-2012 https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/26/2012-263...

arbuge 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hear that Carmen Ortiz is already gearing up her office to enforce this. Unlock your phone, get charged with 13 felonies and up to 50 years in jail. But you'll be able to plead guilty and get away with just 6 months or so.
kunai 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't give a rat's arse if it becomes illegal, I'm going to do it anyway.

Even so, the government has no right to declare what users can or cannot do with their mobile phones. Another "victimless crime" on the books. How has the war on drugs been working out for you, Congress? So much money and so many resources wasted on a crime that has no direct victims.

Seriously, someone needs to keep these loonies that run our country in check, because our masses are so stupid that they keep electing the idiots back into office. Ridiculous.

programminggeek 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's ironic that unlocked phones benefit carriers arguably as much as locked phones do. An unlocked phone makes it easier to switch carriers, thus cheaper for carriers to acquire customers, but maybe they'd all rather have it be expensive to acquire customers so that it's harder for smaller providers to compete.

Either way, I don't think that the DMCA was designed to ensure a telecom oligopoly.

eliben 3 days ago 1 reply      
It may be marginally off topic, but this is exactly why it makes me sad seeing people claiming that monopolies are why capitalism doesn't work. The only reason monopolies really succeed is because of government regulations like this one. Without government regulations, all monopolies would crash very quickly.
Xuzz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Removal of a specific exemption from a law is not the same as "becomes illegal". Do we have any clear reasons that this becomes illegal, or is it now just more of an unexplored gray area of the law?
redwood 3 days ago 3 replies      
We really need to reflect on the slippery slope, America.

I recommend checking out this TED talk because it's very inspirational: http://on.ted.com/Stevenson The focus of the talk is a bit more on inequality in the justice system than tech laws, say. But it's relevant since a) we need to be mindful of the "other" who's persecuted, as we're reminded by some of our own who are persecuted.
and b) this talk highlights how we accept the moment as normal even when the moment is unjust. The talk reminds us to stand up and fight for what's right, rather than accept the new normal.

Finally, I'm reminded of the Martin Niemöller quote that we should always remember:

"First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me."

EDIT: I do apologize for the hyperbole folks... it was more inspired by the TED talk I linked to than the article above and the feelings caused by the Schwartz case and others. I went off topic, sorry!

darkstalker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Totally the opposite on how is my country (Chile). Here it's illegal to sell locked phones.
SageRaven 3 days ago 1 reply      
From TFA: "The DMCA only permits you to unlock your phone yourself once you've asked your carrier first."

This struck me as odd. Not having read it myself, I didn't realize the DMCA was that particular.

So, is this "illegal" in the sense that ripping your own DVDs is "illegal"? Will we have "cellphone johns" under fire from phone maker and phone-unlocking code on t-shirts in a few weeks/months?

I've never owned a phone fancy enough to warrant unlocking, but this news irks me nonetheless. Seems plain as day that once you buy hardware, you have the right to modify it and use it as you see fit, so long as you own it outright.

Let the game of whack-a-mole begin...

pla3rhat3r 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the part where the article says, "this wasn't what the DCMA was supposed to do." Is anyone else shocked that intention and expectations change when someone is given enormous power to change the rules? Come on guys! Stop being so gullible!
wwwtyro 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is the name of the person ultimately responsible for this decision?
drucken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Original ruling (Section III.C of 77 FR 65260) from Copyright Office, Library of Congress available at, https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/26/2012-263...
chintan 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you do the math, unlocked phones turn out to be cheaper over 2 years.


I hope people start avoiding the contracts because of this stupid law.

drucken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Long term, the locked business model due to smartphone subsidies will die anyway since it largely benefits the manufacturers and app developers. Carriers are the ones currently taking the considerable risks facing consumers.

So, it is really a question whether it is appropriate to have semi-random administrative laws being applied by a "Librarian" at any time being good for society or progress.

The EFF and others who argued for how these exemptions to draconian laws are applied may yet rue the day the asked for this opening on their effective rights. At least the passed law was a static target that could be outpaced by technology.

felipeko 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is sad.

In Brazil, my home country, is illegal for a carrier to not unlock your phone if you ask.

jawngee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't work for them, or am associated with them in anyway other than being a customer, but I did get an unlock through them: http://applenberry.com/

Was flawless, though I did have to buy a nano sim from T-Mobile to make it all happen.

I spend about half the year in Vietnam. My first trip there, I had a locked iPhone and had to use a Gevey Ultra-Sim to get my phone to work on Viettel. It worked OK, but just OK. Had to fiddle with it a lot.

I've unlocked an iPhone 4s and an iPhone 5 with them.

diminoten 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Christopher S. Reed from the U.S. Copyright Office noted in an email to TechNewsDaily that "only a consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of software on the handset under the law, may unlock the handset."

So if I flash the firmware with a copy of software I own, am I then free to perform the unlocking action?

vy8vWJlco 2 days ago 0 replies      
The petition:

The HN discussion of the petition (in short, it's not nearly enough, but it's a start): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5112020

I'm at a loss for words over this one. All I can think to say is: money talks ladies and gentlemen. Freedom is the only thing that's ever been worth paying for.

bluetidepro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe this is just my ignorance on Unlocking vs Jailbreaking, but will you still be able to Jailbreak your iPhone (legally) to get access to things like Cydia?
meaty 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't see this being a major problem. It's technically been illegal in the UK for years as you don't own the handset until your contract has paid up.

However, every handset I've ever had is either "SIM-free" or has been unlocked.

I now however only buy SIM-free unlocked handsets so I can give my telco the finger or throw another SIM in if they go down.

joejohnson 3 days ago 1 reply      
>>For example, Verizon's iPhone 5 comes out of the box already unlocked, and AT&T will unlock a phone once it is out of contract.

Can someone explain to me why AT&T is allowed to unlock phones if unlocking phones is illegal?

tvladeck 3 days ago 1 reply      
My view is that requiring the user _not_ to unlock the phone is a perfectly reasonable element of the agreement between the user and the phone provider. It's all about what both sides are getting -- and it's certainly true that you are not getting an unrestricted device. But, I would dare say that everyone has a certain price at which they would find a restricted device to be worthwhile. So, the qualitative aspects of such a transaction are absolutely fine and it's perfectly reasonable for the law to uphold that.
ratherbefuddled 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can think of no good reason to enter into a contract for cell phone use.

It always seems to me to be at least as cheap to buy the phone outright and use a prepaid sim. You pay more up front but less monthly.

You have more freedom, you can still buy on credit with a credit card if you wish to (and benefit from additional protections by doing so usually). You can change networks if you relocate or have signal problems, you can keep your number and you can sell your phone and buy a new one if you fancy it.

I use a prepay in the UK, I bought my own Note 2 which was expensive (~£400), but now I pay £12 a month for unlimited data and text and more minutes than I'll use by an order of magnitude.

Even in the US, where airtime charges are comparatively high, it seems to be cheaper to do this overall. Why save $400 on the phone by agreeing to pay $20-30 a month more than you need to for two years?

Am I missing something? Why do people get sucked in?

jemeshsu 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is illegal for telcos to sell locked phones in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and I believe some more Asian countries. I take it as a pro-consumer or a pro-business decision by a government.
berlinbrown 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this like Aaron Swartz illegal or something else? Is it a felony?
cupcake-unicorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article is frustrating, it doesn't really explain the implications.

In what sense is this "illegal"? Could I be jailed or fined for doing this? I doubt it's going to be enforceable, unless somehow the carriers care enough to keep a database of phone ids and actually go after people? If a friend unlocks a phone for me, or I buy an unlocked phone unknowingly, am I now implicated?

It just seems to me that this is going to effect businesses that repair phones and phone companies with bring your own phone plans, not individuals, because people will go on modding regardless. Or is it somehow going to be "illegal" to the extent that roms will be modified and forum posts referring to "illegal" activities like unlocking the phone will be blocked?

nichochar 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem here is way deeper than just the possibility to unlock a phone (which obviously is already quite a big practical problem, you just have to read a couple of comments above who explain why very well).
The problem is the culture in which we live in, and the transition that we are experiencing, going from `free culture`(read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_culture_movement) towards a 'permission culture`, in which big companies basically control assets which should be creative commons.

This transition will not pull through, it will most probably lead to a revolution of some kind (this is a pattern seen throughout history).

ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just another way to make sure your are felon.

Unless you knowingly launder drug money in a major bank chain, then you are fine and no-one will go to prison, you'll only lost a month of profit and everyone is fine.

DanBC 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is locking a phone to a particular carrier covered by the DMCA? What part of the DMCA covers it, and why?
jakeonthemove 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, damn... No worries, it will just make these things: http://www.gsmserver.com/shop/gsm/sigma_key.php cheaper, more popular and reliable...
Sami_Lehtinen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't ever had locked phone, and I won't have one in future either. What's the problem. If you don't want locked phone, don't buy one.
GigabyteCoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
New Title: Unlocking Cellphones Becomes a Much More Lucrative Endeavor Saturday in the U.S.
ceesiren 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also, let's say you are with AT&T and your phone breaks or you lose it a few months before you qualify for a new phone. You are forced to pay for a new one at full price even though you've already decided you are going to switch to T-Mobile or a prepaid service when your contract is up.

If you can unlock it and the new carrier is also GSM, you can take the phone with you. Or, if you want a new phone with your new carrier, you can sell your existing phone that you just paid full price for. If it's unlocked (or unlockable) you can sell it to ANYONE if it's unlocked and might get a better price since the potential customer pool is larger than if you HAVE to find someone on the AT&T network to buy it.

I just bought a currently locked AT&T phone because I was told I can unlock it for use with T-Mobile. Then I discovered that when it arrives tomorrow I have EXACTLY ONE DAY to unlock it before that becomes illegal. In my case, the scenario described above is exactly what happened to the guy I bought the phone from. Only he wanted to stay with AT&T but when his contract renewed (3 months after buying the phone I just bought from him) he was eligible for a new higher end phone (actually an iPhone 5).

I just can't get over how freaking BIG BROTHER-ESQUE this new law is. I HAS to be unconstitutional, right???

zceid06 2 days ago 0 replies      
Carriers must have lobbied for that in order to kill the second hand market. Locked phones have very little resell value so it makes their bundles much more attractive. Needless to say, telecom operators had to innovate to continue growing !
cafard 3 days ago 1 reply      
Eh? The WMATA buses in Washington, DC, have advertisements on the side from one carrier (Verizon?) offering deals for users bringing in unlocked phones from another carrier (AT&T)?
cicloid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny story. Since october, If you own your cellphone on Mexico (not subsidized or contract has ended), according to the NOM-184-SCFI-2012 you can ask your carrier to unlock it for you, free of charge.
mikebracco 3 days ago 0 replies      
B2C businesses (like mobile carriers) that require customer contracts and/or other "lock in" tactics are destined to die through market disruption. "Lock in" is an artificial way to increase LTV of a customer. Market innovations that reduce cost of customer acquisition will displace these archaic business models.
eriksank 3 days ago 0 replies      
Since the politicians and their servants invented these new regulations to please their friends and intend to enforce it at gunpoint, my question is now: what respect-instilling reprisals should be inflicted -- thoroughly -- to discourage them from trying this again? It is not possible to make an omelet without breaking eggs. So what's next?
darasen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I still want to know why a completely unelected government official gets to decide what is and isn't illegal.
shaydoc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Prohibition on unlocking cellphones, unreal, who lobbied for that,
When I hear stories like this, Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", springs into mind!
fnl 3 days ago 0 replies      
My condolences to all US travelers who now will have to either pay outrageous roaming bills, be criminalized, or buy a second (unlocked) phone...
jimktrains2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why would they just switch their stance? https://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/07/26 Something's rotten in the state of Denmark^H^H^H^H^H^HC

(Yes, I know DC isn't a "state")

scottbartell 3 days ago 0 replies      
The power of lobbying. The legislation that can bring candidates the most money always seems to take priority. This goes to show that the common man has far less power then is ideal.
ommunist 3 days ago 0 replies      
OMG> Should I open "mail me your phone to unlock" e-store?
thisismyname 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, who got paid to make this law?
shaaaaawn 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is little or no way for this to be actually be regulated.
enemtin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another big step backwards for the U.S.
spiritplumber 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear law,


Signed, Users

transfire 3 days ago 0 replies      
ForFreedom 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is plain stupid and only supports Apple
acuity12 3 days ago 2 replies      
"I couldn't really learn Erlang, 'cos it didn't exist, so I invented it" erlang.org
490 points by chops  3 days ago   175 comments top 28
ghc 3 days ago 11 replies      
Just for a moment, consider who this man is and what he has done. We would all do well to take a step back and consider his manner of response. Notice that he continued learning new languages after creating Erlang (instead of just evangelizing it at the one true language). He did not immediately say "choose these three languages" as if they were the only ones you could possibly learn.

Does it really help our profession/hobby at all if we engage in language-elitism and snark? Even on Hacker News I've seen vitriol directed at Ruby, Python, Javascript, Haskell, to name a few recent targets. All languages have their place, even if that place is only as a lesson for future language designers.

Encouraging people to build stuff, whatever the language, whatever the library, whatever the framework; that is what we should be doing. IF someone wants suggestions, or help deciding what to use, that is fine, but criticizing someone for the language or framework they use has become all too common and a stain on the character of our community.

That's not to say honest criticism is unwelcome: All languages/libraries/frameworks/software can improve. But to belittle people for the choices they make, or to segregate ourselves into voluntary language-ghettos we are compelled to stay in by the force of public opinion...that goes against the spirit of what people like Armstrong worked hard to build. Maybe it started with "Worse is Better", maybe it started with alt.religion.emacs being taken a little too seriously, but it has been perpetuated by all of us, even Paul Graham (in Beating the Averages).

At some point, this has to stop. We, as a community, must grow to support the betterment of hacking by creating and encouraging creation; not by petty vitriol and conformism based on fashion.

Now, I've strayed pretty far from the point of the post itself, but Armstrong closed with such a salient point: If we stopped bickering so much about what is the "right language", "right framework", "right library" and instead encouraged particular protocols and documentation standards we'd all be better off for it.

h2s 3 days ago 2 replies      
For when the moderators inevitably change this post to reflect the page's actual title, here's the title under which it was originally submitted:

    I couldn't really learn Erlang, 'cos it didn't exist, so I invented it

sambeau 3 days ago 1 reply      
I spat my coffee out at this bit:

    if you want a quick fix go buy 
"learn PHP in ten minutes" and spend
the next twenty years googling for
"how do I compute the length of a string"

DigitalJack 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say this made me feel better that I'm not a wizard in Clojure. If one could be said to be "in love" with a programming language, that would be where I am at with clojure in terms of feelings.

But I've only scratched the surface. I sometimes sit and watch the #clojure channel on freenode, and I find it inspiring, interesting, entertaining, and disheartening all at once.

Inspiring because I get to see the people who write the awesome software and write the terrific books interacting, and I'll be danged, they are kind and good people!

Interesting because of the problems they are working on and discuss, asking each other for advice or just plain help.

Entertaining because they aren't just kind and good, they are also lighthearted sometimes very funny.

Disheartening because sometimes I look at the pastebin code, or the code they message to the clojurebots, and I am left scratching my head.

However, having read this "oldtimer's" post, I'm inspired to know that it's OK to not become a master in programming in 24 hours.

krenoten 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an interesting lecture (sorry, I couldn't find a non-split version) he gave at a university in Sweden (where Erlang has a much greater influence, ahhh the sanity of Northern Europe ;P)
note - the sound is dim for the first few moments

He goes into some of the choices that went into Erlang, and some interesting experiences he had as the project went forward. He gives a different list that he feels the students in attendance should learn:
C, JS, LLVM Assembler, one of ruby or python, and one of Erlang or Haskell.

Irregardless 3 days ago 1 reply      

  What would I recommend learning? 
- C
- Prolog
- Erlang (I'm biased)
- Smalltalk
- Javascript
- Hakell / ML /OCaml
- LISP/Scheme/Clojure
A couple of years should be enough (PER LANGUAGE).

A 'beginner' should start by spending 14 years (minimum) learning 7 languages? I was starting to agree with him when he mentioned the paradox of choice that programming beginners face today, but that recommendation is beyond ignorant.

Becoming a veteran polyglot is not the only way to break into the programming field. This is exactly the type of elitist BS that we don't need -- scaring beginners away by giving the impression that they face an insurmountable cliff from the start.

Should we also mention that they need a minimum of 3 master's and 2 doctorate degrees? I don't think I've heard of a single successful programmer with anything less. Surely no one has ever dropped out of college and acquired vast amounts of wealth at an early age by programming.

programminggeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
What is most interesting here is the ideas about protocols and communication. To me, that's what much of software development is getting wrong both on the small and on the big.

In a single app, objects should talk to each other and databases and queues and junk via protocols, not by being glued to an ORM or a particular implementation of a queue or whatever. Most devs don't do this because it's more work, but you end up with a much cleaner/more testable structure to work with.

On a higher level, many/most programs aren't made to communicate with each other at all. Look at web software, it's all about communicating with a browser and that's it. The API driven movement is helping things along, but it's still a HTTP Browser driven mindset complete with holy wars about REST/Hypermedia.

Unix pipes are a great example of what is possible with standard communication protocols, but it seems like it could be taken further. What if you could pipe a stream of API's together? Yahoo's YQL and Pipes plays in this realm, but you still have to kind of glue pieces together yourself.

Imagine if you could say...

fb search --name 'John Doe' --location 'Chicago, IL' | linkedin --filter 'Ruby Programmer' | twitter tweet 'Hey check out our ruby meetup next week'

That's a somewhat contrived example, but it would be great if we could do something that simple and not just via a command line, but from any language in a similar amount of code. That would be a step forward I think.

lucian1900 3 days ago 0 replies      
Proper schemas (based on an algebraic type system) with a simple serialisation would indeed go a long way.

Sadly, there's still too much choice there as well. Even worse, many would reject the very idea.

politician 3 days ago 2 replies      
Navel-gazing aside, Armstrong suggested that a good language would consist of closed forms interacting over formal protocols. What languages fit that description?
_nato_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Joe is fearless and an inspiration. For those with 25~ dollars to spare, pick up Joe's 'Programming Erlang' and never regret it. I _think_ differently after reading that book. I am mainly a musician, but what he uncovered for me regarding our brains and how we think blew me away.
S4M 3 days ago 2 replies      
>> Notice there is no quick fix here - if you want a quick fix go buy "learn PHP in ten minutes" and spend the next twenty years googling for "how do I compute the length of a string"

I couldn't agree more on that one.

guard-of-terra 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Things improved - I went to CERN and used the CRAY1 this could compile 100K lines of FORTRAN in 1 picosecond (ie about a zillion times slower than my mobile phone today)"

I don't like how he mixes together some precise numbers (, RAM size) with completely unrealistic (you can't do anyting in a picosecond, you can't compile 100k likes of code without noticing the time it takes the even today on any hardware.

hellerbarde 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very well written. A very interesting and verbose (not in a bad way) way of answering the everpresent question "What language should I learn?"

PS: Yes, I know that not the whole discussion was about this question. Still.

ricardobeat 3 days ago 0 replies      

    if you want a quick fix go buy "learn PHP in ten
minutes" and spend the next twenty years googling for
"how do I compute the length of a string"

pretty much summed up the PHP experience :)

    If ALL applications in the world were interfaced by 
(say) sockets + lisp S expressions and had the
semantics of the protocol written down in a formal
notation - then we could reuse things (more) easily.

nodejs apps are usually very close to that: small modular services interacting via sockets + events using json, protocol buffers, etc. Much like the unix pipe philosophy applied to servers.

If you didn't study CS and want to improve your knowledge of algorithms, I found Coursera classes to be very good.

jeffdavis 3 days ago 2 replies      
In many ways, SQL is the protocol by which we combine programs together.
sgt 3 days ago 3 replies      
>> Things improved - I went to CERN and used the CRAY1 this could compile 100K lines of FORTRAN in 1 picosecond (ie about a zillion times slower than my mobile phone today)

Sarcasm doesn't translate well in a thread like this, so just in case someone really thought it could compile 100K lines in a picosecond, dream on. :-)

dysoco 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm interested in Erlang, have read a lot of good things about it lately.

However I've not tried it yet because I don't see how it is going to help me... I already know some functional programming (Scala, Haskell) and I don't work with large, distributed software or databases.

I'm afraid I'm going to learn it, not finding something useful to do with it, and then "forget" it.

s_husso 3 days ago 2 replies      
>> The crazy think is we still are extremely bad at fitting things together - still the best way of fitting things together is the unix pipe

Is that sad or pure genius?

melvinmt 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious to see what Joe thinks about Go.
JBiserkov 3 days ago 0 replies      
> A couple of years should be enough (PER LANGUAGE).

Reminded me of http://norvig.com/21-days.html

blumentopf 3 days ago 0 replies      
"In the beginning I looked around and couldn't find the car I dreamed of. So I decided to build it myself."

("Am Anfang schaute ich mich um, konnte den Wagen von dem ich träumte, nicht finden. Also beschloss ich ihn mir selbst zu bauen.")

-- Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche on inventing the 356

AlexDanger 3 days ago 0 replies      
The crazy think is we still are extremely bad at fitting things together - still the best way of fitting things together is the unix pipe

This is something that resonates with me. I'm never been a 'nix person but this is a very attractive pitch for getting stuff done. It is, after all, how we build things with LEGO.

I went to a Java school so my OO indoctrination was strong by the time I graduated. Now I'm really starting to crave a development paradigm by composition rather than inheritance. My job title is no longer that of a programmer but I write utilities and library daily to help me with my 'real' job. It helps me get stuff done.

So my question - since I primarily work in the MS world, does PowerShell offer the same flexibility and utility of the Unix pipe? I'd never thought of taking the time to learn it until reading this post.

ericbb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not big on IDEs either but how can you dislike revision control?
gobengo 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a great writeup by an experience programmer.
nanoscopic 3 days ago 0 replies      
This person may be "important", but a lot of the comments about languages seem to be borderline flamebait. Also, the mention of -many- languages, but the deliberate lack of any mention of Perl seems odd to me. I really dislike PHP myself, but there is no need to bash it.
dexcs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish i had the time to learn that much languages and spend couple of years per language... I think the problem today is that we try to learn 3 or more at the same time what often results in bad code....
3pt14159 3 days ago 10 replies      
To me, this list is great except for one small thing.

    - C
- Prolog
- Erlang
- Smalltalk
- Javascript
- Hakell / ML /OCaml
- LISP/Scheme/Clojure

Javascript?! Over Ruby or Python or Lua? What is it with people liking Javascript. I really don't get it. What can I do that is so beautiful or mindbending that I can't do in python?

From my experience there is only two reasons to learn Javascript: to be able to build web applications, or to write document store queries (MongoDB or Riak, although in Riak you can also use Erlang). Otherwise I just don't see what the big deal is.

Aaron's Army resource.org
429 points by mikeleeorg  2 days ago   38 comments top 10
thinkcomp 2 days ago 4 replies      
Carl really is an amazing person.

If you haven't seen it already, please participate in Operation Asymptote, and tell others to as well:


I'd like to have every U.S. Attorney's full case history on PlainSite by March 31, 2013. I paid for Ortiz [1] and Heymann [2]. There are a lot more.

[1] http://www.plainsite.org/flashlight/attorney.html?id=69049&#...

[2] http://www.plainsite.org/flashlight/attorney.html?id=73864&#...

Also, help us with extending RECAP:


rsingel 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those unfamiliar with Carl Malamud, he's a national treasure cataloging and open-sourcing the nation's legal codes, government videos, legal filings and other public documents.

He had Aaron's back many times, including when the FBI was investigating the Pacer liberation. If you want to support the kind of work that Aaron believed in, resource.org takes donations in many denominations.

will_brown 2 days ago 0 replies      
In all humility I did not know who Carl Malamud was before reading this post and the comments, and still I had to look him up. As a former corporate attorney I used the SEC's EDGAR database regularly never realizing that if it were not for one persons efforts that system would not exist. But what speaks to me even more is his current effort with law.gov to bring online all primary legal materials (including legal codes and case law) for open public access.

It is eye opening to someone whose reality was subscriptions to westlaw and lexisnexis, that could be in the thousands of dollars, for access to case law, codes, statutes, rules and regulations (or in other words, public material). I am going to see if I can find some of his talks on YouTube, but it would be awesome to be able to interact with someone like this.

digitalengineer 2 days ago 5 replies      
A good talk, but I feel it's not smart to use the 'Army' definition, espacially because you're non-violent. You're definitely not an army, see Wikipedia: An army (from Latin "arma" “arms, weapons”) in the broadest sense is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state.

The way this 'game' is played it's not even possible to defend yourselves (by design). And with regards to you're rights, I'm reminded of George Calin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgj4ARfAqI0 from 4:23).

ebcase 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they post the video of Carl's memorial speech somewhere online, it was passionate and inspiring! Text on a webpage conveys his message, but everyone jumped up applauding when he finished speaking tonight in SF.
javajosh 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems strange to me that Google, Amazon, or any other cloud provider hasn't partnered with a non-profit organization to secure grants for a modern, comprehensive public data repository. You might call it something like "gov.org". One requirement, of course, is to have an open process for modifying data representation. Crowd-sourced data formats, heh.

(Out of curiosity, why can't we consider the content of .gov websites to constitute this archive and simply a) petition that all public datasets be available on a .gov domain (format to be sorted later) and b) that all future datasets start out life open on .gov.)

SageRaven 2 days ago 0 replies      
From these past couple of weeks, I have picked up on the basics of the PACER incident. Is the archive out there anywhere to be found? Maybe at Wikileaks or an onion address?

How about the mass of data Aaron got from JSTOR? Surely someone else must have a copy for safe keeping.

Seems this particular subset of data deserves to be liberated. Not that the archives in their entirety do not, but since a subset is already out there, why hasn't some group released it yet?

As someone who's had to pay PACER fees for their own court concerns, I find this entire paywall mentality offensive.

wjs9889 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a wonderful tribute, I was there just now and felt so inspired.
etherealG 2 days ago 0 replies      
please can anyone upload a video stream of this?
sonergonul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just wait us Aaron!..
Triumphant motel owner slams Carmen Ortiz bostonherald.com
407 points by hudibras  2 days ago   140 comments top 15
tokenadult 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to see the Institute for Justice,


"the nation's only libertarian, civil liberties, public interest law firm," mentioned in this story. The involvement of specialist lawyers with knowledge of civil forfeiture law probably helped the motel owner win the ruling reported in this news story.

nirvana 2 days ago 5 replies      
I've just been made aware that there is evidence that someone has been trying to steal property worth more than $1M!

We need a prosecutor to draw up charges...oh, wait.

Who prosecutes the prosecutors?

xanados 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is pure evil, and morally worse in my opinion than going after Swartz. At least he almost certainly actually violated a law. Trying to fill government coffers by seizing the assets of innocent bystanders is ridiculous.
arbuge 2 days ago 3 replies      
Great to see Ortiz's office crash and burn, but innocent taxpayers are also losers here. They now have to refund the defendant's legal bills - around $600k in total.
md224 2 days ago 5 replies      
Relevant comments posted by tptacek in a previous thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5084996

Leads me to question whether this case is as black-and-white as it would seem.

jonathlee 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Institute for Justice has been fighting this one for a while. I'm glad they were finally able to get the judge to see what was going on.

(Full disclosure: I am a supporter of IJ.)

rshm 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Caswell estimates the U.S. government will have to pay at least $600,000 toward his defense fees.". What a waste of taxpayer's money.
scoot 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Caswell estimates the U.S. government will have to pay at least $600,000 toward his defense fees."

I can't help but think that whoever made the decision to bring this frivolous case to trial should pay the fees.

pakitan 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can anyone clarify why is he expecting to be paid $600K for his legal fees? I thought that in US the party which lost the case is not obligated to cover the legal fees of the winner. Which is one of the things that makes patent trolls thrive.
zafka 2 days ago 0 replies      
This brings a smile to my face.
EvanAnderson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anybody else find the photo of the motel owner a little jarring? It's something about the lens distortion, I think, that makes me see him as a cardboard stand-up when I just glance at the picture.
youngerdryas 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope she still runs for office so we can have protests at every event.
zachinglis 1 day ago 0 replies      
So my question… with all these posts we're seeing and complains, is there an official investigation that we know of? I know there's a petition and it seems to have passed but I was curious as to what was going on.
robot 2 days ago 2 replies      
A ton of writing that fails to clearly describe what the conflict is all about.
alpb 2 days ago 1 reply      
The story writes as "The innkeeper's complaint follows the suicide of hacker Aaron Swartz" and it is inevitable that average Joe will think that aaronsw hacked people's bank accounts &c.
How Newegg crushed the “shopping cart” patent and saved online retail arstechnica.com
381 points by govind201  7 hours ago   78 comments top 31
creamyhorror 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
A victory for common sense, the tech industry, and right-thinking citizens everywhere. May the gods of the market continue to smile upon Newegg (a prosperous Lunar New Year to them!).

Points of interest to me:

Lee Cheng: And we'll take a case through trial as a matter of principle because we want to accomplish the purpose of making good law. Like eBay did, like Quanta did when they challenged LG. It's part of our duty as a good corporate citizen to try to accelerate the rationalization of patent law.

This guy talks like a crusader for just law instead of an executive or business owner. You'd pretty never hear this from anyone in a public company, it just wouldn't be possible. More's the pity that most people can't really achieve big results like this; we have to retain ownership of our businesses in order to really live out our principles.


A commenter on Ars, on why no one else fought Soverain to the end:

I think the problem from most defendants' perspective is that they can just pass the costs along to their customers without facing any strategic disadvantage. Compared to its competitors, does Newegg winning this lawsuit give them any competitive advantage? After all, their competitors are no longer subject to paying for the invalidated settlements either.

By paying the settlements, the companies reinforce an awful system, but they also don't need to face the volatility and potential cost of a jury-trial in districts cherry-picked by the trolls. By going to trial, the defendant only stands to maintain patent troll cost parity with their competitors (if they win and invalidate their competitors' settlements)- or they lose and get hit with a judgment that could be extremely costly.

Further, in most organizations, management risks the ire of their shareholders should they elect to go to trial and lose. They're again put in a situation where their personal risks outweigh any benefits they stand to gain. Even for executives that consider themselves ethical, they can still rationalize that minimizing risk to the shareholders is the ethical decision.


This seems true enough - from a (rational) game-theoretic perspective, why should any victim really fight hard to overcome a troll, if in doing so they risk big losses, and don't gain any advantage over their competition even if they win? The main potential upside is that consumers and potential partners will view them more favorably and give them more business (as is happening now), but this is a very unreliable bet to make. The downsides of "doing the right thing" are very likely greater than the upsides.

The main motivator to fight the trolls has to be personal principle, and even then the principled person has to balance it against the real risks to his company and lifestyle. Newegg had the gumption and muscle to see the case to its end, but it was the lucky one, the one-in-a-hundred with the right attributes (principled owners, private ownership, deep pockets). We're not likely to see this kind of thing happen very often, with the odds stacked against what should be the right outcome.

And that's all the more reason to salute Lee Cheng, Fred Chang, and James Wu and their victory against profiteers in a flawed system. CEO Fred Chang probably deserves as many, if not more, accolades as Lee Cheng, for deciding as the major shareholder to take this battle to its end.

pg 5 hours ago 3 replies      
These were Open Market's patents? OM tried to get us to license one of them in about 1997. They didn't try very hard though. I told the OM guy who called me that I thought the patent was invalid, and he said "ok" and then asked if we were hiring.
robomartin 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
We need more of this. A lot more. We also need to stigmatize law-firms willing to take-on patent troll clients.

Looking at the companies who got sued by these trolls one can only wonder why it is that these companies don't unite to create a legal and financial firewall of sorts to go against trolls each and every time they stick their heads out of the slime they live in. All you really need is for trolls to be summarily destroyed for a few years to create the conditions for change.

I have not bought anything from Newegg in a long, long time. Sometimes I almost instinctively just buy through Amazon. Now it will be different. Because I admire, respect and appreciate what Newegg did here I will do my small part and move whatever business I can their way. It's my own little way of saying "thank you" to a company that didn't just stand-up for themselves but rather for all of us.

Maybe if enough of us chose to vote with our cash more companies might be convinced to fight trolls rather than cave in.

NelsonMinar 6 hours ago 4 replies      
It seems unfair somehow that our whole industry benefits from Newegg individually taking on the risk and expense of bringing a patent to litigation and appeal. Maybe more patents would be challenged if there were more cooperative efforts to bust bad patents.
Whitespace 5 hours ago 2 replies      
It seems that almost all patent troll cases are tried in the East District of Texas because that district had strongly favored plaintiffs. I'm then curious: if a US company refused to do business with Texas citizens -- citing an inhospitable litigation environment or some such -- could they still be brought to court in EDTX?

Continuing the thought experiment, what if companies continued to do business but added a surcharge to products shipped to troll-favorable districts? It seems that the jurors in those areas would be more intimately aware of patent trolls if they had to pay a 1% extra fee when they ordered Avon products.

I'm sure some companies do such a thing and just bundle it up with the cost of the product itself, but I'm curious if any companies took a more forceful stance.

dankohn1 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I founded NetMarket [1], which actually did build the first shopping cart on the web in August 1994, 5 months before OpenMarket launched and filed their application. I was deposed in the 2004 Amazon case due to an email Amazon discovered from Open Market to NetMarket demonstrating that they were aware of our site. Unfortunately, I didn't have screen shots or source code definitively demonstrating our work, and Amazon decided to settle for $40 M.

My congratulations to Newegg for their courage and resolve in standing up to Soverain. At NetMarket, we were proud of ourselves for figuring out after a few days that we couldn't put the state of the shopping cart items in the URL, since you lost it with the back button, and so we needed to use a state ID in the URL as a key to the database. The idea that this was patentable was and is absurd.

[1] http://news.cnet.com/E-commerce-turns-10/2100-1023_3-5304683...

glesica 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the non-lawyerly language... "screw them, seriously, screw them". So refreshing to hear a corporate guy speak like a human being instead of a highly trained PR bot.
lukejduncan 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> That was OpenMarket, a software company that originally created these patents before going out of business in 2001.

Whenever exec's talk about needing to file patents for "self defense" I always think of cases like this. I don't know anything about OpenMarket, but I'm guessing they had similar logic. Then they go belly-up and these toxic patents make their way into a trolls portfolio.

No matter the company, IMHO, it's generally best to abstain from any patent fishing expeditions.

bentoner 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The company won't hire law firms that take on patent troll cases, and its top lawyer, Lee Cheng, is vocal about his view that others should take the same approach.

Is there a site somewhere listing which firms represent patent trolls?

arbuge 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Comparing patent trolls to bacteria would be an unforgivable and entirely unwarranted insult to bacteria everywhere. Even the plague bacterium deserves better.

We need to see alot more of this happening - hopefully this will show people there is another way to go, i.e. never ever settle with a patent troll, no matter how scary the alternative may seem to be. 3 patents invalidated but thousands to go. It is disgusting that these trolls managed to collect so much money before their garbage patents were ruled as such.

kissickas 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Great news. I was surprised to read that in a way similar to the Apple case against Samsung, the judge (in the Apple case, it was the foreman) told the jury to completely ignore the validity of the patents in District Court. It still makes absolutely no sense to me, so if someone could fill me in I would appreciate it.

I read that the judge said jurors would be confused... is this normal in any other type of case? Not a satisfying explanation.

Glayden 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Newegg, but this system is sooo very broken and badly in need of reform.

Large established and heavily profitable organizations like Newegg might be able to pull this off, but what about all the small startups that are forced into bankruptcy by settling when the trolls come knocking? They don't have the resources to put up a fight. If larger companies tend to fight the tedious and expensive legal battles or avoid getting harassed by other companies by building up their own stash of patents that they can use to retaliate, in the long term what it really does is incentivize companies to go after larger numbers of smaller fish that can't put up a fight.

linuxhansl 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that prior art was even necessary here.
Isn't this plainly "obvious to anybody skilled in this field"?
linuxhansl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Assuming Soverain does to have pay back prior settlements it was probably still a very lucrative business in extortion.

Is there a legal way to make them pay for their prior litigation? Or to force them to pay Neweggs legal fees?

likeclockwork 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can't even believe there WAS a shopping cart patent.

I mean, what?

How else are you supposed to do it?

I mean.. seriously? They patented the concept of keeping track of things a customer intends to buy?

If no one had ever done this before, how many people would arrive a this solution tomorrow?

It's not hard to implement and absurdly obvious to even think of.

ck2 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They did more to save online retail with just fighting a patent - they have excellent customer service.

Not quite as good as Amazon but way up there.

DanBC 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Surprising that so many companies paid so much money before NewEgg found and used the Compuserve prior art.

And it's a shame there isn't much cooperation between people attacked by patent trolls. It feels like there could be benefits of scale if you have 5 firms cooperating against a troll.

Claudus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Really glad to see this, these costs to pay patent trolls would have been passed along to the consumer in some way.

Good job, Newegg!

lubujackson 1 hour ago 1 reply      
So the patents were invalidated because CompuServe did it first. The problem doesn't seem to be in any way improved. If CompuServe held the patents, this would still be a valid lawsuit, no?
hakaaaaak 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
The U.S. needs patent law/tort reform- something to stop this nonsense without reputable companies having to pay millions to patent trolls. I'll definitely make sure to buy from newegg next Christmas.
c0nfused 6 hours ago 2 replies      
To celebrate this I am going to go buy some expensive electronics from newegg.
RexRollman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why I believe that the defendant of a patent lawsuit should have the right to contest the validity of any patents prior to the case beginning. It wastes time and money to do it any other way.
Friedduck 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why hasn't there been a boycott of businesses in the East Texas district where all these judgments originate? Or at least some social action against Texas to try to shame them into behaving responsibly?

Could it gain traction?

damian2000 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder what percentage of lawyers are actually ethical and wouldn't represent these trolls? Is there any blowback for their lawyers for representing something that was obviously a sham from the very beginning?
chris_wot 6 hours ago 2 replies      
After a troll loses, do they have repay all money they gained from others?
joshfraser 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Every internet retailer owes Newegg a really nice gift basket right now.
dear 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone should create a website as a meeting point for those affected by patent trolls. Anyone affected can go on this website and look for their "peers" so they can pool their resources to fight off the evils.
michaelwww 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm in the market for a new PC and now I'm definitely buying from Newegg.
crag 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'll be shopping at Newegg, now.
s0rce 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty amazed that the lawyers/consultants somehow came up with the Compuserve Mall as evidence.
shmerl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Newegg for being steadfast and busting another greedy patent troll.
OXO, Crooks and Robbers? oxo.com
372 points by mikeleeorg  1 day ago   78 comments top 19
danielamitay 1 day ago 2 replies      
Aside from the "Some important lessons" section (which seemed very patronizing, although OXO seems to be in the right here considering the expired patent aspect), it seems that OXO handled themselves pretty well. It pointed out Quirky's side of things, and then presented their own side. With quite a bit of citation where appropriate.

Quirky[1] went straight for the "justice" aspect in their post without presenting much info or even a cursory discussion of related patents.

[1] http://www.quirky.com/blog/post/2013/01/rise-up-quirky-seeks...

MartinCron 1 day ago 6 replies      
Digging deeper into the "protest" linked from the OXO site:

And the whole thing feels cheap and desperate. I like the idea of being scrappy and unorthodox, but one corporate entity protesting another? It just smells terrible.

krschultz 1 day ago 2 replies      
OXO has ~100 people. The parent company has a market cap of 1.6B (including Pur water filters and a few other brands). Quirky has ~80 people and $91 million in VC funding. Assuming Quirky is operating under the normal VC rules, they want to soon be a billion dollar company - larger than OXO.

I find it strange that Quirky is playing up the "david vs goliath" angle. If you've been in both of their offices, Quirky actually feels like they have more money.

More importantly, if Quirky wants to be a billion dollar company, they are going to have to do something a whole lot more innovative than a better dust pan.

mikegirouard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't care about the rivalry between two companies producing similar products... but this line really hit me hard:

> Ideas are limitless and patents expire for a reason: to encourage competition, innovation, and the evolution of new ideas that ultimately benefit the end user. If patents never expired, we would have only one car company, and the cars they develop would likely not be readily available and affordable to so many people all over the world. Imagine that.

Good show.

jrockway 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been in the tech industry for too long. The first few times, I read "Quirky" as "Quirk.ly".

That said, this sounds insane to me. Why would you spend money going to war with a competitor over such a trivial matter? ("OXO copied a patent that we also copied. Help, help, I'm being repressed.") Only to lose in the end? I don't get it.

One other observation: excellent application of Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

philwelch 1 day ago 3 replies      
OXO is one of my favorite companies. They seem to have the same quirky creative culture as much of the tech industry, except maybe even friendlier, plus a great design philosophy.



rickdale 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had the pleasure of meeting the father son team that started OXO a few years back. Their story is very interesting, they started out redesigning the carrot peeler, and look where they are today.

Side note: I ordered a bunch of stuff from quirky the first time I saw the site and almost all the the stuff I got is really complete crap.

MartinCron 1 day ago 0 replies      
This makes me adore OXO even more than I did before. Very human response.
fruchtose 1 day ago 1 reply      
I found the Broom Groomer on Quirky's site [1], and what do you know?--the product description says, Patent pending. Well, that must mean there's a patent application in the USPTO system! Sure enough, Quirky's patent application, dated September 7, 2011 (provisionally filed April 18), titled Waste receptacle [2]. Bill Ward is one of the inventors. I am not qualified to judge this patent against the one mentioned by OXO, so I invite others to compare the two.

[1] http://www.quirky.com/products/36-Broom-Groomer-Broom-Cleani...

[2] http://www.google.com/patents/US20120260453

jtchang 1 day ago 2 replies      
I freaking love OXO products. Why? When you browse the kitchen utensil aisle at target you have a choice:

Do you go for the cheap ass $1 dishbrush or do you splurge and get the awesome OXO brush? Time and again I think OXO does a great job at delivering a quality product that puts up to all the crappy abuse I dish out.

Most large corporations wouldn't even bother with an article like this. OXO is simply trying to stay true to their roots. I respect that.

kemiller 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems pretty obviously a calculated publicity stunt. And it worked. I'd certainly never heard of Quirky before. Now I know not only who they are but that they stake their brand on protecting small inventors. That message will probably outlast any remembrance that they essentially smeared a beloved company. From that point of view, I say congratulations.

But OXO handled it brilliantly and turned it into a PR coup of their own.

misleading_name 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love that fact that the other company was actually recycling an idea from 1919 and thinking they were onto something new.
tomerv 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's impossible for us to know all the facts of this dispute, but from the outside it looks like a childish move on Quirky's part, and a mature response from OXO.
onemorepassword 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems to be the both OXO and Quirky are acting in good faith here, and Quirky just went completely of the reservation instead of even considering they may be wrong. I can understand how this could happen, for instance if OXO's initially didn't take Quirky's case seriously enough to give it a decent response like they're doing now.

The ball is in Quirky's court now. If they have any shred of decency they will at the very least admit that they completely overreacted and that the case is more complicated than they claimed.

I don't expect that though. There is something horribly "off" about the lame way Quirky dressed up a PR stunt like genuine protest, the kind of people that do that are not the kind that are likely to admit mistakes.

JohnBooty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. A direct response with just the right amount of "snark" that's backed up by generous citation.

It's slightly juvenile, but you know what? Quirky swung first; they don't get to complain when somebody swings back.

Kudos to Oxo.

cedricd 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a shame that Quirky would take to the streets like that. It comes off as childish and combative rather than as scrappy and willing to go to bat for their inventors.
eagsalazar2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quirky got served. Must be shameful to work there this morning.
jfarmer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good marketing by everyone involved, honestly. Everyone wins!
nnnnni 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Quirky CEO was on Jay Leno's show last night. Interesting.
An Amaz-ing Resume phildub.com
320 points by Gmo  3 days ago   110 comments top 44
zacharyvoase 3 days ago 11 replies      
One concern is this, in the footer:

> This website was made in Jan 2013 by Philippe Dubost for the sole purpose of a playful and creative job search. No copyright infrigement intended.

"No copyright infringement intended" is not a thing. Also, right below that it then says:

> © 2013, Philippe Dubost

Seems a bit strange to me.

ghc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey, wait a minute! Where's the "Customers who viewed this also viewed" section? I want to know what my options are.
quarterto 3 days ago 2 replies      
My first thought was he'd managed to somehow list himself on Amazon. Now that would be impressive.
viraptor 3 days ago 2 replies      
As much as I like the new idea, I find it really hard to read. It's not that this page itself is bad - I have problems to find reasonable information on a typical Amazon page and his resume just reflects the same: lots of referals to other products and lots of noise. The typography is also very poor / hard to read unfortunately.

So - great idea... but I don't think it's going to be a success apart from creating a lot of social noise at the beginning.

carlob 3 days ago 0 replies      
Neat! However, here is some (hopefully helpful) criticism:

The stars bar chart bothers me because of its inconsistency, first it says 5 previous positions, and then you have 233 reviews, but the average is not quite 5/5.

You need to proofread this better. I have found a 'resent' in place of 'recent' and in the same section I'm not sure that 'Main Skills Rank' is the right title.

Other than that, very very nice idea and good luck!

wldlyinaccurate 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's certainly an original and clever idea, but I don't think it makes the resume any more effective. In fact, I think being designed like an Amazon product page makes the resume less effective simply because most people have trained themselves to ignore much of what is displayed on an Amazon product page.
scrumper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent piece of whimsy. Good luck with it. I particularly enjoyed the rather brutal alert box when I clicked on "Add to wedding registry" :
GotAnyMegadeth 3 days ago 4 replies      
"16% of reviews have 1 stars" ...
epsylon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lucky you, you met Jamy Gourmaud ! My passion for science is largely due to C'est pas sorcier...
jmspring 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, Phil uses Amazon's design as a spoof for a resume. Aside from the is it copyright or not discussion, I am curios how this differs greatly from people leveraging the svbtle theme?

Every time someone does that, multiple people pop their heads up and talk about blatant ripoff (even when credit is given).

Sure, we have Amazon as e-commerce and this is a resume, where the other case are both essentially blogs. But, you have two cases of people using the design of someone (or something) else for their own purposes.

And, the argument that "people using the svbtle theme are trying to leverage the popularity of svbtle.com to gain legitimacy" is likely the minority. Most people like it for it's cleanliness/simplicity.

jblock 3 days ago 0 replies      
It can't be cool to be hotlinking these resources straight from Amazon.
kentwistle 3 days ago 1 reply      
The 5 out of 5 stars (233) link sends you to Amazon "Mr. Coffee ECMP50" page. This is very confusing.

I think the idea is novel.

mathattack 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have to say, this shows a lot of skills in web development. It's creative, even if the look and feel were borrowed from Amazon. This shows someone who can make something that "Looks like this..."

If only I was hiring...

TomGullen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love it, but there's a good chance Amazon will be contacting you to take this down at some point.
hartator 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like that. I don't want to be the asshole, but here it is :

1- No direct mention to Amazon, Really man? Not even a thanks? Not event saying if you are a fan boy (I am!)?

2- Spelling isn't a big deal, but in a resume, seriously?

3- Not humble at all, ie "...and maybe some creativity, who knows... ;-)" I don't want to hire or to work with someone who likes the smell of his own farts.

4- Finally, an Add on your resume... And no amazon doesn't put adsense on their pages... If you want to make some money that's okay, but just say it! Why lying? ... Epic Fail.

esharef 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, as a recruiter who looks at hundreds of resumes a day, this kind of non-standard resume really annoys me. Just tell me who you are and what you do. Do so clearly and succinctly.
davidradcliffe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very clever. Had to check the URL after I arrived to see what was going on.

Doesn't have to be the most readable format since he has the same information in other places.

eksith 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't trust products that don't show the negative reviews :/
jonemo 3 days ago 0 replies      
For a second I thought someone had posted their resume as an eBook on Amazon.com and then used the product description options Amazon gives "publishers" very creatively.

Since it turns out that this is not what this is, I might do it, post a link on Hackernews, get lots of eyeballs that way, and subsequently receive a super-awesome job offer. Assuming the latter is also phildub's intention: Good luck!

tudorizer 3 days ago 0 replies      
He got me. I had to double-check the URL
simba-hiiipower 3 days ago 0 replies      
pretty cool. took me a second of trying to click around, and a look at the url, to realize it was fake.

somewhat disapointed; was much more impressed when i thought it was an actual amazon product listing..

khangtoh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder if amazon prime works here.
gluemonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Indeed Amaz-ing work here Philippe; I'm impressed. I don't understand all of this copyright negativity. Perhaps I'm just naive in these matters, but so what if Amazon shoots you a cease and desist - BONUS! How great would that be for a follow-up blog post?
dcuthbertson 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really fun. I'm smiling and it made my morning. Well done! :)
davedx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Long trail -> long tail, I think?
so898 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do not think HR will like this resume... However, if bosses find this, they will be absolutely interesting in this resume. Whatever, good luck mate.
khangtoh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder if amazon prime works with here.
jeffmess 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where is the painful Amazon checkout process?
efdee 3 days ago 0 replies      
37 people only gave you one star? Why? ;-)
suyash 3 days ago 0 replies      
@phildub You should take it down, before Amazon sue your ass! IMO Unoriginal but creative
sonabinu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great work ! Enjoy the fresh approach.
varunkho 3 days ago 0 replies      
does somebody have a coupon to avail the discount. I'd need 99.9 percent discount :-).
mattdennewitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is great, but the arrow points from "p" to "u". that stinks.
mxuribe 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a clever resume! Great job! Cheers phildub!!
justplay 3 days ago 0 replies      
first i though it was Amazon website , after clicking i saw url which is different .
Really seeing 294+ upvotes in hackernews i can phished .
pknerd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't AMazon grab his neck?
ssha 3 days ago 0 replies      
"SEO > Most resent best practices"? Is that new?
dragos2 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing I get from this resume is that Philippe Dubost (the author) is selling himself like a product.
Why would you want that?
shaaaaawn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon should hire this guy
rschmitty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Taxes kill the deal
anujmehta 3 days ago 0 replies      
ozirus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I choose simplicity, thank you.
antoniuschan99 3 days ago 0 replies      
oh this is cool!
JosephRedfern 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously, you'd rather go shopping? Ouch.
Valve Pushes Out Half-Life For Linux phoronix.com
314 points by pook1e  3 days ago   156 comments top 15
Breakthrough 3 days ago 5 replies      
This is so amazing, but I'm really hoping that they release a way for mod developers to recompile their mods to work... Do they have the multiplayer aspects working?

Obligatory plug for my favourite HL1 mod:

Edit: Yep, sure enough HL1 shows up in the Steam Linux CDR (http://cdr.xpaw.ru/linux/), and interestingly enough, so does Counter-Strike - albeit with the message "Not Marked for Linux"...

Camillo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nowadays, you might want to play Black Mesa instead: http://www.blackmesasource.com

It's officially just for Windows, but it runs fine in Wine.

daenz 3 days ago 5 replies      
I read this as a hint/signal that Half-Life 3 may be available on Linux as well.
failrate 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would tickle me if they released HL3 on Linux first. That might drive quite a bit of Linux adoption.
bitwize 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's great but... where were you 15 years ago, Valve? I was trying to keep Windows 98 taped together to run HL...
shmerl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Where can one buy the DRM free version?
wylie 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does this mean anything for Half-Life on a Mac?
rangibaby 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes! Counter-Strike next please.
ekianjo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I hope they release HL2 and Portal next :)
ysangkok 2 days ago 1 reply      
A couple of problems/solutions for problems I encountered using Ubuntu 12.04:

* It will crash right after start using NVIDIA drivers 310.19. Upgrade to the latest, I used 310.32.

* It does not work with plain ALSA, I only get sound after starting PulseAudio.

taitems 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, stating the obvious, this was only done because the Steam Box will run on a Linux variant, right?
kunai 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, this is great, especially since I'm a Linux user. Now if only Adobe would port CS6 over to Linux...
jiggy2011 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shame that HL1 looks like absolute ass @ 16:9
thefreeman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please dota 2 next!
nib952051 2 days ago 0 replies      
They made my weekend
A note from Keith keithrabois.tumblr.com
308 points by kevingibbon  2 days ago   156 comments top 24
danilocampos 2 days ago 6 replies      
What an impossible position.

On the one hand " work has become such a big part of our lives. If we make it impossible for romance and work to co-exist, that reduces a lot of surface area for finding long-term romantic partners.

On the other " at a certain level of authority and prominence, you just shouldn't have sex with someone you're working with. There's too much that can go wrong. This is the nightmare scenario for at least one of the parties, though we don't know for sure yet who it is.

But even if things don't shit the bed quite this bad, you're just asking for awkwardness and trouble in most cases.


run4yourlives 2 days ago 3 replies      
Several months after our relationship began, I recommended that he interview at Square.

I don't know Keith, anyone at his company, this story or have any opinion on who did or didn't do what to whom.

I will just say this: The quote above, regardless of who says it when, is perhaps the worst business decision a person could ever make. Full Stop.

Please, don't do this. Especially if you are the boss.

jjb123 2 days ago 6 replies      
Am I the only one that was confused about that last line of "already working on something new and hope to announce that in February"...

He's gone through something as traumatic as a lawsuit, a resignation, potential for trial, potential embarrassment of family, friends, colleagues all in the last two weeks... And his sign-off is that he has, in the midst of it all, already begun to work on a new startup?

jacalata 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's interesting that he says Square had no knowledge of the relationship until the lawsuit. I've heard of companies requiring that you tell HR if you are in a relationship with another employee- seems that level of disclosure would be very smart for someone at the top of the company, at least.
abraininavat 2 days ago 6 replies      
To those of you who immediately believe the tumblr and therefore condemn the accuser as a liar: On what basis do you make your judgment? Do you:

1. Know Keith or the accuser personally, and therefore have the capacity to make an educated guess as to the veracity of the claims?

2. Believe that rich people, well known people, or people with blogs don't have the capacity to do what Keith is accused of doing?

3. Believe the first side of the story you hear in any given situation?

If neither 1, 2, nor 3 is the case, I urge you to not jump to conclusions. There's a human being on the other side of the story.

ucpete 2 days ago 6 replies      
Interesting to read his note after this infamous story:


kogir 2 days ago 2 replies      
Proof of authenticity?

Anyone could have registered that tumblr, and it has no other content.

Please leave tabloid gossip to the tabloids until real information is available - and then leave it off HN.

zaidf 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the general accepted idea that the victim of said offenses should remain anonymous while the accused is outed is very sad and makes little sense. It makes the whole "innocent until proven guilty" idea a joke given the ample data that show permanent damage that mere accusation can cause even if you are proven innocent later.
SeoxyS 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been refusing to recommend my otherwise perfect-fit girlfriend for a position at my company for precisely this reason. You never know what might happen; and while I love her, I know it's best to keep professional and personal lives apart. You don't shit where you eat. It might sound cliché, but there's truth to it.
VMG 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good PR move to write a preemptive blog post.

Everybody seems to be on his side without having the details.

jmcgough 2 days ago 0 replies      
from Square:

“The first we heard of any of these allegations was when we received the threat of a lawsuit two weeks ago. We took these allegations very seriously and we immediately launched a full investigation to ascertain the facts. While we have not found evidence to support any claims, Keith exercised poor judgment that ultimately undermined his ability to remain an effective leader at Square. We accepted his resignation.”

Benoit_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand your reactions. Maybe because I am not from the US.

People say: you should NOT hire your partner.

So, you should NOT hire friends?
So, you should NOT hire people you like?
So, you should NOT hire people for who you have any opinion?
So, you should NOT have any hobbies other employees can have?

Our decisions are obviously biased by our feelings, and it's normal, we want people reliable, people we can trust! What's wrong with that?

In some cases, we want objective decisions. In these cases, you should just recognize your incapacity to be unbiased and let other people take the decision.

When I read the blog post, Keith didn't seem to have faced a such case, so non-disclosed his relationship seemed to have been the best decision to avoid to influence other people decisions.

It's common to meet the "love of our life" where we work, I don't understand why it should be forbidden to those who have a management role.

jusben1369 2 days ago 0 replies      
It feels like there are several more shoes to drop still so probably best to hold off too many conclusive judgement calls.
rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
OMG, that is so fucked up. I can't imagine what Keith is feeling right now. I am sure this will get resolved as well as possible, but even if everything is dropped, it's a huge distraction for him.

Keith is an excellent human being and I am confident he acted appropriately (with the exception of being too trusting of this guy, and recommending him for Square, which was probably a mistake, but not a malicious act, rather an overly-generous act).

I am confident I would react much more poorly in this situation.

someoneannon 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I was in my very early 20s I had a very bad false accusation made against me. It was the most awful time of my life, an ex who had issues and needed better support than I was able to give made the decision to go to the police with a made up story. I was interviewed and spent the next two weeks on a knife edge but ultimately everything was okay. I was very angry with her for such a long time but now now realise that it wasn't her falt and that the illness she suffered from was to blame.

If he is in the same situation that I was in, I can only feel sorry for both parties as it is such a terrible thing to happen.

(posting annonamusly for obvious reasons)

d0m 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it considered illegal to have a relationship with someone working at the same company?
mbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am wildly confused.

Who is bringing this lawsuit?

The person he had the relationship with?

If not, who else and why/how would they have any grounds to do so?

EDIT: It appears the relationship ended in December (http://allthingsd.com/20130125/exclusive-interview-keith-rab...).

I guess that that opens up the options for who was possibly behind it and what the possible motivation was.

kiskis 2 days ago 1 reply      
offtopic, and i'm not a native english speaker, but he refers to his partner as "he and his". does this mean that it's a gay relationship?
mwetzler 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone explain why Keith leaving the company absolves Square of a potential lawsuit? If the company actually did something illegal, isn't the damage already done and still punishable? Seems there are quite a few missing pieces to this story. In any case it's a shame for all involved.
selectout 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sad to see things like this happen, but I can't wait to see what he is able to come up with and bring to the world next. He has done amazing jobs in his previous roles and I am excited to see what he brings next from the PayPal Mafia.
late2part 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that think Square sucks for not standing by their COO against this action that looks like blackmail?

His judgement was bad? Enough to fire him over?

Or this another case of a corporation putting overly politically correct perception and avoidance of risk beyond taking care of their own?

If you believe Mr. Rabois' story, he did nothing wrong, and the allegations are baseless.

So, why is Square peeved enough to let him go? I don't believe for an instance that Mr. Rabois is leaving out of altruistic ideals for Square.

AlexeyBrin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've learned a similar lesson the hard way ten years ago. However, in my case there was no lawsuit involved.
buf 2 days ago 2 replies      
Saddest news I've read all day. Sex happens. Why ruin someone for this?
j98h 2 days ago 1 reply      
what this mean "user like this"?? reading the dramatic situation and then view a lots of "user like this". They make me have a little smile, sorry.
A farewell to bioinformatics (2012) madhadron.com
307 points by emcl  1 day ago   154 comments top 39
kevinalexbrown 22 hours ago 2 replies      
John Graham-Cumming (jgrahamc here) co-authored a piece on making scientific code open. It was received well-enough that Nature published it [0]. This approach has inspired others to do better work by describing a concrete problem, then outlining steps to fix it on an individual and institutional level.

When someone finds fault with the way a field conducts itself, I would implore them to constructively influence that field. You might be surprised how many are actually sympathetic to your concerns.

I'm not dismissing this author's concerns: to do that would really require knowing the molecular biology field (which is more than sequencing, it turns out). I do neuroscience right now, and programming can be a problem for some. But a constructive suggestion to change can have much more impact than a long rant.

[0] http://www.runmycode.org/data/MetaSite/upload/nature10836.pd...

MattRogish 1 day ago 5 replies      
I have some experience working at a genomics research company and I'll broadly +1 Fred's experience about the industry, although in less negative terms. I got out before I got jaded, so my perspective is a bit more "oh, that's a shame" than his. I really like genetics, bioinformatics, hardware, deep-science, and all that but the timing and fit wasn't right.

The tools are written by (in my experience) very smart bioinformaticians who aren't taught much computer science in school (you get a smattering, but mostly it's biology, math, chemistry, etc.). Ex:




The tools themselves are written by smart non-programmers (a very dangerous combination) and so you get all sorts of unusual conventions that make sense only to the author or organization that wrote it, anti-patterns that would make a career programmer cringe, and a design that looks good to no one and is barely useable.

Then, as he said, they get grants to spend millions of dollars on giant clusters of computers to manage the data that is stored and queried in a really inefficient way.

There's really no incentive to make better software because that's not how the industry gets paid. You get a grant to sequence genome "X". After it's done? You publish your results and move on. Sure, you carve out a bit for overhead but most of it goes to new hardware (disk arrays, grid computing, oh my).

I often remarked that if I had enough money, there would be a killing to be made writing genome software with a proper visual and user experience design, combined with a deep computer science background. My perfect team would be a CS person, a geneticist, a UX designer, and a visual designer. Could crank out a really brilliant full-stack product that would blow away anything else out there (from sequencing to assembly to annotation and then cataloging/subsequent search and comparison).

Except, I realized that most folks using this software are in non-profits, research labs, and universities, so - no, there in fact is not a killing to be made. No one would buy it.

zerohp 1 day ago 3 replies      
> the software is written to be inefficient, to use memory poorly, and the cry goes up for bigger, faster machines! When the machines are procured, even larger hunks of data are indiscriminately shoved through black box implementations of algorithms in hopes that meaning will emerge on the far side. It never does, but maybe with a bigger machine…

I spent five years working in bioinformatics, and this is exactly the attitude of both the researchers and the other developers on the projects I worked on. It was very frustrating.

chrisamiller 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Some thoughts on this article:

- This guy clearly has a limited understanding of the field. This quote is laughable: "There are only two computationally difficult problems in bioinformatics, sequence alignment and phylogenetic tree construction."

- As a bioinformatician, I feel sorry for this guy. Just like any other field, there are shitty places to work. If I was stuck in a lab where a demanding PI with no computer skills kept throwing the results of poorly designed experiments at me and asking for miracles, I'd be a little bitter too.

- Just like any other field, there are also lots of places that are great places to work and are churning out some pretty goddamn amazing code and science. I'm working in cancer genomics, and we've already done work where the results of our bioinformatic analyses have saved people's lives. Here's one high-profile example that got a lot of good press. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/health/in-gene-sequencing-...)

- I'm in the field of bioinformatics to improve human health and understand deep biological questions. I care about reproducibility and accuracy in my code, but 90% of the time, I could give a rat's ass about performance. I'm trying to find the answer to a question, and if I can get that answer in a reasonable amount of time, then the code is good enough. This is especially true when you consider that 3/4 of the things I do are one-off analyses with code that will never be used again. (largely because 3/4 of experiments fail - science is messy and hard like that). If given a choice between dicking around for two weeks to make my code perfect, or cranking out something that works in 2 hours, I'll pretty much always choose the latter. ("Premature optimization is the root of all evil (or at least most of it) in programming." --Donald Knuth)

- That said, when we do come up with some useful and widely applicable code, we do our best to optimize it, put it into pipelines with robust testing, and open-source it, so that the community can use it. If his lab never did that, they're rapidly falling behind the rest of the field.

- As for his assertion that bad code and obscure file formats are job security through obscurity, I'm going to call bullshit. For many years, the field lacked people with real CS training, so you got a lot of biologists reading a perl book in their spare time and hacking together some ugly, but functional solutions. Sure, in some ways that was less than optimal, but hell, it got us the human genome. The field is beginning to mature, and you're starting to see better code and standard formats as more computationally-savvy people move in. No one will argue that things couldn't be improved, but attributing it to unethical behavior or malice is just ridiculous.

tl;dr: Bitter guy with some kind of bone to pick doesn't really understand or accurately depict the state of the field.

skittles 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I spent a year in a bioinformatics PhD program and got the feeling I was studying to be science's version of the business analyst. Not knowing enough about the biology or computation, but expected to speak the language of both. And what would my research consist of in such an applied science? Luckily I had another opportunity and became a software developer (which I'm happy with). The worst thing about the experience was listening to so many research presentations where I could tell the presenter didn't understand the science and could barely explain it.
aheilbut 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I sympathize with the author, but this piece fails because many of the specific criticisms are off-base, and he's not trying to be at all constructive.

For example, it isn't true at all that microarray data is worthless. The early data was bad, and it was very over-hyped, but with a decade of optimization of the measurement technologies, better experimental designs, and better statistical methods, genome-wide expression analysis became a routine and ubiquitous tool.

The claim that sequencing isn't important is ridiculous. It's the scaffold to which all of biological research can be attached.


There is a great deal of obfuscation, and reinventing well-known algorithms under different names (perhaps often inadvertently). There's also a lot of low-quality drivel on tool implementations or complete nonsense. This is driven largely by the need in academia to publish.

The other side of this problem is that in general, CS and computer scientists don't get much respect in biology. People care about Nature/Science/Cell papers, not about CS conference abstracts. Despite bioinformatics/computational biology not really being a new field anymore, the cultures are still very different.

stiff 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This is pretty hilarious, from my brief experience with bioinformatics I can very well imagine someone writing the opposite rant, about CS people getting into bioinformatics not knowing sh*t about biology. I mean, browse through bioinformatics textbooks, those are either written by computer scientists and those are little more than string algorithm textbooks or by biologists and then the layer of jargon for someone coming from CS is just impenetrable. Same with bioinformatics teachers, I come from a CS background, but spent one solid month seriously trying to understand the basics of molecular biology and my bioinformatics seminar instructor sometimes seemed to know less about it than me. Terrifying, no wonder nonsense results are produced.
ChristianMarks 21 hours ago 1 reply      
My experience working as a scientific programmer is this: my colleagues aren't forthcoming. I could list case after case of failure to document or communicate crucial details that cost me days, weeks and even months of effort. But I won't, until I have another job lined up. If I were in the author's position (I'm in another field), I would insist that my colleagues--all of them, in whatever field I ended up working, were forthcoming about their work. This is non-negotiable. Being over-busy is no excuse. (It may be an excuse for not being forthcoming, but right or wrong, I couldn't care less--I would not work with such people if I could avoid it, for whatever reason.)

Academia rewards journal publication and does not adequately reward programming and data collection and analysis, although these are indispensable activities that can be as difficult and profound as crafting a research paper. At least the National Science Foundation has done researchers a small favor by changing the NSF biosketch format in mid-January to better accommodate the contributions of programmers and "data scientists": the old category Publications has been replaced with Products.

Naming is important to administrators and bureaucrats. It can be easy to underestimate the extent to which names matter to them. Now there is a category under which the contribution of a programmer can be recognized for the purpose of academic advancement. Previously one had to force-fit programming under Synergistic Activities or otherwise stretch or violate the NSF biosketch format. This is a small step, but it does show some understanding that the increasingly necessary contributions of scientific programmers ought to be recognized. The alternative is attrition. Like the author of the article, programmers will go where their accomplishments are recognized.

Still, reforming old attitudes is like retraining Pavlov's dogs. Scientific programmers are lumped in with "IT guys." IT as in ITIL: the platitudinous, highly non-mathematical service as a service as a service Information Technocracy Indoctrination Library. There is little comprehension that computer science has specialized. For many academics, scientific programmers are interchangeable IT guys who do help desk work, system and network administration, build websites, run GIS analyses, write scientific software and get Gmail and Google Calendar synchronization running on Blackberries. It is as if scientists themselves could be satisfied if their colleagues were hired as "scientists" or "natural philosophers" with no further qualification, as opposed to "vulcanologist" or "meteorologist" (to a first order of approximation).

FreeKill 23 hours ago 3 replies      
If you really want to get a feel for how deluted the Bioinformatics community is, look for a job in the field as an outsider. It's not uncommon to see requirements like:

"Must be an expert in 18 technologies"
"Must have a PHD in Computer Science or Molecular Biology"
"Must have 12 years experience and post doctoral training"
"Pay: $30,000"

It's delusional because they apply the requirements it took for themselves to get a job in Molecular Biology (long PHD, post doc, very low pay for first jobs) and just apply it carte blanche to all fields that may be able to aid in their pursuits. Especially when it comes to software engineering where it can often be extremely difficult to explain why you did not pursue a PHD.

caseybergman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This piece seems to have touched a nerve in the bioinformatics community, though I have no idea why. Much of what is said here is obvious to anyone working in academic research that requires programming expertise.

Yes, industry typically pays more than academia. Yes, most molecular biologists cannot code and rely on bioinformatics support. Yes, biological data is often noisy. Yes, code in bionformatics is often research grade (poorly implemented, poorly documented, often not available). These are all good points that have been made many times more potently by others in the field like C. Titus Brown (http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/category/science.html). But they are not universal truths and exceptions to these trends abound. Show me an academic research software system in any field outside of biology that is functional and robust as the UCSC genome browser (serving >500,000 requests a day) or the NCBI's pubmed (serving ~200,000 requests a day). To conclude from common shortcomings of academic research programming that bioinformatics is "computational shit heap" is unjustified and far from an accurate assessment of the reality of the field.

From looking into this guy a bit (who I've never heard of before today in my 10+ years in the field), my take on what is going is here is that this is the rant of a disgruntled physicist/mathematician is a self-proclaimed perfectionist (https://documents.epfl.ch/users/r/ro/ross/www/values.html), who moved into biology but did not establish himself in the field. From what I can tell contrasting his CV (https://documents.epfl.ch/users/r/ro/ross/www/cv.pdf) to his linkedin profile (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/frederick-ross/13/81a/47), it does not appear that he completed his PhD after several years of work, which is always a sign of something something going awry and that someone has had a bad personal experience in academic research. I think this is most important light to interpret this blog post in, rather than an indictment of the field.

That said, I would also like to see bioinformatics die (or at least whither) and be replaced by computational biology (see differences in the two fields here: http://rbaltman.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/bioinformatics-comp...). Many of the problems that apparently Ross has experienced come from the fact that most biologists cannot code, and therefore two brains (the biologist's and the programmer's) are required to solve problems that require computing in biology. This leads to an abundance of technical and social problems, which as someone who can speak fluently to both communities pains me to see happen on a regular basis. Once the culture of biology shifts to see programming as an essential skill (like using a microscope or a pipette), biological problems can be solved by one brain and the problems that are created by miscommunication, differences in expectations, differences in background, etc. will be minimized and situations like this will become less common.

I for one am very bullish that bioinformatics/computational biology is still the biggest growth area in biology, which is the biggest domain of academic research, and highly recommend students to move into this area (http://caseybergman.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/top-n-reasons-t...). Clearly, academic research is not for everyone. If you are unlucky, can't hack it, or greener pastures come your way, so be it. Such is life. But programming in biology ain't going away anytime soon, and with one less body taking up a job in this domain, it looks like prospects have just gotten that little bit better for the rest of us.

vsbuffalo 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with him, and have been complaining about the same shit for ages (I work in bioinformatics too). Sadly, biologists don't care. We're treated as the number crunchers. The real problem isn't that we waste computational resources, it's that many biologists download programs, run their data through it, and if it spits out an answer rather than an error, they trust it. Since that program probably has zero unit test coverage, and the results may be fed into pharmaceutical decisions, disease diagnostics, etc, you're basically fucked if something went wrong. Lots of us have said this[0].

Minor quibble: genome assembly is definitely still an open problem that's computationally difficult. So is robust high dimension inference, but that falls more under statistics.

I've wanted to leave at least a dozen times too, for the better pay, for working with programmers that can teach me something, and to not have my work be interrupted by academic politics. But the people pissed at the status quo are the ones that are smart enough to see it's broken and try to fix it, and if we all leave, science is really fucked.

[0] http://www.johndcook.com/blog/2010/10/19/buggy-simulation-co...

CrLf 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"I'm leaving bioinformatics to go work at a software company [...]"

"[bioinformatics] software is written to be inefficient, to use memory poorly, and the cry goes up for bigger, faster machines! [...]"

Well, the author is heading for a very bitter surprise...

chris_wot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I always feel awkward reading these rants, mainly because I've burned my bridges before and it really wasn't worth it. Even if it is true, it's better to leave it and move on.

If you really feel strongly about something, write it dispassionately (normally some time after the event) and treat it like a dissertation, backed with case studies and citations.

Agathos 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting to read since I made the same career move last year. I agree with about half of it but don't see a lot of value or useful advice here.

I find it curious that he stops to salute ecologists, since I was in an ecology lab. I liked my labmates and our perspective, but we didn't have any magical ability to avoid the problems he aludes to here.

I think a lot of his frustration comes down to not being more involved in the planning process. That's not a new problem. R.A. Fisher put it this way in 1938: “To consult the statistician after an experiment is finished is often merely to ask him to conduct a post mortem examination. He can perhaps say what the experiment died of.”

Perhaps the idea that we can have bioinformatics specialists who wait for data is just wrong. Should we blame PIs who don't want to give up control to their specialists, or the specialists who don't push harder, earlier? Ultimately the problem will only be solved as more people with these skills move up the ranks. But the whole idea that we need more specialists working on smaller chunks of the problem may be broken from the start (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1183512/).

jmspring 1 day ago 5 replies      
Sounds like a fed up academic with a stick up his backside.

Sh*tty data? Comes from the community. If the data and algorithms are so poor, and the author so superior, he should have been able to improve the circumstances.

This whole screed reads like an entitled individual who entered a profession, didn't get the glory, oh and yeah, academia doesn't pay well.

In the realm of bioinformatics, lets ignore the work done on the human genome and the like.

singingfish 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also, yes molecular biologists with few exceptions know little more than fuck all about ecology. Hence the mostly gung-ho attitudes to GM of crop foods for example. Honestly. I've done real molecular biology work (simple commercial protein chemistry and molecular phylogenetics of mitochondrial DNA) and tried to start a PhD in ecology (failed due to funding issues and realising it was a dead end job wise).
jostmey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Basic science moves forward slowly limited by the pace of fortuitous discoveries. I have found that many people from the field of computer programming have unrealistic expectations of what can be done in biology and other sciences.
kylemaxwell 23 hours ago 0 replies      
You know, I'd be more inclined to listen to him if he didn't also completely decry almost all of modern biology, which (in my view) has been to the late 20th and early 21st centuries what physics was to the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries.
neilk 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe overblown, but it echoes complaints I've heard from other bioinformatics people.

Surely this means there's a goldmine waiting there for someone to produce a non-broken toolchain for bioinformatics?

Or is it even possible to produce standard tools? Maybe all the labs are too bespoke?

adambratt 1 day ago 2 replies      
Really makes me want to learn more about molecular biology.

Any solid factual resources besides the references mentioned in this justified rant?

sciencerobot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of problems in bioinformatics. Mainly, lack of reproducibility (ie "custom perl scripts"), poorly organized and characterized data and plenty of wheel reinvention (I heard Jim Kent, who first assembled the human genome, created his own version of wc [word of mouth, citation needed]).

The fact of the matter is that through high-throughput sequencing, microarrays, what have you, generation of biologically-meaningful results is possible.

There are a lot of problems in bioinformatics that need to be solved. Github has helped. More of bioinformaticians are learning about good software development practices, and journal reviewers are becoming more enlightened of the merits of sharing source code.

lemming 23 hours ago 4 replies      
This is a little discouraging - BioInformatics was my top choice for a Master's program I'm planning to start this year. The program at Melbourne Uni looks really good (accepts from three streams, Math/Stats, Biology or Computing and tailors the course based on your background). Maybe I should go for a more generic Machine Learning one and try to apply that to healthcare in some other field if things are really this bad.
SilasX 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Where does the Rosalind project (rosalind.info) fit into all of this, I'm wondering? It seems to be written by people who have actual understanding of the mappings between biology and informatics, with clear explanations of problems in terms of the programming challenge involved.

Surely they can't get that far without having some kind of sensible method?

BioGeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also see the discussion at the bioinformatics subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/bioinformatics/comments/179e9k/a_far...
jmgao 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The author is exactly right about the quality of data in bioinformatics. There are datasets with genes named MAR1, DEC1, etc. getting mangled to 1-Mar, 1-Dec, because of Microsoft Excel autoformatting.


mvanveen 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Say for the purposes of argument that this thesis were true. What is there (if anything) to be done about it? I ask as a naive interested party with a CS background.
chewxy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Spelling error: 'technically apt', not 'ept'.

"Ept" means effective. As in "inept"

I don't understand this part:

> No one seems to have pointed out that this makes your database a reflection of your database, not a reflection of reality. Pull out an annotation in GenBank today and it's not very long odds that it's completely wrong.

In fact this entire article seems to be a rant on why bioinformatics as a field is rotting. But instead of ranting, surely something can be done about it?

Shouldn't we as hackers see this as an opportunity to revolutionize the field?

ElliotH 23 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a shame. I just finished a uni module about bioinformatics. It seemed like a cool field where progress was being made, and as an undergraduate I could generate meaningful looking results by following very recent papers. I hope the field has some saving graces even if this is all true. The idea of CompSci folk working with biology folk to solve human problems inspired me a lot.
ascotan 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Having working in the bioinformatics industry as an SE for 9 years I can both agree and disagree.

1. I agree that SE standards and good coding practice are completely absent in the bioinformatics world. I remember being asked to improved the speed of some sequence alignment tools and realized that the source code was originally Delphi that had been run through a C++ converter. No comments, single monolithic file. The vast majority of the bioinformatics code I worked with was poorly written/documented Perl.
In addition a lot of bioinformatics guys don't understand SE process and so rather than having a coordinated engineering effort, you end up with a lot of "coyboy coding" with guys writing the same thing over and over.

2. I agree that productivity is very slow. This is a side product of research itself though. In the "real world" (quoted) where people need to sell software, time is the enemy. It's important to work together quickly to get a good product to market. In the research world, you get a 2/5 year grants and no one seems have much of a fire under them to get anything done (Hey we're good for 5 years!). You would think that the people would be motivated to cure caner quickly (etc), but it's not really the case. Research moves at a snail's pace - and consequently the productivity expectations of the bioinformatics group.

3. I disagree that research results from the scientists are garbage. Yes it's true that some experiments get screwed up. However, if you having a lot of people running those experiments over and over, the bad experiments clearly become outliers. Replication in the scientific community is good because it protects against bad data this way. Somehow the author must have had a particularly bad experience.

4. Something the author didn't mention that I think is important to understand: most scientists have no idea how to utilize software engineering resources. The pure biologists, many times are the boss, and don't really understand how to run a software division like bioinformatics. Many times PHD's in CS run a bioinformatics group, who have never worked in industry and don't know anything about good SE practice or how to run a software project. A lot of the problems in the bioinformatics industry is directly related to poor management. Wherever you go you're going to have team members that have trouble programming, trouble with their work ethic, trouble with following direction. However, in a bioinformatics environment where these individuals are given free reign and are not working as a cohesive unit, you can see why there is so much terrible code and duplication.

jerryhuang100 22 hours ago 0 replies      
i totally disagree on Fred's negative view of Bioinformatics. as "software is eating the world", it's actually bioinformatics is eating biology. today's main-stream biology is dealing with exploding amount of data from modern instruments, images or clinical data collected every day and mostly machine readable. to stay up-to-date a modern biologist / bioinformatist need to think biological problems in a "big-data" (i know, cliche) way, then try to gain some insight from the data with (computational) tools. today it's the algorithms, mathematical models and software packages on top of databases to pinpoint cancer SNPs and drive drug discovery. and today it's these same algorithms and math models driving how web bench works are designed. if you think biological data are "shitty", i guess you never see other kind of unstructured data out there. so many scholars in other fields envy biologist and medical scientists for something called "PubMed". on the other hand, for those purely wet bench "biologists" who think computers are magic boxes to give answers, insights, models with one push of the button, i do feel sorry for them. they are so last-gen as they just don't have the essential techniques nowadays (just like a molecular biologist not knowing pcr).
dinkumthinkum 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Why is this on the front page or why is it relevant? It's kind of a rant. I did some work on a publication in this field and was published once; I don't think it is a horrible research program. There may exist some of the issues in bioinformatics described here but I don't think it is terribly productive.
julienchastang 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Fascinating HN thread. I work in the geoinformatics domain where many of the same comments apply. I agree scientists turned programmers are often poor software developers. Moreover, this group often belittles industry established best practices in software development. But in truth, the "pure" software engineer/computer scientist lacks sufficient domain expertise to accomplish something useful. Learning fluid dynamics requires many years of education. Ideally, you would like these two groups to work closely together and with mutual respect.
iharris 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I largely agree with Fred's opinion on the shortcomings of bioinformaticians and the general attitude in the industry, but my personal experience was actually pretty positive. My past research was on building visualizations of the complicated biochemical processes, for use in educating undergrads. It was certainly more interesting than slogging through mounds of crappy data.

Just another data point for someone contemplating a career in BINF, although some purists might say that my work did not really fall under the same category.

datz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Come work with me in my genomic interpretation company. Fun application building, no data mess, big money!
mscarborough 1 day ago 2 replies      
>> I'm leaving bioinformatics to go work at a software company with more technically ept people and for a lot more money.

More money, good on you. Starting off your critique of your former colleagues with "technically ept people'...not going to get a lot of sympathy for the correctness of your work.

sbassi 23 hours ago 0 replies      
OK, I agree that there are some shitty work on this field, but he can't think they we all in the same boat. For example "Irene Pepperberg's work with Alex the parrot dwarfs the scientific contributions of all other sequencing to date put together." this is not true. Bioinformatics is not just blinding sequencing new DNA, but analyzing data and almost every new breakthrough in medicine is based in a direct (or indirect) bioinformatics analysis. I used to work in an agrobiotech company and the sequencer was the first source of data for any breeding program. Bioinformatics was used to design primers for PCR to find molecular markers.
There is bad software out there? Yes, but I see this as an opportunity than a problem. And the cause is not the need to hide something, but the lack of ability of biologists with no CS background in the field.
thornad 12 hours ago 0 replies      
molecular biology has been dead for years now, but the amount of money poured into it makes it impossible to publish its death certificate.
Here is why and how it happened (among other things):
dderiso 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Some things are going to suck in academia, as this guy points out. But, its a necessary step and todays progress is almost always going to be tomorrows shit. So quit bitching.

Biologists are almost never good coders, if they can code at all. But thats not what they do, they signed up for pipettes, not python.

Its the programmers who wrote said shitty code that are to be blamed, but you can't hate under-paid and over-worked phd students who write this code even though it usually has nothing to do with their thesis (the math/algorithm is the main part, the deployable implementation is usually not the most important).

If you want good code and organized/accountable databases, go to industry. Theres nothing new about this transition. The IMPORTANT part, is that industry gives back to academia. So when you get an office with windows and a working coffee machine, remember to help make some phd student's life a little easier by making part of your code open source.

helloamar 22 hours ago 0 replies      
i'm not into bio, but read articles on latest development. my sister also took bioinformatics but the scope in India is very less it seems.

have you checked out synthetic biology? will it be easy to understand when you have a degree in bioinformatics?

Alan Cox leaves Linux and Intel plus.google.com
239 points by aurelianito  3 days ago   33 comments top 14
antirez 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one inspired me to learn to code more than AC, have a good time with your family and thanks for everything.
ditoa 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you for all your time and hard work Alan. I hope we see you back some time in the future. Enjoy your extra family time :)
necrodome 3 days ago 2 replies      
I liked it how his profile image[1] is a QR code for his site[2] and also resembles him.[3]

[1] https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-DGzr5UFEIXM/AAAAAAAAAAI/A...

[2] http://goo.gl/BhXmc

[3] http://goo.gl/w5HNx

4ad 3 days ago 1 reply      
"for a bit" lacking in the title makes all the difference.
nathanstitt 3 days ago 0 replies      
A huge thank you to Alan for all his work over the years. Like quite a few others who ran linux back in the old 2.2/2.4 days, the -ac kernels where the place to be.

I'm reminded of the Derek Silvers article (http://sivers.org/ff) on the importance of the second guy to a movement.

While I know that Alan wasn't the actual second developer to participate in Linux, he sure seemed that way to me and quite a few others. His work was as the "gatherer of patches" in the pre-bitkeeper days was unparalleled. I don't think Linux could have prospered without his assistance.

kylemaxwell 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very sorry to hear this and I genuinely hope that the canonical neckbeard's family situation improves.
mahmud 3 days ago 0 replies      
Alan left Linux for a few years before, to do his MBA, and he came back :-)


mcmatterson 3 days ago 2 replies      
Back in the (2.1.x) day it seemed like I was running ac kernels more often than not. Nowadays though, I've been away from the kernel world for so long that I don't even know how big of a deal this is. Anyone care to chime in?
erre 3 days ago 3 replies      
http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5103271 :)

edit: I didn't mean to post this for karma or hard feelings; see my reply to daeken at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5109903 :)

pflats 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone gets confused between the two like I sometimes do, Alan Cox (Linux Kernel hacker) is not Russ Cox (Go language & Plan 9 from User Space hacker).
sandeepshetty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why do people direct comments at AC assuming he will read them here? Isn't that a little self-centered? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to leave such comments at the original post?
mtdewcmu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Linus's asshole-ness is probably key to Linux's success. He ought to be considered the world's leading expert on running an open source project, after all.

I remember running your patched kernels circa 2000. Thanks for your hard work.

known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant guy.
linpythio 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for your great work for linux and open source software,Alan Cox.
Google has indexed thousands of publicly accessible HP printers port3000.co.uk
231 points by skattyadz  2 days ago   140 comments top 35
cs702 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've written about this before.[1] Many network-connected printers simply assume that the local network they connect to will be securely protected from external threats, so they're not configured to withstand even the simplest of attacks. This is exactly the opposite of what many security experts recommend: devices should be secure regardless of whether the network they're on is secure or not.

Bruce Schneier's personal WiFi network at home is fully open, because -- in his own words: "If I configure my computer to be secure regardless of the network it's on, then it simply doesn't matter. And if my computer isn't secure on a public network, securing my own network isn't going to reduce my risk very much."[2]

I'm waiting for the great network printer security apocalypse...


I ran a quick nmap command (nmap -T4 -A -v -PE [IP address]) on a few of the many printers indexed by Google, and here's a typical result, showing tons of open ports and passwordless login options (I've deleted the hostname and IP address to protect the innocent):

  Starting Nmap 5.21 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2013-01-25 12:15 EST
NSE: Loaded 36 scripts for scanning.
Initiating Ping Scan at 12:15
Scanning XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX [1 port]
Completed Ping Scan at 12:15, 0.10s elapsed (1 total hosts)
Initiating Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 12:15
Completed Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 12:15, 0.14s elapsed
Initiating Connect Scan at 12:15
Scanning [HOSTNAME] (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX) [1000 ports]
Discovered open port 23/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Discovered open port 21/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Discovered open port 443/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Discovered open port 80/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Increasing send delay for XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX from 0 to 5 due to max_successful_tryno increase to 5
Increasing send delay for XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX from 5 to 10 due to max_successful_tryno increase to 6
Warning: XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX giving up on port because retransmission cap hit (6).
Discovered open port 14000/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Discovered open port 631/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Discovered open port 280/tcp on XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
Completed Connect Scan at 12:15, 37.26s elapsed (1000 total ports)
Initiating Service scan at 12:15
Scanning 7 services on [HOSTNAME] (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)
Completed Service scan at 12:16, 13.09s elapsed (7 services on 1 host)
NSE: Script scanning XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX.
NSE: Starting runlevel 1 (of 1) scan.
Initiating NSE at 12:16
Completed NSE at 12:16, 3.57s elapsed
NSE: Script Scanning completed.
Nmap scan report for [HOSTNAME] (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)
Host is up (0.11s latency).
Not shown: 978 closed ports
21/tcp open ftp HP LaserJet P4014 printer ftpd
|_ftp-anon: Anonymous FTP login allowed
23/tcp open telnet HP JetDirect telnetd
25/tcp filtered smtp
80/tcp open http HP-ChaiSOE 1.0 (HP LaserJet http config)
| html-title: hp LaserJet 9050
|_Requested resource was http://XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX/hp/device/this.LCDispatcher
111/tcp filtered rpcbind
135/tcp filtered msrpc
139/tcp filtered netbios-ssn
280/tcp open http HP-ChaiSOE 1.0 (HP LaserJet http config)
| html-title: hp LaserJet 9050
|_Requested resource was http://XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX/hp/device/this.LCDispatcher
443/tcp open ssl/http HP-ChaiSOE 1.0 (HP LaserJet http config)
| html-title: hp LaserJet 9050
|_Requested resource was http://XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX/hp/device/this.LCDispatcher
445/tcp filtered microsoft-ds
515/tcp filtered printer
631/tcp open http HP-ChaiSOE 1.0 (HP LaserJet http config)
| html-title: hp LaserJet 9050
|_Requested resource was http://XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX/hp/device/this.LCDispatcher
1433/tcp filtered ms-sql-s
1720/tcp filtered H.323/Q.931
3168/tcp filtered unknown
4550/tcp filtered unknown
6000/tcp filtered X11
6112/tcp filtered dtspc
8654/tcp filtered unknown
9100/tcp filtered jetdirect
14000/tcp open tcpwrapped
19315/tcp filtered unknown
Service Info: Device: printer


[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4412714

[2] http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/my_open_wirele...

joering2 2 days ago 5 replies      
Idea for startup.

1. write a script to scrap google links to HP admin panel

2. filter out the IPs that are from US (given you want to work on US market)

3. assemble the list of printer types and current toner levels.

4. write a script that will print to each of those printers a one single page, stating your company "Cheapo Suppliers Inc" was notified that "your printer is low on toner. Call xxxxxx to re-fill. Lowest prices quaranteed within one day delivery!". You can add link to your shop page that already redirects user to specific type of printer they have, some type of one-click order (based on which toners are low).

5. daily rinse repeat.

6. sell your business to HP (at least try to).

modernerd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some of the IPs are registered to large US universities, who list abuse/tech support email addresses in their records. I've already emailed several with a headsup and had a couple of "thank you!"s in reply.
mrj 2 days ago 2 replies      
Worse than printing somewhere remote, many of those are probably also scanners. If the original is left on the glass (I forget it all the time), an attacker could scan it remotely.
kabdib 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wrote a scriptable "chooser" when I was at Apple -- it let you programmatically find and select a printer to print to.

I enumerated every printer on campus (about 900 of them at the time, I think), and came /this close/ to printing a snarky page -- a fake version of the "Five Star News" internal company news -- on each one of them. Decided not to; probably a good career move that I resisted that urge.

josh2600 2 days ago 1 reply      
So... Where's Ang Cui at?

In case you guys haven't seen it, Ang Cui is the guy who did the Cisco hack last month and he's also the guy with the coolest resume on the planet.

He actually found a way to compromise printers during the print process, so by printing his resume, he pwns your printer. This seems like a bull in the china shop situation for that code.

VMG 2 days ago 1 reply      
So is the secret service going to knock on my door if I click a link? I can't tell anymore.
achillean 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually one of the earliest searches that was used on the Shodan search engine! Shodan specializes in finding all devices connected to the Internet (including Telnet, SSH, FTP, SNMP etc.):


bintery 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's really nothing compared to searching for Canon ImageRunner admin pages (google lets you search for a URL by content/markers/text in the page info/name) - over on those imagerunner tech forums, people were able to bring up previous scans going back however far, and in minutes be looking at passports, medical records, college information, etc...

Maybe more disturbing is that as these things are decommissioned they are just 'junked'. Meaning sent over seas as is to be 'disposed' - anything ever copied, scanned, or sent on that thing is in there somewhere and some foreign nation is in control of MFDs that were in hospitals, law firms, architect/contractor office, police stations, and on and on and on.

The holes have been largely fixed through encryption and other techniques but only very recently - which I've been able to work around myself with forensic tools. I won't provide the link here, but if you google around you can find discussion on this topic pretty easily.

meaty 2 days ago 1 reply      
So within 24 hours, lots of people are going to find out what a goatse is I reckon.

Even better, a lot of people in the UK have Thomson routers which have an easily calculable WPA default password. Most of these also have smart tvs these days too which will allow anything to be pushed to them.

mentat 2 days ago 2 replies      
A friendly thing to do would be develop a script that took the google results, checked with whois for abuse address and sent emails. Of course that could also end up with one being sent to jail for a long time.
feefie 2 days ago 1 reply      
How can I tell if my home printer is securely protected? Is there a good web page or text book anyone can recommend that will teach me more details about this? Thanks.
bitwize 2 days ago 0 replies      
You did this from your house?

What are you, stoned or stupid?

smallegan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those poor IT Support guys that get a call because their small business clients network is going down due to everyone hitting their printer(s) at once because they show up on the first page :-\
GBond 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you recall from the early days of google, there are plenty of indexed dark data that Google actively scrubs out of the public results. For example it was trivial at one point to find credit card numbers and social security numbers.
KwanEsq 2 days ago 3 replies      
Interestingly, if you try to browse far into the results, Google decided it actually only has 73 to display (after telling it to include ommitted similar results).
aw3c2 2 days ago 0 replies      
jhdevos 2 days ago 3 replies      
Should we now all print documents to those printers with warnings saying that they are publicly accessible?
fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 0 replies      
Time for fun. Insert Coin, PC Load Letter, etc. Good times.
penguat 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, next question is how much malware is hanging around for those printers? Are all / mostly / some / none compromised?
daralthus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Make sure to watch Ang Cui's demonstration on printer malware at 28c3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njVv7J2azY8
hn-miw-i 1 day ago 0 replies      
One million trees just died. The problem with some of the earlier HP printers was that they would accept unsigned firmware updates, you could literally reflash the thing with an update instruction in postscript.

Some work was done at Columbia University with developing trojanised firmware, i recall a firmware that could transmit CC# over tcp when it saw then in the print stream.

Extreme care must be taken if connecting printers to the Internet. It's at best a horrible idea and I'd say that most of these are unknown to their owners.
Hopefully this gets some MSM coverage and people address the connected printer problem forever. (not likely)

kunai 2 days ago 0 replies      
I did the Google search, and while the first page does indeed show 86K results, as soon as I navigate to the second, the number drops to 13...

Am I the only one with this problem, or did Google really not index "thousands of publicly accessible HP printers"?

tmosleyIII 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can find a lot of open machines and sensitive information using Google, this one for the HP printers was submitted to the Google Hacking Database[1] in 2004.

[1] http://www.exploit-db.com/google-dorks/

jagermo 2 days ago 0 replies      
As far as I know this problem has been around for years. If you want to dive deeper into this, i recommend you visit Shodan (http://www.shodanhq.com/)
rbchv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use this only to test your own printers.
humanspecies 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly an old hack, from the days of Altavista, you can find all sorts of open devices and even file folders(I think they've censored those results now) on the internet.
FollowSteph3 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd hate to be at the top of that google search result!!
kristopolous 2 days ago 1 reply      
And bam, junk fax companies are back in business.
sandycheeks 2 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing I thought of was a course that I took decades ago that discussed using printers for covert channels to get data out of secure networks.

I wonder if any of those are honeypots. It may be interesting to see if any visitors do something clever or unexpected.

deadairspace 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. There is at least one printer on there in a US governmental department, and on one of the settings pages is a huge list of emails of employees. And now I'm probably on some kind of list.
afita 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised nobody mentioned PrintFS in this thread: http://www.remote-exploit.org/articles/printfs/index.html
hippich 2 days ago 1 reply      
And again - so many wasted IPv4s...
TranceMan 2 days ago 0 replies      
>What happened to you today?

My printer got slashdotted :(

> Eh?

The Bicycle Barometer oftcc.net
230 points by gmac  2 days ago   39 comments top 11
ghc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I often feel like this is where web analytics needs to go. Ultimately, no matter how many pretty charts your product displays and fancy map reduce jobs transform the data into "intelligence", unless someone can immediately take action based on what decision the analytics tells them they need to make, it's not really "intelligence" in the thinking sense, but "intelligence" in the military sense.

In my day job, I develop software to fit a big data + intelligence niche market. No matter how many pretty charts I've been forced to make (to better sell the software to CEOs), the people who make the decisions based on the data we provide don't care about visualizations AT ALL. They want our software to tell them what to do. Period. And if the software tells them to make a bad decision that costs them money it's our fault (unless they can't execute the decision due to safety laws, which happens), no matter how many charts they could have double checked to see if the decision was sane.

Dashboards and charts are all well and good, but ultimately a simple display that unambiguously tells you what to do (like the bicycle barometer) is much more powerful.

taeric 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oddly, I feel this needs some basic machine learning thrown in. If every day you rated how good commute (and what type) was for you, it could start making the prediction based on your preferences. Possibly even with more information such as when you are looking. (e.g. Some people are ok with colder weather, or if you are running late, the option that is consistently faster will be the better choice.)
Swizec 2 days ago 4 replies      
I did something similar for my money a while ago. Takes all the data and simply tells me "You will have X amount of money in 2 weeks."

Can't live without it anymore. Just wish there was a practical way to give something like this to everyone.

lloeki 2 days ago 1 reply      
Every odd day I redesign my car's "automatic" aircon logic (i.e feedback loop on a cabin temp sensor, and a user set reference temperature) to behave in some smarter manner, based on the following premises:

- if it's 35°C outside, I sure as hell don't want a/c to loop on 20°C

- if it's -15°C outside, I sure as hell don't want a/c to loop on 20°C

So basically what I want is:

- 16°C minimum (below produces too much condensation on the windshield, and is not comfortable on long-ish commutes
- from 16°C at -10°C to 20°C at 20°C, maybe linear, maybe log, I don't know.

- and cap at 20°C max inside...

- ...but have a maximum negative delta of -5°C with the outside temperature (i.e 29°C outside means 24°C inside)

- yet with a true absolute maximum of 28°C inside

It's really not that hard and I could probably come up with a hack (has anyone plugged an Arduino into a CAN bus?) reading the inside and outside sensors, and controlling the temperature knob while reading its current setting from what the display shows, but damn, where is my car's SDK! Oh, the first world problems I have.

URSpider94 2 days ago 2 replies      
Ambient Devices, an MIT Media Lab start-up, had a beautiful product concept built around analogue gauges like this, with replaceable backplanes to show different information. Their original business model was all around representing complex information in an unobtrusive way -- an umbrella with a pommel that flashes if its going to rain today, so you notice it on the way out of the house. Sadly, they pivoted into making ugly weather boards for Brookstone ...
swanson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love, love, love this.

I've been quite interested in figuring out how to turn multiple/complex input into a single, actionable value (it is pretty damn hard!) - and this project is a great example.

Sumaso 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea to aggregate information. I wonder how many daily activities could be automated in a similar fashion?

Perhaps a calorie counter suggesting meals for dinner (keeping a balanced diet and all that jazz)? Outfit suggestions based upon the weather?

jonknee 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want one of these sort of things for my bathroom mirror. I stayed in a hotel once which was close, it had a small LCD screen behind the glass that showed the current forecast (this was the elevator lobby mirror though, not in every room). Very handy.
josscrowcroft 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want one of these telling me when to check my email, with a heavy bias for checking as rarely as possible...
maxerickson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how an actual barometer does in comparison.
vincefutr23 2 days ago 0 replies      
thought you were talking about the tubes in the tires
Blowing the Whistle on the Mortgage Bubble pbs.org
226 points by xivSolutions  2 days ago   166 comments top 23
patio11 2 days ago 2 replies      
Worth it just for the email in the middle by a Citi underwriter.


I don't agree with every stylistic choice, but that's some of the best professional writing in the fling-a-firecracker-outside-of-your-silo circumstance that I've ever seen. ("I do not believe our company has recognized the material financial losses inevitably associated with the above Citi liability." is accountant-speak for "THE WORLD IS ON FIRE!")

Irregardless 2 days ago 5 replies      
My reaction while reading most of this was "Why didn't any of you try harder to let someone know? Why didn't you email everyone? Why didn't you call all the people you emailed? Wasn't there ANYONE important who would listen!?"

After reading the whole thing, I was a little shocked to realize the answer is "No, there was no one important who would listen." The accountant who essentially documented the impending collapse of Citigroup in less than 2 pages was interviewed by the SEC and then never heard from them again. Then there's this guy:

> The congressional responses were, “Thank you for your letter, and thank you for your interest.” And, “We'll look into this,” basically.

> I also wrote letters to just about every television journalist, and network journalist that I could get my hands on. Sent as e-mail with attachments and never received any response. [I wrote to] CNN and Fox News. ABC News, NBC News, CBS. My daughter was working at that time with one of the network affiliates in Phoenix, and she knew how upset I was about this whole thing. So she put me in contact with their consumer reporter, who does the consumer complaints and that sort of thing. He came out to my house and interviewed me for about 45 minutes. And I gave him documentation, and tried to as best I could to explain the situation to someone that was basically ignorant of the mortgage industry. Never heard another word. …

> During the mortgage meltdown, [Fox News host] Bill O'Reilly was having a temper tantrum on his show where he was going off about, “Why didn't I hear about this? Why didn't somebody tell me about all this that was going on?” And I almost threw my shoe through the television set. Ask my wife " I was screaming and yelling, “I did try to let you know.” ‘Cause he had been one of the ones that I had sent e-mails and attachments with all of this stuff. …

What the hell are these people supposed to do? Start posting their warnings all over the internet and hope it goes viral? What are the chances that would work vs. the chances they'd all be dismissed as conspiracy theorist crackpots?

It's easy to think "If I were in any of their positions, I would've gotten the entire country's attention", but it seems people at every level are determined to be ignorant as long as it's profitable.

cs702 2 days ago 1 reply      
The senior banking executives who ignored the early warnings were making tons of money. The mid-level bankers assembling and selling mortgage securities, who also ignored all warnings, were making tons of money too. The ratings agencies and lawyers giving their stamp of approval to these crazy securities, who also ignored all warnings, were making tons of money as well. The mortgage brokers and originators who were making irresponsible loans to home buyers with sketchy credit histories were making plenty of money, and they too ignored the warnings. The home buyers who successfully flipped properties in a matter of months or even weeks were also making money, and also ignored the warnings. The homeowners who borrowed more and more against their home's seemingly ever-rising value were flush with newfound cash, and felt like financial geniuses.

To a close approximation, no one wanted to hear the warnings.

To find culprits, most Americans need only look in the mirror.

ck2 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope pbs eventually covers the zero prosecution for HSBC bank money laundering.

Only penalty was a month's worth of profit. Not one person will serve a day in prison.

But hey, don't unlock your phone, it's a felony. Or download and free journal articles.

tsunamifury 2 days ago 0 replies      
It was never a secret. Everyone knew values were out of whack on housing and people were taking out mortgages to high. But the sound of a few tiny whistle blowers is nothing compared to the collective will of the American people to buy bigger and better homes or make a quick buck.

This was a lesson we needed to learn as a nation, not one we just need to blame on bankers. Many people participated in the fraud, many banks were complicit with the fraud. That means we should be locking up home buyers right along with the bankers. In fact many of the people interviewed here as whistle-blowers went on being complicit with fraud. None (except the one executive) quit their jobs or even protested in a significant fashion. They all just kept doing work they knew was wrong.

Disclosure: Im an ex-Journalist and an ex-Banker.

jstalin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Our system is strictly based on confidence at this point. Fiat currency, fractional reserve banking, massive leverage, and more systemic debt than the world has ever seen all rely on the fact that big banks are essentially untouchable. We'll never see prosecutions of big banks or their principles. It would break the entire system.
martinced 2 days ago 9 replies      
"industry insiders were ringing the alarm bells"

Just as today many economists are ringing the alarm bells: the governments public debt issues (both in U.S., Japan and many countries in the Eurozone) are going to end up very badly.

Many central banks (including in the U.S.) have basically become bad banks. Anyone holding medium and long-term public government debt (like many insurance products) are basically bankrupt because governments are going to default.

If you think 2008 was bad, wait until the house of cards collapse. It shall make 1929 look like a cute event.

Some economists are predicting a worlwide GDP drop of as much as 25%.

Of course economists that you see on Fox news and CNN like Krugman (sure, lets create a one trillion $ coin, it's a good idea: why not then create 16 of these and be done with our public debt?) either totally lost it or are playing the game that the state asked them to play: propaganda.

Capitalism cannot work if the cost of printing money is zero (quantitative easing).

Actually I don't think we're living in a capitalistic world. I think we live in a socialist world bent on confiscating savings (at the benefit of the state) using inflation. But the system has its limit.

And who are you going to prosecute and hold responsible once everything collapses? The states are basically forcing everyone into buying their junk bonds.

Do you really think anyone would buy government bonds seen the current situation?

The people responsible for this are very very high up the chain. They're desperately trying to prevent the house of socialist cards from falling apart.

"The problem of socialism is that at one point you run out of other people's money". And that's where we're arriving now.

Of course they're going to pretend that it's not the states that created the state debt but "evil" capitalists. What a joke : (

logn 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I think we've developed in our society an idea that any time we see a problem, we can create a law that's going to prevent that problem from happening in the future. We don't need new laws. We need to enforce the laws that have been on the books before." -Tom Leonard (Mortgage underwriter)

That's the duty of the Executive branch.

"we have a responsibility in the person of our President; he cannot act improperly, and hide either his negligence or inattention; [...] far from being above the laws, he is amenable to them in his private character as a citizen, and in his public character by impeachment." -James Wilson (a Founding Father of the US)

"Not but that crimes of a strictly legal character fall within the scope of the power [of impeachment]; but that it has a more enlarged operation, and reaches, what are aptly termed political offenses, growing out of personal misconduct or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interests, various in their character, and so indefinable in their actual involutions, that it is almost impossible to provide systematically for them by positive law." -Joseph Story (Supreme Court Justice, 1811-1845)

cremnob 2 days ago 6 replies      
This documentary didn't reveal anything that wasn't already known. There aren't any criminal prosecutions because it's hard to prove that there was fraud. It then goes on to speculate why Breuer hasn't been able to charge anyone.
bjhoops1 2 days ago 0 replies      
The entire expose is worth reading: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/untouchables/

The most outrageous part in my mind was where Assistant AG Lanny Breuer (who just resigned) gave a speech in which he talked about how he loses sleep at night over concerns about what bringing a lawsuit against a big Wall Street corporation could do.

Imagine if you applied that argument to prosecuting drug cartels! "Just think of all the poor footmen and couriers who might lose their jobs if we prosecute their ringleader"

pathy 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone on Twitter said: "Justice Dept said they'd never speak to @FrontlinePBS again after this Wall Street doc. So naturally it's a must-watch" via https://twitter.com/trevortimm/status/294337455321133056

I found the programme to be very interesting and raise important points but as always, it IS very hard to prove criminal actions in cases like these and while some might be greedy they might not actually be criminal.

That said; it seems that some knew about these unsavory dealings and hopefully they will face justice.

nikcub 2 days ago 0 replies      
pitt1980 2 days ago 0 replies      
while back I read the Big Short

what I came away with was how durable secrets are

here was this billion dollar opportunity that a bunch of people became insanely rich exploiting

and it wasn't a secret at all

a bunch of people where doing everything they could to tell people how overpriced the housing market was, and the opportunity still persisted

it seems like there is so much noise in the world, that signal becomes indistuinghable

jcven 2 days ago 2 replies      
The best whistle blowing before the bubble popped had to be Peter Schiff telling a huge crowd of mortgage bankers they were about to lose their jobs in Nov 2006:


gtrubetskoy 2 days ago 1 reply      
This documentary implies that applicants were submitting fraudulant applications, which is not true. Most people (including the Frontline producers, apparently) still do not understand who was defrauding whom here.

If you apply for a loan and misrepresent your financial situation, this is not fraud (which is a crime) it's a lie, and lying is NOT a crime. You can say you're a teacher making a million a year and what's supposed to happen is the application should be denied (and may be your credit score might suffer).

It is the responsibility of the bank, not the applicant, to make sure that the applicant can repay the loan. Issuing a loan to someone who you know is misrepresenting one's financial situation is fraud and a crime. When such a loan is issued, it is the bank defrauding the applicant (not the other way around). It's essentially loan sharking or extortion, which is a felony. In doing so the bank is also failing in its fiduciary responsibility to the depositors, which is a (separate) crime as well.

mikecane 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's very simple. As long as bonuses are based on the amount of business booked, fraud of this type will continue. Once they get their bonuses, they can jump ship and spout, "I don't remember" all they want to investigators.

EDIT for a typo.

anonymouz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't, for example, prostitution illegal in the US even in Las Vegas? If so, I can easily imagine that there are at least a bunch of people where job description and income don't quite match up ("waitress" in Las Vegas with 12,000 USD/month).
spoiledtechie 2 days ago 0 replies      
My mother was on the inside of all this.... She saw it coming about a year in advance. Knew something was wrong, but couldn't do anything.
malandrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why isn't the job of underwriter totally automated? I imagine that a good bayesian classifier should be able to spot likely fraud. Sounds like a good startup opportunity.
ww520 2 days ago 1 reply      
The people in the high-up knew. A lot of people in all levels knew. People knew it was a bubble and it cannot last. What people didn't know was how to pop the bubble gently to have a soft landing. Remember real estate and mortgage were majority drivers of the economy from 2000 on after the Dotcom and stock crash. Popping the bubble meant wrecking the economy. People were really uneasy in deliberately engineering a recession. The longer the wait the worst the crash.
gtani 2 days ago 0 replies      

more tragicomedy, with some great work by NYT euphemism writer "suggests bad behavior"

tomkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
You know what's disgusting? This fucking bubble shit. Let's call a spade a spade. A bubble is when you're in a la la cloud of utopia. This wasn't that. I think there was about a zillion people (rough estimate) who knew where this was all heading.

It's disgusting because we don't get to say Aaron Swartz lived in a "freedom of information bubble".

Aaron Swartz downloaded some documents " was to be thrown in jail and eventually died by his own hand, perceivably because of the weight of the hammer being dropped down on him.

BUT...wreck the entire economy, cause thousands to lose their home, their job, their careers? NOTHING. What the fuck is going on?

We don't know why lithium batteries work shkrobius.livejournal.com
224 points by mike_esspe  15 hours ago   81 comments top 15
jpxxx 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I like the side-point this author makes. Anytime there's a new discovery in quantum theory or some other escoteric, sexy area of research, thousands of armchair scientist knowitalls fall all over themselves to decry or incorrectly interpret what's been found.

Ask a basic question on physics, biology, or engineering and only an actual scientist will pipe up. I blame science fiction novels.

meaty 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Doesn't this apply to all of science?

I mean we don't actually know why anything really works, but we have some models which fit the observations at the moment. This is just a very shallow model i.e. "we poked it and it worked".

driverdan 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Something makes me suspect this article is missing part of the truth, similar to sites that claim we don't know how bees can fly (we do).
jimbokun 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"“Science literacy” tests quiz the initiated on their command of abstract dogmas acquired through no exercise of one's ability to generate knowledge."

This is something that often bothers me about the r/atheism crowd.

A young person encountering an idea like evolution for the first time should be extremely skeptical and require much convincing, because it is not an intuitive idea at all. Believing in it just because the teacher says you will get a bad grade on the test if you don't does nothing to inculcate scientific thinking in young people.

Now, students unwilling to engage with physical evidence obviously have a different problem. But with the level of discourse I see coming out of many proponents of atheism on the Internet, I often feel many of them are proud of their "command of abstract dogmas" and are not particularly people demonstrating the "ability to generate knowledge."

brittohalloran 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Not an expert but I find this difficult to believe. We know a LOT about battery chemistry.
daniel-levin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
> Still no one knows what chemical process yields this material, what is this material, and why a small structural change in the electrolyte makes such a colossal difference in the performance

I read this an immediately saw a parallel with computer science. To quote from CLRS: [1] "Computer scientists are intrigued by how a small change to the problem statement can cause a big change in the efficiency of the best known algorithm". It strikes me as incredible how seemingly simple concepts can be the tip of a much bigger iceberg of complexity. Another example of this would be the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem [2] . A proposition one can understand with primary school mathematics, whose proof eluded mathematicians for centuries and required the invention of new mathematics. Sir Andrew Wiles, the person who proved the proposition, had to see deep symmetries between a plethora of domains in mathematics. The main idea that I find remarkable is the incredible complexity of the world in which we live - even the smallest of changes to a concept we think we understand (Electrochemistry, Algorithms, Mathematics), can redirect the trajectory of our understanding completely. To me, this seems as if we have only the most superficial understanding of the myriad structures and substructures of the universe. New developments in all areas of science excite me greatly purely because our understanding has been advanced that infinitesimally bit more.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Algorithms
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermat%27s_Last_Theorem

JoeAltmaier 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Easy to claim in chemistry - where loads of research is done by simply trying everything and seeing what works. Its no longer interesting to understand why. Medicine, industrial processes, it doesn't matter. I read once that the last medicine designed by a chemist was the cure for syphilis - decades ago. Probably not true any more, but lots of Edison-style 'science' is being done still.
alizaki 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I always wondered why everything related to my computing devices seems to follow some variation of Moores law but the battery. This explains it.
noonespecial 11 hours ago 0 replies      
We may not always know how or why (at the deepest fundamental levels). We don't need to. We use science to know that it does.
stcredzero 9 hours ago 0 replies      
We didn't know exactly why lots of pharmaceuticals worked either, and we still don't in some cases.
ricardobeat 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I also wonder about the "graphene sheets" - it's not the first time I read that on the description of a battery. Surely it's graphite, not graphene? I don't think batteries are built with one-atom-thick layers.
balsam 4 hours ago 0 replies      
a digression but the writer seems russian by virtue of his/her sentence construction. I can't really pin down the reason, perhaps a linguist can help me out? (Disclaimer: I'm not russian. Edit: By the comments on his page it looks it's actually a russian. Also the use of livejournal)
loceng 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Related to not knowing why lithium works in the brain?
waqar 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I read it in 12th :p
Antigua Government Set to Launch “Pirate” Website To Punish United States torrentfreak.com
219 points by fraqed  3 days ago   97 comments top 16
DigitalSea 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm heating up my popcorn kernels in a large pot of oil as we speak, things are about to get very entertaining. If Antigua start a piracy website selling US copyrighted material, won't the US just ban access to the site and other countries (definitely the UK and Australia) will follow suit? Potentially resulting in free-speech and Internet rights advocacy groups (and the likes of anonymous) kicking up a massive storm of trouble?

It's obvious the bans on Internet gambling is due to the fact it's hard to regulate and it's even harder to tax and when it comes down to it, it's all about money. The US only has themselves to blame, this isn't about protecting people from addictions because lets face it if you want to gamble legally you can go to a casino and if you want drugs you can walk down to the corner and if you want booze you can go to a bottle shop or bar. What's the difference between Internet gambling and going to a casino? The government can tax non-Internet based casinos...

If it gets that far and something isn't worked out prior, this will be an interesting test of Obama's merits as a president and where he stands on things like unrestricted and free Internet access. Given the US's harsh words against China's censorship over the years, it would be pretty ironic if the US were to block such a site.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a great development.

Sometime, maybe 20 years from now, you are going to be able to say "I was there when everyone was figuring out copyrights and patents and stuff."

That said, its an interesting maneuver on Antigua's part. Using the WTO rules to push the conversation along. The article on Ars Technica about the Dutch not liking the attention they are getting for facilitating tax avoidance is another interesting piece of this puzzle. I could imagine a number of ways this might branch, from a 'economic zone' which is "the internet" to a outright revolt by the people and the creation of multiple 'shadow' internets.

These are the 'conversations' that I find very interesting:

"Where" is the Internet with respect to taxation and commercial commerce doctrine?

"What" is role of the economic powers in shaping that doctrine, and "who" is the economic power with the most influence? (Currently its the US but it will be China in 5 years if the trend continues)

What is the role of the nation-state in person-to-person interstate commerce? What "should" it be?

All very very interesting questions and discussions that drive a lot of action from pornography, to gambling, to software sales, to chat rooms.

tzs 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a bit confused by this. Antigua is a party to the Berne Convention, which requires them to recognize the copyright of works by authors of other Berne countries the same way it recognizes those of its own authors.

Can the WTO override this? I'd expect that all the WTO could say is that it is not a violation of treaties and agreements that the WTO oversees for Antigua to pursue this remedy for the WTO violation, but that wouldn't relieve Antigua of obligations under non-WTO treaties.

It's been a long time since I've read the relevant treaties and agreements, so maybe I've forgotten or overlooked something.

arbuge 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's about time internet gambling became available in the USA and this prohibition-type nonsense ended once and for all. I don't see why doing it on the casino floor in Vegas is fine but doing it at home isn't. Sure it's addictive but so is alcohol, and you don't have to step outside your home to drink that. The nanny state must go.
sergiotapia 3 days ago 0 replies      
>One option would be to ask users for $5 a month in return for unlimited access to U.S. media.

Day 1 customer if this is true. I live in Bolivia and will pirate it anyway, the US media corporations refuse to price things according to my location, so screw em.

RexRollman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really think this is interesting for a couple of reasons:

1. The US, who is a member of the WTO, thinks it doesn't need to comply with its ruling.

2. If this does happen, it will be interesting to see if the US tries to interfere with it. For example, would the US try to prevent people from reaching the site and would they pressure finance companies to keep people from buying from it?

I can't wait to see what happens.

aphexairlines 3 days ago 2 replies      
How would Antigua measure $21 million of copyright? For music and movies, would it be the publisher-suggested retail price of albums and blu-ray discs?

If they want to sell the content online, how do they even find out content pricing when publishers don't sell direct and give different prices to different retailers?

If they want to sell content subscriptions, how can they guess how much content they could stream for $21 million?

naner 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know why the US govt is so vigorously against Internet gambling? Is it propping up some other illegal activity?

What is the deal?

gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
News flash: Anyone who comes to Antigua with 10TB of High Definition movies is eligible for Antiguan Citizenship with no extradition guarantees.
logn 3 days ago 0 replies      
The US will eventually legalize online gambling and capture their market. Then the WTO will end the suspension of copyright and then the US wins.

For good gambling discussion: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/57/poker-legislation/

Jagat 3 days ago 5 replies      
How is this going to make any difference?

Pirated content is already available in US and other countries via thepiratebay and other torrents sites. Pirating copyrighted content is already considered illegal in the US, and is being actively monitored by media companies.
If this Antiguan website indeed becomes accessible to Americans, or say other country, how will downloading from this site differ from downloading via torrents. Since torrent usage is already being monitored in US, there's a high likelihood that American ISPs would monitor the usage of this site as well.

Edit: Downloading copyrighted content -> Pirating copyrighted content.

No1 3 days ago 0 replies      
ur tl;dr summary:

The WTO granted Antigua the right to suspend US copyright to the tune of $21 million annually in 2007 because the US ignored the WTO's earlier (2005) ruling that the US violated international free-trade laws by barring Antiguan gambling companies from the US market. Antigua now plans to actually use that ruling to legally sell US copyrighted material over the Internet without paying copyright holders.

imglorp 3 days ago 1 reply      
In chess, they call this a fork.
smelendez 3 days ago 0 replies      
How much bandwidth does Antigua have? Depending on whether they can delegate their "piracy" privilege to companies in other countries, that might be the limiting factor.
eriksank 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why Antigua picked that particular industry, actually? There is simply no god-given right to profit from organized gambling. Why don't they organize an alternative banking system instead? That should be much more profitable, and nobody would object to getting rid of the current politician-controlled banking industry, unless they engage in charging usurious interests or in similar abuse.
drunkenmasta 3 days ago 4 replies      
so they are going to open a site to sell that which pirates pirate for free?
I don't see the economic sense of it.
Swartz didn't face prison until feds took over case, report says cnet.com
219 points by danilocampos  2 days ago   77 comments top 9
erichocean 2 days ago 5 replies      

    If Swartz had stolen a $100 hard drive with the JSTOR articles,
it would have been a misdemeanor offense that would have
yielded probation or community service.

If this doesn't illustrate how messed up the system is, I don't know what will.

lancewiggs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder about the reverse problem. Are there any worthy yet unpopular cases that Ortiz not take up while she was pursuing these ones?
ytadesse 2 days ago 5 replies      
Unfortunately, this comment will probably get filtered to the bottom but this has to be said:

Since the story of Aaron's passing, this site has been home to a lynch-mob asking for Ortiz's head on a plate. I wish I knew enough about federal prosecutions to say whether or not this one was far different from the norm - hell, I wish I knew enough about depression and suicide to say whether or not the prosecution was the primary reason for this sad turn of events - but, regardless, the users HN have been relentless ... almost as if they wished harm on Carmen Ortiz.

I'm pointing that out for a reason. Bullying and outright harassment come in many forms. The end result of these actions are at times not the result that anyone truly intended even if they imply it with their words/actions. You can't on one hand accuse the feds of being overly aggressive while simultaneously doing the same to Ortiz and her family.

Let the law and the current investigations run their course before there are more unwanted consequences of this tragedy.

josephlord 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article linked from the parent actually seems a better explanation.


mikec3k 2 days ago 1 reply      
Carmen Ortiz needs to go. She's a publicity hound just trying to make a name for herself rather than someone who actually respects the law.
arbuge 2 days ago 0 replies      
One only hopes that this will lead to wholesale reform of the US attorney office in Boston in particular, and the plea bargaining process in general. It is unfortunate that it took Aaron's sacrifice to make this happen if it does, but it would at least be something positive coming out of his tragedy.
RockyMcNuts 2 days ago 1 reply      
can't help wondering to what extent the government's war on Manning, Wikileaks, Anonymous was related to Swartz's harsh treatment, whether he was perceived as working with groups actively opposing government policies, and therefore as a hacktivist in the same category as enemies of the state.
berlinbrown 2 days ago 2 replies      
How did it go from state/civil to a federal case?
baritalia 1 day ago 1 reply      
Swartz was a crackhead and a criminal. It's a good thing he's no longer with us.
Adioso is reinventing travel search. Check these never-before-possible searches adioso.com
218 points by tomhoward  2 days ago   117 comments top 49
beatpanda 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is great " SkyScanner (which I almost never hear about, even though it's fantastic) has similar functionality, but definitely not the ability to search for "somewhere warm". I like that.

But what's up with travel startups not allowing remote workers? I'm looking for work right now, including at a travel startup, and that's just baffling to me.

Some of them offer an enhanced vacation "perk", but that sort of misses the point " I (and probably a lot of people who are passionate about travel) am more put off by having to be in the same place 48-52 weeks out of the year than I would be having to carry a laptop to wheverer it is I feel like being in the world.

casca 2 days ago 3 replies      
I've been running searches like this using http://matrix.itasoftware.com for years but I've built up my own lists of what constitutes "Eastern Europe" and "US West Coast". ITA provides software for the airline industry so has high-speed connections - anyone know what system they're using to get the flight data?

This could be a great tool that allows people to do powerful, meaningful searches that have been limited to more technical folk. The business model is there, the big question is whether the queries are allowed to run long enough to find the best results.

waitwhat 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some more feedback: If I do a search for direct, one-way flights from Tallinn to anywhere next month, the experience is awful.

"anywhere" appears to search a list of cities in sequence, not in parallel.

The top city on the list is Beijing (I doubt Tallinn-Beijing has ever existed or ever will); Dubai, Shanghai and Incheon are also in the first ten. Combine this with the server speed, and you have me staring at a throbber for far, far too long for searches that I know won't succeed and should have been trivially filtered out.

If I repeat the search, the same 48 cities are shown in the same order. Please stop trying to get me to go to Beijing. Consider a longer list, randomising the order and searching in parallel.

Your search results show no direct flights from Tallinn to London or Paris next month. This appears to miss results from RyanAir, EasyJet and Estonian Air. (Of these, your coverage page only claims to support EasyJet.)

DigitalSea 2 days ago 2 replies      
Whoa. I am super impressed. I thought the title was a bit grandiose, but the ability to perform advanced almost natural like sentence searches that were showcased in the blog post is phenomenal. Expect these guys to get snapped up by the likes of Google or Facebook sometime soon. It looks like 2013 is shaping up to be the year of search especially with the release of Facebook's Open Graph search which operates basically the same.
sabj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Have enjoyed watching Adioso develop and evolve over time, continuing to improve. Good job team. But, for me, the lack of additional airline data renders it completely unusable still, to have so many missing - I just can't get the whole picture price OR schedule-wise.

I always felt that travel search was a big pain point that I was invested in solving. It also has some very obnoxious data lockdowns after scale. Anyone here have a ready blueprint for some great resources to test and hack around different travel search and booking engines with helpful APIs? I know some offer odds and ends...

Everything is running extremely sluggishly for me right now - including the wingtip time reported on the page? - dunno if HN is a contributor but FYI! Totally unusable even vs. doing month-wide ITA Matrix searches.

ssharp 2 days ago 0 replies      
My wife and I are at a point where we want to do some travel this year, are not picky where we go, don't mind spending money, but don't want to waste money (read: find good bargains).

This type of search is really what I'm looking for. I love that you can type in "somewhere warm" and give general time frames. I don't know if something this flexible has been implemented elsewhere (maybe without the natural language search) but I haven't seen something this flexible before.

I'll have to try this out a few times along with my standard travel search to see how the results quality compares but I'm hoping this provides insights into deals and locations that were previously much harder to find.

toddrew 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this.

I'm currently searching for the cheapest way, I dont care how long it takes, to get from Guatemala City to as close as I can get to Santiago, Chile.

After a number of Adioso searches I found that it would be much cheaper for me to fly - Guatemala - Miami - Lima, saving me around $400 per person (flying with my gf).

A feature I would love would be a reverse search. Searching by destination with an open ended departure location. I'd love to put in Departure: North America Destination:Santiago, Chile and find the cheapest option.

JacobAldridge 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a big fan of the Adioso story, and have learnt so much from their experience (even though our Australian-based travel businesses are only superficially similar).

I think it will take some time for people to realise that the geography of their real world travel conversations ("ever done South-East Asia?", "I'd love to see Eastern Europe!") can be used in travel searches where traditionally we've had to restrict ourselves to countries, or even cities.

As that transition is made, it will open up a whole wonderful world of experiences for people - and hopefully with the corresponding business success for Adioso.

cj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using Google Flights (http://google.com/flights) lately, which lets you graph prices depending on departure date and length of stay. Click "flexible dates" in the date-picker. Extremely useful and fast.

Seems like adioso is trying to do something similar. Really well designed, but it seems like your servers are stressed with the load right now. I'm looking forward to trying it for my next trip :)

thaumaturgy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow guys, great job. This is how search is supposed to work in 2013, and you're the first ones there.
contingencies 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who ran a travel startup in mainland China for a few years, forgive me for being unimpressed. Here's what happened. I loaded the page and consistently expected to see something impressive to justify the title, but only got:
- Source/Destination detection
- (DateJS style...) natural language temporal specification

What is so impressive about that? It's not even multilingual. Does it do typo detection? Does it do non-airline routes? Does it do passport/visa law interpretation? Embassy/agent/border point locations, open times and fees/currencies for visa acquisition? Black market vs. theoretical currency conversions? Credit card acceptance? Processing times? Time-of-day detection and night-time travel warnings?

You could hire me as a once off or occasional consultant for some more cheap ideas and reality-checks (full stack engineer from AU, previously lived US, so not ignorant of performance issues or your team cultures, either) or you could continue retreading old ground. Either way, there's a lot of the latter left to do before impressive happens.

Oh yeah... and the slow thing really is a problem. All I can think is that you are scraping data from many sources, because for the query I ran, there is exactly 1 (one) carrier, and a fixed schedule, with exactly 1 (one) price per standard, linear fare-period. There is no excuse for a non-instant response, unless your architecture is somehow borked.

est 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic.

can we search something like this?

Leaving in 3 days to a coastal city speaking English with hotel room prices from x to y with a beach window and a swimming pool.

bmmayer1 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hey guys--

I LOVE your product but I consistently get way-slower-than-it-should-be load times on all your pages and searches. Just now I got a 502 Bad Gateway. Looks like you have some growing pains, which is great, but I highly recommend investing in a cloud server :)

ffumarola 2 days ago 1 reply      
I rarely say "Wow." I just shared this with 5 people in less than 2 minutes. This is EXACTLY how travel search should be. EXACTLY. I hate the rigidity of having to select days. And then mess with 2/3 day flexible windows on both ends to find cheaper fares. "Travel to Brazil next month for 14 days" is exactly how my vacation planning works, so that's how I want to search it.

I have a lot of praise. Only negative is the site is really slow (at least right now).

fnordfnordfnord 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. As a college instructor, I have flexible schedule options, but I can't afford to pay too much. I also hate trying to pen-test the normal airline reservation system for the cheapest flight days/times/etc.
zmmmmm 2 days ago 1 reply      
The natural language isn't as flexible as it seems to have been made out to be:

"We've had an an error.
Struggled to complete search: Couldn't find a place called "bali some time in the next 3 months"

jacobr 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should down-prioritize airport codes in the search, especially since it's natural language search. I searched for a flight to Goa, and got "GOA (Genoua)". I could then correct it to a bunch of other airports, several in India but only one with "Goa" in its name. What I was looking for was flights to any airport in Goa, India.
_casperc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that seems to missing from most travel sites is the ability to compose a travel consisting of several legs.

For instance, this spring I am going to India with work, after which I want to travel to somewhere in southeast asia, probably with one or two stops, and then home to copenhagen.

It should be possible to have an overview over my entire travel, not just the one leg or a simple return trip as my travels are rarely just that.

(looks good though, I am definitely going to try it)

bsimpson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think your iconography is backwards: mobile phones have taught people that a target cursor means "I am here." You should use that for the From, and perhaps the Place icon you're currently using for From instead for To.

Also, your filters should be smart enough to enforce their own constraints. I should never have to wait until the results page to get this:

    "Please reduce the range of trip lengths you are searching for, and we'll be able to find you results."

For the record, I got a 502 Bad Gateway nginx on one search results page, but it went away on refresh.

I like the ideas you guys are bringing to the table (and the personality of your announcement). Not only are the searches you've demoed here clever, but the filters (afternoon flights shorter than N hours) are nicely integrated. Scrolling feels a bit janky though.

Good luck!

natch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please make it more clear whether the results are round trip or not. The best way to do this is to put a big ROUND TRIP right next to the price, instead of making us guess. I understand the price is shown in a box that encompasses two flights, but I don't know if this is a design mistake, trickery, or an actual RT price. It's good to be more clear than you think you need to be, when it comes to stuff like showing prices to fickle comparison shoppers.

Nice stuff though! I look forward to using it when the load isn't so heavy as it seems to be right now. And please don't sell out to someone (cough, Yahoo!) who has a history of cutting the features that users love.

smiler 2 days ago 3 replies      
Do people actually need these kind of searches when they book travel? I don't know about anybody else but my life is pretty scheduled and the dates I can go on holiday are fairly fixed and planned months in advance. Research of where to go is done with my wife on tripadvisor and looking through brochues.

Ebookers / Expedia search is pretty easy - pick the dates, pick the location, compare prices.

I just don't see the need for these kind of searches

RyanZAG 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't seem to be localizing prices to local currency? For travel search, it's really important to localize prices if you want to get some of that outside USA business.
bchallenor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure that the 88 people [1] who want to go from "MEL to Perth UK" actually want to go the other Perth. Interestingly only 3 have signed up for "MEL to Perth AU" - perhaps you could add some heuristics to your autocomplete?

Similarly for "Auckland NZ to Christchurch UK" - people might be getting more than they bargained for there. :)

[1] http://adioso.com/following/missing_routes

toast0 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be a grumpy old man, I think these type of searches were possible in 2009. http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2009/03/11/how-to-find-cheap...

Blame the US Department of Transportation for flexible date searches going away; DOT was requiring headline prices to include all taxes and fees included, but you need to know the full route details to calculate those; and flexible date search was based on fare rules. I hope these guys don't get caught up in that, because flexible searches are awesome.

benjaminwootton 2 days ago 0 replies      
On a Galaxy S2, the popup is too big and its hard to find the close button.

When I found it and clicked on Gdansk, Kiev started loading but then hung.

danielharan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Travelling in Kathmandu right now on a slow connection and haven't managed to load the page after 2 minutes. I guess the target market isn't already traveling...
gebe 2 days ago 2 replies      
Cool stuff but maybe not as revolutionary as the title claims it to be. Minus the NLP most of these searches have been possible for years at my favourite swedish travel aggregator site.
notahacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
A dynamic search suggest feature would be a very useful to show what natural-language variants are actually possible.
yock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did you seriously just redirect me to someone elses website because you didn't like what browser I'm (forced to be) on?
kgosser 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was skeptical from the hyperbolic headline, but wow. This is a clear solution to an overlooked Job To Be Done and I applaud the team and service. I plan on using them next time I conduct travel plans.
akosner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool looking, but it does not return the best prices for the searches. I compared to hipmunk (which doesn't always have the best prices itself) and found significantly lower fares. Keep at it, guys!
nreece 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adioso is fantastic! A shout out to Tom, Fenn and the team. Great work guys.
just_wondering 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it is great what you are doing. Of course, this is what travel search should be like. Though, I'm genuinely curious, what are you really trying to achieve? Sure, more flexible nice is great. But it is definitely not a killer feature. Low price seems to be key when it comes to mass air travel. As far as I can tell from the responses, all you do is show fares from airline aggregators (I also got a timeout when I tried). Is this really a viable business model? I'm sure they will eventually come around to offer the same search features that you have. In the meantime, there are already many competitors that offer improved search interfaces (e.g. skyscanner.net, which I have used for my last trip). How are you differentiating yourself from these services? Also, while I think that improved search is needed, I would suggest reconsidering which aggregators you include. For my last trip, I found a great fare on cheapoair.com (through skyscanner), but at the last moment, I was having second thoughts, and decided to google them. Well, to say the least, they do not appear to have a very good reputation. Similar with edreams. But I never booked with them, so perhaps, they are not as bad as some of the online reviews suggest. However, one thing that's pretty vexing is that they often will advertise a fare, but then when you go to there site, and try to book it, it is no longer available. I know that you're just providing their data, but as far as I'm concerned this is a major annoyance. Just yet another reason that makes me doubt your current business model is viable. Not to mention that you are up against sites like travelocity, which is essentially owned by the airlines themselves...would love to hear your side of the story, though!
hoopism 2 days ago 0 replies      
Concept is great but the response time kept me from trying the service out.

at 50 seconds worth of search time you've lost me.

mikeevans 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really excited about trying this after all the positive feedback listed here, but I've only had 504 errors and result pages containing "Damn We've had an an error."
hayksaakian 2 days ago 2 replies      
How many trendy startups can travel search really support?
sasolit 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't get what's so special about this as http://www.fact-finder.com/semantic-travel-search.html has been around in Germany at least for two years.
giociferri 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really fantastic... every times when i need to search a flight to go from my city in a cheap way around europe i had to do a lot of researches.... this is a really useful service!
nsomniact 2 days ago 0 replies      
A while back we used Siri and natural language to do flight search and status, www.youtube.com/watch?v=edJ-1caUmmc

The inspiration came from sites like SkyScanner

filip01 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive, but searching for Stockholm to "Somewhere warm", "any friday" gave me a list of cities and images but "no flights". Why? Is Stockholm not yet supported?
dgiol 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. I really like adioso. I have recommended it to a few people already.

I also think Skyscanner (also mentioned in this discussion) is very good.

tnhh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice concept. But if I search for "Scotland" I am offered the Shetlands (close-ish), Rutland Vermont, Syria, Estonia or Mexico.
brianbreslin 2 days ago 0 replies      
great now you're making my wanderlust even worse! ;-)
mech4bg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive stuff, congrats.
hamey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome stuff! Great work.
johnlinvc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is it hacker newsed? I'm having 502 bad gate way.
catsinpants 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's the difference between these queries and the ones already available on ITA Matrix?
throwaw_250113 2 days ago 1 reply      
Disclosure: Shameless plug from a team member of yet another travel search Startup 90di (which mainly searches for flights, trains, buses in India). *

Seeing what Adioso has done, and also that there is a good deal of overlap. Could not resist, telling about our Startup.

We do what we call as 'free text search'. Its customized for searches in India, like you can do something like:
'Bangalore to Kanpur by train via Delhi'.

Or you can just search by a train name, or number, or flight number or by Airline name and many other things.

Some more examples of free text searches possible are at:


If you are interested, please do try out 90di.com, and any feedback is welcome.

* Sorry for using a throwaway. I do maintain another account here, and contribute positively, I promise :-)

Fuck it, I'll Do This Alone bucketlistly.com
213 points by peachananr  2 days ago   109 comments top 37
simonsarris 2 days ago 9 replies      
I too used to be plagued by wishy-washy friends, and since waiting on finalization of plans can be a real pain, I decided to find some ways to deal with them.

The first thing I did was set up a google group for my friends. There are about 20 memebers in it and we share stuff between each other by email occasionally but also make plans.

The second thing I learned was never to entice people or make plans, but simply to announce plans. I'd email the group:

"I'm going hiking at Franconia Notch this weekend if anyone is interested. Leaving from my house around 10AM Saturday."

That's it. No waiting for replys, no waiting on people at all. If you want to come with me you'll be around at 10AM Saturday or you won't.

There's no frustration if its only me going, as I intended to go alone, and if anyone wants to come along then that's a pleasant surprise. But I won't base my activity schedule around waiting for them.

Surprisingly, since I started doing this, more people seem to come along. Motivation is contagious, I think, and it seems the thought of someone else already 100% committed to doing something makes it easier in the minds of others to commit themselves.

So make it easy for your friends. This way they don't feel guilty or obligated one way or the other, which is a huge relief for some personality types.

Later, I made a second google group for announcing house dinners, and now regularly 5-15 people show up every wednesday and we cook and eat together.

ghc 2 days ago 12 replies      
I don't know about anyone else, but I feel extremely awkward going to nice restaurants alone even if I bring something to do. I don't experience this feeling anywhere else...just restaurants. I think I'd be more likely to travel alone than to go out to a nice restaurant down the street alone.
bbx 2 days ago 0 replies      
When living in Paris, I wanted to attend many concerts but oftentimes I ended up not going because I couldn't find anyone to come with me.

Looking at the many concerts I missed because of that, I decided to automatically buy 2 tickets for each event and ask my friends afterwards, stating that I had an extra ticket. I ended up attending many concerts with one of my friends, and rarely had to sell my extra ticket.

On a side note, two years ago, a group of friends invited me to join them for a 10-days trip in Turkey. They would fly directly from Paris to Istanbul. I lived in Bordeaux then and figured: why don't I go to Istanbul by train on my own? It took me 2 weeks to get there, and along the road I stopped at Milan, Florence, Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Belgrade (plus Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow and Berlin on my way back).

I knew that noone would have agreed to come with me and I immediately felt that I had taken the right decision. It was a sudden one but I don't regret it. I met wonderful people and visited beautiful places, and I realize that depending on someone else's decision would have prevented me from doing these things.

njharman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think I'm kind of a loner. I have zero problems doing things alone.

Most things (esp trips, hiking, biking) I want to do alone. I need alone time. Time away from all the hassles and pressures of "socialness". Time to be selfish. To pause when others might want to go, to go when others might want to pause.

Also, early in life I got real tired of being let down / of the unreliability of people. So, instead of repeating the same activity and expecting a different outcome I quit trying or wanting to participate in planned group activities.

tmh88j 2 days ago 3 replies      
To each his own. Half the fun of traveling is the friends you're with, for me at least. The first time I went to NYC and SF I spent ~8 hours wandering around by myself (friends were still working) and I didn't get much enjoyment out of it. Sure I talked to some random people, but honestly I was bored after about 2 hours. The moments I remember and enjoyed were spent with friends, regardless of the location.
grecy 2 days ago 1 reply      
My Friends all thought I was crazy when I invited them to drive from Alaska -> Argentina with me.

The choice was clear, go alone, or don't go at all.

I had a life changing two year adventure.


rwhitman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This happened to me the exact same way. Couldn't get anyone on board so I bought a plane ticket to Hong Kong by myself randomly one night and it was one of the best trips I've ever taken. I've done a few other solo trips since.

I think the thing I like the most is the sense of ultimate freedom - no arguments or drama, disasters out of your control etc. Everything you do is because you chose to do it. If you make a mistake and screw something up, nobody is going to complain. After being in a relationship for 7 years I really long to get those moments back...

B-Con 2 days ago 0 replies      
It just depends on your goals. For a lot of people, these kinds of activities are, on some level, a social catalyst. For those, it doesn't make sense to do many of them without the social part. But if you're simply interested in the event itself, you shouldn't feel any need to wait for others to participate.

I golf by myself routinely, and back when I went to the movies I would go by myself if it made sense. I wanted to do those things, regardless of who participated. I know many others, though, who would not say the same thing.

david927 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to do something, and you make that contingent upon another person, you've introduced fragility to your goal.

I've heard that a popular reason startups fail is co-founder disagreement, but that is just another way of saying there was a failure in leadership.

jwmoz 2 days ago 1 reply      
For the first 10 months of 2012 I planned a trip to Thailand, taking time off contracting. I too became fed up of mates not being able to come with me so in the end thought fuck it, I'll go on my own. The day I posted my plans my mate got in touch and said he'd come with me for 3 weeks.

Those 3 weeks we basically argued like a married couple, there were good times, obviously, but we are both very different people. Anyway, as soon as he left me in Cambodia, the trip turned into one of the best experiences of my life.

I went where I wanted, I did what I wanted. I had crazy nights out and the trip was an adventure. I went to see my friend in Koh Phangan and stayed at his dive shop for a few weeks for free. I made friends with the locals and regularly got invited out with everyone. I had 2 of the most unbelievable experiences of my life partying in Haad Riin. I ended up with a girlfriend for 3 months whilst I was there. I met up with an old friend in Malaysia and stayed with her for free in a 5 star hotel for a week - she was on business and got a twin room for me. I met a girl in Bangkok who ended up driving me around the city in her Range Rover and taking me out to clubs. One day I decided to rent a motocross bike and rode it 35km up to the top of Bokor mountain in Cambodia - an amazing experience, more so on the way back down.

All of these things happened when I was on my own. Once I left my friend, I could do exactly what I wanted. There were times when it was hard, e.g. going to clubs on your own, or places where everybody is in a group, but in the end it paid off. Now I'm the guy who just does what he wants. This year I'll go away again to maybe South Korea or the Philippines; I haven't even considered asking someone to go with me.

So yeh, don't be that guy stressing about not having anyone to go places with, fuck it, go on your own.

davidwparker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned traveling with your significant other / spouse / girlfriend / wife / boyfriend / husband.

I've made quite a few trips and it's generally not hard to plan something together with my wife, so long as we do it early enough so she can get off work.

She loves eating out, so it's never hard to ask her to eat out with me.

In general, she'll do most things with me, so long as they're not hardcore physical activities (mountain climbing, long distance runs, etc)- but even those she'll go watch if she's able.

nlavezzo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I came to this conclusion between the sophomore and junior years of college when I had the money to take a trip to Italy but none of my friends did. I'd never been further than Mexico, but I did it.

Being there alone was exhilarating - almost like the feeling of being hiking in the wilderness far enough away from people that if you broke a leg, you'd be in serious trouble. There is something wonderful about being far away from everything you know is safe and comfortable. I think there's a part of you that you can only find doing things like that.

DigitalTurk 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a rule, I prefer traveling on my own. That way I can take my time to walk wherever I want and get a better 'feel' for the city. For instance, I love to go out into the city without a map sometimes. I often even go out of my way to eat in cheap, dirty places because I want to know what the locals eat. Sometimes I even go out of my way to explore the boring and the ugly parts of town.

It's difficult to find travel partners that share these interests. :)

Additionally, when I'm traveling with someone else I get distracted by conversations. That means I fail to notice tons of things. Also, I have experienced that my travel companion(s) would take me to all sorts of interesting places and then afterwards I'm unable to pinpoint on a map where I've been. That kind of sucks.

It's also much easier to start interesting conversations with locals or other travelers when you're not in a group.

I'm never lonely. I often stay in hostels so I can usually talk to other solo travelers. And sometimes I hit couchsurfing.org and meet up with individuals or groups.

roflc0ptic 2 days ago 2 replies      
There seems to be a strain of thought, especially prevelant in the programming community, that really romanticizes acting alone. I really wonder if we should romanticize it.

I used to live like this - I would go to shows alone, eat out alone, go to movies alone. I'd go hiking by myself, I'd go on long bike rides by myself. At the time I didn't have the resources to go on trips by myself, but I would've done that, too.

And it wasn't like I was a pariah. I've always had friends and family around. I've never needed to be single. I just felt like I required this constant solitude, and because of that, enforced a certain distance in my relationships.

As I've gotten older and learned more of how to need other people, I'm kind of horrified at all of the lost opportunities. The friendships I didn't form.

I would really hate for young guys [who I assume comprise much of HN's readership] to read this and say "Yeah, I should go this world alone!" Sometimes this attitude may be called for, but more often than not it will not serve you well.

phatbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Except if you want to apply for YC... unfortunately
phatbyte 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think most people actually understood what the author meant. He said that nothing should hold you back even if you are alone to do it.

He never said he doesn't like to go out with friends. He said we need to learn to do things on our own sometimes.

mixmastamyk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember coming to grips with this myself. Turns out most people have different priorities than I, such as buying a new car rather than say... diving in Australia for a few months?

A few things I've learned: The true test comes when it is time to pay. If you can move that part up, then you will save a lot of time. Don't sweat it if the couch potatoes at home don't make it. You'll make friends at the destination, people who actually do things rather than talk about them.

Also, agree with simonsarris' comment that announcing plans takes the uncertainty out of the exchange.

mercuryrising 2 days ago 0 replies      
So my goal is to be a "Millionaire by May". I have 0 dollars right now (living in my parent's basement), and am close to an MVP. I'm going to start a company by myself, do everything myself, rake in the profits by myself. It'll be hard as hell, but by doing it myself I get to learn all the facets, and don't have to communicate my half assed desires (make it more blue-green!). I have a fluorescent dollar sign on my desk, whenever the going gets rough (or I don't want to do it anymore), the dollar sign goes on. Reminds me of my goal.

I've been pumping myself up recently with two things - excuses are just fear, and shoot for simplicity, not efficiency (if it's simple, it's likely pretty damn efficient). Unless there is a ridiculous technical problem, there is generally a way around a problem with a little bit of creativity and elbow grease. Excuses are just lack of desire to find those routes.

grabeh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think there's much to be gained from stating either way whether you prefer solo or group travel.

I have personally enjoyed travelling solo and with friends. They both have positives and negatives. As people have said at least you are guaranteed company with friends around, and there's much to be said for sharing experiences with someone who you know inside-out or at least well.

Having said that, travelling solo has always pushed me out of my comfort zone into seeking out company (if I was in the mood for conversing). Meeting like-minded people in new countries has always for me been a very enjoyable experience.

It's fair to say also that even being in close proximity with a good friend can lead to friction on occasion because that close proximity can be a very different experience to your usual relationship away from travelling. Perhaps I should select my friends better though!

davycro 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that friends always bailing on you is a sign that you are boring. Reading this article reminded me of this quote from Anne Lamott:

"There are certain people whose company you love, whose mind you love to pick, whose running commentary totally holds your attention, who makes you laugh out loud.
When you have a friend like this, she can say: “Hey, I've got to drive up to the dump in Petaluma"wanna come along?” and you honestly can't think of anything in the world you'd rather do. By the same token, a boring or annoying person can offer to buy you an expensive dinner, followed by tickets to a great show, and in all honesty you'd rather stay home and watch the Jello harden."

jere 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sure, you shouldn't let your friends hold you back. But I wouldn't underestimate the value of spending time with friends/family. One quote from Robb Wolf has always stuck with me: "It's understood that people who don't have enough social connections, they have as high a rate of mortality and morbidity as a pack a day smoker." http://youtu.be/Tvh23EnFDio

Maybe if your friends are holding you back then you should find new friends? The thought of going to restaurants alone isn't particularly inspiring to me. If you'll indulge me, here's a song about it: http://youtu.be/MnqdNErdVcU

chris_wot 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Footloose and fancyfree- try that with kids :-)
javert 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article is good in concept, but has too much emotion-laden hyperbole for my taste.
pfortuny 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, great idea: enjoying good things alone. I do it a lot of times). There is no special need for friends in order to enjoy a good meal, a good concert or a good film or a good sightseeing.

There is a time to enjoy alone and a time to gather together.

Glad you have discovered this.

Edit: and there is no need to 'fuck it', one should do these things by himself from time to time. There is no obligation to enjoy with others.

Irregardless 2 days ago 1 reply      
After reading the first paragraph, I thought he was about to announce a new startup that helps individual travelers find each other to plan group excursions around the world.

I left disappointed :/

stevewilhelm 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a solo runner who trained for and completed the Dipsea and US Half marathon last year, I say go it alone but let someone know where you are going and when you plan on getting back.

And carry a rock solid cell phone. I have a Verizon pay as you go basic phone http://s831.us/Pn4ZDD. It's always charged and can pick up cell coverage where my smartphone can't.

misiti3780 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just booked a trip to Vietnam/Cambodia alone with the same thought in mind - no one was willing to commit, and I still wanted to go
golgo13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the lunch time running club at work. It's just me, now. And I'm not even the organizer...
mberning 2 days ago 0 replies      
This breaks down when it comes time to make reservations and other arrangements where money becomes involved. I've found that asking for a deposit on things like lodging and tickets really weeds out who is serious and who is not.
solox3 2 days ago 4 replies      
Travelling? Two is always better than one.

If you break a leg in Thailand, someone can help you to the hospital. If you have a friend who lives in Korea, he can be your Seoul mate. Going on a roller coaster? You can sit beside someone you know. Ordered some weird food that you don't like? Just swap with the friend next to you.

Two is better than one.

baby 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want people to follow you, you must have the balls to lead alone first.
baby 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nicholas Christakis: The hidden influence of social networks [1] :

Should we do things alone, so as not to be contaminated by our friends/entourage.


Should we get surrounded by the most people.

Also, doing things alone FIRST allows you to get surrounded by those interesting people that will follow wherever you will go and whatever you will do

[1] http://www.ted.com/talks/nicholas_christakis_the_hidden_infl...

bluekite2000 2 days ago 1 reply      
This boils down to your personality, not on external factors like who you are with, where you go or what you do. Are you an extrovert, introvert or ambivert? Figure out who you are then everything will make sense
EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
We are building an app to solve this exact problem. It's called Groups and has almost a million downloads by now. This is a common problem for a lot of people. Will let you guys know when we launch the features to solve it, later this year.
zx2c4 2 days ago 0 replies      
Zarathust 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul
antoaravinth 1 day ago 0 replies      
I felt that I wrote this article. This is my exact though process too.
How an unsigned rapper changed music silentattraction.wordpress.com
204 points by loso  3 days ago   166 comments top 35
ISL 3 days ago 1 reply      
Macklemore/Ryan Lewis have a lot in common with modern startups. If you know Seattle, they have a small studio on Aurora. Software and shrewd attention to quality put them where they are today. It's been fun to watch their rise; I hope it continues to go so well.

(And, if Macklemore becomes mayor of Seattle in 2025, it'll be funny as hell.)

Pitch for their first album:

Giving away tickets on Craigslist:

Kickstarteresqe promo video:

Jumping on the Tiny Desk at NPR:

josefresco 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm sorry to bring this into the discussion (ducks), but does it really matter that this guy is white? Is he the first white, unsigned musician to hit #1?

I get that "white" rappers for the hip-hop ignorant are somewhat of a novelty but come on ... linkbait headline at it's worst IMHO.

loso 3 days ago 3 replies      
In the past few years this has been happening a lot when it comes to rap. A lot of artist have been powered by the internet, gain a big following, but then they end up signing up to a major label. Drake, Soulja Boy, ASAP Rocky, Odd Future, etc. So far this guy has signed to no one and was able to break out the internet only sphere and get to the top of the charts.

I hope this happens more often. I am not anti corporate by a long shot but the labels have gotten worse not better since the days of Napster. Doing it this way an artist is able to make money but still avoid the dreaded 360 deal.

startupfounder 3 days ago 1 reply      
TRUE FANS! [http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fan...]

This song in really interesting in two ways.

It was most likely made for close to nothing with a laptop, Protools/Logic and a mic. And secondly and more important the song is all about going thrift shopping and being thrifty!

    I'm gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I - I - I'm hunting, looking for a come-up
This is f[*]cking awesome

He can record a song for close to $0, he can connect with his 1,000+ true fans directly for $0 and when someone torrents his songs he doesn't care because he is so thrifty that an extra $20 when 1 out of 10,000 who listen to his song go to his show he is syked.

nchlswu 3 days ago 1 reply      
No. The rap industry especially especially embraced blogs long before Macklemore got his number 1 hit. In fact, now it's become routine for major labels and artists to seed music and do releases through blogs. These same blogs push unsigned hype and labels respond by signing these artists for a major debut.

Drake is probably made the best use of the internet and blog to grow his stock and ignite a bidding war among majors. Many people speculated that he could remain independent and still be successful. He opted to sign to a major and he's now a superstar. The relationship between artists and labels has shifted for a long time.

From what I know, Macklemore made use of the internet in a way that's more or less routine nowadays. I'm not going to take away from him hitting #1, but the dynamics between a label and artists have been different for a long time

jmduke 3 days ago 4 replies      
This isn't new. This has been happening for a while.

Whether or not you love or hate the music, hip hop is one of the most meritocratic facets of the music industry. Look at Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye West -- all people who got their starts on the blogosphere.

prof_hobart 3 days ago 1 reply      
IMO, this is the real threat that the record labels/RIAA etc have been worrying about when they go on about piracy.

They've realised for some time that they have little to offer to artists these days as far as promotion or distribution are concerned. So the only way that they can attempt to stay relevant is to create a big bad guy (in the shape of piracy) that can only be stopped by huge organisations with huge banks of lawyers. Their repeated suing of fans has not really been to send a message to the pirates - it's been to send a message to the artists - "Get rid of us, and piracy will destroy you".

dailo10 3 days ago 0 replies      
Music video for Thrift Shop. Enjoy. :)


qeorge 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not sure of the exact timing, but I thought Crank That (Soulja Boy) was #1 before he got signed (after getting popular on YouTube/MySpace).


Drake comes to mind as well.

dominicmauro 3 days ago 2 replies      
Lisa Loeb also did it. http://www.merrimackhall.com/lisaloeb.html

I winced when the guy hedged by saying "in modern history" " remembering this doesn't make me that old.

jhowell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too Short is the original hustler. Like his music or not, 50,000 records and tapes SOLD (literally, not digital, send a link to a friend). That's not counting copying, which a lot of people I knew did from the record or a friends cassette tape. Takes guts to hop out on the block and get people to listen to your music.
rwhitman 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are a LOT of artists these days who are not on labels and doing quite well. This guy may be the first to reach #1 on the charts but I think its a stretch to suggest he single handedly changed the record industry
shaaaaawn 3 days ago 7 replies      
This guy is incredible! Actually rapping about things that matter. Seems trivial but it's a huge undertaking. Applaud and support the effort. Will keep buying
duggieawesome 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a great example of a community's positive impact on an individual, in this case, Seattle's hiphop collective and Macklemore.

A lot of great artists are coming out the Northwest and I hope they'll earn recognition they deserve.

gallamine 3 days ago 3 replies      
As a white middle-class male who never listens to rap (I was a classical nerd in HS), I find _The Heist_ an enjoyable album. Go figure. It's available for streaming on Spotify. I'd recommend a listen.
thedangler 3 days ago 1 reply      
With a beat like that, any song would be #1.
finkin1 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious how he was able to become so popular so quickly. What music blogs promoted his album? Did he already have relationships with the blogs or did he just submit his album like everyone else and the quality spoke for itself?
nate 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love this guy. He's even got a song about Malcolm Gladwell and the 10,000 hours stuff (that I wrote about a bit ago.)
shaurz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I heard he's never negative.
tiredoffps 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I love about Macklemore is that he puts a lot of heart and soul into his lyrics. It's something you see with Peyton Manning in football, Kobe Bryant in BBall. You can just tell he loves what he does.

For example, in Make the Money is about following your passion, not for the money but because you love what you do. With this mindset, the money will come.

A lot of us in the tech/startup industry can relate to this. Follow the money and most startups fail.

leepowers 3 days ago 1 reply      
My ignorance may be showing, but this article seems a tad hyperbolic. As mentioned by others Lisa Loeb also had a #1 (nearly 20 years ago!) while she was unsigned. Is Macklemore really a harbinger of things to come? Or an outlier, an aberration that appears once in a generation? I suppose time will tell. But the article builds a mountain of expectations from the success of a single artist.
dougk16 3 days ago 1 reply      
Without "knowing" rap, and only listening to _The Heist_, he seems to border more on a satirical Weird Al type of line, rather than being someone that true rap fans would necessarily enjoy.

Regardless, it had a good message, delivered in a funny way, and I enjoyed it. Happy to see this guy succeeding without help from the man.

afandian 3 days ago 0 replies      
This should really say "mainstream American commercial music".
skylan_q 3 days ago 0 replies      
The beginning of the end of copyright. :)
benhebert 3 days ago 0 replies      
How he changed music? Hardly. Maybe if they follow this up with something substantial but as we've seen in electronic music... you can make hit music and then the labels will sign you.
martswite 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like him, his style (to me) is very similar to that of recent music by British artist Plan B, who I also happen to find brilliant.
abraininavat 3 days ago 1 reply      
From "Same Love"

"And God loves all his children it's somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago"

The Bible doesn't really need paraphrasing or eye-squinting to be interpreted as anti-gay, it's pretty clear in that point. I admire Mackelmore's overall sentiment and courage, and I'm not saying it doesn't make sense for a Christian to be anti-gay, but you can't make an uncomfortable part of the legacy of your beliefs go away by pretending it's not there.

"Whatever god you believe in
We come from the same one"

Tolerance and unity doesn't often quite extend to atheists, does it?

BeJoKo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like to believe that there's always room at the top of any industry for people who really have a superior talent. I have to say, their boot-strapped scrappiness does give them a little special cred for me, but mostly, I just love their music. Their song, "Thrift Shop" is a trifecta, great tune, great lyrics, great social commentary.

Also, bonus points for their ability to describe odors. "Smells like R-Kelly's Sheets."

bigdubs 3 days ago 4 replies      
what's facscinating, and this isn't really proof of anything, but has "Thrift Shop" been getting terrestrial radio airplay?

I can't find it on http://www.z100.com/iplaylist/playlist.html?net=1 my local pop radio station's playlist)

guitarhacks 3 days ago 0 replies      
Down-vote me but his music is commercial. I am saying this as a professional musician. Even the pompous title says it all.. "unsigned white rapper changed music industry". I do not understand how this post gets so many up-votes.
Listen to Damu the Fudgemunk for example, a young bright kid who does his thing with Y Society.
thomasfrank09 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it bad if I thought this article was going to be about Froggy Fresh?
heshamfahim 3 days ago 0 replies      
he knew how to be different, he subconsciously used the lean methodology

Build, test and measure and maneuvered his way to climb the ladder to be #1

thebiglebrewski 3 days ago 0 replies      
United Music Group?! How about Universal Music Group.
trentlott 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not Li'l B?

Terrible article.

neya 3 days ago 3 replies      
>How an unsigned white rapper changed music

This is fucking racism. Why does it matter to you if the guy is white/black/tall/short/smart/stupid/dick?

Well, fuck you linkbaits.

United States Sentencing Commission website hacked ussc.gov
203 points by throwaway2048  1 day ago   137 comments top 29
tokenadult 1 day ago 10 replies      
[Shakes his head in disgust.] Hackers, it's time for me to hack the discussion. You and your first world problems have NO IDEA how to fight for freedom. This is the wimpy way to protest whatever it is you are protesting. Unlike most people who post here, I have actually lived under a dictatorial regime that ruled a territory that later had a peaceful transition to democracy and legally protected civil rights. Anonymous or whatever the name of the latest Western hacktivist group is going about things all wrong.

If you really want to learn about effective popular action to bring about more freedom, point your Web browser to the Albert Einstein Institute publications


and choose your language for titles like From Dictatorship to Democracy and The Role of Power in Nonviolent Struggle and others. Note that the main author of these publications has consulted with freedom movements all over the world and has had notable success in the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, and other countries, and is credited with much of the mobilization of the two-year-old Arab Spring movement.

Going after the United States Sentencing Commission website is beyond stupid. The federal sentencing guidelines were a helpful reform. Before they were adopted, on the example of Minnesota's sentencing guidelines, federal sentences were just about wholly indeterminate, making each judge could make up his or her own law of sentencing at trial. The Minnesota reform, which was the example for the federal reform, set up guidelines based on a "severity score" of the offense--so that for the first time legislative statutes from many different decades were compared as to the actual social harm resulting from each offense, based on community standards as of the time of the reform--and on a "criminal history score" of the offender, so that prison time was reserved only for the most dangerous repeat offenders. (Minnesota imprisons fewer convicted criminals than most states of the United States, being much like Scandinavia in this regard. Minnesota spends more dollars per prisoner but fewer dollars per taxpayer on its prison system than almost any other state.)

I know actual freedom fighters, that is publishers of opposition magazines and organizers of nonviolent protests, from Taiwan. Some of them experienced hard prison time while in the struggle for freedom, with family break up and ill health and the other consequences of imprisonment. But today they can look at a much freer country in their homeland than they grew up in. The biggest problem with website-defacing movements is their cowardice (no one in Anonymous seems courageous enough to go to prison) and lack of perspective (they complain about first world problems that they mischaracterize as important problems for the common people). It's time for the discussion on Hacker News to grow up and make more room for the real freedom fighters.

olefoo 1 day ago 11 replies      
Dudes. This is not at all helpful. Website defacements just create more of an excuse for a crackdown. If you're going to risk your life and freedom hacking things; make it worth your goddam time. Hack the prison industrial complex and get the evidence that shows that crimes are being created so that prisoners can be kept at a profit. Expose the email trails of corrupt judges who put away kids for kickbacks. Dox the modern plantation owners who order up prisoners to work at slave wages.

Putting a press release on a website where it doesn't belong has been done; it's old news. We know you can hack a drupal site owned by the .gov, we get it. Don't blow your wad on something obvious, get documentation that would make Woodward and Bernstein cream their pants over how many pageviews it'd get and publish that.

Hack the FBI and find out who was talking about killing protestors at Occupy Houston; hack Corrections Corporation of America and find out what they talk about during their board meetings; get their financials and spill them to the foreign press. Any or all of those would change things, possibly for the better. But this, this is a waste of your time and ours.

Claudus 1 day ago 3 replies      
The site contains links to 9 encrypted files, one for each of the current Supreme Court Justices.

The files are intended to be concatenated into a single file named: Warhead-US-DOJ-LEA-2013.aes256

(US-DOJ-LEA = United States - Department of Justice - Law Enforcement Agency)

aes256 is apparently the encryption scheme used to encrypt the files.

File names (and sizes): 1115 MB total

  Scalia.Warhead1 (150 MB)
Kennedy.Warhead1 (108 MB)
Thomas.Warhead1 (150 MB)
Ginsburg.Warhead1 (150 MB)
Breyer.Warhead1 (150 MB)
Roberts.Warhead1 (23 MB)
Alito.Warhead1 (150 MB)
Sotomayor.Warhead1 (101 MB)
Kagan.Warhead1 (133 MB)

Relevant quotes pertaining to the file contents:

The contents are various and we won't ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file.

Should we be forced to reveal the trigger-key to this warhead, we understand that there will be collateral damage.

It is our hope that this warhead need never be detonated.

Summary: the file contains "various secret contents", the file has one encryption key to reveal all data, they intend to release previews of the data, they may not release the encryption key (although chances of this seem unlikely).

The encrypted data is almost certainly larger than the unencrypted data, my guess is the unencrypted data is closer to 600MB to 900MB (In the ballpark of the size of a standard 700MB data CD).

Initially I thought the 9 files may contain data about each of the SC Justices, or perhaps information intended for each of them. However, I think their names on files were simply chosen for effect.

jlgreco 1 day ago 2 replies      
Only tangentially on topic (but more interesting that the actual content of the video I think), but I suspect no warhead reentry shield would actually be shaped as pointy as that.

Although you would think a more aerodynamic shape would reduce the drag and therefore heat of reentry, the reality is not quite so simple. In fact, the opposite is actually true. As you make the reentry shield blunter (increasing the drag coefficient as you do so) the heat load the shield needs to take actually drops. The reason for this apparently is that blunt reentry bodies form a sort of cushion of air around themselves that separates the shockwave caused by reentry from the reentry vehicle itself, insulating it.

I suppose sharp pointy warheads are more theatrical though.

Claudus 1 day ago 0 replies      
In terms of effectiveness, compared to other Anonymous campaigns, I feel pretty safe in saying the visibility of this campaign is going to be very high.
fkeel1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Somewhat off topic, but this has been bothering me for a while now:

about the role of aaron swartz in all this... initially I read he was facing "up to 35 years" in prison. After his death people started speaking of "up to 50 years". In relation to the USSC hack I have started seeing 50+ years pop up.

I feel like these exaggerations do not do anyone any good. The actual facts are horrible enough - bloating them up like that does not support his cause, rather, imo might undermine it, as it reduces the credibility of anyone arguing his case.

Claudus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the introduction from "Anonymous Operation Last Resort 101"

*1. Welcome to #OpLastResort-TwitterStorm!

You have been selected to assist this important Operation because we're pretty sure you know how to cut and paste. #OpLastResort is a long-term Op devoted to honoring the memory of Aaron Swartz and continuing his important work. Anonymous has prepared content that they would like shared with the world, and it's up to us to make sure it goes everywhere. Other Operatives will be spreading the news to major MSM outlets, YouTube, Facebook, and other websites while you participate in the push to bypass the bias and get the word out directly to the people via Twitter."

(Further details: http://pastebin.com/d2nvt263)

cskau 1 day ago 0 replies      
For others wondering; the file names refer to the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States:
mediocregopher 1 day ago 3 replies      
They blackholed the dns it looks like, but http://www.ussc.gov/ is still up.
gt5050 1 day ago 2 replies      
The text to speech voice seems pretty good. Can anyone point out what TTS engine they might be using ?
throwaway2048 1 day ago 0 replies      
Link to video for when site is inevitably repaired


grey-area 1 day ago 3 replies      
The narration seems to be in the style of v for vendetta, quite amusing to see such a portentous message on a hacked site. They've also made entire site editable.


ComputerGuru 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a pic of what it looked like? It is down now. (DNS doesn't resolve).
vinhboy 1 day ago 0 replies      
They made this tweet 10 hours before it went down -- https://twitter.com/OpGJResisters/status/294901397147766784

I wonder how this played into the hack...

sunwooz 1 day ago 1 reply      
What exactly is the data in the warhead links?
MichaelApproved 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's been a couple of hours since the hack. How does a major gov website not have a plan to act on this quicker? I wonder if they even have an alert letting them know something happened.
charonn0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of https://xkcd.com/932/
schappim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Gotta love the trailing: && rm -rf /

Classy ;-)

berlinbrown 1 day ago 0 replies      
The cool thing about hacking government sites. No one will be in the office on the weekend.
raverbashing 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about the rm -rf / on the command line?

Tricky, but not a lot of people know how/where to use that command line in the first place.

littletables 1 day ago 0 replies      
The site has been dropped from DNS but IP still returns. The mirrors are slow/down, and file keys are the extortion:
RossDM 1 day ago 1 reply      
BR and FONT tags? What kind of markup is this?
ArchD 1 day ago 0 replies      
I notice that justice.gov is down.
davidroberts 1 day ago 3 replies      
Self-righteous idiots. Who made them judge and jury of the world? Do something positive.
rebrane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't want any reforms that come from blackmail and extortion. Any good that they would do would be wiped out once the really powerful extortionists show up.

By all means, though, let's see what's in those files.

ForFreedom 1 day ago 0 replies      
One hour since, they have not restored the website.
eksith 1 day ago 0 replies      
This will end well :/
nerdfiles 1 day ago 0 replies      
"It is our hope that this warhead need never be detonated."
Easy way to build product tours with Bootstrap github.com
200 points by vineet  2 days ago   44 comments top 18
dclaysmith 2 days ago 5 replies      
I used this library to build the product tour for my app (
http://www.thetaboard.com). Was really easy to customize the color scheme and behavior--I think it took 2 hours to integrate it.

Adding a product tour really improved my "demo" to "sign up" conversion rate. Probably the single biggest conversion rate "win" I've had.

waxjar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can imagine this being useful to explain how a "difficult" UI element works. It seems easy to set up, I like that.

The way it's used in this demo, though, I found it's very distracting from the actual content. All my attention went to the little popover, which resulted in not reading any text on the page itself. I think this is partially because the popovers didn't point at anything directly.

decadentcactus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also https://github.com/jeff-optimizely/Guiders-JS which I've had starred in Github for a while but not used
neonkiwi 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks useful, but I've got a suggestion from a cognitive ergonomics standpoint: smooth scrolling.

If a user clicks 'next' and the next step is not on the current screen, pretty much the best cue you can provide to build a contextual understanding of where this next step is on the page is easing into motion, then out of motion.

sequoia 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like the tooltips are pointing at nonrelevant locations. http://screencast.com/t/oCGgYh9ytwMx

Is this a flaw in the tool or this implementation? It doesn't seem to work well with different viewport sizes.

taigeair 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do you guys compare this solution with walkme or kera? Interested in your thoughts.


radagaisus 2 days ago 3 replies      
Please don't use this. Tooltip Tutorials are a user experience disaster. If you feel the urge to add this to your site - don't. Close your eyes and imagine Clippy. Breathe deeply and create a user interface that won't need this.
vineet 2 days ago 0 replies      
There have been other tools that do this, but I like the simplicity and cleanliness of settings this one up.

I remember some of the other tools required a server access, which was great in that they allows us to do a lot of things, but as a potential user I needed to make sure that they have a business and would be around for when I needed it.

The problem that I have had with some of the jquery plugins that do similar is that I had to worry about customizing the plugins with my site's theme. With bootstrap plugins I hope that the plugins just look good with the bootstrap customizations that I have done.

coreymaass 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love the idea and functionality, but I think the design could be clearer. I'm all for a simple, minimalistic style when it's meant to get out of the way. I find these popovers just too subtle. Jumping from one to the other, it doesn't catch my eye enough, and I have to actively search for the arrow. Maybe offer a theme that really pops, with some variation of the Yellow Fade Technique [http://37signals.com/svn/archives/000558.php]?
spyder 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Foundation framework comes with a similar UI tour component. It does smooth scrolling when tour steps are off-screen and doesn't loose its position when resizing the window. http://foundation.zurb.com/docs/joyride.php
Bjoern 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done. Seems to be doing exactly the same as this one. Good for choice :).


mfonda 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found this tour a bit difficult to navigate. The tooltip moves to a different spot each time you click prev/next, making it hard to follow the whole tour. Perhaps navigation that stays in a fixed spot could make this easier to use.
booruguru 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool. I'm going try this out on a web app I'm currently developing (which happens to use Bootstrap). I would definitely prefer to implement popovers as opposed to a tutorial with lots of screenshots and whatnot.
casenelson 2 days ago 0 replies      
If people are interested, my product http://overlay101.com provides hosted product tours that requires far less Dev work than these js libraries.
dlf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always just rip through these things and then try to figure out how things work later. The trouble I've had with these is that it lacks context when I'm not actually trying to do the action it's calling for. I may not be the average user though.
dergachev 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you're building a product tour, consider making an animated GIF screencast to demo your use case.

Yesterday I wrote a tutorial on how to easily create one on OS X using just free tools: Quicktime Player, ffmpeg, and gifsicle.


(Animated GIFs might also be useful for bug reports).

mariocesar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome tool. I remember seeing jquery plugins doing this. Would like to see a list of extensions like this.
helloamar 1 day ago 0 replies      
lovely tool, i was about to subscribe to some tour generating app :
Aleksey Vayner Has Died at 29 vice.com
189 points by ColinWright  3 days ago   78 comments top 17
danabramov 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm so glad none of the bad judgements I made ever came back to haunt me. I'm sure we all sometimes make bad judgements. I distinctly remember doing very stupid things when I was a teenager.

When I was 14 years old, my mom took my iPod to a repair shop because it refused to turn on. In a week, when they said they fixed it, I went to this shop with my friend. Although I had the address, I couldn't locate the building, and we spent an hour searching for it in the cold. We passed an internet café and a wonderful idea popped into my head. I sent them this email:

    My fingers are freezing.
Been looking for your motherfucking shop for an hour.
Barely writing. Wait for me, assholes.

Of course actually meeting the guys who fixed my iPod wasn't exactly fun"I'm glad they had some sense of humor. But they also called my mom and advised her to teach me some manners.

What came as a surprise to me is that the same minute I walked into the store I realized that sending this email"heck, even stopping to write it"was a grand silly idea. Self-WTF. I couldn't remember just why I did this. It was like I had this silly little brother who did it, but it was me who had to face the consequences. But then, just five minutes ago this seemed like a really clever and fun thing to do!

In such moments I did not just embarrass myself (and my mom) in front of people I don't know, but I also made my family extremely puzzled because I was the “smart” kid who has been learning programming by books since twelve, knew OOP and stuff, moderated a large internet forum dedicated to programming, and this kind of behavior just didn't fit together with what they knew about me.

Sometimes people do very silly things they later regret. And usually they do them because they try their best at a given moment, with all the knowledge and context they are given, and make a wrong decision. Such decisions I never regret.

But sometimes people do their worst for no apparent reason, and then they WTF at themselves. Their judgement fails them, something blinds them and they do unimaginably stupid stuff, and later they feel even more embarrassed because they don't just see how misguided they were"but that it was so painfully obvious from the start.

I think it's important to understand this distinction this before judging people in any way.

anateus 3 days ago 3 replies      
The translation of the Facebook wall post seems incorrect. It's also in Russian and not Ukrainian. Here's my go at it:

You damn egoist, pick up the phone. Who will take care of [your?] mother?! At least sell your source code and fuck off to Costa Rica. The very same paypal will give you 200-300 pieces [I think these might be pills rather than dollars]. Pick up the phone bitch!

Edit: thanks for the corrections, indeed, that would most likely be $200,000-$300,000. Although I'm a native speaker I didn't grow up in Russia so my slang and colloquial language is pretty weak :>

guylhem 3 days ago 3 replies      
I read the article, didn't know the details, but what I now see is :

- somebody who has proofs of great achievements he did

- a backstory showing how these achievements are compatible, possible and repeatable for this young immigrant who is decided to succeess

- during the vice.com video, apparently a self-reflective decent dude, whose only mistake may have been to send a self promotion video to get the job he really really wanted.

He didn't hate. He worked on himself and was pushed my a great internal drive. He was trying to get the right to pursuit happiness applied to his situation.

I call that a success.

Then the haters showed up and hated him, for daring to pursuit dreams, his dreams, thinks that they would certainly never get to do themselves, even in their wildest dreams

These haters may have seen him as a show-off - and that's sad.

I call someone like this a beacon of hope on what we humans can achieve if we really put ourselves to work.

Pay attention - these persons are quite infrequent, sometimes fragile (Aaron). Help them if you can. But they're here on a mission to change the world.

If you are one, I advise you to HIDE the good things you do.

Poeple are jealous. Any good dead you do, any investment on yourself you make, any skill you have (breaking bricks for ex) - whatever. Consider that a dark secret of yours and wait for the day when usual humans will no longer hate, but welcome instead, humans with 'better' capacities.

RIP Aleksey, you seemed like a great man. The word unfortunately was not ready to allow access to people like you... yet.

hkmurakami 3 days ago 3 replies      
I am looking at his wikipedia page (in particular the "other details section [1]) and see a prolific amount and variety of "accomplishments". Coupled with HNers in this thread suggesting that many of these claims by Aleksey have been proven false, I am wondering if he suffered from Pseudologia fantastica (pathological lying) [2].

I once worked with someone in his 50's who was undoubtedly a highly intelligent with an intense attention to detail -- super productive. However, he was known for claiming, among other outrageous things, that he was (1) a former Army Ranger, (2) a former Navy Seal, (3) a former Marine, (4) former Secret Service tasked with protecting Ronald Reagan, (5) Grandson of a 4 star general, (6) Leg press 800 lbs, (7) broken 3 aluminum "forks" on bikes (the part connecting your front wheel to the frame). This really is only a tip of the iceberg of the things he claimed. After several months, I found out that "pathological lying" is an actual psychological condition. The moment I found out, I was convinced that this coworker suffered from this condition.

I wonder if Aleksey was the same. My coworker was unusually bright, physically strong, and was good soul. I couldn't understand why he would need to inflate himself through lies, given such obvious strengths of his -- until I found out about this psychological condition. Aleksey seems to have been the same way.



_djo_ 3 days ago 3 replies      
I met Aleksey at Yale a few months after the video had gone viral and found him to be a nice enough guy who was intelligent and interesting to talk to, though it was clear that he had serious emotional issues as even then after all the ridicule he felt compelled to boast of unlikely achievements almost as a reflex. He was not the arsehole the internet had prepared me for but a decent and troubled person and I felt desperately sorry for him.

The communities and networks we have built online have proven to be fantastically capable to creating and organising for good, whether it be raising funds for disaster relief or catapulting some deserving person to stardom, but we've all too often decided to ignore our power to tear down and destroy with frightening speed. Aleksey Vayner's video may have been silly and weird but it did not merit the public humiliation he received.

It would be too much to expect that large scale ridicule of an individual like this will never happen again, human nature is what it is and cruelty and anonymity go hand in hand. But as individuals we can at least prevent ourselves from being a part of it by pausing before we forward, retweet or share the next picture, video or meme and considering whether the person being laughed at deserves to be destroyed for our amusement.

charlieok 2 days ago 0 replies      
Long before the name change reported in the article to Alex Stone, and long before the video resume, there was an earlier name change to Aleksey Vayner from Aleksey Garber.

Before the spike in notoriety from the video resume, there was a much smaller burst of unflattering notoriety for Aleksey in the May 2002 edition of Yale's Rumpus magazine [1] by one Jordan Bass titled “Craaazy Prefrosh Lies, Is Just Weird”.

It starts out like this:

“Maybe, once, you lied about your age, or your weight, or your location the night your unfaithful boyfriend was stabbed to death. Maybe you lied about your criminal record when applying for a job, or your sexual history when donating blood. Little things. Everybody does it, right? What's the harm? Maybe your slight deviations from the truth even give you a little thrill, a mild buzz gained from subverting the truth and risking discovery. You're a badass, right?

Aleksey Garber, who has been accepted to the Yale class of '06, is not impressed. When you're a guy who tells the truth about as often, and with the same reluctance, as the average person goes to the dentist, you've got no regard for those who dabble in tall tales.”

It ends like this:

“What can you say to that, really? This is the man's life, as he tells it. Is any of it true? Well, what is truth? [...] In the end, all we can really say is that “Truth” is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements, and if you look at it that way, then it's all true. We who have encountered him should feel privileged that Aleksey Garber has deigned to include us in the epic adventure that is his life. I know I certainly do.”

[1] http://www.yale.edu/rumpus/archives/pdf/rumpus_02may.pdf

BornInTheUSSR 3 days ago 3 replies      
What an unkind title. Rest in peace Aleksey and thank you for the countless hours of entertainment you gave the internet. Impossible is nothing, sometimes we just need to be reminded.

Edit: looks like the title has been updated

michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like Aleksey Vayner got hit by a confluence of factors.

Most of us do stupid things in our early 20s to establish ourselves. The problem for him is that he applied to jobs in investment banking. In 2006, IBD analyst programs were the destination career for 25th-percentile graduates of elite colleges. So there was this huge crowd of douchebags that wanted to be bankers and were falling over themselves to get in the door.

So when Aleksey Vayner's video resume was leaked, he was immediately typecast as a douchebag and ridiculed. People no longer saw him as a person, but just as some pathetic, arrogant pre-banker. In retrospect, it's evident that he didn't deserve that.

I have the sense that being ridiculed on the Internet is becoming "just a thing" that almost everyone goes through on the way to accomplishment. It's like being heckled for stand-up comedians. The first time it happens, it's extremely unsettling. Then you figure out a way to deal with it-- there are the Jimmy Carr, George Carlin, Louis CK, and Steve Hofstetter approaches-- but it takes some time to get good at that.

look_lookatme 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is definitely worth watching the video in the OP. He has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about what happened to him and placing it in a framework that has helped him understand it and cope with the aftermath. It seems clinical at times but also healthy (which aren't exclusive of course). It would be sad if it wasn't enough for him in the end.

It makes me wonder if there are counselors specializing in this domain and sociological research into how this kind of stuff happens and how it affects all people involved. These events are quite sad but also a bit fascinating and novel.

DigitalJack 3 days ago 2 replies      
The article implies suicide, but doesn't actually say that explicitly. Does anyone know what the case is?
bitwize 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me strangely of L. Ron Hubbard, who claimed similar superhuman achievements throughout his life that he couldn't live up to. Hubbard desperately wanted to be seen as awesome, and that alone may have contributed the larger part of the motivation for the founding of Dianetics and Scientology.

My current guess is that Vayner killed himself but not in a Swartz-like way: he simply OD'd on recreational drugs (something a lot of egoists, including Hubbard to say nothing of HN's friend John McAfee, make a hobby of).

bcx 2 days ago 0 replies      
You guys should watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P-NMygTekQ

It really doesn't paint him in that bad of light. (I know nothing of the rest of his history, but I find the video pretty motivating)

mblake 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty sad, but not because I knew him in any capacity, or actually have heard of him until now.

It's sad because he clearly had a psychiatric issue and only if people were more educated on this matter, they could've reached out to him and offered him help to get his problem under control, instead of just laughing at him.

To an uninformed, uneducated person, it's likely that this is all he was: a pathetic, over the top compulsive liar.

I presume he died because he killed himself, which is something someone would do after at least temporarily snapping out of the psychosis that made them do all of those things and realizing it wasn't something they would ever be able to take back or sweep under the rug, thanks to the 'wonders' of the internet.

uladzislau 2 days ago 0 replies      
Probable cause of death - drug induced heart attack, according to this http://m.nydailynews.com/1.1247410
octonion 3 days ago 0 replies      
There appears to be a culture of bullying among a certain segment of the Ivy League. See, for example, this piece on Evan O'Dorney: http://verynoice.com/2011/09/the-fresh-five-part-two/
odRvb 3 days ago 1 reply      
4:08 "He passed away from cervical cancer..."
pms 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why on earth this is the first news on the front page? In the end this article is rumor-like and just speculating on the cause of his death...
Jonathan Coulton strikes back by re-releasing his own song jonathancoulton.com
186 points by spiffyman  1 day ago   84 comments top 16
droithomme 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is not just a cover it's clearly a new arrangement. As an arrangement it is a derivative work. Derivative works, specifically including arrangements of preexisting compositions, are most certainly themselves copyrightable materials by their authors, which in this case is Coulton as he is the author of the arrangement.


Coulton notes that he has bought a license from the Harry Fox Agency giving him the right to perform and distribute his original arrangement of Sir Mix a Lot's work, so that is all proper and legal.

There is no doubt legally that Coulton holds a copyright to his arrangement and that Fox is engaging in copyright violation since it is obvious the Fox piece is a cover of the Coulton arrangement, given there are almost no differences between their cover and his original arrangement.

The opinions of the Fox lawyers who contacted him are predictable, but incorrect regarding law.

tunesmith 1 day ago 7 replies      
I think it's important to realize exactly what Fox is (regularly) doing here.

Fox/Glee finds a popular song. Fox/Glee wants to do a cover. Fox/Glee searches the internet to find a popular cover of the song. Fox/Glee does their cover in the same style, by having musicians play/record a note-for-note re-creation of that popular cover. Fox/Glee pays mechanical royalties to the original songwriter/publishing-company, pays absolutely nothing to the arranger that came up with the stylized cover version, and refuses to acknowledge them.

This is 100% legal, no matter how creative the arranger was in coming up with their cover. If the cover artist was granted a mechanical license, the only copyright protection they were granted was to their sound recording.

This is also not the first time it has happened. In episode 1, Glee's cover of Don't Stop Believing was practically identical to a famous a cappella arrangement (from a college a cappella group that released a cd and won some awards from it). There was another "regionals" number that was largely identical to another similarly famous a cappella arrangement.

It's lousy behavior and I think they deserve every bit of blowback for being poor citizens, but it is technically legal.

(Big asterisk: There is reason to believe that Fox actually took Coulston's karaoke version of BGB and recorded vocals over it. This, in contrast, would be a copyright infringement.)

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 1 reply      
Awesome response. I bought the song. I'm guessing that Fox/Glee either doesn't know how stupid this makes them look or they believe that any publicity is good publicity. Now all we need is the bear-luv inman cartoon for Adam Anders [1], the executive music producer for Glee.

[1] http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2946490/

danso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't been paying much attention to the legal details but I love that Sir Mix is getting royalties from this (partly because this stops the debate from descending into a "everything should be free" tangent).

Edit: after taking the 30 seconds to find and listen to an excerpt of Coulton's song, I can reasonably weigh in on the debate: Fuck Glee

politician 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't understand the law here. Fox/Glee can separate two independently copyrightable components of a work -- the lyrics and the arrangement --, then pay off the lyricist and rip off the arranger with the law being none the wiser? Why do lyrics receive preferential treatment under the law? What happens if you take two popular songs, strip the lyrics from one and combine it with the arrangement of the other? What if you add your own lyrics to someone else's arrangement: do you now own the work? What if your cover of their cover is byte-for-byte identical to their cover, that's not a copy?! Can this channel separation copyright hack be reused in other contexts (software, movies)?
bitsoda 1 day ago 1 reply      
At the time of this writing there are 719 ratings for this single on iTunes. This isn't scientific, but I'd say the song is doing well. Ultimately, this whole Glee fiasco will undeniably end as a net positive for JoCo.
kt9 1 day ago 5 replies      
Can someone give me some more context on what this is about and the backstory here? A link to something that explains whats going would be great!
NamTaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glee isn't the only thing to do this sort of shitty move, either. Ludachrist [1] did a remix of Major Lazer's "Pon De Floor" vs the Beverly Hills Cop song, entitled Pon De Foley.

Several months later, DJ Hero 2 (same family as Guitar Hero) took the same two tracks and made one of their game songs the exact same remix [2]. Players have to mix both tracks together and if they successfully do it, it plays the arrangement that Ludachrist had come up with.

Activision had permission from both Diplo (Major Lazer) and Harold Faltermeyer (composer of the BHC song), and therefore had legal clearance from it. At no point did they acknowledge the arrangement as coming from Ludachrist and legally didn't have to.

It's really scummy but that's how the outdated copyright laws work. It's just another argument for large-scale copyright reform.

[1]: NWS remove the space if you want to view it: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=9TYEgFfFdUY
[2]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M93Aji4MJBk

IvyMike 1 day ago 2 replies      
Coulton (or for that matter, you or I) could release an entire album of covers of Glee songs, and only owe money to the original author, not the Glee dudes?

Someone should make the "Low Rent Glee Ripoff Band" and do this.

tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bought his version of the song. I hope he uses the proceeds to sue the shit out of Glee/Fox.
shawnc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, I never would have heard his version if it weren't for this fiasco. I don't watch Glee (I enjoyed the first few episodes, i'll admit... then it just got silly).

I'm not saying it's a good thing they did this - it's not. But hey, he did a great arrangement here, and i'm happy to have heard it now.

taylorlb 1 day ago 1 reply      
While it would have been nice for Glee to acknowledge Jonathan's influence, an arranger can only claim copyright when the original songwriter has granted that privilege to said arranger, which I don't believe was the case when Coulton recorded his cover.
Evbn 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be wonderful if JoCo makes more money off thissnafu than if Fox had give you him a gratuity or credit in the first place.

It would be beautiful if the above were true and the creative team did it on purpose, for example by intentionally preserving the duck sound after being told to swipe and wipe and the song.

joeconyers 1 day ago 1 reply      
While it's a tad low to do this without any acknowledgment, this stuff happens all the time. Particularly with commercials. At least he has re-released his master and can monetize this way. This controversy will probably earn him more money than had it just been a 2 second blip in the credits.
stcredzero 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The best revenge involves laughing all the way to the bank.
chris_wot 22 hours ago 1 reply      
How much does this cost on iTunes for those of you in the US? It cost me $1.69 in Australian dollars, but the exchange rate is 1 USD to 0.96 AUD.
       cached 28 January 2013 05:11:01 GMT