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Project Loon google.com
1053 points by sabalaba  6 days ago   286 comments top 88
simonsarris 6 days ago 5 replies      
"I love those who yearn for the impossible." -Goethe

I wish other large companies showed such ambition. Telecoms like AT&T can't even be bothered to roll out the network upgrades they promised in the early 2000's.

waterlesscloud 6 days ago 3 replies      
There's a lot that I don't like about Google, but I do like that they're fucking insane.
ChrisNorstrom 6 days ago 6 replies      
It's fascinating to see how well Google has branched out. It started as just a search engine competing with Lycos, AltaVista, & Yahoo and yet they didn't just stop, they kept going. They built all these new services & products around their core product (search) and it's paid off tremendously.

It's definitely something to model future companies off of.

When you win the race, don't stop, keep running.

albertsun 6 days ago 2 replies      
That's odd, I'm looking at my calendar and it doesn't say April 1st.
mad44 6 days ago 2 replies      
Eric Brewer, who joined Google a year or so back, has been working on Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions. He had similar ideas.

I wonder if he has been involved with this project.


nostromo 6 days ago 5 replies      
I've always wanted a near-live satellite image for Google maps.

If this takes off that'll be possible. I could find a parking spot from the sky. :)

tomasien 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's so encouraging to see a Hacker News comment section that is almost overwhelming informative and positive. I get varying amounts of flak for constantly posting about the quality and nature of HN comments, but as an unabashed optimist it means a lot to me to me.
ajhit406 5 days ago 1 reply      
I really enjoyed the subtle design / aspects of the loon landing page.

Starting with the darker background of the thermosphere and progressing into the twilight of the troposphere was a really nice touch. I also just noticed the small altimeter on the left of the page.

Also the whole phonetic wordplay with "loon" and "lunar" was cute. Coming from New Hampshire, I naturally immediately thought of the aquatic bird:


But the "lunar" aspect wasn't lost on me.

Kudos, this type of subtle design is refreshing in the wake of the iOS7 release.

marcamillion 5 days ago 3 replies      
Wow....this is mind-blowing.

The potential impact of a globally connected internet is crazy. No longer can a country fully filter/control all internet traffic.

This could be a major boon to democracy.

I wonder if Google did this, partially to piss China off.

This seems like an awesome way to get around the 'Great Firewall'.

blinkingled 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Loon balloons are superpressure, which enable them to stay aloft for 100+ days at a time. This is far longer than typical weather balloons, which last for a matter of hours. Loon balloons are also unique in that they are steerable and entirely solar powered.

It's like they are putting up cheap, disposable, steerable satellites up in the stratosphere! Genius.

Would be pretty interesting to understand the monitoring and control system for the balloons - not sure if they can bring back the failing balloons to a maintenance site to refurbish and relaunch them or they just dump the debris along with the failed balloon. I suppose at least the electronics aboard must be reusable for a time longer than the 100+ days the balloon stays afloat.

synctext 5 days ago 2 replies      
Trying to do an "Energy Budget" with my low-power research background. Please help with the balloon angle.

.1 - 1W Balloon height adjustments

.1 - .5W Flight tracking, control and management

.5 - 2W RF power and conversions (balloon-to-ground)

.5 - 2W RF power and conversions (balloon-to-baloon)

1 - 2W Packet routing, processing and baseband processing

Essential missing insight: how to they lower/rise the balloons and deflate/inflate them? With 100days service time you cannot simply vent gas. So a pump and compressor is needed?

jared314 6 days ago 1 reply      
Previous discussion:


The amazing thing is this has been a rumor[0] tossed around for years (2008).

[0] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080220/123009308.shtml

superasn 5 days ago 0 replies      
Unless of course it is a trade secret, how wonderful would be if the engineers at Google would release more detailed diagrams of the balloons, circuits, and how it is supposed to work (the pump, antenna and everything, not the simplistic version). Maybe they are having some challenges which can be crowd sourced for ideas too. They have obviously done a lot of research and this idea can certainly spawn other awesome ideas or help other indie projects.

Project like these can be a really nice experiment on teaching and getting ideas from bored internet hackers.

caffeineninja 6 days ago 4 replies      
This is an awesome idea.

However, in my mind, there is a potential issue that the article doesn't seem to mention.

How do they keep the balloons up for a long period of time, fighting all of the different variables of weather, gas leakage, temperature variances, material degradation due to being outdoors?

Fiber and copper stays in the ground undisturbed for decades, because it's cheap & low maintenance, barring from breaks.

While this seems cheap and easy to deploy, keeping it running is another thing entirely

joonix 5 days ago 1 reply      
They are testing it in New Zealand hinterland.

I wonder what implications this is going to hvae for NBN in Australia. They are spending tons of money to launch two satellites to provide access to remote towns. Google is showing they can do it for cheaper, possibly, and with Fiber they are showing gigabit FTH can be done cheaply...

cpeterso 5 days ago 1 reply      
Any news about other "moonshot" projects that Google[x] is working on besides self-driving cars and Loon?
mtdewcmu 5 days ago 4 replies      
This sounded like a great idea to me at first. But,

Each balloon provides coverage to a 40km diameter area. That's a lot of balloons to cover rural Africa. It would help a great deal if the balloons could be made to stay in precise locations, like geostationary satellites. I thought maybe they had solved that problem (which would be amazing). But, I guess not. They said in the video that the balloons would follow the wind all the way around the Earth. Meaning, at any given time, the overwhelming majority of balloons are over the ocean. The difficulty, then, is not merely putting enough balloons up to cover the ground in 40km increments, but covering the ocean as well, in a solid band around the entire Earth. It's not hard to imagine that a stupendous number of balloons would be required to provide any meaningful level of coverage.

I think this is more Google hubris than technical innovation.

gabemart 5 days ago 0 replies      
My back-of-the-envelope first-approximation math suggests you'd need "only" about half a million of these things to cover the entire surface area of the Earth. To me, that seemed a surprisingly low number.
ekianjo 6 days ago 1 reply      
Project Loon to bring NSA Spying to Everyone :)
kriro 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

Very well in line with their mission statement. I love it because it's so much "ah screw it we'll just try this crazy sounding idea"

[I wrote a paper during my university time that was a thought experiment on the availability of cheap internet for everyone...time to dig it up :D]

mtgx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Could servers be put on these, too? Like that drone idea the PirateBay had?
Confusion 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious as to the commercial viability of this. Will Google offer access for free or will you require a subscription? As a throwaway account mentioned, Space Data Corp. already offers this kind of service, but to large industrial companies, that can afford to pay a lot more than people in currently disconnected regions.
johansch 5 days ago 0 replies      
This could also be used to achieve low-latency network access in passenger aircraft over the oceans.
surrealize 5 days ago 0 replies      
Remember late last year, when there were rumors about Google being in talks to acquire Dish network?

I couldn't imagine that Google would actually use Dish's spectrum to build a traditional cellular network. Building all those towers is a huge investment and I didn't think that played to Google's strengths. But, assuming that Loon needs licensed spectrum, maybe Loon (or something like it) was the plan?

jiangth 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is fucking nuts. I feel weird. So this is what real innovation feels like.
ptc 6 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain why this is more cost effective than other alternatives? The need for specialized antenna's on the ground seems to be a negative.

Also, does Google just subsidize the entire thing? How is this paid for long term? How is it so much cheaper than the alternatives that not only can they roll it out to 5-6 billion people, but also allow people living on cents a day to purchase the service?

Swannie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wondering how the routing is working.

If my neighbour and I are 30km apart, and covered by the same balloon, does our traffic get turned around on the balloon, rather than hoping to the base station and then back again? I have to assume yes.

If we are 30km apart and we are actually connected to two neighbouring balloons, will they route traffic between them, and again, not via the base station? Again, have to assume yes.

So do I get a single IP address, or do I keep changing when the balloons are overhead? I assume I get a single IP address, but my home router is actually going to have to do some intelligent next hop routing.

Mesh networking is a challenging area when the base stations are fixed, with weather effects and moving end users an issue. Even more challenging when your "base stations" are moving, weather effects are significantly greater, and you're super limited to the amount of onboard processing you can do.

Assume it has to be something like BATMAN. http://www.open-mesh.org/projects/open-mesh/wiki/BATMANConce...

pinaceae 5 days ago 3 replies      
Wasn't Page about to focus? Shutting down small, useful and used tools because Google should only do a few thngs, but all of them well?

So will this litter the countryside, and even worse, the oceans with electronic equipment incl. highly toxic batteries? will they maintain and retrieve every single one of those balloons? who pays for that?

robbiep 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they have any plans to move away from helium as a buoyancy gas.. I can't help but feel we need to save every atom of that stuff for MRI machines
Swannie 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Google are working with the Serval guys in Australia on this. They are turning Android devices into wireless meshes and have been sending up balloons with device + high gain aerials for quite a while... With the same project motives in mind: disaster recovery (with ground and pole based setup, including voice calls and txt messages with higher QoS over the network), and extending coverage to less populated parts of the world. Australia is a huge place. Wireless is the only sane option for large large parts of the country, and towers, with power - you have to get it there somehow , are expensive. Yes solar is often an option (though it makes the base station in the middle of nowhere a very attractive target for thieves) and I'll be very interested to see how Google will solve that one (assume balloons will be semi covered in panels plus quite large batteries, and possibly small amounts of wind generation?).
drawkbox 6 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. There are probably alot of things you can do with metrics on usage, availability, even mapping/weather and some fun camera views and more beyond just a line in the ground. So many more informational uses with it being airborne.
zhemao 5 days ago 0 replies      
When you've taken over the internet, what's your next move? Make the internet bigger of course.

I for one welcome our new Google overlords.

oellegaard 5 days ago 0 replies      
Although I think this initiative is nothing less than totally awesome, I wouldn't want Google as my ISP.
curiousfiddler 5 days ago 0 replies      
Personal opinion: sometimes Google is just simply awesome.

I really hope every word they've written in there, reflects some of what their top management feels at a high level.

6d0debc071 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure they've thought through the effects of creating that many more consumers and producers to compete with - especially when service industries, services that can be delivered at range, are becoming so dominant. This seems like the sort of thing that's going to force down the price of labour again.

I don't see the percentage for developed countries - seems maladaptive.

neonkiwi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone involved in this project shed some light on how altitude is controlled?
snprbob86 6 days ago 1 reply      
How fast will the connections be?
cpeterso 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any details about bandwidth and latency? Where are the gateway stations out of the balloon network? In the local region?
wklauss 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is really that impractical to use stationary WiMax access points instead?

Last time I checked range was around 30 miles, couple of stations will blanket a good area without the hassle these balloons bring (you need to pick them and relaunch every couple of weeks, etc...).

sethvincent 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm more excited about this than Google Glass.
sytelus 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are quite a few technical challenges here (weight of cables, stability at 20 mi, erosion by much intense radiation etc). Details on one of the previous efforts which was considered revolutionary but never became main stream can be seen here: http://www.spacedata.net/news040108.htm.
Geee 5 days ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't vouch for it until the complete tech stack is open-source, and the devices are manufactured and deployed by someone else than Google. I expect them to be shot down eventually if that doesn't happen.
mkl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I went to the Project Loon event in Christchurch today. Here are details: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5887330
ancarda 5 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps I'm pessimistic but my immediate thought is how much Google is involved, i.e are they providing the backbones the balloons connect to? The last thing I'd want is Google knowing every URL I visit.
folnop 6 days ago 0 replies      
Well then, wireless internet escalated quickly. In all seriousness tho', this was unexpected. They said that it will be working with an antenna of sorts that you attach to your house? Fast forward 10 years and it will be an integrated wifi replacement in every machine - giving internet to you even in places where there's no electricity. That's the future I'd give my liver to see.
venantius 5 days ago 0 replies      
I find stuff like this awe-inspiring, particularly w/r/t how it could be used to protect internet access for not only those who are underprivileged but also for those being denied internet access by autocratic governments. Think back to Egypt, Libya, Syria - how different could those have gone if the authorities had been unable to shut down communication networks?
marknutter 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Never mind about the NSA, here's this wacky project for the public good!"
mark_l_watson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds cool, but there is one issue: latency. I remember using the Internet in the mid-1980s, specifically using servers in Norway and other locations from my office in San Diego. Because of a few satellite hops, the latency was about 2 seconds. It made remote use of Emacs interesting :-)
kubindurion 5 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of technology are they using to send the signal from the balloons to the ground? Though there were succesfull attempts to establish succesful WIFI links from the ground to stratoshpere(even 25 miles as I recall) this was achieved using precise DIRECT antennas (impossible when balloons are in constant movement)


droidist2 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've often thought something like this would be good for providing internet access to the people of North Korea.
greghinch 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's a really cool idea.

But given Google's history of late, I wonder how long it will last?

tamersalama 5 days ago 0 replies      
With all the PRISM & NSA news coming out, I can't discard that this might be yet another tool to go after remote 'Jihadists' and people of interest. Whether Google is doing it wittingly or not is yet to be determined.
vy8vWJlco 6 days ago 1 reply      
It would be great if it didn't take a company project to overcome the fear of being harassed at 2:30 AM because someone misused my open WiFi.
asafira 5 days ago 0 replies      
Google has mentioned that they had this sort of internet infrastructure in mind, right? Awesome to see it move forward!
thehme 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love how google has so much money they can spend money on pet projects like these. No wonder they attract people with so many "impossible ideas" that sometimes turn out to be pet projects worth spending come money on.
vadiml 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea!!! This will eventually provide alternative to the current telecom carriers....In the long run they could provide the service free for Google Wallet users... They'll make profit on Wallet transaction...
wjruoxue 5 days ago 0 replies      
If this could bring the INTERNET to places like China (where there is only INTRANET)!
gulfie 5 days ago 0 replies      
After the communications platform goes up, then the other payloads can hitch a ride.

Imaging getting real time video from the stratosphere to everywhere all the time. The weather data alone would be awesome. The traffic data would be great. The IR imagery catching forest fires or amazon jungle burning would be great. An almost real time collection for finding illegal logging or toxic waste dumping.

When there are clouds of these ballons going overhead, who will notice an extra one or two that happen to have militarized payloads.

shruubi 5 days ago 0 replies      
On first reading this, I had to check the date to make sure it wasn't April Fools because I thought it sounded a little silly... The more I read it though, the cooler it sounds...
noloqy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Next up, Loon servers? I can't wait having my torrents served from the stratosphere. I believe TPB was already considering having drone-based servers - balloons just seem so much cheaper.
kunil 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, everyone in Africa is waiting for internet to use with their smart phones.

Evading the censorship is a better idea but I am pretty sure China wouldn't allow such a thing to fly over their country. Or at least make it suffer with network attacks or DDOS or something.

dvfb 5 days ago 1 reply      
So the balloons just float on the air channels 20km up and presumably circulate around world? I can imagine problems coming up with some countries objecting to these being over their airspace.
marcioaguiar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Plenty of pictures on their G+ page: https://plus.google.com/+ProjectLoon
erikj 4 days ago 0 replies      
It somehow reminds me of the fictional Aquinas Protocol:


It gave people free bandwidth in exchange for being a part of a global survelliance system. I hope Project Loon doesn't have such a dubious second nature.

soheil 5 days ago 0 replies      
In the first video, yeah having a freakin kid tell you why the world needs to be connected and explaining concepts that he/she is having problem even pronouncing does make me wanna support this lunatic loon project so google can whore out the rest of the planet with their ads. Can't stop imagining how useful this will be to the #nsa
rlamptey 5 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing idea, but then the rest of the world (non-americans) are still worried about the implications of this for PRISM. Getting the rest of the world online is cool, but then the NSA gets to have access to their data,that's not cool and I was beginning to like Google!
arahaya 5 days ago 0 replies      
What is "loon" about this? We've been flying stuff outer space for over 50 years.
mrtron 5 days ago 0 replies      
We are living in the future.
SunboX 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can see bunches of ballons floating above the planet. If you ask me, google should support http://brck.com/
grappler 5 days ago 0 replies      
In light of the whole surveillance issue, how to approach the matter of foreign balloons drifting in and out of the airspace of many different countries? Can they steer around countries that want no part of it?

It doesn't take too much imagination to envision balloons doing things like taking high-res photos and videos, collecting all manner of signals from communications equipment, radars and other military equipment, or even carrying onboard weapons. Basically the same things drones do.

How can they assure skeptical people and governments that these balloons aren't carrying something extra in addition to their statued misson?

jordiae 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is what makes Google different from the other enterprises.
lyime 6 days ago 0 replies      
Mind Blown again.
gboudrias 5 days ago 1 reply      
How long before they abandon the idea? Google is well known for creating projects for shits and giggles and abandoning them when it turns out giggles don't make money.
Iterated 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose Google will be hiring a lot of meteorologists! This would be a very fun project to work on.
Trogdor0617 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recall a month or two ago some rumors about Google preparing to launch airships & blimps to achieve this same purpose.

Now I wonder if that was a misinformation campaign intended to keep competitors and Wall Street guessing.

mrschwabe 5 days ago 1 reply      
Will these balloons also be feeding data to the NSA via PRISM?
Nimi 5 days ago 0 replies      
A worthy project, to be sure, but the networking guy in me hears "space" and immediately starts worrying about the latency. Does anyone know if there's technical data available on the standard network metrics of this solution (latency, packet loss, jitter...)?
guiomie 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how cheaper it is to conventional landlines ?
coherentpony 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'll be honest, I did double-check the date...
nateguchi 5 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the "swivel eyed loons" of last weeks episode of The Now Show
vadiml 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder, how project team member call themselves .... :)
_progger_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
"But two-thirds of the worlds population does not yet have Internet access."

Those two-thirds can't see Google Ads then :).

hkon 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but thinking, bring internet to everyone, so we can spy on everyone.
Cardeck1 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like innovation but Google is getting too powerful and I don't want to see an Umbrella Corporation in the next 20 years.
shire 5 days ago 0 replies      
Mind boggling!
fowkswe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yeeeeeahhhh buddy
adrianbg 5 days ago 0 replies      
Has no one noticed that this is a super-governmental network? Like, including the US government and its NSA?
achalkley 5 days ago 0 replies      
All your data are belong to us. PRISM 2.0.
NSA admits listening to U.S. phone calls without warrants cnet.com
809 points by declan  5 days ago   389 comments top 44
DanielBMarkham 5 days ago 9 replies      
Since the modus operandi seems to be for the NSA to suck up everything it can and decide later it seems (wild speculation follows) that the NSA might be sitting on audio recrodings of all your phone calls for the past several years.

Can you imagine the number of divorce cases that would impact? Civil lawsuits? Proof of innocence or guilt in a crime?

Hell, get a decade or two of this and historians alone would have a field day with such material.

Oh, and by the way, it's completely fucked.

Back in the day, the FBI recorded folks that they suspected were subversives and it caused a huge stink. People were rightly outraged. It was considered a blemish on the FBI. Now we do the same thing -- only with everybody. And still 45% or so of the population hasn't figured out what the problem is. Amazing.

zmmmmm 5 days ago 3 replies      
There's something sick and wrong in the semantics of how the laws have been interpreted here.

The authorities seem to have decided that they can record anything they want, any time they want. The legal boundary is only crossed when somebody listens to the recording. So it is fine for them to slurp up every bit of data they can tap into and then retrospectively figure out which bits they were authorized to listen to (with almost no oversight, as indicated by this article).

But most normal people don't interpret privacy that way. They consider the act of recording without consent the violation of privacy. The listening afterwards compounds it, but the power of the third party comes from having the conversation recorded, not the listening.

This misinterpretation of privacy is a subtle but deliberate and totally corrupt act by the authorities.

tptacek 5 days ago 28 replies      
So that's not good.

You can see how that could be happening; NSA has trunk-level access to telephony circuits. Telcos are engaged in a long-running game of footsie with the government that makes billion dollar Internet companies look like anarcho-capitalists.

But I'm not seeing how we get from there to the contents of email. To have the email of arbitrary Americans without a warrant, the NSA would need direct access to the servers that run Google Mail. They do not have that access; Google has categorically denied it, and the Guardian walked the claim back. The "optical splitters on the Internet backbone" thing doesn't hold water either; most people need to go through some effort not to use strong crypto when communicating with people using Google Mail.

gojomo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Gallup should do a new poll: "Do you support or oppose NSA analysts being able to decide, on their own suspicion, to listen to domestic calls, before any warrants for those specific calls are issued? Please state your answer slowly and clearly for the NSA recording devices."
LoganCale 5 days ago 2 replies      
So did Obama blatantly lie to us in his statement, or is he not aware what's going on? I have to think, if they admitted it to Congress, Obama had to know.
spikels 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why are we only hearing about this now? From the House Judiciary Committee meeting on THURSDAY where Nadler questions FBI Director Mueller:

NADLER: You wanted to listen to the phone?

MUELLER: Then you have to get a special a particularized order from...

NADLER: Particularized...

MUELLER: ... the FISA court directed at that particular phone of that particular individual.

NADLER: Now is the answer you just gave me classified...

MUELLER: Is what?

NADLER: The answer you just gave me classified in any way?

MUELLER: I don't think so.

NADLER: OK, then I can ask the then I can say the following: We heard precisely the opposite at the briefing the other day. We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that, and you didn't need a new warrant. In other words, what you just said is incorrect. So there's a conflict...

MUELLER: I'm not certain that it's the same answer to the same question. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...

NADLER: Well, I asked the question both times, and I think it's the same question. So maybe you'd better go back and check, because someone was incorrect.


drcode 5 days ago 0 replies      
This will play out exactly like the waterboarding thing:

1. The journalists probably already warned the administration about this stuff a couple of months ago.

2. In the near future, the wh press secretary releases a statement about how this is already old news and how the prez already put a halt to this back in February (or whatever) which explains how all the recent statements by wh and Google etc can be truthful.

3. NSA spooks spend the next 5 years whining internally how they can't do their jobs anymore because of all the bothersome warrants.

4. The next top secret program is started in 2018 that does away with all the "cumbersome" oversight.

uptown 5 days ago 0 replies      
Shia LaBeouf claims to have listened to a phone call he'd made years prior, replayed to him by an FBI agent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ux1hpLvqMw

Former FBI Agent Denies He Gave Shia LaBeouf a Recording of an Old Phone Call:http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2013/06/12/Former-FBI-Age...

If you're going to make up a story - why would you come up with the whole 'two years ago' twist? It's a details that makes no sense to fabricate unless it actually happened.

lessnonymous 5 days ago 4 replies      
Why is Snowden a traitor but Nadler not? Did Nadler not just go to the press with information that was part of a secret NSA briefing?
JulianMorrison 5 days ago 1 reply      
My guess: they realize they are up shit creek because Snowden is about to leak further details of that too. And they hope to soften the blow.
aspensmonster 5 days ago 1 reply      
>"That law says surveillance may be authorized by the attorney general and director of national intelligence without prior approval by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as long as minimization requirements and general procedures blessed by the court are followed. "

So the numbers we recently got from Facebook and Microsoft don't mean anything.

sneak 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you Mr. Snowden. Here it comes. Strap in!
landini 5 days ago 0 replies      
So now we have a single node from which all electronic forms of human communication can be read, listened to and analyzed. The decisions of any and all businessmen in the running of their financial empires, the conversations of all persons as they speak to their stockbroker, their mistress or their business colleague. And I am told to believe that this situation is OK, is normal, and that nothing untoward will be done with all of this information.

Yet I know that if I had access to this information I could make billions of dollars (e.g., by shorting stocks or by buying businesses or commodities), alter the lives of people who I do not like (e.g., get them fired for their hidden or unhidden human weaknesses), destroy entire organizations by revealing the contents of their communications to a selective person or persons. The list of possibilities is almost infinite and I cannot, do not, will not believe that such actions not only are possible, but have already happened and indeed are happening at this very moment.

The Roman Terence said: "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto", that is "I am a human being, I consider nothing that is human alien to me."

PRISM must be dismantled, it's backup volumes destroyed, it's creators punished. But we will never likely be able to put it back into Pandora's box: there will always be someone who saves a hard drive or a backup tape cartridge and who will sell it to the highest bidder. We will have to declare new laws rendering these acts illegal. We will have to hunt illegal data gatherers down and punish them the old-fashioned way using humans, knives, blood, sweat and tears.

MattyRad 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Nobody is listening to your phone calls." Oh, I presume that Obama was just addressing every American whose phone calls had not been listened to. This is outrageous, baffling. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but Obama did just outright lie about it, right?
spikels 5 days ago 3 replies      
Wait - what? Isn't it our leaders consistent position that "listening" without a specific warrant is wrong? Now I am really confused.
jlgreco 5 days ago 1 reply      
> "Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that.""

I wonder if this will temper the shrill cries of "this is all partisan!". Probably not.

eli 4 days ago 0 replies      
Declan, there seems to be skepticism[0] about this story in some quarters. Could you address the concern that Jerry Nadler is simply confused about what he heard?

[0] https://twitter.com/AntDeRosa/status/346072065893355520 & https://twitter.com/BuzzFeedAndrew/status/346072058234540034 for example

marcamillion 5 days ago 1 reply      
I am confused by this particular piece of disclosure.

Who is disclosing it? CNET or Rep. Darrel?

If Rep. Darrel said it....y do they need comment? If he isn't disclosing it, how did CNET come by this statement?

This is quite confusing.

teawithcarl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nadler denies the CNET story -- OOPS.


-- just tweeted by Trevor Timm (Sunday, noon).

teawithcarl 5 days ago 0 replies      

regarding the 2-min video CNET bases its story on.


linuxhansl 4 days ago 0 replies      
In school I learned that we have the three powers - the legislative, judicial, and executive - are separated so that they keep each other in balance.If any two of these are held in the same hands there are no restrictions. (if you can make laws and preside over trials you make bring anyone to jail, or if you can preside over trials and execute the sentence)

That's why (IMHO) individual wiretaps with a warrant are fine. Somebody had to make a law, a judge had to weigh the facts and issue a warrant, and an FBI agent/cop/etc executes the actual tap.

In this case the NSA analyst is both the judge and the executor violating these checks and balances.Now maybe there might be temporary warrants for wider range of individuals, even t

jsmeaton 4 days ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine recently suggested that thousands of people around the world get on the phones once every week and just say words like "bomb" and "president" and "terrorist". If the US really is vacuuming up the actual audio (perhaps based on live keyword/phrase analysis) it would either send their systems into overdrive or at least make it harder for these analysts to get the real information they'd be looking for.

Suddenly doesn't seem like such a crazy idea.

mpyne 5 days ago 0 replies      
See? Now this is a problem. I don't see how you can interpret Court precedent and statutory law regarding telephone wiretapping to mean anything other than that you can't intercept that without a warrant.

I remember the other day saying that the "warrant canary" was far too cute to make it past a judge. This might be an even "cuter" argument... should it ever make it in front of a judge (I suspect NSA doesn't actually care about that, given that they're not generally trying to bring cases to court anyways as they'd have to give up their top secret methods on purpose).

w_t_payne 4 days ago 0 replies      
The chain of command relies on trust, trust that officials will tell the truth to those who oversee them. It seems to me that the chain of command is broken.

NSA officials lied to the public.

They lied to Congress.

If the allegations of procedural abuse are true, they have lied to and deceived every single mechanism that has been set up to oversee and control their operation.

They have gone rogue.

If this supposition is true, their actions go beyond simple criminality. This is treachery; treason and mutiny against the people of the United States.

Let us raise the hue and cry! Traitors! Traitors in our midst!

dodyg 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the name of protecting you:

- Your government has launched a war under false premises

- Your government already ignores Habeas Corpus(read gitmo)

- Your government already reserves the right to kill you without judicial consent

- Your government can already prevent you from flying without allowing much recourse for rectifying errors

- Your government is spying on your data and phone calls

Whatever happened to "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave"

jsilence 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what happened if the US put the estimated 10$ billion NSA budget into solar and other renewables and withdrew from all the countries where they are (to bring peace and democracy).
rafski 5 days ago 0 replies      
If "anything you say will be used against you", does it mean everyone is under arrest, we just don't know it yet?
D9u 4 days ago 0 replies      
...the cost to store all domestic phone calls a year in cloud storage for data-mining purposes would be about $27 million per year...

Ah, so that's why China has overtaken the USA in the computing power race... Wasting money on spying instead of building better computers.

All who support these abuses of our Bill of Rights should be ashamed of themselves.

orokusaki 4 days ago 0 replies      
Please, somebody - who knows the URL (or the HN post) wherein the guy (IIRC, a lawyer) states the 10 things the government will do to reduce the fallout from this? I'm totally freaked out because the guy was right, down to the last step, so far. One of them was, "They'll admit to something not as bad" (as a method of deflection - and think about it, most people view "listening" as something that won't affect them directly, unless the NSA hired about 250k more employees just for this task), one of them was that the government will say they were within the law (which is contradictory, of course) - happened here: http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/16/u-s-government-denies-repor... and 2 more of the steps happened in the past few days. I want to find that article, so I can spread it to everyone know I know (about 10 people :)


aptwebapps 5 days ago 0 replies      
You can argue about metadata and the third party doctrine, but this is completing against the Fourth Amendment. Unless you're going to say that phone conversations should not be considered 'papers and effects'. Or unless the phone companies themselves are recording the calls and keeping them around, which seems highly unlikely.
larsonf 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is one huge reason why this isn't as scary as it could be:


If you read through the Tabloids, there is no doubt that some of the stuff in there is slightly true. But you, as the reader, have really no way of knowing what is true or not. So just the fact you have all this information really puts you in the same position of not having any information--not knowing what to believe is almost as bad a problem as not knowing at all. So you are really forced to ignore most of it.

Now, the NSA can read everything you say/write/browse/whatever. Ok, well, what about the people who know that someone is listening so they intentionally create fake stories? Part of being a good criminal or anything is misdirection. Maybe you portray over email (for, get this, years) that you have hideouts at x, and you are good at y technology, and you associate with z people---but in reality you only ever say meaningful stuff in person. Anyone doing anything actually wrong is doing this anyways. That's why there are private code languages in the first place.

So, no, the power is not in the hands of who can listen, it's in the hands of who can deceive--which is you.

return0 5 days ago 0 replies      
On a related note, it seems that journalists are listening in all kinds of "secret briefings" of the US government.
Uhhrrr 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, if I wanted to listen in on some phone calls, would the best course of action be to bribe one of these thousands of analysts, blackmail them, threaten them, or steal their laptop? Asking for a friend in a foreign intelligence service.
NIL8 4 days ago 0 replies      
Most people don't realize that the NSA is about ten times larger than the CIA. This allows them to aggregate data on a scale that is unprecedented. Being such a large organization, they still don't have the manpower to process so much data. Thus, the solution is to acquire and store this data for future use. I would imagine that even they don't know exactly what they have.
ScottBurson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Note to author: you misspelled Brewster Kahle's name.
dlinder 5 days ago 0 replies      
There seems to be some suggestion of confusion on the Representative's part about call content vs Subscriber Information, actual video here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/video-congressman-cl... So this might not be the "gotcha" it first appears.
bayesianhorse 4 days ago 0 replies      
You know spys... a bunch of bitchy little girls...
realrocker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ok Off topic. Why are there no street protests in U.S? Or no one cares?
coldcode 5 days ago 0 replies      
1984 is not a how-to manual.
hugogee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here we have a great tool at our diposal(internet) and all we can do is use it to bitch, moan and compare notes. Surprisingly, politicians feel they can do as they please. Its a shame we cannot organize and do something about it. I wonder what effect(s) striking for a week would have? Typically solutions are of equal proportion to the problem at hand. But its so inconvenient-i know. A less affected Hong Kong has held a rally but here those most impacted-nothing. Ughh im tired of reading this shit. We deserve everything we get.

Or we could take this as a challenge to see how many people we can get to strike. So much talent here... How will it end?

bizkeep223 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suggest watching the CSPAN video.I think they are talking about metadata.


shmerl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't we expect this coming?
auxibee 4 days ago 0 replies      
they should be taken to court
This is a web page justinjackson.ca
813 points by mijustin  10 hours ago   304 comments top 77
ChuckMcM 9 hours ago 4 replies      
First time [1] my in-laws saw "the web" they were trying to find information about vacation spots in Brazil but their travel guide was obsolete, I found a web page a student had written up about where the best places to stay and see were in Brazil.

I could almost see the dots connect when they realized that someone they didn't know, in Brazil, had written up a piece of information at some point that they were now seeing and using, and anyone could do that. It was like watching a Pachinko machine pay out a jackpot :-)

[1] It was circa Christmas 1994 since I was trying to explain to them what Java was and why I thought it might have an impact on the world.

adventured 9 hours ago 24 replies      
"At it's heart, web design should be about words."


The web is not just a place for text / words, that is not its heart and soul, and therefore neither is that the case for web design. It really never has been. I see no great argument in favor of words being the core over any other form of expression. Today's bandwidth more than allows for beautiful video, animation, high quality graphics and photos, etc. Or low key graphics, subtle interactivity, and so on. It's absurd to argue that such a rich medium should always be focused on words.

Text does not have to be the focus. It depends on what the purpose to be achieved is.

rkuykendall-com 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This was a bit of an obsession of mine ever since I saw Coding Horror a few years ago. I had seen a lot of extremely minimalist designs, but they were all doing things to accomplish that minimalism. As a developer though, you have a nagging feeling in the back of your brain saying "that's a lie, it's not simple, it's very complicated, it just looks simple." Coding Horror is complex, but it was plain enough for me to imagine it with even less structure.

I decided to stick as close to plain HTML for my personal website as possible. The problem is, plain HTML is ugly. So instead, I tried to imagine what the default style of HTML would be if it was created today.

I've am still far from that ideal, but it is a work in progress: http://rkuykendall.com/

smackfu 7 hours ago 9 replies      
Centered text, large white borders, and larger than standard font size are all design. Minimal design, but it does feel very different if you look at it completely unstyled:


I feel like it subverts the message a bit that he still felt the need to style things.

a3_nm 10 hours ago 3 replies      
"I wrote these words, and you're reading them"... and Google knows you're reading them.

I find it a bit ironical that a manifesto for minimalism still carries Google Analytics code to track people.

minikites 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminded me of This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself mixed with Web Design is 95% Typography



ignostic 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Sure, simple text is fine for a blog. But if I'm selling something like a piece of art it's all about the images: large, high-quality images from multiple angles. Pinterest wouldn't be called minimalist, but it does a damn fine job of accomplishing its goals.

Design should help accomplish business (or personal) goals. We run into trouble when we adopt some sort of "minimalism, always, ever, for everything" dogma.

obviouslygreen 7 hours ago 1 reply      
While I agree that the substance of a web page is the most important part of it, there's a whole lot of visual work that aids marketing, retention, and conversion, and while those things are often not appreciated by those of us who enjoy plain text, they are significant and have real benefits.

The problem with all of the "You're reading this" and "You're still reading this" is that the only reason anyone read it is because of the author's networking, and in our case the fact that it was promoted up HN. That says nothing about the content of the page or its power. It'd be just as true and just as irrelevant if the author were the only one who ever read it.

Yes, I agree with some of what's presented. But I also think it's a very narrow and outdated way of looking at the web, and it marginalizes disciplines that, for better or worse, have effectively changed the way that most people experience and internalize the experience of browsing.

null_ptr 9 hours ago 1 reply      
There's something magical about personal websites. Something that a Facebook profile page or a Twitter stream or a Tumblr will never reach. I really wish more people would go back to the earlier roots of the internet, and share what's on their mind in a more personal and genuine way.
md224 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly off topic, but if we're talking about simplicity...

why are people still using this doctype:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

instead of the beautifully simple HTML5 doctype:

<!DOCTYPE html>

I get that people might use the old doctype out of habit, but it's such an ugly, unnecessary habit, and it would probably be smart to work on discarding it. At the very least, we should be making sure that new developers learn the new doctype.

RBerenguel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with him, and this is why I find Reddit, HN and some blogs I get to read around here (M. Gemmell's, M. Arment's, J. Gruber, PG) so good: they focus on the text, not on the fancy (and this nags me again to clear all cruft from my blog, but... some other day.)

PS: I kind of missed "all craftwardship is of the highest quality" in the page, though (or text that menaced with spikes of http or something.) I guess I'm too geeky today

callmeed 9 hours ago 0 replies      
>> But the most powerful tool on the web is still words.

No. YouTube comments are words. They're also terrible. Also, images can be as powerful (or more so) than words.

IMO his thesis would be better stated as:

"But the most powerful tool on the web is still a compelling piece of content (words, image, video)"

speg 10 hours ago 1 reply      

  > One of my friends is named Montreal,she is fun to play with
I smell a sequel...

RyanMcGreal 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's the anti qz.com.
JasonFruit 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is a beautiful exposition of a powerful truth: words are magical, and we can now publish anything we want so that anyone who wants to can read it. That is amazing power, and it's available to almost anyone who is literate, in the developed world.
pajju 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the same reading experience we get in HN.

Just think we treat text as our user interface!

High quality content + focus on readability = bliss.

frogpelt 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I can pay my bills online, shop online, transfer funds between accounts, invest, watch videos, listen to music, share pictures, reserve hotel rooms, flights and rental cars, see maps of the world and my own city.

The web is also expanding every day to include more capabilities.

It is about way more than words. Let's not oversimplify it just because we think minimalism is cute.

zobzu 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I much prefer those simple pages. Load fast, display fast, no distraction.A little bit like HN.. except for the load fast part :P
dclowd9901 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Something that struck me with an unexpected amount of force was a recent scene in Game of Thrones where one of the characters is explaining to another (sheltered) character that he knew the location of a secret passage because he had read about it in a book.

The sheltered character was astounded that he looked at squiggles on a page, and through which was able to know something about the world. "Wizardry", was I think the word used.

But when you break communication down to what it is, ideas and knowledge abstracted so they can be externalized, it's pretty fucking amazing.

chris_mahan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I recently redid a restaurant main page (http://californiacanteen.com/) in a very similar way, targeting mostly mobile/tablet. Same principle. (the rest of the site is a work in progress and looks horribly 1996'ish).
chris_mahan 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The main problem is that writing is hard, and leaving just the words will make bad writing stand out. It seems that making a site "pretty" is easier than making the writing better, which is why I think the majority of sites go for glitz rather than excellent prose.
mijustin 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Just realized I published this on the same morning that "Video on Instagram" is one of the day's top stories.

Interesting irony. ;)

foobarbazqux 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The irony of this essay is that he went overboard with the bold and italic text. Otherwise I wish I could read more articles in a form like that.
steveplace 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree, but...

...the author made the choice to display the text at 600px wide with a font size of 18px. There's plenty of markup (design) to point out key ideas on the page.

Would this writing have the same impact if the font was at 12px, with smaller spacing between paragraphs, or maybe with a page width of 1280px? I don't think so.

devilshaircut 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't speak for all designers, but when I design webpages, I do start with words. Typography and content serve as most the fundamental concerns when working toward a usable, visually stunning design.

If the thesis of this editorial is "add only which serves to aid in achieving the spec/goal", I agree. But there is an implicit danger here as well of underestimating the total needs of the resource's end user.

tytyty 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
You had me until your twitter and I read "I wear a fake mustache."
gbog 2 hours ago 2 replies      
That's what I'd call responsive design.

No snarks: it displays perfectly on phone screens and large monitors and loads fast. How could it be made more responsive.

I think the key to responsiveness is to remove all javascript, all unnecessary styling, and most importantly to remove all dynamic social features. Then you have an html static page with long cache life.

tenpoundhammer 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't speak for the author,but what I can say what I got out of this.

This article spoke to the idea that we often start our endeavours in the wrong place. We start off trying to find the flashy angle and trying to hit all the write aesthetic notes before we even know what we are trying to communicate.

We should start our process by making a clear and distinct communication and filling our sites with content --the meat-- and then building everything else around that.

cia_plant 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a note on the text style: it all seems kind of overemphasized and breathless, due to the heavy use of bold, italic, short sentences, one-sentence paragraphs, and so on.

Less is more with such devices, especially bold text. I'm not a skimmer by nature, but when a post is full of bold text I find myself involuntarily skimming the bolded parts, because they have such a higher visual weight than the rest of the text. It's almost as though those words are shouted, and it becomes harder to hear the rest of the text.

Simply paying close attention to the flow of your writing can usually give a sufficient sense of emphasis without resorting to special formatting.

rabino 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting that the website where he makes money, is full of pictures and colors for the call to actions. http://buildandlaunch.net/
Nux 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not obsessed with fancy designs and scripts. Have a look at my home page.

What I'm obsessed with is the fact every god damned web site on the internet includes google-analytics stuff! You would have made your point had you left it out.

cpdean 7 hours ago 1 reply      
After sitting on the setup of my blog for a good nine months -- trying out several static site generators, experimenting with different color schemes, reactive layouts, font sizes, font families, deployment scripts, and composing about 15 stubs for posts and not finishing a single one -- i have accomplished less than this.
Pitarou 2 hours ago 0 replies      

That's why, for instance, even with the driest of academic textbooks, they still spend a few extra dollars on a cover design.

logn 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you. I've shared this with someone whom I know who's interested in learning to program. I think HTML is a great first step. After you learn HTML you can learn to write programs to generate HTML... and that's an application. From there you could learn more advanced programming concepts or native app development, but I think this is probably the best way to introduce people to programming, something which seems almost magical and impossible, until you get the right introduction.
csomar 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Sorry, but this is not true in many dimensions:

1. He doesn't have an RSS feed. That's a medium many people use it to connect.

2. He doesn't have a mailchimp (or other) list to subscribe to. That's another medium people use.

3. He didn't optimize for Google. That's a huge medium people use to reach content. (he uses analytics, though. guess why)

4. Font size is set in pixels. This is the wrong way to do it if you want to be optimized for reading. You should set it in "em" to have the size of the browser default. Another reason why you need a professional to design a site.

It's true that we are sometimes (or in many occasions) taking the features to the extreme. But there is a reason why they are there. That's the new web. Learn how to use the feature to improve the experience, and not to make it worse.

Not using is just moving us backward.

aaron695 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It works because it's a one off.

If every page did this then a contrary page with images would make the point against just words and everyone would agree.

Looking at simple page's like that all day would be depressing, I want beauty in my life, not just words which can be beautiful, that's why I read novels, I also want visual beauty.

muppetman 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Sure, that page is just text. But I found it via hackernews. If hackernews looked like that, I wouldn't visit it every day.
laureny 9 hours ago 0 replies      
> At it's heart, web design should be about words.

If you're going to praise the power of words, you might want to start with spelling them correctly.

breck 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat, and I like what you're saying. However, although words are important, and longer lasting, looks are perhaps equally as important to an individual in the present. Always were, always will be. People care about looking good. People are attracted to good looking things. Great words might improve the legacy of your ideas, but great looks will improve the legacy of you. Both are justifiably important to people.

Also, often a great picture is greater than many words. And the web is equally powerful for that.

freejack 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice, except it needs a "like" button.
FrankBlack 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Way back in the 90's, when this new-fangled web thing was just starting to take off (especially the .com side) I was teaching an "Introduction to the Internet" course at my college. I took meticulous care in trying to explain what was happening, why it happened and how to best sort through the voluminous information resources. To me, the web was about information. To my classes (dozens of classes after a while) all that mattered was they could "surf the net". They didn't care about information, they cared about seeing pictures. They were seduced by the flashy images and bored by the banal information resources available. This is when I learned that the web is just TV with a more precise remote control. Who cares if you have (more or less) the sum total of human knowledge at your fingertips? All that matters is "Dancing Baby" and "Peanut Butter Jelly Time".


darrelld 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing this. I've been obsessing over so many new fancy effects using javascript and fancy CSS3 styling and getting held up about the technology, but you reminded me why I ever got into programming / web development in the first place. To share things with people all over the world. As a kid growing up on a tiny island that was a huge deal for me when I first started. I think some of the magic got lost over the years as I I focused more and more on the technical aspects but you've reminded me that sharing is important and the tech is just "syntactic sugar"
hnriot 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This guy is living in the 90's. Today the web is a platform for providing digital services. Words are a very small part of the story.
andrewljohnson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I only read the bold words, so I guess style matters.
FreeFull 10 hours ago 0 replies      
True minimalism would be a plain text file.
leeoniya 10 hours ago 0 replies      
oh the joy loading a static html page @ 150ms
anigbrowl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish there were a lot more client-side design tools. I liked the idea of building something that was like your own daily newspaper, but that's not practical when every article is trying to differentiate itself visually (frequently to obscure the fact that the textual content is largely churn).
nhamann 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I had an insight a few months back when I was looking at djb's website (http://cr.yp.to/djb.html). I was spending far too much time playing with toys (static site generators) and not enough time actually producing interesting content. Nobody cares about your pretty blog theme, they care about your ideas.
sirwanqutbi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
He still used CSS styling. If anything, its a take on bringing back Times New Roman... everything is designed.
skw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Good design facilitates the function and purpose of the message you want to communicate. Your example is just a handful of paragraphs, so it's easy to interpret such simple information. When you have text, images, lists, objects and dynamic content your argument falls apart.

All of the elements I just described are made up of words and/or represent words.

Sure designers can lose their way and become engrossed in decorating elements (which in some cases becomes a USP), but that's not typically the end goal.

csel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait...whatever happened to "A picture is worth a thousand words"?
quackerhacker 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This article really embodies what I love about the net and why I became a web dev first then a software engineer.

A Webpage is designed to be reached by anyone, anywhere, and now...can be read (at least the words) in different languages. I love text just for the global demographic that it can reach thanks to online translators like Google and Bing!

undo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great reminder to make our words on the web more meaningful. If you create something, make sure that the words make sense and are well supported by design, not the other way around.
jaredcwhite 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I love it. Even seeing Times/Times New Roman in use brings back a tinge of nostalgia.

I like sites with some design pizazz, but a simple page like this with well-written content trumps most over-designed, over-widgetized crap sites any day.

capex 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hope the book page he's writing follows the same simplicity as in the article.
marban 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I built postagon.com under this dogma but nevertheless I think that it comes with an almost arrogant touch if you deliberately publish an article in a format as simple as this and expect everyone to extract the message from an otherwise horrible reading experience.
inthewind 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you've got to question the definition of "web design". I'd argue that the text is framed content and is part of the design.

The post at least highlights that 'web design' is somewhat of a distraction.

There is so much (unnecessary?) labour involved in framing the content by posturing programmers (lost down some rabbit hole) and anal pixel pushers that you could easily forget that to many: the content is what matters.

Getting your head around HTML, publishing and hosting is still not that trivial. That's why people take to something like Facebook, or sharing photos via Instagram via their mobile phones.

That's not to detract from the beauty and the 'miracle' of web publishing.

jmagoon 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if this applies to artistic theory, but in film theory there's an entire discipline based around formalist, or stylistic critique.

Briefly, they would say that an effective ideological argument stems from style--two films with the exact same script that are shot, set, lit, and edited differently could have totally different meanings. So, what's most interesting is that your argument perhaps isn't actually about words or content -- it's about the way those words and content are presented.

swamp40 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else think the referenced 37Signals "Know Your Company" idea was interesting?

I wondered how it worked w/o asking employees to sign up for anything, and this is what I found:

"What they came up with was Know Your Company, which poses one question to all employees via email, three days a week.

The queries vary from day to day.Responding is optional, and answers are attached to employee names.

Workers can also choose whether they want their replies shared with the whole group."

Felix21 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting to see this today.

My next website is sitting in Tomboy Notes at the moment. I'm just about to start coding.

dragontamer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks a lot better than what was here a few hours ago. Good job fixing the typesetting issues.
martin_ 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This page is a little conflicting to the main website has fancy mail in widgets and runs a powerful (arguably bloated) CMS.
daralthus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Damn, you have this medium full of potential that could be anything and you just want to mimic paper...
psibi 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the HTML hell page from Eric Raymond:


olalonde 4 hours ago 0 replies      
And tomorrow's top story on HN: "Users can't read".
lsiunsuex 10 hours ago 0 replies      
this is exactly what i'm trying to accomplish with version 2 of one of my sites - although I still need the cms and all of that, i'm stripping away all the fancy colorful css, photos, etc... only keeping what I need.

minimalistic - let the content speak for the site, not the fancy design

jerednel 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I read the first sentence, one in the middle and the last just because it was the top link on a page I frequent. Nothing too revolutionary.
olaf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Forget the web/web page, it's only a means, a tool for a higher purpose. It's no end in itself.
borgchick 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So we've come around full circle. Back to plain old text. NCSA Mosaic anyone? I just hope we don't all go back to <marquee> and <blink>...
koshak 9 hours ago 0 replies      
seems like echo of http://mnmlist.com/w
crimezone20xx 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic, and makes me hopeful for how I'm about to launch my resum. Just words.
davidrudder 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Loved the story about the squirrel
Nate630 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That's why web typography is worth knowing as well!
loceng 10 hours ago 1 reply      
devgrapher 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm touched
knotdvn 10 hours ago 5 replies      
Ultimate Tic Tac Toe mathwithbaddrawings.com
762 points by sid6376  2 days ago   122 comments top 35
quesera 2 days ago 7 replies      
I think the Orwin gambit can be extended to win the game every time.

- Force opponent to fill center miniboard, as he describes.

- Force opponent to fill (e.g.) northeast corner in the same way. Opponent now has taken two miniboards, and you have none, but you are one turn away from taking each of the remaining seven.

- Pick SW corner of SW corner. You have taken SW corner miniboard. Opponent is forced to play in same SW miniboard, already won by you.

- Pick SW corner of S. You have taken S miniboard. Opponent is forced to play in SW corner again, already won by you.

- Pick SW corner of SE corner. You have taken SE corner miniboard.

- Done. You win.

Like regular tictactoe, there is an advantage to going first. Unlike regular tictactoe, the advantage can't be compensated for. Otoh, the second player can use the same strategy with a little more carefulness, as long as they start early.

So either player can force the other into a protracted certain loss, unless there's an agreement or a rule against it. That's no fun.

EDIT: actually, you can win every time, in far fewer moves, and not using the Orwin gambit at all. It's not necessary to force your opponent to fill any of the miniboards, not even the center.

I think this will win in ten moves and never lose driver control (excuse the notation): C/C, C/SW, C/S, [opponent takes C], C/SE, NE/SW, NE/S, NE/SE, [opponent takes NE], SW/SW [you take SW], SW/S [you take S], SW/SE [you take SE, and win]. A variation can be used by either player early in the game, but whoever starts with control would be foolish to lose it.

If this is a game played by mathematicians, either I'm wrong, or there are additional rules. :)

EDIT2: C/C (first move above) is unnecessary. Nine moves. Perfect inning.

michaelfeathers 2 days ago 4 replies      
My favorite "mathematician game" is Sprouts: http://nrich.maths.org/2413

First heard about it in a column in Scientific American by A. K. Dewdney. The rules are simple and it is rather fun. In one of his columns he talked about playing a toroidal version where a line going off one edge of a rectangular page comes back in on the opposite side.

shardling 2 days ago 1 reply      
A weird version of tic-tac-toe my friends and I came up with years ago: you play without a board. Any move is valid so long as you could superimpose a standard tic-tac-toe grid over the results. (You assume the marks are at the center of their respective squares; you allow the board to be at any scale or angle, but you can't skew it.)

The first two moves have no constraint, so you can just start with an X and O already on the board. And after a few moves there might be only one implied board possible, after which it reduces to the normal game. But I always thought it was an interesting twist.

willvarfar 2 days ago 2 replies      
My daughters play a variant of tic-tac-toe with a physical board and just three stones each.

I brute-forced this with a little lunchbreak program and the visualisation output from graphviz was ... 340 MEGAPIXELS!

I blogged about it: http://williamedwardscoder.tumblr.com/post/35858593837/tic-t...

dreen 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is another great variant of Tic Tac Toe you can play on a Torus (a donut shape): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/Torus.png

The way to play is to "warp" each side of the board to the side opposite of it. For instance, playing on a 6x6 board with a win condition of length 5:

    .|X|.|.|.|.    X|.|.|.|.|.    .|O|.|.|.|.    .|O|.|.|X|.    .|.|O|X|.|.    .|.|X|O|.|.
is a win for X, because the upper and lower ends of the board are synonymous.

I can't find any material about this on the net, I just played it in school on boring lessons (but more commonly we played for 5 in a row on an infinite board, I personally prefer the Torus)

speeder 2 days ago 1 reply      
When my dad was at university he made just out of curiosity a AI to play Tic Tac Toe that started knowing nothing about the game, and tried to learn from playing against the player, until it became impossible to beat it.

Later someone complained with university administrators that my dad was "playing games" in the computer lab, and he got banned from it :/

But I guess this version might be even more interesting to make a AI test or something!

nawitus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else play the 'infinite board' tic-tac-toe which requires you to get five in a row? It's what I used to play as a student, and it's pretty well-known at least where I live. Nobody bothers with the 3x3 version, but the five in a row version is pretty exciting and requires plenty of strategy and thinking ahead.
mrspeaker 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand the clarifying rule #2: "What if my opponent sends me to a board thats full?" Isn't that impossible, as there is a maximum of 9 ways to be sent to each local area?
arh68 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Whichever square he picks, thats the board you must play in next.

And what about the dual of this game, where whichever board you pick determines the square he plays next?

alphaoverlord 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the game is less deterministic if you can choose any board as soon as the board is won - not when it is filled. Then, you can only force 3 moves before you have to give up control. Then approaches like the Orwin gambit would not work (it is too costly to lose a board if it only lets you choose three spots.)
Kurtz79 2 days ago 1 reply      

Randall Munroe could do a "small" update to this based on these rules... although it would take some time.

jjcm 2 days ago 0 replies      
The one I play with my friends is usually a 4-in-a-row, 4 level board. You can win on any individual level, or by creating a straight line of 4 that intersects plays on each level (so playing in the top right of each level would net you a win, for instance). It forces the players to keep a three dimensional model in their head and opens up the board for more counters/strategy.

Anyone care for a game?

    level 1    level 2    level 3    level 4    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.    .|.|.|.

deletes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Important question, can this game be solved, like ordinary tic-tac-toe. Is there a solution that always leads to draw of defeat.
lkozma 2 days ago 1 reply      
I recall seeing this before, called "crazy" tic tac toe:

http://tictactoe-cssi.appspot.com/via: http://neil.fraser.name/news/2011/07/16/

yashg 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is brilliant! Has anybody created an online version of this?
joeyrobert 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another quick implementation of this game: http://joeyrobert.org/projects/ultimatetictactoe/
sudhirj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can anyone else hear the quiet roar of a thousand not-so-silent fans as they struggle to dissipate heat caused by furious Xcode and RubyMotion compilations?
Delfino 2 days ago 1 reply      
Neat variant. I made something similar for the last ludum dare: http://madelfino.github.io/LD26/postcompo.html
ronaldx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I made a quick HTML demo for playing through the game athttp://xoxo.gl/ultimate
AUmrysh 2 days ago 0 replies      
What if you played it where the square selected is the direction you move to go to the next board. If the player selects the center square on a board, that board must be played again. If the player selects the left square, the board to the left must be played next. If a corner square is picked, you play the board to that diagonal direction.

If the corner is not attached to a board, you roll the board around as though the ends are connected (or as though it's an infinitely repeating tiling of the same game). For example, the bottom right square on the bottom right board makes the next board the top left.

The center-right square on the center-right board would result in the next board being the center-left board, and so on.

Would there be a gambit in this ruleset?

edit:So, it looks like the same gambit applies, instead of selecting the center piece you just pick the one pointing toward the center every time.

irunbackwards 2 days ago 0 replies      
We made this into an Android application about a year ago: http://superttt.com
frogpelt 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's a way to prevent the Orlin gambit. Allow the player with the last three in row to take another turn.

This creates a means of alternating who goes first.

I'm not sure whether this gives too much advantage to the other player or not.

gamegoblin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another interesting way to play tic-tac-toe that makes it a lot harder:

There is a bag of numbers 1-9. Players take turns moving numbers from the central bag to their own private bags, removing that number from play. Whenever a player has a subset of exactly 3 numbers that sums to 15, they win.

This is isomorphic to tic-tac-toe since the magic square for a 3x3 board has rows/columns/diagonals that sum to 15.

GotAnyMegadeth 2 days ago 0 replies      
My friends used to play something similar with connect 4. You don't expect to meet people who are good at connect 4, but these two guys beat me 100% of the time...
solox3 2 days ago 0 replies      
It happened a while back, when Bobby Kehres told my colleague and I about the game. https://github.com/1337/Tic-Tac-Toe-Extreme
h4pless 2 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't tested all the cases but this method seems to win every time I've tested it against myself:

Start on an edge-center container [N,E,S,W], marking it with it's corresponding sub-board space. Employ the Orwin gambit to fill the initial edge container. When your opponent selects the last space in the first container, wherever you are sent: pick it's corresponding sub-board space and then employ the Orwin gambit again and then repeat the routine until the game is finished. Your opponent gets to pick your next moves but because they eventually must send you to a filled square on the second and third rounds, you have the ability to control the game's end.

Starting in the center gives you a tactical disadvantage because it only leaves you 4 paths to victory compared to your opponents 8 with him/her in a position affecting 4 lines, whereas by starting on a side piece, you have 7 paths to victory and your opponents position only benefits him on 2 lines.

iguana 2 days ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to write a JavaScript implementation of this!
crimzonphox 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favorite Mathematics game is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connect_Six

Mathematically fair

minikomi 1 day ago 0 replies      
What happens to the game if you switch order when you take a board?
tictactoeten 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My team and I have implemented what you call Ultimate Tic Tac Toe as what we call Tic Tac Toe Ten. We put it out for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and have made board game sets to go into school districts with starting in 2008. If any of you in this community are interested in helping us to build out the backend analytics infrastructure to help us make the academic breakdown of this game useful for teachers and students please visit our community at https://www.facebook.com/tictactoeten and drop me a message or DM us on Twitter (@tictactoeten) ... we are also always looking for volunteers at our school tournaments where we pit kids against each other March Madness style with brackets and give out prizes to the winners ... we are here in the Bay Area, hope to meet some of you guys soon :)


yarekt 2 days ago 2 replies      

My quick implementation of this game

Edit: For anyone who arrived 10 seconds after i posted that link, The board resembled the ultimate tic tac toe, and then quickly degraded into a paint fight

randren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kid-tested. The 7-year-old loves it. Thank you for saving me from plain-old Tic Tac Toe games with my kid.
rfisher1968 2 days ago 1 reply      
I made this a while back. It a HTML5 game made with construct2. http://jenpop.com/game.php?gurl=games/uttt
A Great Response to a Cease and Desist Letter abovethelaw.com
611 points by shawndumas  1 day ago   162 comments top 25
kevinalexbrown 1 day ago 11 replies      
This reminds me about how important it is to have a solid lawyer, and an understanding of the legal ecosystem. Even in cases like this with typos, "respond in ten (10) days" can be quite intimidating, especially when there's a money/legal power asymmetry.

In one such case, Monster Cable issued a C&D to a much smaller, Blue Jeans Cable. The founder actually worked in litigation for 19 years and I found this portion of his response informative:

I have seen Monster Cable take untenable IP positions in various different scenarios in the past, and am generally familiar with what seems to be Monster Cable's modus operandi in these matters. I therefore think that it is important that, before closing, I make you aware of a few points.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1985, I spent nineteen years in litigation practice, with a focus upon federal litigation involving large damages and complex issues. My first seven years were spent primarily on the defense side, where I developed an intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle. In plaintiffs' practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of settlement were on the table. I am "uncompromising" in the most literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds. As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

There are several obvious points to be made here, but there's a subtle one, too. These hit-and-run settlements depend fundamentally on the compliance of isolated companies. If a larger organization asserts control over a smaller one (like the township-->$3.17 website, here, or on a larger scale Monster-->Blue Jeans), it often does make "economic sense" to settle.

It's almost a negative version of the Tragedy of the Commons / Public Goods Dilemma. If every small company stood up and said "no, we will not settle" then there would be far less incentive to pursue bogus infringement claims. On the other hand, it always, locally, makes sense not to challenge claims and let some other small company deal with it.

This brings me to one broader point, and that's the idea of standing for something on principle. I don't mean this in the sense of "be a moral person", but in the sense of larger organizations assuming (often correctly) that the short-term economic sense of individual actors will outweigh any principled objections they hold to the circumstances imposed by the power asymmetry. Cultivation of principles which favor the latter instead of the former course of action might be a good solution to the public goods dilemma outside of a difficult to ensure coordination of action.

It's worth thinking about this in the context of Google and its recent stance against an entity with an enormous amount of legal power.


hawkharris 1 day ago 5 replies      
It's true that most cease-and-desist letters contain awful legalese, but here's a great example of a well-written, classy one: https://brokenpianoforpresident.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/...
guelo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Scribd is a parasite.

EDIT: oh look, the document is viewable again. I'm guessing someone paid scribd their ransom fee.

larrys 1 day ago 5 replies      
Don't agree with the humor and tact of this letter even though "it worked".

"Shmucking" someone can backfire in many cases and cause a bigger problem.

To be spiteful (I mean do we really know the mental state of the attorney writing the c and d?) maybe he would decide pro bono to file some action even knowing it might fail, on his own time, to defend his honor. Which this attorney would then have to defend pro bono.

The other thing with regard to the listed domains is as they always say "don't ask a question you don't know the answer to". They probably don't know whether the others have been approached or not. And it doesn't matter at this stage anyway. So what. Maybe he was the first one.

Lastly Kaplitt isn't known for expertise in either domain names or IP. If he was he would know that very often people with bogus claims are able to wrestle domains from people for bogus reasons.

Oh one last thing. In his letter he states that "ICANN rulings have held that..." (or something like that). ICANN doesn't issue "rulings" like that for this (.com). He is almost certainly referring to the UDRP cases not ICANN.

null_ptr 1 day ago 3 replies      
Sadly, the letter is unreadable on Firefox Android. It's like everything is a widget these days, web pages are no longer self-contained, and usability, among other things, suffers.
mherdeg 1 day ago 3 replies      
There was a confusing bit in the "P.S." section in this letter which read like some kind of veiled threat to expose the city for tax fraud, or for some kind of tax-related misdeeds.

What was that all about?

Is it generally a good idea to put veiled threats in responses to cease-and-desist letters?

ctdonath 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the early heydays of the Internet, I recall ati.com featuring a comment to the effect "there are 147 companies claiming rights to our domain name. Get in line."
tomasien 1 day ago 2 replies      
My dad writes response letters like this. He's taught me so much about how the law actually works, he should design a class that is mandatory for all students to pass the HS.
JeffJenkins 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed reading the Something Awful legal threats (although I didn't read the site itself):


It's unclear if Lowtax just got bored of responding or people stopped sending them.

deepblueocean 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's hard to talk about great C&Ds without mentioning Chilling Effects, http://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi, a repository/database of many C&Ds and copyright claims, which receives copies automatically of many letters sent to large websites.

Some of the content in there is particularly golden for humor value (search "perfect 10"), but more importantly, it serves as a first step to quantifying how many of these letters get sent and how many of those are legitimate. Chilling Effects doesn't track what happens afterwards, but it's one step above anecdote, anyway.

csel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Best Part -

"Jake swears that was his actual cost. Looking at his website, I believe him." LOL

mathattack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Worked ok in Safari browser.

One wonders why more lawyers aren't humorous. Is it because it causes their clients harm? Or because they are afraid they can't generate fees if they don't look professional?

Here is another great example, between the Cleveland Browns and a fan. I cite Snopes, otherwise I wouldn't believe it to be true. http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/browns.asp

mh- 1 day ago 0 replies      
enjoyable read.

i'm not a lawyer.. but i found myself wondering, if the Township followed with suit, this wouldn't also qualify as a SLAPP[1]?


edit: New Jersey hasn't enacted any anti-SLAPP legislation.

thejacenxpress 1 day ago 4 replies      
I secretly wish I had the background law knowledge to screw with people who attempt to send these letters. I get C&D letters from youtube because my videos allegedly contain copyright music. The funny part is that my videos only contain my voice, which I'm pretty sure is not copyrighted.
stox 1 day ago 0 replies      
The town of West Orange has been the subject of ridicule for some time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUzs5dlLrm0

Pleasant Valley Way, the subject of the tune, is in West Orange. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasant_Valley_Sunday

jordan0day 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not a lawyer, but is the P.P.S. portion some sort of thinly-veiled reference to the way the original (c&d-sending) lawyer perhaps works with the township?
tribe 1 day ago 1 reply      
The first time the page displayed for me, the response was shown as a 400 Bad Request Nginx error, which would have been a great response to this kind of C&D letter.
vonskippy 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is just another sad reminder of how broke the legal system is in the States. A simple fix, for this and many other types of legal bullying, make the protesting party pay ALL legal fees and a stiff penalty if they lose in court. Protects the clear cut owners who get infringed, yet weeds out bs cases like this one. Since it makes sense, is fair, and would simplify things - you know it will NEVER happen.
cfontes 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a master piece, thanks for submitting it.

It should be printed in A0 and glued in Law Colleges.

jmgao 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a fan of Lowtax's response to Ubisoft's cease and desist: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=268...
abe_duarte 1 day ago 0 replies      
This indeed is a great response. The domain owner is pissed an understandably so.
dmelamed 20 hours ago 0 replies      
In the spirit of great and hilarious legalese writing... http://www.chattanoogan.com/2008/2/26/122772/Chattanooga-Sen...
robmclarty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love it.
digitalsushi 1 day ago 2 replies      
I remember back when I was 16, I did a web page about my home town, claremont nh. I did this site: http://digitalsushi.com/midashi/claremont/ I was working for an ISP in town, and someone with the town called up the ISP to ask whom owned the site. Since I worked there, I was simply transferred the phone call. You can imagine how contextually confusing that would be, to be handed a call that technically had nothing to do with working there, and also, being a dumb 16 year old on tech support.

Well, the guy was asking all sorts of questions. I felt very intimidated. I remember clearly a phrase he left me with: "Well, this is just Big Brother checking in and making sure you're acting in good faith." He decided that I was, that I was not on a mission to sully the good city of claremont, and that was the end of it. But it really stuck with me, probably just out of my young age and the authority of a city official grilling me. 17 years later, the troll I have turned into would have loved the chance to bring out the worst in me, so it's probably good this happened when it did.

This article really brought me back to that time. Also, it's terrifying I have web content I published over 50% of my entire life ago. I know some of you have worse percentages, but that middle mark... yikes.

Edward Snowden Q&A guardian.co.uk
566 points by sethbannon  3 days ago   299 comments top 35
pvnick 3 days ago 3 replies      
This guy is amazing. The thing I love about him is he truly embodies the bravery that goes along with the idea that it's better to live in a free society with a modest threat of terror attacks than to live in an oppressive society where we are supposedly kept "safe" from the terrorists hiding behind every corner.

It takes courage to make such an assertion. The NSA spying route is fundamentally based on cowardice.

clicks 3 days ago 2 replies      

    He will be online today from 11am EST/4pm BST today. An     important caveat: the live chat is subject to Snowden's     security concerns and also his access to a secure     internet connection. It is possible that he will appear     and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while     to get through the questions, please be patient.
Hah, nice. Reading that just made me smile. Loads of people are going to be patiently watching out for the lag, for the possible periodic disconnects/reconnects, and they will be vaguely internalizing why Snowden has to do this. And this is pretty mainstream news at this point, people are going to be on edge listening for his words. I like the cyberpunk feel of these happenings. We live in interesting times.

terhechte 3 days ago 2 replies      

"So far are things going the way you thought they would regarding a public debate?"

"Initially I was very encouraged. Unfortunately, the mainstream media now seems far more interested in what I said when I was 17 or what my girlfriend looks like rather than, say, the largest program of suspicionless surveillance in human history."


Tloewald 3 days ago 3 replies      
The key point in the answers thus far is that when he refers to "direct access" he means to some database that has all the stuff in it, and not (e.g.) via a direct conduit to Google or whoever's database.

So what I think is going on is that the NSA archives packets it can see in transit, but doesn't necessarily know who all the endpoints are. (It probably has a VERY good idea most of the time.) When someone becomes of particular interest they can execute a warrant on Google et al and get more detailed information on a specific target which lets them make better use of data they've already got.

The key thing they're doing is, fundamentally, logging packets that they can see going past any number of bottlenecks in the internet, which should have been perfectly obvious that they would try to do from day one. This alone is enormously powerful and all the extra info from service providers is probably only icing on the cake. If you can be identified from some cleartext comms somewhere then all you other dealings have been archived, and can be correlated, and then decrypted and traced back to you posthoc.

LiamMcCalloway 3 days ago 3 replies      
Oh wow:

MP_Stroebele_GER 17 June 2013 3:53pm

Mr Snowden, as a deputy at the Bundestag (German Parliament) who is responsible for the supervision of the intelligence apparatus, I am eager to know if you have any knowledge about information which was given to the German Government or the Bundesnachrichtendienst by the NSA within the PRISM programme. If so, do you know how much and what kind of information was given to them and if the BND knew that it was gathered by PRISM?Best regards, Hans-Christian Strbele

Kylekramer 3 days ago 5 replies      
Seem like more like a platform for self aggrandizing quips than anything substantial. I guess it isn't surprising that Snowden and the Guardian are remaining vague, but we are pretty much no closer to the truth than day one.
jervisfm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here is an interesting remark by Edward Snowden during the interview:

Journalists should ask a specific question: since these programs began operation shortly after September 11th, how many terrorist attacks were prevented SOLELY by information derived from this suspicionless surveillance that could not be gained via any other source? Then ask how many individual communications were ingested to acheive that, and ask yourself if it was worth it. Bathtub falls and police officers kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we've been asked to sacrifice our most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it

tripzilch 3 days ago 3 replies      
Oooh, this one from the article comments, one that tptacek will be happy about ;) (and it's a good question, to settle):

> Define in as much detail as you can what "direct access" means.

kore 3 days ago 2 replies      
The mentions of his security concerns reminded me of this: http://grugq.github.io/blog/2013/06/14/you-cant-get-there-fr...

"As a thought experiment, imagine that Osama bin Laden was still alive and that he used the Tor network to do a Reddit AMA once a month. How long do you imagine it would take for the US to find and neutralize him? I posted this question on Twitter and, while responses varied, ex-NSA Global Network Exploitation Analyst Charlie Miller guessed one to two months. I would be very surprised if it took more than three."

brown9-2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I imagine that today will be a very interesting day for the Guardian's operations team.
LiamMcCalloway 3 days ago 1 reply      
He's retaining a sense of humor:

> Our founders did not write that "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all US Persons are created equal."

Jabbles 3 days ago 4 replies      
"NSA employees must declare their foreign travel 30 days in advance and are monitored."

So how was he allowed on the plane? Surely part of the passport/no-fly-list check would have caught that. Or did he drive to Mexico and fly from there?

martindale 3 days ago 1 reply      
I find it somewhat amusing that he's at least somewhat likely to use Tor, which was developed by the US Naval Research Laboratory.
groys 3 days ago 1 reply      
Man this guy can write,

"Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school"

aroch 3 days ago 7 replies      
How do we know it's Snowden?

So are more documents going to drop?

If yes the the former, why can't The Guardian do an all-out dump instead of piecemealing it?

aw3c2 3 days ago 0 replies      
PSA: 11am EST is when this comment turns 55 minutes old.
malandrew 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why people here are getting all hung up over the words "direct access" when it comes to Google and Facebook. At the end of the day, if they have access to email and phone records, especially SMS, then they essentially have direct access to any one of these services via the password reset feature, even if you have two factor authentication turned on.
stcredzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mr. Snowden seems more informed than many of our politicians. (And many of our journalists as well.)
freyr 3 days ago 1 reply      
When asked for a flat-out answer whether he gave classified information to the Chinese government:

"No. I have had no contact with the Chinese government. Just like with the Guardian and the Washington Post, I only work with journalists."

Perhaps he should rephrase that as "no direct contact." Apparently, by handing over classified information to journalists, he believes he's absolved of any responsibility where it eventually winds up, whether on the desk of Chinese officials, or in the morning paper.

clamprecht 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to ask him how people can support him financially. A Bitcoin address would be cool, but he'd still have to convert it to local currency.
susi22 3 days ago 1 reply      
His answer to the question "What direct access means":

1) More detail on how direct NSA's accesses are is coming, but in general, the reality is this: if an NSA, FBI, CIA, DIA, etc analyst has access to query raw SIGINT databases, they can enter and get results for anything they want. Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id (IMEI), and so on - it's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time. Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake justifications. For at least GCHQ, the number of audited queries is only 5% of those performed.

bbuffone 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a question that no one i think has asked. Do you think Facebook's "search" capability was born out of their work with the government? When it first came out everyone was talking about how this could be used to violate privacy.
ibejoeb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to know if geolocation data is collected as part of the "meta data" in any of these sigint databases. Rep. Jason Chaffetz asked at the FBI hearing about the implications in light of US v. Jones.
brent_noorda 3 days ago 0 replies      
Vote Snowden for President in 2020
rlwolfcastle 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait for the twitter pic of him holding up a piece of paper saying:

"Hi Reddit!17th June, 2013"

Tycho 3 days ago 0 replies      
I imagine the types of question he'll get asked are fairly predictable. Potentially he could have done extensive mock-interviews already and somebody will just post his answers online in response to any matching questions. That way he could avoid being traced.
tigerweeds 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious if the US govt will DDoS The Guardian during the q&a
zby 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's upvote here questions to him - then someone will post them at the chat.
polyfractal 3 days ago 1 reply      
> [...] if I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now.

If I didn't like this guy before...I certainly do now.

shailesh 3 days ago 2 replies      
"This country is worth dying for."

Hats off to him.

e3pi 3 days ago 2 replies      
Edward, do you believe winning the Nobel Peace Prize would help get the hunter-killers off your back?
sweetix 3 days ago 1 reply      
"2) How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they still exist?"

Answer - 2) "All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."

That last sentence must have Obama quaking. I wonder just how much more can/will come? And if/when it does - I wonder just how bad it will be?

SCAQTony 3 days ago 2 replies      
Obama, The NSA and the usual internet suspects: Google, Yahoo, Facebook are getting their asses kicked. This man is the Thomas Paine of our day: "Give me liberty or give me death."
schtev 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else notice he doesn't flat out deny giving secrets to the Chinese when asked?
jeanjq 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Guardian approach to this thing is infuriating. There's little useful information from it. eg this question and answer

Question: Is encrypting my email any good at defeating the NSA survelielance? Id my data protected by standard encryption? Answer: Encryption works. Properly implemented strong crypto systems are one of the few things that you can rely on. Unfortunately, endpoint security is so terrifically weak that NSA can frequently find ways around it.

Pfft. What size RSA keys are unbroken (2 048, 4 096, 8 192)? Is there a backdoor in the ECC NIST P256 (or similar) curve? How many TOR exit nodes does the US government manage and how good are they at in/out correlation?

Former NSA Employees Praise Edward Snowden, Corroborate Key Claims theatlantic.com
560 points by emingo  2 days ago   71 comments top 10
gruseom 2 days ago 2 replies      
The interview he's talking about [1] was posted here [2] and it really is extraordinary. I highly recommend watching all the videosunfortunately, they carved it into pieces and you have to scroll down the page to get at them. But it's worth it. The transcript doesn't convey how dramatic the discussion was, or capture William Binney's muttered asides ("including content! including content!") or show the meaningful expressions on their faces, or how the others react as each one is talking. I found the whole thing riveting and I'm still surprised that USA Today put it together. Having all four of them around a table created something entirely more compelling than one-on-one interviews.

Edit: also, the transcript is incomplete and leaves out some of the best parts, such as Binney's story of how he called "Tom" (i.e. Drake, whose phone he knew was being tapped) to let the government know that he had evidence of malicious prosecution. Plus the endearing smile on his face as he points out that his prosecution was dropped after that.

USA Today should put up the whole unbroken discussion. Apart from the obviously important content and the obvious authoritativeness of the speakers, it's just a great piece of televisionand it's not even television. It puts actual news TV to shame.

1. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowd...

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5891101

sologoub 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting that no one seems to be talking about what a treasure-trove such a storage system would be for organized crime and foreign intelligence services (such as China). Imagine if someone could compromise it and get to the same data. Doesn't seem all that far-fetched.
pfortuny 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The idea that we have robust checks and balances is a myth."

Albeit to be taken with a grain of salt, this is what I was supposing: you cannot have such a huge organization working "properly" on a day-to-day threat-response basis without some "elastic" access control. Even less if you are a contractor like B-A-H.

This, in a private entity, is less dangerous. You can have a lot of sysadmins with some access to Google's data because the data is properly partitioned and especially because there are no "targets". When each individual is a target, it is too hard to get proper partitioning.

Also, Google's employees have little to no incentives to make those data "public." And I guess direct access to the real emails is pretty hard: Google's money is not there but in the analytics. So internal anonymization may be not only performed but even easy to do. And this is good for Google & its clients.

freyr 2 days ago 5 replies      
It's been purported here that the media is coloring its reporting to paint Snowden in a bad light. But when the bias favors Snowden, everyone looks the other way. For instance, they conveniently left out any mention of this quote by Binney:

"But now he is starting to talk about things like the government hacking into China and all this kind of thing. He is going a little bit too far. I don't think he had access to that program. But somebody talked to him about it, and so he said, from what I have read, anyway, he said that somebody, a reliable source, told him that the U.S. government is hacking into all these countries. But that's not a public service, and now he is going a little beyond public service.

"So he is transitioning from whistle-blower to a traitor."

at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting video with Binney who says they would've stopped every terrorist attack, including 9/11 had they used a simple technique him and his team outlined which he referred to as a "two degree principle".

He said its a myth they need all the data to make the connections in order to catch terrorists.


He starts talking about at the 2:57 mark.

Shivetya 2 days ago 2 replies      
Now all we need is someone like Edward Snowden to step forward from the IRS.
dclowd9901 2 days ago 1 reply      
Odd they referred to these other whistleblowers as "Former NSA Employees" in the headline. It seems disingenuous to leave that out of the headline, but then I suppose "Fellow NSA Whistleblowers Praise Newest Whistleblower..." probably doesn't sound as interesting.
jacoblyles 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's time for a "Tea Party" of the left to take down pro-surveillance Democrats in the primaries.
jenandre 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would find it really interesting if some employees at companies like Google, Microsoft, etc would come forward and corroborate Snowden's claims as well. At some point, SOME engineering work was involved on their side to make it happen, and there is likely documentation. I would love to see design documentation on how the collection systems work so we can confirm exactly the government has automated access to.
ck2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Another good article from The Atlantic.

ps. Can they start using other photos of Snowden? I mean come on, is that the only one the media has?

Choosing Hong Kong Is a Brilliant Move by Edward Snowden correntewire.com
515 points by teawithcarl  4 days ago   300 comments top 29
STRML 4 days ago 7 replies      
I live in Hong Kong, and can verify that it is absolutely a technologist's paradise and an extremely easy place to move around in.

Phones are incredibly cheap; the cheapest functional Android knockoff smartphones will run you about $50-80 (all prices in USD for simplicity), maybe less if you get it in Kowloon. "Burner"-style phones can be as low as $8. SIM cards are essentially free (usually about $8-10 deposit on the card) and minutes are as lower than $0.01 each[1]. Data is about $5/GB prepaid. All cash, no credit cards, no checks. You don't even have to give them your name.

Coverage is completely universal here because the density is absurd. It's a cell phone carrier's dream; one tower can potentially reach nearly a million people. Taxi drivers here regularly have half a dozen cell phones in their cars. One for personal use, one for work, one for less savory work... who knows, there is always a lot going on, especially in relation to gambling.

Additionally, the broadband is great (and cheap) - I regularly get as much as 250mbps or more to the US from my home connection. I can say with confidence that I browse US sites more quickly from here than I could from my home connection when I lived in the states. The ping is of course higher but it is not as bad as you'd think (150-180ms).

There are great technology centers like Cyberport[2] that will rent you a desk or tiny office with gigabit internet for very little money.

It is easy to disappear in HK because it is so dense. While housing is not cheap it is available and some landlords will take cash. Being white earns you stares here, it is well known that the Chinese suffer from the same problem we do; it is difficult to tell white people apart, much like we may find it difficult to tell some ethnic Chinese apart. I am speculating but it could be used to his advantage: with a hairstyle change and contact lenses it would be difficult for a US citizen to identify Snowden, going only on the news photos. It would be even harder for a foreigner. That is, if the novelty of seeing a young nerdy white man doesn't arouse suspicion alone.

Members of the expat community have been setting up rallies for Snowden and they have been getting decent attendance. The South China Morning Post has been very favorable in their framing of his actions. I think the populace here is very sympathetic to his plight.

As for the legal system, I can't comment; I just work here, man.

[1] Keep in mind, prices are in HKD - 1USD = 7.76 HKD. http://one2free.hkcsl.com/jsp/prepaid_sim_card/o2f_local_pre...

[2] http://www.cyberport.hk/en

gruseom 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is by far the most informative [edit: if speculative] article I've read on Snowden's choice of Hong Kong, which has been the most puzzling detail of the whole story. If true, it explains a lot, not just about why he chose Hong Kong but also about his subsequent interview with the press there. Can HNers who know Hong Kong shed light on how plausible it is?

It's striking how one obscure blog post can be more valuable than all the media speculation on this question (that I've seen) put together. That doesn't make its interpretation true, of course. But the alternate explanation that was going through my head seems a bit movie-esque by comparison.

skue 4 days ago 1 reply      
There is another big reason why Snowden may have chosen HK. A few months ago the HK high court ruled that the process for applying for asylum needs overhaul, and until that happens all extradition proceedings for asylum seekers are on hold. So Snowden simply needs to apply for asylum in HK to significantly delay things:


I haven't seen much coverage of this in the US press, aside from Slate & CSM. The rest of the media seems more interested in Snowden's girlfriend and scholastic record instead (sigh).

nikcub 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can also sneak out of Hong Kong easily, and it is an hour ferry ride a to Macau or Guangzhou or a bus or taxi ride to Shenzen.

Hong Kong has very loose exit visa policies on western passports. You can jump on a plane to some destinations with your passport only being checked at checkin (which is of the ticket). It is very simple to get to any number of ~50 countries in the space of hours and not having your identity checked until you land.

Private banking in Hong Kong means he can have money sent to him and he can spend money without worrying about who finds out who supports him.

He is also likely to find work, since there is a lot of English speaking expat work in the country especially in the IT industry.

I'm unsure if he has a path to citizenship, a path to residency is easy but I think the only way he could swap his passport is if he works out an entire 4 or 5 year residency or go citizenship via asylum.

RoboTeddy 4 days ago 0 replies      
The graphic in the article is downscaled -- here's the direct link: https://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/2013/06/14/snowden-...
steve19 4 days ago 3 replies      
Somewhat disingenuous to suggest swapping sim cards to avoid being tracked. This myth is one that law enforcement love. They just track phones with IMEI numbers.
crazygringo 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious... is there anything currently preventing him from flying to a further country as well? I'm not aware of there being a warrant out for his arrest or anything yet... What would happen today if he just hopped on the next flight to Iceland or Ecuador or wherever else (or let's just assume nonstop flights)?
tokenadult 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think Snowden didn't have a lot of choices of places to fly to from Hawaii, where he was last based.


Some of the rationales for being in Hong Kong we see attributed to interview statements by him sound like statements by a person who knows a lot less about east Asia than he thinks he knows. In the six years that I lived in east Asia, all spent there after first learning the history, language, and culture of China thoroughly by university studies and independent reading and participation in foreign student clubs before going over, I grew quite tired of instant experts on Asia who can't even speak any local language. Snowden made the move he could make when he decided to leave his employment at Booz Allen Hamilton, but it's not clear that his move was "brilliant" or even very thought out at all.

jsnk 4 days ago 1 reply      
Fourth point about Hong Kong being under China probably has a significant effect that public cannot know about to full extent.

It's not a outright conspiracy to believe that there's a largely hidden but real power struggle between US and China. China probably likes the fact that Snowden has brought NSA and US government into public scrutiny and they are probably plotting a way to make the best out of it.

kragen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Author says, "Budding spies and others of a paranoid nature can buy a couple of those SIM cards to swap in and out of their (unlocked) phones for $10 in any 7-11, no registration, no questions asked (try doing that in India or Argentina!)"

I don't live in India, but I do live in Argentina, and there are guys selling SIM cards on the subway and outside the train stations for, I think, AR$5, which is about US$0.76. No registration, no questions asked. If you instead go to a cellphone store, not only do you need to register, but they want ID.

I suspect that India is porous enough that there are similar holes in whatever controls they have to require registration.

I don't get 250Mbps in my house though; maybe 1Mbps to the US. And the murder rate is a little higher than in the US.

Stupendous 3 days ago 2 replies      
I live in Hong Kong too (about 20 minutes walk from the Mira where Snowden was allegedly staying), and his stated reasons of coming here due to the country's commitment to free speech and political dissent are baffling and misguided. When compared to China, Hong Kong seems free but the reality is very different.

Start with the South China Morning Post, the main English language newspaper here which has been covering this story extensively. The current editor, Wang Xiangwei, joined in 2011, is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress, and has been criticized for self-censorship multiple times since taking over.

Then you have the political system here, where people can vote in local elections but not in the main election that actually decides the Chief Executive (President). The current CE, CY Leung, was dogged by accusations that he was a Communist Party member throughout the election period. These accusations were not without merit given his political history (appointed to a prominent committee at a young age, a position traditionally occupied by party members), and these issues have not died down since he's taken office.

It makes no sense for Snowden to have come to HK for its political freedom. Neither is this city a hotbed for political dissent. The Occupy movement here was largely ineffective (there were often more homeless people than protestors at the camp), and power here is concentrated in the elite (HK has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world).

He came here because here he can leverage China vs the US. Any talk of political freedom or appreciating the culture is pure fluff.

rdl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I actually don't think Hong Kong was a great choice, as it brings up the whole question of foreign intelligence service involvement. He absolutely should have picked a common law jurisdiction (like Hong Kong), and probably not US/UK/Canada, but NZ would have worked pretty well.

He's not "in hiding" from the intelligence services. I suspect even second tier countries know where he is.

reiichiroh 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's strange the Falun Gong paper Epoch Times hasn't written more about this case.
vph 4 days ago 2 replies      
Brilliant move, maybe, unless he was manipulated by the Chinese. It is very interesting that the allegation that the NSA has been hacking into Chinese systems came out at the time when the US and China are meeting and Obama is trying to admonish the Chinese on hacking.

It would be interesting to explore if Edward Snowden has any handler. And how exactly he chose Hong Kong and decided to reveal that the NSA has been hacking the Chinese.

rld 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Budding spies and others of a paranoid nature can buy a couple of those SIM cards to swap in and out of their (unlocked) phones for $10 in any 7-11, no registration, no questions asked (try doing that in India or Argentina!)

Argentine here, you can buy SIM cards literally everywhere. Vendors will even sell them to you on trains.

jcoder 4 days ago 0 replies      
The commentary about swapping SIMs and fast 'net puzzles me. If someone in Snowden's position wants to avoid tracking, given the leaked information that is the very reason he is wanted, I would think the safest tactic is to eschew personal devices and 'net usage entirely.
adventured 4 days ago 1 reply      
"Nobody stands to win by taking decisive action on Snowden, so my guess, based on years of living in Hong Kong, is that both Beijing and Hong Kong will avoid doing so, which heightens the possiblity of a long, long court process."

That depends on how badly the US wants him. If they want him badly enough, they'll buy him from China with an offering big enough to create a winner. That would be trivial for the US to do - they could have Snowden back in a few days - but the price might be very high.

sandGorgon 3 days ago 2 replies      
I dont get it - every one of those factors is present in India as well (with a few compromises on bandwidth I'll admit).

If the article makes a case that in Hong Kong people can take to the streets, it so happens that they did in Delhi [1]. Hell, India has a superior record of amnesty than most other countries [2].

Plus, the tech work scene is undoubtedly better in India as well as .... um... not being 100% undemocratic.

I personally am of the opinion that one of the big reasons could be that the pay is potentially better in Hong Kong - especially for someone from Booz Allen.

[1] http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0315/Reacti...[2] http://www.unhcr.org/50001ec69.html

Apocryphon 4 days ago 4 replies      
I've been thinking of alternative destinations. New Zealand, home of exile Kim Dotcom, could work. But what about Sweden? Aren't they very neutral? Or Switzerland, the nation that's synonymous with neutrality?
intelliot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ron Paul has specifically mentioned two places as having more liberty (in certain ways) than the US: Switzerland and Hong Kong.
avn2109 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any hard evidence that ES is actually in Hong Kong? It seems to be widely accepted that he is, though I'm not familiar with the evidence in favor of this claim.
dnr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The question I've been wondering about is how he'll get money to live on. Presumably it won't be long before the US will freeze his bank accounts, if they haven't already.

Has he set up offshore bank accounts in advance? Won't they get frozen too?

Is he planning on working in HK? He probably doesn't have a visa that allows working, and switching visas usually requires leaving the country. He's too well-known now to work under the table.

Did he carry huge amounts of cash?

_k 4 days ago 1 reply      
My guess is someone gave him advice on it because at first sight Hong Kong isn't the most obvious choice at all. The infographic explains how it all works but if someone had asked me something like that, I wouldn't even be able to answer it for my own country.
gboone42 3 days ago 1 reply      
This still doesn't explain why he didn't choose a country with no possibility of extradition like, uh, any of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extradition_law_in_the_United_S...

They may not be technological paradises, but it's pretty hard (nearly impossible) to be extradited to the US from any of them.

fspeech 4 days ago 0 replies      
A warrant may never even be issued, since if he is arrested Hongkong police will be duty bound to turn over anything of national security interest to Beijing. Yeah it is a pretty sharp move.
ericfong 3 days ago 0 replies      
Born in Hong Kong. Personally don't think Hong Kong is that safe and has such freedom. But may be good for his case. As China like to see him exists...
frozenport 4 days ago 1 reply      
Especially if he is a Chinese spy. Because bragging about Hong Kong freedom's sounds like a cold war farce.
spitx 4 days ago 13 replies      
CBS' Bob Schieffer on Snowden's junket:

  "For one thing, I don't remember Martin Luther King, Jr.,   or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China. The people   who ran the civil-rights movement were willing to break  the law and suffer the consequences."  "That's a little different than putting the nation's  security at risk and running away."  "What I see in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young  man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us"   "I don't know what he is beyond that. But he is no hero.   If he has a point  which I'm not sure he does  he   would help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face   the consequences."

Schieffer to Snowden: Come home, face the consequences


dfc 4 days ago 0 replies      
Since we lack space and spend lots of time cooped up in small rooms, we have taken to the virtual world like ducks to water

Sounds awesome, you have to love a lack of options.

Congressman requests subpoena of NSAs White House, IRS phone logs house.gov
453 points by tectonic  6 days ago   155 comments top 28
DanielBMarkham 6 days ago 4 replies      
This is structurally brilliant. All of those complaining about hypocrisy or partisanship are missing the point.

Ignore the specific issue. The critical question this raises is this: if, as the administration says, the NSA needs all this data to find terrorists, who gets to say what it's used for or not? Ignore the entire privacy argument. If the executive branch is keeping records on all of this stuff, is it also claiming unique and sole access to it?

Because if they are, anybody with a brain can see the problem. In fact, the partisanship of the Congressman spells it out in clear relief. Just picture that guy as the next president. If you give that much power to the executive and they alone make the decision how to use it, then by definition such information will be used for political purposes. Who gets to decide what is so evil that requires this special, and extra-constitutional, treatment? Everybody doesn't want terrorists, but how about supporting congressional investigations? Helping wrongly-accused people get out of jail? Divorce proceedings? Civil cases?

Are we going to have a system of law and order where certain evidence is presented or not solely depending on the decisions of the executive branch?

What this shows is that this NSA data thing just isn't bad, it's bad on multiple levels. It completely breaks the way our constitutional government is supposed to operate. Even if somehow the political weasels in DC get away with keeping the lid on it, the criminal and Congressional cases alone are going to cause a nightmare. Can you imagine how Congress is going to act if some pet cause of theirs could have been supported by evidence NSA refused to release? How criminal defendants are going to react if, years later, they learn that the government was holding exculpatory information?

And it's just going to go on, and on, until they finally open it all up. Then there'll be a hell-storm.

ADD: And I'm willing to bet 20 bucks that part of the data NSA is collecting is the location tracking information from our cellphones. (accurate to within 50 meters). Can you imagine the number of places in the rest of government operations where such information would be useful?

elwin 6 days ago 4 replies      
Many of the comments here are complaining about the partisanship of this request. I think such complaints are shortsighted.

Yes, it's annoying that the representative is trying to make the administration look bad and further his own party. But political embarrassment and partisan show victories are exactly what motivates politicians to do things. These partisan actions are the kind of actions the Obama administration will notice.

Or he could remain neutral and abstract and introduce a hastily written bill that purports to solve the problem, like Rand Paul. And nothing will happen.

The partisan political system responds to partisan political incentives. To see many interesting examples, try studying the period leading up to the American Civil War.

abtinf 6 days ago 2 replies      
He should also request a subpoena for all of the associated metadata, which probably includes location tracking information. That way, we know if any of the involved parties met in secret. The what-do-they-have-to-hide argument is nonsense, but I have no sympathy; the government has brought this on itself.
jstalin 6 days ago 3 replies      
To "bring it home," so to speak, he should request all NSA data on phone calls to and from Congressmen. Nothing makes politicians more angry than applying their rules for everyone else to themselves.
kunai 6 days ago 12 replies      
I hate how something as interesting as this is ruined by partisanship and egocentric control-freakism. Why is this Congressman pushing the blame on Obama solely? He is part of the problem, and it's this "us vs. them" attitude in government that never lets us have any progress at all. Instead of trying to advance his party or career, he should have used this opportunity to illustrate how NSA and IRS should both be surveyed equally if the spying is justified.

But, no. He's just being a Grade-A politician, trying to claw at the Democratic party and trying to make an example out of them. I have lost respect for what he is trying to accomplish, if not because it's shameful and disgusting.

Before anyone accuses me of left-right bias, I support third-party efforts and am independent.

mncolinlee 6 days ago 2 replies      
It's a Catch-22.

If he gets the data, he will use the long and numerous phone conversations between the IRS and the White House to infer the administration is guilty. However, it proves nothing.

If he doesn't get the data, he will argue it is because the President personally ordered the crimes and is hiding it.

He won't get the data. The NSA won't want their databases and valuable time used to perform discovery in every lawsuit from now until eternity. He will exploit the NSA's "Need to Know" policy simply to make Obama look nefarious.

joering2 6 days ago 2 replies      
Haven't seen such a check-mate in government affair in a long time.

Unfortunately NSA does not have to answer to anyone, including congressman requests. Its their data, per se, and they are not compelled to share with anyone. Sure they will have to set aside large chunk for upcoming lawsuits (that will be paid from your taxes anyways), but other than that ist not a big deal.

NSA stands beyond anyone's power to subpoena. Think Eric Holter being requested to investigate... Eric Holter. Good luck with that.

redthrowaway 6 days ago 3 replies      
Given that the NSA is not a troop of Boy Scouts telling scary stories around a camp fire, I'd be somewhat surprised if they're monitoring the White House's communications in an attempt to be able to say "the terrorist's call is coming from inside the White House".
njharman 6 days ago 0 replies      
If Obama has nothing to hide he has nothing to fear, says Stockman

That is a soundbite I would love to hear repeated ad nauseum. Replacing Obama with every politician, CEO, and 3-letter agency head.

angersock 6 days ago 4 replies      
Oy vey, a bunch of trolls trolling trolls.

I wish that politics hadn't turned into this sort of nonsense; this makes a very sensible concern into a tool of politics.

peterwwillis 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is basically exactly the reason why this kind of warrantless spying should be illegal. Politicians can use their position to go on fishing expeditions and publicly persecute whoever they wish with flimsy reasoning.
na85 6 days ago 1 reply      
First time in a long while that I wholeheartedly support the Republicans.
robomartin 6 days ago 0 replies      
We have a political system in which the only way to win is to destroy your opposition, discredit them, shame them, find hidden dirt and upstage them in media clips. The ignorant voting masses are manipulated daily by our partisan media (all sides) and they mindlessly vote across party lines as they are told.

If any of you were living in this political jungle you would have to resort to the same tactics in order to get anywhere and climb the ladders. You would engage in the kinds of analytics and optimizations that would lead you to quickly conclude that the issues don't matter as much as showing the ignorant masses --who's support you need-- how righteous you are against the other side, no matter which side of the isle you inhabit.

That is the problem with the devolution of our political system. It's not about issues. It's not about rational consideration of mutually beneficial ideas. It's not about long term planning. It's not about fiscally sound policy. It's not about stopping to fuck with the rest of the world to focus on our internal needs. No, it's about the next six months, year, two or four years and the elections we have to win for the party. It's bullshit and it is exactly what is sinking this great nation.

Regrettably, this mess has also created a positive feedback loop that, with every passing moment, makes the problem worst. This is what scares me about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. I am far from a political strategist, but I don't see this self-correcting until we suffer a truly catastrophic set of failures that cause people to wake up to the realities of what we have created.

It's like the three hundred pound overweight man who can't stop eating until he gets to 600 pounds and then has a revelation. How do you get from 300 to 600 pounds and not realize you are killing yourself? How do you keep making the same flawed decisions? One pizza slice at a time. One lie at a time. One excuse at a time. Looking the other way a million little times. Ignoring the need for the "fiscal balance" of food intake, exercise and caloric needs. Talking about fixing it and not really doing anything about it. Put another way: Death by a thousand cuts.

As a country we are probably well past the analogy of a 600 pound man who is dangerously overweight. We are on our way to 1200 pounds. The problem is the feedback loop. Nothing can stop it until the machine breaks. Or so it seems.

forgotAgain 6 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of the aim of his request it does server a public good. It shows that this type of data, once collected, will never be limited to a specific usage. It's too tempting a thing and humans are too weak to resist the siren call.
doki_pen 6 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone shouldn't have a right to privacy, it would be public officials.
will_brown 6 days ago 0 replies      
Good not only should the IRS phone records and their contents be released, but the phone records of all of Congress and their contents should be released, especially vis-a-vis congress and lobbyists and/or special interest groups. Starting with the Congressman making the request, all his communications should be opened up to the public for public scrutiny.

This is called transparency and I like it, further the whereabouts via GPS tracking of all of Congress should be released cross referenced with the GPS location of all known special interest groups and lobbyists. Of course I want mine kept private, because I am a private citizen, not a public official.

salimmadjd 6 days ago 0 replies      
As much as I hate these types of partisanship maneuvers, but this one may have a positive consequence. Bringing up the reality and dangers of widespread eavesdropping.

Now can we subpoena conversation between the VP, Cheney's office regarding the Valerie Plame or other fabrication about the Iraq war. Oh wait, I forgot. Democrats left their spine in a 70s time capsule.

alohamora 6 days ago 1 reply      
And now, we start using call logs to investigate non-terrorist crimes? Politics aside, this is what everyone's actually worried about.

If there were some magical guarantee from the good fairy of civil liberties that broad surveillance could only ever be used to stop terrorism, it would be far, far less troublesome.

The problem is using surveillance for any crime one wants to investigate.

saalweachter 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm confused: couldn't this information be requested directly from the phone companies?
dfc 6 days ago 0 replies      
Its too bad that it was requested by someone with so little name recognition that "Congressman requests" is a better headline than "Rep. Stockman(R) requests"
23david 6 days ago 0 replies      
Game on.
_k 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we can ask for something similar in Europe. I live in Belgium and the government is snooping. Not on a similar scale. But it does happen without a warrant. It's all legal because the changed the constitution. I'm not sure what can be done about it. It might be against the EU constitution. I don't really know where to start. But I do want to stop it.
drawkbox 6 days ago 0 replies      
Would have been nice if both a Democrat and Republican could have requested this as statesmen. I am not sure there are any left. I love this though. A group of R's and D's would be even better.
skwirl 6 days ago 0 replies      
He wants to clear any doubt that this information is being used for political purposes by using it for political purposes.
genwin 6 days ago 0 replies      
The actual letter requests the "records of every phone call". That should include the conversations, not just the logs.

Of course this is grandstanding (but I support). The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will simply ignore the request.

brown9-2 6 days ago 0 replies      
Just what this debate needs, useless grandstanding.
balabaster 5 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone seen the movie The Net? I can't help but keep being reminded that this is what's going on and it's only a matter of time before it starts becoming obvious to the public.
davidrudder 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm torn. On one hand, this is delicious irony. On the other hand, the Republicans have used any pretence to tell us that the President is a terrorist, Muslim, non-American, bad guy of any sort. There is no way to satisfy this request without it becoming another hyperbolic, red-faced accusation-fest.

I heard a Republican say "there have been so many scandals directed at the President, and he's managed to dodge all of them. He can't be innocent of all of them!" It shocked me because it was an argument for "guilty until proven innocent." My response was "there have been so many accusations, all baseless, that you have to start wondering about the truthfulness of those making the accusations. Isn't it time we just started ignoring all of these so-called scandals?"

I'm at that point now. I can't take the NSA thing seriously because I've heard the boy cry "wolf!" too many times.

In Head-Hunting, Big Data May Not Be Such a Big Deal nytimes.com
452 points by Esifer  18 hours ago   256 comments top 39
edent 18 hours ago 12 replies      
The original article - http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/business/in-head-huntin...Distraction free reading and without all the annoying cruft of Quartz.

Fascinating use of "Big Data" to cut through the bullshit. Wonder if it will change anything. I suspect the "tough" interview plays well into a company's PR.

Jabbles 18 hours ago 7 replies      
I don't understand people's problem with estimating. It's a useful skill. Perhaps it would be better if the questions actually related to technology, rather than golf balls - but the principle is the same.

For instance - "how many hard drives does Gmail need?" requires a rough guess of how many users Gmail has (if you're interviewing at Google, you should know it's 1e8-1e9). How much space each one takes (probably nowhere near a gigabyte on average - let's say 1e8 bytes). And that the current capacity of hard drives is (1e12 bytes).

Then you can say that they probably need 1e5 hard drives, link it to redundancy, availability, deduplication, backups etc. You can comment that it's feasible to build a datacenter with that many hard drives.

No one cares that the actual number is 12,722 - but you've demonstrated a broad set of knowledge about the current state of technology. Saying "dunno - a billion?" is not going to get you anywhere, and with good reason.

The Monopoly question is crap, though.

I'd like to know how useful http://google-tale.blogspot.com/2008/07/google-billboard-puz... was.

Udo 15 hours ago 3 replies      
There are questions that are actually fun and I can sort of see them starting a conversation with the right kind of interviewer that tells both parties a lot about who they're dealing with. From the article:

  > How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
Basic economics estimating - probably not that useful and a bit dull, but hey why not. At least the problem has several angles to it that might be fun to explore.

  > Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco
That's a nice one. Kind of open-ended, a lot of things to consider, a lot of ideas to be had.

  > How many times a day does a clocks hands overlap?
Why? What happens to the interview after you counted them (possibly on a whiteboard)? It's a dead end and the question is dull.

  > A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
Now this has the potential to be great or absolutely horrible, depending on the intent behind the question and the nature of the interviewer. If it's taken as a "fill in the blanks" kind of challenge it would be a fun way to explore the candidate's imagination. But I'm guessing it's not. It's probably one of those "clever" questions that have only one "right" answer that makes no real sense except creating a few moments of uncomfortable silence.

  > You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so   > as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender.   > The blades will< start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
Again, this could be a fun physics and chemistry question and I see a couple of possible solutions that might or might not work out - might be fun exploring them. But again, it sounds more like a trick question with one standardized answer. Bad.

The problem with trick questions and standardized answers is that the nature of the question makes the candidate uneasy and even if they eventually figure it out, nobody will have learned anything during the process. It's more like a hazing, not a hiring interview.

tokenadult 15 hours ago 3 replies      
From the original New York Times article that Quartz has linkspammed here: "On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They dont predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."

Long before this was reported in the New York Times, this was the finding of research in industrial and organizational psychology. A valid hiring procedure is a procedure that actually finds better workers than some different procedure, not a hiring procedure that some interviewer can make up a rationale for because it seems logical to the interviewer. We have been discussing home-brew trick interview questions here on Hacker News for more than a year now.


Brain-teaser or life-of-the-mind interview questions do nothing but stroke the ego of the interviewer, without doing anything to identify job applicants who will do a good job. The FAQ on company hiring procedures at the Hacker News discussion linked here provides many more details about this.

raldi 14 hours ago 5 replies      
I've never seen any citation that Google ever used these kinds of question. Especially the idiotic one about pushing a car to a hotel. I think it was just an urban legend and a good piece of linkbait.

There must be thousands of people on HN who interviewed at Google over the years. Did anyone ever get a question like this?

moron4hire 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a crutch. Nobody knows how to interview. Interviewing properly is a lot of work. There are two people who can do interviews--people who have knowledge of the job and people who have time to interview--and they are so infrequently the same people. These sorts of things were appealing because they were easy, a way to not spend a lot of time on interviewing, or a way to not need a lot of knowledge about the job.

And these things are important, because job candidates are not people, they are OEM replacement parts being order from Pep Boys. Call up the recruiter and requisition a J6-252: Programmer, seasoned 5 years, with degree from MIT. Oh, those ones are too expensive. Guess I'll take the knock-off version, but I refuse to pay full price!

Hopefully, because it's Google saying it, everyone will cargo-cult on this bandwagon too.

rekatz 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think you'll find this response by @gayle to be spot on. SORRY, FOLKS: GOOGLE HASNT CHANGED THEIR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS BY GAYLE MCDOWELL, EX-GOOGLE ENGINEER & HIRING COMMITTEE MEMBER http://blog.geekli.st/post/53477786490/sorry-folks-google-ha...
jmillikin 14 hours ago 1 reply      
How to drive clicks in four steps:

1. Invent a bunch of silly riddles that a non-technical reader might accept as tech interview questions.

2. Pull a major tech company out of a hat (today it's Google), and claim with no evidence that their interviews are based around silly riddles. The article will be cited for years as proof that people working at $COMPANY are weird and obtuse.

3. Wait a couple years. Ignore all evidence that $COMPANY does not use silly riddles in interviews.

4. Once traffic on the original article dies down, write another article claiming $COMPANY has "admitted" silly riddles aren't useful for interviews.

bane 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I was contacted by a Google recruiter a few months ago, I had no intention of changing my day job at the time, but for shits and grins I went through a couple phone interviews. The position they were hiring for wasn't an area I have any experience in (the recruiter had made a mismatch), but I thought the questions were reasonable for somebody who works in that field and were kind of fun. They were quizzy, but could be practical. It was a management position so there weren't any coding questions, but things like basic cost estimating that sort of thing.

I had fun and wouldn't mind it again, it didn't feel like a bunch of stupid random brain teasers like I've experienced before (how many t-shirts would it take to make sea worthy sail? why are manholes round?) etc.

litewulf 18 hours ago 2 replies      
When I interviewed at Google 5 years ago they weren't using those brainteasers.

There are many posts online about the actual, CS-y questions that you can expect in a Google interview, I had just assumed that the mentions of brainteasers were merely urban legend.

sergiosgc 16 hours ago 1 reply      
They aren't using the brain teasers right. The Idea is not to create a barrier to entry, nor is it to stress the candidate. The objective of the brain teaser is having the candidates think slow enough that the interviewer can observe how he approaches a problem.

It's hard, when using problems that are common, to really understand how the candidates gets to the answer. Often, he's building on pre solved sub problems he encountered on his professional life, so the resolution process didn't even occur at the interview.

I personally don't use brain teasers, because they stress out valid candidates who do not work well under pressure. However, I think teasers, when properly used, are valid tools in an interviewers toolbox.

freework 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This topic/discussion reminds me of a movie I saw recently It was called "That guy...who was in that thing". It is a documentary about working actors. Not Big time superstars like Tom Cruise, but the small time 'character' actors.

Anyways, there was one part in the movie where they start talking about auditions. All four or five of the actors they were interviewing for the movie unanimously spoke badly about the typical audition process. Some quotes taken from memory:

"I love acting, but I hate auditioning"

"You've seen my demo reel, you've seen me when I was on Star Trek, you know I can act, then why not just give me the part? Why make me go through this tedious audition process"

"90% of acting is reacting. You can't fully demonstrate your full acting abilities when you're standing in front of a panel of producers 'acting' out a scene that consists of 5 lines of dialog"

What the actors were saying about how they hate the audition process reminded me a lot of my frustrations surrounding hiring during tech interviews. Making an engineer do puzzles like FizzBuzz is a lot like making an actor act out a 20 second scene without any time to prepare or a proper "scene partner" to act alongside of.

I wish I could like to a youtube of the movie, but I can't find one. Its on netflix though.

nchlswu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I took an i/o psychology course during school and a chunk of it dealt with interviewing and finding best candidates (from an employer stand point and equity standpoint), as lots of people who took the course tend to pursue education with the idea of obtaining an HR-related certificate.

The comment about brainteasers vs structured rubrics is sort of surprising to me, given Google's reputation for quantitative data. Speaking from a very high level, structure was really what was emphasized for interviews. It's interesting how culture can get in the way of proven 'fact,' and I love that Google is using their own (much larger data sets) to make these improvements and in/validate other research

ShabbyDoo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
A problem I see with many of these sorts of questions is that they often require the candidate to have some supposedly common knowledge which is not required for the job itself. Cryptic word games surely are much more difficult for a non-native speaker of the language in use. Questions related to facts about cities probably require local geographic knowledge. Surely the evacuation plan for SF must consider the capacity of various bridges? Someone who has lived in northern CA for most of his life would have a much easier time thinking through the logistics of moving people off a peninsula. And, of course, there's the Monopoly question (which I had to Google).

I like estimation questions in general for many of the reasons other commenters have cited. However, I wish those using them would consider the knowledge implicitly required of a candidate.

lobotryas 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds great, although like with any retraction I doubt this will be enough to stop the spread of interview puzzles. Even I'm guilty of asking my share before I realized that the only thing that matters about the candidate is whether they can sit down and start writing code (and the quality of said code).
mgkimsal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
"How many gas stations in Raleigh?"

I had a couple questions like this at a couple of interviews more than a few years back now. In both cases, I sat for a minute, and asked a few questions back, like "do you mean the city limits of Raleigh, or the metro area?", "how do you define gas station - do we include public-only, or private fueling places?", etc. Part of this was buying some time, because the question caught me off guard, but I think my questions back caught him off guard a bit too.

That interviewer told me I was the only person who asked clarifying questions before blurting out an answer or walk through. Another one was "take this marker and design a house on the whiteboard for me". So I took the marker and asked questions like "how many people will live here, do you want one or two story, do you need a garage/shed/basement, etc?" And again, was told I was the only person who'd asked questions before starting to draw.

I don't think the intention behind those brain teasers was necessarily to determine how you react to those sorts of problems, but it may have been a useful determining factor for some interviewers nonetheless.

troymc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
These sorts of questions didn't start with Google. They're known as Fermi Problems for a reason: they're named after Enrico Fermi, the physicist.


Knowing how to quickly estimate something is useful.

I imagine that Larry Page does a few quick estimates every day. How many Loon balloons would it take to bring Internet to 90% of Africa?

But not everybody at Google has a job like Larry Page. It's gotten to be a big company full of accountants, HR people, and other jobs that don't require much thinking in unfamiliar territory.

In other words, guesstimation is a useful skill, but not for every Google employee, so it's not going to show up as useful on average.

cousin_it 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> Years ago, we did a study to determine whether anyone at Google is particularly good at hiring. We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship.

Can we see the study?

Also note that performance on the job is a noisy measurement, because people who get to work on impactful projects (through luck or people skills) get rated higher than others. I wouldn't be surprised if interview scores were a better measurement of "true" skills.

darrellsilver 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The best book on hiring, no doubt, is Who: http://www.amazon.com/Who-The-A-Method-Hiring/dp/0345504194

We used it to build our hiring process for http://www.thinkful.com/ and it consistently proves valuable.

We also use it to help our students prepare for job interviews.

31reasons 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think companies would be better off hiring people not based on their IQ or skill level but by hiring people who love what they do, have done side projects and achieve flow in their work. People who achieve flow in their work will work harder and are more creative than others because they enjoy the process of solving problems. So the interview process should be to identify how often the given candidate achieve Flow (as defined by mihaly csikszentmihalyi)


ryguytilidie 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This always seemed so overhyped to me. I did hundreds of interviews at Google and I never once asked anyone a question anything like the ones described. It was generally stuff like "oh hey, you're going to do deep work on our unix systems? What is the difference between kill and kill -15?" We also didn't care about GPA. This all seems like super old information if it was ever true at all.
fnordfnordfnord 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're a hiring manager who uses these things, you should know that I (try) to train/prepare my students to answer them. I do think there is some utility in watching how people approach an unconventional problem, but don't be too impressed with people that can solve them easily, compared to those who don't do well the first time they see them. I see a huge improvement in the quality of answers of most students, once students know it is a gag and once they've been shown how to estimate things. Most students are constrained by having been in a learning environment that provides them with well-defined boundaries within which to form their answers. IMO failing to perform well with these problems is not always a failing of the student as much as it is their educators.
drawkbox 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The only true way to tell if an interviewee will be a good employee is actual work/product output with the right amount of responsibility. Product focused people not just coders looking to code lots of tricks to compete.

Contract to hire is one way, another is what they have done previously as a good predictor. It is a risk for sure but that really is the only true way in the end.

Plenty can be gained from just letting the interviewee talk and maybe looking at some of their code they have done previously while they talk about it. Whiteboard coding should not apply as it is completely out of element for many coders.

The type of person they are can't really be detected correctly until they are in the team and delivering because everyone is selling themselves on an interview.

contingencies 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Google reputation in shreds; funds transparent PR stunt
troni 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Every time I click any link on HN that points to qz.com I get QZ without any reference to the article in question. Currently it points to "Why Tesla wants to get into the battery-swapping business thats failing for everyone else"... in Chrome. Firefox seems to work. Terrible website.
alok-g 10 hours ago 0 replies      
>> After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. Youre also fundamentally a different person. You learn and grow, you think about things differently.

While the analysis is correcting some beliefs about interviewing techniques, do I sense them draw a conclusion again not supported by data? How did they conclude the lack of correlation is "because" the skills required are different and people think differently a few years out from college.

ArekDymalski 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news both for Google and the candidates. Of course as long as the behavioral indicators for the competencies will be defined right - according to actual goals and tasks on the job.
tonylemesmer 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Some of the more flippant sounding ones could be useless but I thought the idea of the simpler ones (how many golf balls etc.) is to get a feeling for how people's minds work and whether they can make sensible best guesses in the abscence of concrete facts and make judgements based on those guesses. Weed out the ones who have no appreciation for how the volume of a golf ball relates to the size of a bus.

Good logical thinking shown here could indicate an ability to rapidly prototype systems without getting hung up on too fine detail.

return0 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So a lot of "difficult" manager decisions can be equally well solved by the toss of dice.
X4 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Why so serious? Isn't hiring about maxing out the potential of a company?

Anyone can help maximing it out. I know for myself that having 'clue' reduces self-esteem. Which can be balanced by having the right co-workers. End result: Maxing out the potential.

A(Technical intelligence) + B(Social Intelligence) = (Innovative potential)

theboss 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm still a student and like to interview at a lot of places, shop around, and keep practicing my interviewing skills.

I STILL go to interviews where I am ONLY asked these kinds of questions...It's embarrassing. If you ask me these questions for a 2 hour long interview then I'm not going to work for you...it's that simple

mossplix 17 hours ago 2 replies      
So how useless exactly were they? As long as you are looking for a "right" answer not a correct one, they are a very good metric for testing problem solving skills.
uxwtf 16 hours ago 1 reply      
"Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco" Why not Mountain View? At least, it would be useful for Google... if the big one comes
voltagex_ 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I had to go look up what quotidian meant - it means everyday.
hernan604 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Those type of questions are plain stupid. Wont take anywhere and wont solve any problems.
cwesdioner 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why are they talking about "Big Data" rather than just "data"? I doubt the data sets they used were so large that they could not be easily analysed on a cheap laptop using normal statistical packages.

When trying to work out what best predicts job performance, the quality of your data is by far the most important thing to focus on. I would very much like to know more about the details of their internal studies. There are a lot of difficult problems in trying to use statistics to improve interview processes. One of the big problems is that you will always have a truncated sample of only those people who were selected: you would then expect the importance of certain variables, such as GPA or test scores, to be lowered because those who scored lower on such metrics will have had compensating characteristics...

victorlin 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, at least, they know how stupid it is now.
edwardliu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh really? what a surprise.
chevas 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The article also mentions:

"Its also giving much less weight to college grade point averages and SAT scores"

In 2004 I interviewed for a Creative Maximizer position. I received a glowing review from my brother who was a Googler. I studied all the ins-and-outs of adwords back then and the British interviewer confirmed: "You did very good on the assessment" (which was working through real ads that needs to be maximized). My opinionated experience has been that in these kinds of situations, Brits embellish less than Americans.

However, she told me that my college GPA was "a major question mark" because it was 2.99 and Google only hires people with 3.0 and above (I didn't know what I wanted to do in college). Looking back I'm glad I was never hired, but that burned me bad for a while.

Senators skip classified briefing on NSA snooping to catch flights home thehill.com
445 points by Libertatea  5 days ago   141 comments top 23
DanielBMarkham 5 days ago 4 replies      
In a normal scandal story, the appropriate committee would grant immunity to Snowden, have him testify, then bring up Clapper, have him testify, and compare notes. Preferably publicly.

Here they bring in one side of the story for a secret Powerpoint presentation, no doubt with a high degree of spin to it, and publicly call Snowden a traitor. Then they complain that nobody shows up.

This isn't a bake sale or a dog and pony show, it's supposed to be the workings of the U.S. Senate. This sounds much more like an effort to CYA from the committee chair and NSA than it does an actual investigation or anything useful. Not going to make much progress continuing to operate in this fashion.

It IS interesting, however, that both sides here feel that, if only the other side knew more about what was actually going on, they would agree with them. But then the government insists on keeping it all secret. Meh.

startupfounder 5 days ago 11 replies      
Our government is broken. It is no longer by the people for the people.

Politicians are skipping out of their responsibilities.

Politicians spend much of their time in office fundraising for re-election.

Politicians raise much of their election financing from corporate interests, not the people, and thus have a diminishing obligation to the people.[1]

A vast minority of people elect our politicians because 50% of eligible voters don't go to polls.

Most are rich old white men, not a representation of the people.[2]

We can do better.



spinchange 5 days ago 1 reply      
The icing on the cake is that Senate staff are prohibited from reading any classified materials Snowden leaked that are published in the press.


(Legislators rely on their staff for input, research, background and assistance in making decisions)

linuxhansl 5 days ago 3 replies      
It seems that rather than attracting the best of the best to lead this country we managed to arrive at a process that reliably picks the most self serving crooks this country has to offer and allow them to run this country.

With a few exceptions nobody in congress seems to actually care even a bit about the people, but only how to drive the personal agenda forward.

It's the same in Europe. Apparently representatives are actually paid by attendance, so what they do is, they come to the session, sign in their names, and then leave.

fnordfnordfnord 5 days ago 0 replies      
Friday afternoon briefings and statements like the following (paraphrased): "All congressmen have been briefed and are fully aware of the NSA's totally legit and above board program. There is simply nothing to see here, and making a big fuss about it compromises everyone's safety."

Reminds me of this:

"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."

"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."

"But the plans were on display ..."

"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."

"That's the display department."

"With a flashlight."

"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."

"So had the stairs."

"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"

"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

huhtenberg 5 days ago 1 reply      
Given the Father's Day weekend, it wasn't hard to guess that the attendance will be low, so the question is why the briefing was still scheduled for that particular spot. I bet they are trying to tell us something...
ck2 5 days ago 5 replies      
Not an excuse at all but part of the problem of our system, why they run home so fast, is they are constantly fundraising for their next election. They spend a massive amount of time in office just fundraising.

Not sure how this can ever be fixed.

leetrout 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anywhere online that lists the members that did attend? I would love to see if my state's senator was present.
lettergram 5 days ago 0 replies      
To be fair, I doubt I would attend the classified briefing. The point is the senators represent the peoples interest (specifically the states interest), if the state does not want it, then they shouldn't get it.

Also, each senator should receive the briefing in paper. They never need to attend unless it is being voted upon.

protomyth 5 days ago 0 replies      
The real question is why this was scheduled at a time that was pretty much guaranteed to conflict with the Senator's schedule? Scoring political points by foolishness is getting a tad old.

[edit for branch]

dnautics 5 days ago 0 replies      
they're not attending because it's theatre. the NSA briefers are going to read from the script, no difficult questions are going to be asked, and even if they were, since it's secret, the public wouldn't get to see it so it doesn't matter.
ajays 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's obvious. Those who know the details don't feel like they need to attend. They know they'll learn nothing new; why waste their time?

Which begs the question: why didn't they speak up earlier? They probably would have, if they cared. The ruling class in this country knows that they won't be affected by these shenanigans. HSBC launders 100s of Billions of dollars for drug traffickers (sometimes literally accepting bags full of cash, and staying open late to do so), and no one goes to jail.

brianobush 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wonder if they would care (and attend) more if they were paid on the percentage of briefings attended.
dashr 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its important to note that some will NOT want to attend a classified briefing because they will then be bound NOT to discuss what they have heard in that classified meeting.
wil421 5 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to see at least one of my senators attended those meetings and doesn't remember being briefed about phone metadata collection (Johnny Isakson R-Ga).

But then again the Director of National Intel James Clapper said that he understands that "collect data" would mean they take a book off the shelf and read it. Not that they have a giant bookshelf of data that is possibly yours and mine.

Just another politician type doing some CYA. We will see more to come.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/intel-dir-james-clapper-lie-c...

niels_olson 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the senators who did this decided it would play better now that they skipped it, than what they suspected would come out in the briefing, which they would then be demonstrably complicit in by having knowledge of. Accomplices after the fact. They decided this very thin veneer of plausible deniability was the better option.
cinquemb 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Am now quite certain, that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." -John Brown
GeneralMayhem 5 days ago 0 replies      
Same article was linked on Reddit; the top thread there points out that the meeting must have intentionally been scheduled to make this happen. It's common knowledge in DC that Congress is in session from Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, because Congressmen and Senators have duties in their home districts (listening to constituents bitch at them) that they have to take care of on Friday/over the weekend, and it takes them at least an afternoon's flight to get home.

Don't blame the reps for not being there, at least not too harshly. Blame the asshats who WANTED the meeting to be underattended to provoke exactly this reaction rather than actually letting their arguments speak for themselves.

e3pi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Re: ...Its hard to get this story out. Even now we have this big briefing weve got Alexander, weve got the FBI, weve got the Justice Department, we have the FISA Court there, we have Clapper there and people are leaving, she said.

This constant drone of Clapper-speak unbridled lying is taxing for even these people.

stretchwithme 5 days ago 0 replies      
If there's no exotic location and free golf involved, fact finding doesn't appeal to them.
pkill17 5 days ago 5 replies      
> Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the chief critics of the surveillance programs, was spotted leaving the briefing.

Presumably leaving out of disgust for Clapper's lies; but the media will leave it short like this to make it seem he's marginally apathetic.

godgod 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now you see who they work for. It's not us.
straight_talk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, schedule the worst stuff at times with fewest senators available. Same way the Federal Reserve Act was passed a century ago on December 22, 1913.
Terms of Service; Didn't Read tosdr.org
425 points by rfreytag  4 days ago   104 comments top 29
belorn 4 days ago 2 replies      
While I applaud the effort, in the end, it is mostly just a game played by lawyers who write ToS.

Terms of Service tries to be legally document, enforceable across borders. Its not related to copyright, so there aren't any treaties to unify each countries laws. Also, because it is not copyright, ToS get put into the all covering service/contract law. Where I live, Sweden, those laws was written in 1900, and is in my view 100% incompatible with ToS or EULA's.

To take one example, they require that the person providing a contract makes sure that the other party is fully informed of the contract, and that the other party is benefited from signing the contract in relation to the terms. Reading the history around it, they basically makes in unlawful to knowingly "trick" people to sign contracts that are one-sided.[1]

On the "trick people to sign" part, I am also slightly considering the fact that companies often know how long time someone spends reading an ToS/EULA. They know when, and how many people can't have human possible read the agreement before pressing OK. When MMORPG clients update a new agreement, people are logging in seconds after its possible. If you knowingly are going into a contract with someone who hasn't read and understood the terms, its hard to claim that the contract was made in good-faith (jfr BrB 9 kap 1 ).

All in all, ToS and EULA's just seems to me as an broken concept.

https://lagen.nu/1915:218 30 and 36

rossjudson 4 days ago 7 replies      
One straightforward fix: A law that says an "I Agree" button only binds the user to the text that's actually visible on the screen. More text? More buttons!

That will drastically cut down on the boilerplate. Want to straitjacket your users with 60 pages of user agreement? No problem! You're only 60 button clicks away from complete lack of liability.

jancborchardt 4 days ago 3 replies      
Jan from ToS;DR here. Please ask if you have any questions!

And if you want to contribute, come join us! http://tosdr.org/contribute.html

We are a completely non-profit and open-source project. Source at http://github.com/tosdr and API at http://tosdr.org/api.html

Please note though that nothing in the page is legal advice. We just want to help people know a bit better what Terms of Service say.

johnnygoods 4 days ago 5 replies      
Be wary of installing this extension, and this is why:

It's not lost on the legal world that no one reads Terms of Service. As a result, TOS are rarely enforceable in court, except inasmuch as they comply with broad industry standards.

However, compliance requirements are much MORE strict for parties who demonstrably should be aware of their legal obligations. Lawyers, for example, can't really argue that they didn't read a legal document they executed because of the manner in which it was delivered (in an inscrutable TOS doc, at the entrance to an amusement park, etc).

If you install this extension, you might actually be making yourself MORE bound to crappy terms of service, since you will not be able to make the case that obviously you didn't read them terms and therefore should not be held to some non-standard provision.

The reviews/ratings provided by tosdr.org are awesome, and I hope you guys continue this project, but I, for one, will be covering my ass and not installing this extension.

jancborchardt 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, interesting to know the reason for the CAPITAL LETTERS, thank you!

In perceptual psychology the problem that they are ignored is also known as Banner Blindness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banner_blindness a phenomenon in web usability where visitors to a website consciously or subconsciously ignore banner-like information.

ef4 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a nice idea. I would love to see these kind of agreements get commoditized and standardized, so that a new service can just check a bunch of boxes to generate their terms, and we can even represent the agreement in a machine readable standard way.
seferphier 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is something we really need as consumers. A short summary of essential terms for us to know about.

Would be interested in Mobile apps like: Instagram, Vine and Path.

Sami_Lehtinen 4 days ago 0 replies      
Old solution is to drop three words in the document pizza which are clearly out of context. When customer says he has read the tos, great, let's give him 60 seconds to tell which words didn't belong to the banana document. It's easy to give those word if you did read it, if you didn't then you're not clearly smart enough to use our service and your monkey account application has been refused. Thank you.

Btw. IBM cloud computing agreement was so ridiculously long, that I can signup and setup everything up and running with Linode or UpCloud before I have even finished reading their agreement.

pikewood 3 days ago 0 replies      
My friend and I created http://www.eulascan.com/ back in 2005 with this same concept in mind. We got some nice writeups, but it never really gained traction and we didn't have the time to upkeep the site; spam weeds have overgrown it at this point. My thought was that people still didn't care enough about EULAs to bother using it or reviewing it.

Generally, we got the most comments on companies that were unliked (Apple, Microsoft), and the reviews became another way to express disgust at a company.

Another thing to consider is the ever-changing terms in an EULA. Your site does not have a version concept, meaning you could be reading reviews on wording that does not exist in the existing EULA.

jchung 4 days ago 1 reply      
Ironically, they didn't seem to take the time to summarize the terms of service for their own service. In fact, I can't figure out what the terms are for tosdr.org at all.
davidjohnstone 3 days ago 0 replies      
> I have read and agree to the Terms is the biggest lie on the web. We aim to fix that.

I deliberately worded it on my website as "By clicking the register button you are accepting the terms of service", under the assumption that the vast majority of people would assume it's normal and sane (whatever that means) and not read it, and therefore create an account honestly.

thom 4 days ago 0 replies      
As I understand it, some of the thinking in the Vendor Relationship Management space [1] flips the 'informed consent' equation on its head - you as an individual specify what standards a vendor has to sign up to when dealing with your data, and _they_ are the ones agreeing.

I don't know the degree to which this really fixes the CLICK ON ANY BUTTON IT TAKES TO GET ME INTO FACEBOOK approach of most users, but it's an interesting thought experiment at least.

[1] http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projectvrm/Main_Page

natch 4 days ago 2 replies      
So what is it?

The "About" button just says it's a project intended to fix something. It gives some WHO and WHEN info, but it doesn't say HOW it will fix it or WHAT it does.

Instead it asks me to take a large step of trust by installing executable code into my browser.

lignuist 4 days ago 4 replies      
Any chance to find out, what this is doing, without having to install an extension?
mcovey 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've been checking out the TOS a lot more often lately, be it before or after signing up. A surprising number of sites have converted to readable bulleted lists in a language mostly resembling English. Unfortunately, it's mostly smaller sites and services whose terms will likely never matter to the average user. For the bigger sites that want your important data, you still need a legal dictionary, a pen and paper, and a glass of wine to get through.
Tangaroa 4 days ago 1 reply      
What we need is a court ruling that people who click through these things have no intention to be bound by the contract, and therefore aren't.
weisser 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is a fantastic idea. Of course, you need to be able to trust that the summaries cover the most important aspects but this seems like a good team to deliver.
olegp 3 days ago 1 reply      
We tried integrating with TOSDR and similar services via their APIs at https://starthq.com, but it quickly became clear that the number of services they cover is too low for it to be useful. I do appreciate the effort though!
simonbrown 4 days ago 1 reply      
For the Chrome extension, you probably don't need to request permissions on tosdr.org. If you send CORS headers from that site, you will be able to make requests to it without the permissions.
chacham15 4 days ago 1 reply      
My question is whether people will choose to not use a service because of its terms. I think that much like Andriod/iPhone app permissions, it doesnt matter much.
tonydiv 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have seen this site a few times, but they don't have rankings for some of the most popular services/sites such as Google, Facebook, etc.

If this is supposed to be helpful, is there a reason why they still don't have classes for popular services yet?

graylights 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like it. I'm more interested in the site then the extension though.

Things I'd like to see:1. Highlight sites that have changed terms recently. 2. The discussion links should show how active the discussion pages are

makepanic 4 days ago 0 replies      
previous discussion:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4350907

looks like they got a new domain

vysakh0 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the best needed extension. Also this gets user some idea on how each site treats users.
gesman 4 days ago 1 reply      
TOS is like last peace of underwear in between you and girl's body. No matter how it looks like you want to get rid of it with one click to reach for the juicy part.
whosbacon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to see the browser extensions released. Thanks for this awesome project!
cLeEOGPw 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was using it until it required additional rights for some reason. Then I suspected it to be making an online profile and selling it, so I uninstalled it.
Pherdnut 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is brilliant.
cybernoodles 4 days ago 1 reply      
Of all sites, no ToS on Facebook available?
The day Steve Jobs dissed me in a keynote (2010) sivers.org
420 points by beshrkayali  6 days ago   104 comments top 19
jcampbell1 6 days ago 1 reply      
> I flew home that night, posted my meeting notes on my website, emailed all of my clients to announce the news, and went to sleep.

> When I woke, I had furious emails and voicemails from my contact at Apple.

How was this unexpected? Who goes to a business meeting with a potential partner that can make your business soar, and then goes and blabs all over the internet about the partner's business strategy. Who does that shit?

He literally published Apple's perfected pitch and detailed strategy online the very next day:


Apple & CD Baby's partnership was ultimately very beneficial for both companies, but Derek certainly went a bit overboard publishing those meeting notes.

psychotik 6 days ago 2 replies      
'Whatever. Fucking Apple.'

As a developer, I find myself saying that more often than I would like. Glad this isn't just a developer thing that Apple does - it seems like a consistent part of their DNA.

robomartin 6 days ago 2 replies      
Brings back memories.

After a series of emails with Steve Jobs --all while I was coding at four in the morning!-- my then partner and I flew to Cupertino for a meeting with VP's directly under him and about thirty engineers and managers from various areas of the organization. We brought with us nearly a million dollars of equipment to put on a good demonstration and illustrate our technology. Apple asked us to develop a product they needed. We threw a ton of money and effort at the task and got it done in three months (a redesign of an existing product). They started to promote the product, gave us a direct link on their website to ours. It was amazing.

Six months later a cheaper (20% of our price) bad quality product (among other things, there were reports of it catching fire) came into the scene. Apple dropped us like a hot potato. We lost a ton of time and money on the deal.

Am I angry? Nope. I have enough experience dealing with large companies to know you should go into these deals nearly expecting the worst corner cases. This, I think, is certainly true for small companies. Besides, I had a conversation with Steve Jobs at four in the morning. Perhaps that alone was worth the cost of admission...and I am not even close to being an Apple fan boy.

As for the OP, I don't think he was very wise in posting meeting info as he did.

aneth4 6 days ago 3 replies      
Not to be an apologist, but it seems like Apple's actions make a lot of sense.

First of all, who posts meeting notes from meetings with top executives when given a heads up about upcoming products? NOBODY. Of course it's confidential by default.

Second, Apple was right to presume a company charging to get music in the App Store would likely provide lower quality music. Charging for access completely reverses the motivation of record companies. Until they were ready to open the floodgates, excluding companies that charged was a reasonable if rough quality filter.

barbs 6 days ago 2 replies      
" Whatever. Fucking Apple"

Just about sums it all up, really.

skue 6 days ago 2 replies      
There's a great expression that is especially useful when dealing with big companies: "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately described by incompetency." [1]

While it's tempting to think that Jobs was pulling all the strings, the reality is that Apple is a large company where legal departments take forever, internal debate occur, and communication is slow.

It sucks that Jobs made that $40 statement without someone vetting (or caring) that they were negotiating with CDBaby and that's their price. It sucks that Apple did not communicate better about the reason for the delay. But doing enterprise deals is nothing like working with an individual, and in that context I wouldn't simply assume that Apple/Jobs was being spiteful.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

hobs 6 days ago 0 replies      
Long story short, dont trust others with your business. I have seen this dozens of times where a smaller company gets really excited because they are working with the big brute, and they get screwed because the big boy gets to make all the terms, and if/when they break the contract or act like complete assholes, you have really no recourse.
czr80 6 days ago 1 reply      
lolcraft 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm somewhat amused that many here mention the amateurishness of Sivers' behaviour, yet there's no mention of Jobs' passive-aggressive bullshit.

"But we realize record companies do a great service. They edit! Did you know that if you and I record a song, for $40 we can pay a few of the services to get it on their site, through some intermediaries? We can be on Rhapsody and all these other guys for $40?"

Dude, what a pompous douchebag. You got a problem with what I did, tell me. Just don't screw around, sending mixed signals in a very roundabout way in the hope that I get it, because you're too scared of any confrontation in your Garden of Reality Distortion. I know Apple likes being this impenetrable Kremlin, but this is just plainly taking pages from Stalin's Guide to Management. "Did you know some CEO from a very successful tech company is a pompous douchebag?..."

chris_wot 6 days ago 3 replies      
Yup, Steve Jobs was an arsehole.
gesman 6 days ago 3 replies      
Big entities can afford to be arrogant and are well known to pay with promises instead of money. Silicon Valley is full of skulls and bones of little guys who got too excited too soon.

Business as usual until papers are fully signed and money in the bank.

shin_lao 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think the problem was charging $ 40 to get to iTunes. Either you give the full catalog or you don't but it shouldn't be something you can purchase.
oconnor0 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to me that Apple's complaint is that anyone could get their crappy music into iTunes for $40 and that's a problem, but that free is fine.
dmourati 6 days ago 1 reply      
What you should have been doing (hindsight 20-20 and all that) was quietly going around to the other hundred or so people and getting together on this. Come through with one legal team representing the newly founded consortium and then negotiate from a position of strength.

Sign the deal, get cash up front, and then begin the drudgery of complying with Apple's byzantine requirements as a group.

WalterBright 6 days ago 1 reply      
I saw a documentary on a guy who has amassed the largest vinyl record collection in the world. The claim was made that 87% of all vinyl is not available on CD or other formats.

It'd be nice to see all that back catalog stuff available. I know I have a number of records that are good, but are not available digitally.

thehme 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! The things to learn. I am not sure how I feel about this or what to get out of it, although I am feeling a bit dizzy/warm. Should we buy music from Apple or other "nicer" companies? Pretty messed up though what Jobs did, although posting their business plan was most likely what made "them" angry. I am with you though that if it was confidential, you should have been given notice.
Jd 6 days ago 2 replies      
"They had 300,000 songs while Rhapsody and Napster had over 2 million songs. (Over 500,000 of those were from CD Baby.)"

Something about this does not compute.

danbmil99 6 days ago 1 reply      
TL; DR: Steve Jobs really was quite a dick
bravoyankee 6 days ago 4 replies      
This has been on HN a bunch of times already. News is supposed to be new, correct?
Nginx for Developers: An Introduction carrot.is
411 points by jenius  1 day ago   136 comments top 26
sergiotapia 1 day ago 9 replies      
If you like this article, I wrote a similar one called Devops for Dummies.


It teaches you how to setup a DigitalOcean (or any other) VPS from scratch to host N amount of Rails applications using Nginx and Passenger. It took me some time to get things working properly and I distilled it into this short article that holds your hand and takes you from A to Z.

TallboyOne 1 day ago 3 replies      
Good article. Be wary of the well documented zero-day exploits if you're using php.

This is one of my other favorite articles: http://docs.ngx.cc/en/latest/topics/tutorials/config_pitfall...

Some good introductory stuff here as well: http://pineapple.io/resources/tagged/nginx

thu 1 day ago 6 replies      
I think the sites-available is a debianism, not present on all distros. One nice thing that nginx supports is include directives with wildcards so you can e.g. have /srv/example.com/nginx.conf and /srv/api.example.com/nginx.conf and include them in the main configuration file with include /srv/*/nginx.conf.
286c8cb04bda 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The default port for the internet is 80, so if theres no port in a url, that means its 80.

The Internet has no default port; 80 is for HTTP. If the port is omitted, then the default for the scheme[1] is assumed.


[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/URI_scheme

tszming 1 day ago 1 reply      
For starter nginx's configuration, the h5bp nginx config [1] is pretty awesome, e.g. sending correct mime types, protecting hidden files, cross domain webfont, expires, gzip, server tunings all included.

[1] https://github.com/h5bp/server-configs/tree/master/nginx

lowboy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like just keeping a single "etc/nginx/sites" folder, including "sites/*.ON" in my main nginx.conf and then appending .ON to the sites that are enabled:

    active.site.com.ON    another.active.com.ON    not.active.com

callmeed 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite nginx features I just discovered is that you can use a regex in the server_name and then you can use the capture as a variable later [1] ... this lets you serve domains or subomains from completely different directories without a new conf file or a reload.

I'm using it at http://www.utterson.me to serve up static Jekyll blogs on a subdomain.

I may be wrong, but I don't think Apache can do this (it can do regex but you don't get a variable).

[1] http://nginx.org/en/docs/http/server_names.html#regex_names

warmwaffles 1 day ago 2 replies      
I am a little hesitant on restarting nginx. When you do that, it drops the connections that are currently attached. Instead, you may want to do `nginx reload`
mfjordvald 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's kinda depressing that this article is basically just a copy of one I wrote in 2010 and it's still something that gets attention as interesting stuff. Nginx documentation obviously still has a long way to go.
seclorum 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've always wanted to use nginx to build web apps in Lua .. does anyone know/can recommend any great tutorials with this in mind? It'd be nice if I could learn how to use nginx+lua to build a blog, and so on .. I'll use google, but on the off chance someone on HN knows of something already, I'm all ears ..
chuhnk 1 day ago 1 reply      
For some strange reason I was expecting an article on nginx module development. http://www.evanmiller.org/nginx-modules-guide.html
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 3 replies      
Been thinking about nginx for some time. If I could get an easy Mono/F# implementation working with it, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat.
geuis 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a note on readability. You have a font color of #555 against #fff; Its a light grey against white background and very hard to read.
samsnelling 1 day ago 3 replies      
Completely off-topic: Is that a custom WP theme? I love the look and feel of this article.

On-topic: Thank you for this. I am going to purchase a DO box this weekend and play around with nginx instead of apache. For some reason when I last tried to use nginx, I could not get location {} to work. Granted it was some time ago.

Does anyone have any resources on nginx as a load balancer?

antocv 1 day ago 3 replies      
What makes this "for developers"? Whats the difference if a sysadmin is reading this, or a Linux user?

Im surprised to see this on the frontpage, it is less than basics in anything any hacker worth its name can do.

ChikkaChiChi 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article is just fine for IDE-side development, but I would not recommend for anyone to use the version of nginx in the standard Ubuntu package manager. It traditionally is several version back missing important key features that you might want to take advantage of.
raylu 1 day ago 3 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but I'm sad that people still use apt-get. aptitude is pretty much just better[1].

Also, if you're reading this article you probably don't need the slightly better performance/throughput of nginx. Nginx's configuration is just terrible. You can cause segfaults and all sorts of unexpected behavior with the If directive[2]. And who came up with the idea that rewrite[3] should sometimes redirect instead of rewriting?

If the replacement string begins with http:// then the client will be redirected, and any further rewrite directives are terminated.

Apache's configuration might be ugly and unwieldy and the community might be horribly infested, but at least the configuration makes sense. Lighttpd has none of the above problems, though.

[1] http://superuser.com/questions/93437/

[2] http://wiki.nginx.org/IfIsEvil

[3] http://wiki.nginx.org/HttpRewriteModule#rewrite

diminoten 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic, thank you! The way it's written is great because it doesn't treat me like an idiot (I get why books do that, but it can grow tiresome). I wish more tech books were written like this.

While we're picking nits, I thought this might be worth mentioning:

> The default port for the internet is 80

I'd change that to:

> The default port for the web is 80

Again, wonderful guide!

GibbyBorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Guys, don't link to the community wiki, it contains a lot of obsolete or just wrong information. Always use official documentation: http://nginx.org/en/docs/
saravk 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice article useful for Nginx newbies. While we are on that subject, can anyone please let me know if we can use Nginx for page cache busting purposes.

It is easy to configure Nginx to check if the cached version of the requested URL exists and serve it. But i would like to know if the configuration can be extended bit further to serve the cached file only if is less than a few days old?

falsedan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like this article because it reaffirms the demand for competent devops who've taken an afternoon to read all of http://wiki.nginx.org/DirectiveIndex.
klearvue 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the example given "listen 80;" is completely unnecessary since it's a default.
matthieupiguet 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice introductory article. Maybe it should have included a word about SSL support, especially the fact that you need to build nginx with ssl support, it doesn't come out of the box, so make sure you plan for when you'll need it
ryandotsmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in running NGINX on Heroku, checkout my buildpack: https://github.com/ryandotsmith/nginx-buildpack
dergachev 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you liked this, consider checking out Mastering Nginx by Dimitri Aivaliotis. I was quite surprised how helpful this book was.


w0ts0n 1 day ago 4 replies      
" nginx (pronounced engine-x). "

I have literally never heard anyone call it that.

The Constitution Applies When the Government Bans Americans From the Skies aclu.org
407 points by ahmadss  2 days ago   199 comments top 22
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 7 replies      
Our brief highlighted the utter irrationality of the government's No Fly List procedures. The plaintiffs in Latif all flew for years without any problems. But more than two years ago, they were suddenly branded as suspected terrorists based on secret evidence, publicly denied boarding on flights, and told by U.S. and airline officials that they were banned from flyingperhaps forever.

One of the reasons that I'm not too attached to the specific details of the Snowden story (aside from supporting him, of course) is that it's just a piece of a much larger picture. Snowden's "NSA direct server access" is but a tiny speck in an ocean of civil liberties problems.

In this case, the government is effectively using a quasi-military/police force to control who can travel the country. (Yes, I know you can drive, but for business travelers, air travel is many times the lifeblood of their work) People are banned from traveling, in many cases from performing their livelihoods. They do not know how they got on the list. They cannot get off the list.

In charge of all of this is an agency, best I can tell, that has a mission of making all transportation safe from random terror attacks.

It's insane. Aside from not protecting anybody, can you begin to imagine the ways such a system could be abused? It staggers the mind.

There are probably around 100 people in the entire country that shouldn't fly. But the way this no-fly list is constructed, it will continue to increase year-by-year, without any incentive to pare the numbers back. Is anybody doing the math on the kind of economic impact such a system will have over a few decades?

I've said it before. We need to completely disband the TSA. Structural adjustments are not going to fix its scope creep, conflict of interest with the military industrial complex, and lack of competence. It's just gotta go.

gambiting 2 days ago 3 replies      
As a person coming from a former Soviet republic - it reminds me of times 30 years ago, where the usual conversation with any official would look like this :



"because the government says so"

No trial, no hearing, someone somewhere in secret made the decision and you had nothing to say in that matter. Or if you tried, you would be charged with interfering with government business, or "national security" and jailed for a random amount of time.

Really that different to what the US government is doing right now?

run4yourlives 2 days ago 3 replies      
The US is a lost cause for anyone on the bad side of the government for any particular reason, crimes committed or not.

What really gets me though is that people are truly shocked that the piece of paper held up as some illusion of rights is, like everything else, simply not worth the paper it is printed on.

This is a document that has been used to justify slavery, prohibition, woman as property, Jim Crow laws, the "sanctity" of marriage etc. If history shows us anything it is that regardless of whatever is written down, the laws of the land will be made by the popular opinion of those that have power, and how they interpret things. The USA is no different than Rome, feudal Europe or France under Napoleon, despite the best intentions of its founders.

will_brown 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to make such a prediction, but this case is factually analogous to the ACLU's case against the targeted killings of US citizens without due process and ACLU's demand the standards of the kill list be disclosed. If a citizen can have his life taken without due process, it seems consistent a citizen's Constitutional Right to travel can be taken without due process. For those that do not know:

"On August 30, 2010, the [ACLU] filed a "targeted killing" lawsuit, naming President Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as defendants. They sought an injunction preventing the targeted killing of [a US citizen], and also sought to require the government to disclose the standards under which U.S. citizens may be "targeted for death". Judge John D. Bates dismissed the lawsuit in an 83-page ruling, holding that the claims were judicially unreviewable under the political question doctrine inasmuch as he was questioning a decision that the U.S. Constitution committed to the political branches."

Coincidentally, or likely not coincidentally Judge John D. Bates, is also the presiding Judge of the FISA Court as shown in the Rules of Procedure for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (See: http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/rules/FISC2010.pdf)

I do not agree, but at least the US government has an argument that by disclosing publicly known or suspected terrorists, it may jeopardize our national security interests. How the hell can that be logically extended to the idea that disclosing the criteria to get on the "kill list" or "no fly list" jeopardizes our national security interests?

jdp23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just a reminder, the deadline for comments on the TSA's body scanners is Monday. http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=TSA-2013-0004 has the info.
bediger4000 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is so un-American I can hardly believe that anyone in the USA would do it. Where's the due process? Where's the confrontation of the accuser? Where's the ability to redress a wrong?

This is so wrong on so many levels of Americanism. It's just Soviet, that's what it is.

mapt 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Back in September 2003, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released a piece of model legislation it called the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act. Like so many bills drafted by the free-market think tank, AETA was handed over, ready made, to legislators with the idea that it could be introduced in statehouses across the country with minimal modification. Under the measure, it would become a felony (if damages exceed $500) to enter "an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other means," and, in a flush of Patriot Act-era overreaching, those convicted of making such recordings would also be placed on a permanent "terrorist registry."

Frustrated by unauthorized documentaries of slaughterhouse abuses, the agriculture industry hired corporate lobbyists to hire Congressmen to insert laws that would ban PETA activists from using the US air transportation system.

These have been implemented in a number of states recently, although I'm not sure if any of them included the watchlist provision in the final draft.

* http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/ag-gag-laws-m...

cpursley 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's interesting to sit back and realize that the libertarians were right all along. On security theater and the bailout economy.
3pt14159 2 days ago 0 replies      

At least the Canadian one allows you to protest. As a result only about a thousand people on the list.

jtbigwoo 2 days ago 2 replies      
They can't even get on a boat to cross the Atlantic.

Does anybody know if other countries reference the U.S. no-fly list? Could one of these plaintiffs drive to Canada and travel abroad that way?

guelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
I sometimes wonder how the authoritarians that come up with these policies can look at themselves in the mirror and call themselves patriotic Americans.
blackaspen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Soon though(thinking of PRISM), they'll be able to say you landed yourself on a No-Fly list because of a joke you cracked in an email you sent to your friend ten years ago that they only just mined now. (And a joke that their algo/analyst didn't understand)

And then they still won't let you appeal it. I wasn't aware though that No-Fly extended to boats, that makes it criminal. The only way to get off the continent then is to go to Canada or Mexico (or another SA country) and hop on a non-US associated airline. That is criminal.

frisco 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm interested to see how the Tea Party deals with these issues. It could be a huge opportunity for them... As crazy as they are, if they take up the mantle of getting government out of peoples' personal lives, it could propel them into legitimacy. I'm this close to deciding that this is a vote-deciding issue compared to abortion, fiscal policy, or foreign affairs. Democrats, take note.
grecy 2 days ago 0 replies      
It appears people are agreeing this (and other) actions by the government are unacceptable.

So what are Americans doing about it?

We see people in Turkey, Brazil and many other parts of the world protesting against their government, while those in the US appear to be doing nothing.

What's it going to take?

Vivtek 2 days ago 0 replies      
"There are alternatives to flying".

Try driving to Puerto Rico or Hawaii.

InclinedPlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's good to see that in the 21st century there are at least some areas of daily life that haven't been pushed into a constitution free zone through technicalities.
Tycho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can I coin a new political term: terrorismism. It is the enlargement of all state powers over its citizens in the name of fighting terrorists.
jstanley 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is outrageous. This is contagious. So futile.
omarali 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is it possible for someone on the no fly list to join the lawsuit? I know two US citizens who are on the list.
Fuxy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the United Prisons of Americal where the only thing preventing you from being forced to walk to your destination is the fact that using a car is still legal... for now.
danielweber 2 days ago 1 reply      
The use of the word "Blacklists" for "No-Fly Lists" in the headline is confusing.
trippy_biscuits 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ever since they decided that they had the right to look at or touch my privates before I can get on a plane, I refuse to fly.
Google challenges U.S. gag order, citing First Amendment washingtonpost.com
392 points by stfu  2 days ago   175 comments top 32
jstalin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Now that EFF broke the barrier in filing with the FISC, I have a feeling we'll see a lot more of this. And that's a good thing.

I expect Google's filing to show up here shortly:http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/courts/fisc/index.html

rasterizer 2 days ago 8 replies      
Again with the 'carefully worded denials' - the denials were similar because they were accused of the same thing, which is allowing "direct access".

The most worrisome and misunderstood part of these reports is the "direct access" bit: can the government arbitrarily query company servers? their denials address that, they clearly say that is not the case, instead they sftp the data after being served with court orders or warrants and yes also the secretive FISA requests.

So by revealing the number of FISA requests they receive and their scope they hope to clear this "direct access" mess. As even FISA orders are much more acceptable than wholesale access.

As for the development being reported here: I think it has merit seeing how this clearly falls under the first amendment, but I'd like a lawyer to chip in.

[edit: clarity]

slg 2 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone familiar with the constitutional law on this? From a laymen's perspective it seems obvious that the government has some ability to restrict 1st amendment rights on matters of national security. If that wasn't the case, there would be no way to enforce legal restrictions on classified information. It would be the end of all government secrets, both good and bad. Or is this debate simply about where the actual line is drawn for national security and whether this this type of disclosure crosses that line?
mtgx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hey, Google. Reporting what the government is requesting en-masse is nice, but how about you actually give us end-to-end encryption for as many of your services as possible, so we don't have to second-guess our thoughts and chats anymore simply because we know the government is watching and will be getting that data no matter what? It might help with the whole trust issue you're having now.
genwin 2 days ago 0 replies      
> In the petition, Google is seeking permission to publish the total numbers of requests the court makes of the company and the numbers of user accounts they affect.

Nice confirmation that the "in the last 6 months" numbers reported by Facebook et al are worthless. No company has yet said how many users are affected total. I assume it's all users, by an earlier "request" (actually all but an order). Why shouldn't an organization that gains a bigger budget the more people it surveils demand the moon?

If we're to believe the number of requests reported so far are 1-to-1 with users, all the information could fit on a single drive. The Bluffdale, UT facility seems capable of handling a good amount of data for each of the entire digital population, even if half of the buildings is space for bureaucrats.

vanattab 2 days ago 1 reply      
They are fighting for the right to tell their customers about the government mining their data(through google). Google already tells their customers what they mine in theToS and Privacy Policy. I see no hypocrisy.
namank 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a start!

So what can the gov't do if companies don't co-operate? With individuals, there is blackmail and illicit co-ercion. What does the gov't do to corporations worth updwards of 100B to get them to comply?

jacoblyles 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see how freedom can last in a country for long with secret laws.
veidr 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is, I think, the only way for these tech giants to come out of this scandal better off than they went in -- to take a stand, and take the fight to the feds, hard.

Google does have legal resources far beyond anything a normal citizen has, and since they have been compelled to secretly give up their data, they also have the legal standing to file suit (presumably, although who can know when you have secret laws decided in secret courts via secret decisions...).

So uh, go google!

thelukester 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah, that's right according to the Supreme Court, corporations now have citizenship, so they should have First Amendment rights too. Wouldn't that be ironic if that ruling actually did some good for our nation.
logn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hypothetically, couldn't Google just decide to break the gag order, be charged with a crime, and then argue this issue in front of a jury of their peers, and then be acquitted, establishing a precedent? It would probably be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. I know Google is probably risk-averse enough to not do this, but they'd garner a lot of good will I think. Maybe I'm missing some gotcha that they'd never be granted a trial and the board of Google would end up in secret prisons.
GreatBuck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google's Court document is here: http://assets.nationaljournal.com/img/MOTION.pdf
hkmurakami 2 days ago 0 replies      
My initial reaction to all the positive actions by these companies is to be a cheerleader and urge them on for "fighting the good fight", but I can't help but then turn around and be cynical. After all, as far as we know they were not proactive at all until the leak happened.

Do they have the users' best interests in mind? I honestly can't say so.

humanspecies 2 days ago 2 replies      
I recommend everyone have a look at the leaked documents and the extent to which all those companies participated in it and then judge their public relations reactions afterwards.

After the scandal was revealed, and only after it was revealed in an unprecedented act by Snowden, did Google come out in favor of their customers. This is ridiculous.

Google was caught pants down and there's no amount of PR bullshit they can use to white wash this and pretend the government forced them to do it. They willingly participated in exchange for political status with the government, that is the raw truth.

motters 2 days ago 0 replies      
My current theory on this is that companies such as Google probably generate vast amounts of metadata (there must be a fair amount of it behind Google Now), primarily for advertising purposes, and that it's this which PRISM has "direct access" to under some sort of gagging order.
blisterpeanuts 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not a terrorist; I'm a law abiding citizen of the U.S. Can I opt out of the PRISM thing? All I'm doing is adding unnecessary noise to their data. I want to do the patriotic thing and help my country, and in this case the best way to do that is to shrink the pool of data that they must monitor. (And no, I'm not kidding!)
contingencies 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google reputation in shreds; funds transparent PR stunt
MiguelHudnandez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Could this lead to an interesting development in the issue of "corporate personhood?"

I would love to see a ruling that corporations have no constitutional rights. But the people running them do, of course.

marme 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think too many people and companies are tip toeing around the issue. Some more people need to take a stand for what they believe in and stand up to the government. If google believes so strongly that their rights are being violated they should hold a press conference and publicly release all the gag orders and data requests they have received. Let the government try to charge them with violating the gag order and then they can really challenge the order Federal court not this secret court.

The justice department almost certainly wont try to charge them with violating the order because they know that it will get declared unconstitutional by the supreme court and a giant company like google has plenty of money and lawyers to take it all the way to the supreme court. Most companies are too scared to see what will happen if they violate the unconstitutional order

asab 2 days ago 0 replies      
I appreciate how the article frames it as a matter of Google preserving their own reputation, as opposed to principle, or it being "the right thing to do." They have been receiving information requests with gag orders attached for years, but are only fighting it now that the cat's out of the bag and they have something to lose. Until then, it seems that Google was fine with the situation as it stood.

I think it's an important distinction to make, and underlines how companies ultimately serve their own self interest before anything else; they're not acting nobly, and the ultimate responsibility lies with the individual.

spoiledtechie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am sort of upset with Google. Why didn't they do this in the first place? Honestly, seems like they are back pedaling to save face.
r-shirt 2 days ago 2 replies      
Let's presume that PRISM is the NSA getting the ability to copy unencrypted data being transferred across these companies' internal networks. Is that one request that affects every account or one request that affects zero accounts? I would expect that the latter would be asserted while the former is more true. And I can almost hear the justification: "if people weren't sending email from Gmail to Gmail and instead from Gmail to foomail, we could be collecting all of this information. You need to give us access to your network, or we need to break you up into smaller pieces which need to send information unencrypted to work."
skygazer 2 days ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting to see how few or many FISA requests there really are. Google implies its a small number. The government was okay releasing the numbers opaquely, inside an aggregate of all law enforcement requests, which also implies to me the number may actually be low. If it's conspicuously low, we're left to wonder what alternative sources of raw data they're relying upon primarily. They may be trying to avoid that implication, thus, release of a low number may appeal to Google, but not the government.
arunabha 2 days ago 1 reply      
Much as I would love to see Google prevail in this, there is just no chance that would happen. The implications to any other form of Govt gag orders (think sealed court records) would be immense.
humanspecies 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fucking Google is manipulating these threads, trying to white wash their secret spying deals.

Don't fall for this bullshit, Google has been in the spying business for ages now. They joined the NSA program in 2009 and have been in trouble constantly in every spy scandal there is some google product involved. Wake up already.

triplesec 2 days ago 1 reply      
A little late, methinks. Why didn't they - in concert with the other large companies - do this before, if they're so not evil?
blackaspen 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is where we get see what "Too Big to Fail" actually looks like.

If Google's too big to fail on it's own, but the Feds want them to fail because they're (Google) are poking around too much, what happens?

pconf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would rather see them challenge FISA requests on the basis of tax law. These requests are, in addition to everything else, a form of taxation.
throwaway10001 2 days ago 1 reply      
>> The court approved each of the 1,789 government requests it received in 2012, except for one that was withdrawn.

Scary as hell, considering that one request can be as broad as: It is hereby ordered that [Verizon Business Network Services'] Custodian of Records shall produce to the National Security Agencyall call detail records or telephony metadata created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls,

Google should cut the crap with PR moves and stop hoarding so much data about everything we do online. If they have, NSA will get it--one way or another.

adamconroy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its not a big deal, google should quietly announce they are retiring the API and the government can try and contact someone at google.
coherentpony 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess since now corporations are people, this should be no problem.
bifrost 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is sortof hillarious, Google fighting for this when they mine ALL of your data...
MySQL man pages silently relicensed away from GPL mariadb.org
387 points by endijs  2 days ago   180 comments top 21
drostie 2 days ago 5 replies      
Given the environment, you probably already know that there's a great talk called 'Fork Yeah! The Rise and Development of illumos' at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zRN7XLCRhc .

The reason why it's relevant here is that this is not the first time that Oracle has closed-sourced an open-source project bought up from Sun. Oracle seems almost paraconsistent towards open-source in a very interesting way: they seem to view the GPL as a good way to get other companies to help them out without cheating (e.g. OpenJDK), but if they're going to do most of the development in-house anyway it seems they're much more willing to close the source (OpenSolaris, now apparently MySQL).

Could anyone comment on whether there's a larger pattern that I'm missing there? And are there other open-source technologies which were obtained from the Sun buyout which are also in danger which we should know about?

mdesq 2 days ago 2 replies      
I used to work for Oracle. Something I heard several times around different parts of the company was that Larry believed that open source was a good way to build products, not businesses. He was more than happy to take advantage of open source, but not willing to contribute to it.Oracle's attitude toward open source was one of many reasons I left, and one of the reasons I gave for why I was leaving.
foobarbazqux 2 days ago 6 replies      
If they hold all the copyright on the documentation, they're free to do as they please. It was always expected that Oracle would kill the project.

MariaDB is a fork of MySQL started by the founder of MySQL after the Oracle acquisition. This is good news for them because it gives people more reason to use the fork.


NelsonMinar 2 days ago 4 replies      
So who holds the copyright on these man pages? Did MySQL get copyright assignments from all contributers before Oracle bought them? If not, how do they have the authority to relicense the content?
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well they are Oracle. Perhaps they will rename it to 'TheirSQL' :-)
JeremyMorgan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oracle is killing MySQL. On purpose. This has been going on for a while, and they're not doing it because they're stupid, it's in their best interests.

Thankfully Maria is such a nice clean replacement.

nivla 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have been really thinking about switching my DBs from MySQL to MariaDB. Wondering if someone could help me out with a few questions..

Is it a really a drop-in replacement? Any gotchas I need to be aware off? How does MariaDB compare with MySQL performance and memory wise? Did anyone face any issues with replication?

Thank you in advance.

brkcmd 1 day ago 1 reply      
According to mysql bug 69512 [1] this particular issue was the result of a build process error and was not intentional.

[1]: http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=69512

marme 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this even legal? they released the previous documentation under GPL v2 which has a clause stating any modified versions have to be released under the same license. This new documentation is clearly just a modification of the previous documentation. It would be interesting if it came of they did not have the right to do this. If even even one line of the documentation was written by someone else and they did not get a transfer of copyright they could get sued for doing this.
tehwalrus 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm already using LibreOffice. Is there a fork of VirtualBox that I should be aware of too? If I actually used any databases, I'd be switching MySQL for MariaDB right now.
frost_knight 2 days ago 0 replies      
And just in case they hadn't made their point, section 38 from the pastebin is particularly friendly:

"This documentation is NOT distributed under a GPL license."

duskwuff 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wouldn't grab the torches and pitchforks unless/until it's clear they're relicensing to a non-free license. The GPL is written to apply to code; it doesn't make much sense to apply it to documentation.
jurre 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's kind of sad seeing something digging it's own grave like that.
atoponce 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is Wordpress going to do if MySQL goes closed source? Switch to MariaDB, or finally start supporting more databases, such as PostgreSQL?
flyinRyan 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're going to switch away from MySQL anyway, I would suggest taking the hit and moving to PostgreSQL.
wheaties 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, so there's a bunch of hosted MySQL providers. How long before they become MariaDB hosted providers?

Oracle, your engineers know exactly what will happen. Why don't you?

jbpadgett 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has Oracle has eroded credibility for being a good steward for any open source technology at this point?My question is how long before @Mitchellh leads an effort to fork VirtualBox to allow Vagrant to have a reliable future?
benstein 1 day ago 0 replies      
praguebakerr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Switch to MariaDB but don't even think you will remove MySQL experience from your CV. As most of the CV is processed automatically you could lost few point simple because lazy HR people don't care about what's happening in the IT world.
gesman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Viva Maria!
maxharris 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am more interested in using MySQL for my next project now.

I know that this is not a popular opinion, but I disagree with the philosophy behind the GPL. While I think that sharing is fine (and for that there are the BSD and MIT licenses, among many others), I believe that it is very often better for both developers (and users) if users pay for the software they use. (And yes, I have heard the pro-GPL argument about how you can charge for support, but I know that's bogus in practice.)

I am not saying the GPL should be outlawed or anything like that. I'm just saying that it's not a moral ideal (the actual moral ideal is you making a sustainable living off of the code you write), and it's practically speaking a bad idea in many cases.

Repository Next github.com
379 points by Lightning  3 days ago   152 comments top 41
shardling 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hmm, as someone who spends most of their time on github looking at pull requests and issues, this seems a step backwards.

Not a huge one, but it was nicer to have my most frequent points of interaction at the top. I deal with the code itself in my local repo. I don't need to know how many commits/branches/tags/contributors there are -- that is the redundant info for me, and that should have been shoved to the side.

If I'm using github's UI, it's because I'm managing a project. Might be nice to have a separate "management" interface you can opt into?

tldr: They moved all the "extra" stuff to the side, while keeping the info directly related to the git repo in the center. But the whole point of using github is the value they add, not the core functionality that I can already get through my commandline!

chintan 3 days ago 7 replies      
Just other day, I spent 30 secs (or more) looking for the repo URL on Bitbucket.

Then I thought how awesome GitHub was and it really understood users. It always had the big repo url on front and top where one can never miss it.

In this new design, GitHub has pushed it on to bottom right and reduced the input size. Bad Decision IMHO.

alberth 3 days ago 3 replies      
For a direct comparison of the same repository (Etsy's Skyline) redesigned, see the before and after redesign links below:

- Current/Old https://github.com/etsy/skyline

- New/Redsigned https://f.cloud.github.com/assets/1354/660756/cc8cad9c-d714-...

EDIT: typo

olalonde 3 days ago 4 replies      
I really wish Github would bring back issues search and would stop making the top search bar default to the current repository. I constantly search something there and always forget to select "Search all Github". That being said, I think it's good that they are reducing the clutter.
ericras 3 days ago 8 replies      
>> replaced with a slim, de-emphasized icon-based navigation.

This is the same problem I had with a Gmail redesign a while back. Using icons looks nice and allows for slimmer navigation but it decreases ease of use for me. I can find things much quicker with text labels.

danbmil99 3 days ago 1 reply      
Call me a Luddite, when a tool I use every day is completely redesigned, and marketed with phrases like "The content is the interface", I begin to shit my pants.

It's especially scary because there's no rollback. At least I still have gnome desktop, for now...

bhauer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just switched over to the new design and I like it. My favorite part: no more silly horizontal sliding animation. Thank you so much for removing that.

Though--and I hate to sound ungrateful--Github has always seemed slow and unfortunately this new design doesn't help as much as I hoped it would when I read about it. I acknowledge that the new design is quicker, and removing the animation makes the wait for a response considerably less annoying, but Github remains a slow site to navigate. Put as positively as I can: thank you for working on performance, and please continue to do so.

spankalee 3 days ago 4 replies      
This might be a nice update, I'll opt-int for some projects and try it out, but it doesn't address my biggest problem with GitHub: the lack of decent code review tools.

I have to use an external review tool like Reitveld to get side-by-side diffs and better comment and patch-set management.

mattmanser 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have never understood the reason for putting the commit comments of some random file within it next to the folder name.

It's unnecessary noise and what would be far more useful is how many files and folders that folder actually contained.

To be honest I don't really see the point of putting the comments next to the file name either.

Also, I wish for the love of god that they put the file size there.

Then again my primary use case of github is reading code to learn and having a nosey at how good a coder someone is, so I'm generally looking for the bulk of a program, hence the usefulness of file size and the uselessness of commit comments.

nfm 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few quick first thoughts, having just flipped the switch. I think the description and website fields should be click to edit (and the labels need to be wired up). And I'm not a fan of the increasing emphasis on % LOC by programming language - this seems like an extremely low value metric to be so prominent, and a terrible way to distinguish between repos!

I'm looking forward to digging more into the redesign in my usage of it today. Glad to see GitHub continuing to improve and happy to re-think the current state of the app.

wyck 3 days ago 1 reply      
So I am supposed to know brown means assembly and javascript is orange , oh and coffeescript is dark blue..and so on and so on.
sudhirj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Think there are two problems here:

1. For people visiting their own repositories, the viewing the code itself has little to no value. They more than likely already have it open in their editor / IDE in another window. These folks probably want the issues, PRs and other accompanying features. Collaboration is now the key - not the code itself.

2. For other people (non-committers) looking at a repo, this is different. When I visit other codebases I do actually look at the code to check certain things - what style it is, what frameworks have been used, how complicated the code is, if tests are present etc. Then I check to see what kind of (any how many) issues have been raised.

It might actually make sense to show a different view depending on whether you have commit permissions to the repo or not.

MattRix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just started using it and like it SO MUCH better. Everything feels much cleaner and easier to absorb at a glance. Love it!
sktrdie 3 days ago 2 replies      
I absolutely love how GitHub is always at the cutting edge. Always improving. Always making it better.

Steve Jobs' "stay hungry. stay foolish" applies perfectly to GitHub's attitude.

Keep up the great work!

julien_c 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that overall it's a nice, welcome change. The double tab bar was getting a bit odd.

I just think that the alignment of the right vertical icon bar is a bit off, I think it'd be better off-canvas.

The emphasis on speed is great. I hope they'll improve keyboard navigation with this release as well.

sauravc 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like the code viewing area was narrowed. If the redesign was meant to put more focus on content, this decision is perplexing.

I wish they'd make a responsive design that would make use of my 24" monitor. Right now I've resorted to writing a Chrome plugin to widen the code viewing area via CSS.


minikomi 3 days ago 0 replies      
First impressions and all that but .. Wow, that language bar is pretty jarring - especially when the main language is Javascript (bright red).
transfire 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't say I like the new look. The pjax improvements are great, of course. But moving all the top menus to a right-hand sidebar just doesn't work well. How glaring is it when the cloning uri, which is wide sequence of letters, is squeezed into a narrow sidebar and thus mostly cutoff. It is is awful. Did they consider drop down menus if it was really necessary to reduce the clutter at the top of the page? Otherwise move the navigation menu to the left and allow the page to fill the screen.

Sorry to be negative. I appreciate work to improve things, some of these changes just aren't. Hope they keep working on it.

redbad 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. Seems like their head is in the right place: designing for productivity and usability. Kudos.
alberth 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised Github didn't ease users into this new redesign by simply updating just the top navigation first.

Photoshop: http://i.imgur.com/MR9nzmH.png

Based on the negative comments below, just updating the top navigation (solely) seems like it would have appeased everyone.

zachgersh 3 days ago 0 replies      
No matter whether you love or hate the new UI, github is going to actively iterate on this design and improve it.

I can't tell you how many times I have had a github tab open and then popped open another and my layout has slightly changed (like shrinking a font or changing colors). They don't stop with UI tweaks until they think things are perfect.

Expect this to continue to evolve even without another major release from them.

mrinterweb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I dislike the right side persistent navigation bar. It takes up considerable room and it makes the page unbalanced as you scroll down. I prefer the content to take up the full width and to be centered. When you scroll down on a long page, the navigation scrolls out of view and content is off center. When I code, I prefer to designate the majority of my screen to the code. The right navigation column seems like wasted space.
gkop 3 days ago 0 replies      
The first thing I looked for is "Did they remove a horizontal nav bar?", and they did! Nice job GitHub, I look forward to opting-in.
c-oreills 2 days ago 0 replies      
There doesn't seem to be a way to opt out. I can't create a pull request from dev to master any more, it shows me the compare page but only gives me to a link to an existing pull request to dev. Merging on the command line it is, then. =/
Stratoscope 3 days ago 4 replies      
I just hope they get rid of the side-scrolling when navigating code. It really bothers my eyes.
rubyn00bie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this redesign is pretty bad for UX but great for design (e.g. it's pretty but useless).

1.) You cannot make a PR from the main repo page anymore, you must go to a branch.

2.) The number of commits is emphasized over the number of pull requests, WTF? This one just blows me away.

3.) The whole PR process itself is largely more complicated and requires many more clicks (e.g. trying to swich repos is a bitch, and you have to click just to see the drop down, which then disappears after you select one).

4.) The right hand navigation bar is more or less worthless and too small.

5.) Moving the link to clone/co to the bottom right of the page is silly and totally makes it harder to find/use. I still don't see how this can be less important than the number of commits...

I still love github, it looks nice, it's just totally unusable. Feels like an April Fool's day joke come early with bad taste.

philfreo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think there are some great improvements here (putting content at the front and center more).

I feel like it takes me a minute to figure out what page I'm on now though, due to less navigational context. Perhaps something like this would help:


purephase 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll reserve judgement until I use it but it does look promising.

Now, if they could solve that nasty problem wherein the issues list seems to revert to an earlier revision when you use the browser button I would be a happy camper.

dfc 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be wonderful if you could sort by ctime in the file list view. Bonus points if the the right aligned relative dates could be printed in rfc3339 format. As it is the right aligned relative dates can be disorienting when you scan down the list looking for what has been changed recently.
justinjlynn 3 days ago 1 reply      
When in a repository, shift-clicking on a file link no longer opens the link in a new window. Oops.
jamesbrennan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just opted into the new design and I can attest that it is _very_ responsive and browsing code is noticeably quicker than before.
tagliala 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't like the time shifted on the right.

Since time is a small field, before I was able to read

file__time_comment__________ without any problem

now I see


I'm disoriented :(

snowwrestler 3 days ago 0 replies      
The new layout doesn't seem like a very big change, but if the speed claims are correct that would be a big improvement.
ksec 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doubled Down on Pjax and Caching, i wonder if they are using Rails 4.0 already.
niutech 3 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer the good old top menu rather than the new one on the right side.
jontro 2 days ago 0 replies      
The ability to not switch branches from the commits view is frustrating. I really want to switch back to the old look.
targusman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer bit bucket but my job makes use GitHub.
apathetic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any way to revert to the old one?
targusman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This update is driving me crazy.
ing33k 2 days ago 0 replies      
will take some time to get used to it..
omegote 3 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder why the heck they include the Mac OS X app chrome. What's the point? You're wasting a lot of space in the screenshot with useless content. Is it just to show off your mac? It's a website for god's sake, it looks essentially the same in any operating system.
Maybe buses should be free economist.com
372 points by mblakele  1 day ago   454 comments top 55
nostromo 1 day ago 32 replies      
Seattle used to have an area of downtown where you could ride the bus for free. (You could ride within the area free, but paid if you rode out of the area or started your ride outside of the area.)

Busses became makeshift homeless shelters, which probably ended up driving away actual commuters.

Seattle also bought fancy self-cleaning toilets many years ago in order to give tourists a place to go and to reduce public urination by the homeless.

They ended up selling those toilets on eBay a few years later because the toilets had become a place for addicts to shoot up and for prostitutes to take their customers.

Free is probably a bad idea...

dkarl 1 day ago 1 reply      
In case anyone is wondering why this hasn't already been implemented everywhere if it's such a great idea, I have an anecdote illustrating the political and cultural obstacles it faces. I worked with a guy who helped create a proposal to make buses free in Austin in the 1990s. The goal was basically the same as described in the article, based on the observation that collecting fares was surprisingly expensive in both time and money. Little net income would be lost, the buses would run faster and cause slightly less congestion because boarding would be faster, and numbers from experiments in other cities showed ridership going up significantly. It was very simple: voters and taxpayers chose to support the bus program because of the benefits the city gets, and eliminating fares was a straightforward way to increase ridership per dollar, thus deriving more benefit for the tax money being spent [1]. Everybody wins.

As my friend told it, the proposal was made internally inside Capital Metro (the transit agency; my friend was on some kind of committee) and the response from higher up was very simple: not gonna happen, not ever, and please don't ever mention this in public unless you really want to hurt the future of bus transit in this city. The symbolism of fares, he was told, is very important in two ways. First, the public image of bus riders is that they are people who aren't willing or capable of taking care of themselves (why don't they have a car?) The symbolism of giving somebody something for nothing is very different from making them pay to ride. Bus fare is a symbolic way of teaching them that they have to work for what they get, and they can't freeload off of other people. If we're forced to take care of them, we can at least make them play-act like they're responsible people paying their own way, and the lesson might sink in eventually. Second, people tend to incorrectly assume that the operating expenses of the bus system are covered by fares. Many people hate buses and hate the complicated urban society they represent, and the more of those people who became aware that buses run largely on their tax dollars, the harder it is for city bus programs to get the money and political support they need. Charging fares makes it easy for them to make the wrong assumption and prevents them from becoming vocal enemies of public transit.

Those attitudes are from 10-20 years ago, and one hopes they have changed since then. The idea seems fundamentally sound, so I imagine it will keep resurfacing until pragmatism overcomes the bias and stereotypes surrounding mass transit.

[1] As you can see here, passenger fares cover only a small fraction of expenses: http://www.capmetro.org/transparency/

relix 1 day ago 3 replies      
I live in a city where this has recently been implemented. In Tallinn, population 400K, public transportation is free since January 2013, for all residents (not tourists or people living in other cities). You need to have a valid ID and a valid RFID card that is connected with your ID.

I see a lot of people in this thread state unjustified assumptions as if they are proven facts. I'll try and comment on a few of these, judging from my experience with how things transpired here.

* This will make it a shelter for the homeless *

There have always been homeless people on the busses, and I didn't notice a markedly increase. The fact that you still need a legitimate ID card and a fare card might help this point.

* This will multiply users of the buses, and lead to frustration and long queue lines *

Utilisation of public transportation increased by 15% since becoming free. I noticed somewhat more people, but nothing annoyingly so. On the other hand, the main goal as I could see was to get cars off the road. A drop in traffic of 14% was observed.

Because this is a low-wage country, the 12 million in lost revenue this cost is quite low in absolute terms, compared to what it would be in more western, bigger cities, but it's still a large chunk of money relative to GDP here. Due to the requirement that you need to be a resident of this city, 10000 more people have "migrated" to Tallinn from other cities, now paying taxes here, and adding a predicted 9 million in tax revenue for Tallinn.

Personally I love it of course. I use it in ways that others might deem "uneconomically" i.e. take the tram for 2 stops instead of walking 15 minutes, but I also notice I travel further distance more often, exploring the city, because I don't feel annoyed with having to either find parking space, or pay a taxi, or pay a bus fare.

morsch 1 day ago 5 replies      
Axiom: Public transportation is a more efficient (in terms of many basic resources valuable to society: first and foremost among them energy and space) way to get around, so it's in society's interest to shift as much mileage as possible towards it.

The central question is two-fold: How much of a shift would result from a given decrease in price? And how do we relate the (primarily:) monetary cost of making it free-to-ride with the (primarily:) non-monetary benefits of any given shift? The result of this question could give you an answer if making it free would be worthwhile.

Some thoughts:

I think decreasing the price per ride from e.g. 1 USD to 0 USD would make for a bigger shift in uptake than decreasing it from 2 USD to 1 USD. Not having to think about whether each single tour is worth the price of admission makes it a viable default way of getting around. This is just the usual flat rate argument that also applies to things like internet usage.

Making public transport free would invariably result not just in a shift towards it from other modes of transportation, it would also lead to an overall increase in mobility, which in terms of some resources reduced the gains in efficiency.

There's a valid argument that the efficiency of public transport is highly dependant on the amount of utilization: big buses and trains carrying single digit amounts of passengers can use up more energy than individual transportation. An increase in overall uptake would tend to reduce such problems since you'd get a small bus load full of people in cases where you'd have only a few now.

Obviously, free to ride public transportation is a particularly huge potential improvement for people who otherwise could not afford to get around. And since mobility is such an important part of life in modern society (minus us nerds who manage to leave the house only once per week), free-to-ride public transport has a massive impact in terms of social equalization.

VLM 1 day ago 5 replies      
Basically the same idea as giving up on detailed long distance billing and going to flat rate. Where in this case the flat rate is about $5 on your property tax bill.

The good news is locally the bus service is approx 75% subsidized anyway, so they'd only "lose" 25% of revenue but the substantial gain of no more cash handling etc would help.

The other problem is you can tell the author lives in California. Where I live, the weather outdoors is at least somewhat foul about 10 months out of the year, so they would become rolling homeless shelters at least 10 months out of the year, maybe more by habit. That leads to even more expensive systems for what amounts to loitering ticketing, enforcement of no sleeping on the bus, etc.

The problem is this might even lead to politically sensitive ideas, like having enough homeless shelters to hold our homeless, or even having mental health treatment so our nuts are not just tossed out on the street as human debris until they die, instead we might try actually treating them. The criminal justice-industrial system would protest at the lack of revenue. It would be a little disruptive.

drcode 1 day ago 17 replies      
I guess I'm one of the few here who disagrees with this article.

Maintaining a bus and subway system is extremely expensive in terms of resources, both in terms of equipment expenses, salaries (for employees who could be providing other benefits to society instead of operating a bus) fuel, and use of land.

There is no 100% certainty that buses/subways are more efficient than cars. Luckily however, we have a way to tell which is more efficient: The free market! The free market is not perfect, but it is likely that a person who pays a fare to ride a bus is getting significant value from that bus ride, and if the fare CAN COVER THE EXPENSES of running the buses, then we can be confident that buses are an efficient mode of transportation.

If you just make the buses free, people may take more roundabout trips to get to where they need to go, just to be able to make use of the free bus, causing inefficiency and waste. Or, it may cause people to take more inefficient taxi trips (because the bus doesn't take them to their precise destination like a personal car would) or they may do a million other things that are damaging to the environment and wasteful (like eating out more because they can take free bus trips to restaurants.) These scenarios may sound silly, but the fact is that removing price signals from public transportation is a terrible idea because it can have a multitude of unexpected consequences.

If you read this post and think I'm crazy and say to yourself "What an idiot, cars are obviously guaranteed to be less efficient than buses" I would argue you don't understand how incentives behave in a complex system.

If you think cars are so horrible, you should work to stop subsidies to oil companies so that gas prices reflect the true cost of energy. But in my view there is absolutely no way making public buses free is going to make cities more efficient and/or help the environment.

EDIT: Just to be clear, I'm not saying we should get rid of all public transport subsidies (this is a harder argument to make, I'm not sure where I stand on it.) I'm just saying we shouldn't make them 100% free because price signals are valuable.

wisty 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's time to post up the Theory of the Second Best (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_the_second_best)

It's a radical old theory (from 1956), which is still ignored by most of the people who talk about economics. It states, in HN terms, that economic systems can have local optima; and that if the global optimum can't be reached then doing stupid things can actually be smart.

In theory a free market is best. But if a market can't be made completely free (for whatever reason) then making the market freer may actually make things worse, because you're moving away from the local optimal point into a trough.

When you consider any aspect of the system, you can make it more like a free market, or less like a free market. Maybe the internet libertarians are usually right, when they say "make it more like a free market". Or maybe real systems have been optimised towards that local optimum point, then driven away from it by free market advice, and the internet libertarians are usually wrong. But I don't think there's a hard and fast rule.

Whatever the case, imperfect economic systems are a little bit complicated, and there's not always a simple answer.

So it's not a free market. Cities subsidise buses. They subsidise cars. Payments for buses are so annoying that they may outweigh the amount of money changing hands. Unions want to protect their turf. Poor people like buses, while rich people like cars. And buses are much more useful when they are full. Its complicated, so figuring out what the locally optimal solution is isn't really easy.

lquist 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hmm...interesting article.

In SF, BART is pay-per-ride throughout the system, while MUNI is proof-of-payment in many locations. One thing that I've noticed is that there are significantly more homeless people on MUNI than on BART. As a rider, this negatively influences my experience and desire to ride (mostly because of potential for screaming/attacking).

Especially if public transportation is free, I can imagine that the homeless would take shelter there in case of inclement weather. Not a huge issue in SF, but comes into play in other cities.

rb2k_ 1 day ago 5 replies      
As somebody from Germany, it's slightly entertaining to see that most comments in this thread have something to do with homeless people seeking shelter on public transport.

I can see how this would be an implementational detail, but I don't think that should be the primary argument.

benjohnson 1 day ago 2 replies      
In Seattle, the inner-city busses have zero fare. The trouble is that some of our more fragrant hobos use the bus as a rolling shelter to the detriment of those that appreciate bathing.
mapgrep 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Fares bring in a lot of money, but they cost money to collect6% of the MTA's budget

"A lot of money" is awfully vague. Especially for a publication called The Economist.

Turns out farebox revenue is 41% of the MTA's operating revenue. That is indeed a lot of money to be giving up. Here is a breakdown, via http://www.mta.info/mta/budget/pdf/Adopted_Budget_Feb_Financ...

  Operating revenue, 2013, projected  -Farebox revenue 41%  -Dedicated taxes 35%  -Toll revenue 12%  -State and local subsidies 7%
Total operating revenue is $13.5 billion. Budget (expenditures) is basically the same according to the above link.

So dropping fares will cost about $4.7 billion after accounting for fare collection savings but before accounting for any extra costs associated with increased ridership (35% of 13.5b). The total NYC city budget is about $69 billion, in comparison(http://www.nyc.gov/html/omb/downloads/pdf/fp6_12.pdf), so maybe it's possible, but I'd hate to be the financial planner asked to come up with ways to cover the shortfall.

yalogin 1 day ago 6 replies      
That would increase the traffic on these buses by some multiples and will increase wait times, frustration and overall dissatisfaction among the public. Then some one will do some napkin math saying the amount of "money" wasted by all these people waiting is not worth the free rides. I guess my point is, free rides probably would have made sense in 1965 when the population was a fraction of what it is in NYC today. Add all the tourists to that and free rides are not sustainable.
singular 1 day ago 1 reply      
Public transport is an enormous problem in the UK outside of London - the prices are very high, and the service is often dreadful.

In my home town for instance the local operator regularly cancelled buses without notification, ran late all the time and repeatedly made hugely over the top above-inflation/fuel price fluctuation price rises every year. On more than one occasion they cancelled last buses stranding people.

The company would cheat the monitoring of punctuality by having buses wait at certain points along the route (notably the points at which punctuality measures were made) for sometimes 10 - 15 minutes, whereas wherever you actually wanted to catch a bus from you'd often be left waiting 20-30 minutes for a bus to turn up.

The bottom line is, if you want to live there + have any kind of quality of life, you have to own + run a car. Full stop. This is pretty well true for anywhere outside of London (not sure about other major cities, however.)

A lot of the issue is the monopolistic nature of any bus service, and the lack of teeth of the government regulator. Personally I think it ought to be run as a public service with some means of ensuring quality (ok so that's a tough problem :) or at least improve the regulator's ability to fine companies that fail to provide a decent service + have some oversight over (already subsidised!) fares.

Aloisius 1 day ago 0 replies      
The cost of the bus is not keeping me off the bus; the speed and comfort are keeping me off.

While not collecting fares would decrease the stop times, it isn't going to get anywhere near what I would need to ride the bus more often.

To go about 7.5 miles on one bus in San Francisco (basically from the bay to the ocean) takes 56 minutes on a bus. There are marathon runners who can literally run the route and arrive nearly 20 minutes before the bus!

The light rail is considerably better at 42 minutes for roughly the same route (the more your trip is underground, the more it makes sense to take). In fact, the only time I take public transit is when heading downtown in the subway since it is actually fast.

The same trip takes 28 minutes in a car (less if you know where the timed lights are).

Now, if we had Personal Rapid Transit* instead of buses, then at least the comfort level and speed might be high enough for me to switch over.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_rapid_transit

pmb 1 day ago 1 reply      
If they are a public good worthy of subsidizing, then yes!

For NYC, it has been estimated that every car driving in lower Manhattan incurs ... goddammit I can't find a reference so I'm going with memory here ... at least ~$3 in social costs due to increased pollution, congestion, road wear, etc.. That's in addition to the costs paid by the driver (car depreciation, gas, insurance, opportunity costs, etc.). If that memory is really true, then subsidizing transit to eliminate these social costs ends up being a huge net win!

If we want people to do something, we should subsidize it and (in the case of transit) make it free[1]. If we don't want people to do something, we should tax it (Pigouvian taxes FTW!).

[1] - Transit will never be as fast as driving due to the extra stops and walk required at either end, so we need to keep it free to minimise the total cost of fare + extra_time_wasted*salary, which corresponds to opportunity cost to riders. Riders whose total cost is too high will not ride, and riding transit is a social good (or is at least much less of a social bad then driving).

chris_mahan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think for me, the opportunity cost of the bus is too high. My travel time in the car is generally half of the bus time. I consider that time lost. Since I am able to use that time to make money, I would have to be compensated for that money in order for me to want to take the bus. At my hourly rate, a bus ride of 1 hour that wasted 30 minutes of my time would cost me $25.

(for those thinking that I would waste the time anyway, I would counter that time not spent working is time spent with my wife and son, or learning, or sleeping, and I'd much, much rather do those things than be in a bus.)

I live in Los Angeles.

PencilAndPaper 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think "free" is the wrong word for it. Howabout "fare free"? Someone is going to have to pay.

I like the idea of pushing the costs more onto the community as a whole, not just users. Make it kind of like most school systems: everyone pays through taxes whether or not they have kids or if they send their kids to private school.

raldi 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's the largest city in the world that does this?
tzs 1 day ago 0 replies      
If people own cars, they are going to tend to use them even if public transit is available. Long term, we need public transit that is good enough that people will decide they don't need to own a car.

The thing that has stopped me from ever reaching that point is not the cost of public transit, but the long term reliability. When I buy a house or rent an apartment, I need to be able to base that decision partly on the mass transit options, and then rely on those options not changing out from under me--no bean counter deciding that the bus that comes by my house does not have enough riders and canceling it. That bus needs to keep running, even if it has few riders. Even if it is often completely empty. Bean counting has to be done at the level of the complete system, not the individual bus line.

spikels 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most transit systems have either a fixed or minimum fee. So it usually does not make sense to pay for public transit if you are just going a short distance. If it were free, more people would use public transit for these short trips instead of walking or bicycling.

Wouldn't this more sedentary life have a significant negative impact on public health? Studies seem to show that an additional 150-299 minutes of walking each week (20-40 minutes a day) can increase lifespan by 3.5 years [1].

[1] http://www.gizmag.com/physical-activity-live-longer/24972/

conanbatt 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is an interesting idea, but it has its unseen challenges.

The very first issue is regulatory. Because the addition of passangers does present a real cost to bus companies, no tracking device on how many passengers it has has difficulties from a regulatory standpoint.This may sound silly, but its a reality of life, such as when you give a free trial product to people owning a creditcard.

Currently, buses in buenos aires are ridicolously cheaper than cars, yet by culture, people really love buying cars. An hour's parking lot fee in the center of the city costs more than a week of bus fare. Making it free would not be a change of paradigm.

Buses are packed, and so are trains and subways. If subsidizing increased not only to cover fares, but to improve infrastructure and service, you are also servicing people with cars, making those more interesting. (less traffic -> also better to go around in cars).

Although this could help a lot, i dont think its a paradigm shift unless people with cars are paying the public transportation.

But that of course, present the other challenges, which is, what about people not having public transportation coverage from one point to another, and how would you administer such a route in a way that you dont charge him penalties.

I honestly believe that in big cities, cars are an expensive hinderance. Using a cab every single time you go out is still cheaper than buying one.

Joeri 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think making it free is a good idea, because people have no respect for something provided for free, so you'll end up making the service more expensive to maintain and at a lower quality than by charging a nominal amount.

However, you can use pricing to discourage paying to the driver. Where I live (belgium) I can pay 2 euro per ride to the driver, or 80 euro for unlimited travel during a whole year (partially subsidized by my employer, which they're legally required to do), or any of a range of payment options in between. Paying cash to the driver is so much more expensive than the alternatives that almost nobody does it.

ianb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been riding and thinking and griping about buses lately. While this notion has seemed very appealing to me in the past, I'm less sure.

Even right now, I feel like a major problem with buses is that they really don't need or even want customers. Customers are a liability. Fares don't cover expenses. Political capital is useful, but indirect, and bus systems have lost most customers that might provide political capital.

My bus system isn't particularly bad. The drivers are okay, but mostly they just don't want any trouble. The bureaucracy has smoothed out certain edges. The buses are clean. But the crowded bus lines stay crowded, until they get further out then they become empty and useless. Lines don't evolve, they aren't adjusted, there's no attempt to maximize ridership. They can't experiment with pricing; really they can't do much of anything without approval from a political structure that doesn't much care about buses. Customers don't fit into any equation.

Oh, and did I mention they are slow? Buses are so terribly painfully incredible slow that only people who place very little value in their own time can justify being on a bus. Door-to-door times on a bus range from 2x a car to 6x, often walking speed, almost never faster than biking. But as time goes on the buses just get slower.

Making buses free maybe could help. It might draw customers who actually have a way of effecting positive operational change through the political process. It might diversify the ridership in a way that positively effects social standards of civility on buses. I certainly wouldn't fight it, but it's a long shot.

codereflection 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see how this would work in the greater Seattle area, where year after year, the King County Metro system has to beg for money to continue operating at their current capacity. For the past two years, the threat has been that Metro will have to cut their service by 17%, which is huge.

From their site: "annual revenue will fall $75 million short of what is necessary to maintain current service after temporary funding runs out in mid-2014"http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/Future.aspx

Serious changes would have to occur for something like completely free public transit to become a reality.

guruz 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The German Pirate party wants a similar model.Inhabitants of a city have to pay a yearly fee and then can ride for free.This should encourage people to leave their car at home (or not even buy one) and take public transport instead.

Another advantage that I did not see mentioned: The pricing systems are often complicated (how long you can ride, how far, are you allowed to change etc.). With a flat fee more people would be encouraged to just take public transport without needing to comprehend a complicated pricing system.

lostnet 1 day ago 1 reply      
The US town I last worked in was not at all happy about the traffic externalities of office space. Their attempt to remedy it were complex and entailed a lot of overhead for everyone. Surveys, building restrictions, reimbursement plans, etc.

A tax system could simply charge employers based on the commutes of all employees and offer free to board public transit. Then it could stop allowing commute expense to be deducted in the covered areas..

I find tolls to be a little backward since virtually everyone traveling during the max capacity times can deduct them, while leasure travelers can not.

EarthLaunch 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Economist is worthless when it comes to the science of economics, so it's expected but still amusing to see a sloppily incorrect use of "free" next to a site called "economist.com". What makes it truly great is seeing it on the top of HN, where everyone's straining to evade this meaning.
troebr 1 day ago 0 replies      
All right, a lot of people have commented about bad experiences with free transportation. I had a good one about free buses: I lived for a couple years in the north of France in Compiegne (where the ww2 armistice was signed). Buses were free, clean of homeless people, and very enjoyed by the student population. The line was not running at night, and Sundays and holidays the fare was 1 euro (pretty damn cheap).

Compiegne is also a fairly rich middle-sized town, so the cases are different, but it's just to give an example of a place where it was successfully implemented.

bdcravens 1 day ago 0 replies      
Buses can legally only hold so many. Fares are a backstop against uneconomical use (why wouldn't I take the bus to go four blocks? my feet hurt) and overcrowding. If usage increases, and buses can't hold anymore, then what? No stops? Most bus stops aren't proper lines, but people hanging out until the bus comes. I'm certain a free system would be most disadvantageous for those who can't get in line fast enough when the bus does come.

I'm certain people can come up with ideas, but usually when I hear these sorts of discussions, it's not from those who rely on public transportation. I think the answers would be different if those having discussions had their licenses revoked until a decision was made :-)

tomjen3 1 day ago 1 reply      
I take the bus to work everyday I wouldn't want it to be free, since right now those who have a need to take the bus can, whereas if it was free so many people would take the buses that there wouldn't be enough space and the bus company would have no reason to serve any routes.
rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems to work really well in high-volume areas, particularly those with a lot of commercial activity, or for connector buses going from other public transit to office parks, etc.

The problem is the homeless; I tend to avoid most Muni buses for reasons including the population of homeless/crazy who seem to live on them already. If you could figure out a way to avoid becoming mobile homeless shelters, I'd be happy to increase vehicle registration or (property?) taxes to pay for free mass transit in some areas.

roin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The key point that is likely tip the scale in one direction or another is the positive externalities of converting a driver to a rider. This externality will differ by city, line, time of day, etc, and it would include external costs of traffic, parking, car accidents, among others. Economists can approximate this sort of thing.We are often really bad at accounting for externalities because they aren't immediate dollars in or out of our pockets and lack certainty (pollution controls, infrastructure improvements, etc), but this case may be a bit more straight forward.
sjtrny 1 day ago 0 replies      
The issues of speed that this article mentions are negated by the latest electronic ticketing systems such as Oyster, Myki and Opal. As you walk on to the bus you touch the card against a reader and that's it. Saves a lot of time.
treelovinhippie 20 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a free shuttle bus route in Wollongong (hour south of Sydney) which is also starting to be adopted in Sydney. Buses loop the CBD and outskirts, and arrive every 10-30mins: http://www.wollongong.com/travel-info/free-shuttle-bus.aspx
nraynaud 1 day ago 0 replies      
we do have a few cities with free bus services (only Chateauroux comes to mind now). It's a bit complicated because it shifts social behavior, (people just loiters in the busses).

But the reasoning is that the bus system is a complete taxpayer money think, and the fare collection system is just adding more drag than easing the bill. It's not sure it's always the case, like sometimes the collected fares pays a bit more than the collection system. There is no hope in paying the whole system with fares in a medium size city tho, it's always money coming from somewhere else (mostly taxes).

wallio 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article makes it sound like free public transportation is a new idea. It pops up in Toronto every so often as if it was the first time it was every thought up(1).

In fact this has been tried numerous (perhaps hundreds) of times, both in the past and ongoing(2,3). You would think that the pluses and minuses would be well understood by now. Why is it so hard for transportation systems to learn from each other?

(1) - http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-transformation-of-urban-lif...

(2) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_public_transport#List_of_t...

(3) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_free_public_transport_r...

Dewie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that bus fares should at the least be cheaper than the average gas price it would take you to drive the same distance yourself. One could argue that using the bus also might save you from having to buy and maintain your own car, saving more money than just gas. But I would say that for many people, although they could take the bus more often, having their own car is just too convenient to give up on totally.
Skalman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I lived in a city where there were free buses for a few months. It didn't work, since drunks would come sit in the bus for warmth (and drink, despite the rules).

My conclusion is that, though I like the idea of free buses, there should at least be a token fee to discourage people taking a ride for the roof.

mikepurvis 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about just drastically cutting the cost of a pass? So a single ride still costs $2-3, but you can get a monthly unlimited ride pass for $20?
unsignedint 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's somewhat of a negative spiral, and IMHO, it's nothing to do with price.

If your area has a service where buses are coming in every 15 minutes at least, then there's a benefit to it. I live good sized city in the Seattle area, and to get to my work, 20 minute commute becomes 90 minute commute.

Particularly in the Seattle area, what making whole issues nasty is that the lack of transit backbone -- the problem is that are people commuting between the city of Seattle and neighboring city often separated by the lake.

I don't know if this is the case for other cities, but as far as my observation goes, making buses free doesn't solve much problem at least where I live.

llamataboot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Basically, this just needs to be sold as beneficial to the region as a whole: less congestion on the roads for people that choose to drive, less air pollution for everyone, more of an ability for businesses to hire people that don't have cars but need a way to work, etc. As long as it is framed as "public transit riders getting something for free" it will never work, especially given the racialized face of poverty in most US cities. But if it as framed as creating a cleaner, less congested, more equitable metro area where people can get around safely, effectively,and freely, it might fly.
rwhitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this would make much more sense in Los Angeles than NYC. But the taxpayers there would never go for it, they love cars too much
tenpoundhammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about an NPR style pledge drive, maybe everyone could win. If homeless people are mucking up the system, we could help them to not be homeless...
tjstankus 1 day ago 0 replies      
The bus system here in Chapel Hill, NC is fare-free.
jstalin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everyone loves something for free!
petercooper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fares bring in a lot of money, but they cost money to collect [..] Fare boxes and turnstiles have to be maintained; buses idle while waiting for passengers to pay up, wasting fuel; and everyone loses time.

A large share of my time at the grocery store is spent scanning and paying for the groceries too.

dajohnson89 1 day ago 0 replies      
As I write this post, I sit on a bus in Baltimore. My fare card was 10 cents short when I boarded. So, I had to pay $5 cash for a $1.60 ride home (the machine doesn't give change). This whole transaction took 2 minutes, and the bus was moving, causing me to almost lose my balance.

There's got to be a better way. Especially considering I pay 4 digits in taxes every year to the city.

6d0debc071 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many people don't take the bus because of the cost. I know that, even if it were free, I'd rather pay -whatever a year to use my car than suffer the inconvenience and stress of public transport.
zwieback 1 day ago 0 replies      
Free busrides for everyone in Corvallis, OR. Not a big city but it's a start.
hawleyal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe food should be free.
Raticide 1 day ago 0 replies      
We have some free buses but I choose to use the pay buses to avoid the over crowding. Maybe there's room for both.
jcmoscon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nothing is free. Somebody will have to wake up in the morning and work to pay for the "free" ticket!
grimborg 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not check in with NFC cards?
protomyth 1 day ago 6 replies      
I would expect better of the Economist, but the buses would be fully tax-payer and advertising subsidized and most definitely not free.

[edit: added advertising]

How FPGAs work, and why you'll buy one yosefk.com
367 points by edwintorok  3 days ago   152 comments top 32
bhb916 3 days ago 8 replies      
This is a solid article. I'm continually surprised by how few software engineers in industry spend the time to pick up HDL and FPGA programming in general. In my mind, it is an easy way to expand your breadth of knowledge and make you a touch more valuable to future employers. They say that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail and I'm certainly inflicted with that same disease as I see the utility of FPGAs everywhere I look. Prices have plummeted while densities have skyrocketed. A simple $25 part gets you quite a bit of fabric and some $90 eval hardware will give you a sweet little platform. [1]

With that said, since I began working with them there have been two "Holy Grails" of FPGA design: (1) Partial Reconfiguration and (2) High Level Synthesis.

The first, Partial Reconfiguration, has been more-or-less solved although the tools have a long way to go. One current design I'm working on loads it's PCIe endpoint and DDR3 controller first, establishes communication with the application running on the host PC, then based on user input loads the rest of the FPGA.

The second, High Level Synthesis, isn't here yet. The goal is to turn a company's vast army of software engineers into FPGA programmers overnight. A worthy cause. Every foray into this field has failed (although the jury is still out on Xilinx's purchase of autoESL) Honestly, I'm not sure it will ever get there. The point of optimized, custom hardware is to make use of it. Abstracting it all away seems counterproductive, not to mention very hard.

[1] http://www.xilinx.com/products/boards-and-kits/AES-S6MB-LX9....

jwr 2 days ago 2 replies      
The problem with FPGAs is that they are a niche technology that is unable to exit its niche.

As someone who used FPGAs in a hardware design and regretted it later: there are two major problems with using an FPGA:

* it is too expensive for cost-sensitive devices,

* moving data onto and out of the chip is and always will be a problem.

Now, as to #1 above, you will hear FPGA enthusiast say that prices are just about to fall as more and more devices are produced. But I've heard such claims since at least 1998 and so far this simply hasn't happened.

As to #2, the number of MAC operations is irrelevant if you can't supply the chip with data. This is something even modern GPUs have trouble with, in spite of the monstrous bandwidth of the PCI slots they are placed in. Most algorithms will need to move data in and out, and use intermediate storage. Once you do all that, you end up with an expensive and complex design, that doesn't perform all that well anymore, and that is a pain to program and debug.

Also, if what you're doing is high-performance computing, then you have to compare the expenses with just getting a larger AWS instance or a cluster.

As a result, I tend to advise younger programmers to learn about FPGAs, but not become obsessed with them, as they are very rarely the right tool for the job. I'd even say they are almost never the right tool, except in very rare circumstances.

vasco 3 days ago 3 replies      
There's a lot of good information in the article for software people for whom hardware design is strange but I think the author makes some strange points. For starters, its strange to have him refer to Verilog as a programming language multiple times all over the article. Anyone that has ever tried to do even minimal stuff on hardware will know this the wrong way to think about things.

Verilog, VHDL and whatever other hardware description languages should not be approached as programming languages, or you'll have a bad time. You need to think about what you are generating. By using HDL's we have the ability to avoid messing with crappy interfaces where you drag chips and connect wires by hand, but ultimately you really need to know what's being generated. If you write a couple of lines and have no idea of the hardware behind it, you'll likely be making a lot of mistakes. Everyone that has tried messing with FPGA's without thinking about this has ended up with hundreds of generated latches among other niceties... There's already some degree of syntactic sugar on VHDL processes (or verilog @ blocks) which make it really easy to shoot yourself in the foot by abstracting stuff.

Ultimately you'll want to know what's going on rather than not. Hardware is hard, but when you need the performance you'll do it the right way, or you might as well save yourself a lot of trouble and just go with a beefier machine and some optimized C code.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nicely done, if you add a bit about clock distribution it would be perfect. Clock distribution is important because sometimes you want all the parts of your FPGA design to wait until a particular time to allow for various gate delays etc before they do the next thing. You can synchronize to a "global" clock but if you only have one global clock then you may be limited on how much of the circuit can be in your FPGA if other parts need a different clock.

That said, as FPGA vendors get closer and closer to an efficient mix of hard and programmable gates, their utility gets higher and higher. That increases volume and helps get prices lower. I've mentioned the Zynq-7000 (which I'm playing with using a Zedboard[1]) which is dual ARM9 cores and an FPGA which can drive several HDMI 1080p/60 displays. Other systems with fully "soft" CPUs use definable instructions to optimize code execution but that hasn't been as useful as I expected. Back when Xerox PARC was building the 'D' machines it was great fun when a new release of Mesa microcode came out because everything would get faster or more compact (rarely together though ;-)

[1] http://www.zedboard.org -- of course I'm currently fighting a tool/license issue with the Xilinx tools but once that gets sorted I'll actually be building new designs on it.

InclinedPlane 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just wait. When memristor technology matures it should be possible to create FPGA-like devices with feature density and clock speeds similar to ASICs (e.g. gigahertz, gigatransistors) with reconfiguration times on the same time scale as memory writes. That ought to cause some fairly significant ripples in computing.
VLM 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are aspects of the whole technology that were avoided in the article, or edited out for length, or whatever. Regardless of reason, here's some filled in blind spots:

One important ignored aspect is you can treat the FPGA as a magic universal microcontroller. Oh, you need 3 UARTs now, I'll INCLUDE another at a different I/O addrs. And you'd like a CANbus now? No problemo in 10 minutes you'll be programming on the same hardware now with a CANbus. Oh you don't want to use a Z80 anymore, fine I'll compile the FPGA to be some pic variant in 5 minutes, or a microblaze, or whatever you want as a CPU core. As long as you slowly successively approximate real available microcontroller hardware, you can ease the eventual port off the FPGA to some microcontroller hardware that costs $1.50 in qty instead of $15.00 in qty. Its a lot easier, faster, and cheaper to upload a bitstream to a FPGA than to solder in a different microcontroller hardware. This makes device selection during development much less critical/scary. You don't have to sit in paralysis wondering if you need 3 or 4 I2C busses.

Another thing is not mentioning the open development community. Most HN readers probably hang out at github. The place where most FPGA folks hang out is opencores.org. People who exclusively hang out on github are going to wonder why "no one" is using FPGAs and theres "nothing out there" and "not much activity". Well come on over to opencores and you'll get more than a lifetime of entertainment ahead of you, for free... Its like going to CPAN and hanging out with CPAN people and wondering why "no one" uses Python. Looking in wrong spot. Need a more target rich environment.

You can do a lot of "stuff" with FPGAs as the underlying technology without doing much of anything with HDLs. Much as I once programmed on a Silicon on Sapphire CPU a long time ago, but the underlying technology simply didn't matter at the assembly language level. I'm sure it was very exciting on the factory floor and in the R+D labs, but I wasn't there, so I didn't much care. In a similar way you can synth up a perfectly good 6502 and give it twenty semi-intelligent ethernet interfaces without too much HDL effort and then just do your "software thing" on the synthesized device without touching the HDL.

Tying it all together, you'll get people outside the community reinventing the wheel, trying to slowly and methodically invent the concept, purpose, and implementation of the WISHBONE interconnect bus standard or something like that. Well, all that stuff got figured out and implemented inside the community like a decade ago, so... Much like the old saying about people refusing to use unix inevitably end up poorly reimplementing it.

nwhitehead 3 days ago 1 reply      
This article reminds me how much fun it is to program an FPGA. It's one of those mind-expanding exercises like learning logic programming or writing a purely functional persistent data structure. "Describing hardware" is quite a different way of looking at computation.

In case you want to try, I had good success playing around with the Altera DE2. It's got lots of "goodies" on the dev board and there are lots of existing class projects, class notes, etc. that use it. It's fun to get your own tiny CPU working and have it flash HELLO WORLD on the LCD display. You have to worry about bugs in your CPU as well as bugs in the program running on your CPU.

Symmetry 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've heard that there's been some progress in compiling Haskell to Verilog, but I don't know how far that effort has gone. Certainly more declarative languages seem much more suited to this than imperative ones. I have no idea how practical this is at the moment, though:


tim_hutton 3 days ago 0 replies      
More context about how FPGAs compare with GPGPU: http://blog.streamingcores.com/index.php?/archives/20-Progra...
mncolinlee 3 days ago 0 replies      
GPGPUs have been a lot more interesting with the rapid pace of development in recent years, but there are still software optimizations that are only feasible on an FPGA.

They're one of the most interesting pieces of hardware a programmer can use to develop high-performance hacks.

When I worked at Cray, our team found numerous ways to make them useful. I've been meaning to pick one up for a long time.

csense 3 days ago 1 reply      
Question for people familiar with the Parallella project [1]: I see the board design has an FPGA. If I buy a Parallella, can I take the Verilog source code in this article, run it through some toolchain, and actually execute it on the board?

[1] http://www.parallella.org/board/

e12e 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to see how this fits with Chuck Moore's idea of miniature Forth computers:


While not equivalent to FPGAs it does seem like a natural direction if what is desired is similar performance, but with more higher level tooling. That eval board/chip is for instance able to drive VGA using parts of the resources, leaving the rest for other stuff:


Jemaclus 3 days ago 1 reply      
It'd help if someone defined FPGA before the 12th paragraph... I like to learn things, but when you start out assuming I know what the acronym means, then you lose me before I get to the good stuff. :(
marshray 3 days ago 1 reply      
FPGAs aren't going to take off until there's an open source toolchain to program them.

Sure, vendors provide free-as-in-beer licenses for their smaller chips and one-off development boards. But the generally useful version will set you back $2 - $3K.

micheljansen 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the increasing popularity of functional programming or at least less imperative-style programming is making FPGAs more accessible.

I remember my first brush with VHDL during my first year of CompSci and having a hard time adjusting to the fact that what you are writing is not a program that is executed step by step (whether line by line or instruction by instruction), but a description of hardware components/functions that all "run" simultaneously.

Now that my brain is more comfortable thinking in terms of functional solutions, this all makes a lot more sense, but I haven't revisited FPGA programming since.

taylorbuley 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the FPGA from Adafruit: http://www.adafruit.com/products/451

At the time they wrote "we searched around for a fpga board we really liked, here's the one we picked" (https://plus.google.com/+ladyada/posts/VZ1zyTF73oM)

Here's an example demo using that hardware: http://learn.adafruit.com/fpga-rgb-matrix/overview

vishal0123 3 days ago 1 reply      
> No need for a full cycle for simple operations: on FPGAs, you don't have to sacrifice a full cycle to do a simple operation, like an OR, which has a delay much shorter than a full cycle. Instead, you can feed OR's output immediately to the next operation, say, AND, without going through registers. You can chain quite a few of these, as long as their delays add up to less than a cycle. With most processors, you'd end up "burning" a full cycle on each of these operations.

This may be a dumb question, but how do FPGA execute multiple NON-PARALLEL simple instruction in 1 cycle. I always thought a cycle is undividable and can be used only for a single instruction.

ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Identical articles were common 15 years ago.
Jach 3 days ago 0 replies      
MyHDL plug: http://www.myhdl.org/doku.php Don't use Verilog or VHDL, use Python and compile to both while avoiding Verilog's pitfalls! http://www.sigasi.com/content/pitfalls-for-circuit-girls
alecdibble 3 days ago 3 replies      
I believe the next big jump in FPGA utilization will involve high-level synthesis. Verilog and VHDL are essentially analogous to assembly languages in terms of abstraction.
ChrisNorstrom 2 days ago 0 replies      
(By the way, FPGA = Field Programmable Gate Array)
DennisP 3 days ago 3 replies      
This may be a dumb question, but would FPGAs be a good choice for neural networks? Or is a GPU already ideal for that?
ChikkaChiChi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are they referring to FPGAs in a mass-production/manufacturing sense or for the hobbiest/garage hacker?

I guess I'm unsure why I would use an FPGA over say an Arduino microcontroller.

zw123456 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the author makes a number of good points. I think in the future, it may be possible for machine code to be converted directly to RTL (the equivalent of machine code for FPGA's) without going through the intermediate steps of converting C code to a multi-state machine in Verilog or similar types of coding. If this happens then a CPU or OS, could use an FPGA as a Co-processing Cache of sorts, in the same way that often accessed data in placed in higher speed cache RAM; often executed pieces of code could be placed in the FPGA co-processor. If that happens, I believe we could see the same kind of order of magnitude jump in performance we see due to memory cache happen in processing speeds.
swamp40 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow managed to get thru 20 years of hardware design w/o yet using an FPGA.

Keep looking at them (esp. the IGLOO series), but keep finding some better suited or easier to implement alternative.

namank 3 days ago 2 replies      
Programmers don't give a crap about the reasons mentioned in the post. So, if FPGAs do take off in the dev community, it'll be for different reasons.

Such as when 80% of the world's code can be, with accuracy, can be parsed into HDLs.

dchichkov 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to get your hands dirty, there is a pretty good eval kit available at Lattice, $100 gives you a PCI express board with GbE port, 1GBit DDR3 1330 and software...
guiomie 3 days ago 1 reply      
What would be a good approach to implement a web server in an fpga ? (verilog or vhdl? xillinx or altera? ...etc) It is something I have been thinking a lot lately.
xradionut 2 days ago 0 replies      
Software Defined Radio is a good FPGA application: http://www.srl-llc.com/
mrmagooey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now someone should open source a verilog tcp/ip and http stack, and maybe benchmark it against something like varnish.
shaurz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought one, never got around to using it, and sold it a few years later. Like a lot of cool technology, it will go underused due to difficulty of use / lack of good, easy-to-use applications. And for all the things I want to do, it's easier to just write software.
twasfm 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is written by the C++ FQA guy which is an amusing and honest look at C++
Reddit co-founder on NSA snooping [video] cnn.com
352 points by kn0thing  6 days ago   175 comments top 20
josh2600 6 days ago 7 replies      
Goddamn right.

Every now and then we have defining moments of global consciousness. This has the potential to be one of those moments and we should never let a good crisis go to waste.

The danger here is that if we do nothing, that will be seen as tacit acceptance of the world's largest spying apparatus. While I acknowledge there's some necessity globally, domestic spying through secret courts is more synonymous with the Gulag than the American dream.

Stand up for what you believe in; this is one time you can.

sp332 6 days ago 0 replies      
What is to be done? The answer is easy. It has always been easy. Stop saying "not in my name" and start saying "over my dead body". That's what we did. It works. Do it.

--Julian Assange, receiving the Global Exchange Human Rights Award http://wlcentral.org/node/2818

hawkharris 6 days ago 2 replies      
Alexis is a good speaker. It's refreshing to see a founder talk about his startup in down-to-earth terms instead of being egotistical and speaking in platitudes.
btipling 6 days ago 2 replies      
Nice ddg plug at the end there. Always be closing. :P
robomartin 6 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the number one priority of those in tech should be to educate the public about the potential intrusiveness of data surveillance.

Politicians and idiot TV hosts have made statements akin to "all they are collecting are phone numbers, times and cell tower data".

Ha! Give me that and access to other sources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, your email on Gmail, your Google docs, IRS and state tax filings, court documents, vehicle registration, travel records, Amazon, Ebay, college and university records and a myriad of other publicly and not-so-publicly available data and those phone numbers become powerful unique identifiers through which I can learn just about everything about you, your family, your friends, colleagues, occupation, hobbies, history and more.

There's nothing innocent or insignificant about "just collecting phone numbers".

omd 6 days ago 2 replies      
I think it's time we give up on the idea of communicating privately over a centralized network. Wiretapping was invented only a few years after the invention of the telephone[1]. It won't be stopped by technology and certainly not by legislation. People need to get used treating the Internet as a public space: cover your mouth when you cough, don't pick your nose in public and don't communicate sensitive information over the Internet.

The next big thing (hopefully soon) will be communication through a decentralized, infrastructure-less device.


eggnet 6 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit has information that can be used to identify the author of a submission or comment. I was a disappointed to hear the soft stance on protecting reddit user data.
gonvaled 6 days ago 2 replies      
This is all nice and good. Unfortunately, it means absolutely nothing. Since we know that lying is (by law) part of what corporations are forced to do when addressing questions of "national security", no amount of denies, press releases, public outrage or congressional talk will restore trust. Even new legislation specifically forbidding snooping will not help, since we can never be sure that there is no "secret legislation" specifically allowing it - and forcing companies to comply.

I am sure lots of people want to genuinely change the situation in the US. Unfortunately, we can not believe it. For all the talk that the reddit co-founder will, as a private person, make, the simple question to reddit-the-company: "are you snooping on me" has no meaning whatsoever. Either the answer will be a "no comment", or it will always be perceived to be lie.

CurtMonash 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good piece. His personal concern is for "chilling effect".

His public concern beyond that is for blackmail of national leaders. That actually worries me less, as the public is becoming much more tolerant of "vice" in its leaders. (For example -- President Obama is an admitted cocaine and pot user; President Bush was an admitted drunkard and widely-suspected cocaine user; President Clinton was a widely-suspected adulterer and pot user.)

stevetursi 6 days ago 1 reply      
Hastily-transcribed transcript for those who can't watch the video:

Q "NSA and PRISM - what's the sentiment in the valley?"

A "Maybe this is indicative of the fact that I live in New York; that I've never really been part of that herd. We are as citizens I think really upset, really frustrated because we have an expectation that whether it is our private property offline or online, that it will be respected, and that's what the Fourth Amendment protects. And needless to say it was rather disappointing to see all this news come out and apparently much more on the way."

Q "You're building a startup that could become the next Reddit or Facebook: At what point do you say, 'I think I got to get a Lawyer?'"

A "Yeah it will certainly come up a lot sooner for founders and founders who were maybe thinking, 'move fast and break things' will now think 'move fast and break things but don't break the constitution.' And this is an opportunity for us as citizens to start to draw a line in the sand for what is off-limits and private in the digital age."

Q "If the government asked you for information, what information could you give them?"

A "Well there really isn't any. When people use reddit as a platform to publicly share links and publicly have discussions. So the primary use of the site is that is in public so there really isn't a ton of useful data there."

Q "What advice do you give these young folks who are building these companies and this is becoming a reality?"

A "There's my investor hat, my founder hat, and my citizen hat - and that citizen hat trumps everything else. And I want to make sure that the environment we are starting companies in has a government that respects the our right to privacy so that these kinds of discussions going forward aren't even a factor or an issue and I think the ability for us to use this technology has sort of outpaced - unfortunately - some of our legislator's understanding of what kind of laws they should be writing. Whether it's making sure our elected officials understand the internet and understand technology is just as important though as making sure we get more of these people who inherently and innately understand this technology into office. I think the other interesting thing is more and more founders are really rallying behind companies now that are themselves built on a model of respecting privacy. One that I know rather well is called duckdduckgo and it's a venture backed by USV here in New York - a search engine competitor to google and their core business proposition is 'we don't track anything you search for on our site.' And so I imagine more startups to kind of take that lead."

xtc 6 days ago 0 replies      
Glossing over the data that you could glean from reddit was a mistake. Even if there isn't that much valuable data directly from reddit's back-end it's probably more useful to tie it to data from the same users extracted from other websites. You shouldn't have down-played that.
g8oz 6 days ago 0 replies      
Tangentially ontopic: I remember an offhand comment from someone in the intel community a few years ago that went along the lines of "you can't really have privacy unless you run your own DNS servers". Can they really store all dns lookups?
brador 6 days ago 0 replies      
The entire conecept of pre-crime is everyone is a suspect, and you can never be proven innocent because you haven't yet committed the crime you are alleged to eventually commit.

It's scary stuff yet surprisingly innevitable given the direction of AI.

makerops 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think one of the ways this bullshit is solved is liquid democracy. Allow people to transfer votes to people they feel are experts via a bitcoin like system. 90% of people have only an interest in a very small subset of topics that they vote on. They aren't qualified to cast a vote, why not allow them to delegate to an expert? Of course buying votes would be highly illegal.
iuguy 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have some ideas and some plans in mind for getting around this. If anyone in particular would be interested in helping to set up or back a privacy-oriented startup aimed at defeating a lot of what's been going on, then please get in touch via my profile.
notdrunkatall 6 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of surprised this isn't on the front page of reddit right now.
Kiro 6 days ago 3 replies      
Off-topic but I wish there was a way to filter out all these NSA stories. It has really destroyed Hacker News for me and I hope it doesn't go on for too long.
rkuester 6 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you, Alexis. Well done.
aaronsnoswell 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why the hell does CNN's video player play on load?
payomdousti 6 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't get past the fact that the interviewer probably did 0 prep work for this.
Monday was my 46th birthday and likely my last aaronwinborn.com
335 points by ca98am79  3 days ago   200 comments top 21
Andrenid 3 days ago 1 reply      
That was incredibly inspiring, and incredibly depressing.

As a Drupal fanatic who built my career on it, and a person also dealing with a terminal illness (though I have a couple years left, if all goes well), it's upsetting to see that someone who gave me so much, now has to go through all that. I feel genuine pain and am quite legitimately upset now. I wish Aaron and his family all the best (considering).

jessriedel 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like Aaron is familiar with Hal Finney and his battle with this awful disease.




(I'm unsure whether Aaron got a response from Hal.)

Hal's response to his diagnosis has been defiant. He got the tracheotomy and is determined to live a long, productive, and worthwhile life.

I have great reverence for Aaron's concern for the burden he would be on his family, and I certainly don't claim to understand what it would be like to be in his shoes. But I personally am a big supporter of Hal's philosophy. I encourage Aaron and other ALS sufferers to consider this path. Never in history has an intellectually constructive and satisfying life with ALS been as technologically feasible as it is now.

[Edited to reflect the first link.]

Edit 2: It's also worth noting that ALS is what has crippled Stephen Hawking. He got a tracheotomy in 1985, at which point his "A Brief History of Time" was only partially completed. He finished it, and has made many important professional contributions since.


at-fates-hands 3 days ago 4 replies      
Having lost a grandfather and an aunt to ALS, I can completely relate to what this family is going through. It is heartbreaking, and emotionally draining to watch someone go through it.

It also scares the crap out me knowing this is a genetic disease and two of my family members have already succumbed to it. This is known as Familial ALS. Genetically speaking, it comes down to a 50/50 chance I could get it. I can get screened to know for sure if I'll get it, but it requires you do counseling before you even take the tests, considering how it could change your life overnight.

Here's some facts about Familial ALS:


- Familial ALS- occurring more than once in a family and accounts for 5 to 10% of all cases.

- In 1991 a team of ALS Association-funded researchers linked familial ALS to chromosome 21. In 1993 the research team identified the precise defect, a change in the DNA for the protein called copper-zinc superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). Researchers since have found more than 100 mutations in different places in the coded DNA instructions for making SOD1.

It's frustrating because it seems like every time they get close to finding THE mutated gene, they identify several hundred others. It's like a game where the goal posts in a game are constantly changing.

mtraven 3 days ago 2 replies      
Jaimie Heywood started his own drug research pipeline to try to cure his brother's ALS. That failed, but the effort has inspired a number of other unconventional research efforts.http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_heywood_the_big_idea_my_broth...
virtualwhys 3 days ago 12 replies      
That video is heartbreaking. "You may have heard of her, her name is Wonder Woman", tears.

He lived in a Buddhist monastery at one point; life is suffering. He'll soon leave his loved ones, and he knows it's very much sooner than later.

What can you do in such a situation? Clinging to life, little time remaining, what to do? I thought something ridiculous, like go on retreat until the end, but right where he is, with his wife and kids is probably just perfect.

They're all being transformed by the experience. Yours is not to reason why rings true. Who's to say that an "early" death is not in fact a gift for the living?

msie 3 days ago 3 replies      
The body is still such a mysterious device. It's so frustrating that we still can't figure out diseases like ALS. The greatest invention would be a body debugger.
andyjohnson0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion of Aaron's situation here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4229108
indrax 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think these campaigns are great, both for giving these people a chance and drawing attention to cryonics.

But it can't go on, this is not a stable or reliable way to fund cryonics.

Sooner or later the novelty will wear off and the money will run out, or someone just won't be sympathetic enough, and the goal will not be met.

Life insurance is the way to handle this for most people. Charity needs to be for the exceptional cases.

bsaul 3 days ago 1 reply      
The question of people being frozen in the hope of being revived is mentioned in a very peculiar way in the "Transmetropolitan" comics (by Waren Elis) . I really hope for Mr Winborn that the future's going to be a better place :))
webXL 3 days ago 0 replies      
My brother was diagnosed with this awful disease about a year ago. He's 45 and has two children a few years older than Aaron's, so this definitely hits home. He already has a very hard time speaking, which means the disease started off by attacking his respiratory system. Aaron seems to be doing OK in that regard, but who knows how quickly that will go.

What's frustrating is that he can't qualify for experimental treatments unless his lung capacity is at a certain level (e.g. Min. Vital Capacity here: http://www.alsconsortium.org/trial.php?id=1). This is one reason why we need to get more money into ALS research and treatment. Please consider a donation to the ALS Association at http://www.alsa.org/. Thank you.

RKearney 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just a heads up, but our Barracuda Web Filter blocked this domain due to Pornography.
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope we can figure out the mechanics here of ALS and reverse or arrest them. I was reminded of the article below I read in Scientific American where questions are asked about Stephen Hawkings success in staying alive.


hawkharris 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article was very sad, moving and, in a sense, motivational. Thinking about Aaron's situation makes me put all of my problems in perspective and realize how trivial most of them are.
grigy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Early this year my father was diagnosed ALS. During one year his hand muscles are completely gone. Though the legs are still OK but the disease does progress rapidly and it's just matter of time.

This is terrible disease. I know how hard it is for his family.

Eliezer 3 days ago 3 replies      
Slashdotted for me, anyone got a backup link?
alexvr 3 days ago 0 replies      
My grandfather died of ALS a few years ago in his late 70s. It's sad and ironic, but he was a runner until the last three or four months of his life, when the disease rapidly crippled him and took his life. He was the sort of guy you would expect to live well into his 90s: He ate a perfect diet and exercised like he was 35. At the time, my grandmother was battling bone cancer, and we were quite concerned that my grandfather would be depressed living for multiple decades without his wife. Unfortunately and surprisingly, he died almost two years before my grandmother.
psb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would be nice if we could do something like polymath (from Terry Tao) for medicine. Maybe have a combination of medical experts + statisticians + bright people collaborate on a large scale to tackle some of the health problems out there.
rikelmens 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Aaron, you've probably heard about the Neuralstem and their NSI-566 product which is still in the trial phase. But in case you haven't here is the info:http://www.neuralstem.com/cell-therapy-for-als
rogerthis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone should read Viktor Frankl's works.
websitescenes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you.
marcosscriven 3 days ago 1 reply      
"This is your opportunity to think big. Like, go skinny dipping in the methane oceans of Neptune."

I can't comment on his blog directly, so my answer to him is:

Find the nearest intelligent lifeform to our solar system, and let them know exactly where we are, and that we'd like to have a chat please.

Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America ellsberg.net
332 points by harrisonpowers  17 hours ago   125 comments top 12
paganel 15 hours ago 7 replies      
For once I'll avoid Godwin's law and link instead to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_58

> The article was used for the imprisonment and execution of many prominent people, as well as multitudes of nonnotable innocents. (...) Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on 25 February 1927 to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities.

So the point is that even in Soviet Russia people were sent into the Gulag based on written laws and going through the legal system, so I'd say that the US Government's reply that "it's all legal! it has gone through the courts" doesn't mean a thing as long as said laws are against the spirit of the US Constitution.

And I'd say that's the gist of it, the current laws are against the spirit of the original fundamental law of the United States. As long as its current citizens are ok with that (no mass protests etc) then I'd say there's nothing that the minority can do (if it matters I'm not from the US)

alan_cx 15 hours ago 4 replies      
What I wonder is at what point words like stasi become reasonable or acceptable.

OK, I don't like what is happening, and almost day by day thing happen that I feel are pushing the west, led by the US, more and more towards something highly controlled and not in any way free. Liberty is slowly being eroded, and I genuinely feel that is a true statement objectively. Right now, words like stasi, fascist, etc are an exaggeration, but used by people who see it going that way. They use such words to warn, but we all know those words do not really stand up objectively.

So, what is the tipping point, what has to happen for such words to actually apply? Or is it merely a case of presentation? If society, superficially, doesn't look like old Nazi Germany, is that enough for a majority to be content, even if underling that is something deeply nasty?

mtgx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As for the "potential" chilling effect of all the spying, you don't need to theorize about whether it will happen or not. It's already happening:


The 4th amendment is all but obliterated, and now this is how the 1st amendment and the freedom of the press will be destroyed, too, by killing any sort of investigative journalism left, and by prosecuting all leakers.

I used to think that Wikileaks and other such secure leaking is the future of investigative journalism. If you believe the print media will die, and blogging will take its place, then investigative journalism will die, too, because I doubt many bloggers will go out and do that. So in a way Wikileaks would serve as a "disruptive innovation" for investigative journalism. Actually, most investigative journalism is only about finding "sources" that are willing to leak stuff to them, anyway. Wikileaks is kind of a "user-generated" investigative journalism/leaking, or investigative journalism 2.0.

But if the government is trying to kill both at once, then I'm not sure what's left to uncover illegalities inside the government.

sentenza 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Fun fact: The NSA actually requested data that was collected by the STASI in East Germany.


German original:


adaml_623 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I've got an answer for all the people who say, "I've got nothing to hide".

That might be true but you would have to be naive to think that the information that could be gathered from these NSA activities would not be misused by people.

Imagine an up and coming politician. Squeaky clean but was friends with a few people who got prosecuted for drug dealing. Those useful NSA phone records could easily lead to the press asking the young idealist if he often hung around with drug users. Irrelevant and potentially career ending.

Civil rights campaigners who could be accused of having an affair because of call records.

A journalist investigating a corrupt politician... is he a terrorist sympathizer... comb through the records.

You may have nothing to hide but often the people trying to improve your country for the better and root out corruption and crime will be more vulnerable to this. Because the corrupt individuals in positions of power will not respect the laws and procedures and will use this information for evil.


Spooky23 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that these conversations are happening is indicative that we do not have a Stasi.

We have serious problems, as evidence by the unwillingness of any member of Congress to really speak out on the issue, and the sheer scope and reach power of this poorly regulated surveillance regime.

There's no gulag archipelago, but the tools used by repressive totalitarian regimes are being built for other purposes, and many of us believe that these tools are not compatible with a free and democratic society.

Let's focus on the real and stop running down the slippery slope.

minikites 13 hours ago 1 reply      
In all the talk about this, I haven't seen any proposed solutions. What is the way out?

Stop all domestic surveillance? What about US Citizens in other countries? What about foreign nationals inside the US?

Increase oversight? What about for rare unambiguous national security threats? How can that be enforced?

And it sounds a lot like learned helplessness, but what is an individual supposed to do?

gyardley 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there anything in this article, aside from an overblown metaphor in the title, that hasn't been posted here fifty times in the last couple weeks?
uptown 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This whole thing has reminded me how prescient the movie "Sneakers" was.

"There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information!"

"The world isn't run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It's run by little ones and zeroes, little bits of data. It's all just electrons."

squozzer 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The current uproar will do us no good unless we develop ways to either disrupt the technology or protect ourselves from it.

Because even if we win this round, the state will find ways to bring these programs back in some other guise. For example, the FISA courts were part of the reforms that emerged from the abuses of the CIA and FBI during the Red Scare and Civil Rights eras.

In other words, we need a technical Rosa Parks. Well, more like a million of them.

mholkesvik 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The NSA leak is troubling, yes. It is NOT comparable to the horrors of communist authoritarianism - where 20 million people were killed, starved, or simply disappeared. To me, this seems like a cheap shock tactic more common on stations like Fox News where the labels "nazi" or "socialist" are thrown around without thought. These words have deep historical roots and deep meaning, and to use them in situations where it isn't appropriate is trivializing. A government can be intrusive and overstep its bounds without earning the label of 'Stasi'. We can have a conversation about the power and role of government in this country without drawing these hyperbolic and historically inaccurate parallels.
microcolonel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no hope if that's the extent of the solution, no meaningful work will come in the form of more politics and oppression.

The only reasonable conclusion is that to stop the bloodshed and invasion, one must stop supporting the oppressors.

You are quite literally paying many thousands of thugs to fly to the middle east and support a paedophilic, incompetent, oppressive regime which directly hurts people's lives.At home you're paying many more thousands to pick on people carrying small amounts of plant trimmings, specifically targeted by the colour of their skin.Those people are then sent to buildings and force fed in contract-incestuous CEO-laden prisons with an economic incentive to cost more money to their handlers.

Aggression is the problem, and paying people to use it against you, or anyone else for that matter, is probably not going to help.

"Microsoft engineer" on Xbox1 pastebin.com
324 points by Luc  7 days ago   283 comments top 69
nostromo 7 days ago 11 replies      
The real misstep here is that Microsoft is still selling physical media.

Nobody (well, almost nobody) gets mad when they can't resell their iPhone games or mp3s or Kindle books; compare that to the outpouring of anger when a company puts limitations on used optical media games or CDs or books.

Humans are wired to see a physical item (disks, etc.) and think mine.

beloch 7 days ago 6 replies      
The engineer bases his argument on an assumption that is usually erroneous:

The price of a product is related to its cost.

This is a logical assumption, but almost always false. It is far more commonly true that the price of a product is dictated by what consumers are willing to pay. If the PS4 version of game X sells for $59.99, it is more than likely that the Xbox1 version will sell for the same price, because people will perceive both versions as having the same value and be willing to pay the same amount for them both.

What Valve does with Steam prices is something different. New releases still cost roughly the same as traditional DVD copies bought in stores. Bargains start to appear on titles once they reach an age where a lot of stores stop stocking them. It is true you can get heavily discounted games on Steam, but this is totally unrelated to the lack of a used-game market. Somebody simply realized that a) A title nobody is selling makes no money and b) gamers will spend money they wouldn't have otherwise if they think they're getting a deal. Put a and b together and you have a recipe for profit. This also eliminates demand for used games. Why buy a skeezy dog-chewed box when you can get a steam-download for the same price or lower?

Don't get me wrong. If MS builds a curated steam-style store for the Xbox it will undoubtedly be a great thing for many (although not all) gamers. However, lower prices on new titles will not be one of the benefits this move brings. This is really just a grab for dollars that currently go to the used market, and it will likely work.

redthrowaway 7 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft has always struck me as a company that makes some really cool technology, then tries to find a way to make it relevant to the rest of us. For them, it seems the consumer is an afterthought and the technology is key.

Windows 8 was an impressive attempt to merge mobile and desktop OSes so that mobile users are no longer second-class citizens and have access to everything desktop users do. The problem? Mobile needed fixing, not desktop. In the push for engineering parsimony, they made the desktop experience worse simply so that it could be shared with mobile.

Kinect is a wicked piece of tech. It's just seriously, seriously cool. But what does it do? How does Kinect make gaming better? Outside of that one boxing game, I just don't see it. It makes everything demonstrably worse, like QTEs that work as cinematic finishing moves for bosses in God of War, but are completely pointless in 95% of the games they're included in. Kinect has the same problem: it's a really cool solution in search of a problem.

Perhaps the best example of this is Clippy, where MS used Bayesian algos to analyze text and offer suggestions. Again, a really cool little bit of datamining/ML, in 1997, no less, and running on the computational equivalent of a potato. Clippy is a really cool program. But it was completely pointless. It solved a problem no one had in a way that pissed off everyone.

And really, that's Microsoft in a nutshell.

UnoriginalGuy 7 days ago 5 replies      
I am a Microsoft Engineer so take what I am about to say as gospel: There's no way to know when someone claims to be something on the internet that they are that thing unless the company itself corroborates it.

The pastebin was posted on 4chan... 4chan... And all of the information in it could have been gleaned from publicly available sources. We should at best discuss it like it is rumour, and much more realistically just ignore it as trolling.

PS - I am not a Microsoft Engineer, I was making a point.

MichaelGG 7 days ago 2 replies      
Microsoft really did a terrible job at messaging on this. I'm even annoyed, and I don't play much, and everything I buy is digital download, not physical media, so the whole disc selling thing doesn't even affect me. Even so, it feels nasty. MS has basically said fuck you to gamers, without any justifiable reason.

Taking down Gamestop doesn't require anything but a better Gamestop replacement. This dev complains about how people dislike their new move, yet complain about Gamestop? Uh, this new move limits private sale by third parties. That's what's annoying.

The fact Xbox tosses ads in your face on every single home screen except settings is also extremely distasteful, and MS burned a lot of goodwill on that.

Comparing to Steam is nice, but MS's execution is yet to be seen. People I know with thousands of bucks into Steam don't love Steam. They are annoyed with the restrictions - but, it's just so easy (easier than pirating) that they tend not to care. Browsing and purchasing on the Xbox360 is such a PITA, so if the XB1 doesn't fix it, they have no hope of doing what Steam did.

The 24 hour thing is also retarded. It feels intrusive, and isn't necessary to prevent piracy. My guess is they'll probably "acquiesce" and move it to 3 days or a week - it was probably planned to spark outrage long before sales, so they can give in and ride the "see, MS isn't so bad" wave closer to launch.

tzaman 7 days ago 4 replies      
Yeah, Microsoft really sucks at storytelling. All they had to say was something in the lines of...

"If you want to buy a disc, pay $59 for a game due to all non-digital crap the disc has to go through. And then do what you want with it. HOWEVER, if you download the game, it's like $29 (50% OFF!!!11), but then it's just yours, and yours alone, you can't sell or lend it - and we'd have to check every once in a while it's really you who's playing."

I wouldn't mind that at all since they'd be giving me a choice, and I'd gladly pay less, despite the 'lockdown'.

Dear Microsoft, all you have to do is ask your target audience what they think - you might be suprised.

mtkd 7 days ago 2 replies      
Microsoft thought they had a dominant market position and tried to stretch a little. They miscalculated.

Sony were concerned they were heading towards irrelevance - they upped their game to win share back.

I'd say it was a perfectly efficient market - and then I remember we're talking about kids being able to swap games like I did in the 80s as if it's a revolution ... the boomers heading these companies right now should be ashamed of what they've created.

seldo 7 days ago 1 reply      
"Some PS4 viral team made them all "U TOOK R DISCS" and they hiveminded."

I'm not sure how delusional you have to be to believe that the reason your customers hate your DRM is because your competitors had a "viral team" that persuaded them to be.

georgemcbay 7 days ago 1 reply      
"Think about it, on steam you get a game for the true cost of the game, 5$-30$. On a console you have to pay for that PLUS any additional licenses for when you sell / trade / borrow / etc."

That's a neat theory, but if you listen to virtually any publisher or developer talk about used games and game pricing it is abundantly clear that they view $60 as the game price (and as far as they are concerned, you're getting a huge bargain), and used sales beyond that as virtually akin to theft. They absolutely do not view it from the angle of the game being worth $30 and the rest being money they're forced to charge to make up the losses.

On the PC with Steam the publishers are willing to drop the price to compete with piracy, but assuming the Xbox One is not cracked to the point of a Dreamcast, I can't imagine them ever allowing Steam-like prices.

ChrisNorstrom 6 days ago 1 reply      
=== Bullshit Detected ===

"If you want games cheaper than 59.99, you have to limit used games somehow."

Author thinks publishers will lower game prices to $39.99 since used games won't cut into their profits. Author clearly doesn't work at Microsoft nor in the game industry. Nor has a clear idea of how Capitalism or running a company works.

Facts: A Game that launches on all 3 platforms: Xbox 360 (disc based, allows used games), PS3 (disc based, allows used games), and Steam (digital DRM based, no used games) all launch at the SAME price. Despite Steam's DRM the PC version is NOT discounted. Publishers are not going to surrender extra income out of the "goodness of their hearts".

zinkem 7 days ago 3 replies      
This comparison to steam is a bit of a false equivocation. I can run Steam on a variety of hardware configurations, which I can buy from a variety of vendors. Steam is better not because the DRM system is different, but because it's hardware agnostic.

Once the XB1 lifecycle is over, I have no guarantee I will be able to play the games I bought. As far as I'm aware XB1 is not backwards compatible at all. Once my 360 dies, if I can't find another one in working condition, or XBL stops offering services for the 360, my 360 XBLA games are gone forever.

socialist_coder 7 days ago 3 replies      
AAA games are still full price on Steam. There is no discount because you can't sell your used copy. What makes him think that games would somehow be cheaper on Xbox1 after you eliminate the used market? They won't be. The savings are not getting passed on to the consumers.
jiggy2011 7 days ago 4 replies      
He seems to be suggesting that Xbox One games will be cheaper because of the lack of used sales. I don't see what their economic incentive would be to lower the prices (at least to below prices for a similar PS4 game), usually if there is less competition in a market and demand stays constant the price goes up.

In the case of Steam , they have to be cheap because their competition is TPB which is the cheapest game store out there.

andrewingram 7 days ago 2 replies      
To be honest, the only thing that annoys me is the 24 hour check-in thing, and here's why...

On average I've moved house once a year for every year since I moved to London in 2007. There was one place I stayed in for 18 months, but everything else was 12 months. In all these moves except one I've had to wait 3-4 weeks (sometimes more) to get my broadband connected, so essentially for 1/13th of a year the only internet I have is through my mobile phone.

These 4 weeks a year are also the times when I get most of my single-player gaming done (I'm not saying I play hours of games every night, but for a couple of nights a week for a few weeks a year I'll settle down with a good RPG or similar).

The 24 hour check-in will make this impossible, thereby probably making me play less games overall (or I could just buy a PS4...).

brownbat 7 days ago 1 reply      
I hate this phrase, "trying to own the living room."

We think people want living room devices, but really they just need a living room computer.

A few months ago I went this way. No overengineered media center, just a tower next to the HDTV. Full-sized wireless keyboard and mouse. High-DPI to read text.

The experience immediately killed the 10 foot interface for me. All the 10' UIs out there feel slow, clunky, hobbled when compared to "just use a computer from your couch."

I understand that people are trying to simplify the experience, like Apple did with mp3s. Maybe you don't need to simplify here, though, because people already know how to use computers, they just don't see them in other rooms.

They just need a little nudge, a little help to see that it doesn't mean tiny text and wires across the living room floor.

JOnAgain 7 days ago 0 replies      
<rant>>> Well, if you want the @#$@ing from Gamestop, go play PS4Stop telling customers "take it or leave it". Tell them, "I'm sorry you can't do that", or "we've decided not to support X because Y". You keep telling us to go fuck off and buy a PS4, we might just do that.

Then you blame your half-assed approach on competitors (right after saying competition is good). You're Microsoft! King of anti-competitive practices. Why do you care what Target, Walmart, Gamestop, or Amazon think? If you wanted to build a Steam competitor, why didn't you build a Steam competitor? Why did you create a shitty Steam DRM system on top of physical media.

>> We want to own the living room.Do consumers want you to? Every update to XBox 360 has made it worse. - more ads on the landing page instead of instant access to recently used apps (e.g. hiding Netflix). - the horrible decision to make subtitles the system default, then keep turning it back on (seems like every 2-3 weeks it forgets I don't like them)

Prediction: XB1 home screen will just be wall to wall ads with a tiny little "play game" thing in the corner 7 screens over. Every time I want to play a game, I will probably have to scroll by shitty music offerings, shitty game previews, shitty video offerings, etc.

>> You can turn it off tho, and turn the console like OFF offI bet this will be obnoxious and tedious. Switch on the back? Inside a settings menu?

>> We basically made a huge cloud compute shit and made it freeReally?!? No more Live fee? Did I totally miss this? or by "free" do you mean for "for sale costing money on an ongoing basis for consumer, but free for publishers"?

>> If all you do is play games, and nothing else, PS4.This is why we're pissed and you seem to have missed that. Xbox should be a game console first, and a media machine second. MS has said they've made a really awesome Tivo + Roku machine and it also plays games.

So yeah, that's why MS is getting flak. But the real issue is that no one at MS seems to understand that!</rant>

bitcrusher 7 days ago 1 reply      
The comparison to Steam is false to begin with. PC gaming has NEVER been a trade with your friends (legally) culture. Console gaming has ALWAYS been a trade with your friends culture (legally). When was the last time you saw a used PC game store?

Second, there is no evidence that companies who's job is to maximize profit will have any incentive to lower their prices for disc-less games. For this, we CAN look at Steam (and other services). AAA titles are full retail when they are released. The price degrades over time, but the same thing happens with disc releases.

This is a one-sided win for Microsoft (and game publishers for XB1) and is yet another reason to avoid the XBox 1 like the plague. That is the market feedback that Microsoft should receive.

bluedino 7 days ago 2 replies      
The headline made me think this was about the security 'features' on the original Xbox.
asveikau 7 days ago 2 replies      
This guy is an awful writer. Even if I ignore that they don't know "its" from "it's", "then" from "than", this thing is hard to follow. Just an incoherent rant really, looks like it was written by a kid.
DigitalSea 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, seems the hiring standards over at MS are lower than I thought. I read through all of that and it mostly sounded like ramblings of someone on the verge of a nuclear mind meltdown.

There were a few good points the anonymous poster made about the advantages of non-physical media like no scratches or brothers/friends losing your discs, people just aren't ready to have a mostly medium-less console. It works for an iPhone or eBook reader, but a console is something that is synonymous with physical mediums.

"Well, if you want the @#$@ing from Gamestop, go play PS4." we don't have a Gamestop here in Australia but I presume Electronic Boutique is basically the same and while sometimes you get reamed on trade-ins, chances are if you are trading in, you don't care how much you are getting because you're parting with the game anyway.

If XBOX One games are cheaper as a result of the lock-in console DRM, then Microsoft might have a worthy advantage in the fanboy fight against Sony. But we all know games won't be cheaper (especially new and exclusive titles).

I think the problem with the whole digital vs physical debate is that bandwidth is an ongoing cost (especially if you go over). Although my Internet plan gives me 500gb of bandwidth a month (times that by the 5 people currently in my house who love downloading TV shows and movies a lot) and a digital game is chewing up bandwidth left-right and centre.

batgaijin 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny how his view is that M$ is somehow on the long tail of video games and that it's the consumers that are being misled.

Sony bought Gaikai, you dumb fucks. They are going to offer a subscription for unlimited video games streaming WHILE selling tradeable games because you lot were too busy in your fiefdoms jacking off. You dipshits couldn't even understand a fucking pincer business idea like that; all you know is embracing, extending and executing small dumb companies and have no fucking clue how to actually compete.

rome 7 days ago 0 replies      
I like the option of selling my games and buying used games. If Microsoft makes my games less valuable to me by limiting my options then they should be cheaper. I've heard nothing alluding to this officially.
malbs 7 days ago 2 replies      
That is all well and good, anonymous MS guy can claim that the games will be cheaper in the long run, citing steam as the model that works and drives prices down.

Not in Australia.

In Australia we pay 89.95 / 99.95 for a AAA game released on Steam, versus the USD price of 39.95 / 49.95 / whatever. It must be the shipping of the bits over the pacific that jacks the price up right?

Yes, eventually the prices drop, and you can buy a game that originally retailed for almost $100 for under $20, but that takes a long time. I just gave up on buying big studio games on steam. I only buy indie stuff now.

I was really excited about the xbone (day one owner of original xbox and 360), then the official word came out about it, and I decided I would buy the ps4 instead.

jwhitlark 7 days ago 0 replies      
I have no idea what the demographics are these days, but certainly I, and most of my friends, are least concerned about price, and most concerned that most game are not that fun, and the damn console keeps doing less and less of what I want each year. My PS3 is the only thing I can think of that has gotten less capable with each update.

People say the kindle is different, but if my books became unavailable, I'd grab them from other sources, no questions and no qualms. If you want to sell me something, then sell me something, don't quibble about it after the fact.

ConAntonakos 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So what's the overall reaction to the recent reversal of MSoft's Xbox One policies?
DannoHung 6 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to AGAIN reiterate that Steam does not enforce DRM. Valve provides Steam DRM as an option for people publishing on the Steam platform. (An argument has been made to me that if Steam goes away for good, not being able to install games from Steam is also a form of DRM, but I'm not sure I entirely agree with this position)

It's like this fucking myth that refuses to die.

The Microsoft situation enforces something different unless they decided they didn't want people to understand that the phoning home thing was a publisher option.

bluetidepro 7 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless if this is actually legitimate or not...

> "* Without actually thinking about how convienent it would be for the majority of the time to not find that disc your brother didn't put back...*"

First off, it's "convenient". Secondly, that's a horrible argument when those consoles are meant to be geared towards mature gamers that would never have this issue.

And as others have mentioned, you can't play both sides. Either you go all digital and have this model or you don't. If you try to play in the middle, you're always going to be screwing someone in your audience over.

gohrt 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, a whole lot of product/business vision and dealmaking/tradeoffs, all of it quite sensible, and yet I see 4 pages of lecture and not a mention of fun, engaging games

Back to my NES...

lominming 7 days ago 0 replies      
It is true that textbooks are extremely over-priced in US because they are priced with multiple re-sale in mind. It maybe true for games but even so, it will take some time before the effect kicks in.

Part of the problem is that if something is physical, people expects it to be lend-able. E.g. Books, CDs, DVDs, etc. (you can also think of things you can borrow in the library) People don't expect their digital downloads to be lend-able (e.g. iTunes songs, Kindle books, etc.) In that sense, Microsoft has to play the game carefully. I think it will still work if games on XB1 sells at <$35 compared to $60 on PS4.

On the note of internet connection, as much as Microsoft thinks that everyone should have an internet connection at home today, it is still something that you should not expect everyone to have. Many XBOXes are sold globally and internet broadband connectivity may not come easily.

Besides the issue of lending of games, I do agree on the vision that the console will be a center piece of the living room. It is much more than just games.

CurtHagenlocher 7 days ago 0 replies      
I call fake. I'm skeptical that anyone working in Studio A would call out that it's on 40th street. Even more damaging is that Typhoon is in the Commons, not in any of the Studio buildings. And I've never heard anyone call it "Streets of Asia" -- "Typhoon" is both its primary name and faster to say.
Blockhead 7 days ago 0 replies      
Complete bullshit. It's not a "long tail" strategy at all. Allowing people to sell their games means consumers can recoup some of the cost and put it towards a future purchase. So the $60 price tag isn't as bad as it seems, and developers shouldn't actually see any lost sales as long as they continue to make games.

You can also circumvent unfair DRM on the PC by pirating games, so the consumer ultimately has the power to take back their rights in that situation. On a console, this sort of DRM would absolutely be the death of "owning" your games. That's why the reaction to Xbox One's DRM has been so extreme.

I doubt the guy even works for MS though. His writing is barely as good as your average forum-trolling college dropout.

wisty 6 days ago 0 replies      
> On a console you have to pay for that PLUS any additional licenses for when you sell / trade / borrow / etc

This is rubbish. Better DRM is what makes the difference. I bet resales are about 1/100th as costly to studios as piracy, especially for single player games.

merlincorey 7 days ago 0 replies      
I, for one, quite like Gamestop, and I can't wait until I can buy YOUR used PS4 games for $5.99 or less.

Thank you, Gamestop.

Signed,Patient Gamers Everywhere

interpol_p 7 days ago 0 replies      
He doesn't really address the issue of lending games. When my wife bought me a PS3 for my birthday last year I had zero games.

My friend at work lent me a huge stack of games he's a gamer and had a ton of games he loved but didn't play anymore.

It was a great introduction to gaming for me and it led me to purchase many of the sequels to the games I played initially. I have purchased about 10 games since, and about 7 of those were purchased purely based on games I had played from the initial stack that I borrowed.

I don't understand why they feel the need to capture this as a "revenue stream." Focusing on great games and great convenience will surely get them more money in the long term.

archagon 7 days ago 0 replies      
As I see it, DRM is much more of a problem on consoles than it is on PC. In my Steam library, I have Commander Keen right next to Bioshock Infinite. There's no "expiration date" for my games. On the other hand, consoles come in generations. They only last a decade at most, and it looks like we're not going to have backwards compatibility going forward. What's going to happen when Microsoft decides to pull support for their 10, 20, 30 year old DRM-laden consoles? Not every game is going to get an HD remake, sadly.
lucian1900 6 days ago 0 replies      
The comparison to Steam entirely breaks down when you consider that Steam is opt-in, whereas the Xbone's DRM is not even opt-out, but entirely mandatory.

The main reason I don't complain so much about steam is the existence of GoG and direct DRM-free sales (Humble store), which I always prefer if they carry the game I'm interested in.

alekseyk 7 days ago 0 replies      
Speaking as a PC gamer.. Steam who everybody 'loves' does not allow you to transfer games.

You can't even transfer games from one account to another account that YOU owe. It's not allowed.

Just some perspective into this. And I don't agree there should be ANY limitations for hard media.

maemilius 7 days ago 0 replies      
As someone that used to work in a game resell shop (not Gamestop), I can't sympathize with the Gamestop comments. Particularly the ones about buyback value. We paid our customers about 60% of what we were going to sell the game for. I've never understood how people can think that the game they spent $60 for is going to sell for anywhere near that after a year or two.

To use the example in here, a $5 buyback value game would sell for about $10 where I worked. I don't know about Gamestop's percentages, but I imagine it would sell for closer to $15 there.

Moving on to Steam, my library is clogged full of shit I'd love to sell back or give to someone else. I still, to this day, hate Steam. It's convenient, sure, but I still often shop at the alternative instant download providers and I'm not talking about Origin or Amazon.

Beyond that, and back to actual gripes about the XBone, the only thing that has my friends and I completely against it is the always on Kinect. I don't like the idea of having a device in my home that can be used to monitor everything I do or say at any time. If it's proven you can turn that functionality off, it takes away about half of the reason I give people to not buy it. Even then, I'm paranoid enough that I won't be getting one. That aside, I don't need a media center, so the XBone doesn't appeal to me. My console is for playing video games; I have a computer for Internet shit (e.g. Netflix).

jfb 7 days ago 0 replies      
It's certainly possible to have an interesting conversation about the changes to the way markets will work when the cost of reproduction falls to zero; it's ridiculous to think, however, that the place to start this conversation is at the introduction of a new gaming console.
drivebyacct2 7 days ago 0 replies      
I suspected as much as well. The family share feature of the new Xbox is pretty damn impressive and permissive. And they have to have you turn your damn xbox on and connect to the internet because they have to manage your access to those games. Otherwise I can just loan out the game to 10 people and they can play them forever offline without paying for them.
_pmf_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
> Kinect 2 makes Kinect 1 look like a childs toy

Using the Kinect generally does.

clubhi 7 days ago 0 replies      
This feels a lot like the government telling me PRISM has stopped terrorists plots. Sure, I don't like money going to Gamestop. Although, I'd rather it go to Gamestop than fuck myself over.
simplexion 6 days ago 0 replies      
"The thing is, the DRM is really really similar to steam... You can login anywhere and play your games, anyone in your house can play with the family xbox. The only diff is steam you have to sign in before playing, and Xbox does it automatically at night for you (once per 24 hours)"

Steam Offline Mode: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=3160-agc...

tomkarlo 7 days ago 0 replies      
Why not just go straight to free-to-play model? CoD for $0 for the first level, but $5 each level after that. I'd try a lot more games out if I didn't have to pay $60 up front, and it would encourage developers to make better games rather than the current AAA tentpole model where they depend on the pre-release hype.
mesozoic 7 days ago 0 replies      
Wow Microsoft is really keep their engineers real high on that Kool-Aid.

I'll believe this when I see Xbone games cheaper than $59.99. AKA I'll probably never believe this.

We'll see they may be progressing home entertainment forward but they're really taking a gamble by screwing over their core audience to do it.

For reference almost all of my console gaming is done via rentals and from what I see the Xbone doesn't support that at all so I'm definitely out.

drivingmenuts 7 days ago 0 replies      
We'll still be paying the same for games - this just means more profit goes into the executives and the shareholders pockets.

We're getting boiled just like that poor old frog. Turn the water up slow enough and he'll never notice.

geuis 7 days ago 0 replies      
For what its worth, the double punch Wednesdays was confirmed to me my a MS friend.
andyhmltn 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Maybe internally they look at it like this. But I honestly think the reasoning behind the always online policy is so they can collect analytics from the kinect.

From an advertisers perspective, it's the holy grail. Imagine being able to see the viewers heart rate, where they were looking, how they were sitting, how the move and body language. All of that data would be very useful. I'm sure there are systems like this already, but to my understanding they are in a controlled environment. If you sat me in a room and told me to look at an advert after having to travel etc I'd act a lot differently to just sitting on my couch.

matiu 7 days ago 0 replies      
<prejudice>I think most of the whiner's are American's with a high sense of entitlement</prejudice>. Personally, I'm just gonna quietly switch to PS4.

I think MS's thinking is a bit ahead of its time, and possibly a bit too Americanized. USA and a lot of other countries have cheap, reliablish Internet. The onliny model will be OK for them.

But there are still a lot of places that have XBox's that have expensive + useless Internet. Like where I live.

I'm moving from XBox 360 to PS4 because, as it is on the 360, I get a "Can't connect to XBox live" message about once an hour. If I went to XBox4, I'm assuming it'd be more annoying.

I bought the computer/console and the software; I expect it to work for me, not to police me, not to try to advertise to me, just do what I paid for.

_pmf_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
He's definitely right in assuming that the people who think Sony is suddenly their best friend are complete and utter morons.
6thSigma 7 days ago 0 replies      
The issue, that Microsoft seems to be blinded to, is that the games will still be the same price as PS4 - absolutely nothing has been said otherwise.
sourceless 6 days ago 0 replies      
1) If they're so big on moving away from disc sales, why sell discs at all? Afaik some stores already sell download cards for games, why not use those?

2) It may well be that it has to check if it's connected every 24 hours, but what happens if you need to move house? Do you just sign in again, or does something worse happen?

3) They're forcing the kinect onto the user - you can't make a product successful by forcing people to use it, they have to want to use it.

Zigurd 6 days ago 0 replies      
This does not ring true. "Developers?" If you substituted the word "publishers" for "developers" THEN it makes more sense. Surely any engineer working on Xbox knows the difference.
MereInterest 7 days ago 0 replies      
Even if used game sales would kill the business model and force AAA game producers out of business, I would say that the First Sale Doctrine is more important than the entire industry. If I buy a product, then I am free to use it, abuse it, break it, sell it, give it, modify it, or throw it away however I please.

If the AAA game industry cannot survive while used games exist, then I would rather the entire industry die than end up with a precedent of buying something yet not owning it.

ScottWhigham 6 days ago 0 replies      
The logic is just too silly, too not-well-thought-out for me to buy into it.

We come in trying to find a way to take money out of gamestop, and put some in developers and get you possibly cheaper games...

The biggest problem here is that this - the whole crux of his paste - did not happen at launch. If this were true, then MS would make new XBox One games cheaper than $60 - but they didn't. The XBox One games are all $60.

If you want games cheaper then 59.99, you have to limit used games somehow

MS did find a way - the new XBox One model is built around this. But the games aren't cheaper.

Nice try, but it's either (a) bogus, (b) faulty/incomplete understanding by a lower level employee, or (c) some lower level employee buying into a bunch of management speak.

i386 7 days ago 0 replies      
I wish pastebin had a mobile interface. It's almost impossible to read on the iPhone 5 screen.
Lendal 6 days ago 0 replies      
Comparing its strategy with Steam doesn't work for me, since I already boycott Steam anyway, for the same reason I'll boycott the Xbox One. I don't want to be under surveillance while I play a single-player game, or even a multiplayer game in LAN mode. I don't want to be under surveillance at all in my own home, by any entity public or private.
inthewind 7 days ago 0 replies      
So now I'm told (by someone) that a retail price always factors in it's resale price! What a crock of shit.
reaver478 6 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus Christ this guy is a cocky fucker. I'll never buy a xbox piece of shit again. DRM my ass. I'm against piracy but don't force me into something like DRM. With Sony you can still download games as digital and physical media.

Fuck you MS

gr3yh47 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm getting really sick of console DRM being compared to Steam DRM like they are equals. they aren't, not even close, because steam has sales 2x a year where even brand new games can be had for up to 75% off
sidcool 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have access to the pastebin from office, can someone please post it here? I am very much interested in reading this piece. Thanks.
_progger_ 6 days ago 0 replies      
So, what you promise us is that games will cost less then on PS4? That's a strong selling point!
kinnth 7 days ago 0 replies      
If it's physical you should be able to swap or sell it on. If its digital it should be cheaper and tied to an account. That's it.
smrtinsert 6 days ago 0 replies      
pastebin should clone their site and name it minileaks.com
workbench 6 days ago 0 replies      
Still sounds shit m8
mcescalante 7 days ago 0 replies      
So tl;dr Xbox One = MSFT Steam Console?
Cyril_Boh 6 days ago 0 replies      
"The goal is to move to digital downloads".

Somehow this phrase really irks me. Are we on analog downlods currently?

zamnedix 6 days ago 0 replies      
You see, I also hate Steam.
yoster 6 days ago 0 replies      
If Microsoft was so big on fucking DLC, then they should make the DLC from the 360 backwards compatible to the new Xbox. Thank you Microsoft for fucking me over and wasting shitloads of money which will not be usable on the new system. Thank you for being fucking arrogant about it as well, and telling me that I better keep my 360. I always have been an Xbox fan. Come end of the year, hello Playstation. Fucking arrogance like this crap cemented the idea of switching, "if you want the @#$@ing from Gamestop, go play PS4."
Microsoft Said To Give Zero Day Exploits To US Government Before It Patches Them techdirt.com
322 points by rasterizer  6 days ago   62 comments top 18
dguido 6 days ago 2 replies      
FFS people, this is called MAPP and the program has been public and a huge security success for the last few years. Microsoft advises lots of security companies about patches slightly before they are issued. That way, everyone has options on day 1 and people aren't scrambling for additional mitigations every Patch Tuesday.

If you want to be outraged, check out all the Chinese companies on the list of partners!


trotsky 6 days ago 0 replies      
Early access to the knowledge of vulnerabilities is just good customer service when you're talking about your biggest customer who is also very security conscious. It allows them to protect themselves. The fact that the same knowledge can facilitate developing of offensive payloads is unfortuneately unavoidable - but that doesn't mean that's the purpose of the program or that it should preclude any early sharing at all.

Most of the time (with other vendors, say cisco) these early warnings include general descriptions of the problem and remediation steps - but not explicit descriptions or code patches. While that can be enough to point someone on the right track and develop an exploit for it (depending on a ton of unknown factors), I'd say that 99% of the time the exploit doesn't actually get written until the author can get their hands on the actual patch, so they can see exactly what code was changed. Many of these vuln disclosures are enormously generic in scope. think "a parsing vulnerability in an xml format" and remediation - don't allow connections to xxx port or turn off major software component y.

It wouldn't surprise me if the us government gets pre-public access to inofrmation that makes it easy to weaponize 0-days (what the hell is the zero day initiative, anyway?) but you'll have to do a hell of a lot more digging and analysis before you could convince me that this is one of them.

marshray 6 days ago 1 reply      
I learned a thing or two about this in 2009-2010 when I uncovered a critical SSL/TLS bug CVE-2009-3555. The fix for this bug would require a change to the TLS protocol itself (RFC 5746) which would take months in the best case, so my boss and I set upon a disclosure plan. (This was long before we ended up employed at MS.)

Microsoft, like many other vendors, would need to patch. They were the most responsive, a bit aggressive even, vendors about wanting to get the full details of the bug as soon as possible.

We also disclosed the US Government. We did this as part of the planned disclose process to vendors as well as customers and other stakeholders. I felt it was important that there were customers in the process in order to motivate the vendors a bit and so we weren't the only ones taking heat from the vendors. The US Government probably had more affected systems than anybody and it could even be a nat security issue, so we disclosed them.

I think it worked. Some of the other (non MS) vendors heard about it via their Federal business and were a little annoyed at us. The US Government really wants to keep their own systems patched.

I never did hear of the bug being used in anger (not that I would have), but among the major vendors (Linux distros included), Microsoft was the first to engineer and release a patch and push it down the update channel.

We presented the full story (in our Hardy Boys sweaters) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_L9WGGEUlU

mtgx 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is this why Microsoft called the Google engineer, who uncovered one of these bugs, "irresponsible"? Because they couldn't give it to NSA anymore? If they are doing this, at least they should shut up, and let the engineers who uncover them help the public.
nullandnull 6 days ago 3 replies      
This has been going on for years. It's a program that Microsoft created for passing along 0days to AV Vendors and companies so they could create detection mechanisms for it.


colonelxc 6 days ago 0 replies      
This article is just a regurgitation of a part of a bloomberg article[0] that is already on the front page[1].

[0] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/u-s-agencies-said-t...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5878365

pdubs 6 days ago 2 replies      
I can't fault MSFT for this at all.

"Hey your systems have been vulnerable for a week; here's the patch!" just doesn't fly too well with major customers with very real needs for security.

I personally don't mind them being used in real targeted surveillance either. That surveillance is going to happen anyway.

ChikkaChiChi 6 days ago 0 replies      
While I am completely against PRISM and what has occurred, I might be more against the necro-stories that are surfacing trying to paint the complicit companies in a more harsh light.

Stop muddying the waters and let's focus on fixing today.

JulianMorrison 6 days ago 2 replies      
The government would probably like to avoid having its servers rooted. Seems sensible.
klt0825 6 days ago 3 replies      
Exploits or vulnerabilities? If they are handing out fully built exploits, I have a problem with it. If they are just vulns then yeah, it is probably MAPP which isn't news really.
tpurves 6 days ago 1 reply      
And you were wondering how the spooks that targeted the Iranian nuclear facilities were somehow able to get their hands on no less than 4 different zero-day exploits.
blahbl4hblah 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is hyperbole. Most large software companies report vulnerabilities to CERT and DHS so that they can start patching critical infrastructure sooner rather than later.
jpalomaki 6 days ago 0 replies      
I can imagine news like this leads to security researches giving lot less time for companies to fix the vulnerabilities.

As it was reported in Hacker news some time ago, Google decided that seven days should be enough for actively exploited vulnerabilities. http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.ch/2013/05/disclosure-t...

gregparadee 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wait, so there is a problem with MS helping out our government protect its secrets? I agree, PRISIM was bad an invasion of privacy but people need to realize that government agencies have more secrets and do more then spy on us. I wouldn't want China, Russia or some other foreign country getting its hands on the locations of weapons, R&D, or our defense plans because of a exploit in a MS program.

Hackers will always be faster to take advantage of loopholes then companies or the government are at patching them. Do people really see the problem with MS doing this?

kryten 6 days ago 1 reply      

That helps me sell Debian + PostgreSQL over Windows + SQL Server.

option_greek 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they selectively push any 'special updates' through windows update to 'foreign' systems.
nano111 6 days ago 0 replies      
100% security is impossible and that's the way they like it
salimmadjd 6 days ago 1 reply      
Back in 2001/2002 I argued with friends that Microsoft must have made a deal with the government in its antitrust case [1]

Basically divulging or intentionally leaving holes or backdoors in the system accessible to the government in exchange for practically dropping their antitrust case.


T-Shirt Printing API shirts.io
315 points by mooreds  6 days ago   127 comments top 37
fletchowns 6 days ago 6 replies      
Bash Script + cronjob + Google Image Search + shirts.io = random new shirt every week?
ahsanhilal 6 days ago 3 replies      
I really like the concept but I don't understand why anyone in tech would want to be in the bulk tshirt manufacturing business. I used to be in the tshirt business: albeit we used to make high end stuff which was sold to premium retailers. As I see it, the inefficiencies in the business do not come from the ordering part. There are plenty of places where you can order tshirts. The really hard problem to solve is the manufacturing one.

Second, I don't get how you would actually make real money through this. Most of this business is low margin, labor intensive. In any low low margin business you make money through scale. However, pretty much all of the high quantity stuff is done overseas and then shipped to the US, because even then it is cheaper. We used to airship stuff all the time (a lot more expensive than boat) and it would still ending up costing us a lot less than doing it in the US

I don't know why people keep making solutions for tshirt manufacturing. It is effectively a price-conscious B2B model.

infinitone 6 days ago 6 replies      
Interesting- we are starting to see more and more APIs that interface with real physical objects. Is this the new advent of APIs?

Am i going to be able to purchase a pizza delivery whilst printing a shirt and having my car unlock for the car wash guy all from my phone as I'm heading home.

What other real life APIs are there available atm?

triptych 6 days ago 2 replies      
Imagine if you could tie this api into a game, you level up your character and get a t-shirt with all the new equips/stats to show off to your friends...
ScotterC 6 days ago 6 replies      
But are the shirts any good? No mention of material or examples of how one might look.
diggan 6 days ago 1 reply      
Cool thing, have an idea that I would like to try with this. However, the following part turns me off quite much:>"Shipments going internationally are subject to a charge of $8.50 per garment."Which means that if one order for $3.32 becomes $11.82? That's pretty much, even for international shipping...

Anything like this within Europe?

noir_lord 5 days ago 0 replies      
There is an issue on your pricing page.

Your font-awesome icons are not loading correctly for me on Mint/FF21


However it works fine on Chromium.

Love the idea but I'm in the UK so that rules it out for me (shipping kills it).

e-dard 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just an FYI regarding your documentation, of example GET requests (e.g., https://www.shirts.io/docs/quote_reference/)

You can describe GET requests as follows with cURL, which I find a bit smarter :-)

  curl -G https://www.shirts.io/api/v1/quote/ \  -d "api_key=APIKEY" \  -d "garment[0][product_id]=3" \  -d "garment[0][color]=White" \  -d "garment[0][sizes][med]=100" \  -d "garment[0][sizes][lrg]=50"
In cases where you need to url-encode the parameter, you can switch out -d for --data-urlencode

jblock 6 days ago 0 replies      
Design note: that slider is awkward. There's no indication that it's moving until it hits a discrete point.
obeone 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very buttony and well designed.Good MVP.I notice you can order 10 shirts and send them to 10,000 locations, though.
kevinpet 6 days ago 1 reply      
The call to action lands me on a sign up form. Apparently I can get only very limited information before I sign up.
BHSPitMonkey 6 days ago 0 replies      
Your API console isn't working for me (the Execute buttons do nothing) in Chrome. My JS console shows:

    Uncaught SyntaxError: Unexpected token o   jquery.min.js:3
after each click. Also, the quote generator on /pricing only generates a price if Front Colors is >0 (it doesn't work for a back-only print).

tekromancr 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was about to yawn, until I saw the priceing. That's pretty good.
NIL8 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think you have a real possibility to make large amounts of money from water cooler jokes alone. This could make big money with office inner circles. Also, the random funny, odd, and cool imgur pic-of-the-week shirt could be very lucrative. Just think of all those college and high school kids wearing the Reddit best-of each week.

Good work!

songgao 6 days ago 2 replies      
Is everything completely automated or the API is just for placing the order?

Would be cool if the API server is connected to the printing machine controller, packaging machine controller, and some FedEx physical logistics system. When an order is placed, everything is automated, from printing to packaging to shipping. That would save a lot, and more importantly, it's gonna be so cool :)

mildavw 6 days ago 0 replies      
I have a weekend project that is in "private beta" (still a few weekends from launch) that combines computer generated art and one-off T-shirts. I've been working with http://printaura.com/.

I like the idea of coding up adapters so we can switch fulfillment providers if we needed to.

moeffju 5 days ago 0 replies      
Spreadshirt has had an API for a while now, spawning things like http://zufallsshirt.de/ German, random shirt per visit, you either buy it or consign it to oblivion.
richkuo 6 days ago 2 replies      
Shirts.io logo uses the same image as the Stripe 'cloud' but inverted on the y-axis

They also have suspiciously similar UI/UX with similar color schemes. The random green sign up button mouse over is an obvious attempt at 'throwing you off' from the idea that the design was copied.

codereflection 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish this service was around 5 years ago when I was going through the hell of designing a Silverlight interface for tshirt logo / text placement. The customer was such an a I would have pull my app, launched it myself with this service as the fulfillment end. Nice work guys, best of luck with it.
locusm 6 days ago 0 replies      
When will international shipping be supported? Australia in particular.
jumanji89 6 days ago 0 replies      
Love this. Any plans for other print items too like business cards, letterheads, etc?

An API that serves not just T-shirt printing, but other printing as well will win a lot of business IMHO.

agentworm 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a company in my hometown of Albuquerque that does something similar called Inksoft http://www.inksoft.com/ except, I believe Inksoft strictly offers software to companies that sell clothing like shirts. I don't fully understand the garment industry, but from talking with the owners, they make a pretty penny.
Metapony 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering if you could add a page describing all of the 'garment' options! I like what I see otherwise, but am not familiar with what each of them are, and there's no where on the website I can find that info.
lingben 6 days ago 1 reply      
so is this like https://www.startupthreads.com/ where you can integrate with them to send t-shirts to clients or community members?
ada1981 5 days ago 0 replies      
Your pricing calculator doesn't work on mobile well. Was not able to select 1 tshirt on iPhone. Maybe add a manual text input for size as well? Looking forward to using this though.
aidenn0 6 days ago 1 reply      
This looks like it's an API for ooshirts.com
batbomb 6 days ago 0 replies      
Using square brackets is silly because you won't be able to ever put API parameters in the URL.

By using semicolons (a la matrix parameters) or commas you could eliminate that.

imtu80 6 days ago 1 reply      
May be its time for me to finish my weekend project. http://tshirts.imomin.com/
notjustanymike 6 days ago 5 replies      
Stripe wants their web design back
jimauthors 6 days ago 0 replies      
Can one product be part of multiple categories? Will (product_id, category_id) tuple ever change? Can I cache the ids and use it after sometime?
adcab 6 days ago 1 reply      
this looks great, i just have one question. How are you able to make a profit by selling 100,000 1 color shirts, plus shipping and handling, and blank for 2.60?

shipping along wold be 2.60, not to mention the cost of the shirt which is at least 3.00... i would love to use you guys, just not sure you have thought out your pricing

hk__2 6 days ago 1 reply      
Do you ship internationally?
timsaunders 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Stripe and CardFlight of selling t-shirts.. I like it!
jjsz 6 days ago 0 replies      
You guys should talk to Teespring.
gailees 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here come the teespring competitors.
yuvalyonigalor 6 days ago 0 replies      
What is this?
krfantasy 6 days ago 0 replies      
good idea!
Buying the new MacBook Air virtualpants.com
309 points by virtualpants  3 days ago   270 comments top 53
mitchellh 3 days ago 16 replies      
I worked at an Apple store for over a year as a "salesperson" (we called them Mac Specialists at the time). Let me input my two cents:

I was trained to do this. From day one of dedicated 8-hour training sessions, we're trained to find customers the right "solution" rather than get the most money. This requires using the APPLE technique (acronym, google it). The second P stands for "Present a solution for the customer to take home today." It was common knowledge at the time (4 years ago) that consumers were brainwashed to thinking faster/more is always better. But when we can save them hundreds of dollars, this isn't the case. There were many many times I talked someone out of a $2,000 MacBook Pro for a $1200 entry-level iMac with double the specs because after probing (the first "P") I learned they didn't need to be mobile. This was really, really common.

And note, this isn't about trying to convince people to spend less. Sometimes after probing, we learned they needed _more_. It is about the RIGHT solution.

To add to this: specialists don't earn commission. We weren't ranked based on financial sales numbers (there are other metrics, however). There is no incentive for specialists to sell more expensive or less expensive things. It is about the right thing.

So, this guy was just doing what he was trained to do. It is Apple store standard.

sinak 3 days ago 5 replies      
Apple seem to have completely stopped carrying anything but the base models of the Macbook Air 11" and 13" in their stores, which may at least partially explain his pushing you to downgrade your choice.

Use the "check availability" sidebar link here to see what I mean: http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MD712LL/A?

I remember picking up my fully-loaded 13" from the store a couple of generations ago, so this is likely a new decision (or temporary while they figure out supply and demand). I strongly recommend the 8GB RAM upgrade, RAM gets eaten up really easily and is definitely worth the extra $100.

Ideally, he would have told you that the extra RAM might be useful, and also let you know that any upgrades would require delivery to the store or to you directly.

beloch 2 days ago 4 replies      
Buying what you need today and no more


Upgrade unfriendly hardware


Faster obsolescence cycle.

Apple isn't doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. They're doing it because it will make you buy their products more often. It's a smart way to do business.

malbs 3 days ago 4 replies      
My wife went back to school this year, and she needed a laptop, so I got her one for christmas. I went with the base model 11" air because that's what I would have bought if I was getting it for me.

She hated it. I couldn't believe it. "The screen is too small", "I can't play warcraft 3 on it" (ok legit gripe, war3 doesn't work, and she still plays that game!) "I don't like the way the track pad works"

Admittedly, the track pad default settings leave a little to be desired. I made a few tweaks to her setup, and it worked a lot better.

I asked her the other day how she feels about her laptop now, with 6 months use under her belt. She loves it, as I knew she would.

Next laptop I buy for myself will be a 11" air. I'm no apple fan boy, but it is the highest quality laptop you can get. But if you've found a better one for the same price, please let me know

DigitalJack 3 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect this is because they just keep the vanilla baseline models in stock at the store. If you wanted to max it out, it would mean mail order.

Going into the store and finding out you can't get what you want right there on the spot means you will likely walk out empty handed.

If the sales person can convince you that you really want the vanilla model that is actually in the store, that's money.

aalbertson 3 days ago 4 replies      
While he is right that you may not ever need the CPU resources, the RAM I would argue is necessary (plus it's only $100 and will overall make a HUGE difference).

Ram is one of those things you can almost never get enough of. I am a heavy chrome user (and general system user), and I cringe anytime it's less than 8GB because it requires much more tab management for me. Which may be better for me to do, but I keep a large amount of misc work in various chrome windows and tabs, and closing it isn't necessary for me.

Along with that, I'm often running a bunch of other apps. CPU is never usually a problem, but RAM definitely is.

That being said, you're probably fine with the base model, but I certainly would at least max the ram. :)

_pmf_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Plus, Apples scheme makes it so easy to upgrade.

I think this statement is some local maximum of the reality distortion field.

Being able to only upgrade at the vendor's shop at a premium rate is "easy", yes. But "easy" is certainly not the first term that comes to mind.

smaili 3 days ago 3 replies      
He asked what applications I use most and I replied, "Vim, Panic, Terminal, and Git" in which he replied, "I'm sorry, what?"
lena 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that you don't always know when you purchase something what you're going to use it for. I got the 16GB iPad and never ever expected to run out of storage space. I didn't know about all the great games you could play on it, and how that (together with ebooks and other stuff) really adds up. If someone had asked me what I'd use it for back then, I would have answered "web browsing and reading ebooks". That changed in the first couple of months though. In hindsight I really wish I had at least 32GB.

A similar thing goes for the laptop/desktop example given above. I recently bought a laptop for my parents and the salesperson tried to talk them out of it as well, because they weren't going to travel with it. I think a laptop (with an external screen if it is used a lot) is so much more useful for most people than a desktop, simply because of it's portability inside their home, even without any travel. Now they can sit next to their partner instead of in the separate computer room upstairs. Or (if there was no computer room upstairs) they can put it in the closet when they're done and don't have a big computer taking up space in the living room all the time. And it's way easier to take it with me on public transport if there's something wrong with it. I really felt that the "are you planning on taking it with you while traveling" is the wrong question when it comes to deciding between desktop and laptop, especially for most people when the extra power that a desktop gives is totally insignificant for word processing and web browsing. A laptop (not a top of the line one) was definitely the best option for my parents, and I'm glad I was there so that the salesperson did not succeed in talking them out of that with the best of intentions.

wilfra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Had a near identical experience today myself actually. I went in prepared to spend up to $3k on a tricked out MBP. Walked out with a bottom tier 13" Air. The rep kindly helped me realize it's a more powerful computer than the 17" MBP I was upgrading from - which did everything I needed it to do just fine (besides not be huge, heavy and need repairs every six months).

So far so good. Plenty of horsepower - and being nearly as portable as an ipad more than makes up for the lost screen real estate.

marknutter 2 days ago 1 reply      
I must say, as an iPhoto user who currently is drowning in a mountain of around 30k photos, this salesperson did you a great disservice by recommending you get a standard platter external HDD instead of opting for the larger built-in SSD (or even a thunderbolt connected external SSD). iPhoto absolutely starts to crawl with enough photos and videos thrown at it, to the point where the speed of an SSD is all but required.
nicholassmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a base level MBA 13" 2 years ago. 5 weeks before the refresh to Core i series, and I've lived with it since and it's been an interesting experience.

At the time it the specs seemed reasonably good, but a 1.86Ghz C2D with 2GB of RAM and 128GB SSD aren't exactly fantastic in modern context. However, I've found I need significantly less resources than I used to think I needed and in general I only bump up against it when I've got multiple XCode windows open, with the iOS Simulator running, with Sublime, Spotify, a fully stocked Chrome and so on.

I'm buying a new MBA some point in the next few weeks, and with the exception of the SSD (I don't really need the 500GB option) I'll most likely max everything else. I know I don't need the headroom now but I'm going to spend somewhere in the region of 1.4k on a machine for me now, and then I'll have a new laptop for my girlfriend in 2 years time, and she'll get 2 years use out of it. I don't think 4GB of RAM in 4 years time is going to cut it given that just web browsing alone these days uses so much.

The great thing about Apple products is that for the most part, they're very, very hardy machines. I have a MacBook (plain, old boring MacBook) that's nearing it's 7th year in service. With no upgrades. Spending 210 now adds another couple of comfortable years of use, and that's worth it to me.

hippich 2 days ago 1 reply      
BTW, by "optimizing" laptop to customer needs, they sell machine less future-proof, which will result in sooner upgrade. I always believed that companies make more money on entry-level models than on professional ones. (not just apple)
Void_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
You were lucky, most of them are really stupid.

I once witnesses a woman deciding between $2,000 and $2,500 machine, and one of the differences was something about graphics. So she asks "is graphics important for Netflix" and the sales guy goes like "oh yeah".

But yeah, it's also a problem of American consumers who have so much money they don't know what to do with them. :-/

no-brainer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, I had the same experience, but in my case it was pretty negative actually. My fianc went to the mac store with me looking to buy a mbp and while i was perusing accessories etc... mostly wandering around the store, she struck up a conversation with a sales guy. The sales guy's read was "this girl needs much less than she thinks" and he proceeded to try to downsell her to an air. Now I'm sure the air works just fine, but in her case, she's a web dev and works with video editing in her spare time. Not absurd to want a mbp. Anyway, the guy just thought GIRL = Macbook Air. No further analysis needed. Only when I showed up and talked to the guy did he back off... We talked about how strange it was that we needed to strong arm a salesman into paying more. Truly hard selling us on less. It was downright offensive for him to read her so poorly on account of her gender and it put us off. Not that it's changed my fan-boi status...
larrys 3 days ago 4 replies      
Separate issue: You're not always helping people and doing the right thing but telling them to not spend money. [1]

Some people derive quite a bit of pleasure from buying "the best". They simply aren't interested in hearing that what they are doing is wrong. Or ways to save money.

The key here is:

"Instead, this guy asked me why I needed the i7 processor and 512GB SSD. "

That's not really his business to stick his nose and interrogate you (like a parent would) to try to prove your thinking wrong (not saying that some people wouldn't like this or be appreciative of course). On the surface seems like a great loyalty builder. But maybe not.

Take the lady that wants a fur coat. You're going to tell her she's stupid and should want a good cloth coat?

Take a guy that wants a fancy watch or a fancy car. In their mind there is value that extend way beyond the real benefit of the device. A guy wakes up and wants the Porsche Turbo. He doesn't want to hear that at 160k he is wasting his money. Now if he asks your opinion that's another thing of course.

There is no question that with some buyers you will gain good will by following the path described in the story. But please don't assume that everyone wants this, appreciates this, or that it is some just so above it all business ethics that everyone should emulate.

By the way having an external drive has advantages and disadvantages. (Personally I would never travel with my photo collection but on the other hand having it on a drive means you have to also protect the drive which becomes easier to steal or lose.

[1] We don't even know how important the money savings were to the buyer in this case. Perhaps he had millions I would guess that the store salesman had no clue to his financial condition at all when deciding he shouldn't "waste" his money.

Tichy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh - I am constantly at the limit of my 256GB SSD and it is very annoying. Unfortunately in the MB Air there is no way to swap the SSD for a bigger one... So I'd go with the 512GB any day. Before the Air, I used to always upgrade HD and memory at least once in my computers before getting a new one.

True, the main problem might be photos, and presumably even 512GB would fill up quickly these days. But external HDs just seem like an ugly solution. Also I already have an external HD attached for backups most of the time, which means I should carry two external HDs (one for backups, one for photos - and backup for photos is especially important)?

Maybe cloud services are the only solution? Have to look into that 1 TB option on Flickr...

tsieling 2 days ago 0 replies      
While waiting for Genius appointments and friends to get something done in Apple stores, I've seen salespeople talk customers out of higher priced items more than once. And they do it the right way: asking what you want to do with the computer and then finding the right level of machine for those needs.

I suspected that this was part of the training programme, precisely because it creates happier customers with a good story to share.

plonkus 3 days ago 0 replies      
He's a great salesman because he sold you what they have available in-store.
thufry 3 days ago 0 replies      
You might not be better off for buying the lower-spec model. Especially on RAM, which at today's prices doesn't make sense not to max out. You may actually find yourself needing to upgrade your machine sooner than you previously would have (which has non-financial costs in data migration).

That said, I think the Apple Store employees know when someone is dead set on exactly what they need (which the OP obviously wasn't). I walked in and stated the exact machine I needed and they said, "just a minute" and got it for me without another word.

mrbuttons454 3 days ago 1 reply      
They were probably out of the $1749 model.
drkevorkian 2 days ago 0 replies      
As somebody who's really feeling the squeeze now from skimping on RAM / SSD from my MBA purchase in 2011, I'm tempted to say he should have stuck with his first instinct. You can't upgrade the damn thing later, so do it right the first time!
antirez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe, but I'm selling my MBA 11 4GB 128GB SSD just because the disk and memory is not enough for me. I already purchased exactly what the OP was going to purchase...
jwilliams 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a good story, but in terms of downgrading - I always go with the higher spec. Each $100-200 might give me an extra 3-6 months life, which is usually worth it.
sspiff 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar experience in a Sony Center last year.

I walked in to buy the most expensive and pimped out Sony Vaio S at the time, and the salesman tried to convince me that I didn't need the higher specs and could be fine with a cheaper, lighter model that was coming out a few weeks later.

I bought the higher end machine though. I do use the faster CPU and large memory capacity - shaving 10 minutes of an Android build is worth a little money, and being able to run multiple VMs concurrently is also something I'm willing to pay for.

The salesman didn't fully understand why I needed the resources, and insisted on getting a lower end machine.

vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've helped a lot of people buy laptops over the years based on description alone (I eventually wrote a wiki page to help people decide on factors). Mostly it boils down to portability - after I explain what it's like carrying around a 15" item, most (not all) start looking at 13" or smaller. Being guided on screen size is the sole attribute that people mention after the fact (usually 'thank you' or 'I wish I had listened'). The rest is much of a muchness and varies on more detail in the use case.

Sometimes a 15" or bigger is warranted, but I've only seen it suitable for the rarely-mobile, not the always-mobile.

kleiba 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a very similar experience back in the 90's when buying a PC in a non-branded store. So let's be careful with extrapolating here.
duaneb 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Apple recognizes what few other retailers do: customer satisfaction starts even before a product is purchased, and it is customer satisfaction that makes companies great.

I'm not sure you can really claim that from the actions of a single employee, which even in Apple's ideal world don't mirror their parent company's ideals.

rdl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Getting the MBA with only 4GB is a mistake even for web browsing, if you open a lot of tabs.
josephjrobison 2 days ago 2 replies      
When is the new Macbook Pro coming out? I've been researching everywhere but there's not date for the non-Retina. This is relevant because based on this article, I'd be more apt to buy the Air now. For web development, medium resolution photo manipulation on photoshop, and light video editing, is the Air good enough?
throwaway10001 3 days ago 0 replies      
A very helpful Apple salesperson helped me save $750

Not really "save", he just gave you less options and the cost $750 less.

lucb1e 2 days ago 0 replies      
After reading the first paragraph I thought someone had a nice trick to save what I'd spend on an entire laptop (for $750 I get a new one, although indeed not an Apple one). Then it turns out the trick is just "don't buy more than you need". Go figure.
mountaineer 2 days ago 1 reply      
How are you handling photo backups with the iPhoto library on an external drive? Do you replicate it? I'm always fighting drive space on my iMac due to iPhoto, but with time machine running, I'm hesitant to move it off the main drive.
keithpeter 2 days ago 0 replies      
"With my photos all on the external drive, I have almost 100GB of free space. "

Of course, there is another external drive which is kept syncronised with the laptop and the iPhoto drive using automatic backup software, and then a third, much larger, external drive that is a backup - never deleting anything - rather than a sync.

I wonder how many photos the original author takes a month? How long is that 100Gb going to last?

Fully agree with the processor/RAM comments!

robbiep 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been downsold on MacBooks as well. I certainly appreciate that they try to get a great idea of what your needs are and match you to that.
joshdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was a former Apple specialist back in the day. Our job was to make the customers happy. No one in the Apple store gets commission. We were trained to help the customer find the right solution, not the most expensive one. Of course every interaction will be different since we are dealing with two humans communicating. But in general specialists try to "right sell" instead of up sell.
Sealy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the comments below. I went into an apple store recently and asked the technician for some advice. He openly admitted when I questioned his sales techniques that they are not paid on commission. He said that he would rather me not buy a product then buy the wrong one.
ericson578 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another reason to buy the stock model: My partner needed a new laptop, and I was sick of fixing the PC's he was used to using.

His requirement were using MS Office (mostly for word and powerpoint), surfing the internet, and watching videos while traveling. Macbook Air was a perfect solution (even the stock one without upgrades).

Besides showing him how to use a mac and the initial setup of buying and installing msoffice, I haven't had to fix his computer in almost a year.

If I can get more of my non-tech friends and family to switch, I will, not because I'm a fanboy but to cut back on my free tech support for MS products that I stopped using 10 years ago for all my friends and family :)

DrJid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar experience whereby I basically walked in to buy a screen cleaning solution. Upon checkout, the agent flat out told me "You know, this is really pricey and you could get a cheaper one for more value at the target just off a block from here".

I must say, I was quite surprised and thrilled at the same time. Sure, I could get an inexpensive one.. But for that kind of thoughtful service, I actually just felt like buying it! I didn't though, still a college student..

pjmlp 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Only $100 for double the RAM, $150 for the faster processor, and if youre doing that, you might as well max out the SSD as well.

With lots of people around the world getting $500 as average salary, I have to laugh with this "only" expression.

Splendor 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author misses the point that most stores don't stock anything but the base models. A fully-spec'd, brand new product would have to be shipped to the store (or your home).
sodafountan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I held a part time job at Staples as a sales associate for the technology section. We were always told to make recommendations to people based on what they need and not what they think they need. Although once you "down sold" them you were told to offer insurance and other extras which is really where Staple's margins are at, so it makes sense. In a way it helps the customer but at the same time it was deceptive because the insurance rarely ever made sense to buy unless you thought you were saving money.
snookca 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I first bought my 11" Air, I went with the base model, too. Mostly because I was impatient. But 128GB filled up fast, even with a 1TB external drive. Photos on another drive is one thing but if you have a sizeable music or movie collection, putting it on an external drive is a huge hassle. And then you're travelling with the computer and drive.

Thankfully, I bought the Air the year where you could still upgrade the drive. I bought a 500GB drive to replace the 128 and have been very happy since.

rrnewton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh, having your photos on an external is terribly annoying.

And as far as I can tell it does take a supercomputer to run Aperture.

racl101 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess you just got less options for less money. Saved, implied you got the works for less the price.

But at least the sales person was kind enough to drop some basic computer shopping knowledge on you.

Can't believe you were ready to spend that much $$$ on a computer without much research.

johnward 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get the ram though. 4gb might be enough right now, but what about in a couple years, or when you install a memory intensive app. Plus you can't just upgrade later.
jheriko 2 days ago 0 replies      
you can of course get away with this an make yourself look 'good' when all of your products are unreasonably priced to start with... you can buy/assemble most of their top-end systems for the cost of the bottom end... and getting equivalents to their bottom ends typically save around 50% :)
sidcool 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is impressive, I can't ever imagine a salesperson doing this. Probably that's why Apple reigns.
coderguy123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic customer service experience. Apple,Amex and costco should get together and make it all about customers instead of about shareholders.
dzhiurgis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't tell about the SSD, but any Mac with HDD and 4GB of RAM feels like XP box from 2005...
ahassan 2 days ago 0 replies      
The salesman isn't smart...OP is just stupid...
jester88 2 days ago 0 replies      
now when you discover that you need the extra grunt, it's going to cost you a chunk more to upgrade.
kostyk 3 days ago 1 reply      
if his supervisor finds out, he is fired.
Make DuckDuckGo your Chrome default search engine duckduckgo.com
297 points by evolve2k  7 days ago   122 comments top 26
dpcan 7 days ago 6 replies      
OK, but tomorrow when I've forgotten that I've done this and I do a quick search, if the very first thing that comes up isn't what I want, I bet I switch right back.
pilooch 6 days ago 2 replies      
DDG is nice initiative. The problem is that it does not solve any problem related to privacy because it is based on a matter of trust.

Distributed search, similar to bittorrent, DHT-based designs and the like are notoriously difficult.

I've participated in such efforts, like the Seeks Project [1], Yacy [2], and related initiatives like Unhosted [3], and it takes a certain amount of dedication (and suffering ;) ).

However, I believe it is not entirely impossible that we see a true alternative sometimes. From what experience, what is needed is a slightly better set of distributed algorithms, a business model with the ability to sustain such a technical effort, and a range of features that no search engine can yet offer (because centralized).

[1] http://www.seeks-project.info/[2] http://www.yacy.net/[3] https://www.unhosted.org/

mtgx 6 days ago 2 replies      
I can support this, but only if it offers real safety as opposed to Google.

So does it? Or is it safe only because NSA hasn't bothered to go to DDG yet, or do whatever they are doing to get Google's search data (cable splitters or whatever)?

rpearl 7 days ago 3 replies      
...and you trust Chrome? Not even Chromium, but... Chrome. Google makes Chrome, you know.
joeblau 7 days ago 2 replies      
I love DDG and I used it for 6 months but the problem I had is that when I was looking for things related to coding or Linux--it fell short. I would type in an error from Objective-c, Node.js, Java, JavaScript or Scala and nothing helpful would return. This forced me to return to Google which I ended up doing so often that I switched my default search engine back :(.
humanspecies 7 days ago 1 reply      
Using DuckDuckGo in Chrome is like asking for privacy while walking around naked in Times Square. Chrome has 100% unrestricted access to anything your user can access on your PC, no matter what search engine you choose.
kryten 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why would you use Chrome if you have privacy concerns and want to use DuckDuckGo? Google isn't exactly known for respecting privacy.

Install Firefox instead.

laureny 6 days ago 4 replies      
Pretty lame of DuckDuckGo to use this controversy to gain some cheap exposure.

Besides, there are zero guarantees that they are immune to the kind of accusation currently aimed at Google and co.

jafaku 7 days ago 1 reply      
What kind of joke is this? You are telling us to use a US-based search engine in a propietary browser made by a US-based company that we already know has given direct access to the NSA? What the fuck.
bifrost 6 days ago 1 reply      
I switched to DDG about 2 years ago and haven't looked back.My take is they have pretty good clue, are appreciative of security, and they use FreeBSD :)
socillion 7 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using DDG as default search engine in Firefox, with Google on fallback under the keyword "g". You can make a bookmark with a URL like

and add arbitrary keywords to the bookmark, like "yt", "g", or "so". Then you can simply enter that keyword followed by the search term in the address bar.

DDG definitely doesn't have the same quality results as Google, but it's close enough in most circumstances for me that the times I have to search twice aren't a huge factor.

proex 7 days ago 1 reply      
DDG is a nice search engine for simple research, but I don't use it as much for its search purpose as for its !bang utility.

Being able to search on almost any website by adding a simple keyword is a real plus and I will go even further and say that sometimes it accelerates the search process (say you know you want to search on wikipedia for instance).

However, I have to admit that most of the times I end up searching on google :)

fungi 7 days ago 2 replies      
i always make ddg my default... but then ill just use google for a sec and forget to change my search back to ddg and then without noticing ill be using google for the next week.

.... so my project for the weekend is to make a firefox extension that resets your search default every X hours/days.

doktrin 6 days ago 1 reply      
DDG is already my default search engine, and landing page (in FF, mind you).

However, honestly, I prefer Google's results. Has anyone else had this experience?

kushti 6 days ago 0 replies      
How to make Blekko default search engine in Firefox : http://chepurnoy.org/blog/2012/11/how-to-make-blekko-your-de...
zenbowman 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't trust Chrome, DDG w/ Firefox is easy and at least they are open about their practices.
depsypher 7 days ago 3 replies      
The only thing stopping me from making this switch is that doing arithmetic in the url bar stops working... I use that quite a bit. Is this some deep integration with chrome or can it be made to work with ddg as well?
bariswheel 7 days ago 0 replies      
Stop using your credit cards while you're at it...
tuananh 6 days ago 1 reply      
DDG when searching for reference: yeah; bang syntax is great.

Google for everything else.

revathskumar 6 days ago 0 replies      
I trust Google than Facebook.
gboone42 6 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone who tried to find news about the Boston Marathon Bombings on the day they happened via DDG should be aware the engine's inferiorities.
quattrofan 6 days ago 0 replies      
How does this help? Isn't DDG still located in the US?
pavilion 7 days ago 0 replies      
Better on Firefox Aurora give it a try
lsiebert 7 days ago 0 replies      
Chrome passwords have an export feature, right?
JEVLON 7 days ago 0 replies      
Better Privacy VS Tailored Search.
comrade1 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's only really meaningful if their operations and management are outside the u.s. Is this the case? Are there search companies with their engines in Switzerland or even the EU?
Hair codepen.io
294 points by stevoo  20 hours ago   93 comments top 18
JoelSutherland 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If it weren't for submissions like these, how could young developers that visit HN learn how to make ugly comments?
gavanwoolery 11 hours ago 1 reply      
If you think this is interesting you might also enjoy a little thing I made a few years back (move the mouse around, and hold down mouse button to rotate):


(Warning: uses Flash!!)

kybernetyk 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Ok, sorry for being ignorant but I'm not a web developer. So: What is so special about this? Is there some new technology in use?

I'm clearly not getting something with this submission.

goggles99 19 hours ago 9 replies      
Incredible. I have not seen anything like this since Macromedia Flash came out about 12 years ago... Sigh

There is good reason why we don't use flash today though right? It is resource intensive (looks at task manager and realizes that browser with hair page open is eating up 12% of i7 processor).

minikomi 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Awesome effect..

However, I was really disappointed to see that the code had been minified. Doesn't that kind of go against the point of codepen et al?

WickyNilliams 16 hours ago 3 replies      
So whenever I read the source on things like this I always hit a blocker with the maths - I just don't understand the reasoning and theory behind it.

Can anyone tell me what areas of math should I look at learning to comprehend (maybe even produce) this kind of thing?

gurkendoktor 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Froze after two seconds of playing around in Safari, this error may or may not be relevant

    [Error] TypeError: 'undefined' is not an object (evaluating 'g.getOrigin')y (BHIek, line 170)dispatch (BHIek, line 170)loop (BHIek, line 170)(anonyme Funktion)

waxjar 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I left this open in a tab on the background with the intention to check it out later. It froze my machine.
bliker 17 hours ago 1 reply      
So is there any way to block css animation or WebGL? I think it will be the next Flashblock
tieTYT 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to stop working after I use it after a while. Is this a bug or intended?
TurplePurtle 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks fun and informative for new programmers. That said I don't understand why this has so many points, and don't really think it belongs here.
octatone2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Uncaught TypeError: Cannot call method 'getOrigin' of undefined
ahassan 13 hours ago 0 replies      
You can crash the JS if you circle around the inside of the face for a few seconds. It will fail on getting an element so the getOrigin method is not defined.
bil 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool. Just one thing, animation stops when you move your mouse cursor to nearly the right end of the line between the head and left hand on Firefox 21 and Chrome 26 but not on IE 10.
foobarbazqux 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Dude is so metal.
rikelmens 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A small bug:The far left hair doesn't become the one on top when the mouse pointer goes to far left.
asghar07 8 hours ago 0 replies      
awesome effect..
john9824 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The site is broken. I can't see any animation or anything.

Who even writes ugly code like this:

.slice(0),this.depMaps.rjsSkipMap=e.rjsSkipMap,this.errback=n,this.inited=!0,this.ignore=r.ignore,r.enabled||this.enabled?this.enable():this.check()},defineDepById:function(e,t){var n;return each(this.depMaps,function(t,r){if(t.id===e)return n=r,!0}),this.defineDep(n,t)},defineDep:function(e,t){this.depMatched[e]||(this.depMatched[e]=!0,this.depCount-=1,this.depExports[e]=t)},fetch:function(){if(this.fetched)return;this.fetched=!0,r.startTime=(new Date).getTime();var e=this.map;if(!this.shim)return e.prefix?this.callPlugin():this.load();T(this,!0)(this.shim.deps||[],bind(this,function(){return e.prefix?this.callPlugin():this.load()}))},load:function(){var e=this.map.url;c[e]||(c[e]=!0,r.load(this.map.id,e))},check:function(e){if(!this.enabled||this.enabling)return;var

Watch 2013 Barack Obama Debate 2006 Joe Biden Over NSA Surveillance [video] eff.org
288 points by kirillzubovsky  5 days ago   81 comments top 10
chimeracoder 5 days ago 5 replies      
Related - here's a video of Candidate Obama debating President Obama on government surveillance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8
cpursley 5 days ago 3 replies      
If we were honest and classified President Obama objectively based on his actions alone, we'd label him a neoconservative corporatist in the same vein as Cheney. It's painful, especially after Bush. The truth hurts.
kunai 5 days ago 1 reply      
Obama's speech is obviously canned, while Biden's is the opposite. He is speaking candidly and openly, because he knows that it's the truth. The President, on the other hand, is hesitant and only chooses neutral words.

Amazing what diction can do for public viewpoints. It's equally amazing how many don't care enough to notice the aural cues of the state of being disingenuous.

znowi 5 days ago 3 replies      
Where did the master of public speaking go? I don't recognize Obama here. He's nervous and lost at words. Almost guilty.
ck2 5 days ago 0 replies      
Not an excuse at all but watching President Obama these days is like watching the end of The Man Who Fell to Earth (the original one with Bowie) where he's lost all control of people around him that he helped bring to power in the first place and he's utterly frustrated but stuck having to work with them.

As someone who was thrilled to see him elected, I am going to be very relieved to see him flown away on that last day, just like Bush.

wilfra 5 days ago 1 reply      
The difference between 2013 Obama and 2006 Biden is that 2013 Obama gets briefings on what exactly they uncover with that metadata and who they are catching with it. That's what he means when he says it was worth it.
pocketstar 5 days ago 7 replies      
How do you identify terrorists with only phone call 'metadata'?
quadrangle 4 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, it is important that Candidate Obama had to say the things he did to be elected. I would rather live in a world in which the ideals we put forward are good, even when the system then corrupts them and people turn out hypocritical. It is far worse when we as a society lose our principles.
natch 5 days ago 1 reply      
Has this been taken down? Mirror, anyone? Not working for me, just gives a black rectangle once the video is accessed.
sreddy1 5 days ago 0 replies      
cool stuff
       cached 21 June 2013 04:11:01 GMT