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This is a web page justinjackson.ca
1298 points by mijustin  10 days ago   419 comments top 100
ChuckMcM 10 days 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 10 days ago 25 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 10 days ago 4 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 10 days 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.

minikites 10 days ago 1 reply      
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



a3_nm 10 days ago 4 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.

null_ptr 10 days ago 2 replies      
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 10 days ago 4 replies      
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.

ignostic 10 days ago 6 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 10 days 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.

RBerenguel 10 days 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 10 days 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)"

cia_plant 10 days 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.

RyanMcGreal 10 days ago 1 reply      
It's the anti qz.com.
speg 10 days ago 1 reply      

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

pajju 10 days 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.

JasonFruit 10 days 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.
frogpelt 10 days 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.

foobarbazqux 10 days 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.
zobzu 10 days 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 10 days 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.

mijustin 10 days 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. ;)

devilshaircut 10 days 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.

steveplace 10 days 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.

Nux 10 days 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.

rabino 10 days 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/
tenpoundhammer 10 days 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.

DanBC 9 days ago 0 replies      
I strongly agree with this post.

Please, when creating content, concentrate on the words first. There are some obvious exceptions, but almost always the words are most important.

You can then add the markup, and the css, and the javascript, and all the other stuff.

But having great copy means that your visitors will always have good quality content even if they turn all that other stuff off.

gbog 10 days 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.

cpdean 10 days 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.
uxwtf 9 days ago 0 replies      
> At its heart, web design should be about words.

The Web is for sure a place to communicate with words. But can you imagine what will it look like if every web page will have only words? I can't. I wouldn't enjoy it anymore.

As a UI designer, I always try to create an interface as intuitive as possible, and sometimes words do work better than icons and images. But sometimes it will break the concept. Let's take Airbnb as an example.

If we'll remove all those attractive images and UI elements, which create its particular universe, Airbnb will look like Craigslist (though some apts have pictures today). And it won't be fun!

Both words and images play important roles in the web design. The role of the words is to communicate an idea. The role of the images is to illustrate the idea and to bring an additional value to the content.

muppetman 10 days 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.
dendory 9 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know about the over-reliance on words, I think images and videos are just fine on the web, but I do agree with the sentiment that pages have become way too bloated around the web. When a single news site that should be telling you about a story has dozens of external scripts, hundreds of assets and takes way too long to display, things have gotten too far.
aklein 9 days ago 0 replies      
From the perspective of someone who works with data, I simply have to disagree that words seem to be the most important way to convey information. Perhaps it is to some; but I'd bet the majority of information consumers prefer an alternate mode of visual communication with a well-executed design component. It is the concept is critical; words are simply one way to execute that concept. [Disclaimer: my wife is an advertising art director who has educated me a tiny bit on semiotics]
swamp40 10 days 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."

darrelld 10 days 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"
aaron695 10 days 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.

laureny 10 days 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.

inthewind 10 days 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.

exodust 8 days ago 0 replies      
sorry, but words on a web page isn't "magic".

> "We've become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things."

When we didn't have those fancy things, we wanted them. If they were taken away, we'd want them back. Nothing wrong with fancy presentation if your intention is to present something.

The first thing I ever did on the internet back in the 90s was look up guitar tab for beginners. I skipped the words and printed out the guitar tabs I found.

The author of "this is a web page" is flogging a book. That's nice, but I don't really think that reading his words is "magical".

Oxygen is magical. Gravity is magical. Magic is everywhere. Can we please move on to the magical things that actually stand out as deserving such a label relative to where we are in online evolution?

The internet of things is settling in nicely, and it isn't about words, it's about things. Linking data and real-time manipulation from online to things in our immediate and remote environments. THAT is closer to magic than plain text on a white page.

logn 10 days 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.
leeoniya 10 days ago 0 replies      
oh the joy loading a static html page @ 150ms
FreeFull 10 days ago 0 replies      
True minimalism would be a plain text file.
breck 10 days 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.

chris_mahan 10 days 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).
kombine 9 days ago 1 reply      
"I didn't need a Content Management System, a graphic designer, or a software developer."

The guy is arguing that we don't need software then, since it is possible to create every page by hand.

nhamann 10 days ago 1 reply      
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.
chris_mahan 10 days 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.
andrewljohnson 10 days ago 0 replies      
I only read the bold words, so I guess style matters.
jaredcwhite 10 days 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.

sirwanqutbi 10 days ago 0 replies      
He still used CSS styling. If anything, its a take on bringing back Times New Roman... everything is designed.
FrankBlack 10 days 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".


csomar 10 days 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.

s4m20 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I love https://github.com/circa75/dropplets

Simple, minimalist, publish through markdown. I stripped the Twitter button out of my fork because I thought even that was too much clutter (example: http://notes.darkfunction.com). Now I have just a list of articles, with a link to each article, and I can't think why I would need any more. I always found article history navigation on traditional bogs tedious (how am I supposed to know which month/year you wrote what I am looking for?) and as for social media buttons, if I want to put your post on my Facebook page I don't need a button to do it.

Pitarou 10 days 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.

marban 10 days 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.
csel 10 days ago 0 replies      
Wait...whatever happened to "A picture is worth a thousand words"?
anigbrowl 10 days 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).
quackerhacker 10 days 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!

vivekian2 9 days ago 0 replies      
I think what I really miss is reading web pages which were truly written from the heart. I remember even as far as back in 2005, for a search like "unrequited love", Google's top hit would be a link to a physics Phd's home page who had written about his multiple experiences of being declared 'just a friend' and how to get past being rejected over and over again.

Jump to today and the Google search yields following the obvious wikipedia link, is a whole bunch of wikihow, nytimes, urban dictionary and youtube links.

Those personal web pages with an intellectually rich content have just been lost to the dark internet.

skw 10 days 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.

jmagoon 10 days 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.

psibi 10 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the HTML hell page from Eric Raymond:


tericho 9 days ago 1 reply      
While I do agree that copy is an important and valid starting point, don't dismiss the power of images either.

This[1] is a very important and meaningful symbol in any language.


Felix21 10 days 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.

lsiunsuex 10 days 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

martin_ 10 days 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.
freejack 10 days ago 1 reply      
Nice, except it needs a "like" button.
kenbellows 9 days ago 0 replies      
I read his daughter's squirrel story [1]. I loved the last line: "Poor grandma Jalapeno she got arested for turning into superman."

[1] http://justinjackson.ca/words.html

dragontamer 10 days ago 0 replies      
Looks a lot better than what was here a few hours ago. Good job fixing the typesetting issues.
capex 10 days ago 0 replies      
Hope the book page he's writing follows the same simplicity as in the article.
olaf 10 days 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.
daralthus 10 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, you have this medium full of potential that could be anything and you just want to mimic paper...
undo 10 days 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.
borgchick 10 days 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>...
jerednel 10 days 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.
kidsil 9 days ago 0 replies      
Except Web Design has long been more similar to commercials, which have next to nothing to communicate except "BUY ME!"
shalander 9 days ago 0 replies      
I instantly recognized what he was doing, and yet, I was still reading, and kept reading, until the end. Great article!
olalonde 10 days ago 0 replies      
And tomorrow's top story on HN: "Users can't read".
koshak 10 days ago 0 replies      
seems like echo of http://mnmlist.com/w
hnriot 10 days ago 1 reply      
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.
rakeshsharmak 9 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant. Thank YOU for the simplicity. The best things in life are always the most simple..
phawk 9 days ago 0 replies      
And what? Your font looks like crap, line-height is not nice for me to read either.
crimezone20xx 10 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic, and makes me hopeful for how I'm about to launch my resum. Just words.
tytyty 10 days ago 0 replies      
You had me until your twitter and I read "I wear a fake mustache."
angrytoast 9 days ago 0 replies      
The future of the web is ideas, and the medium that it is delivered through, whether it be test, video, audio, or whatever that I can begin to comprehend, will hopefully be one that will be seen by as many as possible.
Nate630 10 days ago 0 replies      
That's why web typography is worth knowing as well!
ahawkins 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised this post has so many votes.
tiagofernandez 9 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for bringing me back to 1994.
davidrudder 10 days ago 1 reply      
Loved the story about the squirrel
loceng 10 days ago 1 reply      
kuchaguangjie 9 days ago 0 replies      
understand the core, and do things as simple as possible.
disclosure 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is typography
hhorsley 9 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Love this.
dmourati 9 days ago 0 replies      
i'm a squirrel ftw
bastifantasti 6 days ago 0 replies      
knotdvn 10 days ago 5 replies      
withparadox2 9 days ago 0 replies      
I really like this article!
Myrmornis 9 days ago 1 reply      
> This is a web page.

Pretentious drivel more like.

Bruce Schneier joins EFF Board of Directors eff.org
736 points by teawithcarl  3 days ago   36 comments top 12
randomdrake 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bruce Schneier is an incredible asset to the technology community. I think it's awesome that he's going to be on the board of the EFF.

Receiving an EFF Pioneer Award in 2007, his introduction alone describes why he is a perfect candidate. The audio for the speech is, thankfully, available in the Internet archive[1]. The introduction given by one of the EFF technologists is a wonderful description of how important Bruce Schneier's contributions to technology and security really are, outside of his incredible cryptographic skills.

"Skilled in his exposition of ideas about security."

Bruce's ability to explain, in clear terms, what is or isn't wrong about particular systems is amazing. Whenever there's some sort of technological thing going on in the world, security related, Bruce's blog[2] is often one of the first place I go to.

"Made people aware of the context in which security happens. The context in which security measures exist the political context, the economic context, the psychological context, the social context in which security really happens or often doesn't happen."

This is an incredibly valuable and necessary outlook on security in this day and age. The world needs more people who are aware of security, not as just some thing that you do, but really as a mindset and thing that you really have to wrap your head around.

"Worked really hard to demystify security. To help people think clearly about what really works and doesn't work."

"Emphasis and insistence that security is not an objective thing but is relative to the observer. That it's always from someone's perspective."

"You don't just have security as this thing that's out there, but security has a kind of political dimension, that you need to have a prior notion of what kinds of actions are appropriate and what kinds of actions are warranted."

I couldn't think of a more appropriate and equipped individual to help the EFF at this time in our history.

[1] - http://archive.org/details/Bruce_Schneier_EFF_Pioneer_Awards...

[2] - http://www.schneier.com

pvnick 3 days ago 3 replies      
>Author and Critic Deepens EFF's Security Expertise as NSA Scandal Intensifies

Great news - I've read a couple of really interesting articles that Schneier's put out in recent weeks - but is the scandal actually intensifying? I'm afraid somebody is going to need to fill me in on the current state of the reaction from the public/media at large; I tend to lock myself in a filter bubble of news relevant to my interests.

jdp23 3 days ago 1 reply      
He's in good company:

In addition to Schneier, EFF's Board of Directors includes John Perry Barlow, Brian Behlendorf, John Buckman, Lorrie Cranor, David Farber, John Gilmore, Brewster Kahle, Pam Samuelson, Brad Templeton, and Jonathan Zittrain.

Barlow and Gilmore are the EFF founders, along with Mitch Kapor who hasn't been that active for quite a while.

zdw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd totally vote for a Lessig/Schneier ticket in 2016. One would clean up the political disaster, the other the "security" nightmare...
lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 2 replies      
This feels like a move towards the mainstream for EFF.

I have a sneaking suspicion this is the beginning of a gradual recognition of orgnaisations like EFF in having a voice in regular politics. Not a big one perhaps, but being at the table.

Zikes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Schneier sounds like a perfect fit for an organization like the EFF. I hope that with his help they will be able to do even more good.
mark_l_watson 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is good news, and reminded me to go to eff.org and invest some money in our future via a donation.

I try to read everything that Bruce Schneier writes on security, politics, and policy.

hobs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bruce is awesome and has been writing amazing stuff for years!He contributed to one of my favorite fictional books, the cryptonomicon with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitaire_%28cipher%29

Also whenever he comes up you have to visit:http://www.schneierfacts.com/facts/top

lsiebert 3 days ago 0 replies      
This can only be good news.
dllthomas 3 days ago 0 replies      
tome 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, a great boon for the EFF. Congratulations!
pyrocat 3 days ago 0 replies      
/sc2Hell, it's about time
U.S. charges Edward Snowden with espionage washingtonpost.com
724 points by o0-0o  9 days ago   346 comments top 41
DanielBMarkham 9 days ago 19 replies      
So now is the time to identify the federal prosecutors who filed this and petition the government to have them fired. In addition, of course, to asking for a complete pardon for Snowden.

It also should be noted that any of the Congressional investigations into this mess are perfectly capable of giving Snowden a grant of immunity from prosecution.

People ask what to do. There are at least two avenues open to nip this completely in the bud before prosecutors get rolling, and several other ways of notifying our elected representatives that going down this path is unacceptable.

These are political charges, and as the governed we should stand up to the people who are supposed to be working for us and demand that they be dropped. Immediately.

codex 9 days ago 4 replies      
It looks like this charge can carry the death penalty because it involves "communications intelligence". From http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/794:

"(a) Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates, delivers, or transmits, or attempts to communicate, deliver, or transmit, to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life, except that the sentence of death shall not be imposed unless the jury or, if there is no jury, the court, further finds that the offense resulted in the identification by a foreign power (as defined in section 101(a) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978) of an individual acting as an agent of the United States and consequently in the death of that individual, or directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, early warning systems, or other means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack; war plans; communications intelligence or cryptographic information; or any other major weapons system or major element of defense strategy."

unimpressive 9 days ago 1 reply      
"The same night two prominent Kadet leaders, Professor F. Kokoshkin, and Dr. A. Shingarev, were murdered in a hospital by a group of Bolshevik sailors. When Lenin heard of the ensuing protest meetings held by the Social Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, he said cynically: 'Let them protest, let them bubble over with rage, let them rave some, sigh some, drink a lot of tea and talk until dawn; then they will surely soon fall asleep.'" - A history of Soviet Russia, George Von Rauch, Fifth Revised Edition, 1967

I can't help but think of that every time I read one of these threads. Especially when people ask for things like the dismissal of the prosecutors, in complete disregard that this agenda comes straight from the White House.

olefoo 9 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that Holder and Obama chose to drop their charges into public view smack in the middle of the friday night news blackout shows that they lack confidence and feel weak in the face of negative public opinion.

We are entering into the seminal stages of a struggle for the 21st Century; will the future be defined by unaccountable power?

Will we all live in the Panopticon with the sole exception of the ODNI or whatever Cabal is the inner circle of the Intelligence Community?

Will the US (and the world) be ruled by secret laws negotiated as "trade treaties"; that give corporate organizations greater power than any legislature accountable to the citizenry?

Snowden's revelations are merely one set of secrets that we deserve to know. There many more, and every one of those secrets deserves exposure. We, the people of earth; deserve to know what is being done to us by our leaders.

When a government has so profoundly violated the people's trust as ours; questioning it's legitimacy is... legitimate.

mtgx 9 days ago 1 reply      

"The Obama DOJ just charged its 7th leaker under "espionage" statute - total for ALL prior presidents: 3"


mindcrime 9 days ago 3 replies      
Meanwhile, the petition to pardon him[1] only needs ~8000 more signatures to require a response.

[1]: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snow...

staunch 9 days ago 2 replies      
For anyone else who thinks what he did was right: it's our job to make sure he gets pardoned. He did his part.
mtgx 9 days ago 2 replies      
Time to take it to the streets on July 4th:


"Restore the Fourth is a non partisan group of concerned citizens working to restore privacy and fourth amendment rights. We are planning nationwide protests in over 100 locations on July 4th."

fragmede 9 days ago 5 replies      
Interestingly, according to that article, he hasn't been charged with treason, 'just' espionage, theft and conversion of government property. Someone more qualified than I can elaborate, but treason is a much harder crime to prove than espionage (like murder vs. manslaughter).

Edit:According to the video link provided by spdy, the crime needs to exist in both systems (ie Hong Kong and the US) in order for an extradition request to be considered valid.

Treason, with a similar burden of proof, does not exist in Hong Kong, and thus could not be charged.

Is the US attorney's office allowed to rescind the charges of espionage and re-charge him with treason after he's been extradited to the US?

zwegner 9 days ago 0 replies      
Classic Greenwald on twitter:

"Anyone have interest in a criminal investigation to discover which "officials" leaked news of the sealed indictment? http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-cha... "

charonn0 9 days ago 3 replies      
Why is he being charged in the Eastern District of Virginia when the alleged crime was perpetrated in Hawaii? Shouldn't any prosecution be under the original jurisdiction of the District of Hawaii/9th Circuit?

    Amendment VI    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy     and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein     the crime shall have been committed[...]

surrealize 9 days ago 0 replies      
They charged him on his birthday? Damn, that's cold. After what the NSA did to Thomas Drake (dragging him through legal hell for four years, which in the end resulted in no jail time or fines), you have to wonder how personal some of the legal maneuvering is.
jsmeaton 9 days ago 2 replies      
Let's assume this charge is legal and correct for a moment. Why aren't the newspapers (guardian and the post?) and their writers/editors also being charged? Why aren't the newspapers having their paypal and all their bank accounts frozen?

We live in very scary times as far as I'm concerned. The US is prosecuting its own citizens for standing up and saying "what you're doing to the rest of the world is not OK". But if you're a non-US citizen doing the same you just get thrown in Gitmo.

There's outrage about what is being done domestically, but the rest of the world seem to have no way of protesting. As an Australian I should be safe from all of this - but our Government, no doubt, is piggy-backing on everything the US is doing. No one is safe.

aspensmonster 9 days ago 1 reply      
Espionage is punishable by death. I sincerely hope Snowden finds asylum somewhere safe --Iceland perhaps-- as the Department of Justice has made it perfectly clear that this patriot is no longer welcome here.
redthrowaway 9 days ago 2 replies      
The non-print, non-mobile version:


This actually seems to be a pretty big problem with the web right now. We've been balkanized into mobile and desktop versions of sites, to the point where sharing one with the other inevitably pisses someone off. This article is all but unreadable on desktop, and I suspect the same would be true in reverse.

The point of the web is to have multiple clients getting the same info from a single source. This doesn't work if mobile and desktop clients are served different versions of the same site, and in effect are barred from sharing with eachother.

malandrew 9 days ago 1 reply      
Personally, I would want him to stand trial on two conditions:

(1) He and Glenn Greenwald are allowed to have an open, public televised debate with President Obama, the congressmen that are members of the intelligence committee, and the judges that sit on the FISC court. This would be done in 3 sessions Frost/Nixon style.

(2) He is promised fair just treatment, that is made public so that he cannot be subjected to solitary confinement and other torturous conditions.

guelo 9 days ago 1 reply      
If Hong Kong grants the "provisional arrest warrant" it could mean that Snowden will spend years fighting extradition from inside a jail cell. And it could be the end of any hopes of asylum in Iceland.
nullc 7 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose this certifies the authenticity of the released claims, for those who have been continuing to deny it: If the documents weren't real he'd just be a liar and lying in the media isn't generally a crime in the US.
outside2344 9 days ago 4 replies      
I think we have to march on this one and be loud.

For San Francisco, we should show up in force somewhere - is Tuesday too soon to plan something - say show up in force at Union Square at 8pm?

hughw 9 days ago 0 replies      
"...said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the case."

Leakers leaking about another leaker.

crazygringo 9 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain how he can be charged with espionage? Is there some meaning of that which covers leakers of information, like leaking the Pentagon Papers, when it's to the press (and not to another government or company)?
sevenatenine 9 days ago 0 replies      
The government obviously needs to set a precedent by charging Snowden. Even though what the government is doing is controversial and many people support Snowden, there might be somebody else down the line who thinks, "If Snowden was able to do it, then I can too because I believe this thing I'm exposing is wrong."

Of course, massive public outrage over what the NSA is doing could make it a moot point and put the focus on the government. But like many things, this isn't a one sided issue and many people are indifferent or support the NSA. The media is asking "How should we feel about this?" and any white house petition will likely get a weak answer reinforcing the government's decision.

ausjke 9 days ago 0 replies      
I hope Hongkong will be protecting him, or he can live in Iceland peacefully afterwards. He is doing that for all of us ordinary people in my opinion.This is also extremely embarrassing for US gov and the president, who were blaming Chinese for network attacks and acting as the innocent victim. I now doubt the integrity of our leaders, they're simply liars in this regard, how can I trust them in the future for whatever they're going to say.
jneal 9 days ago 0 replies      
Snowden is, and will forever be, a patriot in my eyes. Our government (in the US) takes away more and more of our civil liberties and constitutional rights with each passing day and I'm personally tired of it.
mililani 9 days ago 1 reply      
More and more over the past several years, I've wondered what has become of this country. I mean, in my 39 years of life in the U.S., I don't think there was ever a time where I thought, this country has gone to the pits. And, not only is it the the government, it's the U.S. Citizens. These people are placated to the point that if you don't take away their celebrities and entertainment, you could literally shit on their mothers and they probably would just take it.

Pretty disturbing times we're living in.

lazyjones 8 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose this makes it crystal-clear that in the eyes of Washington, the people of the USA are the enemy. Now everything suddenly makes more sense.
peripetylabs 9 days ago 2 replies      
The Chinese authorities will hold him until they feel he has given them all he knows, then quickly extradite him to the US.

At that point he will probably try to get to Europe. If he makes it, his appeal to those governments on humanitarian grounds may be weakened by the fact the first country he picked practices capital punishment far more than the US (more than every other country in the world combined):


He could have fled to Europe in the first place just as easily. For example, US citizens are exempt from visa requirements for short stays (90 days) in France -- la Patrie des droits de l'homme -- from where he would have had direct access to the ECtHR...

belorn 9 days ago 1 reply      
> The anti-secrecy group Wikileaks has held some discussions ...

What is an anti-secrecy group? It sound like something out of Discworld series, where a group is tired of being discovered changed the door sign from "secret group" to "not-secret group". In the world of Discworld, it would likely work too.

Is it so hard to write a group behind the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, or the more correct term: A group that runs a publishing website for whistleblowers called WikiLeaks?

dschiptsov 8 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing to see here. Govt need to create a public process with a severe penalty in order not to create a precedent.

The same type of prosecution as in Khodorkovsky or Pussy Riot cases in Russia - to clearly signal to others - don't do it again, so govt will do everything that is possible.

Sometimes I think that being a major in, say, English literature isn't that useless as it seems to be.))

RexRollman 9 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, because the most criminal thing you can do is reveal criminal activity by the government.
coldcode 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm perhaps he will meet a drone face to face and never face a trial.
jusben1369 8 days ago 0 replies      
They were always going to charge him if only to discourage future Snowden's.
mehmehshoe 9 days ago 0 replies      
"The 30-year-old intelligence analyst revealed himself June 9 as the leaker in an interview with the Guardian"

Happy birthday Ed!

rdouble 9 days ago 3 replies      
I have a feeling we're never going to see the rest of the data Greenwald supposedly has.
gesman 9 days ago 0 replies      
Charged with "conversion of government property" ?Meaning conversion to something [finally] useful?
sigzero 9 days ago 0 replies      
Not surprising at all really.
shire 9 days ago 0 replies      
This thing is moving fast should reach 100k before july 9 for sure.


paullik 8 days ago 1 reply      
The irony, Snowden being charged with espionage by the country that spies everyone...
bayesianhorse 8 days ago 0 replies      
You know spys... bunch of bitchy little girls...
torito28 9 days ago 1 reply      
I highly doubt anything will happen to him. This is the same story over and over again.
ericgoldberg 9 days ago 1 reply      
We created a pro-Snowden collection of shirts, stickers, and hats if you want to show your support. There's a link to donate to his cause too. http://www.wishplz.com/product-collections/bDRzO6c7Stw0vSVh2...
Making the web fun again neocities.org
678 points by kyledrake  2 days ago   227 comments top 78
TravisLS 2 days ago 6 replies      
I LOVE this idea, and it's totally fine if it becomes "a vast wasteland of garbage" as mentioned elsewhere in this thread. Technically, so is YouTube, but you probably don't look at all the garbage. You look at the good stuff that surfaces to the top. Occasionally, you stumble on a gem.

It may have some struggles getting off the ground. After all, if you just want to put something on the internet, there are now many many ways to do that.

But for many people, the first step beyond their Tumblr page is still a total mystery. I learned HTML and Javascript because when I was 14, I wanted a website for my comedy troupe (no longer active). I spent hours researching free web hosting and stumbled upon Geocities. That kicked off a life of programming and a love for the web that has never died.

There are still people out there who would love to learn HTML and have some more control over what they put online. Bravo to Kyle for making it possible. Make a donation - even if you don't think you'll personally use it. It's worth it if it inspires even one kid to start building something.

digitalsushi 2 days ago 9 replies      
I wanna share a thought I had about this a couple years ago.

I'm 33, so I was 14 in 1994, the first time I got onto the web. It was as bare bones as it got. I think I beat the IMG tag by a few months, maybe. Anyways, don't hold me to facts here, I am just imparting a general time frame.

The idea of the Internet, and the world wide web, was terribly abstract, new, confusing, delightful. It made wizards of us that could navigate it. As a burgeoning geek in desperate need of a personal identity, this digital playground was an infinite resource to push against. Each chance encounter with an online stranger a blank slate. It was exotic and alluring and exciting.

During this era, a huge swath of us all were experiencing this at the same time. It was an overlap of our youth, the loss of innocence, and the explosion of this new universe. It was a hell of a drug.

And we got addicted to the newness of it all. There's a word for this.


And this concept, I feel, best describes the ennui I have felt for years now, the booming homogeny the web has turned into. The web has long since succeeded, but we were children of the laboratory. We lost our home and we've been trying, in vain, to find a new one ever since. I can't believe I am alone in this sensation.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sadly, this won't make the web fun again.

So two things that are important to note here, the first is that the 'fun' part of the web was learning new things and static HTML, even dressed up with HTML5 goodies, will be fun if you don't know these technologies but no more or less fun than doing the same thing on a Raspberry Pi or something similar. Its the 'learning' that is fun, and the web was more 'fun' when you were learning it because it was all new, and once you learned enough about it to see it for what it was, the parts that are less seemly start to dominate your vision and it feels less fun. Which brings us to the second part.

The second part, and I don't have a good solution for this, is that folks will use this, and they will put good content on them and they will get page views and searches and what not. Then the 'link authority' of neocities will start to rise because, well it has a bunch of good content.

Once it crosses a threshold (which is sadly pretty low) then a crap ton of SEO types will start creating pages on it to boost the organic rating of various web sites. And then Google will penalize neocities, and the good stuff will become unfindable (on Google at least) because Google won't index it, or they will pump down host rank to the point where it shows up on the results on page 3.

Just prior to that people will build sites on it that do drive by malware injection using javascript. The preferred cloaking vector for that these days seems to be a script reference that points out to something that looks like jquery but really isn't.

Then the owner is going to get a lot of threatening letters from lawyers who were told by people who got hijacked to "get the bastards who did this!" and the bad guys will be well cloaked but the neocities ownership will be just standing there, an easy target (for hassling at least, register your DMCA agent right now if you haven't already to avoid the copyright trolls).

And at the end of the day the real reason the web isn't fun anymore will become apparent. There is too much money to be made by manipulating it, and so its full of bad actors who are chortling away while stealing billions of dollars from hapless 'lusers.'

grey-area 2 days ago 1 reply      
Upvote for a great idea whose time has come around again. The people who used to try their hand at making their own website on geocities moved on to sites with less control like MySpace and then FaceBook, but something was lost along the way - the amateur spark that made the early web fun. Basic HTML and CSS is really quite simple and it'd be better if more people learned to use it. I know social sites add a different dimension to online sharing, but they also come with the illusion of privacy, intrusive adverts, online games, lame jokes, encouragement to comment on the meme of the day etc.

Static html is a great choice because it dramatically cuts the requirements, and because the vast majority of homemade websites don't need to be dynamic, very rarely change, and even a beginner can open a basic html file and start editing.

One little thing I think they could add are some visual controls for editing the look of your site on the fly - for example they could have a simple control panel to change basic attributes of the page like background colour, fonts, text sizes etc. and show you the CSS code that does it. That could write to the CSS as their current online-CMS type files do so that it could be edited later. Integrate that with webfonts and you could delivery some really beautiful styling tweaks without people even having to learn CSS and start to teach people to write simple web markup with online tutorials.

resu_nimda 2 days ago 3 replies      
Instead of having adventures into the great unknowns of the web, we instead now spend most of our time on social networks: boring, suburban gated communities, where everybody's "profile" looks exactly the same, and presents exactly the same content, in the same arrangement.

It's funny, because I've always felt Facebook was a huge improvement over MySpace for exactly this reason. Now, reading this article, I thought "Wait a second, have I gotten it backwards? Crazy adventures do sound more fun than clinical suburbs." On the other hand, what people did with the old MySpace was actually pretty terrible, and maybe this is just tapping into GeoCities nostalgia. I don't know, the jury's still out.

But, here's one issue: the freedom and low barrier to entry of GeoCities led to a lot of basic and poorly thought out designs. Many were not really "designed" at all, and that certainly led to some wacky surfing safaris. One reason that things have homogenized is that we've developed a much stronger expectation for how websites should look and act. But, these are complex to design and develop - well out of reach of the average individual - so we glom onto template services that provide a nice design and out-of-the-box functionality: comments, social, CMS, etc. And yeah, most sites on the respective platforms look relatively the same. In order to break that, there's going to be a necessary degradation in sophistication. Which is fine with me, I'm down for the punky DIY vibe. But, this quote worries me a little:

And we have great CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and a new, even simpler one that Scott O'Hara is working on called Ground Floor, that makes web sites look pretty good even if the designer doesn't use or understand CSS at all.

What's everyone's #1 criticism of Bootstrap websites? They all look the same. What happens if this turns into BootstrapCities?

ChrisNorstrom 2 days ago 1 reply      
Idea: If neocities users let you put Google Adsense ads on their pages they'll get upgraded to 30mb for free. At least this way you can have some income.

I love the idea and passion you have for this, your story and purpose, but as soon as I read "I'm paying for the servers out of pocket, which is tough for me because I currently don't have a large income," and "My goal is to pay for the site through donations" I just sighed. I've seen this so many times before. Founders who have a deep seeded fear or hatred of money or rich people. So much so that they've convinced themselves to go on a neurotic journey to "change the world" or "do something good for humanity" while refusing to be profitable or make money like the "evil greedy rich" that they despise. I hope you steer clear of that. I hope you find a way to make neocities profitable, sustainable, and I hope it brings in so much income that you can grow neocities and keep it free for decades while not having to worry about your mortgage or kid's college fund.

BTW, my favorite is http://clock.neocities.org

joshuahedlund 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm excited about the potential here. Moore's law etc allows geocities-style websites to be maintained for significantly less cost than it did a decade ago. I hope the next generation has as much fun learning HTML as I did.

Something else has changed besides the technology costs, though. I'm old enough to have used geocities, but not old enough to know or remember if it was truly "anonymous" and "uncensored." Was it? Regardless I wonder if Neocities will have a harder time maintaining those qualities in today's world.

lmm 2 days ago 3 replies      
So does the author want this to be a place for quirky fun by people who aren't web experts, or for srs designers? That My Little Pony page they linked to might scale better than a LAMP stack, but I'll guarantee it took more expertise to create. People who don't know CSS but have interesting things to say are much better served by a service like, well, tumblr - which allows plenty of customization, but also allows you to simply write, and have it look reasonable, with the attention on your actual content. There's certainly value in a site that only serves static files and thus has low expenses, but to attract the geocities demographic I'd want some kind of friendly editing frontend - even github pages is a huge step forward from editing HTML by hand.
rickdale 2 days ago 1 reply      
I used to love geocities growing up. Making fake billing error sites and spamming them out was a hobby of teenage me, and most importantly geocities taught me that you can view the source! to any website. I remember when I first learned about viewing the source to a website, I was so pumped to go through some actual working code and then recreate it in geocities. When I was twelve I figured out how to email forms to myself, which would have been much harder to execute without geocities.
jiggy2011 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of the most important parts of geocities functionality was allowing users to integrate their static HTML sites with the backend functionality provided by Yahoo.

Stuff like guestbooks,hit counters and even chatrooms. From what I remember you dumped some magic tag in there which was parsed by the server which added a chunk of HTML that was dynamically generated.

Does Neocities have something like this?

You could do all sorts of fun things with this, like javascript games which allow site owners to create lobbies for their website.

So something like:

<Game gametype="bomberman" lobby="mylobbyname">

aridiculous 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a designer (an imposer of order), this was surprisingly inspiring! In 2004, the trend was towards order and now feel (Ok, hoping?) the pendulum might be swinging a bit more towards chaotic freedom.
sergiosgc 2 days ago 6 replies      
You know what is the mega-feature that is missing? Git integration. Yeah, it's geek, I know, but it would be a phenomenal way to publish a website (edit, commit, push).
agentultra 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love little tools that let people explore their creativity. Geocities was certainly one of the earlier ones. But perhaps the OP is viewing it with rose-tinted glasses?

Sure it exposed you to becoming a creator on the web but I think that was mostly a historical accident. We can only appreciate it in hindsight. It's not like Geocities was the best way to create and host web pages.

Today I think webmaker.org is a step in the right direction.

But for most people I think initiatives and projects like this will remain rather niche. If you're not technically inclined to learn new skills and technologies to get content on the web you don't have to. There are plenty of great, free tools for putting your content online and hosting it for free.

pbhjpbhj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get it.

Geocities was right at the time, we have Wordpress (and yes MySpace and Tumblr and Google Sites and Apples site builder and Yahoo pages and Wix et cetera) and a million different blogging platforms now that fill most of what Geocities was (I had an account there).

For the rest of it there are better implementations of things like photo sharing (and now video sharing) or sharing guitar tabs or artwork or music or ...

>"It's worth it if it inspires even one kid to start building something." //

You can get a free domain name and run your own server with only a few clicks of the mouse now.

So, like I said, I don't get where "neocities" fits in to the web of today.

vanderZwan 2 days ago 0 replies      

Hah! (where have I seen that demo before?)

lloeki 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are lots of things to be done, even with static content (from the server PoV). Right next to this entry stands "A dark room", which is entirely static server-side.

Regarding the "airport kid" saddies, someone pointed out how he longed for the C64 days and put one up again. I see this as an opportunity. What can you achieve with 10M and HTML+JS? While the web seems to look like "old stuff" there's lots to be done with WebGL, canvas, websockets... All of this now available to everyone for free. No domain name to own, no DNS to set up, no VPS or RPi+FTTH to own, no hacking around to squat Heroku or GAE with static content.

Think outside the box and show off your skills, folks. Push the envelope. That's the hacking spirit.

rcavezza 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thinking back, it's very possible that Geocities is a key reason I am a developer today.
hippich 2 days ago 0 replies      
I must say that today you can do quite complex apps using just JS. So this might take off in unexpected way easily.
yaix 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are many such sites on the web where you can easily and for free create a web site with plain HTML, and many of them have been around for 10+ years and give you more than 10MB. What's the big deal here, appart from the name?
d23 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please tell us what you're doing to prevent all the data from being lost if Neocities goes down. I don't want this to turn into another.. well, Geocities.
sinak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Geocities was great, and I'm really glad Kyle is doing this.

The very very first site I built (in junior high) is still live and kicking on freeservers: http://sina.8m.com/

Certainly it falls in the "vast wasteland of garbage" category, but I'm glad it's still online.

8ig8 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a shame that GeoCities is gone, and I totally respect this new effort, but isn't NeoCities one missed credit card payment away from the same fate? There's a lot of eggs in that basket.
adaml_623 2 days ago 0 replies      
Might want to put in a little thought towards a (N)SFW mode...
boneheadmed 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that in the 80s when home computers were new, you essentially started your computer at the command line and could code in something like Basic right away. A lot of non-technical people learned at least some programming, because of this. When GUIs came this faded out.

A similar parallel in the 90s with the internet is that people learned HTML, because in many ways tools were limited and it was relatively easy to create a page that was respectable enough. Now that so many web pages are "covered" in CSS and/or created with higher level tools, it will be interesting to see if many non-technical people will be attracted to creating their own web pages. I hope so.

lettergram 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea and think it will be both an adventure and worth while, but it'll never be what it used to be.

Here's why:

My friends never really made there own websites or anything even close, but when myspace came along everyone suddenly became interested in the ability to customize their profile page. This alone created would be programmers out of my friends, figuring out how to manipulate each page to add interesting layouts via HTML, picking music to add to the page and figuring out how to embed pictures, videos, music, links, etc. The point is, that myspace was in many ways better than Facebook, and a transition from webpages to social networking. With myspace essentially gone, my friends have on multiple occasions told me they missed the ability to make themselves unique, but when I suggest them making their own webpage they call claim it too hard, costly, no way to network, etc.

Perhaps neocities can make it, but to hit a larger market it'll need more social networking that allows the qualities of facebook chat (why ALL of my friends switched from myspace). If you could add in the social networking aspect, it would trump the need for facebook and open the door for a whole new realm of people.

SkyMarshal 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. GeoCities infinite customizeability + HTML5 client-side web app capability may be just that. Excellent, good luck!
erickhill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Complete tangent, but I love how the NeoCities ico image is a brutally rendered globe, probably in 256 colors. When you view it directly, it even rotates. Let the GIF march begin! Again!


sasteven 5 hours ago 0 replies      
An important part of bringing people back to an interactive web is to do away with the 'browser' concept and bring back symmetrical web clients.

I still actively use the SeaMonkey web browser, and a big part of the reason I do is it still has an integrated WYSIWYG HTML composer component. I have an 'edit' action item for any web page I visit, and cut-and-past capability between browser and composer windows.

Hosting a website permanently is just a matter of getting an account on freeshell.org and setting up your ~/html directory to face the web. If you want a decent amount of space and the ability to use the PHP and MySQL backend, you can make a one time donation of ~30 dollars (can't remember the exact amount) for a lifetime upgrade.

thomasfl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I strongly recommend reading the Ruby source code for NeoCities on Github https://github.com/kyledrake/neocities-web

NeoCities uses Sinatra, Slim templates and Sequel for database queries and migrations. The code is a pure joy to read. Ruby is not the fastest language, but for an initial release of a minimum viable product it's perfect.

If you decide take on investors you can pay someone else to rewrite the thing in java later.

jaakl 1 day ago 0 replies      
What does this really mean: "as long as it's not illegal to host it"? This site is globally accessible, but legal rules are local. If you host something which is illegal say in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (not that hard to do), and make it available over neocities also to Saudi Arabia, then is it illegal or not? Well, in practice for sure KSA will just block whole domain, and probably you don't care. I think whole youtube is still blocked in Turkey because of single bad video. Where are physically your servers?

Also I'm afraid according to many countries you would be legally responsible to the content what you help to publish. So any single page with questionable content may end up badly for you.

Geocities worked because these nasty legal problems did not come up yet, Internet was a marginal non-serious thing, and even if bad content was published then no-one noticed or reacted to it. Now a web is the mainstream media, and you may find out that technical hosting of some bytes is really smallest problem in the global publishing business. In order to follow all laws of all the countries where you operate (i.e. from where your site is accessible) you need to monitor the content, react to notifications etc.

sktrdie 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is kind of ridiculous sorry. The Web is so interesting today because it moved forward from a read-only kind of system, which you seem to so happily advertise with this NeoCities website.

And I totally disagree about Facebook. It has given me the ability to communicate very creatively with my friends. Much more than any read-only HTML site will ever dream of. Who cares about its boring interface, the power lies in the content and ability it has given me to easily share this content with my friends.

How will NeoCities adress the challenges we already faced 10 years ago, that is that users will want to input data, and interact with these static sites, rather than just read them?

Sure it's fun and creative to share static content... it's also fun and creative to share static images (flickr). But the medium of the Web has much more potential than simply being a repository of static resources.

networked 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please add the ability to sort the websites by recency and by (weighted) hits when browsing through http://neocities.org/browse.
alexsilver 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone heard of Google Sites? http://sites.google.com/
MarkHarmon 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author does a great job of calling potential users to action. One of the cool things about the old myspace.com was the ability to customize a profile, it gave users a way to express themselves. I'm sure people made money off of "theme makers" and other web tools that otherwise would not have gained popularity. NeoCities could be the catalyst for a new wave of sites that aim to make it easier for users to personalize their website on NeoCities. Sometimes all it takes to revitalize an idea is to present in a slightly different way.
leke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Neocities is just so handy. Like last night, I read the 2012 doomsday forum was going read only, and the search feature was being disabled. So I made a quick google custom search feature: http://2012forum.neocities.org/ and asked the maintainer to link it on the site.
d23 2 days ago 0 replies      
> When Yahoo shut down GeoCities, they did much more than delete a bunch of ... Limp Bizkit MIDI files.

Ugh, guilty as charged.

IanCal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea. I wonder how you'll deal with the problems with anonymity though. You've no record of who signed up for anything, and creating a page is easy. What will you do when someone puts child porn up? What about any other 'illegal' content? Copyrighted content? Libellous content?
frankcaron 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think anything proves this point more than the "This is a webpage" post that hit 1 on HN a few days ago.
rocky1138 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kyle, I love neocities. Not trying to toot my own horn but instead share the similar feeling we have. It's great to read exactly what I've been feeling: http://www.johnrockefeller.net/you-know-what-i-miss-the-unli...

Thanks so much!

dendory 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would be interested to see how far people manage to stretch what can be done in 10megs. I bet it would surprise many.
drivingmenuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhere, I have the code laying around to build a webring ...
pearjuice 2 days ago 1 reply      
Think about adding a social aspect. "Following" cities for example and having a feed with updates (a la Github) of the stuff you follow. This way you will add user-to-user interaction and will help you with surfacing good content.
tomw1808 2 days ago 0 replies      
The idea is great. Really like it.

But what I REALLY like is the browse-function with the little thumbnails of the hundreds of websites which look exactly the same crappy and shitty way as in the good old days. http://neocities.org/browse

It just shows me that people still don't know nothing about design, they have no idea what it takes, how much time & knowledge and they are like spoiled kids from the idiot-save steps that facebook&co took to maintain a "good" (at least stable) design after putting some text in a textbox and press enter.

phantomb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure what this is trying to be. If it's supposed to get people who know nothing about web to create pages, it should really have some handrails and tutorials (or at least links to tutorials). As far as I can tell the new user creating their first page basically just gets a huge wall of xml in their face. If it's really just trying to be hosting for people who know what they're doing and that's it, well, I'm a cheap bastard and I host my static page on Dropbox for thousands of times the free storage. I guess here the ugly url would be slightly shorter?
jlgaddis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would you like to sign my guestbook?


goshx 2 days ago 3 replies      
Thank you, I really missed websites like this: http://maxprafferty.neocities.org/


poub 2 days ago 0 replies      
What would make the web sexy again is to find a solution to allow "privacy"! Privacy IS cool.
amerika 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article made my day.

The standardization/normalization of the web -- specifically, PageRank, Wikipedia, Facebook, and what's now totally recombinant "web design" -- has ruined the frontier aspect necessary for actual innovation.

lolsecurity 2 days ago 0 replies      
Request URL: http://neocities.org/create

Request Method: POST

Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Found

Received Cookie: neocities: [REMOVED SESSION DATA]

My create-account form and session cookie over HTTP? Not a fan. Grab a cert from startssl or similar!

tommymarshall 2 days ago 0 replies      
"They deleted the ability for people (both old and new to the web) to easily create web sites, and be in complete control of the content and presentation they provide to their audience."

That makes no sense whatsoever. Does no one remember the extra JS/CSS to hide advertisements?

Tichy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I miss neighborhoods, the sense of belonging...
kodeater 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that the problem with GeoCities was not the content of the websites hosted in that platform but all those ads and popups annoying us all the time. If I'd redesign a similar I would take this as a bad example and try to keep it cool and easier to navigate. I think that the platform could not interfere in the hosted page.

Congrats for the idea. That's a great action for sure!

yannisp 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a repo of the old gifs that were most common? I'm thinking of things like the under construction stickman or the rotating wordart welcome sign.

I am a little sad that security of web browsers has gotten better. I remember offering people free cup holders by opening up their disk trays :-)

allnamestaken 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe you should ban this asshole: http://i.imgur.com/ODfNHVr.png
WayneDB 2 days ago 0 replies      
See also (kind of): YTMND.com
haddr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would appreciate if they could relax a bit a list of filetypes you can upload there. if you want to use some webfonts for your CSS you will be surprised that it's impossible to upload your own TTF file (freeware of course):(
mayanks 1 day ago 0 replies      
wow!! This is crazy. Been sleeping on this idea for the past 3 months or so. But for my day job, I would have definitely taken a stab at it. kudos for starting this.
SloughFeg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish there was an easier way to browse than just "recently updated" sites. Some sort of search and criteria filter would make it a lot better.
xbuzz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Love it! It's Angelfire/GeoCities for devs. :D
serginho 1 day ago 0 replies      
The website is AWFUL.Lato Regular font, green color. Web 2.0 is awful.
taopao 2 days ago 0 replies      
I welcome a return to mass market creativity instead of paint-by-number UGC linked to real names.
awolden 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is going to prevent this platform from becoming a massive spam fest or a link farm to other sites?
kmonsen 2 days ago 0 replies      
If there was an API for uploading files I would use this for a static blog :-)
mumbi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. I've never been so bummed out as when I found out Geocities was dying.
flyblackbox 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't wait for the visual editor!
leoplct 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your vision is great, but which is the difference to open a blog on wordpress.com?
muuck 1 day ago 0 replies      
The 3D spinning globe favicon is a nice touch.
hmart 2 days ago 0 replies      
The opposite path of Medium
robodale 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, for the love of god do this.
scottohara 2 days ago 0 replies      
this has been a lot of fun to work on. I think it could be really important for letting new (and old) developers have a place to really test out coding and design.
michaelochurch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of having adventures into the great unknowns of the web, we instead now spend most of our time on social networks: boring, suburban gated communities, where everybody's "profile" looks exactly the same, and presents exactly the same content, in the same arrangement. Rarely do we create things on these networks; Instead, we consume, and report on our consumption.

This is a brilliant observation. Facebook started as a scrappy but fun college thing, and now it's a platform for people to brag about travel and the food they eat.

To get anything decent out of humans, you have to create a context for excellence. Otherwise, it's Sturgeon's Law that sets in. That is a natural way of things, even when the technology is well-designed. This is similar to complaints about job sites or dating sites because "the sites are broken". No, the sites are fine. They do their jobs extremely well. It's people that are broken.

The problem is that there's no money in creating a context for excellence, and the economic pressures on an organism like Facebook to mediocritize (remember that this often happens by default; no one explicitly decides to make their platform shitty) are just too powerful.

exuser 2 days ago 1 reply      
My webpage and account were apparently deleted. No explanation or warning was given. Needless to say, I won't be using neocities again, nor can I recommend it to anyone I know.
erik14th 2 days ago 0 replies      
That brought me sweet memories. Great idea <3
skotzko 2 days ago 0 replies      
A poetic manifesto. Well done.
wyck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Want a throwback, services that are pre-1993 still exists: http://sdf.org/ , but a geocities retro revival is just a fad.
ebbv 2 days ago 7 replies      
Yeah, no, Geocities might have had 0.01% worthwhile content but it was a vast wasteland of garbage.

The reason being that's what a platform like Geocities enables; garbage. It empowers people who are willing to put in basically no effort to make a static page with no scripting. That's not a recipe for amazing content, that's a recipe for bottom barrel content.

Really, any platform that enables everybody to contribute anything they want is going to sink to the lowest common denominator. The platform needs a built in way to highlight the best of it to have any worth whatsoever. Most Twitter feeds are unreadable garbage, the reason the platform is a success though is that it has built in ways to find, discover and follow the very best it has to offer.

It's also got a very narrow use case that happens to coincide very well with the skills of comedians and comedy writers. Geocities' narrow use case only coincides with the skills and talents of artists, and they already have Deviantart and their own gallery websites. There's no compelling reason for them to use Geocities/Neocities as their platform.

Best of luck but I'm skeptical this is going to ultimately be worthwhile.

HTML5 Genetic Cars rednuht.org
644 points by jmduke  5 days ago   164 comments top 49
IvyMike 5 days ago 11 replies      
Maybe someone more versed in the state-of-the-art can help me: has the concept of "speciation" ever been applied to genetic algorithms?

In my instance, there are two predominant "types" of cars that are doing approximately equally well--the "rhinoboat" and the "assdragger". But when these two solutions are combined in the crossover, I think they make an offspring that is terrible.

If the algorithm would mate only the rhinoboats with rhinoboats and assdraggers with assdraggers, I'm convinced we'd end up with some superrhinoboats and superassdraggers, but instead I just get an unhappy compromise.

Maybe make "similarity to self" one of the genotype parameters. A high rating here would mean the phenotype would have a bias against being combined with dissimilar creatures. This allows the propensity towards speciation to develop evolutionarily, too.

bsimpson 5 days ago 10 replies      
I just spent half an hour of my life rooting for imaginary cars that ceased to exist as soon as I closed the tab.
ronaldx 5 days ago 2 replies      
Observation: The cars tend to optimize to get over a challenging hurdle (while it's being worked on, the cars converge to a single solution: which works well), but then are no longer general enough to get over later hurdles.
SeanDav 5 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a way to save the current world seed?

I have a layout that is defeating all cars even after 50 generations and counting. Would love to keep on testing against this world.

hvs 5 days ago 3 replies      
That system is too complex not to have an intelligent designer.
benjoffe 4 days ago 3 replies      
I've been iterating over sequential seeds looking for one that contains the most downhill terrain, so far the best is: 24427169 - it descends very rapidly in the later part of the track.I'll keep this running over night and post results.

Edit: 71044092 beats that (declines 47 units in the distance of the track, which is 220 units long).

dreen 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is great, desperately needs sounds!VROOOOOOM
MichaelGG 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. There should be a place to enter your own inputs though. The point of genetic algorithms is to find solutions that you can't engineer yourself, right? I'd like to try my hand against evolution.
kayge 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculously entertaining, and bringing back some fond college lecture memories.Feature request: Ability to hover over the "Top Scores" and see a snapshot of what the Car looked like.
ancarda 5 days ago 2 replies      
The seed "HN" produces a fairly stable world (1 car makes it quite far). Eventually crashes.
89vision 5 days ago 2 replies      
This looks very similar to something that was posted on reddit a couple of years ago.


c-oreills 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just burned a couple of hours of developer time as everyone crowded around my monitor rooting for imaginary cars. Oops.
loupeabody 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome! When a handful of cars actually make for a good race it's especially mesmerizing.

I feel like it's only a matter of time before some startup implements a genetic driven visualization of the data from their app. If the effect is as compelling, I'd be staring at their marketing page for a long time.

mck- 5 days ago 3 replies      
We need a high-scores page with levels :)

Level: marc - 172.68

phaedryx 5 days ago 0 replies      
If this were a screensaver, I'd never get anything done.
Kiro 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm using 5% mutation rate and have 1 elite clone. I thought that meant that the whole population would be based on the winner with a 5% mutation chance (so all 19 are children of the winner). However, I have a track with an "impossible" hill and every round there's one car that almost makes it over but it's never that one which is blue next round.

How does this work exactly?

EDIT: It seems the one that almost made it was a replay ghost or something and not part of the population. Still wondering if I understood it correct though.

balanceiskey15 5 days ago 1 reply      
Oh what I would give to pit my genetically-superior boxcar against a challenger.
emehrkay 5 days ago 2 replies      
This seed: "Enter sdfsdfs string" has an almost impossible hill at the end. I've been watching for 20 mins

Edit: This app is very well put together. The "winner"(one that got the furthest) of the previous round is up front for the next and I believes becomes the zero car

ChuckMcM 5 days ago 0 replies      
This was a lot of fun. A suggestion for improvement might be to weight where the changes can come (so more or less likely to change wheelbase, or more or less likely to change height, etc) But overall very nicely done.
boneheadmed 5 days ago 0 replies      
It took only about 9 generations to the evolve the Tron lightcycle. Way too cool. This is like the marble races down hotwheels tracks we used to do as kids while recording the times, only way less work.
Kiro 4 days ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't 0% mutation rate and 1 elite clone mean that all cars in the next generation will look the same?
bcoates 5 days ago 1 reply      
World seed "schnoo" has a particularly tough hill from 125-145 that several different models can almost but not quite overcome. Anyone able to get over it?
dorkrawk 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you interested in GAs, I built a small Ruby gem to make building genetic algorithms a little easier: https://github.com/dorkrawk/darwinning
Gravityloss 4 days ago 0 replies      
Speedup improvement should be possible by not actually evaluating the clones as we already know their results - or maybe just show one as a placeholder.

At the moment, if you add "elite clones", the camera follows the stack (but all are exactly on top of each other) and it's a bit slow.

jamesjporter 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! A really cool version of this would let the user write their own algorithm and then have users compete against each other for whose algorithm can evolve the best car.
davidw 4 days ago 0 replies      
It sort of reminds me of Dukes of Hazard. It seemed that they would always go off a jump in the car chase scenes.
Systemic33 5 days ago 1 reply      
Let's compare results/stats on the map "Hacker News"
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
I freaking love this.

There didn't appear to be anyway to send a small donation to the creators.

People competing against each other on a variety of pre-made tracks would be amazing.

Houshalter 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is very fun, I love playing around with genetic algorithms and watching them evolve. How exactly does the simulation work? Does it stop after a certain amount of time, or do they burn fuel or something? Are they selected for distance, or how long they survive, or what?
vitomd 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's my favourite genetic algorithm page , also worth check is this http://boxcar2d.com/index.html where you can create your car and see the best created.
lettergram 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hmmm mine just grew into giant two wheels essentially. Started with high mutation, then when I saw one reach about 160 put it to 3% mutations with 5 clones and slowly increasing every time
whouweling 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've also experimented a bit with this type of simulation quite some time ago, you can find the result here http://lifesoup.sourceforge.net/

This tries to simulate simple "swimmers" where the fastest survives and spawn new entities with slight variations.

(Note: this is not my best code :-))

sirsar 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to also have an "intelligent design" button. You'd set the vertices and radii and compete against the evolved cars.
lsjroberts 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone who is interested it is probably worth checking out this - http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/06/24/darwinning-specie...
RoryH 4 days ago 0 replies      
This put a smile on my face. There's something nice and simple about it.
hcarvalhoalves 5 days ago 0 replies      
Cool. Now make a version with legs and you'll freak some people out.
seestheday 5 days ago 0 replies      
That worked surprisingly well on my blackberry z10.
styts 4 days ago 2 replies      
Could you add a genome for "weight"? Some cars seem so light that they overturn easily.
MWil 5 days ago 0 replies      
I watched this shit for like 30 minutes
MWil 5 days ago 0 replies      
is there always a wall around 200?
tokipin 5 days ago 0 replies      
this is well done
MWil 5 days ago 0 replies      

at 200, there's a bloody wall!!!

anymane 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a lot of fun to watch, great idea
MrBra 4 days ago 0 replies      
MattiasE 5 days ago 0 replies      
chrisrickard 5 days ago 0 replies      
tonetheman 5 days ago 0 replies      
holy batmobile.... awesome
cfontes 5 days ago 0 replies      
it's the 10th time this one pops up in HN.
thrownaway2424 5 days ago 0 replies      
Please stay on topic, by implementing a genetic Edward Snowden who runs as far as possible from the NSA. This is HN, after all.
Abandoned island in the middle of NYC backspac.es
644 points by zmitri  6 days ago   107 comments top 35
powdahound 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is the island where Typhoid Mary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_Mary), the first person in the US detected to carry typhoid without showing symptoms, was quarantined. There's a great Radiolab episode where they take a trip to the island; http://www.radiolab.org/2011/nov/14/, http://www.radiolab.org/2011/nov/14/typhoid-mary/
Samuel_Michon 6 days ago 2 replies      
There are actually a couple of uninhabited islands in the East River: North Brother (the one in the article), South Brother, Mill Rock, and U Thant.

If you find this stuff interesting, you may want to check out Forgotten New York[1], a site run by movie location scout Kevin Walsh, who gets access to places few people get to see in the city. Another great blog is Abandoned NYC[2].

[1] http://forgotten-ny.com/

[2] http://abandonednyc.com/

CoffeeDregs 6 days ago 3 replies      
Got one here in the Bay Area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drawbridge,_California

Fun, though dangerous [active train track; passenger trains pass at 100kph], place to visit. Just walk out the trails from Alviso in the south bay. I've done it about 3 times. Old dead buildings falling into the marsh. Walkways lead from the tracks to the water's edge (for maintenance?).

Note: it's illegal to visit (dangerous + nature sanctuary), so go at night..

subpixel 6 days ago 1 reply      
If you ever do any exploring of old/abandoned buildings like this, you better use a respirator. Asbestos + neglect + vandalism is a nasty combo.
rorrr2 6 days ago 0 replies      

It's now a bird sanctuary, and it looks like it's illegal to be there.

alan_cx 6 days ago 4 replies      
If abandoned buildings is your thing, then this Russian site is a fantastic way to waste a lot of time.


Google translate will help with navigation.

emiliobumachar 6 days ago 2 replies      
Given real state prices in NYC, if find it hard to believe it's still "too expensive to build everything" now, if it was so in the 60's. Perhaps there is more to the story? Does anyone know why this place doesn't get developed?
meerita 6 days ago 3 replies      
I love these islands.

Hashima island is one of these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashima_Island in Japan. Or well the http://wikitravel.org/en/Shikoku is another place you can go and see the forgotten life.

Check this one too http://gakuran.com/gunkanjima-ruins-of-a-forbidden-island/

zachgersh 6 days ago 4 replies      
NYC loves to do all sorts of interesting things with its islands. Another island that most New Yorkers know nothing about is Roosevelt Island:


It has had a very long history including having a prison/small pox hospital/mental hospital.

iguana 6 days ago 1 reply      
I like that in the last photograph, the bullet holes are clearly from someone shooting from the inside out. Who was trying to get inside, and where are the bodies?
seanconaty 6 days ago 0 replies      
If you like stuff like this, you should check out this photographer's flickr. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4019607

He takes photos of abandoned buildings. If you're in SF he's got some good ones of 140 Montgomery, the art deco building that is now being refurbished into new digs for Yelp and other companies. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug/sets/7215761380385022...

He's also done Neverland Ranch, and the Jackling House Mansion (home to Steve Jobs and one point) http://www.flickr.com/photos/tunnelbug/sets/7215759415352040....

Alex3917 6 days ago 1 reply      
There is another island in the middle of NYC that has a mass grave where the government has buried over 850,000 people. It's not open to the public though, and apparently they go to great lengths to keep the public and the media away.
corin_ 6 days ago 3 replies      
Biggest thing that struck me in this piece wasn't really related to the topic, but was: "Art still remained from the heroin addicts who had lived in the rehab center" - reading that made me realise what a big disconnect I have in my head between the sort of people who would create "art" on their walls with the sort of people I think of as heroin addicts.

On a conscious level I know that anyone can be a heroin addict, I could become one, my brother/boss/friend might already be one... but I've only just realised what a predisposition I still hold onto.

joeblau 6 days ago 2 replies      
Im surprised billionaires haven't snatched these up and turned them into private islands.
skyebook 6 days ago 0 replies      
Another NYC gem is the abandoned Cobble Hill Tunnel on the border of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. It is also the oldest cut and cover construction in North America for the subterranean fans out there. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobble_Hill_Tunnel
ewams 6 days ago 1 reply      
From the last picture, if the door was closed, the shots were fired from inside the building. Doubt the shots would have came from police at "nearby Riker's Island."
bitwize 6 days ago 2 replies      
Going through those photos, I was on the alert for Clickers...
niels_olson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe the "x-ray" machine is actually an iron lung.
haberman 6 days ago 1 reply      
What is the legal status of a place like this? Is it trespassing to take a look around?
sage_joch 6 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like something right out of the /r/nosleep subreddit.
nwh 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why is half the available screen space of this website asking me to download their app? There's an app banner, another banner at the top, and a banner that floats with the text at the bottom.
breadbox 6 days ago 0 replies      
The photo of a fire hydrant drowning under ivy is especially striking. For some reason it communicates "abandonment" to me more clearly than the ruined buildings.
blux 6 days ago 0 replies      
Another interesting island nearby is Hart Island. See http://googlesightseeing.com/2006/08/island-of-the-dead/, http://goo.gl/maps/VplQF
D9u 6 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome photos, and I never would have imagined that anyplace in NYC could be so abandoned, but further reading shows that the island is occasionally patrolled by authorities.

More info & images:http://www.businessinsider.com/north-brother-island-2012-2?o...

eksith 6 days ago 0 replies      
Behold: The future of all civilization once man has left Earth to nature.
photorized 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you are into that sort of thing - some photos I took of the abandoned Harlem Valley Psych Hospital


lostinnyc 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's also the site of the worst NYC disaster prior to 9/11: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/north-brother-island
alexkehayias 6 days ago 0 replies      
Lived here for 8 years and still learning something new. Got to love NYC! Also throwing it out there that Backspaces has really good, off-beat (in a good way), artistic content like this all the time.
zw123456 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perfect plot for a cinema verite' horror flick: scene: "hey, I heard about this cool abandoned island off NYC, I double dare you to kayak over there and spend then might". Mayhem ensues... Kickstarter movie anyone?
ges 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is for this kind of story that I love Backspaces. Makes the Internet a better place.
ganeumann 6 days ago 0 replies      
I know someone from jersey who was approached about investing in the island back then. I thought it sounded pretty cool. He said "except that's where all the escapees from Rikers wash up."

I couldn't tell if he was joking.

argumentum 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's vaguely beautiful ..
apl002 6 days ago 0 replies      
Cool pics but this is for reddit, not HN.
jfletch1925 6 days ago 0 replies      
Nothing but flowers...
Protometheus 6 days ago 0 replies      
The Strange Case of Barrett Brown thenation.com
631 points by dlss  3 days ago   175 comments top 29
mtgx 3 days ago 6 replies      
There may be an argument for life in prison, or even execution, for people that are so dangerous that they should never be allowed in the society again. But either give life, or put a cap on prison sentences at say 25 years, total, like it's in many other countries.

This idea of "adding" sentences is ridiculous, and my guess is it's only (ab)used as a way to force people into agreeing to declare themselves guilty, and the prosecutors going "easy on them" and only asking for 30 years in prison, instead of 100, if they win.

That's not justice and people should be opposing this. I think it was on The Daily Show where a guest talked about a documentary called Gideon's Army where they're talking exactly about this issue, and how prosecutors are forcing 90% of the people arrested to admit guilt this way, before they even get a trial. So 90% go to prison without a trial!

It also must be very convenient that the US law is so complex now, and has gotten to the point where everyone can be incriminated with something, so basically the prosecutors can threaten just about anyone with at least a charge or two, if they want to. They must be BS charges, but lucky for them they manage to convince those people to agree with a "lesser punishment" before there even is a trial. I'm sure the private prison system and their lobbying plays a big role in this, too. It's self sustaining corrupt system.

Confusion 3 days ago 3 replies      
What really gets to me in this story is that the mother is being prosecuted for 'obstructing execution of a search warrant', by -- allegedly -- helping her son hide a laptop. That's just cold, heartless fascism. In a decent country they would question her and leave it at that. Idem if it was a father, brother or a random friend, with otherwise no criminal record, no chance for recidivism and no other part in the crime being investigated. The government and the police should be here to protect us. You aren't protecting anyone by marking this woman a criminal and you are actively failing to protect her.
argumentum 3 days ago 4 replies      
Were I to hazard a guess, I'd say I was better informed than 95% of my fellow US Citizens. Yet though I'd heard of the HBGary incident, the fact that a journalist reporting about it was facing a criminal inquiry completely escaped my radar.

Perhaps this is a reflection on my own ignorance, but if so I fear it's a worse reflection on the ignorance of the average well-informed citizen.

It goes beyond saying that any sentence counted in "years" for making an online threat against an individual is beyond ridiculous, and clearly sought for politics and in this case for the purposes of retribution and precedent .. don't you dare oppose the FBI or we will destroy you.

I can't exactly express why, but having an administration with such an attitude (that of a bully) makes me sick. Sick to the point that I would sacrifice all common ground I may have had with them in order to kick them out of office.

cinquemb 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's a link in here to Endgame Systems here that's dead [0].

Read a bit, then checked the wiki on them :"The Endgame Board of Directors is led by Christopher Darby, President and CEO of In-Q-Tel, an independent strategic investment firm supporting the missions of the intelligence community. Endgame announced in March 2013 that Kenneth Minihan, former Director of the National Security Agency and Managing Director at Paladin, had also joined its Board of Directors."[1]

And from the piece:

"While the media and much of the world have been understandably outraged by the revelation of the NSAs spying programs, Barrett Browns work was pointing to a much deeper problem. It isnt the sort of problem that can be fixed by trying to tweak a few laws or by removing a few prosecutors. The problem is not with bad laws or bad prosecutors. What the case of Barrett Brown has exposed is that we confronting a different problem altogether. It is a systemic problem. It is the failure of the rule of law."

And back to Obama's check list of questions during his speech weeks ago about the conditions that "were going to have some problems here" [2]:

Do we trust the Executive Branch?Do we trust Congress?Do we trust what is called "due process and rule of law"?




kevingadd 3 days ago 0 replies      
The great thing about our legal system: the government's actions don't have to be legal, just extreme enough to kill, make homeless and/or drive insane the victims before cases wind their way through the courts. So convenient!
socillion 3 days ago 2 replies      
Obviously, all charges are alleged.

* 20 years for charges stemming from going off the deep end and making threats directed at an FBI Special Agent.


* 20 years for hiding two laptops and deleting evidence after being served a warrant.


As mentioned in the article, his mother pled guilty to helping him hide the laptops.


* 15 years for copying and pasting a hyperlink to a document that contained credit card info for at least 5,000 people, and 30 years for possession of stolen credit card numbers and CVVs.


I only see 85 years, I'm curious how the author obtained the number of 105 years.

> Considering that the person who carried out the actual Stratfor hack had several priors and is facing a maximum of ten years, the inescapable conclusion is that the problem is not with the hack itself but with Browns journalism.

He was facing 30 to life in prison [1], and had that reduced to 10 years after pleading guilty. Barret Brown has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

> The Stratfor data included a number of unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes. On this basis, the DOJ accused Brown of credit card fraud for having shared that link with the editorial board of ProjectPM.

"Editorial board" here is referring to a public IRC channel. Elsewhere it is stated that it is a private IRC channel, but it appears to be posted publicly on a Pastebin dated May 2011 so that seems a doubtful claim. [2]

I hate seeing so many obvious mistakes in a piece as biased as this, since it forces the reader to cross reference everything. It's particularly amusing given the constant interstitials asking for donations to support this journalism.

1. http://rt.com/usa/anonymous-stratfor-hammond-judge-440/

2. http://pastebin.com/QNuXwRTn

danboarder 3 days ago 1 reply      
He and other journalists were analyzing documents from the Stratfor leak, and he had a copy of these on his laptop. His purpose was journalism, yet the FBI went after him for incidental data:

"The Stratfor data included a number of unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes. On this basis, the DOJ accused Brown of credit card fraud for having shared that link with the editorial board of ProjectPM. Specifically, the FBI charged him with traffic in stolen authentication features, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, as well as an obstruction of justice charge (for being at his mothers when the initial warrant was served) and charges stemming from his threats against the FBI agent. All told, Brown is looking at century of jail time: 105 years in federal prison if served sequentially. He has been denied bail."

DanBC 3 days ago 4 replies      
So this author and journalist should have had

i) full disc encryption

ii) encrypted communication

iii) anonymous communication

iv) anonymous and encrypted dealings with a publisher

v) anonymous payment from that publisher

That's not someone writing about corrupt government in an oppressive regime, that's someone living in the US writing about US companies and government.

Hackers and designers should probably spend a little bit of time making anonymity and encryption easier to use.

yoran 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow this article is stunning. I mean, the tight links between government and corporations were always kind of supposed. But this story exposes it and it's scary! What happens in those backrooms is fucked up.

From the story:

The plan called for disinformation, exploiting strife within the organization and fomenting external rivalriescreating messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization, as well as a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error. Greenwald, it was argued, if pushed, would choose professional preservation over cause.

It's crazy to realize that when people have power and the power is being threatened, like in this case, they would do anything to preserve it at the dispense of people who try to do bring the truth to light. Because the truth will hurt them. Human nature at its best and capitalism at its worst.

quackerhacker 3 days ago 1 reply      
To turn up the heat on Brown, the FBI initiated charges against his mother...made Brown snap.

I could relate to Brown here. FBI or SS would tail me when I was on pretrial, I'd hear awkward clicking on my phone, and I'd have severe anxiety attacks. Just recently, my paranoia back then has been confirmed with the PRISM leaks.

Political journalism is dangerous (I think anything in politics is risky though). I give Brown and Hastings a huge huge huge amount of respect to pursue the truth and uphold their own moral beliefs.

ajays 3 days ago 1 reply      
FTA: "One cant help but infer that the US Department of Justice has become just another security contractor, working [...] on behalf of corporate bidders, with no sense at all for the justness of their actions; they are working to protect corporations and private security contractors and give them license to engage in disinformation campaigns against ordinary citizens and their advocacy groups."

It's happening all over the country. For example: the guy who faces 13 years in prison for drawing in chalk outside a Bank of America branch: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/26/activist-prosecut...

sillysaurus 3 days ago 5 replies      
Thats why [FBI special agent] Robert Smiths life is over. And when I say his life is over, Im not saying Im going to kill him, but I am going to ruin his life and look into his fucking kids. How do you like them apples?

What could he have possibly been thinking? He had a good, defensible position. Everyone would have rallied around him. And then he said that.

siddboots 3 days ago 1 reply      

By the way, does anyone know if ProjectPM is still alive in any form? echelon2.org and project-pm.org are both gone...

calhoun137 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a textbook case of extra-legal harassment. There was an excellent article of this subject in the recent issue of 2600[1], which unfortunately is not available online, but can be found in any Barnes and Nobles.

When an individual meaningfully opposes the state, they become a target of extra legal harassment, which includes attacks from outside the legal system, as well as within it. This includes things such as police raids of your home, intimidation of friends/family, trumped up charges designed to bring you into financial ruin, hit pieces in the media, and much more.

For example, $20,000 that was raised for Brown's legal defense from supporters was confiscated by the courts[2].

The entire purpose of extra legal harassment is to get a person to give up, and correspondingly, the best way to fight back is to continue doing activism, and to survive.

In this case, Brown made a major mistake by threatening an FBI agent in a you tube video. Perhaps if he had been less naive about the inevitable repercussions of his activism, he would have been better prepared for the campaign against him and would have known that his primary goal should be to survive and be able to continue his work, and that the worst mistake he could make is to give the authorities an excuse to lock him up.

[1] http://store.2600.com/spring2013.html[2] http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/2013/04/18/feds-seize-barre...

lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now I know why established newspapers like the times place such a high value on integrity of reporting and fact checking. We are in a time like the first newspapers - where Napoleon would publish outrageously biased journals, to attack the other outrageously biased journals. Eventually people listened to the ones who had the high standards of integrity.

Blogs, online websites etc are in the same position right now.

Who runs thenation? How can I trust what sounds like a well researched piece?

Are there really a wealth of funded private armies running around Americas underbelly interfering with its political process as USA was 1950s South America? Boy have those chickens come home to roost

Joeri 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting opinion on the timing and method of the michael hastings car crash: http://rt.com/usa/michael-hastings-cyber-car-218/
zeroDivisible 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was following most of those revelations when they were happening, but I didn't knew how the story progressed, nor what implications it had for Brown.

Michael Hastings died in a car crash, Barrett Brown is facing 105 years in a prison, Snowden needs to hide from the authorities...as some of those (death of Michael Hastings) might be just unlucky coincidences, the list goes on. As much as we had made tremendous progress in every single area of life and science, I'm a bit concerned that the name "Dark Ages" is more relevant to present times than it is to the Middle Ages.

buenavista 3 days ago 1 reply      
The situation in this country as become so strange that it's impossible to talk about it without seeming loony.

"The contents of the Stratfor leak were even more outrageous than those of the HBGary hack. They included discussion of opportunities for renditions and assassinations. For example, in one video, Statfors vice president of intelligence, Fred Burton, suggested taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to render Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who had been released from prison on compassionate grounds due to his terminal illness. Burton said that the case was personal. When someone pointed out in an e-mail that such a move would almost certainly be illegalThis man has already been tried, found guilty, sentencedand served timeanother Stratfor employee responded that this was just an argument for a more efficient solution: One more reason to just bugzap him with a hellfire. :-)"

How can you talk about this with friends and acquaintances convincingly?

fnordfnordfnord 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real problem here is that our backstop against this kind of abuse is "write your congressman", "rock the vote", and "peaceful assembly" in a free speech zone, if you have a permit.
alistair77 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am very reluctant to draw parallels between real-life and fiction, but the steady stream of stories from the US from Bradely Manning to Snowden to Barrett Brown is making the possibility of a 1984 style state a real possibility. I have never been under any illusion that my data was safe from prying eyes but the extent of the lies, undemocratic procedures and brutality has shocked me. The commercialisation of intelligence, the penal system and war is adding to the issue.

I don't fear for the privacy of my data; I do feel very anxious about the world that my children will inhabit as adults.

EDIT: I'm not making out this a US-only problem.

dobbsbob 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bruce Schneier wrote an article recently on his blog about what a show trial plea bargaining has become.

Another problem is the insane US prison system with an exploding reoffender rate. Even National Geographic is considered contraband.

Prison racial segregation also doesnt need to happen, and is mainly a weird American thing. I know this because if anybody has done time at D Ray fed prison where they keep incarcerated foreigners the first thing you notice is there is no racial problems because there arent any American inmates.

shanelja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! Now when he's served the first 60 years of his service, medical science will have advanced to the point where we can pay to elongate his life (as a basic human right) so he can serve out the remainder of his sentence, at which point he will leave prison and die near instantly as he can't afford medical care.
alex_doom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Jesus. He would have gotten less prison time if he'd chopped off some random head.
myoffe 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is just scary.How can anyone now think that a government having any data about our online activity is remotely a good idea? Clearly, the potential for misuse is far greater than the prospect of actually finding terrorist activity through it.
DinooD 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this. Absolutely stunning.
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm sorry I upvoted this. This article does not do justice to the story.

I knew we were in trouble when the author started listing associates of people. (This is when you see a sentence constructed as so: "John went to work for Company X which uses the same lawyers as the mafia". A sure sign extra spin is trying to be added)

"...government contractors were attempting to undermine Americans free speechwith the apparent blessing of the DOJ..."

Slow down a freaking minute. Free speech means just that. I can lie to you, plant disinformation, do all kinds of things. I am free to speak. Yes, these groups may have been trying to subvert the credibility of those speaking, and it might have made a great committee investigation to watch on the news, but that's not the same thing as undermining free speech. Now we're getting deep into bullshit territory.

The we get to Stratfor, an organization which explicitly exists to both analyze geopolitical situations and speculate on various blue sky options. Those guys talking about the options to do some kind of crazy op isn't a scandal, it's their job.

The Endgame stuff was intriguing. Could some of this security state, zero-day-exploits and such already be available on the open market? My money says it will eventually, but right now, based on this piece, this still looks like a lot of hand-wavy speculation.

The author claims that this points to a much deeper problem. I'm not so sure. Sounds like Brown went hell-for-leather with a flame-thrower through as many defense contractors and hangers-on that he could find, and finally the system stepped on him like a bug. Not a good thing -- a very bad thing. But hardly at the level of the NSA spying story.

In short, the author overreaches with his thesis, asking the audience to give up NSA paranoia for his version of the military-industrial complex paranoia. You either understand that good people are working in bad systems, or you live in a world where there's good guys and bad guys. The author seems attracted to the latter position. Brown may be a sympathetic character. I'm not sure. Even after reading this piece. Just to be clear, I'm happy his case is getting more attention, because it definitely looks like a shitty thing that's happening to him, but I'd be happier without all the hyperbole. This piece could have used a better editor, somebody that would have challenged the author to tighten up his argument. You don't have to push this story so hard. It's bad enough as it is.

d23 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the ProjectPM site is cached on archive.org, but I really don't know what to make of all the information. Is there a summary of the key findings anywhere?
flyinRyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone laughs when you compare living in the US with living in China and yet... With stories like this of the US going after journalists and even bullying their families to make a point, I wonder how far are we really.
anchovy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stratfor sells news analysis. They are not a "private security company".
Malibu homeowners foiled by $30K Kickstarter campaign garrytan.com
578 points by kirillzubovsky  6 days ago   206 comments top 34
waterside81 6 days ago 6 replies      
Just for a little context for those unfamiliar with Malibu. Some beaches are public, some are private and open only to those who live in particular neighbourhoods. The residents here are remarkably wealthy, we're talking Speilberg, Streisand, Geffen, and at times have hired their own private security to check people's ID to ensure they belong there. Broad Beach (I think) is public, but there's gates that block access to it requiring a key. So this app informs people which gates are legit and which ones are erected under false premise.

Malibu problems.

wilfra 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in Santa Monica (just down the road from Malibu) right now and decided to go checkout the public access path next to David Geffen's house[1] after reading this today.

I was able to park across the street with no problem (plenty of spaces) and walk alongside his house onto the beach. I walked really far and passed many people who I assume were homeowners based on how they were dressed (no shoes/bags/purses or beach toys) and acting (walking close to the houses etc). All offered polite smiles and several let their dogs run up to me and seemed to expect me to pet/play with them. Not a single person gave me an odd or disapproving look - though one couple (really old white guy with a 20-something black girl) went pretty far out of their way to avoid the path I was walking on. I figured at least one of them was famous or something, as the reason.

When I was leaving though, I went back past Geffen's house (only way out) and what I assume was his private security guard (plainclothes but looked like a Marine) came walking straight at me staring at me and then got in a car in the driveway. I look across the street to my car and I see a cop car parked in the turning late in the middle of the road with two cops in it. I decided to take an extra long time wiping the sand off of my feet to soak it all in. The security guy eventually pulled the car out of the driveway and alongside the cops, I assume they were talking through open windows but with traffic and distance couldn't hear. Then the guy pulls his car in front of the cops in the turning lane, does a U-Turn and parks right in front of my car on the opposite side of the street.

There was no cross-walk and I didn't want to give the cops a reason to legally harass me, so I walked on the sidewalk right in front of David Geffen's house and gestured to the cops asking if I could cross the street illegally. They both just sorta shrugged and looked back at traffic and nodded - meaning if you want to risk getting hit by a car, go for it.

So after a couple of minutes with these cops staring right at me, I find an opening and dart over to my car. The whole time the security dude is still sitting there parked in front of my car. I put my stuff inside and pull away, on the left two cops are staring at me driving off and on the right the security dude is also staring at me. I waved to all three of them and drove away.

So I can confirm the beach is public and the homeowners seem like really nice people who don't mind that at all - other than David Geffen, who seems to try to use his private security and the police to intimidate people into not using the path.

I'm taking a date back there tomorrow.


mturmon 6 days ago 1 reply      
This app was led in part by an LA journalist and lover of Malibu beaches, Jenny Price. She had been reporting on these public beaches in a series that ran on laobserved.com, a popular LA blog.

Here's the first such piece, which I notice ran in 2006:


Here's a link to the announcement of the kickstarter campaign:


which contains pointers to some of her other articles.

It was a genius idea on someone's part to get her to build an app around this knowledge. She's a journalist, not a computer nerd.

johnbender 6 days ago 4 replies      
Given that the project goal is to permit as many people as possible to find these beach entrances isn't it a bit odd to target a total of two platforms for the application? I'm surprised they aren't doing something this simple with the web.

Put another way, isn't accessibility a prime concern for a beach accessibility application?

Arjuna 6 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding Broad Beach... here is a PDF [1] with some good detail on beach access. There are 2 access points that are open to the public from Broad Beach Road. The PDF also has photos of all of the properties, and detail on what part of the beach is available to the public.

[1] http://www.coastal.ca.gov/access/BroadBeachCoastalAccess.pdf

earbitscom 6 days ago 1 reply      
Can they make this app also tell you when valet parking companies are falsely putting cones and signs in front of parking meters, etc? This happens in every area of Santa Monica, Venice, LA, etc. They make it look like several parking spots are legally blocked from 6pm to 2am for their valet service, when in fact they are not. It's a way bigger problem than this beach thing, but seems like it would rely on similar technology.
tmarthal 6 days ago 3 replies      
It seems to me that if they really wanted to disrupt the Malibu beach scene and provide more access for the public to the beaches, that they would just release the data as an annotated geojson file, rather than raise 30k(!) to create an app that will no longer be updated in a year.

Props to them for doing a civil service, but it seems to me that it is also very-much motivated by money.

ambiate 6 days ago 1 reply      
Finally, someone started taking my advice! This is very interesting. I never considered that homeowners might put up fake signs to detour the public.

"Special logo thanks! ---> We'll put your logo / icon (280 x 280 px) PLUS a link to your website on a special thank you page in the app! Plus, an advance copy of the app.Estimated delivery: Jun 2013 "


robomartin 6 days ago 3 replies      
The first thought I had was: Why doesn't someone organize an "Occupy Malibu"? Hundreds or thousands of people peacefully (and cleanly) making use of the public beaches in these "exclusive" areas for the entire summer. Keep it clean, civilized, respectable, don't leave trash behind and be considerate. In other words, give absolutely no reason to label you negatively in any way.
gkop 6 days ago 1 reply      
fatjokes 6 days ago 4 replies      
Tell me that the homeowners who put up the misleading signs get fined, preferably heavily, knowing how wealthy those homeowners likely are.
michaelwww 6 days ago 0 replies      
I read this as Malibu homeowners scammed by $30K Kickstarter campaign.
brownbat 6 days ago 0 replies      
99% Invisible had a story on secret staircases in California, left over from the WPA, and a time when public infrastructure projects for pedestrians was a thing.

Thing about the WPA, it had a lot of really talented artists and sculptors contributed to public works, so you get some magnificently beautiful constructions, if you can find them.

Apparently a lot of landowners try to fence off or discourage access to the public walkways though, and there's an underground movement to keep access open to these public city spaces.


whyenot 6 days ago 0 replies      
In the comments to the Sean Parker / Big Sur Wedding story that was posted recently, at least one person described the California Coastal Commission as a bunch of thugs. It's largely thanks to the CCC enforcing easement requirements on beach front homeowners, including some very powerful people, that there is any public access at all in places like Malibu.
ljoshua 6 days ago 1 reply      
I think the real story here is the use of Kickstarter to remove the risk from further developments on the Android app. If you want to go ahead and create something, but are worried about it panning out, this starts to open up new options.

It's not the first time it's been done, but it's encouraging to see creators being able to deliver to those who want their products with less question marks in the process.

thereallurch 6 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like some of these homeowners would pay $30k to not have this program, or for some control over the final product. I could imagine some rich guy paying $15k to keep his section of beach off the program.
dot 6 days ago 0 replies      
tlrobinson 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ah yes. I remember in 2005 some friends and I hung out at Carbon Beach in front of David Geffen's house soon after he lost a court battle... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Geffen#Court_battles

edit: photo http://i.imgur.com/zCQEfZY.jpg

peter303 6 days ago 0 replies      
This happens too with public land trails in the Rockies (near Boulder). The nearby landoweners remove signs, plant over trails, etc.
jmspring 5 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the challenges Half Moon Bay is having with Vihnod Kholsa and beach access. At least, when they sue, the Malibu residents own up to it -- see Streisand vs Adelman. Vihnod is hiding behind things. sad.


nakovet 6 days ago 0 replies      
Those same things happen in Brazil too, wealthy people put gates, make the entrance hard to find and even do lobby to have people enforcing paid parking to restrain access to public beaches, there is no such a thing as private beach, but somehow they manage to fake the "ownership".
robotcookies 6 days ago 0 replies      
Glad that Californians have this option. Beaches should be public on the East coast as well.
buza 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Malibu homeowners intentionally obscure public beach access areas with fake signs and hidden access. This is not only ridiculously selfish, it is illegal."

Better or worse than just flat out preventing access whatsoever?


bonchibuji 5 days ago 1 reply      
'Right to roam' in Nordic countries comes to mind.


unclebucknasty 6 days ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking if you pay me $30K to port a relatively simple IOS UI to Android, then that is the business. No need to sell anything (else).
patrickserrano 6 days ago 0 replies      
This a great project. Living on the east end of Long Island, we tend to have similar (although seemingly less extreme) situations with public beaches and waterways. I'd love to see something like this here too, so when I'm getting yelled at I can point out that I am in fact on a public beach.
taude 6 days ago 1 reply      
Why does this need to be an app? Seems like building out a website to distribute the information would be better.
thehme 5 days ago 0 replies      
When access is blocked illegally, it is just totally wrong and this app will certainly help those who just want to enjoy some beach time. It would be nice if the entire coast could have an app like this, on both East and West...oh and South.
gorrillamcd 6 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I've never been to Malibu, but I can definitely see this as a useful app if I ever do decide to go. If the locals have trouble finding the public beaches, I can't imagine I'd be able to do it without some help.
towski 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why would you drive all the way up to Malibu when LA has an uninterrupted stretch of beach that is 50 miles long?
victorology 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, they could use this for Hawaii. We deal with a lot of the same stuff here.
sixQuarks 6 days ago 8 replies      
why does this app cost $30,000? They should be able to get a high quality app like this developed for 1/10th the cost.
kristopolous 6 days ago 0 replies      
This has been thoroughly covered in the NYT, on BBC, and NPR weeks ago. Is this news to anyone still?
joshuaheard 6 days ago 1 reply      
Beaches in California are public only by historical accident. There are plenty of public beaches with facilities for visitors like lots of beach space, parking, restrooms, and restaurants. Santa Monica, for instance is about 15 minutes from Malibu and has all that. Why is the homeowner the bad guy for wanting a little privacy without hordes of people partying all night in his back yard, blocking his parking, leaving fast food trash everywhere, and pissing in his bushes?
Pandora Paid Over $1,300 for 1 Million Plays theunderstatement.com
577 points by cgilmer  4 days ago   209 comments top 27
aresant 4 days ago 7 replies      
"A good flatterer doesn't lie, but tells his victim selective truths (what a nice color your eyes are). Good PR firms use the same strategy: they give reporters stories that are true, but whose truth favors their clients."

I have no idea if David Lowery's original post about making only $16.89 for 1 million plays was distributed by a PR firm, but it sure feels like it.

PG's thoughts on PR are spot on, and I love referencing his article to both discern truth from half-truth in the news, and, of course, to push my own PR efforts:


jcampbell1 4 days ago 2 replies      
This makes sense. Another way to back into the figure:

Pandora spent $82M on content according to the most recent 10Q, with 4.18B listener hours. That implies a cost of $0.02 cents per listener hour. A million plays is roughly 62500 listener hours, which implies a content cost of $1250.

Afforess 4 days ago 5 replies      
Its easy to complain about the low pandora royalties, but these artists are essentially trying to kill the golden goose. Pandora currently spends > 50% of revenue on royalties. Any increases would almost certainly lead to the end of the company. $0 is a lot less than $1,300 for 1 million plays.
ghshephard 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the performers/songrwriters think of the fact that I purchased (used) Aerosmith's Hits CD about five years ago for $3.00. I've probably listened (in various formats) to that CD about a hundred+ times in the last five years. There are 10 tracks, so, 1,000 plays for which everyone (Songwriters, Publishers, Performers, Distributes) - all received $0.00.

Multiply that by 1,000 Aerosmith fan's who bough a used CD, and you have 1 Million plays that generate $0.00 for the music industry.

I wonder if the Music industry feels that they are being treated unfairly by the Used CD Marketplace? Or how they feel about people just purchasing $4-$5 CDs used (S&H included) off of Amazon - the combination of low cost + convenience.

Ironically - in the last year, I signed up for iTunes Match ($25/year), so in theory, every time I listen to this CD the various contributors are once again receiving revenue.

205guy 4 days ago 5 replies      
What I think is missing from this whole discussion is the ability to make a living. Sure the industry is opaque to outsiders, and some of the established practices are weird (radio paying only songwriters, not performers), and now it's all being disrupted.

But forget about the numbers for one song. Let's say a guy like the OP of the other article works full time as a singer song-writer. He writes a few songs, performs some of them, has others (more popular artists) perform some of them, and maybe he plays a few gigs himself (either as a musician in someone's band, or good enough to do his own shows). Let's say he's median successful. One or two of his songs (either recorded by him or someone else) is close to charting. People are listening to it online and radios are playing it. Other songs are getting played but not getting the same traction. He works 50-60 hours a week on music, either writing, recording, or performing. What kind of living can he make?

a) 20K and lives off of another job?b) 40K and struggles to pay rent?c) 60K and can survive?d) 80K and considered successful?e) 100K and lives comfortably doing what he loves?f) More and can live in expensive parts of the country (NY-SF-LA)?

How was it in the old system of labels and DJs? How has it changed with Pandora and iTunes?

RKoutnik 4 days ago 1 reply      
Coming up next: An article titled "I coded in Silicon Valley for six years and only made $1,000[0]"

[0] Not including salary.

hexis 4 days ago 2 replies      
On some days, I wish companies like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio would just voluntarily shut down. If the music industry thinks streaming companies are ripping them off, the music industry is welcome to build their own streaming business and show everyone how it's done.

Musicians were complaining about royalties and payment long before the internet was invented and they'll be complaining long after we're all gone. Keep that in mind when they act like streaming is the new scourge of music.

aston 4 days ago 5 replies      
If I told you there was an e-commerce company without a profitable year in over a decade of existence despite federally-mandated price ceilings placed on their suppliers, you'd be incredulous. If I then added that the same company was lobbying in Washington to get the price ceiling lowered, the pitchforks would be out.

But then mention it's a company selling music, and people shrug, "Oh, well music should be free anyway... The artists should be happy they get anything."

blhack 4 days ago 4 replies      
"Pandora advertised my product to 1 Million people and only paid me $1300 for it!"
ThomPete 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have said it before and I will say it again.

20 years ago that and thousands of others songs wouldn't even have been played anywhere and definitely not a million times.

If you want to live off of making music or as an author or anything else you have to think like a publisher not an artist.

Playing music is a joy, something you can enjoy whether you make money or not from it.

Living from making music is an opportunity not a right.

tunesmith 4 days ago 1 reply      
The graph is funny. Pandora agrees it is roughly accurate.

So, a payout (revenue; before expenses) of $1372 for 1,159,000 plays.

Well, let's look at it in terms of an album where all songs are played equally. In reality, some songs will be played more than others. Assume an album of 10 songs.

Okay, that's $1372 for 115,900 complete album plays.

Well, you can sell an album for $10. More, actually, but let's say $10 since that's the digital rate. And you hope for repeat listens out of an album... ten listens? 100 would be pretty great, actually, maybe that's a true fan.

Well, 115,900 complete album plays for $1372... at ten bucks apiece, that's akin to each purchase being played 1,000 times.

In other words - ignoring other benefits of Pandora - you don't want to use Pandora to "sell" your music unless you have reason to believe that album purchasers would listen to your album 1,000 times or more. Only at that time would Pandora be worth it.

That of course doesn't take Pandora's discovery benefit. I don't know if that would be enough to knock the numbers down to 100 or 10 album listens, but I suspect people often overestimate Pandora's discovery benefit. Just because a listener might discover a lot of new music doesn't mean that an artist gets a lot of new fans from Pandora.

shortformblog 4 days ago 1 reply      
From the original post: "I am also paid a seperate royalty for being the performer of the song. Its higher but also what I would regard as unsustainable. Ill post that later this week."

Footnote from this post: "He does clarify in the footnotes that $16.89 is only for 40% of the songwriting and there is a separate performance royalty, but certainly the headline & coverage could leave many with the impression that $16.89 was everything."

I'm not defending Loweryhe clearly wrote that post in an effort to draw negative attention to Pandora's practicesbut he stated that the documents he threw online were outlining songwriting revenuehe made that delineation in the very first line of the post.

Glyptodon 4 days ago 6 replies      
> "On the contrary, it seems quite likely that others should be paying more."

Not that have knowledge of royalty proportionality, but it also seems unfair to have royalty costs dwarf any other business costs. I have no idea how much it costs Pandora to stream a song, but if it's a fraction of the ~$0.0012/listen they seem to pay in royalties, it seems like the royalty is disproportionate and unfair. On the other hand, if the royalty is more than ~2 orders of magnitude less than cost to stream a song, then maybe there is an argument that it's too low.

(of course the above is assuming you agree with royalties at all.)

chinpokomon 4 days ago 0 replies      
It seems the biggest problem is the metric used to establish royalties. Broadcast mediums like radio can't accurately account for how many listeners they have, and so their licensing terms are based on plays. Pandora on the other hand knows exactly how many listeners it had, because the stream is per individual, nit broadcast. Neither medium accounts for inactive listeners, but I would expect the distribution would be similar. The bottom line is that Pandora is closer to every individual having their own radio station and so of course you cannot evaluate their worth the same way, despite what the original article was trying to do.

Pandora's model actually works better for the artists, since there is metadata that could be used to spy on American citizens... whoops, wrong story; that could be used to connect to fans in markets the artist may not have had access to previously. Maybe Pandora should be selling that information to the artists and labels, although I don't know that they don't do that already.

Both radio and Pandora are more appropriately described as advertisement. Playback restrictions of both formats means that listening to something is not purely selective in the part of the listener. I can't request that Pandora play Cracker's Low, anymore than I can shout that request to my radio. However both give me exposure to music that I might not otherwise hear. Extra credit goes to Pandora for giving me easy access to the Artist, Album, and Song Title, as well as up sell links whereby I can purchase the music I'm listening to.

Pandora provides much more value than terrestrial broadcast - value for which the music industry should probably be paying Pandora. I fully appreciate the positron Pandora finds themselves in, but they aren't in a fair fight, and the artists that should be supporting them don't seem to understand that distinction for their own good.

mech4bg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Not much has been made of the fact that skips count as plays... I wonder what proportion of plays are skips.

Does anyone have information on what a radio station pays for one play of a song, when they have an audience of, say, 100,000?

Edit: ah, I should have finished reading the original link, they make the latter point well.

gems 4 days ago 3 replies      
Why do entertainers feel so entitled to high payment? Why is this even a story?
crocowhile 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't quite get the point of this. The original article already said what it had to be said:

For frame of reference compare Sirius XM paid me $181.00Terrestrial (FM/AM) radio US paid me $1,522.00

All the artist cares about is how much it gets at the end of the day.

alphamale3000 4 days ago 0 replies      
1 million plays on Pandora is like one play on FM radio with an audience of 1 million, or 10 plays with an audience of 100,000. Either way, their royalties are more expensive than ones of radio stations.

Pandora just bought an FM radio station in an effort to reduce its royalty rates.http://www.engadget.com/2013/06/11/pandora-buys-fm-radio-sta...

arange 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I learned anything from reading this article, music royalties are an extremely hard and complicated thing. Hat tip to them for even attempting to do business in this kind of insane environment.
thehme 4 days ago 4 replies      
Considering that I have bought several CDs because I heard them on Pandora, I am sure everyone is getting money, but it usually is never enough. I don't know what exactly the cost of running a Pandora company means financially, but with all the upgraded, changes, improvements I expect from it, they definitely need money to pay the developers, so that we, the listener can love the music and buy the albums, which I would think is what the artist ultimately wants.
ppradhan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe.. just maybe... the market is beginning to correct the monies earned by musicians. The heyday of yesteryear when (successful )musicians were paid obscene amounts was due to 1. fewer mainstream musicians and 2. overcharged customers who had no other means of acquiring music and had to pay the price record companies saw fit.

Unsuccessful or moderately successful musicians didn't make a lot even back then.

Now, musicians are basically fighting for attention among a greater number of competitors. The choices are more varied. The output per year has grown significantly and internet has brought international music into the fold further increasing competition for 'ear-time'.

This should make one ask the question: what is the worth of musicians? Why was the high figures of the last decades the 'right' level of earnings and why are they being 'ripped off' today? Is the alleged ripping off due to content delivery platforms (like Pandora) truly taking a larger cut of the revenues compared to delivery platforms of the past (record companies and retail distributors)?

It is not exactly pertinent to put past and present in the same basket, compare the numbers and bring out the pitchforks. Circumstances have to be looked at, and that little question of what the musicians are 'worth' needs to be thought about. What makes musicians worth more than a farmer or a checkout clerk. An even fairer comparision - why is their an income discrepancy between a successful musician and a successful calligrapher. If the worth is more, the market will decide. A given musician will have to continue making music despite low pay if music is their true love. If not, time for career change.

The music industry and consumption is maturing. Musicians need to do the same. There's no point fighting the ebbs and flow of the market by crying foul. My opinions here are bound to be 'polarizing'. Do discuss.

dllthomas 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I'll prove to you that I am bad enough to get into hell, because I have been through it! I have seen it! It has happend to me! Remember: I was signed for Warner Brothers for eight fucking years!" - Frank Zappa
CulturalNgineer 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you could BUY a download or certain number of plays of the song for a nickel or a few cents (one-click and without transaction costs making it impractical)...

Would you?

patent issued... demo built and tested... its called a pooled-user-determined account which forms the root for an internet wallet.

I'm a terrible entrepreneur but despite that the concept seems to be making progress... especially for its potential in lobbying.

masswerk 4 days ago 0 replies      
So http://masswerk.at/404 just got 1,017,260 hits this month generating no revenues at all ... (as of June 26, partly thanks to a post on HN earlier this month)

Meaning: all this "1 million of anything must be worth tons" isn't really what everything should be all about.

Nux 4 days ago 0 replies      
Holy cow! Anyone else thinks the Record Company takes way too much of the profits??
veritas20 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Industry is shady, it needs to be taken overLabel owners hate me, I'm raising the status quo up" - Jay-Z, Izzo

There are way too many hands in the cookie jar and it's way too easy for artists to connect directly with fans and sell to them directly. The current model serves the labels and associated organizations.

nickjamespdx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Should've gone Vadio.com / Terrestrial. Exposure + better pay per spin/play.
Rails 4.0: Final version released rubyonrails.org
568 points by thibaut_barrere  5 days ago   150 comments top 21
obiefernandez 5 days ago 9 replies      
It's always an uphill battle for us (Addison Wesley Professional Ruby Series) to get official recognition from DHH since we're not part of the pragprog clique.

The latest rewrite of my book for Rails 4 is available at http://leanpub.com/tr4w

Michael Hartl's Rails Tutorial has also been fully updated. See http://news.railstutorial.org/ruby-on-rails-tutorial-rails-4... for all links to relevant material.

steveklabnik 5 days ago 4 replies      
I am so excited, as this is the first major release that I've contributed to! Thank you so much to all the other people who've put this release together, I really do think this is the best Rails yet!


I mentioned this below, but I'll mention it here, as well: if you have gems that aren't ready yet for Rails 4, please ping me and let me know if I can help get them ready somehow. If you maintain a gem and want help running your tests on Travis against multiple versions of Rails, I can help with that as well.

<3 <3 <3 <3

jpdoctor 5 days ago 7 replies      
Ug. We have a new website that is coming out in about a month. Enough mileage on 3.2 that it's too painful to consider delaying, but hate the thought of doing the upgrade later.

Would love opinions from the HN gallery as to whether a delay now saves time later.

Edit: And thanks to the Rails team for providing me with this conundrum!

Edit2: Thanks for the info and opinions! I'll check back later too.

danso 5 days ago 3 replies      
So...what have people's experience been in trying to have fat-client-like speed with TurboLinks? Not necessarily with Rails 4.0, but in general? I imagine for some Rails users, the decision is not just whether to go from 2.x/3.x to 4, but whether to go to Sinatra + Backbone/Angular/Ember/etc
angersock 5 days ago 1 reply      
After looking over the changelog and doing a little research: it seems like this Turbolinks thing is now default-on for Rails 4.

This screws up the normal .ready() stuff, right? Has this bitten anyone yet?

VeejayRampay 5 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks to all the committers and releasers involved. The countdown to Rails 5 has begun :D
usethis 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome achievement.

There are so many improvements to this version that are not immediately visible, but which are maturing Rails in tremendous ways. I think it compares with the release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6). Especially in the perception on different types of users (experts to consumers).

On a different note, moving from 3.2 can best be done one gem at the time. For instance, implement strong parameters and you're one step closer to Rails 4.https://github.com/rails/strong_parameters

bti 5 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe a little off topic... I just started a small project using Angular and Rails, learning both from scratch as I go. I am using Rails as a purely JSON server and handling all the templates in Angular and doing requests over $http. Is it worth using Angular just for the UI niceness and using more of Rails? I need things like authentication and sessions but at its roots it is a single page app. Would any of this new Rails 4 turbolinks stuff help?
Legion 5 days ago 0 replies      
Trying to download the latest Agile Web Dev w/Rails from PragProg and just get the error, "File is not ready yet". On two separate accounts.

Also, this post describes today's book release as the "final" version, but the PragProg changelog calls it Beta 4.0.

throwaway420 5 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats to the team on a great release.

I'm curious how does this affect the rails-api project?

oelmekki 4 days ago 1 reply      
The russian doll cache looks awesome, but I'm a bit worried about this bit in dhh's explanatory article :

> The beauty of that system is that you just dont care. Memcached will automatically evict the oldest keys first when it runs out of space

Well, I do care : I use redis as cache backend. I guess it will not be as simple as that.

jazearbrooks 5 days ago 3 replies      
I've been looking forward to this for a long time. Congrats to the Rails team!

Now I just need a good book on Rails 4.0 or for Michael Hartl to update the Rails tutorial.

rubiquity 5 days ago 1 reply      
Darn. I bought Crafting Rails Applications in paperback three months ago :(

On another note, I've been using Rails4 beta and RCs at home for the past couple months and it has been a joy. At work I've also been working on a Rails 3.2 app and incorporating routing_concerns and strong_parameter gems. I think upgrading from Rails 3 to 4 apps won't be as drastic as upgrading from Rails 2.x to 3 apps was (curse you asset pipeline!)

ndcrandall 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have been using 4.0.0.rc1 for about a month now and have enjoyed the process. There have been a lot of great updates since the previous versions.

I will caution all to be aware of the turbolinks included by default. I spent a while scratching my head why a setTimeout function worked every so often. I had no prior experience with turbolinks or the discussion thereof, though I believe it's a great feature.

zachgersh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone actually had a go with the threading as of yet? I'd love to actually see some performance #s!
elsurudo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just wanted to point out this great resource for upgrading: http://railsdiff.org

It diffs the initial 'rails new' project between any two versions.

ciniglio 5 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone read any of the books mentioned in the link (or Rails 4 in Action)? Any recommendations for someone that is intermediate in Rails 3, but would like to become more advanced?
vysakh0 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is it only me or anyone else facing issue installing the gem? Getting this error

ERROR: While executing gem ... (Gem::RemoteFetcher::UnknownHostError) no such name (https://rubygems.org/gems/actionpack-4.0.0.gem)

Edit: Now it is working :)

revskill 4 days ago 1 reply      
A question: Could someone tell me which types of application does Rails 4.0 solve, but the older versions couldn't ? In general, which types of application could not be solved by Rails 4 ? Thank you.
ahawkins 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is there anything else Rails can do? I can only think of a unified queuing API (which was scheduled by dropped from this release). Has Rails reached feature completeness?
dfischer 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great work guys. It shows.
The Criminal N.S.A. nytimes.com
528 points by guelo  3 days ago   106 comments top 11
mtgx 2 days ago 5 replies      
Here's the thing. If file-sharers have the right to anonymous speech, what does that say about everyone being spied upon by the NSA?


I'm starting to think more and more that beyond this being a US Constitution issue, it's a human rights issue, and we should fight to ban all such spying internationally. Yes, I realize how hard that that may be to achieve, and how long it would probably take, but we need to do it because it's the right thing for humanity, not because it's easy or hard, just like everyone is fighting for gay marriage all over the world, and have fought for free speech, and so on.

trevelyan 3 days ago 2 replies      
The public is not acquiescing in surveillance. It is simply rare for the mainstream media to report on this critically (or at all -- note the lack of front-page coverage of this story in the New York Times), an appalling development given the extension of this surveillance apparatus to targeting journalists.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that the two authors of this piece are NOT professional journalists, although what they report could and should easily have been put together by actual staffers.

fragsworth 2 days ago 2 replies      
The blowback from this mess could very soon be more severe than everyone might think. I expect several foreign countries to ban American tech company operations in their jurisdictions.

The bans in the foreign nations could easily stem from foreign business owners pressuring their politicians to ban American-operated companies under the guise of national security, privacy, and anti-American-power-mongering, but their real motivation will be to gain market share. Their politicians can easily make it into a win-win for everyone involved - the politicians (campaign contributions), the local businesses (market share), and the population, who wouldn't mind seeing a global anti-America movement.

janlukacs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please talk to people who lived under oppresive regimes (former Eastern Block) and see for yourself what it meant to live in a society of paranoia, snitching, informants, secret service, fake patriotism etc.. embedded IN every aspect of social life (work, neighbours EVEN families).

Americans can't grasp this because they never experienced it, that's why you need to talk to people who did, otherwise your children will be sorry.

andrewljohnson 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is it possible for Americans to file a class action suit over a top secret government surveillance program? I feel like we all have standing at least.
e3pi 2 days ago 1 reply      
"...The two programs violate both the letter and the spirit of federal law."

"We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the governments professed concern with protecting Americans privacy. Its time to call the N.S.A.s mass surveillance programs what they are: criminal."

Fatal bug throughout the whole `stack'?

Are these lawyered authors actually telling us the rudder is gone and the entire hull rotten?

mpyne 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Lets turn to Prism: the streamlined, electronic seizure of communications from Internet companies." OK, good so far, PRISM does indeed streamline and automate the process...

"... Prism is further proof that the agency is collecting vast amounts of e-mails and other messages including communications to, from and between Americans."

??? PRISM was the one thing I stopped being worried about as soon as I figured out what it was. The government has always been able to subpoena a third-party for records pursuant to an actual investigation, and even Google seemed to be satisfied with the idea that specific PRISM requests have been legal (even if they forced NSA to get a real warrant first).

Other things may indicate NSA is hoovering emails like a Mob boss hoovering blow but PRISM isn't one of them. PRISM has to be turned on to acquire data, unlike other NSA SIGINT this one's not actually magic.

I'm kind of disappointed by the opinion piece because if they only took efforts to be factual they would probably be able to make a much more persuasive case (e.g. by bringing up Carnivore or 641A-style data interception instead of a system that queries specific individual users one-at-a-time).

logn 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's criminal and people should go to prison. When we talk about locking people up forever because they're a threat to society, I can't think of a better example than this.
w_t_payne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, it is time to call the N.S.A.s mass surveillance programs what they are: Both criminal - and a betrayal of the people of the United States of America.
tehwalrus 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post makes a similar argument to my blog post[1] from earlier this week - that PRISM is simply criminal - although my analysis focused on why this made Snowden immune to charges as a whistleblower.

I agree that it's time to take the US government to task over this. How does that happen? A civil suit, a private prosecution?

[1] http://joe-jordan.co.uk/blog/2013/06/tinker-tailor-whistlebl... hacker news comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5945185 )

whiddershins 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well said.
An Apology to my European IT Team fredlybrand.com
517 points by flybrand  7 days ago   92 comments top 10
btipling 7 days ago 4 replies      
Hrm I wonder what are the chances that someone at the NSA or doing contract work for the NSA has a buddy at a company and that person decides to use their NSA powers to get their buddy's competitor's emails from Google Apps and send those emails to their friend. If there are safeguards in place from keeping this from happening how was Snowden able to take so many documents with him when he went to Hong Kong. Ok so maybe he didn't take any of that kind of data, maybe I'm reaching. If this kind of thing did happen would they let the affected company know? Would anyone know?
Camillo 6 days ago 5 replies      
While OP's apology is appreciable, there was more than enough information available in 2008 to understand that his Czech colleagues were right.

The Prism scandal may have come as a surprise to US citizens, but the US has been spying foreign nationals and companies for years, and we've long known about it - haven't you heard of Echelon? It was also well known that these systems were used for industrial espionage.

rdl 7 days ago 3 replies      
Seems odd that someone wouldn't have understood that even 10-15 years ago. Outsourced means being exposed to risk from your supplier -- by the company itself, by its employees, or by governments. Gmail has somewhat better technical security to protect from outside non-state hackers than your average self-hosted exchange server, and from insiders (the IT guy, like Snowden, may not have the same goals as the organization...), but that may or may not make up for the ease of serving a third-party communications service provider.

I still prefer well-run self-hosted mail unless:

* You have a <6 month retention policy (i.e. so ECPA's weaker protections are a non issue) (which can be specified in Google Apps for Your Domain)

* You don't have the technical competence to run your own mail server (which gets complicated in a larger organization due to HR risk), or don't have the business competence to hire a contractor to run it in-house in such a way that their staff don't become a huge risk.

There's a third way which would be a lot better for everyone, but it's not technically feasible yet -- a way to outsource some aspects of the server without giving up control.

drawkbox 6 days ago 3 replies      
Sadly the NSA programs are strongly anti-business as it is based on 'trust in me'.

American businesses could and should lobby Congress to fight this and to find ways to protect US stored data, I know I wouldn't trust a Chinese cloud company not to snoop or steal business/corporate ideas and trade secrets.

But if there were assurances for US cloud businesses that this doesn't affect their business ideas accidentally or deliberately then we could set a global example on how to run cloud data storage that is safe and business friendly. There is an opportunity here for Google, Amazon, Apple etc for cloud data.

Lots of damage control to be done here for international clients. As an American I would always trust our systems more but international companies may have a very hard time trusting without the US being a shining example of how to correctly protect business data in clouds here, especially encrypted data that is automatically subject to storage/filtering if international.

Sami_Lehtinen 6 days ago 1 reply      
I just wonder why telcos I've been dealing with have always required to encrypt all information which is not classified as public information. All customer, project, system, configuration, documentation, contracts etc. must be encrypted before transit. - Surely they must have known about this. So if telcos won't trust privacy of telecommunication, why should anyone else think that telcos are trustworthy?
pconf 6 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't take much reading of the literature to understand industrial espionage or any of the other substantive risks of outsourcing. Prism or not, when you put your intellectual property on someone else's networks you are taking a risk.

Yet most of the managers I see who make this decision just don't care. They ignore the advice of their systems admins and follow the old adage "you can't get fired for buying IBM" like sheep to a slaughter. It's typical of the short-term mindset that drives so many business decisions.

I chalk this up to a lack of education, both in business and IT. While CS professors obsess over data structures and algorithms, and non-IT departments preach about the relevance of the next quarter's results, "Rome is burning".

driverdan 6 days ago 3 replies      
The author is overlooking one major flaw in his discussion: security (and possibly also reliability). His implication is that they can run internal servers more securely than Google and Salesforce. While government collection of encrypted emails is problematic, securing your own server and making it reliable is an entirely different issue. Unless they have an absolutely top notch security team they'd be better off on someone else's servers.
mironathetin 6 days ago 0 replies      
How nice that finally there is understanding, that web-based services are good for providers and third parties not users.

It's so obvious.

jojobe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Hosting the email on a server in your office is no protection if the data is being captured at your ISP unless all email is transmitted using SSL, and even then govt probably has that cracked long ago.
frozenport 7 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if this problem is particularly acute for Eastern European companies who often sell their products to despicable despotic regimes.
Sorry, NSA, Terrorists Don't Use Verizon. Or Skype. Or Gmail vice.com
502 points by Libertatea  5 days ago   353 comments top 40
InclinedPlane 5 days ago 2 replies      
Even with the panic that has happened regarding the revelations of mass-surveillance I don't think the public at large truly realizes how screwed up this situation is.

The common defense of sweeping surveillance is that it serves an important purpose, finding terrorists, and it has succeeded in that purpose.

Ignoring the very serious problems with framing the debate in such a way it's also fundamentally misleading. There have been many cases of "terrorist plots" within the US having been foiled over the last few years, but many if not most of these are not as serious as most would believe. A stereotypical "foiled terrorist plot" begins with a radicalized individual who somehow comes to the attention of the authorities. Then the FBI spins up an elaborate sting to essentially entrap the radicalized individual into committing to some sort of attack, often providing fake bombs in the process. And just before they go through with their planned "attack" the FBI arrests them.

Examples:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amine_El_Khalifi and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Osman_Mohamud and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farooque_Ahmed and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_Osmakac

Meanwhile, the FBI, NSA, TSA, et al have failed to foil many much more serious attacks, such as the Boston bombings, the Fort Hood shooting, the "underwear bomber", the failed 2010 Times Square bombing attempt, etc.

Arnor 5 days ago 25 replies      
It's depressing that this article is so high on HN right now. It's another example of a poor report trivializing an important debate. Meanwhile, many of the comments here are snarky and sardonic which further degrades the dialog. This is a serious subject and should be treated as such.

It's easy to shout hurray for your side. It's easy to demonize your enemy. According to the government, Snowden is a traitor. According to many frequent HN readers, the government is completely out of the control. Neither of these claims is true, but they are difficult to get past.

Although Snowden is certainly not a traitor, the accusation is serious. His life and freedom hang in the balance. Politicians and political pundits are looking for an easy solution when they demonize Snowden. Making him out to be the enemy makes it easier to keep the country calm about the issues he unveiled.

While Snowden isn't a monster, the surveillance programs are not evil either. They are shocking. They evoke emotional response. They can be frightening -- especially since we don't know how much deeper the programs go. Still, they are the largely the result of people trying to defend the country from terrorism. Regardless of the cynicism you bring to the topic, the primary goal of these programs is to save lives. Accept that, take a breath, then reevaluate your grievances.

I'm not suggesting that there's nothing to be angry or worried about. I'm certainly not saying that the programs are right or benevolent. I'm saying that this is important and meaningful and needs to be treated as such rather than another opportunity to win points in some silly political game.

Kylekramer 5 days ago 21 replies      
There seems to be two NSAs in the media right now: the extremely competent one that can access your email from a desktop without any oversight or trouble and the bumbling idiots who don't know more about terrorists than reporters.

It doesn't mesh.

bazillion 5 days ago 17 replies      
Well, I'll have to disagree in full with the points the author is trying to make.

"A recent Bloomberg piece points to a 2012 report on terrorism which found that most serious terrorists steer clear of the most obvious platformsmajor cell networks, Google, Skype, Facebook, etc."

The 2012 report cited wasn't some senate oversight committee, a DIRNSA (director NSA) report, or a truly credible intelligence source. It was from the Dutch Intelligence agency, an agency focused on leftist activity vs. right-wing Islamic terrorism.

"In 2010, Google estimated that it had indexed just 0.004% of the internetmeaning the vast majority of the web is open for surreptitious message-sending business. Terrorists simply aren't dumb enough to discuss their secret plans over Skype or to email each other confidential information on Gmail."

Do you think that it's feasible for terrorists to use couriers/tradecraft to transmit all messages to their group members around the world? If I told you right now to get a message to your cousin in Connecticut within an hour without using Skype/email/phone or anything of the other means listed, could you do it? Let's say you answer that you'll just use steganography (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography) to hide the message. How are you going to communicate to your cousin where to look for the message and how to break it down?

Armchair intelligence analysis is the same as armchair anything -- you have no basis for what you're talking about except a bunch of redacted reports, news articles, and spy movies. Intelligence analysis is a very straightforward thing, though, which a lot of folks working in tech would be really good at, but articles like this are the equivalent of commenting on the merits of using PHP having never written a line of code in your life.

I understand peoples' frustration with what (if true) would be an egregious slight on the public trust. But, is it more likely that the 4+ million security clearance holders are in on some large conspiracy to take away our freedoms, or that a disgruntled worker wanted to watch the world burn a little. Having worked in every facet of the NSA as a linguist/intelligence analyst/programmer/many other things, and CIA contractor for a year, I tend to think the latter, and I'm very vocal about my thoughts on the intelligence community.

Read my previous comments if you want to see my thoughts on how the media has been getting it wrong, and what the deal is from the perspective of someone who worked in this community.

ryguytilidie 5 days ago 2 replies      
Article seems to kind of miss the point. While the NSA's STATED reasons for these programs is to "fight terror" that doesn't necessarily mean it is their actual reason. If they want to spy on activists and everyday citizens this seems like a pretty solid strategy.
blumentopf 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is the rationale behind PRISM really terrorism?

Here in Germany there's a lot of talk that PRISM is ultimately a tool for industry espionage. The Boundless Informant world map shows Germany in bright orange. People are wondering: Is Germany breeding terrorists or is NSA simply interested in trade secrets?

Going by that logic, terrorism is a red herring. By making details about PRISM and NSA's hacking activities public, Snowden is undermining the US's ability to covertly vacuum up trade secrets, thus weakening the US industry. That's why the US government is freaking out. You can bet that German companies are now reconsidering using cloud services hosted in the US, or cloud services at all, or American (closed source / potentially backdoored) software at all.

kghose 5 days ago 2 replies      
Actually, they used to. Then they wised up and started using couriers. Both worked to the disadvantage of Al Quaida. When they stopped using electronic communications their organization suffered. Then, it was the movements of a courier that gave away Bin Laden.

So, regardless of whether you think it's OK for the NSA to spy on everyone, this push did break down Al Quaida's organization.

Whether it affects cell oriented terrorism (or 'lone wolf' terrorism) is another matter. For example, for the Boston bombers one of them did mention something about terrorism and came on the radar, but the FBI misjudged the threat.

hawkharris 5 days ago 2 replies      
The author is focusing on the wrong issue. He is mostly concerned with whether or not the surveillance is effective.

If effectiveness were the only consideration, he would have a weak argument. Even if most terrorists are smart enough to avoid Gmail, Skype and cellular networks, it might still make sense to eavesdrop in these places.

After all, smart criminals sometimes get caught because they make dumb mistakes. For example, my understanding is that Sabu (a member of Anonymous) was caught because he forgot to use Tor in one instance when he logged into a social network.

But we can argue all day about whether or not PRISM is effective. I think the author would have a stronger argument if he focused on the fact that the program is unconstitutional, regardless of how well it works.

leoc 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can think of three possible reasons (I claim no expertise here) to doubt that FISA orders and phone metadata are completely useless against terrorists even if (as seems likely) serious terrorists know to steer clear of Skype, Facebook and friends.

1) By monitoring Internet services like these, the NSA denies their use to the terrorists. It's not as if exclusively using couriers, dead drops and the like has no costs to an organisation (say, have you moved off GMail yet?) Apparently some fairly serious terrorists are using the Internet in more secure ways, but the spooks have some ability to go after those too.

2) Any big network or organisations is going to have slipups, no matter how good it is. It would be hard to imagine that no serious terrorist ever gets lazy, or decides to take a risk under time pressure.

3) There have to be a lot of guys who start out as Facebook jihadis, and only later get serious and realise (or have it explained to them) that they need to stop making it easy for the authorities to track them. But by that time they'll already have left a useful trail of contacts and activity through FB. (By the way, that's one reason why I think it's wrong to assume that PRISM has been useless even if it hasn't stopped any specific attacks. Realistically, that kind of intelligence is going to be less about discovering big plots just in time and more about gathering enough information to locate and move on terrorists - espcially if you can then turn them into informers. Running "touts" is central to effective counterterrorism, if history is any guide.)

seferphier 5 days ago 1 reply      
Should post the original article that did the research: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-23/u-s-surveillance-is...
damoncali 5 days ago 0 replies      
Criminals (I hate to use the word "terrorist" because it has a distracting political bias - we're talking about people doing bad things to other people) are not some sort of hyper-disciplined super spies. They do some pretty dumb things. A while back I met a guy looking to put together a Twitter system designed to combat drug cartels, who, yes, communicated via Twitter. This was several years ago, but still.

The whole reason I'm so upset about what the NSA is doing is because it works, and over time it will work much better than it does today.

codex 5 days ago 5 replies      
"In 2010, Google estimated that it had indexed just 0.004% of the internet."

I don't believe this. Does anyone else?

nslocum 5 days ago 1 reply      
The NSA isn't focused exclusively on terrorism. It has ~40k employees who work on a wide range of areas, drug cartels, human trafficking, money laundering, counter intelligence, espionage, and hundreds of others. It's mighty presumptuous for people not "in the know" to speak on what is and isn't valuable to the NSA's missions.

As for terrorists, if someone were a skilled terrorist their entire life, they probably wouldn't live digital traces within the US. But this isn't the case; people become terrorists, and some of those become skilled terrorists. There is immense value in having intelligence on people before they become a terrorist and needless to say, before they hone their tradecraft and drop from the grid.

dclowd9901 5 days ago 3 replies      
I've really nothing more to say about the NSA at this point. I'd just like to give a shout out to Vice for being one of the most vital and relevant news organizations of the modern era. Whenever people say journalism is dead, I just point them to a Vice article. They make me proud to have a journo background.
cookiecaper 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't buy the concept that terrorists don't use common online services. Does anybody actually believe things are safer if you use HushMail et al as your provider? While it's unlikely that the NSA has asked HushMail to FTP up all of its account data as it apparently did with PRISM participants, one would be highly naive to assume that intelligence services have just decided to leave certain providers' data untouched just because they're unwilling to lay out the welcome mat. One would therefore logically conclude that with very basic steganographic measures, it's easier to hide among the hundreds of millions of mails that Google processes each day than the thousands processed by HushMail or other minor email providers (or even a fully-hosted custom mail server at "terrorists-r-us.com").

Furthermore, if you use any cryptography at all besides SSL you're probably already on an NSA list somewhere, but GnuPG alleviates all of these concerns and I'm sure that some terrorist organizations have discovered it. In this case, there should be no issue using Gmail or other services for your communication.

logn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the next leak will show they've redefined 'terrorist' and that a terrorist these days is anyone who does anything the US doesn't like and is vaguely related ultimately back to national security. So, I think already we've established that any drug crimes (even low-level ones) are national security threats. Bitcoin miners will soon be terrorists I think. People encrypting email are highly suspect and probably a national security threat. People running free web hosting will soon be terrorists. It directly serves the interests of the government for everyone to be considered a terrorist. It's probably one of the biggest loopholes our country's seen.
runjake 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some clearly terrorist elements have used all three of the services in the headline. It still doesn't make NSA's domestic surveillance, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, right.
qwertzlcoatl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would just like to crosspost a comment from reddit user MarcusHalberstram88 which I found to be insightful :

Ok, I feel I have to speak up. This is why I take issue with subs like /r/politics, and I would hope for more from /r/technology.

Most people who see this post will only read the title and not follow the link to the article (even though the title sensationalizes the article). If someone does actually click, this post links to a Motherboard article, which basically just cites, summarizes, and links to a Bloomberg article. The Bloomberg article[1] cites, extrapolates, and links to AIVD UK (a Dutch website). Said Dutch website[2] (finally) links to the actual report that all these different sources are supposedly reporting on. That report was by the General Intelligence and Security Service for the Dutch Ministry of Interiors and Kingdom Relations.

The actual report itself is just shy of 30 pages long and dedicates one of its four chapters of findings to "How does online Jihadism work?" (roughly 4 pages).

I think 4 pages discussing where and how (it is thought) 25,000 Jihadists gather online is one thing. Making a blanket statement saying that terrorists do not use Verizon, Skype, or Gmail is another. But anyone who just reads the title of this post, or just reads the article that the post links to, or even the article that THAT article links to, may believe otherwise.

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-23/u-s-surveillance-is...

[2] https://www.aivd.nl/english/publications-press/@2873/jihadis...

runarb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Well apparently both Al-Qaeda and some CIA employees uses public email accounts like Gmail to communicate in secret.[0]

The method is a little bit different than normally email. They used Gmail as a electronic dropbox by saving messages in the draft folder, but now that NSA have direct access that are probably picking up that also. So be careful not to make a draft with text like "the drunk monkey sings at midnight", or the NSA may come knocking :)

0: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/11/12...

mpyne 5 days ago 1 reply      
Don't the people that the terrorists need to recruit use Skype, and GMail, and Facebook? Find the recruiters & PR types that have to be where the people are, and that's one more in you have with a nascent terror cell.
mortehu 5 days ago 0 replies      
From the original brochure:

> Of course, jihadists are also active on the surface Web, where they use social media and various applications, such as email, Internet telephony and chat programmes, to name a few. They use these means of communication to actively spread jihadist ideas, recruit new jihadists and proactively distribute and promote propaganda material. Jihadists that are active on the surface Web are afraid of being detected, which is why there is no (or very limited) dynamic interaction, as opposed to what is observed on core forums.

> "Your talk on YouTube can be monitored by the Kuffar. Many a brother were arrested based on intelligence from YouTube, they will not hesitate to handover your IP details to Kuffar. Therefore, it is NOT the place you should be social networking."

The brochure in general seems light on science, and I'm not sure it "drew a convincing picture", although I admit I didn't read the whole thing.

ferdo 5 days ago 0 replies      
> The NSA has to collect the metadata from all of our phone calls because terrorists, right?

No. The NSA is keeping an eye on us. The National Security State has ossified into a cult. All non-members of the cult are viewed with suspicion.

When the Inquisition made excuses for its excesses, it was in the name of the "salvation" of the flock. When the Church of the NSA makes excuses for its excesses, it's in the name of our "security".

There are always people willing to be fooled by priests and bureaucrats. Priests and bureaucrats love those people.

siculars 5 days ago 0 replies      
I often say, tongue firmly in cheek, that if Google doesn't know something it is not meant to be known - or exist. Obviously this is not true. I would hate to think that in the future if "intelligence" does not exist in an NSA database then it does not exist. Unfortunately, I feel this will be the case. Let's take the recent Boston Bombing, not only did the US get a tip off but certainly they had sigint from various sources. Were they able to connect the dots? No, they were not.

"Intelligence" is more than just rows in a database.

ansible 5 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Streetlight Effect, also known as observational bias. [1]

I just find the whole situation quite disappointing.

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

vacri 5 days ago 0 replies      
For the definition of 'terrorist' that includes well-informed, trained cadres, and not the definition of 'terrorist' that includes rampant amateurs, the kind that get stopped before they do anything serious. The author has a fairly naive view of what a terrorist is
vermontdevil 5 days ago 0 replies      
Of course. It's all about the $$ and perceived security theater.
culshaw 5 days ago 1 reply      
Actually, they were using Gmail drafts to communicate with each other?
pinaceae 5 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty sure the Boston Bombers used exactly those services.

And they were/are US citizens.

nrivadeneira 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm undecided on the issue, however it seems completely logical to me that terrorists wouldn't use venues that are being monitored by the NSA. Would that still be the case if those lines of communications weren't monitored at all? In addition, if the NSA started monitoring whatever the terrorists use at present, would they continue to use it? Doubtful.

I don't think this article comes to the clever conclusion that it thinks it does.

acmeyer9 5 days ago 0 replies      
I also have to disagree with this statement and the article in general. It's very difficult to say what terrorists use when they are living in the US, let alone make a general statement that they don't use them because they'd be stupid to use these services. That actually makes the argument for why using these services might be advantageous for them even stronger. If you (the general population) doesn't think they'd use it, that makes it more of a reason for them to use it.

Let me big clear that this is not an argument for NSA-type surveillance, however, I don't think we should be arguing against the surveillance using general statements or more accurately opinions like these. Argue against surveillance with more factual/strong cases.

snaky 5 days ago 0 replies      
>.. may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists

Yes, of course. And 99% of them are in stupidest, lowest-ranking part. As for the smartest and highest-ranking ones, there is undercover agents and informators.

sologoub 5 days ago 0 replies      
This one made me chuckle: "So, essentially, the NSA is deeply compromising our privacy so that it can do an extremely shitty job of looking for terrorists. Nice."

Would be so funny, if it wasn't so sad...

joemcm 5 days ago 0 replies      
I dislike this article because it asserts that the NSA has ever said "a lot of terrorists use X, Y and Z." In reality, the NSA has said "tracking this data w.r.t. terrorism doesn't always prevent terrorist crimes, but it has been successful in the past." It seems like nonsense to assert that none, zero, nil terrorists use these services... I agree with Arnor in his comment - this is a trivializing report.
yeezusnice 5 days ago 1 reply      
well they don't use it anymore, thanks to snowden

We all better hope that Bloomberg/Vice is more authoritative on this subject than the intelligence community or else the NON-ZERO number of terrorism cases involving these types of comms just went dark.

Btw, wasn't it UBLs courier who was caught through his cell phone?

flipcoder 5 days ago 1 reply      
Spoiler alert: It's not for terrorists at all. http://www.reddit.com/r/misc/comments/1gziqi/obamas_lobbyist...
rdl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Plenty use yahoo and MSN messenger, though, historically.
rhokstar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't they use snailmail, tin cans with strings, chalk marks on objects, and sign language? Lowbie tech.
rob22 4 days ago 1 reply      
one thing i could tell,survilencing the people in USA is bearable(non-american). but other countries are.
iagomr 5 days ago 0 replies      
They don't use it because NSA monitors it
epicwon 5 days ago 0 replies      
What about the Boston marathon bombers? One of them was on welfare. Strong assumption in the title.
A Dark Room - minimalist text-based game doublespeakgames.com
480 points by NeekGerd  2 days ago   224 comments top 70
mjn 2 days ago 3 replies      
The style of a minimalist interface that starts sprouting things, somewhat ASCII-game-ish yet also rather dynamic, reminds me a bit of Candy Box: http://candies.aniwey.net/ . It's an interesting UI and 'reveal' style for a game, and glad to see another one using it. Feels somewhat refreshing.

edit: Ah ok, if you view-source it mentions Candy Box as an inspiration.

networked 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me less of parser-based text games and more of the 1990s hyperfiction like Afternoon, a story [1], Victory Garden [2] or 253 [3] and net.art like My boyfriend came back from the war [4]. Give those a look if you liked this. The hypertext novel 253, which looks in the life of every passenger on a London Underground train, is probably the best starting point.

Edit: Oh, and also Fallen London [5] and other StoryNexus games. In fact, in terms of mechanics A Dark Room is probably the closest to Fallen London of all the games of which I can think.

[1] Sadly, the HTML sample at http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/pmaf/hypertext/aft/ appears to not work in modern browsers. It was created in a pre-HTML hypertext system called Storyspace; you can see what it is supposed to look like on its native platform at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djIrHF8S6-Q.

[2] http://www.eastgate.com/VG/VGStart.html

[3] http://www.ryman-novel.com/

[4] http://www.teleportacia.org/war/

[5] http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/

Aardwolf 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's something I consider a problem:

If you're in the cave, and something attacks you, at the end if you press "eat meat", sometimes, exactly at the point when you want to click it, the buttons become "leave cave" instead, and you accidently press that. Then, a next fight may begin, and you're at low health.

Please provide some consistent way to heal yourself before a next fight.

hawkharris 1 day ago 0 replies      
This highlights the importance of game mechanics. I was hooked for about six or seven hours on gameplay alone, even without graphics or sound.
pdknsk 2 days ago 3 replies      
In case anyone wants to accelerate the game slightly, but still play it as intended, set this in the Chrome console.

window.Engine._incomeTimeout = setTimeout(Engine.collectIncome, 500) // default 1000

IMO it's not a cheat, because it just shortens somewhat tedious waiting early in the game, but doesn't alter it otherwise.

spodek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I got eaten by a grue.
ams6110 2 days ago 7 replies      
Seems to use the psychological technique of intermittent rewards to encourage continued clicking of "stoke the fire." Unfortunately after about 4 stokings with no new developments in the game, I got bored and quit.
pearjuice 1 day ago 1 reply      
I progressed with a rather slow pace but after the Egyptians came and asked me whether I wanted to help build a new pyramid for their current Pharaoh - as apparently I was a top architect known far-and-wide - things became interesting very quickly. With the gold I earned I could buy my own workers and I am now comfortably running a rivaling empire battling the Pharaoh which employed me earlier. I do seem to have trouble with foreign spies passing on weaponry I research. Guess I have to raise the bounty for those who turn in traitors.
ISL 1 day ago 3 replies      
Perhaps "Embark" should be "Explore"? I thought I would leave my town forever. Didn't leave until I'd maxed out every property of armor etc.
ajuc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fighting is funny - it's beneficial to keep all old weapons with you, then you can attack with 2 swords, shoot rifle and laser and use bayonet before the first sword timout finishes.

Very addictive game.

hawkharris 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is probably a simple question, but I'm new to JavaScript: How did you create the side-scrolling animation effect that happens when you switch between locations?
ancarda 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I have been spending more time than I care to admit playing this. Seriously. Hours on end. Possibly the most addictive game I've played since Tiny Wings. No idea why.
ynniv 1 day ago 1 reply      
I played this to completion a week ago. It can feel a little tedious st times, but this is usually because I missed something, and is ultimately well written at all stages. Keep with it and you won't be disappointed!
djrconcepts 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Speed up the cool down when gathering wood or checking traps. Paste this code into chrome console.

Button.cooldown = function (btn) {var cd = btn.data("cooldown");if(cd > 0) {$('div.cooldown', btn).stop(true, true).width("100%").animate({width: '0%'}, cd * 10, 'linear', function() {var b = $(this).closest('.button');b.data('onCooldown', false);if(!b.data('disabled')) {b.removeClass('disabled');}});btn.addClass('disabled');btn.data('onCooldown', true);}}

croikle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Warning: while the first part of the game works fine in a touch-based interface, a later section requires a keyboard. You'll be annoyingly unable to proceed on a touchscreen.
efnx 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Got all the way to embarking on my iPad. Now I'm stuck! Wish I could transfer my game to my laptop.
taternuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty damned cool, and it looks like there is a lot of thought out content backing it....I thought I'd look at it and move on, but I've been playing it for awhile
Jhsto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there any other way to share the game state than copying the local storage? Even though I use Chromium with linked Google accounts between Windows and Ubuntu, it does not save local storage data. And that is not even possible on an iPad, for an example.
socillion 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting game, but I'm surprised it doesn't work better on phones - it seems like a perfect game for the medium.
reledi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Any idea what 'charm' does? I haven't found a use for it yet.
cupcake-unicorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed this, and it introduced me to Candy Box as well. This is saying something since I suffer from pretty severe issues with concentration and haven't been able to play games for some time. Thank you very much.
jwatte 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The pace is set reasonably well, but after a while it gets too slow and I have to give up. Mad props for good amount of polish, though!
irishcoffee 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty awesome.
nandemo 1 day ago 4 replies      
How do you avoid the beasts that keep killing your guests?
neil_s 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm stuck in civilisation where I need steel to make the next set of items. Is there any more efficient way of producing steel than buying it in exchange for scales and teeth? Like a steel mine or a person like a tanner that can convert iron into steel?
psbp 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is there anything cool after getting the spaceship? I can't keep playing, but I will if I can get more of a fix....
Splendor 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Well...there went six hours.
tempestn 1 day ago 1 reply      
And there went my whole night.
vinceguidry 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm having a serious problem later on in the game when I have four different options on the screen during a fight. The hover resource-display obscures the action button and reduces the clickable area to a tiny sliver. I'm losing battles that I should be winning, a lot.
jmuguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stuck in an empty office expanding a RAID. This will do nicely :
ruxkor 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A very nice game!

Another automatic click script, clicking the buttons only when necessary:

var checkAll = setInterval(function() { var bn = ['stoke','gather','traps']; for (var i=0; i<bn.length;i++) $('#'+bn[i]+'Button:not(.disabled)').click(); }, 500);

Tichy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this point and click adventures for people whose first encounter with computer games was farmville?
dantheman 1 day ago 0 replies      
This game is great, I'm really enjoying it.
PButcher93 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been at it nearly an hour. Very good indeed.

Love the minimalist interface.

KennyCason 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Lol played through 2 full times hoping it wasn't just in repeat haha
Aardwolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pretty neat! I found a bug though. I think all my villagers got eaten by a best :( But it keeps saying "3" next to "gatherer", even though there are 0 people, it gathers 0 wood, it says 0/4 population, and the up arrows to increase other resources don't work. Very confusing.
S4M 1 day ago 2 replies      
I feel slightly stuck at some point, because it's too hard to get large quantities or iron to build new things, and fur is worth nothing...
newsmaster 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very good game! I refrained from cheating for a few hours but got bored waiting for furs n things. Poked around JS for unlimited ammo and just completed the game minutes ago. Glad I cheated because otherwise I know I'd be playing it for days on end.
mathattack 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow - can I have my evening and morning back?
glomph 1 day ago 0 replies      
mateuszowski 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the source code for this game! It's quite readable and good fun to look over :-) Now I remember this was my original reason why I was interested in programming - wanted to figure out these mysterious listings for test-based adventures on Atari. I really like how all the possibilities are encoded there, but you can't entirely picture the game until you actually play it :-)
ipodize 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just bought a compass, and entered "A barren world" on my iPad... And I'm stuck. What are the controls for this part of the game?
dropdownmenu 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very cool use of html as a medium to tell a story and keep the player involved. Defiantly want to see more games in a similar style!
snogglethorpe 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do I get leather...? I have a tannery, I guess I need a tanner, but I don't know how to get one...

"Tanner: 0", "Hunter: 0", etc, have little icons next to them, but clicking does nothing...

I've maxed out my village etc (and am accumulating huge quantities of wood I can't use for anything anymore), but can't seem to advance until I get some leather!

ISL 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a way to pause?
scotty79 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate when game makes me wait to click things. That makes me semi-immune to Zynga-type pestilence but makes it hard to find fun thing to play.
Zikes 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like it could make for a fairly successful mobile game.
parsabg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
just putting this here :) setInterval(function(){$("#trapsButton,#gatherButton").trigger('click')}, 2000);
jmuguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone figured out how to explore the "landmarks" on the dusty path. Like I see the caves but I can't enter them, move my guy over them but no matter what key I press he won't enter.
comet 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow.. This is poetic.. It didn't feel like a game but a story I was part of. I'm still stroking the fire, gathering wood, and the checking the traps. Just beautiful. Thank you! :)
vog 1 day ago 2 replies      
It seems to run on Chrome but not on Firefox. If that is on purpose, it should be clearly stated as such at the beginning.
whathappenedto 1 day ago 1 reply      
I played through the whole game but can't figure out what bait was ever used for. My trapped made it but there didn't seem to be any use for it. Anyone know?
mihaifm 1 day ago 1 reply      
it seems to have a bug...if you close and revisit the page again, all the timers are reset...so you can gather stuff instantly
alexkehayias 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dammit I've been playing this for 2 hours straight...
anigbrowl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm hooked.
MrBra 1 day ago 1 reply      
is this just some js and jquery or there is more behind it? browser db? angular js? I am not familiar with those technologies so I can't be sure I can recognize them, so please just answer...
jmuguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, it would nice to know what the items from the workshop do. WTB leather.
thealistra 18 hours ago 0 replies      
this game has the timers for activities so long, that I worry that it'll start offering me in-app purchases any time soon
Ashuu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there any way of saving the game like Candy Box?
gcatalfamo 1 day ago 1 reply      
I started playing on my nexus and now, with over 60 villagers, I'd like to move my game on the pc. Anyway I could export my game state?
phragg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fun but easily hacked if you change the class in DevTools to not be disabled, then click click clickity.
larkarvin 1 day ago 0 replies      
took me 3 hrs to finish! but a really great game nonetheless. I enjoyed every part of it. kudos!
Rustan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Played, donated. Thanks!
srikarg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing game! Thanks for sharing.
mavlee 1 day ago 1 reply      
does anyone know what to do with alien alloy?
sarquah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great game. I'm having fun
ssyphon 1 day ago 1 reply      
How can I save for real? :S
Perrydu 1 day ago 0 replies      
refreshing page.. get more stuff..
frozenport 1 day ago 1 reply      
Stroke fire takes too long. After waiting for the first one and getting a second wait, I quit. You should make it faster until you have acclimated the user to the slow pace.
gnosis 2 days ago 7 replies      
Unfortunately, this game seems to be browser-based and requires javascript to work -- so I'm going to pass.
My Startup has 30 Days to Live mystartuphas30daystolive.tumblr.com
467 points by hidingmyname  5 days ago   226 comments top 52
patio11 5 days ago 6 replies      
So, it sucks, but it happens, and it won't matter nearly as much in June 2014 as it seems to right now.

Your co-founder will, hopefully, not find out about this through guessing "Is this my company?" on Twitter, but rather in hearing it from you. You may be heartbroken about it, you may cry a bit (totally OK). Then, you will put on your Responsible Adult pants, call your employee into the office, and tell them the situation. You will emphasize that it is in no way their fault. You will tell them the status of your future payments to them (you can make them -- good), and instruct them that they have no job now other than lining up their next gig, and that you are totally at their disposal for making that happen. First among all things you take care of your employees -- they have the worst risk situation of anyone involved.

You will then tell your investors that you're failing and will be proceeding to wind up the business in an orderly fashion. They probably already know this. None of the ones who you care about will hold it against you -- "this is the nature of the business we have chosen." Some of them may likely attempt to invest in your endeavors in the future, if you decide to go down that route.

You will then draw up and execute on a plan to wind down the business in an orderly fashion. Give your customers a window on their apps going dark, if appropriate. Turn off new signups now. Turn off ability to take money now, unless it is absolutely required to continue paying your employees. There likely a small mountain of very boring administrative work here -- your lawyer and accountant can help you through it.

After this is over, you'll probably be very stressed. That is fine and natural. You're in the hottest market ever in terms of hiring right now. If you want a job immediately, you will have many offers for it. "Built a company with real revenues from nothing. Got into an accelerator. Took funding. It didn't work." is enough of a resume to get you an interview at any number of places. If you need introductions, you are probably well-networked enough to get them, but if for some reason you want more drop me an email. Your designer co-founder will have, similarly, no shortage of offers.

Like tptacek says below, this will not meaningfully hurt your chances of creating a business later. You've likely learned plenty through the experience.

It sucks. It will be better, very soon. You don't have to be scared: this is routine and, while it doesn't feel like it, you're actually in very good position, both absolutely and relative to many other people.

greghinch 5 days ago 28 replies      
I'm going to say this knowing that I may get down voted to heck. And I don't mean it as a "told you so" to the OP, but rather hopefully some cautionary advice for would-be founders.

I have come to the opinion that if you are bootstrapping, you have no business calling your company a startup. You are building a small business. And there is nothing shameful about this. You are among solid companions with your local plumbers, restaurants, and barbers. You make a good living building a sustainable business that is growing steadily but slowly, to serve a small group of loyal customers.

But you are not a startup.

Startups are about growth. About chasing metrics like 5% week over week. About going from 100 customers to 100,000 in a month. That is the reason you take VC money. It's not "I have this idea for a business, but I need some money to quit my job while I work on it". It's "I have an idea for a business that could be huge but I need to build it up fast".

So when I see someone bemoaning the advice they were given by their investors, telling them they should be meeting all these crazy metrics, I can't help but ask, what did you expect? The VC isn't in the business of slow, organic growth of your company. They are in the business of generating a return for their fund within a relatively short timeframe. The advice you get is their best effort to try and help you find "explosive" growth.

Before you sign your bootstrapped business on for investment money, ask yourself: is this business, and more importantly am I, really suited for massive, short term growth?

tptacek 5 days ago 1 reply      
Your startup is going to die, you're going to get a new job (which you'll have no trouble doing), and sometime in the future you'll start another company. Maybe you'll do the next one smarter, since you'll have more experience.


Been there.

vidarh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I recognize a lot of this from startups I've been involved in.

At the height of the bubble I co-founded a vanity e-mail business. We wanted it to be a paid service. Our only competitor was a paid service. But when we looked around, we saw ludicrous valuations per user for users that provided little to no revenue. And the VC's saw it too. And everyone were seduced into going for a free service and figure out monetization later. So that's what we did.

Of course the bubble burst, and the lofty valuations disappeared, and we had to hunker down. The business survived, but we fired 45 or so people - the vast majority of the team, and the VC's lost most of their investment.

I have two big takeaways from that experience: Be conscious whether or not you want to gamble. A gamble can be worth it, but you may be much happier building a company that'll stand a reasonable chance of giving you steady returns and pay you a salary than taking a long shot at millions. We started out wanting that reasonable chance, but got seduced into the long shot without really thinking about it.

Secondly: Keep in mind the VC's often have a vastly different risk preference than you. A founder is usually investing all his/her time in a single business, often for years. A VC spreads their investment over a wide range of companies, and spreads risk accordingly. For them, it's not such a big deal if a few of their portfolio companies fail, if they get the occasional massive return, so it may make sense for them to be willing to take risks with your business that are not in your interest.

It's vitally important to think through how much risk you're ok with before going out and getting investment, and to look for money accordingly, as well as consider how much control you're willing to give up depending on how aligned you think your interests are with the profile of any investors you bring in.

Failures makes valuable lessons (and I've had more lessons...).

alsostayinganon 5 days ago 3 replies      
The grass is always greener on the other side.

I too am running a startup with a downward trajectory. We have more like 6-12 months of runway left but things aren't looking good.

Our path tracks your alternate reality.

I started a project several years ago that took off. It wasn't meant to be a business at the beginning but once it started getting traction I slowly devoted more and more time to it.

It was "profitable" from the first day; the Adsense ads more than made up for the costs of hosting it and the initial design work. I programmed it myself so there was no development cost.

From the beginning it snowballed. It had a thousand users the first week, ten thousand the first month, and 50k users 3 months in. It was at that point that my amateur coding got in the way and the server crashed and burned.

By this time the business was making about $300/day in advertising. The costs were basically zero (a single virtual server + me part-time while I was still in school).

In retrospect this is the point I wish I had dropped out of school, raised some funding, and started building a development team. But I didn't; I read up all I could on scaling and hacked together some more code. That helped the project grow to a million users by the end of the first year.

By this time I had added in for-pay features to the free product to augment advertising and was making well over $1000 per day. I started plugging some of this into advertising to accelerate the growth but most of it was being distributed to me as the only shareholder. Things were going peachy until the servers crashed again.

Again, I read up on scaling, bought a couple hours of consulting time, and patched things up. Within a few months the advertising spend had paid off and at the peak the project was raking in $20,000/day (most funneling straight back to me since at this point it was just me [still part-time] and a couple of part-time customer service reps). This was where the project hit its peak of about 1 million monthly actives.

And, of course, the servers tanked again. This time by the time I was able to get things stable again the market was not as good and we weren't ever able to get back our exponential growth.

I wish I had at the very least "gone for it" and plugged the profits back into the business to hire people to help me. It was about this time that my competitors were discovering the same things I had been experiencing (easy viral growth, cheap user acquisition) and raised about 100 million in VC funding to buy up and saturate the market.

Long story short, we stagnated and slowly declined (no longer able to compete effectively with our newly extremely well-funded competition). Our competitor who raised 100MM in VC is now a public company with several billion in market cap, and there are several others who took a similar path that are worth in the range of a billion as well.

By the time I decided to hire and build a team it was too late to make much of a difference.

I made a couple million bucks and had a fun ride but I'm still kicking myself for not seizing the opportunity to go all-in while the window was open.

We're now playing catch-up but the market is more fully developed now and it's harder for underdog players to get an upper hand.

jpdoctor 5 days ago 1 reply      
> Im scared.

Congratulations: You're normal. Look at it this way: You are commanding on a battlefield, there are a helluva lot of guys about to die. If you freeze up, they all die.

So make some fucking decisions, save as many as you can. Throw some into the line of fire for the sake of the others. It's what battlefield commanders do. The gods have chosen you for this role, rise up and do your best. You will make some bad calls, and don't sweat it. Focus on making the right calls, then course correcting the bad ones.

Good luck.

gyardley 5 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like you waited a little too long before trying to arrange a soft landing, so now you're probably going to have a hard landing.

In this situation, I would tell your investors immediately that their investment is going to zero if you can't manage to sell the company for the value of the team - and that in order to even try to sell the company for the value of the team you're going to need a bridge loan, because otherwise the team is going to evaporate.

If you can get a month's worth of bridge, get all your investors to start looking for a home for the team and concentrate solely on that. If you can't, tell the employees to start job hunting and use the small amount of money you've got left to wind things down gracefully and sanely. Winding things down on your own without the help of a lawyer is a pain in the ass, and lawyers cost money.

austenallred 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I feel like the time most previously successful startups begin to fail is when the founders are intellectually dishonest and push forward through cognitive dissonance. You have to see and believe in a vision to make it come to life. That is my big takeaway from this - if you disagree with your VCs or don't think something will work, you have to say so.

This may be a shot in the dark, but if it were me I would call up the VCs and begin having the hard conversations. "Hey, we're in trouble. I think we made mistakes here, here and here. I'm in over my head, what do we do now?"

They may ask for what's left of the money back, your business may fail, but at least you go out having been straight-forward with yourself. And you can get on the horse and do it again.

Just my two cents.

mathgeek 5 days ago 4 replies      
"This week, I need to speak to the other founder and fire our first employee before he leaves on a planned vacation. Hes a good developer, but I wont fucking make payroll next week if I dont clear him and his severance out of the company."

Is it wrong that I feel worse for this employee than for the author? He's looking forward to a (probably well-earned) vacation, and he's about to be forced into a job hunt instead.

acjohnson55 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing. I sympathize with you, because I just recently went through something similar, with less success than you've had. It sounds like a tough situation, but you're not out of options. You might just be out of the preferred options.

It seems to me that if you're truly out of money, you can either:

1) Try to double down on funding. Your investors can either re-up you or kiss the money they've put in and the debt/equity they have goodbye. But this just puts you on the treadmill for another X months. If you don't like how that feels now, maybe it's not the best direction.2) Try to get acquired by someone who will pay you to finish your product.3) Get outside work to pay the bills and put your startup into side project status. Surely with what you've built, you have made yourself highly employable, and if you're in a big-time accelerator, you probably know people who need your skills.4) Make a "personal pivot", and use the skills and experience you've developed to springboard into something else.

I've come to learn that the discourse in the startup world is completely slanted toward success stories, even though success is far from the most common outcome. Almost no one gets it right the first time.

For example, from my own limping startup, I've learned a lot about what I did that didn't set myself up for success, and how I would do it differently. I got a day job--which I'm loving so far--and I'm planning to save a substantial portion of my pay to build a warchest over the next few years, such that next time, I won't dive in already broke (just one of several crucial things I would do differently).

anigbrowl 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you can't make payroll, stop staring at the ceiling in your bedroom and feeling so alone, while you plan how to fire your expensive first hire.

Hold a company meeting, put the accounts up on the wall, explain that you have almost no money left and the company is about to go broke. Be willing to consider ideas, but don't string people along so you can postpone pulling the plug on them. It's possible that your employees (individually or collectively) will come up with solutions that you can't; your lack of transparency about the firm's health may be part of your problem.

mamcx 5 days ago 0 replies      
What I see of this, is similar to my experience in be part of the "startup"-machine business. I won a award in my country (for my business idea), and participate in several contest where I land in the finalist.

What tremendous waste of time.

Triying to chase the "investor money" was the most damaging thing I do. I waste months on that. Building investor plans, do meetings, and work on CANVAS and other methodologies where some company, that get the real $$$ to "create startups", guided each of us to the path of silicon valley..yes, rigthhh....

At the end, I understand that we was part of a masterplan, where the money was on the big players sucking from the gov funds on build startups, with pre-pakaked advice and zero of the real value that we need.

I think that YCombinator is the only that truly make sense, and the rest copy-cats are more a waste of time than not (even with good intentions).

graycat 4 days ago 0 replies      
This thread does a lot on asking what is a startup and what about taking equity funding, e.g., froma venture capital firm, versus remaining a company100% owned by the founder(s).

The discussion keeps trying to find simplisticpatterns that cover most of the cases. I claimthat such new businesses (start ups) are sovaried that we should not look for simplisticpatterns and, instead, just look at the businessesthemselves.

Here is an approach to some insight into the growthof a new business: Commonly the intended orexpected growth is modeled with a spreadsheetwith, say, one column for each planning interval(maybe one month) in the plan of growth, but longago I decided just to use an interpretive procedurallanguage with, essentially, a Do-loop with one passfor each planning interval.

So, of course the Do-loop has some variables. Somaybe we have some variables for business decisions,for random exogenous inputs, and for the state ofthe business.

Considering all of these variables and the businessdynamics during each planning interval, we see thatwe can have a lot of complexity.

In particular, in some of this complexity, we cansee that the business can run short of variousnecessary resources such as management time,capacity of the server farm in users served persecond, disk space used by the database software,time to hire and train staff, floor space used bythe staff, rate of writing software, ads served persecond, revenue from the ads, delays in getting paidby the companies running the ads, etc.

So, there are lots of 'constraints' or limitationswhich can slow the growth of the business.

Generally, if usage and revenue are growing slowlyand the free cash is low, then we react by slowingdown on hiring, buying servers, etc.

Yes, it can be that a big check of equity fundingcan open or relax many of these constraints. Butit may be that margins and free cash flow are nicelyhigh and the constraints that are 'tight', e.g.,management time, rate at which can bring on moresoftware engineer staff, are not relaxed by equityfunding.

Programming a multi-interval growth model makesthese points quite clear. Just envisioning suchsoftware should, for the HN audience, also make thepoints plenty clear.

So, net: We can't generalize. It might be that forsome start up, equity funding cannot help its growthbecause cash is not nearly one of the tightconstraints and, instead, the start up might be ableto grow as fast as possible just organically.Common? No. Possible in principle? Yes. Possiblein practice? Maybe, but don't try to generalize ortheorize. Instead, if have such a case, thenrecognize, accept, and run with it and tell thepeople with equity capital "no thanks".

So, really, we can't generalize: Organic growthmight be for a business that has just one pizza shopand will never have more, a business selling donutsthat opens a new location once a quarter, a Web sitethat is a lifestyle business and gives the soleproprietor and owner $5 million a year in income butis not growing very quickly, or a similar Web sitebusiness that is growing rapidly, as fast as thetime of the sole proprietor permits.

Such an organically grown business might be the next"big thing", worth $400+ billion, depending just onthe business, say, the Web site, how many users likeit how much, and how much free cash flow the revenuefrom the ads generates. In general we can't say andhave to look at the particular business.

But, we can draw conclusions from what was common inthe past? When looking for "the next big thing"(NBT), mostly just simple empirical patterns fromthe past are next to useless, deliberately, evennearly necessarily, so since the NBT might be --should be, likely is -- quite new and different.

So, again, when looking for NBT start ups, we haveto consider them one at a time with little hope ofgood help from past, simplistic patterns.

martinkallstrom 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have complete understanding of your situation, having been in the position of having to let people go from a very small team a couple of times. It's hard and feels awful, but you are doing what you see needs to be done which is great in comparison to not having the willpower to act.

If the developer you need to let go is as good as you say, he won't have a problem finding a new job. You feeling shitty will not help him nor you so continue working to remedy the situation to the best of your ability. That's all you need to do and I think it sounds like you will be able to look back to all of this and be proud of you being able to make hard decisions even in a situation when it's so much easier not to.

calinet6 5 days ago 2 replies      
I've been through all of this, it sucks. But this line sticks with me:

"Honestly think the only thing that keeps my health and my marriage intact is my running."

I gotta start running. That's the one thing I always get wrong.

Good luck. Just remember, this happens all the time. For you, it will be a learning experience. In a year's time, you'll be in a new situation with almost a completely new life, and your experience will be valuable to that next step.

Next time will be a little bit better. You'll be a little more trusting of yourself, with a little less naivete, and you'll create something again. Or you'll help someone else create something. Either way, your life will get better, because you're a capable person who started a company, and you're capable of even more. Do the best you can right now and stay positive. The future will be brighter.

badclient 5 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have any HAPPY customers? Talk to them. DAILY.

Why are they happy with you? ASK them and then shut up and write down why.

Take a step back. What do you need to achieve break even NOW and next month? Who do you need to let go? Who do you need to keep?

random42 5 days ago 0 replies      
> I really love my co-founder. Its an enduring bromance that will last a lifetime. Hes a talented designer, supportive listener and I trust him entirely. However, he left me alone in the cold. He didnt mean to do this, he didnt even realize he did. I became the guy who would do-it-all. Biz Dev, check. Product Management, check. Support, check. Accounting, check. PR, check. Ad Copy, check. Development Lead, check. While he took complete ownership over design (and really excelling at it).

Communicate. communicate! Cofounder relationship is like any other and communication matters. a lot. You will get tired, feel low and discouraged. you'll have to share it and let one person know who has an outside chance of understanding it and help you out if possible. your co-founder(s).

hidingmyname 5 days ago 0 replies      
Pivoted, pivoted, then pivoted again. The other founders can't stand any more and don't want to "give up" on the latest baby.

At this point, I'm running out of options and have a dev team that I can't afford to pay for much longer.

marcelftw 5 days ago 1 reply      
> "The day we set foot into the doors of the accelerator, we had a business that DHH would be proud of"

DHH is well known for being against investors in general. Why would he be proud ?

My point of view on this : investors are OK while the funder(s) have more than 51% share, and therefore still making the decisions. You kind of sell your thing to satan here brother, you shouldn't have. You are not in charge of what you put so much work building, from scratch. People with money come here and change your view on the business, on your values ?

Also, I feel you don't talk enough to your co-funder(s). You should not have secrets, work-wise of course.

A bit of advice, if I may : at my startup (in which I'm associate, not funder), we make a scrum retrospective meeting every now and then (2-3 weeks). In these meetings every member of the team explains : 1/ what we should do more 2/ what we should do less 3/ what we should do the same (SAME !) 4/ what they have found frustrating 5/ what they are happy about 6/ any questionsI feel this is really important so that every one is happy. It takes courage to explain all this in front of people, but it builds up the team...

Anyway, good luck brother.

KenL 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a fantastic headline and a good writeup, but ... why?

Perhaps it's cheaper than a psychologist, but in the process of being "stretched so thin" why are you spending time and effort into something that won't materially help you.

Dude, you have 30 days left. Don't be one of those football teams that gives up with :30 left on the clock. If you're going to lose anyway, throw the ball into the fucking end zone and try your hardest until the game's officially over.

Use your name. Tell us and the world about your company. Ask for ideas and help. Take advantage of this medium to try and turn it around with a Hail Mary pass instead of quitting early. There may be plenty of time for psychoanalysis in August, so what have you got to lose?

There are already 148 people on HN who care enough to comment. And thousands of readers, all of whom are tech savvy and perhaps more. You just never know.

Even if it fails, you'll go down a fighter instead of an anonymous blogger bemoaning his bad fortune. Which would you rather be?

Good luck,


mck- 5 days ago 0 replies      
These are the stories that matter more than the success stories we read every day on HN -- there should be more of these; this is reality -- great write-up :)
crabasa 5 days ago 1 reply      
Could the OP chime in as to why he is writing and publishing this blog? It appears to be a cautionary tale, but I'm not sure what anyone can learn when all the particulars are removed. Why not just write a retrospective after the next 30 days?
speedyrev 5 days ago 0 replies      
Failure is a part of growth. This may be a monumental failure, but this blog is both therapeutic and introspective for the author. Examining failures helps us as we move forward.We get the added benefit of looking in from the outside. Kudos for coming forward with this kind of honesty.
michaelochurch 5 days ago 0 replies      
All I can do is wish you good luck and say that I admire you for having the courage to try. These seem like empty words, so read some of my other posts to see that I really say what I mean (i.e. I'm very harsh with people I don't think much of, so when I'm nice, it means something). I'm sorry to hear that this is happening and I hope things turn out for the best.

Where are you located? What's your next move?

I can't stand how these investors get so hung up on Playing God with other peoples' companies. If they want to take over the world (and endure the risk involved; since world domination has a much higher chance of failure than a sustainable, mid-growth lifestyle business) they should do it with their careers and companies, not someone else's.

Elon Musk is doing the right thing. He's chasing the vision with his own work, rather than jumping into someone else's Magitek Armor and then deciding to burn Narshe.

Also, these asshats are the reason it's so fucking hard for startups to get clients. Businesses (clients) have been burned, horribly, in the past by startups dropping them to chase dragons because their investors thought it a better idea to drop the client and roll the dice on some red-ocean product play with a 1-in-100 shot at success. This creates a world in which clients are very cautious about dealing with startups.

We'd have a better ecosystem if the VCs were just passive investors who didn't try to live out their own adolescent do-the-world fantasies. They'd certainly make more money that way.

dmor 5 days ago 0 replies      
What if you just kept everyone, told them the truth that you can't pay them, and kept going? If you still believe in the core underlying thing that was working when you started then maybe you can turn this around.
nickfrost 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you let us know who you are and what company you're working on steering in the right direction, I'm very certain there are people, like me, that would love to help you in any way.

1. I work for a company that can alleviate any back-office pain you have, setting you up on the proper infrastructure, rather than startup blood-sucking solutions like BackOps, TriNet, and Algentis.

2. I have industry connections to help you find mentors, funding, or guidance of any kind.

3. I don't know you, but I am passionate about you. You're a founder and I believe you have great value to offer the world. With this startup or any other you create in your lifetime.

4. You've drummed up great awareness for you and your product with this post, so why not use it to get feedback on your product, with hopes to continue developing something customers want.

That's all I can say. I wish you the best, and hope you're not too discouraged if things don't work out with your current startup. You have the spark. Keep it alive, and build something of value.

Cheers :)

rafe33 5 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe I missed it, but WHY does your startup have 30 days to live? You ran out of money and have no raise potential? How could your employee and cofounder not know this already?
bomatson 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing your story. If you need someone to chat with: http://www.startupsanonymo.us/
thibaut_barrere 5 days ago 0 replies      
You can alternatively pick the "indefinitely sustainable" road instead (for instance by mixing bootstrapping with freelancing like I did).

It is much slower but much less stressful too, in my opinion!

kxu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well, lesson learned.

> What happens next?Hard to tell without precise context, but:as far as I can tell, your company just needs money (paid customers I guess); you cannot be good at your (too many) jobs? Fine, if your company is B2B there is only 1 job to get done right now: business development, if you cannot do it yourself, let's find the best business dev guy you can in your industry. BTW "biz dev" is the only kind of guy I can sincerely hate and love at the same time; that's how I recognize them.

My 2 cents.

makerops 5 days ago 1 reply      
I am curious, as to why you didn't listen to your gut, and how old you are?
iblaine 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had a moment just like this. We would be short $20k on payroll and the founders and myself and to come up with the difference. That sucked. Reality really sinks in when you are not in a good place to write those checks but you write them anyways. It was the responsible thing to do. Also, don't be a dick. Inform your employees that they need to keep their options open.

My biggest regret was allowing my VC to convince me to not worry about money...but you live & learn.

fairywings 5 days ago 0 replies      
That's unfortunate but this is business, most successful people go through this many times.

Best thing to do now is man-up, spend your last dollars taking your guys out for a drink and try and leave it with relationships in tact.

Best of luck on re-entering the workforce and don't lose hope. You may find an opportunity you can get started in your spare hours without all the extra sparkly bits that brought you down this time.

infoseckid 4 days ago 0 replies      
Don't get me wrong but this is the classic example of "following the herd" of current gen startups --- too much focus on pleasing investors, raising money, eventually realizing you've relinquished control == don't feel sense of ownership in the company, straying from the vision or not getting enough traction, founders breaking up and then the ship sinking!
SurfScore 5 days ago 1 reply      
Elon Musk put his last $3 million into Tesla to make payroll a few years ago.
chrisstanchak 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the best way to look at this is as a learning experience. You have "scar tissue" now and won't make the same mistakes again.

Since you are an entrepreneur, you will inevitably build another successful startup - except this time you'll make it happen in half the time with twice the wisdom.

pajop 5 days ago 0 replies      
this thought popped into mind - don't be a zombie startup http://www.daniellemorrill.com/2013/03/zombie-startups/
_niss 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the team should understand you and stand-up with you. Accepting a job in startup means be ready for an adventure where things like this could happen. Talk to them and look for a key feature or PIVOT
pbreit 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is returning to what you were doing in the beginning not an option?
jjmardlin 5 days ago 0 replies      
wow, hidingmyname, if nothing else, you've inspired one of the most positive and supportive threads I've seen on HN (don't bother checking, I'm still a pseudo-noob).

I can only echo what many others have said in one way or another: be at integrity with yourself, do what you can to support your team and maintain your honour, and I believe that you will look back at this, in 6 months, with some kind of gratitude.

You lived it. :)

dpanah 5 days ago 0 replies      
This one got me out of just about everything, and it's very very true, good luck;

Never, Never, Never give up. Winston Churchill

mail2account 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Product after Product"

It seems like you were building mobile apps

GBiT 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is it legit? I saw a few 30 days left to live stories here, now 30 days for startup to live. Is it PR shit or real deal? If you fire employee you must pay compensation, so how can you not able to pay his payroll of week? If you fire him it will be more expensive then one weeks payroll.
timc 5 days ago 0 replies      
sorry for what you are going through. happy to try to be of help if I can. http://hall.com/tim
siscia 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to send you an email, can you contact me ?simone at mweb dot biz
talhof8 5 days ago 0 replies      
Now that's what startups are all about
eclipxe 5 days ago 0 replies      
Any proof this is real?
oaktowner 5 days ago 1 reply      
He has time for running? I think I know what's wrong.
m3mnoch 5 days ago 0 replies      
ha! can a guy get a "hello fucking echo chamber!" up in here?


alekseyk 5 days ago 1 reply      
Can't make payroll? Complain about being stretched thin?

Start a useless blog!


cledford 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why not double down and keep pushing forward?
cheez 5 days ago 2 replies      
And in 90 days, you will be served with divorce papers.
Google Reader Apocalypse Extremely Fucking Nigh jwz.org
460 points by chrismealy  6 days ago   267 comments top 51
snogglethorpe 5 days ago 13 replies      
I don't really share most of jwz's specific complaints, but I've been trying to use feedly, and boy .... it's really hard to believe so many people are recommending this as a general Google reader replacement.

Besides its somewhat quirky UI, the main problem I have with feedly is that it seems predicated on the assumption that you will more or less read through all articles, one by one, in order, and finish them.

That's not how I use reader at all. I leave thousands of things left unread, and yet google reader makes it quite easy to keep up to date with whatever I feel like reading at the moment, without getting bogged down by all the stuff I don't want to read. It lets me categorize stuff hierarchically, and then drill down to what I want to look at, and maintains unread counts for each level, easily visible all at once. It's easy to see what categories/subcategories have new stuff. It's easy to mark stuff as read/unread, one by one, or in bulk by category. Yadayada.

Feedly basically flattens and linearizes everything, and doesn't give any summary information, so I constantly feel unsure what's available without looking, and once I look, I quickly get lost in the undifferentiated flow of articles.

Of course Google reader also allows a more "feedly-style" one-big-stream mode of operation via its summary feeds. Except that it does a better job of it by allowing multiple different views, and provides summary information for all of them too.

And despite all that flexibility and power, Google reader's interface seems far simpler than feedly's... it's really just a tree-list-view thingy like we're all used to from a zillion apps, and everything just sort of works like you expect it.

It does all that, and because it's web-based, everything's always in sync no matter where you read. It doesn't have dedicated mobile apps, but it works pretty well on smartphone browsers (and even on dumbphone browsers, although it started to flake out during authentication a few months ago, presumably because Google wasn't keeping it updated).

So basically reader's about a zillion times better, with one glaring exception: it's going away... TT

[The closest free replacement I've found so far is "yoleoreader", which kinda gets the vibe right, although it's a bit rough in places...]

jacoblyles 5 days ago 4 replies      
Feedly is an example of an app that is extremely over-designed in a counterintuitive way. It is a remarkable case of form over function.

"There's a list of articles, one per line, stacked vertically on the screen. After you've scanned your eyes to the bottom of the screen, how do you see more? You scroll it up, right? Ha ha ha. No. You swipe right. Madness."

Oh. THAT'S how you do it. I thought it was impossible to scroll down a list of articles. When you swipe down on an article list, feedly alternates between showing you a single article and a portion of the article list. I have no idea what the intended function is.

And do the different width bars on the homescreen mean anything?

I switched to newsblur which looks like it's from 2003 and has a terrible home page. But at least it doesn't surprise me.

veidr 5 days ago 4 replies      

    > I have no interest in reading my feeds through     > a web site (no more than I would tolerate reading     > my email that way, like an *animal*).
I haven't laughed that hard at something I read in a blog post so far this year. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Who gives a shit about Google Reader the website? (Apparently, a whole lot of people... but not me.) I only care about the syncing.

Like Zawinski, I want a fast, awesome, native RSS reader on all my platforms that stays in sync across them. That's it.

I would love to get that for free, but aftern thinking on it a moment, I don't see why anybody would provide that to me for free. Thinking on it a moment more, I realized I would pay some reasonable fee for it.

However, non-free means 99% of people won't use it, and this in turn means that there is much less incentive for the makers of said fast, awesome, native newsreaders to support such a service in their app.

Except that an RSS newsreader that cannot sync is kind of like a dog turd in a bowtie.

An enterprising newsreader maker could bite the bullet and make sync a feature of their app -- but I don't think any of the good newsreader apps cover all the important platforms (for me, Mac, iOS, and Android, but for others Windows and Linux are probably in the mix, too).

So I don't know what the solution is.

sage_joch 5 days ago 2 replies      
Google doesn't seem to realize that one of their most valuable assets is trust. And that trust has eroded a great deal in recent months.
seldo 5 days ago 7 replies      
I appreciate his position but I have trouble taking advice on UI from somebody whose blog is eye-burning neon green text on a black background and has been since 1995. We know you're l33t, Jamie, you are a living legend. Can I get a readable color scheme already?
FilterJoe 5 days ago 2 replies      
While I share the author's frustration that Google Reader is going away, I don't get all the hostility toward Feedly. In just a few months' time, they've replicated by far the most important aspect of Google - serving as a backend for any front end reader that choose to use their API.

I too tried the Feedly iOS app and found it didn't suit my workflow and stylistic preferences. But I didn't need it. My favorite way of consuming news over the past couple years has been with Newsify, with Google Reader as back end. Now my favorite way continues to be Newsify, but with Feedly as back end. The transition was seamless.

My only 2 complaints are:

1) I was only able to import 1000 starred items into Feedly.

2) No search - but that's coming.

So - I wish I hadn't had to spend a dozen or two hours over the past few months evaluating alternatives to Google Reader. But I'm quite happy that Feedly stepped up to take Google Reader's place.

ivank 5 days ago 1 reply      
If you want the cached feed data from Reader preserved, ArchiveTeam is still collecting OPMLs:



We've saved about 30M feeds (6TB gzip'ed text) so far, and ~44K unique feeds from a few hundred uploaded OPMLs that we didn't find in the billion of URLs we've crawled.

We're also looking for

(1) massive URL lists we can grep, in case you have access to one

(2) query lists of just about anything that we can use to search for feeds using Reader's Feed Directory.

(3) some assistance in writing a few crawlers to discover more URLs on specific sites

(I'll try this submit this to the homepage tomorrow as well.)

nikcub 5 days ago 6 replies      
We learned a lesson that you can't rely on free services like Reader because they likely will eventually be shut down.

Reeder is now asking for $5 per month so that is can be sustainable, so isn't the solution just to pay the $5 per month rather than asking one of the free products to imitate what you get from a paid product?

You will just be at square one again anyway since even if Feedly does implement all of these changes, you still have a free product that at some point will need to compromise itself through advertising, become a paid product, or shutdown.

I really thought the punchline to this post would be 'and this is why its worth paying $5 per month for Reeder.

Ranting at Feedly to fix their free product seems to miss the point of why we are all in this situation with the Reader shutdown in the first place.

rachelbythebay 6 days ago 7 replies      
Not many people seem that interested in my approach to solving the feed reading problem. I run my own backend and frontend and just let it fetch things for me. Then I periodically check in and flip through to see what's new. If I wind up on some new platform on which the web frontend doesn't make sense, I'll write a native one which speaks the same simple "POST in, AJAX out" language. No big thing.

I set up a Kickstarter to turn it into open source and release everything I've written and then some, but it seems the momentum just isn't there yet.

notatoad 6 days ago 2 replies      
One thing the google reader apocalypse seems to have taught us is that everybody's sense of entitlement is way too damn high.

Feedly is documented. Type "feedly keyboard shortcuts" or "feedly tutorial" into google and you'll get all kinds of good (and concise) information. The fact that you didn't try to find any documentation doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

abalone 5 days ago 0 replies      
Syncing feeds is a little bit harder of a problem than the author lets on. It's not just about storing a state file in dropbox. It's also about efficiently pushing the delta of what's new. A central service is vastly more efficient at that than millions of clients pulling their own feeds.

But I 100% agree that Reeder is (was) the awesomest client and all I need to be happy is a backend replacement that just Makes Reeder Work. I don't have to care about Feedly's UI if it's just a backend.

There was a press release at the beginning of the month about Feedy & Reeder collaborating.. what's the ETA? We're really down to the wire here. http://www.macstories.net/news/reeder-to-add-support-for-fee...

Oh, and F U Google. Thanks for the 4 months heads up, dick.

tonetheman 6 days ago 1 reply      
What is really missed is the larger picture.

People who used/use Reader digest information. A lot of information and quickly (at least if you are using it correctly).

They are often the hubs in social/meme networks. I find cool stories all the time and propagate those stories out. It is hard to value that, if there is value there at all.

When the demise of Reader had been announced, bluntly feedly sucked. It looked like Pintrest (is that bad?) It was missing the key feature in a reader... the reading part. Pictures are nice and layout is ok, but seriously I just want to read really quick.

Feedly has gotten better or maybe I just have figured out the correct way to use it? Hard to say.

What I have really learned from google closing reader is that you cannot trust someone you are not paying with your data. And maybe you cannot even trust someone you are paying... how depressing.

Yhippa 5 days ago 3 replies      
I've tried just about all of them and as July 1 approaches I'm definitely getting anxious that I haven't found an RSS aggregator "home" just yet. I set up Tiny Tiny RSS on a Red Hat Openshift gear and it actually seems to work quite well. My main problem with it is that it doesn't seem to work in anything other than Safari.

The mobile options for Tiny Tiny RSS looks like it's going to take some legwork to set up so that will be interesting.

It's such a waste since Google already has a decent app that hooks into their API (on Android at least). All of this work by them that makes me very happy only to be ended. Such a shame. I'm really going to miss it.

jackowayed 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was considering various things, with a strong desire for something simple and likely to stay around for awhile. I thought about emacs gnus, Thunderbird, and some of the new entrants.

I realized that I would be as happy with something that just sent me a filterable email for every entry in all of my fields, since I already have good interfaces for reading and culling mail on all of my platforms.

So I found one. http://blogtrottr.com/ It seemed nice and had an easy import. If something happens to it, I'm sure I can find another.

For now I'm filtering it all into its own folder, though I try to keep my feeds pretty low-volume, so it wouldn't even be a huge deal if they all landed in my already-pretty-noisy inbox.

I just did that this weekend, but so far I'm quite happy

fpgeek 5 days ago 0 replies      
jwz is just a bit behind because he's on iOS.

As of this writing, only one iOS app (Newsify) is ready while two Android apps (Press and gReader) and a widget (Pure News) are. See: http://blog.feedly.com/2013/06/19/feedly-cloud/

This will presumably be sorted out soon. Perhaps the combination of Feedly's late deployment and Apple's approval process have complicated things for some developers. I did notice that both Press and gReader had to bugfix their initial Feedly support. I can certainly imagine an iOS developer having a harder time dealing with a late-breaking issue like that.

cloudmaster 5 days ago 2 replies      
Interestingly, the guy who wrote NetNewsWire says Dropbox and RSS readers can't work together: http://inessential.com/2011/10/25/why_just_store_the_app_dat...
lobster_johnson 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm fine with Reeder switching to Feedbin, but why couldn't the author update the desktop all at the same time as the iOS client? This means there is a gap where Reeder on the desktop just won't work correctly.
tterrace 5 days ago 1 reply      
Swipe to navigate is a terrible design antipattern. I can always tell when I'm reading a blog on blogspot because it'll dump me to the adjacent article when I'm scrolling or trying to zoom in on an image. I dumped chrome on ios because they didn't get it right either.
hawkharris 5 days ago 1 reply      
Many startups are trying to consolidate news and social media posts to become, basically, a one-stop shop for users.

I understand that this offers greater convenience, but it also overlooks something people enjoy about the Internet. People like having different websites and services to check, with notifications unique to each one.

It's kind of like spreading out your Christmas presents instead of tearing them open all at once.

whyenot 5 days ago 0 replies      
After waiting and waiting for Reeder to update their Mac version, I decided to go back to an old friend, NetNewsWire. It does not sync between devices, but that's ok for me. In fact, I kind of feel good about the fact that now there is no online entity keeping track of what feeds I subscribe to and what articles I read. ... well, if not none, at least one less entity keeping track.
brownbat 5 days ago 0 replies      
jwz hates web interfaces, wants an app.

No web version was a dealbreaker for me (until they fixed it).http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/19/tech/web/feedly-google-reader

I don't want an app of your website. I don't want to give you permission to access every I/O and stored file on my phone. I don't want to help you track me as I drive around town, not using your app, because you're curious why I'm not using it more often. I don't want your program to break if I have to use another machine or borrow a device from a friend (not that you ever should). I don't want your program to break if some company invents a better way to do computing than anything we've ever seen before, but your developers didn't anticipate the architecture, so they won't have an app out the door until that thing is killed off by the next wave. I don't want your program to break because my devices are different than the name brand most people use. I don't want to feed the illusion that a launcher in front of a webapp somehow makes it different, as if it's 1999 and applications are fast and stuff on the internet is slow.

Mostly, I don't want your fucking app:http://idontwantyourfuckingapp.tumblr.com/

bhdz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Since I am leading my efforts into a reading/translating/communicating toolkit I find this very interesting, and personally useful (I need people to share their opinions like that):

* There is no documentation

My code is not documented, then again I am using the principle idea behind __doc__: Code IS documentation, and I've decided to blend the difference between code, document, and even data.

* There is no desktop version

My road-map includes a core frame, which has Presentations for Terminal, GUI desktop, and webby version of it (html, css, js, ...)... um yeah... Presentations, Control, Model (model slice, inner model slice, perspectives, view-points): PCM (Present, Control, Model)

* There is no Next button!

The main web reader I plan to provide, has a Letterbox layout, with next: (chapter, page, etc.)prev: (...), bookmark-tags (alabala bla bla [: some name for the BM])

* + Sequential Layout-ing:

Instead of even touching the buttons or mouse, you let the "AI" helper (Wordy) to blurt it out on the terminal paragraph, by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word, with tempo and optional "accenting"... Just like a kid listening to his father telling stories. You have the option of speeding up the tempo, or simply push it forward

* +Convo-trees

Trees of Conversations (Documents outputed and printed)

This is highly wondorous tool which I still conceptualize with the following scenario:You are a Weed Farmer with A blog, mail, etc. You want to communicate with your prospective buyers, but you don't want cops in your clientele.Therefore, you decided to place a mail on the site, and only after an interview, you decide whether the seeker is a sincere buyer or a cop (or interviewer) under cover.

So you have those repetitive tedious interviews with common answers and such, and you WANTto automagicate the process a bit.

What if you put Wordy behind the mail-server and make it redirect things it can't respond to, to your advanced intellect? Nice? may be. Depends on Wordy.

...The rest of the arguments OP presents are technical hiccups rather than poor user interface design mal-techniques (choice of paradigms)

zobzu 5 days ago 0 replies      
I liked reading that. More people need to voice their true opinion, unhidden being politically correct sentences.

Else we end up with various shitty software that we end up thinking are the gold standard.

anotherevan 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't particularly like the way Feedly does things either, but I can maintain that opinion without a lot of vitriol.

While it's great that all these new projects have been springing up, I didn't want to entrust my feed reading so something that has been written at the eleventh hour, so have only been looking at options that have been around for a while. (Also, ruling out ones without an Android app, which may or may not be a consideration for others.)

Tried TinyRSS which was okay. If I had a better server to run it on it probably would have done the job for me (long story that is probably not germane.)

I ended up going with Newsblur. It has an interface similar in behaviour to Reader which is what I like, and although it does have some rough edges it's getting the job done and is established. I figured I'd spring the $24 for a year, and then see what the landscape looks like then.

mtgx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is it me or has Feedly made it harder to switch the interface to titles only recently?

I change to that, but it seems to change back after a while. It's very annoying.

lifeisstillgood 5 days ago 0 replies      
But he is right - the Internet was designed to be used in a certain way. One website to rule them all is not the natural state of the web and this is an example
kylec 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a Reeder user myself, though 99% of my reading is done on the Mac version. So far, ReadKit ($4.99, MAS) is the closest thing I've found to a replacement. I'd still prefer Reeder, but I can comfortably live with ReadKit if need be.
chaz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Well, the good news for jwz is that these all seem pretty fixable. It's come a long way since the version I first saw after the Reader announcement. It took me a long time to warm up to Google Reader, and for it to have enough features for me. I was a Bloglines user for quite some time. Change is hard.


halcyondaze 6 days ago 2 replies      
Who knows, the demise of Google Reader seems to be spawning a lot of cool projects and Show HN's. I don't think it's the end of the world...seems to be driving forward innovation.
woodylondon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Check out https://www.inoreader.com/ - tried the usual suspects like Feedly, OldReader etc and did not like them. I have not found anything bad yet about inoreader and about as close to the Google reader as I could get.

No iOS app yet :-( but I hear they are coming.

NetNewsWire might have have a new version soon so keep an eye on that as well.

jwr 5 days ago 0 replies      
jwz is right. His criticism is remarkably close to my observations regarding both Reeder and Feedly. I am also worried that I won't be able to use Reeder anymore, and try as I might, I can't force myself to use Feedly for any extended period of time.
BitMastro 5 days ago 0 replies      
I switched to tt-rss last Sunday. I have a cheap VPS that I paid 15$ a year, set up a minimal debian, install nginx and postgresql, let tt-rss import google reader feeds and starred posts and install the mobile app as well. A good looking skin and now I have a nice replacement. Not so difficult
Digit-Al 5 days ago 0 replies      
When I first hear about the pending shutoff I first tried Bloglines / Netvibes. It seemed alright, but there was a weird bug that caused a big panel to take up the bottom third of the screen a lot of the time. I then tried Feedly, but (like some commenters below) just hated the interface. I think I tried another online reader as well, but can't remember what now.

I ended up going back to bloglines. I did find a way of getting rid of the massive menu bar that kept appearing at the bottom of the screen, but the problem seems to be fixed now.

Getting your feeds into Bloglines is not quite so easy as Feedly, but once you have everything set up it seems to work really well. Still not as good as Google, but the closest I have managed to find so far.

nollidge 5 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like I'm the only RSS reader that never used Google Reader. I used iGoogle (formerly Google Personalized), and then switched to Netvibes a few years ago because of some complaint I can't even remember now.

Personally, I prefer to read RSS items on the author's website, and Netvibes suits that. Plus they have a Twitter widget that works even though my work proxy blocks twitter.com.

Nican 5 days ago 2 replies      
I am surprised nobody mentioned CommaFeed yet; How are people using CommaFeed holding out?
seanp2k2 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's hilarious when these days, Google is the one sticking to their guns despite public outcry (Reader) and Microsoft is listening to their users in some regard (Xbox One DRM). I really feel like Google is missing the forest for the very intricately engineered trees.
pbreit 5 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with most of the sentiments but definitely not that feed reading should be in an app. I have always found web-based feed readers to feel much more proper (including on mobile).
ababab 5 days ago 2 replies      
FWIW, I started a vague attempt to round up the alternatives:


jsilence 5 days ago 1 reply      
Please jwz, write a really nifty and usabe console or desktop RSS reader that syncs easily. (this post ist sans irony or zynism)
stevewillows 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping someone would work with EasyRSS (the android app, not the torrent goodness) so it would use the NewsBlur api or something similar. It's sad that the dev is letting the project go with reader.
danielandrews 5 days ago 0 replies      
At the risk of being that ass who self promotes, you should check out the service myself and a friend launched yesterday:

http://bulletin.io is a fast, easy to use RSS reading service that has an open Google Reader lookalike API as well as our own OAuth implementation. Open to feedback from everyone.

coherentpony 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wasn't the Google Reader apocalypse the week following the announcement from Google? You know, when every post on the front page of Hacker News was a Google Reader alternative.
mathattack 5 days ago 0 replies      
All this hype on Google Reader makes me miss not using it to begin with!
ilolu 5 days ago 1 reply      
I need a Reader replacement that lets me export the feeds data later if I want to. I could not find that in Feedly. I don't want to get locked in a service for the same reason. Any suggestions ?
whytaka 6 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Pocket would adopt Feedly's UED and discovery engine, or that Feedly would pick up on Pocket's browser extension and archiving ability. That would be almost perfect.
philthesong 6 days ago 3 replies      
I don't understand the hate with the decision of Google shutting down the Reader. Apparently, the Reader users aren't worth that much.
wslh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Occupy Google Reader?
sauce71 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm still in denial.
crorella 4 days ago 0 replies      
tomovo 5 days ago 1 reply      
It is not easy to take any criticism of the Feedly UI seriously from someone whose website is green-on-black.

On the other hand, it is true that they have gone a little crazy with "innovations". But as long as they have an API, who cares.

rocky1138 5 days ago 2 replies      
"All I want is a version of Reeder that stores my .newsrc on Dropbox."

Get coding. This sort of angst is the inspiration behind a ton of open source projects.

Two Senators Say the NSA Is Still Feeding Us False Information theatlantic.com
425 points by nealabq  5 days ago   78 comments top 13
adventured 5 days ago 7 replies      
Senator Wyden has been remarkable in how far he has been willing to legally stick his neck out while so many other politicians either quietly cower in fear or hop on the mass surveillance bus. He'll be getting both my public support and campaign contributions for as long as he's in office.
jdmitch 5 days ago 4 replies      
I think the subtitle gets to the heart of the issue: "How can a democratic republic function when the bureaucrats are constantly misleading the people?"

It feels more and more like a deceptive charade that the US is actually a democratic republic. It is increasingly clear that in a number of significant areas the shady bureaucracy is taking action without the public's consent.

SeanDav 5 days ago 3 replies      
What sort of coverage is this getting in the USA?

I had a quick look at nytimes.com and didn't see anything. I realize that HN is kind of an echo chamber, especially about these events, so it would be nice to know as a non US resident how this is all panning out in major news centres.

ScottBurson 5 days ago 0 replies      
The NSA fact sheet claims: "Any inadvertently acquired communication of or concerning a US person must be promptly destroyed if it is neither relevant to the authorized purpose nor evidence of a crime."

Even if this were true -- and Wyden and Udall are saying it's not -- it should not be good enough. All communications obtained without a lawful warrant should be destroyed even if they are evidence of a crime, I submit, and I would even go farther to say that no information obtained by the NSA about US persons should ever be able to be used as evidence in a court of law.

This is not because I want people to be able to commit crimes with impunity; it's because Federal criminal law is so far out of control that the government can find a charge to hang on anyone it doesn't like. Also, the NSA is an arm of the DoD; as such, its job is to keep the country safe from external attackers. If the kind of massive, invasive data collection we are reading about is necessary to do that job -- a point I am not conceding, but one that many people seem to believe -- at the very least we must make sure it is never used for any other purpose.

rz2k 5 days ago 0 replies      
I thought this New Yorker cartoon[1] about the all of the iceberg being above the surface was pretty apropos, and I'm not sure the licensors got the point when they gave it the keywords "global warming" and "sea ice"[2].

(Also, it's really difficult to permalink to New Yorker cartoons in a way that they get credit)

[1] http://www.newyorker.com/images/2013/07/01/p465/130701_daily...

[2] http://cartoonbank.licensestream.com/LicenseStream/Store/con...

DanielBMarkham 5 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like the root of the problem here is using intelligence sources to target all civilians. As the senators point out, there's no way the NSA is going to automatically be able to tell from an email address or random internet packet the citizenship status of the person sending it. This should have been pointed out and addressed years ago, but instead they deliberately lied to Congress and then forbade Congress from coming clean with the public. What a mess.

But there might be an even deeper problem, if you can believe it. I really don't see the purpose of electing people as representatives to serve on a committee if the committee is not given all of the relevant details, is sometimes lied to, and is forbidden from releasing any of the details to the public. I think the executive branch and specifically the president is taking on waaaaaay too much power here. In times of war, this might be understandable, but a democracy cannot endure a never-ending state of war. I hope that many are beginning to see this.

mpyne 5 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks the headline is at least slightly misleading?

I had assumed the NSA was caught in a lie, but that wasn't what either Senator said.

They said instead (to paraphrase) that the NSA mentioned they must promptly destroy information inadvertently collection about American citizens, but the NSA failed to mention that they have no reasonable way to figure out whether a given file belongs to an American or not.

While I agree that this is something important that the NSA should include for transparency's sake with any list of talking points covering minimization, it's not the same thing as "feeding us false information" either.

This may help clues into what the scope of NSA copying of Internet traffic is; if they were only tapping into international/domestic transfer sites then they'd be able to fairly easily tag information as "probably not U.S." and discard the rest.

Given the difficulty in determining what's what it would seem they are instead at the very least copying everything going to/from major cloud providers, which certainly sounds different in scope.

logn 5 days ago 1 reply      
Referenced in the article is an NSA PDF. See this instead:


The actual PDF can't be requested at the moment.


Internal Server Error - ReadThe server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

jdp23 5 days ago 0 replies      
Marcy Wheeler suggests that the inaccuracy "has to do with the US person contact info collected along with targets. Even a comparison of the minimization order and the NSAs claims make it clear US person communication can be swept up more easily than they claim."


jmadsen 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Senator Wyden or others like him have noticed the irony of learning first-hand how frustrating it is to deal with an entrenched bureaucracy that puts up obstacles to protect itself from outside interference, even when it is working against the well-being of the people it is supposed to be working FOR.

Some might be excused for thinking I was describing the Congress...

graycat 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's called the 'mushroom treatment': Keep in thedark and feed BS.
wahsd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Lying liars trained to lie, cheat, manipulate, steal, and deceive are lying, cheating, manipulating, stealing, and deceiving.

I'm shocked!

The enemy is within.

lifeisstillgood 5 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone have the link to the 15 talking points mentioned.
Foundations of Computer Science stanford.edu
421 points by sonabinu  6 days ago   86 comments top 27
jontas 6 days ago 2 replies      
I downloaded and merged the individual PDFs into one file, you can grab it here:


Edit: I did this using commands mentioned in some other comments and some Googling (this only works on OSX):

curl -O http://i.stanford.edu/~ullman/focs/ch[01-14].pdf && /System/Library/Automator/Combine\ PDF\ Pages.action/Contents/Resources/join.py -o ./merged.pdf ./*.pdf

vbtemp 6 days ago 2 replies      
From the first paragraph of the first chapter:

> But fundamentally, computer science is a science of abstraction creating the right model for thinking about a problem and devising the appropriate mechanizable techniques to solve it.

Too often in computer science education these days, this essential fact is lost.

mathattack 6 days ago 2 replies      
I like that they share the lecture notes too. http://i.stanford.edu/~ullman/fcsc-notes.html
dylanrw 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here are all of the PDFs compiled into a single one with correct page numbers, including the preface etc. http://static.dyli.sh/Foundations%20of%20Computer%20Science%...
FraaJad 6 days ago 1 reply      
Many people have posted the combined PDF on this thread. However, there is no way to economically print this PDF for self use. Lulu puts the limit at 740 pages and this book weighs in at 790+ pages.

Does anyone know of a cheap online printer that can print at around 2cents/page?

SatyajitSarangi 6 days ago 1 reply      
ACM members once had a poll to resurrect a few classic CS books. That poll slowly became a "favourite CS books" list.This is the list: http://t.co/LOli1BKFuL

Some splendid suggestions there.

loupeabody 5 days ago 0 replies      
Many many many thanks for this link. That's another resource in the bucket along with SICP[0] and MIT 6.00[1]. I'm gonna have a beastly year for learning.


cobookman 6 days ago 1 reply      
We used the book for ECE 3020 - Mathematical foundations of computer Engineering at Gatech.

Lecture notes have been taken down, but here are our homework solutions: http://users.ece.gatech.edu/~dblough/3020/solutions/hw_solut...

nsomaru 6 days ago 1 reply      
From the preface (prerequisites):

> Students taking courses based on this book have ranged from first-year undergraduates to graduate students. We assume only that students have had a solid course in programming. They should be familiar with the programming language ANSI C to use this edition. In particular, we expect students to be comfortable with C constructs such as recursive functions, structures, pointers, and operators involving pointers and structures such as dot, ->, and &.\

Could someone recommend a resource for someone who is fairly proficient in Python?

darrellsilver 6 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome book. I think we used this book in my CS days, but would have to check my notes.

Well timed post as well: We're adding more on programming fundamentals to our course at http://www.thinkful.com/

rgbrgb 6 days ago 1 reply      
Interestingly this was not the book we used in Al Aho's CS Theory course in 2011.
dschiptsov 6 days ago 1 reply      
1992 - a world without Java...

And, you know, the book about foundations is... SICP.)OK, this is C Edition.

peter303 6 days ago 0 replies      
I was in the Stanford bookstore a few days ago and noticed their summer softback text for their summer Comp Sci 101 course was $132. It was about Java and basic computer principles together. It resembled a standard softback beginning Java reference book but with some exercises added to each chapter. Aho and Jeff have done a fine service offering their more meaty textook online gratis. (You dont even want to know what hardback texts cost- over $200.)
tux1968 6 days ago 0 replies      
Many of the same questions when discussed here previously. Still no epub which is a shame..


rbanffy 6 days ago 1 reply      
I can't find any license. I wonder if the authors would allow someone to convert the book to epub or mobi.
vishal0123 6 days ago 3 replies      
Why so many books these days are available to download for free one chapter at a time. It just makes reading worse.
super_mario 6 days ago 0 replies      
Here is a version with all chapters merged into single file and Bookmarks/Outline links working correctly:


peter303 6 days ago 0 replies      
Computer Science has come of age when textbooks from 20 years ago are about as relevant as they are today. That means there are now timeless principles in the discipline. Most of the computer languages used in mY MIT classes 40 years ago are not around today.
thisisdallas 6 days ago 2 replies      
Would this be a good resource for someone who doesn't have a CS degree and who doesn't necessarily know the foundation of CS?
themstheones 6 days ago 0 replies      
Is there an epub available?
paulasmith 6 days ago 1 reply      
Great book. It's amazing that after all these years the content is still relevant.
statik_42 6 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a great book just from skimming a few chapters, I'll make sure I spend more time with this later. Thanks for posting.
jryan49 6 days ago 1 reply      
Also used this book during university. We all had to print it out on a printer.
badhairday 6 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I remember this book. My university uses it for a sophomore level CS course.
lexisnexis86 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing!
sgtnotorious 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very awesome book!
orlandob 5 days ago 0 replies      
Antiprism antiprism.eu
413 points by justincormack  9 days ago   106 comments top 19
coopdog 9 days ago 0 replies      
Specific desired actions that are realistic within the current legal frameworks. Go pirate party.
swombat 9 days ago 5 replies      
How do I support this? I'm a Swiss citizen living in the UK.
skwirl 9 days ago 4 replies      
"We are appalled to learn of the unprecedented surveillance of Internet users worldwide through PRISM and similar programmes."

There has not been a shred of evidence that PRISM gives the government any capability that it did not already have with FISA. All we learned was the name of the system that some companies use to respond to FISA requests, a name that they weren't even aware of. There is no practical difference between the U.S. companies listed on the PRISM slides and U.S. companies that are not; FISA covers them all. The initial claims by Glenn Greenwald that PRISM gave the NSA direct access to company servers have been refuted a hundred times over and walked back by Greenwald himself. If you were just now appalled to learn about the changes made to FISA with the PATRIOT act, you are 12 years behind the times.

johnvschmitt 9 days ago 1 reply      
It's unlikely that the powerful institutions will give up their powerful tools.

What I do think might work, though, is a system added to it where every human query is logged & their human peers can ask, "WTF Carl? Why are you looking at data on your ex wife? Or, Why are you looking at your political enemies?"

I think the humans inside those institutions would not limit their power, but they would want to keep an eye on their peers to make sure their peers are not abusing their power.

Those query & access logs can be periodically reviewed by their peers, and their superiors, and those logs should be kept as long as the data is, & queryable just the same as any other data.

PavlovsCat 9 days ago 4 replies      
I think this also answers the question wether the US needs a pirate party (or several).
kintamanimatt 9 days ago 2 replies      
How do we know there isn't a European equivalent of PRISM? The American one was kept secret for quite some time and it's not like European countries are any less technically advanced or motivated.
robotic 9 days ago 2 replies      
If they want to reach a bigger mainstream audience they'd do well to change their name and logo. The word "Pirate" isn't associated with doing good.
Yuioup 9 days ago 5 replies      
While I agree with the sentiment, will this actually change anything? I have yet to see anybody anywhere making any difference ...
pavanred 9 days ago 0 replies      
This article mentions Funding of Privacy-Conscious Software, one thing that concerns me is, I am quoting from Wikipedia here, "..As of 2012, 80% of the Tor Project's $2M annual budget comes from the United States government..".

So, the United States government funds programs that help secure the identity of the people and the government also spends money on surveillance programs such as PRISM. Can't the government just stop funding projects such as Tor any time they please? In such scenario, aren't we at the mercy of the very government to protect our identity that runs surveillance programs?

volaski 9 days ago 1 reply      
First thing that came to my mind: "Wow some device that gathers different spectrum of light to fuse into a single awesome ray?"
manveru 8 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like the link to the Austrian Pirate Party is going to the UK one.
cseelus 9 days ago 1 reply      
There are times when it feels good to be european and at least have the realistic choice between more than two equally bad choices.
userabc 9 days ago 0 replies      
No amount of begging to any government will solve this problem. If you believe that the government can or will help, you are the problem.
swayvil 9 days ago 0 replies      
Digging the graphics
blaeks 8 days ago 0 replies      
Political egofagging at its best. Just ignore this.
gesman 8 days ago 0 replies      
Tangaroa 9 days ago 5 replies      
AJAX and REST sure are evil. The fact that 229 people have upvoted this is certainly proof that web-based UIs are something that we as hackers ought to oppose.

We are all aware that PRISM has been exposed to be nothing more than a user interface to information provided by companies that receive a search warrant after the request has gone through courts and lawyers, right? Surely 229 users of Hacker News cannot be that uninformed about PRISM, after so many front-page articles on the subject giving so many opportunities to hash out the details of what it is and is not, that they imagine it to be something nefarious?

piqufoh 9 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a great idea - and sponsored by the pirate party I see. They seem to be the ones trying to plant cookies on my computer, to 'improve' my web browsing experience.


Thanks guys.

A Hacker's Replacement for Gmail dbpmail.net
397 points by dbpatterson  1 day ago   188 comments top 37
LeafStorm 1 day ago 8 replies      
While I don't necessarily trust an external company with all my emails, I also don't trust myself to maintain the myriad daemons involved in this setup without doing something subtly wrong that results in my server not sending/receiving all the mail it should -- or, worse, being used for spam.

What would be useful is a pre-assembled virtual machine image or other form of appliance that allows you to deploy and test a mail server within about an hour or so, without having to duct-tape any of this together yourself.

exratione 1 day ago 3 replies      
Setting up a server in any hosting environment at this point comes with the assumption that its contents can be read at any time by the operators and whoever they let in without you ever knowing about it.

That's still a lot better than Gmail.

Setting up your own mail server is not a terrible woe-inducing undertaking if you have a working recipe to follow and are comfortable with the Unix command line (e.g. http://www.exratione.com/2012/05/a-mailserver-on-ubuntu-1204...).

Organization and categorization are the sticking point features, given what I've seen of most open source webmail applications. But worth looking around. If you have a basic mail server image, you can keep trying out applications on top of it to see what works for you.

Going beyond that to something with a whole lot more encryption and less of an ability for hosting providers to read your data would really require a product dedicated to that end: that is hard to get right.

magic_haze 23 hours ago 4 replies      
To play the devil's advocate, what exactly is the practical use of all this if most of your family and friends are on Gmail (and couldn't be arsed to figure out pgp)? From what I can see, your emails will now be sent in the clear over the internet, instead of staying within google's servers. Either way, the government's going to get your data, but at least you're protected against... /more/ unscrupulous people snooping on your stuff?
p4bl0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When I saw the link's title, I immediately thought that it would be another webmail client hosted by someone, especially given the domain name. Because almost everytime I see a "hacker's X" or "X for hacker" title on HN I'm just afflicted by the content, so I got used to it.

But here, what a pleasant surprise. The post is actually describing a real hacker's replacement for Gmail (which coincidentally is almost my setting, except I use mu [1]instead of notmuch). I'll keep it as a reference to send people asking for alternative email hosting.

[1] http://www.djcbsoftware.nl/code/mu/

just2n 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I did this for a long time, but it's really annoying:

1. If your provider goes down, you lose mail.

2. If you are conversing with people who are using an insecure mailer, such as gmail, Yahoo, etc (which is probably > 99.9% of all e-mail users), your e-mail is still accessible to the NSA, or to some Fortune 100 advertising company.

3. It's only a matter of time before the "big dogs" in email abuse the position and decide who is and isn't allowed to send/receive email outside of their little oligarchy, either on their own or at the behest of governments.

Like so much else that has been corrupted, we need to scratch the current architecture as too insecure, and build something truly secure for the future. This isn't in the interests of the Googles of the world, and it's actively in the worst interests of the NSA/FBI/CIA, so it's probably the right thing to do.

brongondwana 1 day ago 9 replies      
I'm not sure why you can't do those things on FastMail.

(disclaimer: I work for FastMail)

Sure we have folders rather than tags, which means you can't add multiple of them to the same message. Probably the biggest lack is that you can't manage IMAP flags via the web interface. Otherwise, our search is now very powerful (since about March this year) and allows you to build filters that show messages from multiple folders in a single view.

mjn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice stringing together of unixy tools to get this working. I had not heard of notmuch and its related ecosystem (afew, alot, etc.), so that's a useful discovery on my part.
mwcampbell 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think more of us need to run mail servers. For ourselves, for our families, and possibly for others who are willing to pay. Email is far too centralized now, at a handful of companies, in a handful of data centers. So in that regard, running a mail server on a VPS at one of the popular providers is kind of missing the point.

My local cable ISP doesn't allow incoming or outgoing connections to port 25, nor incoming connections to port 80. So at least for now, I can't run a mail server in my home. I've thought about switching to DSL, but then I would take a major hit in speed, in both directions.

Luckily, I have another option. There's a hosting provider where I live (Wichita, Kansas) that offers KVM-based virtual machine hosting. So I'll get a VM there, and if the service is any good, I'll move there from Linode. The pricing isn't competitive with Linode, let alone DigitalOcean, and I doubt that the connectivity is as good, since the server will be in a building here in Wichita rather than a real data center. But I'm willing to try it, in order to support a local business and fight the centralization of the Internet.

kefs 1 day ago 0 replies      
While k9mail is a must, I suggest linking to the repo, which is usually lightyears ahead of public releases on the Play store.


On a side note, they seem to have just hit v4 two days ago.

Second side note, if you decide to use k9, be sure to turn off the signature under composition settings for each account you add.. it's turned on by default.

nvarsj 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a similar setup a couple of years ago. The main problem I had was the maintenance required. If you have any machine publicly accessible you have to be on top of security updates and proper system hardening. I gave up after my exim4 Debian system got 0-day rooted.

If doing it again I would avoid a Debian based distro. I'd probably use openbsd. And the less ports open the better.

alemhnan 18 hours ago 1 reply      
We could push a step further: "EMail Server as a service for common people". Somehow like http://instantserver.io/ .

Or like Heroku: you create your "managed" mail server with a click.

csense 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I always thought a big part of the reason people used gmail was for the snazzy web-based UI that was one of the first popular AJAX-based web applications.

I eagerly read the article to see what alternative to this feature the author was suggesting, so I was surprised to see he's reading the emails with a standalone client...in fact, it's an emacs plugin!

hcarvalhoalves 21 hours ago 4 replies      
Normal people definitely don't want to manage a mail server though. Life is too short to waste figuring out why you're banned on Spamhaus for the 93th time.

GMail sucks, but a home-made contraption is not the alternative.

cdjk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've thought about doing this, but email is important enough I don't trust myself to provide as much uptime as a commercial email provider.

You probably should add SPF records too, if you don't want your outgoing mail marked as spam.

ishbits 1 day ago 2 replies      
Many of us did similar in the 90s. I might go this route again but would use Postfix and Dovecot. I'd do this for my wife and kids as well - but if I get hit by a bus, email eventually not working is not something I should burden my wife with.
philjackson 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I remain a step behind this one in that I'm using offlineimap to sync local maildirs from google's servers and then using mu and mu4e in emacs. Means I get to use the Gmail Android client which is actually very good.
t0 1 day ago 1 reply      
>handing an advertising company most of my personal and professional correspondance seems like a bad idea

That's your main complaint? Google is an advertising company. People buying ads on Adsense don't have access to your personal information. This is simply not true.

fredsted 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Why make it so hard? Why not just install virtualmin [0] on a Debian (or whatever Linux you prefer) server and get it over with. You also get web hosting, DB hosting, mailing lists, webmail and more as a bonus. And you don't have to worry about security updates. Just install and create your virtual host, and modify DNS for your domain. Couldn't be easier. Oh, and it's completely free.

[0] http://www.virtualmin.com

voidlogic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmm... It sounds easier to just run an instance of Zimbra community edition in a VM.


rst 1 day ago 2 replies      
Was hoping to see more discussion of backups. There are a bunch of possible approaches (depending on level of desired security, what the VPS provider offers, and how much you trust them), but for a mail server, there ought to be something...
cliveholloway 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would have thought a client side encryption plugin that will seamlessly encrypt/decrypt all your Gmail sent between yourself and any other user running said plugin would be a simpler option. Adding common mail suppliers as it goes forward.
cwp 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I ran a set up similar to this for many years. It's not that hard, for those with a little unix experience. As moxie mentions, email is very forgivingyou have to break it badly and leave it broken for a long time before you start to lose messages.

What eventually drove me to GMail was spam. I tried a bunch of different filters, and never found one with good-enough accuracy. Finally I decided that the independence and privacy wasn't worth the time I spent fiddling with filters and dealing with misclassified messages. As far as I can tell, Gmail is 100% accurate. Problem solved.

spo81rty 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you want a really good and really easy to setup mail server I would recommend SmarterMail. It is also free for 1 email user. I have used their product for about 10 years. Note that it is Windows server based.


_oxford 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I see a couple of problems here:

1. It's likely he's storing emails on the VPS. This puts us back at square one. A third party has a copy of your emails. And we know email does not garner the same privacy protections as postal mail.

2. You need a domain name. That system (DNS), as it is currently implemented (i.e., everyone setting their root zone to servers they do not control), is highly centralized -- few people maintain their own root zone, despite being easy to do. Domain names are susceptible to false allegations copyright and trademark infringement by private parties, not to mention easy censorship by the US gov't. When you lose your domain you lose email. (Though you shouldn't have to: email works fine with IP addresses in brackets.)

So what's the solution:

1. Get a reachable IP (e.g., through ISP) or get a VPS. But if you get a VPS only use it to pierce NAT (how is left as exercise for reader - hint: supernode), not run a mail server. Don't store sensitive data like email on a VPS, or route sensitive data through it.

2. Use IP addresses not domain names. Alternatively, set up your own DNS that is available as a peer-to-peer service, or have your email contacts use a DNS server and root zone you collectively maintain: free domain names that you control. No one can censor your DNS (phonebook), except you.

shunter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started defining 'hacker' as someone who's willing to 'eat their own dogfood' as it were. Someone that is willing to spend time working on the nuts and bolts that lead to some kind of productivity rather than just being productive with the tool / service to begin with.

I used to classify myself as a 'Hacker' and still do when it's something I want to learn more about. Most of the time, however, I'm more interested in just getting the benefits rather than tinkering with the internals. Sometimes, I'm a Hacker, sometimes I'm a consumer.

richdougherty 23 hours ago 2 replies      
It would be incredibly useful if there was a mail service that received email over SMTP, encrypted it straight away with a public key, then just dumped the encrypted email into a general-purpose online storage solution (e.g. an S3 bucket).

That would IMO provide a good base for encrypted client-side apps to build on top of. Open source would better be able address the problem of writing a client once the money needed for hosting and storage is taken out of the equation.

anemitz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, what was the reason for not picking a more traditional Dovecot + Postfix setup?
daurnimator 1 day ago 3 replies      
Does anyone have a gmail exporter?

i.e. something that imports email from gmail WITH labels.

tbrock 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's definintely time for an open source alternative to GMail... but I think everyone knows this isn't it.

These tools like exim, horde, dovecot, etc. have been around and worked for decades but wouldn't it be great to have fresh solutions that weren't so ancient and archaic?

ramblerman 20 hours ago 0 replies      
An interesting solution if you have something to hide I suppose.

As has been stated time and again, most people don't. The danger lies in politicians, ceo's and other figures of authority who do and can be blackmailed. Rather than a few hackers setting up their own SMTP servers I think a more powerful solution lies in keeping focus on the actual problem, the out of control NSA program.

snambi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
awesome... its time move away from proprietary, snooping services such as gmail. Hopefully setting up such a service should become easier ( may be less than 5 steps ) with better cloud VMs. Then even non-tech savvy people can have their emails away from snooping.
peterlongnguyen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just a general fyi, there are $10 credits for Digital Ocean if you decide to sign up. The one I used this month was OMGSSD10, but it may only work for this month.
lazylizard 17 hours ago 0 replies      
as for antispam..http://www.mxhero.com/ is auto and easy, and i think http://spamcheck.sourceforge.net/ is very nice. u don't get as many controls but it sends quarantine digests, and runs much lighter than mxhero. http://www.scrolloutf1.com/ looks nice too. at work we sell spamtitan, which i admit is really nice..tons of config with nice gui, good defaults, easy setup..but its non free...
bstx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another relatively painless way to set up a mail server on your own box is http://www.iredmail.org. ( + http://z-push.sourceforge.net/soswp/ for ActiveSync push mail) So far I am fairly happy with it.
drdaeman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why use notmuch when one can have standard (RFC5228) Sieve support?
lazylizard 18 hours ago 0 replies      
linode has nice guides...e.g. https://library.linode.com/email/postfix/dovecot-mysql-debia... though for postfix, having something like postfixadmin makes it nicer.. or perhaps something instant like http://www.xeams.com/ will do..
Zash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Run your own server FTW
Why discussions on cyber snooping have been so painful for us medium.com
397 points by mh_  1 day ago   217 comments top 29
nkoren 1 day ago 9 replies      
The Declaration of Independence states that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Gendered language aside, the idea of the founders was clearly that rights derive from one's innate humanity, and do not derive from government largess. This was the ideal which provided America's inner light; for all of America's mis-steps, the proclamation of this core ideal fanned the flames of some sort of tendency towards goodness.

This ideal is all but gone. Today, the American government baldly proclaims that rights do not belong to human beings, but are conferred only by citizenship. the starkest example of this remains John Yoo's rationale (embraced by the Bush administration) for why the Geneva Convention does not apply to the Taliban: that the rights guaranteed by the Convention were not human rights, but rights granted to combatants of UN member states. Yoo argued that human rights did not exist, and that rights derive solely from citizenship.

To be fair, the roots of that doctrine long preceded the Bush administration, and have continue to grow since. But when I look at framing of debate about rights -- and this applies not only to the NSA spying, but also to the outrage over the fact that the US President would order the drone assassination of, gasp, American citizens (as opposed to the thousands of other non-combatants he has killed in the same way) -- when I see this, it becomes clear that the ideals which inspired the declaration of independence are long since gone.

UVB-76 1 day ago 6 replies      
I was going to write a comment to this effect on one of the many threads related to this subject, but figured it would fall on deaf ears.

Americans should not underestimate the damage this scandal has done to the American 'brand'. Growing up, I was the Americophile of my friends. I loved American culture, I aspired to live the American dream, I fully intended to pursue American citizenship later in life.

This is only the latest in a long line of realisations, but my view couldn't have changed more. I don't even want to visit the US again, let alone pledge my allegiance to it.

grey-area 1 day ago 1 reply      
The other dangerous thing about this attitude of, oh, it's only foreigners, is that GCHQ and other US allies routinely sweep up communications from all over the world (in the case of GCHQ probably mostly from the US). So if you send information to Europe from the US, you're being spied upon, and the information relayed back to the NSA. The same goes for citizens of the UK subject to NSA spying who have data or contacts in the US. This distinction between us and them is used to tranquillise dissent in the US even as the NSA blithely ignores their own rules.

In our increasingly connect world, does it even make sense to define rights based on where a person lives, or what country they happened to be born in? We should expect the same basic rights (right to a free trial, right to a free press, protection from torture) to apply to all people even if citizenship of a nation confers certain privileges.

rmc 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's one thing that has annoyed me about the tech world's outrage and objections to the PRISM spying lark. They appear outraged that US citizens are spied on, with the implication that it was ok when non us citizens were spied on. Do I, a non us citizen, not have a right to privacy?
Derbasti 1 day ago 2 replies      
The sad thing is, we don't have international law for these things. Thus, it is usually easier to ask a foreign intelligence agency if they could spy on a domestic suspect than to deal with it within the country.

And this hurts so much, because the internet is perceived to not be bound by countries and borders, while still residing mostly on US soil. But the rules for spying are most certainly governed by borders; This leads to this weird asymmetric situation where one particular domestic intelligence agency is able to collect almost all international data.

What we really would need is citizenship for data. In a way, it does not make sense that Facebook owns my data. My data should be my own, and thus be governed by whatever jurisdiction I happen to live in.

Or put differently, one way out of this is to host your own email, backup, syncing, etc. That way the data is yours, and governed by the same rules as you. This is what I am doing.

Or maybe, Google should split up into several legal entities that each are accountable for the data for one country. But clearly, that would just leave us all flocking to Iceland or the Vatican or something like that...

Sami_Lehtinen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I totally agree, I have been watching this totally pointless discussion about domestic spying all over the net. I was going to write about the topic, but someone did it already. My conclusion is that at least 95% of US population are so bad in geography that they don't know that they represent only less than 5% of world population. After all, it seems that only people who are voting in elections do matter at all. Maybe it would be a good time to vote with our wallets. It's also really funny how scared Americans are about Chinese manufactured hardware & backdoors. I just guess it takes a one to know one. Btw. WatchGuard firewall registration is very revealing, they want to know way too much about what the firewall is being used for.
dbuxton 1 day ago 1 reply      
I went to this expecting to find a slightly puzzled reaction along the lines of, "even given the leaked surveillance, we all know that our own governments are doing similar stuff to us all the time and that we are protected neither by law nor by convention against it".

I know that's a bit of an overstatement but it's particularly amusing to see Snowden sheltered by two of the world's most enthusiastic users of surveillance, namely Russia and China.

FWIW I'm in the UK, where we're a lot luckier than most in terms of accountability, oversight and convention, but don't have an explicit constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. That said, it often bemuses people in Europe to look at the US and see almost no protection for what we understand as a basic right of "privacy".

obviouslygreen 1 day ago 5 replies      
This outrage at American reactions is terribly hypocritical. Yes, people -- regardless of nationality -- should be upset when they realize their privacy is being grossly violated without cause, by any government.

However, people seem to think Americans should be more concerned about other people's rights than their own, when the real problem is the violation of everyone's rights. Despite this, all anyone is really interested is their own rights, which is quite obvious considering the central complaint here is that Americans are wrapped up in themselves while the rest of the world has the same issue. How is that rational? Your rights are being violated, and that's supposed to matter to me more than the fact that my rights are being violated by my government in the same way? Yes, it's selfish, but it's also self-preservation. If people don't stand up for themselves when they need to, they will not be around to stand up for anyone else later.

Many of us wring our hands at the various European financial crises; many of us worry about North Korea's potential to harm its neighbors; many of us anxiously watch for improvement in Middle Eastern politics. But just like anyone else, when we find out things where we live are worse than we thought, we look inwards to our own problems; that they effect others is terrible, but it's irrational and unreasonable to expect that to be our primary motivation.

znowi 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see a lot of disillusion in Europe about the US. It's been going since the Iraq, but now it's a real wake up call. What's more alarming, it's slipping into anger and open opposition. This is not the change we've been anticipating.

Americans are in a tricky situation now. Who do you elect at this point to make things right? Does it even work? I think we've reached a major milestone here. I'm both frightened and curious as to what will happen. I believe what we do now will define our lives for decades to come.

drawkbox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes but this is happening in other countries for both citizens and non-citizens, it is naive to think otherwise. Just as it was for Americans after 9/11, and even before. If there is lack of backbone on the people to stop it and they allow giving up rights with no fight or questioning it, it will continue. It is not distinct to the US, this is happening everywhere.

Now we know factually (previously assumed) that it happens in the US as well, I think most people here in the US are just surprised it is also happening to them. That was the last place people assumed privacy, as a citizen. You'd expect intel agencies in every country to gather as much information as possible unless the people of that country object loud enough, I am not for it at all but it is the new game.

I am sure this is also happening at gov't levels all over the world in addition to private companies. Business ideas and data stolen everyday, gov't intelligence agencies sifting right off the lines.

The age of digital privacy just seems to be over sadly, too many technology tools to not abuse out there. Changing it will be difficult, encryption doesn't even help. Personal servers, computers etc are the easiest thing to get into. The only real protection would be at the service/cloud level and having stronger security/monitoring like financial + trading markets have. But then you have the situation where gov't intel agencies just go to them to gain access. Not even sure how to change it. Explicit protections in the Constitution are footnoted away with executive orders and fear based legislation.

The permanent record your teachers used to warn you about, that exists now for real.

nnq 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nothing will change until all Americans get it once and for all that the attitude of being at war with the world and planning to win at all cost is actually opposite to being competitive and fighting hard to be the best in the world.

We the foreigners that buy into the american dream always think of the latter as the "american attitude" whereas US gov and corporations always go for the first. And they only coincide in very restricted contexts, basically in fewer and fewer contexts as the world changes and becomes more homogeneous. To "win the war" when you're well above everyone else tends to equate to playing fair most of the time, you just use what you have and what you have is always better so you always win, but when the economical and cultural ground levels, if your goal is still to "win the war", you end up playing dirty and forgetting about human rights and values.

...the USA's attitude will only change when they wake tf up and realize that there is now war to be won, it's just about competing in a healthy "jungle". The current US gov's attitude to everything seems to us foreigners similar to your classical story of the PTSDd Vietnam war veteran that gets home after the war and keeps fighting imaginary wars, butchering his family and blowing up the neighborhood in the process, just because that's all he's good at.

Yver 1 day ago 4 replies      
What hurts me is that people are acting surprised that spy agencies are spying on people. Their job is to collect intelligence. If they can read your emails, they will.


bobbydavid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Practically speaking, context matters in privacy. For instance, if a person invades my privacy to learn my sexual orientation, I would feel violated. But if that person was my boss, I would feel much more violated.

For an American like myself, domestic spying is scary for the same reason. The US government is my local government. They run our children's schools. They make me send in reams of silly tax documents. They make me wait in line at the DMV. They patrol the streets of my neighborhood with guns. When I call 911 (the emergency number), it's the US government who answers. In short, the US government -- my government -- is in a great position to abuse the knowledge gained from spying. It's this immediacy that heightens fear of domestic spying.

Another thing to note is that there is a subtle but important distinction for Americans between the CIA and the FBI. The connotative equivalent of the FBI is the police and the connotative equivalent of the CIA is the army. Thus, watching the CIA spy on Americans feels ominous and sinister. It's the spying equivalent of martial law.

What Americans don't realize, I think, is that for foreigners it is an issue of respect. That is, the underlying context of domestic spying outrage is that US citizens were _not_ outraged by foreign spying; that it's perfectly acceptable to spy on the foreigners as long as we protect our own privacy.

In the end, privacy is about perception. To those who, like me, feel their privacy is being violated, please continue to make your feelings heard, both inside and outside the US. The more voices (especially tenacious ones) the better.

TimJRobinson 1 day ago 2 replies      
As an Australian this is exactly how I feel. Over the past few weeks I've been moving many of my business systems off the cloud and onto self hosted servers and using less and less American servers because they clearly have no issue with taking foreigners information and with tens of thousands of contractors and employees able to access that information I wonder how long it's going be before big companies are able to effectively spy on competitors through having a 'friend' with access to prism.
ExpiredLink 1 day ago 1 reply      
> we all bought into the dream..

The American dream didn't even work out for most US citizens. Merely the upper class. The rest of the world bought into practical consumerism more than into a diffuse dream.

stormbrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, it seems as if a lot of my fellow Canadians are pacified by this line of thinking, perhaps not realizing that they're fair game.
freshhawk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it's because I'm Canadian and have lived in a world of "constantly aware of US politics but not governed by them" but I find the attitude the OP is now discarding to be superbly and painfully naive. Basically delusional. Imagine the feeling you would get when someone tells you "I entered by credit card number in that 'check if your credit card has been stolen' banner ad and it said I was safe, so that's good news". Same feeling.

So while I'm glad the realization has been had, and the childish notion has been discarded, I'm really worried that this is some kind of common idea among educated non-Americans. Is the ability to read newspapers or follow politics (actual politics, not the circus of party politics) of any kind in that much of a decline?

tehwalrus 1 day ago 1 reply      
The way the US talks about non-citizens has convinced me more and more of my (rather controversial) opinion that in order to have rule of law, we need one legal system for the whole world. I am skeptical of the idea of a world government, of course - it would have too much power, but I do think that governments need to be put on trial as frequently as citizens, in an international court system. I've blogged about this before[1], although I intend to rewrite much of what's on that old site since I don't think it's communicated very well.

I will (when time allows) be stopping my use of American cloud services one by one as a result of this scandal. Gmail, Dropbox, and so on. It will take a while for me to write/borrow my own implementations, and self host them, so that all my stuff works the same way (or similar enough). It was nice while it lasted, but I'm now going to have to start taking my skepticism of US law seriously, and avoid coming into contact with it where ever I can.

[1] http://politicomaniac.net/category/internationalism/

mahmud 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ugh! I cringed reading that.

We wear blue jeans, drink Coke & eat McDonalds. We favor American companies (hands down) when we make purchases

Well, thanks, but as an American I'd rather if people didn't have this subservient attachment to the U.S.

bsaul 1 day ago 2 replies      
Funny how citizenship seems to be a thing of the past to many people. Another weird side effect of globalization...
cpursley 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd argue that there are several countries that are more free than the United States in both terms of social issues and economics that make better role models.

This might all be 'news' to the tech community - but Libertarian circles have been talking about this trend towards totalitarianism since what, the 70s? It might feel like it all started after 9/11, but this framework has been building up for decades. In fact, it's the natural trajectory to unopposed empire.

The only thing I hope is that foreign nations accept us liberty loving Americans into their arms when the expatriation wave begins and are able to distinguish us from the assholes. It's coming - just look at the uptick in expatriation: www.nestmann.com/expatriation-statistics There's even publications dedicated to this like www.sovereignman.com and www.escapefromamerica.com/about

belorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
> George Bush famously proclaimed: Youre either with us, or against us. He asked foreigners the world over to choose. The wholesale spying on foreigners says how we chose made little difference at all..

Maybe we should just create the "terrorist party", as in, we are all terrorist in the eyes of the US, so we might just have to get comfortable with the label.

throwit1979 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is going to be a little inflammatory but it's true.

Why I will never take seriously foreigners' reactions to our wars, surveillance, human rights violations, etc:

You people, and the governments and central banks who represent you, keep buying our debt and financing all of this. The US Government would be incapable of funding these programs and wars at low cost without YOU stepping up to the plate every single auction to buy up our treasuries at ridiculously low yields.

I'll believe your outrage when I see action behind it.

mosselman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why so black and white? US vs the rest? I don't care about what government says or does something, I care about what people do to each other, because in the end we are all people. It is not ok for a group of people to take it upon themselves to hurts everybody's privacy like has been done now. We'd have to stop whoever is doing this.
kenbellows 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just to put it out there, while I agree that the sheer volume of snooping being performed by the NSA, why is it a surprise to anyone, anywhere, that any government is snooping on as much foreign traffic as they can? This is, and has pretty much always been, standard operating procedure for every major intelligence agency in the world.
juanre 1 day ago 0 replies      
Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos), Woody Guthrie:


The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,

A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,

Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?

The radio says, "They are just deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?

Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil

And be called by no name except "deportees"?

This is some time after 1948. Then, just as now, there were people who saw non-citizens as barely humans, in the US and everywhere else. But then there was Woody Guthrie as well, and the many people like him who saw the human in the foreigner.

What has changed in recent years is the reach of the mightiest power, and sheer number of people who find ourselves in the wrong end of its struggle for control.

alanning 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Foreign citizens have a very powerful ally when being spied on by the U.S. government: your own government. When the U.S. government is spying on its own citizens, who do we have to turn to?
pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Many in "our" community assign a fair amount of credence to the statement: Information is power.

We see the trend. A... -- I seldom haul out this word, but I will now -- "neo-Fascist" [1] regime absorbing a potentially exponential increase in information while seeking to increasingly restrict our access to and control over same.

That is, I think, in good part what it boils down to.

dusanbab 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant and succinctly put!
An open MySQL bug receives a real Birthday cake mysql.com
396 points by ted_turner  2 days ago   78 comments top 22
famousactress 2 days ago 7 replies      
I think gittip is great, and I understand this is the opposite of their philosophy, but I want a well-used bounty program for these things.

I mentioned some Django bugs that are huge for us that were finally fixed in 1.6 in another thread [1]. I'd have personally pledged a couple hundred dollars to have them fixed, and probably could have gotten considerably more pledged from my company. Does this tool/platform exist and I just don't know about it?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5958281


Thanks for the replies. Pledgie and bountysource look interesting and I suppose really close to what I was imagining, in spirit. Fundamentally, I'd like to see something well-executed help formalize the process behind what motivated Andrew's awesome Django migrations kickstarter [2]. I really like the way that came together because it had the buy-in of the team, and there-by inspired confidence in potential backers.

[2] http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andrewgodwin/schema-migr...

aspensmonster 2 days ago 1 reply      
The video bringing cake and ice cream to this bug's 7th birthday:


It's got a real Joker laugh going on toward the end.

fletchowns 2 days ago 1 reply      
Using compressed air to blow out the candles was a nice touch.
josh2600 2 days ago 2 replies      
Personally, it's the guy's laughing that does it for me.

What does this bug cause?

gkop 2 days ago 1 reply      
The conventional workaround:

  $ mysqldump -d my_database | sed 's/ AUTO_INCREMENT=[0-9]*\b//' > dump.sql

yxhuvud 2 days ago 0 replies      
I cried a little on the inside when I saw the proposed C regexp 'solution'.
binarymax 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those unclear of the reasons this is bad (aside from the assumption that the pure raw data structure should not have any artifacts of custom data definition) - it is probably something in code or, more likely, initialisation data, that is expecing the Id to be something. This may be a file of SQL inserts that is run after the database is created, with hardcoded primary keys. This is an antipattern of course, but it doesn't excuse the fact that pure structure dumps should remain as such. (disclaimer - I have little experience with mysql, but have seen these same antipatterns in SQL server, oracle, and db2 data init scripts far too often).
morgo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a rudimentary knowledge of MySQL Internals, so I am going to take a guess why it has taken so long.

They want to implement this feature server side, which means that they either have to add:(1) A new server setting (SET SHOW_CREATE_TABLE_FORMAT = Blah)-or-(2) New syntax (SHOW CREATE TABLE NOAUTOINC mytable).

Adding new settings is always evil, and adds to product confusion/complexity.

Adding new syntax is a bit evil in MySQL's case since they use a generic yacc parser, and might have to add a new reserved word (truthfully, I'm not 100% sure on that one). There is also a preference to only add reserved words to major new versions.

nodesocket 2 days ago 1 reply      
Today is my actual birthday, me and bug #20786 should share that delicious cake and ice cream.
pud 2 days ago 0 replies      
erikkay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of all of the things I've done in technology, this was not near the top of the list of things that I thought would be on the top of hacker news (no, I didn't do the cake, just filed the bug 7 years ago).
dmourati 2 days ago 1 reply      
If any MySQL bug needs a cake it's this whopper I just ran into: http://bugs.mysql.com/bug.php?id=1341
druiid 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sadly MySQL has a history of bugs like this. There are a few we have run across that have probably been open longer than this bug, and yet have not been fixed. I'd have to look the bug numbers up from e-mail, but yeah.. there are tons of mines out there in MySQL just waiting for you to hit them, and upon further discovery, someone else found out about it years ago!
AaronBBrown 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree it has potential to be annoying in some environments, it's also trivially simple to work around.

    for tbl in $(mysql -BNe "SELECT DISTINCT TABLE_NAME FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS WHERE EXTRA = 'auto_increment' AND TABLE_SCHEMA = 'mydb'"); do      mysql -e "ALTER TABLE ${tbl} AUTO_INCREMENT=1" mydb    done
Run that just after importing your new schema.

Note: That code will require a bit of modification if you make the mistake of having spaces in your table name.

bcoates 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't believe in autoincrement so I'm not up to date on the evil things you can do with it, so I'm unclear why this bug matters: All it does is change the arbitrarily chosen start value for new rows, what could that break?

The existing behavior makes more sense anyway, as it preserves 'truncate table' <=> 'restore nodata dump' equivalence better.

ars 2 days ago 0 replies      
I store the dump of the database in source control, so several years ago I made a small program mysqldump_ddl to strip out all ephemeral data that clutters up the changes:

    #!/bin/sh    mysqldump --no-data $* | sed 's/ AUTO_INCREMENT=[0-9]*//' | egrep -v '^-- (MySQL dump|Server version|Dump completed on)'
Now the database diff only has actual changes. (Mostly - sometimes new versions of mysql change other things.)

lcampbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I just took 10 minutes to write an ad-hoc parser that will probably fix the bug (it works around the tricky test cases in the thread)[1]. I don't really understand why they want to move stuff onto the server-side, there may be some other trickery I'm missing.

Please feel free to use as-is and integrate it into mysqldump. I can't be bothered to create an account on bugs.mysql.com.


[1] http://pastie.org/8092330 EDIT: The parser wasn't fully correct, use [2])

[2] http://pastie.org/8092403

bashinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, I've been hit by that bug numerous times over the years. Sed works fine for editing the dumps. Happy Birthday!
pagekicker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just had occasion to use mysqldump --no-data a few days ago, and then came across this today. Not a good feeling! C'mon, mySQL devs ... fix it already.
_mpu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The speed at which they get regexps out is kind of frightening, I find...
aylons 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this bug still present in the MariaDB fork?
DamnYuppie 2 days ago 0 replies      
Damnit, now I want cake and ice cream!
NeoCities neocities.org
395 points by kyledrake  9 days ago   209 comments top 76
slg 9 days ago 9 replies      
Don't use this for anything you view as important. I just checked and there is no collision detection for usernames. You can signup for an account using any name and your account will seemingly just replace the previous created account. That is a big enough and obvious enough flaw that it also makes we wonder if this is just a phishing expedition or a way to mine email addresses.
jstalin 9 days ago 2 replies      
I just had to do it:


It's going to play audio if you clink the link, unless you're using click to play

networked 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, Hax0r N3ws!

Check out my all-new website showing some oldskool JScripting skillz at http://cd.neocities.org/. You can trick your friends by directing them there.

P.S.: Just checked and it actually works with Internet Exploder 6.0 in an M$ Windoze 98 VM, which I had running in VMWare Player 5.0.2 with my PC's physical DVD drive connected. Should work as long as your Win9x or pre-SP2 XP has WMP 7 installed.

P.P.S.: Do post here if it works for you!

workhere-io 9 days ago 0 replies      
HN is supposed to be (partly) about the joy of building stuff, and yet this entire thread is all about people pointing out flaws, missing features and minor annoyances instead of saying, "Good job!".

Give the guy a break and a chance to get the project off the ground.

kybernetyk 9 days ago 2 replies      
Oh man, I'm sorry for OP because of all the negativity in this thread.

I think his service is kinda cool in a twisted way and I can totally see me building a little 'old school' homepage on it.

/edit: I did build a homepage: http://kybernetyk.neocities.org I feel better now ;)

brudgers 9 days ago 1 reply      
GeoCities clipart backgrounds still available!


zephjc 9 days ago 5 replies      
I think people are aiming to create the original geocities experience too: Examples:




big_lou 9 days ago 3 replies      
PEOPLE. This is clearly not intended as a business. Stop asking about the "business model." It strikes me as just being a cool side project that enables people to make websites. That's it.


toni 9 days ago 0 replies      
I've hacked a little script together[1] for uploading all the files in a directory into NeoCities. Handy if you are working on your site and want to upload everything in one go.

Set your username and password at the beginning of the script and run it with the path to the directory as an argument:

./neocities-uploader.php /path/to/my/site

[1] https://github.com/pwlin/neocities-uploader

ErikAugust 9 days ago 0 replies      
egeozcan 9 days ago 0 replies      
LandoCalrissian 9 days ago 0 replies      

Already worth the price of admission. This is a really fun idea.

fragmede 9 days ago 1 reply      
Oh man, it is just like the 90's: unicode usernames are not allowed. Welcome to the past!
will_brown 9 days ago 0 replies      
It is very refreshing that a side project/start-up related post has made it to number 1 spot on HN. And this is coming from someone who posted a Bee article that made it to the front page today.

kyledrake if any negativity on this thread gets to you, something tells me it will not, just ask yourself how many others have posted their side project on HN that made it to #1, I know I have not and that is why I created this account to begin with - to share my start-up with a start-up community.

rozap 9 days ago 0 replies      
guys i just made mine here http://rozap.neocities.org/index.html and it is best so you all can stop making them because it will fail to surpass my creation.
numbsafari 9 days ago 1 reply      

Good luck with that.

ibudiallo 9 days ago 0 replies      
I think its a nice website, don't be discouraged by the comments you get here. HN can be awful with this, but if you parse through all the bad mouthers you may find some gold :
dj2stein9 9 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, this site was fun while it lasted http://fuckthensa.neocities.org/
lotharbot 9 days ago 4 replies      
It's never too early for scams.


"Security page. Please enter your password here."

Yhippa 9 days ago 0 replies      
Don't show this one to grandma: http://payment.neocities.org/
therandomguy 9 days ago 0 replies      
I wanted to share this with a co-worker. Asked him, "you remember geocities?". He didn't. Because it was probably before he was born. I'm so old.
leke 9 days ago 1 reply      
rfnslyr 9 days ago 0 replies      
This thread is hilarious.
mperham 9 days ago 2 replies      
Add a premium tier, even something as simple as integrated web analytics. Donations are charity. If you want this to be a sustainable business, ask for people to pay for value.
markdown 9 days ago 0 replies      
> The file uploader will automatically scrub any characters not matching: a-z A-Z 0-9 _ - .

What about '<>/{};:[]=+~' ?

All of which are useful in html/css

donohoe 9 days ago 0 replies      
My three quick contributions:


http://scientists.neocities.com/ (Back to the Future)


I've had issues uploading CSS, JS and manifest (for offline) files - anyone else?

vyrotek 9 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing pointing a CNAME to this is not supported?
cheapsteak 9 days ago 1 reply      
What's with all the FBI seizure images?
benjamincburns 9 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how long it'll take for Yahoo to send a C&D...
mixedbit 9 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck with the project!

I hope we will soon see these pathetic Facebook like buttons replaced with good old JavaScript guest counters (only half-joking).

zrail 9 days ago 2 replies      
How do you plan on keeping out spam?
cabalamat 8 days ago 1 reply      
There is a bug on your dashboard; the html for viewing a page is:

    <a href="http://meowcat.neocities.org/index.html"    target="_blank">View <br></a>
Unfortunately, this means that I cannot click with the middle mouse button to bring up the page in a new tab. Please remove the extraneous target="_blank" code.

eksith 8 days ago 0 replies      
The sad thing is that now there are lots of squatters creating "under construction" pages and the like instead of actually putting content. Trying to emulate Geocities without actually doing so (a lot of them did have those banners, but they also had content).

Oh well.

Here's mine : http://eksith.neocities.org (Also people are forgetting, it's .org not .com)

serf 9 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea, but GeoCities left a bad taste in my mouth. What makes this site any more maintainable than GeoCities was? The fact that it's donation based and not at the whims of a corporate entity is reassuring, but other than that it seems as if the footing would be even less stable. Am I wrong?
jneal 9 days ago 0 replies      
Decided to create something from scratch in the text editor. I must say I like the editor. Had to include a slight ode to the fallen geo(.*)


kwntm 9 days ago 0 replies      
I love the browser editor you made. Very easy to get up and running fast. It'll be a useful tool for teaching, and also for small js projects. Fun project- Thanks!
ddinh 9 days ago 1 reply      
It's definitely an awesome project, but I just don't see the advantage of NeoCities over hosting a website on Github or BitBucket yet, especially since those sites offer unlimited space and store all the old versions of your website for you. Some differentiation with those services is needed - for example, a privacy policy guaranteeing true anonymity (no IP address stored, no cookies) or a more layperson-accessible website creator.
serf 9 days ago 0 replies      
I like looking through the "Browse Existing Sites" and looking at all the emerging sites. I especially like the ambiguous "enter credit card and expiration date" sites that are nothing but a form and submission button.
jgallant 9 days ago 1 reply      
http://remy.neocities.orgDon't forget the hot-linked images.
pronoiac 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hah! I've been playing with Jekyll and Pelican and other static site generators, and one of the thoughts I had was "if Geocities were still around, I could host pages there."
TazeTSchnitzel 9 days ago 0 replies      
Not neocities, but a friend recently put this geocities-esque page up:


mustafakidd 9 days ago 0 replies      
"We've come full circle"

I love getting old and seeing technology continually reinvent itself.

orangethirty 9 days ago 0 replies      
Love this. Its geocities 2.0. Now, where do I find old gifs?


Found them. Check out mah page.


m-r-a-m 9 days ago 0 replies      
I think I captured the essence of my geocities/tripod/etc experience... http://ramige.neocities.org

I really like this and I'll probably use it for something real.

damian2000 8 days ago 0 replies      
Good luck with this. Just a minor comment on your animated favicon.ico icon ... it would look a lot better if you used a transparent colour for the outside of the globe. Currently its white, which looks a little bit crappy.
spiritplumber 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is adorable!!!!
rschmitty 9 days ago 0 replies      
return0 9 days ago 0 replies      
Hosted in the US. At least geocities didn't live long enough to make it into prism
brennannovak 9 days ago 0 replies      
I am interested to see where this goes!
callmeed 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is really cool. What's your tech stack look like? Are you using Nginx to serve up the static files?
rsync 9 days ago 2 replies      
export function ? Given the fate of the original geocities, it would seem to be very helpful...
conanbatt 9 days ago 0 replies      
Reading the comments you can see instant cybersquatting.

Man i hate that -.-

senthil_rajasek 9 days ago 0 replies      
Can you add a akismet style spam filtering to kill spammy pages?
delmarc 9 days ago 0 replies      
Also please send an email once the account has been made... I know i made a page... but never received anything about it...
delmarc 9 days ago 0 replies      
Need a Password retrieval system and the sign up page needs a verify password field... I already lost my password...
cabalamat 8 days ago 0 replies      
Will it be possible to upload websites using rsync?
colbyaley 9 days ago 0 replies      
This is so awesome.
deadfall 9 days ago 1 reply      
How are you moderating the content? Are you doing it yourself? Are you putting together a flagging system? Do you need help? I am looking for another side project to work on.
SteroidsLove 9 days ago 0 replies      
songzme 9 days ago 0 replies      
wow! This is super simple to use! 10 minutes into it, I now have a splash page of myself! http://songz.neocities.org/
nperez 9 days ago 0 replies      
Since this takes me back to the good old days of marquee tags, I made this fine work of art.http://hello.neocities.org/
oakaz 9 days ago 0 replies      
How can I upload my files with CuteFTP?
clauretano 9 days ago 0 replies      
oops, look like someone else took it from you already. Should probably send them a bill
mmcclellan 8 days ago 0 replies      
That's funny. I searched that domain name on domize around a month ago too. Though mine was going to be S3 and Route53 using boto.
ianb 9 days ago 1 reply      
No API? Sigh. It could be a nice backing host for a through-the-browser CMS a little OAuth, a little CORS, and it could work pretty nicely.
jjp9999 9 days ago 0 replies      
Kind of funny. Looks like the first site on their examples page was seized by the FBI.
j546 9 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone actually had success maintaining a business with the donation model?
bobdvb 6 days ago 1 reply      
No censoring? So what about child abuse images?
andysum 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible! Here's my site:http://andy.neocities.org
ForFreedom 9 days ago 1 reply      
How do you pay without adverts?
shtylman 9 days ago 1 reply      
Just use github pages.
iframe 9 days ago 0 replies      
this reminds me GeoCities :')
vulgrin 9 days ago 0 replies      
-1 for not re-implementing <blink> tag
timmillwood 9 days ago 1 reply      
csomar 9 days ago 7 replies      
There are 61054 web site spaces remaining.After that, we need your help to get another server.

Does that mean he's running 61k sites on a single server? Even if each site gets one single visitor per day, that 61k visitors for the Server. There is no way the server can manage that traffic.

Sorry, but do you really want a static site? Just pay for a good one.

New leak shows NSA harvests To, From, and Bcc lines of e-mail data arstechnica.com
389 points by evo_9  3 days ago   106 comments top 19
ChrisAntaki 3 days ago 2 replies      
NSA harvests the entire email.

Source: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/05/mark_klein_docu/

zerohp 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's been a while since I worked with email headers and smtp, but I don't think the Bcc header actually exists in transit. The mail user agent and/or the mail submission agent remove it.

They could reconstruct this information from the graph.

bobsil1 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're a techie, knowing that every bit of data you collect from customers will eventually end up in Utah-- you have a duty to either collect the minimum data possible or encrypt both transmission and storage and demand a warrant for access.
mbateman 3 days ago 2 replies      
What exactly is it supposed to mean that the NSA intercepts only data with one "foreign end"? That it intercepts all data that crosses e.g. a transatlantic cable? Or that it scans the IP header of absolutely everything and grabs anything with a non-US IP as either source or destination? Or something else?
dfc 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you don't want to use that awful doc viewer:

  wget http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/719116/pages/doc03-p1-large.gif  ...  wget http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/719116/pages/doc03-p52-large.gif
The last time the guardian had a document up and I provided these gifs someone replied with a pdf copy. I am unsure of how to get the pdf from documentcloud. So feel free to post a pdf link and please explain where you get the URL from

Aqueous 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an idea: If you don't want to make an anxious public even more anxious, don't name your NSA surveillance program "EvilOlive." Or really, anything starting with 'evil.'
astangl 3 days ago 0 replies      
They discontinued the program to save just the 3 headers because now they've got other programs that save the entire email message. And phone calls, and text messages and tweets, etc.
VladRussian2 3 days ago 1 reply      
yep, and due to a bug in the perl script, it harvests all the lines to the next From.
eslaught 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is email traffic typically encrypted between major providers? E.g. could a network attacker, located between Google and Microsoft, intercept unencrypted traffic between gmail and hotmail addresses?
askimto 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone ever hear the rumor that the reason why Google pulled out of China was because Chinese hackers had tapped into a feed of all email metadata? I heard it included subject. This news made me immediately think of that rumor.
hammerzeit 3 days ago 2 replies      
This headline is misleading. It implies the program is still ongoing, where the original article clearly states that the program was shut down 2 years ago.

Moreover, after a lot of cynical complaining about Obama not being meaningfully different than previous administrations, it's worth noting that Obama was the one to shut this down.

I'm not interested in reflexively defending the government or Obama but we still need to pay attention to the facts at hand.

rjbwork 3 days ago 0 replies      
So just use the CC field, problem solved!
webwanderings 3 days ago 3 replies      
How the heck do you track Ad interacting habits through just an IP address? I call BS on that particular paragraph.
barredo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any numbers on the amount of hard drives NSA have?
jccc 3 days ago 1 reply      
What if the near-term result of all these revelations is that it just becomes the new normal? Is it necessarily such a bad thing for the snoops in the shadows if they know people will eventually just get used to it? After all nothing really feels different day-to-day so ... meh.
poster69 3 days ago 0 replies      
This thread is big meaningless distraction...The main point is: You Are all being illegally spied on The land of the free is a big lie.
moneyrich2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can I ask how? How do you have 75% of the traffic or 75% of the servers (as the article states), how the hell is that logistically possible?
throwaway10001 3 days ago 3 replies      
So who the F can we trust? All those denials from everyone and now we see this, which I kinda suspected since Verizon was ordered to hand over the same for phone calls.
jameshart 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think we would all forgive the intrusion if, as a side effect of this program, NSA was using this data to feed a spam filtering service to which we could all subscribe.
Only the Lonely stephenfry.com
384 points by jlangenauer  6 days ago   118 comments top 13
flatline 6 days ago 9 replies      
> I dont want to be alone, but I want to be left alone.

I have always suffered from this as well. Perhaps it is just a touch of introversion? I have a happy marriage and family but I often need time all to myself or I just get overwhelmed by the constant stimulus of...other people. I don't even necessarily do anything different than I would with my family, though I generally try to work on my own projects or study something interesting.

javajosh 6 days ago 15 replies      
Personally, I think it's great that Fry has been so forthcoming with his travails. It helps others tremendously to know that they are not alone.

I want to speak to an important question, though: why DO we continue? This is a discussion of the rational justification, independent of brain-chemistry. Hamlet is right for the wrong reasons. These are my beliefs:

The only real reason to continue is because you think that you can contribute, in at least a small way, to the long-term well-being of humanity. You, an individual, are a cell in a vast organism of humanity, and your duty is to find something useful to do. There are many ways to do this, as a (spiritual, physical) healer, as a (artistic, technical) creator, or as a player of (business, political) games (who, by the way, use the output of the first two types in the game).

The "long-term well-being of humanity" itself has many possible expressions. On the largest scale, it means making sure that humanity itself can survive any calamity. That means not only taking care of this planet, making sure that it can sustain life, but it also means reaching and colonizing other places in the solar system and galaxy. Given the incredible work required to build a self-sustaining colony orbiting the Earth (which is the only viable option given our level of technology) maintaining intellectual freedom is paramount. Constructing social/political/economic systems that reward power to those with self-restraint, and engender trust in those who could harm us is also important. On a smaller scale, raising children is crucially important, because the organism of humanity needs new cells to replace the cells that die.

Comedians like Stephen Fry are our philosophers. They perform a remarkable feat of alchemy, taking the banal horrors of political and social life and transmuting them in to something funny, something insightful, something that makes you think. Humor is an effective coping mechanism when we face our own prejudices, our own contradictions and, importantly, the same mistakes we see in others. Too often our leaders, and indeed we ourselves, don't laugh enough at the tragedies of our age - for laughter is more powerful than hate, because it criticizes injustice but mercifully leaves behind the terrible burning that anger creates.

Please, Stephen, continue.

ctdonath 6 days ago 1 reply      
its the thought behind the most famous speech in all history. To be, or not to be.

In high school I started memorizing that for no particular reason. Upon completing a test, I idly doodled it in the margin waiting for the class to end, and handed in the paper. The next morning, the teacher cornered me in the hall and delicately asked if everything was OK. Bewildered by the time & tone of the question, I suddenly realized what Hamlet's soliloquy was about.

kposehn 6 days ago 5 replies      
I've always thought that if you know someone is suicidal, don't always make it apparent that it is on your mind.

Sometimes they just need to have a person who lets things be normal - someone who knows what is there, but doesn't let it change the tone of every interaction.

That seems one of the most helpful things you can do, in my opinion.

hjay 6 days ago 0 replies      
"The strange thing is, if you see me in the street and engage in contemplation I will probably freeze into polite fear and smile inanely until I can get away to be on my lonely ownsome."

This is me. I feel lonely all the time, yet when people approach me for conversation, I smile and respond with the least amount of words possible, and long for the moment I can be on my own again.

joebeetee 6 days ago 0 replies      
..."what the fuck right do I have to be lonely, unhappy or forlorn? I dont have the right. But there again I dont have the right not to have those feelings. Feelings are not something to which one does or does not have rights."

This is a great quote. Having been exposed to significant poverty and hardship growing up, I am often unnecessarily and overly harsh on celebrities and privileged people - this quote stopped me in my tracks.

Then I begin to think about the life/health that I have and start to feel like the jammy one.

Sorry Sir Stephen, wish I could help in some way.

paganel 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe lots of people already know about it, but I'll just copy-paste this in here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs

It's not an anti-dote (to loneliness and everything), it just genuinely helped me from time to time and I hope it will also help others.

andyhmltn 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm deeply thankful to Fry and everything he's done in this regard. Had I not watched him talking about his experiences so openly I would not have noticed myself acting in a similar manner.
baby 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how nihilist people (as I am) who are suicidal (as I am not) are still alive. As long as I can recall I've never had even one thought about killing myself, but if I did I can easily imagine that I would have killed myself.
estacado 6 days ago 1 reply      
Suicidal thoughts as a disease may not only be solely genetic, but may have something to do with lifestyle/environment, like other diseases. I wonder how many starving Africans actually have this disease.
NovemberWest 6 days ago 0 replies      
I don't deal well with being alone, but I am also an extrovert. Loneliness and being alone are very much different things. I was much, much, much lonelier in a marriage where love had died than since my divorce, though I was romantically "alone" a long time (however, my sons still live with me so I have rarely been literally alone).
gadders 5 days ago 1 reply      
I can't help feeling a bit cynical about Stephen Fry's suicide "revelation". After gaining all the news coverage, the very next day he announced some new TV project of his. Coincidence?
Luc 6 days ago 4 replies      
If you research Stephen Fry a bit, you'll find a great many people who believe he's a somewhat of a national treasure, and the world is better for having him in it. It goes much beyond his acting. He's a cultural icon.

To find that someone so beloved wanted to kill himself, it's... jarring.

A useful program, 0 bytes long peetm.com
377 points by lelf  9 days ago   75 comments top 20
CJefferson 9 days ago 2 replies      
Interestingly, this is the second useful empty program I have seen. The other is /bin/true, as discussed at http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/humor/ATT_Copyright_true.html . That file is not quite empty, due to trying to comment and copyright an empty file!
hjay 9 days ago 2 replies      
A great example of how important it is for us as developers to recognize the value we provide to businesses/users instead of measuring it all solely in terms of algorithmic complexity and LOC.

Side note: Tatung makes some pretty amazing rice cookers. My family has used the same one for over 40 years now, and it still cooks as well as ever.

fendrak 9 days ago 3 replies      
This is a perfect example of selling something for what it's worth, rather than for what it costs to build.
dps 9 days ago 2 replies      
"(a TSR; if the reader knows what such a thing is!)"

Oh dear, I can't imagine not knowing what a TSR is. Feel old.

The wikipedia page is pretty good http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminate_and_Stay_Resident

js2 9 days ago 1 reply      
Tangent: just to give an idea how popular WordStar was, my Apple ][ had a CP/M coprocessor card [1] just so we could run WordStar.

[1] manufactured by Microsoft - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-80_SoftCard

mef 9 days ago 1 reply      
mixedbit 9 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, not only was this program infinitely profitable, it could also be transmitted over the network infinitely fast, and even without a network connection.
Stratoscope 9 days ago 0 replies      
Best hack ever! Infinitely better than any other hack.
sage_joch 9 days ago 0 replies      
I thought he was going to say a Flashlight app.
dorfsmay 9 days ago 3 replies      
Ha! That's hilarious! I'm sure a lot of people remember the old joke:

-can you assume that any program out there can be reduce by one line?

-can you assume that any program out there has a least one bug?

If yes, it means that, by mathematical induction, every program can be reduce to one zero byte, and it's buggy!

lubujackson 9 days ago 0 replies      
That is kind of genius.
leephillips 9 days ago 1 reply      
I love this story. It gives a strong impression of having interesting philosophical implications, but I have no idea what they are.

I hope I can offer a little advice without being too annoying: if you are going to use justified text, especially with narrow columns, you need to implement some kind of hyphenation. There are JS libraries that do this now, I think.

anigbrowl 8 days ago 0 replies      
It's not really infinitely profitable, because cost isn't measured in bytes. His cost was the time to conceive of, test, and implement the idea as a product. I can't say I've ever thought about the value of a program how much storage space it takes up.
tricolon 9 days ago 0 replies      
raymondh 9 days ago 1 reply      
Python's __init__.py files are useful and can be zero bytes long.
rbanffy 9 days ago 0 replies      
The old "SAVE 0 X.COM" trick... Brings back good memories.
zht 9 days ago 1 reply      
division by zero is undefined. c/x as x approaches 0 from the right is infinity.
simula67 8 days ago 0 replies      
x/0 is not equal to infinity in ordinary arithmetic (which is what author attempts here) :).


Qantourisc 8 days ago 0 replies      
Marvellous idea ! :)
gliter 8 days ago 0 replies      
On Confirmed Assumptions or, Not Trusting Google is a Good Idea anarchism.is
372 points by __hudson__  9 days ago   221 comments top 18
tptacek 9 days ago 5 replies      
How, in short, is this shit valid under the U.S. Bill of Rights? Id really like someone to explain that to me. With a straight face. Preferably without making me want to punch them in the process.

Well, he's going to want to punch me, but here's what I think(?) the answer is:

(a) He's not a US person, but instead a well-known citizen of Iceland, living abroad, and is thus not protected by the Fourth Amendment, at least to the extent that anything in the Fourth Amendment conflicts with any interest of the US.

(b) He's a person of interest in the investigation of one of the most significant leaks of national security information in US history.

digitalengineer 9 days ago 4 replies      
"Google is, however, allowed to tell me what account is involved, and I can do whatever I want with the information Google gave me"

So Google was allowed, not required. Looks like they did the right thing by at least telling OP what they were forced to do. Shouldn't the title be "Not trusting your Government"?

mtgx 9 days ago 5 replies      
They keep the deleted e-mails too? So even if you want to escape that 180 days law that says after 180 days it's free for all for authorities to get your e-mails, then deleting them before that time passes won't do you much good.

So basically the authorities will have access to your e-mails anyway. It's just that they won't get them in the first 180 days. And of course this just applies to police/FBI, as NSA can get them from the day you sent them.

rasterizer 9 days ago 2 replies      
Abit harsh on Google. I mean what are they to do?
gnosis 9 days ago 5 replies      
Google is spyware.

This has been obvious for a long time.

Most other "free" web services aren't much better.

It's sad that it's taken so long for people to start realizing and caring about this, but better late than never.

signed0 9 days ago 1 reply      
If Google has records of all emails that have been sent and deleted, presumably even if you don't have a Gmail account the government could ask Google for all emails that had ever been sent to your account.

Just as the Syrian government is unlikely to be able to get Google to give them information on particular dissidents, it would be wise for American activists to choose a email provider that is not located in the United States.

Semiapies 9 days ago 0 replies      
"Not trusting" in this case is more of an operational than moral/ethical judgement, and more general than Google - you can't rely on privacy from any company if the government can send them a letter saying, "Gimme everything on this guy, bitches."

And, well, if you don't want to run to Hong Kong, you're pretty much the government's bitch in that circumstance...

zenbowman 9 days ago 1 reply      
"I believe that organisations dont really have a right to secrecy and I believe that the more open a society, a society where people have more information is a society where we can take more informed decisions and where we perhaps wont need the gatekeepers that are currently in place as much" -Herbert Snorrason

If he doesn't believe organizations have a right to secrecy, then why does he believe that he is entitled to secrecy. Privacy and secrecy are the same thing, claiming to be pro-privacy but against secrecy is dishonest.

andrewljohnson 9 days ago 6 replies      
Google should invent a distributed, encrypted email protocol and make that network an option in GMail for storage and message sending. That would be a great PR move - if there is no central server, and no central message pipe, it's a little hard for anyone to think Google wants to be complicit in spying.
__hudson__ 9 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if donating to wikileaks or even sending an email to wikileaks offering to volunteer would be enough to interest someone in government in getting all your 1's & 0's.
tyrion 9 days ago 3 replies      
Isn't all "this shit" in violation of the International Bill of Human Rights?

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." -- International Bill of Human Rights, article 12.

I also found interesting to read the "CCPR General Comment No. 16" [1] on the right to privacy.

[1] http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/23378a8724595410c1...

tantalor 9 days ago 2 replies      
Presumably the same justification/reasoning could be used to serve a home/business search warrant.
lettergram 9 days ago 0 replies      
Why not just keep all your data on your own computer? No need to have a cloud and if it's email your worried about, well, it's assured if the U.S. government wants your conversations they will get it unless you jump through some pretty large hoops.
fady 9 days ago 0 replies      
off-topic: you need some line-height for that post.. very hard to read.


ethanazir 9 days ago 1 reply      
the gmail network effect pulls in people who would rather not be grokked.
Andrew_Quentin 8 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't you sue and find out?
farinasa 9 days ago 0 replies      
I think you need to update yourself on the details/arguments surrounding this particular debate before commenting.
throwaway10001 9 days ago 1 reply      
Google shouldn't be trusted with everything you have. Between Analytics, Android, Google Search, Documents and E-mail they know what you are thinking and virtually everything you do, online and offline. Even if the current management are saints--I doubt it--the next team will push the envelope to monetize it even more. And then there is the NSA and FBI and the local divorce lawyer. If it's there they will get it.

So try things like blocking analytics at host level, using either gmail or search etc etc. Makes it harder for NSA. Can you imagine yourself in a trial trying to explain why you visited certain sites or searched for certain keywords 3 years ago? Were you really researching what you saw on CSI or were you preparing the perfect murder of your wife?

Richard Stallman Inducted Into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame fsf.org
365 points by hornokplease  4 days ago   158 comments top 16
RyanMcGreal 4 days ago 4 replies      
> Stallman had this to say upon his induction: "Now that we have made the Internet work, the next task is to stop it from being a platform for massive surveillance, and make it work in a way that respects human rights, including privacy."

The man never misses an opportunity to try and get people thinking about the issues that matter.

RyanZAG 4 days ago 5 replies      
I find it intriguing to consider that in history and philosophy textbooks in 100 years time, Stallman is likely to have a number of very positive (and possibly even large) contributions to humanity, while Obama is likely to be regarded very negatively for his wiretapping and with no notable positive contributions. Meanwhile today, Stallman is regarded as some kind of madman while Obama is an amazing celebrity.
dfc 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had no idea that stallman came up with the term POSIX: http://stallman.org/articles/posix.html
mark_l_watson 4 days ago 0 replies      
While wearing my FSF Libre Planet t-shirt, I offer my congratulations to Richard :-)

Congratulations offered, I would also like to point out that his concerns over freedom, control of your own software and data now seems even more relevant with the recent disclosures about the NSA.

counterpointer 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like RMS(even attended one of his talks, was fun) and he has been surprising prescient about many things.

But he still seems to be falling victim to the "Smarter people are more likely to believe in false conspiracy theories" rule.

In his post against Ubuntu's local searches being sent to Amazon, he claimed as-a-matter-of-fact that Windows sends local searches to an internet server and his friend proved so. This may be true in Windows 8.1 but is certainly not true beforehand. I figure that if someone else said something similar about FOSS in the same casual way, RMS himself would characterize(rightly so) it as FUD tactics.

Still, I do think that we need more people like him rather than everyone else who seem to be aligning themselves with some or the other corporate entity and thus lose their moral compass in the process.

SatyajitSarangi 4 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one surprised that it took such a long time for them to do this?

How did Jimmy Wales got there before Stallman, using an ideology that was pretty much ushered by Stallman as Guerrilla Warfare?

I know that Stallman has his fair share of quirks, who doesn't? But I believe in today's world, he is more of a forgotten hero, whose "quriks" get highlighted more than his long list of achievements and just for inspiring people to join the bandwagon of open source coding.

dpapathanasiou 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if his browsing habits have changed since 2007: http://article.gmane.org/gmane.os.openbsd.misc/134979
derpapst 4 days ago 0 replies      
Many years ago, when I did my first steps in Emacs, I wrote Richard a mail asking, why it has such unusual and sometimes awkward keyboard shortcuts. He replied: "For fast and efficient editing."

I like that guy.

alex_doom 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was not even aware this was a thing.
jwcrux 4 days ago 0 replies      
Full inductees also include Aaron Swartz and Jimmy Wales


dllthomas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well deserved.
Uchikoma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone will not be happy with this one:

"Aaron Swartz (posthumous)Co-authored version of RSS"

mehrzad 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a serious reason not to call it "GNU/Linux"? Curious.
rmsify 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd just like to interject for a moment. What you're refering to as internet hall of fame, is in fact, GNU/internet hall of fame, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus internet hall of fame. Internet hall of fame is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called 'internet hall of fame', and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.There really is a internet hall of fame, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use.Internet hall of fame is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Internet hall of fame is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with internet hall of fame added, or GNU/internet hall of fame. All the so-called 'internet hall of fame' distributions are really distributions of GNU/internet hall of fame.
racl101 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just now? Geez. This guy should've been inducted in the first year.
xenator 4 days ago 3 replies      
He belongs to Wall of Shame.
A list of front end development resources github.com
364 points by gphreak  8 days ago   90 comments top 27
citricsquid 8 days ago 2 replies      
Another excellent development resource list is pineapple.io: http://pineapple.io/
ldng 8 days ago 3 replies      
Well it is a nice list but, it's a list, again.

By that I mean you either find compilation list like that or full stack framework but what a would personally find more useful would sets of cohesive tools, end-to-end.

Sure there are boilerplates out there but what I frustrating is that you hardly find "full stack" one. For instance what about a boilerplate for django + django-rest-framework + backbone.js + marionette + i18n tools for backend and frontend + manage.py-grunt.js integration + optimisation tools for css and images + ....

Yes, there are endless possibilities, the more the reason to find more of those out there don't you think ? Maybe it's me but I feel like there is either something missing, too much choice or both. I18N being often the most neglected (granted, it's harder)

What do HNers feel about that ?

awjr 8 days ago 1 reply      
Seriously awesome list. Book marked and sent to friends/people I work with.

In a way shame this hit HN on a Saturday, this is one of those lists people need to find when sitting at their desk.

simfoo 8 days ago 6 replies      
Seeing this mess again tells me that there's something fundamentally wrong with the web or at least with the standardized technologies that are supposed to solve the problem of frontend development (namely HTML, CSS and JS).

I think the web really needs a fresh start before I would even consider becoming a web developer (I'm a CS student atm)

dypsilon 8 days ago 2 replies      
I moved the list to


please update your bookmarks. Pull requests are welcome.

darrellsilver 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great list! To teach front-end web development at http://www.thinkful.com/ we also sometimes use http://prework.flatironschool.com/
dfischer 8 days ago 0 replies      
I've been building a list of front-end development best practices at http://www.betterfrontend.com - it definitely needs to be updated though. I haven't had a change to work on it for almost a year. Would love to get something going with a few devs if they're interested.
jenius 8 days ago 1 reply      
From the author of http://roots.cx, much love and thanks for including us! We're working super hard on pushing roots further than we've seen any other static site compiler go, so if you are into static sites we'd love to talk : )
Nekorosu 8 days ago 2 replies      
The list is too massive and lacks projects' details to be useful.

I'd better use github's search.

IbJacked 8 days ago 0 replies      
Nice collection. Enough stuff to wander through and be certain I'll find something of interest, or discover something I was previously unaware of altogether.
porker 8 days ago 2 replies      
The trouble with managing a list like this is that it's not exactly easy to update/correct? It's always owned by one person, and errors (like Foundation 3 being mentioned) aren't easy to correct - or to expand and add new items to.

Great resource, but wouldn't a collaborative wiki be easier - or are such lists maintained for the original author's reputation not to become a fount of collective knowledge?

mundizzle 8 days ago 1 reply      
geuis 8 days ago 1 reply      
Oh thanks buddy! Glad to see my Helium-css project mentioned!
pardner 8 days ago 0 replies      
That is, in fact, one badass list. Nice work, great resource.
Bjartr 8 days ago 0 replies      
For the sake of completeness, it may be worth mentioning the Google Web Toolkit.
danenania 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful. Thank you!
dakrisht 8 days ago 0 replies      
Good lord, what a list. Thanks for this one.
xixixao 8 days ago 0 replies      
Mimosa is missing from workflow. http://http://mimosajs.com/
jsilva5 8 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know about a backend development resources list?
woah 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is truly an excellent list
johnbellone 8 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing list, I can digest it this weekend.
_Caspian 8 days ago 1 reply      
Small editorial detail, intuit.css should be inuit.css.

Otherwise good list :)

h0w412d 8 days ago 0 replies      
Not enough links.
octy86 8 days ago 0 replies      
Should be bookmarked as startpage :)T-H-A-N-K-S
cjdulberger 8 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I love HN. Great list!
bharathwaaj 8 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic compilation. Thank you!
orenbarzilai 8 days ago 0 replies      
Great list! Thanks
15-year-old girl invents flashlight powered by the heat of your hand extremetech.com
361 points by evo_9  1 day ago   118 comments top 24
pocketstar 1 day ago 7 replies      
Wow, her dad is my coworker and I heard this casually mentioned at work the other day that his daughter was working with Peltiers and I should consult with her because I am also working with Peltiers for characterization of phase change materials.

Also note, calling the device a Peltier is a misnomer, her flashlight is a thermoelectric device utilizing the Seebeck Effect, similar but opposite to the Peltier Effect. Peltier has just become the connotation for thermoelectric devices.

The Seebeck effect only works with a temperature gradient, the flashlight will begin to heat up when held and the Peltier will produce less power. The next step is to add a heat sink and fan to maintain a temperature gradient for operation longer than 20mins.

ISL 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very clever!

I'll state for the purposes of prior art that, if you can get enough power to add a little fan or other air-moving mechanism to the circuit to pull air through the tube/heatsink, it will operate in still air for as long as a human can keep it warm.

This opens the mind to a realm of interesting body-powered devices, especially in environments where heat sinking is easy, like for divers, motorcycle riders, and sailors. Want a wetsuit or jacket that lights up or operates sensors on its own? Easy peasy.

gdonelli 1 day ago 0 replies      
She is more eloquent and capable of public speaking that a lot of adults.

More women should see example like these, it is a great example of woman in engineering kicking ass.

Anonymous238 1 day ago 2 replies      
Invented is a strong word when these already exist.


mbell 1 day ago 4 replies      
Looks like she's just using the Peltier effect to power some LEDs. I doubt the flashlights would work well, if at all, at room temperature but would be useful in a cold climate.
qwerta 1 day ago 3 replies      
Did you read the comments under the article? I usually do not buy sexism in tech, but this got me.
Ellipsis753 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favourite part of the article was:"The flashlight maintained a sufficient level of light for over 20 minutes, definitely enough time to find the candles in the dark when the power goes out."

Why not just put the candles where the flashlight was in the first place? (or just put a reliable battery powered flashlight there.)

It sounds like it's saying "this flashlight should last long enough for you to find your better flashlight".

Qantourisc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not to complain, but how much light does it really produce ?Cause this would be very neat ... but I still need to be able to light the room :)
nessus42 1 day ago 3 replies      
First I have to say that this is very cool indeed!

Practically speaking, however, I'm not sure that it would have any advantages over the flashlights that you crank for a while. Though perhaps those crank flashlights use a rechargeable battery that degrades over time, and this new flashlight would have a longer shelf-life? Though I should think a good capacitor instead of a battery would solve that potential problem with the crank flashlights.

bobsy 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone with poor circulaton to the extremities I fear I would be walking around in the dark holding the flash light with cold hands.

Its a really nice idea though. Its stories like this that make me wish i paid a bit more attention in science when i was younger.

twodayslate 1 day ago 2 replies      
Put this in phones to charge them when you aren't using it?
juandopazo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess this is a consequence of the development of the LED. LEDs being so efficient allows for very low power sources and a thermocouple seems to be enough to light them. Pretty cool!
MojoJolo 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can this technology work in an airconditioned room? I was thinking if this technology can provide enough electricity to even just lighting up a single room. It can use the heat outside, and the cool air (form air condition) inside the room.

All in all, very good invention! And also inspiring. I hope more teens will be involve in inventing things. I hope she wins. Also, (totally unrelated) I think she's cute. :)

rikkipitt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Blean (n.)

Scientific measure of luminosity : 1 glimmer = 100,000 bleans. Usherettes' torches are designed to produce between 2.5 and 4 bleans, enabling them to assist you in falling downstairs, treading on people or putting your hand into a Neapolitan tub when reaching for change.

~ Douglas Adams and John Lloyd

kondor6c 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's a great idea and a great science project, I just don't see how practical it would be due to how little light it would produce. Even if I kept it in the back of my car to aid in a possible road repair (perfect situation for a no battery device) I don't know how effective it would be. Perhaps that's just the skeptic in me?
stormbrew 20 hours ago 2 replies      
She should be using blue LEDs. I swear those things can send light through a wall.
kailuowang 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is an old Chinese saying: I wish she was my daughter.
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      
Way to go. Good to see a girl that age interested in science and engineering.
samsquire 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't help thinking of a full body suit to harvest the entire heat output of the human body. Maybe you could use assisted sweat evaporation to provide for the cold tile?

It could be like a Fremen suit so they can pump the water coolant around and potentially and power electronics.

kirchhoff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminded me of the Seiko Thermic, a wristwatch powered on the same principle.
circuiter 22 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested, here's the list of all the finalists this year - most of them much more impressive.


Architech0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sounds similar to the fiber optic cable material found @ Roswell, NM. 1947...
phy6 1 day ago 2 replies      
She should call it the Fleshlight
skriticos2 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if she is using the power of the human body to power a flashlight when she is 15, does that mean she'll design the technical foundation of the Matrix when she is 30? (which had the purpose to harvest the human energy)

Sorry, could not resist. Great to see our youth being creative.

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