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XKeyscore: NSA program collects 'nearly everything a user does on the internet' theguardian.com
1619 points by sinak  2 days ago   610 comments top 94
nikcub 2 days ago 20 replies      
This is overwhelming. Even when you always hear the claims about we knew this was going on, somehow it is still shocking when you see it all laid out infront of you with screenshots and the capabilities described.

I can see how they get HTTP information, since they would intercept at transit hubs - but how are they getting all Facebook private messages and Gmail?

I was also looking for another unique ID that users are identified by - perhaps a machine or browser fingerprint or some form of intel that can 'glue' different browsers together and make a best guess if they are the same person (Facebook does this with device and user cookies) but couldn't find anything. It seems they rely solely on email addresses, IP addresses, cookies and HTTP headers.

So if you are browsing via 16 tor circuits and a browser that defaults to incognito with session histories being wiped, they couldn't reconstruct your history.

Users of PGP/encryption products being singled out is terrifying. The sooner we have the whole world using decent encryption tools, the better.

Edit: Gmail messages must only be captured when they leave the Google network. They are the only provider to support server-to-server TLS: https://twitter.com/ashk4n/status/346807239002169344/photo/1

They must only be getting a slice of the Facebook chat data, since the transport there is also https.

Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, uses MQTT, so it transmits and stores in plaintext. It has support for encrypted + signed messages with OTR if you are using an alternate client such as Adium or Pidgin.

Really need to go out an audit all of these services and let users know which are better.

api 2 days ago 10 replies      
I'm getting seriously irritated at the "I have nothing to hide" crowd. For starters, here are a few ways this can go horribly wrong:

* Industrial espionage -- it's big business, and I'm sure it pays better than being an NSA analyst.

* Foreign espionage -- since this gives unlimited querying power to every agent, a single "turned" agent could inflict massive damage on U.S. government and industry interests on behalf of a foreign power. The potential for double agents is huge.

* False positives and guilt by association -- being flagged as a "person of interest" and then essentially persecuted because you have fringe ideological interests, are looking up a lot of info on terrorism for a book project, have a friend who knows radical Muslims, etc.

* Corrupt use in political campaigns by incumbent politicians with access -- obvious.

* Blackmail and other corruption.

* Use by government agencies with access to spy on other agencies.

... I'm sure creative people can think of more.

yread 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is brilliant, I love the screenshots:

Foreignness factor:

The person has stated that he is located outside the U.S.

Human intelligence source indicates person is located outside the U.s.

The person is a user of storage media seized outside the U.s.

Foreign govt indicates that the person is located outside the U.s.

Phone number country code indicates the person is located outside the U.s.

Phone number is registered in a country other than the U.S.

SIGINT reporting confirms person is located outside the U.S.

Open source information indicates person is located outside the U.s.

Network, machine or tech info indicates person is located outside the U.s.

In direct contact w/ tgt overseas no info to show proposed tgt in U.S.

It's quite easy to lose the protections of a U.S. citizen indeed!

martindale 2 days ago 8 replies      
Interesting; it appears someone failed to redact some data from the slides. In the Facebook chat example, the message is "to" 1536051595.

Using the Facebook Graph API, we can gather information based on this ID: http://graph.facebook.com/1536051595

Which leads us to the Facebook profile (https://www.facebook.com/arash.gorjipour.5) of an individual, real or contrived, named "Arash Gorjipour". His email address and phone number are all exposed in one of his uploaded photos: http://i.imgur.com/0UUk5cB.jpg

I wonder what the reason for this man being in these slides is.

kyro 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is this information the NSA could've attained left to their own devices, or is this sort of stuff only accessible with help from service providers, eg Facebook and Google?

What I'm trying to ask is: with all the hullabaloo Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc have made about individual, manual reviews of information requests, are we still being lied to? I suspect that we obviously haven't been told the whole story by these companies, and that they are a lot more implicit in this than they let on, but this article seems almost like definitive proof that they did indeed allow unlimited access to user information.

If this is saying what I think it's saying, then I feel seriously back stabbed by the startup darlings -- Zuckerberg, Brin and Page, etc -- that so many people here love and idolize. They should absolutely be held accountable.

hammerzeit 2 days ago 3 replies      
Reading these slides, I'm trying to parse what these slides do or do not say. I'd like to leave aside the speculation about what the NSA is probably doing.

First of all, XKeyscore seems to be primarily about the frontend query interface rather than the backend data storage, at least as far as I can tell. It looks like you can basically query their database by email address and get a set of records (email, chat, http logs) back. It looks like there are separate tools for viewing specific records as well. I assume they're joining records on some combination of email address, IP address, timestamp, etc -- not unlike a modern ad server.

A few practical thoughts:* It's worth noting what's not shown in these slides. Specifically, I don't see any ability to query the full text of emails. The more I see about this, the more I'm convinced the NSA is not collecting email body texts directly from corporate servers. Facebook messages I'm less sure of. * How are they collecting HTTP data? I assume intercepting at network hubs?* Given that it appears that individual records are HTTP requests, I'm shocked at how few requests are in the database. 41 billion seems an order of magnitude smaller than I'd expect. Could it be a record is something else?* Interesting to note the "Miranda number" and "Foreign Factor" fields that look like ways of saying "yes, I have permission to do this." Might explain why a sysadmin could bypass these things but your everyday NSA analyst could not.

znowi 2 days ago 4 replies      
Holy shit... Apparently, the only way to ensure privacy is to go Stallman. Funny how yesterday's "conspiracy crackpot" became today's visionary.
jstalin 2 days ago 5 replies      
Slide 6 of the presentation clearly shows that pretty much every government is in on the program, with heavy concentration in western Europe.

One question, how did the dot in China get there?


rdl 2 days ago 1 reply      
At this point the only thing protecting the US (and the world) from the worst tyranny imaginable is that USG's essentially unlimited power is wielded by individuals (rank and file workers, career bureaucrats, political appointees, and politicians) with a fairly reasonable sense of morality and belief that they are constrained by both the constitution and morality.

I'm don't think that is a stable long term system. Either some effective limitations (technical and political) are put in in the next several years, or a few decades of "us vs them" and self justifying security crises will produce a horrible result.

jstalin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Snowden deserves the Nobel Peace Prize and the Vatican should consider canonizing him.
ck2 2 days ago 4 replies      
Imagine if storage limitations weren't holding back the NSA.

Those 60TB density HAMR[1] drives that are due in 2016 are really going to take invasive to a whole new level.

[1] http://storageeffect.media.seagate.com/files/2012/03/perpham...

aspensmonster 2 days ago 2 replies      
>How do I find a strong-selector for a known target?

>How do I find a cell of terrorists that has no known connection to strong-selectors?

>Answer: Look for anomalous events

>E.g. Someone whose language is out of place for the region they are in

>Someone who is using encryption

>Someone searching the web for suspicious stuff

Lovely. Suspicious stuff and encryption. But wait! There's more!

>Show me all the VPN startups in country X, and give me the data so I can decrypt and discover the users.

Wait... what? I really hope that doesn't mean what it sounds like it means.

>Slide 22 [regarding determining who authored a Jihadist document] redacted.

Well that's interesting.

>Show me all the exploitable machines in country X.

That's cool. I'm guessing this is what Snowden meant by weak endpoint security.

>Over 300 terrorists captured using intelligence generated from X-KEYSCORE

>Slides 29 and 30 regarding this redacted.

What a shame.

akmiller 2 days ago 13 replies      
Honest, maybe naive question, but what types of programmers actively help build and maintain systems like this? I turned down a job for a company that is less than a mile from my house because I viewed their business as immoral.

Hard for me to fathom anyone taking a job, helping to build systems like this. I get that many of the components of a system like this could be seen as harmless. However, a system of this complexity must have some talented engineers bringing it all together and making it work. How can they feel good about what they are doing?

runn1ng 2 days ago 3 replies      
From the slideshttp://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/31/nsa...

"Show me all the VPN startups in country X, and give me the data so I can decrypt and discover the users"

Does this mean using VPN is not very safe from dragnet?

sinak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey folks,

Just wanted to add a note and say that if you're angry about this, the best thing that you can do is to get out into the streets and protest everything that's been going on. Check out the Restore the Fourth rallies happening this weekend, share them on social media, and sign up for your local event.


Getting out into the streets is the single most significant thing you can do - even more effective than calling your legislators. The events on Sunday need to be bigger than the events July 4th for this to really be a success.

antimatter15 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder how Sencha (http://www.sencha.com/) feels about how the NSA is clearly using their ExtJS framework given the screenshots.

I guess this kind of puts different perspective to the whole debate that came from JSMin's "The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil." clause (http://wonko.com/post/jsmin-isnt-welcome-on-google-code) given that conceivably your open source framework might be a significant part of something like this.

hga 2 days ago 6 replies      
This bit both somewhat limits the impact and makes Greenwald et. al.'s claims that most everything is being Hoovered up a lot more credible:

"The XKeyscore system is continuously collecting so much internet data that it can be stored only for short periods of time. Content remains on the system for only three to five days, while metadata is stored for 30 days. One document explains: "At some sites, the amount of data we receive per day (20+ terabytes) can only be stored for as little as 24 hours.""

Of course, as the article goes on to detail, anything that's found to be of interest in that window can be saved permanently, and NSA analysis do that a lot.

dictum 2 days ago 1 reply      
>Foreignness factor

I know NSA's mandate is to spy on foreigners, but it's still very jingoistic and xenophobic that not being American makes it OK to spy on you.

susi22 2 days ago 5 replies      
One of the screen shots:


says: Top Secret Comm(?) REL() to USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL

confirming the previous suspicions that many other governments are on board.

Der Spiegel actually has reported a few weeks back about XKeyscore [1] and that it is used by the BND (Germany's NSA). I.e. all this data is also available to the NSA equivalents of Australia, Candana, Great Britain and New Zealand.

Many Americans trust their government (unfortunately), will they also trust the other governments?




impendia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another data point on the relationship between government and terrorism:

I live in Columbia, South Carolina. A mile from my house there is a prominent statue of Ben Tillman. Tillman was an explicit advocate of terrorism, and indeed personally engaged in it [1], which drove his popularity and ensured his election to the governorship and the United States Senate.

Government programs such as the NSA's exist to protect the interests of the powerful. Same as it ever was.


jneal 2 days ago 1 reply      
Noticed one of the screenshots have a URL. It's a little blurry, but I suppose it's an intranet URL since the TLD looks like .nsa

URL looks like:https://gamut-wakefield.ein.nsa/utt/UTT/do/FRNewSelector#sel...

dmix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Greenwald said in the comments, there is a lot more to come:

> That House vote was about one specific topic - bulk collection of phone records - that this newest article has nothing to do with. That House vote isn't the be all and end all: it's just one small battle in what I can assure you will be a sustained and ongoing discussion/controversy.

> There is a lot more to report still. Accuracy is the number one priority. That takes time.

Buzaga 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yep I'm done, I'll just go about my life from now on...

It's total power, I think it's unlikely that they'll want to give up on this kind of power, they'll probably keep signing governments and 'the tech' will eventually be exported and in the hands of governments everywhere, they'll keep building this and they'll create tons of algorythms of course because it's just too much data, any resistance can be crushed... and it's so much power eventually some dark times will begin... I'm done with the topic.

coenhyde 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the most terrifying thing i've ever seen. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest.
qwertzlcoatl 2 days ago 2 replies      
Livestream to senate hearings covering all this can be found here: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=0d93...

As of this moment it's all about FISA. Wonder if this new allegation will be talked about.

giulianob 2 days ago 2 replies      
Holy shit.. they did really write a GUI in Visual Basic to track the killer's IP
venomsnake 2 days ago 0 replies      
Credit where credit is due - NSA made useful and usable email search. Please give it to gmail and outlook.com ... I want to be able to search trough my mail as good as you guys can do.
kilian 2 days ago 2 replies      
A 'fun' bit of weasel-wording by the chairman of the House intelligence committee: "He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do." They seem to be denying it, but all they're really denying is that Snowden had access to the system personally.
chewxy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think I have been more conflicted about this. I've just been talking to my cofounders about the technical feasibilities of XKeyScore, and honestly, our back-of-napkin engineering configurations indicate this is really an awesome project to be working on.

On the other hand, this is categorically 'evil' by my and my cofounders' ethical standards, and really, no one is safe. And that bugs the hell out of me.

On the one hand: really fucking cool. On the other, I really do not like the idea that I am being spied on.

I'm not sure how to process this information.

peterwwillis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here's an interesting legal question:

If a non-US resident or NSA target posts a thread on HN, and a US person replies to the thread, is the US person now open to unlimited data collection?

Alternately, if you Facebook-like the same thing an NSA target has, are you then subject to unlimited data collection?

shirro 2 days ago 4 replies      
You have to admit these guys are working on some cool problems. If you don't have a problem with the legality of it or potential for misuse it looks like a really interesting place to work.
stef25 2 days ago 1 reply      
A couple years ago there was an AMA on Reddit from someone saying he was very deeply involved in spying on the general public's online lives, "at a level you can't imagine". Many technical questions were asked, all answered properly. I could never get it out of my head and now that Snowden has emerged I can't stop thinking he was the OP. Wish I could find this AMA again.
w_t_payne 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just read the actual XKeyscore slide deck. Unlike a lot of leaks, these slides are totally worth a look-see:http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/31/nsa...
api 2 days ago 2 replies      
At what point do the mathematical limits of data mining kick in here? How useful is all this information?

I'm not an expert in this area of mathematics, so I could be wrong, but my impression is that as the haystack becomes larger the problem of false positives becomes more and more severe.

As a data miner, what you want is the maximum number of "hits" (of whatever you're trying to hit) with the minimum number of misses and the minimum number of false positives. My impression is that this becomes progressively harder-- the golden region between too many false positives and too many false negatives becomes smaller and smaller and harder to hit.

Eventually you either miss important hits, namely the next terrorist attack, or you get swamped with false positives that you have to manually investigate and rule out.

I'd love someone who does know more here to chip in, but my personal suspicion is that this actually has a pretty huge pork angle to it. How much money are the contractors getting for building this stuff?

junto 2 days ago 1 reply      
The map on page 6 is interesting. Server locations of note:

  Moscow, Russia  Caracas, Venezuela  Tripoli, Libya  Hubei Province, China  Burma  Lagos, Nigeria  Saudi Arabia  Iran (and geograhically surrounding Iran)  Ukraine
Based on page 13, I wonder if Google have any servers at these locations?

Oh, what a surprise: http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/04/11/map-of-all-google-data-c...

Does that look familiar?

MarcScott 2 days ago 1 reply      
The scale, depth and technical sophistication of everything I've heard and read so far has made me change my mind on whether or not there is a technical solution to NSA and GCHQ surveillance. I'm now convinced that the only way to solve this is through politics. We need representatives that will enforce our rights to privacy, not clever hacks.
swalsh 2 days ago 3 replies      
The thing that blows my mind, is you hear over and over again about Billions of dollars being spent on large software projects for the government that seem fairly simplistic that ultimately fail.

The NSA is accomplishing some pretty impressive things, what are they doing differently?

aspensmonster 2 days ago 2 replies      
Slide 13 just got slightly redacted.


cnlwsu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, so ignoring all moral/ethical issues with this. Wouldn't it just be awesome to work on a project like this? Unheard of funds, tons of data, interesting CS problems all around. I am sure they did everything possible to make it miserable on the developers but nonetheless... sounds fun from a completely detached CS perspective.
emhart 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fitting/sinister that the top of their stored data pyramid is titled "TrafficThief"
heyitsnick 2 days ago 0 replies      
And, according to Greenwald, there's a lot more to come. From the comments:

"There are thousands upon thousands of documents and they take time to read, process, vet, and report. These are very complex matters..... there is a lot more to report still. Accuracy is the number one priority. That takes time."

hannibal5 2 days ago 3 replies      
Just like suspected. If you use encryption like PGP, you become person of interest.
eksith 2 days ago 2 replies      
That UI looks awfully similar to a theme I've seen used in SharePoint Portal Server. I hope that's not what they use for the front end, but I wouldn't put it past them.
codex 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Guardian strongly implies this system is used to intentionally target US citizens in violation of the law, but then admits that would be "illegal." I wonder if the leaked presentation touches on this point.
curbrusiasm 2 days ago 3 replies      
This has been up here for 5 hours and on the Guardian's website for nearly 6 hours. How is it possible that not the NYTimes, FOX, NPR, the Washington Post, or CNN have picked this up? These organizations are an embarrassment to the profession of journalism.
budman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Just Wow.

For years all of this was in the back of my mind as being capable but my not wanting to think like a conspiracy crackpot just dismissed the thought as it couldn't be possible. A conspiracy takes a lot of co-operation from within large corporations who must also remain it a secret. Surely someone would have a conscious and leak it? Or one of companies we all look up to as a modern example of do-good company would say "Hell NO" to the attempt and then let the world know what was attempted. Guess that was eventually proven true with Snowden (a real hero imo), just shocked they were able to operate to the scale they did for so long before a Snowden came along.

In my mind, this is not so much a shock to me regarding the NSA as well as the current evil government we have had in place. Doesn't take a genius to realize the president lies to our face on TV about trivial issues/promises, so expected for top secret stuff.

What is the BIG stomach churning shock to me is the very companies that we have come to know that are multi-billion dollar conglomerates providing service/products for millions for every day use has been a part of it. A part of this secret web while all the while proclaiming privacy for it users. I guess at end of day profits still rule the roost. "Just do this for us, turn a blind eye, and you get to go on making your billions". I wonder how many CEO's knew of all this. Gates? Zuckerburg? Etc etc.

I feel like I have no outs now. There are no alternatives to current establishment of companies that make our lives easier. Should we all wipe our PC's and use Linux, sell our phones and use Ubuntu Phone, not pay for SSL certs anymore (another mafia), etc?

mtgx 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice pre-emptive "attack" by Greenwald today, just before the NSA hearings.
rosem 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's insane that so many people are pointing the finger at Snowden, yet no one is pointing the finger back at the NSA / US Government.
chrisstanchak 2 days ago 1 reply      
Summary of how this story is being covered around the world vs. in the US.


fideloper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are the major news networks ignoring this story? Briefly checking, I only see Fox News reporting related stories, naturally blaming the Obama Administration (perhaps fairly in this case).
badclient 2 days ago 0 replies      
As one slide indicates, the ability to search HTTP activity by keyword permits the analyst access to what the NSA calls "nearly everything a typical user does on the internet".

It seems like everyone's been attacking the wrong folks. From this article it appears that bulk of the data is being tapped at the data center level and then parsed. This begs the question how it would be able to make sense of https traffic.

mladenkovacevic 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems this was meant to be declassified in 2032.. I guess by then they were hoping this would be so institutionalized and pervasive as to be the norm.

Also I wonder to what extent this is really used to hunt terrorists down and how much of it is used to gain political or economic advantages over other countries.

rehack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Makes me Wonder, if the Internet in this widespread form, was allowed so that they can snoop (so easily)?

When I was a kid, my father, had told me a story that in Russia people are scared to speak their minds, for fear of being snooped via any hidden gadgets in the walls.

mikecarroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote an e-mail to Congressman Mike Rogers about his misleading quote in this article. I encourage others to reuse my template and also ask him to justify his misleading remarks about Snowden's statement: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6134672

We should start hold our public servant to task for lying to the American people about these programs.

mrt0mat0 2 days ago 1 reply      
I asked this in a deeper thread, but i would like to reask anyone that can explain. If the NSA is tapping pipelines as it seems they are, wouldn't the sources such as facebook and google all come online at the same time? if they were in fact referring to the pipeline access as their way into facebook and company, why did they all have different onboarding times? wouldn't they have all come on at the same time: the time when they tapped the pipelines? Maybe i misunderstand the process. I get that maybe they had to write some interface that interpreted the packets and sorted them as such, but that wouldn't take years.
nullc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's been being weirdly suppressed on reddit: http://www.anonmgur.com/up/17832a6eafb09376d012090ff1b06dbe....

Every time a thread on this hits the top it gets mod-deleted.

antitrust 2 days ago 0 replies      
I realize that it isn't morally right, but I think such data storage is inevitable. With the rise of instant communications, the amounts of data people generate are massive, and old school law enforcement can't keep up. Thus with the increase in technology, there's going to be an increase in counter-technology.

I guess what we need to ask ourselves now is whether we want any secrets at all. A true Panopticon -- a society where everyone could see what everyone else was doing -- might bring a "freedom" from certain types of subterfuge, and attack.

Then again, I don't want to live in it.

That leads us to the question of how we handle the flood of data when looking for hostile activity, because governments are certain to use available technology to trap, parse and search that flood.

jstalin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think it's a leap to assume that ALL TLS certificates are compromised and the NSA can monitor ALL Internet traffic.
scrrr 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Mr. <webservice-ceo> Does your company offer a backdoor for the government? It looks like it, even though you have declared that there was no backdoor just a few weeks ago!" - "Uhm. Not wittingly!"
w_t_payne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Imagine what Nixon would have got up to with this capability. He would probably still be in power!
andy_ppp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just censored an email I was about to write in case it is used to discredit me in the future. Jesus. The thought police are here :-(
totalforge 2 days ago 2 replies      
Just a friendly reminder that if you looked at the slides, you have read a classified document, and therefore are guilty of a Federal felony. Cheers!
w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we should try to put together a programme to try to drain the NSA of technical talent ... offering jobs or other incentives to try to persuade developers currently working for the agencies and their various contractors to resign?
epoxyhockey 2 days ago 1 reply      
In the first slide, there are 25 red dots in a row on the bottom.. I wonder what those are supposed to represent?
mkhalil 2 days ago 0 replies      
Declassify on January 08, 2032. I wonder what kind of reaction the people of 2032 ( we who are still living that time ) would have had if they found out. Would they care? Worse reaction? Probably be used to gov. spying? It's a scary world.
ceautery 2 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder how they store all that. Surely a side benefit of this could be NSA contributions to CS journals about database techniques.

Also I doubt the veracity of the claim that they collect "nearly everything". Wouldn't they show up on, say, Sandvine's Internet traffic reports? I think it's more likely this claim is made simply to generate FUD in the general population.

yen223 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has anyone verified the accuracy of the slides? How do we know they even came from the NSA?
llamataboot 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain this to me like a 5 year old and how it interfaces with PRISM?
mkhalil 2 days ago 0 replies      
People aren't going to care about this until they understand what consequences this may have to THEIR personal life. Live with it. Not changing unless the knowledgeable/wise starts educating the general population on how they effects them.

Most people might speak against it (include people here) but at the end, they have the "I'm not doing anything wrong, who cares, not worth the effort" mentality.

arca_vorago 2 days ago 5 replies      
Lurkers first post here.

I always said saying "I told you so." when stuff like this started getting revealed would feel like a hollow phrase. Some of us have spent quite a bit of time talking about these issues, and were mostly rejected as crackpot "conspiracy theorists". While there are plenty of those around, maybe I could use this slight moment of pseudo-clarity to propose something.

I could tell you where this is going (removal of ex post facto, and eventually algorithmic based pre-crime), and who is largely behind it, but once again most of you would probably perform the standard knee-jerk reaction against "conspiracy theory", only to wait around and repeat the same kind of stuff you are saying now, whenever the next steps are put into action.

We curious geeks have been too cocky, always thinking we could use our superior knowledge of technology to beat "the man". Well boys, the man is learning our tricks, and he's starting to get better at them than us...

The NSA is but a cog in a greater machine, and until we all realize that and start conversing on what/who that machine is, we will continue to spin our wheels uselessly.

mattbarrie 2 days ago 2 replies      
Um... surely this has to be a spoof. "Select foreignness factor"?? really?

The user interface and way this is done just seems to amateur hour to believe this is actually true

CPAhem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slide 23: "Show me all the Microsoft Excel spreadsheetscontaining MAC addresses coming out of Iraqso I can perform network mapping"

Does MS Excel store your MAC address in the xlsx file?

rtf1 2 days ago 0 replies      
And it's not even limited by the internet. NSA collects every piece of information they can get their hands on, whether it's data on the internet or any other network, or spectrum signals, or simple imagery. And they do that by every means possible. James Bamford wrote years ago a number of books on the subject. And even before him, David Kahn painted a pretty clear picture. Why is everybody so excited so suddenly? Is there somebody on this forum who believes for a split second that Mr Obama and/or the US House/Senate are prepared to lay off way over 300,000 intelligence community workers, contractors and what have you??? -RTF
osth 1 day ago 0 replies      

Missing: How much did this cost? Did the government (taxpayers) overpay?

naithemilkman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Surely the question on everyone's mind is: how good is incognito mode???
rdouble 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like working for the NSA is more like working at Inintech than it is like Minority Report. I've been more embarrassed by how Office Space retarded this seems than I have about the privacy abuses. I'm skeptical any of these supposed systems work, or even exist. It reminds me of Iran's pretend fighter jet.
vasilipupkin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am curious: Suppose this is true and NSA analysts have the technical capability to access enormous amount of information with no authorization. But if they do do that, agains the law and the rules and their actions are recorded in the system, they could face penalties no? I mean I could kill someone with a hammer technically, that doesn't make hammer bad per se, does it ?
andy_ppp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Judgement day is inevitable.

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buggedplan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Germany used NSA's XKeyScore spying software: magazine report http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germa...
snambi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow... Govt is into big data. I wonder what they use for analyzing all this data
LeeLorean 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is interesting on slide 17 that the NSA can decrypt all VPN traffic.

Does this indicate that they have broken HTTPS, or simply that they own VPN companies like Private Internet Access?

imrank1 2 days ago 0 replies      
interesting that is not even on CNN or MSNBC yet. Has anyone else seen coverage on US news?
mjfl 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well then they are going to need that big data center. That is an unimaginable amount of data...
obelos 2 days ago 1 reply      
How weird is it that cnn.com is included as a reason for being interested in HTTP?
kepano 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone with data center expertise extrapolate the physical scale of this operation? In terms of storage and computing power it must rival if not surpass what Google has built, no?
amckinlay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wait, does the collection require FISA warrants? Is the collection still limited to foreign nationals?
thejosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
The funniest part is the ancient version of IE they are using in the screenshots.
GI 2 days ago 8 replies      
I am going to be obliterated for this comment! Does the fact they've caught 300 terrorists in anyway justify what they're doing? I am not saying it does, I just wondered what people's thoughts were (although I can guess!). It's interesting that it was included in the article in an attempt to give it some 'balance'..
northwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The NSA documents assert that by 2008, 300 terrorists had been captured using intelligence from XKeyscore."

So, even IF this number is not just another lie, XKeyscore has been made worthless, with something ridiculously small as the 2 prison breaks of the recent days.

That means: What remains is a police state that is not even "secure".

Good job, governments/lobbyists/"defense" corporations.

_sabe_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
xkeyscore.com leads to Google maps.......just saying o.0
northwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
General reflection:

As I recall it, our right to privacy is defined by the "reasonable expectation of privacy".

Currently, I see any such "reasonable" expectation to be almost zero.

Therefor, I have to conclude that we have already lost the right to privacy.

adelpozo 2 days ago 0 replies      
What makes this even scarier is to see IE in the screenshots. :)
VerilyForsooth 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why is the commentry on this topic always braindead?

The article states that there is a query interface using the email address as the key. But Where does it say that every single email/webpage from every single person is being collected? Such a task would be technically impossible. It seems far more likely that it's querying a database of pretargeted people.

There is so much hysterical nonsense regarding this topic. The cancer of conspiracy theory spreads.

forgotAgain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aw, Fuck.
Skeuocard kenkeiter.com
952 points by gooddelta  1 day ago   190 comments top 96
aresant 1 day ago 11 replies      
Upvoting because this is so beautifully executed and I'd love to see people test this out on their checkout process.

That said, my experience indicates that this is not going to convert well.

To mirror the author's own quote:

"Every question a user has to ask themselves during the checkout process is another reason for them not to complete it."

What's presented here is a drastically different experience from the norm.

It doesn't behave the way you'd expect if you've ever bought anything else online.

Beyond that it has to load images dynamically based on card type which, on a slow or interrupted connection, will create even more confusion.

I love the concept, I love the execution, I just don't think this is going to be a conversion driver.

But I'll test it anyways.

jasonlotito 1 day ago 6 replies      

* Didn't realize I had the name and expiration field to enter as well. I thought it was just show casing the number entry. It wasn't until I came back here to HN to read comments that I realized that there was more to the demo.

* Tab order was wrong.

* 1Password couldn't fill in the data.

* No indicator telling me what credit cards you accept.

* CVV was hidden. There were several cases where I'd finished filling out the form, but couldn't change the CVV.

* Errors are not displayed. Try 10/10 expiration, and you are basically stuck. Without additional information, there is nothing to indicate anything is wrong.

* You can tab from the date to the hidden CVV and enter information there, but you don't see it. This is easily done because the automatic progression is inconsistent, so I've had to tab twice before getting to the year, and because it automatically moves me there, I end up on the CVV. This makes things really awkward.

* Overall, this was fairly confusing. I failed at entering the CC data the first time.

I spent 10 years handling CC processing, and basically living on the payment page. Keep the page clean, quick, and simple. You don't want to do anything confusing. Let them enter the CC data and move on. That fancy CC form will NOT sell a single thing. It will however stop people from paying. It does nothing to convert.

The more friction you place between a customer willing to pay and the actual transaction, the less chance you have of making a sale.

lmkg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great concept that will need a few rounds of feedback and some live testing before it's ready for prime time. Many commenters here are saying the current format will lower conversion rates, and I agree with that, but I think the problems are correctable. I would love to see conversion rates on this thing, although that's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem.

My general attitude: it's trying too hard to look exactly like a credit card, and that makes it not enough like a normal form. Dial it back a notch or two. Have the fillable areas look like normal form fields, don't be afraid to explanatory or error labels on the form, and show front & back at the same time rather than a "flip" interaction.

pytrin 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a cute interaction, but for credit-card forms you want to be obvious rather than cute. Showing all the fields a user expects to fill out instills confidence and prevents questions like "where do I input my name and card expiry date?" "what about the security code?" "where is the billing address?" etc. People would typically not start filling out their credit-card details with those doubts in their minds.

One additional nitpick - it says "YourBank" at the beginning, so while I was aware this was supposed to a credit-card form because of the title of the submission, it can also be mistaken for a bank account number submission.

dictum 1 day ago 2 replies      
>Every question a user has to ask themselves during the checkout process is another reason for them not to complete it.(http://kenkeiter.com/2013/07/21/redesigning-credit-card-inpu...)

"Wait, where do I put the CVC, name and expiration date?"

dualogy 1 day ago 2 replies      
[Edit: original thread title was "why isn't every CC form like this?"]

Because it's completely unneeded.

Typical web designer wet dream. Fancy-schmancy visual design fluff, robbing screen real-estate and bandwidth for a freaking "credit card" background image, and will it still work even 2 or 5 years from now when all web dev standards have once again turned 180 and future browsers render stuff like this way-off or not at all? Oh it won't, but you web designer dude will happily fix this at a charge of only 1.5 man-days? Well, neat!

Don't get me wrong, it's fun to spend a week or three "optimizing" an approximate 0.000001% of your web app's UX with ideas like this. I get it. Been there, too.

I see another issue --- with the CC now looking more real, the user also gets closer to the "physical reality" of "I'm parting with cash". Once I see my card's logo I'm instantly more hesitant. It's been shown that the more "layers" away from real physical payment a transaction is, the "easier" a customer proceeds with it.

Camillo 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you paste "4111 1111 1111 1111" (with the spaces, from the very same page) it breaks.
taspeotis 1 day ago 2 replies      
On my iPad the auto progression doesn't work properly and the keyboard is hidden after each field. You have to tap all over the credit card.

I gave up after the fourth extraneous tap.

So I guess "why aren't all credit card forms like this" is because people use iPads.

(In all seriousness, great idea but disappointing first impression.)

marknutter 1 day ago 2 replies      
The part for me where it breaks down is when you have to flip the card to the back to fill in the CVC. I also hate when fields auto-tab for me. Also, why does it hide the expiration date and name fields initially?
iloveyouocean 1 day ago 0 replies      
We implemented a form very similar to this about 7 years ago. (our form had light red borders around all the required fields that turned green when they had been filled, as well as some other differences). I was personally very enthusiastic about the beautiful design and thought that users would appreciate the skeuomorphism. Well, they didn't really care. If anyone was delighted by the design, it was offset by having to figure out how to use a new format of form. The form was also more difficult for us to maintain and test against different browsers. So, in the end we went back to a standard form type.
dpcan 1 day ago 0 replies      
It has the feeling of literally giving away my credit card to someone. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Plus, I don't know anyone anywhere anymore that's confused by a few credit card fields.

Plus, tabbing from the number goes to the name field and not the expiration.

Then you'll still have the problem of probably having to enter a valid billing address on separate fields.

I don't know if this really improves anything other than the aesthetic is very pretty.

robflynn 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll be sending you a pull request in a day or two. I work with dead, blind, hard of hearing, and visually impaired folks. I see a few places where accessibility could be improved with respect to screen readers.

Would you be open to a patch like that?

FreshCode 1 day ago 0 replies      
I dislike this UI because it adds more questions[1] than it takes away. "Why did it tab? Why is it loading, did I accidentally submit? Why did the tab ordering jump down, then up?"Just show me a web form and put a picture of a VISA card somewhere static.

[1] Don't Make Me Think, Steve Krug: http://www.sensible.com/dmmt.html

awj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the general concept, but I think it relies on specific behavior to the point of being confusing.

* As others have mentioned, there's no advertising of accepted cards

* None of the empty inputs look like inputs until you tab into them. They also cease looking like inputs when you tab out. Correcting data that is not objectively invalid (e.g. expiration in the future, but wrong month) is kind of unintuitive. Someone who clicks into form fields will likely be entirely stumped by this form.

* It doesn't seem to work on mobile. On my iPhone the series of inputs were positively irritating to interact with, somehow each one only took three characters instead of four, and the lack of a tab meant I had little direction on where to go when the first four digit input disappeared.

* The CVV is clumsily poorly handled. You can actually tell in that you're breaking away from skeuomorphism to get the user to that input. It might be a better idea to show the "back" next to the card when you do the initial breakout.

JoshTriplett 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea.

One bug I noticed: if you enter one of the sample numbers such that the number splits into multiple fields, then backspace starting from the end, you'll end up moved to the beginning of the first field with the first few digits still filled in, rather than backspacing over them.

More generally, any time you construct your own custom input rather than using browser input fields as designed, you end up with this kind of brokenness because you have to reimplement browser logic.

I'd love to see an <input type="creditcard">, with an input-creditcard.js polyfill, and native support added to browsers. On platforms that already know your credit card number, this would allow for simple auto-fill of all relevant information. This would also make life easier for things like Google Wallet that construct virtual credit cards for you, and it would allow for browser extensions that integrate with credit-card vendors to produce one-time tokens.

bluetidepro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think the UX is good as you think for the average user. For example, my mom (who is pretty good with a computer) would be so confused by this. I don't think she would understand that the credit card is interactive, especially after she maybe got past the first part of the credit card numbers.
dictum 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of an habit I developed: I usually input the credit card number last. I usually start selecting the card issuer, then fill out my name, billing address, expiry date and CVV.
aasarava 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love the concept. I love that it's smart enough to use a regex to figure out the card type.

As others have said, some minor instructional text would help people get started. Also, making the name and expiration fields more obvious from the start (more obvious that they're fields and more obvious that they will need to be filled out) would also be helpful.

Having to click to flip the card is probably the biggest problem (though fixable). Typically when filling out a form, I suspect most people use the tab key to go from field to field. Having to go back to the trackpad/mouse and click on a spot slows things down. Maybe have the card automatically flip if you hit tab after the expiration field?

SeanLuke 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Backspacing in the middle of a number triggers a behavior which is very counterintuitive, particularly with the examples provided.
0x0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't ctrl+a to select the whole card number input textfield and type over it :-/
rorrr2 1 day ago 1 reply      
The main problem, and many designers make that mistake, is that you're modeling a physical thing inside an app for no good reason.

Other than the nice visuals it doesn't help anything.

As a designer, you should think of how to make the process of entering the CC more efficient and less distracting, so your conversions don't go down the drain.

A simple clean design with standard input fields will outdo your pretty design any day of the week.

p.s. Does your design even work if JS is disabled?

dools 1 day ago 0 replies      
The field formatting stuff is great, but I think the interface to fill in the data on the card is monumentally confusing.

I do, however, like the idea of offering a "live preview" of data filled in via a normal credit card form (using the stripe checkout library for example which does all the nice card type detection and input formatting stuff for you).

This type of "preview" could also be useful in a confirmation step, ie. show the front and back of the card so the user can confirm it looks okay (I don't think there would be much advantage in "flipping" back and forth between front and back, though).

ihsw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a distinct lack of support for the num pad.
georgebonnr 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with others - I love the concept. However, I think for customers who are less enthusiastic and trusting in general, having a physical representation of their card built before their eyes will make them more acutely aware of the information that they're sharing, and be nervous that they're sharing it (even if they have limited reason to be nervous). In short, it will spook average customers. Maybe for a site that sold to a technology-focused crowd it would have more success though. Just my hunch.
justinph 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice work. I've done lots of work with credit card fields because I work for a large non-profit that depends on credit card donations. I might just use this in the next iteration of our form. Good idea doing the detection in realtime.

My only gripe would be that it doesn't innately explain which cards are acceptable... E.g., you might not accept Diners Club and Discover, but do want to accept Visa, MC, and Amex. Having little icons there make that more explainable. We did it like that on our contribution form: https://contribute.publicradio.org/contribute.php

bsimpson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a bit of a pet peeve for apps that try to customize form fields, because they almost always get the corner cases wrong. Here, for instance, select all doesn't work as expected. (In fact, selection doesn't work at all. Skeuocard, like many overly-clever widgets, will overwrite your selection to put the cursor where it thinks it should go.
sytelus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Entering CC info is last thing user does and that's the step you don't want to mess up - ever! This is one scenario where you want to stick to boring, well-accepted, well-known, highly familier UX and avoid performing fancy tricks because there could always be some case where it doesn't work as expected. For example, I tried to enter random numbers in this UX and I did not got any response that numbers were bad. Even worse, it did not enabled MM/DD. For some unknown CC this would mean loss of customer that you worked so hard to compete and ultimately acquire.
mratzloff 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like this EXCEPT for the awful image loading. It should preload the images up front as a single sprite and swap them in and out as needed.
bsimpson 1 day ago 2 replies      
I believe there's an algorithm to determine if a card number is valid (before determining if the other credentials are correct). Implementing that would probably be the most useful thing you could do in Skeuocard, as it helps people find typos in an otherwise inscrutable list of numbers.
ryanobjc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have always wanted card entry systems to know what kind of card it is - given that it's trivial to tell from the first few digits I never understood why not.

This is a great step up from that. The one thing I felt was not perfect was the multiple entry boxes for the different card types. Erasing/backspacing is not so easy. I would suggest a single entry field, and do something about adding padding spaces automagically. This also plays in to the auto-complete/form fillers these days. A credit card number is a single number, not 4 groups of numbers you copy and paste independently.

AUmrysh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My only suggestion is to use hinting once the card number input is complete to suggest the user then fill out the name and expiration date. Also I think when pressing tab to go to the next input, you should have the order be:

card number -> expiration date -> name

instead of the current order of number, name, date.

It's a really slick implementation, I love the flipping animation, I used an extremely similar animation setup (face front/face back, and a flip property) on a site I built.

dredmorbius 1 day ago 1 reply      
Enough with the grey text.


205guy 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's a lot of negative reactions on here, and some of them might be valid (unfamiliarity, any friction reduces sales).

But I liked the concept. The "flip over for CVC" worked for me on Firefox, and that was an elegant solution. I think a lot of the criticism could be avoided by just making it static: don't load the image and redraw the card based on the input numbers. It then boils down to, essentially, the image of a generic card with some generic fields on it. Add some red text for fields that require input, and I think it's an elegant way to guide people when entering CC info. I'd be interested if anyone did A/B testing with this variant (and others) against regular forms.

aneth4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Beautiful project. I agree with others who don't think this will drive conversion - who knows...

I would be concerned about reducing conversions though. Unfamiliarity can be scary.

One annoyance for me - I can't hit Command-A to select everything and start over. I'm also annoyed generally by auto-advancing text fields, though this implementation seems to work around some of the issues.

srinivasanv 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Most non-American cards use something like "Expiry" instead of "Good Thru", but apart from that minor string difference, it's pretty awesome.

Maybe you could get rid of the text entirely, MM/YY should be enough of a cue.

andrewjshults 1 day ago 0 replies      
FYI: 4147 2011 1111 1111 triggers the special Chase Sapphire layout (number is on the back of the card, front just has your name + the Chase Sapphire (Preferred)).

I actually find the lack of any label on the CVV field a bit confusing, but maybe that's just me.

eli 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't use a form where the fields displayed change as you enter things.

That said, I totally agree with the premise. I'm totally baffled why so many forms require you to unnecessarily select a card type or insist that you enter a number with spaces or only without spaces.

fusiongyro 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's very good, but the OCR font is going a little too far for me.
jlgreco 1 day ago 0 replies      
My only complain is that it auto-progresses across sections of inputs (between month and year in the expiration for example) it does not auto-progress when you reach the end of one form. I found that jarring. If you are going to auto-progress in one place, you probably should across the board.
6cxs2hd6 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome idea. Beautiful design.

Small bug: Amex cards have 4 digit CCV. Although you do show "XXXX" (4 digits) before I start typing, when I get to that field I can only type "123" (3 digits).

pascalo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love it. Couple of suggestions:

You should use data urls or sprites for the CSS, then you don't have the the loading image coming in with delay.

Changing stuff once you have filled out the number is hard.You have to navigate your way back through the 4 blocks, and the auto-tab and the way it reacts to arrow keys means that the cursor doesn't end up where I anticipate it.

nfoz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really cute. But I hope noone ever actually uses it :) Too much guesswork and dynamism, violating important design principles IMO. But a nice demo.
jakub_g 1 day ago 0 replies      
One issue I see is that very frequently on many pages there's not only distinction between say Mastercard or Visa, but also between different types of them. If you have Mastercard FooCompany Partner Card, then you pay less commission etc. Not sure if those partner types can be confronted with a regex (anyone from CC company there? :)

Usually those granular types are on a select list, if one chooses badly, she gots "transaction refused" without any more info (clearly not nice).

kinkora 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have all 3 cards (AmEx, Visa, Mastercard) and I can see the full form and along with the validations, given an AmEx card. Is there any particular reason why the same can't be done with the Visa and Mastercard?

Regardless, fantastic piece of code! Will definitely think of incorporating this.

Qantourisc 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Failure on copy-paste. Fix it ! :)And try to keep it in 1 box. Perfectly possible without hurting functionality: Just use css word-spacing. (And auto-add spaces where needed.)
untangle 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that this is very clever. Part of the value is the entertainment that it provides in a nominally soulcrushingly-dull task.

The major flaw (fail) for me is that LastPass doesn't know what to do with it.

Still, I passed to our dev team for consideration.

sergiotapia 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm 23 years young and I cannot read your text. Why is your background white and your text light-gray?
wmeredith 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because it's really hard to use due to a lack of affordance letting the user know how they are supposed to interact with it.
nej 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't seem to be working using the keyboard numpad.
andrewhillman 1 day ago 0 replies      
After the last number is entered, you should auto focus the NAME field, then EXP DATE or the purchaser won't know what to do. People may think... hey, it guess my card type, how come it's not automatically showing my name?
andrewmunsell 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks good, but is completely broken when using a password manager such as Dashlane. The icons indicating auto-populating fields move all over the place, etc.
gohrt 1 day ago 0 replies      
"simply enter your card number"

It's horribly wrong to even suggest that. The instructions should say "type 4111.... I don't want your credit card number", and should pop up an error if a valid checksummed card number is entered. Don't miss an opportunity to help people lean safe habits.

jpswade 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It was a bit flaky on Android.
ape4 1 day ago 2 replies      
Perhaps existing forms make you select the type of card as an extra check.
jaredsohn 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing lacking in this design is that without extra supporting content, it doesn't tell the user upfront what kinds of credit cards are supported. So if a user prefers to use American Express, they have to find the card and start entering a few digits before being told they have to try a different card (and then they may have some apprehension about if that other type of card is supported or not.)
pdenya 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like it except for the card flip with the hidden field on the back. Maybe show back and front at the same time with 2 cards.
jaredstenquist 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with many that this is very well done. I would like to see some usability tests to see if there would be as much confusion as I expect.

Without great experiments like these, there would be no progression. Kudos to Ken.

asselinpaul 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I had this idea a while back, didn't execute well: https://github.com/asselinpaul/cc_validate
njloof 1 day ago 0 replies      
Too long to load. Failed loading first time on iPhone. Keep It Simple.
tonydiv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love the idea, but since nobody does this, the average user would be skeptical. If it were used on the iPad, people might be more comfortable, since the iPad is a new medium and (most) people accept new concepts like Square as acceptable and secure.
BasDirks 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Nitpick: the backgrounds are a whopping 992 624, ~180KB. This makes loading and rendering not as smooth as it could be.
flexd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks great, but is it great for us that are good with technology or will it work for your parents too?

And what happens if javascript is disabled?

pat2man 1 day ago 0 replies      
Square on iOS has had a similar input since it first came out. Its a great way to enter credit card numbers on a mobile phone where you don't have a tab key etc.

Making the whole thing look like a credit card doesn't seem necessary at all.

artag 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this. couple of things you may want to test - either show all the fields (cc number, exp, name etc) by default, or dont show the name, expiration fields until the credit card number has been filled... its slightly surprising that the other fields show up after entering 5 or 6 digits... also, it is not very clear that I can click and enter the name, expiration date (as it was for cc number)... you may want to move the user directly to the next field after they have entered the previous field.
starmole 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Small bug report: This works very poorly (not useable) in Chrome Version 21.0.1180.90, which is the last one available on macosx 10.5. You probably want to fall back to form fields on untested browsers.
umsm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel like if we were to implement this on our ecommerce site, we would loose millions. That said, it does have potential for displaying saved credit card information in a nice layout.

As for the input, the standard forms that we grew used to are probably here to stay for a little longer.

keerthiko 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. I do think there's a lack of breaking the norm in web practices (for several good reasons, but not enough), resulting in us not taking advantage of what the most amazing newest iterations of the internet can offer. This is a good change in the right direction. I'm sure there'll be kinks, but fixable kinks.

NB: I comment on amazing HN submissions (Show HNs usually) primarily so that I can find these tools again by browsing my comments from my profile when I feel the need to use them. This is primarily a comment to that end. Thank you so much for this Ken!

Nux 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice. Works without javascript, too!
cheesylard 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really good.

However, there is a few things that makes me not want to use it.

Firstly, no security code.

Secondly, it's hard to tell which fields aren't being filled out. Especially the YOUR NAME in particular. Maybe you should make these fields red, or when you complete a field it automatically goes to the next field. For example, when you finish typing in your credit card number the cursor automatically goes to the expiration date, and when you finish typing the expiration date it automatically goes to the name. Just a suggestion.

Gonzih 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Really nice idea and implementation. Lovely thing. But I will never use it on real product. Makes easier to match on request (since you know what library will be required from server) and patch it on the fly. So credit card data can be stolen.
JeremyMorgan 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a bit gimmicky but I think the subconscious (or even conscious) association people make with the card they're holding in their hand makes it less prone to mistakes and a bit easier to use. I like it.
jlengrand 21 hours ago 0 replies      
What suprise me most is why the heck has it not been the DEFAULT way to do this for years!?Disruptive, so it might frighten some users. But so awesome. .. .
debian69 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found it awkward and annoying to use , so not a winner. Its a good idea but unfortunately it just doesn't come off , keep on trying though.
sarme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks nice and I'm glad to see someone rethinking this interface.

Not something I'd use right now. It's too clunky compared to just having some textboxs on the page. I'm not a fan of skeuomorphism in general though, so I'm probably a hard sell.

Doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying. Thanks for putting this out there. I love the article, btw.

kposehn 1 day ago 1 reply      

I can think of all sorts of ways for it to drop conversions if it fails, but it is so perfectly done that I kind of don't care.

I'm going to keep an eye on this because it has the potential to really increase the comfort people have when entering a credit card. And because it is beautiful.

renownedmedia 1 day ago 0 replies      
It likes my month of 99
yuletide666 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks great, but having to flip the card over to enter the CVV code is a huge usability hit for me.
tomasien 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stripes form for iOS is the GOAT
nonchalance 1 day ago 0 replies      
American Express used to do this when you mistyped passwords a few times and were locked out of your online account (they may still do it for membership rewards). It put text boxes in the areas for the CVV and the card number (with an Amex card in the background)
atsaloli 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's beautiful. Good job!
smiddereens 1 day ago 0 replies      
Naysayers aside I think it'd be neat if it went even further and switched to an IIN-specific layout.
analog31 1 day ago 0 replies      
I never thought of this before, but the first 4 digits of my credit card number revealing the issuing bank seems insecure to me. That's not a fault of the op's program, of course.
antidaily 1 day ago 0 replies      
The order feels off.
cyrilga 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this idea and I will test it for sure! I will let you know when I do. For consistency I will also add a letter background to get the billing address.Nice work mate!
andygates 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That's so clever it ticks my "creepy" box. Well done... sorta.
Ackley 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think it's a good idea... but at least it should look exactly like my credit card.
brento 1 day ago 0 replies      
The security code on the backside could use some improving on how it looks. Other than that, this is a really cool idea!
virgil_disgr4ce 1 day ago 0 replies      
SO MUCH WHINING! Holy shit people, if you have a problem, fork the damn thing and do something about it! shakes head
yackob03 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could two-way bind this with a traditional payment form and end up with something that's useful in the traditional case (feedback about whether the data you're typing is going in the right place), and may delight users who understand what they're seeing and choose to interact with it.
gboone42 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure Bonobos uses something like this. Really slick.
ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very nice! To make it better:

- ALL of the inputs should look like inputs and only after a user has put in their information should the input ui disappear and the text be shown as it is on a real credit card. Otherwise the ability to enter your name and expiration is ambiguous.

- I don't like how AFTER you enter your full credit card number, the input fields become segregated, trying to change the credit card number becomes difficult as you now have to click on each of the 4 new text fields to enter a new credit card number. (If a card fails to go through a user might try to use a new one). Yes you can just hold down BackSpace and it will travel from field to field deleting the number but that's not obvious for a user to figure out. Don't segregate the numbers into separate fields just leave them in one.

dhruvkaran 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this. It's beautiful.
kylelibra 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic.
zawaideh 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work Ken!
NittLion78 1 day ago 0 replies      
Diner's Club still exists??
Kathy Sierra: Your app makes me fat seriouspony.com
661 points by _pius  4 days ago   202 comments top 47
tobtoh 4 days ago 10 replies      
For those people wondering why so many comments here are saying 'Glad to see Kathy blogging again', it's because she stopped blogging in 2007 after getting severely harassed online. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Sierra#Harassment

As someone who followed her previous blog 'Creating Passionate Users', I'm really glad she's back writing publicly - not so much for this particular post (which wasn't anything novel), but more that it means her scars have healed enough. Hope to see more posts from her soon!

teej 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is bothering me, but first image is inaccurate. They were asked to memorize a two-digit number (like 17) or a seven-digit number (like 8675309). The image shows 2 two-digit numbers and 7 two-digit numbers. This is important as our working memory capacity has been shown to be about seven digits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magical_Number_Seven,_Plus_...

It's a minor detail, but an important one.

EDIT: It looks like the image has been updated. Thanks Kathy!

kevinconroy 4 days ago 3 replies      
So happy to see Kathy blogging again! She's always been my favorite tech-UX blogger.

For anyone interested in her prior blog, Creating Passionate Users, I coped with her absence from the blogosphere by curating an e-book with all of my favorite posts.

You can grab a copy here:http://www.kevinmconroy.com/pdf/creating_passionate_users.pd...

foobarbazqux 4 days ago 11 replies      
> Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources.

Like many things in psychology, this is basically unfalsifiable. Our brains have pools of resources? How do you even differentiate between willpower and cognitive processing at a neurological level? It's one model, but there are other equally valid but also unfalsifiable explanations. What about anxiety goes up after working on a hard problem (memorizing a 7-digit number, apparently) - maybe you can test this by measuring cortisol levels - and so you choose the (stereotypically) more satisfying and rewarding dessert (cake) as a form of emotional eating and also, you know, rewarding yourself for a job well done?

I mean, it's basically just saying, "Use your brain, and your brain will get tired. Both solving problems and doing something you don't want to do count as using your brain." Sure, but I hardly need an experiment to tell me that.

Also, what about people who perform better under stress? Since it requires willpower to work hard and meet a deadline, and since the quality of your cognitive processing also goes up (for an initial period), doesn't that defeat the "competing for the same pool of resources" claim?

Psychology is great and a lot of the unfalsifiable stuff is valuable but it's irritating when it's dressed up as science.

xenophanes 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is so stupid. The experiment can be explained in many different ways and she just picks a trendy one. Another explanation is people who did harder work were more tired and hungry, or felt more like rewarding themselves. I don't particularly favor this explanation; I have no idea what is the right explanation; and that's the point, the experiment doesn't tell us.

She also ignores that for some people it takes more willpower to eat the cake. It can go either way depending on a person's ideas. She just assumes everyone has currently trendy ideas wherein fruit bowls are unpleasant but virtuous and people use willpower to eat them. But many other lifestyles are possible. For example, one might think cake is more delicious but they are scared of getting fat so it requires willpower to enjoy eating it instead of giving in to the fear, whereas the fruit bowl is easy to eat because there's no pressure against it, so it's the easy default.

lkrubner 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yesterday on HN there was a link to this story:


Which had this quote:

"This isn't something that happens to some people online, it's something that happens to everyone who has ever put any of themselves out there for public consumption."

One thing that has confused me from the beginning, when Sierra first claimed that she had received death threats, was exactly why this story took on the scale that it took on. I recall at the time, of the 100 tech bloggers that I read on a regular basis, this story overshadowed everything else. I recall that previously I had been unsympathetic to Sierra because of the perception that she tended to rely on hyperbole and drama to sell her books. For that reason I was initially skeptical of her claims. Later it turned out that the 4 bloggers who harassed had clearly stepped over some line, and said some things that were at the least, very rude. As I recall, all of them later apologized (all of them were bloggers with some substantial reputations in the world of tech blogs). But given the amount of abuse that happens online on a regular basis, it seemed a little surreal to me that the story reached such a scale.

ryandvm 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get it. How did the first experiment imply anything about willpower?

Seems to me that a viable explanation for the first experiment is that heavy cognitive processing trips some circuitry in the brain that says "We got a lot of work to do. Get me some glucose."

_pius 4 days ago 0 replies      
Truly great to have Kathy back. She gave an awesome talk at BoS 2012 on the "Minimum Badass User" that subsumes this post. Well worth an hour of your life to watch:


pygy_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
"To my readers from long ago: I've missed you. More than you know."

-- http://seriouspony.com/about/


She's back. I'm giddy as a schoolgirl.

hoi 4 days ago 3 replies      
My take on this, is that you can create an app/site that is engaging and depletes self/control or willpower and then monetize that at the end by selling cake or equivalent.

Can test if the conversion funnel for cake (or low self-contro) goods) sell more after a more 'intense' work out on the site/app.

6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that troubles me about technological progress is whether we really are making anything better. Sure, we solve one problem... but it creates problems of its own, and exposes previously hidden problems.

I think this article provides something of an answer: work in itself is not a bad thing. It takes effort and concentration - it's work - but it can be enjoyable, satisfying, meaningful.

But putting in effort that is wasted, by being diverted into tedious, pointless, unnecessarily complex tasks, is a bad thing. It's not enjoyable, not satisfying, not meaningful.

Therefore, any technological progress that reduces that tedium is a good thing (even if it has problems of its own, or exposes other problems, provided net tedium is less).

[I don't think this is the whole answer, but I think it's part of an answer (probably, things like saving lives, health, and somehow enabling people to relate better are more important goals).]

okamiueru 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anecdotal, conjectural, and even the dubious psychological experiments she references are completely misrepresented.

The subjects were told told to memorize a number, and on their way to a different room where they expected to be tested, someone stopped them mid-way and asked them to choose between two snacks -- a fruit salad and a cake. The people who had been told to memorize many digits didn't choose the healthy snack as frequent as the people who had been told to memorize few digits (and, presumably, could focus on which choice they really preferred).

It tries to convey "common sense" concepts, using conjecture and complicated constructs. It hurts my brain when I try to understand what is meant by "to use up cognitive resources". The more convoluted an explanation is, the less I feel it has been understood by the person explaining it. I have a strong distaste for psychology terms that add depth, but not clarity, as if trying to validate and give authority to the field or explanation.

A bit ironic for an article trying to explain the concept of "minimizing drainage of the cognitive tank" (to paraphrase).

So, what is this article really about? This -- http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Me-Think-Usability/dp/032134....

fauigerzigerk 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources."

I don't see how that follows from the the memorization experiment. Maybe the people who could remember 7 items felt they worked hard so they deserved to be rewarded with a chocolate cake.

dkarl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think the logic is sound. The psychological finding she's applying is that willpower is a finite cognitive resource. It isn't sound to apply that finding to all decisions you make while using an app -- only the decisions that involve willpower. She generalizes to all cognitive resources being finite...

If your UX asks the user to make choices, for example, even if those choices are both clear and useful, the act of deciding is a cognitive drain. And not just while they're deciding... even after we choose, an unconscious cognitive background thread is slowly consuming/leaking resources, "Was that the right choice?"

... which sounds plausible and may well be true, but is much more general than the result she's building on.

I'm inclined to think she's right, though. It would be interesting to know if the psychological research has already been done. The willpower results are only well-publicized because people have a compelling personal interest in it.

eagsalazar2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not to be too cynical but this really seems like a dangerous insight for people optimizing conversions. Hmm, everyone wants my product but it is wasteful/bad for me/a luxury/etc? Just deplete their ability to resist first. Ooops, someone trying to cancel their subscription? How about a nice maze of forms to get through first?

Anyway, the super cool insight of this article is the relationship between cognitive load and will power. We all knew "try harder" didn't work. Simplify everything else is a way more powerful way to manage your motivation and it makes it super clear that you can really only do a certain number of things. When your motivation turns to procrastination, it isn't some "problem" you are having, it is you simply hitting your cognitive limit for the day/week/month. Awesome.

mijustin 4 days ago 0 replies      
So nice to have Kathy Sierra back blogging. I've missed her!
cafard 4 days ago 2 replies      
"The participants who memorized the seven-digit number were nearly 50% more likely than the other group to choose cake over fruit.

Researchers were astonished by a pile of experiments that led to one bizarre conclusion:

Willpower and cognitive processing draw from the same pool of resources."

Bizarre, all right. Unless the subjects were wrestlers or models, why should the choice of fruit v. cake involve self control at all? If you wished to argue that they thought they deserved more of a reward, I might be willing to consider that.

And are we talking about seven numbers vs. two numbers (as in the illustration) or seven-digit number v. two-digit numbers, as in the text?

ibejoeb 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's pretty neat. I understand why so many folks reject the claims here, but the observation itself is very interesting.

It certainly seems that highly successful, highly visible people (creatives, executives, politicians) tend, disproportionally, to exhibit behavioral problems (addiction, suicide, etc.) I don't know if it really is disproportionate, but if so, is it related to their exertion, or depletion, as the author puts is? Is it the visibility and the accompanying scrutiny? Maybe it's the other way around, and the underlying psychological makeup propels short-term performance.

Very interesting stuff, especially in context of burn-out.

astral303 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sadly, when it comes to app reviews from tech blogs and publications, the cognitive load placed on the user is rarely ever noticed or highlighted, unless it's so high that it's unbearable. Instead, apps often get bonus points for eye candy and gratuitous, but cool-looking animation. Nobody ever writes "wow, I got a bunch of things done and I didn't even notice the interface details."

This is particularly bad in the geek community, as we are used to high cognitive load (configuring X anyone?), and so we brush off any complaints about it as "stupid" or "computer illiterate."

One early app example is all the gas mileage tracking apps. Damn near every one of them in the early iPhone days had the spinning odometer control and the spinning gas number controls (where you spin each number up and down, like a key combo). I recall being infuriated by those designs, because all I really wanted to do was to quickly enter the odometer or the gallons and dealing with spinning those damn digits was NOT at all quick. Compared to the effortless/mindless act of typing into a digit keypad, spinner controls required much more cognitive load (did I spin too fast, will it go too far? Let me catch it at the right digit. Which digit do I need to push up or down to make it match what's on my real odo?).

ankeshk 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I agree with the thesis, a contradictory point comes to mind.

We just don't know a lot about how cognitive resources are utilized. Long distance runners know this. Athletes know this. The whole concept of "second wind". Where they find the strength to better their game using way less resources -- after they have been tired. Some type of cognitive resource depletion gives people even more energy and motivation.

While I agree that things should be made simpler and we shouldn't over-gamify things, I don't think we should make decisions with the cake / fruits question in mind. That just provides a framework to dumb things down. We will never enable the users to hit their second wind if they never get tasks that make them crave cakes.

I guess my point is: simplicity is good. Simplicity to the point of dumbness is not.

dschiptsov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Statistically caught correlation does not imply the assusmed causation you wish to "prove".

The guys who memorize numbers might associate a cake with a reward and choose it just in order to reward oneself for a meaningless and boring waste of time they choose by mistake, while in 2 digits group it wasn't counted even as a joke.

As for willpower/self-control - hormonal levels are almost always the major factors. Just do the silly experiments which are "considered unethical" involving "images from those magazines" and you will notice lots of correlations.)

The famous experiment with tape-recorded heart-beats is the beautiful one.

Again, trying to find a single cause in psychology is kind of naive. The theoretical framework advocated by Marvin Minsky of constant competition of multitude of semi-independent agencies (specialized regions of the brain) helps to develop the notion of multiple causation.

My guess is that if one would nail a poster of a fit bikini girl to a wall, the number of cakes chosen will be reduced dramatically, everything else being equal.

But for a pony psychology the article is perfectly OK.)

hsuresh 4 days ago 0 replies      
For those interested in this topic, Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking, fast and slow" is an excellent resource. He refers to 2 systems in our brain, and how they interplay when making everyday decisions. Fascinating read.
tcskeptic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Based on this I would think that the conversion rate on the TURBOTAX offer to subtract the cost of the service from your return for a HUGE 100% fee (meaning the cost of that method of payment is as much as the tax service itself) but allows you to skip the entering of your CC information, given that it comes at the end of doing your taxes, is probably pretty high. They should try a cake add on.
winfred 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now take it one step further, not just your UI, that's peanuts next to that big elephant in the room. Each ad you make me watch, requires a little bit of my willpower. I have to ignore its message, resist clicking on that nice looking lady. Your ad based revenue model is making me fat way faster than your UI will ever be able to do.
varelse 3 days ago 0 replies      
A bit off-topic, but it aligns with why I find daily standups to be a soul-crushing waste of time. Scrum Master Jar Jar (http://softwaremaestro.wordpress.com/2007/06/30/scrum-master...) went into more detail as to why Scrum is usually run this way, but just sayin'...
PaperclipTaken 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anecdotal evidence is not scientific, but this makes a lot of sense in the context of my life. At work, when I hit a tough problem, I'm much more likely to tab over to HN or reddit, yet I've found that somehow I manage to hit the deadlines at the same pace regardless of how much I force myself to focus.

I do think though while you might be drawing from one 'pool', it's a pool that you can work to expand. To me this seems to be the same vein of psychology that makes ADHD medicine ineffective for kids on the long term. There's one pool of resources you are drawing from but like muscular strength you aren't doomed to your current limits.

ryanobjc 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love pretty much any time Kathy Sierra writes. So ditto here, I'm glad to read it.

As for the willpower situation, on a tangent, I really believe that the notion of willpower as a useful ANYTHING is outdated and badly needs to be replaced.

The reality is we are smart people who understand our brains, and can reprogram it. Using emotions and basic urges to create motivations and positive feelings about the things we NEED to do but typically dislike doing is the key here.

Luckily there is a group that is teaching these skills outside the normal context of "self help" that turns off oh-so many people.

marcamillion 4 days ago 0 replies      
Like the other commenters, so glad that Kathy is blogging again.

That being said, I am glad that she has finally verbalized what I have always felt.

As the only person running 5KMVP, I have always found that it is hard for me to do things like marketing, and customer relations/support on the same day I do development.

That would also negatively impact my performance of both.

But now that I have people working with, I can concentrate on interacting with my clients without feeling guilty (i.e. knowing that the rest of my day is dead, from a development perspective).

Also, this explains the logic behind Steve Jobs always choosing a black turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers. If he has 1 less thing to make a decision about, his life is much easier. I have recently adopted that, and am trying to simplify my wardrobe as much as I can.

This also impacts how I schedule 'outside' events. If I have to go to an event outside of the house, that usually means no coding for me on that day. I can't quite explain why - other than the mere fact that I know I have to go out, is enough of a distraction to make me not be able to 'get into the zone'. Glad to know that I am not deficient in anyway, and it is just being depleted from the same 'cognitive tank'.

piyush_soni 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a lame article. I know so many people are praising the author here and happy for her 'return', but if this has always been the quality of her writing, I'm not impressed. Not the mobile app, but any kind of thinking or stress will reduce your will power, and thus according to you is making you fat. So you might as well stop thinking. Or, on other side, do diet control and exercise. 2nd option is wise, according to me.
moomin 3 days ago 0 replies      
She's back, the article's great, all is right with the world. Let's read the first comment... oh.

Seriously, I thought the article was great. It would be great even if it wasn't written by Kathy Sierra.

dreamfactory 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this considered the moral responsibility of the app creator and not the consumer? Seems to be a highly immature viewpoint where the consumer doesn't take responsibility for how they live their life.
jjindev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dan Ariely's Coursera on Irrational Behavior spent much time on current research in these areas. Very interesting (and a good/fun course, should it come around again).
6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      

  If you spend the day exercising self-control (angry customers, clueless co-workers),  by the time you get home your cog resource tank is flashing E. 
The Linus solution becomes increasingly appealing...

yutyut 3 days ago 2 replies      
Perhaps the conclusions drawn by the experiment (if they are correctly paraphrased in the post; I didn't read the full paper yet: http://www.d.umn.edu/~dglisczi/4501web/4501Readings/Shiv(199...) are valid but I think it would be pertinent to consider that perhaps rather than being 'cognitively taxed', those 7-number participants simply felt that they worked harder and therefore deserved a better prize. I often find myself making similar justifications if I've pushed myself hard in a workout or followed my diet faithfully.

It would be interesting to see an experiment that 'cognitively taxes' participants by having them perform a task that is not considered positive. Memorizing a number elicits a feeling of accomplishment that may contribute to the justification I described above.

areeved 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is fascinating. For those that are interested, Daniel Kahneman discusses this in 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' too:


What I would like to know is how can we grow this limited resource?

lancefisher 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad she's back. I always enjoyed reading her articles back when blogs were new.
ludoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sitting all day on a chair, then going home to sit in front of a TV makes you fat, not exercising willpower and using your brain...
vannevar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Grad students and dogs, sure. But how do we know these findings apply to humans?
muratmutlu 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's so many articles full of analogies and fluff in UX, sometimes I read a post and wonder if I'm in the same industry.
mmilo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone notice hitting the escape key sends you to a squarespace login screen? Seems like an odd thing to have turned on by default.
KedarMhaswade 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is definitely very interesting. In the long run however, I think self-control/willpower works in unison with cognitive abilities, as another famous experiment -- the Marshmallow experiment, tends to conclude.
harishankar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always knew that thinking a lot made me hungry. And tired. Mental work is quite as tiring to the mind as physical work is to the body and muscles. The article is well written, but I found nothing particularly new in that viewpoint.
krmboya 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd guess terminal users consume more cognitive resources than GUI users. Are they on average fatter than the latter?

Just a speculation.

NatCrodo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan too! I was extremely happy when I saw that she is writing again. Looking forward for more.
timmyelliot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having a user expend more cognitive energy on my app (as long as I'm not frustrating them), sounds like a good thing. It sounds like another way for them to bond. Seems like I'd rather it be my app them my competition's.
matthiasb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now I know why my dog stopped working on his Kong... he's spoiled!
hheide 3 days ago 0 replies      
Actually the the app doesn't make you fat. The resource that is burned is sugar. To replenish it you need one piece of candy. After which you'll be as able to make decisions as you ever was.(But Burger king won't tell you, since they don't make money from candy.)
We have an employee whose last name is Null. He kills our employee lookup (2012) stackoverflow.com
611 points by ambuj  1 day ago   226 comments top 43
patio11 1 day ago 4 replies      
A Japanese company once made the decision that they needed "virtual" employees in a particular system, for example to support e.g. adding a job to the org chart before that position had been filled (and another dozen use cases), so they had the clever idea "Hey, if we need to do this, we'll just input their 'name in Japanese' as one of a dozen status flags, like XX_JOB_REQUEST or XX_INCOMING_TRANSFER."

One developer at this company, who was annoyed with having to tweak a particular system every time they added a new possible status flag, wrote code which was, essentially:

  if (InternalStringUtils.isAllLatinCharacters(employee.getJapaneseName()) {    /* no need to pay this 'employee' so remove them from batch     before we retrieve bank details for salary transfers */    ...  }
Do I have to explain why I'm aware of this curious implementation choice?

glimcat 1 day ago 4 replies      
As long as we're playing the "Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names" game again, here's the relevant patio11 article:


If you try to validate names, or if you don't safely escape names along with your other user-input strings, you're gonna have a bad time.

skrebbel 1 day ago 1 reply      
This problem isn't about funny employee names. It's about thick, untransparent software stacks that make simple problems difficult.

SOAP is maybe the most popular example and this is really why it's lost popularity against REST. However, similar "It works with values W, X, Y, but not Z" situations are found in any stack or standard that has too much magic going on. Rails certainly comes to mind.

This is the biggest argument in favour of using many small, isolated components rather than one big all-encompasing framework, in my opinion. If every piece of third party functionality you import into your project can be easily understood, problems like these shrink in size, because there's a limit to how deep the magic can go.

I'm very fond of the Node.js ecosystem for particularly this aspect (even though I dislike the language). There's a big bucketload of tiny components there, rather than 90% of the community relying on a single humongous framework, like is common for e.g. Ruby or C#.

xxpor 1 day ago 3 replies      
"WSDL (SOAP) from AS3 to ColdFusion web service"

I know it probably wasn't this guy's choice, but whooo boy.

chiph 1 day ago 2 replies      
We had a customer with the last name "Echo" who couldn't make a credit card payment. Turns out that the card processor was looking for strings which were common Unix commands and not allowing them.
jjindev 1 day ago 6 replies      
Reminds me of a story a police reservist told me. Guy got a license plate caled "none," and instantly had thousands of outstanding warrants. (The cop thought "none" was trying a fast one, and so deserved it.)
kabdib 1 day ago 2 replies      
I had an aunt named Nan, I wonder what her disbursement checks were like :-)
benjamincburns 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just took a few minutes to look into it. Found a gnarly bug in the AS 3.5 XMLEncoder class[1]. Type coercion strikes again!

1: http://stackoverflow.com/a/18000768/203705

solox3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Numerous bugs on github were attributed to the guy with user name 0. He evaluates to false in many PHP applications, too.
NelsonMinar 1 day ago 0 replies      
SOAP: the gift that keeps on giving. I built two SOAP APIs for Google (Search and AdWords) and spent way, way too much time on this kind of data interop nonsense. I wrote up a quick summary of why SOAP sucks, it's still my most popular blog post. http://www.somebits.com/weblog/tech/bad/whySoapSucks.html

XML is a terrible encoding for data. Fortunately JSON does pretty well and has mostly replaced it for new stuff.

manojlds 1 day ago 0 replies      
A website I was building, which depended on a ColdFusion service, started breaking for Norway users. Why? Norway's country code was "NO" - http://stacktoheap.com/blog/2012/12/19/why-a-feature-of-our-...
D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've got a friend whose last name is Null, and he used to have all kinds of issues with the phone company...

Obviously if your lookup app is having a problem with using "Null" as a string then you have data type issues.

It's not rocket science.

wmil 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was a DailyWTF article years ago about a "Robert Null" who would be shown whenever you searched for employees with a blank input.


ja27 1 day ago 0 replies      
Vaguely related but we had a customer using some feature that split text blobs using a record separator. One time someone wanted to not split at all and set separator="none" without bothering to look up how to actually turn off record splitting. It worked well enough in quick tests, but by the time we'd gotten the support call, they'd corrupted a massive database where every product with a description containing the string "none" was now corrupted.
IvyMike 1 day ago 1 reply      
Offer him a substantial bonus to change his name.

You could Kickstarter the money with donations from database admins around the world.

dorfsmay 1 day ago 3 replies      
If my last name were Null, I'd totally call my son Dave!
rumcajz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having observed corporate culture for quite a while, the most likely solution seems to be to fire the employee.
hasOwnProperty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mr Null is my cousin. He breaks the backend, I break the frontend.
shmerl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why would null be confused with "null"? It shouldn't be a problem.
eshvk 1 day ago 0 replies      
My last name has a space in it. The three years that I have filed paper taxes, IRS has split up my last name into two words and put one of them as my middle name. This despite the fact that I clearly label the middle name box as "n/a". I was told by the IRS representative that I should change my name.
levosmetalo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember having "funny" situations with with AS3 SOAP marshaling and unmarshaling. For example, in same cases it would just fail silently, providing half populated objects without without any errors. In the end, the workaround was to just invoke SOAP methods directly using HTTP and just manually parse XML response. Good old days.
superflit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well Imagine a person has two 'first names' plus his surname of his mother and by last the surname of his father.Something as


The Visa papers does not support 'large' names..So he has to abbreviate..

Imagine this guy has the same last name and first name of FBI wanted list.

Now, after sep - 11 everytime he has to go to the 'vip' room at border and there is large confusion as visa papers do not 'support' longer names...

This is US...

Not complaining but can the Prism people flag work it out ;)

United857 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a similar note: our company's name ( [amobee] ) has non-ASCII characters. It has exposed bugs in more than one website...
kogir 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find it sad that the correct answer talking about the nil=true attribute is last.
WalterSear 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have now decided to change my name to Null Undefined.
zwischenzug 19 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a town in China called Nan...
jordhy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just change his name to Null and move on with your life.
neutronicus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oooo. Maybe we'll have a postmodern Ellis Island type situation.
visarga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just use an alternate UTF8 character for one of the letters of the name.
azurelogic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always wondered if this ever happened. Fantastic.
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is better than fiction.
Zedronar 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Just fire the guy.
pertinhower 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not even reading the article. Just upvoting for the title alone.
FrankenPC 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whatever you do, don't move him to the DEV group.
bougiefever 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are his initial M. T.?
soheil 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bet his first name is dev.
lee_cardona 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it just me, or is this possibly the best HN post title ever?!... freakin awesome.
dgbsco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jerry Droptable.
adrianlmm 1 day ago 1 reply      
COALESCE(LASTNAME, ''), how hard is that?
1qaz2wsx3edc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ah, we call him little bobby tables.


knodi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Little Bobby DROP_TABLE
galenward 1 day ago 1 reply      
We have an engineer whose name is "john; drop table users." Man does he wreak havoc.
Psd.rb layervault.tumblr.com
603 points by chamza  3 days ago   89 comments top 21
artagnon 3 days ago 2 replies      
This programmer has written about the PSD format in colorful detail: "Trying to get data out of a PSD file is like trying to find something in the attic of your eccentric old uncle who died in a freak freshwater shark attack on his 58th birthday."


(ref: first link in the article)

mistercow 3 days ago 3 replies      
>Adobe has never produced an easy way for developers to work with the format.

That's not entirely fair. Adobe has openly released a comprehensive description of the format which is, as far as I know, accurate. The problem is that the format itself is a heap of features piled on year after year with apparently no regard for doing things consistently.

tommoor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, fantastic work and a lot of respect for open sourcing this lib when it's clearly an important part of LayerVault.
blt 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else think it's weird that they decided to make this library in Ruby? It drastically cuts down on the audience. Why not C/C++ with wrappers for all the dynamic languages?

EDIT: nevermind, it makes sense now that I see their main product is a version control system for designers. Still, it would be nice to see this ported to native code some day.

mhd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this more feature complete (esp. regarding to newer PS versions) than e.g. libpsd?


tluyben2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thank you very much for doing this! I wish all people hacking the PSD format would join forces and help with one project. There are too many partial implementations which scratch an itch instead of trying to be a full implementation.
freerobby 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great work and thanks for building this. There's a lot of room for improvement in automating manipulative photoshop exports, and I look forward to seeing what people do with this, especially in terms of building command line tools.
gburt2 3 days ago 3 replies      
I just wrote a script with this that takes a directory of PSDs and outputs PNGs for each one. It took about 2 minutes. This is great.
nja 3 days ago 6 replies      
Does anyone know of a similar tool for Python?

Not trying to start a Ruby/Python fight or anything; Python just happens to be my preferred language.

adamwong246 3 days ago 0 replies      
Idea: Use this to dynamically "compile" photoshop files into png, jpgs, etc on the rails assets pipeline.
smickie 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great example of why open source is brilliant. Everybody wins. We get a PSD parser. LayerVault benefits from the world improving they're core product too.
envex 3 days ago 3 replies      
I feel like this could be used to automatically convert a simple .psd web layout to non-shitty HTML and CSS.
netforay 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have been trying to do this from last 3 months. But I intend to make modifications to layers (turn on or off, change colors) and export to PNG. When I saw Psd.rb I thought it is done. But it just exports the channel data saved by Photoshop. So our modifications wont reflect in it.
captainbenises 3 days ago 0 replies      
I reckon a good tool (that this psd.rd wouldn't actually help write, but), would be one that rendered an html/css page - and exported a layered PSD, so you could prototype an app, render it to .psd and send it to your designer friend to make it look rad.
carlosdp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you! There's quite a ton I can do to this. Will definitely be contributing soon.
cveigt 2 days ago 0 replies      
These are great news for developers and an easy way to communicate between designers with developers. Is the beginning of a solution for a big problem.
jheriko 1 day ago 0 replies      
nice. now if someone can port it to C so that everyone can benefit... :)
smtm 3 days ago 3 replies      
So, will there be writing .PSD files as well? This would be the ber thing. Imagine: upload a .PSD and get back a clean HTML layout + bootstrap_overrides.css
isaacjohnwesley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Truly awesome, cant wait to think of the possibilities with this.
aftermathvc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Radle 2 days ago 0 replies      
// PSD is not my favourite file format.

I see bro...

The Future of Programming worrydream.com
584 points by rpearl  3 days ago   337 comments top 42
InclinedPlane 3 days ago 17 replies      
An interesting talk, and certainly entertaining, but I think it falls very short. Ultimately it turns into typical "architecture astronaut" naval gazing. He focuses on the shortcomings of "traditional programming" while at the same time imagining only the positive aspects of untried methods. To be honest, such an approach is frankly childish, and unhelpful. His closing line is a good one but it's also trite, and the advice he seems to give leading up to it (i.e. "let's use all these revolutionary ideas from the '60s and '70s and come up with even more revolutionary ideas") is not practical.

To pick one example: he derides programming via "text dump" and lauds the idea of "direct manipulations of data". However, there are many very strong arguments for using plain-text (read "The Pragmatic Programmer" for some very excellent defenses of such). Moreover, it's not as though binary formats and "direct manipulations" haven't been tried. They've been tried a great many times. And except for specific use cases they've been found to be a horrible way to program with a plethora of failed attempts.

Similarly, he casually mentions a programming language founded on unique principles designed for concurrency, he doesn't name it but that language is Erlang. The interesting thing about Erlang is that it is a fully fledged language today. It exists, it has a ton of support (because it's used in industry), and it's easy to install and use. And it also does what it's advertised to do: excel at concurrency. However, there aren't many practical projects, even ones that are highly concurrency dependent, that use Erlang. And there are projects, such as couch db, which are based on Erlang but are moving away from it. Why is that? Is it because the programmers are afraid of changing their conceptions of "what it means to program"? Obviously not, they have already been using Erlang. Rather, it's because languages which are highly optimized for concurrency aren't always the best practical solution, even for problem domains that are highly concurrency bound, because there are a huge number of other practical constraints which can easily be just as or more important.

Again, here we have an example of someone pushing ideas that seem to have a lot of merit in the abstract but in the real world meet with so much complexity and roadblocks that they prove to be unworkable most of the time.

It's a classic "worse is better" scenario. His insult of the use of markup languages on the web is a perfect example of his wrongheadedness. It took me a while to realize that it was an insult because in reality the use of "text dump" markup languages is one of the key enabling features of the web. It's a big reason why it's been able to become so successful, so widespread, so flexible, and so powerful so quickly. But by the same token, it's filled with plenty of ugliness and inelegance and is quite easy to deride.

It's funny how he mentions unix with some hints of how awesome it is, or will be, but ignores the fact that it's also a "worse is better" sort of system. It's based off a very primitive core idea, everything is a file, and very heavily reliant on "text dump" based programming and configuration. Unix can be quite easily, and accurately, derided as a heaping pile of text dumps in a simple file system. But that model turns out to be so amazingly flexible and robust that it creates a huge amount of potential, which has been realized today in a unix heritage OS, linux, that runs on everything from watches to smartphones to servers to routers and so on.

Victor highlights several ideas which he thinks should be at the core of how we advance the state of the art in the practice of programming (e.g. goal based programming, direct manipulations of data, concurrency, etc.) but I would say that those issues are far from the most important in programming today. I'd list things such as development velocity and end-product reliability as being far more important. And the best ways to achieve those things are not even on his list.

Most damningly, he falls into his own trap of being blind to what "programming" can mean. He is stuck in a model where "programming" is the act of translating an idea to a machine representation. But we've known for decades that at best this is a minority amount of the work necessary to build software. For all of Victor's examples of the willingly blind programmers of the 1960s who saw things like symbolic coding, object oriented design and so forth as "not programming" and more like clerical work he makes fundamentally the same error. Today testing, integration, building, refactoring and so on are all hugely fundamental aspects of prototyping and critically important to end-product quality as well as development velocity. And increasingly tooling is placing such things closer and closer to "the act of programming", and yet Victor himself still seems to be quite blind to the idea of these things as "programming". Though I don't think that will be the view among programmers a few decades down the road.

ibdknox 3 days ago 6 replies      
It's a fun talk by Bret and I think he echoes a lot of the murmurings that have been going around the community lately. It's funny that he latched onto some of the same core tenants we've been kicking around, but from a very different angle. I started with gathering data on what makes programming hard, he looked at history to see what made programming different. It's a neat approach and this talk laid a good conceptual foundation for the next step: coming up with a solution.

In my case, my work on Light Table has certainly proven at least one thing: what we have now is very far from where we could be. Programming is broken and I've finally come to an understanding of how we can categorize and systematically address that brokeness. If these ideas interest you, I highly encourage you to come to my StrangeLoop talk. I'll be presenting that next step forward: what a system like this would look like and what it can really do for us.

These are exciting times and I've never been as stoked as I am for what's coming, probably much sooner than people think.

EDIT: Here's the link to the talk https://thestrangeloop.com/sessions/tbd--11

stiff 3 days ago 5 replies      
In 2040 someone will discover Haskell, shed tears on why C#++.cloud is so widespread instead in the industry, and use it to conclude the sorry state of the world. Seriously, don't compare what was published in papers 50 years ago with what business uses today, compare it with what is in papers now, and there are lots of interesting things going on all the time, when was the last time you even checked? Probabilistic programming? Applications of category theory to functional programming? Type theory? Software transactional memory?

Woody Allen did this great movie some time ago, "Midnight in Paris", where the main character, living in present times, dreams of moving back in time to the 1920s as the best time for literature ever. When the occasion to really go back appears though, he discovers the writers of the 1920s thought the best literature was done in 1890s, and so he has to go back again, then again, ... This talk is like this, sentiment blinding a sober assessment.

artagnon 3 days ago 5 replies      
The art of programming is evolving steadily; more powerful hardware becomes available, and compiler technology evolves.

Ofcourse there will be resistance to change, and new compilers don't mature overnight. At the end of the day, it boils down to what can be parsed unambiguously, written down easily by human beings, and executed quickly. If you get off on reading research papers on dependent types and writing Agda programs to store in your attic, that's your choice; the rest of us will be happily writing Linux in C99 and powering the world.

Programming has not fundamentally changed in any way. x86 is the clear winner as far as commodity hardware is concerned, and serious infrastructure is all written in C. There is a significant risk to adopting any new language; the syntax might look pretty, but you figure out that the compiler team consists of incompetent monkeys writing leaking garbage collectors. We are pushing the boundaries everyday:

- Linux has never been better: it continues improve steadily (oh, and at what pace!). New filesystems optimized for SSDs, real virtualization using KVM, an amazing scheduler, and a new system calls. All software is limited by how well the kernel can run it.

- We're in the golden age of concurrency. Various runtimes are trying various techniques: erlang uses a message-passing actor hammer, async is a bit of an afterthought in C#, Node.js tries to get V8 to do it leveraging callbacks, Haskell pushes forward with a theoretically-sound STM, and new languages like Go implement it deep at the scheduler-level.

- For a vast majority of applications, it's very clear that automatic memory management is a good trade-off. We're look down upon hideous nonsense like the reference-counter in cpython, and strive to write concurrent moving GCs. While JRuby has the advantage of piggy-banking on a mature runtime, the MRI community is taking GC very seriously. V8 apparently has a very sophisticated GC as well, otherwise Javascript wouldn't be performant.

- As far as typing is concerned, Ruby has definitely pushed the boundaries of dynamic programming. Javascript is another language with very loosely defined semantics, that many people are fond of. As far as typed languages go, there are only hideous languages like Java and C#. Go seems to have a nice flavor of type inference to it, but only time will tell if it'll be a successful model. Types make for faster code, because your compiler has to spend that much less time inspecting your object: V8 does a lot of type inference behind the scenes too.

- As far as extensibility is concerned, it's obvious that nothing can beat a syntax-less language (aka. Lisp). However, Lisps have historically suffered from a lack of typesystem and object system: CLOS is a disaster, and Typed Racket seems to be going nowhere. Clojure tries to bring some modern flavors into this paradigm (core.async et al), while piggy-banking on the JVM. Not sure where it's going though.

- As far as object systems go, nothing beats Java's factories. It's a great way to fit together many shoddily-written components safely, and Dalvik does exactly that. You don't need a package-manager, and applications have very little scope for misbehaving because of the suffocating typesystem. Sure, it might not be be pleasant to write Java code, but we really have no other way of fitting so many tiny pieces together. It's used in enterprise for much the same reasons: it's too expensive to discipline programmers to write good code, so just constrain them with a really tight object system/typesystem.

- As far as functional programming goes, it's fair to say that all languages have incorporated some amount of it: Ruby differentiates between gsub and gsub! for instance. Being purely functional is a cute theoretical exercise, as the scarab beetle on the Real World Haskell book so aptly indicates.

- As far as manual memory management goes (when you need kernels and web browsers), there's C and there's C++. Rust introduces some interesting pointer semantics, but it doesn't look like the project will last very long.

Well, that ends my rant: I've hopefully provided some food for thought.

Kronopath 3 days ago 0 replies      
I just watched most of this talk while a large C++ codebase was compiling, in the midst of trying to find one of many bugs caused by multiple interacting stateful systems, on a product with so much legacy code that it'll be lucky if it's sustainable for another ten years.

Like Bret's other talk, "Inventing on Principle", this talk has affected me deeply. I don't want this anymore. I want to invent the future.

humanrebar 3 days ago 4 replies      
I very much enjoyed Bret's talk, but the visual programming part of his talk was rather half-baked. I say this as someone who has done visual coding professionally in the past. People have been trying to crack the "drawing programs" nut for decades. It's not a forgotten idea. It's so not forgotten that there is a wikipedia page listing dozens of attempts over the years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_programming_language.

The reason we still code in text is because visual programming is not a hard problem -- it's a dozen hard problems. Think about all of the tools we use to consume, analyze, or produce textual source code. There are code navigators, searchers, transformers, formatters, highlighters, versioners, change managers, debuggers, compilers, analyzers, generators, and review tools. All of those use cases would need to be fulfilled. Unlike diagrams, text is a convenient serialization and storage format, you can leverage the Unix philosophy to use the best of breed of the tools you need. We don't have a lingua franca for diagrams like we do for text files.

It's not due to dogma or laziness that we use text to write code. It's because the above list of things are not trivial to get right and making them work on pictures is orders of magnitude harder than making them work with text.

EDIT: Wordsmithing

michaelrbock 3 days ago 0 replies      
A quote from the footnotes:

"'The most dangerous thought you can have a creative person is to think you know what you're doing.'

It's possible to misinterpret what I'm saying here. When I talk about not knowing what you're doing, I'm arguing against "expertise", a feeling of mastery that traps you in a particular way of thinking.

But I want to be clear -- I am not advocating ignorance. Instead, I'm suggesting a kind of informed skepticism, a kind of humility.

Ignorance is remaining willfully unaware of the existing base of knowledge in a field, proudly jumping in and stumbling around. This approach is fashionable in certain hacker/maker circles today, and it's poison."

rpearl 3 days ago 2 replies      
"The most dangerous thought you can have as a creative person is to think you know what you're doing."
jingo 2 days ago 0 replies      
At the end of the video he warns of the dangers of "dogma".

He looks really nervous and impatient in this talk. He seems afraid that it won't be well received. If so, it is interesting to note that this is what dogma in fact leads to... repression of new ideas, fear of free thinkers and the stagnation of true scientific progress. It means guys like Bret Victor will feel awkward giving a talk that questions the status quo.

"Breakthroughs" do not happen when we are all surrounded by impenetrable walls of dogma. I wonder if we today could even recognize a true breakthrough in computing if we saw one. The only ones I see are from the era Bret is talking about. What happens when those are forgotten?

My friends, there is a simple thing I learned in another discpline outside of computing where I witnessed doing what others thought impossible: the power of irreverance. This is where true innovation comes from.

It means not only questioning whether you know what you are doing, but questioning whether others do. That frees you up to work on what you want to work on, even when it is in a different direction than everyone else. That is where innovation comes from: irreverance.

bsaul 3 days ago 3 replies      
Enough already ! Could anyone with 100 millions $ give this guy a team of 100 Phds to create the new software revolution ?

This guy is not a good or great or fabulous computer scientist, this guy is something else entirely. He's a true creative Thinker. He doesn't have a vision, he's got tons of them. Every subject he starts thinking about he comes with new ideas.

He shouldn't be doing presentations, he should run a company.

agentultra 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I can't help but noticing is that the majority of discussions regarding this talk are focusing on the examples presented.

I thought it was pretty clear that the talk wasn't about whether constraint-based solvers and visual programming environments were the "future of programming." It was a talk about dogma. Brent points out that none of the examples he's mentioned are inherently important to what he was trying to get across: they were just examples. The point he was trying to elucidate was that our collective body of knowledge limits our ability to see new ways of thinking about the problems we face.

It is at least somewhat related to the adage, when you have a hammer every problem looks like a nail. He's just taking a historical view and using irony to illustrate his point. When computer technology reached a certain level of power there was a blossoming garden of innovative ideas because the majority of people didn't know what you cannot do.

What I think he was trying to say, and this is partly coloured by my own beliefs, is that beginner's mind is important. Dogma has a way of narrowing your view of the world. Innovation is slow and incremental but there's also a very real need to be wild and creative as well. There's room for both and we've just been focusing on one rather than the other for the last 40 years.

oh_teh_meows 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think much of the motivation for developing new paradigms stems from growing frustration with tool-induced blindness, for lack of a better term. We spend much of our time chasing that seg-fault error instead of engineering the solution to the problem we're trying to solve.

A new programming paradigm allows us to reframe a problem in a different space, much like how changing a matrix's basis changes its apparent complexity, so to speak.

The ultimate goal, I think, is to come up with a paradigm that would map computational problems, without loss of generality, to what our primate brains would find intuitive. This lowers our cognitive burden when attempting to describe a solution, and also to allow us to see clearer what the cause of a problem may be. For example, if you're a game developer, and you find some rendering problems due to some objects intersecting each other, but you're not sure where it happens, Instead of poring over text dump of numerical vector coordinates, it'd be better to visualize them. The abnormality would present themselves clearly, even to a layman's eyes. I suspect this is what Victor is trying to get at. Imagine, if you will, that you have a graphical representation of your code, and a piece of code that could potentially segfault shows up as an irregularity of some form (different textures, different color, different shape, etc), so you can spot them and fix them right away. The irregularity is not a result of some static error analysis, but is instead the result of some emergent property resulting from graphical presentation rules (mapping from problem space to graphic space). We're good at spatial visualization, so I wonder if it's valid to come up with a programming language that would leverage more of our built-in capability in that area. This may seem like wishful thinking or even intractable (perhaps due to a certain perception limitation...which we have to overcome using more cognitive resources), but I certainly hope we'll get there in our life time.

pnathan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very good summary of the state of the art in the early 70s.

His analysis of the "API" problem reminds me of some of the ideas Jaron Lanier was floating around about ten years ago. I can't recall the name of it, but it was some sort of biologically inspired handshake mechanism between software 'agents'.

What I think such things require is an understanding of what is lacking in order to search for it; as near as I can tell, that requires some fashion of self-awareness. This, as far as I can conceive, recurses into someone writing code, whether it be Planner or XML. But my vision is cloudy on such matters.

I should note that I think Brett is one of the leading thinkers of his (my) generation, and have a lot of respect for his ideas.

tel 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Ignorance is remaining willfully unaware of the existing base of knowledge in a field, proudly jumping in and stumbling around. This approach is fashionable in certain hacker/maker circles today, and it's poison.

> Learn tools, and use tools, but don't accept tools. Always distrust them; always be alert for alternative ways of thinking. This is what I mean by avoiding the conviction that you "know what you're doing".

These two statements have done a better job explaining my feelings on expertise than almost any of my attempts. Thank you, Bret.

ionforce 3 days ago 1 reply      
This talk is so fluffy and empty. Surely there must be someone else who did not enjoy it.
hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love Bret's style. Also love how the crowd went silent after the "API" slide.
_pius 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a brilliant, trenchant indictment of the state of our industry.
ThomPete 3 days ago 0 replies      
"they didn't know what they were doing, so they tried everything"
ibudiallo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am half way there and i have never been disappointed by Bret Victor. He comes from the future.
rasur 3 days ago 0 replies      
A whole bunch of interesting stuff in there. Undoubtedly I shall spend most of my forthcoming holiday reading up on papers and other works as old as I am and realising - yet again - everything old is new again (except for the bits that have been willfully ignored in favour of being reinvented, badly ;) )
calibraxis 3 days ago 3 replies      
What should I read to understand his anti-API point better? Learn about RDF? Or is there something better?
Knotwilg 2 days ago 0 replies      
It will not help the discussion forward to behave like fans and treat any substantial critique as "you are one of those old fashioned mindless programming dudes".

On the other hand, in the light of Victor's achievements in industry (including "shipping" stuff) one cannot dismiss him as a smooth talking TEDdie either.

Victor has provided many crafted examples of what can be achieved in the fields of engineering, mathematics and programming, or any field of science and technology, if the feedback loop between the tool and its user is improved.

Indeed, this 30 minute talk does not compare to an industrial delivery. It has some theatre and some deliberate exaggerations or unfair treatment of society evolutions. Such is the nature of talks.

I do not think he sees the current state of affairs as a great mistake. He will surely acknowledge all practical circumstances and conceptual challenges that have made certain inferior designs survive while superior ones did not materialize.

The message is: we shouldn't accept this state of affairs as final or as one that can only be marginally improved. It can still be radically improved. The industry is still fresh - even ideas from the 60s are valid and underachieved.

I see his critique as a positive statement of hope and encouragement, not as a pointing finger to all you silly programmers.

tmarthal 3 days ago 2 replies      
"I do think that it would be really cool if the actor model is like picked up by the Swedish phone company."

Does anyone have an explanation for this reference? It was at the end of the concurrency section, while talking about the distributed graph model.


arikrak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like his overall message, but I wonder about the details. E.g. he attacks the existence of HTML and CSS, but there needs to be some universal format to store the markup and design in. So I guess he's attacking the idea of hand-coding them instead of using a WYSIWYG editor. But you can use something like Dreamweaver, Expression Web, or even more recent web apps like Divshot. I guess the problem in that they're not good enough yet, but that's not because people aren't trying to do it, it's because it is hard to do.
0xdeadbeefbabe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Subtext seemed like a good abstraction what happened there? http://www.oscon.com/oscon2010/public/schedule/detail/15484
marcamillion 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this an actual talk he gave in 1973 or is this a spoof or something?

If so, it seems he missed the mark (significantly) on web development.

He said "if in a few decades we get a document format on some sort of web of computers, I am sure we will be creating those documents by direct manipulation - there won't be any markup languages or stylesheets, that will make no sense."

So that is either very sarcastic and cheeky, or straight up wrong.

What am I missing?

dman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Eternally relevant when discussing worlds of computing that could have been - http://www.dreamsongs.com/RiseOfWorseIsBetter.html
xlayn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Come to wonder when I try to see the places on where this can be applied in my particular working field.If I check my everyday working flow, it seems like I'm constrained to all the scenarios that he mention, and I'm aware of how limiting it can be for what the technology and multiple cores...I'm talking about working on files, not interacting visually with the computer, not letting the computer figure out the stuff... not working parallely

and then I notice...

how I deliver software to a distributed environment of virtual machines some running on the same cpu, some boxes with their own one and realize that maybe the everyday cpu that you buy for your everyday box, is that small cpu on the cpu grid he shows....network between the cpus are the lines that connects them....and notice that I don't remember when it was the last time that I wrote the last tcp stack for connecting those machines....so they somehow are figuring they out on they own how to talk to each other (notice how this is different from having a goal and try to achieve it) I still think we are way far from this happening (probably luckily for us)...

so: what if all he mentions here does somehow exist but it requires to shift the way you see stuff?

nikso 1 day ago 0 replies      
A powerful thought.

We should feel lucky that what we love is such novel and unexplored field.

I'm quite confident that we will eventually move forward from this seemingly stale period of programming paradigms. Because after all, we all know the frustration brought from the initial stages of learning a new thing; and we all know the much greater awe of mastering it.

tomasien 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just learned today that Smalltalk was the inspiration for a lot of what NeXT ended up doing with Objective C, which makes so much sense. At the end of the day, Xcode is just another set of text files in many ways, but in so many others it's so much more.
jjindev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this all just evidence that "better" in most cases is a small margin? You can hate X, and prefer Y, but in most cases the X guys will finish their project. Methodology based crash and burns are pretty rare. And the things that are "not terrible" are not separated by that much.
chj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think the future of programming is necessarily visual programming. Nature didn't program human bodies visually, and yet we are the most powerful living machines with powerful operating systems. But we do need to find a new "programing medium" like proteins that can build up ideas "organically".
nickmain 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope that in another 40 years the fact that programming and programmers ever existed is seen as temporary blip in the evolution of computing.
mmphosis 3 days ago 0 replies      

  1. coding -> direct manipulation of data  2. procedures -> goals and constraints  3. text dump -> spatial representations  4. sequential -> parallel

dschiptsov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, all the fundamental things were invented and researched before I was born.) and everything is still relevant and actual even in the midst of J* mass hysteria.)
zekenie 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome. It makes me realize how much of the time I am just applying the same formula over and over again and not really being creative. The flip side, I would argue is that reinventing the wheel all the time is expensive. There's a reason why standards have formed.
6ren 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone upload this to youtube, please? vimeo is unwatchable on old/underpowered devices.
rusew 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what font he uses in his slides? I really like their look.
gdonelli 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bret Victor is awesome
asselinpaul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Watching this now but I expect greatness like all his talks.
cconroy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there were people like this during the printing press days... ?
creed0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory of His Epic 3,990-Panel Comic wired.com
518 points by ghosh  16 hours ago   73 comments top 17
eykanal 12 hours ago 3 replies      
This is what makes Munroe so awesome. It's one thing to be able to make nerd comics. It's another thing to put in the effort to make accurate time/location maps of various movies [1], or attempt to explain money with all sorts of relative comparisons [2], or think up weird google searches and show the results [3]. It's a completely different league to execute on huge projects like this in such a novel fashion (as well as the "umwelt" one [4] which showed one of fifty different comics to the reader, depending on their location) that make Munroe so unique.

[1]: http://xkcd.com/657/

[2]: http://xkcd.com/980/

[3]: http://xkcd.com/887/

[4]: http://xkcd.com/1037/

sage_joch 8 hours ago 3 replies      
"In my comic, our civilization is long gone. Every civilization with written records has existed for less than 5,000 years; it seems optimistic to hope that the current one will last for 10,000 more," Munroe told WIRED.

It's an unfortunate reality that a thoughtful person could come to this conclusion. But I feel compelled to disagree. We're on the verge of becoming a spacefaring species. And people like Elon Musk give me hope that we could very well still make it, despite everything.

M4v3R 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It's really worth to read, at least partially, the One True Thread [1] - a thread on XKCD forums when people were discussing the comic as it unfolded. It is really interesting to see how they reacted to first frame (at which point it wasn't known that it will last 4 months), and then how they began to dissect every frame after that.

[1] http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=101043

Aardwolf 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Does there exist a watchable version of this comic where it skips through frames without text FAST, but pauses for long enough time to read it at each frame with TEXT?

Most attempts at making the comic viewable either went too fast to read the texts, or were manual click through and thus waaaay too slow.


tehwalrus 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Just sat and watched the whole thing in the video on this post (nightmare pausing for text - well done timdorr for posting a link to a better way to watch).

This is such a cool story! and the explanation makes me want to start working decoding Linear A! :)

Oculus 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There's not a lot of people in the world that are this dedicated to making other peoples' days just a little bit better.

Thanks Randall.

Jeremy1026 16 hours ago 2 replies      
It's pretty amazing how close the people who were deciphering the comic were in the time frame and that they nailed the location so early.
rsfinn 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm prepared to nominate this for a Hugo award.

I just double-checked the categories to make sure it goes in "Best Graphic Story" and not "Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)".

omegant 14 hours ago 5 replies      
So its a dam!, i didn't understand how the gibraltar strait managed to close and open in only 11000 years. It's too wide yet.On the other hand, I don't think it makes sense to close the strait, there is too much commerce flowing through there, also all the mediterranean economy would colapse, and the weather change quite a bit.
Aardwolf 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm actually also interested in how he made it (drawing so much frames).
darasen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
xkcd truly elevates the web comic genre to an art form. Mr. Munroe really should be considered for a Hugo or a Reuben.
pearjuice 13 hours ago 1 reply      
So any estimate on how long Randall was busy with this and what it earned him in then end?
joshaidan 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I was sad when they lost the water bottle.
AsymetricCom 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not seeing at all how this is related to money.
laserDinosaur 14 hours ago 5 replies      
As someone who is just hearing about this now, isn't this just an animation?
jvanderbot 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do they know what castles are without knowing if there are rivers?
Snowden granted 1-year asylum in Russia, leaves airport rt.com
505 points by message  1 day ago   484 comments top 25
300bps 1 day ago 32 replies      
As a U.S. Citizen I support Snowden.

Since 1865, there have been 5,031 deaths and 22,125 injuries caused by terrorism in the United States. Source: http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/wrjp255a.html

5,000 deaths in 148 years.

In 2011, 32,367 people died in vehicle accidents. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in...

There are all kinds of cancers that "only" kill 1,000 or so people per year that are deemed not worthy of research because they are so rare. But for terrorism, we sacrifice nearly inexhaustible supplies of money and time. We sacrifice our liberty, our privacy. None of it makes any sense.

Terrorism is nothing but fear mongering to effect an increase in power.

pavs 1 day ago 6 replies      
What a strange world we live in, when you have to run from the US government after revealing its illegal and unconstitutional activity and hope for safe haven in Putin's Russia.
Nrsolis 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a sad day for America.

It's a sad day because a citizen of our nation decided he needed to go to a foreign journalist instead of one of our own to break this story.

It's a sad day because that same citizen felt like he wouldn't get a fair trial in our justice system and might be treated the same way Bradley Manning was until he did get a trial.

It's a sad day because lots of decent, honest people who work in our intelligence services that are trying desperately to uncover the next possible attack are going to have to work much harder.

It's a sad day because those people are going to work harder because the leaders do not feel like they can trust the American people to understand and decide for themselves how much of their privacy they are willing to trade for the work that the government's intelligence services do.

It's a sad day because we demonstrated that we care more about the embarrassment of our duplicity being revealed than in the ideals of our commitment to civil liberties.

And I'm sad because I'm an American and I love my country and I want it to do better.

IvyMike 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's kind of amazing that I visited and traversed the entire country by train (St Petersburg to Vladivostok) all while he was in the airport.

So when everyone is talking about big political issues, all I can think of is all the mundane stuff he must be putting up with. Like: how much clothing does he have, and how is he doing laundry? And: Who's paying for his expenses? I assume his ATM card and Visa aren't good anymore.

Get a blini and some at , Edward. It's pretty tasty.

jacquesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's super news, I was concerned that yesterdays release by Greenwald might imperil Snowdens chances in Russia but it appears that was unfounded.

It's funny how this whistleblower thing might turn into a mirror image of the torture scheme the CIA employed: the CIA would use other countries to ship prisoners to to have them tortured/interrogated in ways that the country where the capture took place or the USA would not condone on their own soil (but for some magical reason doing it somewhere else or even hiring people to do it makes it ok).

Now we get whistleblowers that move outside of the jurisdiction of the country the revelations are about. Cue a Russian whistleblower to flee to the USA for some symmetry.

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it wasn't for Snowden the general population of the US would never be even having a discussion about widespread national spying on everyone.

They could bury previous whistleblowers and Manning but Snowden has finally made people sit up and realize while the TSA is groping your genitals at the airport, the NSA is groping everything else about your life at that same intimacy.

The sad part is, in 100 years nothing will have changed, it will just be hidden better and whistleblowers seized before they can get to the press.

pvnick 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'll bet Snowden is a Hacker News and Reddit user. I expect that he might read this thread when he gets to a computer, perhaps even taking the time to do a Reddit AMA.

If so, Hi Ed! Thanks for doing what you did!

znowi 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is good news. I'm glad his airport captivity is finally over. Russia is possibly the safest place for him at this point. And I'm glad there's at least one country that can openly stand up against the growing US offense.

Well done, Russia.

D9u 1 day ago 5 replies      
Since the NSA says that there are such strict controls on who can access what sorts of data, how did Snowden gain possession of that data?

If some private contractor can walk out with "thousands of classified documents" how are we supposed to believe that the NSA isn't lying about their allegedly strict controls?

rafski 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think this was ever posted on HN and happened just 2 months ago. This is how Russia deals with extradition when the shoe is on the other foot and they want someone:


Reportedly "dangerous stand-off" meant that Russians pulled guns on the plane and Czech police withdrew in order not to escalate.

pvnick 1 day ago 0 replies      
This of course happening the day after what was perhaps the biggest revelation so far, even though Putin said that asylum would be conditional on Snowden promising "to stop harming the United States." I do not think this highly symbolic timing was coincidental.
kushti 1 day ago 2 replies      
Another day I'm proud to be Russian.
mcphilip 1 day ago 0 replies      
For info on next steps in the processing of refugee applicants in Russia:


koshatnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just as well he's not gay then - Bradley Manning would have found things a bit harder in this situation
thelukester 1 day ago 0 replies      
Remember that were wired to respond to personal news. Thats the secret to Facebooks and tabloid magazines success. So as happy as I am about this, let it also be a reminder that Snowden's not the story. The fate of the internet is.

If you haven't read it, this is a great article on the subject: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jul/28/edward-sno...

oleganza 1 day ago 10 replies      
Reminder: the real reason Snowden could not walk out of the airport is not because of some virtual "passport" that US "revoked". It is because there are real armed obedient guys on the border who would not let Snowden go his way.

This whole story is not about privacy, spying or politics. It is about your personal inability to choose your phone company, internet provider, or a bank without confronting armed "state" which dictates what is allowed to you. Don't like NSA spying through Verizon? Build your own phone company. Oops, there are feds with an order to "cooperate".

Guns and violence are the problem, not all these abstract inventions like "rights" or "privacy".

D9u 1 day ago 1 reply      
Contracted rendition team in place...
zbowling 1 day ago 0 replies      
413 points, 4 hours, half way down the page? something is a miss with the voting system on HN.
glbrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't live in DC but it would be nice if someone could stop by the Russian embassy and put some flowers in front. It would show that American people don't necessarily agree with our government and are grateful for the Russian's support.
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is US Administration seeking peace or obedience from rest of the world?
normalize 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm flying into Sheremetyevo this Sunday. I was secretly hoping they would be holding one of those press conferences while I was there, a long shot I know.

ES: if you're reading this- Anything you want from the homeland? I can drop it off in a secure location, I'll be staying about 100km south of Moscow. /u/@gmx

bedhead 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good thing he's not gay.
mcovey 1 day ago 0 replies      
God Bless Russia.
vasilipupkin 1 day ago 12 replies      
Snowden had me until he traveled to Russia with 4 laptops full of NSA secrets. I mean no matter how bad NSA is, Putin is 1000 times worse
wil421 1 day ago 5 replies      
Does anyone else find it odd that he immediately went to the US's biggest rivals. I mean right away he ran to Hong Kong (China) and now he has accepted asylum in Russia.

I mean these countries have huge interest in this guy. He knows intimate details about how the USA gathers intelligence. I mean I wonder what kind of info he has given (if any) to these countries. I am sure Putin would love to get a hold of those laptops he took with him.

Pressure cookers, backpacks, and quinoa, oh my medium.com
495 points by steveklabnik  1 day ago   271 comments top 34
tptacek 1 day ago 20 replies      
Many, many thousands of pressure cookers are sold every year. Terrorist attacks are extremely rare. Millions and millions of backpacks are sold every year. The intersection of those two products isn't helpful. The base rate theorem dictates that pressure cooker sales will turn out to be a very poor signal for terrorism.

This article posits (or is trying to sell you on the idea) that the FBI watches for pressure cooker sales on the Internet and dispatches teams of extremely expensive FBI agents to investigate them. Stipulate that the FBI has access to that information (I don't think they do, but whatever). What the FBI isn't going to do is compromise sources and methods in a pressure cooker dragnet. They are mathematically assured not to find terrorists that way. But they'd make a huge amount of noise. They don't burn sources for no good reason.

I don't buy this, at all.

Also not helpful, if you're trying to sell a hoax: the too-vivid callbacks to the Boston bombers, and to the FBI's television show image.


Note also that this story wants you to infer that the FBI told her husband that they were following up on Internet search leads. Not only did they roll trucks to a residence to do a search that was almost mathematically guaranteed to come up blank, but when they did that, they hinted around at the secret program that got them to do it.

danenania 1 day ago 2 replies      
Guardian article about this incident: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/new-york-police...

Apparently it was the local police.

matznerd 1 day ago 3 replies      
At first reading, I was wondering is this a think piece or is it real. Based on her twitter account, it appears it is real: "You don't believe my story? Ask any of my followers about my credibility. Then kiss my ass. Thanks." https://twitter.com/inthefade/status/362890947165564928What do you guys think?
lettergram 1 day ago 1 reply      
I doubt this story is real...

(5, at least, this has been going on) * (52 weeks) * (100 a week) = 26,000 homes would have been entered, averaging 3 people per home (on the low side)

= ~78,000 people have had this happen to them and I haven't heard about it?

Not to mention, I would say no to any plain clothes government official without presenting a warrant and badges.

There are plenty of other issues with the blog post, but those two alone are enough for me to call B.S.

lizzard 1 day ago 3 replies      
I would not have let them in with out a warrant.
bargl 1 day ago 1 reply      
I get a little doubt. Its good, but I think we can all try to discern some facts here from what she's said.

1) She wasn't there so this is a second hand story. Most second hand stories are embellished to a certain degree. Fact is she just wasn't there. (from her twitter) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6140924

2) Government agents (who knows where they are from because who has time to remember THOSE details in the moment). FBI, Internal Task Force, MIB, it really doesn't matter that much.

3) Were they merely concerned with Pressure cookers, backpacks, and quinoa. That is all just conjecture and really not relevant to the story.

The REAL issue here is that government agents appeared on her doorstep and asked to come in, for no apparent reason. Then they asked a bunch of questions that made her feel as if she was a suspicious character. This all causes an atmosphere of fear, similar to what special police units in other countries have done.

This is about the fact that she doesn't know WHY they came by. Sure she's speculating to make herself feel better, who wouldn't but what's more important is that there is someone watching you out there and determining if a person is suspicious or not and we (US citizens) have NO control over that. Matter of fact we don't even know what it is all about.

Did she make this story up. Sure, in part. But there is a core set of facts here (assuming she is just elaborating and not lying out right) that are hard to ignore.

Big brother is watching you...

EDIT: For the comment below. If you are curious how they are doing this, the best theory I've seen has come from Steve Gibson on his Security Now podcast. He speculates that they are taking raw data before it goes to Google and explains how that may be possible. https://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm start with episode #408.

njharman 1 day ago 1 reply      
More that Quinoa, backbacks, the rest, was "his visits to South Korea and China." Author is disingenuous in burying that deep into article and create a title that implies it was just normal stuff, regular people would like you! would have.

Investigation by people IS how police and anti-terrorism work should be done.

ISL 1 day ago 1 reply      
To verify credibility, all of us can just google pressure cookers and shop around a little. If true, then a few HNers will get a visit.
jstalin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why is this site (Medium) always so slow to load?
milesf 1 day ago 1 reply      
This story has a whiff of being fake, but that being said I'm glad I switched my whole family over to DuckDuckGo & Firefox. The mental overhead of "am I being watched" by Google/Microsoft/Apple/Facebook is not there anymore, and it feels good.

I am not hiding anything. I am a free, Canadian citizen with no criminal record. I am simply not willing to give up my freedom and liberty because other people are either scared or in the business of fear mongering.

Ol' Benny Frank said it best "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

downandout 1 day ago 1 reply      
If true, this story is appalling. In order to do this, the Feds would have to have "fire hose" access to Google queries or have access to their servers to be able mine the search data of everyone, including US persons. Since a regular federal judge couldn't issue a search warrant for such sweeping surveillance on US citizens, it would mean that Google is voluntarily giving up all of its search data to government agencies. That would be a striking and disturbing revelation, given their adamant PRISM denials. It would be enough to make millions of Google customers run away from them.
alan_cx 1 day ago 0 replies      
100 times a week? Maybe 1 is an actual hit? Blimey.

Presumably this little team don't run around all of the US. So, a state level team doing 100 per week? 50 states, right? So, that's a potential 5,000 searches, per week. 52 weeks in a year. So, 260,000 innocent homes searched by an armed team per year, purely from "suspect" searches on the internet.

People wise, average number of people in a US household? Say 4? So, that's 1.4M people affected, per year.

Ok, the maths doesn't include the 1 out of 100, however, we can be sure a good number of them still turn out to be nothing. Sadly, I bet the 1 is the Arab or dark skinned middle eastern looking family.

No mention of any sort of search warrant either.

Yeah, you terrorists hate US "freedoms" alright.

Well....... nothing to hide, nothing to worry about, right? I dont care if the authorities want my internet history to creep through, why would I be bothered, all I do is shopping........

Just to check, at what point are we allowed to use phrases like "police state", "fascist", "oppression" and what not? Whats the number? Or is this for ever fine as long as the government has the fig leaf of the American vote?

mox69 1 day ago 7 replies      
It's not real.

1. They don't show up in black SUV's.

2. The FBI will ALWAYS be there. (NSA/CIA/Men In Black/etc cannot physically interact with american citizens on US soil)

3. They don't show up in plain cloths.

4. They would have showed up with a SWAT team.

darien 1 day ago 3 replies      
A part of me doesn't want to believe this story.
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this ACLU link : http://privacysos.org/node/1048

Basically we're at the point where there is no benefit to be had, and great risk, in talking with law enforcement. That is a sad place to be.

duggieawesome 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised that her husband allowed them inside in the first place.
palidanx 1 day ago 3 replies      
Maybe a lawyer can chime in, but if you said 'no' to when the police asked if they could see your residence, would they not be able to come in and then need a warrant?

I remember a friend telling me that when police come to your door and ask if they can come in (say for loud music or such), you can say 'no' and then put the onus on them to actually come in. And a lawyer said if you say 'yes' then you give them access to prowl through your stuff.

lovesgreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regardless of whether or not this happened, it's scary because I actually find it plausible. Similar themes have appeared across countless headlines over the last few months and if we aren't already here, we soon will be. The sad part is that like all such power struggles, things are not going to change before a lot of bad things happen.
bandy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I routinely buy quinoa, as well as somewhat more obscure things, such as mayocoba beans and Salsa Lizano. I own two pressure cookers - a search of my e-mail history will show me asking my sister for a recommendation, followed by a purchase from Amazon. When my decade+-old computer backpack gave out, I asked my friends for recommendations.

No FBI yet.

drunkenmasta 1 day ago 0 replies      
This story reads like fiction to me. but it does inspire me to search using the same phrases.
D9u 1 day ago 1 reply      
Welcome to 1984, check your civil liberties at the door.Never mind if we're almost 30 years too late, and oh, by the way, how's that hope & change going for you?
larrywright 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't buy this. If, as the article maintains, there were 100 of these a week, I think we'd hear a lot more about these sorts of incidents.
koenigdavidmj 1 day ago 0 replies      
"No, you may not enter my house without a warrant. Good day."
frasierman 1 day ago 2 replies      
The question I'd like to pose (and it's something I have a hard time with answering myself):

Would you prefer that the government watches your Google searches, your forum postings, your Facebook messages, and your emails and potentially stops these terrorist attacks, or would you prefer to be free of government spying and possibly give up safety?

If another Boston Bombing happened and it was later found out that the terrorists had bought pressure cookers, nails, and other bomb-making materials on Amazon, wouldn't there be outrage that it didn't raise any red flags? Yet when the government tries to investigate potential threats like the one explained in the article, they're seen as bad guys.

I think the real problem is that we were never asked. 9/11 happened and the war on terror began. Americans never chose to be spied on in order to prevent attacks, it was just assumed that we valued our safety more than our privacy.

So when I read about NSA spying articles, or blog posts like this, I always have to ask myself "what if these really were terrorists?" because I know that there are hundreds or even thousands of lives saved through operations like this, and we never hear about the successes.

junto 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is 'pre-crime', Minority Report v1.0
smnrchrds 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they were a Muslim family, would they have been treated similarly?
luscious 1 day ago 0 replies      
When your intelligence and security services don't know what quinoa is, you're in trouble.
i386 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait... he let them in without a warrant? If it were my house, I would have said that they couldn't come in.
tenpoundhammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We do what we must because we can."
daemon13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strange story - why allow anyone into the house???

My understanding is that any sane person would do this only if there was a paper signed by judge ...

HPLovecraft 1 day ago 0 replies      
the category of the blog post is "writing out loud"described as "thoughts as essay By Michele Catalano 16 Posts"Fiction?
FrankenPC 1 day ago 0 replies      
And so it begins.
ck2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Someone please rename this article title because it's very important people read this.

And since Google is https now, that means the feds have a realtime hook into the data.

Scientific Breakthrough Lets SnappyCam App Take 20 Full-Res Photos Per Second techcrunch.com
442 points by Osiris  2 days ago   247 comments top 54
revelation 2 days ago 2 replies      
DCT is already lossy [1], so the statements around 8 megapixels are completely pointless, and worst of all, its 1990 lossy technology. Wavelet transformations completely destroy any DCT.

That said, if their emphasis is on producing pictures with minimal time delta at highest resolution, algorithms used for still pictures are out of place. Video compression algorithms still use DCT and wavelets, but they do so only after they have reduced redundancies between series of pictures, a process that tends to work significantly better than anything you can get out of these lossy transformations when you want to preserve quality.

Of course, eliminating redundancy in a series of pictures might have tipped them off to the fact that the image sensor isn't actually producing fresh pictures at the rate they want.

1: as used in JPEG. The transformation itself is perfectly invertible, assuming infinite precision arithmetic.

seldo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is neat tech and works pretty much as advertised, but man, this UI is pretty rough. The blue background and curvy borders are strangely superfluous; tapping the left-bottom corner controls pops up an intermediate selector but the right-bottom controls work in-place; taking a shot produces a big "infinity" symbol that fades in and out of view -- I don't know what it means.

Good work on tech, please hire a UX specialist :-)

nwh 2 days ago 5 replies      
9oliYQjP 2 days ago 1 reply      
jpap, I don't quite fully understand the implementation (though I'd love to one day be proficient enough to). But maybe you can explain how the format compares to motion JPEG. Or maybe it's very similar? About 15 years ago I dabbled in live video recording on old Pentium II hardware with an old BT878 video input card. Motion JPEG was the only feasible option to obtain relatively high quality (for the time) results albeit at the cost of disk space.
andrewf 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think it's fantastic that you've managed to turn a long, hard optimisation slog into a real product win. Add me to the list of Australians willing to buy you a beer - but not back home, I live in SF at the moment :)

I'm curious about the low-quality preview you get when scrolling through all the shots. Are you storing low-quality data separately or do you also have a fast, low-qual JPEG decoder? (Is the Huffman encoding between blocks independent?)

Oculus 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling that soon SnappyLabs is going to have Apple knocking on their door with a very nice offer.

Kudos to them, sounds like they deserve it.

gosu 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks fantastic. Watching people's reactions in that example image was really interesting, and it occupied me for a good few minutes. "Why can't you do the same thing with video?" Because rewinding video is really painful, especially online video.


I use my thinkpad's pointer stick to move the mouse cursor. It's impossible to keep the cursor inside the "control strip" while moving it up and down and also looking away from the strip (and at the image). Too much accidental x motion is introduced.

It would be better for me if you were to enable the scroll wheel (which I can simulate on my pointer) as an alternative time control, or perhaps let me click on the control strip and then hold down mouse1 for as long as I want my y motion to control the position in time.

dvt 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why not have a deferred compressor? I assume that just straight-up saving the raw data in memory would be much faster than compressing every frame as you get it.

Couldn't you get significant FPS increases (given that you still had free space/memory available)?

Dylan16807 2 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, I never thought I'd see a software optimization be talked about in such breathless amazement.
peter_l_downs 2 days ago 4 replies      
Any chance of this coming to Android soonish? This is seriously cool!
ygra 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks similar to what Microsoft Research's BLINK [42] does on Windows Phone. Alas I wasn't able to find any publications on what they are doing (which is strange for MSR). As I don't have my phone currently I can't even look whether they are doing full resolution too or whether they are dropping down to smaller sizes.

[42] http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/blin...

Marat_Dukhan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, amazing performance tuning, so rare these days!

However, you should be careful with this online ARM simulator. It simulates Cortex-A8 while iPhone 5 runs on Apple Swift, two generations ahead. It very likely has different instruction timings compared to Cortex-A8. I didn't have a chance to test Swift, but here is a list of what might be different, judging by Qualcomm Krait and ARM Cortex-A15, which are in the same generation:

- Instead of 2-cycle latency on Cortex-A8 simple ALU instructions might have 3-cycle latency on Krait (this is the case on Krait and Cortex-A15).

- Cortex-A8 can issue only 64-bit SIMD multiplication per cycle, Swift probably can do 128-bit VMUL.Ix each cycle (Krait does).

- Cortex-A8 can issue only one SIMD ALU instruction per cycle, Swift probably can do more (Cortex-A15 can issue 3 128-bit VADD/VAND/etc in 2 cycles).

- Cortex-A8 could issue one SIMD ALU + one SIMD LOAD/SHUFFLE per cycle, Swift could be less restrictive (and probably even can issue 3 NEON instructions per cycle, like Cortex-A15).

cendrillon 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice to see Jpap continuing to push the boundaries of what's possible.

Aussie maths whiz supercharges nethttp://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/11/05/1194117915862.html

comatose_kid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Science vs engineering distinctions aside, it is pretty cool to see the attention to detail + effort put into solving this problem.
huhtenberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bug report -

On the first launch, if I quickly press the Setting button (bottom-right) it starts the flip animation and still shows the handwritten overlay explaining where to tap for manual focus and all whatnot. After the animation is complete, the overlay is still shown, so it looks like a mess. And it's also not obvious how to get the overlay back, because I haven't seen what it actually said.

Congrats on the TC cover and a very nice app. Get rich! :)

(edit) A nitpick - "Warm-up", not "Warmup"

(edit) Report Usage = On. Seriously? Who on Earth in their sane mind would actually want this, except for you? Next thing you tell me is that you have some "app analytics" library linked in and it's always on. Please don't be evil.

(edit) The same goes for "Send Crash Reports = Always". It should be "Ask". Respect your users and they will help.

ianb 1 day ago 1 reply      
I take a fair number of casual action shots mostly of the kids. To get something to come out I often take a handful of pictures in a row; even that's often not enough, or the "right" scene happens in between these slowish frames. This could be cool for those cases.

Except... I also get annoyed sorting through those pictures afterwards. It would be interesting if with some post-processing it could sort through the pictures some for me, identifying distinct pictures, or filtering out ones that are clearly bad (mostly too blurry), or if fancier maybe doing eye or smile detection. I want to capture the moment a person looks up, before they think about the camera.

Another cool case would be taking photos of movement. If I can track the movement with the camera the picture can come out surprisingly well. But tracking movement is hard. If I had several seconds of pictures, over the course of that time probably I'd track the movement well enough for a few of the photos to come out.

chacham15 1 day ago 1 reply      
It looks great but I have a few questions/comments.

1. What is the difference in quality between using this and the video capture mode? I.e. if what I really want is a high quality video, would this get me a better result than the built in programs?

2. Seeing as how you've done all this work (and how Android apps can be compiled from C) how difficult is it to port this to Android so that the rest of us can get in on it?

3. Is it just me, or can anyone else not change the settings / look at the other demos on the samples page?

polskibus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just adding my vote for android version! Great job !
javajosh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Beautiful app, jpap. Well-done! I can't wait to do some side-by-side comparisons between this and video stills, and see what kind of image quality differences there are. My overall impression of the app itself is that it's incredibly solid. Keep building apps!
jlebar 1 day ago 1 reply      
To be clear, using SIMD for JPEG encoding is not new. I'd be curious how this JPEG encoder compares to libjpeg-turbo's NEON encoder.


rabino 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is quite remarkable. I just tested it and works even better than advertised. I hope you become rich and famous for this. And I really hope there's not a hidden gotcha I haven't seen yet.
sytelus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like the most interesting part here is "living photo" that instantly responds to interactions. Can this be standardize as new video format? It would be very cool to have all cameras be able to save video in this format. @jpap should consider formalizing this format, produce viewers on different platforms and license this tech to manufacturers of point-and-shoot cameras, GoPro, WebCams, camcorders etc. This feature could make camera an instant hit. It is a real value add for customers. I can also envision movies getting recorded in this format and available on Blue Ray so people can instantly interact with the cool fast action videos in HD. I think the great insight here is the awesome coolness of instantly interactive video that is ready to be unlocked inside current camera hardware.
mgerals 2 days ago 0 replies      
The techcrunch title sounds like taken from an infomercial. Or "one weird trick..."
Myrth 1 day ago 1 reply      
> To put the speed in perspective, SnappyCam is about 4X faster than the normal iPhone 5 Camera app, and more than twice as quick as the Samsung Galaxy S4s 7.5 shots per second.

Does it mean that S4's hardware is faster than iPhone 5 given they're using similar algorithms, and if you'd make the same app for Android it could get even better results?

marze 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some questions:

Instead of doing full resolution at 20 fps, can you do a smaller resolution at, say, 160 fps?

If the next generation iPhone processor is faster (a safe bet), do you think your software would allow at least 24 fps, and you could use the iPhone to shoot a 10+ megapixel movie?

Shouldn't Apple have hired you already?

mappu 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's fantastic, and a very cool demo.

How does the encoder performance compare to libjpeg-turbo? That also has some SIMD work for NEON.

jpap 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. Instragram is only shown if you actually have Instagram installed on your device. ;-) As you might know, Instagram guard their API carefully: we don't yet have general access to it.

2. E-Mail is also only shown if your device has built-in e-mail accounts set up.

3. iTunes App File Sharing is accessible by connecting your device to your Mac/PC via USB and using the iTunes app.

Drop me a line jpap {at} snappylabs.com if you're still having issues. I'd love to help! :D

bobbles 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking forward to taking these pics and testing out http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/69699e5a-5c91-... Image composite editor with things like photosynth
gandalfu 2 days ago 1 reply      
It takes time and lots of effort, and ill argue is easier on a quasi standard platform (processor wise) but apps like this show how much juice can be squeezed out of the existing hardware by handcrafting the code.

Kudos, I just bought the app!

epaga 1 day ago 1 reply      
Love the "we'll iMessage you a download link" feature on the web page. Are you using a service for this? Note it doesn't seem to work for me in Germany, it doesn't change the country code, it leaves it at +1 (instead of +49)...
Hopka 1 day ago 1 reply      
It crashes for me every time I take somewhere between 60 and 75 frames with the main camera. With the front-facing camera, I can shoot forever.In the iPhone Settings (somewhere called Diagnosis & Usage), I have a bunch of LowMemory warnings. I'm using an iPhone 4S.
egypturnash 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is pretty cool. You got my buck!

I was kinda hoping I could also turn the speed down to multiple seconds per photo, since it talks about doing time-lapse shots. One of my major uses for my phone's camera is selfies for art reference, currently done with Genius - which annoyingly won't do repeated shots at anything less than 10 seconds. Being able to take one shot every 1-3 seconds would be pretty damn cool for me.

_quasimodo 1 day ago 0 replies      
You should port it to several platforms and license it as a library. I would think there are many companys interested in a fast jpeg encoder that is not embedded in an iPhone App :)
tambourine_man 1 day ago 1 reply      
Amazing work, and the living photo thing could be a hit.

Out of curiosity and a bit unrelated, I've been craving for real raw capture on the iPhone (before bayer interpolation, white balance, noise removal). Is it possible?

archagon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait, how does this work with the Apple frameworks? I assume you can't go faster than what Apple gives you. If you were to discard every photo, how fast could you theoretically go?
uladzislau 1 day ago 1 reply      
More technical details on SnappyLabs blog:http://www.snappylabs.com/blog/snappycam/2013/07/31/iphone-k...
jostmey 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This may be a really cool technical achievement, but the title is misleading. It is not scientific - that is, the scientific method was not applied to increase our understanding of the Universe. No, it is just a really cool testament to how cool engineering really is.
damian2000 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm interested to know how their method compares to how dedicated digital cameras and DSLRs do it? are cameras running dedicated hardware/firmware to achieve the same result? Or have they optimised their software in the same way that SnappyCam has done it?
MikeTLive 2 days ago 2 replies      
At 20fps, could you make a 3d camera app by the user moving their camera in space and then correcting for stabilization with the accelerometers etc telling you point in space and using the multiple view points as individual cameras.
zeroDivisible 1 day ago 0 replies      
I must say that this is one of the most interesting apps which I had found in last few weeks. You should get yourself a beer as this is a neat feat to accomplish:)

Also, some people were saying that webapp wasn't working for them on some chrome versions. As for me - I've got the 28.0.1500.95 - the culprit was Disconnect extension, which when disabled, allowed the whole application to behave as expected.

rdouble 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great app. What you need to do is market it to skateboarders.
i4software 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Guys. This is Fast Camera. I'm callin' out SnappyCam!

Are you up for an old fashioned DUEL to see which app can shoot the most "native camera quality" 8MP images per second in 60 seconds without crashing?

On an iPhone 5 with all apps closed, SnappyCam manages to save only about eight 8MP per second over 10 seconds on average and loses the other 12 per second. And these are not 8MP images at least as far as comparing resolution against the native camera app or Fast Camera. All of this technical discussion sounds great but is anyone actually testing this like I am? Just download a stopwatch app with hundredths of seconds and burst for 10 seconds. You'll see. Then shoot something with a LOT of detail at 8MP in both SnappyCam and Fast Camera.

Fast Camera is capable of 10-12 native quality 8MP images per second (more than SnappyCam) We throttle it back on purpose.

And what's with camera-shutter.caf John? ;)

Michael ZaletelFounder, i4softwareFast Camera, Vizzywig, Video Filters

runn1ng 1 day ago 1 reply      
pdog 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any papers on the subject? I'd love to dig deep into some of the technical details behind this.
retube 1 day ago 2 replies      
What's the diff between this and video shooting? Isn't that 25fps?
jgh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good work, jpap. I wish this were posted during the day though ;)
ajpocus 1 day ago 0 replies      
jpap, this is the best HN thread I've seen in a while. I never comment, but I'm compelled to now, because it's not often I see a hack this mesmerizing and exciting. For a moment, I almost wanted to drop everything and dive into JPEG myself, something I don't think I've felt since reading about John Carmack and his game engine hacks. Even though I understand <10% of the details being discussed, I'm compelled to learn more. Thanks, jpap. :)
bobbles 1 day ago 2 replies      

Could you take the 'trimmed' section and create a looping GIF from that? (Can I do that already?)

nazri1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please tell me there's an ipad version in the pipeline. This is the second non-free app I have on my ipad - it doesn't disappoint at all. Great work!
tosic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do not agree with the use of the word "scientific" in this context. Specially since it appears to be a shameless plug for a product.
voltagex_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
jpap, if you ever find yourself stranded in Canberra, I'll buy you a beer (a proper Australian one).
sergj 1 day ago 0 replies      
This app is a lot of fun! Thanks for making it.
dschleef 1 day ago 1 reply      
This kind of functionality is standard on OMAP4 devices.
jrockway 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's the breakthrough? My GoPro can take 120 photos per second.

Futhermore, what happens if you point this at a device that can affect each pixel on the phone's image sensor 20 times a second? Is all the information preserved? If so, this is an interesting hardware hack. If not, this is an interesting shell game. But I don't see how it's a scientific breakthrough.

(It sure is good for sales when TechCrunch prints your press release verbatim, though!)

Samsung agency is buying off StackOverflow users delyan.me
428 points by ZoFreX  1 day ago   154 comments top 45
archivator 1 day ago 4 replies      
Hi all. Delyan here.

I'm kinda bummed I didn't submit this myself. I would've loved to cash in on those most precious of internet points. Oh, well. :)

To address the question of discussing this publicly: I don't think I'm doing them any favours right now. I'd like to think that the developer crowd (especially the one at HN) is not as easily swayed by competitions, challenges and brands as to forget sleazy behaviour like this.

I'm calling them out publicly because our places of discussion are very rarely guarded by tall walls. Instead, they let everyone in (and that's what makes them great). The price is that every once in a while we all have to push some people out. That's what I'm trying to do by writing this post.

Also, I apologize for the spelling and grammar, I wrote it early in the morning and my brain was still complaining about sleep deprivation and whatnot. Stupid brain.

P.S. also, guys, can I ask a quick favour? If anyone notices the site is down, please drop me a line (my email is in my profile). It's shared hosting and I'm not sure how well it will cope with top-of-HN. Especially when PST wake up.

ebbv 1 day ago 5 replies      
Anyone who finds this shocking, I have news for you; every large company has been and is doing this type of astroturfing all over the internet for well over a decade now.

I guess it can be surprising when you get asked to participate in it directly, but every type of site that's driven by "the public" (Slashdot, Digg, reddit, Twitter, Stack Overflow, etc.) is going to be a target for this type of activity.

It's usually pretty obvious, and I think if we ever want it to stop I think it's important to publicly shame companies who do it like this.

farmdawgnation 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is, in my mind, evidence that companies like this are out of touch. They want to treat Stack Overflow like a search engine and marketing tool to be optimized, and, in their ignorance, don't see it as something different than what it actually is: a community of people passionate about their craft and helping others with it.

Eventually people are going to learn that the way you leverage a community like that toward doing something is to become a respected member of the community yourself. It seems that today is not that say for Samsung. Honestly, they would have been smarter to just have their engineering team dedicate time to answering questions on SO every week, then have a piece done in tech media about why. That is still a bit gimmicky, I guess, but much cooler than this method.

I know that I, at least, would be really entertained to have an exchange with a Samsung engineer about a problem I was having on SO.

snorkel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, this is an interesting topic. I especially like the informative news link. I was also wondering if anyone here has heard of the Samsung Smart App Challenge because I was thinking of entering. I heard the best apps will win great promotional prizes and the latest Samsung devices. I also heard that Samsung devices are 4X faster than leading competitors devices because of their advanced technology. Does anyone else here have questions about Samsung's latest products and services because I heard they have great brochures and contests all the time and amazing fast technology in their devices that are affordable for all budgets.

Thank you and please visit our web site .... Oh wait, am supposed to paste this paragraph too? I better ask John do I paste the entire email body or just the first paragraph?

Hi John,

I pasted the email you sent as instructed. Is it $500 per paragraph per post? I have high HN karma so my rate is $500 per paragraph. Also I responded to several posts about child trafficking because it was a very interesting discussion, hope you don't mind.

Thanks. Still waiting FOR MY Check, John!

ojbyrne 1 day ago 2 replies      
I try to refrain from being a spelling nazi here, but "So, I shot back this brisque email" made me laugh. It's like a portmanteau of "brusque" and "brisk."
jaydles 1 day ago 1 reply      
I work at Stack Exchange, and contacted Samsung as soon as this was brought to our attention last night.

1. The company engaging in these tactics was not hired by Samsung; they appear to have been sub-contracted for some promotion by the company they did hire. Now, it's obviously possible that they turned a blind eye, or don't want to know what methods are used, but in fairness, there's no evidence that they had any idea this was happening. And given the directness of it all, I suspect they'd have objected, if only because it looks so bad.

2. Everyone who was contacted due to being a user on our sites has now received a follow up communication from the company that sent the first message redacting the offer and apologizing for the inappropriate contact and request.

None of that makes any of this... lovely, but it does help clarify that any potential harm or noise this might cause seems to have been contained.

mindstab 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of


and William Gibson's 2003 book Pattern recognition that dealt with this.

This is a pretty old and known thing. Whether it's the street, bars or online forums, this has been going on for over 10 years at least.

buro9 1 day ago 3 replies      
The agency (FLLU) seem really small. Too small in fact, because most companies would engage a substantially larger firm and have account managers and would handle all of this stuff coherently from one place rather than use potentially hundreds of firms this size (3 people).

Before everyone jumps to conclusions... could it not be the case that someone with just a very small bit of budget said "Wouldn't it be great if..." and then hired this little company "I know a few guys who could..." to help promote it, failing to understand what form that promotion would take.

Of course, it can and should be argued that Samsung (and their many departments and entities) had a tighter leash for their managers and such "little" projects and initiatives... but I wouldn't argue that not having a tight enough leash is tantamount to Samsung consciously trying to bribe users.

This is where I long for journalists over bloggers... perhaps someone could find out who hired FLLU? Then perhaps someone could ask that someone the basis for the campaign and whether it was authorised by Samsung.

petenixey 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why is this so bad?

Samsung know that developers are the key to apps and so they go to help promote them by getting questions asked on Stack Overflow. They didn't specify exactly what the questions should be, they didn't say that they had to link to a particular site.

I often hear devs bemoan the fact that the OS/hardware combo they love isn't used by anyone and how despite the fact that it's THE best platform/hardware combo around today they just don't have the apps on it they want.

The way apps to get built on hardware is that manufacturers support and nurture a developer community. So a company comes along and uses some pretty intelligent ways to go direct to the developer community (help increase the documentation around the system) and they're lynch-mobbed for it.

Granted, the questions were naive (about a competition rather than technical) but there's no need to hang the poor guy or publish his email for it. He's a marketer and doesn't realise SO isn't for idle chat. Instead of lambasting him as the mortal enemy of devs why not just write back to him and point out that SO is the wrong place to promote a competition?

cruise02 1 day ago 1 reply      
They could have just bought some ads on Stack Overflow. From the Help Center:

> If a large percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.


That would have been a lot less sleazy, and probably would have gotten more views than most questions about programming contest code.

mwfunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really hate the practice of astroturfing, but what's even more annoying is when someone accuses someone else of doing it in an online forum. For every time someone maybe, possibly legitimately calls someone out for being an astroturfer, it seems like there are 100 or 1000 instances of someone doing it just because they disagree with what the other person is saying, and they're too immature or whatever to realize that reasonable people can come to different conclusions about things without one person being paid to do so.

Astroturfing is one of those things that by itself probably has limited impact, but a much worse side effect: fueling paranoia in online communities and giving dumb people one more tool in their flamewar toolbox.

nicholassmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's sleazy, but it's to be expected now SO is such a significant player in the online developer market. The interesting thing being a question along those lines would be flagged, and closed pretty sharpish.

I can't imagine that this is the last time we'll see people trying this trick though.

iurisilvio 1 day ago 1 reply      
And then you put it in HN front page. It is probably a lot more than the visibility in StackOverflow... =)
rweba 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is so difficult about promoting it via the usual channels? Advertisements, (legitimate) posts on appropriate forums, mailing lists, blogs, etc. Assuming they are presenting an attractive value proposition I don't see why it would be hard to get the message to the right people without resorting to this kind of thing.

This subterfuge only seems to make sense if what you are promoting fundamentally sucks or if you have a very limited budget.

fabian2k 1 day ago 1 reply      
And their example questions would be off-topic on Stack Overflow and likely closed immediately. Whoever is behind this seems to have no idea what SO is and how it works beyond "it's a huge site with programmers on it".
ceautery 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Make it look organic" is a lofty goal, but I don't think it's realistic. As Misery from Ruby Gloom says, you don't tell people you're starting a craze, a craze just happens.
Nate75Sanders 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hilarious, especially in light of this text from the front page of their website:

"Paying for followers will not get you the results you need. Follower growth needs to be organic. We like to keep things All Natural here at FLLU. It's all about Organic Growth! "


shard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else besides me think that this is a very cheap technique to use in a smear campaign? Throw up some fake "viral marketing" company website, offer to pay $x to some people for fake reviews / secret paid promotions but don't actually pay, and wait for public complaints from either people with ethics or people who didn't get paid?
coldcode 1 day ago 4 replies      
$500 to be a whore. No.
sologoub 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure that SO/SX already run various promotional products, like the Microsoft Windows Phone app challenge/contest. That said, I'm also sure such promotional deals come with a set of rules to ensure SO integrity. After all, a lot of work has gone into making SO one of the best (if not the best) places to learn and interact with dev community.

Would be interesting to see how this revelation affects any dealings with Samsung...

at-fates-hands 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another warning to big companies who are employing sketchy marketing companies. With more and more of these stories coming out, I'm wondering when companies are going to stop taking chances with these "agencies" and simply bring their marketing back in house. Then they can have more control and oversight on what goes on with their brand.

This just makes Samsung and the whole Android community look bad, regardless of who actually was doing it.

lnanek2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Half the scumminess here is that they don't understand StackOverflow isn't a general purpose forum, I think. It would be less offensive if they were paying a popular forum member to mention the contest. On StackOverflow, however, you are supposed to post questions about something you are programming, however. So it really isn't valid to just bring up a contest as a contest. I suppose theoretically, if they wanted to do something close to what they want they'd have to pay someone to try using their APIs and post questions they encounter and mention the contest on the side. Although even that is kind of stretching it.
mathattack 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm very interested in how this plays out. Right now I add Stackexchange to search queries in Google, precisely because the SEO effects haven't hit.

The morality question may not be so black and white, though. If it's ok to accept goodies to monetize a Klout score, why not for StackExchange? Unfortunately, it only takes a small amount of people doing this for a variety of products to ruin the site.

My impression of this as an outsider hearing only one side of the story is Samsung asked an agency to help get the word out in the tech community. The agency probably knows more about advertising than digital, or views digital advertising as Twitter and Klout. I think their less than subtle approach will backfire.

pbang 1 day ago 1 reply      
Soooooooo... Anyone know anything about SSAC?
graup 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Need some feedback on the app I am about to enter for the Samsung Smart App Challenge."

I guess that one could have worked. A real question on some programming problem having this as a side note...

They didn't really understand SO, but they could have done worse.

D3nver 1 day ago 3 replies      
You realize you're promoting it on HN now right?
coin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why do sites like this disable pinchzoom? What purpose does it serve?
gearoidoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yup, AirBnB did (kinda) the same thing to listers on Craigslist.
pcunite 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm the developer of a small but "better than current offerings" product. Everywhere my product gets mention two or three shills jump in to recommend theirs. Wecome to WebSpam 2.0
mmed 1 day ago 0 replies      
Gumtree (Craigslist equivalent in UK) offered me money to do similar kind of stuff for the sake of "Word of mouth" marketing. They offered bonus if I could post a blog on my personal blog too.
EdM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Okay, be honest. After reading this, how many of you searched for "Samsung Smart App Challenge".


I'm not sure that Samsung hasn't won this round...

_pmf_ 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's up with the blatant Samsung bashing recently? Does Apple have to fall back on these kinds of tricks?
rsynnott 1 day ago 0 replies      
Astroturfing via StackOverflow has to be the most pathetic possible form of unethical marketing.
mmphosis 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is even better is that you complained about this in a blog, and posted to Hacker News. Before this I didn't know anything about the Samsung Androids, but thanks to your blog and posting on Hacker News probably more people know about this than any fake $500 posting on stackoverflow. And, Samsung didn't have to pay a cent for your publicity -- or maybe they did pay you for this clever bit of marketing.
csmatt 1 day ago 0 replies      
They'd be better going after people who center themselves around Android dev and have a lot of followers on Twitter, G+, etc.
jama22 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like they're already in damage control mode. My buddy just received this e-mail from james@fluu.com


CmonDev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those kind of competitions are really just work with non-guaranteed pay.
eonil 1 day ago 0 replies      
No surprise for Samsung is doing this. Abusing community by ad is the only their real professional at.
spo81rty 1 day ago 0 replies      
They ended up getting some amazing free advertising out of this via this HN post!
bbayer 1 day ago 1 reply      
So everybody now know about Samsung Smart App Challange. Mission accomplished.
TheRealDunkirk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whatever. If you don't think this sort of thing isn't happening at EVERY web top-100 web site, you've got another thing coming.
mariuolo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shame on them.
penetrarthur 1 day ago 0 replies      
So in the end you've chosen to advertise it on HN?
Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks, Get a Visit from the Feds theatlanticwire.com
411 points by pg  1 day ago   213 comments top 42
sethbannon 1 day ago 6 replies      
Our government is sending gangs of armed men to perfectly innocent citizens' doors to interrogate them, simply because the authorities don't like what the people are looking at online. Chilling. Now that PRISM and XKeyscore are being reported on in the main stream media, I hope we'll hear many more stories like this and that this will cause folks to realize that it could easily be their door next time.
DanI-S 1 day ago 4 replies      
There is only one solution to this. It is fairly low tech, and it's not a popular one around here.

Get involved in politics.

It's tempting to believe you can enact change from your desk chair, writing smart code and angry tweets to outwit the spies and inform the people. Well, we're not there just yet.

The people making the decisions that lead to these events - the most powerful people in the world - grew up in an age where, to produce change, you would get out into the streets and stir things up. Step out of your comfort zone, address the public and bring them to your side. Many people don't see the harm in a surveillance state. To prevent one, you must show the public why it is a bad thing and how they can speak out.

Democracy only works when your views are heard by those with the power to bring change. Not the background rumble of a subjugated people, but the articulate demands of an informed electorate with high-profile spokespeople and popular support.

declan 1 day ago 3 replies      
I just posted this on G+:

A Long Island woman named Michele Catalano posts photos of M-66 explosives (that look to me like extra-large firecrackers) publicly on Facebook. A few weeks later the local cops show up and ask her husband if they have any bomb-making equipment. Instead of drawing the most likely conclusion, she instead blames this on local Long Island cops MONITORING HER GOOGLE SEARCHES:https://plus.google.com/112961607570158342254/posts/FWAVRVaN...

foobarbazqux 1 day ago 14 replies      
Alright, let's do a group experiment. Choose one of the links below:

http://www.google.com/search?q=pressure+cooker+backpacks insecure)

https://www.google.com/search?q=pressure+cooker+backpacks (secure)

and report back if you get a visit from a squadron of men dressed in green wearing helmets and holding guns. If any reporters clicked on the https link, it's PRISM because the leak is from inside Google, otherwise it's XKeyscore. If we get results from both we are really fucked.

Or were you too scared to search? I know I was...

MrKurtz 1 day ago 5 replies      
There is no actual proof that this was due to web searches, also the picture the atlantic is using is misleading and terrible, and the article was silently changed after someone else pointed that the alleged visit wasn't actually from the FBI but from local law enforcement:


The story boils down to: "a lady claims to get a visit from the feds after googling some stuff".

She herself says that:

They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing. I dont know what happens on the other 1% of visits and Im not sure I want to know what my neighbors are up to. https://medium.com/something-like-falling/2e7d13e54724

This is lazy and exploitive reporting by all parties.

clarkmoody 1 day ago 4 replies      
The family should have refused to answer questions without an attorney present, as this could easily fall under a 4th Amendment violation on the part of the government.

How to resist warrentless searches (roadside checkpoints): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4Ku17CqdZg

csense 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Correction: After confirmation from the FBI that its agents weren't involved in the visit, the headline of this piece was changed to "Visit From the Cops" instead of "the Feds."

In the interests of accurate reporting, perhaps the HN headline should be corrected as well?

s_q_b 1 day ago 1 reply      
The specific type of explosive used the Boston bombings, the pressure cooker devices, was originally from Anwar al-Awlaki's Inspire magazine. The Feds, based on DC hearsay, may be a little embarrassed they didn't catch the association right away, so they're overreacting.

Of course, the bigger story is that Googling anything shouldn't lead to a visit from domestic law enforcement, because access to search records of American citizens should be protected by the Fourth Amendment.

abalone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Terrible reporting. It's unlikely that Google searches are the reason.

1. There's no confirmation that Google searches led to the visit, yet the article reports it as fact (headline).

2. Most if not all Google searches are encrypted over HTTPS nowadays.

3. It's local law enforcement, and while NSA info may be shared, it's unlikely that an illegal top secret NSA program targeting citizens would be shared in this manner, 100 times a week.

4. As user declan noted, the more likely cause is other information PUBLICLY SHARED ON FACEBOOK, such as this image one of them posted of high-powered fireworks: https://plus.google.com/112961607570158342254/posts/FWAVRVaN...

yarianluis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't like how they use one image at the top which is from a completely different event, as explained at the bottom. The image seems to be chosen to generate a specific emotional response but I'm not sure it actually represents the events covered in the story very honestly.
sneak 1 day ago 0 replies      
Remember: it can't happen here.


bowmessage 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks pg, glad to see this article has some actual verification in it.

>The Guardian confirmed with the FBI that the agency was aware of the visit, but that it was conducted by local police on Long Island.

declan 1 day ago 1 reply      
The photo used to illustrate the Atlantic article is a stock photograph taken from the Boston bomber hunt -- and used to make their unverified report seem more incendiary.

You can see it published in April by the Las Vegas Review Journal (click their right arrow on the slideshow a few times):http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/boston-bomb-suspect-hospit...

alexhawdon 1 day ago 0 replies      
How long before kids start playing "Google 'jihadist bomb manual' three times" instead of "say 'Bloody Mary' three times into a mirror at midnight"?

Real soon, I hope!

chadrs 1 day ago 3 replies      
> What the hell is quinoa, they asked.

Their culinary ignorance is nearly as upsetting as their disregard for citizens privacy.

jggonz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, it looks like our law enforcement agencies won't stop harassing us for the things we do in the 'privacy' of our homes. Perhaps companies like "Google" should help them with some intelligence by making it easier to catch the 'right' guy while providing more transparency in doing so. The thought behind this is that the government will continue to collect information, and we might as well help them find the 'right' information by providing intelligent analysis of the data. This in turn would help reduce these life-ruining experiences as the ones reported in this article...

I don't even like what I just said, but it's an idea.

The conditions for this kind of help from the tech world, would be

1. They access bits of information without receiving a full copy from the origination source.

2. They allow congress to pass privacy laws that make sense for the country.

3. They must provide an API to your own data... after all, they do use your personal email address as the search key......

Or, they need to shut down.

mikegreen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am skeptical of how real this is... If this really happens this often, wouldn't we be seeing reports of this all the time? "They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week."
foobarqux 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought we didn't have to worry if we had nothing to hide.
reader5000 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the media trying to sell pageviews. We know virtually nothing about the facts of this incident, yet the media is trying to sell the story "if you google for pressure cookers you will be visited by law enforcement." That is clearly preposterous.
mladenkovacevic 1 day ago 0 replies      
But everything was conducted with accordance to both our official as well as secret laws right??!! Phew, ok good. As long as everything is on the level.
janj 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it a dumb idea to to see if I can get visited after doing some Google searches? Is there a law against trying to get noticed by authorities in this way?
foobarqux 1 day ago 1 reply      
At least he was confronted immediately. Can you imagine if this was used against him at some time in the future as a "pattern of suspicious activity"? Or worse if he was selected via data-mining when looking for suspects of a bombing? It's like finding secret messages in every eight words of the Bible.
nhance 1 day ago 1 reply      
Quick question: What if News corp was fed the details of voicemails that they "hacked" through government agencies in an effort to keep the public placated through meaningless news stories?

I know it's not on topic, but with everything coming to light, it would not surprise me. Was it ever discovered how News Corp got the private voicemails for their stories?

superconductor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next time the cops are slow to respond to my noise complaint, I'll know what to do.
riggins 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm worried.

Presumably there are few people comfortable with the government having such fine grained detail on your activities.

CurtMonash 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's assume that this kind of aggravation is necessary to defend against terrorism in an imperfect world, which in particular has imperfect systems and government employees.

Is there anything EXCEPT terrorism we'd want to have cracked down on that closely??

http://www.dbms2.com/2013/07/29/what-our-legislators-should-... spells out some consequences of this reasoning.

AznHisoka 1 day ago 2 replies      
Day 1 of using DuckDuckGo... starts now.
fotoblur 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why couldn't we simply flood the systems being tracked with more noise thus reducing signal to noise ratio. This sort of thing could be simply thwarted by a system of bots creating a large number of false positives. Any ideas?
Zelphyr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems to me a member of a terrorism "task force" wouldn't need to ask whether a rice cooker can be used to make a bomb.

Note, I'm not questioning whether these men were members of such a task force. I'm questioning whether they're capable of asking non-stupid questions.

fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are lucky they weren't harmed.
anigbrowl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Topping the article with a photo of a SWAT team without a caption is rather disingenuous on the Atlantic's part. At first I thought these were the people that showed up on her doorstep.
superconductor 1 day ago 1 reply      
You'd have to be a fool to use Google nowadays. You might as well cc the NSA when gmailing somebody.
damon_c 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about the underwear bomber?

Why are we allowed to search for underwear without federal scrutiny, and why are we still allowed to wear underwear on planes?

Is there a line somewhere?

PencilAndPaper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who cares if they showed up as a swat team or as one 'friendly' sheriff. Thats not the point. The point is that we are being surveilled in the most creepy way.

Mount your ipad on your wall and start calling it a telescreen.

nakedrobot2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fuck this. I never want to live in the usa.
T_T 1 day ago 0 replies      
Minority Report, everybody.
datums 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this a terrible joke ? http://bit.ly/1ctfYJ8
goshx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope they are enjoying all the porn I've been watching.
frogpelt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Does journalistic integrity also extend to pictures?

The picture has NOTHING to do with the story.

syjer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought that now all the google search were over https, so how they were able to track the guy (without direct access to the search data from the google server)?
asabjorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This makes current intelligence practices seem reactionary, and maybe it has fallen pray to some of the weaknesses Bruce Schneier pointed out in TSAs procedures. Have anyone seen a comparative analysis of cost towards success of targeted local investigation vs investigations prompted by big data analysis intelligence programs?
crististm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hey, Bing even suggests "pressure cooker bomb". Let's see...
Show HN: CoreOS, a Linux distro for containers coreos.com
389 points by polvi  3 days ago   96 comments top 25
justinsb 3 days ago 1 reply      
The combination of service discovery and containerization is incredibly powerful for distributed applications. I love the idea that I can simply start a Docker container, and it can then discover its configuration and self-configure, rather than having to use Chef/Puppet/whatever.

To my mind, this is the missing answer to "how do I actually use Docker?"

I'm particularly excited by the idea of having a cluster of machines self-configure; normally this is incredibly painful, relying on multicast (not normally available on the cloud) or some ugly hacks (like using S3).

srgseg 3 days ago 2 replies      
For those utterly confused by this story, CoreOS is for running Containers.

Containers can be thought of as way of packaging an entire runtime environment which is more lightweight and more universally deployable than creating a virtual machine image.

This one slide explains it well: http://www.docker.io/static/img/about/docker_vm.jpg

philips 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brandon from CoreOS here. Check out the ec2 docs here: http://coreos.com/docs/ec2/
gexla 3 days ago 0 replies      
Geez, the rabbit hole gets even deeper. This is all great. Docker has been moving at "ludicrous speed" from the beginning and the ecosystem developing around it has been doing the same.

I'm itching to play with etcd also and hopefully it can gain more momentum than Zookeeper or Doozer did.

wmf 3 days ago 2 replies      
This could use some big-picture documentation. Does this run inside or outside the containers?
stock_toaster 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is it kind of like SmartOS but with Linux instead of Illumos and without DTrace and ZFS?
4ad 3 days ago 1 reply      
So the Linux crowd now reinvents SmartOS... Good, I guess.
shykes 3 days ago 1 reply      
And it uses Docker as the package format. Awesome :
knotty66 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like a distro with ZFS/BTRFS, LXC and KVM, with a user friendly configuration layer on top. Not necessarily a GUI.

Really, a Linux version of SmartOS. I really like SmartOS but I like to get as much running in Zones as possible and there would be less friction doing this with a Linux kernel.

dschiptsov 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ready meals, yeah?)

I do remember times when there were essentially two choices - Debian or RH. There was also Suse, but the madness of making everything look like Netware, with standard, classiesc UNIX tools replaced by some home-brew programs with dozens of parameters nobody knew. It died long ago, thank god.

The advantage of Debian was that it was de-facto standard academia linux. Which means more-or-less stable and well tested, while some designs were (and still) lame. apt is such a lousy mess compared to RPM.)

Then the wave of migration from proprietary UNIXes to cheap Linux systems began, and RHEL flourished, being the OS of choice if you wish to run Oracle or Informix (the second was very impressive and still is). RHEL at that time was actively developed, well-tested, and even went through a painful transition to NTPL.

Then good people made CentOS from RHEL's sources and nowadays it is still default choice for some stable, but little bit lagging behind the popular distros Linux (it is still on 2.6.x kernels)

Then was the raise of Ubuntu. Well, it is popular, which almost never mean good.) Nevertheless for the wast majority Linux = Ubuntu. Leaving aside the crazy habit of incorporation of any new shinny crap invented by freedesktop guys, such as various init, management and settings "services" it is quite stable, and well-tested, indeed. Btw, comparing to the glorious days of 2.4 to 2.6 migration, or that NTPL stuff, there are almost no problem with core libraries and tools.

So, does anyone need a new distro? My answer is NO. It is quite easy to reduce CentOS or even Ubuntu (or Fedora, which is also infected by systemd madness) to a minimal and stable set of packages. All you need to do is exclude all Gnome-related stuff with dependencies, keeping image and fonts manipulation libraries, and X11 libs to be able to recompile popular packages.

The key idea here is begin with already many times tested sources, such as CentOS .srpm (got through tests by two separate teams) or Ubuntu's packages, cutting off unnecessary dependencies. Then you will have compatible and well-tested OS for containers or whatever else sales people call the banal para-virtualization.

Setting up your own yum repository is a matter of few hours, Debian packaging is more messy, but manageable. This is what sysadmin's job all about.

Btw, vendors such as Amazon already have done this job, so if you hate system administration (which is a sign that shopping might be a better future ,) just re-use these images - it is much better than some new "core OS".

The so-called "minimal install" of Ubuntu is also fine, and all you need to do is re-compile important packages, such as MySQL the way you like it and place them to your local repo.

zobzu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh look, irc channel, docs, etc.. oh and you can't get access to it without registering to something, with full details, and maybe get elected.

I would think that this is not that hard to make something similar from any existing distro, with actual build steps, etc.

Ie the "open source way", and not something with probable financial interest.

brandonhsiao 3 days ago 5 replies      
Can someone please explain what a container is? Googling 'container' doesn't seem to give me useful or relevant results.
pyotrgalois 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am using docker on my startup. It's a very useful technology. I hope that coreos is as good as docker.

I think that anyone interested on this should check http://smartos.org/. Coreos and Smartos have many things in common. I don't know if the creators of docker/coreos have tried smartos. I think they should. It's always good to check and learn from similar projects.

DannoHung 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yowza, I keep being impressed by the alacrity with which Docker based ecosystem components keep popping up.
gales 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very interesting; can this complement Flynn? (https://flynn.io/) or is it in lieu of?Also, can it run on Open Stack?
dmix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Security-wise is containerization safer than standard operating systems? (besides being relatively new and unexploited)
frozenport 3 days ago 0 replies      
In these embedded and HPC like applications there is a significant advantage gained by having the right kernel flags (Preemption, etc).

I would like to see this distro build its kernel from source for most or every installation.

samstave 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am super excited about this as I am doing OpenStack deployment automation. With this - I can automatedly deploy all the way out to the app on bare metal at scale extremely leanly.
idan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anybody tried to get this running on Linode?

Sorry if that's a n00b question, I'm still fumbling my way around the (ever-growing) virtualization / devops landscape.

alexchamberlain 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome; any info on the whos behind this?
bsilvereagle 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you like the idea of CoreOS but don't like the idea of using Docker containers, check out bedrocklinux.org.
dochtman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ah, yet another awesome thing built on top of Gentoo.
visualphoenix 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is docker required/prepackaged? I'd prefer to use vanilla lxc/dhcpcd.
grogenaut 2 days ago 0 replies      
if you're core (totally stripped down os) why do you provide a discovery service I'm going to override?
inthewind 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has this got anything to do with Tiny Core?
Volvo Gave Away the Most Important Design They Ever Patented priceonomics.com
385 points by pisarzp  1 day ago   75 comments top 10
refurb 1 day ago 2 replies      
The article is a little disingenuous.

There aren't two options for a patent like this (horde it or give it away freely).

The other option is to out-license the patent to your competitors for a fee, say $5. The other car manufacturers can speak to the additional safety offered, customers can seek those types of cars out (and are likely to pay for the privilege).

Volvo makes money on their invention and customers get the safety they desire.

Everybody wins.

beloch 1 day ago 4 replies      
An interesting question would be whether or not Volvo would do the same thing today if they made another such invention.
chiph 1 day ago 4 replies      
Seat belts work. I once spent several minutes held upside down by one, after the car I was riding in rolled onto it's roof. Everything loose in the car ended up on the headliner -- change, jackets, crusty old french fry bits...

BTW: You are almost certainly not strong enough to support yourself by one hand while you unbuckle. But falling down to the roof after the wreck is far better than being thrown from the car during the wreck.

fjcaetano 1 day ago 2 replies      
In my opinion, this is the best example of a selfless action that turns itself into positive a valuable marketing. Volvo gave up profiting millions (billions?) for "the sake of mankind" which gave them an image of a company that cares, not only for their customers, but one that cares for everyone.

Well done.

cgag 1 day ago 4 replies      
Does a strap across the shoulder really warrant a patent? Am I just having good hindsight? I guess I need to think about this more, but the more I read about things that are patentable the less I think I believe patents should exist at all.
umsm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Volvo is not the only auto manufacturer to do this. I believe that Mercedes and Bosch do this too when their technology can considerably help the safety of the cars on the road.
soneca 1 day ago 1 reply      
1959?? In Brazil there were no three-point seatbelt on any car until the 90's!

I wonder why, since all our cars were from international big companies (Ford, Volks, Chevrolet...).They were locally produced, as we had a very closed market, but the technology was available for the big companies to introduce them here. Maybe it was cheaper to built the two-point one and as the brazilian customers didn't have to know that a three-point version was even available, no one complained.

codezero 1 day ago 3 replies      
"... a three point seat belt that can be seen in the above image and every car sold today"

I'm confused, the above image is a meme -- was this copied from some other source?

CmonDev 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"German patent registrars named it one of the 8 most significant patents of the century - an honor shared with inventors like Thomas Edison."

They shared it rather then stole it from someone else. So sharing the list with Edison is a doubtable honour.

CaRDiaK 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank god Apple didn't do it!
Quickly generate product screenshots in realistic environments breezi.com
380 points by NirDremer  3 days ago   90 comments top 42
sethbannon 3 days ago 1 reply      
This should save a lot of people a lot of time. FYI it's all done under Creative Commons license allowing commercial use of the images.
ryanbrunner 3 days ago 9 replies      
This is a more of a rant on an overall trend than criticism of this site completely, but I honestly do not understand the "drag to upload a file" interaction at all.

I'm in all likelihood going to need to navigate through a bunch of folders to locate what I want to upload anyway - why force me to open up Finder, reposition it so that my browser and finder are both visible, with the "drop area" visible as well, find my file and drag it over? With the default file upload that HTML provides, it's going to open a conveniently sized open window from the start, with a clear call to action on how to select the file in question, and no requirement for an awkward drag into some box on a webpage.

It really feels like prioritizing "cool" interactions over usability.

replax 3 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like this guy's images became somewhat handy afterall:


jqueryin 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. I'm surprised I haven't seen something like this before. I think you've got a great potential market here for monetizing. It's like stock photography meets product upsell.

My first suggestion would be to get similar shots to those you've already done with a female replacing the male. It's an easy way to add more shots quickly.

I also like the idea of more scenes including people. Make it look like they're having fun and also using the phone/tablet at the same time. Smiling faces sell products!

cpursley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing, I'll be using it on my revamped marketing site.

I think in terms of conversion, potential users emphatically see themselves using the product with their device with this type of frame (opposed just a screenshot with no device frame).

However, I would suggest several PC shots. Like Lenovo laptop, Dell monitor, etc instead of being so Apple-centric.

gedrap 3 days ago 1 reply      
Found it on HN on January and... Why it's free?!

I would be glad to pay for each screenshot generated because saves plenty of time and simply makes presentations look way better.

There is a channel (you already have it), there is a real problem to be solved and it's something people would pay... Sounds brilliant :)

evadne 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was trying to find screen reflection :)

The iPhone 5 screenshot area is off. Top left corner too high, top right corner too close to the right, two bottom corners too close to the right so perspective looks incongruent.

Actually content areas in almost all templates are slightly off. All these screens have gaps around them, its chrome - bezel - screen gap - pixels. Consider shooting template images with the device showing a solid color so you have the actual image area baked into the original, not with the screen turned off because youre more likely to get the placement wrong that way.

brandon272 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great, but it's taking forever to process the image. And I'm sure that because the app provides no feedback or indication that your image is queued, people are probably stopping the process and re-trying their upload which probably only slows things down tremendously!
enraged_camel 3 days ago 2 replies      
I really want to share this with people, but it's horrendously slow. I uploaded a 2048 x 1536 image generated from my iPad, and it has been processing it for the past 10+ minutes.

edit: over 20 minutes now. I had to restart it.

kafkaesque 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks very nice.

Is it possible to add glare/reflection to the actual screen? It would make it look more 'integrated' into the photo's surroundings.

philjackson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing. Thanks for sharing this. I'd been searching for stock images like the ones offered here in which to superimpose screenshots but always came short so just didn't bother. Now I'll bother.
joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used this for a mock that I posted on Dribbble[1]. I remember when it was first released and there were only a few templates so it's great to see that it's still growing. If the OP is here, how hard would it be to have a scene with multiple images?

[1] - http://dribbble.com/shots/1023533-Moneys-Mobile-Digital-Wall...

cdawzrd 3 days ago 0 replies      
realistic Apple environments :-)

(I realize there are one or two Android and Windows phones in the list, but still...)

Yetanfou 3 days ago 2 replies      
Only Apple products there - why tailor to the minority? Globally Apple has around twenty-something percent of smartphones, thirty-something percent of tablets and ten-something percent of 'PC's'. You wouldn't suspect if you looked at the media though where it often is Apple or bust. I never understood this herd mentality and I still don't. People will start dropping Android screenshots in your iProducts, Xmonad runninng on Macs (OK, that is plausible but still...), Windows will suddenly magically run on more iProducts, etc.

Diversity is good. Apple is not very diverse. Why not add something else?

ohwp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why not transform the image on the client side? It will save load on the server.

But it's a nice idea!

gdilla 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love breezi. Unfortunately, it is against Apple's marketing guidelines to use their product in unauthorized ways to promote your app. It is loosely enforced, but they have pointed it out to us and asked for a takedown (politely). They can also hold it against you if they're considering you for a feature.
sbashyal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Feature request: stages like these http://www.slickwebsite.com/img/showcase1.png

Also, stages with transparent background would be nice

mgkimsal 3 days ago 0 replies      
nice idea. i can see people paying for this to use some premium background images. 3-4 generic ones are free, you could offer up a lot more custom ones for a small fee.
scrozier 3 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't working for me right now...possibly server load? But great idea. I too would pay. And I second the suggestion for more diversity in the shots. E.g., I could use one right now in the hands of a Hispanic teen girl. In general, I would need more women.
nns 3 days ago 1 reply      
This has been discussed before over here - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4988914
GuitarJ87 3 days ago 0 replies      
I created an opensource alternative a few months back, called snappshot. (https://github.com/justinjudd/snappshot)

Right now I have just posted my own images, but my goal is to get other photographers/individuals to add photos of different devices.

I am updating my webserver right now, but for now you can run it locally or deploy it yourself.

subsystem 3 days ago 1 reply      
I do wonder if something bad happens if you try to screenshot the screenshot script url, being a get request and all.
chmike 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can I have one context photo with a laptop on the top of a roller coster ? This could be a good introduction for a VC or startup conference presentation.

I would suggest to provide HP or Dell computers too because Apple computer everywhere is getting boring. Ask them to giveaway the laptop as marketing campaing.

nisdec 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you do an image search on google you can actually find companies which are using them... for example:


( Did the image search with this one: http://placeit.breezi.com/uploads/stage/stage_image/113/bree... )

ollysb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love this as a webservice (I'd pay). I need to create product shots for every customer I have (white labelling) and it would be awesome to be able to generate them on the fly.
trin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
awesome service!

any chance of getting a good ol' boring office version maybe with a real monitor or just a laptop on a desk? the kind of people i would use this for really dont go for "macbook air with a notepad in the garden"

davefp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love a way to filter the options. Scanning through all the pics looking for all the laptop ones (for example) is annoying.

Otherwise: I like it!

jacog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant. Bookmarked.

Would love some Windows-y machines as well, all laptops are Macs. (Which is what I use, but still live in a world of Windows laptops)

ceeK 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. I was just the other day thinking that there should be this exact service when considering doing one of these shots. This is going to save me a lot of time, thank you. Will be much easier to create marketing assets.
triplenineteen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you are sending a Safari user-agent string for all of the devices.

It might be worthwhile to send the proper user-agent strings for each device, so that you'll get a custom response from servers which dynamically generate content based on that header.

quartus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I loaded up my first screenshot sequence of the day. http://placeit.breezi.com/3443524Please advise on how to kick up the 4d3d3d3
aaronz8 3 days ago 2 replies      
I tried to drag and drop one of the images on top, but I get:

We're sorry, but something went wrong.

We've been notified about this issue and we'll take a look at it shortly.

mjpa 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing it takes a higher resolution image than what the device would use? The sites I tried ended up rendering wrong in terms of what media queries were used...
quadrant6 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. When I typed the url of my own website, which is responsive, it didn't get the responsive version. If it did, it would be perfect.
andyhmltn 3 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't work at all for me. I just keep gettign 500's
alevans4 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would be awesome if this had stages for industrial environments.
slawwwc 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was just looking for something like this. Works great!
aytekin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea. Great execution.
foxhop 3 days ago 0 replies      
url2png is kicking my butt when it comes to conversions!

They get around 5 new customers for every 1 new linkpeek.com customer.

the_kat 2 days ago 0 replies      
what are the terms of use? what is breezi doing with my uploaded screenshot? can I find that out somewhere?are the screenshots stored on their servers?
MIT Report is a whitewash. My Statement in Response tarensk.tumblr.com
363 points by woodhull  3 days ago   197 comments top 19
pkfrank 3 days ago 8 replies      
>Aaron would be alive today if MIT had acted as JSTOR did.

This may in fact be true, but this claim is leveled with the implication that MIT is responsible for his death. They surely could have responded better; taking a "non-neutral" position (actively supporting lessened punishment), but this claim seems overreaching and narrow.

freyr 3 days ago 7 replies      
"Aaron would be alive today if MIT had acted as JSTOR did. MIT had a moral imperative to do so."

It's natural to look for someone to blame. Should we lay the blame on MIT? If they had called off an overzealous D.A. from throwing the book at him, he might be alive today. Why not blame the D.A.? Or JSTOR? In any case, aiding in prosecution did not cause his death directly.

The decision to commit suicide was ultimately his own. Of all the options he had available to him, he consciously chose that option. I'm reminded of a quote by Viktor Frankl:

"Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation."

Aaron had the power to choose right until his last choice. Why do some people survive terrible hardships, and others don't?

According to his close friends' personal accounts, Aaron suffered from suicidal thoughts and depression for many years. Long before the JSTOR case, and long before MIT ever got involved. As long as we're speculating about things we can't know for sure, I'm guessing depression was really to blame for his suicide. That won't satisfy everyone, since it doesn't give them a powerful organization to rage against. But reality doesn't always work that way.

suprgeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
MIT "Negotiators" were the ones primarily holding out against the "No Jail" plea-bargain [1] which would have otherwise succeeded in getting Aaron the commensurate penalty for his actions.

Instead, because of their pigheadedness, the govt. got a chance to threaten him him with a very large Jail sentence leading to the completely avoidable tragedy that happened.

Whitewash indeed...his death is certainly attributable to MIT & Carmen Ortiz, et al.

[1] http://gothamist.com/2013/01/15/aaron_swartzs_lawyer_mit_ref...

GrinningFool 3 days ago 7 replies      
This is probably going to cost me karma, but here goes: "Aaron would be alive today if MIT had acted as JSTOR did"

So he has no responsibility for the decisions he made, up to and including the final one?

Yes, MIT's actions may have had influence. Or they may have hastened the inevitable - a person who makes this choice is not untroubled to begin with, and it's never about just one thing.

Ultimately, it was his choice in the end. The responsibility is his.

denzil_correa 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is this true?

    This report claims that MIT was neutral  but MITs lawyers gave     prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing     access to Aarons lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence.     Thats not neutral. The fact is that all MIT had to do was say     publicly, We dont want this prosecution to go forward  and     Steve Heymann and Carmen Ortiz would have had no case.
Was there a possibility where MIT could say that they did not want any prosecution?

thezilch 3 days ago 0 replies      
MIT's a bully, and they should educate themselves on the lengths taken by their state's legislature to help prevent suicide [0]. Aaron might have played a part in his own actions, but if MIT is OK with Aaron being classified a cyber criminal, I'm OK with setting them on the express path to blame.

[0] http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010...

willholloway 3 days ago 0 replies      
A sane nation would have recognized Aaron as an incredibly valuable asset to the entire society. The American criminal justice system saw him as a dangerous threat and offered only cruel and unusual punishment. The facts point to just one conclusion: we live under an irrational and pathological criminal justice system.
ferdo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The historical info contained in JSTOR should be free, just as Aaron envisioned. MIT long ago lost its shine as a conduit for information and has now become just another McBiz.

Long live Aaron's spirit and his zeal.

falk 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you don't agree with how MIT handled this situation, protest the MIT hackathon in October and any other MIT related events.
ddod 3 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like objecting to the FOIA is all the report we need on how wrong/right their actions were. If they think that whatever in there is damaging to them or likely to cause people enough anger to create a dangerous climate for those involved, it doesn't really matter what MIT's internal report characterizes things as.
delinka 3 days ago 0 replies      
"...Thats not neutral. The fact is that all MIT had to do was say publicly..."

Well, the author's proposal for action by MIT is also not "neutral." Though I hold the same opinion about how MIT should have acted, I feel it's [inadvertently] written with this juxtaposition that goes from a level-headed "that's not neutral and here's why" to an emotional "they should have done X instead" which I fear reduces the effect of this statement.

However, there's been boatloads of public outcry over this whole thing and I'm certain I feel that MIT should address each and every issue people continue to raise, regardless of the how emotionally charged such statements might be.

danso 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Here are the facts: This report claims that MIT was neutral but MITs lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aarons lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence. Thats not neutral.

Those aren't really facts, those are assertions that could use some documentation. Which specific witnesses and pieces of evidence did the defense request (and is there a record of this) but were denied to them (and is there a record of that)?

SCAQTony 3 days ago 0 replies      
MIT obviously is conducting it's affairs like a business. Therefore, asking MIT to do the "soul searching" they promised is like asking Dow Chemical* to do so some "soul searching" searching after the the Bhopal chemical spill. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster

Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide

Zigurd 3 days ago 1 reply      
What, will these hands ne'er be clean? No more o that, my lord, no more o that. You mar all with this
whitehat2k9 3 days ago 1 reply      
>his report claims that MIT was neutral but MITs lawyers gave prosecutors total access to witnesses and evidence, while refusing access to Aarons lawyers to the exact same witnesses and evidence.

I'm sorry, but where exactly did this report, or any other literature on the case, indicate that MIT refused access to the defense's lawyers?

vehementi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kinda sucks that almost every post here is getting distracted by the "he would be alive today" bit.
crb002 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ouch. Glad Taren is holding their feet to the fire.
Pro_bity 3 days ago 0 replies      
This has to be difficult to stomach. I am very sorry for your loss.
comrh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some serious misunderstanding of mental illness in this thread and on HN in general that seems to raise its ugly head with news about Aaron.
Now That Its in the Broadband Game, Google Flip-Flops on Network Neutrality wired.com
345 points by hvs  3 days ago   203 comments top 34
smtddr 3 days ago 14 replies      
IMHO, this headline & article is sensational and almost a straw-man argument. I'm not sure anyone should expect to be able to run a substantial business off their home internet connection without buying a business-class connection - nor does this decision by Google somehow imply they've "flip-flopped" on net-neutrality. I run a little game-server from my RaspberryPi at home. Technically, I'm not allowed to do this. While my Comcast IP is supposedly dynamic, it only changes once every 18 months or so. But I really think the law is there for people who go overboard sending terabytes-per-hour with some crazy successful business. At its peak, my site only gets only about 5,000+ hits per month or so(because it reports real-time data and people hit refresh all the time). Like Comcast, even if Google says no, just go ahead and do it anyway. They'll probably not bother you unless you're rolling your own Netflix-clone or something, in which case you really should upgrade to business-class or get on those cloud providers.
RyanZAG 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think by now most people have learned never to trust Google (or Oracle or Microsoft, etc). This certainly doesn't come as a surprise to me, and I fully expect them to pull as many anti competitive stunts on Chrome and Android in the future as they possibly can.

The question is: what can we do to mitigate this? And no, choosing not to use Google products is about as useful as choosing not to use MS Windows was 10 years ago. We need to try and find solutions now before this becomes a serious problem.

spankalee 3 days ago 7 replies      
Disclaimer: Google employee here, though nothing to do with Fiber.

I don't really like the no "server" policy, mainly because it's impossible to define what a server is, but I understand it from a business perspective. If a business likely to use a significant portion of their upstream bandwidth, it's reasonable to charge more than a consumer who doesn't. At the same time you want to be nice to power users who aren't running a business, but who use more upstream than average and might recommend the service to others.

Personally, I think this is all a consequence of not having metered billing. It would be more fair if your bill was a function of max bandwidth, actual data transferred, and service levels (support, QoS, etc.), though I would pay more than most of my neighbors.

The headline and net-neutrality tie in are just wrong though. This has nothing to do with net neutrality, it's a service level / market segmentation issue.

arh68 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm trying to piece together the legal basis for the whole no-residential-server thing, and the more I dig, the more baseless it all seems.

Darah Franklin's dismissal [1] of McClendon's complaint states, 'Google Fiber's server policy is an aspect of "reasonable network management" that the Open Internet Order and Rules specifically permit.' That seems like an awfully vague phrase, "reasonable network management", but here's one interpretation, offered by the FCC back in 2009 [2]:

>> Under the draft proposed rules, subject to reasonable network management, a provider of broadband Internet access service: ... 2. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from running the lawful applications or using the lawful services of the users choice; 3. would not be allowed to prevent any of its users from connecting to and using on its network the users choice of lawful devices that do not harm the network;

'Lawful services'? 'Lawful devices'? It seems like a private git server should be allowed, after all. But that was just a draft. Franklin doesn't mention any room for exceptions, though:

> The server policy has been established to account for the congestion management and network security needs of Google Fiber's network architecture.

Okay, so "reasonable network management" is justified by "congestion management and network security needs". But then I read the FCC's 2008 decision concerning Comcast's BitTorrent RST abuse [3], and right there on the first page:

>> We consider whether Comcast, a provider of broadband Internet access over cable lines, may selectively target and interfere with connections of peer-to-peer (P2P) applications under the facts of this case. Although Comcast asserts that its conduct is necessary to ease network congestion, we conclude that the company's discriminatory and arbitrary practice unduly squelches the dynamic benefits of an open and accessible Internet and does not constitute reasonable network management.

So the FCC has indeed set precedent that a necessity to "ease network congestion" does not necessarily outweigh "the dynamic benefits of an open and accessible Internet". Franklin makes more than one reference to a certain Preserving the Open Internet Broadband Industry Practices document [4]. I found this reference incredibly brazen. Franklin claims this server issue was specifically discussed. In the document, Google actually argues

> The threat that wireless networks may develop into fundamental non-neutral platforms is real. For example, the terms imposed by most major wireless carriers purport to prohibit the use of, at minimum: ... server or host applications. ... All of these actions threaten user choice and freedom online, and adopting network neutrality rules for wireless networks will allow the Commission to take action against these kinds of practices in the future.

What the hell? Google specifically advised the FCC to disallow what Franklin specifically says is industry standard. Google is playing a Dark Knight here: the laws are bad, and Google wants everyone to feel the full force of bad law. I can't applaud them for playing the status quo so hard like this, and now that they're moving into the ISP sector it's getting more and more dissonant to hear them claim they're powerless over industry standards.

Lastly, I can't find the forum thread described by the Wired article, "But in the Google Fiber forums, employees assure subscribers the rules aren't meant to apply to Minecraft servers." I think this kind of deception is heinous. The employees can't say what their legal department will or will not state. They're maintaining a false PR stance that is simply misleading: Google (Darah Franklin) has clearly stated Google Fiber disallows servers. Tricking the public to think they are in the clear to run a Minecraft server is perhaps well-intentioned but just doesn't jive with "Don't be evil."

[1] http://lwn.net/images/pdf/google_fiber_response_to_mcclendon...

[2] http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-294159...

[3] http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-08-183...

[4] http://www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/fp-legacy/FP_Co...

wmf 3 days ago 6 replies      
IMO this headline is a little inflammatory; the (mostly unenforced) ban on servers is a pretty small carve-out. Also note that the NN people haven't been complaining much that every consumer broadband plan also bans servers.
kevingadd 3 days ago 1 reply      
I seem to remember lots of people talking about the exciting potential Google Fiber would create for internet startups and small businesses. Too bad Google doesn't feel the same way.
nathas 3 days ago 7 replies      
Eh, I don't see a huge problem with Google saying "You can't run enterprise-level servers off of our consumer-level lines" even if they have ridiculous speeds.

"Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the reasonable use of your guests"

I'd consider small-time server software to be within a "reasonable use". If you're hosting a web server with 10 simultaneous requests, you're outside of reasonable use. Any other ISP would have turned your pipe off.

GhotiFish 3 days ago 1 reply      

   Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the    reasonable use of your guests. Unless you have a written    agreement with Google Fiber permitting you do so, you    should not host any type of server using your Google    Fiber connection, use your Google Fiber account to    provide a large number of people with Internet access,   use your Google Fiber account to provide commercial    services to third parties (including, but not limited    to, selling Internet access to third parties)
I think I see what's going on here, they have to assume most people arn't actually going to use their connection. So they offer it on the pretense that no one will take advantage of it.

It's why the bandwidth caps exist, it's why bittorrent shapping is happening at all. BitTorrent really did start making use of the bandwidth the telco's promised. A promise they couldn't deliver.

Frankly, google's going to need more clauses than that in order to prevent people from taking advantage of their empty promise. I can't wait to see these obvious rule patches grow like cancer.

Anyway, Why can't I share my connection? It's very easy. "Hey neighbor, take this Ethernet cable, you're welcome." Oh that's not ok? OK so why can my family use it then? I'm the one buying right and my family arn't guests. What about multiple families that live in the same house? We should order 3 packages?

This is silly. What is going on down there?

As a closing thought. People are laying these expectations of google fiber, because google fiber was supposed to be the ISP that was going to save us. If you're going to lead by example, you're not supposed to go "But those ingrates are doing it, so I can too".

nknighthb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Google has never, ever objected to server restrictions on residential connections, and the entire industry has had those restrictions for most of its existence.

Remember how big a deal Speakeasy always made of allowing servers? It's because nobody else did.

codereflection 3 days ago 1 reply      
The thing that concerns me the most if how unresponsive Google has proven to be when someone files a complaint about being wrongly chosen for having their account suspended. Just look to the recent example of Gary Bernhardt trying to get his email turned back on. https://twitter.com/garybernhardt

What's going to happen when someone's kid starts up a Minecraft server to play with his friends and Google suspends their Fiber account due to it. Most likely - they won't respond. I hate to see them turn into the next Comcast.

Zikes 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty disappointing to me, I was looking forward to being able to use my internet however I please on the off chance Google Fiber ever came to my area.
jotm 3 days ago 2 replies      
That's not what net neutrality is about - the author is taking it to the extreme.

Not allowing a server on the client side is just reasonable business practice, as opposed to shaping or prioritizing traffic to the client according to the source or the client's pay plan.

rayiner 3 days ago 0 replies      
In other words, now that Google is an ISP, all the concerns that ISP's have about traffic management suddenly make sense.
joe_bleau 3 days ago 0 replies      
From http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/company/history/

1996: "BackRub operates on Stanford servers for more than a yeareventually taking up too much bandwidth to suit the university."

1998: "Google sets up workspace in Susan Wojcickis garage at 232 Santa Margarita, Menlo Park."

I wonder, were those business class connections? Or were they maybe bending the rules just at bit at times?

anonymoushn 3 days ago 0 replies      
What does the policy mean by servers? "Hosting a server" might include hosting custom games in Warcraft III or hosting netplay games in $FIGHTING_GAME_OF_CHOICE. It might also include operating some machines that are "servers" even if they are not running any particular "server" software.
chiph 3 days ago 2 replies      
If they had said only 256 or 128 mb/sec of your 1024 mb/sec is allowed for home server traffic, I'd be ok with that. Yeah, it's a residential connection, so the TOS would surely be different. But as it stands, I now have no compelling reason to choose them over the competition (who will also be offering fast transfer speeds once Google Fiber comes to Austin)
justina1 3 days ago 1 reply      
If everybody maxes out a 1 Gbps line, no one will get a 1 Gbps line.

The implication is that the broad terminology will prohibit computers doing common consumer things in addition to servers. Except that hasn't happened.

The complaint was filed by a potential customer, not someone who ran in to the restriction. In fact, it sounds as though Google Fiber keeps making exceptions for even less consumer-like things (Gaming servers in this case).

znowi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google dismissed the don't be evil mantra a while ago and has little resemblance to the company of integrity so many of us fell in love with. They're so big and pervasive - it's a juxtapose of government and multinational corporation with vastly different set of goals and values. Incidentally, not very favorable for us, users. But it will take 3 Stallman's and another Snowden some time in the future for people to finally realize that :)
apalmer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its not really against net neutrality in the 'traditional' sense... but its more inappropriate advertising. Google and all the other ISPs advertise their service as 10 Mbps Down/5 Mbps Up, when really if you read the fine print its ('up to' 10 Mbps Down/spike uploads of 5 Mbps but not sustained uploads... which is a fine product, and not a big dealbreaker to most people, but is definitely not what is usually advertised.
mncolinlee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't these terms also forbid Chromecasting? The device itself is a server on your local network.
neura 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the use of "should" in "you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection".

For a legal document, that's a pretty muddy word. It could be just a suggestion or it could be interpreted as "shall", basically making it a demand.

jakejake 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why are ISP so terrified to say that you only get a fixed limit of bandwidth? Can you not survive in this business unless you lie and say "unlimited?" It seems we all know that unlimited actually means "some unknown number of Gb before you get a warning letter."

Server monitoring seems so easy. If you're running a serious server-based business then your upload is going to be way out of whack with download bandwidth. Why not just limit your upload traffic and let people do whatever they want?

I'd rather know what my limit was and work with it than to have my ISP tell me I have "unlimited" bandwidth, but then secretly limit or throttle me.

GravityWell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds to me like they want to offer a Business level tier. The wording "should not host any type of server" was probably groomed by the legal team. My guess is rather than define what a server is, which is almost impossible, they are covered by that vague terminology.

The important question is to what degree do they enforce it? 0.01%? If so, then no big deal to me. I'm paying a lot more for a lot less with my current ISP. I'd be glad to endure Google's draconion rules.

transfire 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh. To disallow the ability to run services from anywhere, particularly home, undermines the very future of the Internet's full potential as a massively distributed computational aid and data store. Google was the great hope in this. Now they too have succumbed to the $$ of acting as a cartel. Which means, eventually the Internet will be little more than a glorified cable box.
mesozoic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't be evil... Unless you know it helps us make more money or something.
gaoshan 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Don't Be Evil... you know, generally. When it's practical. For us."
MrKurtz 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure I understand the tone of that piece, it strikes me as yet another attempt at vilifying Google for the most trivial and altogether invalid reasons.

Google offers gigabit speeds in very select areas; coverage-wise they are hardly a blip on the map. Ostensibly the main strategic purpose of Google Fiber is proving that 1Gbps connections to consumers are possible and affordable, which in turn might shame the main players to up their game or result in municipal broadband initiatives and the like.

So now after scrutinizing a strictly worded and loosely enforced TOS agreement, the author (in a shameless display of feigned indignation) is invoking the plight of political dissidents?! this is absurd, the author ought to re-adjust his perspective and lay off the navel gazing.

I don't know what the future holds for Google Fiber but from afar it appears to be an experimental initiative that is still evolving, so disallowing enterprise grade servers at this point in time isn't the end of the world, keep in mind that doing similar things on competing services isn't even viable.

_greim_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of content-based throttling, why not just switch people from 1GBPS to 10MBPS after the first NTB per billing period? Still fast enough to watch streaming video all month long, just not fast enough to host streaming video.
bowlofpetunias 2 days ago 0 replies      
All I can think is : thank god I don't live in the US. The telco and cable market there sounds utterly horrible.

Banning servers is normal practice? Those kind of restriction were dropped over a decade ago in civilized countries with decent broadband.

BTW, this is the second time Google has done a 180 on net neutrality. The first time was when it tried together with Verizon to redefine net neutrality with an exception for wireless networks.

adam_lowe 3 days ago 0 replies      
The key will be how they actually enforce this. Siting servers is the wrong thing to tack on to. Because there are perfectly legitimate personal servers as outlined in comments above for personal use that wouldn't eat up excessive bandwidth. That being said I think the "no professional" or "no business" uses are terrible too depending on how they choose to interpret and apply. A loosely enforced version of the latter would be better in my opinion.
gradstudent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't net neutrality about giving preferential treatment to traffic depending on its point of origin? Has Google flip-flopped on this issue?? All I see is some rambling protestations about Google not allowing servers on their free internet connections.
_greim_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just treat broadband as a utility like everything else (electricity, gas, water) and just charge a dollar per TB or whatever?
sumit_psp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not surprised, it's a business and like every other business it is trying to protect its interests. The good news is now we know Google's stance, so it's upto you if you still want to get to Fiber.
Simple1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
Frankly, I don't care if Google changes it's slogan to "Do lots of Evil". If it means I get Google Fiber in my area I'm all for it.
NSA director heckled on stage at Black Hat security conference forbes.com
327 points by tjaerv  2 days ago   208 comments top 23
tptacek 2 days ago 10 replies      
This entire event was a staged press op. Keith Alexander is a ~30 year veteran of SIGINT, electronic warfare, and intelligence, and a Four-Star US Army General --- which is a bigger deal than you probably think it is. He's a spy chief in the truest sense and a master politician. Anyone who thinks he walked into that conference hall in Caesars without a near perfect forecast of the outcome of the speech is kidding themselves.

Heckling Alexander played right into the strategy. It gave him an opportunity to look reasonable compared to his detractors, and, more generally (and alarmingly), to have the NSA look more reasonable compared to opponents of NSA surveillance. It allowed him to "split the vote" with audience reactions, getting people who probably have serious misgivings about NSA programs to applaud his calm and graceful handling of shouted insults; many of those people probably applauded simply to protest the hecklers, who after all were making it harder for them to follow what Alexander was trying to say.

There was no serious Q&A on offer at the keynote. The questions were pre-screened; all attendees could do was vote on them. There was no possibility that anything would come of this speech other than an effectively unchallenged full-throated defense of the NSA's programs.

Even the premise of the keynote was calculated to wrong-foot NSA opponents. However much you might want to hear Alexander account for the activities of the NSA, the NSA itself is not the real oversight mechanism for the NSA! My guess is that no pol with meaningful oversight over NSA would have consented to address a room full of technology professionals about NSA's programs; they were happy to send NSA's own supremely well-trained figurehead to do that for them.

I think a walkout might have been effective, had it been organized well enough in advance (perhaps with some of the same aplomb as the [I think misguided] opposition to CISPA); at least you'd get some stinging photos.

dmix 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Alexander also noted the 6,000 NSA cryptologists who have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, 20 of whom were killed in the line of duty according to Alexander. Think about people willing to go forward to Iraq and Afghanistan, to make sure our soldiers, airmen and marines get the intelligence they need, he said. I believe these are the most noble people we have in this country.

Having lost a brother who deployed as a signals operator in Afghanistan (to an IED), it always makes me cringe whenever they use forward-deployed soldiers as a defense of the higher-level states "nobility". There is nothing noble about mass surveillance or the invasion of privacy of non-enemy combatant nations/citizens.

The fact citizens signed up to risk their lives in combat-zones at the bottom end of the chain does not legitimize the actions of those at the top.

JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Ninety-eight percent of society has issues with this"

"The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, finds that 50% approve of the governments collection of telephone and internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts, while 44% disapprove. These views are little changed from a month ago, when 48% approved and 47% disapproved."


norswap 2 days ago 5 replies      
Hackers applauded Alexander? He really has played them like pipes.

You can argue all you want, but in the end, some boundaries have to be set. What the NSA did (does actually) is way past that boundary for most people, and I think with reason, but that's another debate. He hasn't supplied any argument that would make us reconsider the boundaries. All this terrorist talk is bullshit.

vijayboyapati 2 days ago 2 replies      
Funny how Alexander says he's read the Constitution, and implores the heckler to do the same. If one can read the Constitution and square the NSA's mass surveillance with the 4th amendment then one can square a circle. There really is no point in debating people like this on the technicalities of the Constitution. What they understand is power. He has it and we don't. He knows how to pull the levers that matter, and which Congressman and executive branch bureaucrats to lean on to make sure his bailiwick is not reduced by a single inch. The rest of us, sadly, are left flailing around hoping that pointing to a piece of paper is an effective check on evil.
rbanffy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I find particularly hard to believe the "6,000 NSA cryptologists who have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq" part. Why would anyone want to deploy cryptologists into a war zone?

I also found disheartening the applause given to the general for his clever answers. "I have. So should you"?! I expected more from the Black Hat crowd.

And, finally, I applaud Jon McCoy for his sacrifice. His willingness to endure all the cavity searches he'll be subjected to before and after every flight inspires us all.

IanDrake 2 days ago 4 replies      
>the four-star general presented a timeline of terrorist attacks around the world, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the Boston Marathon attack.

Can anyone speak as to why, with the NSA's systems, they were not able to thwart an attack by the ass clowns in Boston? Russia even warned us about them and they made frequent contact with foreigners.

I'm sorry, but that terrorist event seems like low hanging fruit if their system really works to protect us.

kyzyl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like I'm a little late for this comment party, but I'd just like to highlight one comment from the Forbes website that I thought was good:

"In general I agree with McCoy in his ad-hoc debate with Gen Alexander as well as his post presentation remarks about the distorted perspective of national security. At the same time, I do conceed that the NSA is acting in good faith and within the law as presented to them via the Patriot Act. I have similar feeling about the value of TSA, but whereas the TSA is a publicly disclosed program, my most pressing concern with the NSA is the secrecy of it. First, the secrecy presents an extremely high degree of risk (in terms of both the probabilty of occurance as well as the dangers) of mission creep. I doubt Congressional nor FISC oversight are adequate to mitigate this risk. Second, secrecy is not really a valid tool for deterence. Anti-terrorism programs are like a doomsday devices: its a good deterence only if it is widely known about (see Dr Strangelove). Moreover, while secret programs might be good for support of kill/capture programs, it is far from clear that such efforts reduce terrorism.

For all I know, the government spy/drone program is to terrorists as a hammer is to an ant colony. If you have a spilled pot of honey in the kitchen, it doesnt matter how good you are at spotting and smashing ants. I want to know these things, so that I can help shape public policy through the ballot box."--uspatriot2001

I think that's a good assessment of the high-level picture, and it's much more informative than "NSA BAD! Freedom good!" (not to belittle anyone's comments here) in that it reflects a road forward.

mjfl 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't care whether the director of the NSA is a bad guy, it just makes you look bad if you heckle someone on stage. There are probably few more scrutinizing audiences for the director of the NSA than a professional security conference. I would rather have him say what he has to say and be analysed by the many bright minds at the conference than for him to be childishly interrupted and waste time that could be spent talking about the actual role of the NSA in the security of the nation.
JonFish85 2 days ago 3 replies      
All things considered, it seems like Keith Alexander did a pretty good job of handling the situation. Personally I think the heckler sounded like a douche ("read the Constitution" sounds like a dumb thing to say to a 4 star general who probably has better knowledge of it than your average hacker), even if he (the heckler) had some good points.

It would have been easy for the situation to devolve into something much uglier, but fortunately it seems like things stayed pretty calm!

replax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I am really, really surprised. Especially as Gen. Alexander gave the keynote speech to DEFCON last year, and explicitly said, when asked after his speech:

Q: "[..]Does the NSA really keep a file on anyone? [...]"

A: "[..] Frist, no, we don't [...]"

Absolutely astonishing!

listen/watch here: http://youtu.be/tz0ejKersnM?t=33m2s

podperson 2 days ago 5 replies      
No idea how accurate a depiction of the speech this is, but the article is -- contrary to the title -- portraying the speech as having been warmly received, applauded, with one lone heckler. Now, whether or not one agrees with General Alexander, there are more courteous and productive ways to express yourself than yelling "bullshit".
abalone 2 days ago 0 replies      
In fairness, the title could just as well be "NSA director applauded on stage at Black Hat security conference".

The crowd's reaction was definitely mixed.

etiam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Keith Alexander's way of bending words, and his facility with swinging a crowd and lying skillfully under pressure once again reminds me disturbingly of accounts I've read about psychopaths, and of probable psychopaths I've encountered.Those patterns could of course be stuff you pick up anyway as a top player for power, but I find the parallels highly worrisome.For those who have never read anything about the subject, may I suggest browsing e.g. "Without conscience" by Robert D. Hare. The sections with court proceedings in particular illustrate well what I mean.
generj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this underscores Defcon's decision to exclude the Feds this year.
YellowRex 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hate Forbes - interstitial ads and persistent headers are super annoying. Can we stop posting Forbes links?

Boing Boing has the same coverage with a much more reader-friendly site design: http://boingboing.net/2013/07/31/nsa-capo-heckled-at-black-h...

northwest 2 days ago 1 reply      
> I havent lied to Congress, Alexander responded

And WTF was that, now?

EDIT: I guess this is true because actually, he lied to the chairs in the room. Or some coffee mugs that were also present.

Is that how one evades a lie detector, btw?

It really can't get any sicker. We have now reached the bottom.

northwest 2 days ago 1 reply      
> No, Im saying I dont trust you! shouted McCoy.

I believe that's pretty central here. I don't see how we can ever be able again to trust an organism such as the NSA - or even the government.

Transparency is the only solution here. Will we get it?

If we don't, the only other solution would be to cut budgets so drastically that such an enterprise will simply not be possible financially, anymore.

And maybe, as a general improvement: Decentralize the government and give the States back their autonomy (and here you have your link between technology and politics - see the recent cry for less "political posts" on HN).

leke 1 day ago 0 replies      
All this bad press is a great incentive for people to develop encryption skills. I'm now looking into javascript client to client encryption of certain social sites and services using greasemonkey to organise the contacts and keys database.
rinon 2 days ago 1 reply      
jotm 1 day ago 0 replies      
And if you disagree with what were doing, you should help us twice as much.

Right, so they end up like Snowden...

wil421 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the article: Everyones thinking this, but no ones saying it public, so everyone thinks theyre alone, he said. Ninety-eight percent of society has issues with thisBut no one speaks up.

While I think some people don't how to speak up, beside calling/writing my congress person, many don't care either way. In fact, many older people I have talked to (I am in my twenties) dont have a problem with what the NSA is doing. They dont really mind if their data is being sifted through as long as its being used to "Find Terrorists or what have you."

My problem is the lack of oversight and the fact court that has approved 1,789 out of 1,748 requests (97.7%!!!!). Not only that but they have legal justifications for what they are doing, therefore since its legal its allowed, forget the morals/ethics involved.

Who's to say they won't turn this around on the public at large because it will prevent smaller crimes instead of terrorists. Also whats to stop the government from calling people who oppose their views terrorists and then just spy directly at American people.

The entire US Code is now online in XML house.gov
312 points by liscovich  2 days ago   231 comments top 31
vog 2 days ago 3 replies      
I find it amusing that here in Germany, we have that for years:


All laws are available in XML, HTML, PDF, etc. The site also provides an RSS feed.

In addition, some enthusiasts regularily download stuff from there and apply those to a Git repository:


That way, this repository contains not only the current laws, but also the history of how the laws developed!

For the Git repository, the XML version is not used directly, but converted to markdown. This produces very readable diffs:


Wouldn't it be cool if we could finally manage our laws of filing pull requests?

OldSchool 2 days ago 15 replies      
Caveat for for many of us overly rational thinkers: the powers that be deliberately are allowed to 'interpret' this code nondeterministically by many different means including its 'spirit,' admissibility of relevant information, manipulation of venue and participants, apparently even extrajudicial proceedings lately.

In short, that allows a lawyer to answer almost any question with "it depends," and start billing.

pnathan 2 days ago 11 replies      
I'm really tempted to collect the XML files and put them on github, with periodic checkpoints to update it with the latest.

Watching the evolution of law over time is a fascinating thing and using SW engineering tools to help would be really fun.

ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is pretty awesome, and if it were in git/hg would have the ability to write a 'blame' tool to figure out who voted on the part of the law that is pissing you off :-)
antitrust 2 days ago 1 reply      
This actually makes law accessible to the technologically-savvy out there, and is going to launch a thousand apps giving specialized legal advice.

This could in turn mean a reduction in the cost of litigation, which would hopefully be passed on to the rest of us.

Hopefully I won't get sued for that statement.

techtalsky 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm probably a little late to the party, but I think it's worth mentioning that some of the "XML" looks like this:

<tr style=" -uslm-lc:II22; "><td style=" text-align:left; vertical-align:top; border-right:1px solid black; padding-right:2pt;"><p style=" text-align:left; text-indent: -1em; padding-left:1em;">

Wow. I wonder what -uslm-lc does.

fnordfnordfnord 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't appear to include codes and standards which are included by reference such as NFPA, IBC, IRC, SAE, etc. (see [1] for a non-gov't project to publish those)

Nevertheless it is a very good thing to see the the gov't publish (most of) the law in an easy to use format.

[1] https://public.resource.org/

tmoertel 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's tragic that the United States (Federal) Legislative Model (USLM) is defined in terms of W3C XML Schema Definition language (XSD) instead of the comparably sane RELAX NG and its easily interpreted compact syntax. You would think that something this important ought to be made clear and understandable.

EDITED TO CLARIFY: The tragic part isn't that the schema is given in XSD but that it's defined in XSD, which lacks RELAX NG's simple semantics and composibility rules. For a good summary of what I'm referring to, see James Clark's message to the IETF on the subject:


calpaterson 2 days ago 2 replies      
For those of us who don't know anything about it, what are the uses of machine readable law?
lisper 2 days ago 0 replies      
This information has been available for a long time on plainsite:


liscovich 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you were to start a new country, what would the legislative process look like there? For example, how should new "startup nations" like BlueSeed (http://blueseed.co) inspired by Seasteading Institute go about passing and storing laws? Should they have some sort of open github repo to which anyone can make pull requests? How do you see the congress of the future?
ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a recent discussion where someone mentioned tools over process. (http://rc3.org/2013/07/29/seven-signs-of-dysfunctional-engin...)

I would say that the 'law' is just subjective manual process, and we desperately need more tools for every-day judgement and decision making.

For example, if there were a computer system that logged all corporate financial transactions including income, then we could automatically tax large corporations, rather than waiting for them to report income through loopholes.

pdw 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm annoyed that Title 38 - Veteran's Benefits is out of alphabetical order. Was it originally called Pensions or something?
tbatterii 2 days ago 2 replies      
now if the same could be provided for bills(ideally before they are voted on), and that should go in github or something.
tlrobinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case anyone was wondering, it's about 80MB zipped, 500MB unzipped.
liscovich 2 days ago 0 replies      
An alternative XML version of the US Code from Cornell Law School:http://www.law.cornell.edu/wiki/lexcraft/united_states_code_...
mpyne 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is awesome. They even have a stylesheet apparently.

However though the file claims to be UTF-8, vim seems to disagree, at least for title 10. I can't tell what encoding it really is though, doesn't seem to be latin1 or windows-1252 either.

mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Putting something online is very different than actually getting meaning out of it. I'm afraid that this will push us towards more laws rather than less. But... Perhaps there will be good machine learning apps that can make sense out of all the contradictions.
pseingatl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to look for the law whereby Congress established a church in violation of the Establishment Clause. But no one complained.
thehme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since this is hacker news, I was curious to see which code the subject was talking about and surprisingly not the code I was thinking of. I wonder how much more of this gov code has actually been read by the people in all those countries where it's been available longer.
sinzone 2 days ago 0 replies      
jingo 2 days ago 0 replies      
The USC has been available in HTML or ASCII for many years. From house.gov, gpo.gov and cornell.edu, to name a few sources.
bandushrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Except for the secret laws, of course...
methehack 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how people search this now and how much it costs?
thinkcomp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm attempting to centralize many different sets of laws on PlainSite:


Feel free to contribute.

liscovich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what software is used by the hill staffers when drafting new bills? How do they make sure that the laws do not contradict each other?
rogerchucker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Genuinely curious - how can this data be used from a software perspective?
pkinnaird 2 days ago 0 replies      
repo with the contents of the house.gov site:https://github.com/peterkinnaird/US-Code
prmobiledev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Portugal should do this to their civil code!!!
krob 2 days ago 1 reply      
does that mean these are all the current federal laws?..
tianhe 2 days ago 7 replies      
XML? this should be in json!
Ask HN: I'm a chronic procrastinator how do I break it?
299 points by procastatron  1 day ago   273 comments top 117
mduerksen 21 hours ago 3 replies      
> it's starting to really gnaw at me


One concrete suggestion:

Develop the following habit. Whenever you are confronted with an unpleasant task X, there is a moment where your mind starts searching for other, more pleasant things to do. This is the moment where you have to implant the habit of asking - not yourself, but an imaginary judge:

"If I defer task X, will it become easier later?".

For some tasks, this may be true (e.g. taking out the trash is easier when you're heading outside for work anyway). For most, it's not.Use this question as an arbiter and follow its verdict.

And when you completed an annoying task, rejoice in the feeling of relief and accomplishment (maybe not the task itself was hard, but overcoming the unpleasantry was), and remind yourself of this feeling the next time.Rinse and repeat.

One more abstract suggestion:

You have probably heard it a thousand times from your teachers, parents etc. - "You could accomplish so MUCH, if just you would STRIVE for it..."You believe it yourself, talking about your "full capacity".

But it's not true. Or at least it's the wrong perspective, allowing for wishful thinking.

The current state you are in - that is your full capacity. More you do not know, because more you have never tried. Or, more drastically: More you do not have, because more you have never proved.

Maybe that's even the reason you are not improving your chore-handling abilities after all (if you allow me this unfounded speculation): You are afraid of hitting your limit (a.k.a. failing) to soon, realizing that you're not that capable after all.

Luckily, there is no such thing as a fixed, inate capacity. Your capacity will definitely improve when you start taking yourself seriously and stop generously sparing yourself the chores. Prove it to yourself what you really can do.

It always risky to advise a person you never met, so take this with a grain of salt. Hopefully it's useful to you.

nsxwolf 23 hours ago 5 replies      
If you believe the stats on worker productivity that get tossed around here, 3 hours a day of solid work isn't terrible.

I have one piece of advice - one technique that I got from a cognitive behavioral therapist that helped me. It's pretty simple:

Pick a task you don't feel like doing. Set a timer. 10 or 15 minutes. Work on the task. Do not worry about the end result, or getting to a "good stopping point" or anything. When the timer stops, stop working on the task. Play another game or watch another YouTube video or something. When you feel like it, set the timer again and repeat.

The trick is that if you aren't worried about finishing the task you want to do, you can do the work without that feeling of discomfort and dread that makes you want to stop and distract yourself with something else.

The first time I did this technique, it was actually with dirty dishes and not work. I used to let them pile up because I just couldn't deal with it. I set a timer for 5 minutes and washed the dishes. It was a carefree experience. I walked away at the end, but then something funny happened - I soon wanted to go back for another 5 minutes. Pretty soon I finished the whole load of dishes and it wasn't unpleasant at all.

tehwalrus 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Willpower is a muscle, which uses the same resource as brain tasks (programming, arguing)[1] - let's call it "cognitive energy".

1) don't waste cognitive energy on silly tasks (games, arguing in comment threads, etc.)

2) practice exercising willpower - it's a muscle, you can train it to be better. Start by forcing yourself to complete a routine every morning (the trick with habit forming is to not give up after you miss a day.) examples of habits to form below.

3) look into mindfullness meditation[2] - this can help you identify distracting thoughts as they arrive and practice ignoring them.

Meditating is a good habit to form as practice, and it will also help you get better at habits. You could also exercise on a schedule (and record when you do, including how heavy you lifted/how fast you were running). Eventually, with a stronger willpower-muscle, you'll be able to choose the fruit salad over the cake, even when you've just spent your 7.5 hours a day coding.

I've not found pomodoro to work for me as an easily-distracted person, it's better when you're prioritising work tasks (e.g. 25 code vs 5 email) and even then, 25 mins is too short for good programming "flow".

This is a hard problem, everyone has trouble with it. Good luck!

[1] http://seriouspony.com/blog/2013/7/24/your-app-makes-me-fat HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6124462 )

[2] http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-... US edition: http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-practical-guide-finding-fr... )

zwegner 21 hours ago 0 replies      
> I know that I've been given a gift and that I'm a fucking idiot for wasting it, but I've just become a chronic procrastinator and it sucks.

As someone in a rather similar position (my life has been fucked up in so many ways from procrastination), one tip I can give you is to get rid of this mindset.

I feel horrible whenever I waste lots of time, looking back on how I spent my day, thinking "what the hell is wrong with me?" But the thing is, that attitude feeds much of the procrastination. I am an odd mix of being a total perfectionist, and really lazy, so it turns out that whenever I'm faced with a task that I don't really want to do, I'm quite adept at rationalizing ways to avoid doing the task. I think about possible roadblocks, or pretty much anything that would keep me from attaining my sought-ought perfection, and knowing that I'll have the same strong negative reaction later on that I always do, I just won't do it.

If you beat yourself up over procrastination, you're just subconsciously teaching yourself to not even think about whether you're procrastinating or not. Whenever you try and shift from unproductive tasks to work, it's much easier to just stay with the short-term dopamine kick of reading the internet or whatever, rather than dealing with harder decisions about what you need to do in the long term to be happy. Yes, this is backwards. Your subconscious is not very rational...

So, from my point of view, just do everything you can to recondition yourself to not hate working, and to not hate procrastination either. Just try to feel the bit of fulfillment you can get from writing code or whatever, basically just getting your shit done. Have patience with yourself, infinite patience, and know that it takes lots of work to get where you want to be, but it's worth it. You're the only one that can do this.

BTW, if you're like me, a perfectionist to the core, consider that this comes from a deep-seated insecurity, a part of your brain that tells you that you'll never be good enough. At least, that's the way it is for me, and it's been that way since my childhood, as far back as I can remember. On this front, I'd just try to evaluate your emotional well-being in the most balanced and unattached way possible. Get help if you feel like it. As others have mentioned, meditation can be amazingly helpful here, and exercise too. Unfortunately, they're both quite prone to being procrastinated on.

Good luck...

hello_newman 20 hours ago 2 replies      
This is just my two cents, take it with a grain of salt as I am simply a humble observer peering into your life, with the little information you have given me.

I dont think you are lazy; I think you are afraid to fail.

Thus far in your life, you've had it easy. SAT's, Valedictorian, probably started programming when you were 12. You have seen your peers struggle to no end with this stuff, yet you've always been able to skate by, and still be better than most. At 21, to be making 130k a year is god damn impressive, not so much for the "money", but for what the money represents; knowledge and your skill level of your chosen craft.

The problem is, again from my perspective observing from the outside, you don't start something because you are afraid you are going to fail. You are afraid, that for once in your life where things have always just come naturally to you, that you will try something new and just fail miserably at it.

I don't think this is a matter of laziness; I think that you just think it is laziness, so you casually write it off as such without really examining the root of your problem.

I could be wrong, but I have seen this before. My sister sounds a lot like you; the oldest child (already the family favorite from that fact alone), perfect grades her whole life, captain of the cheerleading team (I shit you not), Valedictorian, great SAT's, accepted into some art school. She is very smart, makes 40k a year as a copywriter for some mucky-muck agency in LA. She talked to my mom about starting her own (my mom's suggestion) and her response was (surprise, surprise!) she doesn't want to be a failure because she knows most businesses fail.

Then, on the other hand, you have me. I am the only boy in my family (3 sisters), ADD, suffered from bad grades while being surround by 3 straight-A sisters, arrested at 17 for making a drug deal (long story), in some ways, the "black sheep" of my family.

I started an eBay business in high school, which made some money. Started a business in college selling hempseed oil skin care products, flipped inventory, invested the money into a side project/start up. Outsourced the development. Got interest from Nordstrom's, Whole Foods, Landry's, and Black Angus Corporate (I think a PE firm owns them) etc. Realized I loved this so much, told them I had to put it on hold, dropped out of school, and enrolled in General Assembly WDI in Santa Monica (was accepted into Dev Bootcamp, my mom got cancer, stayed closer to home, long story) and will resume operations once I can build the site from scratch myself. It's a B2B site .

What I am trying to say, is don't be like my sister. Your "perfectionist complex" seems to be the problem. I have failed, been called every name under the sun from my own family, and everything else in between, yet I keep going.

Failing is not that big of a deal; in our industry it is a badge of honor if done correctly. Don't be that guy, who in 20 years, regrets the things he has not done, instead of the things you have done.

My advice for this; fail. Fail hard. Go out and pop your "success cherry", and get the fuck out of your comfort zone. Stay humble, stay hungry, keep hacking and go change the fucking world man. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and just go do it. I mean really....what do you have to lose?

netcan 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Me too.

Paraphrasing pg, going in to work and wasting 90% of your time is like getting uncontrollably drunk at lunch. It's very bad habit/behavior/addiction. So first of all, take it seriously.

Here's some things that work/have worked for me, in no particular order. They all interact and work best in bunches. None have cured me. All have helped.

1. meditation - many meditation practices develop your ability to prevent your mind from wandering. Letting your mind wander is a big part of procrastination. It also helps with patience which is also important.

2. Recognize the impulse and address it - This is very complimentary to meditation. You sit down to do a task, then your mind looks for some sort of procrastination (reading, games). Recognize that feeling and feel it. Don't fight it, just experience it for a few seconds. Then place your hands flat on your desk. Your feet flat on the ground. Straighten your back. Breath deep 5 times. The impulse should pass. Tweak this as you like as long as you recognize the impulse, experience it & have a little ritual (sitting straight, breathing, etc.)

This sounds like hippy dippy bullshit said out loud, but it doesn't feel half as lame when you do it. It is very effective.

3. Collaboration - If two people are at a computer, procrastination does not go on for hours. More generally, try to seek out work less procrastination-inducing.

4. Do work in small batches - Take 5 minute breaks every hour. etc. This increases the feedback to you that you are procrastinating.

5. Talk about it.

6. Accountability mechanisms - Your ability to hide is an enabler. Try timed screenshots sent to a friend. Twice daily 2 minute confessional phone call to a friend. Mirror your screen someplace it can be seen by everyone. Coaching sessions. Lots of options. Quirky is ok.

7. Drugs - ADD medication (eg ritalin) can help.

8. Sleep - Less Sleep = More Procrastination. Maybe you need more sleep. Maybe you need 10 hours. everyone is different. Try getting 10 hours for one week and see if it helps.

skue 13 hours ago 6 replies      
The fact that this has been going on for years, and that you feel the procrastination is holding you back from your full potential does sound like it could be ADHD, as others have mentioned. Also, ADHD tends to run in families. So if your dad is the same way...

Most people associate ADHD with kids who struggle in school. But highly intelligent people can have it too. It still holds them back from reaching their potential, it's just that their potential is much greater.

Here are some things to ask yourself:

* Do you also procrastinate non-work things such as buying gifts, paying bills, calling people back?

* What is your home like: Do you have a lot of half-finished projects, "piles", or chores that never get finished?

* Are you always running late because you are busy doing other things, or underestimate what you need to do to get out the door and get to your destination?

* Do people tell you that you frequently interrupt others when they are talking?

* Would you describe yourself as a risk taker and more prone to high adrenaline activities? How the friends you keep?

* Are you only able to focus with the help of caffeine, guarana (eg, Vitamin Water Energy), or other energy drinks?

* Do you use nicotine to relax or be more focused? (If so, please stop and see a doctor.)

* Do you use alcohol, not to get drunk or for the drink itself, but as a way to unwind or slow down at the end of the day?

This is a good book: http://www.amazon.com/Driven-Distraction-Revised-Recognizing..., which reminds me of another question:

* Do you buy/start a lot of books, but rarely seem to finish them?

Read enough of the book to see if this resonates with you. If it does, the next step would be to talk to (a) your doctor if you have one, or (b) find a psychiatrist in your area who specializes in ADHD. The book can help you find resources.

Edit: Just to be clear, this list is NOT meant to be diagnostic. Although I happen to have an MD, I am NOT a practicing physician no one should assume they have ADHD based on any list like this. I would only say that if many of these things hold overwhelmingly true for the OP, then it might be worth learning more about ADHD and finding a professional to begin a conversation.

Yes, ADHD and meds sparks a lot of cynicism in some people. However, one reason I recommended that book is that the authors present a balanced approach to meds. One of the authors has ADHD, but doesn't find that meds make much of a difference for him (they reportedly are ineffective for 25% of adults with ADHD). But they have helped many of his patients and his own son.

artagnon 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll give you a no BS version.

Don't delude yourself into thinking that you're "talented" or "gifted". You're a product of your history: if you spent a significant portion of your life playing DOTA, you're a DOTA-head. In your case, you seem to have spent it trying to get people to view you in favorable light. It's as simple as that.

You're missing the big picture: if you spend 3 hours writing code, and 8 hours playing games, which activity do you enjoy more? Why is that? If you pick up saw and find that you're absolutely terrible at sawing wood and cut yourself multiple times, would you enjoy that activity? OTOH, if you go out and play football (or something you've been practising for years), and manage to score many goals for your team leading to victory, would you enjoy the activity?

Your discontentment arises from a simple mismatch between what you want to do and what you are actually doing. You apparently wanted the $130k job with 3 hours of boring work, and to get by in life (or did some alien drop you into this world while you were unconscious?). What is this sudden crisis about not "changing the world"?

I have nothing to say of any significance, and the only "answers" I have are tautologies. Maybe you can try attending some inspirational talks, reading self-help books? No, I don't mean that with any condescension whatsoever; figure out where you want to invest your time and invest it there.

panic 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Although, I wonder if I really fucked my brain/habits up so much that I'll never reach my full capacity.

There's no such thing as your "full capacity". What you're doing right now, that is your full capacity. Either accept that you're at your limit or actually do something to prove you're not.

jhuckestein 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I often struggled with this as well. When you go through life with practically no effort and somehow achieve many things that are hard for others, it's easy to feel guilty. Especially because most of our parent's generation lived their lives diligently working 8 hours a day, advancing their career, eventually settling down etc and that seems to be the expectation for us as well. I'd just not worry about it and live your life the way you think works best.

One thing that helped me was to stop thinking "How can I get myself to work 8 hours a day?" and start thinking "What fun, useful things can I do with the 8 hours a day I'm not working.?" The only reason I read the internet and played flash games all day was because I was supposed to be at my computer, working. Overall that's a pretty low-fun and low-reward activity, though. If you accept that you won't work more than 3 hours anyway, you can do much more engaging/fun/interesting things with the rest of the time.

You mention that you wish you'd done more sports. Great, start doing sports. With your income, you can easily get a gym trainer or trainer in any sport you'd like to learn. Set yourself the goal to complete a mini triathlon next year, join a recreational volleyball league or anything else you like. You can also learn how to cook really well, enroll in a language school (for human languages), volunteer to teach kids how to code, etc. Those are all things that you'll probably enjoy and that I'm much less likely to procrastinate. Learn how to play an instrument or sing (again, you can afford a teacher to get off the ground) or pick up a hobby closer to your work like electrical engineering. The possibilities are endless once you accept that you're not "supposed to" work all day; unless you want to, and that day will come.

You can even take it one step further and just up and leave. Spend a few years traveling every corner of the world and earn your keep with a day or two of contracting each month. I know nobody who's done that who'd consider it a waste of time in any sense of the word.

Hope this helps and best of luck. Don't be so hard on yourself.

kstenerud 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I had the same problem. The standard school program was easy enough to just coast through, as were my first few jobs. At one point I was working on Monday and goofing off the rest of the week.

What changed it? Probably some of it was age. Your outlook on life and what's important changes as you get older. I spent a fair bit of time talking to people 10, 20, 30, and 40 years older than me, and while I usually didn't agree with them, I did remember their words. After 10 years I was rather shocked at how my outlook had changed. Now it's coming up to 20 and I've definitely changed yet again. How do you achieve the wisdom of age without actually having to spend years aging? Beats me! But I sure learned to appreciate it regardless.

Another thing that happened is I started taking on harder and harder things. It didn't matter what, so long as it was difficult enough that it would take me years to master. Boxing, welding, classical guitar, open source projects, running a business. I just kept adding things on until I didn't have enough time to even breathe. Then I somehow managed to find the time to get all these things done. And then I piled on more, until I finally reached the point where I literally did not have enough hours in the day to get everything done. Then I dropped some stuff until I felt comfortable again.

Now I no longer have time for video games or TV (except for the odd time when I'm taking a sanity break, which is maybe once a week for a couple of hours). I have shit to do and a daily routine that gets it done. I had to organize my life because I had too much stuff to do! Now I deliberately carve out time to be with friends or do something crazy. Otherwise I'm busy at work, practicing one of my hobbies, or I'm at home on a Sunday, deliberately doing nothing all day because I've scheduled a "do nothing" day.

So my advice to tackle procrastination would be: Fill your life with so much stuff that you can't afford to procrastinate (It's even better to get into a few things you can't get out of easily). You'll figure out how to organize yourself. Then you back off a bit to get some balance back into your life.

yason 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The complement of procrastination is wild passion. One who's capable of procrastinating with one sort of things is exactly the type of guy who's capable of getting some other things done if only he does things that call him on a deeper level.

It seems that among the great scores in school you haven't bumped into anything would have ignited that passion in you. That is OK because schools are pretty much designed to kill all passion, and you're so young anyway. There are a lot of people who can't get things done because they aren't smart enough: it's always better to be a procrastinator in comparison.

Procrastination is your way to reject activities that don't mean enough to you.

Nobody procrastinates splitting and carrying wood if the heating of his house depends on it. Your behaviour is effectively saying that reading Hacker News is more meaningful to you than your work. That is a good hint: find work that you would rather do whenever you find yourself procrastinating at your current work.

Another hint: you're suffering because you'd like to care about your work. THat's passion speaking already.

You would like to do lots and lots of good work: you just can't get to it where you're working now. There are a lot of people who would kill for such a talent and go happily abuse the smarts you have so that they could only work for three hours and then go play Patience for the rest of the day.

Also consider that three hours of real work per day is pretty average for the hours of a regular workday.

Other people fake it, too, and work on looking busy, even subconsciously. Yet you can find people at the kitchen all day long, drinking coffee. Or browsing Facebook at their computers. It's all a subtle game where everybody knows that nobody really does productive work all the time but everybody also knows that they're not to admit it, even to each others.

Note that this behaviour is not intentional: it's simply that people aren't generally wired to do creative things for hours in a row, day after day. What people can bear, for example, is 8-hour shifts on the assembly line five days a week numbing your mind, and then consider what even that does to them! Not to mention creative mental work that you can't force like you can force your muscles! I've talked about this with many people and the consensus seems to be that roughly four hours of real work per day means a good day and you're likely to just work the rest of the day wrestling with your guilt because you think you could do more.

Thus, consider the fact what you do during the three hours is that what is important. Not the things you could've achieved, according your imagination, in the other five hours.

Further, if you're working more than eight hours a day, it's no wonder you're super frustrated and trying to get out by procrastinating. You say you do "bullshit" for 7-8 hours and 3 hours of real work, that adds up to 10-11 hours a day. That's a lot of precious time spent for something you could've just done in three hours with much less stress!

Finally, go Watch Office Space. Again. While it's supposed to be mostly funny it just happens that the movie hits the chord on so many levels that it's nearly creeping in its truthfulness.

eatitraw 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy" book by David Burns is really good. Here is the link: http://amzn.com/B009UW5X4C

Chances are that you're depressed, OP. And even if you're not, the book is related anyway: there is a chapter specifically on practical methods to beat procrastination. I personally get mixed results: sometimes these methods work, sometimes they don't -- though mostly because I fail to apply them consistenly. I recommend this book because other(not related to procrastination) cognitive techniques described in this book works great for me.

10 days ago I invented my own personal method to beat procrastination(this book influenced me btw). I am aware of the following things about myself:

- Motivation comes after action: I don't particularly feel doing something(hence procrastination), but once I start, it gets more enjoyable after a short time

- I like score-keeping in games(as many other people - no wonder game designers employ scores!)

- I am motivated if there is a reward.

So here is my method. I give myself one score point if either I stop procrastinating(and proceed to do something meaningful) or if I feel an urge to start procrastinating during some activity. I use a simple app on my smartphone to keep total score(which is 113 as of now). I've set up the following reward for myself: each 10 points = 1 visit to a restaurant(I enjoy dining at restaurants but usually I am too lazy to go to one).

I've used this method only for everyday stuff like washing dishes, cleaning up my apartment(which was complete mess), doing laundry, etc. Sometimes I award myself 5 points washing particularly nasty dish, and sometimes I get only 2 points doing 30 minutes of cleanup. I was really surprised to see that my invention works, and now I hope to use it for my job(like OP I am not fully productive at it, there is room for improvement).

fusiongyro 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Your work seems to think that they're getting more than $130K of value for the $130K they pay you. Why does it matter if it takes you 3 hours to do that and not 8? Of course your employer would like you to believe you're defrauding them because they'd rather get $260K of value out of you instead of, say, $150K, but if you're not fired over it, the arrangement is working for them. Every employer in this country would like their employees to feel as guilty as you do, but you're not pulling a lever to make sprockets. The relationship between your time and your value to the company is not directly proportional to pressing keys in your editor. Our field is swamped with bad programmers that spend all day making codebases worse. Some days when I'm not productive, I have to remind myself that at least nothing got worse. The guy I replaced, most days when he did any work at all, things got worse as a result. So if I fail to accomplish anything, it's still better than an accomplishment from someone who shouldn't have been doing this job but inexplicably was (and got away with it for a year before being fired for reasons unrelated to performance!).

By the way, 8 + 3 = 11 hours of work a day. Is it possible you're simply burned out? I know you're 21 and probably don't feel like it can happen, but it can.

zeidrich 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience procrastination is a behavior caused by the reinforcement of perceived failure.

In many cases, it's the desire to stop procrastinating that you are "failing" at, and that is discouraging. Failing to stop procrastinating makes the idea of stopping procrastinating more trepidatious. You can overcome this with willpower but that becomes exhausting. The fact that it is exhausting makes more negative associations with the idea of not procrastinating and reinforces the difficulty. Essentially, it's not that you're lazy, or that you're afraid of the individual tasks that you have to do, it's that there's a sort of mental hurdle that needs to be overcome to do "something" that you want to do.

I have overcome this by slowly introducing very simple routines into my life. Routines that are all but impossible to fail.

The first was to not worry about any commitments on Saturdays, but to relax and take a nap. After weeks of that, I was just generally having a better time on Sundays.

I made a resolution to get coffee at a local coffee shop on Sunday Morning, with my wife if possible, otherwise by myself.

I made a list of chores to do at home, very simple ones, and loaded it into wsplit (a tool generally used for timing speedruns in video games). The list is:- Put on Music- Clean Desk- Empty Dishwasher- Fill Dishwasher- Brush and Floss Teeth- Clean Table- Clean Counter- Clean Cat Litter- Vacuum Living RoomThe tool is restrictive, it doesn't let you go back, it only lets you progress to the next task. It also times you. I did this every day.

I pick up flowers from a local flower shop on Mondays to put on the table.

I invite my brother over for dinner on Thursday.

I've made a list similar to the above for work.

This all might seem stupid to an outsider. And it's not at all like I was living like a slob prior to this, but these are really juts exercises. The fact that these are decisions that I've made in advance means that there's no thought that needs to go into carrying them out. I don't worry about procrastinating when I'm doing my list of chores. I go home, I start the timer, the list tells me what I need to do, and I start doing it. My house is always in a state of cleanliness even if surprise guests come over, and the time it takes to complete the task shortens every day. Eventually, the task actually becomes a source of stress relief. I know it will take me 15-30 minutes, and my house will be presentable. I know I have something for breakfast in the morning on Sunday. I know regardless of my week that I'll be able to recover on Saturday. I never have to make plans for Thursday. I run a work routine twice daily, and I know that all of my e-mail will be read and my tasks and reporting will be captured.

There are two caveats though. The first is that I have decided I won't feel guilty for the things that I'm doing. I'm not working now, I'm posting on HN. But I've completed my routine for the morning, so I know my status, and I have nothing looming that I need to do. I had some pressing things and I attended to them already because I was alerted to them when I was first doing that routine. Procrastination only happens for me when I'm trying (but kind of failing) to ignore the consequences of inaction, also it's exacerbated by the feeling of an unknown multitude of tasks hanging over me. My work routine is simple, always makes me feel more in control, but also makes me aware of what is actually really important, and what actually has to have immediate action taken. Because it's simple and makes me feel better, it's easy to accomplish. Because it alerts me to those things, it makes me address them before procrastinating.

The second is that I have decided that while these things are tasks that I do in the evening, or on a Monday, or after lunch. They are not tasks that I _need_ to do every evening, every Monday, or every day after lunch. The completion of these tasks feels good, they are easy to complete, and I know when I can do them. However, this is not a routine that needs to be maintained. If I miss a day, or a week, or three weeks, I haven't failed anything, I don't need to "start again" and I can always go out on Sunday and get my coffee and sandwich.

Ultimately the result is not to use my willpower to overcome procrastination. My goal is to reduce the need to use willpower to do most tasks, to make many tasks that remove stress a matter of routine rather than will. This way I conserve willpower for the leftover tasks that I don't have a routine for. Because I have saved that willpower, it's more likely that those tasks will succeed, and since I don't count the occasional non-productive moment as a failure, I've stopped feeling so much that I procrastinate.

I'm sometimes unproductive, but when I am, I'm aware of the consequences and it feels like a decision. When I decide to approach a task, I don't have that guilty, hidden, procrastinating barrier to overcome. And not having to "beat" procrastination gives me that much more willpower to initiate tasks.

This has been a slow process for me, over the course of a year. But the impact on my mood and my feeling of agency has been indescribable. While before I thought I was lazy, I just realized that I was really just exhausting myself - straining against myself.

What I'm trying to do now is to mentally separate the resolution to do a task from the initiation of the task. Instead of thinking "If I decide to do this, I have to work" it's more like "This is something I need to do for this rational reason." and then "I will start the task that I decided to do." avoiding any consideration of what it might feel like. That's more challenging, but it's slowly working, and I'm starting to feel good doing "Things that I resolved to do" as opposed to "communicating with an irate client" or "fixing the issue that has been broken for so long I'm embarrassed that it's still not fixed". It just gets abstracted into a "Starting a task" meme, and generally when I start a task, and proceed to the next step, it ultimately gets completed. And fixing that embarrassing issue finally feels great. Resolving the issue with the client feels good. And if more issues come up, I don't worry about them, I put them on the list, when I get to my routine I evaluate them, and then I begin them.

TheZenPsycho 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't like this thread. It implies that if you aren't a slavish worker, with impervious metal discipline, you are /worthless/.

It's really hard binary thinking, which I guess is what I expect from here. You guys are implying that I am worthless. Completely worthless. That the OP is worthless. And so, what now? Shall we all just jump off a cliff then?

I don't think so.

maybe there is more to life than being the hardest worker. Maybe it is okay to have an internal mental life that is rich and varied.


That's the trick. It's the mental chinese finger trap. You have to really truly accept who you are and what you limits are, what you can accomplish, and stop worrying so much about it. It is only once you have done this that you can let yourself get things done. It is only once you can accept that it is okay to not get things done, that you stop fearing the failure, and getting started doesn't feel like such a chore.

Failure is okay.

It is okay for other people to think you are worthless.

Just don't pay attention to it, stay in the now, put one foot in front of the other, trudge on and on and on, you'll find your pace, you'll find how to keep going, you'll get through the mental blocks. and you may never be as "good" as /those other people/. And that's okay.

MarkCancellieri 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Long-term behavior-change is extremely difficult, but the strategy that I have been experimenting with recently and having success with is context-sensitive rules (commonly called "implementation intentions" by behavioral researchers). The form of these rules is "if-then," although I often phrase them in a way such that the "if-then" is implied.

For example, like you, I was procrastinating far too much at work. This was driven mainly by two problems: 1) I'm somewhat addicted to the Internet, and 2) there are many things with my job that I'm either bored with or just uncomfortable doing. The result was that I would procrastinate by going on the Internet.

I finally decided to make a rule: "No non-work-related Internet at work." Or in the "if-then" format: "If I am at work, then I will not use the Internet for non-work purposes."

This rule has worked for me. It forced me to confront the discomfort that I was having with the task at hand. I also try to focus on completing only one particularly challenging or distasteful task that I have been procrastinating on per day, and I try to do it first thing in the morning. The positive feeling that it generates is amazing.

I have adopted other rules as well, such as to lose fat. I have a rule to only eat during an 8-hour feeding window from 12PM to 8PM (intermittent fasting). While I am at work, I also only eat a huge mixed salad (with grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and tuna salad) every single day. I don't allow myself to use the vending machine or to eat goodies that people bring in or eat pizza on Fridays (pizza day). When I'm not at work, I'm a little more flexible.

I try not to design rules that expect me to be perfect all day every day. My rules are designed in a way that help me to be perfect only during specific contexts.

I think the reason that setting rules for ourselves is so often successful is because it eliminates the need to make decisions. Every time you allow yourself to make a decision, you give yourself the opportunity to make a bad decision, which you will do at times of low willpower, which pretty much everyone goes through (willpower is an exhaustible resource).

So my recommendation is to try to design some context-sensitive rules (i.e. rules that you will follow at certain times or certain places) and adapt them as necessary so that they work for you. Remind of yourself that your rules will make your life better and that you are free to change them if you find that they don't serve you, or else your brain might rebel at the perception of the pain of discipline.

If your rules take a lot of willpower, they will eventually fail guaranteed.

kybernetyk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
What works for me: Watch other people work.

I tend to get motivated by those crappy History/Discovery shows (especially the horrible Gold Rush Alaska). Binge watching that show helped me to get through a project that got too big and too boring.

Ensorceled 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I use the following:

RescueTime + Beeminder: to track what I'm actually doing so I can't trick myself into thinking I'm more productive than I am. I have it set to 30 hours a week of productive work. People think I'm a god damned freak of nature and worth every penny they pay me if I average 30 productive hours.

I use the Pomodoro technique to stay focused. Once I get into the grove it's kind of silly, I'll find I've been programming for about two hours and haven't restarted the Pomodoro. But it IS a great way to cut short procrastination.

"I'll read HN after this 25 minute stretch..."

Depending on what I'm doing I have to have Twit.tv or music playing in the background or I get bored and my mind starts wandering.

Make sure you dev environment is fast. Cognitive drift is your enemy.

crawfordcomeaux 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I can absolutely relate. We're in the same boat and this is my personal cry for help, but more on that further down.

I'm 30 and still where you are, except without money. I've only skimmed the comments, but I agree with those who say you may have ADD or ADHD-PI. For adults with ADHD (speaking as one who's done a bit of research on it over the past few months), medication is almost never enough. Adult ADHD is complicated further by coping mechanisms (ie. good & bad habits) that have been developed in response to the condition. Habits exist in our brains as reinforced neural pathways, so changing them is essentially like trying to rewire your brain. To my knowledge, there is no pill in existence that will do that.

Side note about why I think you may have ADHD (which is simply ADD + multiple hyperactivity traits) based on what I've skimmed in the comments: procrastination (duh), highly intelligent, overcommiter, ability to hyperfocus (which is why you can slam out code, but also why you went down the "rabbit hole" away from meditation), info addict.

Also, for what it's worth, I take Vyvanse 60mg in the morning & Adderall XR 20mg around 2PM. Vyvanse is awesome if it works for you.

Anyway, I don't know what the solution is, though there have been good suggestions throughout the comments. Also, I highly recommend the book "ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life." Even if you don't have ADD, it has a lot of useful suggestions for approaching several of your issues.

I do have an idea that I'm currently trying to test, though, which brings me to my cry for help...

I'm building a system for myself to help change multiple bad habits at once, but I work much better when collaborating with a group & have nobody to work with. I'm attempting to break the conventional wisdom that you should baby-step your way through multiple habits. The CW exists because habit change costs willpower (ie. results in "ego depletion") and trying to change multiple habits saps your daily reserve of willpower too quickly. The system I'm coding is intended to mitigate this by removing the option of going through with an existing habit. Without the ability to perform a habit, there's essentially no willpower spent.

The plan is to combine several different apps & APIs to:- detect when I'm getting distracted (via RescueTime, primarily) and restrict my computer usage (though I'm thinking it may make more sense to restrict by default & invert the restrictions as a means for enforcing break times)- detect when I'm on the computer/phone when I should be doing something else (via Google Calendar) and lock my out of both (via Prey & Find My iPhone)- detect when events occur that I want to attach habits to, such as decluttering one room when I arrive at home (via Find My iPhone)- ping my support group when I need it (just an idea...still needs fleshing out)- confirm task completion through different means (eg. check to see if a document exists if a writing task is needed, follow up on phone/email tasks, compare original image of clean kitchen with latest photo of clean kitchen when I'm supposed to wash dishes, or just confirm with others in the support system that the task has been completed)

Currently, I'm building the system out using Huginn (http://github.com/cantino/huginn), but would either like to optimize the system so that it can scale for other users or build something similar in node.js. In the meantime, I'm developing Huginn agents for the needed APIs (and the API wrappers where necessary). But this is slow going and I have no means of generating income. Getting a full-time job means I have to spend my day attempting to keep from getting distracted, so I wind up without the mental energy to do anything else after work while still not being productive enough at work to hold a job. Since my parents refuse to accept this as the situation (despite 15 years of this pattern), I no longer have their financial support to continue working on this. I essentially have a month to find menial funding to build this out as a service for others, at which point I'll either need to give up pursuing my dream of creating a startup to join the rat race or join the military in the hopes that such a structured environment will correct things.

Is this a project anyone would be willing to help me develop?

brnstz 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't worry about changing the world. If through your best efforts + chance, you happen to change the world, that is great. But if you go through life believing you are without value unless you do something grand, you've got a 99.99999% chance of disappointment.

You're 21. Want to play more sports? Play them. You haven't even reached your physical peak. What, did you want to be a quarterback in the Super Bowl and it's not worth playing sports unless you are? Welcome back to 99.99999% disappointment.

You think that your procrastination and intelligence are unrelated. You think you're horrible on the inside, but you "get away with it" because you're smart. This is nonsense. You are bored. Maybe you didn't do the shit that was assigned to you in high school, but the SATs are not a genetics test. You learned it somewhere.

Don't feel guilty about the money you make. Don't think that you're a hamster on a wheel and you're worth nothing unless you're going at 100% speed. If your job doesn't give you enough work to interest you, be proactive and find some inefficiencies that need fixing. Fix them. Don't wait for someone to tell you to do it. After you fix it, tell everyone. If there isn't anything to fix, get a new job. And... to go against the grain of HN, consider a large company, one that has endless problems and technical debt. If you aren't happy in your own skin, working on a startup to change the world is probably not the best thing.

Also, seriously consider going to a therapist to discuss your issues. I hear that you can afford it. You're basically asking the internet to be your therapist. And the internet is not qualified (on average).

hncomment 20 hours ago 0 replies      
You're now afraid you're not as great as you've always thought (and they've always told you).

By procrastinating, you avoid an honest reckoning of your talents and testing of your limits. You can hold onto the idea of a certain kind of perfection, in yourself and your potential work product, a little longer... and then scramble to do something half-assed at the last minute.

If others then accept your results, you get the thrill of almost-failing but can still entertain the idea you're so great you don't need to put in sustained, honest effort. The essential-you still has the power to get away with things that others can't! (You were probably very good at deceiving your parents and other authority figures as a child.)

If your results are crappy, well, they're crappy only because of the procrastination. The "real you" still has boundless potential and "could be changing the world", it's 'just' the procrastination that's a problem. You're already punishing yourself about that with your internal narrative, and perhaps you even secretly hope others will finally give you negative attention, too -- both for the thrill of actual-failure and the hope of a confrontation that might force improvement.

You do have some awareness of the cycle you're in, and have tried a number of things... but not with consistent follow-through or sustained improvement.

As a single 21-year-old making $130K, you could afford elective psychotherapy. It'd help with rooting out the reasons you enjoy procrastination, and with the follow-through on changing habits. (Much of the advice here is good... but will you have a sustained relationship with the suggesters that helps evaluate progress over months/years? For a price, a therapist can provide that.)

You might also eventually want a more competitive and intimate work environment, someplace where you can't "bullshit your way through most stuff", because others would notice and/or real project failure would follow, rather than just continual muddling-through. (This doesn't necessarily mean over-the-shoulder monitoring or no entertaining diversions... but high-enough demands and close-enough collaboration that clock-killing shirking can't survive.)

Good luck, and be happy you're not this guy:


dreeves 21 hours ago 3 replies      
My startup is all about solving this problem! http://beeminder.com

It's specifically for lifehacking data nerds (so probably most people here on HN) and the idea is to combine a quantified self tool with a commitment contract. Specifically, you pledge (actual money) that you'll keep all your datapoints on a "yellow brick road" to your goal and if you don't, we charge you.

We integrate with various gadgets and apps like RescueTime and Trello and GitHub (also fitness things like Fitbit but I guess this thread is more about productivity-related motivation) so, for example, you can force yourself to waste less time on Facebook or commit to GitHub more often, or enforce a steady rate of moving Trello cards to the Done pile.

[repeated from a very similar Ask HN thread the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6121572 ]

michaelfeathers 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need to build up willpower to do things, you should be doing different things. Find what you want to do. You still may have a problem with procrastination, but at least you'll be getting things done in a realm that matters to you at a deep level.

The thing about "I could be changing the world" is more complex. That is one hell of a monkey to put on your back. What are your hobbies? What do you really enjoy doing? Yeah, maybe for where you are in life (young adult?) you have that urge to change the world but channel it through a passion. Don't even think about anything that furthers a goal, just pure enjoyment.

As a kid, the architect Frank Gehry played with blocks and he went back to that play when he found his work. When physicist Richard Feynman was burned out, he stopped doing all physics until he saw a plate spinning in the air and started to compute spin just for fun with no sense of a goal. It reconnected him.

It seems like you are in a prime place to explore that base level of play given your security in work. Do it and maybe you'll end up with what you want to do. Then you can move away from the chores or put them into perspective.

reactor 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you sure you are a procrastinator? Chances are you are NOT.

I was also a long time procrastinator (at least I believed) till I came across this article http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/opinion/sunday/why-smokers... which is changing me (its only a week now)

As I said, you might not be a procrastinator, you may very well be a victim of seeking short time pleasure at the cost of long term benefits.

Your impulse to read online, game for whatever time wasting activity might be giving you the short term kick/relief and keep doing them will cause the task (which you think you OUGHT to do) to postpone later (or better, you are not finding time to do them).

Read the article and think it through and reflect.

If you realize the actual problem, it is easy to break.

I'm doing it now. Its getting better, I can vouch.

ThanksA friend.

greenyoda 22 hours ago 0 replies      
You didn't mention whether you find the work you're doing to be interesting or boring. When I'm working on something boring or unpleasant I also tend to procrastinate, but when I'm working on an interesting problem (sometimes even tracking down an obscure bug qualifies as interesting), I get absorbed in what I'm doing and don't get easily distracted.

If you find your work boring, have you considered looking for a job that's more in line with your interests?

Debugreality 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is something I wrote on this previously -

Once upon a time I thought I was lazy. I'd sit in front of my computer at work with the intention of working but something inside me just wouldn't let me. It would make me feel so guilty and bad but no matter how hard I willed myself to work I just couldn't make it happen. This didn't happen all the time, sometimes I'd get caught up in my job and not have any problems. But it happened often enough that it was a constant weight on my shoulders.

It turned out to be more a lack of encouragement and work ethic from my childhood. It was a defense mechanism, it was a way of rebelling and trying to get attention. Unfortunately it didn't fit into my adult life at all!

Many of us have old defence mechanisms and some of the most destructive ones block our drive and inner motivation.

Maybe we got spoiled as a kid, never having to do any work for ourselves so never learning the satisfaction of a job well done. We associate work with something lower people do, maids, gardeners etc. But doing daily tasks can be one of the most rewarding parts of the day.

Since I can't seem to find any good links related to this I'll go into some more details on what worked for me.

Basically whenever I come across a block from something I learnt as a child I use visualisation to relive what I would have preferred to learn. We can all do this, go somewhere comfortable where you can relax and won't be disturbed as this might bring up some strong emotions.

Now imagine back to the time when your defence behaviour was forming, when you are little. Spend some time getting this idea clear in your mind. Feel little again. Now imagine another you as you are today with your current understanding of things meeting that younger you. Now what advise would you tell your younger self, imagine your younger self views you like a big brother or sister. Let the conversation flow naturally. Repeat until you can feel your unconscious attitudes begin to shift.

The reason this technique really helps us is because behaviours we learned as children arn't based on logic so simply understanding why you should be doing something better doesn't get to that unconscious belief. The unconscious needs to feel that emotional caring guidance to re-learn it's behaviours. Guidance from someone you trust implicitly. By doing this visualisation we are becoming our own parent in a way and that lets us re-learn these early lessons.

beachstartup 22 hours ago 1 reply      
> I make $130k as a 21 year old and I probably put in 3 hours of real work a day.

do you really think your subconscious is capable of changing when this is the scenario it is presented with?

you say you're "pretty smart", i would say "you're just smart enough to get away with it."

start a company. force yourself into uncomfortable situations.

6d0debc071 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps not the healthiest advice if you don't have any addictions already but: One of the things I do is to blackmail myself with my addictions/vices when I want to do something that I don't really want to do. Have the reward present on my desk and just DON'T touch it until whatever I want is done.

If you break it down to pair short bursts of intense rewards, preferably something with a chemical component, for the completion of small short-term objective, (I think my shortest is about three minutes; reward for finding bugs in horrible code,) that approach seems to work reasonably well. (At least, provided your initial urge to start the action is sufficient.) You only have to deny yourself the reward for a short while.

I find I can increase the initial urge to do the activity by writing stuff down to do at the start of the day. I find it has more of an impact if I write it down at the very start of the day rather than planning stuff out weeks in advance.

It can also work with time-limited goals. Like I'm going to spend X minutes doing Y before a reward.

This approach does not seem to work well if using media and activities to reward yourself rather than some physical pay-off.

edw519 16 hours ago 2 replies      
For as long as I can remember I have been a super procrastinator.

You have misdiagnosed yourself, which is why you've had so much difficulty finding a solution. You're trying to solve the wrong problem...

You are not a procrastinator. You are a fish out of water. You are not where you belong, working on what you should be working on. You consciously don't realize this, but deep down inside, you really do; that's why you're fighting yourself. That also pretty much explains all of your behavior.

However, I'm also pretty smart which helps me fake it so that no one else notices.

So what. Join the crowd

I think part of my problem might be that I grew up with an entitlement complex as I was valedictorian, near perfect SATs etc. and I never did shit in high school.

It's about time that you stop diagnosing and analyzing yourself and start seeking what you love and where you belong.

Now that I'm in the real world it's starting to really gnaw at me.

Funny how that works. Welcome.

I make $130k as a 21 year old

Forget about that. Some of the worst personal decisions ever made were over-influenced by money. Don't fall into that trap. The next thing you know, you'll be 55 years old, with what others would call a good life, and you'll be wondering where the time went and why you didn't live the life your really wanted. I know know tons of people just like that, who spent so much time chasing nickels, they never really lived their intended life. Don't end up like them.

and I probably put in 3 hours of real work a day.

Then you're probably in the wrong job.

I'm a good enough programmer that I can bullshit my way through most stuff

How sad. Find a better path.

at this point I think people are starting to realize that I'm a bit slower than I could be

The lack of congruence in your life will manifest itself in many ways. This is just one.

I still push out a lot of code, but I secretly spend 7-8 hours a day doing bullshit at work (reading online, games, etc).

Another signal that you're in the wrong place. It's not you, it's your situation.

I know that I've been given a gift and that I'm a fucking idiot for wasting it

Knowing there's a problem is good.

but I've just become a chronic procrastinator and it sucks.

Misidentifying the problem is not good.

I could be changing the world

You are changing the world. Just not in the way you imagined. Your post here is probably helping many others. And that's just one thing.

We all change the world in our own small way. Learn to accept that's OK.

I'm putting in the bare minimum and no matter what trick or method I try I can't seem to beat it.

Because you're addressing the wrong problem. See above.

I've never had a strong willpower to begin with and now it seems to be getting worse

Willpower's got nothing to do with it. (Example: How much willpower does it take to not beat your children?) Just to the right thing. That doesn't take willpower, just identifying the right thing and then doing it.

Any advice on how you taught yourself to focus on tasks, build willpower, and get shit done would be helpful.

Yea. Stop fighting "it" and find what you'd love to do. Then start doing it. You'll be amazed that you ever even posted this here.

I wonder if I really fucked my brain/habits up so much that I'll never reach my full capacity.

No. Unless you did lots of drugs or fell off you bike or something like that.

I've been like this for the past 6-7 years and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.

Doesn't matter...

2 people are going from New York to San Francisco. One has gone directly from New York to Chicago. The other has made stops in Florida, Texas, Virgina, and Oklahoma on his way to Chicago. How do their plans differ now that they are both in Chicago and need to get to San Francisco? They don't. The past doesn't matter. Only the present and the future. This applies to you too. Forget about the past 6-7 years and find your path.

My dad is also very similar in that he's smart enough to bullshit through life but he only works at 10-20% of his full capacity and he never completes anything.

One at a time please.


I hope I have. If not, or you need clarification, contact me via the email in my profile.

logn 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Log off all this crap on the internet now and get back to work. Stop reading this thread and start asking someone to review the crap code you're writing. And fill your vast amount of freetime at work actually doing something to improve your company. They pay your bills so you can click keys and press buttons. So stop pressing the wrong keys and start typing something productive not posts like these. Also, stop reading all this stuff and start making something.
ronyeh 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Break tasks down into tiny chunks that are sooo easy that you don't need to procrastinate to do them.

Then do them little bits at a time, and reward yourself for doing them.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Lots of people procrastinate. I do too. Don't feel so bad about it. :-)

Or, find a new hobby (like playing guitar) and then procrastinate on that. Spend time reading up on music, music theory, equipment... instead of reading reddit. Maybe you'll learn something new with your time wasting?

beambot 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Just channel the procrastination into something you like. I highly recommend reading the Structured Procrastination essay: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/
spuz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
There are lots of suggestions here about using timers or "just do it" or thinking about the pain/reward of doing a task you don't feel like doing. But for me none of these things worked.

If you are like me, the problem was I had no reason to improve myself. I had no motivation to improve my life beyond its basic needs. You have an easy life - you have money, time and good health (just an assumption) but clearly there is still something wrong. Something gnawed at you enough today to make you write this post. Something is telling you that your life could be so much better.

I recommend reading the book Getting Past OK by Richard Brodie (a fellow programmer). For me the helpful points in the book were:

- It is possible to drastically improve your life, to find meaning and happiness (I was pretty skeptical of this point in general before picking the book up)

- You need to accept who you are now (skrebbel commented on this already)

- The beliefs, opinions and feelings you have about things (e.g. doing "work" is a chore) are the product of your experience up to this point. This means they can be changed. If you identify a belief that is holding you back, you can change it to fit your goals.

- Procrastination is just one of your problems and is actually quite easy to fix once you figured out why you want to fix it. There is a section of the book devoted to breaking out of the procrastination habit.

- If you want to be successful you have to be committed. This might sound hard and constraining but once you figure out "ok this is want I really want", it's just the opposite.

I am still nowhere near where I should be. I don't think that book has all the answers. But I think it is a great start - you can even read it while procrastinating from work if you like :)

Good luck!

neurostimulant 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I recommend "The Now Habit" book. I particularly like the "unschedule" trick. Instead of scheduling works and ending up procrastinating, schedule for fun activities instead and fill the unscheduled time with work. I'm not sure about you, but I have flex working hours (I'm a freelancer) so I can get this trick work for me.


dylanhassinger 23 hours ago 2 replies      
1. DOWNSIZE. drastically reduce your commitments / todo list. Procrastination is your subconscious brain's way of saying that it is freaking out with what's on its plate.

2. INTENTION. with the stuff that's left over, take a time out and truly commit to it. Do meditation, quiet your brain, and make an honest decision about what you're committing to.

3. IMPLEMENTATION. now plan HOW you will get these committments done. Visualize yourself actually doing the steps to complete it.

Putting all these together, check out this podcast where Pat Flynn shares his technique of "small batches to completion":


Also: Adderall / Modafinal / Cyclobenzaprine / Exercise can help quiet the mind and bring focus :)

masnick 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I recommend listening to http://5by5.tv/b2w. Merlin Mann has really good advice about being productive and about life in general. My description isn't doing it justice, but I promise it's worthwhile.

(Start with with the first few episodes to get a sense of what the show is about -- don't start with the current episodes because there's a lot of inside baseball that won't make sense or be interesting.)

rayiner 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Adderall is an amazing drug for people like you. Also, try getting a job in a field, say programming for banks, or management consulting, where you can't procrastinate.

As for procrastinating life stuff: outsource everything. Get a maid, etc.

msutherl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I try not to recommend pop-psych books, but The Power of Habit taught me some useful tricks: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400069289/ref=as_li_ss_tl?....

The upshot is that you can't stop this part of yourself. You can only redirect it. You have a rich set of impulse-reward cycles triggered by the thought of beginning something difficult. You can't help responding to the triggers, but you can change the routines and the rewards.

In other words, you can't win by fighting. Don't swim against the current. Use your existing bad habits as a frame for new better ones.

Somebody else mentioned that you might be bored. Perhaps you are unchallenged. You could be lacking perspective and proper role models. I would encourage you to take yourself out of the startup scene (which is largely vapid nonsense) and try something more viscerally challenging, intellectually engaging, or just out of the ordinary. Find a research job, work in the theater, go to sea, volunteer in the third world, backpack around the world, teach classes to your friends or kids, pick up a craft like glassblowing or carpentry, build a house, WWOOF, etc.

Did you go to college? If so, what was your degree?

(Shoot me an email if you want to chat I'm a few years older, but was in a similar position not too long ago skiptracer at gmail.)

Samuel_Michon 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Im a super procrastinator too. Im also not good at estimating how long a task will take me. On top of that, I feel apprehensive contacting or responding to clients once I know I wont make the deadline, entering radio silence instead. Needless to say, thats not good for business and causes both parties a fair deal of distress.

Some things Im doing to conquer my shortcomings:

I outline the entire project and try to estimate how long it will take. I then schedule the work on hours I try to keep myself to (4-5 hours a day). Once working on the project, I log my working hours and what I do with them. Once the project is done, I review my outline and time sheets to see how close I was to my estimates, and where I went wrong (usually I was distracted or needed to learn new tech to get the work done). I use OmniPlan on iPad to do all of this[1].

I usually work on several projects at once. Ive found out that I really can't focus on more than three at a time, so Im learning to say no to new projects or schedule them far in the future. In truth, I still have ten projects right now, but half of them are longer term.

Starting my day by reviewing the projects in OmniPlan and seeing what needs attention most helps me get started on them. I also have a desktop picture with the Yogi Bhajan quote When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off.. When I read it and fully realize it, that motivates me to get started. And lastly, I use a GTD trick when working on a project that seems too big or boring: I pick the smallest, most fun part of a project, and tell myself that Ill take a break after that. Once Ive finished it, Im usually motivated enough to keep working.

[1] http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omniplan-ipad/

gsharma 21 hours ago 1 reply      
helen842000 10 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, this is all about motivation.

You know your mental capacity/ability easily exceeds and achieves what is asked of it, so in order to stop yourself over delivering you have created self imposed limits to prevent wasting your creative resources. Applying the 'minimum effective dose' to your work load is efficient but makes you a poor team player.

You then use time pressure & the guilt of not having done much work as motivation and a daily indicator of when it's time to really apply yourself & sprint to your deadline.

You're obviously deeply motivated by the sense of reward in experiencing the 'phew, just made it' scenario and this is far more attractive than pacing yourself and then asking for more work.

I don't actually think you're procrastinating - just waiting to be motivated & challenged and then filling in that extra time with (poor quality) mental stimulation.

By working in this sprint fashion you're actually ensuring you can cope with deadlines, stress & pressure - important skills you learned in your academic life.

Ways to resolve this involve using this motivation to your advantage (be careful not to burn yourself out)

Explain to your manager you feel you could be more productive & ask for a milestone approach to your work.

Surround yourself with ambitious people that you respect (even in online circles) they will provide a peer group that might trigger your competitiveness

Work on projects in your spare time in a sprint fashion e.g one night/week/month only or Startup Weekends

Decide on a work based project of your own creation to keep you productive even when you're not working on your core tasks.

You've ticked off the achievements that society sets out for us, now you have to continue the list & decide on your own new aims.

chrisduesing 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Out yourself. Show your boss this thread, ask for their help. Something is likely to change one way or another. You will either end up being monitored more closely, or fired. Either way you will have removed the giant cushion that being fast and having no direct supervision provides.
thirsday 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel compelled to strongly disagree with all the people who are saying "You're not a procrastinator, you're just not doing what you love." Don't believe them.

To start with, they seem to be assuming that there can only be one cause for this type of behavior... that you're secretly profoundly disinterested in whatever you're doing, and that pursuing something else would fix everything. I know that this is wrong from personal experience.

Since I graduated from high school (8 years now) I've been a professional musician -- I've toured nationwide playing for other people, I've worked as a studio musician, I've recorded and produced albums, both my own and other peoples'. I've basically lived the dream job of anybody who has ever been the least bit interested in music... the money sucks, but overall what more could you want as far as spending your time?

I procrastinated heavily through all of it, whenever I was faced with doing something hard (like finishing a song that didn't come easily to me, finishing production work on a friend's album [that turned out to be a fiasco], or actually sitting down and practicing my instrument [I basically never did]). Most of my time I spent sitting with my laptop on my lap, browsing the internet and reading tech blogs -- not doing things that would help me be a better rock star.

I'm now a programmer, and in many ways it's a better fit for my skillset. The challenges are interesting, and the money is a hell of a lot better (most people who say you shouldn't be motivated by money haven't had a significant lack of money to compare it to). I still struggle with procrastination. When I'm faced with doing something hard, I... guess what... browse news and tech blogs on the internet.

So what I love doing, and what I should actually be doing with my life is... sitting in my underwear reading articles on the internet and occasionally watching Hulu/Netflix? Because if I'm not "happy" being a programmer (exercising my mind and making lots of money) and I'm not "happy" being a fucking rock star (performing in front of people, expressing creativity, and having comparative freedom with my time)... what the hell else is there? I'm pretty sure there's no other secret profession out there that offers a radically different experience -- these two jobs are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways, and I've enjoyed them both... and I've struggled with procrastination and sheer laziness at both of them.

My point with all of this is just to contradict the people who seem to imply that if you just find the right particular thing to be doing you won't struggle with this any longer, and that you are mis-diagnosing yourself. From my own experience, I would say that is absolutely incorrect. ...Now you may find areas where you may struggle with it less... I got the most excited about working on my own band and doing my own tunes when I was a musician, but I couldn't make a viable income doing just that. Providing for my family is also important to me.

You and I have the same problem -- you're not misdiagnosing yourself. The good news is that it seems like there's tons of useful info in this thread. Work on the laziness / procrastination issues -- I'll work on them too. Hell, we can even work on them together. Once you feel like you've made some progress or at least understand the issue better... if you feel like you really would like to do something other than programming, THEN make a change. As somebody who has been a literal rock star, I feel compelled to mention that programming has a lot of things going for it.

Comment back if you'd like to tackle any of the procrastination stuff together.

forgottenpaswrd 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Surround yourself of people better than you and find challenges in your job.

What I read from your message is "I am a genius, I am gifted, I don't need to work because I am so smart, work is so easy".

Bullshit. If you are so gifted:

could you find the cure to a cancer saying, I don't know understanding DNA code?

Could you help developing nuclear fusion?

Could you really improve the social condition of the people around you?

Have you done anything meaningful with your life. My neighbor being stupid had help in her life more people than probably what you will.

Choose one big challenge, bigger than yourself and next time you want to read online(nothing bad if about it it is meaningful) or want to play games on your job work a little in your challenge.

Don't try to make more of your boring job, change it if necessary.

trustfundbaby 22 hours ago 0 replies      
You need to work with people waaay better than you, the embarrassment of seeing them do so much more than you will either force you to keep up or you'll realize you're not as smart as you thought you were. win-win.
agf 23 hours ago 2 replies      
What you're describing sounds like a highly intelligent person with ADHD-PI, aka ADD.

There are lots of techniques out there that can help, and medication can sometimes be effective. Do some research online and talk to your doctor. There are also people who specialize in helping / coaching people with ADD and similar memory / attention deficits.

danenania 13 hours ago 1 reply      
My suggestion is to shift as soon as you can into freelancing and consulting, find interesting projects, work when you feel like working, and stop feeling guilty.
clbrook 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't read through all the other comments and I have offered this advice before, so forgive me if it sounds repetitive.

The book that helped me the most was 'Mindset' by Carol Dweck. It is a quick read and gives multiple settings for describing fixed mindset vs growth mindset. It sounds like you are mainly in the fixed mindset and perhaps reading this book could jump start you into finding ways to incorporate the growth mindset.


Hoffenheimer 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I just finished reading Daily Rituals. It's a book about the work habits of famous writers, composers, artists, architects, and the like. One thing that caught my attention was how a lot of people we think of as great/prolific only worked 3 hours a day or for 3 hours at a stretch with a long break in between sessions. That number was very prominent throughout -- I don't remember the exact figure, but it was quite a lot of people. Off the top -- Sartre, Ingmar Bergman, Strauss, Mozart, Trollope, Thomas Mann, Carl Jung.

Trollope stands out for he had this to say, "All those I think who have lived as literary men, -- working daily as literary labourers, -- will agree with me that three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write. But then, he should so have trained himself that he shall be able to work continuously during those three hours."

That number might just be a biological limit. You might be working at full capacity already and your brain "procrastinates" in order to recharge. It's very difficult to tell when the brain is tired since you can't feel it, but wanting to do other things -- specifically things that take less mental energy like reading blogs/forums and playing games -- seems like a good signal of fatigue.

One thing you can try though is to split up your day into different blocks and focus on recharging in the time between those gaps. Say, do 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the late afternoon and just completely relax and do whatever the hell you want in the meantime.

binarymax 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Edit your hosts file to point all your procrast sites to
easy_rider 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't help you with this, but wow I could have written this myself buddy. I started freelancing, and feeling how tough it is now. I find myself playing catch-up all the time, and binge working, and making excuses to clients, which sucks, and do not define as how I see myself as a person. I'm pretty ADD as well. As a side-note I found L-theanine+caffeine (or just tea) helps me in relaxing and focusing for longer periods. I didn't drink any today I just realized, and boy i'm all over the place with the regular 22 random tabs open.
vijucat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Any advice on how you taught yourself to focus on tasks, build willpower,

Generally, all your accomplishments are probably being rewarded by societal "strokes" : "Well done, what a great SAT score!", "Wow, you work at Facebook?!", etc;

You're not procrastinating; you're simply not that interested in what you've been sold : work hard, get good grades, make good money, and you'll be happy, they said.

"Building willpower" is the most common counterproductive approach to this problem : it's just more of the same, more of beating your natural self to death with artificial goals and corresponding achievements that don't please you. It works for a while; you put on The Bourne soundtrack or The Dark Knight rises soundtrack, get to the gym (or to your startup's office) and pump out the most awesome set ever. But many things you achieve with sheer willpower often have the opposite effect, and your soul develops further resistance to the activity imposed on it.

It's confusing because there are people who are very similar to you, your peers, your friends, who are actually happy doing the conventional thing : working hard, burning the midnight oil, working at Goldman Sachs or Google (or even in the same office at you), actually completing things...You wonder, "What gives?".

If you're with me this far, I'll continue with the solution to this quandary in the reply; if not, I'd rather get off the soapbox earlier and get back to my work.

mathattack 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For better or worse, I force myself into daily To Do lists. Procrastination hits when you're talented but underemployed. The To Do lists force me to work on bigger things too, and reminds me that there's an internal consequence (if not external) from being lazy. Over the long haul, dumber people will catch and pass you by if you keep up the habits. Or even if not, you won't achieve the greatness of which you are capable.

Two caveats:1 - It's never to late to start learning, or get better habits. Mine dramatically improved several years out of school.2 - You can't be 100% on 100% of the time. Many great thinkers can still only get 4 hours per day of deep thought. It's ok to catch up on administrative crap in the other hours.

d0m 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's hard, I've read most comments in this discussion thread and most of them aren't coming from procrastinators. But if I may say the only trick that worked for me... get started. That's the hardest part. But once you get started, even thought 99% of it suck, you'll find a part of the task that you want to continue and push yourself to it. And every time you feel like quitting the task, push yourself to do 1 more minute.. just one. And you'll find yourself addicted to a small part of that task that you find interesting.

Whatever it is, dishes, work, making calls, paying credit cards.. just get started for 30 secs. The rest will fall into place.

dschiptsov 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Writing more pulp fiction could help.)

There is also a page worth reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disord...

shubhamjain 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The one thing that helped me in this is a great Chrome plugin, Stayfocusd [1]. Uninstall any other browser and block your access to those sites. Combining this with blocking even the "chrome://extensions" page, you have a perfect tool to avoid procrastination.

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankej...

gcheong 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a very short book written by a professor who researches procrastination. If you are interested in what the latest research has to say about procrastination and strategies to overcome it, it is well worth the read: http://amzn.com/1453528598
vacri 20 hours ago 0 replies      
At my last work, the engineers who worked a 40-hour weeks explicitly chopped up their work according to '20 quality hours' - the idea is that you do 20 quality hours of work per week, the remainder of the time being taken up with minutae, or cerebral refreshment, or urgent this or that. 3 hours/day is not far off this number.
lasonrisa 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I strongly recommend these books. They have been very helpful. If you were to read just one, read the first.

"Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now" http://www.amazon.com/Procrastination-Why-You-What-About/dp/...

"The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play"http://www.amazon.com/The-Now-Habit-Overcoming-Procrastinati...

jpswade 15 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that worked for me in the past.

Get a post-it note and write 3 things you want to achieve today.

Then work on those 3 things until they are done.

If you find yourself procrastinating, just look at the post-it note to remind you what you're meant to be doing and restore your focus.

egbert 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I did this recently and it helped me somewhat: I created a little tool in which I enter what I'm currently doing, the time I started it and at what time I think I'll finish. Another script I wrote checks every minute if I'm doing something at that very moment. If not then it turns my desktop background a solid red. So its keeps bugging me (especially with the OSX translucent menu bar). I enter a new activity or expand the old one, my desktop background turns to a nice grey and I continue my work. Rinse repeat.

This for me was step one.

Another thing thats supposed to be good for you is exercise. So I recently started doing what this guy does: http://youtu.be/ok6VLDFerMw?t=4m54sI can do this in my living room so the hurdle of going to a gym or something isn't there. And there isn't a large group of pro's here to see I still suck at it. I've been doing almost every day for the last two weeks and I'm already getting stronger.

Hope this helps!

Programming is a challenge for me (and I presume for you). Try to see life as such a challenge. You can hack at it. You can improve on it. You probably try to be better in programming than the people around you. Try to be better in life than the people around you, thats a real challenge!

venomsnake 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I got a great answer but I will write it later :)

For me the only thing that helps is intensive physical training - I am productive when I am out of my comfort zone and being deadly tired and miserable manages to do it. After training session I am almost in the flow already.

luanfernandes 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reading HN while I should be working. I'm 22 but I'm unemployed :( I quit Design School (one of the best in my country) because I really hate how universities work over here, even though it was free [1]. I learn really quick most tasks but the way people are teaching here is slow and really "opressive": you MUST attend to almost all classes otherwise you will automatically fail, you MUST learn stuff you won't even use EVER [2] and so on.Even though I think that, I'm still attached to learn with a mentor - not a TEACHER - because I think it's the only way I can learn real world shit.I really hope I can find something that pleases me now that my parents are kinda suffering a economic crisis.

1 - Federal or State Universes here in Brazil are free and most of them are called the best in the country, even though almost ALL lack something like good rooms and research equipment.2 - There was a subject (I guess it's the right word) we had to study called Technical Drawing. It was like AutoCAD with hands: we had to use different sizes of pencils to draw houses, yes houses. I talked to people that was almost in the end of the course and they said "I've NEVER used this in my projects".

razzaj 17 hours ago 0 replies      
No amount of willpower, or medical procedures (except maybe for lobotomy) will render tasks "you" find boring harder to postpone.

The key element, in my opinion, is to cognitively transform tasks into achievements. the latter are far more appealing to smart(er) people.

adding to that the premise : No matter how smart you are you wont be able to bullshit your way out of PAYING salaries at the end of the month.

My advice: Start your own company doing what do now, just as a service instead, and i bet the paradigm shift alone is enough to "motivate you". That said, this will not "cure" you from procrastination. It will just drive you to overcome it as your brain starts to link "tasks" to actual milestones which pave the way to achievements.

mattm 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I can relate to this. You sound like you just learn things incredibly fast so you can get by doing much less than other people. Why not just accept it? You're the type of person who is more like a sprinter than a marathoner intellectually. You don't see Usian Bolt trying to run marathons.

Of course, the bad part is that the working system forces everyone into the same bucket. You're probably only going to find happiness by getting outside of that system and building your own business where you can set your own work schedule.

throwaway973096 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I won't tell you how to break your habit, but I'll tell you to do whatever you can to break it. I'm glad that you asked for help, because it's really important. Because I know what's ten years later. I feel like you described exactly me when I was your age. Every. Single. Word.

Then it only gets worse. From 3 hours of real work a day to 3 days of real work a week, then to 1 week of real work a month. This single week is of course much more intensive and you work long hours then - either because something you're working on really excited you and you're having fun or because you've stretched so much all the deadlines and patience of other people that you know you simply have to. These on/off periods are not healthy neither to your self-feeling nor your finances nor the product or the team you're working with.

Fast forward ten years and I'm totally broke with overdue debts high over my head. I haven't slept well in five years and I feel like shit both physically and mentally. I know I need some help and I don't want you to end up in this place as well.

I still can be super productive and build great things, but the catch is I am able to do this only when I do things that excite me (what isn't that hard as I still have great passion for technology). Which is not always feasible at my current job, so the end result is that I'm having super productive month or two and then totally unproductive two-four months. My employer is not happy with that, but they learnt to accept this as I still can be very exceptional when I'm in my flow. The catch is I'm paid by the result so I don't earn well in my non-productive periods.

Part of the problem probably is that they often make me to work on totally boring stuff that should be done by totally different people and which could be done by people with 20% of my skills and 20% of my rates. This includes non-development and non-product related stuff, virtually everything: dev, bizdev, product, marketing, sales, management or simple administrative tasks - I can be good in everything I have vast experience in various areas and they use/abuse that.I sometimes think that they do that on purpose to don't spend too much on me and build my guilt up, as they know that throwing me into all that variety of tasks (which highly varies by area/contexts, complexity and required skill level) basically kills my motivation and ability to do stuff. I know that I need to break away from this toxic relationship. Well, that is still pending.

Anyway. I'm glad that you see your problem as a problem. I didn't see it that way and when I started, it was already too late. Please consider this as a warning on how you can screw up your life if you go down this path, as this path only goes down and down. Don't waste your gifts and your life.

Find something that excites you and is so much fun that you simply want to work on it. This will be different for different people. It may be a startup with super exciting product or it may be a freelancing career because it might turn out that you get bored easily and cannot enjoy a single project for long. If you feel you're burned out, just throw it away while you can. Make a break. Travel the world. Try a totally different career. Or simply change the job. I am just throwing guesses here and these are just things I think might work, but I haven't tried them (I'm in a hard position to try because of the overwhelming debts which I need to service, so I cannot switch to anything less paid).

Read every single post in this thread and try things that you think might work for you. But do something about it. I keep my fingers crossed.

egypturnash 21 hours ago 0 replies      
If you didn't have to worry about money, how close is what work pays you to do to what you actually would be doing? I find it's a lot easier to get work done on something I'm excited about, and a lot easier to keep working on something once the initial excitement is gone if it's something I give a damn about.

You say you could be changing the world. Is there a way you actually would LIKE to be changing the world? What can you do to actually work towards this change, in your day job or in your off hours?

agilebyte 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Working more hours != making use of your gift

This is your 100% capacity. You may be able to work for more hours, but a combination of your life situation (age, salary etc) causes you not to.

Once/if you are fired, that will teach ya.

If you don't like how this sounds then grab that feeling and challenge yourself.

Tomis02 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I always find myself procrastinating when I think the work I have to do will get me bored out of my mind, so I don't even try.There's loads of little things that could stop you from doing some actual work, but I think the main problem is that you are not really excited by what you are supposed to do. If you fix that I reckon you will be in an entirely new world.
foobarbazqux 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, you're following in your dad's footsteps. Procrastination is a kind of passive aggression, and it sounds like you're mad at your dad for being a bad role model. It also sounds like you feel guilty about not using your talents fully. Psychotherapy can be very good for these kinds of things if you find someone you like and trust. It will help you to separate psychologically from your parents, which is never a bad thing. You don't have to wait for a severe crisis before you go and talk to someone, and at your income level you can easily afford it.
xyproto 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Life is not like a continuous road. Life has chapters. Even if you procrastinate now, you can be in a completely different situation for the next chapter. The trick is to try to make the good chapters last and keep making changes until bad chapters turn good. Also, try "going with the life flow" while keeping a healthy respect for situations you know have the potential to go wrong.
lazyeye 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Dont under-estimate the importance of your social environment. As much as possible try to get yourself in a place surrounded by peers who do get stuff done.
gprasanth 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember awhile back here on hn, a guy did an experiment: hire somebody on craigslist to watch him while he works. That's all. It turned out to be pretty productive.

It's even more awesome if you can get someone who understands your work.


So find & _pair_ with a programmer you are compatible with.

tlarkworthy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I heard that efficient people don't let work build up and I tried it. If you get a task you can do immediately and not put into a queue, do it now! That advice has saved me tons of time, and stopped me drowning in work.
ColinHayhurst 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't be so hard on yourself: You're probably a type C: http://www.paulgraham.com/procrastination.html
michaelochurch 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think part of my problem might be that I grew up with an entitlement complex as I was valedictorian, near perfect SATs etc. and I never did shit in high school.

Forget about that. Who you were at 17 means nothing. If you're 40 years old and still have to mention that you went to an Ivy League school, that's not a good thing.

It doesn't matter. No one knows who you are. The good news is that you don't have to fear embarrassment. When you're "the smart kid" you can't afford to look stupid. Now, you can. The world is built by ex-smart-kids who weren't afraid to look stupid.

I make $130k as a 21 year old and I probably put in 3 hours of real work a day.

Also irrelevant. I think it might be part of your problem. Forget precociousness and all that golden child bullshit, because any job that pays a 21-year-old (excluding overt nepotism/connections) that much money is going to be stressful as fuck (and, as I'll explain, I think cumulative stress is part of your problem). I think you might want to be moving away from the high-stress jobs. If you actually want achievements that you can be proud of, you won't get them in the high-stress professional gigs; you're better off downshifting to the middling level where you're still surrounded by smart people but no one's gunning to be a millionaire in 5 years.

I think people are starting to realize that I'm a bit slower than I could be.

"People" are just as insecure as you are. They're mostly focused on their own survival and advancement-- not sizing you up. They probably don't think about you at all. If you stay out of their way, their evaluations (except for management) of you don't matter at all. People won't fuck with you just because you're working below your potential; almost everyone is working below capacity. As long as it doesn't mess up their shit, no one will fuck with you.

What you have is impostor syndrome, meaning that you think you're worse than you actually are. The dirty secret of adult life is people are just making it up as they go along. You're not the only one who feels "fake", and the people who seem to have their shit together are just as shaky as you are.

I secretly spend 7-8 hours a day doing bullshit at work (reading online, games, etc).

Not uncommon. Don't feel guilty. Don't try to stop per se, so much as you should be replacing less useful activities with better ones. If you say, "I'm not going to [X]" you're setting yourself up for temptation. Better to find things that interest you more. Maybe you could learn new technical skills on the job. (Do your building-- that is, things where you need to own the IP-- on your own time and resources though.)

Your work environment is probably partly at fault, too. You probably spend so much time on bullshit because you can't get in the zone with all the distractions and interruptions and petty social anxieties that rule the day. You've probably noticed that people who actually want to get things done at work either (a) show up early, (b) stay late, or (c) spend a substantial amount of time outside of the office. Very little gets done in core working hours in the typical office, because most people are at 100% CPU on reputation management bullshit.

Here's something you probably haven't been told about the adult world. The reason most people hate going to work isn't the work itself. It's all the pointless social anxiety generated by cramped offices, interruptions, the constant need to modulate social status to precisely half a notch below one's manager, et al. People enjoy work itself; it's a deep-seated psychological need to feel useful and productive. It's being at work that gets them down, because full-time social climbing isn't natural or appealing to most people. The best way to become happier at work, perhaps surprisingly, is to work harder. That's not a platitude, though; it's hard advice to follow because you'll actually need something that motivates you to work hard.

I know that I've been given a gift and that I'm a fucking idiot for wasting it, but I've just become a chronic procrastinator and it sucks.

A very large number of people feel this way. One of the problems with Work in most jobs is that it conditions people to associate productive activity with subordination.

You're not a fuckup, but you've been poisoned with bad conditioning. It's not about "willpower" as some immutable trait of a person. It's about the fact that we're animals that respond strongly to our environment, rewards, and punishments. (See: Stanford Prison Experiment.) There's no point in feeling shame about this; it's just how our bodies and brains work.

I could be changing the world but instead I'm putting in the bare minimum

You're not ready to "change the world". You have to improve yourself first. I won't lie; it takes time.

Spin up a side project. Or replace your at-work videogaming with Coursera. Or take more responsibility at work. Try to move to another team. Just do something where there will be meaningful feedback from the world. What's the worst that can happen? If you get fired, it's still better to lose a job while on an upswing than when comfortable (the shock of getting fired while comfortable takes months to recover from; but if you get fired while you're actively working hard, it's much easier to bounce back).

Any advice on how you taught yourself to focus on tasks, build willpower, and get shit done would be helpful.

Just try to make each day better than the last. Install RescueTime. Don't expect miracles. Just work toward incremental improvements. Again, each day better than the last.

Although, I wonder if I really fucked my brain/habits up so much that I'll never reach my full capacity.

Unlikely. You can build new habits in a couple of months, and unless you were using a lot of drugs, you'll be fine.

Most likely, what has addled your brain is low-level but chronic social stress from the workplace. That shit sucks, but the good news is that it only takes about a month to recover (once you get to a better work environment). Practice meditation to build up your resolve (and don't expect results quickly; the contemplative path is a lifelong one).

By the way, "full capacity" is unattainable. You need down time. You need to spend some of your time playing video games and watching TV. Just focus on quality. I generally allow time for one high-quality TV show (e.g. Breaking Bad) but I sure as hell am not going to let myself spend 4 hours per day watching it.

My dad is also very similar in that he's smart enough to bullshit through life but he only works at 10-20% of his full capacity and he never completes anything.

Don't worry about your parents. Just focus on yourself. One of the most important subtasks of recovering your emotional health is to stop dwelling on details irrelevant to the task at hand. Observe, but never stew. Your father can take care of his own life; you need to focus on yours.

codeoclock 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm in a similar position, but I find that the major factor that affects my procrastination is my emotional investment in the product I'm making. At work, I don't really care about the application I'm building - largely because the quality of the existing codebase makes me depressed. However, when I get home and work on my own side projects, I code like there's no tomorrow, and have no problem with focus. I haven't had the opportunity to test my theory yet, but I think one way of tackling procrastination is to make sure you're in a job that you really care about.
doctorstupid 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm really smart, do no work, and earn lots of money. Please help me.

How can anyone not take you for a braggart?

Houshalter 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Well I can not speak from experience enough to help since my own procrastination problems are quite bad. But this (http://lesswrong.com/lw/1sm/akrasia_tactics_review/) might help.
k__ 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For me, it helped to work in different places.

When I'm on my home-desktop I won't get shit done, but when I'm at work, or at a different room with my laptop, everything works out fine.

jeandlr 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Find something you're passionate about in which you'll put all your energy and talent! Start you own venture. And when it starts being difficult or boring, remember you can't fake it then, because it will drive you to either success or failure.

And find damn good mentors ASAP. I assume you don't have any valuable ones otherwise you wont be asking HN.

hfz 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a lot like you, and I've tried so many things. Tips, tricks, to-do lists, whatever.

The one thing that sticks with me is to first truly understand the value of time. It sounds cheesy but time really is the most valuable resource in the world, and procrastinating is about the worst way to squander it.

Also, even after coming at that conclusion, it's still a struggle, every day. There is not a day when you can magically be not lazy. It will still be there forever, but you can choose to fight it. It's a daily struggle, but absolutely worth it, though.

bastijn 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I kind of have the same. You ask for help but from experience I can tell that most tips you have to do yourself wont break the habit.

For me, there is/was just one solution. Ina one-on-one I told my boss (who was already very happy with me btw) that this was only about 40-50% of me. I just asked for more responsibility, more work, and make sure I can no longer bullshit around. Added benefit, this received me sone awards, and very positive salary talks :).

jbrooksuk 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When I find myself procrastinating I ask myself "how much could I achieve if I just do it now?" usually that works for a couple of of hours, I break for 5 minutes and then ask myself the same question before starting work again.
mythriel 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I am in the same situation as you and I understand you better than anyone. Someone who is not in that situation doesn't understand and they will try to give you advice like make a list of tasks, use pomodoro or other technique...none of them work...email me if you found a solution...i was really thinking of going to Bali and train my discipline and brain with those monks there and have a better life.
henningb 19 hours ago 0 replies      
What works best for me: Work closely with super-motivated people who inspire you. Procrastination goes down to zero. Interestingly, the effect lasts even after your project with these people is finished.

Also, read http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2012/04/5-great-things-about-pr...

keviv 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I just realized, I have a similar problem. I've bookmarked the thread and reading every comment on it. Thanks for asking the questions :
stevewillows 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Want to start a project with me? It's not a huge project, but something to accomplish.
Jdfmiller 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry but if you're on $130k at the age of 21, I really don't think you should worry about procrastination. If I was on anything near $130K at my age, I'd walk around with a grin on my face 24/7.

Go to the beach and enjoy your life.

robotic424 18 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't need help. You will hear a lot of advice, but none of it addresses your problem.

The issue is, above all else, you haven't found something that lights a fire in your gut. Something that forces you into action through sheer hunger and excitement.

Ignore all the tips that help you ignore your inner feelings to achieve what you don;t really care for.

It too me until 30 to find that which lit a fire inside me, until then I worked and 'tried' to motivate and push through procrastination.

What can you do? Experience life. Try different things, when you find the what i'm talking about it will be as clear as day.

bradezone 14 hours ago 0 replies      
"I make $130k as a 21 year old"

Waaaaaa, poor you.

anoncoward1975 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Successful programmer (let's just say I ride a bay-area shuttle bus to work) with the same problem here, but feel like I'm on the path to solving it.

The answer for me came (well, started: I'm working on it) through finally going to see a therapist and working through a bunch of other stuff.

Eventually, I got to the point where the next thing bothering me was my work. It was a relief to talk with someone who took my anxiety about it seriously: even my wife mostly just hit me with that "oh, you're just hard on yourself- I'm sure you're doing a great job".

I'm sure working through it for you will be different, but here's some of the things that were helpful for me...

- think/feel through what exactly is going on at the moment you start avoiding work: what are you feeling? What is going on? (There's probably something fairly logical going on, even if its solving a problem from 20 years ago)- maybe you had a more adversarial outlook growing up, towards authority, school, imposed rules, some other kind of bullshit: perhaps you've reached a point where you've outgrown the need for that- do you think of things in the classic Puritan-inherited good vs bad, reward vs punishment? Do you feel guilty? My therapist often sounds fairly zen, which initially felt vacuous, but I think I'm starting to get it: you can just be at work, in the moment, and start working on something instead of procrastinating, and not have it be a big struggle of willpower.- In a similar vein, I think I grew up thinking of myself as likely to do the wrong thing: I'll make myself eat my vegetables, but left alone, I'd probably opt for sugar. I'll do what I'm supposed to in school, and be the smart kid, but really, I can't trust myself because if I drop my guard ill probably just go back to slacking. Perhaps it's time to explore the idea of doing things out of a positive desire for mastery, the challenge of contending with bigger problems, growth, rather than trying to marshal your feared negative attributes into positive outcomes through trickery, deadlines, etc. You can trust yourself more than you think.

My, that was long and navel-gazing... But I hope it helps. Hacker news is full of "self-flagellate yourself into beating procrastination" rhetoric, and I found that approach unhelpful, exhausting, and depressing.

One last word: take your dissatisfaction seriously: I know you are successful and smart, but it bothered you at least enough to post here. It's going to take hard work to rewire engrained habits and responses, but at least one anonymous coward here is cheering for you, and has compassion for you :-)

dminor14 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Create a menu of tasks.Dedicate yourself to making progress on at least one of them at any given time. If you like doing any of them choose then one you feel least adverse to. It doesn't matter how many tasks are in your menu, or which one you choose, just "no empty time".
mugenx86 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it. -Dan Dennett
kuyan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
My technique: if it takes less than two minutes, just do it, then and there.

This is most effective when you split big tasks into smaller tasks.

Two minutes here and there really add up.

tradotto 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Looking back?!? You're only 21. Go find a sport league in your area, take up skiing or rock climbing.
christianlo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I work as a manager and I'd say that I would consider your problem not being "yours" but your manager's problem.

As your manager, I would have you work more closely with some dedicated but inspirational and funny person. Have you in on discussions and make research on topics shapes the decision making of what we are working on. I would simply make sure you had at least three different type of work (programming, researching, preparing for a presentation etc) and see what you gravitated towards and then keep a solid ratio between the different things.

So, I guess that I am suggesting that you should tell your manager about this problem and have her helping you with it.

Gnarl 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear procastatron (love that name!:),

There are some excellent suggestions below and I admit I haven't read them all, so sorry for repeats. Here's my experience from combating the same problem:

You can talk to your conscious mind all you want. Won't help. Your subconscious mind will reign supreme. Always.So you need to re-program the subconscious. Eliminate the emotional drivers behind your procrastination. See 2). below for one such method.Think of it as an unfair message bus. Without cheating, it takes a lot of work to pass messages from the conscious mind down to the subconscious mind but messages from the subconscious are effortlessly running your conscious life - and mostly, you don't even realize.

So what to do?1). calm your minds (both of them) through meditation. Sit for 12 minutes a day in a comfy, non-disturbed place, and focus on your breathing. When a thought pops up, simply acknowledge it and return to focusing on breathing. Resist the urge to pursue those trains of thought. This will strengthen your ability to focus.

2). get familiar with EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy). Its easy to do and as an offshoot from acupuncture/acupressure, it involves finger-tapping on specific acupuncture points on the face and torso.Many people dismiss EFT as silly pseudoscience but it does prove to be remarkably effective at eliminating undesired behavior by acting on the deep subconscious circuits. Its free so why not try it.

restlessmedia 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Do something you enjoy? If you enjoy doing something, you won't try and find ways to avoid doing it.
lazyeye 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Tales of Mere Existence - Procrastination


d4m0 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Willpower is like a muscle. Work on it. Build it.

But then I'm here reading Hacker News too so......

adventured 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've personally found a variation of Marc Andreessen's index card concept very useful. (couldn't find it on his blog any longer, so here's an archive.org link)


I typically write down one simple goal each day for whatever project I'm working on. Something that is easy to knock out, but meaningful. Day after day of tearing up index cards of simple goals, and sooner than later you've accomplished a lot while not worrying so much about drowning in the grand scheme of things (I typically get overwhelmed / overloaded by having too many things that need to get done).

mantisimo 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Have a look at a book called "Getting results the agile way". It's a simple process which you could probably glean from reading the introduction. Essential you choose 3 things each day that are important for you to solve, 3 things each week, 3 things each month.. You can see where this is going...Or as a quick (great way) to boost to your productivity have a look at the 'pomodoro technique' There is also another great book called "Getting Things Done" but that takes much more effort and takes a somewhat anal approach to managing every conceivable thing if your life.
Misiek 22 hours ago 1 reply      
aaronbrethorst 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Peace Corps.
ilconsigliere 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Try working out (lift) first thing in the morning
musicalentropy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The next time you feel like wanting to procrastinate, have a look for that :


devalhubert 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This helped me hugely - procrastination is a symptom of an over-achiever who is afraid to fail, because they rarely have.

Start from halfway down on 'The Real Causes of Procrastination'.

Welcome to the club: http://www.raptitude.com/2011/05/procrastination-is-not-lazi...

pr0filer__ 20 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of swear words and superlatives.
nlx 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Stop going to hacker news until after 5pm
grauniad 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Block hackernews. Block reddit.
klahnako_cell 15 hours ago 1 reply      
don't worry! as long as your job is not negatively impacted, you are good to continue on your path of procrastination. yes, you could do more with less procrastination, but there will be more waste: Procrastination serves a useful purpose, by allowing you to get the most information before taking action.

you are young, so have fun, find a life partner. one day you will find a project or purpose that will give you pasision that turns you into the eager beaver you're dreaming to be now.

barnaby001 22 hours ago 2 replies      
how is this even being asked in 2013? this is why god invented adderall. stop fucking around.
rnl 22 hours ago 0 replies      
mkesper 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Just do it.

Sounds easier than it is, though.

akldjlafkjalfk 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Introducing Quip quip.com
282 points by jamesjyu  3 days ago   154 comments top 51
finiteloop 2 days ago 14 replies      
It's always surreal to read Hacker News threads about the stuff you make. Harsh, but realistic. Anyway, I am Bret Taylor, co-founder of Quip. I am here if you have any questions, etc. (Also posted responses on the existing thread already).

Just to clarify a couple of points I have read:

1. We do support desktops. We have a really nice web app. It is Chrome/Firefox only right now.

2. We have an Android app. It is a "preview release" because it is not feature complete. We released it because it is pretty close, and you can download it at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quip.quip. It is early, but it exists.

pud 3 days ago 2 replies      
Quip is Bret Taylor's new company.

Bret founded Google Maps and FriendFeed. Then he was CTO of Facebook for 3 years.

So this should be interesting.

OoTheNigerian 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great stuff. Never easy tackling such an entrenced market.

I have a few suggestions though as someone that not only actively uses Google Docs but practically forces people I work with to do so too.

1. How do I make this appear in my existin Google Docs folder? I really do not want to have another place for my documents.

2. The pricing of Google Docs makes it really hard to beat. How does quip plan to fight that?

3. Still early days but people create different types of docs e.g Spreadsheets and slides for the same projects. How does it work with them without putting one type of doc in a differnt location from another? Especially when they are fr the same project?

4. My biggest issue when using Google Docs is that of formatting. The format does not play well with Word (we have to accept Word I'd boss for now and a monster number of people still use it ). Does the formatting work well with Word?

From my very limited knowledge, I have a few suggestions

1. Be the best at something and come inthrough the flanks. E.g the best way to edit your DropBox documents (I actually thought Dropbox would have launched a document processor by now). Coming through the flanks will remove the weight of expextation and at the same time allow people to

2. integrate you into an existing workflow for a large number of people. Eg. Sync with Google Doc.

3. Understandably, 17million is not a lot these days so you need to start earning money. But consider almost everyone will already have away of processing docs. I would find it hard to pay for something I have already paid to do. And does far much more work for me. You need people to start geting used to you and your pricing will limit adoption

The above is my feedback. I am sure you must have thought of it and more. I wish you all the best.

dakrisht 2 days ago 1 reply      

I'm personally not a tablet-typer and connecting a BT keyboard to an iPad with a case is basically a laptop, so I'd rather just use an Air (wouldn't you?)

Quip looks nice, but from reading this thread, their and playing with the app myself I have a few observations. After all, this is a thread where we come to comment, so why not throw five minutes of my life into some writing, using my BT keyboard, on a big heavy iMac.

First, saying that there is "barely a laptop in sight [in the Bay Area]" is just rubbish - there are _plenty_ of laptops in and around the Bay Area, the Valley, Southern California, California, the United States, the world. Startups - your users are not all in San Francisco. It's like Tim Cook saying "there are no Android phones at BJ's Grill."

I appreciate the forward thinking of this app in a very "post-PC" era kind of way, but showing a screen of MacWrite from 1984 in the app page is just ridiculous - there have been _plenty_ of great mobile-based word processing applications in the past few years, in case you have not noticed. From Pages to IAWriter to Textilus to Evernote, the list goes one. Saying the "software that we use to get work done has not evolved over the past thirty years" is just utter nonsense. It has evolved, quite a bit. As much as I don't want to praise Microsoft, they've been improving Word (sure, Office for iOS is terrible) slowly but surely over the years. It's a solid WP and you give credit where credit is due.

With regards to this application, the "thread approach" to document sharing and collaboration is an interesting notion. That is if you share a lot of documents with other social-based users a la FB style, but I highly doubt you're going to see attorneys redlining agreements in a feed - although it would be nice to see people chatting regarding a document, pitch, brief, agreement in real-time - but hey, world doesn't work that way (especially at $500 an hour). I don't think a lot of users "enjoy" word processing. We do it do get work done!

Editing document also appears to be a little strange (although I don't have anyone to collaborate with yet) but the concept of including "documents edits" in the activity feed makes no sense really. WP's such as Word (and WordPerfect in the past) have always been known for a rich set of features, tools for various professionals, the people who use WP's all the time. Formatting options, graphics, tables, charts, margins, etc. These are all very important features for the bulk of users. So while I understand the product and the "modern word processor" buzzword, it's important to define what a "modern word processor" is/should be and how you're going to get the majority of the world (95%) or a small chunk (<10%) to shift away from Word and to this modern design.

I get it - it's a social thing, the buzzwords are there, the skeuomorphism is flowing with the manila folders, but Word Processors have in inherent attribute that is tough to rewrite with graphics and sharing and @mentions: it's functionality. And that's all the matters.

Best of luck to you guys.

Edit: I wanted to add that it's important to test, use, and discuss [new] applications with an open mind. This is their first release, so things will undoubtedly improve, user feedback is so important to a new startup/product. Your users are everything - and certainly those outside of SFO (sorry had to). I think Quip can learn a lot from comments here on HN, no matter how long you work on a product and polishes the edges, it takes someone from the outside looking in to really give you some great direction at times.

marcamillion 2 days ago 4 replies      
This looks awesome.

When I installed it, the first thing I am greeted with is a screen asking me to enter my email address. Given that my email is a Gmail address, it notifies me about wanting to manage my contacts and something else (that was the first off-putting step in my experience). I just met you, and your hands are already going down my pants.

Then once I got in, the 1st or 2nd screen inside is about adding friends because it is better when you collaborate.

The only reason I saw the 'Skip' in the top right is because I was really looking for a way not to do this.

So I think the issue I have with this workflow is that the expectations that the landing page set are one thing (i.e. awesome document creation on mobile devices) and then the experience is pushing me into a "hand-over-your-address-book-and-get-to-sharing" experience right off the bat.

I get the whole "viral loop" thingy, and baking it into the product experience, but I feel like it would leave a better taste in my mouth if I was nudged into it - rather than broadsided.

That being said, I am likely to continue using it and playing with it (because of the potential value that a word processor made for an iPad can have).

I was just put off by that digging into my address book experience...that's all.

samstave 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice subtle "Professional" marketing with the Quip Business screenshot for the desktop NOT being on a Macbook. :)

However, this says nothing of compatibility with existing docs. What if I have a ton of content trapped in .docx? What about Tables in docs? Are they supported?

How do you send a document to a non-Quipper? Does it PDF? Export to ODF? DOCX?

Or are we to expect an email "Hey, I sent you this awesome document! All you need to do to open it is install this app and reate an account!" type of spreading?

Finally, while the UI is definitely beautiful, the collaboration part looks like it suffers from Facebook's one-scrollable-column...

Ill definitely give it a try - but if the app is just a vertical data-silo into which my content is trapped... then I don't see it being very useful for me. Looks nice - lets hope its useful.

EDIT: I am really interested in the UX of creating a nice looking document without a mouse! The speed with which I can type and navigate on any phone or tablet is fractions of that of my desktop... I guess some people like producing on a phone/tablet - I personally HATE it - so I'd love to hear how people deal with it on this...

For example, there is no Search function for text on my iOS devices. They'd better implement search and replace. Highlighting SUCKS on any touch based device as well...

I am wondering if these UX issues are overcome by well built software?

Basically I see phones and tablets as almost exclusively data/content CONSUMPTION devices - not because of size or form - but of the HID/Input.

paul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome. I especially like the conversation column showing diffs and messages together -- it seems like an elegant way to collaborate.

Congratulations Bret and team!

sytelus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely "not for my mom" product, at least not yet. I logged on using my Google account and it needed permission to manage my contacts and among other things! Why a word processor needs to manage my contacts? Interface on desktop Chrome is filled with undiscoverability issues like Windows 8 UX. For example, it took me forever to figure out that there was a "+" sign on the bottom right to start creating new doc. That was in fact only way to create new doc. I still can't figure out where is the button for making text bold or italics. After few minutes I gave up trying to figuring out how to change font.
antr 2 days ago 3 replies      
The signup process is totally screwed up, in an infinity loop kind of way.

I signup: email, name, password. Sends me a confirmation email. I click on confirmation link. Sends me again to the same signup page, only this time the fields are completed. The only available next step is to click on "Next" again, and the email verification is sent again, sending me to the same completed fields page...

It happens on both web and iOS. I guess I'll have to stick with Google Docs and Pages.

pmarca 2 days ago 3 replies      
Boy, Hacker News has gone in a strange direction. Killer new product from legendary engineers. Let's all get together and shit on it!
ryanSrich 2 days ago 1 reply      
This looks great and I'm hopeful that it will do well.

Having said that I can't help but think how strange it is that the launch of another word processor is novel enough to reach the front page of HN.

I understand that the co-founders are big names in the valley but a word processor? Perhaps I'm missing something but the technology here seems anything but front page worthy.

jongalloway2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kinda looks like OneNote for people who haven't seen OneNote. A few cool new things in there, like the @mentions. Neat.
goldfeld 2 days ago 1 reply      
Criticizes word processors as being from another era with old concepts. Then goes on to show a skeuomorphic interface based on even more elderly analogies, such as "desktop" and "folders."

Minor nit aside, the diffs do seem very helpful to the folks who pass around Word docs and such. I guess either technology or the tech world has only now caught up to this need with things like this and Draft.

aresant 2 days ago 0 replies      
The messaging challenge Quip is going to have is that they have to call themselves a "modern word processor" so we have context to understand what it is.

But from the landing page this looks / feels drastically different from any word processing / document creation tool I've used in the past.

It might be interesting to test a variant that starts with a screenshot that centers visitors around what this has in common with today's word processor, and then hammers home the "awesome" part after that.

kfk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Meh, MS Word is a horrible piece of software, but it does its job, how is this different? Collaboration? Good luck convincing the business world only with that, they have been emailing files for 20 years and they have been reading paper for over a century. Really, good luck.

Then, format? Open, closed? Are we again proposing creating documents on proprietary formats after all the issues we saw with .doc and friends?

jrd79 2 days ago 5 replies      
Who likes typing on a tablet or phone? They are for reading, not composing.
616c 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another company making Android a second class citizen? Pass. When you send me that message early, all I can say is thanks. I know I will be disappointed because other devices are a priority. At least you are honest.
ryandrake 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is it just me, or are a lot of startups borrowing each other's value props? It's like a Mad Lib that everyone just fills in:

"[Product] is a [app category] that enables you to create beautiful [output]."

Everything's about "enabling the creation of beautiful" XYZ. Nothing against these guys in particular, I just happened to notice it while reading the site, and am thinking back to the N other new product announcements I've seen here recently.

dylanz 2 days ago 0 replies      
First, great work. Second, please put something on your landing page that addresses Google Docs. Address the top X document tools and explain to my why I should use Quip. That was my initial question, and I had to scan through HN to find my answer. Other than that... it looks great and I hopeyou guys rock it!
yread 2 days ago 5 replies      
I don't understand why do all (and I mean ALL) screenshots have to be on an Apple device? Are you selling iPads or iPhones? Shouldn't your focus be on your product and not on Apple's product?

Perhaps in the beginning somebody could be fooled that if you like awesome Apple products your product will be awesome as well. Or that because iThingies near perfection your service is also going to be highly polished. Obviously, that is more often false than true - you're a damn startup and the products on the screenshots are sometimes little more than MVPs (not in this case, I guess).

What is wrong with just a screenshot?

Schwolop 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting though this sounds, I get irritated whenever I read about someone changing the existing paradigms of [insert topic here], and then continuing to use all the existing metaphors from the existing paradigms, e.g.; 'desktop', 'inbox', etc.

And despite my rant, I'm not sure if there's a solution to this. You need customers to understand how you're asking them to change, and without reference to the old terminology this is damn near impossible.

taude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Played with the web version for a bit. Nice looking app, but doesn't really do anything I need that I can't do with Google Docs, which my company uses for a lot of collaborative writing. We still eventually publish the docs out to Word and PDF because that's how they get consumed, but for the collaborative writing part it's Google Docs all the way, so I see value in refining the collaborative writing market.

Having offline mobile is "nice" but not totally necessary for my use case, mostly because the number of people I know who car write decent sentences on their mobile devices are few.

Someone 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the privacy policy;

"Information that we collect from our users, including PII, is considered to be a business asset. As a result, if we go out of business or enter bankruptcy or if we are acquired as a result of a transaction such as a merger, acquisition or asset sale, your PII may be disclosed or transferred to the third-party acquirer in connection with the transaction."


shortformblog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why doesn't this support external hyperlinking yet? That's what I don't get. It's like creating an epic meal and forgetting to offer a fork.

EDIT: I figured it out. I had to paste a URL in and then type over the hyperlink. That's far from intuitive. It's too bad, because it mars what appears to be an interesting product.

bsaul 2 days ago 0 replies      
A bit off topic, but every time i see document-making apps, i wonder about the lack of file manager.

My workflow is almost always, open the app, start typing, then ask myself "i'd like to add a picture here". Now, on desktop that's simply a matter of clicking "import image" and browse my hard drive to find the picture. It's a pull workflow.

What's the worflow for that on an iPad ? Android has file managers, but iOS definitely needs something more convenient than "export this image to".

EDIT : and that could be really easy to do from an API / UI perspective : just create a system UIViewController like mail composer, that present the list of apps (or app groups), and let me pick files that the apps put in their "shared" folder (read only).

mercer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Compliments on the thing as a whole, but one thing stuck out to me (negatively).

When I read about 'tablets' and 'interaction' and saw the screenshot of how interfaces haven't changed much, I got rather excited about the idea of a word processor that truly tried to change the way we 'process words' on touch devices.

Instead, it seems you've mostly focused on the stuff surrounding word processing. Which is a noble goal, but not what I was hoping/wishing for.

I'd like to see someone reinvent the word processor, or update it for touch interfaces. In the same way that the mouse greatly changed the way we work on 'normal' computers, surely touch should give us similar new advantages.

I've been following a number of projects that try to do this, but they are hyper-focused on just that text-input part. I'd love to see the best ideas from those experiments find their way into Quip.

(This is just a general observation, not an attack on Quip. I can understand that you have chosen a specific focus that doesn't happen to be what I care about.)

fauigerzigerk 2 days ago 0 replies      
No doubt, this is very hard to get right, it's amitious, and maybe these guys do get it right.

I wonder, though, whether it is a good idea to sell the product as this completely disruptive rethink of word processing as we know it. The "What Quip does differently" section certainly doesn't make it clear to me what that revolutionary difference is suppsed to be.

fieldforceapp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. Seems very similar in focus to other document based collaboration services, perhaps most notably these folks: http://www.collaborate.com/

Quip seems closed, no links to Google Drive or Box that I could see, but they include private links to hosted document storage and PDF export. It's like the Asana[1] in that way, but Quip has a solid focus on documents not tasks.

Some strange UI artifacts on my iPhone 4s iOS7b4, text insertion didn't work; wonder if this is due to a proprietary attributed uitextview?

[1] http://asana.com/product

evv 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like a pretty great service, assuming markdown export/import is coming!

Also, every time I open the app (on the web), I am asked to link facebook or twitter for a profile picture. I'm happy to upload a profile picture, but I'm very upset about being constantly pestered to link social accounts!

Hilyin 2 days ago 4 replies      
All devices, except your laptop. Who actually wants to write more than a few sentences on anything but something with a keyboard?
monatron 2 days ago 0 replies      
To me this feels like a group of friends that are already financially stable deciding they're tired of working in a corporate juggernaut and just want to "get the band back together".

Maybe quip works out, maybe it doesn't, maybe it's just giving these guys and gals something to do for the next year or two... and that's just fine. Not every product has to shake the foundations of society and life as we know it.

amasad 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish developers would experiment with new ways of "typing" on touch-screen devices. And I put typing in quotes because maybe writing on touch-screen devices should take on a new form. This "disruptive shift" would not be complete without a better way of working on tablet.
shiftb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The danger in building a product like this is that you can try to be everything to everyone and end up being nothing to anyone. They've combatted this by positioning it as a simple word processor.

After playing with it, the product is much more than just a simple word processor. It's really well designed, especially considering how complex some of the ideas it tackles are.

Excited to see how things play out.

d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
"We are starting with the word processor, but our mission is to eventually build the productivity suite for the mobile era." -> Intriguing!

Basically, google doc for mobile. That's not a bad idea seeing how google are closing products that people love.

Void_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there really more users who own tablet + external keyboard, than those who own a laptop? (Even if it was for Apples only?)

I think writing documents, or doing any kind of work for that matter, on an iPad with external keyboard looks ridiculous.

tigroferoce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting project.

Just a couple of feedback and a suggestion for a feature

1. when editing a document, the left arrow works as opposite as one would expect: instead of sending the editing fullscreen, it brings the toolbar in foreground. In this case I would put a right arrow.

2. I would put the graphics/table menu together with the paragraph/heading/list

As a LaTeX user (and as a editor of many BS/MS thesis of non-technical friends) I have always thought that defining the structure of a long document before starting to write was fundamental. Therefore I would love a WYSIWYG editor that forces (or at least guides) users to define the structure of the document before and in a different place than where they write the content.

nathos 2 days ago 0 replies      
finiteloop: Can you talk about the UI at all?

Are you using any open frameworks/tools to emulate the iOS interface & animations, or is it all homegrown? Will you be updating the UI when Apple releases iOS 7 (and your UI suddenly looks out of place)?

_cbdev 2 days ago 0 replies      
How your website looks when accessed over my 3G connection:


Annoyingly, all your images are loaded first (and judging from the load times, they're not that small).

adwelly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lost me at 'To create an account'
marc0 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great tool which solves several practical problems. Especially I like the ability to edit documents offline.

After looking at it briefly I came up with these points:

- I'd like to have an easy integration of multiple accounts, like a 'combined inbox', so that I can use quip for private and professional purposes at the same time

- For the desktop I'd like to have an app instead of editing text in the browser.


- In order to make a really great product, add LaTeX support, esp. for maths

leeny 2 days ago 0 replies      
how is this wildly different than evernote? is it support of multiple types of documents (spreadsheets etc)? i was looking at the bullets under "what quip does differently", and i feel like evernote addresses all of those things. what am i missing?
aragot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find inexact that word processing hasn't evolved since 1984. I have personnally been working at Atlassian and I can tell:

Confluence has seemlessly replaced Word in the company.

The "share" workflow is pervasive in a corporate communication tool, and the rich text editor makes it possible to build bigger, richer documents. The reason word processors per se are being side kicked is they're only useful to layout a letter.

hnriot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tuned out when I read "beautiful". If only writing something beautiful were as easy as picking the right word processor.

I'm amazing that anyone would enter the word processing space when we already have dominant players with years of experience doing the same.

I'm sticking to Google Drive. I don't see any advantage of Quip and like that google drive has many other features beyond Quip.

whocanfly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Download as PDF skips all people/document mentions.I expected some alternative text or link, but it skips.

Screenshot of the Introduction to Quip PDF:https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14308170/quip.png

LukeWalsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
One suggestion I would like to see is a public permissions mode where anyone I share a link with can create an account and then be able to edit the doc.Looks great, very clean UI. I have been waiting for something like this!
akc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious as to how they were able to line up the NYT coverage http://t.co/qCFneXpJwV with the launch announcement. Any idea who reps them, PR-wise?
tbassetto 2 days ago 0 replies      
It bothers me that it is free. What is the business plan? Are they going to sell my documents to advertisers in a few months?
jcdoll 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you use gmail but don't want to use your google account for auth:

1) Enter foobar@hotmail.com and try to sign up.

2) The form will now ask you for your name and password. Fix your email address and sign up.

(edit: first impression = google docs for mac users)

jalada 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is without a doubt the niggliest point ever: Your Twitter app description just says 'Quip application'.
plg 2 days ago 0 replies      
what's the elevator pitch for why users should look at this instead of iWork?
ultimatedelman 2 days ago 0 replies      
sooo... trello meets google docs?
How 'One Weird Trick' Conquered The Internet slate.com
283 points by weston  2 days ago   128 comments top 23
orangethirty 2 days ago 12 replies      
I stumbled into some weird data as to how startups may be able to use this kind of technique without exploiting people. Yeah, it sounds hard to believe. But you have to understand that every technique out there can be used for good. Anyhow, turns out that there are some tricks that these type of advertisers use to increase their response. One just needs to carefully read the source of their pages (specially the Javascript), and you will find lots of interesting stuff in it. Just beware. Once you dig into this type of advertising your view on the subject might change dramatically. You can learn more about it here: http://bit.ly/13wOrj2


16 clicks on 2 minutes. This sort of technique works on everybody, including smart hackers. Its mostly about talking about what you want. Some people want to lose weight, others control their diabetes. Apparently, lots of people want to learn of a little known advertising secrets for startups. I should make a Copy as a Service startup. (:

See how many are suckered into clicking: http://bit.ly/13wOrj2+

MartinCron 2 days ago 5 replies      
I would feel a lot better about Slate (and everyone else) if they didn't run those "SPONSORED FROM AROUND THE WEB" pseudo-article links at the bottom of each page with this exact same kind of manipulative ads in them.

Come on Slate. You think better of your audience than this, right?

brandnewlow 2 days ago 4 replies      
When we launched Perfect Audience, we wanted to make things easy to use and as open as possible to marketers looking to get into retargeting.

Yes, we were a bit naive.

The sheer multitude of bad actors participating in the ad/marketing world is bewildering. It tooks us a solid month after launch to get processes in place that let us weed out the bozos swiftly without tying up the whole team.

We have many many of these "one trick" people sign up and try to use our tools. We'll keep turning them away and staying vigilant for the next ruse.

M4v3R 2 days ago 4 replies      
The article doesn't seem to mention this, but there is another trick in these guys arsenals - fake news articles about their products.

They build entire webpages, along with side-stories and article comments that support their product. They look SO real that once I (and I consider myself pretty tech-savvy, having access to Internet for 15 years) fell for it briefly, and then had to explain it to my wife who stumbled upon them as well. I was truly impressed by amount of work these guys went through not only to write a pretty long science-looking article, but to build a whole (albeit pretty static) webpage and write realistic comment sections. Sadly, this whole effort is done to deceive other people.

junto 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is the same as the 'Nigerian 419' fraud concept. They fill the email with spelling and grammar mistakes and in doing so, they filter out the marginally intelligent, resulting in a pre-filter to attract the most gullible.

The crappy, hand drawn ads, the dire videos, and the bad production have the same effect. The punter needs to be a gullible fool, since a fool and his money are soon parted.

talmand 1 day ago 0 replies      
I once worked for a company that operated along these lines. It wasn't quite as bad as those mentioned in the article due to the fact that the industry in question had several government agencies watching almost everything they do but it was an interesting learning experience.

There's likely two reasons why so many follow the same pattern. It's possible that many did enough A/B testing to determine the best direction that provided the best results. More likely one person came up with the pattern, the rest decided that it seemed a successive effort, and they all copied that one person's pattern.

I can't tell you how many times I created a landing page and/or email that was built in one specific way that originated with one guy that the rest perceived as the most successive guy in their type of marketing. If he said it, then it was gold. It was a tad disheartening as there was no real design involved. "Copy is king!" was the mantra and a nice design was not necessary. Even a decent design that made the copy easier to read was not considered worth the time. This was typically the type of landing page that uses the funnel method of long, sensational text with call-to-actions sprinkled down the page leading to a short order form at the bottom.

This insistence of copying everybody else because of perceived success, no data to support that perception of course, made for interesting conversations. "We're doing it this way." "Why?" "Because that's how they did it." "Why should we do it because they did?" "If they're doing it then it must work."

Although it was always fun to introduce a new kink to the marketing pattern and watch everybody else copy you. Especially when we hadn't yet decided if the new method even worked or not.

My favorite story that shows how locked into a pattern they would be until something shattered their illusions involved one sales email. For the longest time it was the rule to use as few images as possible in emails. The reasoning being because modern email clients do not automatically download images so you don't want things hidden from the potential customer before they interact with the email. I fought that quite a bit using legit companies like Apple and NewEgg as examples in that they successfully sell stuff and use images quite frequently through their emails. No dice. So one day I design a new email template that did use images heavily, our products were displayed in a grid that looked like stickers placed on the email. That meant that the copy listing details and pricing of the products were in the images, which was a no-no. I didn't tell anyone I did this knowing that all of them had their email clients downloading images automatically that came from us. The email was approved and sent out. A few weeks later I asked how that email did, "Best money-making email we've ever sent out!"

I then confessed to what I had done to their totally shocked confusion. After that I was able to actually design stuff that looked nice instead of the scammy look they insisted upon. And of course most of those newer designs, not all mind you, made more money. Interesting that I didn't see many other companies copying the new pattern. I guess it broke the mold enough to not be perceived as successful.

Anyway, even with the occasional moral problems, it was a good learning experience. Almost everything I know about SEO, ads, email, marketing, analytics, customer relations, and much more came from this company. Kind of gives me a somewhat unique perspective at my new job at a more traditional agency.

rogerbinns 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Research on persuasion shows the more arguments you list in favor of something, regardless of the quality of those arguments, the more that people tend to believe it,

[1] has some different research which claims that people average the arguments made, rather than summing them up, which most expect. It won't make any difference if you have a whole bunch of low value arguments, but will if there a combination of strong points and weaker ones.

[1] http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/the_presentation_mistake_you...

mistercow 2 days ago 0 replies      
>Why are the illustrations done by small children using MS Paint?

None of those images look like the were drawn by a small child. The ones in the screen cap vary from "kind of crappy, but obviously done by an adult" to "probably the work of professional illustrator".

throwawayg99 2 days ago 2 replies      
I work with a dozen or so people who are involved in this sort of work. I think it is very interesting to see how they rationalize and deal with their moral compass internally.

One of the guys is the most caring, liberal, loving person you'd ever meet; he justifies being involved in this sort of skeezy marketing work as "I can take a small amount from a lot of people and amplify the result to do good with a lot of money."

He genuinely believes this. A lot of the other guys simply try not to see the "punters" (potential customers [1]) as real people, they are disconnected through the impersonal nature of the internet.

[1] http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/punter_2

corwinstephen 2 days ago 0 replies      
The culmination of this article was just as obvious and unsurprising as the very ads it describes.
username223 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry if this is trivial, but whats holding you back from the big penis you deserve" has to be one of the greatest phrases ever written.
D9u 2 days ago 1 reply      
Conquered the internet?

I don't think so.I've never clicked on any of those ads, and I'm sure that millions of other users of Ad Block, etc, have never even seen these ads.

Of interest to me was the author's reluctance to click on links due to malware threats.

Even when I used WinXP, years ago, I never have been infected with any malware, but then, I'm not the average PC user.

RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Once again I give thanks for AdBlock.
callmeed 2 days ago 2 replies      
Scams aside, it would be interesting to use some of these techniques on landing pages for legitimate, valuable SaaS apps.

"One weird trick to improve your SEO/conversions/customer satisfaction/whatver KPI" which links to a page with a crude, long-form, un-pausable video. After that, you could probably at least get them to create a trial account.

Has/would anyone try this?

Havoc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like how one of the stories in slate's sidebar is "The Secret Ingredient [...] will blow your mind"
sokrates 2 days ago 1 reply      
> You've seen them.

No. AdBlock.

cpeterso 2 days ago 4 replies      
Another "weird trick" sites use is to include numbers in headlines. The sidebar of this very Slate article lists headlines for "7 of John Adams' greatest insults" and "'A Different World': 12 Things We Learned". There must some psychological lure that makes readers think "oh, that is such a specific number that it must be a very important and definitive list!" :\
arnehormann 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you have to watch the video for 15-30 minutes, I think it's not the persuasion aspect but probably loading different sites in an iframe to defraud advertisers: http://www.behind-the-enemy-lines.com/2011/03/uncovering-adv...
Agathos 2 days ago 0 replies      
How this stay-at-home mom used one weird trick to conquer the internet! Click here!

(And yes, that's how I parsed the link title at first glance.)

runn1ng 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well... I excepted the article to go deeper. Investigate who actually pays these ads,,where does the money go, why are they allowed to basically lie in the ads.

Instead the author just clicked on the ads and watched the videos. Well, I can do that too.

timcederman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me a lot of the X10 ads that used to be everywhere in late-90s/early 2000s.
interject 1 day ago 1 reply      
What actually happens when you hand over your credit card details?Do you get an eBook or something?The article doesn't actually say.
Hard drive hack provides root access, even after reinstall spritesmods.com
280 points by pd0wm  10 hours ago   72 comments top 18
ChuckMcM 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This was a great read. One of the things we've done in the past is to modify the firmware of the drive to be able to give errors on command. The purpose was for testing RAID systems in real life scenarios. One can include a 'unit test' drive in a RAID array which will run through a series of known bad disk behaviours. From the simple like returning read failure, to the more complex like returning the wrong block or returning a block that has been silently corrupted (both things NetApp observed in the wild on 'real' drives), and my personal favourite acknowledging a write but not actually writing the data (nearly killed the Cisco relationship they had at the time
lsc 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing that interests me, though, is the idea of modifying your hard drive firmware for better performance.

My understanding is that the effective width of the write head is 10x the width of the read head... E.g. with the right firmware, it should be possible, if you are okay with a write-once medium, to write the outermost track, move the write head in 1/10th what you'd normally move it, then write the next track, etc... and get 10x the space out of the drive you normally would. In theory, the read head wouldn't have trouble. (of course, this would be write once storage, as the effective width of your write head is still pretty huge; but for a bunch of things? I can totally work with that... if more than X% of a drive was garbage data, I copy the good data to a new drive and reformat the old one. Done.)

I hear rumors that both the major drive manufacturers are actually shipping drives with this technology, but are only selling those drives to really big players, for some reason.

Here's a reasonable reference to the 'shingle' technology, and he roadmap for the rest of us:


but that's the thing, with the datasheets (and, well, a lot more skill than I personally have) we should be able to setup something like shingling on the cheap disks we have today.

Of course, from reading the article, I'm not sure I'm any closer to that particular dream.

WestCoastJustin 6 hours ago 2 replies      
If you liked this, then you might like Travis Goodspeed's really cool talk about "Writing a Thumbdrive from Scratch" (for antiforensics) [1] at the 29th Chaos Communication Congress [29c3].

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Im0_KUEf8

kabdib 8 hours ago 4 replies      
My knee-jerk reaction was, why didn't WD sign the code and use on-chip fuses and a secure boot path to verify the code before transferring control to anything outside their boot ROM? (Many ARM-based systems-on-a-chip are capable of doing this).

Adds cost, for one thing. But you can arrange for the unit to never run a byte of code (even one loaded from the platter) that didn't come from WD.

munin 7 hours ago 2 replies      
something I hadn't really considered about hard disk encryption, before reading this, is how it could protect against compromised disk controllers. if the OS encrypts the data stored on the disk, it would be a lot harder (perhaps, with the right composition, impossible) for a malicious disk controller to insert/change/modify important data (like code, or password files) stored on the computer.

we think of the system as a holistic entity, but turned on its head, you can see how the inside of a computer is just a network...

wiredfool 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Installing linux on a hard drive never sounded impressive before.
quasque 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A fascinating read, and an excellent piece of work.

It reminds me of a similar proof-of-concept hack on a common network card firmware: http://esec-lab.sogeti.com/post/2010/11/21/Presentation-at-H... (the slides linked from that page have a good more technical overview that the blog post).

brudgers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great article. But what I came away from it thinking was about how much money is spent by state security institutions to prevent this sort of thing, and yet secrecy breeches at scale are the Walkers, Mannings, and Snowdens using USB sticks and DVD's and copiers.
swang 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Does a jellybean part just mean its very common?
yuhong 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I think some hard drives like some Seagates has a serial console in the firmware that provides low level access that data recovery companies for example use.
gabriel34 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Could this attack compromisse dedicated/rent servers? If so, the attacker could rent, install the exploit on the hardware and terminate the contract.What about cloud servers? Sure there are virtualization layers, but can't those be breached? If so that would pose imense danger given the distributed nature the hardware exploit could render the entire farm vulnerable
wereHamster 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> Because Linux caches the shadow file (like all files recently accessed), I have to generate a lot of disk activity for the file to be 'pushed out' of the cache


$ echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

or as non-root

$ echo 3 | sudo tee /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

batiste 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The first hack read on hacker new I have seen for a long time.
0x0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is incredibly scary. Will HD vendors start implementing firmware code signing anytime soon? Or will some enterprising hackers start working on an open source firmware implementation?
b0rsuk 5 hours ago 1 reply      
That's a whole world of spying opportunities. A government could make secret deals with hard drive manufacturers. Perhaps not US government, but Taiwan government, if it makes you happier... (I'm from neither country)
vlr 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember Dejan Kalijevik from them nokia s/w. Is he talking of the same Dejan?
korethr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very cool. I have a pile of dead and old hard drives. I should see if my local hackerspace has something that can connect to JTAG, and if so, see what secrets the old drives contain.
dnautics 7 hours ago 0 replies      
what is that cortex-M3 chip doing? Did the NSA put it there?
Two Stories of Passive Income Excess myles.io
276 points by mkrecny  14 hours ago   106 comments top 30
willholloway 13 hours ago 8 replies      
It was a bit surreal to see two of my HN comments in a blog post on the front page of HN.

Since people are interested, here's another tale of my year running affiliate campaigns on Facebook.

By the time I got into the game the competition was already heating up. I spent most of my efforts scaling my dating site campaigns internationally because global traffic was a far more fertile field, with less competition and cheaper clicks.

After I had maxed out all the nations of the English speaking world, I started running campaigns in France (and I unwittingly and unintentionally advertised hard core porn on Facebook in France for at least a month because of the geographic based redirect of the dating site I was advertising, with a US based IP you saw a tame site, with a French IP explicit hardcore porn)

My greatest success however was in expanding my operation to Latin America.

In the industry the concept of banner blindness is crucial to understand. Click through rates go down over time, both for individual ads and for entire nations. Because a site like Facebook wants to maximize its CPM, higher click through rates are the way to get cheaper clicks and profit.

I took my profitable ads in English and ran them through Google translate into Spanish. It was something simple like "Meet Hot Girls".

The hardest part was finding a dating site that accepted South American traffic. Credit cards and e-commerce have a ways to go in the global South, and therefore the traffic is of much lower value because it converts much less.

I found a tame version of Adult Friend Finder without any nudity on it's landing page. At the time Friend Finder Networks stated that they accepted traffic from almost all of the South American countries.

The first day I ran my campaigns in Columbia & Venezuela the response was incredible. Just astounding.

In an English speaking country you would be lucky to get three people out of a thousand to click on one of your ads. That first day in Columbia I was getting ten people out of a thousand to click and the clicks just cost one penny each!

I was converting at a rate that Friend Finder was paying me 14 cents per click and in that first day I made over $5000 with very little ad spend.

A small ad spend was important because I had to pay FB daily but was only paid out every two weeks and I was just out of college with very little credit.

I could have made so much more in those days with an American Express Plum card and unlimited credit.

As the South American ad campaigns went on the click through rates trended closer to the rates of their Western counterparts. It is for this reason I think I might have been the first person to run dating ads on Facebook in Columbia.

7Figures2Commas 13 hours ago 5 replies      
These stories highlight the fundamental problem with the popularized "passive income" approach: the goal is usually to support a lifestyle, not to provide value to customers. This can easily result in a huge disconnect between the business owner and the realities of the business. Unfortunately, if you don't handle your business, it's bound to handle you.

It is absolutely possible to run a sustainable, highly-profitable business without working 16 hours a day. But there are relatively few businesses that will run themselves completely, and people who want to spend the vast majority of their income every month probably lack many of the traits of successful business owners to begin with.

OldSchool 13 hours ago 1 reply      
One pretty simple lesson: Save some of your money even if it's from passive income. Nothing lasts forever.

BTW: What's up with the "only make something meaningful" propaganda lately? Nothing wrong with profits, just keep in mind that you can't outsmart the whole world forever: like arbitrage in an efficient marketplace, your low hanging fruit are eventually picked by everyone.

iblaine 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah, I was that guy. Doing affiliate marketing, cashing $20k checks per month in my 20s, not saving a penny & partying endlessly. I was in the online meds industry. When someone's site went down you didn't know if it was a network issue or a raid by the DEA. In one example I had a series of spam sites that represented 0.5% of all pages index by Google. Google announced they indexed 1B pages & 50M of those were mine. You could throw a dart & hit those crappy affiliate links. Pretty funny looking back on it. Those were some sleazy fun times.
lectrick 10 hours ago 0 replies      
1) In a capitalist economy, the low-hanging fruit tend to disappear fast. This is by design. Unfortunately, the design is such that you can't have 1 great idea and then just rest on your laurels forever. On the bright side, this compels you to give more to the world, even as it challenges you to maintain balance.

2) In a career with a large creative (read: risky) component, it seems that booms and busts are the norm. I've seen this in web dev a lot- one year I'm unemployed for almost the whole year (but hey, I was the first death knight to level 80 on the server, sigh), another year you're making six figures at a hot-shot startup.

I think that the pros outweigh the cons, but you MUST be pragmatic about money and save for the downturns. I'm psyched that you enjoyed your boom times, but I think your lesson was well-learned.

jbigelow76 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't see how mkrecny can consider pay per click affiliate marketing "passive income", it can extremely lucrative as Will Holloway has displayed but it is by no means passive.

Here's how you "passively" earn money with PPC affiliate marketing:

1. Get conencted with advertisers and sorting through offers to promote

2. Set up landing pages

3. (Probably) create your own ad images and/or write your ad and landing page copy

4. Identifying your target market, whether it's keyword based in Google or demographic based in FB

5. Run traffic and then split testing just about everything to increase your conversion rate.

6. Monitor stats to make sure the advertiser isn't capping or shaving you (if you don't monitor this on a very active basis you run the risk of sending traffic down a black hole and all the ad spend the goes along with it)

7. Scope out new markets/offers/traffic sources for when the existing dries up.

8. Repeat some or all of steps 1 through 7 ad nauseum.

PPC affiliate marketing is a grind.

throwawayfraud 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Ex-affiliate fraud manager here.

Here's the kicker about affiliate marketing: the unethical practices exist because the system is set up in a way that there is no real incentive for mitigating fraud.

The merchant who pays the bottom line might have no idea that fraud is happening - they only see the traffic numbers going up without realizing that this was already coming in through other means (bought or organic).

The fact that the affiliate management or program might get their salary or bonus based on the size of the program (ie. traffic) does not help the situation at all. The largest affiliate in the program could be a sophisticated thief without anyone knowing any better!

There's also the issue of technical illiteracy from the operating parties - they all claim that they fight fraudulent practices, when in fact they might not even know what is affecting them specifically. This is obviously to lure in more affiliates, clueless-hopeless people who bought in (often literally in the form of SEO and other infoproducts) on the dream of passive income. They've read two-three books on white hat practices and are trying to compete with, say a mob of savvy blackhatters buying Pay Per View (read: adware) traffic and stealing the commission.

And don't get me started on the numbers.

And then you realize that to the merchant itself, it doesn't really matter, because the profit at the end is so high that throwing millions out the window still doesn't even put a dent in the side of the business.

helipad 13 hours ago 1 reply      
In what way were these passive income stories? I think the moment they went to a conference or "obsessively" researched anything should be a fairly large clue.
1337biz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it is just me, but this threat feels like I just walked into a socket puppet theater.
clarky07 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Moral of the story doesn't have anything to do with passive income. The moral is to save some freaking money instead of spending every dime you have, and this is true whether you are making tons of money or just a little. (passively or not)

Also, why has "Passive Income" become such an evil thing around here? It doesn't have to be a scam or BS or something. It could just be someone did a ton of work on the front end and then gets paid for it over time "passively". I make money off of software that I spent lots of time on that creates value for people. The fact that people keep buying it now that it's done makes the income somewhat "passive" (still have to update things over time, but minimal relative to initial investment of time).

There is nothing wrong with passive income. There is something wrong with doing scammy fraudulent things with affiliate marketing. These 2 things don't overlap entirely so stop acting like they do. Frankly, both of these stories sound like they mostly didn't do anything scammy. They just made a lot of money and then spent a lot of money. Lots of people do that all the time with non-passive 9-5 jobs, but they don't get on the front page of HN.

m1ndeater 10 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I find frustrating is when people associate passive income with non-value producing shortcuts, scams, and poor ethics. Passive versus active income and scams versus providing real value are independent characteristics of a business; it's perfectly reasonable to create a "good" business that creates real value and earns passive income.

Passive income is one of my primary goals, so maybe that's why I feel like defending the term. Maybe the phrase just has bad connotations these days, but I don't think the idea of making money without having to actively work should come with immediate thoughts of shady affiliate programs and scummy endeavors.

ambiate 11 hours ago 1 reply      
My biggest potential profit was during the American Idol reign of terror. At the time, the keyword in Adwords was 1/cent a click. You read that right. Literally, 200,000 impressions/minute with a click-through rate of 1.3%. Nearly 150,000 clicks in one hour. Given a dance related affiliate product, I could have turned $6,000 into $250,000 in less than a day. Sigh.

Oh yeah, another day, long ago, "Face" was not costing very much. The Face keyword shows up for 'face' and 'facebook'.

radley 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone else feel like this post is simply a marketing scheme to sell a "make money in your sleep as a hacker" book?
SCAQTony 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This paragraph sickened me on so many levels:

"...An acquaintance in the biz once bribed a Facebook employee whose job it was to approve or deny ads on the platform. His inside man set his account to auto approve any ad he wanted. ..."

Just wait till some NSA employee starts selling gossip to TMZ or HR departments.

tomrod 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Sounds like passive income involves a lot of work.
alxndresp 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Hearing the term "passive income" just reminds me of the Warrior Forum. What an ugly place. Especially when affiliate marketing is mentioned.

I understand someone can create an actual business, a SaaS or product (not some get rich quick e-book) and make passive income like that, but when I hear of affiliate marketing it just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It just reminds me of people ripping off others or selling them sham, snake oil e-books for their own gain.

jingo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine if the navigational system of the web could be improved to the point where most users could easily find what they were looking for... so much so, that there was little room for middlemen ("affiliates").

Imagine further that the "calf-cow" model of the web could be replaced with something more decentralized, e.g. a "content-centric" network instead of a "source-centric" one... such that there would be little room for "selling" traffic.

jlees 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Meta-comment on the article itself:

Story 2 seemed unrelated to passive income until I clicked through to the original HN comment and realised the blog post author hadn't quoted the line about Ziad being a passive income hacker.

I find these stories reinforce my (already negative) impressions of the "passive" income/affiliate business; if the purpose of this post/blog is to promote the "hacker's guide to passive income" book-in-progress, it certainly failed.

andrethegiant 10 hours ago 3 replies      
"After a couple years of work, I was bringing in 20k a month... It lasted for 7 years before it hit the bottom... At that point I was burnt out and was running low on savings."

$20,000 * 12 * 7 = $1,680,000

I wonder what he was buying that made him run out of cash so quick!

kposehn 12 hours ago 0 replies      

Will's experience is so akin to many people that got into affiliate marketing around the same time as I did. It ended up getting to the point where people slammed into the industry so fast that the only way to stay alive was to seek every competitive advantage you had.

welder 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The title should be "Two Stories of Affiliate Marketing Excess".

Seeing "Passive Income" I don't automatically assume affiliate marketing as the income source.

shams93 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't have a goal of passive income, rather trying to turn my personal obsessions into an actual business. The nice thing about the OCD approach is you're going to do that hobby anyways. Job gets demanding I just take a break from the project but still I get 100 new users a month, which isn't tough for a free product but using the google play store I have no hosting costs for my app. Plus 100 users a month builds out a base for me to market my much more complex commercial app to once I've competed it.
soneca 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder, a successfull writer would be considered a "passive income" example here in HN?

It seems to me that the illusion of working hard for some months, writing a master piece, be ackonwledged a great writer, then, every 5 years writing a new hit and be wealthy forever while working on a bucolic house very similar to the passive income dream.

holdenweb 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"I've learned that luck and timing are definitely part of the equation." A lesson for us all there, if we choose to listen to it.
deedubaya 11 hours ago 0 replies      
You can't expect a source of passive income to last forever without regular maintenance. Just like you can't plan on staying on the road forever after you let go of the driver's wheel or stop putting gas in the tank.
shams93 8 hours ago 0 replies      
In other words tackle a really difficult problem that is aligned to your personal obsessions, such as in case A instead of doing marketing to fund movies, learn to develop cloud based video editing software to fund making movies instead because you have to make movies to test your edits anyways and that niche is extremely tough to code for so the competition while its there is very low.
ChrisNorstrom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Suddenly that advice from Paul Graham about "do things that don't scale" make even more sense.

If you want a space and its profits all to yourself, pick something that has a high barrier to entry, and isn't easily scalable. The more something takes time, effort, money, skill, talent, and endurance the less competitors you'll have.

temporary201308 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A couple of years ago, I was extremely ill and couldn't work. In my periods of relative lucidity, I was able to hack together websites and make approximately $4K/month, which was enough to live on if you ignored the $8K/month in medical bills.

My experience with them suggested that you needed to go through and do an entire new thing every three months, because that's about the time it would take any efficient scheme to be overwhelmed by other people discovering the efficiency of that scheme.

livestyle 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I do love how there is at least room for discussion regarding these important topic.
stfu 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I hope you have asked for the agreement of both the authors to republish these stories.

I wouldn't want to see hn becoming your goto place to stuff your personal blog via copy&pasting and not adding yourself a single additional thought or idea.

Identical Droplets in the DigitalOcean: Regenerate your Ubuntu SSH Host Keys now missingm.co
276 points by jlund  4 days ago   104 comments top 16
agwa 4 days ago 6 replies      
SSH host keys are problematic on cloud servers, not just because of this problem, but also because if the cloud provider does the right thing and generates the SSH host key on the first boot, the key is generated when the system has very little entropy available. The primary sources of entropy on Linux are key/mouse input, disk latency, and network interrupts. There's obviously no keyboard/mouse on a server, and in an SSD environment like DigitalOcean, disk latency is quite uniform and thus useless as a source of entropy.

Linux distros mitigate the cold boot entropy problem by saving some state from the RNG on shutdown (on Debian, it's saved in /var/lib/urandom/random-seed) and using it to seed the RNG on the next boot. On physical servers this obviously isn't available on the first boot, and on cloud servers, the provider often bakes the same random-seed file into all their images, so everyone gets the same seed on first boot (fortunately this doesn't harm security any more than having no random-seed file at all, but it doesn't help either). What cloud providers should really do is generate (from a good source of randomness) a distinct random-seed file for every server that's created, but I haven't seen any providers do this.

Nux 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is not the last of the problems we'll have with "the cloud", but I guess it's part of what makes it so exciting. :-)

Many people, especially beginners, make the mistake of leaving the same SSH keys in a certain template or in a snapshot of a virtual machine that they later use as a template.

There are a few files that you really, really need to wipe out from a wannabe image template:

- /etc/ssh/* key* (for reasons explained in the parent article. stupid autoformatting, remove the space after the first asterisk)

- /var/lib/random-seed (the seed used to initialise the random number generator. this is the location on CentOS)

- /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules (so that the VM's new NIC - with a new MAC - can use the same "eth0" name)

People who want to do this more exhaustively can have a look at libguestfs and it's program virt-sysprep which does all of the above and more!


mey 4 days ago 4 replies      
I must say, I'm impressed with how this was handled both by the original researcher and DigitalOcean.
rwmj 3 days ago 0 replies      
They should be using cloud-init or virt-sysprep[1] on new instances. In particular, it is vital that you give your new instances a unique random seed (which virt-sysprep can do). Also that you provide the virtio-rng to guests that support it.

[1] http://libguestfs.org/virt-sysprep.1.html

makomk 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is now one of the first things I check when setting up a new VPS or other VM instance, because it's really common.
rlpb 3 days ago 1 reply      
To avoid this kind of security problem, use providers that use official Ubuntu Cloud images only. If Canonical haven't certified the Ubuntu images you're using, then your provider could have done anything to them. You'll need some other way to determine their competence.

Cowboy images like this are exactly the reason trademarks exist. Commercial providers who don't get certification are in fact violating Ubuntu's trademark by telling you that you are getting Ubuntu, when in fact you are getting a modified image which is possibly compromised (such as in this case).

sehrope 4 days ago 2 replies      
Generating fresh keys aside, one thing I do with our AWS setup is whitelist the IPs that can connect to our SSH bastion host. This completely eliminates scripted port scans of the SSH server and makes the auth logs much more manageable.

If our IP address changes (eg. ISP assigns a new one for the cable modem) then we just update the whitelist (and remove the old address). It's very infrequent. I could probably count the number of times I've done it on one hand.

It might not be the most scalable setup but at our small size with everybody working from home it works great.

The only slight hitch is updating it when traveling but even that isn't much of a problem. It takes a minute or two from the AWS console and its good to go.

I recently took a look at digital ocean ($5 servers gives me ideas...) but didn't see a firewall option similar to the security group setup in AWS. If it does exist then I highly recommend it.

druiid 4 days ago 0 replies      
One good thing to note is that any VM image using cloud-init (a package for debian/rhel systems) should automagically generate a new host_key set for any new system image. Basically if you build a system image for EC2 or any system that uses the EC2 data format (like Openstack) for host instantiation, then you should install cloud-init. It would prevent something like this.
schappim 4 days ago 0 replies      
Props to the way you handled this. That's how you do responsible vulnerability disclosures!
davidhollander 4 days ago 0 replies      
> After you have run those commands, simply restart the SSH daemon so it starts up with the new keys in place

I believe if your version of OpenSSH is up to date, sshd will read the host key each time a session is opened and does not need to be restarted.

joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great find. I came from a heavy security background and moved to SV where it seems like security is an after thought. I spent many long days and nights STIGing RHEL boxes so I can appreciate this find. Also thanks for letting me know about Digital Ocean, their VPS looks promising and I think I might start using it.
joshmn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now that it's said, I did notice something strange once.

I had loaded up an Ubuntu Desktop droplet with the purpose of checking something out through the browser on the node.

The startup page was https://www.americanexpress.com/

Since when is that default?

Didn't think much of it at the time, but now... whoa.

scottlinux 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect this kind of thing happens with other companies, but can only speculate.

Somewhat related: chicagovps gave me a 'fresh' gentoo vps, and the default provided root password was identical to the original one from several months ago. I assume it is one gentoo image with the same password (for all customers)?

stevekemp 3 days ago 0 replies      
We ran into similar problems on the hosting side; another surprise can be the debian-sys-maint password configure by the Debian mysql-server package.
foxhop 4 days ago 0 replies      
So you are the reason I started getting these error messages, I noticed the change on June 2, great work.

If you are still reviewing salt, I just wrote a post about salt-cloud and DigitalOcean that you should check out -

Create your own fleet of servers with Digital Ocean and salt-cloud:


throwawayh4xor 4 days ago 3 replies      
Just verified this is also the case with at least some AWS-hosted servers. Coupled with the fact that many people simply ignore the MITM warning that SSH throws, this is scary stuff.
In Lieu of Money, Toyota Donates Efficiency to New York Charity nytimes.com
270 points by kmfrk  1 day ago   95 comments top 22
nathanb 1 day ago 5 replies      
One thing that's really cool about being a software developer (and I promise I'll relate this to the article in a sec...) is that you can practice your craft by yourself, with freely-available tools, and then point at something cool that you have done. This is advice that I give to software developers seeking jobs -- spend some time on your job search, but also spend some time contributing to open source projects or creating cool things of your own, which you can then point to as a demonstration of your craft.

This seems like a great opportunity for those in other professions to do the same. Laid off from your Industrial Systems Engineering job and looking for work? Help a homeless shelter optimize their processes. Accountant? Donate some time to a local thrift store to help get their books in order.

I think this could really hit the mutual-benefit sweet spot: it helps you get a job, and it helps an organization trying to benefit the community as well.

grimtrigger 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kudos to Mr. Foriest for taking Toyota up on their offer. When someone comes along and says "Hey, we can show you how to do your job better", most people take it as a threat. Thats my guess as to why programs like this aren't more popular. No one wants to look incompetent (though I certainly wouldn't look at it that way).
Amadou 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought it was pretty poor reporting for the article not to mention that what Toyota donated was industrial engineering expertise.

In college we called the guys in the IE program "imaginary engineers" but in real life the discipline is responsible for making assembly lines and other manufacturing processes work as efficiently as possible. All modern manufacturers of any scale live and die by their IE departments.

NickM 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a fascinating approach to solving one of the greatest problems charities face: negative public perception of "overhead". People react extremely negatively when a charity has any significant percentage of donations going to overhead, which makes it very difficult for charities to invest in themselves to improve efficiency and promote growth. By donating "efficiency", Toyota is doing the equivalent of donating money to charities but in a way that allows them to use it for overhead without it actually being labeled as such. Brilliant!
rescripting 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love this idea, and I'd love to see more of it. However, I don't think companies are properly incentivised to offer employee time/expertise over money. You can get tax breaks for donating cash, leading a lot of companies to donate not only for the good PR, but also the kickback of a tax deduction.

A tax break for companies that also donate time/expertise would be great, although I have no idea how you'd structure it.

mratzloff 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great. A check is easy and visible, but if companies really want to donate to charity, employee time makes a huge difference.

This is one example, but there are dozens. PR and marketing, organizing, programming systems, construction expertise... It happens less often than it should but frequently also more often than we hear about. Toyota just has a good PR team.

It's also a better way for you personally to get involved. Anyone can mop floors or scrape old paint. Very few have the skills you have, so figuring out how to donate your expertise is a better use of your time.

hencq 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an industrial engineer I'm quite excited about this. I'm 100% sure there's tons of opportunities for improvements at most charities (heck, at most companies as well). One big aspect of the Toyota Production System is that it encourages everyone to help introduce improvements. The traditional example is allowing conveyor belt workers to stop the belt when they discovered a problem. If they can instill that type of culture at the charities they work with, the benefits could be even bigger. Teaching a man how to fish and all that.
mathattack 1 day ago 2 replies      
Giving expertise can be much more valuable than tossing money at a problem.
dwaltrip 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, and I hate to nitpick, but comparing "up to 90 minutes" with a "average wait time of 18 minutes" is misleading, wrong, and annoying. Let's compare average to average, not max to average.
motters 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is an example of making a bad system more efficiently bad. So it's great that the process can be made more efficient, but that doesn't address the cause of why people are having to rely upon food banks in the first place or why food banks have been expanding their activities in the last few years. If food banks exist then something is wrong at a more fundamental level and it would be better to direct efforts towards trying to fix that problem.
twentysix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Related : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EedMmMedj3M

This is the video of Toyota Production System being used in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as mentioned in the article.

venomsnake 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hmm can anyone match the cost of the "donation" to typical monetary donations for similar causes?

Because deploying engineers is not cheap too. Toyota provided more bang for the buck that is for sure, but were they in the red or black compared to just writing a check?

caycep 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the country of Henry Ford, it's sad that it took Toyota to do this.
thisjustinm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked alongside industrial engineers at a Kodak manufacturing plant that applied the Toyota Production System to their operation over the course of several years (once you start you're never done, thus continuous improvement, etc) and the results were dramatic (in a good way). I liken it to "industrial UX" as a lot of the observational techniques and ways of getting to the true root cause of issues are not too different than what a UX person would do for a website. Personally, I still use what I learned whether it's laying out my kitchen or my desk at work to maximize my own efficiency.
dorian-graph 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It's good that people are doing this, it's often a lot better than throwing money at a problem. An organisation that does similar things in India is Atma (http://atma.org.in/).
knowaveragejoe 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting the direction that corporate giving is taking. Here's a neat interactive from the Chronicle of Philanthropy showing the shift away from cash donations to products and volunteerism:


vanderZwan 1 day ago 0 replies      
To quote this little gem from Ghostbusters:

"I've worked in the private sector... they expect results!" - Ray Stantz

RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 2 replies      
Of course, at one time corporations paid enough in taxes to fund social security programs that meant people didn't need to go to soup kitchens to get a meal.
gashad 1 day ago 2 replies      
> "... [Toyota engineers] drew a layout identifying spots where there were slowdowns. They reorganized the shelves by food groups and used colored tape to mark the grain, vegetable, fruit and protein sections. The time clients spent in the pantry was reduced nearly by half."

Ikea needs to hire Toyota to cut the time I shop there in half. That place is a maze! Maybe it's by design . . .

legulere 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem when you measure one thing and optimize it the things you don't measure often get worse. That's an important thing to keep in mind when optimizing.
imran 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wondering what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet could offer to the community (kaizen up!)
smackfu 1 day ago 3 replies      
Efficiency experts coming in to a situation they know nothing about and suggesting things can be done better? That sounds awfully familiar. I'm glad it worked out here, but it's often a recipe for disaster.

Edit: Wow, guess there is a lot of love for efficiency experts.

Observations from a Tipless Restaurant jayporter.com
262 points by mattkirkland  3 days ago   344 comments top 49
po 3 days ago 6 replies      
Having lived in Japan for the past few years, I'm so over the tipping culture it's pretty hard to stomach when I go back to the States. Besides the issues it causes for employers that this article covers, I really dislike the power dynamics that it causes for the customers: but maybe not in the way you would think.

While the customer may be financially powerful in the relationship, I feel that tipping culture gives power to the server to withhold good service as a punishment or as an optimization strategy at their own discretion. It causes a server to judge you as soon as you walk through the door... will this person give a good tip? Should I ignore them and focus on this other table?

The worst part is that the tip happens at the end of the meal after all of the 'costs' of providing good service are already done. If the patron stiffs the server, then the effort was 'wasted.' It's far better to make an educated guess based on what? the way they dress? their grammar? the car they pulled in with?

It's a terrible system.

rm999 3 days ago 8 replies      
Back when I lived in San Diego I took my parents to the Linkery. The service was so bad it actually reversed my opinions against tipping. The servers clearly didn't care much about making us happy, messing up almost every aspect of the order. They put meat in my food - I'm vegetarian. My father got his food 20 minutes after my mother and I did. The waiter forgot one of my drinks. We called over the manager who offered us a free dessert to make up for it. Guess what? The dessert was on the bill. I'm always happy to tip 20+% for good service, but being forced (yes, we asked) to pay the service charge added insult to injury.

This is just one data point, but the Linkery was infamous around San Diego for having much worse service than other places in a similar price range. I'm convinced their experiment with tipping was correlated with this.

jmharvey 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is an odd title. The article gives an interesting explanation for why, theoretically, a restaurant would choose to go with a service charge rather than a tip-based system, but doesn't contain many observations from the now-tipless restaurant.

The whole idea of mandatory "service charges," or "fees," in any business, is kind of bizarre. It seems strange that we've accepted that certain types of businesses (airlines, hotels, ticket brokers, in some cases restaurants) should list prices that differ significantly from the actual price charged. There does seem to be some backlash against this practice: Kayak, Hipmunk, and many other travel sites now list the full price of airline tickets (though, often, not hotel rooms, with their "facility charges," whatever those are). And today I noticed that StubHub now shows prices inclusive of all fees. I understand why a business would like to list prices that are 30% lower than what the customer actually pays, but it seems a little odd that we're all OK with it.

famousactress 3 days ago 0 replies      
I saw an interview recently with David Chang [1] who implied that part of the thinking behind the design of his 12-seat, 2-Michelin star restaurant Ko was an experiment in ways to improve the wages of his employees. Because KO is so small and the kitchen bellies up to the diners, the cooks are also servers and can legally make tips.

[1] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Chang

[Edit - Whoops. As a San Diego resident, I feel bad for neglecting to mention that The Linkery was awesome and like lots of folks here I'm sorry to see it go.]

Spooky23 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've never understood why I need to pay the wages of restaurant employees directly, when just about every other business seems to figure out a way to fund employee wages by selling products or services.
joosters 3 days ago 3 replies      
If there is a flat 18% service charge, why not just add 18% to the base prices and get rid of the service charge? Or does a restaurant have to 'hide' these costs as an added percentage in order to make their prices seem reasonable?
decklin 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought part 1 (http://jayporter.com/dispatches/observations-from-a-tipless-...) was particularly insightful:

"A certain small number of very vocal men (and it was always men) resented that we were not letting [them] try to exercise additional control over our team members. This was true even though compelling research has shown that servers do not adjust quality of service as a result of tips; instead the idea that the restaurant was not offering our servers up as objects of control, was heresy. For these people, the primary service they wanted from the restaurant was the opportunity to pay for favors from the server..."

davidw 3 days ago 2 replies      
Tipping is fairly rare here in Italy, and the food is "pretty good" - some might say excellent - even if there is a tragic lack of good Mexican food in this country.
thoughtsimple 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have had consistently worse service from restaurants that I know share tips. There is no reason for a server to do better than their coworkers which brings everyone down to a common denominator.

This is in Massachusetts that does have a tip credit and where servers rarely get paid the statutory minimum wage if it is a slow night (against the law but it happens). Just for reference, the server minimum wage is $2.63/hour. If you can't make enough in tips because its a slow night and one of your coworkers is bringing the tip average down, your incentive drops off dramatically as well.

For something like this to work nationwide, the tip credit has to go.

madsravn 3 days ago 3 replies      
I live in Denmark. Here tipping is almost not even heard of. Maybe our food just costs a little bit more, I don't know - because it doesn't say "+ 10% tipping fee" or something anywhere. Here you just pay the prices noted next to the food and drinks that you order.

And the kicker, the service is always good. Because if the server isn't nice, they'll probably get fired. Because guess what, serving food and being polite about it is their job. That is what they're getting payed for. So demanding extra money to do their job with a smile just seems too weird for me.

Wintamute 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't the real problem that the industry has driven itself into a corner by charging unrealistically low prices and giving consumers a distorted view of how much restaurant experiences should cost? A well managed restaurant should be able to pay its staff a decent wage and turn a profit based on the prices it charges for its dishes, end of story. If a 20% tip is basically mandatory in the USA why don't all restaurants unilaterally up their prices 20%. And then that would allow the odd generous guests to tip/overpay in the somewhat rare scenarios where the establishment has genuinely excelled. Sounds like you got yourselves into a right old mess.
mr_luc 3 days ago 3 replies      
It makes sense. Good servers are compliance professionals, whether you or they know it or not, and their pivotal role in the experience means that the good ones can make good money.

But I know that I've not gone back to restaurants precisely because I didn't like interacting with the staff, or I didn't like how they interacted with my guests.

And looking back, the most specific I could be about it was "well, the waiters were kind of intense." You know what I mean. They were professional, they did their job, but ... they were intense. And they didn't need to be; we're going to give them 20%, but they don't know that. So they're ... slightly intense, forward with their presence, so you won't dare undertip, instead of melting into the background and letting the food and ambience dominate.

In a restaurant like this guy posits, waiters aren't compliance professionals.

On the other hand, in a tipless restaurant, they aren't paid based on merit, so maybe they won't be as motivated to do a great job in the parts of their work that require concentration and diligence.

But they're doing a job that a robot should be doing as soon as possible, and a whether my server is good, great or okay isn't going to affect how my food tastes.

Shank 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you missed part 1, here's the first half of the story:


mathattack 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like this quite a bit.

2 places have no tipping in New York City:- Sushi Yasuda - considered by some the top sushi spot in the city. (Certainly one of the most expensive)- The tap room at Whole Foods - let's just call it a little more lowbrow.

My budget hasn't encouraged me to visit Yasuda in several years, but I will say that I like not having to pay tips at the tap room. It certainly makes an inexpensive place seem even cheaper, and their service hasn't suffered for it at all.

amalag 3 days ago 3 replies      
In his scenario the servers make $22, the cooks $14. Is that typical? There does not seem to be much incentive for a long time occupation as a cook.
Uncompetative 3 days ago 2 replies      
English pub food is paid for at the bar with your drinks, that you yourself walk away carrying. They often give you a number on a wooden spoon and if you hate the food, you just don't go there again.
alistairjcbrown 3 days ago 3 replies      
Coming from the UK, added service charges always annoy me (unless it's for large parties). A tip is something that I volunteer to express gratitude for a good experience. It is also something I can refuse if the experience is bad. Forcing a service charge assumes I will pay X% more than the price I have been shown regardless of experience.

However, that view is based on the UK system where minimum wage for the serving staff is enforced and where tip pools are allowed.

mcphilip 3 days ago 2 replies      
On a side note, if you have a waiter or waitress that you particularly like and want to provide a tip that will not necessarily go into the tip pool, just leave a cash tip. This gives the waiter the ability to choose how much of the tip they report at the end of their shift.

Conversly, leave a tip on a credit card bill if you want to ensure that the entire tip is subject to any tip pool.

doktrin 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Our servers total pay rose to about $22/hour, most of the cooks started making about $12-14 depending on experience, and the diswashers about $10.

Can someone explain to me exactly why servers make 2x that of cooks? I certainly appreciate service, but I go to a restaurant to eat after all.

On a technical level, I also appreciate the skill (and occupational hazards) involved in cooking, perhaps more so than the interpersonal skills displayed by servers.

DanielStraight 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there an inherent disconnect in being anti-tipping and pro-pay-what-you-will? How is a restaurant letting you pick your own price for service with the expectation that you will be fair different from a humble bundle letting you pick your own price with the expectation that you will be fair?

I'm not trying to be difficult or argumentative, I'm genuinely wondering. I'm pretty anti-tipping and pro-pay-what-you-will myself, and I'm just wondering if I'm fooling myself now.

doorhammer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like there are a lot of comments about whether or not tipping promotes good or bad behavior from the servers. Seems pretty divided to me, opinion wise.

I think that's part of what the article was saying. Regardless of whether or not the server behavior was good or bad, the tipping culture created complex and unnecessary social dynamics that were difficult to control in a predictable, effective manner.

My take away is that tipping was an inelegant, overly complex solution, and that simplifying it made the social context much easier to deal with, so that the owner could produce consistent, high quality results.

After that point, I'd say that servers or employees that are good or bad become the same issue you have with any other customer facing job. You address it through culture, disciplinary action, ranking, scheduling, perks, reviews, wage increases, or any number of other methods (I'm not endorsing any of those specifically). The incentive structure becomes a job more or less just another retail job.

joosters 3 days ago 3 replies      
Notice that amongst all the discussion of money and wages, one thing that is completely avoided is any thought of operating on a lower profit margin. All the hand-wringing about poorly paid staff, but never once any thought about taking less money for himself to aid their plight!
bradleyjg 3 days ago 0 replies      
The blog post makes reference to a 9th Circuit case, Cumbie v Woody Woo[1] and the Department of Labor policy purporting to overrule it.[2] The latter is full of incredibly weak legal reasoning. It's so bad, I forced to wonder if John Yoo[3] has taken a job with the Department of Labor. I'd go so far as to say that a lawsuit filed on the basis outlined in the memo would be frivolous and sanctionable.

[1] http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/02/23/08...

[2] http://www.dol.gov/whd/FieldBulletins/fab2012_2.htm

[3] The author of the infamous torture memos, that argued that it isn't torture unless it's as painful as losing a major organ.

EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I never really understood the point of tips instead of just charging everyone the service charge. If it is some kind of feedback mechanism to the server for doing a good job, then why can't the restaurant just implement reviews?
dfxm12 3 days ago 0 replies      
It should be noted that the restaurant now charges a mandatory "service charge" in lieu of accepting tips. I put service charge in quotes, because in some jurisdictions[0], there is a legal distinction between a "service charge/fee" and "auto gratuity". If a restaurant automatically charges you gratuity (many do this for tables of 6 or more), you don't legally have to pay it. You do have to pay anything labelled as a "fee" or "charge" though.

[0] I have some knowledge of this in the mid Atlantic states, but the author is speaking about the West. Maybe it is different over there, maybe it isn't.

goatforce5 3 days ago 0 replies      
The rather excellent Fabarnak in Toronto doesn't accept tips.

Their 'tip jar' next to the register has a big sign that says something like "Fabarnak staff are paid a good wage. Any money left will be donated to the 519 [community centre]", which Fabarnak is housed in and is generally affiliated with. I think their is a similar message on the bottom of the menus if you choose to pay by card at your table.

The food is excellent, and the service is always pleasant. The lack of tips doesn't seem to be upsetting their staff.


apalmer 3 days ago 1 reply      
the tipping phenomenon only occurs because the resturant industry gamed the system to legally pay their wait staff below minimum wage. So now I got to tip the wait staff because you can legally pay them 4 bucks an hour? OK... Ohhh and tip pools are illegal most places because why?, ohh yeah because management consistently takes the wait staffs tips and takes a cut or redistributes as they see fit to incentivize their business. so thats why its illegal many places, so instead they call it a service charge to get around the law AND take a cut or redistributes as management sees fit to incentivize their business...

the whole reason for tipping is because management can pay the wait staff less than minimum wage, cooks dont get tips because cooks cant legally be paid lowball rates, so why is it good that this guy is STILL paying his wait staff under minimum wage and then not allowing them to be tipped so he can incentivize his other staff?

Why dont you just charge me for the food however much it takes to make your business stay profitable and not force the customer to worry about the details?

Yourfags 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another thing after reading these comments, so many people practically worship waiters? Honestly, what? They're servants, they bring you food, they clean up messes, they're there to fix things when they go wrong, not spend their every moment trying to decide whether to shine your shoe or flip you off; It's like they're celebrities or athletes or something from the way some people talk about how they need tips or they'll start doing this or that thing to make your stay unpleasant. They have a job, if they don't do it well, they should lose it, they have a fixed income, if you don't want to pay it, you should know ahead of time what it's going to be and be able to decide whether to eat there or not, not judging after the meal.
Fuzzwah 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm an Aussie living in Phoenix. I try not to get too opinionated about whether a tipping culture is better or worse.

I see comments here from Americans who say that when they eat out in other countries they're amazed at the poor service and figure this must be because of no tipping. Back home in Australia if a restaurant doesn't deliver good service they'll go broke. So most places I ever ate at back home had (what I would call) good to great service. This isn't to say I didn't receive some very rare bad service.

Here in the US I've had about a similar experience. Mostly good to great service, and some rare bad service.

The one big difference I've noticed is that here in the US (and I believe this is because of the tipping culture) I've had to "suffer" through "overly attentive" service. When the server constantly asks if everything is satisfactory, constantly topping up / refilling drinks and (I gather) thinking that they're giving us excellent service....... But in reality they're just infringing on our enjoyment of a night out.

tantalor 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've eaten at this restaurant several times, and I should say the service was always excellent, contrary to what you might expect when the service charge is fixed.
kgmpers 3 days ago 0 replies      
For just some interesting historical context, around the turn of the last century, new middle class in America were very against tipping in restaurants, viewing it as un-democratic and un-American.

> Anti-tipping advocates often championed an egalitarian vision of capitalist consumption in which both consumer and employee would benefit. Tipping, they maintained, undermined the dignity and independence of citizens in a democracy. Let us not congratulate the servants on their gain, one writer admonished, for no servant takes a tip without losing something of manhood or womanhood. Another argued that to accept a tip is to enter into a relationship of dependence to the giver and by implication to acknowledge his superiority. Frank Crane, a syndicated columnist, contended that the tip put waiters into a class with the beggar, or the receiver of a bribe. And Alvin Harlow, a historian popular at the time, wrote: What, may I ask, is more un-American than tipping? It doesnt belong in American society; it doesnt belong in a democracy. It is a product of lands where for centuries there has been a servile class.http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/summer2012/features/tip...

ArtDev 3 days ago 0 replies      
"So, the two servers make a total of about $26/hour each, while everyone else in the restaurant is stuck at $8/hour."

My first jobs were as a busser, dishwasher, prep cook and line cook.

As a customer, I hate tipping! Tipping is an absurdly unfair practice. I never tip over 15%, usually 10% and sometimes nothing at all. Waiter/waitresses are overpaid for what they do.

If the food is good, tip the kitchen, not the person who brought it to the table.

voidlogic 3 days ago 1 reply      
>This time, I wasnt excited; I was terrified. If I didnt learn to code, we were done. I would have to crawl back into the world of finance.

I wonder if this is a dying breed? I think this is an interesting juxtaposition to the kid graduating HS who goes on to:

  1. Dual major in business and C-S when they do their undergrad  2. Intern at big corps while in school (make $15-20/hr and have no debt)  3. Work at a startup or two for 2-3 years after graduating  4. Start their own startup.
I run into more and more kids with the above game plan and it seems so much more solid to me. I realize folks who already have careers can't do the above, but as the number of young people who have done the above increases I wonder how it will change the game.

kibaekr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I never understood why servers need an extra incentive to do their job well. It's their job - shouldn't they have some sort of entitlement to do perform well, even without the extra cash? There are so many other professions in the service industry, where the tip culture is nonexistent, yet there never seems to be an outstanding issue.

The cashiers at Safeway, McDonald's drive-thru, flight attendants, and anyone in the workforce for that matter, don't whine about tips. They do their job, and they get paid for what their services are worth from their employers.

I'm not opposing giving tips if you received amazing service and you truly feel like giving one. I just hate the fact that the 18% tip is almost taken for granted nowadays, and you become the cheap one if you tip less. The tip system, if at all it should exist, should work so that the extra money customers pay actually reflect the service they received - not be socially forced down their throats.

jf22 3 days ago 2 replies      
While interesting I really don't like articles that are setup with entirely hypothetical scenarios which are constrained in such a way to make the entire premise seem more valid.

>if one job gets a $2/hour raise, that most likely means that another job will have its wage reduced by $2/hour.

This statement right here sets up half of this posts argument here and isn't realistic at all.

Yourfags 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really like this article, he raises points I hadn't thought about. As someone who is American and works in a restaurant, I still think it's a terrible system. Waiters do not do more or better work than the rest of the staff, they are just like everyone else and the fact that they get paid double or triple their coworkers is insane. It's certainly not about their attitude, because people who get paid $8/hr behave just as well (or often do because it's their job and they don't want to lose it), and waiters are just as often rude and inattentive. It mystifies me really that restaurants in 2013 havn't been relegated to the same model every other business follows, just tell me the price and be done with it; tipping is a terrible system.
makerops 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know the reason as to why this is true:

"However, to give the tip money to every worker would be illegal. The law is historically very clear the $220 in tips belongs to the two servers only, and cannot be distributed to any other employees." ?

frogpelt 3 days ago 0 replies      
It sounds like profit sharing may also be a solution to the inequity of wages between the back-of-the-house and the servers.

It seems to me that if everyone in the restaurant (or perhaps just those in the kitchen) made a percentage of the profits of the restaurant, that productivity would increase all around and the sidebar between the kitchen and the servers wouldn't carry nearly as much weight.

Is profit sharing prevented by regulation?

sz4kerto 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fixed service charge is very common all around Europe.
JimA 3 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently this model didn't work so well, since they are now closed?http://thelinkery.com/blog/
simonebrunozzi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know I'm almost OT, but let's consider for a moment the topic of "tipping taxi drivers". I find it completely unfair to tip cab drivers, and yet, they give it for granted it all to time. The couple of times I tipped less then expected I had to meet angry reactions.
fatjokes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I found this enjoyable enough to read that now I want to go to the restaurant. Too bad I don't live in SD.
_pmf_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
When a very rich guy tries to improve the situation of quite poor people, one should be very, very careful.
wmt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why not just up the prices and the wages instead of the sneaky service charge? Is that too honest in the restaurant business?
kbenson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Freakonomics[1] did a show on tipping. There's a few different arguments against it presented, but I find the discrimination one particularly interesting.

  [1]: http://www.freakonomics.com/2013/06/03/should-tipping-be-banned-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/

fetbaffe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Only the last paragraph was about tipping, the rest about how silly legislation get silly effects.
dsego 3 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly relevant scene from Reservoir dogs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-qV9wVGb38.
jetru 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not to mention that there have been some studies showing that tipping is discriminatory.


mattkirkland 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Linkery was in my neighborhood in San Diego. It was a great place, and really influential in revitalizing a culture of good food in that area of SD.
The Door To The FISA Court Doesn't Even Have A Sign On It konklone.com
258 points by luigi  2 days ago   56 comments top 10
jasonkolb 2 days ago 5 replies      
When I was doing real estate investing I ran into a kangaroo "court" that the local corrupt city set up to handle property code violations. They would have a cop set up at the front and an appointed "judge" (they had some other name for him to not offend the law too mightily) who wore robes and asked everyone to stand up and sit down. The person in the robes would arbitrarily make up fines for the offenses according to their whims and moods. I know because there was a $4500 "judgement" on one of the houses I bought for having a driveway that needed to be repaired.

Anyway, it turns out that this "court" is a complete fabrication that the city put up as a way to put up the appearance of being fair. But cities are corporations, they aren't allowed to establish courts like this, and it was a complete sham. That's why you have to have a real judge hear traffic cases.

This is a sham traffic court too. This is not part of the judicial branch of government any more than the "property code violations court" presided over by a clown in black robes. There's a reason we have a separation of powers. A paid employee wielding a rubber stamp is not justice.

DannyBee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not to ruin the central point of this article, but i'd say 50% of the courts i've been in don't have obvious signs on the doors.

They just tell you you are in room 302 for this or that, or whatever (this is true even in appeals courts where they aren't really shifting around courtrooms all the time. The main courtroom will just be some numbered nameless room).

The only usually obvious signs are the names on judges chambers, and in a lot of cases, they aren't even in the same building!

ferdo 2 days ago 1 reply      
No sign on the door indicates that they know they should be ashamed even though shame doesn't appear to be one of their guiding lights.

edit: great little piece, btw. I'll pass it around.

dlinder 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is anyone collecting a list of the surreal, absurd, or kafkaesque events surrounding post-9/11 national security?

This episode reminds me of the red warning light from ksm's gitmo trial that would sometimes light up and cut the gallery feeds on its own: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/01/secrec...

generj 2 days ago 1 reply      
I want to thank the author for the excellent sketches.If I was forbidden photography equipment, my sketches would be rectangles, which, if squinted at, might construe a door.

Joking aside, it is obviously very concerning that FISA is completely unaccountable to the public. The lack of a sign is just another symptom of the abuse of secrecy.

tbrownaw 2 days ago 2 replies      
The lack of a sign is not the problem. Given that hand scanner by the door, having a sign would be a bit silly -- anyone who would actually need the sign can't get in regardless. Given that (almost?) everything they do apparently involves classified information, the hand scanner makes sense.

What is a problem, is not having anyone to answer the phones and not having the building receptionist know what to tell people.

aspensmonster 2 days ago 0 replies      
>...the employees in the first floor District Clerk's office (gently) laughed at my attempts to find anything about the Court. They referred to it as the "Room of Requirement", and said they had no idea what floor it was even on.

In a maelstrom of political chaos, it's nice to see at least a bit of humor every now and then. It seems Life Imitates Art. This pleases the Potter fan in me.

speeder 2 days ago 6 replies      
Kinda off-topic:

Why cameras are banned on courtrooms? I remember the last US trial news all of them had sketches like this instead of photos and videos...

EDIT about the argument below about google: I always search Google first, but I found lots of random answers, and I don't have enough domain knowledge to know what one (or ones) are correct or resemble how things really are, asking here usually spark people to post very interesting information, that sometimes are obscure even, and hard to find on Google.

Instead of telling people to use Google, why not wonder: If the person CAN have that information, and is asking anyway, what the person wants to know, that is not easy to find on Google?

fleitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only person to be tried at this court was Citizen K.
Ask HN: Who is hiring? (August 2013)
258 points by whoishiring  1 day ago   341 comments top 276
wensing 1 day ago 5 replies      
Stormpulse Austin, TX Full-time, permanent (http://www.stormpulse.com)

Our mission: To interpret the Earth's most threatening data.

-- Senior Python Developer --

About us:

We tell our customers when bad weather is going to disrupt, delay, or damage their business. Our product provides high-level intelligence and low-level analysis on weather risk for supply chain managers, business continuity professionals, commodity traders, and oil/gas operators. Here's President Obama looking at our map: http://news.yahoo.com/photos/u-president-barack-obama-looks-...

We're looking for a couple of developers to join our team. Tools we work with include Python, Celery, Redis, MySQL, Postgres, Backbone, nginx, AWS

About you:

* Able to rapidly gain (and enjoy gaining) new expertise in a previously-foreign, non-technical domain (e.g. weather, earthquakes, wildfires, solar flares)

* Derive joy from seeing huge leaps forward in the customer experience

* Mastery in a non-technical discipline (i.e. you are not only a great developer, but also a master at jazz music, mountain climbing, chess, skiing ... something that has taught you how to think beyond a keyboard).

* Ability to collaboratively apply the design principles of Stormpulse to new projects

* Not satisfied with a compromise -- always pursue the possibility that two seemingly contradictory goals can be simultaneously achieved through great feats of design / engineering

* Derives pleasure from the final aesthetic


- B.S. in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, or college degree with related technical experience required. ("Hackers with Humanities degrees are awesome" says Matt)- Strong experience with one or more of Python, Ruby or similar object oriented dynamic language required. Additional experience with Javascript, HAXE, HTML, or CSS is highly desirable.- Experience with GIS (PostGIS, ESRI, Mapbox) is preferred- Linux experience with knowledge of Linux internals and Distributed Systems preferred.- Self-motivated and driven to continuously improve personal and professional skills combined with openness to constructive feedback.- Strong communication and documentation skills.


3925 West Braker LaneThird FloorAustin, TX 78759United States



ejdyksen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mutually Human - Grand Rapids, Michigan



We are a small team passionate about making people's lives better through software.

A little bit about us:

  - We write custom software of all shapes and sizes for clients all over the US    - Though everyone here is fluent in Ruby, we don't artificially limit ourselves.    In the past few months, I've worked with Objective-C, Backbone.js (inside     PhoneGap), Angular.js, Ruby (of course) and a little bit of Java and C#.    - We practice a sustainable pace. We recognize that we each have lives,    activities, and families outside of work. Late nights and > 40 hour weeks are    rare by design.    - We're agile, but not dogmatic about it. Our process evolves to suit our needs.    - We offer competitive salaries, health/vision/dental insurance, quarterly profit     sharing, retirement + match, weekly catered lunches, and a top-floor office    with snacks, guitars, and your choice of standing or sitting desks.
A little bit about Grand Rapids:

  - 2.5 hours from Chicago and Detroit, less than an hour to the beach.    - Lots of great beer. Founders Brewery (a mile from our office) has 3 beers in    the Beer Advocate top 15. HopCat is a World Class bar on BA.     Just look here: http://beeradvocate.com/beerfly/city/43    - If youre renting anything larger than a breadbox in the Bay Area or NYC,    you can afford a house here. I bought a nice house with a mortgage payment    30% lower than the rent of my 1 bedroom apartment in Mountain View.    - A growing technology and startup community.
A little bit about you:

  - You love writing software, and you have a few years of experience doing it.    - You learn new stuff quickly. Youve used a lot of technologies, but youre not    afraid to use more. It would be nice if you use and love Ruby, but not required.    - You believe software is written for humans, not computers.    - You want to come into work every day and enjoy the people you work with.
If you're interested, send me your resume/CV and a little bit about why youre interested:


polyfractal 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Elasticsearch is hiring! Most of our positions are location-independent (remote), but a few are for the Los Altos area.

Generic Hiring page: http://elasticsearch.com/about/jobs/

------------------------------------------ About Elasticsearch ------------------------------------------

We build an open source search and real-time analytics engine. Elasticsearch is built on top of Lucene, so it benefits from the amazing capabilities that Lucene brings to information retrieval and general search. Elasticsearch is distributed right out of the box and is designed to scale horizontally - sharding, dynamic cluster resizing, transparent search routing.

The company is almost entirely distributed. I live in Charleston, SC - my colleagues live in Amsterdam, Prague, Barcelona, Bucharest, Nashville, Atlanta and San Francisco. The talent at this company is truly amazing, I feel like a small fish in a very big pond every day. And it's a great feeling, I've learned so much since joining the company.

If you want to get in with a company that is making waves, learn from truly excellent developers about distributed systems, then Elasticsearch is the place for you.

Ok, enough gushing. Here are the positions (I've never made a job ad before, I'm just a dev...if you have questions let me know!):

------------------------------------------ Front-end Developer [Los Altos] ------------------------------------------

Our sites are built in WordPress (yeah, sorry...) and we need someone that is capable of building custom features, managing scalability/performance and can generally mash WP into submission. For example, we have a custom plugin that imports Jekyll docs from Github and converts them to WP pages.

* Strong experience in PHP, WordPress customization, HTML5/CSS3, JS

* Rapid prototyping of our two web properties

* Build landing pages to support marketing campaigns

* Responsible for performance, scalability, latency on client, etc.

Email zachary.tong@elasticsearch.com with a resume or portfolio, I'll send back some more details.

------------------------------------------ UI/Visualization developer [Remote] ------------------------------------------

A problem with "big data" is that it is often very hard to visualize. We are working on ways to make data more manageable, and are looking for someone to take a lead role in developing/creating new visualizations.

* Strong JS developer (framework agnostic, although we do have a lot of Angular and Ember folks here)

* Experience with a visualization framework (ideally D3)

* Worked with large amounts of data, and be capable of transforming this data into a visualization

* Portfolio would be great!

Email jobs@elasticsearch.com

------------------------------------------ Distributed Systems Developer [Remote] ------------------------------------------

Distribution and management of data across a cluster is what defines Elasticsearch. We are looking for someone who will own this part of the core product and work to improve our distributed model. Ideally the candidate will have previously implemented Paxos, RAFT, Zookeeper or some other distributed algorithm.

* Strong Java programming skills

* Experience with distributed systems, node communication and management

* Knowledge, use or development of cluster management algorithms like Paxos, RAFT, and Apache Zookeeper

Email jobs@elasticsearch.com


------------------------------------------ .Net Developer [Remote] ------------------------------------------

We have programmers working in many different languages (Python, Ruby, PHP, etc) but are lacking .Net. We are looking for a dev to take the lead on all things .Net

* Innovate and lead our .NET development efforts and contribute to technical architecture, design, code, and test areas that you own.

* Collaborate with other development teams, quality engineering team, and documentation team to execute on product deliverables.

* Evangelism of our product to the .NET community at large.

Email jobs@elasticsearch.com


------------------------------------------ Java Software Developer [Remote] ------------------------------------------

Catchall job category. Are you a great Java programmer? Have you worked with Elasticsearch before? You should apply! We are always looking for more core developers.

Email jobs@elasticsearch.com


------------------------------------------ Support Manager [Remote] ------------------------------------------

* Insuring customer issues are resolved within our committed service level agreements.

* Drive market-leading customer satisfaction rates, with proactive engagement of unsatisfied customers to ensure issues resolved.

* Build out the internal team, tools, and processes to optimize an efficient and effective support structure.* Develop real-time metrics, which track performance of the support organization.

* Maintain strong relationships with our technical team for the delivery of support, and sales team in the selling our support products.

Email jobs@elasticsearch.com


adw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Palo Alto, CA Full-time, permanent Flipboard, Inc(http://flipboard.com)

tl:dr; go here, if you can do good stuff we want you: http://jobvite.com/m?34QnZgw1 or email andrew@flipboard.com

Flipboard's a social magazine. Millions of people daily use Flipboard to read the world's media. We're best known for our tablet and mobile apps, on both iOS and Android, but as of a little over a week ago, Flipboard magazines are on the Web too:

https://flipboard.com/section/new-number-order-bynx9a https://flipboard.com/section/geometries-bzd2Wr

Alongside all of that, we work with most of the leading publishers out there and we're making serious investments in data. (That's what I work on; I'm the product lead on recommendations.) We're kind of stealthily enormous; when it comes down to it, we're aggregating most of the good content published on the web every day. You like scale? We got scale. Languages; we do Java, Python, C++ and Go for services, Javascript/node.js for Web, ObjC and Java for mobile. We're using AWS heavily, and our backend stack includes MySQL/HBase/Kafka/Storm/ElasticSearch/Hadoop.

We are looking for (deep breath...)

Devops, mid-level and Head of Operations: http://jobvite.com/m?3SXoZgwX

Backend/systems developers to work on our core services (we call it Service Engineering): http://jobvite.com/m?3tYoZgwz

Android developers: http://jobvite.com/m?3PUnZgwQ

iOS developers: http://jobvite.com/m?3fUnZgwg

Web developers: http://jobvite.com/m?3hYoZgwn

Engineers to work on our data collection/Hadoop/search infrastructure (come work with me!): http://jobvite.com/m?3xXoZgwC

Black-box QA testers: http://jobvite.com/m?3wZoZgwD

Product designers: http://jobvite.com/m?3zZoZgwG

And more, so if you don't see you here, email me andrew@flipboard.com.

On the benefits side: competitive salary, equity, 401k with company contribution, really good medical/dental/vision/life insurance, subsidized commute benefits, we don't track time off, most people work from home around one day a week, we'll get you whatever equipment you want (though I'd be lying if that doesn't usually wind up being a Cinema Display and a retina Mac Book Pro, even if at least one of us runs Ubuntu on it...), and we're getting terrifyingly competitive at ping pong. Also, as a bitter singleton, it sometimes feels like half the company is having kids. We're very family friendly.

sgrove 1 day ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA - Zenbox. Software Engineer. [LOCAL | RELOCATE OK]

We're a YC company wrangling SaaS to work together (as they should), starting by bringing the biggest apps our customers use right into Gmail. We've been growing our team over the past few months, and looking to add even more awesome people.

We work with dozens of API's to show our users profiles of their customers without having to jump out of the email flow - imagine having http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtzqRSlgqkw available when helping customers.

Thousands of people use it every day for hours on end, and are happy to pay for it to make sure they can continue using it. But there's still so much polish and improvement possible.

We also spend time improving our tooling, and tools for other developers. As one example we've recently vastly improved the source-map capabilities of the ClojureScript compiler. We do it because we want to give back to the communities that have enabled us, because it helps us, and because it's interesting.

Looking for an engineer who loves the craft, who cares about building product, and is excited about helping customers.We also explore some pretty awesome ways to escape from getting crushed under the heel of complexity, and we're all excited to start toying around with ideas like http://clojure.com/blog/2013/06/28/clojure-core-async-channe... for the frontend.

This is both UI and backend work.

Languages: Clojure, Clojurescript, Ruby, Javascript.

sean @ zenboxapp


memset 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Classic Specs, New York, NY, Full-Time

We have been designing and building high-quality prescription eyewear in Brooklyn since 2010. We have a number of high-end fashion brands for which we design and sell eyeglasses.

We're building a company to last - we have revenue, a loyal client base, sustained and expanding growth. Were backed by all-star group of investors and folks who have built some of the most successful fashion brands in the world. Now we need someone to help build our technology.

Come work with us team to design and implement a white-label software for managing eyewear websites and order fulfillment across multiple brands!We're looking for engineers who are interested in building everything - from inventory management infrastructure to A/B testing our website - for selling eyewear online.

Our team is small. As an early developer, well ask you to look for things in our business that can be made more efficient and use technology to improve them.

You will completely own a feature, from choosing which technology to use, implementing the frontend, interfacing with our back-end database, and then measuring its impact on the business.

When you build something cool, we'll open-source it. When you learn something new, teach us! Help us mentor interns.

Our back-end stack is mostly Python + Flask, using uwsgi on nginx. Our current project is using mongodb on the backend.

Feel free to email me: jay@classicspecs.com

ryguytilidie 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Optimizely - San Francisco, CA - Fulltime, Permanant. Intern/H1-B okay as well.

Optimizely is a website optimization platform. We enable businesses to show the right thing to the right person at the right time.

Our first product makes A/B Testing easy. In 2 years weve grown to become #1 in the category with 4,000+ paying customers including Starbucks, Disney, and Marketo.We're profitable and our revenue is growing 400% year-over-year.

Join us in our mission to empower businesses to make better data-driven decisions.

About the Job:

We have scale: 4,000+ customers (including 100 of the top websites in the world); 15 billion server requests/monthYoull work on our amazing visual editor - a cutting edge tool that is the core of our product - and will enable it to do even more awesome things for our customersWork in small teams, in a continuous integration environment; were fast and nimble: 1-2 deployments every day

About Us:

Youll work on our amazing visual editor - a cutting edge tool that is the core of our product - and will enable it to do even more awesome things for our customers.


A track record of being able to ship product, independently and/or as part of a small teamA strong body of prior front end work, including significant projects written in JavaScriptMastery of JavaScript; expertise in most of the following technologies, and proficiency in all of them: jQuery, CSS, HTML5, AJAX, Google Closure toolsDeep understanding of closures, prototypal inheritance, DOM manipulation, HTTP, web security, cross browser compatibility challenges

Bonus Points:

Passionate about front end technologies, you have a curiosity that motivates you to experiment and keep on top of technical trendsPractitioner of progressive enhancement, and responsive UI designGood at debugging using dev consoles, firebug, firecookie, or any of your favorite toolsFearless - youll tackle a massive JavaScript codebase, and are willing to prototype crazy, awesome ideasPerks:

Free city-wide Gym membership at any Crunch Fitness.Free Clipper Card to pay for your commute from anywhere in the bay area.Catered in-office lunch and dinner on weekdays.Full medical insurance with very low co-pay and deductible. HMO, PPO, and HSA options available.Full dental coverage including orthodontics.Full vision coverage including contacts.Dependents 100% covered for medical, dental, and vision.Unlimited vacation policy.401k benefit.Top-of-the-line MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and 30" monitor.Working with a great team and having a huge impact!

If you're interested, please shoot me an email at Ryan.Jordan@optimizely.com!

frederickcook 1 day ago 0 replies      
Moveline is transforming an industry older than the internal combustion engine. We ship every day and play Settlers on Fridays.

Were looking for a solid full-stack javascript engineer who loves Settlers of Catan, remote development, and can tell the difference between an IPA and a Lager.

About Us

- Were passionate about building software that dramatically improves the customer experience, end-to-end, around moving. Our web product is at the heart of it.

- We are also working with a world-class set of investors and advisors, who youll have the opportunity to meet and interact with on a regular basis.

About You

- You are fluent in Javascript our stack is MEAN: Mongo/Express/Angular/Node (and Backbone)

- You are passionate about code and elegant solutions, and want to work with others who are similarly so. You cant sleep at night knowing you left something not DRYd

- You have architected and developed end-to-end products that are currently running business applications on a production environment

- You have an obsessive attention to detail

- You thrive when you are working closely with others on a small team

- You want to build stuff that solves real human problems

- You can explain the differences, chemical and philosophical, between a lager and an IPA

- You have a panic attack if you dont push code before noon

- You dont care that the moving industry isnt sexy

- You would rather make money than make the front page of TechCrunch (though we do that too)


Market salary and meaningful equity is available. Were primarily a remote engineering team, with the company (ops, marketing, customer service) based in Las Vegas in the heart of Tony Hsiehs Downtown Project. Hackers in Vegas or remote in the US welcome.Full Time or Contract-to-Hire only please. No freelancers or recruiters need apply.


clarkevans 1 day ago 0 replies      
Chicago, IL / New Haven, CT / Telecommute -- Development Operations Engineer

Prometheus Research, LLC (http://prometheusresearch.com) is searching for a full-stack development operations engineer to help build-out our SaaS offering and custom deployments of bio-informatics applications. We're comfortable with telecommute, however, since we work with HIPPA, you must be in the U.S.

* We help medical researchers (especially those working with autistic children) manage their data.

* We both use and produce free and open source software (YAML, HTSQL, and soon RexDB).

* We are a Javascript, Python, PostgreSQL, and Linux consulting and custom development group.

* We have a RexDB SaaS offering that is typically hosted on university networks.

* Our clients (and users) have demanding problems; they are appreciative, smart & fun.

* Our work is primarily funded through foundations and grants (we'll never be flush with cash).

We're looking for someone who would help us build-out our software deployment and monitoring infrastructure. You'll be working closely with Clark Evans in Chicago (truthfully, over IRC) and other members of Prometheus in New Haven CT and Prague. Your clients will be internal data analysts, custom software developers, and client relationship managers. We're currently transitioning from an ad-hoc set of system management scripts to Ansible and Cogs; and soon we'll probably move most services to Docker or some other open source light-weight virtualization system. We're looking for someone who uses appropriate open source tools and helps us contributes back to the broader community.

We value planning, documentation and competent execution. This is not an entry level position. If you're interested, tell us at ops-hn-20130801@prometheusresearch.com


dljsjr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition's Robotics Group in Pensacola, FL, looking for Java developers and robotics people.

We're looking for short term, long term, interns, post-docs, researchers, full-time, basically anything. We do frequently sponsor foreign job applicants with work visas.

We recently placed 1st in the DARPA Robotics Challenge VRC, and are looking to fill out our team for the next stages of the DRC that involve doing some pretty cool challenges.

Applicant would need to be able to relocate and stay until at least December 2013.

More info about the DARPA Robotics Challenge here:


More info about our lab here:


More info about the job postings here:



devinfoley 1 day ago 0 replies      
IFTTT - https://ifttt.com/jobs - San Francisco, CA


IFTTT is looking for engineers to help build the next generation of its platform. This is a unique opportunity to contribute to the core architecture of one of the webs most innovative and exciting services. Youll get to work on challenging technical problems alongside a small but driven group of developers, and play a key role in shaping both the product and team culture.

IFTTTs mission is to help people to create connections between the services and devices they use every day. Weve built a system that enables users to set up simple if this, then that-style recipes, which allow activity from one web service to trigger activity in another. The current system supports over 60 unique services and runs nearly a hundred million recipe-handling tasks per day, and we plan to dramatically expand on our flexibility and scalability. Under the hood, this translates to building a platform that can talk to and move data between virtually any API you can think of, all in realtime and at massive scale.

We're well funded, and we work hard to do right by our employees. New hires at IFTTT enjoy competitive salary and equity, full benefits, sane work schedules, and a flexible vacation policy. Much more than that, we offer interesting, deep projects and an amazing team experience. We operate on the philosophy that the best job perk is fantastic teammates, and to this end weve assembled a staff of intensely curious, well-rounded, talented people who happen to be great engineers. Were hoping you can be the next one.


Mobile Engineer

Earlier this month we released our first mobile app, IFTTT for iPhone (https://ifttt.com/mobile). The response has been overwhelmingly positive (Editor's Choice, #1 Productivity). We're looking for talented mobile developers who can help us continue to innovate on iPhone, as well as bringing IFTTT to new platforms (Android, wearable computing, embedded systems, etc).


Platform Engineer

Were hoping to find candidates who speak fluently about distributed architectures, databases, and ops, who enjoy rolling up their sleeves and writing code at all levels of the stack, and who have the confidence and depth of knowledge to take ownership of long-term projects. IFTTT currently runs on a polyglot mix of technologies, including EC2, Rails, Node.js, MySQL, Redis, Memcached, and Chef. Experience with these is a big plus, but were constantly evolving, and we value creative problem-solving and desire to learn over domain knowledge.

clarkevans 1 day ago 0 replies      
New Haven, CT -- Senior Director of Product & Application Development

Prometheus Research (http://prometheusresearch.com) is looking for a talented department-level manager of technical people and projects who can get top performance from a talented team, coordinate development of multiple components into a complex product suite, and create management and reporting processes that keep stakeholders, including executive sponsors, informed and involved. You will understand every technical project in the company and delegate appropriately. You will make sure all the technical projects work together to advance the mission of the company. You will anticipate project, process, and hiring needs, and be able to hire and develop a great team, including developing next-level managers. You are passionate about creating transparency and accountability in software development organizations and about helping developers achieve greatness.

Prometheus helps customers transform their structured data into a valuable, sharable resource by organizing it in flexible, highly accessible systems. Weve built our reputation on helping diverse members of the biomedical research community overcome the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of managing complex research data. We deliver sensible solutions to data management problems powered by our adaptable, web-based RexDB platform, and deliver expert consulting and data management services.

Areas of Responsibility include:

* Meet with senior technical leadership to facilitate clarity about technical direction

* Define and implement better management practices for software development and delivery

* Create and maintain plans for delivery of products and function points, including those that require integration of multiple components

* Talk with developers to enrich your understanding of the status of each project

* Review code check-ins, test suites, and documentation

* Meet with developers to mentor them on best practices and to promote professional growth

* Organize information about the state of software development into meaningful reports and present reports to stakeholders, including the executive team

* Work with the management team and the executive team to identify and resolve issues that block delivery

If you're interested in discussing this position, please send a cover letter and your resume to mgt-hn-20130801@prometheusresearch.com

troygoode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Washington, DC and Boston, MA -- Software Developers (full time)

NGP VAN (http://www.ngpvan.com/) is the market leader in integrated political campaign software and we serve only progressive candidates/organizations including the Democratic Party and President Obama's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. We're looking for a few more talented software developers to join ~50 other developers in DC & Boston as we ramp up product development efforts on the next versions of our SaaS products in advance of the 2014 mid-term elections. See a bit more about us, our perks, and our culture on our CoderWall page: https://coderwall.com/team/ngp-van

In particular we're looking for folks that want to help change this country for the better and have experience in (or a burning hunger to learn) one or more of the following:

  - AngularJS (or another SPA framework/library)  - node.js  - ElasticSearch  - Hadoop  - .NET (C#)
Please email me directly at tgoode@ngpvan.com if interested. Include a brief note about why you think you're a match and a link to your GitHub/BitBucket/etc profile.

ladon86 1 day ago 1 reply      


ClassDojo is used by over 15mm teachers and students to manage behavior in the classroom, using real time feedback and rewards that can also be shared with parents. We're an edtech startup with funding some of the biggest names in the valley (Jeff Clavier, Ron Conway, General Catalyst, Mitch Kapor...), and we're one of the fastest growing education companies of all time. We're the only non-YC company that Paul Graham has ever invested in. We've built a product that makes a real difference and gets huge engagement with millions of kids, and we're about to take it to the next level, hopefully with you on board. We have a strong team, an extremely comfortable and relaxed environment and great salary + benefits. If you're a strong hacker who wants to use JavaScript to change the world, apply here:

  --------------------------  https://classdojo.wufoo.com/forms/join-classdojo/    --------------------------    
Or email jobs@classdojo.com. You can read about the work and environment here: http://www.classdojo.com/jobs


We're particularly looking for:

  * Backend API Architect/Engineer

What's the role?


At the core of ClassDojo is a node.JSON API built on node.js which makes use of multiple services and handles hundreds of requests per second. We have native clients for iOS, Android and even Windows Desktop, and a rich JavaScript web client, and all of these consume the same API.

You'll work on architecting the API and implementing an internal node.js framework which bakes in resource sharing and permissions, provides realtime notifications and events to our clients, and which offloads CPU intensive tasks to asynchronous offline processes.

Throughout you'll be designing a beautiful API that is used by developers every day, you'll be solving difficult architecture and distributed systems problems, and you'll be a part of an important company shaping educational outcomes for millions of kids in America and worldwide.


What skills are we looking for?


* Relevant experience in designing or maintaining a mature API is important to us. This could be through work at a prior company or through your personal projects or open-source work. We'd really like to see an example of an API you've worked on. We know every API has warts, but that's fine - we look forward to discussing the trade-offs you had to make.

* Experience working on a production system or some type of live product is important.

* An educational background in Computer Science or Math is preferred but not essential.

Is this you? Apply here: https://classdojo.wufoo.com/forms/join-classdojo/

dayjah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Twitch - twitch.tv - San Francisco, CA.

Three years ago there was no "real" way to watch live gaming video online. Now we're the defacto and the likes of xbox and valve are realizing that and working very closely with us. This type of growth needs support!

Devops Engineers - We're scaling at an insane rate! 3mm MAU increase over the last couple of months, up from 2mm MAU a few months ago, which was up from 1mm MAU a few months prior to that! As such nearly every aspect of our stack is being revved, automated and improved. We're looking for people that never do things three times, it is always scripted and solid by then. Come help us build intelligent request routing into our infrastructure, help us get our server build and deploy process down to a work of beauty. Everything is up for grabs here for the right candidates.

Data Architects - Do you dream about large volumes of data? We have it! We're looking for engineers with tried and tested experience of modern storage mechanisms to help us scale out all data related things. Our vision is to have you build the platform for our stats guy (an absolute baller!) to go to town on. We want to build platforms that help us both with real time queries (recommendations for channels / vods, etc, to watch) and longer bulk queries (cohort analysis).

Interested in either? Want to know more? Email me, Mike Ossareh, Director of Engineering: ossareh@twitch.tv

rsingel 1 day ago 0 replies      
San Francisco; REMOTE possible.

We help publishers of all sizes make more money by showing readers great recommendations of more things to read (both related and not). We've got cool clients, the most innovative product in the space and we're poised for big growth in the next few months.

Things we don't do: crappy outbound traffic arbitrage links.

We build products that are good for publishers, writers and readers. That's in our DNA.

We're lean and nimble; have an awesome roadmap full of fun tech challenges; and looking to find the right person to lead our tech team. The stack? Currently, PHP, Nginx, Apache, Memecache, MySQL, jQuery, a dash of PostGRES. Future? Likely some Python, maybe Go, maybe Redis, maybe some NodeJS. Whatever makes sense.

There will be some machine learning stuff, some big data, some UX challenges, etc. The ideal person is someone who is passionate about making online publishing better; who has track record of leading teams to ship quickly without burnout; and who wants to learn more - but doesn't make stack decisions based on the cool new tool they want to learn.


What we offer: a fun challenge working on a product used by millions daily, great co-workers, significant equity.

There's no timeframe on the hiring, so if it's something that sounds good for 3 months from now, drop us a line.

Put CTO in the subject line and tell us a bit about yourself. info@contextly.com.

nemesisj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Administrate (http://www.getadministrate.com/) Edinburgh, Scotland. Full Time. We build online software for training companies that helps them run their entire operation.


We're looking for a full time developer who can start on our support team dealing with bugs and smaller dev projects for the first 12 months, then move on to other things (if desired). We have fantastic offices at the Edinburgh Tech Cube (http://www.techcu.be) with spectacular views of Arthur's seat and the Meadows.

Detailed job description can be found on our about page (http://www.getadministrate.com/about), look on the lower right.

We're using a combination of technologies:

- Crufty old PHP (being refactored), and newer PHP (Doctrine)

- All new development is being done with: Python, SQL Alchemy, Flask, and AngularJS using the Bootstrap UI framework

We're looking for smart people that get things done using the above techs, and who want to join a small company, have lots of responsibility, and work in a very challenging environment.


We're growing really quickly, have a small team, a challenging product that's mission critical for our clients, and we're located in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

If you're outside the EU, we can look into visa sponsorship in very special cases, but this can be a long and difficult process, particularly for the UK. Sorry. Email me if interested, my name is John: jjp@getadministrate.com

alexdevkar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Conspire - Boulder, CO - Full-Time

Conspire is a TechStars company founded in 2012. We analyze email data to give users detailed analytics on their email network and to understand the strength of connections between people. With this understanding, we maintain an always-up-to-date, weighted network of connections without any work on the part of users. When a user needs to reach a person or company, Conspire finds the strongest path of connections in the user's extended network.

We're located in downtown Boulder, Colorado.


We're a small team, and we're looking for people to take on a lot of responsibility. You should be prepared to manage projects independently from start to finish, including gathering and refining requirements, evaluating potential approaches, soliciting feedback from teammates and experts, picking the right course of action given the company's goals and delivering stable, performant software that integrates seamlessly.

Our product is built primarily in Java, Scala, Rails and JavaScript, and we use several database technologies. We heavily leverage AWS infrastructure, manage source and issues on GitHub and continuously deploy code to production.

In-depth experience with our technology stack is a plus but not a requirement.


Along with all the benefits you'd expect, we also offer up to one month international travel per year. Work remotely from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. We'll even give you $1,000 to send you on your way.

Contact me at alex@goconspire.com (or jobs@goconspire.com).

robbiemitchell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Knewton - New York, NY (Union Square) - full-time

Knewton's mission is to bring personalized learning to the world.

Knewton is the world's leading adaptive learning technology provider. The Knewton platform makes it possible for anyone to build applications that provide real-time proficiency estimation, activity recommendations, analytics, and more. The world's largest and most innovative learning companies use Knewton technology to improve student achievement in K12 (e.g.,Houghton Mifflin), higher education (e.g.,Pearson), global English Language Teaching (e.g.,Macmillan), and other markets. Knewton has been recognized globally as a "Technology Pioneer" (World Economic Forum in Davos), one of the world's "50 Most Innovative Companies" (Fast Company), and one of "The World's 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs" (Goldman Sachs).

Knewton has about 120 employees, over half of which work in technology, data science, and adaptive instruction, including machine learning.



Some specific openings:

* Business Development Director - http://bit.ly/10uusn3

* Data Scientist - http://bit.ly/12yWm1X

* Software Engineer - Big Data - http://bit.ly/14IsjUm

* Senior Security Engineer - http://bit.ly/14lqxJY

* Senior Product Manager - http://bit.ly/14lqyxv

--> For more follow http://twitter.com/knewton_jobs

sethbannon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amicus (YC S12) - New York City

Amicus is reshaping civil society through innovation. We believe profits and social good can go hand in hand. At Amicus, we build tools that increase the amount nonprofits raise, while drastically decreasing their costs. Amicus puts more money in the hands of great organizations and creates lots of value in the process. Tired of deciding whether to do good or do well? You've come to the right place.


  - Javascripters  - Rubyists  - Other (non-technical)
http://jobs.amicushq.com/ for mored details.

Shoot an email to jobs+Aug@amicushq.com if interested. Tell us why you think you'd be a good fit.

greghinch 1 day ago 0 replies      
London, UK - We Are Pop Up - http://www.wearepopup.com - Full Time

We Are Pop Up is a community-driven marketplace for short-term commercial property leasing. The platform launched at the end of 2012, and has already given numerous creative entrepreneurs around the UK opportunities to engage the offline world in ways they never had before.

About the Role

Were looking for an experienced Web Application Developer to work directly along side our Lead Developer and Creative Director, building features and scaling the platform. Someone whos comfortable working with the whole stack, understands the principles of excellent software development, and wants to treat their code as their craft.

Primarily we build in a Django/Python environment, but any relevant experience is great (as long as you are willing to learn Python). Were looking for people with a few years of experience under their belt. Being an expert in SQL will get you a lot of points. We follow Agile development practices, and youll be shipping features frequently.

Skills and Attributes Were Looking For (being 100% in all is not required, but candidates who are will receive preference)

- Experience building web applications from the bottom, up. Django/Python experience preferred, but Rails/Ruby, PHP, etc. is also great, so long as youre a quick and willing learner

- Solid knowledge of SQL and related best practices. We use Postgres, but are happy with MySQL or similar experience

- Ability to work in Javascript/HTML/CSS. We use YUI 3 and Bootstrap. You certainly dont need to be a designer, but you should be able to take on a feature and fully implement it, including all relevant front-end code

- General understanding of Solr/Lucene search

- Experience deploying basic server infrastructure and with the Unix command line (being an expert SysAdmin is not required)

- Familiarity with code profiling and optimization

- Interested in things like Agile development, TDD, and pair-programming

- Work equally well in close coordination with others and independently/self-directed. Were a small team, so well always be working closely, sometimes in pairs, but often youll need to be able to take on things on your own

- Legally eligible to work in the UK (mandatory)

More About Us

Were a group of Brits and Americans who came together in the spring of 2012 to take on an ambitious idea cooked up by 2 of our co-founders in a pub one evening (where all good ideas start). Were artists and environmentalists, consultants and entrepreneurs, engineers and educators. Collectively weve worked with Fortune 500s, government and the public sector, universities, creatives, small businesses, and (other) start-ups. Were alumni of Springboard Mobile programme, and were looking to change the world.


Developer candidates only, please email jobs@wearepopup.com with the subject "Interested in your Web Application Developer role, HN Aug 2013". Recruiters, prepare to be ignored at best, and possibly mocked (in other words, we're not interested!)

scanr 1 day ago 0 replies      
London, England - Full Time - Local Only (with flexibility to work from home on occasion)

Optim.al (https://www.optimalsocial.com/) is hiring full stack engineers for our London office, working on real time bidding, analytics, data science and front end web applications.


    * BS or MS degree in computer science, mathematics, or related field.    * Good understanding of web technologies HTML, Javascript, HTTP, JSON, REST    * Can demonstrate that you're a great       programmer in at least one of Scala, Python, Java, Clojure, Haskell,       F#, Kotlin or Ruby    * Willing to work in Python, Scala and Java    * Good understanding of a Unix based operating system    * Some experience of databases and at least one web application framework
If you love programming and would like an interesting job with a steep learning curve and a wide variety of challenges, please get in touch. You can email me personally at jamie@optimalsocial.com or use the following Jobvite link:


No recruiters please.

RichardPrice 1 day ago 0 replies      
San Francisco, CA. Full time.

Academia.edu is a social platform for academics to share research papers. The company's mission is to accelerate the world's research. 3.7m academics have joined Academia.edu, and over 300k join each month.

Many people believe that science is too closed, and too slow. We are trying to make science faster and more open. There are 4 things we are trying to achieve with Academia.edu:

- Instant distribution. Right now there is a 12 month time-lag between submitting a paper to a journal, and the paper being published. We need to make publishing a button, and the distribution of scientific ideas instant.

- Better peer review. Currently two people peer review a paper, which is too small a sample size. With 50,000 people worldwide in a research community like Machine Learning, or breast cancer, what 2 people think is not statistically significant. We need a broader-based peer review process, one that surfaces the opinions from the entire scientific community.

- Data-sets. Scientists don't share their data-sets right now. The data remains stuck on their hard-drives. The main reason for this is a lack of incentives for the scientists to share their data. We need to introduce the right reputation mechanisms in science to facilitate the sharing of data. -

- Open access. We need to bring about a world where a villager in India has the same access to the worlds scientific output as a professor in Harvard. When you open up access to the worlds scientific literature to the 2.5 billion people who are online right now, magical things can happen.

We're a 12-person engineering-driven team based in downtown San Francisco. Technologies we use include Rails, PostgreSQL, Redis, Varnish, Solr, Memcached, and Mongodb.

We have raised $6.7 million from Spark Capital, True Ventures, Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu), and others.

We are looking to hire software engineers to help build a faster and more open science.

There is more information about the company on our hiring page, at http://academia.edu/hiring. There is more on TechCrunch about our mission here http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/05/the-future-of-peer-review/ The Future of Peer Review) and here http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/03/the-future-of-the-scientifi... Reputation Metrics in Science)

We will handle re-location, including visas. We are not currently hiring remote employees.

If you are interested to learn more, please email Richard Price at richard [at] academia.edu.

r4vik 1 day ago 0 replies      
London, UK - Pitchup.com - Python Developers


We're looking for Python developers (one senior, one more junior) at our start-up in Chiswick, west London http://www.pitchup.com - we sell pitches at around 600 campsites in the UK, France and Ireland.

We receive around 60,000 visits per day, up 200% since last summer, and around 5,000 bookings per week. After celebrating our fourth birthday last Monday, we'll be expanding into new markets during the autumn/winter.

Our small team of developers work mainly in Python and Django, achieving multiple awards and great reviews for ease of use and speed http://www.reviewcentre.com/Travel-Agents/Pitchup-com-www-pi...Behind the scenes we've built some pretty nice features to help campsite owners manage their vacancies and encourage them to sign up.

Pitchup.com was cited at the recent W3C/ODI/OKF Open Data on the Web event http://www.w3.org/2013/04/odw/ : we're aiming to go beyond the typical travel site by integrating POIs like public transport, tourist attractions and pubs. We were also among the early users of Twitter's recently-launched product cards and autocomplete.

We're looking for a couple of people to work on things like payments, international expansion, testing and personalisation, mobile and geo (backend stack is Python / Django / Postgres / Celery / nginx / S3).

The business is profitable and was founded in 2009 by former lastminute.com staff with a background in the holiday park sector. We're regularly featured in the national press, and our lively, friendly team is based at the Barley Mow Centre off Chiswick High Road in west London.

Please drop me a line if you're interested in more information, or apply at http://www.pitchup.com/jobs .


    * Expert in Python, with knowledge of at least one Python web framework (ideally Django)    * Good PostgreSQL experience    * Very strong JavaScript skills    * Familiarity with Linux server environments    * Willingness to undertake sysadmin work    * Some remote working is possible, and some on-call evenings and weekends will be required    
See our Stack Overflow page for office and team pics: http://careers.stackoverflow.com/company/pitchup-com/ .

Contact info

* Apply: http://www.pitchup.com/jobs

* Telephone: 0208 123 4450

* No full-time telecommuting

* No headhunters!

jcs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rangespan - London, UK - Lead DevOps Engineer

Rangespan is looking for a lead DevOps engineer to join our development team in Paddington, West London.

You will be responsible for the availability, performance and delivery of our web services, as well as taking an active role in the development of the platform.

Upcoming projects

- Architecting and scaling our AWS based infrastructure, planning and executing a migration to a hybrid cloud approach

- Automating the provisioning and configuration of new hardware and services

- Developing a framework for improved end-to-end testing

- Autoscaling our Hadoop cluster

- Performance tuning our Elasticsearch cluster

- Migrating existing data and web services into Cassandra

- Implementing an event-based messaging system on xMQ

- Developing a split real-time and batch data processing pipeline

Skills & Requirements

- Experience scaling web services at both the software and hardware architecture level

- An intimate understanding of AWS best practices, Linux administration and configuration management tools

- Can demonstrate proficiency with, or have a willingness to learn Python

- Experience in getting the best out of: MySQL, Elasticsearch, Hadoop, Hive, Cassandra, DynamoDB, MongoDB, Redis

You will be part of a brilliant team of talented people and have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies. Perks include dedicated R&D time to explore new ideas as well as cover for attending industry conferences.

Get in touch for more information - james@rangespan.com.

About Rangespan

Rangespans technology helps retailers expand and optimise their product range to more closely match online market demand. It includes data analytics that tracks and ranks more than 120 million products, to provide retailers with better visibility of the range that they dont already offer. The company also operates a supplier integration platform that automates dropship supplier management and product set-up tasks, to reduce the costs of product range expansion.

Founded by ex-Amazon executives in 2011, Rangespan now works with hundreds of leading retailers and suppliers, including six of the UK's 20 largest online retailers.

For more information, please visit https://www.rangespan.com/.

rohansingh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Spotify - NYC, SF, Stockholm, Gothenburg. Full time.

We've got plenty of positions in all offices for backend devs, iOS devs, Android devs, and also JS+frontend devs. Check out our job site and drill down:https://www.spotify.com/us/jobs/vacancies/

Also, right now I'm working as an engineer on our backend infrastructure team in NYC and want to specifically call out an opening we have on this team. The role description (at http://spoti.fi/13zEPmT) should give you some idea: my team is building the infrastructure that all devs at Spotify use to build their features and services on top of. Great way to make a big impact, and also involves playing with a lot of fun tech like Cassandra, LXC, and Docker :-)

I've been at Spotify for a year and a half and it has been a great place to work as a developer. Let me just list the ways:

    - Really smart people with very diverse professional and cultural backgrounds.    - Problems that are actually pretty tough & challenging at scale.    - A hacker culture, where solving or building things is what's valued.    - Getting to travel between our offices and exploring new places.    - Speaking of travel, 4-5 weeks of vacation depending on your location.    - Excellent events with great music and bands (look up "Spotify Sessions")!
We also have all the standard benefits and things you'd expect (nice offices, health insurance, coffee, etc.), but those things above are what I think have really made working here unique.

Feel free to reach out to me directly (rohan@spotify.com) if you have any questions or want to talk, or feel free to fire off an application through the jobs site.

pashields 1 day ago 0 replies      
Adzerk - Durham, NC - Full-time, permanent - (http://www.adzerk.com)

We're looking for a devops engineer and both junior and senior developers. More info on our jobs page (http://www.adzerk.com/job-openings/)

Adzerk is focused on helping publishers make more money from their ad inventory by building a revolutionary ad serving platform. We believe that making advertising a viable business model for publishers ensures the future of a free and healthy internet. We love nothing more than helping a great publisher be rewarded for their hard work and help them continue to create awesome content.

kevbo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Evanston, IL - Full Time (onsite), Permanent

Ruby Engineer at Leapfrog Online (http://www.leapfrogonline.com/)

Leapfrog Online, an Evanston, IL-based direct digital marketing company, is seeking a Ruby Software Engineer to build and maintain high-traffic web sites using the Rails web framework for Leapfrog Online business units. This position makes extensive use of open source software to solve interesting problems. Scrum is practiced in all of our development teams, but we dont require previous experience in Agile methodologies.

Are you a self-starter that holds high performance goals? Are you high energy and adaptable with an entrepreneurial mind-set? Can you successfully manage multiple projects simultaneously? Are you a good communicator who works well in teams? Do you have experience with open-source software or programming in Ruby? Are you able to recognize patterns in application behavior based off experiences with web-based technologies? If so, we are looking for you!


- Building and maintaining high-traffic web sites using the Rails web framework - Participating in project planning to review user stories, wireframes, and product specifications and applying them to your software designs - Presenting your ideas and demonstrating your work to technical and non-technical audiences in writing and in person. - Working with other team members to pair on programming and perform regular code reviews - Troubleshooting and advising on solutions to complex software issues - Developing automated test cases and test suites to ensure initial and ongoing quality in our software


- Bachelors degree and 2 or more years experience relating to web-based software development using open source technologies - Real-world experience using Ruby application frameworks (such as Rails) to build high-traffic web sites and applications - Thorough understanding of common web application concepts and technologies, such as HTTP, SSL, XML and associated technologies, content management concepts, public-key cryptography, application and data security and privacy issues, and basic TCP/IP networking - Non-trivial experience with any SQL-based RDBMS (PostgreSQL experience is especially useful) - Comfortable in the world of HTML, CSS and JavaScript - Knowledge of version control systems (especially Git)

For more information and to apply: https://hire.jobvite.com/j?cj=oBOpXfwv&s=Hacker_News

sugnid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rap Genius - Brooklyn, NY - http://rapgenius.com


Building the "Internet Talmud" to annotate and explain the world's primary source text

  * Front-end developer with an eye for design (UI/UX/CSS/jQuery)  * iOS Developer (you know, iOS)  * Full stack software engineer (Rails)
Over the past few years, Rap Genius has gone from tiny side-project to one of the biggest music sites on the internet. Weve raised 15 mil from some pretty dope investors and grown to employ some of the most talented devs this world has ever seen. Were expanding from explaining rap into ALL OF TEXT, starting with poetry, rock, and news. Now were looking for genius full-stack web and iOS developers to help build the Internet Talmud, the one platform for explaining the worlds primary source texts.

Why would you want to work for us?

  * One of the fastest-growing sites on the internet, SERIOUSLY THIS IS BASED ON    ACTUAL NUMBERS.  * Tiny, quick-shipping team with a ton of autonomy  so you never think to yourself:    what did i accomplish this year/month/30 seconds ago?  * A development and design agenda that is led by developers and designers     so no marketing or product people telling you how the image carousel should work.  * Gym in building, free food, sweet benefits, whatever computer you want, more    money than your last job, equity, etc.  * Live in New York, where a new restaurant is born every 1.5 seconds!
A little about the dev team:

  * Seven people total: five backend, one front-end/design, and one TOTALLY    SICK intern.  * Independently led projects.  * We iterate quickly and push code to production constantly.    We're not afraid to put the "first draft" of a feature in production    to see how it behaves in the wild before perfecting it.  * Projects and priorities are determined communally (usually over burritos).  * Ruby on Rails via Heroku + Sass, Compass, jQuery, Git, and more!
More about the positions:

Are you a boss front-end developer with an eye for design? Hit us up. A bomb iOS developer who wants to build the Rap Genius iPhone app from the ground up? An experienced and creative full-stack Rails engineer? Weve been waiting for you. Send us your deets.

Interested? Hit us up at jobs@rapgenius.com with:

  * Your name an