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Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory of His Epic 3,990-Panel Comic wired.com
612 points by ghosh  3 days ago   91 comments top 18
eykanal 3 days ago 5 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 3 days ago 4 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm actually also interested in how he made it (drawing so much frames).
darasen 3 days 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.
joshaidan 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was sad when they lost the water bottle.
pearjuice 3 days ago 1 reply      
So any estimate on how long Randall was busy with this and what it earned him in then end?
laserDinosaur 3 days ago 5 replies      
As someone who is just hearing about this now, isn't this just an animation?
jvanderbot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why do they know what castles are without knowing if there are rivers?
pbreit 2 days ago 0 replies      
xkcd is incredible by why oh why is the title above the buttons?
AsymetricCom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not seeing at all how this is related to money.
Xerox scanners and photocopiers randomly alter numbers in scanned documents dkriesel.com
543 points by sxp  1 day ago   110 comments top 28
agl 1 day ago 2 replies      
This class of error is called (by me, at least) a "contoot" because, long ago, when I was writing the JBIG2 compressor for Google Books PDFs, the first example was on the contents page of book. The title, "Contents", was set in very heavy type which happened to be an unexpected edge case in the classifier and it matched the "o" with the "e" and "n" and output "Contoots".

The classifier was adjusted and these errors mostly went away. It certainly seems that Xerox have configured things incorrectly here.

Also, with Google Books, we held the hi-res original images. It's not like the PDF downloads were copies of record. We could also tweak the classification and regenerate all the PDFs from the originals.

For a scanner, I don't think that symbol compression should be used at all for this reason. For a single page, JBIG2 generic region encoding is generally just as good as symbol compression.

More than you want to know about this topic can be found here: https://www.imperialviolet.org/binary/google-books-pdf.pdf

linohh 1 day ago 3 replies      
This was predictable. JBIG2 is in no way secure for document processing, archiving or whatsoever. The image is sliced into small areas and a probabilistic matcher finds other areas that are similar. This way similar areas only have to be stored once.

Yeah right, you get it, don't you? They are similar, not equal. Whenever there's a probability less than 1, there's a complementary event with a probability larger than 0.

I wonder which prize idiot had the idea of using this algorithm in a copier. JBIG2 can only be used where mistakes won't mean the world is going to end. A photocopier is expected to copy. If the machines were used for digital document archiving, some companies will face a lot of trouble when the next tax audit is due.

Digital archives using this kind of lossy compression are not only worthless, they are dangerous. As the paper trail is usually shredded after successful redundant storage of the images, there will be no way of determining correctness of archived data.

This will make lawsuits a lot of fun in the future.

nsxwolf 1 day ago 2 replies      
Truly surprising. I would never have imagined this to be in the domain of possible problems one would expect to encounter scanning or photocopying a document.

It is like taking a picture of my wife with a digital camera and her face being replaced with that of some other person.

harrytuttle 1 day ago 1 reply      
This should be on the computer risks digest.

There is virtually no reason whatsoever for this problem to exist. This is the domain of "making a problem more risky and complicated than it needs to be" and royally screwing people in the process.

Might as well throw the paperwork in a bin and set fire to it.

scrumper 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't think it's necessarily an issue of inexcusable incompetence: it seems like one of those faults which is obvious in retrospect but very difficult to predict. Why shouldn't Xerox use a standard compression algorithm in their scanner/copiers? That would seem to be a safer choice than writing a lossy compression algorithm from scratch. QA testing probably was on the order of 'picture looks right'; after all, why bother testing that the semantics of the copied content match the original when what you're building is a bitmap duplicator? (Of course, the OCR stuff would be tested more rigorously, but this explicitly bypasses that piece). It's not hard to see the chain of individually reasonable decisions that could lead to something like this.

The real failure is probably something more cultural: there was nobody with the discipline, experience, and power to write an engineering policy prohibiting the use of lossy compression in duplication equipment. I have no idea about Xerox's corporate history, but the evisceration of engineering departments in US giants and the concomitant decline in what one might call 'standards' or 'rigor' is an established concept.

ElliotH 1 day ago 6 replies      
I can't quite see the reason why you would lossily compress something when your machine's purpose is to duplicate things.

Anyone got a reasonable reason for doing this?

lifeformed 1 day ago 1 reply      
Geeze. This could result in some catastrophic errors. An order for 900 servers instead of 200. $7M loss instead of $1M in your quarterly earnings. Pricing your product at $3 instead of $8. Makes you realize you need some redundancy and double-checks for important communications.
hga 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ack! Looks like overclever compression in a domain where it's not always desired, let alone required.

I spent half a decade on document imaging in the early to mid '90s, a fair amount close to this level (had a coworker who loved bit level stuff for the truly evil problems like this), and I can see how it happened ... given sufficiently careless developers.

micheljansen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ouch, imagine this happens in a hospital with a prescription or something. It could really have some serious implications.
ChuckMcM 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the challenges of JBIG2 it seems one should be able to construct a 'test' page which, when scanned, will test the algorithm's accuracy.

Once you have that, you can turn it into a sales too for folks selling Multi-function Printers such that there are "good" printers and "bad" printers, and then everyone will be forced to pass the test or be labeled a 'bad' printer.

wahnfrieden 1 day ago 2 replies      
Cached copy, which is missing the updated content: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Awww.d...
noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's one hell of an error. It is literally better for these machines never to have existed at all.
D9u 1 day ago 1 reply      
My first thought was, "I wonder if this has anything to do with copy protections related to anti counterfeiting?"

Not that I have any valid reasons to consider this.

raphman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Just an update: the author states on Twitter that he already had notified Xerox a week ago [1]. Apparently, Xerox has only now contacted him because they thought it was a joke [2] ...

[1] https://twitter.com/davidkriesel/status/364345036407709697

[2] https://twitter.com/davidkriesel/status/364329334300880896

uptown 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reminded me of this:

"Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa0akU8bsOQ

gmac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, how terrifically and fundamentally negligent. Let's hope nobody dies the potential hazards seem almost endless.
NamTaf 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Do we know the scope of likely affected printers? The company I work at runs a whole heap (~80) of WorkCentre 3220, 4150 and 4250s, as well as ApeosPorts, etc.

I shudder to think how much we've scanned that could be affected by this. Thankfully, I think all of our engineering drawings (which for a decade+ were printed, signed, then scanned when needed for digital issue) were done on a non-xerox device, but all of our standard A3/A4 business stuff is done on Xerox devices.

model-m 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I were a sentient network and wanted to cause panic among the humans, as a prelude to full-blown warfare, this is how I'd start. Let's send all those Xerox copiers to Guantanamo, they are obviously terrorists.
randomfool 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a massive error- on the order of Intel's FDIV bug.
praptak 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Your honour, my computer was hacked. Oh, you don't believe that? Well then, I used a Xerox copier!
tingletech 1 day ago 0 replies      
Humm, I use one of these to create PDFs of reciepts to attach to my exense reports.
w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. I cannot imagine how much chaos this could cause.
yew 1 day ago 1 reply      
Minor correction: The article says that the JBIG2 patch size might be the size of the scanned text. JBIG2 actually has the capability to detect regions of text and compress them using a specialized technique that operates on individual symbols.

I suspect Xerox is using this option and their implementation is getting confused (perhaps by the low resolution). Unless I'm greatly mistaken, the patch size for normal compression shouldn't figure here.

Too 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Now to the important question: How can i easily assert that my scanner, or the next scanner i buy, does not have the same issue?
tudorconstantin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now that's a bug I wouldn't like being responsible for
tehwalrus 14 hours ago 0 replies      
TIFF with lossless compression all the way. followed up with OCR if necessary.
Canada 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's what you get when you use lossy compression, and it's hardly a problem unique to Xerox scanners. Maybe important documents should be scanned to a higher resolution so you don't have problems like this.
mjlangiii 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Has anyone recreated this issue? I haven't been able to.
U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans chicagotribune.com
509 points by wikiburner  13 hours ago   245 comments top 30
zeteo 12 hours ago 8 replies      
Secrecy in law enforcement is contagious precisely because it makes things so much easier. Kafka's "Trial" was a nightmare for the accused, but think how convenient it is for the authorities to not publicize charges or sentencing and to do everything on their most expedient schedule. As soon as it was decided that accusations of "terrorism" could be treated this way, the seed was sown. The programs and procedures developed by the "anti-terrorist" agencies will be readily used and copied by any other branches of law enforcement that have the ability to do so; this case is a prime example. So, if you thought Orwell was scary, say hello to Kafka now.
beedogs 13 hours ago 4 replies      
After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as "parallel construction."

Jesus fucking Christ. They were lying to prosecutors to get charges pressed against people.

gnosis 12 hours ago 1 reply      

  First they came for the communists,  and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.  Then they came for the trade unionists,  and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews,  and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.  Then they came for me,  and there was no one left to speak for me.

neilk 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Just a couple of days ago somebody on HN speculated this was happening, and I dismissed it as paranoia. Surely nobody is going to risk revealing the existence of a universal surveillance program over a few drug convictions, right? Twenty-eight of you agreed with me. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6134821

I give up. Apparently no speculation is out of bounds any more. If someone says it's all due to Nazi reptoids, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

declan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a far bigger story than PRISM or XKEYSCORE. Both described databases compiled through known processes (FAA orders and fiber taps) and used for terrorism and foreign intelligence investigations -- not domestic criminal investigations.

The Reuters report today shows significant abuse of intelligence intercepts that should make all of us angry.

The NSA has been allowed to assemble its vast intelligence-gathering apparatus on the theory that terrorists and foreign spies do not have Fourth Amendment rights, and the executive's power to conduct surveillance is at its height when non-Americans are the focus. Now we've learned that the Feds have engaged in a bait and switch maneuver: databases are collected on the "terror spies" pretext, and then they're used for domestic criminal prosecutions. This is very dangerous.

It also shows that the Supreme Court justices who blessed the NSA's FAA intercepts in February 2013 were fare too optimistic. They said if the Feds used NSA intercepts to bring domestic criminal prosecutions, they "would be required to make a disclosure":http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1025_ihdj.pdf

FYI here's my article from last month on how the DEA's Special Operations Division, cited in today's Reuters piece, does e-mail wiretaps:http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57593538-38/how-the-u.s-fo...

falk 13 hours ago 2 replies      
After hearing all of this stuff, I feel like the television show The Wire was either way ahead of its time or had really great law enforcement consultants. I'm leaning toward the latter.
agilebyte 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Greenwald now discussing it live here: http://www.democracynow.org/

Edit 1: Has ended, will post a link when in archive.

Edit 2: The interview starts at 18:00 and a direct link to the MP4 file is http://dncdn.dvlabs.com/ipod/dn2013-0805.mp4

Edit 3: Starting 43:15 pertains to DEA SOD

jusben1369 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Imagine if you were listening in to communications on US citizens as part of an NSA program and you came across what appeared to be the distinct planning of a murder - one that had nothing to do with National Security now or in the future. What do you do? This is part of the interesting range of unexpected consequences when you stretch boundaries.
flurie 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."

This implicit double standard plays a role in allowing this kind of thing to happen. I wonder when we'll start revaluating it?

john_b 11 hours ago 1 reply      
> "As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don't worry that SOD's involvement will be exposed in court. That's because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement."

This is interesting, as it's basically an admission that Aaron Swartz-style prosecutorial bullying is not limited to just computer-related cases.

w_t_payne 10 hours ago 1 reply      
In light of the "Three Felonies a day" phenomenon, and given the sweeping nature of the surveillance, it seems likely that the number of cases that are prosecuted represents only a small fraction of the number of potential cases that could possibly be taken to trial.

This gives the criminal justice system considerable latitude to select and prioritise certain cases over others.

How are these decisions made?

Can we be sure that political considerations and/or racial / sexual / gender biases, (conscious or unconscious) do not play a role in the decision making process?

ojbyrne 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's hoping that everyone who was convicted via this method gets their sentences overturned, because that's about the only way this will stop.
mtgx 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is exactly the nightmare scenario we were fearing - and lo and behold, it has already happened: using mass spying data of the NSA to launch fishing expeditions against Americans, and find them guilty of crimes.

You could say "yeah but that data can't be used in Court!". But they can very trivially skirt around that. They don't have to use that data. They just need to use some of that data to show a judge "probable cause" - and BAM: now they have a warrant to legally get access to anyone's data, and that data they can use.

But in practice such process by the authorities makes the "limit" of a warrant essentially useless. The warrant just becomes an extra beaurocratic step that they have to take, but doesn't represent a limit on who they can investigate and how anymore.

uptown 13 hours ago 0 replies      
LoganCale 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Why did both the headline and the source article on this get changed? It was initially a link to Yahoo News and is now the Chicago Tribune.
lubujackson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There needs to be a phrase for that moment when the wholesale discarding of the law is so accepted within a government agency that it ends up embedded in a tutorial Powerpoint slide, which eventually gets leaked to the press and (hopefully) implodes the whole practice.

"PPTerrorism"? "PowerPointillism?"

Or maybe a wonderful German composite word.

alphadenied 13 hours ago 1 reply      
A government that hides its actions is a government that is overstepping its bounds and needs to be slapped around a bit. I think we're decades behind in the slapping around department.

Make everyone a criminal and spy on everyone so you can control them and scared them to death. What a wonderful way to run the "land of the free"

I bet most people thought the spying was for terrorists.

coldcode 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The next agency I expect to hear about ... the IRS starts using this kind of data.
georgecmu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Off-topic, but still interesting in context of social networks as a leakage vector:

Since its inception, the SOD's mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit's annual budget. A recent _LinkedIn_ posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.

mpyne 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Hadn't heard of this 'parallel construction' stuff before, and will have to reserve judgment for now... but telling agents and investigators that they can't so much as mention the provenance of the info to the prosecutors or the court is rather beyond the pale.
mb0 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Something tells me we will soon learn that the judicial branch purposely creates loopholes for the executive branch to exploit.
hughdbrown 12 hours ago 3 replies      
So suppose this is true:

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. "You'd be told only, Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said.

How do you square that with the claim that the NSA is tracking only metadata? I'd say you need the phone call contents to know where to stop a particular truck.

splrb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Mind blowing lack of sense of right and wrong from govt agents who think laundering the trail of their investigation is the right thing to do. We really are living in post-constitutional USA.
gyepi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. "You'd be told only, Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.' And so we'd alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it," the agent said.

I live near a section of a federal highway that is well known to be used for transporting drugs from New York to Vermont. For the past few years, I've been struck by the number of arrests that always seemed to start with a traffic stop. Given the daily traffic volume of 60-25K vehicles per day, I had always wondered how the relatively few officers covering a wide area could be so effective.

northwest 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The next question: How come with all this, the cartels continue to exist?
dendory 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've thought about writing a program that would randomly send search queries to Google, Facebook, etc for specific keywords like pressure cooker, drug, bomb, etc. Just overwhelm them with traffic.
joshfraser 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I was excited to see this story being broken by Reuters instead of the Guardian. The US press have been sleeping on the job, but this article gives me hope. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that the Guardian have been openly bragging about the amount of traffic they've gotten from covering the NSA scandal.
btipling 12 hours ago 5 replies      
The data-mining aspect could be troubling depending on the details, but the parallel construction isn't. They're not planting the drugs on the suspects when they stop stop them. But the hysteria here is thick so one can't even begin to have a reasonable discourse in this comment thread. The paranoid one-sidedness of the discussion is mind boggling.

Look at these downvotes for disagreements. There's nothing I've said that warrants the downvotes.

osth 7 hours ago 0 replies      

lynx -dump http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_tra... |sed '/The right of the people to be secure/,/be seized./s/ \[ Redacted \]/'

Canada 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What a shock!
Mailpile: Lets take email back mailpile.is
497 points by threedaymonk  2 days ago   231 comments top 40
nhangen 2 days ago 15 replies      
I'm in the crowdfunding business, so I feel strange saying this, but I'm really turned off by this model of 'pay us in advance for developing a product that hasn't been market tested or validated,' especially when asking for a sum as large as is $100,000.

What happened to building something and selling it?

According to the campaign page, the need is so great because:

"We're asking for a lot of money, so of course you should know why. $100.000 means paying two people $4166 a month for a year, including all taxes, insurance and other fees."

I suppose people get what they pay for, but I find it insulting to ask me to pay your salary for a year so that you can avoid risk.

If you were truly concerned about online privacy, you'd build it anyway. So is privacy the mission, or the pitch?

rpdillon 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is exactly what I've been looking for! It seems the product is aimed at technical users (at least initially), though there are some technical details I didn't see in the video, description or FAQ:

- This is an MUA, correct? Based on the features on the project page, it sounds like MailPile will not act as an MTA or MDA, and is predominantly interfacing with mbox/maildir. I see features for IMAP and POP3 on the roadmap, but its not clear if using those protocols is idiomatic for MailPile.

- How is PGP/GPG handled? The server-side code for MailPile must have access to my secret key, correct? Is MailPile's web interface then accessible via HTTPS (given the proper cert)?

- Is there a plan for a key management interface?

- It sounds like the MUA itself (MailPile) is a server, and it would access maildir/mbox directly. Is there any API planned for accessing that data through MailPile's programatically, or is MailPile's main goal to provide a browser interface?

- This might have been covered, but will the web interface support mobile as well?

Thanks for working on this...it really sounds like a great project!

moxie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's why I want something like Mailpile:

Right now, every single email I receive is encrypted. I have my public GPG key on my mail server, and every incoming email that's not already encrypted is encrypted using that public key. That way if the anyone compels my VPS provider for access, they just get a bunch of encrypted email.

So my problem isn't receiving or encrypting email, it's reading it. The only real option I have right now is Thunderbird, which isn't great, and is no longer under development. Mailpile doesn't look like a mail service to me, it looks like a browser-based but locally-hosted MUA, which might be the remedy to Thunderbird that we need.

marquis 2 days ago 4 replies      
I applaud these goals however if we were to ever consider moving from Google Apps (which we would) it would only be for an open source project given that privacy is becoming the more critical issue as the years go on. It would be great to see a subscription based email service such as this where the source is fully available for scrutinizing and patching.

Edit: Great, so the source is already available.

rufugee 2 days ago 2 replies      
I just switched back to Zimbra (also open source) after years with Google Apps. It's been a spectacular experience so far, and it's nice to have email fell like email again (not to mention being in full control).. It has everything I need: a rich web client, good smartphone phone support, good spam filtering, and a good community.
sorbits 2 days ago 1 reply      
They talk about privacy, but MTAs like Postfix can already encrypt mail via TLS when moving it to another host. GPG gives us a better guarantee, but more user overhead, and unreadable by many recipients.

Additionally SPF gives us a way to check if the sender address has been forged. GPG signing is more robust, but again, more user overhead.

Not to mention, I already have S/MIME support in my mail application and can get GPG support via a plug-in, but I use neither, because few recipients can handle it.

So what is new with Mailpile? What is it supposed to change?

In my opinion, if the goal is to make email more secure, we should look into ensuring that all MTAs is setup to support TLS and use it when delivering mail to other hosts (AFAIK Exim4 only announces STARTTLS when connecting to its submission port).

Getting SPF records setup would also be a plus.

This would go a long way in making email more secure, and only requires action from administrators of mail domains.


HerraBRE 2 days ago 13 replies      
Bjarni here, lead dev. Happy to answer any questions.
johnchristopher 2 days ago 0 replies      

Thumbnails shouldn't be high-res pictures that actually are scaled to stamp proportions. It's slow to appear on poor connection and for a moment I thought there were no screenshots and just words like "compose". And it slows down my poor 2nd gen asus notebook.

petercooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Weird that the description of what it actually is is below the fold :-) However: Mailpile is a modern web-mail you run on your own computer.
joshguthrie 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't get it, how is it better than RoundCube[0], Horde[1] or any other webmail clients? Out of the six "reasons", three of them are already there in the wild (privacy, self-host and no ads), I'm pretty sure two more can be found/coded (search & encryption) and the last one (speed) is completely subjective to one's usage.

I mean seriously, what's the appeal to paying for Mailpile when I could just use an open-source webmail client on my server? (Which I will by the way, thanks for the idea)

0: http://roundcube.net/

1: http://www.horde.org/apps/imp

PS: Here are more: http://www.noupe.com/ajax/10-ajax-webmail-clients.html

ghshephard 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like the concept - but it's missing a discussion of how they handle what I consider to be (by a pretty large factor) one of the most important feature in email - Anti-Spam.

Gmail (which I'm not suggesting is an ideal, just what I happen to use) doesn't even bother to show me my spam folder - and, in the last week, it's redirected 1178 messages there.

vickytnz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Urrgh, if you're going to ask for money, at least ensure you use 'its' correctly on the fundraising button (i.e. it should be 'reach its fundraising goal'. I really wish everyone would read the Oatmeal piece on apostrophes http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe
jeffbr13 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm super-happy that someone is at last trying to build a self-hosted competitor to Gmail.

Sure, I can set up my own mailserver already, but the amount of effort it takes is too much compared to just setting up a Gmail account. If they can get set-up and spam-protection right, then this could be huge!

srid68 2 days ago 2 replies      
It is very good you are attacking this problem, but is this the right way to attack the email problem?

According to Paul Graham frightening startup ideas http://www.paulgraham.com/ambitious.html, email is a bad ToDo list, How are you going to implement a better Todo list?

I have created a alpha prototype which attacks these problems conceptually, namely, Message Classification, Message Sharing, Bidirectional Messaging, Pull Messaging, Sender Revocation, Message Expiry, Centralized Attachment etc as a Mobile App but approached this as a separate todo protocol using the Push Messaging Infrastructure.

You can download the working app from Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=priya.pullgrid... and can see a website created http://www.pullworld.com Undocumented - You can download the Frontend App Html Source - Have not even shared in HN as Show HN because it is incomplete in documentation). The purpose of the Prototype is just as a proof of concept and not really to solve the email problem.

I would love to share my knowledge/architecture if you are interested, so that you can really attack this problem as envisaged by pg and since you are planning to do it open source and with email, would love to contribute if you are thinking of mobile in the future using Html/OpenGL based client.

jokull 2 days ago 0 replies      
This project has roots at least some years back, so its not starting from scratch with lofty ideas that are unlikely to come to fruition. Solid team with a great ideology!
beachstartup 2 days ago 0 replies      
if you need free site hosting PM me. i run an infrastructure company and are looking to support open source projects (we rely heavily upon open source).
daurnimator 1 day ago 0 replies      

    Mailpile stores in RAM about 180 bytes of metadata per message (actual size depends largely on the size of various headers), but Python overhead brings that to about 250B. This means handling a million messages should consume about 250MB of RAM - not too bad if you consider how much memory your browser (or desktop e-mail client) eats up.
Totally killed my interest, I want to run this on a small server (e.g. NAS), for everyone in my family

didip 2 days ago 0 replies      
It uses CGI eh? Old school, I like it!

* It's a bit hard to find where the HTML/JS templates are. I think that's important for folks who are good at design and willing to help the project.

* search.py, looks like it stores indexes in memory, is that correct? Will it work if I run multiple instances of httpd?

tebeka 2 days ago 2 replies      
Two things:1. IMO sup (http://supmua.org/) is more mature and does about the same. However it's interface is a curses based one which is a plus and a minus.2. Why not use an existing search products (like xapian)?
TomAnthony 2 days ago 2 replies      
This looks great!

I have a couple of questions:

- Any plans for a plugin/extension system?

- Are there any screenshots of the interface anywhere?

Thanks! : )

chrischen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure what responsive framework you're using, but the layout doesn't look good and the logo is messed up on mobile browsers.
AxisOfEval 2 days ago 2 replies      
Noble goals. With all the NSA action, this is something whose time has come. Where do I donate?
znowi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very timely. Might be a viable alternative to NSA's Gmail.

The tech lead is from the Empire though - an ex-Googler - not exactly a privacy caring company :) Maybe that's why he left :)

Bjoern 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is wrong with e.g. Dovecot/Postfix + Roundcube ? How would this be any better? Is this intended to be a "close as possible" gmail clone?
tambourine_man 1 day ago 1 reply      
Site is barely readable on the iPhone:


VexXtreme 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how long until they put a NSA rootkit in it.
schabernakk 2 days ago 0 replies      
this looks awesome, lots of luck.

Am I understanding this correctly that this is basically a selfhosted imap/pop/smtp frontend?

I am curious how you guys would use it, i.e. where would you actually host your emails? Running your own mailserver on a vserver sounds fun and not to expensive but I don't know if I want to maintain something like that in the long run. If something breaks this just sounds like a lot of work.

You guys pay for mail hosting? Use the one that comes with your website domain?

weirdkid 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Zoe. http://zoe.sourceforge.net

Back in 2001 or 2002, I was following the progress of Zoe, what I thought to be a very promising new approach to email archives. It kept your email in mbox or eml files, used Lucene for indexing and search and then provided a web interface on an embedded web server.

The Zoe project is no longer active (the homepage is dead and the files are gone), but this MailPile sounds very much like it. Almost exactly like it. I hope it does better.

msvan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Its still decidedly aimed at techies though. I guess it'll be another few years before the benefits of a Free Software Gmail competitor will be accessible to the layman.
gcr 2 days ago 2 replies      
How is this any different from every other desktop mail client (eg. Thunderbird, Inky, Evolution, Notmuch, Sup, Mutt, ...)? What makes this better?
arcameron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi guys,

If you're interested in this, you might also want to check out:

https://echoplex.us (overview)https://chat.echoplex.us (in action)https://github.com/qq99/echoplexus (github)

Lead developer here, FYI

lnanek2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thumbnail images under the interface section are coming up broken.
ricardobeat 1 day ago 0 replies      
This project desperately needs a logo.
topherwhite 2 days ago 1 reply      
Should they succeed, let us hope that the mobile version of the webmail client will function better than the mobile version of your static site. Pretty unusable in MobileSafari.
oakaz 2 days ago 1 reply      
We all need to back this project to get rid of the monopoly of Google.
ivanbrussik 2 days ago 0 replies      
i like it, and im willing to pay $5. to make it happen
MrGando 2 days ago 0 replies      
Prime member... hope this project goes through.
mikaelf 2 days ago 1 reply      
You have got to get rid of that logo.
jccalhoun 2 days ago 1 reply      
Who are we taking it back from?
javascriptgod 2 days ago 1 reply      
not another shitty mail service
Hard drive hack provides root access, even after reinstall spritesmods.com
443 points by pd0wm  3 days ago   88 comments top 19
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
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
WestCoastJustin 3 days 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

lsc 3 days 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.

kabdib 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days ago 1 reply      
Installing linux on a hard drive never sounded impressive before.
quasque 3 days 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).

swang 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does a jellybean part just mean its very common?
gabriel34 3 days 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
batiste 3 days ago 3 replies      
The first hack read on hacker new I have seen for a long time.
brudgers 3 days 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.
yuhong 3 days 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.
wereHamster 3 days ago 3 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

0x0 3 days 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?
x0054 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is some hard core hacking! Love it! First, as others mentioned, this is why you should always encrypt your os drives. Second, it also got me thinking, how many other devices are open to this kind of attack. Like a network switch, perhaps? Say you buy 100 network switches, alter the firmware to call home and maybe even load a Linux instance, and then resell them on amazon, eBay, or even better, give a "good" cash deal to some local IT company. Then you just seat back and wait for your 100 bots to call home for their new business class Internet homes.
b0rsuk 3 days 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)
korethr 3 days 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.
vlr 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember Dejan Kalijevik from them nokia s/w. Is he talking of the same Dejan?
dnautics 3 days ago 0 replies      
what is that cortex-M3 chip doing? Did the NSA put it there?
Please let me know if I should stop developing apps for Google Products groups.google.com
386 points by anuaitt  17 hours ago   169 comments top 28
davidjgraph 16 hours ago 5 replies      
We developed a product specifically for Google Drive using their JavaScript client. We were hoping to make it commercial but had to abandon those plans due to 3 bugs that have been present since around the beginning of 2013.

Also, there's no open bug tracker. The developer relations people are very friendly, but when I ask where to report bugs I'm told "just tell me". So every 2 months I've reported the same 3 bugs in person and they get swallowed up and that's the last I hear about it until my next report.

The silly thing is that we were one of the showcased applications in Google I/O this year, for the Drive section. A number of Googlers came past and said "Wow, cool. Please, please commercialise this". The truth is, we can't and it's because of the bugs in Google's code (well, partly, the other problem is Drive has just been too unstable over the past 4 months, until there's 99.9% uptime for a year, we can't consider it).

Don't get me wrong, I love what Google are doing with their API stuff and the dev relations really go out of their way to help (specifically the Drive SDK team). But, as it stands, this isn't a platform I'm confident in building a critical business product on, currently.

EDIT : That last sentence is wrong. I'm confident to build a critical business product on it, I think it'll get there, I'm just not confident to charge money and have to support it, at this point in time.

sdfjkl 16 hours ago 9 replies      
If you build something on someone else's API, you can get fucked in a million ways. They might shut down the API (Google Reader), take away the functionality you relied on (Google Calendar), limit it (Twitter) or deprecate the version you're using, forcing you to do development work to keep working at the worst possible time for you (IOS). They might also decide that your product is very good and build a version of it themselves, using functions not available to you via the public API so that you cannot compete with it (Apple).

So before building something that relies on things entirely outside of your control, consider a few things and the effort it would take for each:

- Can you run it on something else (S3 is a good example - there are several API-compatible competitors)- Can you replace the service you're relying on with one of your own (e.g. building your own Google Reader sync API)

Then decide if it isn't worth building the whole thing yourself. Heck, you might even want to put an API on it yourself. Feel the power? :)

Oh, and never, ever rely on someone else doing authentication for you. It's just too easy to get your entire userbase taken away from you.

nikcub 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Google are terrible at developer support, but I think it is fair to say that they didn't foresee anybody using the Tasks API in this way, where you are proxying for all your users.

Keep persisting, but as a temporary measure I would prompt your users to provide you with their own API key. Lots of apps do this (such as CMS plugins). You can give them a link to the API portal and explain in 2-3 points how to generate a key and paste it back in your app.

Also, your app is in debug mode, so errors are showing a complete stack trace. Your database is also down right now.

vog 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The problems with Google start at the very basics of communication, with their policy of providing just one email adress (and nothing else) where you may or may not get an answer, effectively handling incoming requests more like petitions than providing real communication.

This is in constrast to many other big companies where you get at least some reply (although it's often canned and not very helpful, but still more than a generic auto reply), or where you can call a more or less expensive hotline, so you can at least pay them for hearing your voice.

This behaviour of Google is so restrictive that it even violates consumer protection laws in some countries. For example, here in Germany they got into trouble because they violated the so-called "Impressumspflicht". This law requests that they have to provide (among others) at least one postal address and one telephone number on their website, and that they can actually be contacted by those, in 60 minutes or less.



mikeknoop 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I put in an API quota bump for Google Calendar a few months back and it was silently accepted after 2-3 days.

Based on my experience, each team individually deals with quotas for their API. Google Tasks is not really a dedicated product so it probably has little to no permanent team behind it. This is probably the cause for the slow response time on quota requests.

Luit 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps slightly off-topic: The name, GmailSharedTasks, doesn't look like one that Google's legal department would agree with. Your brand/product name incorporates a Google trademark. It might have been better to call it "SharedTasks for Google Tasks" or "SharedTasks for Gmail".

See "I'm a developer and used Google's developer products/tools to create a new product. Can I use the Google name?" on http://www.google.com/permissions/faq.html

pyalot2 15 hours ago 1 reply      
You should stop developing apps for Google
foobarbazqux 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If you work on something for 3-4 months, that's $30-40K at valley rates. To do this for free with the intention to enhance the product offering of a megacorp basically sends the message that you don't value your time. Of course said megacorp is not going to give you the time of day. They start to pay attention when the dollar value of your account is large enough. Start charging for your app. Then you can say, "I want to make us both some more money, could you please help me?"
ew 17 hours ago 3 replies      
We also receive very little love from Google. They are notorious for not helping developers, which is tragic.
nathanb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just another example of Google not caring a single solitary iota about developers who volunteer their time to improve their products and bring value to their platform and ecosystem. Digital sharecroppers, etc.

It's a tragedy. He doesn't want to spend the time to build his own platform, and Google won't enable him to develop effectively for theirs.

Google are tarnishing their brand, eroding their user base, and compromising their platform, all in the name of what? Avoiding the inefficiency of dedicated support for a global brand?

kishor_gurtu 16 hours ago 1 reply      
You're probably better off creating a product for a more professionally managed marketplace - like the Office365 marketplace - http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/fp179924.aspx.

This lets you develop apps on Exchange (similar to your tasks app). See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj220499(EXCHG.80).a... and http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/office/Exchange-2013-Create-t...

Office365 customers (all of them are paying customers) who find it useful can install the app on their accounts. You don't have to stuggle with PayPal issues as Microsoft will pay you through the marketplace account after charging the customers.

Office365 support is excellent as well (they even do phone support). No need to chase anyone on Google+.

(I'm not shilling for Microsoft. I have no financial interests here).

erikb 17 hours ago 2 replies      
This is so tragic but basically verifies my own experiences with Google. If you are not a paying customer, they don't listen to you. Even if you do something that is more to their advantage then to yours. Maybe some paying customers who use gmailsharedtasks could direct their Google support to the thread.
jpalomaki 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling that Google is not very eager on having 3rd party applications running on their "free" (ad supported) platform. One reason could be that while these are useful for customers, they are not really bringing in any money for Google. Obviously good 3rd party apps would certainly help people to stick with Google services but they seem to be doing that anyways.

One drawback in having people build their apps on top of you platform is that then you are stuck with the way things are. If you have popular apps depending on the current task system, you can't just take it away or move it to Google+ (or you can, but then you get lots of whining).

iwantatophat 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Developed an app for Android and placed it on Android market. It had 5000 users after a week and then it got removed without notice, no email, no reason why, no nothing. First and last time I do anything with Google, malicious company not only for that reason but for many other.
ilaksh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no reason for a platform to be controlled by a single company. If we need a common platform like gmail then it should be open source. I think we really need to push for open source shared platforms and make sure they aren't controlled by a single company. I think that means that engineering leadership in separate companies have to work together. The easiest place to do that under the radar is probably my github.

One missing piece if the puzzle that is really going to make this idea if a shared platform across companies is moving to encrypted data oriented networking instead of server based networking. Not only does that model make vastly more sense in terms of the real topology of internet use now with data being propagated to leaf nodes, but there are also very strong reasons to move to distributed encrypted computing for privacy and economic reasons. A server based internet means server based web apps which is going to continue to result in due facto platforms created by individual companies.

alex_doom 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't Google have a way of paying for more usage of the API? I know the Maps Geolocation API does. Maybe I'm naive, but if you're using a free service of a mega-corp I would expect the customer service to be nil. Priority goes to the paying customers.
mataug 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Google's API documentation are generally abysmal. I have learnt not to spend too much time on the docs but rather look at the samples and source code. But there are times like when beta testing the APIs when there are no samples / source code and you mostly sitting ducks unless someone from google helps you out.
anuaitt 15 hours ago 2 replies      
If anyone in Google is reading this please don't mistake me, I know Google is a innovative company and through this post I don't want to give any negative impression about Google.

I want Gmail Tasks to be world recognized and people to use it more frequently. I see that there are very less standalone apps developed for Tasks, this is a small effort by me to make Google Tasks better and more usable.

If you find value in what I am doing and see it innovative enough, please help.

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to build an app on google.

aliafshar 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That's poor, I'm sorry.

The quota request was denied, but we (Google) failed to communicate the decision properly / at all. Sorry about that.

alan_cx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are genuinely asking that question I suspect you already have the answer.
EugeneOZ 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why all these users who love so much that app can't just pay $3-$5 monthly to help this app survive?
AliAdams 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I think Google has such a strong consumer following now that it isn't as interested in keeping the developers happy. We were early adopters so got a good amount of attention at the start but that certainly seems to have waned with Google's popularity.
itsbits 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh if its for commercial purpose please stop developing Apps for Google. Usage will increase for a certain period of time, and then it drops constantly...
oakaz 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Google is terrible at support in general. I've been reporting a blogspot website stealing my documents and impersonating me for making money by ads for over two years. I sent my passport two times, and some friends also sent a report for me. Result? not even a verification e-mail. They simply host website that attacks my intellectual property, my name and give me no piece of shit.
zszugyi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Comment of the day:"If you cannot increase his quota, at least give him a job...".Right, because hiring someone is probably much easier than changing a number in some database.
hrush 11 hours ago 0 replies      
OGC 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it very hard to believe that a bunch of random people find the time to comment (and all praise that app) on a Google Groups thread. Calling bullshit.
Klarifier 9 hours ago 1 reply      

1.) You are clearly young and do not know: if there is something on the internet you do not like, go make it yourself. What obligation does Google have to do something for you? None! They are providing mostly free services, but if you don't like it (or the support), go make your own and quit bothering people (and Google).

2.) You have no relation to the GMail Web Application, yet you specify: "Founder GmailSharedTasks" Remove the Gmail from your description and build out your solution without trying to get a free ride.

3.) Your Google Groups post can be summed up: "Cry! I'm not getting any attention for my pet project!" Instead of crying, create your own solution that does not leave you at the mercy of a company or individual who sees you only as "1 of billions". Get over yourself.

4.) You know how to code, you know how to integrate with FREE APIs, now learn what it takes to run a business.

Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos washingtonpost.com
380 points by Volscio  5 hours ago   179 comments top 34
ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I think this is a bold move by Bezos. One of the interesting data points in the world of Journalism has been the transition of the New York Time from mostly paper to being mostly digital. Something Jeff is profoundly aware of.

Every morning while I eat my breakfast I download the Wall Street Journal and times to my iPad, and on the train to work scan them and this weeks Economist for interesting stories of the day, combined with this month's Scientific American, Smithsonian, and Science News.

If I could use Evernote with those "publications" on the iPad I could be very efficient in my collection of various inputs on news of the day. For now, I'm constrained to making notes to myself in my notebook.

To pull an interesting analogy here, Google sees everything through the lens of "You will be connected 100% of the time to the network." which is their future point that they are building systems around, sometimes today they seem ungainly or even useless when no network is available. Jeff (and Amazon) seems to see everything through the lens of "You will consume all of your media on a tablet like device." and building around the complete media experience there.

miles 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Few people were aware that a sale was in the works for the paper, whose reporters have broken such stories as the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandals and disclosures about the National Security Administrations surveillance program in May.

Claiming credit for the NSA story seems disingenuous at best, especially given their antagonism towards Snowden:




EDIT: While acknowledging the WaPo's significant contributions in the early 70s, it seems like they lost their way somewhere along the line:

Washington Post Kills Account of Its Failures in Iraq Reporting and Runs a Defense Insteadhttp://gawker.com/5992158/washington-post-kills-account-of-i...

epistasis 5 hours ago 2 replies      
>There would be change with or without new ownership. But the key thing I hope people will take away from this is that the values of The Post do not need changing. The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.

The Washington Post is an important institution for the USA, and comments like this make it seem that Bezos will be a good steward. I hope, and am fairly certain, that this is a good thing for everyone involved.

guard-of-terra 4 hours ago 0 replies      
- Mr. Bezos, we've bought Washington Post as you ordered.

- Good. I hope it's a fresh issue?

- ...issue!?

aridiculous 5 hours ago 7 replies      
Looks like Bezos has a propaganda arm now.

I mean, sorry for the cynicism, but this is an obvious conflict of interest. Retail, distribution, infrastructure, and now politics & media.

The man can do what he wants but the public probably shouldn't applaud this.

tptacek 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I presume this means he hasn't bought the WaPo company, and thus not other assets like Slate.
badclient 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The first is the courage to say wait, be sure, slow down, get another source. Real people and their reputations, livelihoods and families are at stake.

A 1000 times. At least it won't turn into the next PandoDaily(and its BeachMint fiasco).

josh2600 5 hours ago 2 replies      
How does this mesh with his investment in Business Insider?

Is Jeff pursuing a content strategy? Washington Post for investigation and Business Insider for Biz news would be great.

Personally I'd rather have Jeff Bezos than Rupert Murdoch, but maybe that's just me...

rgbrgb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Of all of the big Tech companies to have deep ties with a national news source, Amazon seems like a decent fit. They were one of the first retailers to allow negative reviews on their site and have a culture that allows employees to make decisions that prioritize long term thinking over short term profits ("willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time"[1]). This type of thinking is really important in an often buzzy industry that relies on advertising for revenue.

[1]: http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2013/01/jeff-bezos-on-leading-...

anigbrowl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great. Now it will be delivered in a 6 cubic foot box.
larrys 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Announced after market close. Expecting NYT stock to rise quite a bit.

I was surprised when Jack Welsh (x GE) wanted to buy the Boston Globe (he backed out). He realized the the shine was one of the past. It's interesting that Bezos sees value here but I think the value is in the same sense taking a small part of his billions and buying something that is a legend. (After all rich people buy art and other trinkets because they can so why not a newspaper?).

cpr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The WaPo is just a prominent member of what Joe Sobran so elegantly called "the Hive"--people who all think pretty much alike ("enlightened liberalism", in their own minds), know only other members of the Hive, and only read each other. (The NYT being the other major member.)

And nothing will change.

minimaxir 5 hours ago 6 replies      
To put things into perspective, the $250M purchase price is lower than the purchase price of The Huffington Post at $315M.


Kurtz79 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Lots of cynicism around here.

Nobody is saying that Bezos will be a steward of good journalism (I can't see him doing much worse as the head of a major news medium than Rupert Murdoch, though) and has reasons to buy the paper that go beyond, ultimately, making more money.

But from a technology enthusiast standpoint, it can't be denied that the guy has a amazing track record of innovating the sectors he has been involved in, and personally I'm curious to see how he will tackle this one.

The main takeaway from the story, in my opinion, is seeing a steady trend of the "new" technology companies trying to get in a position of influence, like Facebook interested in getting into politics, Google having already plenty of lobbying/funding activities, and now Amazon getting its own paper...

salemh 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Warren Buffet has always gobbled up a large chunk of newspapers (albeit not directly as an individual (ala Bezos), rather, through Berkshire Hathaway):http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-13/buffett-poised-to-a...

Buffett, 81, has been expanding Berkshires media operations in the past year as he wagers that publications focused on local communities can withstand the shift of readers and advertisers to the Internet. The billionaires firm bought the publisher of his hometown paper, the Omaha World-Herald Co., in December, and acquired 63 daily and weekly newspapers from Media General Inc. (MEG) for $142 million last month.

Local papers vs something larger like WaPo.

And note:While Buffetts firm holds the largest stake in Washington Post Co. (WPO) and has shares of Gannett Co., he said Berkshire is less likely to make more stock market investments in the industry.

pla3rhat3r 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone believe or trust in the American propaganda machine (i.e. mainstream media)? We live in a world of stories that seem to be in a perpetual loop. When we eliminate news for the sake of ratings or the number of papers/magazines sold, then we return to a time when the media will resume reporting on things that matter. The "news" in the US is a dumbed down version of TMZ and that's being nice.
Eliezer 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's all hope that this day we have witnessed the birth of the anti-Murdoch.
patmcguire 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this in the category of buying sports teams, or does he expect to make money off of it?
psbp 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if this is good news. Doesn't this portend further monopolistic control over publishing and distribution? Amazon isn't known to fairly and openly distribute its content.
blackaspen 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't see anyone majorly naysaying this move, but in case anyone does, remember that Jeff is smart. Very, very smart. I've heard him referenced to as "a hyper-intelligent alien who has only a tangential in human affairs" before. AMZN represents a bit of this.

My money's on Jeff - he's got something up his sleeve here.

lifeisstillgood 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is not a power grab - this is the natural effect of gravity - the last twenty years saw an almost cataclismlc shift in strategic leverage from non-Internet to Internet businesses, and now all that cash is exerting its pull - and power is sliding over the table.

Just watch as the rest of the baby boomer generation die off and hand over their assets.

ferdo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that this signals that Bezos is going into the fish and chips business.
aaronbrethorst 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm kind of surprised, but this seems like the best possible direction for them. Sort of like Chris Hughes buying The New Republic, Bezos has the cash to give the Post breathing room to find a direction that will be profitable. And, ostensibly, he won't want to turn it into Buzzfeed.
squozzer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I will celebrate by watching "Citizen Kane."
tcpekin 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If Bezos integrates this with Amazon, how could this change the newspaper with respect to the Kindle and e-publishing? Could this change daily print media?
photorized 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am convinced one of his next moves is going to be brick and mortar. He has already tested the concept of free showrooms for Amazon via the likes of Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, etc - so it's only natural to move back to the physical world.
mehmehshoe 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile the Koch brothers want to buy the LA times...I will grab my popcorn and wait for the hilarity.
serverascode 4 hours ago 0 replies      
For some reason this blows my mind. Man, it would be so cool to own the paper that paid the guys that broke Watergate. But it seems so...weird that it would be Bezos. I'd love to see the first meeting.
adventured 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a bit surprised Buffett didn't make a play for that asset, particularly given his recent expeditions in buying more newspapers. Perhaps he regards Bezos as a better long term steward given the age difference. At the least Buffett had to give his blessing to this deal, and absolutely knew about it and chose not to outbid Bezos.
crashoverdrive 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Bezos goal may be to force users to more digital media. Amazon has been trying to push its publications by forcing book print companies out of the market, by cornering newspapers as well, Amazon could make it self the centralized location for e-media.
rurban 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome to micromanagement to its extreme
zpk 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Another newspaper owned by a corporation. I'm sure this is going to end well.

Can't wait for it to become another CNBC infomercial.

kenshiro_o 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hope Bezos revamps the site's design. It's quite ugly.
HN is Becoming 2005 Slashdot
366 points by uuilly  1 day ago   239 comments top 68
pg 1 day ago 5 replies      
I realized a long time ago that indignation about political issues was for forums what bad currency is in Gresham's law. We actively compensate for that in various ways. Sometimes when an issue seems a genuinely big deal and/or of particular interest to hackers, we compensate less. It's always a judgment call. But don't worry, if HN declines through indignation about "issues," it won't be by default. We've fended that off for years, and I'm optimistic we'll continue to.
rayiner 1 day ago 5 replies      
As far as I can tell, this is the third major shift in the tone of the site. When it first started out there was a lot more technology discussion, but quickly the whole VC/fundraising aspect became very prominent. Recently, legal issues have become very prominent.

I think this reflects a real-world trend in what's relevant to "hackers" right now. The financial aspect of the whole technology industry really seemed to take off after the Wall Street meltdown, after other financial avenues darkened (remember all those articles a couple of years ago about "why we're in a bubble/are we in a bubble?"). Right now, a number of legal issues are impacting technology (software patents, NSA spying, etc) and hackers are unsurprisingly interested in discussing them.

I don't think these are necessarily bad trends. I think you're seeing a bit of the maturing of tech industry and you're seeing that reflected in the discussion. But there is still a lot of great technical discussion on the site (the front page right now has a great story on a scanner bug, a compilers blog post, a theorem-prover as programming language article, etc).

And at the end, what happened to Slashdot is that reddit happened and all the smart people left, and what happened to reddit is that Hacker News happened and all the smart people left. Until there is a credible alternative to HN, I think you'll still see a lot of signal, even if there is more noise than there used to be.

aaronbrethorst 1 day ago 6 replies      
I agree completely. I've been on HN for almost six years now (sidenote: wow!), and I'm in the top 40 users on the site by karma. And, despite the exhortations to not think that the site is becoming Reddit, the community is absolutely changing for the worse.

There are a few things that I've noticed that I never used to see:

* More politics. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a crazy flaming liberal, and I still don't want to see things like the Ayn Rand story that popped up earlier today, even though I agree with it. I have plenty of sites I can go to to get political news and discussion. I've traditionally liked the fact that HN isn't one of them.

* All Edward Snowden/NSA all the time. Yeah, ok, I get it. It's a big story and a big deal. But, at this point, there's nothing new to talk about. I see what amount to the same comments posted day in and day out on these threads. And it's really boring.

* Incredibly racist comments. On a number of occasions lately, I've seen people post comments that are totally unacceptable in civilized discourse. e.g.: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6041616 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6005314

As a result of these, I've seriously considered abandoning HN, and likely will just like I did with Slashdot years ago. I really don't want to, and I know it can never 'go back to the way it was,' but the overall level of civility needs to change dramatically (and this is the responsibility of everyone in this community. Call people on it when you see it and make it clear that this is totally unacceptable).

Maybe there needs to be a new section of the website entitled "Aaron never has to click on this link" (or just "Politics"), where we can sequester (ha) everything politics-related.

Anyway, to sum it up: the community has absolutely changed, and generally for the worse. And it's our responsibility to fix it, but we'll also need some help from pg.

lbrandy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a theory that "upvote for visibility" instead of "upvote because it interests me" is when any up-vote-down-vote arrow community crosses a line that cannot be easily uncrossed. Every "awful" subreddit is a place where a bunch of people upvote a story because they want other people to see it, in some form misguided activism. And this is everything that is "wrong" with those communities.

The community is boring to people who want interesting things, but interesting to those who want to advocate some position. And the upvotey-downvotey nature makes non-activism and contrary opinions go away, since activists tend to be poor caretakers of the community itself, instead looking to push a particular position (ie, they downvote everyone else away).

dictum 1 day ago 5 replies      
I can think of 3 possibilities:

1. HN has an influx of new users who are somewhat interested in technology and technology businesses, but do not have enough domain expertise to engage on discussion of technical subjects, or subjects related to startups, such as design, customer support, finance, laws (as in interpretation of legal code, not politics), etc. For them, it's easier to engage in political debate. [EDIT] As a secondary theory: politics is a subject which interests a greater number of people than an specific technical subject or business practice.

2. HN's format concentrates debate and attention on articles that get popular just after being submitted: because more pondered or technical articles take more time to get popular, they never reach the front page.

3. With no major shift in the industry in the past year, and with mostly the same players (all of which were implicated in the NSA leaks, for instance), legal issues sparked from executive and judiciary actions are getting more attention, because they make for fresher, more sensational news, and reveal unanswered questions.

JoshTriplett 1 day ago 0 replies      
In fairness, at least it isn't becoming 2013 Slashdot.

HN has always had a small smattering of political stories upvoted and discussed, with a specific focus on those that actually matter to hackers. Recent events have increased the proportion of political stories that get upvotes and discussion, but not across the board: there's a specific focus on NSA/surveillance stories, and in the absence of those I think the political content has not dramatically increased. Thus, I wouldn't conclude that the HN audience has become more political, but rather that HN has a higher threshold for wanting to talk about politics and recent stories pass that threshold far too often for comfort.

Politics on Slashdot has so little impact, because it shows up far too often. Politics on HN tends to focus on the most important issues, filtering out the noise. And the recent NSA stories are by far the most important news in tech politics in years. As long as the political stories remain confined to issues of that level of importance, and leave out the daily sources of new outrage, I wouldn't fear for the future of HN. (It also helps that HN doesn't have Slashdot's blatant editorialization to stir up those types of stories.)

HN may be an island away from real-world news, but that island still carries tsunami warning stories.

jdminhbg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Snowden/NSA articles frequently contain impassioned defenses about how relevant they are to the tech community at large, and I agree, but the problem with their proliferation is the topic bleed they lead to. Once political discussions feel normal, you get things like this completely pointless rehashing of "socialism" vs "Randianism" this afternoon: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6156035

I have generally come down on the side of considering complaints about the downward slide of the site as mostly rosy-painted nostalgia, but I do think an article as blatantly off-topic and political as that would have quickly been flagged as recently as 3 or 4 months ago.

anigbrowl 1 day ago 6 replies      
Some of this is because the HN demographic is young enough that many readers have never seen anything like this before, and thus think it's the Worst Thing Ever. I base this on the numerous counterfactual statements showing a lack of historical awareness in discussions on contentious topics.

Of course, I think this is partly the result of not teaching civics in schools.

AJ007 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it the legal stories that are crowding out the technology, or is it the low quality content factories?

Here is a sampling of the worst of what I can see right now (sliding off the front page):over 50 points - http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/01/why-are...

over 50 points - http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/video-reveals-108-year-o...

over 10 points - http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-kindhearted-pe...

None of those belong on HN.

In any community, when the law threatens the existence or basic functionality of that communities interests, the law becomes the primary concern of everyone. Here, Python developers may not be interested in mobile UX design, VR hackers may not be interested in 40 year old PC hardware. However, they are all going to be concerned about legal issues that threaten their ability to operate and explore ideas -- be it laws that break and censor the internet, or laws that criminalize reverse engineering.

We have been under siege since the early 1990s. A few legal losses (in the United States) early on could have resulted in a very different internet than we have today. The level of education and understanding of the basic principles of information freedom and autonomy are poorly understand by many. If the community that builds the digital world turns its back on defending these principles, what we have will be taken away.

Torgo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree with you. In my opinion the crappiness of Slashdot accelerated with the politics-for-politics-sake tone of the whole site roughly about time of the 2004 US presidential election, which lead to a formalization-legitimization with the introduction of politics.slashdot.org. Undoubtedly this was because of the extreme polarization of politics due to the Iraq War, and political threads were far and away getting the greatest number of posts. Presumably this led to more ad revenue for slashdot, but it changed the tone of the site. Gradually, articles with little to no direct connection to tech or "nerddom" were becoming more numerous. They were provocative and just turned into giant flame wars.

These posts were typically defended in two ways: "politics affects nerds, therefore it is a legitimate topic" Bogus in my opinion, because I can go anywhere to get general politics talk, Slashdot derived value from being nerd/tech-specific; and second, "the motto is news for nerds, stuff that matters--politics matter, therefore it is on-topic"--for crying out loud, it was joking on the fact that gadget news or who is in the new sci-fi movie is largely inconsequential. The latter may not apply to here, but the former can, reframed as "this affects the tech/VC/whatever community, therefore it is relevant." It might be, but if you let it become the focus of the site, it will attract posters who would rather generate heat, and they will overwhelm the posters who generate light and would rather not spend their time arguing.

I don't exempt myself from this, I am a relative latecomer to HN. I catch myself many times resisting posting because I don't want to help this place to become another Slashdot. I know I'm doing it right now and I'm sorry :-(

smegel 1 day ago 2 replies      
I find this doom-mongering a bit over the top. Slashdot basically was a troll culture at its very core, and while it could be funny at times, it never really elevated itself to a place for serious discussion.

Just look at the front page of HN today - 3-4 stories somewhat about law (but relevant computer related law), the other 26 a hugely diverse array of links to interesting topics.

Even if the discussion can be a bit asinine at times, the value of the links alone is worth it, and there will be at least one or two interesting discussion threads per link.

Just ignore the crap.

WestCoastJustin 1 day ago 3 replies      
I do not think anyone will disagree with you, but what do we do about it? If you look through PG's comment history, you will see that it is indeed on his radar [1, 2], and as recently as a last couple months.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5935190

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5926081

scythe 1 day ago 3 replies      
I agree. The content on HN became quite politicized after the NSA scandal. This may, honestly, have something to do with the fact that pg himself, and the moderating team, were concerned enough to allow these topics to be prominent and widely discussed. Perhaps it was okay for a time, but if the board is to be politically mobilized on occasion (eg SOPA) it should be very infrequent and it needs to end at some point.

We have simply discussed the surveillance scandal enough. There's just nothing more we can say or do that will matter right now. When Americans here go vote in November, maybe they will remember. Maybe they won't. Either way, the horse is long since deceased and partially liquefied.

My suggestion may sound silly at first, but I think it serves a real need. We, as in Paul Graham, the moderators, and the community consensus, have twice now (first SOPA, then spying) decided that such-and-such political issue is important enough to the technical community that it deserves to be discussed and mentioned. When that happens, the the moderators can slightly change the board style to indicate that discussions relevant to the present crisis are acceptable -- maybe a black border and lettering on the Y symbol at the top-left. When the controversy ends, the board style changes back, and just this second signal is the important one: it means that we are done, it is over, if you want to keep discussing politics do it somewhere else.

I, like you, appreciate the possibility of a board devoted entirely to technical content, but the reality is that sometimes it may just not be feasible, here, Slashdot, or anywhere else. It is far better to have a system in place to keep such discussions under control than to pretend they won't happen at all. Because they have, more than once, and they will again. Occasional, specific discussions of events involving the tech community may be important simply because, in small amounts, they facilitate cohesion among the members by drawing our attention to things that may affect us as a whole. But the important part is occasional and specific.

Any community devoted to research and development, like HN, faces the challenge of living in the present while building the future. Our priority should always be the latter, even though we are part of the present world, and occasionally we find the present needs us. But the future needs us more.

guizzy 1 day ago 2 replies      
It is official; Alexa now confirms: Hacker News is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Hacker News community when Google confirmed that Hacker News market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all web traffic. Coming close on the heels of a recent Alexa survey which plainly states that Hacker News has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Hacker News is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent web community IQ test.

You don't need to be Paul Graham to predict Hacker News's future. The hand writing is on the wall: Hacker News faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Hacker News because Hacker News is dying. Things are looking very bad for Hacker News. As many of us are already aware, Hacker News continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

eliben 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, I think you're right. I've originally moved from Reddit to HN because of higher quality, but now r/programming and language/technology-specific Subreddits have a much higher content/noise ration than HN. I guess this is mostly because all the folks who think more stories about Snowden are actually more interesting than programming have moved here.
tzs 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It used to be worth being an XKCD 386 [1] guy when political discussion came up here. If someone said something you thought was wrong, you could spend 30 minutes or an hour writing a well researched response citing primary sources, and good discussion would result.

This is no longer true. Most of the political discussion here is now indistinguishable from /r/politics and /r/technology, where people are only interested in things that agree with the existing beliefs.

Lately, even conspiracy theories that are refutable without outside sources since they are internally inconsistent are getting traction here.

[1] http://xkcd.com/386/

snowwrestler 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing about political topics is: anyone can talk about them. All politics requires is a difference of opinion, and we've all got opinions.

On the other hand to really talk about product engineering, software innovation, business management, etc., you have to have experience and expertise.

So as technical forums grow, they trend toward political topics.

tptacek 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's like eating cheese and drinking orange juice at the same time.

So great.

Couldn't agree more.

Osmium 1 day ago 2 replies      
One suggestion is to reduce the influx of new users. Maybe keep new registrations closed except for a few days every month or so. It allows older users time to help the new users adjust to the community, and prevents opportunistic/anonymous-trollish comments. Just an idea.
mynegation 1 day ago 1 reply      
I left slashdot for exactly the same reason. That and I was tired to sift through trolling and countless slashdot memes like "imagine a Beowulf cluster of these".

HN still has a share if engaging technical news that is big enough to keep it interesting for me. But another thing that differentiates it from slashdot is that discussion is intelligent and no nonsense.

taspeotis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still frequent Slashdot (no longer "News for nerds, stuff that matters", mind you), although it's practically redundant given that I frequent HN and Ars Technica.

HN and Ars seem to be complementary, HN gets links to things that Ars wouldn't report on and Ars reports on things that HN wouldn't get links to. There's overlap but that doesn't detract from going from one site to the other.

HN makes Slashdot somewhat redundant. When I read Slashdot, a good chunk of the articles are links to things that appeared on HN three days ago.

Also the Slashdot editors can't edit for shit. I guess they're too busy posting thinly-veiled advertisements for Dice.

If the commentary on Slashdot ever became less informative (although the signal to "Micro$oft $hill!!!!" ratio is decreasing...), then I'd leave.

Zigurd 1 day ago 1 reply      
No true HN'er... etc.

I check the new stories in a few topic areas regularly. Many interesting tech stories I check are not getting upvotes or comments.

But, even if more of those stories made the front page, the NSA story marks an epoch. Computing and the Internet have changed. It all comes with surveillance inside. That is unattractive. Creepy. Unfree. Undemocratic. Unhealthy. We let our industry get poisoned. It will take years for that story to play out. And it will get discussed here.

joeblau 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting you posted this because I was just thinking about posting an Ask HN to see what things people would change or want to make better. A lot of people seem to believe that newer users are ruining the culture. TechCrunch also had an issue with spammy/trolling behavior in it's comments until they implemented Facebook comments which sort of provided accountability. Another method could be an invite system, but I feel like I would have never been able to become a contributor if I needed an invite.

I've gained a lot of useful information on HN in my past two years as a user and I hope I've helped a few a long the way as well. I do find myself skipping over a lot more posts, especially during the whole Snowden fiasco. I don't know how it used to be "back in the day" but I wish I could have experienced it.

shuzchen 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've always been hopeful that lobste.rs would take off, but sadly the steps they took to ensure good participation has kept it from growing. I mean, it still gets new articles, and there are a very few items that aren't on HN (or showed up sooner), but most posts have very little discussion. Looking at the homepage, and the majority of links have 0 comments.

That said, it's got a few features that people have pitched as the solution for HN (tags being one of them).

taproot 1 day ago 1 reply      
Im tired of sentiment like this. I havent been here long but ive had the same feelings about multiple communities as they mature. Its part of them growing up and has a lot to do with the members growing up.

In this situation however i get the feeling it has more to do with the industry than anything else. I dont think tech can be what it was or at least ever will ever again. On the sidelines you see the news changing i believe the industry changing has more to do with it than the community.

If you have these feelings about the industry and no longer want to be part of it either take a break and come back like i did or start thinking about a new career. Tech computers and internet going mainstream is exactly what we all aimed to do. I get that you dont like the current state of things maybe you should become one of these activists you mentioned?

As for the rest of us i think were just fine being advocates of how it was and should continue to be.

runn1ng 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I don't like is that more and more, showing radicalism is encouraged and upvoted and showing restrain and judging words well gets downvoted or ignored.

"This shows that capitalism is evil." - "This shows that free market will solve everything."

Pretty soon we will have "9/11 was an inside job" posters on the top.

I still think the news themselves are great. I just don't like the discussions anymore.

Aqueous 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree.

If you don't reflexively agree with knee-jerk libertarianism you are persona non grata here.

A good way to ensure that new facts are not discovered, that new scientific discoveries don't happen, and that people don't listen to you, is to make things political.

D9u 1 day ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who finds this thread to be hypocritical. Instead of posting this diatribe, as have others, lead by example and post content you'd like to see here.
HCIdivision17 1 day ago 0 replies      
Off topic (meta): fascinatingly, the top half dozen or so comments have no child comments, at 99 points. To me, this implies that the top comments are stand alone. I this many people can be in the running for top comment, then perhaps the argument isn't one-sided and it really implies a shift in the opinion of what has happened.

(Normally, meta is discouraged, but since the initial question is meta, an I think there's a signal to imply there's a real shift, I'm commenting on this. More is needed, perhaps a dump of topics to determine of politics has really taken an unusually strong signal here, perhaps using the Bayesian methods described a week or so ago...)

antitrust 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> HN is starting to feel like a place where activists hang out.

Activism? The political topics do kind of have a "let's all get along" and "do the right thing" feeling to them. It reminds me of going to the store to get junk food, then when I'm there realizing I should be buying the "lite" and "low salt" versions.

The political dimension to technology has always baffled me. Everyone seems to want me to think something. And yet, no matter what we do, the same problems remain. Where do I sign up to vote against politics?

Regarding Slashdot, all internet sites have a finite lifespan, however, and eventually the cruft builds up. That can be in the code, or the "culture," in the userbase itself.

I guess what we have in common at HN is liking to do things, so we should talk about that, and not theorize about what we should think about how we do it.

I come here for the technology news and the personalities, myself.

rdtsc 23 hours ago 0 replies      
You have the upvote, downvote and flag buttons. You can also do nothing if you choose.

Unlike Reddit, HN doesn't have subreddits to handle constrained topics. Whatever is on the front page is whatever users want to read and upvote. You are also free to start your own technology only clone if you wish.

This has been brought up before many times. The ones who have been around longer would usually talk about the good old days. Well so do my parents and everyone else who is older ("Oh the kids these days"). I for one like what HN has become and think it is a positive development. People do care about legal issues and health insurance issues and other things not just twiddling bits and that's good.

CoolGuy420 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know roughly a dozen people who frequent HN. Some of them are friends, some of them are family, some of them are coworkers. Some are involved in network security, some are programmers, some are involved in web design, and some are merely interested in tech news. Some are them male, some of them are female.

Yet, without exception, they have all expressed to me that they think that the site has substantially lowered in quality since the details of PRISM were leaked.

I think the fundamental problem is that that story brought in a large influx of new members at once. This disrupts the 'integration' process that most older members of this site went through when they first joined. Any post that was trite or lacked in quality was quickly downvoted, and it become apparent very quickly that this is a site that encourages thoughtful, mature, calm comments. On the other hand, during an influx of new users, this process is disrupted. The new users, especially if they share a similar ideology, will upvote each other if they agree with the idea of the post, even if it lacks in quality or is counter-productive to intelligent discourse. They will then look around the site, and see that similar comments are upvoted across the board, and think that this is acceptable behaviour.

There is a lot of anger at these new users, but I do not feel it is their fault, as they are acting as they would on any other forum, and they simply do not understand that they are hurting the site. I think it is our duty, as older members of this website, to fix this problem.

So, what is the solution? Well, I think that it is clear at this point that sitting back and hoping that the situation will resolve itself is not going to work. I think that there needs to be a concerted effort between the mods and the users with high karma to discipline new users who do not following proper posting etiquette. I think that more voting 'power' should be given to the older users with higher karma. Giving trusted members of this website more voting power will allow their votes to outweigh the large number of new members, and will allow the trusted members to teach new users what types of posts are acceptable and which types of posts are not. One of the problems that arises is that users will create uncivil posts that are clearly very partisan in nature, but that will be propped up by people who agree with them. This is poisonous for the environment of this site and clearly does not encourage useful discourse. These posts need to be ruthlessly downvoted, and it must be made very apparent to new users that they must be civil, regardless of how many people agree with them.

This will allow for a closer adherence to the rules, in particular, "Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon". I want to hear every new detail about PRISM because it is clearly a very, very important topic for the tech industry. However, the vast majority of the recent posts about Snowden or the NSA or PRISM are completely lacking in any original content, and are merely repeating the same ideas over and over again, diluting the content of this site.

coldcode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oddly enough the folks complaining here sound like old people remembering the good old days. Any site which allows people of varying interests to contribute will eventually outgrow whoever was there before. It's inevitable, the alternative is stagnation where people talk about the same crap as their forefathers. You can't keep the little kid little forever unless they are dead. You could start a new site and try again and yet eventually success will breed change and you starting sounding old again. I'm old enough to have seen this a lot of times and it gets old too, which is kind a meta-old.
hdivider 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's use this opportunity to remind ourselves of an adjacent problem: the number of helpful, insightful, creative comments not made for fear of retribution by knee-jerk contrarianism.

I say let's watch out for this, and make an effort to use a friendlier tone in comments. And smileys, when necessary. =)

sytelus 22 hours ago 0 replies      
A large community often contains many subgroups. When a system allows any subgroups to take over and represent their sentiments as community's sentiments, the community starts to breakdown. To avoid this system needs to allow enough expressiveness. This would mean at least a upvote button as well as downvote button. By only allowing upvotes, HN steals away expressiveness of the community. Any jealous subgroup can essentially upvote a story they had like others to read and get it on top while other members of community have no recourse but to upvote something else and spread their expression thinly. We have seen this many times now. I can see marketers and activists coming over to HN and push a story on top with as little as 100 upvotes while rest of the community just sits back unable to express their preferences.
fiatmoney 1 day ago 0 replies      
If a general technology forum inevitably develops to have a substantial (not a monoculture, but substantial) portion of its content devoted to the intersection of technology and law, what does that say about the underlying salience of these issues?
mtowle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only forums on which there is no point in activism, of either sort(1), can survive their own prosperity. Forums are conversational; activism is the antithesis thereof.

PG is trying, and you have to tip your hat, if the 4-hours-per-day stories are true, but talk about Sisyphean.

(1) "I" or "We"

jjindev 23 hours ago 0 replies      
[buried my lede: the front page algorithm]

I'm new, pointed in by the coursera startup engineering course. I have no idea how large that cohort is, or how uniform it is.

I certainly scan the headlines for startup themes (tech and other practices). I have found a lot of great things. My humble thanks for all it.

If I'm curious about one thing, it is the idea that people visit many times a day, and then expect many new high quality threads. If I understand the purpose, shouldn't visits be less frequent (to sync with startup world) and the front page less changing? Because if the front page "must" have new items, it must go further afield. The algorithm, which seems to [be] based on "velocity" of new items rather than strict rank, may favor the "topical" at this point.

InclinedPlane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slashdot was never very good. One big reason for that was that it actively courted "humorous" comments. This was a huge monkey wrench in their moderation scheme, it meant that even if moderation made it possible to cut out the lowest end of the comment quality spectrum it still did very little to elevate the other end. More so, the system didn't discourage spam and trolling it just made it easier to hide, so any comments on the site were always swimming in an enormous sea of mostly hidden crap, which made it difficult for later comments to be noticed and moderated up. The moderation system in general did a very poor job at fostering good discussion. At best you could hope for a few decent one off comments. Another problem that slashdot has always had was a very strong leaning toward a mob mentality and exclusion of contrarian viewpoints. If slashdot talked about Microsoft, for example, it was a flurry of Microsoft bashing, not a discussion.

HN, for all its faults, does a much better job fostering high quality discussion. And probably promoting interesting submissions as well, although I think the system is much more flawed in that regard.

Anyway, I think that a good chunk of "political" stories that have become popular on HN lately do belong here. Surveillance and freedom and how they pertain to the online world are big, fundamental issues of serious historical importance that we need to grapple with today. To remove those from our view because today it tends to be difficult to have a high quality discussion about a political topic is, I think, a mistake.

I think the issue is not one of whether or not HN should abandon talking about political subjects I think the issue is making sure that HN concerns itself with subjects that are legitimately important and conducts discussions that are mature, well-reasoned, and intellectually stimulating. And I think those things are well within the grasp of the HN community.

kyro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got a source on that claim about the incompatibilities of cheese and orange juice?
dschiptsov 22 hours ago 0 replies      
That is a consequence of so-called popularity - HN begins as a marginalized place for geeks and nerds - they even looked at Arc language seriously.)) Now it is a popular site for general public and visiting it gives one an air of sophistication, like talking Monads or Clojure among PHP coders.))
toble 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was thinking similar a few days ago, but more like a cross between Slashdot and Reddit. In particular, I saw an item about cannabis legalisation. Got nothing against it, but it isn't technology in the slightest, it's political and maybe financial. I checked the news item a few times to see if anyone pointed that out, but no one did. I decided not to say anything in case it was some HN insider thing.
MattyRad 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised, after reading through this thread. I've been frequenting HN for a little over a year now, and I enjoy reading the comments because this is the only forum I've found where users have coherent, interesting, grammatically-correct ideas. Just look at the comments in this thread. Almost every user tries to convey a full argument or counter-point. Take a look at Reddit or YouTube as a comparison. Does HN really seem to be on the decline?

Although I can testify to the click-baiting, sensational, politicized articles and comments, and may be guilty myself. Duly noted.

ser0 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is true for most communities as they mature. Issue-of-the-day become more prominent as core topics get discussed to death.

For example, I notice a few people pointing out the higher number of Golang articles that get to the front page, however, this is more due to there being more development and discussion as v1.1 was just released. For other programming languages most common experiences have been shared and novel new ideas become fewer.

I don't really see it as a problem. Most political posts are identifiable by title. Although the SvN ratio may not be perfect, I doubt it ever could be without HN implementing something like /.'s customisation options for topics and the ability for users' to block them.

m1k3yboi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Totally agree. HN is kinda like Digg in the early days, but the signal to noise ratio is on the up and the 'New' section is almost shambolic.
aleprok 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have not been long at HN, but I have noticed how much more in the past year more general topics like politics have risen here.

Thing is I do not really care that much what are posted into here, people are pretty much free to post almost anything interesting. What I dislike is that most of the stuff is resubmitted from another news site pretty often. Though it is not as bad as one automatic news aggregation website I use to check my local news. Though the reason why I can live with these things is that my brain has become my best spam filter.

The only thing I really do not like is how popular HN has become among news sites on picking stories to their own site. Just few weeks back one blog article posted into here got their way into a local news site and this news site was even doing horrible job at quoting the blog article.

The level of journalism has fallen so much and they can use web sites like hacker news to pick up stories which should bring visitors to their own site. Hacker News, Reddit and every other news discussion site provides good statistics for news papers what to put on their site for people who do not visit these websites we use.

hnriot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this simply addresses using a basic classifier, it would be easy enough to build a classifier from the HN API and then write a ux with sliders to balance the content, so if one group are interested in political posts (or comments) then so be it, for other they might prefer vc/entrepreneur content, and then there's the hard core tech content. Some form of SVM or LDA would do the trick. I'm not sure if stories, or comments should be suppressed. I'd implement it similar to how eclipse folds "content" (imports for example)

If anyone thinks this is worthwhile, I'll build it.

joelg236 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've had this opinion for a long time now. I think that voting systems slowly lead towards bad content, over years. It doesn't matter what's special about a website.

This is because the users that should be upvoting/downvoting (ie. moderate/reasonable people who have no incentives of 'visibility' or the like) aren't. They just don't have an urge to upvote the things that should be.

It's exactly why political stories and comments pop up to the top very quickly. It's an "impulse buy" for a lot of people. They see it and think "well everyone should know this!" Think NSA scandal here.

I just don't see a site that heavily relies on what people upvote and downvote forever remaining "pristine" or, in HN's case, hacker-based. Sure, we're all hackers. But a lot of us care about the politics. And when people care about a topic, they're much more likely to go out of their way to upvote the things.

I'm guilty of this too. I don't vote often, and I spend a large amount of time on a lot of vote-driven sites.

The solution? I'm not sure. It's possible that there just isn't a solution. We might just need to keep moving from site to site, with new ideas on content aggregation each time. One day, we might find the perfect solution.

Until then, my feeling is that it's our responsibility as users and content viewers to upvote and downvote appropriately.

badman_ting 1 day ago 1 reply      
That is an interesting take on what happened to Slashdot. I guess I just assumed that the world passed by Slashdot's cohort, that the currents governing our industry changed but they mostly didn't. The "iPod lame" post gets harped on, but it's a good illustration of that dynamic, I think. But you were probably much more familiar with it than I was.
hackula1 1 day ago 0 replies      
There will be something new when it gets bad enough. I still browse slashdot every few days though, and I imagine hackernews will be the same in the not too distant future. If you want something hacker-to-the-core there are still sites like hackaday that focus nearly exclusively on actually building cool stuff. There is a place for everything I guess. I for one like some diversity though and banking all my news gathering on one site has been the opposite of what I have always wanted. In news I try to check in on npr and limbaugh (differing, but influential perspectives (many that I disagree with, but are important to understand none the less)). In the tech world, I check out slashdot for opinions on corpratey sys admin stuff, I check out hackaday for garage hardware hacking stuff, I check out techcrunch for hipster VC stuff, I check out hackernews for mostly new web service stuff, and I checkout reddit for... well, mostly pictures of cute huskies. Each has there own utility, but when something gets too off base, I check it less and let the cream rise to the top in my rss reader of choice. At the moment, we are in a bit of a spot where it is hard to tell where the next solid source of hacking news is, so I have been spending most of my "check it every time the code compiles time" on IRC, which is fantastic for the particular communities I happen to be involved in right now.
arunoda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Agree. For JS, I started following http://www.echojs.com/. Which is not so popular, but pretty nice.

And http://sidebar.io/ for Design links. But we cannot post or comment there.

grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's impossible to compare Slashdot to HN, since nearly every story on Slashdot gets a mod-created title and mod-created tagline.

In comparison, HN is more emergent, less filtered, and fueled more by dopamine than by any other kind of motivation.

regandersong 13 hours ago 0 replies      
After a sudden influx of traffic years back, HN had an Erlang Day where the only thing upvoted was articles about Erlang. I can't tell you if it helped HN get better or not, because it caused me to come back after seeing how much the community cared about the quality of the site. Perhaps it's time to make HN proud of its boringness again?
danso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think part of the problem is in the mechanics of the editing/modding process. Too many similar articles (and sometimes, the same URL, but slightly altered) make it to the front page in a short time span. Even worse, the desire for advocacy is so strong that people tolerate and upvote blatant blogspam. Otherwise, I think an interest in current events - i.e. this is the world we live in -- is not too orthogonal from tech/entrepreneurial topics, and can often be highly complementary. Also, while there are lots of places to discuss politics and advocacy, I think HN's quality of comments and a desire for thinking outside-the-box makes HN's comment section worth visiting for any topic.

I read Slashdot for years and there were also great comments...but a much higher number of top-voted/expanded comments that were akin to the clever/cute/meme-funny comments that plague Reddit today. Also, IIRC, Slashdot's commenting system required a lot of clicks to expand discussions...I pretty much never did that...which meant that Slashdot discussions required work to get past the witty upvoted one-liners...whereas with HN, it's just a quick flick of the mousewheel to get to more substantial comments.

pushkargaikwad 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Dilution will always happen with user submission sites as the number of users grow, specially if there is no moderation.

Digg/Reddit,they all started as some niche tech site and eventually turned into political/media/news sites (atleast digg was, reddit's savior is its subreddit feature) once the userbase increased.

The only way to keep HN niche is by introducing categories and let people subscribe/unsubscribe to those categories or through strict moderation.

psuter 23 hours ago 0 replies      
How much of this would be solved by personalizing the ranking of stories?

This is certainly a departure from the current model, and the mere notion of front page could be fatally affected, but, after all and just to name two, Amazon and Spotify are pretty good at anticipating my taste. Simply correlating voting patterns with other users and weighting their upvotes more, for instance, could go a long way towards a site where everyone sees more of what they like.

There are also certainly arguments to be made against such an approach ("filter bubble" etc.). If a strong case has been made before, I'd be curious to read it.

6thSigma 23 hours ago 1 reply      
HN needs more "Show HNs" and less political diatribe.
Scryptonite 1 day ago 1 reply      
I agree that there are some way-off-base topics on HN, but I don't mind the politics that are related to the hacker community. Such involves Aaron, Snowden, Manning, WikiLeaks, various legal and political talk on Startups, privacy rights, Big Tech companies, etc.. in the overarching industry. Some other stuff can also bleed in without disrupting how I feel about the site.

> On-Topic: Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups. If you had to reduce it to a sentence, the answer might be: anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity.

kylelibra 1 day ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I often look for political stories here just to see this crowd's comments on the subject. It would be nice if there was some sort of filter system or a few very broad categories.
eyeareque 1 day ago 0 replies      
If hacker news has jumped the shark, where is the new tech/hacker news site that has taken its place?
frozenport 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also easier to be an activist and aficionado then to be a contributor.
twodayslate 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any alternative sites. It seems there is usually a shift from media sites every couple years.
coherentpony 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yep, it's /r/politics now. I don't check HN nearly as often as I used to.
maxhowell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Agreed. But good things become popular, and popularity changes good things. Not always for the worse. But this time, yes for the worse.
fiorix 22 hours ago 0 replies      
very true... and besides the activists, everyone here has always a lot to say; just look at all these long replies - too much drama.
bigdogc 1 day ago 1 reply      
i started coming here after reddit changed years ago. I dont know of any other websites similar to HN... very sad if it changes too.
wil421 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just say NSA this or Snowden that.
Two Stories of Passive Income Excess myles.io
330 points by mkrecny  3 days ago   123 comments top 33
willholloway 3 days ago 9 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 3 days 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 3 days 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.

jbigelow76 3 days ago 3 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.

iblaine 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.
throwawayfraud 3 days ago 3 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.

lectrick 3 days 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.

clarky07 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

helipad 3 days 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.
m1ndeater 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

SCAQTony 3 days 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.

1337biz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it is just me, but this threat feels like I just walked into a socket puppet theater.
ambiate 3 days 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'.

tomrod 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sounds like passive income involves a lot of work.
radley 3 days 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?
alxndresp 3 days 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.

welder 3 days 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.

temporary201308 3 days 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.

jingo 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

andrethegiant 3 days 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 3 days 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.

shams93 3 days 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.
jlees 3 days 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.

soneca 3 days 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.

deedubaya 3 days 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.
schappim 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems the OP himself is generating passive income by creating an ebook on generating passive income. See: https://leanpub.com/passiveincome
SpookSEO 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've met a lot of affiliate marketers as well that can't handle the money. They're like athletes who are paid millions of dollars but still end-up broke in the end because they do not know the value of saving and preparing for the rainy days.
holdenweb 3 days 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.
shams93 3 days 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.
mkartic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a few questions. I am hoping to implement/try out making some passive income here, as I have enough free time to invest.

1. While I know its hard to replicate the $5000 day, how hard is it to profit $5/day consistently? How much effort would that require?

2. As a student working my way through college, any income that doesn't require an all day desk presence sounds very lucrative! Can anyone point me to where I can get started?

3. Searching the web for affiliate marketing seems to take me to the scary underbelly of the Internet which I'm afraid to scratch. Any definitive resources? Where does one find websites that offer money for clicks? Is there a standard platform or does it work company by company?

livestyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do love how there is at least room for discussion regarding these important topic.
ChrisNorstrom 3 days 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.

stfu 3 days 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.

Members of Congress denied access to basic information about NSA theguardian.com
329 points by Libertatea  1 day ago   90 comments top 16
danenania 1 day ago 5 replies      
Honestly, the idea that the NSA is going to go after senators and congressmen for doing their jobs with broad popular support is just a pure and obvious bluff. This would just increase the intensity of the controversy and spotlight, which is clearly the last thing the NSA and the Obama administration want right now.

These folks need to suck it up and go out on just a bit of a limb for the sake of our democracy. That is the oath they took and they bear much of the responsibility for allowing things to reach this point in the first place. If a 29 year old can risk his life and give up any chance of seeing home again to do the right thing, these supposed representatives of our interests can take a much, much smaller risk and do the same.

mikegioia 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems to get more frustrating by the day. Greenwald depicts a system where the NSA/FISA are in cahoots, seemingly deciding for themselves what they should or shouldn't be doing.

Their stated regulatory agencies, the House/Senate, aren't even allowed to read info about what is they're doing -- yet the House/Senate have to vote on NSA authorizations? This is what Congress is receiving:

    "Thanks for your inquiry. The full Committee attends    Business Meetings. At our July 18, 2013 Business    Meeting, there were seven Democrat Members and nine    Republican Members in attendance. The transcript is    classified."
How does this go on for so long!?

    The Congressman received no response to any of his    requests. With a House vote looming on whether to     defund the NSA's bulk collection program - it was    scheduled for July 25 - he felt he needed the    information more urgently than ever. He recounted his    thinking to me: "How can I responsibly vote on a    program I know very little about?"
Yet they vote to fund it anyway, knowing that they don't know anything about the programs they're funding.

techsupporter 1 day ago 3 replies      
"In early July, Grayson had staffers distribute to House members several slides published by the Guardian about NSA programs as part of Grayson's efforts to trigger debate in Congress. But, according to one staff member, Grayson's office was quickly told by the House Intelligence Committee that those slides were still classified, despite having been published and discussed in the media, and directed Grayson to cease distribution or discussion of those materials in the House, warning that he could face sanctions if he continued."

Well, since we're having a merry old time stomping all over the Constitution, I suppose asking what ramifications could possibly befall this Representative, considering the "Speech and Debate" immunity provided under Article 1, Section 6 of our allegedly-cherished Constitution, is a moot point. This is why it's probably best that I'm not in Congress, since I'd like to think that my response would have been "so?", followed by my continuing to press the issue. Sens. Wyden and Udall didn't take such a course, so I assume the consequences would have been dramatic.

throwaway_yy2Di 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article is amazing. If you didn't read: two things it claims about the House intelligence oversight committee are:

* That it censored a congressman from discussing the contents of the Snowden leaks with other representatives (search for "sanctions")

* That this chairman allegedly made up a secret committee vote that didn't happen, and that in practice he can get away with this (search for "voice vote")

coldcode 1 day ago 0 replies      
If a congress person has balls they will risk everything to let the people know what is being done in secret to them. But it's tough to have balls when they would be happy if you deposited them in Guantanamo once you leave office. But the people who started this country didn't care what happened to them either when they took on the most powerful country on the planet. That's the kind of leader it would be nice to find.
bazillion 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ok, you guys are kind of blowing this way out of proportion. This is absolutely standard -- whenever classified information is disclosed unintentionally, you aren't allowed to discuss it in a non-secure compartmented facility. There are tons of reasons, starting with:

-Limiting exposure of the information already divulged

-Preventing further (especially unintentional) classified information spills

-Limiting adversaries collecting on what information and to what degree people are knowledgeable about

The fact is, if you're a legislator who is given compartmented access, you should know better than to propagate information that has been unintentionally released. For one, it promotes discussion of classified information in unclassified spaces. Secondly, it gives apparent validation to information that might not necessarily be true.

It's getting really tiresome reading these flavor-of-the-day NSA bashing articles, having worked at NSA and having eaten of the tree of knowledge. The intelligence community does not dictate foreign policy or collection policies. They serve at the direction of the federal government under the DNI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_of_National_Intelligen...), who is appointed by the president. They carry out the tasks that are given to them under the direction of the administration. There exists a feedback system which allows agencies to understand what information was vital in helping make decisions and what information wasn't important.

Here comes the tricky part: politicians clamor for more information in order to make better informed decisions -- just look at the situation with the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. When intelligence agencies don't come up with anything actionable, politicians ask "Why not?", to which the agencies respond, "We don't have enough access to real time information.", or "You stated that X mission wasn't important so we stopped supporting it.". Then the politicians rewrite legislation in order to prevent further roadblocks to obtaining information in a timely manner with which they can make decisions.

All of that happens, and you want to blame an intelligence agency for doing its job at various levels of efficiency? In that entire process, the agency only gives feedback as to what its capabilities are and what it needs in order to increase its capabilities. The administration and legislators determine the scope of the work which the agencies function in.

There is no secret conspiracy, people. It's a very simple system: you vote in people and then tell them that you want the prevention of terrorist attacks prioritized above funding NASA. The public is then made aware to what degree the politicians were willing to go to in order to expand intelligence powers, so outrage ensued. Now, there is legislation being pushed forward (not successfully yet) in order to limit the powers. Is this not a representative democracy working to correct its mistakes and push towards a more perfect union?

uptown 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even if they were properly informed, doesn't Congress currently have something like a mid-teens approval rating? While they obviously should be overseeing everything that's going on, a rating like that doesn't exactly exude confidence from the American public that they'd even know what to do given the opportunity to do so.
mtgx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope Greenwald gets his chance to the hearing. So convenient for Obama to cancel his hearing [1], so they won't be able to have one until Congress gets back to work, so they have plenty of time to strategize against him, and get the politicians they need on their side.


w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given that the NSA and it's sister organisations are now being squeezed, politically, what do you think their response will be?

Of course, the proper, professional and legitimate response is to sit back and to let the democratic process run it's course. We all hope and trust that this is what will happen.

However, given the resources at their disposal, it is not too difficult to speculate about what they might do (or be tempted to do) to secure their budget and to maintain their surveillance capabilities.

Similarly, after the current round of outrage and media attention has died down, what do you think that they will do to prevent something like this from happening again?

Beyond measures to prevent further leaks (that we already know they are considering) ... how might the technology that underpins tools such as Prism and XKeyScore be used to manipulate public opinion, to neutralise or mitigate the impact of those espousing hostile opinions, and to promote and spread a friendly point of view?

I am specifically thinking of man-in-the-middle attacks to manipulate messages and web-pages in-flight, to implement a sort of third-party hell-ban attack on activists and commentators. Is this possible without the collusion of the publisher?

ferdo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those who are capable of tyranny are capable of perjury to sustain it.

Lysander Spooner

stretchwithme 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Which means are elected officials are not in charge. I wonder who is.
codex 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks like these requests are being denied by the intelligence committee; do the asking members of Congress have the requisite security clearances? If so, I wonder if by law this information is restricted to members of the committee.
julianozen 1 day ago 0 replies      
The other problem with congressional oversite is what happened during the SOPA hearings.

Congress is vaguely qualified to assess data collection techniques.

Shivetya 1 day ago 0 replies      
two words: stop funding

Simple as that. If Congress is truly serious about this, they should strip the NSA of its funding.

northwest 1 day ago 0 replies      
Democracy in full effect.

> "If I can't get basic information about these programs, then I'm not able to do my job", Rep. Griffith told me.

Very similar to the judges who do not know enough about technology and make decisions about things they don't understand.

Khaine 1 day ago 0 replies      
America truly is the land of the free
Ask HN: I'm a chronic procrastinator how do I break it?
316 points by procastatron  3 days ago   290 comments top 121
mduerksen 3 days 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 3 days 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 3 days 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... )

hello_newman 3 days 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?

zwegner 3 days 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...

michalu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that worked for me was to give up illusions about the quick fix.You won't kill procrastination tomorrow or anytime in the future, you can only develop habits that will be harder to break after some time. I like to see myself as an abstinent - it can come back anytime and therefore I stick to my routines and avoid any situations leading to procrastination. It's a life long process in my eyes and only consistence leads to change.

What helped me was to develop a morning routine - I started with making my bed. Every day. I know myself - if I leave out one day I will leave out second day too and eventually fail. After a while I added cold shower, 2 glasses of water, workout, 5 min meditation and a healthy breakfast - to cut it short I have been working out every morning for last 6 months, not missing a single day.

I created an excel sheet where I track if I miss the routine or not, the time I spend working and the time I spend studying something. I have it done for 9 weeks all on one paper - it works better that having a daily to do list because you can see your progress and how you've been doing so far, unlike with daily to-do where you can quickly forget you wasted last monday. ( I have it printed out - and I put it on a visible place. It works better, because once I turn on the notebook I get distracted about wanting to check my email and what to do next. I keep this stuff strictly offline )

After 9 weeks I sum it up and take a week off. Over the last year my net working hours have increased 500% and so has my income.

Another thing that helped was to change environment, clean up stuff, email, desktop the room, throw things out. I have put a K9 on my pc blocking porn, youtube, facebook, quora and every medium where I can read something about politics. I threw out the password and blocked even the email provider I have my backup email on. Sounds ridiculous right. Well I feel liberated, I just don't have to fight with the temptation anymore and it saves a lot of energy. And most importantly I actually do what I love doing every day. My life is much better since then. It also forced me to spend my time more meaningfully.

Also note that I tried many things before and most have failed. This is what eventually worked for me as an individual ( yes my procrastination was that bad, I had to get that radical ) I remember feeling so hopeless I actually thought I won't change ever in my life, that I am doomed to be lazy. Well anyway I still have to remind myself I am a step from falling back and I still work on the improvement.

netcan 3 days 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.

artagnon 3 days 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.

skue 3 days 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.

panic 3 days 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.

kstenerud 3 days 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 3 days 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.

fusiongyro 3 days 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.

jhuckestein 3 days 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.

kybernetyk 3 days 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.

eatitraw 3 days 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).

MarkCancellieri 3 days 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.

TheZenPsycho 3 days 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.

crawfordcomeaux 3 days 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 3 days 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).

zeidrich 3 days 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.

hncomment 3 days 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:


greenyoda 3 days 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?

dreeves 3 days 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 ]

reactor 3 days 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.

michaelfeathers 3 days 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.

Debugreality 3 days 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.

Ensorceled 3 days 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.

ronyeh 3 days 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?

beachstartup 3 days 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.

logn 3 days 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.
edw519 3 days 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.

beambot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just channel the procrastination into something you like. I highly recommend reading the Structured Procrastination essay: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/
dylanhassinger 3 days 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 :)

neurostimulant 3 days 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.


chrisduesing 3 days 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.
gsharma 3 days ago 1 reply      
spuz 3 days 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!

masnick 3 days 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.)

msutherl 3 days 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.)

rayiner 3 days 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.

trustfundbaby 3 days 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 3 days 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.

forgottenpaswrd 3 days 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.

Samuel_Michon 3 days 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/

thirsday 3 days 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.

binarymax 3 days ago 0 replies      
Edit your hosts file to point all your procrast sites to
Hoffenheimer 3 days 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.

X4 2 days ago 0 replies      
@procrastron Mind & Body are equally important.DO SPORT Regulary! 3-4 Times a Week at the same days every week. Your discipline will come over you and attack your laziness.

I say that out of personal experience, so if you use only your mind to do your work, it will shut-off pretty fast to go into standby, because you trained that mind-muscle to be efficient (3h/day@work). After doing your sports, your mind will have to adapt and that will decrease your concentration in the first week, but raise it dramatically in the coming weeks.

Hey it could be your workload too (idk you), in that case, ask for more ;) hahaha :)

Hook up with a stranger, a friend, or go alone and try to find pals you can do your sport regularly with as a motivation.

Just NOW you procrastinate AGAIN ;) Why don't you ask your family, Gf, or go to a Psychologist or Ergo-Theraphy or something, instead of asking the Internet. You know it's not very likely that we can help you, only you can help yourself.

I'm not perfect myself and focus on everything, but the thing I need to do. My habit is to solve things generally and that leads me from A-Z and back to A, then after having everything done, I start with the job I actually have to do.. sucks

helen842000 3 days 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.

clbrook 3 days 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.


throwaway973096 3 days 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.

danenania 3 days 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.
vladmk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Firstly, realization in itself is trans-formative. The fact that you did this is progress already. Very few people in fact I'd argue really no one in life reaches their true physical, mental, spiritual etc potential so we are all procrastinators to one extent or another you are just at that extreme.

You never stated what your goals are. What are they? Try to make them inevitable. This guy talks about that and also has interesting thoughts about video-game procrastination:


Remember you're not looking for motivation you're looking for discipline. This is also something I get confused a lot and halts my daily progress down as well. Coincidentally this guy talks about that as well...not trying to over-promote, but I found these two videos useful all his other stuff is meh:


Best of luck

shubhamjain 3 days 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...

d0m 3 days 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.

mathattack 3 days 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.

egypturnash 3 days 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?

mattm 3 days 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.

dschiptsov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Writing more pulp fiction could help.)

There is also a page worth reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disord...

vijucat 3 days 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.

vacri 3 days 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 3 days 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...

razzaj 3 days 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.

egbert 3 days 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!

easy_rider 3 days 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.
jpswade 3 days 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.

luanfernandes 3 days 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".

agilebyte 3 days 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.

gcheong 3 days 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
foobarbazqux 3 days 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.
lazyeye 3 days 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.
venomsnake 3 days 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.

ColinHayhurst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't be so hard on yourself: You're probably a type C: http://www.paulgraham.com/procrastination.html
gprasanth 3 days 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.

xyproto 3 days 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.
michaelochurch 3 days 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.

Tomis02 3 days 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.
tlarkworthy 3 days 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.
anoncoward1975 3 days 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 :-)

Houshalter 3 days 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.
robotic424 3 days 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.

mantisimo 3 days 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.
ahussain 1 day ago 0 replies      
Keep an "Interruptions Log". Have a piece of paper next to you, and every time you are are doing something that's not directly related to coding, write down the start time, end time, and activity you're doing.

It worked like magic for me!

codeoclock 3 days 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.
hfz 3 days 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.

jbrooksuk 3 days 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.
bastijn 3 days 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 :).

stevewillows 3 days ago 1 reply      
Want to start a project with me? It's not a huge project, but something to accomplish.
mythriel 3 days 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.
doctorstupid 3 days 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?

henningb 3 days 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...

jeandlr 3 days 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.

Gnarl 3 days 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.

keviv 3 days 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 :
k__ 3 days 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.

dminor14 3 days 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".
Jdfmiller 3 days 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.

musicalentropy 3 days ago 0 replies      
The next time you feel like wanting to procrastinate, have a look for that :


mugenx86 3 days ago 0 replies      
Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it. -Dan Dennett
christianlo 3 days 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.

kuyan 3 days 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.

bradezone 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I make $130k as a 21 year old"

Waaaaaa, poor you.

lazyeye 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tales of Mere Existence - Procrastination


devalhubert 3 days 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...

tradotto 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looking back?!? You're only 21. Go find a sport league in your area, take up skiing or rock climbing.
restlessmedia 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do something you enjoy? If you enjoy doing something, you won't try and find ways to avoid doing it.
Misiek 3 days ago 1 reply      
adventured 3 days 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).

d4m0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Willpower is like a muscle. Work on it. Build it.

But then I'm here reading Hacker News too so......

aaronbrethorst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Peace Corps.
6d0debc071 3 days 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.

ilconsigliere 3 days ago 1 reply      
Try working out (lift) first thing in the morning
klahnako_cell 3 days 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.

nlx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stop going to hacker news until after 5pm
pr0filer__ 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of swear words and superlatives.
grauniad 3 days ago 0 replies      
Block hackernews. Block reddit.
mkesper 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just do it.

Sounds easier than it is, though.

barnaby001 3 days ago 2 replies      
how is this even being asked in 2013? this is why god invented adderall. stop fucking around.
rnl 3 days ago 0 replies      
akldjlafkjalfk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Freedom Hosting sites compromised, founder arrested twitlonger.com
307 points by DevUps  1 day ago   134 comments top 23
ToothlessJake 1 day ago 2 replies      
I must yet again point to a company like Endgame Systems[1] as being a likely contractor for this service rendered for the FBI.

Some of Endgame's products used by the likes of the NSA:"There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other U.S. allies. Maui (product names tend toward alluring warm-weather locales) is a package of 25 zero-day exploits that runs clients $2.5 million a year. The Cayman botnet-analytics package gets you access to a database of Internet addresses, organization names, and worm types for hundreds of millions of infected computers, and costs $1.5 million."

Exploiting an unknowable amount of users of a service as to hunt them. Using illegally harvested data from botnets, while others get hunted and prosecuted for coding them.

This tiered society where the legally immune can profit off acts that get others jailed. The market manipulation that comes with bribing companies for data access, the government giving less regulatory oversight to companies it has secret 'deals' with.

For the sake of society, economy, basic morality. It must end.

[1] http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems

cookiecaper 1 day ago 7 replies      
This whole post is a mess. Someone distributes an exploit via a popular hosting provider for onion sites (and it's curious why anyone with a serious interest in privacy would outsource onion site hosting anyway) and suddenly Tor is damaged? There's a link to a paper that claims people can do things you're not supposed to be able to do with onion sites, but I don't see how that's relevant -- this post is conflating at least a few things.

So here's what I can grok from it:

* "Freedom Hosting" founder has been arrested; presumably, many people were using "Freedom Hosting" to host onion sites (is this where "half of all Tor sites compromised" comes from?). No charges listed, article slightly hints at child pornography charges.

* Someone, presumably the FBI, has set up an exploit to be distributed through Freedom Hosting sites that will phone home and reveal your non-Tor IP address (solution: seven proxies). "Freedom Hosting" founder was probably coerced into allowing distribution of this exploit.

* Author claims that said exploit only affects Firefox >= 17 on Windows.

* There's a link to a paper about possible problems with hidden services, which is apparently not relevant to any of this other than the fact that there was just a shakedown on a big onion site provider.

I'm flagging this article because it is utterly incoherent and the headline is sensationalist. There is no evidence of a fundamental flaw in Tor being related to any of the events mentioned. Hopefully someone will write a comprehensible piece soon and put it out there.

__float 1 day ago 3 replies      
They make note that the vulnerability used is only in Firefox 17--the current ESR (extended support release).What they do not mention is that the Tor Browser Bundle[1]--created so users can simply download one executable and feel protected by Tor--is based on this very release.

Among all internet users, Firefox 17 is probably rare, but among Tor users? My bet is that it owns a significantly higher chunk of the market.

[1] Tor Browser Bundle: https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

cjbprime 1 day ago 2 replies      
We should be clear that this isn't a vulnerability in the Tor software or network, but an (apparent) vulnerability in this unrelated "Freedom Hosting" company's site:


makomk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion of arrest: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6154493

Previous discussion of malicious Javascript: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6154246

kaoD 1 day ago 1 reply      
> The JavaScript zero-day exploit that creates a unique cookie and sends a request to a random server that basically fingerprints your browser in some way, which is probably then correlated somewhere else since the cookie doesn't get deleted. Presumably it reports the victim's IP back to the FBI.

"in some way", "probably", "presumably" = I have no idea what's going on.

iM8t 1 day ago 7 replies      
Europeans point of view:Am I the only one who feels that the US is taking over the Internet and all of our privacy with it?
inDigiNeous 1 day ago 4 replies      
Am I the only one who is f*cking tired of FBI and other violence based organizations using pedophilia as their excuse to raid and bust people ?

Think of the children! Yes .. a good front to make it so that they can just bust anything using SWAT forces.

Is pedophilia such a big problem? Really ? I would like to see one study about pedophilia and the problems it creates, instead of what the problems that NSA and FBI are facing when people start encrypting their traffic and we actually have some freedom of speech in some areas.

D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since I've never been an .onion site user, I've not noticed any issues with my Tor connections to the "regular" net.

It's my understanding that one can host a .onion "hidden" site without having to go through any such provider as Freedom Hosting, so I don't see how my privacy is being affected by this situation.

galapago 1 day ago 1 reply      
A preliminar analysis of the 0day used:


edit: Maybe is a good idea to submit this link (or another related) to discuss about it in a new HN thread.

popee 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here is real reason why little sisters force everything into browser. Because they care about security >:-)

People should stop using web/browsers for everything.

LekkoscPiwa 1 day ago 2 replies      
Software that creates randomly TBs of fake email, voice (skype) and other communication daily to disrupt NSA. Possible? Helpful?

I.e. billions of emails created daily originating from millions of email accounts created daily that contain random words including the ones the NSA is looking for.

I mean, they went on the path of the least resistance with this whole PRISM thing. Kind of blatantly stupid approach of "just listen to everything". That can possibly be derailed by simple creating tons and tons of "everything" daily to feed their stupid programs.

belorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think there is a large insight to be had by all this.

State can and will use computer exploits in military and law enforcement. Like with PRISM, its no longer just the tinfoil - Its confirmed. The businesses model for a few companies are to hoard zero-day exploits, and sell it on the market. The military, police, "business intelligence" a.k.a industry spying, and criminals are their customers. In contrast to disease research, software virus research are not regulated or illegal, so both good and bad is the result. It is good when independent research find vulnerabilities in software we use, and less so when its hoarded and sold to be used against us.

lawl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Uhm, so where exactly does the FBI/NSA come in?

As of now there is some guy stating that some hoster has been pwnd and uploaded some JS that expoloited something that might be FF17 that might have been shipped with the tor browser bundle.

Why exactly does he thing FBI/NSA is involved?If he has the exploit code why didn't he upload it?

Lots of conclusions based on assumptions. As of now I'd think it's more likely someone just pwnd the largest TOR hidden host provider, uploaded a sploit that will affect most of the users (tor browser bundle) and called it a day.

Sure there MIGHT be some GOV/whatever involvment. But wouldn't it be time to wait with such accusations until we got some actual proof? Not even uploading the alleged exploit doesn't really help his position.

I would think that since about 60% of TOR projects funding comes from the .gov[0], that they have an incencitive to keep it online. I could imagine they have some nodes for which they wouldn't want to reveal the physical location. I don't know warhead controllers or something. Of course that only works if the're are enough nodes involved so you can hide yourself. That's why I think this might not have been a .gov action.

[0] https://www.torproject.org/about/findoc/2012-TorProject-Annu...

marincounty 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm afraid to comment out of fear being picked on? I didn't read the article very well(depressed about things, and what the Internet is morphing into), butdidn't the U.S. federal government put money into TOR?
Paul12345534 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone who was using Windows for TOR browsing was already asking for trouble. Anyone browsing outside a "sealed" VM setup such as Whonix was also asking for trouble.
joshfraser 1 day ago 0 replies      
This has given us a pretty rare chance to look at a 0-day exploit being used in the wild by the US government. Has anyone traced the code enough to know how it works?


denzil_correa 19 hours ago 0 replies      
What does it mean by "Half of Tor sites compromised". Was not it just "Freedom Hosting" which was compromised?
Zuider 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone notice this:

>3. Bitcoin and all crypto currenecies set to absolutely CRASH as a result since the feds can not completely control this currency as they please.

synchronise 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a question for Tor users.Would such an exploit to the system encourage you to transition to similar darknet services such as I2P, or will you be sticking with Tor with greater caution?
Amarok 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious if the exploits would work with javascript enabled, but with noscript installed. This is default for the current TBB I think.
rogerthis 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a Catholic, I don't know what I hate most: child pornographics or the FBI.
vertis 1 day ago 0 replies      
You have to respect an effort like this.
Founder of Tor Freedom Hosting arrested in Ireland, awaiting extradition to USA independent.ie
286 points by waffle_ss  1 day ago   172 comments top 20
redthrowaway 1 day ago 5 replies      
Interesting. Freedom Hosting had been a target of Anonymous' Operation Darknet from the beginning--they're well-known for refusing to take down exploitative sites. Operation Darknet is, itself, a pretty interesting phenomenon: Anonymous hacks onion sites, then hands over user information to the FBI for investigation. Anonymous does what the FBI legally can't, and in exchange they're not prosecuted for it. I can't find the article now, but I recall reading an interview with an FBI agent in Wired or Ars or some such where he described the anons as "Internet Superheroes". (sic)

That, in and of itself, is kind of curious. Curiouser? One of the original Op Darknet principals was Sabu. You may remember him as the hacker the FBI rolled and got to bust up LulzSec. Sabu was turned by the FBI on June 7th, 2011.[1] Operation Darknet began several months later, in October, 2011.[2]

The obvious question, then, is this: Did the FBI use Sabu to entice Anons into attacking child porn networks, thereby evading the laws against them doing it themselves? Did they use the fact they turned a well-known hacktivist to help them deal with criminals they lacked the legal tools to go after? Is this arrest the culmination of those efforts?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabu_(hacktivist)

[2] http://www.informationweek.com/security/attacks/anonymous-at...

babarock 1 day ago 10 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but I never understood the obsession of legal enforcement with child pornography. Don't get me wrong, the idea of pre-pubescent children being exploited by pornographers horrifies me as much as anyone, but it always felt so ... random.

Maybe I'm wrong and the problem is a lot more widespread that I think it is, but I think that there are so many more crimes committed online. Yet, almost every time some morally righteous politician talks about regulating the Internet, he or she mentions "Child Pornography". I can see how the words would have the desired effect in a political speech, but is it really THAT common a problem?

Where did that come from? Call me paranoid, but it feels like this term came out of an orchestrated propaganda campaign to scare uptight puritan Americans from the Evils of the Internet, similar to the propaganda movies we can see about marijuana in the sixties.[1]

    > The court also heard that a search of Mr Marques's computer revealed he had made inquires about how to get a visa and entry into Russia.
And it's valid to consider this suspicious? I've queried how to get entry into Russia before, I hope that didn't trigger any kind of alarm.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bm2koyUqmU

ToothlessJake 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the thread on the apparent code injection portion of this topic[1], I heavily suggested governments with the US at the least being responsible for the deed[2]. With a corporation like Endgame Systems being a probable contractor for the act[3].

Something I've brought up a few times with my commentary previously and mentioned by some here is governments using tactics they prosecute others for:"There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other U.S. allies. Maui (product names tend toward alluring warm-weather locales) is a package of 25 zero-day exploits that runs clients $2.5 million a year."

Sometimes using the very tools made by those hunted, prosecuted, renditioned:"The Cayman botnet-analytics package gets you access to a database of Internet addresses, organization names, and worm types for hundreds of millions of infected computers, and costs $1.5 million."

How long can citizens of nations involved in enabling and hiring these mercenaries keep faith in the law of the land, let alone those tasked to uphold it? How long can the tiered system of the monitored/hunted/renditioned and the legally immune last, with the legally immune being paid by the former?

Stop attempting to code around this human issue. Please.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6154246

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6154819

[3] http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems

ihsw 1 day ago 1 reply      
In other news oxygen has been banned from distribution due to child pornographers utilizing it while producing child pornography. Environmentalists across the world cry foul as vast swaths of forests are slashed and burned in an effort to control oxygen production.

Conservationists have been branded "supporters" of child pornography, and incidentally the logging industry has seen its largest growth ever and jobs are plentiful.

waffle_ss 1 day ago 1 reply      
Link came from a Reddit thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/onions/comments/1jmrta/founder_of_th...

This is a pretty big deal as lots of Tor hidden services were apparently hosted on Freedom Hosting, including TorMail.

pavs 1 day ago 2 replies      
Slightly off-topic. I often read about how non-americans are extradited to US for legal reasons. How often does US citizens get extradited to non-US countries? I honestly never read of any such incident.
revelation 1 day ago 1 reply      
If Freedom Hosting was compromised by the Feds, why is he still arrested? That points to his cooperation, when the alternative would be that the Feds did this themselves, but certainly thats not legal, now is it?
belorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
When news papers write articles about legal matters, I wish they stop combining different terms and concept as if they were synonymous.

The title says he is a dealer. The subtitle says he is a facilitator. The text says he is a allegedly involved in distributing. Lastly, The warrant says he is a distributor and promoter.

Most of those are quotes, but it confuses the matter to the point of ridiculous. I know what a distributor is. I can guess dealer is a synonym to it. Everything else is just wage hint of "wrongness" with no solid legal ground.

marvin 1 day ago 1 reply      
So wait. Is this guy actually a child pornographer, or does he simply run an anonymizing service which is incidentally used to distribute child porn? The first would appear to me to be just, the second would be a perversion of justice with a good pretext.
josteink 1 day ago 0 replies      
So let me get this straight: someone defending freedom of speech is criminalized to the point where the US will use their political influence to hunt him down worldwide.

Land of the free indeed.

rustynails77 1 day ago 2 replies      
The article is vague on whether or not he made, or just distributed the videos. Will this open the doors to be able to catch the monsters abusing young children, or is this just a game of whack-a-mole?
unimpressive 1 day ago 0 replies      
Related Discussion:


I was actually under the impression prior to seeing this that the TOR website used "freedom hosting" and was compromised. Nice to see this unintentional clarification.

cupcake-unicorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a terrible article - not enough background information. I'm assuming this has to do with some Tor exit node thing, like all the other people who get charged with this?
GigabyteCoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
How did they ever determine he was in fact the owner of Freedom Hosting?
andrewcooke 1 day ago 0 replies      
this has info on what freedom hosting is, for those that are confused (click "continue...") - http://kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion.to/wiki/index.php/Freedom_Host...
mariuolo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did they ascertain where the servers are located?Otherwise how can the US claim jurisdiction in lieu of Ireland?
adamnemecek 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how/whether safe harbor will apply.
froggyDoggy 1 day ago 0 replies      
is this actual Child porn offence OR is this, the TOR network is used for child porn (bullshit)?????
aluhut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting how the Major Consensus Narrative changed making the USA an evil place for everyting related with freedom on the net.
rikacomet 1 day ago 1 reply      
and thus, TOR comes to an end.
NSA Collects 'Word for Word' Every Domestic Communication, Says Former Analyst pbs.org
274 points by chakalakasp  2 days ago   106 comments top 17
espeed 2 days ago 4 replies      
Reposting this from a previous thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5897654)...

I remember during the Boston bombing investigation, Tim Clemente, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent, told Erin Burnett on CNN that they could go back and get access to the content of the calls between the deceased bomber and his wife, Katherine Russell.

After some Googling, I found a partial transcript of the CNN interview...

"Almost immediately Erin Burnett, the host of CNN's Outfront, wanted to know how the government knew. Aren't phone calls supposed to be private? She interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counter-terrorism agent on May 1, asking:"

  Is there any way  they [the federal investigators] can  try to get the phone companies to give that up  Its not  a voice mail. It's just a conversation. Theres no way  they can actually find out what [was said on the call],  right, unless she tells them?  Clemente:  There is a way. We certainly have ways in  national security investigations to find out exactly what  was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily  something that the FBI is going to want to present in  court, but it may help lead the investigation  we   certainly can find that out.  Burnett: So they can actually get that?  that is    incredible.  Clemente: Welcome to America. All of that stuff is being   captured as we speak, whether we know it or like it, or   not. 
Source: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/15340-boston...

CNN Interview Clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPHZrVPt4-U)

CNN Follow-Up Interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt9kRLrmrjc)

When I initially saw this on CNN, my first thought was, do they also have access to all photos and videos that are taken and transmitted online?

And if so, couldn't they stitch together a multi-angle montage from all the photos and videos taken at the scene of the Boston bombing (like http://photosynth.net), rather than asking everyone to manually scour through their personal footage?

fixxer 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice to see somebody pointing out the obvious bullshit regarding the Utah facility's real purpose (content storage, not metadata).

What kind of iron do you need to run NLP on a day's worth of content (let's limit "content" to voice transcriptions from phone calls)? Suppose I want to pick out "bomb" in near real-time? How many $billions for total information awareness?

Even the best algo is going to produce false positives. At nation scale, that is going to be a massive QA/QC effort.

martindale 2 days ago 2 replies      
The "former analyst" in question is Russell Tice, who was terminated by the NSA in 2005 after "publicly urging Congress to pass stronger protections for federal intelligence agency whistleblowers facing retaliation" [1]. There's an interesting exchange from then-director of NSA special access programs Renee Seymour to Tice warning him against testifying on the NSA programs [2] about a half year later.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Tice#Whistleblower[2]: http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2006/04/nsa010906.pdf

cheald 2 days ago 3 replies      
So here's my startup idea:

Stenographically-encoded messages in high-def porn. It's secure communications with a built-in subscription model!

Porn accounts for a huge chunk of internet traffic today, and video doesn't compress too well. Get enough people exchanging messages in porn videos and all of a sudden, those listening in have a whole hell of a lot more bytes to sift through.

(I'm only half joking.)

redsymbol 2 days ago 1 reply      
Holy crap:

RUSSELL TICE: ...The NSA were targeting individuals. In that case, they were judges like the Supreme Court. I held in my hand Judge Alito's targeting information for his phones and his staff and his family.

If true, that's... mind boggling. What possible valid reason could the NSA have to secretly monitor the calls of a US Supreme Court justice? And his staff, AND family?

I really hope this allegation is false.

llamataboot 2 days ago 2 replies      
So it's now in the realm of maybe-to-probable that the NSA has every domestic phone call on tape as well as some non-trivial sized chunk of all emails sent? Plus for sure has all metadata they can get their hands on? Plus cable taps on most (all?) internet backbones?
205guy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Am I he only one who read that bit about wire-tapping the Supreme Court judges? While unsurprising, that really seems to cross the line from counter-whatever to political manipulation.
kennywinker 2 days ago 2 replies      
They throw out the claim (~4:10) the facility in utah could store "about 100 years of the world's communications".

Has anyone done the math? How much could that facility store. If they were indeed recording word-for-word content, how many days/months/years could they store?

twoodfin 2 days ago 6 replies      
No, says an unnamed NSA "colleague" of a former analyst. Say what you like about Snowden, but at least some of his claims have been backed up by evidence. What have these guys got? Why not name names?
MattyRad 2 days ago 0 replies      
>We have turned intelligence into a regulated industry in a way that none of our allies, even in Europe, have done. We have all three branches of government involved in overseeing the activities of the NSA...

That a whistleblower had to reveal the programs, that Congress was largely unaware that any such programs existed, and that NSA personnel are content with lying to Congress about the programs pretty well contradicts that claim. Still, glass half full, I suppose it's somewhat encouraging that PBS is reporting on this.

codex 2 days ago 0 replies      
Should this turn out to be true, the legal rationale is likely that a warrant is only need to read a communication, not to collect it. So "they" archive everything and then promise to look at it only when legal to do so. The NSA can even record American citizens if they promise not to read the data if it turns out to be an American they've recorded (unless the FBI wants the data, of course).

Even if this promise holds, though, people may dislike this policy, to put it mildly. If a robot takes a naked picture of me, it's an invasion of privacy even if no human ever looks at it.

blisterpeanuts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Backups! That's the upside of this whole NSA domestic spying brouhaha. How many times have you wanted to replay a phone conversation, or recover an email from a past account, or throw your boss's memo back in his face when he tries to "scope creep" your project?

That's right. Probably every one of us wishes for this capability. And then there's the federal budget deficit, no? I propose to kill two birds with one stone here. NSA can offer to "remember it for you wholesale" as Philip K. Dick put it! Maybe $0.10 per byte (or $0.25/minute for audio) to search and provide on CD virtually anything you have said or done since 1992.

It's actually rather comforting to think that, although they're not very good at their primary mission of stopping terrorism, they have this great ancillary benefit that we can all take advantage of!

EdSharkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
OF COURSE they'd store the contents of our communication, it would be foolish for them not to now that they have the means! The algorithms for speech to text are probably near perfect by now, especially since they have SO MUCH sample data to work with. I doubt you'd need to store the raw audio data, just turn the transcript into full text "metadata".

The main issue is that our information is being stored - INDEFINITELY. You've got to be naive to think this data won't be abused eventually. It will be sold, or it will be used to control. Reading between the lines in some of these news stories, I have to believe that all the walls between the civil and law enforcement agencies are coming down, and it's all one big data mart FTW.

We must bar them from generally capturing and storing information about us. A crime needs to be under investigation about an individual or group before the data capture can begin.

LekkoscPiwa 2 days ago 3 replies      
Crazy idea: software that would generate TBs of fake communications (email, skype calls, etc) daily to disrupt NSA operations. Possible? Helpful?
northwest 2 days ago 2 replies      
> He claims the NSA tapped the phone of high-level government officials and the news media 10 years ago.

That would explain why Obama seems to have become the best sheep ever:

1. Spy on them

2. Collect everything that's somehow "embarrassing" for them

3. Regularly remind them of what happens if they don't do what would want them to do

By that logic, they have probably "vetted" Obama thoroughly, before deciding to not discredit/destroy him completely in front of the public.

northwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you are tired of having the same discussions over and over again:


j2d3 2 days ago 1 reply      
he's making a list,checking it twice;gonna find out who'snaughty and nice...
FBI pressures Internet providers to install surveillance software cnet.com
271 points by ojbyrne  3 days ago   97 comments top 15
oscargrouch 3 days ago 8 replies      
In any other civilized country, after being caught spying, governments would be ashamed and massacrated by public opinion and politicians would review and stop their actions immediatly

.. but in US they(the big brother) have no shame at all.. they continue to do it as if theres nothing wrong with.. and people just act normal while civil rights get shattered appart in pieces..

people need to get real.. this is pretty serious.. this will have a great impact and damage not only on civil rights but also in business..

Im sure a lot of people form outside US are waking up and will start to build their own local versions of sucessful US bussiness.. and this is just the tip of the iceberg..we can think of a lot of other things coming, and none of the are good for anybody

declan 3 days ago 0 replies      
By request I just posted this 2006 court opinion that says all email headers except Subject: lines are metadata. No wiretap order required to do a live intercept:https://plus.google.com/u/0/112961607570158342254/posts/9Cu7...
silentOpen 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's very simple: a free country is run by free software by definition. A free country has published laws that are implemented and debugged (adjudicated) in public.

If the FBI wants carriers to install software on their network devices, the FBI is implementing regulatory law as code in the network substrate. The source and its build and development process must be public. They have no magic tricks and there is no unknown capability that this could compromise. It's simply a requirement for a country governed by the law. It's how we watch the watchers.

Seeing as how we can't even get voting machine source code released, I have little faith that the spy state will cede its code in the near future. Given this, it's now time for all able-minded hackers to build tools for personal liberty and spread them far and wide. Godspeed.

diminoten 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wait so this captures HTTP request "metadata" - is that everything but the body of the request?

But it also sounds like more. They're talking about Facebook correspondence names, email address "to"s and "froms" - stuff you can't get out of HTTP "metadata" but have to analyze the content body and extract. So if they're analyzing content, isn't that a line they're crossing into content?

And how are "Internet search terms" metadata? I guess if it's part of the URL as query parameters it's metadata?

state 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have been reading the cypherpunks archives recently, and have noticed that Declan was pretty active on that list. Thought it worth mentioning, as his articles have been popping up on HN with increasing frequency.
mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 1 reply      
OK I'll hand it to you that was a pretty important article.
drblast 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the fact that this is done on a large scale makes people more complacent.

"Oh, they're monitoring the whole Internet for terrorists? OK!"

But if you told anyone, "The Feds have decided to monitor you and 1000 other people chosen at random for the next year. Your phone calls will be stored, and all of your web browsing activity will be logged. They probably won't use it, but it's being stored just in case."

People would have a fit.

northwest 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Judges are not always in a position, Boothby said, to understand how technology has outpaced the law.

How is it that this issue was not already addressed, yet?

Who runs this show?

northwest 3 days ago 2 replies      
Not naming names, but...

> AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast, and Sprint declined to comment.

coldcode 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does this solve the issue with intercepting SSL traffic? Without "content" there isn't much to go on in deciding how you could use the packets?
foxhop 2 days ago 0 replies      
AT&T partners with defence contractors to implement email spying


icantthinkofone 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you want to continue to ignore the reason for this then this sounds bad. And almost everybody here is ignoring the cause and fixating on the symptom.
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obedience or Peace?

What is USA seeking from rest of the world?

northwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to turn this eternal discussion into results:


mars 2 days ago 0 replies      
Taken newyorker.com
274 points by zt  8 hours ago   145 comments top 28
eldude 4 hours ago 6 replies      
The sad thing is that people on both sides of the political spectrum complain only about the other side, failing to realize that their own side is equally responsible. I see a lot of people declaring, "This is not the country it used to be," but it's in regards to both PRISM, civil forfeiture, and the Patriot Act; and Obamacare, FHA Loans, and Welfare.

The true problem though is government, both altogether and the increase in the Federal government at the expense of local or State governments. Both the Democratic and Republican parties stand only to lose power by embracing either libertarian or state values. Consequently, a party that weakens itself with its own values, will always fail against a party that strengthens itself. Additionally, when the backlash from Bush's increase in government became too severe on the right, Obama stepped in to increase the size and reach of the government on the left. Until Democrats and Republicans acknowledge this, the political system will continue to use us against each other to enrich themselves and rob us of our liberties.

This is the issue of our generation: the gross overreach of government institutionalized by politicians pitting opposing mass ideologies against each other while empowering themselves. Neither Democrats nor Republicans will ever surrender their party values for fear the other will abuse the opportunity to seize more power.

We need a pro-state or libertarian party. I suspect a pro-state party would generate far greater support, likely because it is part of our historical/constitutional DNA.

EDIT: Sorry for the seemingly tenuous relation to the article. The reason this relates is that all of the justification given by local law enforcement for violating our for Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were Federal precedents and Executive Orders. In other words when the Federal government consistently violates federal (constitutional) laws, local governments are emboldened to do the same. Additionally, the size and power of the federal government itself emboldens it to violate its own (constitutional) accountabilities to the people.

mratzloff 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting article. Here's the conclusion, from Wikipedia:

"In late 2012, the ACLU announced a settlement in the case, under which police must now observe rigorous rules during traffic stops in Tenaha and Shelby County: traffic stops will be videotaped, and the officer must give reason for the stop and for suspicion of criminal activity. Drivers are to be advised that they can refuse a search, and dogs will no longer be used in conducting traffic stops. Property determined to have been taken improperly must be returned within 30 business days. Also, asset forfeiture revenue from traffic stops must be donated to non-profit organizations, or used to pay for the officer training required by the settlement."

For once, the good guys won, although (like usual) no one was charged criminally in connection with it.

john_b 6 hours ago 10 replies      
> "Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.

The officers found the couples cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station."

The article doesn't say it outright, but does imply that they consented to the police search. Never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, should you do this. Even if you "have nothing to hide." These two thought they had nothing to hide too. But what you think doesn't matter when the officer's opinion on what is "suspicious" is all that matters. There is nothing whatsoever for you to gain from agreeing to a search of your property.

Don't give them probable cause and make them get a warrant. If you agree to a search you might as well hand your rights over at the same time. Depending on the officer(s) to exercise sound judgment and restraint when they have little to no incentive to do so is simply foolish.

noonespecial 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Owners who wish to contest often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods. Washington, D.C., charges up to twenty-five hundred dollars simply for the right to challenge a police seizure in court, which can take months or even years to resolve.

Trolling seems to have become the 21st century's biggest problem facing the "rule of law". I suppose once law became expensive relative to the median income, it was inevitable, but it really seems to have become the dominant emergent behavior of today's unsavories nearly overnight.

jfb 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This has been an ugly and shameful aspect of the "War on Drugs" since day one. I like that people are surprised that if you create an incentive structure, it encourages a specific behavior. Well, no kidding -- if law enforcement funding is dependent on civil forfeiture, civil forfeiture goes up.

You can get the good of the forfeiture (expeditious seizure) without the perverse actions by decoupling the proceeds. More training isn't going to work on its own.

jasonwatkinspdx 6 hours ago 2 replies      
For people who haven't been in Texas lately, particularly south Texas... this isn't unusual or an exaggeration. It really is that bad.
bluedino 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I have no problem with this being done with legitimate drug dealers. A real bust, where the cops are shown standing behind a table with a half of a million in cash stacked on the table, a small arsenal of firearms, and couple kilos of drugs on the table. They auction off the house and luxury cars and the expensive electronics etc inside.

But taking someones car because they were driving it while buying $10 of pot? Absolutely ridiculous. I'm sure with a lawyer you can get your car back and charges dropped but if you don't have the money for that, it's simply not fair to take someone's vehicle for recreational drug use.

There's no arguing that it's against the law but you don't get your vehicle taken away for speeding or driving away in it while shoplifting or writing a bad check.

What's the difference?

mschuster91 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh god, is this really happening? The US devolve more and more into a totalitarian regime, from an European viewpoint.

Makes me worried for the poor (literally) people in the US. We in Germany have at least the "Prozesskostenbeihilfe" and mandatory attorneys as soon as you're arrested.

Compared to this, US system looks like 3rd world and it's sick to see this happening.

mmaunder 3 hours ago 1 reply      
At DefCon 2013 on Friday the ACLU described a disturbing trend of local law enforcement emulating the feds in their overstepping the boundaries of our civil liberties. The ACLU and EFF are doing great work - particularly the ACLU and I strongly recommend you become a member or give them an anonymous donation if you'd like to help fight stories like this.


PS: I'd like to see a kickstarter for dashcams that stream in real-time so even if they're seized the record persists.

arjn 8 hours ago 6 replies      
It seems every day we hear about things in the US getting worse for the average citizen. Is it a case that it was always like this and we're only just finding out or are these more recent happenings ?
kghose 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This article just made me angry. Very, very angry. I'm inspired that there are lawyers who have the patience and determination to counter the cynicism and corruption of some police and government departments in the country.
donaldc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sounds like unreasonable seizure to me. The search didn't sound all that reasonable either.
Gravityloss 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is slightly off topic, but I find the writing style in the article odd, though this kind of writing is common in supposedly good newspapers and magazines with long winded stories:

"Outraged by their experience in Tenaha, Jennifer Boatright and Ron Henderson helped to launch a class-action lawsuit challenging the abuse of a legal doctrine known as civil-asset forfeiture. Have you looked it up? Boatright asked me when I met her this spring at Houstons H&H Saloon, where she runs Steak Night every Monday. She was standing at a mattress-size grill outside. Itll blow your mind."

What does the grill have to do with this? Why does every story have to have adjective laden filler how the people's hair looks like and where the interviewer meets them?

secstate 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder what the average citizen can do about this? I feel awful for these folks, and wish more people could become educated about their civil rights when faced with the legal system.

EDIT: Sounds like the ACLU (+1) already followed through with the embarrassment that was Tenaha, Texas. But it makes you throw up a little to hear the Wash. D.C. attorney general try to justify the importance of ill-gotten funds to prop up corrupt police :(

qq66 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I hope that some business model survives to ensure the production of long-form journalism like this. I fear the longer-term effects on society if journalism like this disappears in lieu of purely user-generated content or blog posts that earn $50 for the author.
clarkmoody 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"...and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses..."
mathattack 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow - this is amazing, "Can it really be happening in the US?" corruption. Is this also an offshoot of a no tax policy in Texas?
BWStearns 4 hours ago 0 replies      
IIRC it is the legislative branch of the government that is responsible for raising funds. So when I see this defense "Its definitely a valuable asset to law enforcement, for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldnt be able to get to fight crime" I get concerned. There is a very good reason that those with the monopoly on the legitimate use of force are not intended to self-finance.
InclinedPlane 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The apotheosis of the ridiculousness of forfeiture exists in the case "United States vs. $124,700 in US Currency": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._$124,700_in_U....

In this case a large amount of money was taken into custody by the Nebraska State Police. It was found guilty of being the proceeds of illegal drug sales and confiscated by the state under asset forfeiture. The human being who had previously been in possession of this currency was neither convicted of nor charged with any drug crime. The US Supreme Court upheld the conviction of the defendant currency.

I wish I was making this shit up.

noir_lord 8 hours ago 0 replies      
They can take your property based on nothing more than probably cause.

It's a good job that American Law Enforcement has shown itself over and over again to not abuse the powers granted to it then.

pje 8 hours ago 1 reply      
United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins
ohashi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed it was published in the future (August 13, 2013). I wonder how that happened?
frankblizzard 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel sorry for the honest and good american people that have to suffer from this power abuse, which seems to be a very real and common threat. It must be horrible to live in constant fear from your own government. :(
mkramlich 4 hours ago 1 reply      
completely off-topic for HN -- and yet 151 points. please somebody save this site. it's spiralling out of control. pg, please
speeder 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder that when (it is a when, not a if) several someones consider a cop a intruder and kill it, people will start to wake up that things are getting too far.
speakr 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone else noticed that the article was written next week?
kelvin0 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Say what you will, but at least most US citizens have cheap access to quality medical services. You can also buy as many guns as you like or sell them to known criminals, how sweet is that?
Why does Angular.js rock? angular-tips.com
263 points by Foxandxss  2 days ago   124 comments top 19
jacques_chester 2 days ago 9 replies      
Angular is god's gift to programming bloggers. The documentation is so famously patchy, contradictory and impenetrable that an entire cottage industry of talmudic literature has sprung up around it overnight.

I've spent the last two weeks slicing and dicing the developer guide and all the directly related API documentation -- this one-page demo is better than the entire Angular tutorial. It also covers the most important 20% of the Developer Guide.

Based on my current understanding, I'd explain Angular in a different direction. Everyone starts with the binding, introduces a few inbuilt directives, then possibly writes a directive.

I'd start with the $digest() loop, then build out to the runtime loop generally, then explain how link()ing makes the $digest() loop possible via $watch().

There is an enormous amount of Angular that is damn near liable to cause you to scratch your head clear through to your grey matter unless you spend 15 minutes reading the $digest() source code and eyeballing the dev guide in a few places. The docs by themselves simply will not teach you how Angular works, which rather falls short of the purpose of having documentation.

at-fates-hands 2 days ago 1 reply      
The issue I've consistently had with a lot of the "frameworks" coming out recently, is the lack of subject matter experts. It's like someone throws this stuff together, makes an attempt to sketch out some documentation and then just lets the developers have at it. Most of the developers who make videos or tutorials simply do a few basic ones, and leave the rest up to the community to figure out after that.

It would be nice if there was a team of developers who actually incubated this stuff so they could write some decent documentation, along with a gamut of examples from simple to highly complex so these frameworks didn't always looked like a half baked rush job on getting it out.

I know our industry moves fast, but I think we'd be better served with a complete set of documentation, with people who've been using these for some time and who can lay out a solid road map for developers interested in utilizing these frameworks.

sahrizv 2 days ago 10 replies      
I am just starting up web development and have decided to use Django for backend. However, this Angular vs Ember comparisons have lowered my confidence as I think whatever choice "I" make, will turn out wrong in the long run. Can the experienced people here tell me what I should choose? I am fine with either style of approach to HTML(template vs declarative) and I just want a batteries included framework, which I can use in production, with no severe limitations which may haunt me later.

P.S I am very new to HN and I cant do Ask HN posts :(

hayksaakian 2 days ago 1 reply      

    It works great but what if we want the input to have the focus when the page loads? jQuery right? We grab the input and we call the focus() method in it. NO.    With directives we want our HTML to be as self-descriptive as possible so we are going to create a focus directive.
Or you could use html5's autofocus


and cut the JS


Otherwise great article, I'm really leaning hard towards angular now, over ember

overgard 2 days ago 2 replies      
So those are some neat features but I guess my overall question with all these client side frameworks is: what problem are they solving? I see like these lists of interesting features but I don't see a coherent message behind "why I need this".

Usually I go seeking out a library when it does something that I really don't want to have to do on my own, so what's the thing this is preventing me from having to do?

mcgwiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Certainly amusing demo.

What might actually have a chance at winning me over (having deep real-world experience with and trust of other tools) is an account of more complex usage:

- deep look at componetization/composition techniques,

- how it plays with CommonJS/AMD/Harmony,

- honest accounting of drawbacks, pain points, non-ideal usage scenarios,

- explanation of all the magic, e.g. what's happening under the covers to do data-binding, does the global namespace get polluted by DI features, etc...

MattStopa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I spent most of the last 4 months doing all my front end work in Angular. The biggest problem I for me is that A) there are a lot of nooks an crannys and B) the views end up being pretty ugly.

I've been doing more with Ember recently, and while some things are not as easy, some other important things are much easier. On top of that the views are easy to read. So at least for now I feel like Ember is better for me.

stevewilhelm 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Angular has a lot of built-in services, managing $http requests, $q for promises, etc. But in this part we are not going to talk about any built-in service, because they are more complex to explain and that belongs to a new article.

Statements like this worry me. Authenticated requests to REST API's should be drop dead simple in any JS framework.

ErikAugust 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good breakdown of some of the useful built-in directives as well as an easy-to-understand guide to creating a directive.

Top commenter is definitely right that Angular's own docs create a cottage industry for bloggers and others willing to bang their heads against stuff until they figure it out.

Just started an Angular directive that allows for reusable Flot charts: https://github.com/ErikAugust/flang

I'll be adding the barChart directive as well as adding dynamic option setting in the next day or two.

occam65 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once, just once - I want to read an article like this and in the conclusion read "It doesn't rock. This framework just really sucks."

Anyway, I've been using Angular for a couple of weeks now, and happen to really enjoy it.

caioariede 2 days ago 1 reply      
What are the alternatives to Angular.js that does not use this Dependency Injection magic?
gedrap 2 days ago 1 reply      
A good summary, although I found a title a bit misleading - expected some sort of comparison 'why it's better than XYZ'
hoverbear 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good article, interesting site, terrible choice in background. Every time I scroll it flickers due to the pattern.
devasiajoseph 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually the best and simplest introduction to Angular.js I have ever seen. You rock too!
Bahamut 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like this article - there is a huge need for content on how to do things in Angular.

I personally love Angular quite a lot, and often help people in #angularjs on Freenode - stop by if you ever have a question, a lot of us are helpful!

AydinSakar 2 days ago 0 replies      
great post!, keep going :
avty 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love AngularJS
_random_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because you have not heard of Knockout.js?
The White Hat's Dilemma docs.google.com
239 points by secalex  2 days ago   100 comments top 15
throwaway3902 1 day ago 9 replies      
I used to work for Blizzard. The Chinese government requested that we modify the WoW client so that they could intercept all chat. As far as I know, no-one said anything, including me - and Blizzard, of course, was more than happy to comply, given the size of the market and the risk of being forbidden to do business there. There were plenty of other MMOGs happy to play ball and eat that cake.

I didn't say anything. It was happening to "them", Chinese nationals. Not only that, but "they" should know better than to say sensitive things online, because even if we didn't install the back door, I reasoned, it wouldn't be too hard to get that data through various other means.

I really regret not only my participation, but not making a big stink about it. No-one did. I strongly suspect that that same system is being being used domestically, now. Clearly it was the wrong thing to do. I've regretted my role in that implementation for several years. I shouldn't have participated, and I should have protested. Even if it didn't stop it, at least the company leadership might have felt the heat. But I was a coward and I didn't want to lose my job, didn't want to fight a legal battle, and, like I said, it was just China spying on it's people, which everyone knew they do anyway.

And who knows? The news probably would have been ignored, or, if it wasn't, I might have been branded as a coward and a disloyal employee, betraying the people who put food on my table. And I being under 30, overpaid, over-priviledged, etc. I can hear the Fox News commentators even now. That, to me, has been the most difficult thing about Snowden, is that here's someone who did the right thing, who revealed wrong-doing on the part of our government, and there are a lot of people who say he's the wrongdoer, who attack him as disloyal and worse. A back door in a game used by China? Who would even care about that? And if they did, I'd just be torn to shreds, unemployable and with heaven-knows-what kind of future.

The reaction to Manning and Snowden, particularly the lack of strong public support, sends a strong signal that people don't want to know. They don't want to upset the apple cart. They don't want to challenge the government, they don't want to question it, not even when it's clearly violating it's own most important rules - the rules that, presumably, we've been fighting to promote these last 200 years. It seems hopeless.

tptacek 1 day ago 6 replies      
Here's an alternative vantage point, my vantage point, one I think makes these kinds of ethical quandaries easier to navigate:

* I'm not a "white hat" or a "black hat"

* I'm not deliberately involved in any kind of "cyber" conflict

* I don't do what I do because I'm battling the forces of evil, or organized crime, or anything else

Instead: I do engineering. The same way a contract driver developer does, or a Rails dev. I happen to work in a particularly challenging problem domain. My work happens to have some interesting implications. But those implications are not the reason I work in the field; I work here because it allows me to grapple with compilers, number theory, low-level networking, hardware, OS kernels, and every imaginable development platform. It's about the craft.

I find this vantage point, which appears amoral, makes the ethical dilemmas easier to resolve. If a company like Narus asks me to help them make a network monitoring system harder to evade, I don't have to put that request into some ethical framework that considers the good that application might do. I just turn the work down. Same goes for the US Government; no, sorry, not interested.

Total respect for Alex (the "white hat consulting company" he founded is iSec Partners, our sister company and former archrival). I get the sense that Alex engages intentionally with these dilemmas, that he wants to be a part of something larger than himself and, I think, larger than the craft. As a result, sure, he has to live a carefully examined life, and make sure the projects he's working on aren't skewing his compass. I admire him for picking his way through those problems. But I'm every bit as engaged with the field as Alex is, and I'm here to tell you that you don't have to get tangled up in these kinds of ethical problems if you don't want to.

cyanbane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great presentation and something that programmers in general (not just infosec) need to have a personal decision model for. Everyone should be able to make their own decision to these questions as they see fit, but the more we talk about issues like this the more we see where other people like us (who maybe were put into this position in the context of "work") have decided on a stance (and the repercussions of said stance) the better off we all are. We who work on machines and not man don't have an oath that we are taught to follow and/or live by, and I don't necessarily think we should. That being said, the Jr. programmer working for a small firm can encounter decisions of ethical importance as much as a black/white/grey/green/mauve hat infosec can. To me, this is the core value of what a site like HN provides and probably the main reason I read the comments on HN more than I do the articles.
chipsy 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favored moral framework for most situations is the noblesse oblige: If, by chance or by choice, you have the privilege of affecting a lot of people, you now have the responsibility of supporting the most marginalized members of that group, regardless of whatever prejudice against them you may have had.

This is, in a lot of cases, a nearly impossible obligation to completely fulfill, but in application, it leads to both a closer examination of privilege and to moral decisions and outcomes that are progressive.

dlitz 1 day ago 1 reply      
Slide 28. What does "IR" mean?
scotty79 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd say correct answer almost always is to leave quietly. Let's leave doing immoral things to immoral people and let's hope their employers starve due to elevated fees.

Also if you live in US you should always put your own safety in the first place. US justice system becomes most significant threat to capable citizens.

gnosis 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have a link to a plain-text version of this that doesn't require access to the Google spyware site?
casca 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love the Ultima 4 reference
treenyc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you ALex for bring up these issues. I just would like to point out that ethics and morality are both normative propositions (in the sense that they are different cross culture and society). Basically what is consider desirable vs. undesirable behavior. As we all must have found out by now, what is consider desirable and undesirable that very different from place to place.

It would perhaps to be more constructive to consider a positive model of integrity (Positive as in positive theory in economics). In many ways we have confused morality and ethics with integrity. Integrity when distinguished in the positive model it can be apply consistently across culture, societies, groups or organization (kind like the law of gravity).

For those who are interested, you download the short paper by Dr. Mike Jensen on social science research network related to positive model of integrity:


glomph 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it is worth thinking about the idea that whatever your particular moral framework is it should not be about 'making a difference' but making the most effective difference you can. Actually if you hold something to be important you should want to do the most that you can. Exceedingly often what this means is doing something different to the majority of people. Often this goes against conventional wisdom.
Selfcommit 1 day ago 1 reply      
Who is the finnish guy?
nonchalance 1 day ago 1 reply      
I question the slide regarding trade secrets:

* the names are misspelled: first person is Sergey Aleynikov (not alinikov) and second person is Samarth Agarwal (not agrawal)

* in each circumstance, there was actual trade secret theft. That part is clear. The slide itself seems to suggest something beyond that, but they essentially took code that they wrote for their employer (and they signed contracts clearly saying that it belongs to the employers)

dajusu 1 day ago 1 reply      
What letter was asked to be signed at the end?
Qantourisc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why do people even sign NDA's ?
Rickasaurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Was this talk recorded?
Did Goldman Overstep in Criminally Charging Its Ex-Programmer? vanityfair.com
235 points by yummyfajitas  3 days ago   218 comments top 42
waffle_ss 3 days ago 5 replies      
On the night of the arrestwithout an arrest warrantSerge waived his right to call a lawyer. He phoned his wife and told her what had happened and that a bunch of F.B.I. agents were on the way to their home to seize their computers, and to please let them inthough they had no search warrant, either. Then he sat down and politely tried to clear up the F.B.I. agent's confusion.

"He was completely not interested in the content of what I am saying. He just kept saying to me, 'If you tell me everything, I'll talk to the judge, and he'll go easy on you.' It appeared they had a very strong bias from the very beginning. They had goals they wanted to fulfill. The goal was to obtain an immediate confession."

Don't talk to police! - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

zeteo 3 days ago 3 replies      
The justice system is, of course, still in the business of catching and punishing murderers, thieves and such. But, with the decline in crime since the early '90s, this side of their activity is becoming increasingly supplemented by a different game altogether: enforcing a growing set of complex laws against practically everything [1]. There is a lot of prosecutorial discretion in choosing which of these laws to enforce and the degree to which to enforce them. With prosecutors often competing against each other in the number and severity of convictions secured, it's hardly surprising that they've arrived at the age-old algorithm used by street muggers: pick the most likely victim, and go all in. A guy like Aleynikov was thus ideally suited as a prosecution target: unlikely to excite much sympathy from a jury with his heavy accent and un-American looks; clueless about lawyers and confessions; cooperative enough to sign statements that were re-formulated by investigators to look bad in court; high-tech enough to mark novel and impressive prosecutorial checkboxes. They consequently made sure to squeeze him for all he had.

So, while I think the often repeated advice about never talking to the police sometimes goes too far (it's probably good to have a friendly relation with the neighborhood cop, and by all means please help in apprehending murderers and burglars if you safely can), it's pretty much dead-on as soon as you step into enforcement la-la land:

- Don't consent to any searches.

- Don't say anything without a lawyer.

- Put great effort into finding a competent lawyer.

- Don't say anything your lawyer hasn't approved.

Beyond refusing help to efforts to prosecute you, such steps will clearly mark you as a non-victim. (Same advice as applies when you have to pass through a mugging-prone area.) This will cause a lot less effort towards pushing through with your case. After all, there are other suckers born every minute.

[1] http://reason.com/archives/2009/10/19/were-all-felons-now

noonespecial 3 days ago 2 replies      
He was stringing these computer terms together in ways that made no sense. He didnt seem to know anything about high-frequency trading or source code.

Programming is esoteric to common folk. Almost like witchcraft. When things go wrong for villagers, they often burn witches.

They didn't burn witches in the old days because of some moral failing that we've outgrown. They burned them because they were unable to understand that "witches" didn't actually cause plagues.

davidw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have some recollection that it was a bunch of Erlang code, from some other article about it.

Edit: Hah, wow... ok, so it's a small world. If I'm not mistaken, this is the same Sergey Aleynikov:


I've been interacting with him quite a bit lately regarding his erlexec code. He strikes me as a nice guy.

Edit2: Looks like he's asking for donations to help fund his defense: http://www.aleynikov.org/

impendia 3 days ago 5 replies      
I was on a jury for a murder trial, and so I have some insight into how juries work.

At one point, when I was splitting some hairs and discussing the meaning of some small details from the evidence, one of the other jurors got impatient and reached for the coroner's photo of the victim. "Someone died here, you realize."

JonnieCache 3 days ago 2 replies      
Side question: how do these people with "only the vaguest interest in his fellow human beings" end up with a wife and three kids? It seems to be a common theme amongst articles like this. They always paint the hero-programmer as some kind of rainman figure and then it turns out he has a loving family. Just the usual fictional press nonsense I guess.

EDIT: should always read on before commenting:

"He married a girl and manages to have three kids with her before he figures out he doesnt really know her."

rollo_tommasi 3 days ago 1 reply      
This article is also interesting in that the total blind trust McSwain put in Goldman's explanation of the situation really illustrates the typical mob hit-man mentality of most law enforcement agents. The Big Boss gives them a name and they take that guy out, no questions asked.
imsofuture 3 days ago 1 reply      
While stupidity isn't a crime, people like Serge manage to find their way around that obstacle.

It's pretty obvious he didn't have any malicious or illegal intent, but he definitely followed the checklist of 'things not to do when leaving a job'. Emailing yourself code? Seriously?

The whole thing is a travesty, but he walked right into it.

nohuck13 3 days ago 4 replies      
I was working at one of the rival HFT's mentioned in the article when all this went down. I had some thoughts.

-It's never ok to take proprietary code with you after quitting. I don't know anybody that would have thought that was OK, especially with the amount of money people were making off this IP in 2008. Of course that's true in any industry, but especially in trading.

-That said, you can't just walk out the door of Goldman on Friday and be trading on Monday, even if you had their entire codebase. The infrastructure needed to be a world-class HFT player at Goldman scale is insanely complicated and prohibitively expensive to all but the most well-funded folks these days. You're going to need colo space and power at tens of trading venues, low-latency WAN infrastructure to ship production quotes and data around the world, expensive exchange gateway connectivity, quant research platforms and a giant compute cluster, significant devops and monitoring infrastructure to run and monitor it all, and smart people evolve the stategies, models, and code as it decays while you're setting all this stuff up.

wmil 3 days ago 1 reply      
From the article:

"He didnt fully understand how Goldman could think it was O.K. to benefit so greatly from the work of others and then behave so selfishly toward them."

I don't think he understands Wall Street.

melling 3 days ago 5 replies      
In case people aren't clear on this. He worked in an industry that takes this sort of thing very seriously. He shouldn't have even been trying to download open source from work. You don't email stuff home to work on it, for example.
ImJasonH 3 days ago 2 replies      
My favorite part of all of this is the scare-quotes around "subversion repository"
cgshaw 3 days ago 2 replies      
As an attorney and someone moderately interested in politics, it's becoming more and more clear that technical literacy is going to play a huge role in law and policy.

We desperately need more politicians, bureaucrats and law enforcement who at least have some basic technical knowledge.

Empathy is the only way to prevent stuff like this.

GeneralMayhem 3 days ago 4 replies      
This makes me angry. Not just the story itself, but the way VF goes about telling it, which commits the same sins (albeit with better intent) as Goldman Sachs. "So-called 'subversion repository'?" Why don't we just accuse him of summoning demons while we're at it?
Geekette 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Naivete is a bitch... Or one hell of a drug, depending on your viewing angle.

And given his re-arrest on what appear to be spurious charges (1st set were thrown out on appeal), I can't help but agree with this comment on VF: "When Goldman says 'jump', the gov't says: 'How high?'"

GeneralMayhem 3 days ago 3 replies      
An interesting takeaway from this piece is that GS is blatantly and systematically violating the terms of the MIT license, GPL, and whatever else they happen to get their hands on. I'd love nothing more than for the FSF to take them to court over it.
j_baker 3 days ago 0 replies      
When I took Criminology (or perhaps it was Deviance), my professor made me read this book: http://www.amazon.com/You-Are-Going-To-Prison/dp/1559501197

It was written decades ago, and is still relevant today. Sadly, I think programmers should begin reading it, as prison seems to be growing into a larger threat for us.

mcgwiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Although I acknowledge the sympathetic angle of the article, I cannot fathom why he would take such a risk.

During my 2 years consulting in global investment banks in NYC, it was standard practice for all employees, internal or external, with access to sensitive data or IP to undergo comprehensive IP compliance training and execution of IP agreements. This had to be performed within a month or so of engagement or your badge and account would be deactivated. Every year at a particular client required the training to be repeated.

It was inculcated that violations of such policy had a high likelihood of being caught and would carry very significant penalties. In my experience, they successfully established very taboo cultures around transmitting IP out of their systems.

cmiles74 3 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is starting to seem like a relatively dangerous kind of work.
mathattack 3 days ago 0 replies      
They did mug him, but it's considered a huge no-no in financial services to take any kind of code home. It's impossible that he didn't know the gravity of what he was doing when he did it. It's always a terminatable offense at the very least, and frequently leads to more.
ahallock 3 days ago 0 replies      
How does this case not violate the eighth amendment? Or if not that, basic fucking justice and morality. He's lost everything, spent a year in prison, was acquitted of federal charges, and now is being charged by NY State? The justice system is seriously broken.
amalag 3 days ago 2 replies      
If it was a normal company you could boycott them, but how do you boycott Goldman Sachs for all they have done?
6d0debc071 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course they overstepped. They basically mugged a person of their life savings, deprived them of their liberty, and ruined his marriage over nothing of consequence.
fnordfnordfnord 3 days ago 0 replies      
IIRC one speculation on the matter was that the information that was taken would have proven that GS engages in all sorts of illegal and rule-bending trading strategies (say it ain't so).

edit: added quote from court record below.

"...because of the way this software interfaces with the various markets and exchanges, the bank has raised a possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways."

See page 8 http://www.scribd.com/doc/17191934/USAvSergeyAleynikov-7409-...

biafra 3 days ago 2 replies      
Where in the article is the actual story? Can someone please point me to the page and paragraph that contains what actually happened? What did he do?
Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
Russians had a reputation for being the best programmers on Wall Street

Is that true?

(the rest of the paragraph was interesting, and worth repeating for anyone who read the whole article):

Serge thought he knew why: they had been forced to learn programming without the luxury of endless computer time. In Russia, time on the computer was measured in minutes, he says. When you write a program, you are given a tiny time slot to make it work. Consequently we learned to write the code in a way that minimized the amount of debugging. And so you had to think about it a lot before you committed it to paper. . . . The ready availability of computer time creates this mode of working where you just have an idea and type it and maybe erase it 10 times. Good Russian programmers, they tend to have had that one experience at some time in the past: the experience of limited access to computer time.

vermontdevil 3 days ago 0 replies      
And now he's being charged by the state of New York. This will never end as long as Goldman Sachs continues to pull the strings, I fear.
mabhatter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Black and white letter of the law, he should not have sent the modified Open Source programs home. The modifications really would be the employers property and the employer has all the power to release them. That said, he had been sending the files home to work on all along (before changing jobs) and never was EXPRESSLY TOLD to stop. That is why the original case would have been tossed as there was noillegal access" going on.

The second case for sending secrets is closer to legit. But only because if you send secrets out at all, if you didn't have permission, it could be illegal.

The REAL issue is font work for asshats that don't play nice. Alternately, accept that as a programmer mixing hobby Open Source projects with your Employment projects is a recipe for trouble.. Take their money and be a sucky leacher.. Or post your fixes to maintainers from home, reengineered solely at home with no files from work.

As somebody who does admin work, its a great excuse just to not take work home at all unless its on my company laptop.

nonchalance 3 days ago 1 reply      
The best lesson here:

> The fourth, and final, rule was by far the most important: Dont say a word to government officials. The reason you dont, he says, is that, if you do, they can place an agent on a witness stand and he can say anything.

Aren't you allowed to have a lawyer present in conversations with agents?

cupcake-unicorn 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't have anything useful to say, but: "Serge figured, it was a matter of unfolding the box, turning a three-dimensional object into a one-dimensional surface"

Now how does one do that? :) And he shouldn't have had to used the Pythagorean theorem on just a one dimensional line...

Sigh. Just thought it was funny, since the article was about how programming/technical jargon goes over the heads of jurors, the FBI, etc. but seems like the article writer isn't immune to it either :)

metaphorm 2 days ago 0 replies      
A reminder everyone, the only thing you should ever say to a law enforcement officer is "I'd like to see my attorney."
justinhj 3 days ago 1 reply      
The only thing I find odd is the deleting of the bash history. There are no passwords in there, unless you type one by accident.
jrochkind1 3 days ago 0 replies      
Man, talk about risks computer programmers don't usually consider in taking a job on wall street.
hawkw 3 days ago 1 reply      
ITT: journalists don't "get" programming.
vijucat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have worked with Goldman and UBS. UBS, to it's credit, has taken a liberal stance and explicitly addresses contributions to Open Source : if they are done on your own time, that's fine. Goldman, in contrast, had the usual, "anything and everything you do or do not belongs to us" agreement.
Fuxy 3 days ago 3 replies      
That's the problem with the American judicial system. Whenever they want to convict someone innocent of a bullshit crime they just assemble of idiots who just say guilty to go home to their trailer.Have they heard of the phrase "jury of their pears" that actually means pears not of the same species. I wouldn't consider any of the people on that jury my pears.
snake_plissken 3 days ago 0 replies      
Like the opening of the Vanity Fair article, I never and still do not understand exactly what he did that is illegal.
pawrvx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Goldman is above the law.
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
kenjagi 3 days ago 1 reply      
That article is riddled with inaccuracies.
sneak 3 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't clicked through, but only the government (via prosecutors) can charge anyone with criminal offenses.

Additionally, while private people can suggest charges or report crimes, ultimately they have zero say one way or the other if charges actually get filed.

See also: Apple/DoJ/Gawker, ATT/Apple/DoJ/weev, JSTOR/MIT/aaronsw

jmduke 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is the first front-paged post I know of where nobody's invoked Betteridge's Law of Headlines, which I find particularly ironic.


Sergey Brin invests in synthetic beef theguardian.com
234 points by sinesha  13 hours ago   246 comments top 32
spodek 12 hours ago 12 replies      
We have a lot of entrepreneurs here.

Why don't we start with an easier lab-grown animal product than something we ingest?

How about lab-grown fur coats (EDIT from evilduck's comment: or lab-grown leather for clothing, furniture, shoes, etc)? Who wouldn't want to wear a "mink" coat created with no animal pain?

Develop the technology on something we don't have to eat, along with the associated health risks and sensitivity of our palates, but still useful. Then transfer the technology to the harder areas.

I wrote about in-vitro fur before -- http://joshuaspodek.com/vegetarian-entrepreneurs-test. I'd love to see it but haven't heard of anyone working on it. Is anyone doing it?

Another application easier than in-vitro meat for humans -- in-vitro meat pet food.

wahsd 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Mostly carnivorous guy here; I have started playing around with the use of tofu and mushrooms in stead of meat and have come to the realization that it is actually a lot easier to substitute them for meat. Another, even bigger realization I have come to is that it seems that my addiction, yes, addiction, to meat and meat having to be a minimum requirement for having any interest in a dish, is that it is really a psychologically conditioned addiction. I don't think that the meat alternative market is really addressing the real problem, people's habitualized addiction to meat by industry, special interests, and marketeers manipulating a vulnerability in humans.

I am not advocating universal vegetarianism, but the fact that Americans eat insane amounts of meat is proof in and of itself that something is not right. There is a healthy level of meat intake and we far exceed it. Just think of how many meals have some form of meat in it. It's probably approaching 100% for most Americans that are not vegetarians.

amirhirsch 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Best quote from Sergey: "If what you're doing is not seen by some people as science fiction, it's probably not transformative enough"
api 10 hours ago 8 replies      
I can't wait to see the cognitive dissonance from the "natural" people.

On one hand, it could quite possibly replace factory farming and eliminate a huge amount of waste, pollution, and animal cruelty.

On the other hand, it's GMO.

I love seeing True Believers in Movementarianism squirm.

I'm equal opportunity here. I like pointing out the philosophical inconsistencies of dogmatic positivism to your typical Reddit /r/atheist type, or pointing out the failures and corruption of the pharmaceutical industry to the rabidly anti-alt-med people you find in skeptic circles...

Ideology: n.: from the root words "idiot" and "ology," the science and art of becoming an idiot by confusing a model of reality with reality itself.

antitrust 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I like the idea of being able to be a carnivore without being a killer.

However, there is a trap in this. Right now, there are cows and pigs wherever there are humans.

Fast forward 200 years when we can grow our own meat in the lab. Who's going to keep around livestock? For what reason?

Pigs and cows would exist in a wild state in a small fraction of their former "territory." If at all.

aaronmarks 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Biz Stone also just got into the meat-substitute space, with Beyond Meat - http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680007/biz-stone-explains-why-tw... - which I can report is vegan, gluten free and delicious.
keiferski 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The biggest challenge for synthetic beef will not be technology. It will be marketing. I'm glad Brin is investing, but I'd really like to see a marketing master like Richard Branson take the field on.
Dewie 9 hours ago 2 replies      
> "Cows are very inefficient, they require 100g of vegetable protein to produce only 15g of edible animal protein," Dr Post told the Guardian before the event. "So we need to feed the cows a lot so that we can feed ourselves. We lose a lot of food that way.

Yes, if most of what you feed the cows are human-edible.

dreamdu5t 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Even with fully-developed technology, I have a hard time believing it will require less energy to manufacture a pound of synthetic beef than it will to simply grow it naturally. Am I wrong?
pdenya 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good on him for investing in stuff like this. Good for animals, good for the planet, and good for me. I can't wait until this is universally available, I'll never eat another boca burger again.
wvl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> A commonly cited statistic is that cows produce more greenhouse gases than all the worlds transportation combined, or 18% of all greenhouse gases. ... [snip] ... A more accurate analysis of the data resulted in a much more respectable estimate: that cattle contribute less than 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.


Nux 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice of mr. Brin to do this. It should set an example.I'm all for anything that will reduce/stop the mad slaughtering that's taking place now.
scld 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the synthetic food market is going to be the biggest emerging market by 2020, coming out of relatively nowhere.

I know that there is development around it but with all the talk about energy, privatized space, mobile computing, clean environment, etc., I think synthetic meat will be the dark horse for next big business.

Goronmon 13 hours ago 13 replies      
Does it taste like despair?

Seriously though, that's always my first thought when I read a story about something like this. It's like my brain can't help but cringe of the thought of eating something made this way, even if it's irrational.

brianbreslin 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been following this topic for a while, and the interesting thing is that synthetic beef still has to be "fed". What its fed is stem cells and cow fetal materials. So its not "vegan" per-se.

One of the synthetic meat companies switched to leather products as they found out no one wants to eat bio-engineered lab grown steak (also it didn't taste very good)

chris_wot 12 hours ago 4 replies      
While it's more ethical for the animal, I must question the carbon footprint and efficient and effective use of resources to make synthetic beef.

Firstly, to make it scale you'll need a lot of machinery. Then you'll need the right nutrients. It will need a lot of technology, because to make beef grow it will need to have everything maintained and provided for it. In nature, beef cattle can be run on reasonably unproductive land (feed lots notwithstanding). Cattle, as it turns out, are very effective and efficient factories of meat production all by themselves.

hawkharris 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Do British newspapers not capitalize the word Internet? I know all American papers capitalize it because it's a proper noun. I'm wondering if that's just a recurring typo in this article or if British journalists follow a different convention.
lukashed 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Next up: Google beef. If they know our ad/browsing preferences, they also know our food/taste preferences.
deegles 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Fully automated, mass production of synthetic beef would be an amazing feat and would definitely change nutrition for millions, if not billions of people. That being said, I don't think we'll be there in less than 50 years.

In the short term, there's already a method of producing high quality protein and fats at around 90% efficiency: insects!

Now if only the Western world would get over the stigma attached to bugs...

peterjaap 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hasn't Veridian Dynamics done this before?

Edit; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_bPobs8T5w

penguindev 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry but this is just bullshit. More science will continue making overpopulation WORSE and EVEN LESS HEALTHY. The last great example of this, the Rockefeller foundation making the 'green revolution' of cheap, unhealthy, and unsustainable mass carbohydrate production[1]. Read 'Wheat Belly'.

Why can't these billionaires ever use some right brain thinking? Stop _fucking_ with our food. The more 'efficient' you have to be, the more vulnerable the entire system is to shocks.

You want to end animal cruelty, stop having more than two kids. Period.

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

mapleoin 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome, but I'd really hate to be a beta-customer for synthetic beef. It might cause a lot of really bad side-effects while the whole industry matures, figures out what standards it should set and implements them.
jlebrech 12 hours ago 1 reply      
we could also use that muscle to create clean energy, we could make it pedal on bicycles.
esalman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What's with Google Glass? Why Google employees have to where it when appearing on camera? Or do they use it all the time? Just wondering.
gavinpc 11 hours ago 2 replies      
> a history of backing projects that sound as though they belong in science fiction movies.... mining asteroids... trips to the moon... driverless cars and... green energy projects.

So green energy is on par with trips to the moon?

wprl 11 hours ago 3 replies      
How about a return to traditional agriculture, which would provide more jobs, cleaner food, and decentralization and localization of food infrastructure? Why the relentless pursuit of industrialization and homogeneity at any cost?
pearjuice 6 hours ago 2 replies      
He doesn't seem to understand that everything on this planet has its purpose and that of animals is, that it is to be consumed by us. I do not condone the current ways of killing animals en masse but certainly artificial meat isn't the answer either? We are dealing with a lot of unnatural food these days and no matter what the motivations are, it is hurting humanity.
total__C 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Something I've always wondered about regarding synthetic meat:

for say synthetic pork, would it be necessary to mechanically 'exercise' the muscle fibers in order for them to taste the same as pork from a pig?

magoon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
zjgreen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Google Beef. Is that what he calls it? 0_o
snappy173 8 hours ago 0 replies      
sidcool 13 hours ago 0 replies      
He doesn't seem to like bacon.
Bradley Manning case stretches credibility of US computer fraud law theguardian.com
228 points by Libertatea  1 day ago   62 comments top 12
jacquesm 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's interesting he brought up My Lai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre), there are more recent examples from Iraq that could be used just the same. Immunity from war crimes seems such a weird concept. I think it is the flip side of aggressively prosecuting whistleblowers, it sends a signal to the rest of the people in the employ of the government. 'Even if you do this, we'll protect you' and 'If you do this, we'll hound you forever'. It would be quite refreshing to see a nation-state prosecute its military and contractors (mercenaries, really) suspected of war crimes with the same zeal with which they target whistle-blowers.

Regarding the charges relating to computer fraud: This is like wire fraud. It's apparently pretty hard to do anything illegal in the USA without getting a charge of mail / wire fraud attached to it. I figure anything that involves a computer and that displeases someone in an official position is grounds for a computer fraud case. So I think the writers assertion that mailing the same documents in paper form would have had a different effect is wrong. The only thing that I think would change is that computer fraud would be replaced by mail fraud.

Manning is being charged with all this mostly because he embarrassed the US administration, not because of any fraud or real life fall out (contrary to earlier claims of lives put at risk and deaths related to the leaks no specific death has been positively linked to the leaks and any such claims were retracted during the case). The Image of the USA has been damaged, the recent NSA leaks damage it further. Instead of asking itself how to remedy the root causes an example is made out of those that stood up. Business as usual, unfortunately.

ToothlessJake 1 day ago 1 reply      
Compare information (metadata) collected on criminal scofflaws working under the cloak of US government contract against the acts the government finds reason to prosecute others of.

I highly recommend ProjectPM[1] started by folks including the US government prosecuted Barrett Brown[2]. As well as Blue Cabinet[3], started by Telecomix, the folks that strove to provide free dial-up to dissidents under digital/physical attack[4] while leaking[5] gigabytes upon gigabytes[6] of BlueCoat surveillance/ISP proxy logs from equipment illegally acquired by Assad.

Both sites work under the same premise, from ProjectPM:"Project PM operates this wiki in order to provide a centralized, actionable data set regarding the intelligence contracting industry, the PR industry's interface with totalitarian regimes, the mushrooming infosec/"cybersecurity" industry, and other issues constituting threats to human rights, civic transparency, individual privacy, and the health of democratic institutions."

From Blue Cabinet:"The Telecomix Blue Cabinet is a working wiki project to document vendors and manufacturers of surveillance equipment that are used in dictatorships and democracies around the internets."

Stored within is a wealth of information of the US government and others hiring mercenaries to spy on children as an example of technical skill for a deal with private entity US Chamber of Commerce as retaliation against Wikileaks[7], amongst other things.

The data sources involved include the aforementioned BlueCoat leak as well as the HBGary leak[8]. The data being the excuse to prosecute Barrett Brown of ProjectPM[9]. So do be careful unless you like being on an absurd amount of lists.

Activity such as deploying exploits on an unknowable amount of users, hacking of dissidents, _the government itself referring private entities like US Chamber of Commerce/Bank of America to the same firms it uses for surveillance work, as to target journalists like Glenn Greenwald[7]_. Makes using wget to ex-filtrate files quicker seem downright saintly.

[1] http://wiki.project-pm.org/wiki/Main_Page

[2] http://www.thenation.com/article/174851/strange-case-barrett...

[3] http://bluecabinet.info/wiki/Blue_cabinet

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/jul/07/telecomix-...

[5] https://en.rsf.org/syria-syria-using-34-blue-coat-servers-23...

[6] http://bluesmote.com/

[7] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/02/11/143669/chamberle...

[8] https://thepiratebay.sx/search/hbgary/0/99/0

[9] http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/doj-issues-subpoe...

steveplace 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you are tryiing to persuade people to join a particular issue, it doesn't help when you alienate parts of your readerbase.

The first paragraph:

> I'm not just thinking of the country's dysfunctional Congress, pathological infatuation with firearms, addiction to litigation, crazy healthcare arrangements, engorged prison system, chronic inequality, 50-year-old military-industrial complex and out-of-control security services.

Right there you've already excluded persons who are pro-gun and want to support your cause.

This kind of issue transcends a lot of traditional barriers, so it would help if they weren't reconstructed around the argument.

dobbsbob 1 day ago 4 replies      
The punishment for leaking classified info has always been a life sentence and usually in solitary confinement too like the guys convicted of treason and spying doing life in supermax prison beside the unabomber. Selling weapons to the enemy, wholesale massacre of civillians and pillaging is a slap on the wrist. Manning didn't leak anything top secret either, wonder what is in store for Snowden if they ever catch him. He'll probably get more time than the guy who got 1000 years + life for running a dungeon.

What's up with the excessive ridiculous sentences in the US? 136 years... do they keep your corpse in the prison after you die of old age to finish the time?

officemonkey 1 day ago 2 replies      
Here's the thing: Bradley Manning made a promise and signed a contract to protect classified information. He broke that promise and was found guilty. Unlike Snowden or Daniel Ellsberg, he was indiscriminate in his disclosure. He basically grabbed a bunch of secret stuff and mailed it to Wikileaks.

The computer fraud law may need changing, but using Manning instead of Swartz as the poster boy wins absolutely zero hearts and minds.

alan_cx 1 day ago 0 replies      
To be uncharacteristically charitable to the US government, Im not sure any government has credible computer/internet policies. Certainly not here in the UK at least.

Partly, I think this is because of the general ignorance of the population. And that is because the mass media see the internet as a threat to it's businesses and demonize the internet at every opportunity. So the general population see shed loads of scare stories which they believe because the have (or had) more trust in the mass media than the internet.

How often have we heard the sarcastic phrase: "It must be true, its on the internet"? (Of course my reply is always an equally sarcastic: "It must be true, I read it in a newspaper".)

scotty79 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I'm not just thinking of the country's dysfunctional Congress, pathological infatuation with firearms, addiction to litigation, crazy healthcare arrangements, engorged prison system, chronic inequality, 50-year-old military-industrial complex and out-of-control security services. There is also its strange irrationality about the use and abuse of computers."

Wow. He pretty much summed all what's wrong. He didn't mention rampant software patents and copyright explicitely but I guess that can be in the "irrationality about the use and abuse of computers".

coldcode 1 day ago 1 reply      
What bothers me most about this case is the total absence of responsibility of his superiors. Private in the military do nothing by themselves, should have no access to anything or make any decisions without someone telling them what to do. Basically if a private screws up, the chain of command screwed up. Of course in reality the big guys get away with it, but still someone was in charge of this private and gave him access to top secret information and failed to pay attention to what he was doing. That is the definition of dereliction of your duty as a leader. Yet I've heard nothing about anyone else's punishment (which could be the press simply sucks).
icantthinkofone 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems like the whole extent of the internet's education is based on articles about the US from the UK newspaper, "The Guardian".
D9u 1 day ago 1 reply      

    50-year-old military-industrial complex
I was disappointed to read that part, as it omits the Congressional portion of the equation as well as fails to make note that said complex is a lot older than 50 years.

bayesianhorse 1 day ago 0 replies      
The alleged treatment Bradley Manning had before the trial stretches the credibility of US law, period...
mdt 1 day ago 3 replies      
Ask HN: What are we doing here, guys? We're just going to submit anything anti-NSA, no matter how shit it is?

>Do you think that, as a society, the United States has become a basket case?

You ... do not live here, nor do any of your readers, nor is it reasonable to diagnose entire societies, though I'm sure it makes you feel smart. How do you work for the media and not understand how the media works? Everything you know about the United States, somebody wanted you to know. Which is what makes your list of grievances so disturbing... it reads like the UK media's primary objective is to boost the national ego.

Tesla Nabs 8% of the U.S. Luxury Car Market fool.com
215 points by cocoflunchy  22 hours ago   161 comments top 14
twoodfin 22 hours ago 5 replies      
That's defining the U.S. luxury car market very narrowly. BMW alone sold 172,000 cars in the U.S. in the first half of this year[1]. 8% of that is more than 13,000 cars, and the report is claiming Tesla sales of roughly 10,000.

Sure, not everything BMW sells is a luxury car, but the U.S. luxury car market is usually defined as much larger than 125,000 cars in a half year.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jul/08/bmw-record-c...

dave1619 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Tesla has found it's groove. Not only is demand robust for the Model S, they are expanding production as well. So far it looks like they will surpass their 21,000 cars they've given guidance for 2013. They're starting rollout in Europe this month, and Asia later this year.

At the end of 2014, they will start rolling out the Model X SUV that will offer dual engines. Some are speculating that it could give a 0-60mph time in under 4 seconds. That would be truly incredible for an SUV.

Then, Tesla is readying the long-awaited GenIII vehicle due at the end of 2016 or in 2017. Elon Musk recently stated that his goal is to sell the vehicle for $35000 (w/o incentives) and for the car to have a 200 mile range. Further, Gen III is targeting the BMW 3 series and many are expecting the Gen III to handle and perform better than a BMW 3 series. It could be the hottest car on the planet when it's released.

Tesla as a company is doing very well. They're expanding like crazy. And they're managing their cash flow well. They will report Q2 earnings this Wednesday, 8/7 and they could report another quarterly profit as well.

In another area, Elon Musk has promised to achieve 25% gross margin on the Model S by the end of the year. So, it will be interesting to see how far they've come along when Q2 earnings are reported on Wednesday. Further, it could be possible Tesla is shooting for 30% gross margin on the Model S next year (which would be incredible). In the 2012 Elon Musk ceo incentive plan, reaching 4 consecutive quarters of 30% gross margin is one of the key milestones.

disclaimer: long TSLA

NoPiece 17 hours ago 0 replies      
From Car and Driver:

Luxury Car: A car that offers a full array of luxury features and an outstanding level of refinement, starting at a base price over $40,000. Examples include the Bentley Brooklands, BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz CL-class, Jaguar XF, Lexus LS460, and Infiniti M45.

drinkzima 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Here is the actual report: http://electrificationcoalition.org/sites/default/files/EC_S...

Let's also not ignore the obvious conflict of interest in a group promoting electric vehicle sales trying to speak about actual statistics. As mentioned, BMW sold 172k cars, Mercedes Benz 182k, Audi 87k for total of 441k. Tesla at ~10k, 2% of above (though all ~$100k).

If you want model to model comparison, the model S clearly doing fine though, all depends on the headline you want I guess: http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/13/autos/tesla-sales-bmw-merced...

InclinedPlane 21 hours ago 2 replies      
The fact that Tesla has been even remotely successful is kind of a side benefit. The biggest thing they've done is transform the electric car market in the popular consciousness from being a joke. Ultimately that means that a lot more consumers are going to start considering electric vehicles when they are looking to buy a new automobile. Also it means that there are likely to be a lot more new entrants into the electric car market (both existing automotive manufacturers and new companies), because it's becoming a place where companies can make money. All of which will put the electric car market into the same sort of profit -> R&D -> better vehicles -> profit feedback loop that the internal combustion car has benefited from for over a century. One way or the other we'll find out whether the potential of electric vehicles matches the promise.
kayoone 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This article has a big flaw imo, as the Model S is not a luxury car as defined here. It competes with the likes of 5/6 Series BMW, Audi A5/A6 and Mercedes E Class. The 7 Series, S Class and Audi A8 are not among its direct rivals, in fact the Tesla only rivals them in price. That doesnt lead to the conclusion that the Model S is eating away market share from the "real" luxury cars though.
ereckers 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"In the first quarter of this, year Model S sales outpaced Audi A8, BMW 7-series and Mercedes S Class sales."

If this is true, that's pretty impressive. I always saw Tesla as an enthusiasts brand, but this looks like the real deal.

LAMike 22 hours ago 4 replies      
How will Elon pull off a 30k dollar Tesla in 2016? And will the range be more or less than the current Model S? (~250 miles)
christiangenco 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The more I hear about Tesla the more I fall in love with them. I think this may be the AAPL of the 2010s, gentlemen.
oinksoft 22 hours ago 17 replies      
Is this car only regionally popular? I have yet to see a single Tesla on DC area roads.
josefresco 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm struck by the comparison between what Tesla can be and what Apple is now within it's own industry. Who cares about market share when you're making the highest profit margin? Many comments here are regarding BMW's or Mercedes global sales numbers. I'm sure both manufacturers would trade most of those lower margin sales for the kind of cream that Apple sees on every sales of a Mac. I'm guessing Tesla isn't there yet (profit margin wise) but if I were Elon I'd rethink my goal to build an everyman car, unless he's thinking it will be Tesla's iPad moment.
mje__ 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else notice the stock price? From $35 in March to $138 today; that's pretty impressive growth
tvtime15 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Their stock has risen 263% in the last six months. Sustainable?
mtgx 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I was very disappointed to hear that Tesla pushed the launch of the $30,000 Bluestar to 2017, from the initial 2015 date.

I guess they did it because they couldn't reach the quality they wanted at that price point in that timeframe. That's fine, but I wish they started getting more market share sooner, and get more people to use electric vehicles. 2017 is quite a lot of time from now.

A rich new JavaScript code editor spreading to several Microsoft web sites hanselman.com
211 points by DevKoala  4 days ago   69 comments top 16
noonespecial 4 days ago 4 replies      
Every once in a while Microsoft still does something exactly right. And it makes me wistfully sad for all of the missed opportunities.

Yes, I was one of those who did an all-nighter outside a store waiting for win95.

AceJohnny2 4 days ago 4 replies      
Have they announced this anywhere? If not, when are they firing their marketing department?
michaelwww 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just installed SkyDrive to try it out. I already had an account for my VS Express 2012 so in under 30 seconds I was editing a file and trying the code completion. It looks good and works well, so it's a nice offering from the Microsoft coders. (Gee, I sound like a marketing shill but I'm not, I just happen to love TypeScript and Visual Studio, although TS failed me in a surprising way today - but this isn't the post for that.)
malandrew 4 days ago 2 replies      
How does it compare to Ace and CodeMirror?

[0] http://ace.c9.io

[1] http://codemirror.net

acchow 4 days ago 2 replies      

Has anyone used this? Does it reference symbols across files? I imagine it would be rather expensive to actually have a compiler front-end running live in the cloud across my project.

boromi 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really enjoy typing with this text editor. It feels just right: nice colorscheme, nice cursor width, nice bracket matching and code highlighting.I hope MS makes a native windows 8 app using the code editor or give it under a free licence it so that other can make the app.
Guillaume86 3 days ago 0 replies      
Related discussion on codeplex (typescript specific): http://typescript.codeplex.com/discussions/401549

And a ACE/typescript integration with code validation and autocomplete: http://guillaume86.github.io/ace/kitchen-sink.html switch to typescript mode in the left panel).

tommyd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like the (very impressive) editor on their Try F# site (which serves as a great introduction to the language, providing you with a scratchpad/REPL and output window for in browser coding): http://www.tryfsharp.org/
kaiwetzel 3 days ago 0 replies      
The inline threaded comments look like an awesome feature, would be amazing to have an inline widget like that in Code Mirror. Submitting tiny local patches this way might be useful, too :D
relaxitup 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's also this one based on node.js and Ace... There is a github and you can install on your own server.. I'm using it as a private interactive pastebin/code snippet editor etc on a vps of mine.. Just need to put an apache ssl reverse proxy with basic auth in front of it and I'll be good to go..


flagnog 3 days ago 0 replies      
As Admiral Ackbar would say: "It's a trap!"

Unless you're committed to MS anyway.

pingec 3 days ago 1 reply      
Tried the editor at http://www.typescriptlang.org/Playground/ and there is one very annoying thing. I cannot type the closing curly brace ("}") on a non-us keyboard layout (Alt Gr+ N). Other than that, it's good.
relaxitup 3 days ago 0 replies      
The code editor does not appear to work at all for me with IE 8.
itsbits 3 days ago 0 replies      
Editing is good and fine..but can i preview my changes directly??
meapix 4 days ago 1 reply      
doesn't have vi mode
pedromorgan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great.. How even more script kiddies can practice...
Ask PG: Why is everybody hellbanned?
207 points by josephpmay  1 day ago   129 comments top 19
pg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most of those accounts are a sockpuppet ring. They tend to all post at once, which means when they do the new page is mostly dead if you have showdead turned on.

I explained this in a comment about a week or two ago, the last time someone freaked about about banned accounts.

Next time someone wants to do that, would you please email us, as it says in the guidelines? That would have saved a lot of people a lot of time.

jlgaddis 1 day ago 8 replies      
I submitted a link a few days ago about a possible IE 0-day in the wild and it immediately became "[dead]". It's the first submission I've ever made and I haven't, AFAIK, broken any HN rules since I finally created my account (after years of lurking).

On a related note, you will be hellbanned if you create an HN account over Tor (even if you "don't do anything wrong").

Considering the recent NSA revelations, I think that's pretty unfair but, hey, what can ya do...

eksith 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm considered "new" though I've lurked for a while before registering. There are some obvious cases (spamming, trolling, link-bait, off-topic, URL-shortening etc...) that leave little doubt to the reason, but it seems to be fairly well known that in fact no one really knows why some users get hellbanned while others, behaving far more egregiously (precluding above reasons), don't.

I found this search enlightening though: https://www.google.com/search?q=hellbanned+hacker+news

jfriedly 1 day ago 2 replies      
An example:

First alpha release of Python 3.4 is out (python.org)


It probably linked to [1], but all we can tell is that it was something at python.org. The post was by plessthanpt05, an HN user for about two years with 838 karma. All of his/her posts from the past year or so are dead (about 60 of them). They don't appear to be a bot.

Python 3.4.0a1 isn't something that would interest everyone on HN, but it certainly doesn't seem like the kind of thing that should have been killed.

[1] http://python.org/download/releases/3.4.0/

Edit: more details on plessthanpt05

nhebb 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's gotta be a bug. Either that, or pg cracked under the strain of running the YC empire and implicitly announced, "You're all dead to me."
lnanek2 1 day ago 0 replies      
The mods seem to use it as their version of voting. I see perfectly fine stories banned all the time, consistently over a period of months. The same with users. Lots of times I'll look in a thread and see lots of dead people who don't know they are dead, posting interesting and useful stuff.

I've run forums and image posting sites before, the trouble isn't finding moderators from the community who will work for free. The trouble is finding ones that won't abuse their power.

stcredzero 1 day ago 0 replies      
There now seems to be a subset of Internet denizens who are invested in a culture of pattern-matching and parroting snarky self-righteous knee-jerk reactions. Even more disturbing, is that many of these people have been indoctrinated to believe that this is "clever" somehow, even though it involves nothing more sophisticated than ELIZA.

Going around thinking you're superior because you're connected is just as shallow online as it was for country clubs.

Please actually process ideas if you comment on HN.

arcameron 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been hellbanned at least a few times while trying to show HN the OSS project I've been working on :(

In /r/programming on reddit, it was shadowbanned as soon as it was posted. It's pretty frustrating and it's making me want to contribute to HN less.


anthonyb 1 day ago 2 replies      
I just took a look at the new page, and it doesn't look any different to normal.

The users of those posts aren't necessarily hellbanned - the posts are though. If enough people flag a new story I think it'll automatically be marked dead.

Usually it's just for spammy crap, or stories that aren't very interesting.

northwest 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a general request, I would welcome more transparency (about how things are handled and what we can and cannot expect from HN).

EDIT: I also believe that a lack of it will ultimately lead to HN being replaced by something else.

sjtgraham 1 day ago 2 replies      
Emailing info@ycombinator.com is the way to get these questions answered.
sigkill 1 day ago 0 replies      
Holy cow! Just saw it. It looks like a minefield. I speculate it's probably a bug or something because I've never seen so many dead links together. Either that, or today being a Sunday, has got everyone trying to promote their stuff.
jmckib 1 day ago 0 replies      
bluehex 1 day ago 1 reply      
The only pattern I've noticed is that many of the hellbanned users only ever link to only a single domain -- probably their own.
rjsw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of the dead posts look to be duplicates of live ones.
xraycharlie 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I make a comment, any comment, and it gets two or more downvotes, I assume the account has been hellbanned and abandon the account.

Why? Because it's happened to me many times in the past.

I create new accounts often. The thought police cannot stop me.

digipaper 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am I banned?
damienkatz 1 day ago 3 replies      
Posting out of turn? That's a banning.

Posting from the wrong browser window? That's a banning.

Staring at my post? That's a banning.

Post about banning? Oh, better believe that's a banning.

kyro 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone notice how if you reverse the letters PG and prepend it with K for karma, you get the KGP?
Torsploit takedown: analysis, reverse engineering, forensic cryptocloud.org
206 points by detcader  8 hours ago   74 comments top 15
detcader 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Full forum post quoted below (I didn't write it, just found it on social media a little while ago):

"Well, the story gets more interesting...

This morning, we read that information from the NSA's illegal surveillance databases has been routinely finding its way into DEA drug cases [1], with an entire government "training programme" in existence to mask the source of the information from defendants... as well as prosecutors and judges.

And this weekend, we've been working through the news that a large breach of security associated with the Tor network - it's been dubbed #torsploit [2] - has taken place. Exploit code is available (see earlier posts in this thread), and folks have been de-obfuscating and analysing the code.

There's also an IP address hard-coded into it - that's where the info gathered by the malware is being sent. That IP address is:

Now, the press reporting on the address so far has been saying it's a "Verizon business address in Virginia." Yes, that's what whois shows, but that's not exactly the full story, or the real story.

The folks at Baneki Privacy Labs have been chasing down that detail. They first asked [3], in a game-theoretic way, whether the entire situation isn't a bit too, well... obvious. I mean, did the FBI think nobody would notice? Everyone's been assuming it's the FBI, doing something like the "Darkmarket honeypot," [4] or some such. It's worth noting that nobody has taken public credit for this #torsploit [5] malware yet, so attributing it to the FBI is a leap of assumptive logic.

Turns out, the story is much more interesting than that.

Baneki dug deeper than whois, and got some clues things were spookier than they seemed. First, there's an open port (80) [6] sitting on the machine in question. So it's not some recycled or attempted-at-obfuscated IP address. It's still live and running. Then the fun starts... [7]

SAIC.png [a]

SAIC is, needless to say, deep in the core of the cyber-military complex... and certainly not the FBI.

Some further investigation by Baneki turns up the following information [8]:

NSA.png [b]

That IP address is part of IP space directly allocated to the NSA's Autonomous Systems (AS). It's not FBI; it's NSA.

What is an NSA IP address doing as a command & control contact for javascript malware being deployed in the #torsploit [9] attack? That remains to be seen... but we already know that PRISM data has been "jumping the wall" and leaking into other law enforcement hands. Is this an example of further abuse of PRISM's "national security only" dataset? That appears the most likely explanation, at this point in time.

Glenn Greenwald has been warning us this is happening - and here's another hard, objective, irrefutable data point. The NSA's Alexander - who only last week was at DefCon doing his best to charm the audience [10] - is once again caught lying bald-faced.

What happens now? We sit back to await developments..."

[1] http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE97409R20130805?irpc...[2] https://twitter.com/search?q=%23torsploit&src=typd[3] https://twitter.com/Baneki/status/364323285003014144[4] https://www.cryptocloud.org/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=87[5] https://twitter.com/search?q=%23torsploit&src=typd[6] https://twitter.com/Baneki/status/364336090057949184[7] https://twitter.com/Baneki/status/364340406361665536[8] http://pop.robtex.com/nsa.gov.html#records[9] https://twitter.com/search?q=%23torsploit&src=typd[10] https://twitter.com/CryptoCloudVPN/status/362864059105820674[a] http://i.imgur.com/9d3fj2G.png[b] http://i.imgur.com/PGnNvx9.png

ToothlessJake 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone in a previous thread about ex-NSA Russell Tice asked "Say what you like about Snowden, but at least some of his claims have been backed up by evidence. What have these guys got? Why not name names?"

I responded with:A stay in a penitentiary helped managed by SAIC[1].

Digitally stalked due to dissent by for-profit "Domain Awareness Centers" run by SAIC[2].

Persistent targeting, one way or another, by drones managed by SAIC[3].

Now after this, I can add "Hunting and exposing swaths of users as to pursue/prosecute/rendition/drone a few via disseminating exploits used against those that dare encrypt their traffic[4]".

[1] http://www.alanco.com/news_040104.asp

[2] http://oaklandwiki.org/Domain_Awareness_Center

[3] http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/06/14/news-saic-wins-95-mil...

[4] https://www.cryptocloud.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2894&p=3852#...

jonknee 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It appears that this is actually aFirefox exploit that was patched a while back. Hurray for auto-updating browsers. I read suggestions of using a LiveCD, but that seems like it would leave you stuck to security fixes like this. If you were using Tails you could at least have had a random MAC (https://tails.boum.org/contribute/design/MAC_address/), but this attack could have been a lot worse if it wanted more than the MAC.

Since the OP didn't mention it, here's the gist of what happened:

1) A bug in Firefox related to the onreadystatechange event could end up arbitrarily executing memory on a page reload. 2) The attack created a Windows executable using JavaScript's typed arrays and array buffers (pretty interesting in its own right)3) The executable phones home with a MAC address and Windows hostname

api 7 hours ago 3 replies      
One thought: the use of a browser exploit to target Tor is perhaps an admission that onion routing itself is not easily cracked.
ParadisoShlee 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not a tin foil kind of guy.... I think it's pretty safe to say the freedom hosting takedown and tor targeted exploit is a masterstroke of saber rattling and psyops dick waving.

Target and capture somebody (possible evil douchebag) who is hidden behind seven proxies, Gain access to highly secure 'hidden .onion' servers used by people who want to stay hidden, scare the TOR user base by proving they can identify you in easily while also not giving a fuck about burning one of the many exploits in their bag - in a single move!

thrownaway2424 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Hasn't it always been perfectly clear that ~all Tor exit nodes are owned by intelligence agencies? You only need a relatively small fraction of the exit nodes to pwn the entire system.
powertower 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've got a bunch of TOR originating traffic coming into a clearweb "whats-my-ip" service that I run, that's really odd (it uses a Chrome user-agent string and apears to be coming from a script, maybe even JS being executed in a Browser).

It's been going on for about 4 months now. I've posted my summery here - http://www.devside.net/blog/strange-tor-traffic-to-get-ip

throwaway912397 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The form thread relies on a domaintools.com query [1], which points to "SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INT" [2] as the owner of this Class C subset ( has found in the updatify() function listed below [3]). You might recognize SAIC from the NSA's 'XKEYSCORE Systems Engineer' job posting thread [4] a couple days ago.

  function updatify() {  var iframe = document.createElement('iframe');  iframe.style.display = "inline";  iframe.frameBorder = "0";  iframe.scrolling = "no";  iframe.src = "";  iframe.height = "5";  iframe.width = "*";  document.body.appendChild(iframe);  }
[1] http://www.domaintools.com/research/ip-explorer/?ip=65.222.2...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAIC_%28U.S._company%29

[3] https://www.cryptocloud.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2894&p=3852#...

[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6138205

hosay123 8 hours ago 7 replies      
As much as I love drama, the notion that the NSA would hardcode a registered IP address of their own into some malware and use that to attack some very publicized network affecting thousands of users.. well..

As another comment points out, why bother when you already coordinate a massive sniffing effort affecting large chunks of the globe?

dmix 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The website loads perfectly if you take out s in http[s]


nkuttler 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The site is extremely slow, I got the text to load but apparently relevant images aren't loading. It's not in google cache yet either. If somebody could save the entire page and upload it somewhere (or something).. that would be great.
at-fates-hands 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody think this could be someone other than the NSA at work here? Maybe a good frame job from someone like Anon or the Chinese?
mtgx 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Freenet's statement about the takedown:


detcader 8 hours ago 4 replies      
huh, the title of my post changed and it lost 7 points? random changes like this seem common on HN, interested in why

the original title was "Independent reasearch claims NSA behind Tor Browser exploit, owns" -- which I think is completely reasonable and accurate

Why I'll be a solo founder next time dennybritz.com
199 points by dennybritz  11 hours ago   130 comments top 50
robomartin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You really have to make a distinction between who the subject of a lot of these studies are. It is mostly young fresh-out-of-school (or still in school) guys (and gals). They generally have very little life and business experience. They are full of ideas and passion. But few have had to endure difficult situations in their lives --personal or business.

If you take that profile and suggest that success as a solo founder is possible, well, you would be wrong. The road to success is actually a mine field for most. And these young entrepreneurs, for the most part, are simply not prepared to have a steady hand at the tiller in a storm. So, yeah, that the probability for success goes up exponentially for teams is no surprise. So long as everyone is pushing in the same direction reasonably well things move forward. Add to that guidance and adult supervision (I don't mean that in a derogatory sense at all) and it could and does work well.

Of course, there are lots of examples of teams that self-destructed as things got difficult. I watched a documentary on indie game developers a while ago and that seemed to be a common theme: As they started to get stuck in the mud that can be a never-ending project partners started to become enemies and things went from bad to ugly fast.

It is my firm conviction that a well-rounded, experienced solo founder does not need a co-founder in order to succeed. You still have to hire good people to work with you, which is a fact regardless of how many founders might be at the top.

Outside of the tight-knit university-centric circles of places like SV, finding suitable co-founders is hard and fraught with problems. And this is particularly true as you get older. Everyone can get excited about launching a new business. Few are willing to put it all on the line to make it go. I've experienced this first-hand with friends. When you finally say "OK, let's do it" and start to discuss the reality of what's expected from each founder things slow down very quickly. That's when "we should do this together" turns into "Well, let me check with my wife" or "I don't think I can put in the time". The co-founder pool is smaller and smaller as you get older and/or accumulate responsibilities.

I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of businesses in the world are started and run by solo founders. I know a bunch of them. I am talking about everything, from a mechanic's shop to a software company. Partnerships are far more difficult than marriages to get right and the consequences of failure can be just as dire, if not more.

A lot of these discussions on HN tend to be software-startup-centric. There's far more to the world than web and mobile software startups. By comparison software startups are easy. That's why people can write these really amazing zen sounding introspective pieces with revelations on how they did this or that, failed and then did this or that, learned, pivoted, raised some money and eventually succeeded. Try doing that with a self-funded (from savings, loans, credit cards, second mortgages or all of the above) hardware startup, a restaurant or a dry cleaning business. The phrase "I'm all in" comes to mind. Most businesses cannot be built sipping latte's at Starbucks while listening to cool tunes. Be sure to consider context before reaching some of these conclusions.

RyanZAG 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Interesting points, but a lot of it is contradictory to the advice you hear from successful startups, so I'd take this with a grain of salt.

"I believe that my previous two ventures failed mainly because of the founding team (which Im included in). How do I know? Because companies with almost identical products and value propositions succeeded afterwards."

I'm not sure if you're drawing the correct lesson there. Sounds more like implementation issues. I'd recommend you spend some effort improving your ability to implement / find people who can implement and then try again.

j45 10 hours ago 3 replies      
A partnership is more work and harder than marriage because you have to:

- get on and stay on the same page

- agree on both of your live's direction and commitment to a path has to be the same for the next 2-3 years

- have the ability to defer to each other in your area of competence

- have to be skilled at learning and getting anything done, whether its business or tech.

- know that your entry and exit goals have to be compatible. Some people want to get rich quick, others are happy with organic growth that scales as well.

- be able to have a disagreement and move on for what's best.

- remember it's not about who's right, but what's right. Have a overarching vision, mission and values that you agree with so you can test any idea against them to see "does it fit how we're trying to do?"

- understand that it's about creating value for your customers, not making your own lives easier through the latest technology that makes something easier for you in development

- remember building channel to a market is more important than anything you build.

- building a financial engine early is the biggest indicator of whether your partnership will last

- building a partnership that grows in to friendship is easier than the other way around. Build things with people who you have experience building things with, and if you're new to each other, see if you can build something small together before taking the plunge.

jmngomes 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a single founder and can only say the experience is rather grinding.

I'm all up for the "If you don't help, at least don't get in the way" motto. I decided to pursue my current venture without a cofounder precisaly because I didn't find enough people that had both the skills and (understandably) the willingness to quit their nice paying jobs.

For me, it doesn't really make sense to have people aboard unless they add some real value to the two core functions of what a startup needs to do: building something and sell it. It's fine if you can't build it, but you better be damn good at selling it. Photo ops and "vision, mission and values" statements don't really justify a position on a bootstrapped startup that's trying to get a product out (this obviously varies, having well connected co-founders may make a lot of difference, some people are well worth their pay just because of their business karma).

The big problem of a solo venture, IMO, is that you find yourself doing these two roles simultaneously, which can be exhausting. It is for me, at least. I can do both rather well, but after a while I start finding it difficult to focus on designing a system for scalability, designing its database, reflecting on security, writing and testing Android code, building prospects lists and getting their contacts, getting meetings and attending them, fine-tuning your sales pitch and getting the man to write out a check. And I left out all the menial work that still has to be done.

By the end of the day, you're in agony not only because of that feature that is taking too long to build, but also for not getting enough customer meetings, because of not having enough positive answers and, mostly, because launch is (or should be) just around the corner and there's still a lot of stuff to be done and no one except you to take responsibility for it.

It's an emotional rollercoaster, so having the right partner seems like a good move.

ghc 10 hours ago 2 replies      
If you're not good at building a founding team, how will you excel at building a company? Technology and design are great, but companies are the people that they are comprised of.

There's nothing wrong with being a solo founder because being one doesn't mean you can't build a good team. But you obviously have issues with team building, so I'd work on that first or found a company with someone who is actually good at it.

wrath 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience the bottom line is that you need good people around you in order to succeed. It doesn't matter if that's a co-founder, a CEO, developers, etc.. If you don't have good people around you helping you in your journey of success you won't have any.

For example, in my first startup I had a very good co-founder but we were both very young and inexperienced. We didn't hire the right people to surround us and help us in our journey. As a consequence we had a great run but were out maneuvered by other companies. In the startup I'm doing now, I started with great co-founders and we then proceeded to hire more great people to surround us. We haven't completed our journey yet but the driving force in the company now is not only me (the other co-founder left to pursue other interests) but many others that share my passion and goals.

Take your time and look for people that share your vision and passion. These people are out there it just takes time. And remember, no one can do it by themselves.

If you never read it, by a copy of Good To Great (http://www.amazon.com/Good-Great-Companies-Leap-Others/dp/00...). There's a whole chapter devoted to how great companies need great entourages.

mbesto 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have yet to find a single formulaic way for founders of a business to succeed.

That being said, these are my own findings/thoughts:

- Companies with 1 + n cofounders tend to be more successful

- Working (in a commercial manner) previously to the startup helps massively. You learn a lot about people's business behaviors when you actually work with them (business and personal relationships can be very different)

- Finding a good co-founding experience on your first time is extremely difficult

- Experience with project management (and more specifically stakeholder management) is very valuable

- No more how much you read about startup stories, nothing can prepare you for the experience of a business partner relationship. It's just like dating - it's all about communication and compromise.

- I like the Hustler (CEO), Hacker (CTO), Hippie (CXO) setup for internet based startups. It also helps when each one has a experience with each other roles.

jhuckestein 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds like your previous endeavors failed before the stages in which you'd wish you had one or more great co-founders. What if you raise a lot of money and want to share the responsibility with someone? What if something urgently needs to be done during Christmas? Who else could you ask to cancel their vacation? (unless Ron Conway is amongst your investors ;)).

In my experience it's easier to start something alone, especially if it's not technologically difficult (i.e. most webapps). Down the line it's important for me to have wingmen, though. Even if you can carry the load intellectually, it's nice to have somebody with skin in the game for moral support when shit hits the fan. Of course anything is better than having co-founders that don't work out for whatever reason.

jmaskell 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe that being a solo founder contributed to the failure of my startup. In short, it puts a lot of pressure on yourself, that can't be split with other members of the team. If the ship is sinking, you have to go down with it. Other friends and mentors can offer support, but they're not in the same boat as you. When times are tough, founders can help pull each other through.

I think the reasons described in the OP are more about having the wrong founding team. This is also why we have things like vesting - if someone decides not to work full time, consult elsewhere then they should lose part of their shareholding.

austenallred 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I think most people recognize that the team is the most important aspect of a startup - from Paul Graham allowing people to apply to YCombinator without an idea, to investors my co-founder and I have talked to being much more interested in who we are, what we know, how we get along, and why we do what we do than product or traction, I think it's safe to say that the team is the most important aspect of a company.

I wouldn't, however, decide to "go solo" next time; that may even be a worse option. You'll never find someone who you work with 100%, but you need a co-founder. Keep "shopping," find someone you click with, and have another go.

beat 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What I'm learning as an early stage solo founder...

1. Not having co-founders is no excuse to not work. I want to turn this idea in my head into a working product. Saying you can't do it because you don't have a co-founder is an excuse, not a reason. It's not impossible, merely harder.

2. The critical problem is bandwidth. I'm day-jobbing to make ends meet, which bites even more into my time. My primary challenge now is finding a way to go full time, either with funding or with a revenue-generating subset of the functionality.

3. I'm the visionary. If I can find a technical co-founder to take over the coding work, great - better, even, because coding is bad for my big-picture focus. But ultimately, it's my product and my vision. If I find "co-founders" at this point, it will likely be just a label to make investors happy. In practice, they will be early employees.

4. Team-building, on the other hand, is going well. I'm a social person, an extrovert, and I can generate a pretty decent reality distortion field. I've been able to get help so far as I've needed it, and I think this will continue. Part of this comes from not asking too much of people, which is what the usual co-founder issue seems to be.

7Figures2Commas 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's important to be honest with oneself about the motivations for starting a business with somebody else. From what I see, some entrepreneurs don't want to go it alone because they believe there's safety in numbers. If you're leaving a good job, have a family to take care of, etc., it can be easier to convince yourself that you're doing the right thing if someone else is taking the plunge with you.

This is a really bad excuse for bringing on a co-founder. In my opinion, it's a primary reason you often see bloated founding teams comprised of individuals who have similar skills, not complementary skills.

georgespencer 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The article makes a fantastic argument... for investing a lot of time in picking your founders. This is like a single person saying that they're going to stay single forever because two previous relationships didn't work out. Except instead of a marriage here, you're talking about something which greatly increases the chances of success in an endeavour.

I'm the solo founder of a venture-backed startup in London. That's a bit like being the single mother of a kid in the projects who ended up going to Harvard. When we successfully make a 100x return on investment for our backers it will be the equivalent of that kid becoming president. This is a tough business and whilst I don't whinge because I knew what I was signing up for, OP is misguided to think the sole-founder grass is greener. Sole founders exist in a vacuum irrespective of how many great colleagues and mentors they have.

jmathai 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I co-founded a startup that lasted for 4 years. Once we wound that down I began doing side projects on my own or with another friend of mine.

In the end I decided that I'm better off going at it alone. Mainly because I had a hard time finding someone else to join me at the same commitment level (and that's with a side project).

So I quit my job and started to bootstrap as a solo founder (this time with a wife, two kids and single income --- mine). I brought on a co-founder about 6 months in to fill out a few gaps that I didn't have the experience or time to do myself. Not having enough revenue to pay them meant equity was the only collateral I could offer.

Fast forward 2 years and I can say that without a doubt, if I was a single founder I'd probably have thrown in the towel by now.

And my co-founder is remote! 1/2 way around the world. So as the post suggests, it's harder but I don't think it's impossible.

Obviously it depends on the individual and the business. All I can say is that the value my co-founder brought to the table was different than what I originally thought. The emotional support greatly outweighed what I thought I was bringing him on board for.

If I had picked the wrong co-founder it would have been much worse than not having one at all.

kposehn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> In particular, dont found a startup with people that ... have newborn kids

As a startup founder with a newborn (well, 14-month-old) I would say that this shouldn't be a global condition. There are plenty like me that I know who can put forth their full commitment - because we have supportive spouses that are completely on board with our entrepreneurial ambitions.

wikiburner 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I just figured I'd throw this out there to see if anyone has any insight on it: Do you think certain personality types are probably better off being solo founders? Maybe loners, or people who aren't people persons. Or maybe ADHD types who have trouble keeping relationships on an even keel? Or maybe the Steve Jobs egomaniac, force-of-will types (although, I know he started w/ a co-founder).

Obviously, it could depend on the nature of the startup, in that it could be strategically important to compensate for one of those "weaknesses".

mef 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Heads up, your blog (https://blog.cameralends.com/) gives me the red screen of evil on Chrome:

You attempted to reach blog.cameralends.com, but instead you actually reached a server identifying itself as *.herokuapp.com. This may be caused by a misconfiguration on the server or by something more serious. An attacker on your network could be trying to get you to visit a fake (and potentially harmful) version of blog.cameralends.com.

amberes 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I allready decided to be a single founder. It's damn hard to find someone interested in starting a venture together, it's even harder finding someone on the same wavelength. I could grow a beard (omg I have!) waiting for this to happen.

I burned out working my ass off nights and weekends because my previous partner was absolutely sure he'd be able to sell our product. Which unfortunately turned out different (but that venture still makes money... Too much to let it die... Too less for it not to be a pita)

'your startup chances increase with a partner'. Yes, but I'm not interested in a startup that makes me filthy rich, I'm just looking for something to replace they daytime job where I don't have to be at an office 5 days a week and where the office can be wherever my laptop is.

I have built several succesful applications over the years (for others) where I used my UI/UX skills (and really just common sense and thinking before code/design). I can make the tech side of a project from A to Z (and in my current daytime role also doing sales and marketing as I'm the sole manager of a very small but very profitable company).

And next time I'm taking on a co-founder, I want proof that he has commercial skills because it seems anyone thinks they can do marketing and sales or that it will happen by itself or something.

nlh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry to sound pithy here, but it sounds like the lesson here isn't "be a solo founder", it's "build the right team."

Either way, this is an interesting perspective - thank you for sharing your experience!

lhnz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a correlation between startup success and "founding teams" therefore investors often use the existence of a team as a proxy for a higher probability of success.

Teams can have convexity or concavity effects - that is, they have the opportunity to make you a lot more successful or a lot more unsuccessful.

Since it's hard to tell the difference between a good team and a bad team there's a lot of room for people to to create inauthentic signals by bundling together impressive-looking people that form bad teams. Therefore the heuristic of "a founding team exists" is easily gamed [0] to the point that it's losing its utility. However, since in a few cases it's exceedingly important to the success of the startup, and because of information asymmetry faced by investors it's one of the only good signals for success.

On a generalised individual startup level it was probably always more harmful than it was profitable.

In practice ask yourself:

Do you feel this person will help your company to succeed or are you just adding them because you've been told that this makes a startup more investable? If it's truly the former then take the risk; otherwise be careful, work hard and increase your exposure to suitable co-founders.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_Law

highCs 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thanks to Paul Graham, I've understood why starting a company with one co-founders is absolutely essential. This is because a startup idea is a vector (see the vector section): http://paulgraham.com/ds.html

Starting a company solo is worse than starting it with bad co-founders because you don't know at start that your co-founders are bad and then you still have a chance.

pasbesoin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You can either get stuff done, or you can't.

I'll take working solo any day, over working with those who can't. Been there, done that.

P.S. Also applies after s/can't/won't/ . And corporate life is full of cases that leave you wondering which apply and in what percentages. "Team" is not a panacea -- not from my perspective.

P.P.S. I do not mean to ignore the roles and need for training and learning. But there are people who hardly seem to benefit from, or even genuinely engage in, these.

icoder 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think most of the 'tips' and lessons learned make sense and are useful but I don't agree with the overall message. This is like saying 'I went to two restaurants and they were no good (for various reasons that can be avoided in the future), now I'll always eat at home'
acjohnson55 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think your (the author) ability to be a solo founder will probably be a great deal more successful simply because you've been a founder before. That's a huge leveling of the learning curve. I don't think I could recommend going solo to a first-time founder though, unless it's someone who has capital on hand to hire people to fill out the team.

Lack of skills: Dont work with people that dont bring unique skills (applicable to a startup) to the table. Having someone like this in your team will down the mood of the other teams members that are providing value. There is one exception to this: Bring on smart people that are willing to learn whatever it takes. Be particularly wary of people that have a certain skillset, but are not motivated to learn new skills relevant to a startup environment.

That's really great advice, but not really a reason to go solo. It's just a reason to pick your partners carefully.

woggg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"This is one of the reasons why young people often make for particularly good founders. They dont have a lot of other commitments."

Bleah. It's a balance of ability, interest, commitment, urgency and experience. Interest and commitment are not the same thing and neither is urgency. Experience does have value.

You limit yourself pretty badly if you follow this youth principle. Finding a twenty-something willing to bang his/her head for 80 hours a week is about the least useful thing a startup can do.

mgaphysics 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You deserve kudos for your efforts so far. Every failure will breed some type of insight. The statement, "I believe that my previous two ventures failed mainly because of the founding team (which Im included in)." - may be true, but could probably just as easily be said of solo founders. Especially after reading your list of deficiencies in the founding team members, they may be the same short-comings as the person staring at a solo founder in the mirror! It is sometimes harder (or impossible) to find that rare person who can wear all hats.

My major concern about being a solo founder would be the possible loss of productivity- how much more a team can accomplish over one person, and collaboration. Also, and this may seem horrible, but if we crash and burn, we can do it faster as a team, and pivot or move-on without the time equity that one person will have invested.

To answer the questions you posed at the end of your article, my two cents is that I have found it impossible to succeed at scale without an agile team (one mans opinion). I hate to preach process and organization, but if a team follows the resources available to start-ups, such as business model generation, etc. You can identify holes in the team, or where someone needs assistance. This leads to the second part of your question and the most important attributes to look for in a co-founder. They should already have expertise, but the two attributes that I would look for are Objectivity- nothing ruins like the inability to be flexible, and Leadership- in the sense that leaders tend to be people of action, they bring people along, and they celebrate success wildly.

Not that you cannot achieve success alone, but it is definitely a lot tougher to celebrate alone.

GoNB 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I imagine one reason investors like co-founded start ups is because of the bus factor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor

Or boiled down: less dependency on a single person.

qwerta 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice article but I disagree. I am very technical person and I really miss cofounder who would take care of social/business side.

First heaving new born children gives me focus on work. Before I would procrastinate a lot. Now I have to turn my idea into business, or there will be serious trouble. Sure I can only give it 10 hours X 6 days a week, but that is enough.

Secondly I disagree on remote location. It takes extra money (fast internet, video conferencing gear) and effort. But it also gives more freedom to choose best partner.

dnautics 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Co-founders can complement each others skillsets, provide psychological support, and prevent you from chasing down a rabbit hole or losing sight of the big picture."

I'm a solo founder of a nonprofit (we haven't launched yet). Of course the rules are different, we don't have to "ship" anything, and there's almost no time pressure, but I find that I can get those things from my board. They were picked very carefully to get diverse domain experience and because I know I can trust them to provide intelligent ideas (they're all wicked smart) and I know I can trust them to provide moral guidance, very important for a nonprofit.

I surmise that for a solo founder for-profit, finding people who can help you with those very important assets is necessary, but you might be able to find it outside of a "co-foundership".

petercooper 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I like being a solo founder, only partly because I can't tolerate all the things listed in other people too. The main, unforeseen, problem is that while growth is not hard as a solo founder, you can quickly run out of time working on the businesses' present than anything for the businesses' future. Having other founders who can be diverted to things like funding, hiring, training, etc, is surely a huge boon, as being the day to day 'boss' but then suddenly adding one of those activities in is quite stressful :-
rodolphoarruda 9 hours ago 0 replies      
In my own experience, item #1 is by far the most critical of all reasons listed. It's big enough to have pages and more pages written solely about it.I was the technical lead of an "educational platform" being developed and most of its products. As soon as two of the co-founders - out of 5 - found themselves jobs and other full time activities things started to go downhill very fast. One of the most annoying behaviors those then absent co-founders started to display was a sense of: "Why are you asking me that? Isn't this [feature/decision/scope] too obvious for you?". Hey, it's not a matter of being obvious or not; but still current or valid according to project's timeframe. I can't even elaborate on the amount of energy we lost.
barce 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"In particular, dont found a startup with people that are busy with school, have personal issues, are traveling, or are working a full-time job." I'd like to know if there is anybody without personal issues, or what the author is trying to say in this context.
AznHisoka 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I hear a lot of stories of people that have a tough time finding co-founders. My tip would be to not just find any random Joe Schmoe in a tech meetup, or even similarly minded people who want to be entrepreneurs. Rather I would find people who already have done a Show HN with a similar idea, or someone who launched a competitor product (by himself/herself), and ask if they want to partner with you.

You'd be surprised because most of those people themselves want a cofounder as well to take the product to the next level.

dshipper 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"I believe that my previous two ventures failed mainly because of the founding team (which Im included in). How do I know? Because companies with almost identical products and value propositions succeeded afterwards."

This is a dramatic and flawed oversimplification. There's no one reason why one company fails while another succeeds. The founding team may be part of the issue here, but I almost guarantee that there were probably plenty of other things going on than just that.

startupstella 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I would agree with many of the other commenters but chime in with the "correlation does not prove causation" there are many other factors why the other startups could have failed: the other companies were better capitalized, had better processes, founders that worked together better, etc.
api 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't there a massive stigma against solo founders? I get that impression from most of what I read.
DanielBMarkham 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I spent a few months a few years ago looking for a good cofounder.

Let me tell you, it was a waste of time. The odds of running into somebody where everything initially meshes are astronomical. And you're already facing long odds as a startup, why add to the stress with all that other stuff? Failure to co-locate alone is a show-stopper, much less issues about flipping versus growing, or financing versus bootstrapping, or where your real passion is, or whether passion alone is enough...

I'm glad it works for so many successful folks, although I note that many times these are college buddies who have spent a lot of time together before their startup.

This is one of those things that looks different depending on where you sit. If you're an investor, teams do better than solo founders. If you're a founder who's worked alone for many years, my conclusion was don't kill yourself trying to find a partner that probably isn't there. This is much the same as my conclusion on Venture Capital: some things are not worth chasing.

m0skit0 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, like most successful software companies were built by one man: Microsoft, Apple, Google... oh wait...
jbscpa 4 hours ago 0 replies      
When I visit with hot-blooded partners ready to set the world on fire I often think of this line from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969):

Butch Cassidy: [to Sundance] Kid, the next time I say, "Let's go someplace like Bolivia," let's GO someplace like Bolivia.

Right, Next Time.

Easier said than done.

d0m 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey hey, what the author suggests is not that solo founder is better. It's that temporarily solo founder is better than getting fucked by adding the wrong co-founders.
seivan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest advantage is that you won't have anyone slowing you down or standing in your way.

Everything falls on you to succeed.

bayesianhorse 8 hours ago 0 replies      
When it comes to business even scientists start judging too much and perceiving too little.
pbreit 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not a compelling reason to go solo but instead makes the case for being careful when choosing people to work with.
andrewhillman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Or perhaps timing was a factor if they succeeded after. Timing plays a huge role in success.
tlarkworthy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Get a secretary.
cocokr1sp 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems like when things got tough you focused more on what your co-founders weren't doing and less on what you could be doing yourself.
wesleyd 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The common factor in all your dysfunctional relationships is: you.
monopreneur 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Best advice I ever got on partners/co-founders: "Before you take on a partner, think about it long and hard, then don't".
adventured 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Because companies with almost identical products and value propositions succeeded."

There's so much more that goes into a product and its success or failure than what such a simple statement would imply. That's a very thin premise to launch such a big position with.

One word rather sinks it in fact: luck

I've yet to run across an interview with a candid successful person that didn't count dumb luck as an important part of the equation. Right place, right time, right marketing, right people, right choices, right capital, and dumb luck.

Also, no two products or companies offer identical products or value propositions. That means the author isn't being objective about the situation one way or another.

mcfunley 10 hours ago 1 reply      
You will be a solo founder next time because anyone who Googles you will realize you are the kind of moron who throws his former cofounders under the bus.
What a 600,000-megapixel-wide picture looks like oddly-even.com
191 points by lukedeering  2 days ago   88 comments top 34
nakedrobot2 2 days ago 7 replies      
Hi, I'm the photographer who made this image.

Thank you for all the attention :-) Let me try to answer some of your questions, in no particular order:

1) Here is the original page: http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-tower-panorama-photo/ also here is a youtube screen capture showing a few highlights, if you are feeling lazy ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NboCijiLwmI

2) it is not 600,000 megapixels. It is 600,000 pixels wide. If you are calculating it as a full sphere, then it's 180 gigapixels. But there is a black space on the bottom so we are calling it 150 gigapixels.

3) Yes we have censored a few things in the image which might be embarrassing to those people involved. Most of those things would not be embarrassing in other cultures (I think) such as a woman hanging laundry, but Japan is "different". Per the request of journalists at Asahi Shimbun who published a story about it there, we covered up a few bits in the photo. Oh, and the guy sleeping on the ground? Well that's embarrassing anywhere. Poor fellow probably did not expect to be famous on the internet as he lay down on the bench to sleep, fell off the bench, and kept on sleeping. (Side note: apparently in Tokyo it is fully acceptable to sleep it off on the street or in a park - it is a safe place! Well, if you're male...)

4) Yes you can use your geek powers to uncover the censored bits and there are already screenshots out there. Oh well. I did not actually see the whole image before publishing it. It is just so big :)

5) Yes, I used a Canon 7D (best pixel density) and a 400mm L f/5.6 lens, because that lens is great, sharp, and fit in my carryon - can't check camera gear on the plane now, can we.

6) I used a Clauss Rodeon gigapixel robot to control the camera. It is still a lot of work to set the speed and so on, don't think that this is a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. The robot is moving continuously, and the camera is focusing and shooting while moving. This is technologically amazing stuff, but it takes a lot of tweaking to get it to work. In this case I was not completely familiar with the equipment, and I made some mistakes. One section of the image was stitched together from two entire sets of images shot on two different days, in order to get a good alignment.

7) panning mode: we use the "original QTVR style" of navigation, which also used in first-person games. This lets you hold the mouse button down and "glide around". I find this vastly preferable to the click-drag-click-drag-click-drag google style. On touch screens, the movement follows your finger which is more intuitive generally. I've seen a five year old navigate these panoramas on an ipad with no problem. On the PC with a mouse there is not really "one right way".

8) Yes, I also made the "London 320 gigapixel" image, which is larger in terms of pixels, but this one is FAR more interesting in my opinion, and overall much better quality. If you're interested in seeing some of my other large images, check these:Tokyo Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (shot the same week as this one here) http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-gigapixel-roppongi-hills-mori...http://360cities.net/library Strahov Library interior, 40 gigapixels. http://360gigapixels.com/petrin-prague-photo Prague from petrin tower, 34 gigapixelshttp://360cities.net/london London 80 gigapixels

If anyone has any other questions, I'm here, and happy to answer them. I'll try to check back often for the next hours. Cheers!

taspeotis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Honestly I thought I was going to see some visualisation of a 1px high image vs. various other long things. E.g. " At a pixel density of 330ppi this image would be longer than 1000 Starship Enterprises* ". Alas, no.

> What a 600,000 megapixels wide picture looks like (oddly-even.com) 23 points by lukedeering 1 hour ago | flag | 12 comments

Megapixel: I do not think it means what you think it means.

> A megapixel (MP or Mpx) is one million pixels [1]

600,000 * 1,000,000 = 600,000,000,000

> The largest photo ever taken of Tokyo is ... 600,000 pixels wide [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel#Megapixel

[2] http://www.oddly-even.com/2013/07/31/the-largest-photo-ever-...

*I wouldn't mind knowing how many Starship Enterprises a 600,000 megapixel wide picture would be if viewed at a pixel density of 330ppi.

lukashed 2 days ago 3 replies      
I know this is evil and you should not do it, but just for the doability, here's a JavaScript that removes the censorings (like http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-tower-panorama-photo/?v=-154....):

javascript:$("*").filter(function(){if(this.currentStyle)return this.currentStyle["backgroundImage"]==="url(http://360gigapixels.com/black.png)";else if(window.getComputedStyle)return document.defaultView.getComputedStyle(this,null).getPropertyValue("background-image")==="url(http://360gigapixels.com/black.png)"}).remove()

emhart 2 days ago 0 replies      
DON'T you! Forget about me!



gambiting 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is this a mini cemetery? Squished between tall buildings?


julianpye 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the fact that he has taken the photos with the 400mm/5.6, which is a very affordable, lightweight, quite old lens that is supersharp.
OldSchool 2 days ago 1 reply      
First of all, this effort and its result are fanastic!

Question: how close are sensor densities getting to present capabilities of glass in smartphones?

For example, if a 10 gigapixel (100000x100000) sensor existed that would fit behind an iDevice's lens, how much digital zoom cropping would we really be able to enjoy before we hit details that are bigger than pixels but smaller than the tiny lens can pass clearly?

panic 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a very sad-looking man:http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-tower-panorama-photo/?v=-82.7...

Or maybe he's just sneezing?

jpalomaki 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sometimes in art galleries you see these very large photographs. I'm always annoyed that these don't have all the details. If you look from far enough they look nice, but once you go closer you see just the rasterization pattern.

I would like to see posters made out of these gigapixel images and printed with such high quality that you could actually take a closer look and it would reveal something new.

nkuttler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Years ago I built a site with iipimage, http://iipimage.sourceforge.net/demo/. I'm wondering if there are other tools around somebody here uses?
dakrisht 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool. Now imagine the tools the NSA has, live satellite feeds and hi-res cameras all over the US and the world with a bunch of Diet Coke drinking zombies clicking, zooming and panning all day long.
aram 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is completely crazy; all these giga-pixel panoramas stun me with the level of details.

Does anyone know any details about taking shots with such cameras? How much time do they actually need to capture photos with such quality?

cespare 2 days ago 3 replies      
These controls are obnoxious.
alternize 2 days ago 1 reply      
quite a few windows have a red triangle in them, f.e. http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-tower-panorama-photo/?v=-154....

what do they mean?

kordless 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed at how clean everything seems to be. Even the rooftops and gutters.
ipodize 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guy seems to be taking a pic of his friend in fromt of the gigapixel rig: http://360gigapixels.com/tokyo-tower-panorama-photo/?v=151.1...

Really awesome panorama, makes you feel like some kind of government agent...

RogerL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, everyone is wearing a white shirt and black pants. The iconoclasts wear white pants.
lukashed 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't be surprised if the NSA had this in live and for every major city.
gearoidoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is simply awesome.
doctorstupid 1 day ago 0 replies      
There must be someone spooky in that massive city who's looking directly at the camera.
andreiursan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I expected to see more people in the picture. I hardly can find one. Maybe they were edited out.
visarga 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is varying resolution depending on depth in each point.
Sami_Lehtinen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Strange, it crashes my FF every time.
mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like a photosphere.
itissid 2 days ago 1 reply      
Now this would make for a very long find waldo game.
Chucero 2 days ago 0 replies      
So enormous zoom technology, which is shown in all the movies, actually exist. We just have to wait a little for 100GB+ machines to become mainstream.
JeroenRansijn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Absolutely mind boggling!
mikaelf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Almost like the Lumia 1020 :)
lukedeering 2 days ago 0 replies      
OS X emulation layer for Linux dolezel.info
191 points by ilikehunny  13 hours ago   43 comments top 7
lubomir 13 hours ago 3 replies      
About a week ago, the author posted a report to his blog http://www.abclinuxu.cz/blog/doli/2013/7/darling-progress-re....


  * It can run basic console programs like Midnight Commander, vim    or bash, so compatibility of system API is rather good.  * Dynamic loader is being refactored, because it can not unload    dynamic libraries now. In the future there will be API that    would allow loading OS X library into native code.  * There is a FUSE module for read-only access to .dmg files, so    that it is not necessary to unpack them.
GNUstep is a problem; it does not seem to be very alive. It does have three backends, but none of them works reliably. The long term (slightly crazy) plan is to implement the basic Cocoa classes over Qt.

Right now the target application that should work is Angry Birds.

general_failure 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Surprised there are no comments about the icon. I think the icon is awesome (so geeeeeeky)!
jevinskie 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Before this there was maloader [0] which was capable enough to run Apple's CLI toolchain. Really quite simple shim code!

[0]: https://github.com/shinh/maloader

United857 8 hours ago 0 replies      
lsllc 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Cocotron has been at this for a while:


(EDIT: Gave Cocotron an 'a' it didn't deserve!)

consonants 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this mature enough to run dosbox in wine compiled for OS X? I want to know how deep this rabbit hole can go.
braintalking 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm currently playing with OS X ML 10.8.4 on custom hardware; (btw slowest performance than other OSes, ram hungry [lots of eye candy thought ])

I find pretty interesting the UNIX terminal and X11 (Xquartz) where you can ssh to your remote box or vm with linux and load GUI apps locally while code is running in the remote box (like a sandbox).

Example command:...

ssh user@ -X



and browser GUI will launch in your OSX (also work on linux)( the magic is the parameter -X , i discovered that recently, very useful, hope it helps someone )

TimelineJS: build visually rich interactive timelines verite.co
188 points by cnivolle  3 days ago   29 comments top 19
feniv 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice if the duration of the "slide" animation was based on the time difference between the two slides. This adds some implicit context to the timeline. Things that happened back-to-back will appear quickly (like 300 ms) whereas things with a long time gap in between will appear slowly (2-3 seconds).
alexfringes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Almost rolled my own D3 timeline before adopting TimelineJS. Saved a bunch of time and still got a look that matched the rest of the project: http://bulger.wbur.org/story/1977/?location=44444Can only recommend this. Caveat: getting it to be responsive down to the phone will require some work on your end.
mooreds 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used this when creating a farm share timeline: http://coloradocsas.info/pages/farm_share_timeline

It was an extremely easy way to put together a very professional looking user interface. I especially love the google spreadsheets integration, which make managing the data for the timeline trivial.

Highly recommended!

nir 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great lib, I used it for http://nli-labs.net/jerusalem_maps/ and it worked beautifully, easily integrating with some other 3rd party JS libs.

(Source here, in case it's useful for anyone: https://github.com/nli-labs/jerusalem_maps )

the_cat_kittles 3 days ago 2 replies      
Its very pretty. I stumbled across it when I was looking for a library to make management resource planning. Too bad its very limited. I ended up using CHAP links' Timeline http://almende.github.io/chap-links-library/timeline.html, which is an excellent, flexible library.
atacrawl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really excellent work, both the library itself and the simple ability for anyone to make an example timeline.
swang 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is it so difficult to find a link to download this? Not writing this with some sense of entitlement, just frustration.

This looks cool, I want to try it out, are they really forcing me to dig through GitHub (which I may not be familiar enough with) to find the release page that has a .zip file that may or may not be what I want?

shreyas-satish 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome library. Customizable, flexible and looks slick. I used this in my previous job to present a list of important events in history chronologically. Here's a demo for Bangalore - http://bangalore.localheritage.in/timeline

Really cool that they support Google Spreadsheets, which is what allowed us to hit the ground running. And when we started managing a lot of data, it was trivial to move our data to the DB and render the timeline using JSON.

Thanks verite.co!

derrick_l_grant 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this thing I've been watching the peeps at verite develop it for the past couple of years and I'd love to combine it with some of the stuff we do at Podiium http://www.podiium.com/debate/youtube-vs-vimeo/ to have super interesting debates cnivolle shout me
callmeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like it would be awesome for several types of online classes.

Anyone using it for that yet?

quizotic 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone compare/contrast this with http://www.simile-widgets.org/timeline/ ?

I've used the latter before

timeglider 3 days ago 1 reply      
disclosure: Tooting own horn. Give our Timeglider widget a look too: http://timeglider.com/widget
cubecul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's not forget that Northwestern's Knight Lab also played a part in its development, not just verite.co!

Thanks to them both!

tsieling 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, clear and simple. This is great.
BaconJuice 3 days ago 0 replies      
This very very cool. I can not wait to use this!
jwillgoesfast 2 days ago 0 replies      
funny to see this post, I tweeted about this 1 year ago, saw it pop up on Timehop, and built a quick rough draft on my blog this morning. very cool library!
hardwaresofton 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is amazing -- great job
symr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks really good.
7 Cups Of Tea (YC S13) Connects People Who Need Emotional Support With Listeners techcrunch.com
191 points by zackmiller84  7 hours ago   78 comments top 30
paul 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Having personally gone through some very difficult times, this is one of the startups that I'm most excited about for the very simple reason that I believe it has the potential to help millions of people in a very direct and personal way. I've already started referring family members to the service.
bhousel 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, very cool. I was actually just thinking about this exact idea last night. A close friend of mine is going through a very rough time and I spent a few hours on the phone with him.

Mental health resources just aren't working for him, and I don't think he has a lot of positive role models in his life whom he can turn to. And we live in a time where many of the traditional institutions tasked with steering a young person into adulthood (religion, education, family, etc.) are broken or dysfunctional themselves.

This is definitely one startup that I would really like to see succeed. Good luck...

larrys 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Some of the "listeners" might be surprised to find out that they can be located easily with google image search. I just did that for one person and found their full name because they used the same exact picture elsewhere.

I guess the question (not reading any of the sign up materials) is is there an implied expectation of privacy on the part of listeners (I see with the people needing support there is an explicit statement of confidentiality) and should they be notified of ways that people can find out who they are?

Edit: And things to do (picture and name wise) to prevent that from happening?

6cxs2hd6 7 hours ago 2 replies      
From last October: Supposedly phone-based therapy works as well as in-person for people with mild symptoms, and _better_ for more-severe.


And from last week: Ditto for online.


I don't know if the latter is a result of your own PR effort or great luck. Either way, congrats! :)

7cupsoftea 7 hours ago 7 replies      
7 Cups of Tea founder here. I wanted to share a little back story with you on this. I'm an entrepreneur and have had my own fair share of challenges both in business and in regular life. My wife is a therapist. I'm incredibly fortunate to have her support. It occurred to me that it'd be great if people could have someone to talk with when they are struggling or going through a hard time. We built 7 Cups of Tea to solve that problem.

We have a long way to go, but the initial signs are promising. I'd love your feedback on how we can make it better. Thanks!

soneca 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I sensing a trend in more recent YC batches to select teams that want to help people rather than find a market? Watsi, True Link, now this.

I mean, both are about building something people want, but they are definitely different points of view of this goal. One is about what people are willing to pay for, other is about what people could benefit from.

I most wholeheartedly welcome this trend (if it is in fact a conscious one). Myself, I work very close to this new field of "social ventures/social business/impact investment", the latest labels of a model that combine, at once, social impact and profit. No judgmental ideology, just using market forces to improve people's lives. Specially people with some kind of vulnerability (in general, poor people, but as seen here, not restricted to).

Muhamad Yunus (Nobel peace laureate) is the most famous champion of this way of changing the world, but he sure put some very rigid limitations on how to manage the profit, which I think are too demanding and not particularly effective. But it is a good way to think different about creating new business: http://www.muhammadyunus.org/index.php/social-business/socia...

For an approach that I think is more effective, here are some good places to learn:





jyu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I volunteered at a hotline, answering phones for a year. Due to the nature and potential consequences of the work, we were trained pretty thoroughly over the course of 3 months before talking to any real callers. During my conversations, I realized that many callers were lonely with no one else to connect with, and that many had varying degrees of mental health issues. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have gone through.

Your callers are probably a different profile than the ones that called our hotline, but I would be very cautious about giving out identifiable details in the answerers' profiles. Also, knowing how difficult my volunteering work was, I'd like to know more about the training process for your answerers.

anu_gupta 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This sounds a little bit similar to The Samaritans, a charitable organisation in the UK.


mberning 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It will be interesting to see stats on how long listeners last. Compassion fatigue is very common in fields where people work directly with those in unfortunate circumstances (homeless, dying, drug addiction, etc.) I wonder if systems such as this will burn people out faster or allow them to help more people faster. Cool idea.
hpagey 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a great idea. It might work very well with seniors. Seniors sometimes ( or lot of times) get very lonely and need someone who can listen to them or talk to them.
llamataboot 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Having experience both in peer-support groups and as a trained mental health practitioner, I can see some perils and some promise in this idea and am interested in watching it evolve.

If anyone else is reading that wants to build something similar, I would love a marketplace for online therapists with solid reviews, bio statements/therapeutic orientation statements, clear pricing/insurance information, etc.

nadaviv 6 hours ago 1 reply      
> I agree with this statement: "I am over 18 and I am not homicidal, suicidal or abusing anyone."

I can see how it might be legally required to add this disclaimer, but I would at least direct them to somewhere else that can help them.

gms 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
A number of startups sound exciting, but this may be the first one I would also describe as heartwarming. I really hope you go far.
spitfire 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"Founded by clinical psychologist Glen Moriarty".

What a fantastic name for the founder of a company providing moral support to those in trouble.

chamza 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great idea. I want to offer some design feedback and advice. This is just my opinion, but I hope it can be of help in some way.

-The testimonial scroll is a little awkward and hard on the eyes as it moves. My suggestion would be to have a fade in/fade out, or a much quicker animation

-There is quite a lot going on in the navigation bar (many different options + sub-options). My suggestion would be to narrow it down significantly to maybe 3 - 4 of the most important menu items.

-I think the "satisfaction guaranteed" thing can go. There can probably be some better messaging or use of real estate here to establish trust.

-I think there could probably be a better way to present the large image with text on top on the home screen (for example, see airbnb.com or screenleap.com). Visual design thing so it's kind of subjective.

Otherwise, really strong work. If you'd like more design help see my contact info in my profile.

sengstrom 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is a science fiction story where there exists a network of anonymous listening "terminals" - supposedly anonymous for both listener and speaker (in the end not so much for the latter). Anybody here remember a title that describes that scenario?
Sealy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is a great use of technology that can change the lives of its users forever. You can't get more disruptive then this.

I really hope it succeeds as I've become really worried about the number of suicidal posts I've seen on HackerNews lately. I've noticed on 3 separate occasions in the last month alone posts from severely depressed hackers usually titled something along the lines of 'want to give up'.

While I think its great that hackers can come together to support each other, I'm guessing most of us are not trained psychologists.

egisspegis 56 minutes ago 1 reply      
I've clicked the link out of curiosity. Ended up chatting with one of the listeners for 2 hours... Well, actually almost all the chatting was done by me, listener was...listening. :) Man, it feels good to spill it out!Great service, thank you!
gohrt 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like a service to provide medical care without a license. I wish we had people working on ways to streamline licensing and efficient uses of licensed resources, and fewer end-runs around the safety protections that licensing provides. (See also: AirBnB, Rover, Lyft, Sidecar, ....)
josephpmay 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Thank you. I need exactly this. Stupid question, but I can't quickly find the answer on your website (you may want to add this to your FAQs): Does it cost anything?
l33tbro 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Damn, I'm not in the States. I'd love to sign up to this and help people looking to reach out. Hopefully they scale.
asveikau 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Mental health is too much of a niche market. We need people to focus on the real problems faced by everyday people, such as: Which unlicensed taxi service will get me from SOMA to the Mission the fastest? </snark>
tvladeck 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a friend that was /very/ recently diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. She really needs people to speak with, and I'm excited to pass this along to her. Kudos, team!
yesimahuman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, and similar to https://spillnow.com/, which I think is targeted more towards college students.
jonas_b 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I would be happy to be a listener, but I'm based in Scandinavia. Do you have any use for me?
ColinHayhurst 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to see this. Not a new idea but not seen anybody execute well on this, yet. Have looked for and used a similar tool in the past, to refer friends to, and act as a listener. paul is correct but might be underestimating your TAM! I'm concerned that you might spread yourself across too "segments". Do you have plans, or enough insight yet, to concentrate on beachhead?
joshaidan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious, what qualifications are required to become a listener? Do you have to be a mental health professional? Do you have to live in the United States?
marincounty 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I had a breakdown in my late 20's. The only thing that helped me was Time. Stay away from Anyone who takes your Money away from you. Yes--many Psychiatrists, and Psychologists have been conditionedinto believing they are helping you. They will take your last cent. My condition was extreme daily anxiety, which morphed into depression; because my life fell apart.Things will get better with Time. For some reason, the brain heals slowly. I'm just commenting on Depressionand Anxiety. This is just my experience; you might havebetter results.
zackmiller84 6 hours ago 0 replies      
These guys came out of Start Norfolk( www.facebook.com/startnorfolk ). Love what they are doing! Great founder and team, serious solution to a huge problem area.
joshavant 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Very excited to hear from companies in the Southeast VA region - and TC-covered, YC companies, no less!
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