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Lavabit abruptly shuts down lavabit.com
1184 points by cstuder  8 hours ago   484 comments top 77
lmkg 8 hours ago 9 replies      
For the unfamiliar: Lavabit was a webmail service, that (claimed to) encrypt emails in such a way that they literally did not have access to the content stored on their own servers. The linked email would lend some credence to those claims. It was originally designed in contrast to gmail scanning your email for targeted advertising, but my imperfect memory says that their system should also have been resilient to "we have a warrant, hand over the data."
RyanZAG 8 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm in the process of moving any Saas offerings I use off USA-affiliated companies, but it's actually more difficult than I first thought. I believe there might even be a very profitable market in simply duplicating the functionality of Saas offerings at a higher price with security/privacy guarantees in Germany/HK/etc. Might be the next hot business to be in? You'd be surprised as to the number of people seeking alternatives at this point.

EDIT: Relevant XKCD for people calling for technical solutions to the problem: http://xkcd.com/538/

grey-area 8 hours ago 1 reply      
So he pretty much does say why he's shutting down, the US gov. has demanded access and he said no. Kudos for standing up for his users, and he does raise an interesting point at the end:

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

The worst thing about this situation is that other governments like the UK, France and Germany are equally guilty.

For history on lavabit, see the cache, this page is now gone:


guelo 7 hours ago 4 replies      
The US government is destroying one of the few bright spots in the American economy with its out of control military. It is unconscionable. And the sad thing is it has been enabled by the betrayal by many of the web 2.0 giants, Facebook, Google etc. Google especially is sad to see since they were willing to forgo the Chinese market on principle, but then decided that taking on the authoritarian US government was too lucrative for principle to be involved. If Google had done what Lavabit just did we would be living in a freer country today.
raganwald 8 hours ago 6 replies      
I like the part where he can't tell you why he's shutting down. As if we won't engage in rampant irresponsible speculation that they have told him to decrypt and forward everything to them in real time.
ferdo 8 hours ago 2 replies      

> "This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."

It's kind of fitting. The nation that spawned the internet is the nation that's killing the internet biz on its own turf.

modeless 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Please donate to their defense fund. It's not often you get a chance to directly support a cause like this. The link is at the bottom of http://lavabit.com/, but I'll repost it here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_b...
dkulchenko 8 hours ago 7 replies      
This is infuriating, and the worst part is that a clear solution isn't in sight.

Sure, we can fight this in the courts, and a few secret programs might get shut down, but operations will just continue under a different name. We can encrypt our data, move our services and data offshore, but that just paints a big target on our heads - doesn't actually address the fundamental issue. This is supposed to be a democracy, but I don't see any democratic way of addressing this.

What do we do?

dmix 8 hours ago 1 reply      
From 2011:

> Lavabit processes 70 gigabytes of data per day, is made up of 26 servers, hosts 260,000 email addresses, and processes 600,000 emails a day. Thats a lot of email.


Update: According to their stats page, they had 410k email accounts hosted before shutdown https://twitter.com/georgemaschke/status/365553445538775040

rsync 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Time to donate to the EFF. They haven't been branded as a terrorist charity yet, AFAIK...
sage_joch 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If Congress has passed laws abridging the freedom of speech, then those laws are illegitimate. Unfortunately, it feels as if speaking favorably of the Constitution is enough to get put on a watch list anymore.
joelrunyon 7 hours ago 7 replies      
> I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know whats going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this.

Anyone know what happens if he just says "F it" and writes a massive blog post on what exactly happened or what exactly they said to him?

raganwald 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like a good time to hunt through the wayback machine:


koenigdavidmj 8 hours ago 1 reply      
"I can't tell you the reason" is a rather blatant way of saying "National Security Letter".
kefs 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Seems like it would make sense for users to demand that any US based service includes a warrant canary, just like rsync.net's implementation. A global canary + separate canaries for individual accounts would also make sense.



bgentry 8 hours ago 2 replies      
How long until PayPal suspends their legal defense fund?

On a serious note, if you want to donate to their defense fund, consider doing so anonymously. Pay cash for an Amex or Visa gift card, and use that to make your donation.

spoiledtechie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
When the FUCK did we become a nation that starts shutting things down that don't comply with the government?

What really have we come to?

Reminds me of Nazis Germany, except replace communist and socialist with Free Thinkers, The Innovators.

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

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

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

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

lawl 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I really would want to donate to them. But you know I kind of feel weary now connecting my PayPal Account with them. I hope some kind of organisation is standing up for them. Like EFF or something. Not because I don't trust them. But because I don't trust the NSA. They might flag me as a terrorist or something. Then again I'm probably already on this list for having some technical involvment with something the US gov doesn't like.

I guess it purely a coincedence that Snowden used a lavabit address the last few weeks. I guess there is no relation at all.

DASD 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting thread from Email Discussions:


If you're a SAAS provider, be aware if you need to shutdown that many users are not prepared for this. Several posters in the linked thread rely on a recover password feature sent to e-mail for access to other accounts. Not a prudent practice but this is common for many.

tehwalrus 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I had just signed up for 2 years pro service, and had been wondering why thunderbird couldn't log in all day (and I've been waiting to send an email all day!)

I also recently had a chat with their support about this (before purchasing,) and they told me something like "don't worry, we're not big enough to get hit by this stuff, and if we are we'll tell them where to shove it!" -- it looks like they were telling the truth.

jka 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've posted this link on HN before, but it's potentially relevant - we might find out more, but it sounds like this might be the result of a National Security Letter preventing Ladar from talking about the reason behind the shutdown.

I would suspect he has tried to protect his users from a request for information (NSLs are allegedly limited to metadata), but would prefer to discontinue the service than take the other possible legal action (silently disclosing information). Perhaps it is possible he will/has been forced to disclose information anyway.

This link is a video featuring Nicholas Merrill who (if this is in fact NSL-related) went through a similar situation with his ISP Calyx, and gave as much information as legally possible about the frustrating process as a talk at the yearly Chaos Communication Congress in 2010.


junto 8 hours ago 0 replies      
They should open source the whole thing. We can bring it to Germany. I believe we are legally allowed to tell the NSA to GFYS.

Any people who have businesses in the US need to take a serious look at the risk now posed by their own government on the success of their business.

One rogue customer and business could go down the toilet, or you'll be forced to bend your morals to suit a rogue secret fiefdom.

alan_cx 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So, secret court case, started by a secret spy service gets an email service shut down. We know next to nothing, except the service went down, with out an open honest explanation. The owner is left with leaving a cryptic-ish message to their users.

So, I ask again: at what point is it reasonable to use words like fascist, police state, etc? What is a reasonable tipping point?

u2328 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Any other Obama supporters out there so utterly disappointed in this administration? Call me naive, but good god this is depressing. Seems like the country at large is so much more willing to let this stuff slide because it's not Bush/Cheney doing it.

Congrats Democrats. Your complicity here has pretty much converted me to a third-party voter.

unethical_ban 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I watched Casablanca the other night.


I thought about how the Gestapo had Lazlow in their midst, at the same TABLE as them, and yet didn't do anything immediately other than deny him further travel. Of course, it's a movie, but it was an interesting thought. Nowadays, if Snowden were known to be hiding in a foreigner's Moroccan cafe, we'ds drone half the building.

Also, I noticed the pride and the wonder that America inspired in the workers and patrons of Rick's. It was a symbol of freedom and opportunity. I wonder how many people see it that way now.

Karunamon 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Are there any countries, anywhere, where a person can store data outside the reach of the US government's illegal overreach?

Any countries friendly to the US are right out. They can tap the lines, but there are ways around that.

I just want to be able to park data where some twit with a piece of paper that says "NSA" on it can't get it retrieved or deleted. Any suggestions?

EthanHeilman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The line "A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company." seems to suggest that he may be working to create lavabit outside the borders of "Mordor".Can he reopen it as a foreign business?
nsxwolf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If there's any upside to this news at all, it's a confirmation that encryption in general does frustrate the NSA's mission to some extent.
throwaway420 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Lavabit's UI was a bit imperfect, but their death is a horrible loss to people who were using it and looking to defend their privacy. Additionally, the fact that this guy running the service was clearly threatened with some kind of national security letter that clamped down on his freedom of speech is rage inducing.

There's a lot of ridiculously smart folks on here who are making good money working on advertising, social networking, and other typical web 2.0 startups and companies. There's nothing wrong with these things, they are certainly enriching peoples' lives and create value.

But if what is going on in the world isn't a clarion call for a lot of these smart people to look into startups, networks, services, software, open source projects, etc that try to defend peoples' privacy I don't know what is.

I urge everybody to look at your notes, ideas, forgotten projects, and see what you can come up with to provide services and ideas and concepts that will work to defend people's security and privacy from government entities that have gone drunk with power.

Not only is this vital to everybody's liberty, but there is a ridiculously huge business opportunity here for services and software that can provide some measure of defense for people.

If we don't stop what is going on soon there will not long be a market for a lot of cloud based services that people are going to want to use.

joyeuse6701 8 hours ago 2 replies      
You know, all these counter measures we come up with are just 'patches' to a set of bugs in our society. We need to rewrite the damn thing. This will just become a cat and mouse game against our own gov't and indirect defensive movements are meaningless without some sort of offensive to change policy. This is becoming a full blown arms race over people's private information. The funding, the computational power, the human capital used to create these things... if the gov't can't or won't listen to the people's will and the situation is bad enough, then something will rise to replace the broken system. Someone's got to spearhead a defense of the individual.
vermontdevil 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Lavabit needs to contact their congress representative and raise stink. Explain to the representative that jobs and money is at stake. And explain to the local community how there will be jobs lost due to this behavior.

We need to start getting on both local communities and their representatives to emphasize the long term dangers of NSA's actions towards tax revenues, jobs, etc.

In other words speak their language and make them understand that inaction is not an option.

And yeah spare me the comments about how all Congress representatives are owned by corporations etc. It is still possible to get your representative to pay attention as they still need votes for the next election every two years.

tenpoundhammer 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Sounds like any country willing to guarantee a snoop free environment could have a lot of servers hosted there. I'm thinking the Caymen islands of data. Set up a shell company and a shell server in the Caymens to protect your money and your customers.
scoofy 7 hours ago 2 replies      
How in the hell are national security letters constitutional? It's mindboggling to me that they haven't reached the Supreme Court. I don't mean to sound like a hippie or patriotic douche, but it seem rather tyrannical that you aren't even allowed to talk about something that happened to you.
Glyptodon 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I've had a lavabit email as one of my main emails for years (close to when they first started) and this is a major inconvenience. I'm not sure I'll be able to change the email address associated with a lot of my various accounts now that they're offline.
samstave 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So this is the reality. 100% proven that there is utterly NO privacy nor any "legal" defense against the spying of the NSA.

America has NO 4th amendment rights and encryption is now a criminal activity.

mathattack 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a real shame. 10 years of work gone, and they have to ask for help for the legal bills.
uptown 8 hours ago 1 reply      
So we've hear stories of the big companies being targeted. Now a smaller company has been included. How small will this go for monitoring?

Should we assume that any browser plugins are potential trojan horses for desktop targeting?

acuozzo 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I only used webmail on Lavabit; not IMAP.

All of my e-mail is gone.

I was a paying user. WTF.

plainOldText 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I know I've said this before in one of the other threads, but I believe donating to their Legal Defense Fund is a sensible thing to do if you care about your rights. Link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_b....
Kelet 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Crap, I had just recently migrated all of my accounts to my new Lavabit address, paid for a year of service, etc.

Although I've seen some mentioned, what recommendations does HN have for a new e-mail service? Preferably something stable and also respecting of a user's privacy. Or perhaps you can only have 1 of the aforementioned attributes.

tareqak 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Some questions given the reasons why they had to shutdown:

1. Can Lavabit now set up shop overseas (with a different TLD)?

2. If not 1, can Lavabit license their software infrastructure in such a way such that someone overseas can set up shop for them?

3. If not 2, can Lavabit open source their software such that someone anywhere else in world can start their own Lavabit?

The point that I am trying to get across is that if Lavabit has been forced to shutdown through no wrongdoing of their own by the US government, a case can be made that certain American government actions are making American companies uncompetitive/non-viable in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

TL;DR jobs are leaving the United States.

MarcScott 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you imagine if this had been the response from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo when the FISA court demanded they hand over data? I commend Ladar Levison.
mpyne 7 hours ago 3 replies      
One big question I have for the legal beagles: It's understood (if not well-liked) that Fourth Amendment protections don't apply to data given to a third-party...

What if, instead, you host server space within the U.S. and run your own software (email, listserv, whatever) and data on the leased hardware? I would think there's a good argument that Fourth Amendment protections then resume, and the domestic-ness of the server would also mean the NSA is not legally allowed to look at it, at least without a real Article III warrant.

Do similar rights apply IRL, e.g. if you rent a storage closet, can law enforcement just open the door when they wish or do they need to get a warrant?

ozziegooen 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Apparently they just cut off all email access. From Facebook: "Could you please at least forward the messages for a couple of days to some other e-mail accounts? I can't reset/change the e-mails I used on other websites because they require validation PER EMAIL.""While I approve of what you've chosen to do, I just purchased a decade of advance service from you, and you've left no contact addresses or information. Who are your customers supposed to speak to at this time?""i do respect your decision. But as a long time lavabit customer(8 or so years) I am very upset. I have paid money every year to upgrade and have spam protection and now lost all my emails. I would have liked some notice and a forwarding option for us."https://www.facebook.com/KingLadar?fref=ts
mtgx 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Source: https://lavabit.com/?repost=true

This is very unfortunate and sad. I hope he wins in Court. The NSA/administration are really trying to destroy the last bit of privacy in the world, and they will fight relentlessly until they do (especially if the People aren't fighting back).

revelation 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The health page is still up:


ics 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I just signed up three days ago, and was exchanging mail with one of their reps about opening a couple more accounts with them. I went to log in last night and noticed that the service was down, which I thought was a little odd (since everything was down at once). I'm going to have to read this again later when I get a chance but for now, wow. I respect their decision but I'll bet the timing sure was bad for a lot of people (especially those coming to Lavabit specifically to escape what's going on here).
superconductor 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Can we get a list going of non-US alternatives of popular apps most of us use?

Let's start with Dropbox. What's the alternative?

shirro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone care to comment on the chances services like LastPass are compromised in some way? I would expect they would have been approached. Even if the data is end-to-end encrypted there have to be ways - injecting something client side etc.
joncfoo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a way to verify that the service has been shut down for the reasons stated/(not-stated)? I want to call my political representatives and let them know that these secret court filings that prevent people from speaking about their case hurts businesses & individuals alike. Before I do that though I'd like be sure that the reason Lavabit shut down is due to the government's interference. Is there any way of finding out?

Also, can someone recommend a trusted alternative?

rexreed 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This may have something to do with it: http://bbs.boingboing.net/t/so-apparently-edward-snowden-use...

And he references his troubles over the past six weeks, which would be pretty much perfect timing with this.

Theory5 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, that's it. I am now going to move everything onto my own infrastructure. I signed up for lavabit a while back, and I like them as a secondary email service; and now they just shut down!
wellboy 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like the second hero from the NSA scandal emerges.
HNaTTY 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my speculation, to be buried 450 comments deep:

The government said, "you must update your software to compromise your encryption, and deliver us this information we have a warrant for." Lavabit said, "well, no, that defeats the purpose of our business". The gov't said "we don't care, we have a valid warrant" and now Lavabit is out of business.

If I'm right, nobody's files were compromised because Lavabit refused, but I imagine that doesn't bode well for returning user data because there could be huge legal consequences if one of the confirmed users is strongly suspected of XYZ.

If I'm right, it shouldn't prevent the owner from starting a new secure email service outside of the US. I suggest Iceland.

declan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
My initial guess about what the government did to Lavabit that forced Ladar Levison to shut it down: https://plus.google.com/112961607570158342254/posts/EujgUYbr...
biomechanica 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I support his dicision. I just wish there was some warning so I could have prepared for losing all of my contact information, etc. This couldn't have happened at a worse time as my backup server took a rather ultimate farewell yesterday.

I really don't want to use gmail or hotmail, so what other service can I use? Ugh. It might be time to get back to the roots and invest more time and effort in decentralized services instead of relying on centralized services.

EdSharkey 7 hours ago 1 reply      
When I read the Lavabit statement, I felt like this was "The Strike" Ayn Rand predicted. Guy took his marbles and left. Tough to be optimistic about our future after seeing this happen for realsies.
dgregd 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this really the end of freedom in the US? Does your constitution means nothing nowadays?

Almost everybody here talks to move email elsewhere, etc. There are no positive comments.

Does this mean that the US government has won and can do anything they want?

laureny 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Doesn't the fact that Snowden was using Lavabit lend credence to the allegation that he has been leaking information?

If you're just a regular joe who, one day, realizes that what he's working on is bad for the public and decides to release it to the public, surely you have had no reason to use an encrypted email service before this realization dawned on you.

nilved 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I regret giving Lavabit my business and more so paying for several years up front. This is immensely disrespectful.
oldgregg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
dear god I hope he open sources his codebase.
dendory 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This will never go away, what we need is strong email encryption to become the norm. Then the US would need to go see the individual users if they wanted to spy.
nish1500 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It won't be long before companies start introducing non-USA-affiliated as a feature.
methehack 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe we should all just start writing letters again. Snoop that mutha fucka!
tn13 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Shutting down of Lavabit makes us more safe from suicide bombers!
mladenkovacevic 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm another tremor... I wonder how long until the big one hits.
jorgecastillo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe if you use Yandex Mail the US government will at least have to do the proper procedures in a Russian court, to get your data.
photorized 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Host in Russia. You all saw how the Snowden issue was handled.

Just don't do anything that would attract FSB's attention.

yaiu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As a user I'm essentially fucked. I can't change emails since the service is shut down... and the money I paid is now gone.
th3byrdm4n 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If I could afford it I would donate, big time, to them.
nilved 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anybody know of a good European VPS provider for self-hosted email? That seems to be the only way to go moving forward.
skrowl 8 hours ago 3 replies      
So.... what should we use now?
MrGando 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is terrible, I'm thinking about migrating my personal stuff out of Digital Ocean to some VPS host under the Netherlands legislation or other... any suggestions?
resplin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great story about an ISP owner having to deal with National Security Letters:http://www.shiftfrequency.com/madison-ruppert-owner-of-small...
pearjuice 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Any word on what happens to our data?
MyDogHasFleas 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Where's the "I wish you hadn't done that, lavabit, I'm a customer and I feel very screwed over by this action" comments?

Or is this appropriate for any SaaS vendor? You're OK with this? Should all customers, even those who really don't care if the NSA could be watching, be put out because some feel that this cause trumps actually doing business and having customer-vendor relationships?

I could see someone suing an SaaS vendor for an action like this, actually. "You cost me $XX in actual costs and $YYY in lost business. Your TOS says nothing about your shutting down because the government asked you to do something you didn't agree with."

John Carmack joins Oculus as CTO oculusvr.com
931 points by salgernon  1 day ago   202 comments top 43
angersock 1 day ago 5 replies      
So, let me say this much: Fuck. Yes.

Quake 3 had stereoscopic rendering in the source back before anybody really cared, and Carmack has had long involvement both in consumer 3D graphics as well as vendor relations.

Long-short is that if you look at the code the dude has shipped, he really cares about things being both technically correct and worth hacking on. This is a really good move, and if they end up picking Mike Abrash I'll be unsurprised.

LandoCalrissian 1 day ago 3 replies      
John Carmack believes in the tech, and I believe in John Carmack, so I will be getting one.

He has basically been with them since the beginning in some capacity, here is a video of him demoing a unit at E3 2012:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw-DlWwlXHo

You can see that one is still a very early prototype held together with duct tape. It's not specifically stated, but it sounds like he will be leaving id for this. I'm fine with that since there is only so much you can do in the game engine world these days. Seeing him try to advance gaming and immersion in a different way seems like it will fit him very well.

Congrats to everyone at Oculus.

nakedrobot2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, what a coup!

Instant and absolute legitimacy. They are in for the long haul. This is going to be real stuff.

As a fanatic of 360 photography and video, this is simply fantastic to see. The oculus has the potential to challenge what we have known as TV for half a century.

AndrewDucker 1 day ago 11 replies      
I've played with an Oculus VR, and I think they're amazing.

But I'm not convinced that they're ready for the mass market yet. Not because of any failing on their part, but because I think that they need games, and controllers, specifically designed to work with VR.

You can't use mouse/keyboard well if you can't see the mouse/keyboard. UIs that float at the bottom of the screen feel very odd when you move your head around and they stay at the bottom of your vision.

We're going to need a year or two of people producing iterations of new interfaces before we have something that feels really smooth to the average user.

(In the meantime they're great fun to play with.)

kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh well, probably the best CTO you can get on this planet for a company like this, very exciting news and makes me even more pumped for the product!
tehwalrus 1 day ago 5 replies      
This news gives me the shivers.

(I recently read "masters of doom" after a HN recommendation, so a couple of months ago I'd have been like "what? who?".)

jdavid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is more evidence of how much the Oculus team owes to Andrew Scott Reisse, the developer who was killed during a hit and run.

It might be that John Carmack was trying to help out an amazing team who lost an amazing and talented developer.

I know the Hawken forums have been amiss with talk that more that one game is behind schedule since they lost the integration help from Andrew.

I guess there is some there is something to say when a company needs to replace your absence with John Carmack.

Thank you Andrew for getting VR this far.

eterm 1 day ago 4 replies      
This makes me want one. This is huge news for Oculus and I wish the team the best.

I had a first glimpse of an Oculus watching someone use one on a Twitch stream the other day. He was just watching a tech demo thing of a rollercoaster ride but it was clear the tech was at or around that tipping point of interesting vs actually fun.

thenomad 1 day ago 0 replies      
For anyone who isn't familiar with the current state of progress on the Rift, I'd recommend a look at


Lots of cool stuff happening.

Nogwater 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is good news for Oculus, but I worry about them having two locations at such an early stage. They're going to have to work very hard to keep everyone on the same page. Hopefully they're not going to split hardware and software development.
tanepiper 1 day ago 4 replies      
Also seems to be confirmed he's leaving id: http://www.engadget.com/2013/08/07/oculus-rift-john-carmack-...
deletes 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like the http://www.oculusvr.com/careers/ is offline. It seems a lot of people want to work with John.
prawn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is the level of immersion likely coming with the Rift going to really challenge parts of our interest in the 'real world'? Get Thalmic's MYO to the stage where two of them are enough to replace a typical game controller, and virtual worlds might be possible that reel us in tight with few physical reminders that it's all not real.

As it is, games, gambling and social networks are sticky enough. I had to drag myself away from Minecraft after trying it, thinking about how I was building a virtual house and garden in a captivating world, while a load of household projects went unfinished in my actual backyard.

Story- or world-driven games like Red Dead Redemption and LA Noire could be incredible.

adambratt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shit just got real.
lispython 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's really a good news for Oculus, but if anyone here feel a litter melancholy?

Armadillo Aerospace run out of money and hibernate (2013), id Software had been acquired by ZeniMax Media (2009), id software President Todd Hollenshead has quit after 17 years of service (2013) and there's a long time without really big new Game.

Now John Carmack some kind of working for another company

DigitalSea 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If there is one man in this world that can bring 3D virtual reality gaming to the mainstream and do it right, it's John Carmack. We are talking about a guy here with proven interest and knowledge of 3D gaming, this is massive news. I guess given the amount of support John has given to the project, joining the project officially makes sense to me.

Now lets see what his next move is. The gauntlet has been thrown down, lets battle.

fmax30 1 day ago 0 replies      
The best news I have heard all day.Carmack was one of the reasons I choose computer Science .Now I will start taking Oculus rift seriously ,I always thought of it as a niche product.Carmack will put some of his awesome in Rift to make it more awesome.
alx 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Oculus is not HD yet in its dev version, if you want HD (like Carmack prototype on this page), you should try Open Dive: http://www.durovis.com/index.html
yankcrime 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like his first job as CTO should be to fix the website's scalability ;)
pearle 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wait, is he leaving id? Didn't see that clarified in the article.
rcarmo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Carmack has been edging towards this for a while now (not Oculus, but the concept), and I foresee great things.

OTOH, considering I played all of id's games up to Doom 3 (which I found a tad too creepy), I hope they strike a good balance between display smoothness and sheer unmitigated fun. I miss a good Q3A CTF.

WhitneyLand 1 day ago 3 replies      
What's your guess on how much equity they had to give him? I would have been inclined to be generous.
tchock23 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome news. I received my Oculus in the first batch and have had a ton of fun playing around with it (save the occasional nausea, but that's really game-specific).

Agree with some comments here that the Rift needs more VR-specific content, but it's still early and with news like this I'm confident that great VR/Oculus-specific content will emerge soon.

10098 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only hope that his work at Oculus will benefit id software. I really want them to produce more successful games.
InclinedPlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was actually just thinking recently that John Carmack was past his prime. Or, more accurately, that he was no longer sitting in the right sweet spot in the industry that he once was. But with this move it looks like that may change. He's a one of a kind genius, and if there's anywhere that could see his skills used to effect more I can't think of it.
twidlit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. this is a big win for the team. Carmack can go deep and can also look at the controls on an instinctive level since he made Doom and Quake.
julianpye 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a big 3D and VR fan, this is the best news I have heard in a long time!
RyanMcGreal 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe he can start by helping with their website database...
altharaz 20 hours ago 0 replies      
When I see the name of "John Carmack", it means to me "deep optimization". I still remember of this trick http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_inverse_square_root.

I heard that Oculus Rift had some minor delay issues. With Carmack as C.T.O., I do believe that everything will be solved pretty quick.

Kudos, Oculus!

Kurtz79 1 day ago 1 reply      
First time I hear of the Oculus... somehow I can't stop thinking about the Virtual Boy :)

Congrats, it must not be easy signing up a programming icon like Carmack.

ciferkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I was watching Carmack's talk from Quake Con this year all I could think was "how does this man have the time to do all of this?" The email today from Oculus both excited and worried me though. I really hope Carmack is given the chance to dedicate himself to the project. His tweet today was reassuring though: "My time division is now Oculus over Id over Armadillo. Busy busy busy!"
dynjo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I own an Oculus and even before I read this I knew it was the next big step in gaming, now it is beyond question.
josh33 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ready Player One! - If you haven't read this, I highly recommend it.
mhartl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, talk about a hiring coup. Bravo!
doubledub 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hoping Oculus and EMOTIV Insight (http://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_br...) consider a joint project connecting their 2 ground breakers.

That space puppy would make the technology of written language the equivalent of banging rocks together. The possibilities of creation & control without the limitations of writing, typing, and even learning means we could create, build, view, and modify ideas with just thoughts... so rad it's scary.

taternuts 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow - now I'm _really_ interested in the Oculus and it's potential.
ZiadHilal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible! Virtual reality just got that much more serious.
andyidsinga 1 day ago 0 replies      
holy shit!
MrGando 1 day ago 0 replies      
Omg omg omg, lovin' it.
obilgic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Error establishing a database connection
bluedino 1 day ago 1 reply      
Saddens me to suggest that Carmack has finally 'jumped the shark'. Childhood hero of mine and all, but id hasn't been doing much lately. He's cutting back on funding Armadillo. Maybe he plans on retiring and taking it easy pretty soon? He's had to have an exhausting last 20 years.

No matter how cool this Oculus product is, VR headsets are just not going to catch on.

Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos washingtonpost.com
568 points by Volscio  3 days ago   229 comments top 44
miles 3 days 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...

ChuckMcM 3 days 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.

epistasis 3 days 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.

aridiculous 3 days 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.

guard-of-terra 3 days ago 1 reply      
- Mr. Bezos, we've bought Washington Post as you ordered.

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

- ...issue!?

tptacek 3 days ago 2 replies      
I presume this means he hasn't bought the WaPo company, and thus not other assets like Slate.
badclient 3 days 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).

salemh 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

rgbrgb 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great. Now it will be delivered in a 6 cubic foot box.
cpr 3 days 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.

josh2600 3 days 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...

larrys 3 days 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?).

Eliezer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's all hope that this day we have witnessed the birth of the anti-Murdoch.
minimaxir 3 days ago 6 replies      
To put things into perspective, the $250M purchase price is lower than the purchase price of The Huffington Post at $315M.


pla3rhat3r 3 days 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.
patmcguire 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is this in the category of buying sports teams, or does he expect to make money off of it?
ferdo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that this signals that Bezos is going into the fish and chips business.
peterwwillis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was thinking about this when I heard the announcement, and I thought, what a disruptor! Here are some ways that a newspaper (with "internet content") would be superior than digital media:

  * Much larger viewing area than an iPad  * It's more compact than an iPad  * It's cheaper than an iPad  * It's disposable  * It's recyclable  * You can use it in places digital media aren't allowed    (security buildings, airplane takeoff/landing, subway, etc)  * You don't have to know how to use it  * You don't need a data plan or need to use a computer  * You don't have to recharge it
All you have to do is create targeted content and sell to places that digital media doesn't work as well. Fill with context-specific in-line ads and make it more interesting to the target market audience. (And probably figure out a new way to print it so that makes monetary sense)

lifeisstillgood 3 days 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.

blackaspen 3 days 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.

psbp 3 days 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.
Kurtz79 3 days 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...

aaronbrethorst 3 days 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 3 days ago 0 replies      
I will celebrate by watching "Citizen Kane."
tcpekin 3 days 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?
jhuckestein 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's noteworthy that the Washington Post sells for $250MM, compared to for example OMGPOP which sold for $200MM last year.
Tloewald 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope the plan involves taking WaPo's news gathering expertise and delivering seamlessly through all possible channels -- don't just fix a newspaper, fix the news.
mkr-hn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember reading a story about how he turned Amazon into a platform to make it more nimble and faced a lot of resistance, and it gave me a good impression of his leadership abilities. This purchase is probably a good thing.
augustocallejas 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the article:

> Weymouth said the decision to sell The Post sprang from annual budget discussions she had with Graham late last year. We talked about whether [The Washington Post Co.] was the right place to house The Post, she said. If journalism is the mission, given the pressures to cut costs and make profits, maybe [a publicly traded company] is not the best place for The Post.

Does this mean that the future of much of journalism is in the non-profit sector (think NPR)?

photorized 3 days 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.
adventured 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.
mehmehshoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile the Koch brothers want to buy the LA times...I will grab my popcorn and wait for the hilarity.
serverascode 3 days 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.
deepblueq 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's now a box in the lower-left informing me that I can view 20 articles in a month before they'll put up a paywall. I don't recall ever seeing anything about a paywall before.

If that's actually new, Bezos sure didn't waste any time monetizing things.

MaysonL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Guess what the next freebie for Amazon Prime subscribers will be.
rogerchucker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Jeff Bezos will be bigger than Steve Jobs one day.
ommunist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Was it what he negotiated at Bilderberg club this summer in Watford, UK?
crashoverdrive 3 days 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.
zpk 3 days 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.

e3pi 2 days ago 0 replies      
"...The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.

"There is no map" -from a proven visionary worth $25.2B, leaves a whole lot of successful innovations and failures open.

rurban 3 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to micromanagement to its extreme
kenshiro_o 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hope Bezos revamps the site's design. It's quite ugly.
Why I Changed My Mind On Weed cnn.com
538 points by tptacek  13 hours ago   343 comments top 43
kyro 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm glad that Gupta has made this public apology. It takes a lot of courage to make that statement especially for someone with great public influence.

I'm just curious as to why it took him this long. Medical marijuana has been prescribed in hospitals for some time with great benefit. I mean, just from a clinical standpoint, he should've seen the great upsides and limited downsides to using the drug. Patients, typically the elderly, with cachexia from cancer are often given marijuana to stimulate their appetite, and it works. Given its possible links with the development of Schizophrenia and the rest of its relatively mild side-effects, a quick and simple benefits/costs analysis should show that in many cases, its efficacy far outweighs the potential risks.

A huge percentage of physicians today, as indicated in the article, would be supportive of a move to legalize it. And it has been this way for several years. I just do not understand why it took Gupta so many years, having to go to the ends of the earth to dig up research from various countries to come to that conclusion.

My suspicion is that his initial viewpoint was more rooted in irrational bias and ignorance than in scientific evidence proving the drug's inefficacy. You can tell that by his mentioning of his children and how he wouldn't let them try marijuana, which is both irrelevant to the issue and an ignorant emotionally-charged argument commonly used when the topic of legalization (for medical use) is brought up. It's effectively "but remember the children!" The same could've been said for legalization of opioids and a myriad of other medications that have much more severe side-effects. And that really saddens me, because I've got great respect for the guy. I'm glad he's on what I believe to be the right side, but as someone with great influence in this country, with such an accomplished background, I feel he could've arrived to this conclusion much earlier, with much less data, and pushed for its medical legalization when the conversation was happening.

All in all welcome aboard, Dr. Gupta. Please be a little more forward-thinking from here on out.

gregpilling 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I am a medical marijuana user. I have fibromyalgia (a catch all label for constant pain), and it helps some with neuropathic pain. My doctor is kept informed about how much I am using, and I have to get my card renewed each year. MJ works, but at best it dulls the pain, and also helps to make the pain less 'front and center' and instead kind of makes it more something that is in the background.

I was never a stoner, and did not use it until I was 38 years old. I am happy it exists, because I was being treated with Vicodin for pain and was on a schedule of 6 pills a day. Enough that liver damage and addiction started to be a concern. I am allergic to pills in the Percoset family (hives and skin lesions) and I consume about 5 joints a day worth of weed. I don't even get high anymore, but it does help with the pain. It is costing me about $100 per week, compared to the $3 per month the Vicodin cost on my medical insurance. I could buy a new car with the weed money, but couldn't buy a coffee at Starbucks with the Vicodin money.

I hope the government gets around to reclassifying the drug soon. In the current situation, Child Protective Services would take my kids away if I was to consume the drug in front of them. A reclassification would enable more research, more research would lead to easier ways to ingest it. I find food products make me stomach sick, vaporizing doesn't work as well as smoking, and smoking is unappealing and difficult to do with any discretion.

I am fortunate that I can afford it, and can fit it into my schedule (I own my business). Many people need something like MMJ and can neither afford it, nor can they keep their employment with it because of widespread drug testing. While the state I live in says that card holders can't be fired for holding a card, it is a state that has 'right-to-work' laws and you can fire someone for no specified reason at all. (source- I employ ten people).

jgrahamc 12 hours ago 8 replies      
After I saw Gupta in Japan talking about protection against gamma radiation (http://blog.jgc.org/2011/03/cnn-sounding-authorative-while-t...) I stopped listening to him at all.
rickdale 12 hours ago 4 replies      
One of the biggest issues with marijuana in this country is the lack of research behind it. Here in Michigan where over 60% of the people voted for medical marijuana, they just outlawed medibles. Meaning no pot brownies for patients. Which makes no sense when applying medical marijuana.

Caregivers and patients are outraged because they feel like they know more than the judges or politician do, and I have to agree.

On another more general note about marijuana, I think most peoples perception of the drug is that out of a hollywood movie. In my own experience you can use marijuana to lose weight, as opposed to inducing the munchies, but generally people don't know that or expect it.

Medical marijuana is legal in more states than gay marriage and growing in all 50+ Canada and Mexico. I am so tired of the US lagging behind the rest of the world and not listening to the people.

Marijuana is safer than alcohol, and its time we treated it that way -quote from pulled commercial that was going to play of Nascar event..


Edit--Additionally, here in Michigan we have real doctors that refuse to sign marijuana recommendation forms for fear of their contracts with hospitals and insurance agencies. Meanwhile we have doctors from states close and far recommending patients come to medical states to get marijuana. This leads to dingy doctors signing medical forms for patients they have little interaction with, which makes the law seem abused.

dave_sullivan 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Better late than never I guess, but what changed his mind really? "I actually did more research and was shocked, shocked by what I found!" or "I'm making a documentary and the tides of public opinion continue to shift, writing's on the wall, time to change my tune..."

Maybe (probably) I'm being overly cynical, but people like him have lent support and legitimacy to a machine that literally destroys people's lives for their involvement with a fairly innocuous plant. Oops!

ferdo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
> "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

It takes a large soul to admit, in public, that you've been wrong about something that has to do with your profession.

And he's right, Americans have been misled about hemp and its products:


nakedrobot2 12 hours ago 2 replies      
the headline should read "over-credulous member of establishment is finally swayed by overwhelming evidence to the contrary, although he has to travel to the ends of the earth to be convinced"
gadders 11 hours ago 4 replies      
"Much in the same way I wouldn't let my own children drink alcohol, I wouldn't permit marijuana until they are adults. If they are adamant about trying marijuana, I will urge them to wait until they're in their mid-20s when their brains are fully developed."

Good luck with that.

nkurz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a fine article, as are the other front page stories on e-cigarettes in New York and cycling in the Netherlands. It's submitted by one of HN's most respected participants from a major US media source. While obviously "of interest to Hackers", it's far from exclusively so. It's also currently the top story on Reddit. I like the discussion of this topic better here than Reddit, but there are some good points on Reddit as well: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/1jy7xa/dr_sanjay_g...

Thomas: how does this article accord with your comments here?https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6158093

As this is also a contentious legal, social, and political issue, I worry that the currently 'better' level of discourse will be hard to maintain.

tptacek 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a surprisingly thoughtful article for CNN.
lilbearsbrother 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no medical issues that marijuana could treat, but I still want to use it for recreational purposes without being persecuted for breaking the law. I am a functional member of society. I have a job and a college degree, and I love to get stoned as shit and play video games. The fact that medical research is increasingly supporting decriminalization is great; however, I am wary of the movement to pigeonhole the substance into the realm of prescription drugs while stopping short of full-scale legalization. I believe that society has more or less struck the right balance between structure and self-regulation on the issue of alcohol consumption, and I see no reason why marijuana cannot exist similarly - especially given that it is a considerably less harmful substance. Policy should be concerned with preventing kids from smoking it and preventing people from driving under the influence, but aside from that I think the people can figure it out for themselves.
ignostic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
>"I do want to mention a concern that I think about as a father. Young, developing brains are likely more susceptible to harm from marijuana than adult brains. Some recent studies suggest that regular use in teenage years leads to a permanent decrease in IQ. Other research hints at a possible heightened risk of developing psychosis."

The same is actually true of alcohol. Unfortunately, the discussion has become so black and white (legalization vs. prohibition) that no one is even pausing to consider what is actually optimal.

I wish I could get this message through clearly: the crowd on Reddit could benefit from learning the actual risks. Yes, I am in favor of legalization or decriminalization. No, young people should not use pot or alcohol often.

It's hard not to scream at kids as I pass them in a part of the city where they - some of them not even old enough to drive - are burning away up to 10 IQ points. Perhaps if their teachers and parents taught them the real risks rather than fear-mongering nonsense, we would see fewer kids throwing away precious intelligence.

barking 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I saw a short news report (over a decade ago) about a Swiss heroin addict who daily attended a clinic to be given heroin (not methadone) for free (the cost of legally available heroin would be minimal).

She was able to hold down a job, pay rent and had no need to beg or commit crime to fund the habit.

She also could afford to eat properly and was no longer at risk of acquiring disease through contaminated drugs, dirty needles or prostitution.

Also methadone is an absolute destroyer of teeth not least because of the slowness to provide a sugar free variety.It's also highly addictive in its own right I believe.

michaelwww 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I think people are forgetting his target audience, which is probably older. I doubt many young people watch CNN. Even the title "Why I Changed My Mind On Weed" sounds like it was written for the Readers Digest, which I used to read as a kid because my grandmother would give me her copies.
artagnon 11 hours ago 3 replies      
[I'm not talking about most parts of the US, where weed is harder to obtain; I'm talking about most poor countries, where it is readily available]

I've seen many of my friends waste years of their college lives running around like stoned hippies, overeating junk food, and watching absolute trash with loud sounds and bright colors. To make things worse, it's considered a great "social activity", much like going to a bar to get sloshed with friends. Only weed is _much_ easier to get hooked onto, because it's much cheaper than alcohol, and you don't need much more than rolling paper (as opposed to refrigerator, soft drinks etc).

That said, many of them have had very eye-opening experiences where they learn a lot more about the world and themselves. They have formed strong social bonds on the basis of meaningful experiences, and have learnt moderation. They've also found it to be an extremely good analgesic and laxative. Ofcourse, there are sections of society that need it more than anything: chemotherapy patients take it for increased appetite, and people with chronic headaches take it to reduce occurrences (although LSD has been shown to work with an even more extreme form: cluster headaches).

Every substance in the world has a potential for abuse: there are plenty of "sugar junkies" who will live horrible lives and die a painful death, for instance. All in all, the issue is that of education: we need to legalize all these substances, and objectively explain how people can practice moderation. In general, enforcing hard-abstinence is a very poor solution; only repressive regimes should practice them.

aswanson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I dont smoke but I drink. I think alcohol is a more dangerous drug in terms of causing addiction and inciting violence. When was the last brawl you saw started when weed was the agitator? Nicotine in cigarettes are far more addictive than thc.
benackles 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's encouraging to see public opinion and the medical community evolve on the issue of medical marijuana. However, there still remains an ambiguous interpretation to the way the substance is treated between State and Federal governments. For example, in my home state of Oregon the laws on medical marijuana possession are quite liberal, yet the consequences at the Federal level make progress on the issue nearly void. Furthermore the consequences at the state level in Oregon for illegal possession of marijuana remain quite harsh [1].

My biggest concern is that people who otherwise wouldn't be criminal are becoming lifelong criminals by getting locked up for a relatively harmless substance. From a financial standpoint, our government needs to tax the substance so we aren't treating a large portion of the economy differently than any other industry.

[1] http://www.robertcrowlaw.com/blog/drug-crimes/oregon-marijua...

ctdonath 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Starkly absent from the discussion of state-legal pot is the relevance of the US Supreme Court verdict in Raich. That case concluded that regardless of state legality and medical prescription & supervision, the federal government is still justified in executing armed raids on citizen possession of federally-declared contraband - even if the contraband in question never moved inter-state (by any stretch of the imagination), such possession could be regulated (including confiscation) on grounds that intra-state production & possession reduced demand in illegal inter-state commerce therein (as it affected inter-state commerce). [No, I'm not kidding. The ruling is, in fact, that deranged.]

I suspect the DEA will sit back for a while on the subject of state legalization of pot, but at some point they're going to return to exercising intense control over the subject. This will not end well for many.

tareqak 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Honest question: How many drug companies' bottom lines would be affected if marijuana was legalized right now?

Reminds me of the quote: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

jmharvey 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have statistics on what percentage of "medical marijuana" is actually used for the treatment of medical conditions? The de facto medical marijuana regime in California seems to be that anyone who wants marijuana goes to a doctor, says they're anxious or have trouble sleeping, and gets a card. I'm sure some people with legitimate medical problems get relief from using marijuana, but it seems to be a distinct minority.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Recreational users having a steady supply has no real social cost, and sick people getting the care they need has real benefit. But as long as we're going to be talking about medical marijuana in the context of science, it seems like we should compile some kind of statistics on this.

Shivetya 12 hours ago 6 replies      
I found it interesting they did not comment on the means of using weed. Smoking it cannot be much better for you than smoking cigarettes.

Even after the Feds remove it from the list there will be regulation governing its sale. You can grow tobacco all you want; most people don't because prep is much harder than marijuana; but run afoul of a few laws should you try to sell it.

It would certainly reduce the jailed population of this country and possibly even reduce the usage of harder drugs, after all if there was a legal outlet most people take the easy route

gadders 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool. Can we have a dispassionate review of Performance Enhancing Drugs now? I'd be interested to see how harmful they are compared to alcohol, tobacco, MJ etc.
at-fates-hands 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a great article, but how can you mitigate the abuse of the system by people who just want to smoke weed and complain of headaches or glaucoma?

I'm all for easing the pain of people who have real pain issues, but it's abundantly clear people are abusing the system.

rglover 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Marijuana doesn't hurt you. I smoke it on occasion and I don't use it for medical reasons. Here's why:

It allows me to land my spaceship. I see where I'm getting things right in life and where I'm getting them wrong. In essence, it's a great tool for gaining perspective on a myriad of things. It's not something to abuse, but rather, to enjoy.

It's time to let people make their own decision about it. They're fully capable.

leke 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I really can't understand it when people claim to be addicted to weed. From what I hear, it's not chemically addictive, so can it really be claimed so if the addiction is placebic?
dreamdu5t 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Fuck Sanjay Gupta. There is no debate to be had. It is not up for discussion. I don't have to justify what I do to my body to fucks like this guy or anyone else.
crusso 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The interesting part of this article for me is the illumination of the weakness of Science as it's practiced and commissioned by the government today.

For political reasons, the government decided that marijuana was bad - so almost all of the approved research went into confirming that decision. If you'd naively look at the number of papers or scientists who've published the opinion that marijuana is "bad", the evidence would appear overwhelmingly confirmative.

piokoch 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I am wondering why British employers are testing employees for drugs usage.

Is this justified? Are cannabies, etc. really affecting badly people? If yes, then it makes sense for the employer to spend its money on tests. If no, it means that employers in UK are victims of some kind of paranoia against cannabies.

cjdrake 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I had no idea the startup community was so interested in the subject of marijuana. Well, I guess it's just about as interesting as reading a daily blog about somebody's impressions of the Go programming language.
bayesianhorse 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The discussion needs more balanced voices like this. There are a ton of voices already overhyping the harmlessness.

Besides the damage to developing brains, there are more immediate effects on the mind, which are less predictable than alcohol.

Make no mistake: The "learning process" of a society that legalizes weed will involve deaths.

danbmil99 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If MJ is so useful medically, wouldn't it be healthier (and easier to control dosage) to injest it, rather than expose your lungs to all that smoke? Hot smoke can't be good for your airways.

And eventually, can't the active substances be put into pill form?

anonymouz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the ambiguity in the headline.
macowar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is Hacker News the new reddit now? Should I start posting graphic memes?
Rulero 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm quite fascinated by the fact this is on the first page so quickly.

It's evident what all of you get up to in your free time :)

throwaway0808 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who does have schizophrenia and did smoke weed heavily (once a day, an eighth a week), I support its legalization with the caveat that people should be screened for its use and people with likely predisposition for schizophrenia should avoid it, and if Big Pharma (which I hate) wants to develop a version which lowers the likelihood of developing schizophrenia (which I do not believe is likely), I'm all for it. I would not say marijuana use caused schizophrenia in my case, there's a possibility that I would've developed schizophrenia later in life when I had a career, and it might've been worse for me, or might have been better.

I'd also like to add that stimulants, alcohol, and psychedelics are some other classes of drugs to avoid, if you feel you are predisposed to schizophrenia.

thebiglebrewski 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you ever changed your mind...ON WEED?!


jasperkyle 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I know this is a classic libertarian argument, and I hope you will forgive me that, but this whole thing is just silly. Medical considerations around marijuana are at best tertiary considerations. Far more important are 1) personal freedoms and the elimination of the standard of a victimless crime and 2) the incredibly damaging effects of the War on Drugs. Deal with these two and it is obvious that marijuana should be legalized. Who cares about the medical benefits.
mumbi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, I didn't even know who Dr. Gupta was but I fucking love this guy after what his article did to the public.
rogerthis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've already said: stay away from my kids.
saltyknuckles 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a marijuana user with no medical condition. This is awesome.
mjfl 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't any effect that marijuana has on patients going to be confounded with the placebo effect? Not that I disagree with what is being said, I still have my doubts about the actual medical usage of marijuana, and the studies that have been done on it.
sgdnogb2n 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Better late than never?
rorrr2 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Just a hype for his movie.

This all reminds me of how some famous supposed atheists convert to a religion X and then write books about it selling millions of copies.

Same shit. You're being manipulated.

We don't need a mediocre surgeon to tell us weed is OK. Any idiot with internet access knew that for the last 15 years.

How to Convince Investors paulgraham.com
457 points by johns  1 day ago   111 comments top 38
michael_nielsen 1 day ago 5 replies      
"Inexperienced founders... try to convince with their pitch. Most would be better off if they let their startup do the workif they started by understanding why their startup is worth investing in, then simply explained this well to investors."

This advice applies to many things in life -- getting a job, proposing marriage, networking in general.

For instance, I've occasionally met people who obsess about crafting the perfect CV. For many of those people (not all) if they'd brought the same level of intensity to doing good work in the past, they'd be fighting off would-be employers, without any need to sprinkle pixie dust on their CV. Ditto people who try to find some magical method for networking. Do awesome work, and networking becomes mostly a matter of showing up and saying plainly and understandably what you've done.

ericabiz 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wrote something similar today, only I called it "When the Sh-t Hits the Fan with Your Startup": http://www.erica.biz/2013/startup/

In the post, I wrote: I firmly believe no outside problem (running out of money; struggling to pay bills) cant be fixed by looking inside yourself and becoming a better, stronger person.

That may sound sort of cheesy and "self-help-y", but for me it was transformative. I had to have internal confidence before I could project confidence externally. In order to have that internal confidence, for me, it involved rethinking absolutely everything about our startup, from our name to our customer demographic to our value proposition. (I go into detail on what happened and how we re-thought our startup in my blog post.)

Once I rethought everything, I found a deep well of internal confidence, and we went from "teetering on the brink" to raising another $175,000 from outside seed investors quickly (some of whom had been sitting on the fence for months), and then applying to and getting into Techstars' first Austin class as well.

External problems like lack of money or investors saying "no" are often reflections of your own internal doubts or lack of confidence. As PG said, it's not fixed by bravado, but by going deep inside yourself and rethinking your assumptions. Why are you doing this? Of all the things you could be doing, is this the #1 thing that drives you every single day of your life?

Once you fix your internal issues, the external issues resolve themselves. However, this lesson may be something you have to experience to believe (as I did.)

salimmadjd 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's the secret. Convince yourself that your startup is worth investing in, and then when you explain this to investors they'll believe you.

This is one of the best advice for both fund-raising or anything else in life and it's basically the same strategy Arnold Schwarzenegger used to become the "number one star" in hollywood [1] as explained by Steve Chandler:

* ...Then I asked just how he planned to become Hollywood's top star. Mind you, this was not the slim, aerobic Arnold we know today. This man was pumped up and huge. And so for my own physical sense of well-being, I tried to appear to find his goal reasonable.

"Easy, It's the same process I used in bodybuilding," he explained. "What you do is create a vision of who you want to be, and then live into that picture as if it were already true." *

edit: attribution added - 1: http://biznik.com/articles/being-like-arnold-schwarzenegger

jasonkolb 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Founders think of startups as ideas, but investors think of them as markets. If there are x number of customers who'd pay an average of $y per year for what you're making, then the total addressable market, or TAM, of your company is $xy. Investors don't expect you to collect all that money, but it's an upper bound on how big you can get."

I would really love some more color on this. What about a product that addresses a genuinely new market? For example our market is a subset of the analytics market targeted at a new set of data, similar to Mixpanel or KissMetrics. I honestly have no idea how to talk about the market because there is no analogue at this point. How can I apply this advice?

"But every company that gets really big is "lucky" in the sense that their growth is due mostly to some external wave they're riding, so to make a convincing case for becoming huge, you have to identify some specific trend you'll benefit from."

Is this the answer to my question? It doesn't give me an $xy, but it does give me the "wave" I'm riding. Is that a solid foundation for talking to investors?

"It's slightly dickish of investors to care more about who else is investing than any other aspect of your startup"

You have a silver tongue, PG :)

billclerico 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the biggest changes in my style as an entrepreneur from when I started WePay (4 years ago) to now is that I used to focus so much on "the sell" - but now I focus on the substance. It makes the selling far easier, and it makes it easier for your team to sell it as well.
michael_nielsen 1 day ago 1 reply      
"But while Microsoft did really well and there is thus a temptation to think they would have seemed a great bet a few months in, they probably didn't. Good, but not great. No company, however successful, ever looks more than a pretty good bet a few months in."

As an example, Bessemer Venture Partners passed on investing in Apple, Google, Intel, eBay, FedEx, and many other big companies. Their "anti-portfolio" makes amazing reading, and vividly demonstrates how hard it is to pick winners:


vog 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As a side note, I think the website "paulgraham.com" demonstrates an anti-pattern: It is available with and without "www." prefix, thus splitting the HN comments into two parts:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6175417 paulgraham.com, i.e. this one)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6178042 (www.paulgraham.com)

The solution is simple: Establish an HTTP redirect from "www.paulgraham.com" to "paulgraham.com" or vice versa.

wellboy 1 day ago 5 replies      
The only thing you need is traction. Anything else doesn't matter.

It seems insane, but investors are blinded by traction.

If you are a startup that has low scalability, but you have traction, you will get funding

If you are insanely scalable, a great idea, but you don't have traction, you just won't get funding. It doesn't matter how awesome your team is. Investors just can't see good ideas through the traction curtains anymore.

Why is this? Because investors have no clue, but you can't blame them, they are mostly 40-50 year olds whose minds are just not built anymore to foresee the future and most of them haven't even build a startup from ground to IPO. How are they supposed to even remotely know what will be the next startup that turns the whole silicon valley upside down.

This applies to 99% of investors, but there is a tiny folk of 1% who are so in the mindset, almost all of them previous founders. They can foresee the future and they are only waiting for the startups to have built the product they have been thinking of for years, but haven't built it due to simply not having the time.

Source: Pitched my no-traction/very scalable startup to hundreds of investors over 4 months until I stopped 2 months ago to get traction, never got a second meeting except for one time. Always thought, do the investors not see how super scalable this all is? Said no-traction startup now has strong traction.

lpolovets 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone who is starting a seed fund with a few friends, I want to address one of the footnotes:

"The best investors rarely care who else is investing, but mediocre investors almost all do. So you can use this question as a test of investor quality."

I think the part about mediocre investors is true, but I'm not sure if I agree with the part about the best investors. There is actual value in knowing who else is investing. First, knowing the caliber of other investors is a signal. It's not the only signal, and it's not the best signal, but it is a signal. Second, my partners and I have a network of trusted coinvestors. If we hear that one of them is investing in a company, we can share due diligence, which is great for founders because it avoids duplicated meetings, and great for us because it saves us some time/helps us focus on questions that haven't already been asked and answered. We have never made a decision to invest in something "because X is investing", but we've certainly used our relationships with various X's to inform our due diligence process.

mhartl 1 day ago 1 reply      
PG's advice reminds me of a story from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!. Feynman relates how his first (!) scientific talk (as a graduate student at Princeton) was attended by such luminaries as Eugene Wigner, Wolfgang Pauli, Albert Einstein, and John von Neumann. We was terrifically nervous, but discovered that as soon as he started giving the talk his nervousness melted awayhe was too focused on the physics to worry about who was in the audience.
kerryfalk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found this to be especially refreshing. I may just be placing my own spin on it but it seems to me like Paul was saying: have integrity and know what you're talking about. I'll have to give it another read to ensure I'm not just placing my own biases on the words.

I have about a decade worth of sales experience. Sometimes not very successful, some very successful. I've also succeeded with convincing investors. The two were very similar for me. I've also worked with many other people in sales roles; of the ones that were successful only a small handful sold in the way Paul writes about.

Moving forward I won't be working with, or hiring anyone who doesn't. It's better for everyone.

Thanks for the essay, Paul.

soneca 1 day ago 0 replies      
A pitch is required to present your startup's idea to some people. Like friends - if they understand, they will engage and support you, give advices; if not, they will change the subject, think you're a little lost and tell you to "get a job". Or to your parents - if they understand, they will be happy and optimistic about your future; if not, they will worry and tell you to, guess, "get a job". To other entrepreneurs and developers - if they understand, they will try to give advices, make contacts, keep you in their mental list of people they would like to work; if not, they will you consider one wantrepreneur.This pitch is very important, it needs to come out without any thinking, on automatic. You need only one answer on this pitch, two or three sentences and a complement if the interlocutor is interested and give you space to talk about your startup. More than that is a conversation, and for conversations you do not need pitches.

Do you know for whom you do not need a pitch? Investors. I am not talking about potential investors, who may one day remember you and consider the investment as the entrepreneurs I said earlier. I am speaking of that meeting with the investor, face to face, where you're to present your startup and they will decide whether to invest in you or not. A meeting is a conversation, not a pitch. It is the time that you will present what you know, not what you memorized. We must listen to the investor, to understand his doubts, it takes a lot of empathy. When going to a meeting for such a conversation you should prepare your knowledge, not your speech. You must have a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your startup, you have to create a presentation only to show some specific numbers that you have no reason to decorate. Those data that are calculated in a serious, rigorous method and not "estimated" or "expected".

In summary, I think two things are essential: i) to have a carefully prepared pitch, ready to go out without thinking, the standard answer about your startup - something that is clear and visionary at the same time, to show the idea and attract person's interest and ii) not to have anything memorized if this short answer turn into a conversation, but you have to be completely updated to all relevante knowledge about your business - and this will tell not only the investors, but yourself, if you are prepared to run this business.

jusben1369 1 day ago 3 replies      
"The people who are really good at acting formidable often solve this problem by giving investors the impression that while no investors have committed yet, several are about to. This is arguably a permissible tactic. It's slightly dickish of investors to care more about who else is investing than any other aspect of your startup, and misleading them about how far along you are with other investors seems the complementary countermove. It's arguably an instance of scamming a scammer. But I don't recommend this approach to most founders, because most founders wouldn't be able to carry it off."

- Trying to reconcile this with the earlier citation that truth telling is critical. This flies in the face of it and rationalizes this behavior by claiming it's dickish to ask? I don't think that's true and when did two dicks make a right? By the way the much better tactic to solve this problem is pick one or two investors and work with them to get them to commit and then have an honest answer for the others who'll fill out your round.

I enjoy these essays overall but don't enjoy this common thread I see that confuses hustle and sleight of hand as being interchangeable.

gruseom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Make the truth good, then just tell it.

That closing line is the equivalent of a gymnast sticking a landing.

wissler 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a really fantastic essay, but I was disappointed by this:

The people who are really good at acting formidable often solve this problem by giving investors the impression that while no investors have committed yet, several are about to. This is arguably a permissible tactic.

By engaging in this tactic, you are working to make foolish behavior on the part of the investor successful, which then leads to the very climate that makes the dishonesty so tempting in the first place. It's a vicious cycle.

Why not stick to the "always be 100% honest" approach? This will reform the investor climate over the long-term if the best startups consistently use it, and after all, these best startups are the target of your essay.

I recognize you didn't recommend this approach. But I think you should go one step further and not claim it is arguably acceptable.

nostromo 1 day ago 3 replies      
I <3 this essay. "Fake it 'til you make it" seems to be the m.o. in a lot of entrepreneurial circles. I've honestly never known if this is actually a good strategy or not. It seems the answer is no.
davemel37 1 day ago 1 reply      
The underlying concept I took from this post was a fundamental rule of marketing and sales...

Every decision made starts with an emotional trigger, and ends with a defensible position.

lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
I loved the wings metaphor but i found it still frustrating - pg is clearly an intelligent, observant person, at the heart of some of the best and brightest entrpreneurs globally. And yet we still cannot tell what makes a child grow into a twenty something whose wings can unfurl and a twenty something with raggedy stumps.

I hope that no one comes out of the "tube" of school and college without wings - but if that's true why do so few seem to fly?

What is it about those who fly that they learnt that others did not? Formidable-ness seems to simply be a tell for a good investor - not an explanation.

Please keep pushing them off cliffs - maybe we can work it out soon.

larrys 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's also interesting about all of this (when looking at qualitative factors) is that while we have plenty of data on certain people's success after the "nth" investor took a gamble (and it is a gamble since many had passed on the same person/opportunity [1]) on their idea and we have statistics on people that they gambled on and failed, what we don't have is any statistics on someone that everyone passed on and what would have happened if one person took a chance on them and gave them an opportunity.

[1] (as with Drew Houston and the east coast))

acgourley 1 day ago 0 replies      
PG led the charge on the idea you should start a company instead of going to grad school or taking a safe job. It's very important that he's now also saying, "your startup, despite needing money, might not be ready to raise money yet" because it adds an important constraint on your decision to take the plunge - either be sure you can reach the goal in a few months or have more personal runway.
jacques_chester 23 hours ago 1 reply      
> When people hurt themselves lifting heavy things, it's usually because they try to lift with their back.

It's got more to do with a weak back, actually. Folk with strong backs can lift very heavy weights safely.

In terms of the analogy, I dunno what I'm saying. Just fulfilling my HN nitpick quota.

flipside 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The time to raise money is not when you need it, or when you reach some artificial deadline like a Demo Day. It's when you can convince investors, and not before."

Been waiting for someone to articulate this for a while now. Pitch people an idea a few thousand times and you get pretty good at reading if people buy it. Getting close to the "convince" threshold for investors and when we do reach it, watch out!

EGreg 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I have found the binary thing to be true with west coast investors (especially in San Fran). Here in NYC, many angel investors think in terms of "when will I start getting returns on my money", and not "will this be the next big hit"? Catering to both types is often impossible, you have to pick one to go after.
arnoldwh 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a bit like a game. It's the investors job to eliminate false positives and vs. a first time founder, investors will typically have an advantage in that they've been through this many times before.

Trying to "beat the system" is like trying to beat investors at what they would on average be the best at doing and potentially sending inadvertent false positive signals caused by the nervousness of being new to fundraising.

If you focus on what PG recommends, you eliminate a lot of that friction since you eliminate the nervousness.

My tl;dr: In the fundraising lottery, it's easier to sell investors a ticket than trying to convince them you have the winning combination.

6thSigma 1 day ago 1 reply      
> There are a handful of angels who'd be interested in a company with a high probability of being moderately successful.

Is YC in this camp or do you guys and gals try to stay in the huge success side of speculation?

beat 1 day ago 1 reply      
So a question... how do you balance confidence from a well-understood solution to a well-understood problem in a well-understood market, with the kind of blue-sky dreaming that seems to excite investors? Crossing into that blue-sky world starts smelling like BS to me, but when I say "We could realistically get a $100M chunk of an existing multi-billion market", it doesn't seem ambitious enough?
gesman 1 day ago 1 reply      
"You need three things: formidable founders, a promising market, and (usually) some evidence of success so far."

Evidence of success often makes the first two way less relevant. Up to the point where tables are turned and investors will be trying to convince founders to take their money.

sinzone 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes is the other way too. They have to convince you, that they are the best fit for the company.
McKittrick 1 day ago 0 replies      
No one likes risk. Even early stage investors. A good investor deck should convince the investor that whatever risks are associated with particular investment opportunity are seemingly mitigated.

Team - not your first rodeo, know how to win, subject matter experts.Focus - clearly stated value proposition.Dream - big market, big value.Plan of Attack - clear path to capture market share.Validation/ Traction - customers! Tech - solid, non-obvious, not easily replicable. (i.e. if your successful, someone else can't just hop into the market and eat your lunch).Use of proceeds - not just pay my salary, but grow this business.Next big milestone: profitability? another fund raise?

If you hit on these, then investors will want to put money in their favorite types of companies: the one's that don't look like they need it. ;)

nakedrobot2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi pg,

I admire the clarity of your thoughts.

This is a really fine and insightful article. Thank you for sharing this.

Sealy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the advice Paul. It's very well timed as I have an investor meeting later today!

My biggest takeaway from your essay: the truth prevails. As cliche as it sounds, its apt advice for those aspiring to be the biggest startups of our generation. Its easy to get carried away with our dreams and visions.

dhruvtv 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Why do founders persist in trying to convince investors of things they're not convinced of themselves?"

This line hit home with me. Applies perfectly to job interviews.

gpsarakis 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe a little out of context, but how easy is it to start talking about an idea without a working prototype? Of course it would make things easier, but maybe not always possible without a minimum funding.
rmason 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's one error: Microsoft did raise venture capital. They did it a matter of months before they went public.


hclose 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Neophyte question: Why do investors have to ask founders who else is investing? Is it not possible for them to check this themselves, via public records? [There are some sites that even pre-package the SEC filings for consumption by journalists, etc.]

It makes perfect sense to me why investors would want to know who else is investing, for a number of reasons. For one, standing on the sidelines knowing that most startups will fail is not a reasonable strategy. This is because some startups, no matter how unlikely, will succeed, and some VC will, despite our better judgment, have invested in them. If other VC deliver higher value for their clients than we do for ours because we cautiously and prudently stand on the sidelines, then we stand to lose the confidence of our clients.

But I do not understand why anyone would rely on the statements of founders to determine who else may or may not be on board as investors.

ecuzzillo 1 day ago 0 replies      
s/both your time/both your time and theirs/
theoh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whatever. When you consider the whole concept of the "pivot" it's clear that this is a business of betting on people rather than business plans, which makes this essay a bit redundant.
kategleason 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shakespeare. amazing clarity of thought put to words.
Russian Man Changes Small Print in Credit Card Agreement, Then Sues minyanville.com
391 points by nickkyit  1 day ago   178 comments top 29
eksith 1 day ago 8 replies      
Technically, the man did nothing wrong. His bank agreed to the altered terms.

I've seen some credit card and bank card forms that include language which make the agreement void if its terms are altered in any way, but if it doesn't have that, there's nothing really stopping you from doing the same.

That said, legal teams for credit card companies and banks are notorious for finding ways to beat you with technicalities and/or drag their feet through the court system so your own bills rack up. They can claim bad faith, and/or fraud (which is a hot button) and add to the mix a DA willing to create a name for him/herself by putting away a scumbag white-collar "criminal" (I.E. Joe, the Photoshop user) and you've got a lot of risk behind it.

dschiptsov 22 hours ago 3 replies      
There is something to be understood about modern Russian culture - being successful cheater and uncaught thief considered a virtue, praised in a folklore with an iconic characters as Ostap Bender or, on a lower level, untouchable criminals, so-called Thiefs-Above-Law.

The unprecedented level of corruption in Russia is in a large extent due to this cultural beliefs. Being a successful bureaucrat or corrupted official is a dream of millions, be it a student of Academy of Government Service, or just a novice applied for a job of a traffic cop.

Most of so-called businesses are based on a fraud, designed and set up with the fraud in mind, as an exit strategy, based on exploitation of minorities, cheating of naive and uneducated and banal brute force.

Of course, such thing happen all over the US or other countries, the difference is the percentage. In Russia cheating and fraud are dominant strategies due to lack of any real economy or production.

The dream of easy money makes us the world largest porn producer, malware manufacturer (nothing very clever, just primitive deception) and a world's leader in drugs usage. We are deliberately copying, adapting and sometimes creatively enhancing all the possible ponzi schemes, corporate frauds found in US, without trying to mimic anything decent.

So, nothing to see here, yet another punk inspired by the cult books about Ostap Bender.

btw, these cards of Tinkoff Credit Systems was a nice cheating in itself - in a small print there was whopping 35% interest rate, huge fees for cancellation and inability to pay back ahead of schedule.)) So, they worth each other.

smoyer 1 day ago 3 replies      
I did something similar with the non-compete and non-disclosure agreements my employer wanted me to sign when our company was purchased. It was a four page document and I simply altered the terms to suit what I thought was fair (I had no intention of stealing their IP, but I also didn't want them owning everything I created).

The HR representative signed both copies, gave me one and filed the other. The funniest part is that when I left a few years later, they couldn't find the one I'd signed and asked me to sign another during the exit interview ... I declined ;)

mrt0mat0 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you as a customer are held accountable for fine print that you never read, why isn't the reverse? This should be a no-brainer if you ask me. Hypocrites
oh_teh_meows 1 day ago 1 reply      
Deep down I really want this man to win his case, if only just to show the flaw in fine prints that have screwed over many legally-challenged (for lack of a better term) people. You can argue that it's one's responsibility to look out for, read, and understand fine prints in any contract one signs, but then why are they in fine print in the first place? So as to not detract one's attention from the borderline dishonest big prints like INTEREST FREE LOAN* or something like that? So that you can make money off that few unfortunate souls who overlooked the fine prints?
ds9 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I did something similar (USA here).

I asked for an automatic debit for a student loan, and got a form to fill out. Among other terms it specified that the lender could change the amount taken from my account, unilaterally!!!

So I crossed out this part, specified literally the current amount in dollars and cents, and said that any change would require separate written consent from me.

And sent it back with a signature. As others pointed out above, if they failed to notice the change, it is their own fault and their own problem, just as they would argue that it was my fault and my problem if I signed without reading all their self-serving, tiny-font, lawyer-crafted language.

And they started debiting the account - which has no legal justification other than that piece of paper, therefore they have agreed to the terms. It has not come to a court case, but if they ever withdraw more than the specified amount I'll sue.

Would I win? Maybe not, but if not it wouldn't be because of any flaw in my approach. Rather it would be because of the defacto two-tier legal system, where corporations have rights in proportion to their wealth and individuals can't afford to enforce any theoretical rights they supposedly have. I wish I could find the well-written rant on this topic (historical separate court systems for aristocrats and peasants) - Falkvinge maybe.

csense 1 day ago 1 reply      
How frequently is the little guy is screwed when they don't read the big institution's fine print before they sign?

Finally, a big institution is screwed when they don't read the little guy's fine print before they sign!

bradleyjg 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is why many professionally drafted contracts will have somewhere in the integration clause[1] language that says that the agreement can only be modified in writing, and only by a person with a specific title at the company.

[1] http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/contract-integ...

D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
I LoL'd so much at this... I love it!That his bank failed to read the fine print, as so many of us do, yet signed the agreement anyway, is a hilarious case of poetic justice.

This reminds me of the story here awhile back regarding someone signing credit card receipts with increasingly absurd signatures, including a drawn picture in lieu of his legal signature.


dctoedt 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why I often include a "redlining representation" in contracts I draft or review/edit. [1] Of course, that only works if you check to be sure the redlining representation is still in the copy of the contract you're actually being asked to sign.

[1] Clause: http://www.oncontracts.com/general-provisions/#sec-35. Explanation: http://www.oncontracts.com/surreptitious-contract-changes/ and http://www.oncontracts.com/surreptitious-contract-changes-ii...

Pitarou 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've no idea about Russia, but this WOULD NOT WORK in the Anglo-Saxon legal system.

Legally, the signed contract is simply the physical manifestation of something deeper: the consensus ad idem or both sides agreeing to the same thing. Tricking a busy clerk into signing an altered document does not constitute acceptance of the contract.

The court generally chooses not to reward such dishonesty, and therefore allows the honest party to choose which version of the contract should hold.

flog 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been wondering about this for years. I hate sales people telling me they can't negotiate as the contracts are standard... of course they can.
Havoc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Regardless of David vs Goliath sentiment, realistically one can't allow such a thing in a modern society.

e.g. I sent 3 documents out today requesting signatures from directors - signatures which by local laws bind the company they represent +- irrevocably. If you allow the scenario presented then clause #138 could easily have read "pay Mr Havoc a million a day".

tghw 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good reminder, especially to contractors and freelancers, that when you receive a contract, it's just the beginning of a negotiation, not a sign-and-send situation.
mathattack 1 day ago 4 replies      
Somehow I just can't see this working out well for him, but if it does, it says something about the rule of law in Russia.
peter303 1 day ago 2 replies      
It would a fraudelant contract in the US. When you alter the text of contract in the US you must clearly highligh the alteration in the riginal text or as an admendment.
Demiurge 1 day ago 2 replies      
Brilliant, I'm so itching to try this in US.
X4 1 day ago 0 replies      
I should feel embarrassed that somebody alters contracts on his behalf, but this time I really feel happy for this guy. He exploited a Bank by playing out his own rules on them.

Just today I was thinking about Google and other big companies founded by Russians and then I see this little man hacking himself into success. I feel deep respect for persons who start from nothing, but with big success! Despite the prejudices people may have with Russian, some of them are really damn smart and this man proves it..

Thats quite an achievement, hats off to you sir.

Fuxy 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Haha now that's funny. The man did nothing wrong that's how negotiations are done between lawyers all the time. He presented new terms, the bank agreed so now they have to honor the contract they agreed to.
nickkyit 9 hours ago 0 replies      
SurfScore 1 day ago 0 replies      
This man's got spunk! Get him to Silicon Valley with some venture capital and he'll make waves.
nickkyit 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Updated the story with the pic of the guy: http://www.minyanville.com/business-news/editors-pick/articl...
joe_the_user 1 day ago 0 replies      
I only know a small amount about the current Russian regime but I would assume that this man isn't just anyone but someone with connections to the state and the mafya.
yashg 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The court did hold the agreement valid when the bank sued him, so the bank will have to pay up as per the terms of the contract.
bengrunfeld 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Firstly, he is a legend. Having the guts to pull off a move like that is admirable and unique.

I think it's a shame that regardless of if he wins or loses, many people believe that "fine print" is a tool that only big institutions like banks or insurance companies are allowed to use in their favor.

Sarien 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This story shows exactly what is wrong with EULAs.
zenith2037 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In my eyes, that man won and outplayed the system.
primelens 1 day ago 1 reply      
> In Soviet Russia ...


RDeckard 1 day ago 0 replies      
The girl in the picture looks like a leaner Kate Upton.
EFF: "Parallel construction" is really intelligence laundering eff.org
369 points by r0h1n  1 day ago   77 comments top 11
DamnYuppie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I believe that a society needs the ability to forget the transgressions of people. This gives us the ability as individuals to grow, otherwise we will be narrowly cast into a role that will determined by actions years ago or in our youth.

I know many will overreact and bring out extreme examples of murder or serious violent crimes. Yet that is not what those who are utilizing these tools are going after and prosecuting. They are generally minor or petty crimes, at least that I have read about so far. It seems like an overzealous us of a tool for perfunctory government twerps to feel empowered and make a case for their continued existence...not at all beneficial in the short or long term

joseflavio 1 day ago 3 replies      
There are at least 3 scary factors in this.1 - What will be next crime that is big enough that justify using this? File sharing? Drinking in public? Jaywalking? Driving above the speed limit?2 - The data is collected forever! Our current law system is not just in a situation which the prosecutors can dig your past to find problems! Imagine you do some graffiti (ok, I know it is vandalism) to express your indignation, now, if you are ideologically an enemy of the state, they can dig for crimes your whole life...!3 - The collected data can be used to prosecute you but it can not be used to innocent you.

edit: spelling

eegilbert 1 day ago 1 reply      
Especially relevant today: Slave records from the 19th century were used to enforce racial purity laws 100 years later.


derefr 1 day ago 5 replies      
Really, "parallel construction" sounds like what any forensic analyst would do in the case of definitive-yet-inadmissible evidence: find other evidence to prove what you already "know" (which can also turn out to go against what you "know.") In other words, just do your job anyway, just taking the inadmissible evidence as a hint of what to look for.
ihsw 1 day ago 1 reply      
The legality of it is very difficult to challenge (must be done on case-by-case), so a loud smear campaign is our only recourse. Whether the "reliable tip" came from legal or questionable sources is immaterial when there is clear and obvious evidence implicating someone.

We can't forget that the NSA is one of many[1] intelligence agencies in the USG, so this parallel construction phenomenon isn't directly attributed to the NSA's spying efforts being focused domestically.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_intelligence_community#Membe...

snissn 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's like cheating at cards or battleship and getting the right answer. Then later making up a plausible reason how you knew where their battleship would be.
pivnicek 1 day ago 0 replies      
We got this warrant to search your house because we've already searched your house.
gbin 1 day ago 0 replies      
IMHO This recycling of information can lead to even more abuse.The NSA can do anything illegal and mask it so it can be used domestically then.ie. They can drag somebody outside the US, torture him for "tips" and give the info to another agency that will protect the source of it by bullshitting the prosecutor.Gitmo v2 but nobody would know.
keithg 1 day ago 2 replies      
So what can we do about it? This is a serious question, not a rhetorical one. Given our recent enlightenment of government agency behavior, what can we as citizens do to get things moving in a different direction?
jrjarrett 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So what do we DO about things like this? What IS there to do? I fear our freedom as Americans is eroding away and our elected officials are not going to stop it.
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Parallel construction" is really perjury.
Steps To $5,000 In Monthly Recurring Revenue statuspage.io
329 points by dannyolinsky  1 day ago   106 comments top 21
jhuckestein 1 day ago 7 replies      
The best part about their $5,000 is that most of it will be profit.

I'm pretty happy with my own SaaS application, but because I provide a telephone service I have pretty low margins. This is by far the most annoying thing about my business (it affects me more than taxes), especially considering that it would have been just as much work to make a SaaS with negligible marginal costs.

The lesson is, if you have the choice and don't want hypergrowth + venture funding, provide a service that costs you next to nothing to provide. Another disadvantage of providing a service that has high marginal costs is that your bigger competitors will usually be able to outprice you. If all you need is a few servers, you can differentiate based on product alone and charge accordingly.

rexreed 1 day ago 5 replies      
Going from zero to $5000/mo is definitely great as that means you've created some value somewhere. But $5k is not really sustainable as a business for three people. It's a great side-job for one person, or good total income for one person who lives in a low-rent / low-cost area.

But for a team of 3 people, you can do much better than $5k just selling your time in consulting.

It's not clear how you'll get from $5k/mo (nice side-job income) to $50k/mo (Good bootstrapping income for team of 3) to $500k/mo (ok, now you have a business that scales).

I'm not being critical here -- It's just that SaaS math has me scratching my head wondering if all that work for all those customers with such small amounts to show for it is worth it.

Would you rather service 200 people for a total of $5k a month with 3 bodies to support or one solid consulting customer @ $5k+/month with just yourself to support?

I'd imagine that you'd want more revenue so you can have a business and not just lifestyle income to support one person. Going from 0 to $5k is one thing -- the advice here is good for that. But getting from $5k to $50k, where you need to be to have sustainable business for 3 people, will require much more substantial effort that's not clear you can achieve with these methods. Indeed, it is not even clear what your margins are at the $5k/mo revenue point and whether that will even be sustainable given the amount you'll need to spend on Customer Acquisition, Customer Support, and slaying the Customer Churn demons to retain your necessary high monthly subscription rates. This is where most SaaS companies die -- trying to achieve this necessary transition.

dylangs1030 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm glad this worked, so congrats on that. However, I don't agree that this is good, actionable advice.

1. Find a problem.

2. Get to hacking.

3. Soft launch.

4. Synthesize feedback, build more.

5. Expand the funnel (user acquisition).

6. Aha/Win/Rich/Yay

...That's the formula for any startup/technology service. It's literally those steps, a little individual secret sauce, and you win or you die (figuratively speaking). I know it worked for you, but things like

>"In our minds, there is no better way to build a product that people want than to be the customer you plan to sell to."

...aren't very helpful. It's a broad characterization of how to put yourself in that mindset.

But in any case, good explanation of what you did for your own project :)

pkamb 1 day ago 8 replies      
Suffers from the classic "clicking big `statuspage.io` logo takes you to `blog.statuspage.io`" problem.
mijustin 1 day ago 1 reply      
> From the initial connections and users we picked up from the post, we were able to convert 20 users into $50/month paying customers.

On first take, I was surprised you were able to pick up 20 paying users just from an HN post.

But then I went back and read the first part:

> First, being in the community, we had a bunch of friends that were great customer candidates.

It would be interesting to know the breakdown for those first 20 customers: how many came from personal connections?

secondmod 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for sharing. I wrote similar post here on HN sometime back, would like to share here to add value :

After 30 days of launch, I managed to get 7000+ active users, about 100 paying users and $6129 in revenues.

My learnings : 1. Build your first main feature really well

2. Dont launch with 100s of features, keep the product simple

3. Make sure to have some influencers on your board as users from day one and make them super happy

4. Use tweet button very smartly - this is make or break up for your side project

5. Dont hurry up into making money, let your users ask you for more feature and then roll out paid features.

Shared here : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5600281

shimms 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow the negativity here is astonishing. $5000 recurring revenue is an amazing accomplishment, and something that most startups never see.

Kudos on this achievement, for taking the time to share it, and for the hard work behind it.

Wishing you guys the best of success in getting to the next milestone.

csomar 1 day ago 1 reply      
For Passive income dreamers, I think it's important to mention

1. This is revenue, not profit.

2. 3 guys. So $1600/person.

3. Seems like they don't have jobs (means taking this full time, probably with consulting).

Still a pretty good job, and I'll be interested to see their growth.

brandnewlow 1 day ago 1 reply      
The StatusPage folks are executing incredibly well on adressing a tangible pain point. It's been a lot of fun to watch.
applecore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm impressed that a soft launch[1] brought in twenty users on a $50/month plan ($1,000 MRR.) They really launched with a solid product.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5401470

JeremyMorgan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somewhat broad, but good information. Congrats on your success.
nawitus 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope those pseudo-personal emails don't get more frequent. I don't need more "spam", and it makes me feel a little rude not answering direct questions in an email.
pallandt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good read, congrats on your success btw!
philhill 12 hours ago 0 replies      
So you started charging for the service very early (almost day 1). that's not the traditional startup approach of build a biggish user base, work out the product beyond MVP and then monetize. I like hearing you got to rev early so props but is there a downside to future growth (even in the short term)?
timharding 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fascinating. Thanks for the post. Not sure what your unfair advantage is here, perhaps being part of the community?

What barriers do you have to competition from a one or two person company w/ lower costs?

This is an excellent talk about what it takes to get out there and find the set of customers outside this bubble that will get you to $50k/mo.


ddewaele 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice write-up.

When did you guys actually started working on this and how did you transition from a day-to-day consultancy mode (no doubt bringing in a multitude of that $5000 revenue) into working on this full-time. Your blog posts don't seem to contain a creation date :)

Did you fund the initial development with your own savings or did you get angel investors on board early on ?

I can imagine that after taxes and deducting costs there is little or no profit left but it's a great psychological barrier to cross !

I wish you guys the best of luck ! Great idea and great to see people using it (and paying for it)

t0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can this strategy be duplicated? It seems like your main traffic source has been press coverage, but that isn't something that you can plan to have or rely on. Would you have gotten this far otherwise?
wusatiuk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I also think that this is another awesome example how it could work including the steps you should go. There are thousands of ideas out there but most of them never go productive because out of whatever reason so you guys, as all other startups with paying clients, have my biggest respect.
Jamie452 15 hours ago 0 replies      
So who fancies giving me a pain point which I can get on with?

That's my pain point.. trying to find a pain point to start developing!

stevewilhelm 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just marked my calendar to check back and see how statuspage.io is doing in a year's time.
originofspecie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Call me a jaded but 60k a year in revenue isn't won't pay the mortgage or put food on the table or clothes on your back. And if you wanted all three... forget about it.
Slashdot founder Rob Malda on why there wont be another Hacker News washingtonpost.com
320 points by Libertatea  1 day ago   242 comments top 32
mgkimsal 1 day ago 13 replies      
"I dont think its going to work that way any more. I think that the power has decentralized. Successful people on Twitter basically can fulfill a lot of that same role. You can follow Tim OReilly and Robert Scoble and Tim Lee and you can get a pretty good summary of whats happening around the universe."

But then, I have to know to follow those people. And I get a load of crap from them about their lives and networks that I don't want. Somehow having to 'click through' 30 links on HN is too much work, but constantly keeping up with the latest hot people on twitter isn't too much work? Makes no sense. Aggregators have served a purpose, and will continue to, for a long time.

muraiki 1 day ago 5 replies      
I read Slashdot for many years. Slashdot introduced me to the open source movement and shaped my conception of civil liberties greatly. I remember what the place was like on 9/11: when CNN's servers couldn't keep up, I kept going to Slashdot (and then IRC, something I didn't know much about). Slashdot was a great source of news about geek culture. I liked that it was that it was curated by editors, because as a teenager I had no idea where to find out about the sorts of things they talked about.

However, what led me to leave Slashdot wasn't any sort of Eternal September like effect. Yes, there were many troll comments there, but there's also lots of options to adjust moderation types to suit one's particular interests. Rather, what I found was that the editors themselves seemed to stop caring. Article summaries would be blatantly incorrect or have distorting editorializing in them. If the whole point of the Slashdot style of reporting was to present a small number of quality stories each day, how could I trust the site when what the editors presented was inaccurate?

When I came to HN I was surprised to discover that articles simply have a title and URL. Sometimes there's editorializing in the titles, but in general its pretty good. But I can understand what Malda is saying when he expresses his frustration in wading through the front pages of HN. I don't know if the solution is to implement topics of some sort or not, but the user volume on this site is picking up enough that I think some sort of organization beyond a single ranking algorithm is required. It might also lead some interesting stories that never make it onto the front page to reach an audience. This problem of course isn't unique to HN... whether its Slashdot or Twitter or Facebook, getting the signal to noise ratio to an appropriate level is a really hard problem.

That being said, in my short time here I have learned a tremendous amount -- albeit much of which lies in my bookmarks!

sillysaurus 1 day ago 3 replies      
One idea for jumpstarting a new HN-type site is to spider HNSearch, gathering the first 100,000 stories ever submitted to HN, along with comments. Then set up your site so that your frontpage is a doppelganger of HN's frontpage circa 2007. I.e. today your frontpage should look how the HN frontpage looked on August 7th, 2007.

That way there's (a) the appearance of activity, (b) a constant stream of interesting content on the frontpage, and (c) interesting discussion in the comments. Before long, new real users would start to participate, e.g. by replying to doppleganger comments. At that point, it's inevitable that the new site would start to get traction as long as those new users keep coming back, which they should because the frontpage is interesting.

This could only work if someone had the balls to actually deploy the currently-released Arc 3.1 version of Hacker News, though, rather than rolling their own version in Rails. There's nothing inherently wrong with trying to clone HN's featureset, but it's interesting to note that not a single one of the HN knockoffs successfully cloned HN's entire featureset. Most of them were a halfway implementation.

Anyway. Just a fun idea.

EDIT: I just stumbled across a dump of HN from April 24, 2008: http://rapidshare.com/files/3129266675/ycombinator-news-2008...

It contains a snapshot of the first 172,575 items (submissions/comments) and a snapshot of the profiles of the first 6,519 users.

Have fun! Maybe someone can use the data to put together a cool visualization or something.

EDIT2: Just to be clear, this idea is firmly tongue-in-cheek.

EDIT3: Statistics time! According to that snapshot, when HN was 558 days old there were 38,693 submissions and 133,882 comments. The snapshot claims there were only 6,519 users. That would be an average of 20 comments per user and 5.9 submissions per user.

cperciva 1 day ago 3 replies      
Funny that he says he wants a Hacker News digest with the top 10 stories each day... my Hacker News Daily is precisely that.
mikeurbanski 1 day ago 5 replies      
There are days when I wish that Hacker News was divorced from Y Combinator.

I don't care about karma, "hellbans" seem like a mean waste of a person's time, and the thought of HN as a rolling job interview for "the cool kids table" actively discourages me from participating.

Sure, the "interview" aspect helps them find people who are skillful self-promoters/developers, but honestly, as a user, wouldn't you prefer to keep the self-promotion to a minimum?

When I see my 18th front page "HN: Flavor of the Day - Me Too" or "Lorem Snowden" post, I start to long for the days of pre-Twitter F/OSS "Planets".

Planets where dev, ux, design, and business people came together to talk about what makes technology, projects, and people tick. I learned more about how to treat people and run a project from early to mid-2000 era http://planet.gnome.org/ than anywhere else.

There will be another HN, but it'll most likely have a very limited scope and come from a place of genuine enthusiasm.

incision 1 day ago 1 reply      
>"Twitter basically can fulfill a lot of that same role. You can follow Tim OReilly and Robert Scoble and Tim Lee and you can get a pretty good summary of whats happening around the universe."

I tried to start using Twitter that way maybe 5 years ago and found that there was just too much noise - jokes, tales of breakfast and banter that I just don't care to see.

I actually feel like it's the right kind of model though. Aggregating content streams from people of similar interests. It's the filtering that's lacking for me.

Every time I think about following someone on a social site I want for the ability to follow only a specific category of their content and possibly re-share it in the same focused fashion.

G+, Flipboard and likely a host of others have done things toward this direction, but I have yet to see anything gel for me.

Ideally, I see all of this categorization and recommendation happening automatically. If a service could recommend news or articles to me and categorize those I specify with the same accuracy I perceive from Netflix with movies, or even the new Gmail inbox I'd be pretty happy.

minimaxir 1 day ago 4 replies      
I dont think its going to work that way any more. I think that the power has decentralized. Successful people on Twitter basically can fulfill a lot of that same role. You can follow Tim OReilly and Robert Scoble and Tim Lee and you can get a pretty good summary of whats happening around the universe.

Odd argument, considering that the content on Hacker News is more about products than the people making the products. And I can say with confidence that I've never seen Scoble linked to anywhere on HN.

jgon 1 day ago 8 replies      
I enjoyed reading Cmdr Taco's thoughts on the future of "news" (interpret that broadly) and it made do some reflecting on what I think the future will be.

The biggest thing that jumped out at me was that signal vs. noise is the most important criteria for a service to be used, but what a lot of analyses miss is that you have to interpret something before you can decide if it is a signal or not, and that interpretation is by definition individual. I think this is what happens a lot of the time when people complain about a site becoming "too big", idealizing the past when the "riff-raff" hadn't gotten in. But I think this is mistaken for the same reason that generational rants about the fecklessness of the youth are mistaken, ie Occam's razor says that we are probably not all Nietzschean superman vs newcomer's being idiots, but instead we are probably more or less equal. What is happening instead is that as a larger group comes to a site, a larger number of interests and opinions come as well. And what I interpret as noise, what those people interpret as signal.

By this I mean that if a large number of art enthusiasts joined HN and started posting a bunch of articles on art history, I would probably not be interested as my interests lie mostly in the tech arena. Let's further posit that these art enthusiasts are pretty competent in their field and so 90% of what they post is "worthwhile" in some vague broad sense. This influx might actually increase the overall signal to noise content on HN, while for me it would appear as though HN is getting swamped with crap. This is why people talk about trying to keep things exclusive or invite-only, we are trying to keep the broader perspectives involved aligned with our own, so as to not get swamped by noise from perspectives with no overlap to our own.

And this I think is the root of a bunch of the complaints about politics being posted to HN. While I may shrug off art history posts, politics is another word for how we organize ourselves to live together and as such as is much more personal and much more important. And so people's personal reactions to politics they disagree with, and by extension political stories they disagree with, is much more aggressive. So even a small amount of political discourse that you disagree with can seem intolerable.

So what is the solution? Well if I had that, I would be rich, but I do have a few ideas. The first is that reddit is trying to solve the signal interpretation issue with subreddits, wherein people can manually opt in to streams of article that they believe will be signals to them, while blocking out all streams that they will personally interpret as noise. But this still relies on manual intervention as well as discovery, along with user moderation to maintain the signal. And why do we still do things manually when we have computers!? :)

So one area that I think is really overlooked is that right now every site interprets "down/up votes" and flagging as me speaking about what I think is useful for the community. But this is just my interpretation and so aren't I really expressing my own preferences here? Why aren't sites taking my history of voting/flagging and running some machine learning on the the contents of the stories associated with that history to try to tease out patterns in what I appear to approve and disapprove of?

For myself personally I wouldn't care if I ever read another article on coffescript or libertarian politics. But if I downvote those things here on HN I am making a judgement on what I think is best for the rest of the community, and who am I to make that choice? Why can't the HN front-page see that I'm logged, look at my voting history, and just remove those stories from my view of the front page? Ta da, automatic subreddits. I think a lot of work could be done in interpreting my actions in voting/downvoting on a much more personal level, rather that looking at them in a democratic fashion.

Of course, the big unanswered question with the above is how do we avoid the echo-chamber effect, and what about that rare story on coffeescript I might actually want to see? But for now, I think the above would be a good first step, with some sort of bail-out possible if I want to "broaden" my perspective. And anyway, aren't we all trying to create an echo-chamber anyway by coming to HN (aka hacker focused stories)? So what could it hurt to make things a bit more personalized for myself?

david_shaw 1 day ago 3 replies      
A lot of Malda's thesis seems subjective; a more interesting statement was just a brief mention at the top of the article:

> Then, after taking a year off, [Malda] joined WaPo Labs, a technology incubator owned by the Washington Post Company, the parent company of the Washington Post. (WaPo Labs is not among the companies being purchased by Jeff Bezos.)

I wonder why that is? I don't want to derail the discussion, but I had assumed (incorrectly) that Bezos was acquiring the full Washington Post collective. It strikes me as odd that he would neglect one of the elements that made WaPo, in my mind, somewhat unique.

I'll try to stay away from speculation, but I can't help but wonder if some of Bezos's other labs might be integrated into WaPo's technology portfolio? Is that possible, when the purchase was unaffiliated with Amazon?

pessimizer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting that the "tech-related topics" that Malda is "most obsessed with right now" are Bitcoin, Manning, and Snowden/NSA - the ones that the proclaimers of a decline of quality of HN complain about the most.
Zimahl 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think his logic toward Twitter is very flawed. Sure, you can get the bulk of your interesting news there from specific feeds, but where's the discussion? People use Reddit, HN, Slashdot, Fark, etc., because they could have conversations about each item.

People want to discuss how a story makes them feel and how it affects them. People need access to random people, that's why this doesn't work as well on social sites like Facebook. Finally, it needs to be at least psuedo-anonymous so people can explore their thoughts without real-life repercussions.

MattRogish 1 day ago 0 replies      
"If I could just find someone who made a Hacker News digest, with the 10 best items from Hacker News, that would be a really good Slashdot."

I think the Launch Ticker is probably the closest thing to that. They cover much of the same ground as HN. Of course, you don't get the comments, but that could be a positive to some people.


diminoten 1 day ago 7 replies      
Has anyone tried a site like this except with additional exclusivity? Can't vote unless logged in, can't log in unless invited? Or can't vote unless 'approved', or something similar?

Would it work better? It seems like the problem is that you get too many political submissions and polemic comments which get the votes but aren't "hacker news" in the sense of what that used to mean.

I've been here apparently 4.2 years (no idea how), and the only thing I really notice that's different is the marked uptick in political discussions as well as the more confrontational nature of commenters. Is that bad? I dunno.

dylangs1030 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slightly misleading, only a paragraph or two were really about Hacker News in particular. More about why there won't be another "x", of which Hacker News is one iteration.

I'm glad Malda spoke to the issue of volume. A lot of users on Hacker News (with varying levels of prominence, seniority and notability) have noted the issues arising with volume.

The NSA scandal was the most recent example of this. Political discourse on Hacker News is almost cancerous it's so bad. there is widespread misinformation and a quick glance at the "New" page shows that the guidelines are frequently not even regarded for submissions.

I think Malda is on point with his view of Hacker News being at critical mass right now.

jfb 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wonder about the idea that Twitter will fill the role of something like Slashdot/HN/&c. At my Peak Twitter, I followed a couple hundred people, but the stream is so full of noise that the work of picking out the signal began to drown out any possible benefit. Retweets, for instance, I see as 99.99% noise. The ads are annoying, but ads are annoying everywhere.
arh68 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The policy parts, I dont feel like I have a say in that. I dont have a voice there. I know what I want to see happen. But I dont feel like I have a say or a voice so I choose to be interested in the technology and think about where thats going to take us next.

It just burns to hear Rob Malda say this. I wince at the thought. I've heard the words before, in the back of my head: solutionism, powerlessness, voter apathy. I have no good ideas to solve this or even reverse it: no way forward, no 'edge'.

I'm starting to think these news sites live and die like phoenixes. Emotional baggage accumulates, pushing "issues" to the surface, clouding understanding. "Thought-provoking" is the kind of post I like to read, but only when it provokes curiosity, not frustration.

I wonder what would happen to the HN userbase if the entire site goes dark for a whole month. I'd come back. I hope the "issues" disappear and we can all start conversing with clear minds once again.

duaneb 1 day ago 0 replies      
People want too much from this site: startup news, code, politics, self help, tech gossip. This was fine with fewer users because all this could coexist on the front page, but now a lot of quality content just flies under the radar in lieu of linkbait stories. Unfortunately this is the way the internet works.
fotbr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strangely enough, "new version of blahblahblah" is much more interesting to me than anything "tech culture" ever will be.
D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing I learned is dont spend your entire life playing predictive defense against attacks that will never happen. Real people are very clever. If they choose to attack you theyll attack you in ways you cant predict.

I wish our government would heed this advice...

I also liked how Rob said that his CMS was an evolved system and not designed.This has been my experience as well, because I can't think of everything and am better suited to incremental design.

joshuak 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally I like the fact that HN has a lot of verity. I can read it like a newspaper just like I used to do with /. and get exposed to a lot of things I wouldn't know to look for. I can search if I want to focus on something specific. So I don't agree with the premise that there should be another HN.

Two things that I hated about /. was the summery, which usually confusingly buried the link and was generally not helpful. And the fact that you can't vote and comment in the same article, which means that you trend away from having expert comments that are highly rated.

If you are an expert you can write an informative comment, but then you can't help vote up other expert comments, if you only vote your expert opinion goes unheard. HN doesn't have this problem.

I think the reason HN works is mostly simply the name, and not breaking it as above. It captures the idea of "Why" in the golden circle sense.[0] You could easily do this with news sites focused on other general (but engaging) categories, and I think that is already true, we are just more interested in the hacker type of news so may not notice.

[0]: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspi...

dmunoz 1 day ago 1 reply      
> If I could just find someone who made a Hacker News digest, with the 10 best items from Hacker News, that would be a really good Slashdot.

There is hckrnews [0]. You can filter by top 10, top 20, top 50%, homepage and all. I usually start by going through the top 10 and progress outwards if I'm looking for additional posts.

[0] http://hckrnews.com/

duck 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I could just find someone who made a Hacker News digest, with the 10 best items from Hacker News, that would be a really good Slashdot.

Someone needs to tell Rob, I created a digest just over three years ago - http://hackernewsletter.com

TheCraiggers 1 day ago 1 reply      
It kinda sounds like he's suggesting a massive, public, social media platform where the 'good stuff' naturally bubbles up to the top. 'Good stuff', in this case, being what you're interested in and nothing else.

And while that would indeed be awesome, it's also pretty obviously a pipe dream. Maybe some breakthrough with AI would help with that, but until then I don't think we have the technology to do that.

So, for now humans are in control, and as we all know, the public is filled with marketers, trolls, and other forms of bagbiters that tend to ruin such things when they get big enough. Hakuna matata, I guess.

VLM 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the same article he wonders how there can be eternal growth (the graph up and to the right quote) while limiting the discussion topics to a very small number, but doesn't see the inherent conflict in the demands.

This is a failure to identify audience. A desire for identical "fundamentalist clones". Maybe you just don't get those in a tech audience.

He made it very clear he's not interested in a coffeescript release. Obviously some subculture is... And thats not necessarily a problem.

SkyMarshal 1 day ago 0 replies      
>If I could just find someone who made a Hacker News digest, with the 10 best items from Hacker News, that would be a really good Slashdot.

Ahem: http://www.hackernewsletter.com/

Only problem is the lag in receiving it, if you care a great deal about participating in the comments.

InclinedPlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think Malda is circling in the wrong waters. He's following and rubbing shoulders with the folks with money and influence, but the interesting stuff is all being done by a bunch of other people who are spending their time actually doing stuff. Frankly, I don't think Robert Scoble has even the slightest fragment of a fucking clue as to what the tech landscape is going to look like in 2023 or who is going to be a big part of it. Just because they have money, a legacy, and a reputation doesn't mean they are relevant. I think that might apply to Malda as well as anyone else.
initself 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me, the glory days of Slashdot were when I consumed the daily text based email digest.
yapsody 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Really great interview. Its good to know thoughts of Slashdot founder. I think hacker news is perfect the way it is.
tareqak 1 day ago 0 replies      
The TL;DR answer seems to be: because there isn't a good way to get the wisdom of the crowds without the crowds (yet).
phusion 1 day ago 1 reply      
I talked to Rob at a LinuxWorld several years ago. I got there kind of late and he was answering questions to a medium sized group of socially awkward computer nerds. No one wanted to get on the mic and ask a question for a Slashdot T-Shirt, so, being the extrovert that I am, stepped up to the plate.

I had recently read an interview with Rob online where someone asked him about Digg and Reddit and the popularity of user chosen content. His answers seemed like the question really got under his skin, so I figured I'd fuck with him in public.

I got on the mic and asked him what he thought about the trend of user submitted content. He immediately snapped at me that someone had already asked a similar question and called me a noob. He rambled on about quality vs quantity and all that, my eyes glazed over and I waited to get my free T-Shirt. I still have it! That experience more or less cemented my opinion of 'ol Robbie. Just thought I'd mention this story..

D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any successor will, by necessity, be named something else, so... Yeah, I agree, there can never be another "Hacker News."
iblaine 1 day ago 3 replies      
He seems convinced that /. was the last great success in tech news and there will never be another to replace it.

IMHO it failed for 2 reasons, too many political articles & social news is better than news aggregators. In the end most articles were about Microsoft & SCO being evil. Plus the rise of social news (twitter, reddit) have killed the need for news aggregators like slashdot & digg...slashdot was awesome, it unfortunately didn't evolve.

[edit] Forgot to add the /. comment system. It has too many features. Even today it's hard/annoying to use.

Snowden's Asylum: 'It's the law, stupid' aljazeera.com
307 points by filipmaertens  19 hours ago   183 comments top 12
flexie 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Obama's cancellation of the summit with Putin over Russia's granting of asylum to one individual must be the most impotent foreign policy action for a quite a while.

To maintain a bit of American dignity, at least Obama could have pretended that catching a 30 year old hacker was less important than improving the relationship between the two largest military powers on the planet.

I can only see the move explained as internal American politics.

smackay 18 hours ago 3 replies      
"In the age of digital wonders, more than ever we are dependent upon the vigilance of citizens of conscience to protect us against Orwellian scenarios of those many wannabe Darth Vadors lurking in the murky depths of the governmental bureaucracy..."

This is probably the most sober assessment of the current situation which is both optimistic and depressing simultaneously. The technology has reached a point to make a snooper's wildest dreams come true but at the same time there are more and more ways to get information about wrong-doing out into the open and to discuss it which hopefully results in action to correct it.

The awkward part of the Surveillance Age is that permanent vigilance is very difficult to sustain and any lapse or general complacency will be immediately taken advantage of. Keeping governments in check now appears to be a 24/7 task.

simonh 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not particularly pro- or anti-Snowden, and I'm no fan of the Russian government, but I think this article is correct.

Imagine the reverse case - a Russian government agent reveals massive and pervasive, questionably legal surveillance by the FSB approved by secret courts and without proper political oversight. Said Russian arrives in the US and applies for political assylum. It would be appalling not to grant it, while obviously allowing Russia to pursue normal legal channels to apply for extradition.

martinkallstrom 18 hours ago 7 replies      
In essence, the US government (not it's people) could be regarded as the global bully. It's probably because bullying works and is economical. It makes sense for them and the world where the US would have to apologize for it's behaviour is not the world we live in, no matter how much we would want to.

But isn't it also a slight sign of weakness? Comparing to China, it's apparent that US more often resorts to bullying tactics. Especially if you count in military operations in that spectrum. If the US were an economical power the bullying would not be more economical than a more long-term, silent and behind the scenes overtaking of the global economy. Which is what China is engaged in and US has been in the past.

ck2 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The idea of protesting the Olympics in Russia while we merrily went to China would be hilarious if it wasn't so pathetic.

Many bad things the Russians do, we do right here. If it's a contest for stupid, evil behaviors, we would only come out slightly ahead, certainly not win any race for humanity.

And by the way, Russia has nuclear weapons still pointed at us - thousands of them. Canceling ANY kind of talks is a bad idea, you never know the mentality of someone behind the button.

Shivetya 17 hours ago 3 replies      
ot to a point, I will be real curious if Time gives serious consideration to Snowden as its man of the year.... let alone the boys in Sweden.

back ot

I said awhile back, Snowden fate is purely up to Putin, disclaim it all he wants but if Putin found advantage to shipping him home it would happen. Russia is far worse than the US when it comes to rights, but the US deserves the embarrassment it receives from this to include the obvious snub of the White House by Putin. The people who should be most embarrassed of their behavior are the press, but they are so in bed with politics now that reporting like that occurred with the Washington Post in the seventies cannot occur today.

scrrr 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish that somebody (Michael Moore perhaps?) would make a great documentary on the topic of the surveillance state that everyone watches. (And on the seemingly broken American political system, as well.
alan_cx 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is one of the best articles I have read on this subject yet.
bengrunfeld 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Snowden's future directly affects us all. If he was incarcerated against the will of other powerful countries, it would send a strong message that personal freedom is a thing of the past, and that if you do the right thing at the expense of the government, you will be hunted down and punished.

I would really like to see Snowden being more vocal and discussing his beliefs more. I think he could be a very powerful leader in the fight for privacy and policies that restrict the government's snooping activities.

lyndonh 15 hours ago 2 replies      
In 5 years time Snowden will get fed up of the constant games and finally gives himself up to the US government out of sheer boredom. Then he will get shoved into a small cell, Kevin Mitnick style for 15 years. After great expense will it have been worth it ? I mean for the American people ? All those tax dollars wasted.

Why isn't anyone holding the government to account for all the bad things that Snowden told the truth about ?

tehwalrus 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This about sums it up, yes.
diminoten 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.

What? Moral duty not to do so? Howso?

Android AOSP maintainer quits plus.google.com
306 points by av500  1 day ago   216 comments top 22
aroch 1 day ago 4 replies      
For those curious:

As part of the Nexus device support, Google releases factory images. These images contain all the blobs and whatnot necessary to restore your device's OS even in the event of a soft-brick. In the case of the new Nexus 7, it appears Google won't be releasing factory images and the cause is almost certainly the fact that Qualcomm doesn't want to release it's proprietary blobs for the Adreno GPU.

JBQ is pissed about this, this isn't the first time a vendor hasn't allowed release of certain blobs or the first time a vendor has refused to release the code necessary to even boot the device.

GuiA 1 day ago 3 replies      
Not an Android user, but from what I understand the issue is that Google has released the new Nexus 7, but a) the GPU uses proprietary drivers (binary blobs) and b) the actual "factory image" (i.e. what runs on the device when you buy it) of the Nexus 7 is still unreleased and closed source.

This means that the Nexus 7 is, practically, no more open than the iPad/MS Surface/etc.. That would definitely be upsetting to me if the gig had been sold as a way to strongly impact an open source piece of software, and Jean-Baptiste's decision seems very reasonable.

Can android users/developers weigh in? I'm sure I'm getting some part of it wrong.

iyulaev 1 day ago 2 replies      
This kind of stuff is run-of-the-mill when working with the large chipset/SoC vendors. I've worked on projects that have crashed and burned because at the last minute the chip vendor decided they're not going to provide the SDK for the chips we've bought and designed in.

Vendors suck (some more than others) and it's not Google's fault that they can't convince the vendor to open source their device drivers. This sort of thing is extremely common in the embedded world and when you're making a device to a price point often times you have to put up with this sort of nonsense because only one vendor makes a chip with your feature set at a given price point.

binarycrusader 1 day ago 4 replies      
But, but, Android is the very definition of open! Andy Rubin said so:

  the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ;  repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform  /manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

Well, I suppose if you define "open" as being able to build the software, but don't promise you can actually use the result, that makes it acceptable.

The other important thing to note here is that Jean-Baptiste Quru is not just some random Android developer. He is the the point person for what everyone previously believed was "open" development on Android.

dm2 1 day ago 5 replies      
The fact is that Google tries to make their devices as open as possible. That philosophy is beneficial to the community, for the software, for their brand, and for the tech industry. If legal issues or unforeseen problems appear while they are launching a product that prevent stock images on a particular device, then oh well, shit happens.

There will be a dozen other Nexus devices within the next year and hopefully Google will learn from their mistakes, and will partner with suppliers who won't prevent source code from being published.

Does Google benefit monetarily from not releasing source code? Nope, it likely decreases their profit and tarnishes their reputation, so I would like to believe that they are doing everything in their power to keep Android and the Nexus brand as open as possible.


chetanahuja 1 day ago 0 replies      
JBQ's quitting is devastating to the AOSP ecosystem. In so many different ways that I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts together on this topic. Having had the benefit of following his posts and rants both from inside as well as outside google, I find it difficult to overstate the impact of this event on real and perceived openness of the platform.
jordanthoms 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing Google got caught between a rock and a hard place here, with the qualcomm processor being the best choice (and the performance of the Nexus 7 is great), but being ridiculously locked down (you can easily extract binary blobs, so why restrict google from hosting them, they will be hosting them for the OTA updates anyway!).

Should they have put out a worse device in order to stand up to this stuff though? Difficult choice.

This is a pain - It's nice being able to download the factory images direct from Google for quickly restoring the device to stock or applying an update before the OTA is out, having to try to find them on XDA is annoying for a Nexus device. Kudos to JBQ for standing up to this, hopefully the fallout will cause something to change.

jwildeboer 1 day ago 1 reply      
So AOSP is a lot of things but not really open and the geniuses at Google deliberately let the shit hit the fan despite 6 months of warnings by JBQ. Stay classy, Google.
wonderyak 1 day ago 2 replies      
So we can now lump all Qualcomm devices along with Verizon (CDMA) devices into the 'may never be properly updated' pile.

You'd think that Google would have the foresight to listen to the maintainer of the project; perhaps they did and this is just the way it is now?

henderson101 1 day ago 0 replies      
JBQ is a great guy, and well loved from his days working for Be Inc. His wife cool too, if notoriously opinionated :-) Wish him all the best! Stand by your convictions.
artagnon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
The situation is somewhat similar to what was happening on desktop Linux some years ago. On the desktop, the kernel _and_ most of the core userland is GPL (mostly v2), an extremely powerful license. nVidia got away with being able to distribute proprietary GPU kernel modules for some time, because distributions weren't moving fast enough. Why did they do it? Some vague illusion of their "Intellectual Property" being stolen, and competitors destroying them. All in all, they suffered (because they had to keep up with a fast-moving linux.git), and users suffered (because they had to get the precise version for their kernel). After many years of work, the cards were eventually reverse-engineered, and the noveau drivers are technically superior today. All in all, nVidia gained nothing and lost a huge amount of trust: if they'd upstreamed their driver, it would have been maintained for free (and improved upon); they could have concentrated on their core competency: making chips.

Today, AOSP (contrary to what its name suggests) is mostly just a code-dump project. They've forked Linux and have stripped out the GNU (GPL) userland. Broadly speaking, there are two ways to stay in power. 1. release minimal source code, and don't let other parties get in (aka. the Apple/Microsoft strategy). 2. simply assign all copyright to a neckbeard foundation with no money and nothing to lose (aka. FSF/GNU). Provided there's a big enough market (unlike nVidia being virtually the only manufacturer of decent GPUs back in the day), people will simply stop buying your hardware because their software doesn't run on it.

Google is pretty much on its own here, because there is no "open source project": various vendors fork the code and make their own modifications on top and distribute it happily. I run a CM nightly myself, because I get updates in the form of commit SHA-1s every night: _that_ is how you involve users and build a community. Can anyone threaten CM? Now, Qualcomm is attacking Google: Google can't give them the finger because they're powerless.

Fragmentation (aka. forks) are part and parcel of any uncontrolled development. GNOME is one very famous example: not everyone is happy with the same thing (GNOME Shell, Cinnamon, Unity etc.). For another example, look at mplayer: mplayer, mplayer2, and (now) mpv. The forks compete against each other, and the competent communities eventually achieve dominance. Contrast that with how many times Torvalds' tree has been forked: the forks don't survive because the community and leadership is strong and won't bend to anyone's demands (you're probably seen the media reporting how Linus gives nVidia the finger, or bashes patches that further Microsoft's UEFI agenda). Emacs has also had various forks in the past (remember XEmacs?), but all of them died off because of weak leadership.

AOSP should think about these issues seriously, and figure out how to keep the project running. I don't know what they should specifically change, because nobody has any idea about what problems they are facing.

samspenc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is he still working at Google? Just quit AOSP?
zmmmmm 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's puzzling to me that Qualcomm has managed to get to the position now where it is virtually a monopoly provider for ARM chipsets that support LTE. A lot of discussion happens about standards essential patents wrt Motorola and Samsung - surely that equally applies to Qualcomm and the other chip makers (not least of all Samsung) should be able to readily license these patents and build competitive chipsets?
Splendor 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This really shows poor planning on Google's part. If their goal with the Nexus line it to be able to release builds to ASOP, they need to source their parts accordingly.
static_typed 1 day ago 3 replies      
We are all to blame!

All of us that buy, or let relatives buy Android devices that use restrictive and closed blobs.

Customers and only customers have the power to make the change.

Every time we encourage someone else to buy a non-Android device make sure to publicise the fact on open social media like Farcebook or Twatter on the corporate tags and pages to raise awareness in the less technology literate and make some voices heard.

It is one thing for companies to see bottom-lines get affected, but they also need to understand why. Don't just boycott, let the world know why too!

jlund 1 day ago 3 replies      
I hope that Mozilla and Ubuntu are more successful in keeping binary blobs under control on their hardware. It will probably mean avoiding Nvidia and Qualcomm hardware though. Whether or not this is even realistic or possible is an interesting question.
JonSkeptic 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This does not bode well for the Security Enhanced Android project; it was already in poor shape and I fear this could be it's demise.
einarfd 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a worrying development for Android as an open source project. That Google doesn't care enough about keeping ASOP relevant, to even make sure their new Nexus 7 is supported in it, is rather depressing. Some here are blaming Qualcomm and I'm sure they are part of the reason this happened. But the new Nexus 7 is probably going to bring in a sizeable chunk of money, and Google could have used this to force Qualcomm's hand.That Google didn't, sends a clear message about their priorities.
zobzu 1 day ago 0 replies      
+karma for the balls to disclose the reason to quit, and it being a reason like that.
cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google could acquire MIPS and forget ARM and Qualcomm. Imagination Tech bought MIPS for just $100M just 9 months ago.
voodoo123 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well, I see that people have figured out why I'm quitting AOSP.

There's no point being the maintainer of an Operating System that can't boot to the home screen on its flagship device for lack of GPU support, especially when I'm getting the blame for something that I don't have authority to fix myself and that I had anticipated and escalated more than 6 months ahead.

So much for all that noise from Google about 'openness'. The detractors were right.

mnbc98 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone else find it highly suspicious how every Android device feels the need to ship a binary blob?

Given Google's close relationship with the NSA, the reason seems fairly obvious...

I'm creating a website to promote early stage sites and ideas kickoffboost.com
303 points by easymode  2 days ago   105 comments top 51
WestCoastJustin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Cool idea. I might suggest creating a static version of your site and hosting it on s3. This will make it much more stable if you have a high read rate. Then you can point the new submissions to a app server or something. You don't have to get fancy with this or anything, a simple 'wget -r http://www.kickoffboost.com/' and upload that to a s3 bucket, etc.
easymode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi Everyone,

The response to kickoff boost has been overwhelming and I'm in a bit of a struggle to keep up, but it's a great thing :)

I'm focusing the showcase algo right now so I can't comment or reply to everyone individually until later tonight, but I'll post some updates here.

I launched kickoffboost.com rather prematurely not having any idea that I would get this much traffic. I started coding for kickoff boost the day I read Paul Graham's post "Do things that do not scale" and basically just built a front page with DB hook to showcase products.

Right now, I am manually approving submissions. I'm working to implement a process where after approval, each product will have a "life" (say 300) and "age/clicks" (starting at 0).

When links are clicked, that product's age will be incremented, and the product will get front page space as long as age doesn't exceed life. The life/age bar will be publicly shown for each product. Once age exceeds life limit, the goes to "archived / older posts" and new products get front page view ( thinking about limiting front page to show 20 products at a time ). What do you guys think of this idea? I just want to optimize great new product's chance of discovery and I thought this would be a fair way to distribute the traffic love.

Like I said, I took Paul Graham's advice to heart and created something that really doesn't scale as of this moment. This has been extremely validating however, and now I am in overdrive to get things done. Please feel free to help me out by giving me ideas about how I can improve this.

I am really hopeful that I can turn this into something very helpful people like me who build things and often don't get the recognition they hope or deserve.

Thank's to everyone who pointed out bugs and optimization tips. I am getting to them one at a time. Thanks to everyone who submitted their products. Because of the premature launch, I cannot guarantee that I'll approve and showcase all the products just yet, but I feature all the submissions (as long as they are not troll submissions) in a just and fair way. Thank's to everyone who took the time to write to me and say that they see this as something useful. Thanks to everyone for checking it out. And thanks to PG for that essay "Do things that do not scale". I don;t know how, but the idea came to me within an hour of reading that essay.


abcd_f 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do you pick what goes on the front page and how long it stays there? Or is it just FIFO queue with most recent on top? If so, how do you throttle it and what's the backlog?

One thing that I don't like about BetaList (as a submitter) - there's no insight into whether your submission is going to be accepted and if it is, then when it's going to be featured. If you can make your site better for submitters, you will have an upper hand over BL, which is the competitor to measure up to at the moment.

seldo 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's like Freshmeat, for web apps!

(Edit: apparently Freshmeat is now called Freecode? I guess it's been a while since I visited...)

samweinberg 2 days ago 1 reply      
Even though I'm already subscribed to betali.st and erlibird, I just can't seem to get enough of sites like this. Bookmarked.
hdivider 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting - bookmarked. Will probably try it out next time I launch a product.

Stuff like this is why I prefer /newest to the front page. =)

(Edit: Okay, it's on the front page now. Still, /newest is always worth checking out.)

samelawrence 1 day ago 2 replies      
For anyone who likes this sort of thing, you should also check out http://betali.st/

I'm not involved in either btw.

ghc 1 day ago 4 replies      
Okay, I'll go for it. I'm very curious to see how the traffic will compare to Hacker News. Yesterday I put a link to my company (http://algorithmic.ly) in a comment and the response was overwhelming. I've heard that traffic from different sources can behave drastically differently in terms of conversions, and HN is notoriously bad with conversions, so I wonder how it will compare.
mountaineer 2 days ago 2 replies      
Twitter auth is not functional


jaxbot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Submitted my latest project, https://sparklr.me/Out of curiosity, is there a criteria for what gets showcased, and if so, what is it?

Also, noticed that all the new things are appended to the bottom of the page. Makes it look like the site hasn't changed, imo, but maybe that's intentional

cheeaun 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is there an RSS/Atom feed of newly released apps?
nickfrost 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yay! Another resource for early traffic.

StartupLi.st, which I created from my tent while on deployment in Afghanistan (crazy!), was an early mover in this space, and has some new features in the pipeline.

Kickoffboost looks pretty cool, and is in the same category as Erlibird, BetaList, KillerStartups, Wikindu, MoMB, StartupLift, etc. It's great to see so many sites looking to help boost the early traffic of very early startups.

Also, Mevvy and Ocitrus are newer resources to showcase your early startup.

All of these resources are recommended to use when looking for exposure and feedback on your early product/ prototype.

Eventually... TechCrunch will be an afterthought when looking for early traffic/ users. Cheers!:)

awaxman11 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'd add authorization. Right now you can access all the edit and show pages as long as you're signed in
shearnie 2 days ago 1 reply      
How many eyeballs do you think will come across your site?

I've recently been featured on beta list and thinking about applying on erlibird although erlibird requires payment.

chmike 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprized there are very few apps presented from a user centric point of view. "This app is a ..." bad, "Make better ..." good.

This makes it clear and easy to grab how the app will contribute to make my life better, anf why using and buying it might be worth for me.

Hey Kalzumeus, your marketing lessons are starting to work on me! I was just a dumb programmer before.

olalonde 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of http://www.killerstartups.com back in the days (not sure if they are still doing that though).
speg 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was another site posted a month or two ago that was similar. Post an idea and get feedback. I even registered for a credit but now I can't remember the site, anyone remember?
esschul 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's an even cooler idea: instead of listing emerging ideas, ,and beta projects, what about creating a website service for finishing almost done apps (alpha projects if you like). That would be a more interesting list. People could upload their started, but not finished projects and outline what's left. There must be millions of good ideas that has been started, but never finished due to the fact that the developer didn't find the problem interesting anymore. Specialize in one thing, like iphone-apps.
chmike 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would love to be able to receive the new one by mail with some presentation text.
ronilan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Submitted: http://www.placeunit.comKick me :)
pla3rhat3r 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great idea! I love this and give you props for putting together a site that showcases new ideas. There's so much noise out there that it's nice to have a site that weeds through that noise. Awesome.
Andrex 1 day ago 0 replies      
An RSS feed would be fantastic, I think. Otherwise the site seems to do its job nicely.
yodaiken 1 day ago 0 replies      
FYI, I submitted an app (http://memn.io/) to this an hour or so ago and while I don't see it in any publicly available section, I am getting more than a few hits with kickoffboost.com as the referral. Playing around with your URLs showed that you can just increment the number to view any submitted product. You might want to switch to UUIDs or at least add more security.
sideproject 1 day ago 0 replies      
kushti 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've got "We're sorry, but something went wrong." trying to sign in with Twitter. Please check
elisee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks nice! Maybe site screenshots should be clickable to make it more likely people will open each submission?
PhilipA 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe it could be an idea to be able to comment the sites. Thereby you would get some retention of the users.
alfg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Suggestion: Maybe make the thumbnails link to their site as well.
grafrein 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome! :) I submitted our iPhone App 7-Minutes Workout (http://www.tapelicious.com) I'm looking forward to see it on your site!
mrothe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your links are broken; middle-clicking on a link does nothing. Also, please let me decide, if I want to open a link in the same tab (left-click) or in a new tab (middle-click). (Linux/Firefox)
edotthekid 1 day ago 0 replies      
This awesome man. How muuch traffic are you getting to the site. Pre-HN post?

And are people paying you to feature them? Or just companies you like

Great job again man. i love it. Def bookmarked

oceanician 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really good idea, but needs more consumer & business ideas on. Too many geek tools at the moment.
nccong 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would be useful if you have newsletter for recently added/updates of the day. Consider feedpress.it to read your RSS, it already has the newsletter feature.
jitnut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Much needed! just submitted http://pepnest.com :-)
phdtree 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks cool. Just submitted our litte side project phdtree: http://phdtree.org/
coindega 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! I just submitted Coindega (https://www.coindega.com)
kamakazizuru 1 day ago 0 replies      
is there something wrong? Im getting a "This site doesnt exist" error.
troels 1 day ago 0 replies      
How do you plan on getting traffic to your site?
BuddhaSource 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice idea, I am also submitting our new launched app http://justprecious.net

Btw found a silly bug. When I signed up by mistake I used myname@Gmail.com and now I can't login with myname@gmail.com

alexshye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool, just signed up and submitted Soulmix (http://www.soulmix.com). Would love to see how a listing on KickoffBoost turns out :)
lovskogen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there a RSS feed?
keerthiko 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bookmarked! We may submit our product on here once I consult with the rest of my team.
rex_gsd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I sent you an email to the one via your contact us link. I like the page!
gcforky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well this is something great. (i just gave you an standing ovation)
varun1308 1 day ago 1 reply      
Could you also add the stats for hits on a particular item...
atburrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could you add SSL support?
yapsody 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great website. Just Signed up and Submitted our new online event ticketing system Yapsody.com on your website. Hope you approve it. :)
michaelxia 1 day ago 0 replies      
i listened to all the tracks on looti tooti.

how do i give this guy my money.

cmb320 1 day ago 0 replies      
isn't that what hacker news is for?
JeroenRansijn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool project!
tuananh 2 days ago 1 reply      
step 1: get traffic for your site (kickoffboost.com) first.

step 2: nah do step 1 first.

Judge to serve 28 years after making $2 million sending children to jail rollingout.com
302 points by rubikscube  2 days ago   167 comments top 32
protomyth 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Pennsylvania is one of just a handful of states that do not provide any money to counties to defend those who can't afford a lawyer."[1]

Perhaps the DA and Public Defenders office should have equal budgets.

I am hoping some very smart lawyer figures out how to sue the prison company for these children. I am sure their is a corporate veil, but it can be pierced in the cases of criminal activity. Public-private partnerships work in a lot of cases, but this one needs a serious hammer to show that pulling this crap is bad and will put some scheming folks in jail.

1) http://www.npr.org/2012/03/03/147876810/after-scandal-new-ru...

argumentum 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been following this case for a while .. extremely disturbing situation and the sentences were far too light for many of the offending parties, such as the builder of the facility who bribed the judges. Just imagine how it must have felt to be one of the kids. It's sick, really.

It seems that if you hide behind corporate structures and contracts you can transform the nature of charges against your actions. In this case, the offenses committed involved enslaving children for personal financial gain. If there is any offense worse than that, please inform.

sp332 2 days ago 2 replies      
The big news: Once Ciavarella was convicted, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out 4,000 convictions issued by the judge. Will the kids or their families get any restitution for wrongful imprisonment?
drcube 2 days ago 4 replies      
> ... received more than $2.6 million ...

> ... forced to pay $1 million ...

Moral: crime pays.

mmanfrin 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is an absolute travesty that PA Child Care, the people paying the bribes, have had hardly a punishment at all.
solistice 2 days ago 1 reply      
What really troubles me is what they'll do to help those 4000 children. I think they might lack the maturity to deal with their experience. Hell, if someone sent me to jail over something like that when I was in my teens, I would certainly have taken the wrong turn at that point.
noloqy 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's sad that in my country, where prisons are currently run by the government, there exist plans for privatization. With privatization there's almost no benefits, and a lot of opportunities for trouble; it the Dutch government feels the urge to repeat the mistakes of others.
forrestthewoods 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can we also send all prosecutors who only care about maintaing a 100% conviction rate to jail? Their actions are the exact same as far as I'm concerned.
mathattack 2 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like I fell for link bait - awful title.

That said, this is hardly a fair sentence. He should have to serve time equal to all those lives he destroyed. How about surrendering the money and life in prison?

jdmt 2 days ago 0 replies      

This whole problem stems from the movement to privatize prisons. It's a disgusting abuse of power. The lives of many at-risk children (and their families) have been turned upside-down due to greed.

ojbyrne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Usually when "restitution" it always seems to be significantly more than the amount actually taken. In this case, not, and I wonder why:

"...received more than $2.6 million from privately run youth centers owned by PA Child Care. In 2011, Ciavarella was convicted of racketeering and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He was also forced to pay $1 million in restitution..."

nokya 2 days ago 0 replies      
They forgot the best part: 1) Statistical analysis of the children's ethnicity and religion. Where is it?2) What about the personnel working in the prisons? Where they all completely unaware of that situation?3) Private prisons are State-financed. Translation: money was taken from the pockets of US citizens to make sure these children would not have any chance of a bright future.

Meanwhile, in the USA...

dlhavema 2 days ago 2 replies      
the title referenced "black children" specifically, but the article didn't mention it at all, is it supposed to be assumed all/majority of the kids sent to jail were black?
donohoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
The question is - where else is this happening now?
ajiang 2 days ago 1 reply      
You can wrongfully send kids/people to jail as long as you don't make money off of it.
Expeck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! I remember these guys from Micheal Moore's movie "Capitalism a Love Story".There is part about private jails for teenagers. It says that 6500 kids were unjustly convicted. Some kids were locked up even when probation officers objected to detention.You can watch that part here: http://vimeo.com/39118828 00:30:30
guiseppecalzone 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's no mention if there were any repercussions for the private juvenile facilities.
patmcguire 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've not seen on a single story related to this about the actual bribers: they just name the company, but don't press criminal charges against individuals, or even sue the company? How is that an appropriate response?
cmsmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
(in 2011)

looks like one of his latest appeals was denied recently.

grecy 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a special kind of evil.
orbitingpluto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those who prey on children tend to have a real bad time in prison when the prison population finds out.

Considering the number of people sentenced, good luck keeping their identities a secret. Neither of the judges is going to enjoy their stay.

canadiancreed 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I first heard about this, I was thinking that it happened in a third world country. After reading that it occured in Pennsylvania....I'm just amazed, disgusted, and furious. Hopefully Harrisburg does a long cleanup of that section of the state's court system, that civil suit crushes those responsible for this, and the bastards that profited from such a bastardization of justice serve the entire sentence out in a Hell on earth.
mhartl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Contra the OP, the problem isn't for-profit prisons per se; the problem is for-profit prisons in a political system highly susceptible to rent-seeking by special interest groups.
s_baby 2 days ago 0 replies      
As I've read about this story for the past couple years not once have the bribers been mentioned. How much time will they be serving? Are these really people that should be trusted with the incarceration of minors?
spoiledtechie 2 days ago 0 replies      
This might be news, but what the heck does this have to do with Hacker News?
chris_wot 2 days ago 0 replies      
4,000 kids? Each kid has at least 5 people who love and care for them.

20,000 folks who start an action group might start some change!

SloughFeg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else want to create a HN spinoff with me? We can call it "SOCIAL JUSTICE NEWS" or just "SOCIAL J" for short.
negamax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would the prison company be punished for this?
batiste 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely revolting and disgusting! Good think he got 28 years.
icn2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I always object monetizing public services.
beedogs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this asshole dies in jail, and I fear he's not the last crooked judge they'll catch doing this shit.

Private prisons are a disgrace to the justice system.

vegor5 2 days ago 3 replies      
Should have gotten the lethal injection.
Ubuntu Edge price dropped to $695 indiegogo.com
279 points by davidjgraph  16 hours ago   139 comments top 28
weisser 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I backed the project at $600. Here are some thoughts:

1. It's getting wishy-washy. I don't know any campaigns that have changed around rewards this much (both pricing and what you get) and for many people that may be a turn off. Why would someone get the phone at $695 when it could go down more? Obviously the said the price won't go down but they had said that previously when they were above $700.

2. $695 immediately withdrawn from your PayPal account prior to tha campaign succeeding is a hard pill to swallow for many even if you are refunded 100% if (when?) the goal is not reached.

3. May 2014 is a pretty long time from now and I bet the wait will end up being longer (I waited almost 1.25 years for my Leap Motion and they had significant VC backing). Too many people may not be able to think this far ahead.

Why did I back the project? Well, I liked the idea of making a custom hardware device and thought crowdfunding the creation was interesting. I've never actually used Ubuntu (or Android for that matter) but the scale of the goal and the precedent it could set for people doing very capital-intensive projects with crowdfunding was what motivated me to back it.

jt2190 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Hey commenters:

1. Backing this project is using your dollars to "vote" for this device to exist. It's not as unimaginative as "buying a phone", it's about helping to establish a new mobile device os as a real alternative.

2. This type of fundraising rarely follows a linear growth curve, so there's nothing to infer about the ultimate success of the project by projecting that way.

I have not backed the project, and I'm not sure if I will, but I really appreciate that others are trying to make this happen.

simias 15 hours ago 6 replies      
Mmh, 14 days remaining and only 27% funded, it doesn't bode well. I wonder if they'll be able to build momentum this late in the campaign.

Maybe this kind of expensive, high volume devices shows the limits of crowdfunding? Have there been similar projects crowdfunded already (similar price/target)?

gregpilling 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Can anyone explain why there is no open hardware phone at this point? During a recent trip to Shenzhen, it was clear that all the components are readily available.

I have had one person suggest that it was the cost of FCC approval that was the holdup and not the technology. Any company that could afford the approval process would not want to open their design. I am not technically versed enough to know if this is correct, however.

Does anyone else have a clear perspective on the issue?

pavs 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Despite what they say about getting lower price deals on components, it looks very preplanned "strategy".

Either way the next couple of days will be make or break, if this last price change doesn't get any significant contribution in short time, I don't think they can reach the target anymore.

Zigurd 15 hours ago 2 replies      
The whole thing was ill-advised. Even if they reached $32M it would be the equivalent of a pre-order for a few tens of thousands of phones. That's not enough to launch a viable handset business.

They should have gone to an ODM or lower-tier OEM and piggybacked on an the unit volume for some other customer. They could have launched with 20k units pre-sold.. They also could have had a far shorter lead time, so the risk in pledging would be much lower.

If they think they can change the world with hardware, they've got that wrong. The interesting thing about an Ubuntu phone is Ubuntu.

tytso 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The reason why I'm not jumping at the Ubuntu Edge is that it's vaporware. Things like "Fastest multi-core CPU" doesn't fill me with much (well, any) confidence. That says to me that they haven't done any of the thermal engineering, or the battery life calculations. And they don't know this information now, 9 months before launch?

If they reach their funding goal, but then miss their delivery date, or the device has a pathetic battery life, or the device overheats in your hand and shuts down the moment you try to use the "fastest CPU", what then? Or if the CPU /GPU ends up being so slow (to prevent thermal meltdown) that you can't run interesting desktop-class applications, as opposed to using an OS and applications optimized for embedded/mobile hardware, as opposed to laptop class hardware, what then?

Call me unconvinced.

lnanek2 14 hours ago 0 replies      
They sure are getting a lot of attention by having time sensitive prices and changing prices. To some degree eyeballs equals cash. What they need is a lot of orders, though, to make the funding goal and get any money at all. They really need to drop that price down to be competitive with Google's Nexus 4, Nexus 7, etc.. I know OEMs that dropped device projects at the Edge's price point when those came out and it was smart.
asgard1024 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea, and the hardware seems good, and I could afford it, but the real turn-off for me is that it's just a one-time thing. If I am going to commit myself to another mobile platform (although I use Xubuntu on the PC), I want it to have some future. If the thing breaks after 3 years, what I am going to do? I will have to change the platform again when I buy a new device.

I actually question what the Canonical is doing when it comes to this. I bought Asus EEE with preinstalled Ubuntu 12.04 recently, and it's great. However, you cannot upgrade to 12.10 because the proprietary video driver for X is missing. So what they're thinking? If they want people to switch to Ubuntu (and I would love that, that's why I bought this netbook), then they have to commit to it as a long term goal.

It seems that everybody is so impatient nowadays that if success doesn't happen in one year, they kill the project.

null_ptr 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I want to know one thing about this phone that the page did not mention.

Can I `gcc-arm -o MyApp main.c` on my PC and run MyApp on any Ubuntu Edge phone, without having to unlock them or enable them for dev or any other nonsense? Or is development restricted to QML and HTML5?

nonchalance 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Given that they used indiegogo, do they keep the funds in case the target is not hit?
burke 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The one thing that's bothering me about this is their choice to use sapphire crystal for the screen. Sapphire is definitely more scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass used by iPhones and high end Andriod phones, but my understanding is that sapphire is much easier to shatter by applying pressure. That seems to me a more important factor than scratch-resistance.

(Disclaimer: I'm no materials engineer and the above info was sourced from google searching, so take that for what it's worth)

jlengrand 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that sees this as some kind of lean startup applied to industry? I mean. With nothing but a few renders, they have reached more than 8 millions in backup. This is a HUGE point in terms of marketing, and more than a lot of free advertisment. All of that for free.
madmaze 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I keep wondering whether they still have something up their sleeve, but judging by them dropping the price, its not the case. This is the pinnacle of Mark Shuttleworth's "convergence" dream, I wonder whether he will carry the rest of this campaign if it looks like it will not get funded in the end? Also if it does fail, it is going to look mighty bad for Canonical.
sarreph 10 hours ago 0 replies      
They need to make $20/sec from now on in order to reach their funding goal.
cleis 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The Edge is going to be the most successful unsuccessful crowdfunding project ever
tehwalrus 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If I had the money, I'd be ordering one now. A high-spec android phone that can also dock into a full desktop ubuntu machine? I'd love to be able to have a development setup in my pocket whereever I go.
vishvananda 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I predict that this will lead to a spike in backers from all of the people who wanted to back it but thought $800 was too expensive, but it will quickly level off. Why?

Dan Ariely did some studies[1] showing that people are much more likely to pick something when there is a strictly worse option available. $830 vs. $600 for the exact same thing is just easier for our irrational minds to compare than $695 for a phone next year vs. phones today. I think this was a major motivator for people to "buy" in the early stages of the project, especially since it was a time limited option.

I personally backed at the $600 level, and while I have a lot of reasons for why it was a good idea, I suspect that I was influenced my own irrational behavior and I am just good at justifying my decisions.

[1] http://realityswipe.wordpress.com/tag/dan-ariely/

P.S. If you haven't read any of Dan Ariely's stuff before, he does some fascinating studies showing how irrational humans are.

shurcooL 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have any idea about whether we'll be able to write and execute Go (golang.org) code on the Ubuntu Edge?

I assume I'll be able to both write and execute Go code under Ubuntu desktop mode. What about Ubuntu mobile OS?

Will the device support WebGL? What about OpenGL|ES and regular OpenGL?

Does switching between Ubuntu desktop mode and Ubuntu mobile OS involve a reboot with separate systems, or it is one environment with 2 different interfaces? Thank you!

ibudiallo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
At this point I have convinced myself that the goal won't be reached. But I know for certain every phone company is back to the drawing board, because we are looking right at the future.
transfire 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A 64GB model at $595 from the start probably would have gone a long way toward boosting the numbers. And a $32 million funding goal is really pushing the envelop regardless. I would love to have one but $700 upfront? For a phone? That's pushing the envelop too.
sspiff 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As much as I like this project (or pipe dream, depending on your point of view), I think $695 is a much more realistic price for this device. I sincerely hope they succeed.
knocte 14 hours ago 1 reply      
For the mere mortals that don't follow this every day: what was the previous price?
mariuolo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Still a bit steep for a phone that doesn't exist, yet.
helloNSA_ 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This meta-phone is still too expensive.

They marketed and priced it for high-end consumers...and then ask these same customers do something that none of them ever want to do...wait. Wait a long time for delivery.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. Drop the price or up the delivery date. Better if they did both.

I'd also have more faith if I could have seen a functional prototype not just a couple of Nexus4's running alpha software. I'm not paying 800 bucks for the free software...I'm paying for hardware which is still on the drawing board.

adam12 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, it is still too expensive for me.
mtgx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The only way I can see this succeeding now is by getting some carriers or OEM's or something to back the project, and put the rest of the money into the project.

I maintain that this could've succeeded if it was priced at $600 from the beginning, and work their way from that regarding the specs. That's exactly what Ford did, too. He started with a price in mind, and then forced the engineers to come up with a product that fits that price.

Canonical repeated Motorola's Xoom mistake, by starting with the specs, and then selling for whatever price it all added up to.

progx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
And what happen if the goal is not reached? My money gone?
Cyberscare: Ex-NSA chief calls transparency groups, hackers next terrorists salon.com
279 points by exit  1 day ago   176 comments top 38
w_t_payne 1 day ago 2 replies      
Michael Hayden is being provocative -- attempting to provoke debate. This is an excellent, laudable act, and should be warmly welcomed.

So, here is my response:-

There is an element of truth to what Michael Hayden is saying, although his analysis of the situation is enormously telling, and reveals a lot about the culture that prevails in the corridors of power.

It is true that the internet is creating communities and groups that do not fit into the old hierarchies of power and control. New communications technologies forge new arenas of discourse; they bring together new communities and interest groups, largely unconstrained by geography, culture, religion or (increasingly) language. These groups are beginning to find common cause, recognize their political power, and flex their (political) muscles.

It is natural and proper that those who benefit from the status-quo should feel nervous. This technological watershed (and the movement of movements that it has triggered) does indeed pose an existential threat to many organisations that predicate their existence on the primacy and sovereignty of the Nation State.

To labor the point: Notions of sovereignty and the plenipotentiary power of the state are weakened and undermined when individuals discover that their shared humanity cuts across international boundaries, and that the "tribe" to which they pledge allegiance is neither best defined nor best constrained in terms of militarily defensible contiguous geographical regions.

So, political and economic elites that are strongly aligned with the interests and primacy of the nation state really do face an existential threat, albeit a distributed, generally non-violent, tides-of-history type threat, rather than one that is focused around a particular "enemy" posing a specific and identifiable physical threat.

As I mentioned previously, Hayden's response to this threat is telling, and reveals much about his (and the Agency's) predispositions and cognitive biases.

Firstly, he thinks immediately of a physical threat - of hostile groups seeking revenge. He sees the world in terms of "friends" and "enemies", in terms of coherent and organised groups that can be treated as atomic units, and imbued with anthropomorphic characteristics: "anger", "revenge" and so on.

Secondly, he seeks to (at the same time) elevate and exaggerate the threat posed by this (notional) group, to make it relevant to the political mainstream, by speculating about attacks on civilian infrastructure - exactly what he would have needed to do during the inevitable internecine budgetary battles that he would have fought during his tenure with the NSA. As a former department head, this is necessarily his area of expertise, and the home turf on which he feels most comfortable.

This second aspect is particularly dangerous in that he seeks to incite and provoke the very threat that he spends so much effort warning us about. He ruthlessly exploits our tribalistic, pack-animal ancestry, conjuring up hostile groups where none exist; engineering conflict in a callous game of divide-and-conquer.

So, we have two threads in his speculation:-

The latter thread being part of a persistent and habitual strategy of scaremongering and conflict creation -- the better to secure a bigger slice of the budgetary pie for "the boys", is rather more transparent (and consequentially less interesting) than the former - the expectation that his foes will always form coherent and organised groups, capable of "making demands", and of acting in a manner amenable to anthropomorphic analysis. This contrasts rather well with one competing view -- that sees the world as a collection of ad-hoc networks of ideas and social mechanisms, some forming, others dissolving -- clearly structured, but not at all hierarchical.

kshatrea 1 day ago 4 replies      
People need to start accepting that government != country; such people as such being called as "terrorists" or "communists" or other words that were bandied about as the bogeyman of the time are perceived as threats to the government by those most poised to profit from that government.A government that no longer represents the people, but corporations and those that benefit by it, will threaten those that question its legitimacy as that is only obvious. The word "terrorist" is only the latest in a long string.

tl;dr government != country.

scrrr 1 day ago 1 reply      
So expressing support for Snowden is suggested to be a sign I might be a threat to a country. Way to accelerate the self-censorship (and the subsequent censorship of thought) that this whole surveillance disaster creates.
brudgers 1 day ago 5 replies      
"who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years."

This is the scariest aspect of the data collection. People like this have the data to identify homosexuals. Hell, I suspect that a lot of the rationale for the data collection was tracking Muslims.

The potential this information has to facilitate genocide is astronomical and homophobes are in positions of power.

nicholassmith 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Which side of the argument you're stood on.

It's completely ridiculous in many ways, but it's often been the case that people who are passionate activists willing to stand up against perceived injustices are viewed as a menace. It just means that they now think hackers are a serious threat.

nohuck13 1 day ago 1 reply      
Original Guardian article here: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/06/nsa-direct...

Interesting quote further down where he begs the question, Betteridge's-law-of-headlines-style:

Hayden: "But certainly Mr Snowden has created quite a stir among those folks who are very committed to transparency and global transparency and the global web, kind of ungoverned and free. And I don't know that there's a logic between trying to [punish] America or American institutions for his arrest, but I hold out the possibility. I can sit here and imagine circumstances and scenarios, but they're nothing more than imaginative."

jimparkins 1 day ago 3 replies      
We live in a world doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. This sounds like an old transcript saying that if you disagree with the government / military you must instantly be a communist. Feels like we are only a step away from public service announcements on how to spot if your child is a terrorist because they spend a lot of time on their computer.
laumars 1 day ago 0 replies      
Greywolf Borealis in the Salon comments section put it better than I ever could:

> Hackers may be the terrorists of the future, but the real terrorist of today is the NSA. They are employing the same tools used by hackers to spy on United States citizens without probable cause or warrant. That is pretty scary.

wtvanhest 1 day ago 1 reply      
Look, I'm not comfortable with the NSA program but...

This is the second Salon article in 2 days that is way over sensationalized. I get that this is interesting to people on HN, but I think we could wait for better articles to upvote.

mcphilip 1 day ago 0 replies      
For a glimpse at one possible future of U.S. democracy, I highly recommend this longform nonfiction article about Turkey [1]. It goes into detail about "...the resistance of what is commonly referred to as derin devlet, the 'deep state.'" Later on: "The deep state, historians say, has functioned as a kind of shadow government, disseminating propaganda to whip up public fear or destabilizing civilian governments not to its liking."

The indifference with which our intelligence apparatus treats foreigners could easily be (or already has?) turned on U.S. citizens if a similar "deep state" narrative develops in the U.S. All it would take are a couple loosely linked plots successfully pulled off by American citizens to construct a narrative (i.e. rationale) for turning the full forces of the intelligence apparatus onto all U.S. citizens.


rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
As long as we are going to try to be provocative: Hayden is responsible for most of the technical and policy changes at NSA (and presumably the same at CIA) which "caused" both Snowden and Manning, or at least turned then from minor discontents to 1) motivated leakers 2) with the means to leak massive amounts.

I personally support Snowden, but think Manning was indiscriminate and motivated mainly by personal issues, using public interest as a fig leaf.

Were I to hang Manning for treason, there would be a gallows to the left for Hayden. Arguably being much more senior and invested in the system, and presumed to be trustworthy and competent, his crimes were worse, even if less direct.

lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel there is a fundamental mismatch of what constitutes a matter of national security.

All (?) nation states have a right to prevent their own destruction, but I think the triggers that set off the immune system reaction are important - I, and I think a lot of HN, would say there is a minimum level of expected harm before a matter is consider national security level - lets say for arguments sake a loss of 2% GDP or 1,000 dead. And the motivation of the persons is irrelevant - so the banking crisis of 2008 would be considered a national security matter by me, but two maniacs hacking a soldier to death on the streets of the UK would not (a crime yes, murder, yes, possibly politically motivated yes - but not a matter that threatens our nationstate)

However Hayden seems to be the reverse - there is no minimum level of harm (one life is too many, one defaced website is too much) but the political motivations of the people is important - so his views in the banking crisis and murders on the street seem reversed.

Maybe it is a useful viewpoint

bowlofpetunias 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the next move. Criminalizing the opposition not because of their actions, but simply because they are the opposition. And it's not a response to Snowden, it has been decades in the making by slowly making everything that could potentially pose a threat a criminal offense.

It's only a matter of time before the question will be asked: "Are you now or have you ever been a hacker?"

viraptor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I wish that "Little brother" was a completely made up story. But lately many parts of it read like a script for what's happening at the moment. What is published by news lately makes me wonder what would happen the next time some big event in the US happens... the first "conspiracy theory" will be - NSA/FBI/... organised it (wouldn't be hard, people were given "support" before so that they can be arrested - just skip the arrest part) to prove more monitoring and control is needed. And could anyone really disagree at that point?

Some of that was already seen after the news about closing the embassies. There were many comments saying it's only a show, put on to "prove" that there really is a danger of something happening.

ohwp 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a great argument against people who "got nothing to hide".

If the government suddenly decides you are a terrorist you will understand privacy is a good thing.

cpursley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lesson? Don't pose a threat or appear to threaten the 'legitimacy' of the mafia, er, state.
Adam503 1 day ago 0 replies      
Michael Hayden was NSA director from 1999 to 2005. Michael Hayden literally was being paid a big salary to stop 9/11 from happening. How'd that go for him? Not so good.

Look at ALL THE TOOLS we now know the NSA Director really had at his disposal to prevent a foreign terrorist from hitting the US on 9/11. Micheal Hayden name's should down in along side infamous names like the Admiral who commanded the Pacific Fleet the day of Pearl Harbor.

Michael Hayden is the textbook definition of "the man who can't find his ass with two hands and an assmap." Hayden's picture should appear next to it in Famous Quotation books.

dbond 1 day ago 3 replies      
witches -> communists -> terrorists -> hackers...
mistercow 1 day ago 1 reply      
>They may want to come after the US government, but frankly, you know, the dot-mil stuff is about the hardest target in the United States, Hayden said

Is he trying to get .mil sites targeted? Does he understand psychology at all?

baseten 1 day ago 0 replies      
>"twentysomethings who havent talked to the opposite sex in >five or six years"

Has he SEEN Snowden's former girlfriend? This trope should be retired based on that point alone.

tmzt 1 day ago 0 replies      
What will they do about the person or persons who disclosed the provenance of the information leading to the closing of multiple designated sites in countries in MENA?

Should we not protect the sources and methods involved in obtaining communications (not chatter, but actual intelligence) of such high valued targets as the head of the group we are most interested in, and a local organization with similar goals and growing scale?

I assume that whoever this person was is on the run, or at least not speaking from an official podium or floor of an illustrious deliberative body, right?

skue 1 day ago 0 replies      
So Hayden is playing bad cop, while Alexander plays god cop?


darkarmani 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find this quote highly offensive:

"Who for them are the World Trade Centers?"

Thousands of people died and many others thought they barely cheated death. It's insulting to compare that with the dangers of these "hackers."

Is there a Godwin's law of the NSA now that involves the WTC?

miguelrochefort 1 day ago 0 replies      
The next major "terrorist" movement will come from transparency groups, but not for the reasons you think. Actually, most of you would probably be against such groups.

Instead of focusing on government transparency, they will seek total transparency. They will track everything, everywhere. They will collect information about you and me. They will install cameras and trackers everywhere (in a decentralised fashion). They will link your online profiles together. They will make your address and phone number public.

The next major "terrorist" movement will force societal transparency. They won't be personally motivated. They will do it for the well-being of society as a whole. Privacy is evil, and we should get rid of it before it's too late. Information should flow freely, and it will.

I predict that transparency will be forced upon us all, not just the government. But most of you can't see it.

LekkoscPiwa 1 day ago 1 reply      
yesterday Muslims, today hackers, tomorrow 82 year old nuns will be called terrorists!
hathaway 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate this type of pointless rhetoric. Politics of fear.
kstop 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't help but wonder if he's maybe exaggerating the security of .mil.
InclinedPlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
McCarthy again.

Here's the thing about McCarthy, Communists were fucking everywhere. I don't mean ideological communists, I mean Soviet secret agents. They were in every level of government. They helped funnel the most secret of information to the USSR.

And that's not all, the Soviets were erecting a police state to control hundreds of millions of people in Eastern Europe. They had a tremendous military force with millions of soldiers. They were cranking out more tanks than had ever been in any war in history. And bombers. And they had nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to US cities in short order.

But none of that justified Senator McCarthy's abuses of power and violations of the rights of American citizens.

Here we are now faced with the threat of terrorism. Or to be more broad about it, the threat of jihadist radical Islamist fundamentalists (both in al qaeda and elsewhere). We know that these forces pose a serious threat to the US, just as the Soviets did. But is this danger on the same scale as the Cold War? Not even close. Does it justify abrogation of our cherished liberty and privacy? Never.

Link- 1 day ago 0 replies      
In other words: "In the name of the People, we demand more power."
runn1ng 1 day ago 0 replies      
...aaaand to Guantanamo you go.
nohuck13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Completely off topic to otherwise excellent discussion, but funny how "nihilists" were the first thing he flagged up.

I can't think of nihilists without thinking of The Big Lebowski.http://assets.sbnation.com/imported_assets/81096/nihilists.j...

rittme 1 day ago 1 reply      
and if you're a hacker outside US soil you should start watching out for the drones...
ethanazir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Respect my authorty!
ianstallings 1 day ago 0 replies      
Must be fundraising time. Yawns.
northwest 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's a very clever recruiting strategy. ;-)
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 1 reply      
The thing is, Hayden has a point. Geesh, never thought I'd be saying that!

Terrorism is an act of politics, not warfare. It's the use of stealth to deliberately attack civilian targets in order to affect political change. (My working definition only). The goal of terrorism isn't dead people, and you don't weigh a terrorist campaign by how many bodies it creates. Terrorism is all about striking fear into the heart of the population in order to get them to vote or behave differently. That's why the tactic of terrorism is so effective against modern democracies. With the help of mass media, a few crazy people can inflict fear on millions.

So sure, in response to the United States' government implementing draconian surveillance technology, some 20-somethings that live in their parent's basement and have no life (notice how quickly the stereotypes come?) will strike out stealthily in order to inflict fear on the population, to be noticed.

But what he's missing is what military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan have learned: you don't put out fires by dumping gasoline on them. In other words, the asshole that approved of this idiotic idea to store everything possible and then search later is the last person in the world you want defending it. He's gone off the reservation and somebody should shut him up before he makes things worse.

If the establishment starts circling the wagons on this issue, and it looks like that's what is happening, it's going to drive a wedge between the people and the government. This is not a good thing for them to be doing, terrorist threat or not.

All these political and agency leaders are betting that the next time there's a terrorist attack -- and there will be -- that anybody who supported killing this program will be rounded up and laughed at. I'm not so sure about that. I wouldn't bet on it.

mindcrime 1 day ago 0 replies      
People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

As true today as ever... And unfortunately for us, at the moment, the balance is way to far in favor of "the people are scared of their government". People like Snowden and Manning risk moving the balance the other way, so of course high-ranking government official types will spazz out over this stuff. Transparency is anathema to corruption and abuse of power.

AsymetricCom 1 day ago 1 reply      
How long do I have to use this site before I get downvote?
Edward Snowdens Email Provider Shuts Down Amid Secret Court Battle wired.com
270 points by bcl  7 hours ago   79 comments top 10
mpyne 7 hours ago 5 replies      
"Court records show that, in June, Lavabit complied with a routine search warrant targeting a child pornography suspect in a federal case in Maryland. That suggests that Levison isnt a privacy absolutist. Whatever compelled him to shut down now must have been exceptional."

Wow. Now I'm even more interested at what the NSL/court order was looking for here.

ChuckMcM 6 hours ago 4 replies      
So for those of you wondering about Jury nullification, the way it would work in this case is that Levison would reveal that the NSA was hounding him with NSL letters, they would charge him with violating the terms of the NSL and the jury would acquit him anyway.

I hope we can get a case like that to move that aspect of the conversation forward. It helped get bad laws off the books in the civil rights cases and it would help here.

oo7jeep 7 hours ago 1 reply      
TL,DR: "This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States."
siculars 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Distributed cryptography/services in multiple jurisdictions is the only permanent solution or as a delaying tactic at a minimum. Where keys or parts of data or multiple onion style encryption rests in a chain of services distributed globally in multiple jurisdictions. Something like the Ceph file system but for everything.
mililani 6 hours ago 4 replies      
So, since HN is filled with smart engineers, how should one build a sustainable, fully encrypted email service untouchable by the Feds?
conductor 6 hours ago 2 replies      
If you are looking for an alternative to Lavabit, try RiseUp [1].

There is a nice read in their "About Us" page [2]

[1] - https://riseup.net/en

[2] - https://help.riseup.net/en/about-us


Though, it is based in Seattle, so what happened to Lavabit can happen to them too, unfortuneately.

mtgx 6 hours ago 2 replies      
"after secret court battle"?

I got the impression the court battle hasn't started yet over this. Or is he talking about that child porn subpoena? But the headline is confusing.

mjfl 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So what happens if this guy starts telling people what happened in that courtroom? He gets arrested? What happened to freedom of speech?
logn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Do not use webapps.
Persona makes signing in easy for Gmail users mozilla.com
252 points by callahad  11 hours ago   96 comments top 25
Amadou 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem with persona is that it sends the same identifier to all websites (nominally your email address). That makes it super-easy for those websites to feed your activity to a central tracker like DoubleClick which will consolidate all usage information from all DoubleClick affiliated websites.

Persona would be a lot more privacy-preserving if it generated a unique identifier for each website. A "persona" for each website instead of one persona for the entire interwebz. Since the system is mostly automated it shouldn't be that hard to add one extra layer of indirection.

It might even be possible to shoe-horn it in to the current protocol with just a little bit extra on the browser and identity provider sides, but no change on the website code.

If anyone has actually done that, please post, I'd like to hear about it. Availability of that functionality would sway me to start using Persona and probably anyone else who is worried about spreading their email adddress far and wide across the internet.

babs474 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I've seen a few demos of this. The developer story is great.

Easy to integrate, no need to worry about screwing up storing passwords and you are not abdicating authentication to some evil or possibly evil in the future, company.

gioele 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope there will soon be a way to `apt-get install mozilla-persona` on a personal server. That would seriously help the deployment a really decentralized Persona.
NelsonMinar 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Really excited for this. Password authentication is an absolute disaster on the Internet, and despite at least 8 years of development solutions like OpenID are not succeeding fast enough. Mozilla Persona looks really promising. Sure wish there were a Chrome extension for it!
clarkevans 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm looking forward to when their LDAP adapter [1] is ready for prime-time so that we can use it internally for our own email addresses. I'm curious if the GMail adapter would work if you host your company email at google?

[1] https://github.com/mozilla/vinz-clortho/

soapdog 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish Hacker News used Persona.
zobzu 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you just wanna try it:


and put your gmail in the box :)

Skalman 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The only bad thing with this new Gmail integration is that it gets more annoying if you have multiple Gmail accounts, or aren't logged in to the Gmail account you want to use.

And some things, like using myname+website@gmail.com doesn't work at all.

herge 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It doesn't work with google apps, unfortunately.

Which is completely logical when I think about it since persona would not use the mx record to find the identity provider.

NDizzle 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This seems like it just adds another click for gmail/yahoo users? I don't understand. Added another step to the login process and I think I'll have to change around some of my javascript to prevent returning users from "magically" authenticating after Persona gets around to authenticating them.

Weird. Oh well. Can't bitch much with a free service can I?

eslaught 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Does this mean that Google implemented a Persona endpoint for Gmail, or that Mozilla is now using OpenID (or whatever it is Google uses now) to piggyback on Google's existing login mechanisms?
workhere-io 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in integrating Persona into your website, I've made a couple of examples of how to do it:


There's also a demo that shows how Persona works (doesn't save any of your info):


lifeisstillgood 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, that is a big deal.

Must add that to velruse.

pspeter3 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm really glad they finally added this. Persona is a great way to login and better for developers and users.
mixedbit 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to the team!
Afforess 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I like idea of Persona, but the idea of requiring emails prevents me from ever implementing it. There are plenty of places where I need an identity system, but don't want to force users to fork over their email address.
williamsharkey 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
1. Why the popup window?

2. Are developers permitted to strip the Persona branding - to make the login process seem to flow with the current website - not a bolt on?

3. Would you consider including tiny profile icon links next to the button itself, to facilitate single-click profile sign-on/switch?

coherentpony 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This worries me a little. Perhaps because I don't fully understand what's going on under the bonnet. When I give a website my email address, some communication must happen between that website and persona. So there's some centralised persona server sending auth tokens back and forth between websites that use persona api? Am I misunderstanding?

If that's not the case, then what, exactly, information does website X have about me now that I have 'logged in using persona'?

stephenheron 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone wants to hear more about Persona and lives around the Edinburgh (Scotland) area then please feel free to pop along to a talk that one of the Persona developers is giving. https://edpug2013aug.eventbrite.co.uk/?ref=ecal
joyeuse6701 7 hours ago 1 reply      
So...that means instead of someone knowing my password to get into xyz website, they can easily just use persona which in a few clicks will let them into my account?
lnanek2 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Still annoying I have to type in my email address even though I'm already logged in to Gmail. With OpenID I just click a Google icon, some auth clicks, and I'm done. With this I have to type in my email and do some auth clicks.
erkose 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Someone still needs to solve the "what verifier do I use problem" in a decentralized way, or we're going to see Persona follow OAuth and be dominated by Google, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
lololoki 4 hours ago 0 replies      
lololoki 4 hours ago 0 replies      
AsymetricCom 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A company build upon a work-around. I think this is a new level of epic cruft.
Security advisory: Breach and Django djangoproject.com
249 points by Lightning  2 days ago   139 comments top 19
brokentone 2 days ago 4 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears as though Django isn't the only framework/technology that is vulnerable to such an attack, they're just one of the first to provide a mitigation strategy (resulting in this post).
RyanZAG 2 days ago 7 replies      
Switch off all GZIP..? That feels very extreme, I'm sure there are better workarounds than that one.

EDIT: The following workarounds should be very simple to implement and seem like more viable alternatives for production?

  Length hiding (by adding random amount of bytes     to the responses)  Rate-limiting the requests
Mitigations 6 and 7 taken from http://breachattack.com/

gojomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Currently, the Django templating tag:

  {% csrf_token %}
...results in an insert like...

  <input type="hidden" name="csrfmiddlewaretoken"     value="566e4606b2094c7c48e5d04b58236f51">
I suspect that the particular mitigation strategy the BREACH authors' describe as "Randomizing secrets per request" could be implemented by having {% csrf_token %} instead emit:

  <input type="hidden" name="random_data"     value="91178a84e0bc6e08a2fda853eef2d2c8">  <input type="hidden" name="csrfmiddlewaretoken_xor"     value="e0b594e902c7fe6b1748d13aefaf63aa">
...where the random_data changes every response, the emitted csrfmiddlewaretoken_xor is the real token XORed with the random_data, and upon submission the server will again XOR the two values together to get the real CSRF token.

There may be other secrets that need protection in other ways, and maybe this would make any random-source issues more exploitable... but this would seem to protect the CSRF token, in a cheap and minimal way.

UPDATE: Thinking further, though, maybe the attacker can probe for both values at the same time, and thus determine the probability of certain pairs, and thus this only slows the attack? I'd appreciate an expert opinion, as this was the first mitigation that came to mind, and if it's wrong-headed I'd like to bash my intuition into better shape with a clue-hammer.

Erwin 2 days ago 7 replies      
So to be clear:

1) The attacker must be on the same network as you, or at least be able to detect how large the compressed and encrypted replies are.

If you are on the same network it seems to be there are far more MITM and whatnot attacks that are more likely to succeed, if you do not use HSTS (or secure DNS if that helps).

2) The attacker must be able to get your browser to rapidly generate many (how many?) requests from your browser to the site. It takes "30 seconds" they claim, but is that at a rate 100 requests per second?

3) Each request must carry something that will be reflected by the body of that particular page when it's rendered. I suppose it could be an error message or search string that's echoed.

It seems to me that unless you generate a CSRF token unconditionally on every page, the subset of pages that both reflect something with no protection (e.g. search results) and have a protected form (e.g. change my email address to XYZ) might be small.

4) The secret that can be extracted is what's in the reply body and not the headers -- headers are not compressed, since the TLS compression is now universally disabled post-CRIME.

Personally I use Referer header checking as well. IME all the browsers of my users do send them. So if you extract the CSRF token, it's useless by itself unless you also can make the browser send the right Referer header (and AFAIK, all the holes such as Flash have been plugged).

Other than that -- it seems that if you are normally generating e.g. a 32 byte CSRF key, you could interleave it with 32 bytes of good randomness per request?

homakov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Offtopic: this is very simple mitigation for any website, requires JS: https://gist.github.com/homakov/6147227
pquerna 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone looked at mitigating the attack by changing the behavior of chunked transfer encoding?

Chunked Transfer encoding is basically padding that a server can easily control, without having to change content or behavior of a backend application. A web server could easily insert an order of magnitude more chunks, and randomly place them in the response stream.

sehrope 2 days ago 2 replies      
How about having the CSRF token change with each request? If it's encrypted/signed by the server for each request with a random IV then it would be different in each request. It would be a bit more processing on the server (decrypt vs just HMAC verify) but it would be completely different each time. It seems kind of belt and suspenders as you're encrypting data within an encrypted channel but I think it gets around this issue.
tomp 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, it seems that even if I encrypt everything, a lot of information is still present in the size of encrypted message; in case of VOIP, it's possible to guess speech that is being transferred over an encrypted transport, in the case of text, it's possible to figure out secrets if the attacker can modify an equally-sized part of the message.

Is there any general way of preventing this kind of attacks? Inserting random data could work, but it's distribution would have to be exactly right for the attack to be impossible over longer periods of time. For the BREACH case, we could solve it by not compressing user input, but what about the VOIP case?

Also, why does the site http://breachattack.com/ says that "Randomizing secrets per request" is less effective than disabling compression?

softbuilder 2 days ago 1 reply      
This attack works very much like the game Mastermind. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastermind_(board_game)
cschmidt 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm sure it will come, but I'd appreciate a layman's terms explanation of this. What is the threat, and how do you go about fixing things in Django?
STRML 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could somebody help me understand how this attack would be viable?

It seems like the attack has the following requirements:

  1. You want a secret that appears in the response body, like a      CSRF token.  2. The web server always responds with the exact same response      for a request.  3. The response body contains data that you send to the server,      e.g. url params.  4. The attacker has access to an environment where he can send requests      under your browser session (otherwise, the user would be     unauthenticated and there would be no secrets to steal).
Given (4.), how is this a real concern? If I, an attacker, am able to make 3000+ requests while logged in under your session and modify the request character by character pre-encryption, doesn't it logically follow that I have your cookies anyway?

level09 2 days ago 1 reply      
This would cause a big problem for us. we mobile web service serves around 3-4k concurrent requests on average. without compression our API would take 300% - 900% increase in the delay.

is there any alternatives ? would like to know what Cloud Flare would do as their CDN is based on compressed nginx responses.

sbov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just to make sure I understand this correctly: is this only a security issue if you include sensitive information on a page by default?

For instance, if you had a search field, the contents of what users puts in that search field will not be compromised. However, if you include a csrf token with the search field form, that can be compromised since it will be there every time the attacker gets the victim to make a request.

z-factor 2 days ago 2 replies      
The attacker has to be able to issue requests on behalf of the user with injected "canary" strings. I fail to see a practical exploit where one can do this and wouldn't have access to the secret in the response anyway. What am I missing?
e12e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking at https://github.com/django/django/blob/ffcf24c9ce781a7c194ed8... I'm a little confused about how the csrf-token is generally used in Django -- but if I understand the code correctly, it looks for a cookie with the csrf_token, and compares that to a POSTed value (or x-header in case of an Ajax request).

If the system has a decent random-implementation there is no secret involved, just a (pseudo)random string -- essentially a csrf cookie is given the client on one request, and compared on the next request(s).

Is there any reason one couldn't simply use the rotate_token()-function on every (n) request(s)?

danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
A few days ago, Meldium's announcement of a Ruby gem that provides an inexpensive partial protection (i.e. not disabling gzip) made it to the HN front page:


The two protective measures are masking the Rails CSRF token and appending a HTML comment to every HTML doc to slow down plaintext recovery. How easy is this to include in a Django plugin?

homakov 2 days ago 5 replies      
im a rabbit
dangayle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disable compression altogether? That's craptastic.
lpomfrey 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've knocked up a package that provides CSRF token masking and length modification that may help mitigate this. If anyone wants to vet it and submit pull requests, you're more than welcome. https://github.com/lpomfrey/django-debreach
I cannot afford to go back to engineering school medium.com
246 points by ingrid  1 day ago   261 comments top 63
graycat 1 day ago 6 replies      
Point 1: Likely what you want to learn you canlearn well without going back to school. Indeed, ata high end research university, it is in effect orexplicitly assumed that you can teach yourself.

If you are in software, then likely you are heavilyself-taught. Well, being self-taught in nearly allparts of academic engineering is easier than inpractical software if only because in nearly all ofacademic engineering the learning materials aremuch, much better written.

To do self-study in academic engineering, it iscrucial to get some of the best materials, usually,still, textbooks. For this, investigate and pickcarefully. Indeed, you should have little troublefinding what the favorite textbooks are for what youwant to learn -- likely can get enough just by goingto the Web sites of the most relevant universities,departments, courses, and professors. For theengineering schools, don't be reluctant to go rightto the top -- MIT, Cornell, CMU, Georgia Tech,Stanford.

If you need more, then maybe send a nice e-mail tosome professors, in a few words explain yoursituation, maybe include a list of the candidatebooks you have found, and ask for suggestions, say,the textbooks he's been using, on the list or off.

Point 2. If you want an 'expensive' Bachelor'sdegree, say, for $50,000 a year at an Ivy Leagueuniversity, instead shoot for a Masters or betteryet a Ph.D. from such a school. Why? In importantways, the graduate degree is faster, easier, andcheaper than the Bachelor's. In my experience, atthe best schools, Ph.D. students rarely pay tuitionanyway. And from the famous Ivy League schools,it's generally easier to get accepted for a Ph.D.than for a Bachelors.

Point 3: If you want a Bachelor's degree or needone (say, to get accepted for a Master's or Ph.D.),then one option is just go to about the cheapestschool you can, maybe starting with just a two yearcommunity college and then transferring to a fouryear college to finish your Bachelor's. "Don't paya lot for this muffler" -- uh, Bachelor's degree.Everyone in higher education understands that thereare good students with little money or familybackground in academics and respect such students.If you learned well, then as you finish yourBachelor's you can get some high GRE scores whichwill look great applying to a Ph.D. program and makeup for starting at a community college.

Point 4. Even following Point 3, to save money andget better results, still emphasize self-study.That is, before taking the course, study the courseon your own first. Then take the course, lead theclass, ace the course, amaze the professor, and getglowing recommendations, say, to a good four yearcollege for your last two years, or from a four yearcollege to a Ph.D. program, as the best student heever had, maybe get a scholarship. Besides, thisway might get to take extra courses at once, savetuition money, time on campus, and expensescommuting to campus and look still smarter, allbecause you just studied the material before youtook the course.

Of course, this self-study stuff can work great forthe more theoretical and mathematical parts ofengineering but work less well where you might needtime in an expensive lab. So, emphasize thetheoretical and mathematical parts and for the restdo what you can without a lab. Then in school, whenyou take the lab course, you still have a headstart.

E.g., on self-study, I got a Ph.D. in essentiallyapplied math, but I never really took freshmancalculus. Instead, in my freshman year the poorschool I was at insisted I take some 'collegealgebra' which was beneath what I'd covered in fouryears of math at a relatively good public highschool. So, not to fall behind, I got a decentcalculus book and dug in. For my sophomore year, Iwent to a much better college and started on theirsophomore calculus (right, never got course creditfor freshman calculus), was likely the best studentin the class, was a math major, wrote an honorspaper on group representations, and got 800 on theMath knowledge GRE.

So, I covered freshman calculus well just on my ownfrom just a calculus book. You can too. Indeed, ifyou take a calculus course, mostly you learn fromthe book anyway.

Just study the material from the book before thecourse instead of mostly from the book (whichusually you have to do anyway) during the course.If you get hung up, then ask for some help, on-line,from some videos (if they help -- not all of themare good), knock on the door of a prof and ask aquestion, etc. Tell him you are studying on yourown and want to be clear on, say,

  f'(x) =  lim (f(x + h) - f(x))/h          h --> 0
or some such. Mostly a prof's office hours are notvery busy, and a prof might answer one good questionfor you even if you are not in such a class or evenin his school. If he refuses, then to heck withhim!

There are some poor textbooks out there, and some ofthe better books will still have a poor chapter ortwo. A bad book or chapter can be a chuckhole inthe road but only if you let it. If some materialseems not well written, like drilling throughbedrock, or needing prerequisites you don't have,then get 1-3 alternate sources, maybe just byphotocopying some chapters from some books in alibrary or buying some books as supplements. E.g.,there is a book on linear algebra by E. Nearing, andit quite good except it has a chapter in an appendixon linear programming that is just awful. Nearingunderstood a lot of linear algebra but not linearprogramming!

So, get copies of, say, the three best books. Learnmostly from the best book and use the other two foralternate explanations (so that you won't get stuckand won't misunderstand).

Now, textbooks are darned expensive, the latesteditions, in hardcover, commonly over $100 a copy.Three such books could set you back $300 -- bummer.So, instead, in nearly all undergraduate courses inengineering, get used texts, in good condition, 5-10years old. Such books will still be plenty good andwill save you a bundle of money.

E.g., I took sophomore calculus from the text byJohnson and Kiokemeister. At the time, it was alsoused at Harvard. It's a beautifully written, highlypolished book. Tough to write a better calculusbook.

So right away from a Google search at

can see

     Johnson & Kiokemeister's Calculus with Analytic     Geometry [Hardcover]     6 used from $9.25
So, can get it for $10. Don't pay a lot for a greattextbook.

Actually I got my copy 'used' from a student who hadtried the course the previous year and learned thathe should major in English or some such instead!More generally, due to such circumstances, a lot ofused technical books are actually in quite goodcondition.

You don't have to work all the exercises, but youshould work enough exercises so that you are sureyou can work all or nearly all of them. A goodtextbook will have in the back answers to half ormore of the exercises; so check your work with theanswers. Occasionally an answer is wrong. If yoususpect such, then maybe e-mail the author! Or aska local prof to check your solution and impress himthat you beat the textbook!

Occasionally let a difficult exercise go unsolved orask for help; in some books, 1-2% of the exercisesare in there poorly written, out of place (needmaterial not yet covered in the book or not in thebook), or are to see if a student can recreate somebrilliantly clever argument mostly unrelated to thebook. Don't let yourself get hung up on 1-2% of theexercises afraid you missed something -- give suchan exercise a good shot, then just ask for help ordrop it.

Continue this theme of self study, especially if youwant to go for a Ph.D. E.g., at one time the Website of the Princeton math department just flatlystated that the graduate courses were introductionsto research by world experts; no courses were givenfor preparation for the qualifying exams; and forthe qualifying exams students were expected toprepare on their own. Indeed, in that case, whybother to be on campus in expensive Princeton, NJ?

So, broadly, you can get a Bachelor's paying littleor no tuition.

Then for a Ph.D., or even some Master's degrees, thebig trump card is having published some research ina good, peer-reviewed, academic journal of originalresearch.

For how to do the research, that would need anotherpost!

In the whole thing, nearly all the work wasself-study from used textbooks, and the tuition youpaid was tiny. You cut down on time and costcommuting to campus, eating campus food, etc. Youaced nearly all your courses, and you avoided a hugelist of potential 'political' and other problems.

Learning is not a spectator sport but an individualthing with hard work, done alone in a quiet room.You can blow a lot of time and money going to classwhen what you really need is just hard work, alone,in a quiet room, which, indeed, the courses won'tmuch replace anyway.

Not everyone learns the same way. But, since youlearned the material before you took the course, theprofs never get to see how you learned; you neverfell behind in a course; you aced courses, and younever got criticized for your learning style.

Net, lack of money is no great reason not to get adegree, even a Ph.D., in engineering. Indeed, themain challenge is just the learning and, then,research; if you can do that, mostly on your own,then money for your degree is not a biggie.

NamTaf 1 day ago 11 replies      
The US university loan system is fucked.

We have a government-run loan scheme called HECS. You defer your university fees throughout the duration of your studies, apparently no matter how long they last. The programme is not means tested at all, so it is available for every single domestic student studying uni here, no matter what.

That loan is then paid back only once you start earning more than a threshold amount of taxable income (this year, $51,309 - it's not a low income by any stretch) and the payment amount is graduated depending on how much over you earn, from 4% of your income at that threshold amount to 9% once you hit $95,288 or above [1]. There is no real interest charged on the debt - the loan is only indexed to CPI every year, so that the real cost of the loan amount doesn't change. The repayment is treated like tax - either taken out as you earn your wage or squared every year upon doing your tax return.

The perk that rich people get is that if they pay their bill upfront (that is, each semester as they study), they get a 10% discount on the total cost of the tuition for that semester (apparently, off memory it was 25% when I went through about 5-10 years ago). If you put it on HECS, you instead pay the full amount.

Oh, and also for every domestic student, a semester of full-time study costs on the order of $3000-$5000, so a 3 year degree is about $18k-$30k of the above debt [2], depending on what you study. It's heavily subsidised by the government.

The system is funded, in part, by international students, who pay the full fee amounts (no government subsidy) if they choose to study here.

The major criticism of the system is that students can just incur this debt then flee the country. If they earn no taxable income here, they never have to pay it back no matter how much they earn overseas. I can't really think of an easy way to resolve this because it's impossible to garnish income from another country. Nevertheless, the system works reasonably well.

[1]: http://studyassist.gov.au/sites/studyassist/payingbackmyloan...

[2]: http://studyassist.gov.au/sites/studyassist/helppayingmyfees...

rayiner 1 day ago 6 replies      
I agree with the ultimate sentiment, which is that it's generally inadvisable to try and pay your way through school these days. The federal government will let you and your parents borrow as much as you need to pay for school, and you'll make more money after you finish your degree, so your efforts are better spent trying to finish in as few semesters as possible to minimize the amount of money you need to borrow instead of trying to pay for things as you go.

This is an area, unfortunately, where kids from wealthier families have a huge advantage. Even if your parents aren't willing to pay for college for you, they are much less likely to be hesitant to take PLUS loans on your behalf that they expect you to pay back. And as a general matter, people who came from wealthier backgrounds are much less afraid of debt and leverage.

I'm not saying that it's the most desirable state of affairs. My total cost of attendance in the early 2000's at Georgia Tech (in-state) was only $10-12k (including housing and food, tuition was just a few thousand) which I could make during the summer. But that's increasingly something that's not possible, even at state schools. And under the new paradigm, debt is the way to go. Especially with the new PAY-E repayment terms.

susi22 1 day ago 4 replies      
I consider myself very lucky. I did my undergrad and never struggled with money. My parent never supported me with a dime since they didn't have much. I didn't have any scholarships. I saved up some money from high school and used that for the first year of college, then started working as an co-op. How did I do it? I went to school in Germany. That's also where I'm from. Back then there was no tuition and I only paid 120 Euros of administration fee per semester. I had it easy. I could study freely, I had everything I needed and the beer at the universities' vending machine was cheap. Life was good. Back then in 2004 I never read any English/US news or community web sites. I didn't know what college was like over there.

After I graduate came to the US and I've been living in a typical college town at the east coast for ~7 years. I have many undergrad and graduate friends most of which are American. I'm _BAFFLED_ at the simple acceptance of this rip-off fucked up higher education system. It's not even a topic ever that our local University President just raised tuition by another 5% this year. And a ~40% raise in the last couple year. In Germany, they started talking about introducing a 500 Euro tuition in 2006(?) and introduced it in 2007. Students where furious, they protested on the streets, they occupied the main buildings. They raised there voices. They started petitions. The press was on our side. They introduced them and students investigated on how the tuition was going to be used (contract only allowed to use it towards better education and not for maintenance/bills) and problems were discovered. Long story short: In 2013/2014 there is only one state left that still has a tuition of 500 Euros. The rest abandoned it all.

I have asked this question many times:

Why do Americans not protest?

Take the French: they kidnapped their CEO and threatened to kill them (~2009). They burned down parts of their factory. They raise their voice. Yet, with a ridiculous policy here in the US, I see nothing ever happen. I heard there was some protest about PRISM in S.F. last week. I frankly missed the coverage about that since it may have been to small. There were bigger protests about PRISM in Germany last week. This is sad and I don't understand it.

Students of America: Stop wining on Internet forum, they do not tend to often get coverage of the media.

You want main stream TV coverage: Go on the streets and protest.

chernevik 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are you a US citizen? If so, write your Congressman. Write the rep for the University's district, your home town rep, and the senators of both states. Make the letter one page, and attach a narrative with the gory details and figures. Give them details on how to contact the financial aid office, the dean's office, and any student ombudsman.

The idea here is to capture attention (short, punchy letter), provide all the ammunition a staffer needs to make a phone call asking what the hell is going on (the attachments), and the targeting information.

Send 'em hard copy, to both the DC and the local district office. Wait two days, send an email. Wait a day and call, asking to speak with someone in reference to same. You won't get the Congressman, of course, but if you get a competent staffer they'll know how to look into the matter and make people uncomfortable enough to do better. Get someone who's worked in the district a few years and they probably play tennis with someone at the University.

These offices are heavily dedicated to constituent service. If you get their attention and make it easy for them to investigate, some staffer will pick this as a lay-up "good deed for the day."

Congress doesn't have jurisdiction, of course, but any public institution steps to when the office calls. They'll pay attention, and they may very well look harder for some discretion to fix this.

The overall system is, of course, stupid. That won't get any better, it's a set of compromises among reasonable sounding concerns that have amounted to a Kafka-esque impossibility. But there is a lot of discretion in the joints -- if you can make someone notice this particular glitch, it might get fixed.

epistasis 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is broken, and it shouldn't be this way. There are far too many broken bureaucracies in modern society, both governmental and corporate. And most of these impede those with the fewest resources or capabilities to work around them. Just because we've been trained to think that government or corporate policy is supposed to be complex and broken, doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to improve.

Without a ridiculously good merit-based scholarship from a great school, I never would have been able to attend any of the top-tier schools into which I had been accepted, because my parents' money was counted as my money, even though their money was clearly not mine, and not something that I could choose to spend.

heimidal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given my experience in a similar situation several years ago, I don't think you have explored all of your options. Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and need-based limit may have changed, but there other ways to pay for school. (All of the following assumes you haven't already hit the overall government loan limit; if that's the case, you're at a university you honestly cannot afford.)

For example, the Stafford loan program offers unsubsidized loans (meaning interest accrues while you are in school) to all eligible students regardless of need. The eligibility requirements for these loans amount to being legally allowed to attend school in the US and not being in default on existing student loans.

As an independent student, you should be able to borrow up to $12,500 in unsubsidized loans directly from the government, regardless of your EFC. It will be more expensive than your other loans in the long term, so you should weigh the cost of two years of additional interest against not finishing school.

All of that said...

Something really feels wrong about your financial situation. The automatic-zero Expected Family Contribution limit for an independent student is $24,000. Assuming you were living on student aid from January to May and made $25.85/hour, 40 hours a week from June to December, for a full 30 weeks (unlikely given holidays, etc), you should have made right around $31,000 pre-tax. If that's the case, your EFC should be a _maximum_ of $7,000, but probably closer to half that.

My bet: your FAFSA EFC is incorrect. Find the worksheets and manually work it out for yourself.

SholaJS 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have you ever worked hard for something and then realized it wasn't enough? Or worse, working hard brought you to this point, alone and unable to pay for school? It's clear that if she's writing this, she's trying talking to financial aid. She's tried saving as much as possible for school. She's tried all the options... but none were left for her. I go to Stanford and I found myself in a slightly similar situation on a smaller scale. I had $1.2k in debt before the start of the year. Yes you read that right, just over one thousand.

Well... Stanford won't disperse financial aid if you have a balance of over $1k. So, I had 2 days before school started and I didn't have the money to head back to school. No matter who I talked to or who I called, the story was the same. That $1k was my responsibility but to be honest, I didn't have it. That summer I barely made enough to support myself. I also maxed out my credit cards and because of my family situation, I didn't have a cosigner that could help me co-sign a private loan. I also couldn't apply for a loan through my school because that was also considered financial aid. That night I cried... so much. I called my financial aid office over and over only for them to tell me the same thing. I called relatives. I even begged my brother for a small loan just so I could register for classes (which he never gave btw). The next day at work I burst into tears for seemingly no reason at all. Why should I? I go to a school with all the bells and whistles. Why would that be a concern? Had a sorority sister not heard me crying, I would never have gotten the money to enroll.

It's because the system is broken. This story is not about amounts or what she "could've done," it's about the reality of being in a situation you can't possibly control.

kyro 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hey, at least you're not $250k in the hole with an incredibly low 7% interest rate, at the age of 26! What do you all think about a Kickstarter for student loans? I'm looking for $300k in investment or to validate my idea by raising $300k through the service.
mchannon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Across this country, this very month, legions of rubes will be getting low-interest student loans to enroll in psychology, general studies, and undecided major degree programs, paying $40k per year, only to drop out shortly thereafter with a huge financial hangover and little ability to pay for it.

In contrast, an electrical engineering degree will easily pay for itself, particularly if you've managed to bootstrap yourself to a third year.

Why haven't you addressed student loans as a vector for finishing a highly lucrative degree program? Seems like you are (forgive the term) a poster child for student loans.

rcoder 1 day ago 1 reply      
This closely mirrors my experience, though my "summer job" straight out of my Freshman year of college was part-time cashiering at a pizza restaurant. From there, I temped as an office worker at a startup, convinced them to hire me full time and let me build databases, then pivoted that into writing Java code.

After a year of work wherein I made about $25k, I talked to the financial aid office and found out that my expected contribution towards tuition, room, and board was likely to go from about $5k/year (barely covered via loans and family support) to $15-20k, which was totally untenable.

My response was to drop out, keep coding, and figure out how to backfill the CS knowledge I needed by working with smarter, more experienced people than myself. 15 years in, it seems to have worked reasonably well, and I'm regularly reminded how much easier my life has been not having tens of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt hanging around my neck throughout my 20s.

To be clear: I know that the plural of anecdote is not "data", and I don't want to suggest that the dropout -> tech industry path is easy or in any way guaranteed. However, I think that it's a far easier field to get into than many others if you have the aptitude and motivation to build some things on your own and learn as much as you can from the process.

CyruzDraxs 1 day ago 1 reply      
I couldn't even afford to get INTO university. By 18, I had to pay $1000/month rent or get kicked out. My family had NO money saved to help with college. I wasn't eligible for any scholarships I could find. The city I was in paid minimum wage for EVERYTHING, even skilled work. I worked $8/hour doing web development.

I tried saving up enough to even just move away. 3 years later, and not a penny ahead, I just threw caution to the wind and plunged myself deep into debt to get the hell out of there.

A year later, I've made more than I did in those 3 years put together. I'm still in debt, but I'll comfortably be out in 6-8 months. At this point, university would only be of value to me if I felt like immigrating to the US.

The point is, if your situation sucks, change it. If school doesn't seem viable, skip it. Find a workaround. The point is not acquire a piece of paper, the point is to prove your worth.

noonespecial 1 day ago 4 replies      
There should be a way for companies to invest in promising interns, paying some of their tuition costs in exchange for a certain number of years employment with the company afterwards.

While this wouldn't work for many fields, it would certainly help in cases like this (and tech in general). It would seem that with as much as companies pay for head-hunters and recruiters (and how much they whine about the lack of quality candidates), it would be a no-brainier.

GuiA 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like you're smart and have skills in demand. Try to get a job at a bay area company; living like a student should allow you to save enough money to go back to college within 18-24 months (if you even want to go back by then).
hjay 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm in the exact same situation. Except in my case, in Canada, and (only) after 1 year of full-time courses.

I also did a paid internship, for $18 an hour at a major software company in Vancouver, B.C. Now the Canadian government has decided that I have more than enough (assuming a cost of living of 0 for a 20 year old that has to support an elderly mother).

So basically, I have an income of 0 (aside from my freelance work), costs running at ~$1600 CAN per month for basic shelter + food for 2 people, AND the Canadian government is constantly on my back for student loan repayment. I did not choose to dropout of college, I was (essentially) forced to by the government.

Best part is, now any employer I talk to asks about the 1 year I spent in college. I'm sure they assume that as a 20 year old, I am either lazy, stupid, or irresponsible. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I've worked 18~22 hour days everyday of my life since I was 16, and I'm tired. Not tired of a (somewhat) difficult life, but tired of the assumptions people make. People in the government, people who have power of employment, people around me who judge a book by its cover.

fragsworth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another stupid thing is you're allowed to write off your education expenses from your taxable income, but only in the same year that you made the expenses. The tax deductions can't get carried over into future years.

This effectively means almost everyone who gets loans for their education pays full taxes on the money they used on that education. But if you have well-to-do parents pay for your education, they get to write the expenses off and pay much less in taxes during your college years.

It's a situation where wealthier people get a significant discount just for being wealthy, and there's really no social benefit to having it be this way.

mynegation 1 day ago 1 reply      
Every time the idea of basic income is discussed I think that universal healthcare, subsidized education, and - possibly - targeted infrastructure spending are much better approach.

The system is set up in a way that OP (and I am sure many others) found herself in this strange valley, where you are damned if you do, damned if you don't.

chatmasta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in a similar situation from paid internships and my own business. My advice: talk to your school's financial aid office and explain your situation. They should be able to help you. At the very least, it's worth TALKING to them.

(Disclaimer: I go to a need-blind school with very good financial aid. I don't know how engineering/state schools will treat this. But it's worth TALKING to them.)

mateyrose 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a travesty, and one I witnessed as a college professor again and again. Why does the US pretend that we don't have enough science and engineering "smarts" among our own students, and seek talent from other countries, when in fact our talent is right here, but unable to afford tuition. Moreover, we hear quite a lot about the lack of women in science and engineering fields.....and here is one who is passionate about engineering yet cannot afford to complete her degree. Something is terribly wrong with this scenario. Businesses: if you really want bright, gifted young women and minorities in the engineering field, put your money where your mouths are and pony up. The rewards will far outweigh your contributions.
cinquemb 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling that there are going to be more and more stories like this. Especially with 60% of Fed student loans non performant, interest rates increasing, and the cost to acquire the piece of paper (and the "college experience") increasing.

But Sallie Mae would have you think otherwise when their split goes through on wall st. I have a feeling someone is going to get rich off of CDS backed by securities on student loans as for the rest of us, I guess we have to create new paths in life to acquire and apply knowledge for the betterment of our communities that we are apart of because going x times more in debt than the generation before, to acquire knowledge to apply in a world that is increasingly making it obsolete (as far as human labor is concerned in a service dominated economy) seems like an exercise in futility and fiscal suicide.

LanceH 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was my experience that every dollar I made came out of any potential financial assistance package I could get. So making $15k in an entire year, they expected that I could apply all $15k toward the school, which wouldn't have covered tuition. There was zero incentive to work as far as paying for school went, unless I could make substantially more than required for school.

I ended up just paying for school out of savings (I had worked 4 years before my junior year). Another thing about savings is that they expected I could spend 100% of my savings immediately. They don't even pro rate savings across the multiple years required for a degree. Financial aid is for them, not for the student.

anologwintermut 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's unclear if her financial aid was grants or loans. If they denied her grants I'd say this (while unfair by current standards) is reasonable. Given her internships, it's reasonable to say she could probably pay for a chunk of her degree and certainly afford loan payments when employed later.

Now, of course, one wonder's why we are offering loans and aid to people who can't get such a return on investment ( regardless of whether they need to pay or not).

lqdc13 1 day ago 0 replies      
My parents didn't help me either, but I had absolutely no problem with tuition. And it wasn't because I paid it off after every semester.

Why not just take out loans and go to a state school? I went to a good engineering state school in New York and many of my classmates got excellent jobs after that. The tuition is only $5k per year. Total tuition and other expenses can be easily paid off within a couple of years with an engineering job. The interest rate is only like 5% for people with OK credit.

Regarding credit cards: It definitely does not make sense to use credit cards to pay for tuition, because the APR is very high compared to student loans.

Edit: Regarding the amount you can take out in private loans: Discover lets you take out like 50k per semeseter. This is way more than enough.

jmilloy 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't get it. Why can't you get loans? You don't pay them back while you are in school, and afterwards the minimum cost per month is pretty low. I had full, $16k per term FAFSA support for 12 terms, and then needed one more to finish some things up (poor planning). Federal student loans saw me through.

Although, yes, it's immensely frustrating that they take whatever money they can. I spent all the money I saved up from high school right before college so they couldn't take it away.

zallarak 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can empathize. My only constructive comment would be to never waste time complaining or exuding frustration. I understand your situation is tough, but everyone who does anything worth doing will undergo hardship. Find a way to make it work -- if it is impossible or not worth it, choose another route and go on. Your route should never be one of complaint. I don't mean to sound preachy, this advice comes from a sincere place.
japaget 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't read the content. Instead, I get "Please sign in to continue" and a suggestion that I sign in via Twitter.
Glyptodon 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's lame when a distant internship won't provide rent, but also possibly this person is going a too expensive school?

It sounds like between the two internships combined they'd have made around $30k total, no?

If so, that seems like just barely enough to cover living expenses and a year at a public university with $4 to $7k in tuition and fees a semester.

Though it would be lame to have to spend 9 months off school to spend a year in school.

peterjancelis 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a crazy system indeed and it's not only for scholarships that marginal tax rates on the poor with benefits are often extremely high. Other examples include people on disability who lose their benefits forever if they try to work full time, even if they fail after a week.

It's going to be hard to change things because every little rule has people making a living a living of it.

digikata 1 day ago 1 reply      
I paid my way through the latter grades of college thanks to a somewhat devious manager at my first summer internship. That manager transitioned me to a part-time employee at the end of the internship period after the school year started. In the latter two years of college I was a full time employee while going to school. Now, I took five years to graduate a four year degree, but since I was cashflow positive (yay low cost cal-state tuition) and employed in a topical field, the extended time really didn't matter. Now the manager was somewhat devious because I don't think the internships were necessarily supposed to work that way for all interns, but really it worked out well for both me and the company in the long term.

It would be worth probing the internship company in this case to see if some similar arrangement could be made. (if the budget for tuition vs part/full time pay works out, I did this in the 90's, no idea how it would work now).

originofspecie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I feel terrible for Ingrid, but I think the end of her article requires a caveat. The financial aid system is a game, and learning the rules can save a lot of money.

Lets assume that your taxable income was 27k.(36 weeks x 40 hours a week x $26 an hour)

You will be in the 15% tax bracket, so the total tax liability on your income would be approximately(i'm assuming only federal income tax) 23k (27000*.85). This is the number that is used on the fasfa. You had mentioned that you suffered from some health issues and incurred medical expenses. Those are deductible, and should reduce your tax bill, as well as the amount of money that colleges should expect for you to spend on education.

Furthermore college 529 plans are something to look at when trying to fund college education. Contributions to these plans are tax free, so it will lessen your tax bill, especially if you don't work while you are in school. Also the 529's in your name are expected to go towards your education at the same rate as your parents income[1] this will help soften the blow of losing the financial aid.

Finally, don't shy away from student loans, especially subsidized federal loans. At around 4%, it is hard to find cheaper money, and wih subsidized loans, the interest on these loans are tax deductible.

At the end of the day, the moral of your story shouldn't be "Don't take paid internships they'll screw you in the end" and instead it should be "when you start get paid a significant salary hire a tax professional to make sure I hold on to as much of my moolah as possible."

You can put up to 5k in a Traditional IRA. Your deposits will be tax deductible, and withdraws for education forgo penalties of withdrawing money before your 59 and 1/2. You will also pay for tax on it at the level of income for the year you take the disbursements, so if you don't work your senior year or make less money it could work out to your favor. The downside of this strategy is that any money you put into the IRA that year will be counted as income. So no gaming the system on this one.


zw123456 1 day ago 0 replies      
I entered Engineering school at a state University in 1974 and graduated in 1978 with a BSEE and NO loans. I was able to do so by working and going to school, tuition was $216 per semester, which even then was very affordable. It is a crime that today, this would be impossible. It is one of the greatest injustices today.
johnpowell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I waited until I was 24 to fill out a FAFSA. Once you are 24 you don't need to supply your parents info. I worked at a movie theater until I got a full ride from financial aid. I got to party and get get that out of my system before I started school.

And really, I am not sure how you couldn't get that any taxable income would cut into what you get. I was a drunk stoner and knew it. During the summers I got a real job and knew to never make over $9,500 in taxable income or it would eat into my aid. I quit jobs before school started so I wouldn't hit that number.

kkthnxbye 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was in a similar situation in Canada (but of course, total cost for a semester in engineering school + housing + food amounted to about $8k - $9k). With an internship that landed me about $22/hr post-tax, 40% of the total I made was put towards paying for the next semester. That automatically kicked me out of the low-income family grant which would've given me $8k a year.

I remember some of my friends saying they received more in grants and bursaries than what I made in that 4 month period alone (with no effort, to boot!), and that slightly discouraged me a bit, but one needs to remember this is an investment that will pay off in the next few years.

That being said, I was enrolled in a software engineering program, but most of my friends have found work in EE as well.

vaishaksuresh 1 day ago 0 replies      
International students face a worse situation. Students on F1 visa are not even allowed to intern for 2 semesters in most universities. To make the situation worse, the tuition is almost thrice the normal amount.Shitty deal for students from countries whose currency's value is less than USD.
encoderer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have you looked to a bank or p2p lender?

The purpose of the student loan system to help extend credit to people who are otherwise less creditworthy. It's not a perfect system but it sorta works. In your case, you said you maxed out your credit cards. Presumably you managed your credit effectively aside from that, and then paid it off. If so, your Fico score should be high enough to qualify for a loan outside the federal student loan guarantee program.

dannypurcell 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Ingrid, If you are reading this then please take another shot at the FAFSA. You are quite right that the computer systems and standard rules screwed you over.

That is why Financial Aid Advisers (the ones at your school) can make judgement calls on a case by case basis to override the computer system.

Specifically, there are two qualities of your described situation which qualify you for such an override.1. You mentioned that you are couch surfing with friends. This means you are homeless2. You made a good amount on previous employment and your story seems to suggest that said employment is no longer active. This means you have recently lost your job.According to FAFSA guides for financial aid advisers, professional judgement may be used to adjust parameters which are used to calculate your expected family contribution.

Your situation appears to apply to several typical cases in which professional judgement is recommended.

1. "A student is considered homeless if he or she lacks fixed, regular, and adequate housing. This includes students who are living in shelters, motels, cars, or parks, or who are temporarily living with other people because they have nowhere else to go." -https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1314/help/fahelp29a.htm

2. "Special circumstances may include tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school, medical, dental, or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance, unusually high child care or dependent care costs, recent unemployment of a family member or an independent student, a student or family member who is a dislocated worker (as defined in section 101 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998), the number of parents enrolled at least half time in a degree, certificate, or other program leading to a recognized educational credential at an institution with a program participation agreement under section 487, a change in housing status that results in an individual being homeless (as defined in section 103 of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act), or other changes in a familys income, a familys assets or a students status. Special circumstances shall be conditions that differentiate an individual student from a class of students rather than conditions that exist across a class of students. Adequate documentation for such adjustments shall substantiate such special circumstances of individual students."-http://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1314AVGCh5.pdf-http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea98/sec478.html

All of this amounts to the your case calling for professional judgement by your financial aid advisers. I do not know what made them turn you away before but it may be as simple as not knowing. I had a similar situation in school myself, it turned out that the first adviser I worked with was somewhat new to their job and just did not know they could make a judgement call.

Never give up. If it seems like the system is broken, make it work for you. I hope this information helps.

For anyone else who happens to know Ingrid Avendano or how to get her a message, please pass this info along.

gems 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am actually in a similar situation... except I'm in math. I can program though :/.

And by "similar" I mean that I may have to drop out because I cannot afford it. Loans from the government are not enough. Can't get private loans. Can't get money from the parents.

sev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yeah, the financial aid system is pretty bad. A single woman I know who lives alone got denied financial aid because her gross annual income was 31k instead of the limit of 29k that financial aid requires. If you do the math and include all average expenses for any single person, you'll see that there's no way to pay for tuition and/or housing without a student loan in a situation as this. Is financial aid only supposed to be for people who either have no job at all, are completely poor, or are doing fraud?
null_ptr 1 day ago 0 replies      
That site messes with the vertical scrollbar on Firefox Android, how hard can it be to serve a page of text without doing any useless CSS or JS or who-knows-what trickeries?
ececconi 1 day ago 0 replies      
That was one of the reasons keeping me from doing a paid internship. My scholarship included full tuition and even paid for a lot of room and board. Furthermore, the university paid me an extra $15,000 scholarship just for doing a dual degree in philosophy and engineering. Sorry to hear about your story. It really does sound like a terrible situation.
nabnob 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm slightly confused about the logistics of this because I also attended Carnegie Mellon and received around $20k in financial aid per calendar year (grants and Stafford loans combined), and my parents made over $100k.

If this isn't too intrusive - how much were you making when you received $16k in financial aid vs. $104? Are you only including grants in this amount, or does this also include low-interest student loans?

m_ke 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Tell me about it. I just got my financial package last week and my aid went from 46k to 2k, so I'll have to take out over $50,000 to pay for one year of tuition.
mgraczyk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had a similar experience. After an 8 month internship making ~$30/hr full time I ended up roughly about where I would have been financially had I not done the internship and just stayed in school. I was really upset when I went back to school, but now that I've graduated I look back on it and am just thankful that I was able to spend those 8 months living somewhere new doing something fun. (I would probably feel differently had I been unable to go back to school after the 8 months).

That being said, I think it really is horrifying that our education system rewards those students who stay behind and attend summer school more than those who secure good internships. I've never met a talented developer or engineer who didn't have at least 2 summer internships in undergrad. I have, however, met a ton of shitty engineers who took plenty of summer classes.

fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Students should be warned that doing a paid internship can negatively impact your ability to finish up paying for school."

Or a job of any kind. Same thing happened to me.

lettergram 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in a similar situation, I just bit the bullet and took the loans.
tn13 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am totally stunned. Are you telling me that you are not going to fund a student who does not have a degree yet but found a good enough job where she gets paid? Man, in fact you need to raise the money given to her because it will ensure one persona out of unemployment for sure.
gwbas1c 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Despite having federal loans and a work study job, I had to borrow money from my friends and max out my credit cards just to make ends meet."

When I was in school, that was a red flag. Without knowing the details of Ingrid's education costs and spending habits, it's just as easy to conclude that Ingrid lived beyond her means.

Thus, before blaming the system, I'd want to know what Ingrid's numbers were. She did intern for Intel, which pays very well and provides lots of assistance.

cyberpanther 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Your going to have to bite the bullet and take a private loan if you want to finish school. It sucks, but that is the reality. I'm still paying my private loans off after 10 years, so it may not be worth it.
superbaconman 1 day ago 0 replies      
At my current pay it'll take close to 10 years to pay off my college debt. The only hope I have to shorten that period is to produce more value (I'm trying my best), or get lucky with a startup (I'm in a good market). I know I took the long investment, and I'm fine with that. I'm confident in my skills and my drive, but I couldn't imagine being in a different market. My concern lies in the arts and humanities. They are very important, but will suffer immensely.
ismaelc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here are some summary snippets from the post -

    "That summer I started my first engineering internship for six months from June to December, making $25.85 an hour working for a well-known tech company.",    "It made no sense for me to stay in school; the financial stress was affecting my ability to get work done, and subsequently my GPA dropped.",    "This June, I was notified that my financial aid was reduced from $16,000 to $104 because I had made too much money in 2012, which put me in a higher income bracket to receive less financial aid.",    "Every attempt to contact my financial aid office has been unhelpful.",    "They have parents that pay for school and all their expenses, which makes their internship money pocket money."

Sindrome 1 day ago 1 reply      
Welcome to real life. Shit happens. Keep trying and it will get better.
zek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in a somewhat similar(though far less tough) situation. I am currently paying for my school myself and I simply was not going have enough to afford it even after my paid internship. So I opted instead to take a leave of absence and work for a while. I think this option is making more sense as the overall value of a degree declines, especially in fields like CS where a degree is not necessarily a requirement.
nathanfp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ingrid really sorry to hear this. I had to take out loans to help pay for college and found the entire process extremely convoluted and most aid offices quite unhelpful. Ultimately, I think our schools and government should be supporting students who are working hard to supplement loans with their own income, not punishing them by reducing your ability to take out a loan.
dclowd9901 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As a college grad with a degree in Journalism working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, maybe my opinion on your situation can give you assurance:

So the fuck what. They just did you a favor.

SamWhited 1 day ago 1 reply      
I did the exact same thing a couple of months ago; ended up getting a reasonable job offer that will allow me to pay off my student loans. Higher education is (more or less) a waste of money these days.
BlackDeath3 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this applies to me at all. I'm working a paid internship in the summer, and all of a sudden, no Stafford loans offered.

Does a late FAFSA impact Stafford loans at all? I'm fairly certain I still made the deadline, but by no means was I an early submission.

praguebakerr 1 day ago 1 reply      
move to the Germany or to another country in Europe, (almost) free education is still huge benefit when you compare it with states
bluedino 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's kind of a shame that financial aid is often given based on need, and not ability.
clamprecht 1 day ago 1 reply      
Has the author tried the appeal process?
slajax 21 hours ago 1 reply      
"And then it will hit you. You spent 150k on an education you could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees at the public library" - Good Will Hunting
evasion1 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't afford to go back to school, even though I desperately want to for CS because I have $120,000 in debt from law school. Absolutely hate law and going to LS was the biggest mistake of my life.
avend015 1 day ago 0 replies      
Keep trying sista. You'll achieve your goals eventually.
tazzy531 1 day ago 3 replies      
>>"Students should be warned that doing a paid internship can negatively impact your ability to finish up paying for school."

Students should be warned that crossing the highway blindfolded if unsafe.

Students should be warned that the stove could be hot if you leave it on.

At some point, people need to take personal responsibility for their action. They need to understand how their actions effect them positively or negatively and balance out those decisions. People need to understand that there is nobody that is going to hand hold them through life.

Beg HN: Please only report serious GitHub outages (1h+)
242 points by Toshio  2 days ago   68 comments top 25
ColinWright 2 days ago 5 replies      
Why report it at all? Seriously. If I'm affected, I'll find out. If I'm not affected, why should you tell me?

It seems that every time a well-known service goes down, for however long, for whatever reason, instantly there's a flurry of posts here making sure everyone knows something that they either already know, or won't care about.

I'd really like that to stop, although perhaps I'm just a curmudgeonly old grey-beard.

bryanh 2 days ago 1 reply      
We launched our status board for exactly this reason, to get notified of random disruptions (specifically API disruptions). You can even chose your flavor, we support email, SMS, IM, webhooks, etc... It sure beats relying on HN or random failures for disruption notification.


benatkin 2 days ago 3 replies      
This post is worse than what it derides, of course. It fits well within the category of things that pollute people's RSS feeds unnecessarily.

This is hacker news, and many of the hackers here use GitHub so when it goes down they might be spinning their wheels. If it is down for less than three minutes it probably won't make it off the new page. I think your arbitrary 30-40 minutes isn't better than what became the norm based on user behavior on HN. Why do you, Toshio, think you know with a high level of precision, how long GitHub needs to be down for it to be relevant to HN?

ignostic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Based on the speed with which the post received votes, I suspect most of the "votes" came from people trying to submit the news that had already been submitted.

I agree with you, OP, but it seems there were a lot of people jumping on that bandwagon.

StavrosK 2 days ago 1 reply      
Correction: Please stop upvoting outage posts.
martin-adams 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find twitter a much better forum for finding if a service has gone down. We experienced Lovefilm going down the other night and could easily confirm it was a server issue via twitter.

Of course, HN is a great place for people to discuss how to avoid a productivity disruption when such services go down.

shocks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Beg HN: Please flag non-serious GitHub/Bitbucket/etc outages (1h+)
casca 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would respectfully disagree. One of the ways that I assess whether to use a service is based on its reliability. There is not a great way to look at historical records for when a particular service was down to understand how this might impact me. Searching HN has been very useful to assess other people's experiences with services, so why not for uptime too?
bdcravens 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this that much more of an issue than every NSA story rehash, most of which doesn't offer any new info?
apidoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I dont know why so many people always post it.Please use Twitter for that.

Or just look at


kidmenot 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I could upvote you more than once. Actually, I was about to post something really similar.

Thanks. Github, Gmail, Google Docs, anything: more often than not, the moment I click the link they're working perfectly.

ses 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure HN is the best place to report it, however working at a company that extensively uses github on a large scale, for the business I think even an outage of 5-10 minutes counts as serious. I'm amazed that people seem to find downtime of 'cloudy' services more acceptable somehow. We have similar issues when JIRA goes down that has a significant impact on overall productivity.
avalaunch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree.

But to play devil's advocate, in aggregate, the reports of the outages, even the small ones, could be useful to someone deciding whether or not to use GitHub.

soheil 2 days ago 3 replies      
I thought it was pretty serious. Github is no longer a tiny company and when so many people rely on you for everything a 5 min outage becomes significant. E.g. I was not able to deploy to my server a few mins ago due to this outage. This makes me question the decision to use github going forward.
CmonDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
With all the git-hype around any kind of downtime is inexcusable.
dregin 2 days ago 0 replies      
A billion times this!

Twice in the last 4 days, 2 stories to hit the front page in a row have been "ZONOES GITHUB DOWN!!!" when it's been a small blip.

mlopes 2 days ago 2 replies      
Come on, GitHub is used for serious work for several big companies. One hour downtime is an eternity, I'm quite happy with reporting 10 minute downtimes, as most of my workflow involves github, every step of the development process (ticketing system, dev vm's, CI server, capistrano, etc...) all at some point connect with GitHub.
ekianjo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This BegHN seems like easy karma as well!
medwezys 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend monitoring third-party services automatically all the time, e.g. we do it using https://github.com/alphasights/open_nut.I do agree reporting outages on HN is totally irrelevant
kitgar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dear god, this. At least 10 occasions in the last 48 hours for extremely minor outages. Switch to self-hosted!!
atalreja 2 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed, this just pollutes the eco-system around. If someone needs to know and gets impacted - they can check the status page themselves. Wasted 5 mins reading it!!
capex 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for introducing the new HN verb, 'beg'. Really amused.
DonaldDerek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps this is to make the big companies kinda afraid from their people ;)
scottydelta 2 days ago 0 replies      
why not go for Gitlab when working in an organization?
marknadal 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to be that snarky fellow who submits a post and turns this thread into an ultimate meta-inception:

"Beg HN: Please only beg about serious issues (250upvotes+)"

Now upvote me for making clever comments about infinite-regressions, which all hackers are obviously interested in; or downvote me because I failed to add "</sarcasm>" to my comment - but wait, I just did, which would then cause an alligator paradox! (woohoo, now you'll want to upvote me because I mentioned paradoxes - but wait isn't that a paradox to upvote me for... nevermind)

But obviously you now want to downvote me because it is apparent I'm procrastinating and wasting time on HN and have nothing better to do. But wait, oh snap - now you want to upvote me because I'm writing satire about people who write about infinite regressions... which, wait, hold on, would mean that I'm not -- nope, nevermind. I'm shutting up here, because I'm sure you could figure out what my next 100 paragraphs will be, which means I don't even need to write it.

But gasp, I just did write th -- this author was shot dead* (then who wrote that he was shot dead? Obviously it was only a flesh woun -- this author was `Rabbit of Caerbannog`ed)

Restoring Trust in Government and the Internet schneier.com
231 points by hatchan  1 day ago   110 comments top 15
junto 1 day ago 9 replies      
The question is then; in a two party system where both offer the blue pill, who the hell do you vote for? Neither Democrats nor Republicans will change this. Due to the way that the political system works, a third party isn't possible. In the UK we have a Conservative/Liberal coalition, where traditionally Liberals were strong privacy advocates, but now turn a blind eye to the massive Orwellian/Huxley-esque society growing like hydra's heads in front of their very eyes. The complaints are muted. The mass media looks the other way. Why?

To me this means:

- the system is broken

- the current political framework (especially in the US) is a fabrication, designed to make you believe that you have a choice, but in reality your vote is meaningless and your choice an empty vassal. The red pill is just a blue pill painted red.

The problem is that the intrusions so far, do not impact the majority in such a way as to hinder their daily quality of life. The change from a private world to a 'all-seeing government' is slow, but it is sustained. At some point we will reach a tipping-point, and then the only option is revolution, because by that point, the system will have enveloped the public fabric of life so tightly, that there will be no way to gently extricate ourselves.

It is your (US) own great thinker and do-er that said:

   They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a   little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor    safety.     Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings      of Benjamin Franklin
The irony is that the 'little temporary safety' may well have been a ruse. Even if Al-Qaeda is a real and present danger to the US at home, I doubt that the scale of that threat is worth the loss of liberty and the billions of dollars spent on funding the 'fight against terror'.

ferdo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've never trusted the government or the internet. I trust my family and friends.

"...the three aims of the tyrant. These are, (1) the humiliation of his subjects; he knows that a mean-spirited man will not conspire against anybody; (2) the creation of mistrust among them; for a tyrant is not overthrown until men begin to have confidence in one another; and this is the reason why tyrants are at war with the good; they are under the idea that their power is endangered by them, not only because they would not be ruled despotically but also because they are loyal to one another, and to other men, and do not inform against one another or against other men; (3) the tyrant desires that his subjects shall be incapable of action, for no one attempts what is impossible, and they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny, if they are powerless. Under these three heads the whole policy of a tyrant may be summed up, and to one or other of them all his ideas may be referred: (1) he sows distrust among his subjects; (2) he takes away their power; (3) he humbles them."

Politics By Aristotle


twoodfin 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's interesting to compare the framing of this column with Schneier's commentary on the revelations of NSA surveillance in 2005:


It's full of "Bush did X", "Bush wanted Y". Now he says the NSA has "gone rogue". Huh.

If Schneier is as unhappy with today's programs as he was with 2005's, then perhaps he should communicate a bit more clearly that today's occupant of the Oval Office could end any of them with a phone call.

jstalin 1 day ago 3 replies      
We should be able to trust the government to do things like run courts, build roads, and deliver clean water.

We should never trust the government when it comes to standing armies, criminal prosecutions, intelligence gathering, and expansion of its own power.

ihsw 1 day ago 1 reply      
Personally I reserve trust for people, and I have standards and expectations for non-people. I'm sure General Alexander, DNI Clapper, and Michael Hayden are good people that would make excellent neighbors (if I were so inclined I would likely consider them personal friends) -- but in their official duties they are intractable foes.

I would apply the same term "intractable foe" to every other person acting in their professional responsibility too: everybody has a mortgage to pay and mouths to feed. It's perfectly natural to have a strong sense of self-preservation, and by the same token many cannot have the convenience of a maintaining a clean conscience. Yes it's a cop-out and yes people like that are what's wrong with this country, but it's reality.

Not all of us are willing to sacrifice our lives for an ideological cause.

denzil_correa 1 day ago 2 replies      
The common pattern in the responses of most organizations is "word play".

Skype -

    Skype wasn't changing its protocols to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop on users,     because the government was already able to eavesdrop on users.
Google and Facebook-

    Google and Facebook insist that the NSA has no "direct access" to their servers. Of course not; the     smart way for the NSA to get all the data is through sniffers. 

    Apple says it's never heard of PRISM. Of course not; that's the internal name of the NSA database.
I am surprised that such large organizations are using "word play" to put a veil on their activities. Are they not aware that they would be found out in this Internet age? Personally, I think this would make an interesting social science study.

coldpie 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the article:

"Accountability means that those who break the law, lie to Congress or deceive the American people are held accountable. The NSA has gone rogue, and while it's probably not possible to prosecute people for what they did under the enormous veil of secrecy it currently enjoys, we need to make it clear that this behavior will not be tolerated in the future. Accountability also means voting, which means voters need to know what our leaders are doing in our name."

We should pay attention to the last sentence especially. Look at how your elected representatives voted on, for example, the Amash amendment[1]. If your representative voted against the amendment, let them know that you are not going to vote for them in the next election, and follow through. If they voted for the amendment, send them a letter thanking them for standing up for their citizens' civil rights, and encourage them to continue.

[1] http://americablog.com/2013/07/amash-conyers-anti-nsa-amendm...

Zigurd 1 day ago 0 replies      
If your service provider isn't a target for NSA snooping, it's a target for foreign state actor and criminal hacking.

The first step to healing this situation is the radically reduce the need for trust.

molbioguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
In addition to the transparency, oversight, and accountability that Schneier proposes, there also needs to be some ability for the population to reasonably assess risk. A lot this stuff is driven by fear. And the government does use that to its advantage to push things through that might otherwise be objectionable. If the population of our country is scared to death of possible terrorist attacks (as it seems to be), then I don't see how that same population will vote/protest to restrict the government as long as it claims to be protecting them from imminent disaster.
maxk42 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why on earth would you want people to trust the government?

That's what got us into this mess.

DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 4 replies      
A lot of people in tech want to complain about innovation. Why are there so many Farmville apps and nobody seems to be solving important problems?

Well here you are, the biggest and most important problem in modern society today, the fact that our governments are recording most everything that we're doing. And they will use these recordings as they see fit in the future. You couldn't ask for a bigger or more important problem to solve.

0xdeadbeefbabe 1 day ago 1 reply      
Welcome to the press briefing today. Our first agenda item is to discuss where the drones will attack...

Schneier must not mean that when he talks about coming clean.

Anyone who has been betrayed by a friend or lover can regain trust in that person somehow, but that's not the same as regaining trust in a group of people. I don't trust large groups, and how does a whole group (or government) start down the path of regaining trust anyway? I agree with Mr. Schneier, but balancing power seems closer to the solution than what he said about the government starting down a path, coming clean and other things that individuals do better than groups.

lorenzaccio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Schneier pointed out the 'trust and verify' mechanism, i.e. the need to have accountability on Government policy and actions. That is a basic instrument to ascertain legality of government actions. However, if we talk about improving the level of 'trust' in institutions, that is a whole different level. We can't possibly stop there. Gaining and maintaining 'trust' means a lot more than simply acting in a legal way and takes more then just verification. I consider a basic need for establishing trust also the analysis of their motivation behind certain choices. Government officials are not just 'citizens', and their agencies are not private companies. While the private citizens and companies can do whatever they want which is not considered illegal, public officials and agencies are governed by a different concept: they have a specific mandate/scope and can only perform in that narrow path. They should not exploit policy wording to perform questionable actions; especially if such policies are classified and only a restricted number of people has the ability to review and assess them. If the government wants to conquer back some form of trust by the public opinion, not only it should improve transparency, but should also steer from this farce of hiding their real intentions behind legalese and wordplay contained in all the latest security related policies.
northwest 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Transparency first involves coming clean. Not a little bit at a time, not only when you have to, but complete disclosure about everything.

I have this uneasy feeling that they will fight this as long as they can. I'm not sure true transparency will ever happen, without drastic measures.

Their strategy will probably be:

1) Wait for the end of the revelations

2) Assess the level of public outrage

3) Make the cheapest concessions possible (a bit like Ms Merkel recently canceling the old "spying pact" that was never used)

e3pi 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Restoring Trust in Government and the Internet"

Interesting title, Bruce.

Is this your first `walking in on little kitten feet', getting your tippy-toe wet, capitulating inverted ClapperSpeak, or `Shark Jump' or `Breaking Bad'? Too much recent popularity, and now that you're a street celebrity doyen, you don't want to stampede the restless herd?

You entitle this as a CNN 6 O'clock News headline, sanitized and pleasantly amilorating our bellowing constant surveillance disgruntlement into a Family Hour's "Group hug everyone, let's sing Kumbaya, and `Restore Trust'."

Please, not you too Bruce. Not now.

Programming languages to watch: LiveScript, Julia, Elixir adambard.com
226 points by philippelh  1 day ago   98 comments top 24
terhechte 1 day ago 7 replies      
I really like Julia. I'm currently playing around with it whenever I find some spare time. I don't see it as a competitor to R, I think it could well be something along the lines of Python or Go.

It is LLVM based, and already really fast even though it is still a 0.2 and the JIT seems to have a lot of room for optimisation.

Whats more, it seems to offer just the right blend of language features:- Easily include C libraries via a simple ffi [1]- It is homoiconic like Lisp and thus allows for fantastic macro facilities [2]

- It has solid parallel programming support via a Coroutines implementation (Tasks) (similar to Goroutines as far as I can tell)

- It is a non-pure functional language

- In contrast to Go it has generics, so functional constructs like map, apply, drop, reduce, fold, partition & friends are already in there (or can easily be implemented) [3]

- It has optional types, so that you can assign types and the compiler will check for it and mark errors and will be able to create optimised code, but you don't have to [4]

- Running external programs is a joy [5] (Example: a=readall(`echo hello`))

The community seems to be very alive. There's a simple web framework called "Morsel" and I've recently set it up against a couple of contenders from the web framework benchmark (cpoll-cppsp, phreeze, and some others), and even though it is still a version 0.2, the performance for the json serialization benchmark would be pretty close to Scalatra (I yet have to publish these numbers, will do so soon).

I really hope that Julia will grow, as I love the choices that went into the design of the language, and it would be a shame if it would be only a replacement for R instead of something much bigger, as it is such a nice language.

[1] http://docs.julialang.org/en/latest/manual/calling-c-and-for...

[2] http://docs.julialang.org/en/latest/manual/metaprogramming/

[3] http://docs.julialang.org/en/latest/stdlib/base/#general-col...

[4] http://docs.julialang.org/en/latest/manual/types/

[5] http://docs.julialang.org/en/latest/manual/running-external-...

gordonguthrie 1 day ago 3 replies      
If you are into functional programming and new functional languages we have a good little conference called Mostly Functional going on @ Turing


We have two presentations on languages targeting the Erlang VM, Elixir and Joxa, as well as other goodness...

(Disclaimer, I am the organiser)

enobrev 1 day ago 2 replies      
This may possibly be intentional, but seems a bit confusing. The original name of Javascript was LiveScript when initially released with Netscape in the 90s.


Edit: It seems it is intentional:

"LiveScript was one of the original names for JavaScript, so it seemed fitting. It's an inside joke for those who know JavaScript well."


gnosis 1 day ago 1 reply      
To me, much more interesting than "a language targeting the Erlang VM.. [that] mostly imports Erlang's syntax" is:

Lisp Flavoured Erlang:


why-el 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just for the record, Elixir was favourably reviewed by the creator of Erlang itself.[1]


laureny 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of all the "Javascript.next" languages I hear on a regular basis, it seems to me Microsoft's Typescript is the one most likely to become successful, if only because every time I read an article about it, most of the comments are extremely positive about it and it looks like there are already some fairly large projects written in it.

In comparison, I don't see a bright future for Dart nor Livescript (although I secretly root for Dart because I have more confidence in Google to take this language somewhere interesting).

noelwelsh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice selection.

Livescript looks like it fixes some of the warts of Coffeescript while also raising the level of abstraction.

Julia is something I've already been looking at. I'm a bit torn on it -- it has vastly fewer libraries than Scipy and R so I don't know if I'm ready to "wear the hair shirt". At this point in life I'm more concerned with doing stuff with existing libraries than building the libraries myself.

Elixir I'm less excited about, because I'm not so excited about Erlang. I feel that Scala provides all of what I'd want from Erlang, along with better sequential performance.

ambirex 1 day ago 4 replies      
When looking at languages like LiveScript (or CoffeeScript) I say to myself: "Javascript has been around for 18 years, how long will this be around for?"

Not saying not to use it, but my use case has to overcome that question.

AndyKelley 1 day ago 1 reply      
Shameless plug: My 2d canvas-based game engine supports LiveScript out of the box: https://github.com/superjoe30/chem/
oinksoft 1 day ago 2 replies      

  Some other cool features of Elixir:    ...    * List comprehensions
I'd just like to point out that Erlang has list comprehensions as well.

lubomir 1 day ago 1 reply      
What this article calls currying is actually partial application.

Partial application is a technique where you take a function that requires n arguments, pass in the first one and get a function that needs n-1 arguments.

Currying is a technique where you take a function that takes n arguments and turn it into a function that can be partially applied. E.g. in Haskell it works with tuples as arguments. There is function 'curry :: ((a, b) -> c) -> (a -> b -> c)' and its counterpart 'uncurry :: (a -> b -> c) -> ((a, b) -> c)'.

kenjackson 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been playing with TypeScript a fair bit lately. Really like it: http://www.typescriptlang.org/

Haven't used LiveScript yet.

_sh 1 day ago 1 reply      
The language I'm most interested in currently is kernel: mathematically underpinned by the vau calculus, with a smart creator and steward, and a better abstract model for macros than even Racket's stellar syntax-parse. Implementations abound.


acjohnson55 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is currying better than partial function application (particularly with keyword arguments)? If your function isn't commutative, then it seems to give greater importance/flexibility to the first arguments.
pc86 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone who has just this week started serious study of Erlang, I'll have to look at Elixir as well. Ending statements with periods does take some getting used to!
bayesianhorse 1 day ago 1 reply      
Julia is in a weird place. It improves in speed over R and Python, but the head start of both of these languages is strong. Also it will be some time until julia can provide equivalent support for GUI and Web programming.
sinkasapa 1 day ago 1 reply      
I hope that some Elixir features make it in to Erlang but I guess I'm one of those rare people that likes the Erlang syntax a lot better. I don't really understand the hate for it, it seems so clear and specific. Anyway, if people want choices for an Erlang like experience, without the Prolog syntax, check out LFE:


stewbrew 22 hours ago 0 replies      
What features do these languages offer that make it worth watching them? Neither of them seems to offer anything novel.
lsdr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have yet to take a look in Julia, but I've been playing around with Elixir for a while and looks great. Elixir macros particularly got my attention:


There is a book on Elixir coming out from Pragmatic Programmers sometime and will be written by Dave Thomas, which might generate a certain buzz too. This may be a good time to dive into it a bit more.

gpsarakis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Julia and Elixir definitely seem worth checking. I especially like the interchangeability between Erlang & Elixir.
santialbo 1 day ago 0 replies      
LiveScript looks amazing. I love how much F#-y looks. I'm definitely going to start using it for personal projects.
nnq 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really hope people would promote Livescript or GorillaScript more, as better compile-to-js languages.

...Coffeescript stole the spotlight and nobody wants to hear about anything else, but it's mediocre and boring language-wise!

ilaksh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also check out ToffeeScript.
kldavenport 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about R?
Shutting Down a Dream dandreamsofcoding.com
216 points by bratfarrar  1 day ago   80 comments top 18
patio11 18 hours ago 0 replies      
100 calls to talk to 10 people to get 1 in-person demo, frequently in another state. I got in the car, put on the suit, and did the demos. I put together some signage, set up a booth at ACTFL, IALLT, and military linguist conventions. My parents saw a lot of me (they live near a lot of colleges), I stayed in a lot of cheap motels, and slowly, I built a list of customers. Not a lot, never enough. Harvard, Yale, Brown, and other top schools were among my customers, but I never made the big score the state school with tens of thousands of students.

This is, in a nutshell, why Bingo Card Creator has a price tag, a no-touch sales model, and no phone number. People write me, to this day, saying "I have a question about the product. Call me at 555 555-5555 between the hours of 3 PM and 4 PM." My response is a polite variant of "No."

I've had this discussion with a few people who make software for teachers/students and I hate to be the Business Guy, but just like "Buy for $2, sell for $1, make it up in volume" is not a sustainable plan, you can't use enterprise sales tactics (+) at consumer price points. If sales requires a phone call, we've low-bounded the product at hundreds of dollars. If it requires an in-person meeting, the lower bound is now $50k. That isn't "Could potentially be $50k if each of your 2,000 students pays $25", that's "You will be invoiced $50k."

+ Absent heavy modification. There are low-touch/high-touch hybrids which can work at the $100~$500 a month mark.

[Edit: The definitive article on this is Joel Spolsky's Camels and Rubber Duckies. http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckie... Search for [The reason I bring this up is because software is priced three ways: free, cheap, and dear.] My only quibble is that both the pricing model and emerging standard marketing/sales model for SaaS companies have made the no-man's land he talks about a very interesting place to be in the ~10 years since this was written.]

noname123 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Someone save this site. It's a pretty cool site that helps people learn languages.

Man, so much crap out there with new flash sales websites, new aggregators for media consumption, startup's that do home cleaning. But a website that tries to teach people something enriching without a business model, but just tries to do a good job gets tossed on the way side.

We need a foundation or grant program for non-profit and NGO websites. Most startups are crap-shoots anyways, VCs and developers should waste respectively their money and time on things that do good than the usual social media crap or new online marketing channels for conventional businesses.

j2d3 1 day ago 4 replies      
"When you have children, you can have exactly one hobby. Anything else is an exercise in futility, self-deception, and ineffectiveness. Cooking healthy food is a hobby. Exercising is a hobby. Maintaining a website is a hobby. Writing a blog is a hobby. Bringing work home is a hobby. You have time to do exactly one thing after your kids go to sleep, if you want to do it well."

Yes. Ugh. And I cannot pick one.

Dewie 20 hours ago 5 replies      
> When you have children, you can have exactly one hobby. Anything else is an exercise in futility, self-deception, and ineffectiveness. Cooking healthy food is a hobby. Exercising is a hobby. Maintaining a website is a hobby. Writing a blog is a hobby. Bringing work home is a hobby. You have time to do exactly one thing after your kids go to sleep, if you want to do it well. The pointless waste of time had to go.

21 century, the first world, and yet raising children is an almost insurmountable task. No wonder fertility rates in the West are so low.

jaggederest 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not let someone else take it over for free? I don't understand killing it instead of looking at other ways to hand it off.
sideproject 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry for sounding like a blatant marketing. But we just launched http://sideprojectors.com where you can find someone else to take over your project. Hopefully we can help your project from being killed.
v2rev1 21 hours ago 2 replies      
This story resonates so much! I'm in the same space as OP and even doing something similar at http://membean.com .

Where our story digresses is that we got paid traction quickly. Early on we decided we wouldn't be free and we'd convince schools(& parents) that we offered enough value to pay for it. We narrowed in on a very specific need, focussed obsessively on quality, provided our teachers fantastic customer service, kept our burn rate very low, bootstrapped(it was hard) and just buckled down and executed.

Along the way, somehow, and this was crucial, our teachers turned into evangelists - parents, principals and administrators took note. It wasn't that they just liked what we offered -- they went to bat for it. Many of our teachers spent 8+ months convincing their principals and district officials to buy us. Private schools were crucial in the beginning to get our cash flow going, public schools took longer but we waited patiently (and nervously)

The current ecosystem is not friendly to Ed startups, it's stacked in favor of the large Ed vendors who have the manpower to closely follow budget allocations, develop long term relationships across 50 states and have deep knowledge on how to work the system.

OP, congrats for sticking to this for so long. I suspect that it was incredibly draining but along the way you've helped countless teachers & students and that should count for a lot.

coffeemug 22 hours ago 1 reply      
In case the author is reading.

Kudos for finding the courage to stick with it, and the courage to quit. Those who have been in this position know what a heavy burden it can be. I hope you can find it within yourself not to turn cynical, and to use your skills and experience to make a positive change in the world. (Or, if you choose to just live your life, my hat still goes off to you)

abhiv 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the story of too many startups in the edtech space. Slow growth, grateful users, but not enough traction to grow the company through revenue or outside funding.

Very few edtech companies have managed to avoid this fate, and often come down to one or two people keeping the product going as a labor of love. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that sales are inherently high-touch and expensive, and that the users (teachers/kids) and payers (administrators) have different perspectives and incentives.

Great article. Congrats on sticking it out so long.

steveridout 20 hours ago 1 reply      
In case anyone is wondering, the site he is referring to is: http://www.wordchamp.com/lingua2/Home.do

Articles like this scare me. I've been working for 8 months full time now on a bootstrapped website for learning vocabulary via reading (http://readlang.com). I've been advised a few times that it's extremely hard to make money with this kind of site but for now I'm ploughing ahead anyway. Reading this gives me pause for thought but as long as I've getting good feedback I'm happy to keep going and see where it might lead.

Even in the worst case though, I hope that I wouldn't ever need to shut down the site, and that it could at least pay for it's hosting costs and be automated to keep running with minimal maintenance.

bengrunfeld 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"The story of one man is the store of the entire world".

I think it's easy to talk down to someone who has admitted failure, but the truth is we've all been through it, although some of us hide it better than others.

My custom web-development business tanked last year after customers refused to stop asking for changes. Insomnia & anxiety were frustratingly close friends of mine too.

Maybe the site is shutting down and maybe you could have done something different that would have succeeded more, but super-kudos for trying!

jmathai 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't imagine the weight of shutting something down which you've spent almost a decade on. While this is a tail of not getting to product market fit it's the struggle of every entrepreneur.

Knowing how long to stick it out and when to call it quits. There is no right answer. The right answer is when you reach your limits. Most people's limit is much less than 10 years.

Getting to the point where shit hits the fan (out of money with a family) has to be one of the hardest experiences outside of losing loved ones.

Congrats to the OP for their determination. At the same time I share my condolences at the time, energy and money that the experience cost.

He has this to hold on to...

> Im glad I had the courage to try, and Im grateful for the insight it gave me into what it takes to build a business.

riggins 1 day ago 1 reply      
what's the site?
dmcg 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who can't let anything go, I found this is touching and inspiring. Thanks for having the courage to give it a go, and to stop.
invisible 21 hours ago 0 replies      
If it is a profitable/good idea - surely someone out there would buy it from you for some small amount of money. Or is the monthly income not worth someone buying?

Wouldn't everyone win in that case?

jitnut 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Dan,I admired the fact you hanged on to your dream such long. It takes lot of courage and perseverance. I have been in your shoes and have felt the pain when its time to let go of the dream. But when you clear it off, it feels great. Once i met a founder of startup who gave advice 'You should be passionate about your idea but not disproportionately passionate'All the best!
jborden13 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a very long lesson learned on product market fit. Best of luck to the op if he tries again.
wehadfun 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really someone needs to do a marketplace to buy and sell these projects. I'm sure a project that has customers is worth something.


I quit my job madebyloren.com
207 points by guynamedloren  12 hours ago   151 comments top 36
thatinstant 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
When I read the post, I thought the same thing... It's almost as if I felt like I was reading my own blog (if I kept one). I have always strived to find meaningful work where I feel like I can have a positive impact on the world. About 3 years ago, I took a job at a startup where I was sold on the story that it would have a meaningful impact on the health/wellness of others. I took on new roles and responsibilities easily as I really wanted the idea of the company to succeed. However, as I learn more and more about the true intentions of the founders, I realize that it has nothing to do with impacting the health and well-being of millions, but all to do with making money.
physcab 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It sounds like you got burnt out. When you "code until the sun comes up" you neglect basic human necessities like sleep and human contact. When you think only about the company and the product vision, you lose your sense of self. Your sense of self becomes your work.

I used to work at a startup where this was the case, but I've since changed. I love my work and my co-workers and I think they all work extremely hard, but I go home every night at 6:30. I cook for myself. I take salsa lessons. I read. And I work on my own projects.

Interesting work at companies comes with ebb and flows. Sometimes you work on things you don't like, sometimes you get bored, but if you keep your mind fresh and sane you'll come up with things to work on that are meaningful and interesting.

bluedino 9 hours ago 0 replies      
From the first comment on the guys page:

>> You haven't yet discovered that any business -- any real business that is-- is going to get to the point where you actually have to do work. Automate away everything you can, but there is still going to be work.

>> If you're bored doing work, and only interested in the exciting stuff, you're never going to be happy in any job beyond 6 months or so

There's a lot of truth in this. When I did network administration I would job-hop. The first 6-12 months at a place were always full of stuff to do, and the things you did made each department fall in love with you. Rebuild a server that's been flaking out for 2 years? Fix some application the other guy could never get to work? Roll-out a new system for X? Upgrade to the latest firewalls/switches/whiskerdoo?

But then after that, it's like time stands still. There's nothing left to innovate, nothing exciting to do. Sure, there's stuff to do but who wants to actually do it? Maintenance is no fun.

Later, doing QA at a my first software job, we had a developer with that mindset. He'd flesh out an app and use whatever the latest libraries and tools were. The first demo would amaze everyone. He'd come in late and leave early. By the time we started beta testing the product it turned into a huge mess. I took on the not-so-glamorous job of fixing the whole thing. And instead of quitting (like I wished he would), he'd stick around and the the boss would give him a new project to work on. Starting the cycle all over again...

enraged_camel 10 hours ago 5 replies      
>>Eventually, those discussions stopped. Shots were called in private meetings and passed down.

This is terrible, and would also make me want to quit. Because if you start as part of the decision making process, and over time stop being invited to those meetings, that means you are no longer trusted or important enough to have any say in those decisions. That would be insulting, to say the least.

btipling 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Even for employees, startups are hard and take commitment. It's not for everyone, in fact it's probably not for most. People seem to have this idea of lavish Zynga style life styles. It's not. It's really really hard work. You still have to do as you're told. Everything is always going wrong. You still have to be responsible for your productivity. In fact you have to do a lot more. You cannot just hide.

As startups are not anywhere near a guaranteed job, downturns are really hard on morale, but you have to stick through it. Why do you have to? Because commitment. If you aren't ready for that kind of commitment, then early stage start ups are not for you probably.

As an employee you will more than likely not end up making as much as you would elsewhere in the long run. What do you get out of it then? Depends. I think it's worth it because I learn a lot and because my contributions really make a difference. Even if I don't have input in the broader direction (actually a good thing), I know my value.

guynamedloren 12 hours ago 8 replies      
If you're in a similar position and this resonates with you, do yourself a favor and just quit. Seriously. Stop waiting for things to get interesting. They won't. It's so easy to get stuck.

If you're good at what you do, you'll find a job you love immediately (if that's what you're looking for). As developers, we're fortunate to be in extremely high demand. Life is too short to be bored. Work on interesting things.

derekp7 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Serious question -- have you taken vacations? Real vacations -- not the kind that turn into "work from home" days? And multiple days/weeks in a row? And for those stuck in a similar situation, does a 2-3 week vacation help at all?

I'm finding myself in a similar situation, about not working on my own side projects enough. The only time I've got anything done personally is when I took off 2 weeks around the holidays (and since it was holiday time, I didn't feel the need to keep "checking in" to the office, as there wasn't much going on). But normally I'll only take a day or two off at a time, which doesn't seem long enough.

wheaties 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds in many ways like your management, instead of empowering you with autonomy, purpose, and control over your projects took it away. Developers should call the shots on a number of things. This doesn't always mean running to use that cool new language you've been itching to use or to pick up that piece of technology you've been dying to try, it means being able to feel like you're the one in charge of the things that you're doing. If your team's voice is no longer heard and no longer takes part in the discussion of a project until after it is decided, you're only along for the ride. It's a tricky balancing plan, to both include new ideas and have the organization solidify around common methodologies, but one that needs to be taken. Otherwise, your "boredom" becomes a moral issue and you lose the people who crave stimulation.
nathas 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I know this is _wrong_, but that's the point where I start writing side projects at work.

If I'm finishing all my rote work within regular day, at previous jobs I've started working on stupid side projects.

A physics engine in Lua, a maze generator in PyGame, and so on.

fistofjohnwayne 10 hours ago 0 replies      
To many of you: are you really letting the fear of a gap in your CV stop you from chasing your happiness? Grow up and take what you want or someone is going to take it from you.
incision 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I can relate to this post, but I pause at the contrast between this:

"I was given work to do and I did it well. The work wasn't interesting anymore, but it was easy." - "It was just so comfortable."

And this:

"I had plenty of ideas for apps and projects, but couldn't bring myself to build them. I was drained."

I understand feeling of being drained in a job with uninteresting, but stressful or time-consuming work, but not so much in a job that sounds extremely comfortable and flexible.

This combined with the "secretly hoped something horrible would happen" bit reads to me as a sort of mid-career crisis - tunnel vision seeking for some big catalyst that will make everything better, for a while at least.

I expect the author is going to be just fine in any case, but I don't see this as a problem that really necessitates an all or nothing approach. I feel like the tales of quitting, working out of a car, betting the house and whatnot is overly romanticized in general and among startup culture in particular.

invalidOrTaken 11 hours ago 2 replies      
With your downtime, I'd highly advise reading michaelochurch's Gervais/McLeod series. His articles are too long and he uses weird analogies, but he's onto something in terms of modern startup culture.
Tehnix 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I can relate all too well.

I once got hired in a startup my brother was in. I relocated to a new town (the capital), and got the chance to work in the development team with my brother and another guy I also knew very well. Things were awesome, and I couldn't be happier.

After awhile though, my motivation started declining quickly, and I found it hard to get up in the morning. By that time, I had almost stopped entirely doing projects when I got home. I just didn't feel like coding in my spare time anymore.

So, what went wrong? I loved my coworkers, it was exciting being in a startup, and I was somehow involved in the decision making, but, I just felt bored. Just, a complete lack of motivation. After awhile with this, I decided to quit, since I was going to start at university anyways. As the author of the post said, I also immediately felt relieved. I got my programming joy back.

What I've learned from this is, that I either

a) want a job were I do trivial stuff (like, working in a super market), and don't code since I prefer having a joy for coding as it is a thing I love dearly, rather than just getting payed to do it. or

b) be my own boss, be it freelance web developing, or, running my own startup. When it's my goals on the line, I get much more motivated.

I've had plenty of shitty jobs, and also had good jobs. This is what I've gathered from my (short) experience (I'm only 20 atm, but been working since I was young). This may also just be me, seeing as I get bored very quickly, and loose my motivation if I'm not feeling like it.

untog 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This is why you don't work for a startup because it's a startup. Find something that you are passionate about. Work in that area. Be it freelance, at a startup or at a larger company.

Too often people stay at startups because it's the new cool, and anyone not "doing a startup" is apparently an idiot. It's very far from the truth, and my life was a lot happier once I realised that.

badman_ting 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the mindset of "oh, I'm just going to cook and do things and write some code sometimes". I mean that in an envious way -- it sounds nice. But I just can't think that way for some reason. I didn't grow up with a lot of security so not having money come in is really stressful for me, even if I have savings.
millerm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I just quit mine too. I have 5 days left. No clue as to what's next. I'm not ready to talk about it.
bherms 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Only in this community would a bunch of strangers give a shit that another stranger got bored at his job and is trying something new...
rexreed 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow - unlike other commenters, I think you deserve plaudits for not letting your work define you and going after what you are passionate about and believe. Will it make you financially wealthy? Maybe not (altho many articles seem to show chasing passion does have financial reward), but it will provide satisfaction. And that's hard to buy.

In fact, if you're up for some fun and continuous self-motivated challenge, I might have something for you that might be right up your alley. Not a coding thing or startup thing at all. Drop me a note if it interests you.

peterwwillis 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If having a great job that you love and pays well were easy, everyone would be doing it. Jobs suck, unless you're lucky and a big risk pays off. And it's not burnout. Most tech jobs are just fucking boring, and nobody can get excited about technology after being mind-fucked all day by it. My suggestion is to get a non-tech job.
KeepTalking 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A refreshing write up.

I have seen that happen to myself. The motivation, the desire to pick yourself up and get to work drops.

The largest factor IMO is the people you work with ie Your boss, your teammates etc. This can make it or break it. Everything else comes and goes in time slices. I do not expect work to be interesting all the time but with great co-workers I at least expect an interesting hallway conversation or the spark to a new idea.

For me it was the Sr/Jr Engineer thing that killed my desire. I found that somehow my age/years of work experience came in the way by a highly regimented old world overlord. I figured it was an unhealthy environment that cared 2 hoots about what was happening in the world outside. Most of them had come from a school that thought sticking faster CPU more memory and larger disks was innovation while it was just evolution. Packed my bags and hopefully will never miss a thing :)

Good luck !

cantankerous 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like a legit reason to leave. Personally I would've used the position I was currently in as leverage in finding new employment, though. It seems to me that you're in a better negotiating position if you don't need the job because you already have one. I'm sure you have your reasons, though. Did you think that staying on the job while looking elsewhere would've impacted your performance? Was it personal stuff maybe?
amirrajan 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm in the same boat right now. I quit my job and am on a "learning" sabbatical right now myself. Some of the reasons you stated where mine too..

maybe some of the lessons I've learned so far may help: http://amirrajan.net/meta/2013/07/14/rebooting-life/

jjbohn 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Good stuff. Been in this position a few times and I feel for you. Glad you're in a better place. One piece of advice, if you can take a little time off between gigs, I would do it. Keep spending time doing things you want to do before jumping in with another company. Also, be picky about your next job. Now that you have some experience under your belt, you will have some options.
shawnreilly 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Just curious, what would you do if Airbnb offered you a job at this point?
jmount 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think you are doing yourself a great service by playing the "it's not you, it's me" game with your ex company. This is nothing wrong with leaving after a short time and even writing about it. But significant accomplishments often take more than a year and have a lot of tedious and stressful intervals. Or to put it another way: opportunities that are certain to take less than a year and certain to not involve tedium and stress are rare.
auctiontheory 8 hours ago 2 replies      
If you find yourself repeatedly bored, take the test at JOCRF.org. Best ~$700 I ever spent on my career.
rglover 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"For the next three or six months, I'm just going to work on interesting things."

Right on! Have fun :)

dools 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, kids in the valley gettin' paid too much.
verxile 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's amazing how much I find myself in your story. I am too in same shoes, working at a startup and I'm so burned out that i have neglected all of my side projects due to lack of energy or modivation. I havent quit yet, but every 6 months i go through re-evaluation of where I am and where I want to go. For now until the end of year, I keep pushing hard at work hoping for the best.
fixxer 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, I guess you can wait for the next Snowpocalypse...
sadkingbilly 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Btw, what about health insurance? I find that to be the biggest deterrent. You're one random event away from bankruptcy.
c3vin 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I want an update after 14 days.
volume 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the correct move in your case. Keep maximizing the value out of this decision.
excitom 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Must be nice not to need to work for a living. Remind me never to hire this quitter.
andyidsinga 2 hours ago 0 replies      
yup. congrats
jlarkin353 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Fair play, well done! Follow your dreams and the rest will look after itself.
Jeff Bezos on Post purchase washingtonpost.com
206 points by _pius  3 days ago   62 comments top 16
RickHull 3 days ago 2 replies      

> While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Grahams example, Ill be ready.

TIL that this is a reference to a threat from Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, not to publish the Watergate story:

> Katie Graham's gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Graham

subsystem 3 days ago 4 replies      
Slick letter, by paragraph:

1. Transfer credibility from previous owners.2. Reassure the readers.3. Reassure the employees.4. Prepare people for change.5. Turn focus to being part of something bigger so they don't rock the boat.6. End on a positive note.

larrys 3 days ago 1 reply      
A nice letter but this:

"Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports and working backwards from there. Im excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention."

Reminds a little of "Bud Fox" (played by Charlie Sheen) in the first Wall Street where he gave how he was going to turn Blue Star around.

Hard to believe what he says in that paragraph hasn't been tried before and it's like "oops the rest of the newspaper business missed that wow"!

digisth 3 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't seem at all unlikely that we'll be seeing more of this over the coming decade. With the paywall experiments showing mixed results, and not coming close to the old (and still declining) ad revenue, and no magical replacement for their lost classifieds, a new "journalism patronage" model may be what allows many of these organizations to stay afloat. Whether from altruism, ego, a feeling of public service, or a desire for a "propaganda" arm, as some other commenters have stated (which seems very unlikely to me in this case), those with the means may well be what keeps institution-backed investigative journalism alive.
nicholassmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well Bezos has already shown he's capable of making one low profit margin business a success so he's got form for the role.

It's a classy move, and a very classy letter.

bennyg 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if the intentions are true to form, but that's a very beautifully crafted letter.
chuhnk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I remember a similar speech given by a director of a certain tech company that acquired us. 10 minutes later people were being let go and shortly after 15% of the employees were told they would be getting 6 month contracts.
ferdo 3 days ago 5 replies      
One Bilderberger sells paper to another Bilderberger.

> He is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the Swiss 2011 Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos#Recognition

> He is also an invitee of the Bilderberg Group and attended conference meetings in Greece 2009,[4] and Spain 2010 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_E._Graham#Other_roles

AsymetricCom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the idea of an single, legal individual owning a media outlet instead of a blameless media conglomerate.

>"The papers duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and well work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely."

Considering the transparency that AWS provides its customers into its operations, I think we can take this statement seriously. Hopefully we'll see the same kind of service to their customers as AWS, and a shift in the industry to compete with more responsible reporting.

SpikeDad 3 days ago 2 replies      
Dear Employees:

You're all going on minimum wage. Don't like it - we are ready to deploy JournalistBot 1.0.

Oh, and we're moving to North Carolina so we can fire you anytime.

Love, Jeff.

michaelmartin 3 days ago 1 reply      
Perfectly framed letter, it's interesting that he doesn't make mention of a single negative point or competitor. All very reassuring instead, and it reads like he has just been given the reins essentially and won't be rocking the boat for a while.
AYBABTME 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's good news. I like Jeff Bezos.

> Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about [...] and working backwards from there.

Interesting how one of the core tenets of Amazon is:

> from the customer and working backwards from there.

Disclaimer: I'm interning with Amazon.

mydpy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know what he means by this? "While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Grahams example, Ill be ready."
pachydermic 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's hard to find good, well thought articles that lack the sensationalism and ideological bias many of us (myself included) are more likely to click on/read. I can't speak to whether the news has always been like that (although I'm inclined to think that it hasn't), but it's troubling. There are just a lot of forces which are working against good journalism on the internet - most of which are just a consequence of how the internet is organized.

I really hope this is a good thing. I hope it is not just another data point adding evidence to a downward trend. Please don't mess this up, Bezos.

sheikhimran01 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a smart move from him!
Keep Your Identity Small (2009) paulgraham.com
201 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   89 comments top 32
veidr 1 day ago 5 replies      
> "Politics, like religion, is a topic where there's no threshold of expertise for expressing an opinion."

I agree that this is how people tend to see it. But it isn't really true. Like JavaScript or auto mechanics or animal husbandry, there is indeed a threshold of expertise for expressing a meaningful opinion.

The value of somebody else's commentary on political issues is pretty much directly proportional to their understanding of the political system and their command of objective facts. This is true even if they subscribe to political ideals diametrically opposed to your own.

Personally speaking, this is why I have been so sad about the political discussion on HN since SOPA and Snowden. I thought it might be one of those rare forums where empirical facts and "evidence-based" thinking prevailed -- but it really hasn't. People still seem mostly trapped in their private little jihads, just like they are in the youtube comments section.

To me that's disappointing because government is something so fundamentally amenable to hacking, and the stakes are so incredibly high. The state of the art is so so sad and primitive, with so much low-hanging fruit. (The state of the art in governance, that is, at least if you accept at face value the objective of representing the interests of the electorate; the state of the art of getting elected is actually incredibly advanced, but rarely publicly talked about in earnest.)

ColinWright 1 day ago 4 replies      
This was mentioned in the thread:

"HN is Becoming 2005 Slashdot"


It makes for an interesting read concerning speculation as to why HN is becoming less and less technical over time, and more about politics.

Technical issues and articles take time to read, digest, and understand. It takes a minimum level of expertise to be able to comment usefully on technical issues, so by the time a technical submission has been read properly, it's too late for it to reach the HN front page.

An interesting dilemma.

gbog 1 day ago 2 replies      
When going slightly against common sense, people tend to randomly add Chinese quotes, usually from Lao-tzu, and it is almost always a bad idea. But here this text is vibrating strongly with one of the core idea of daoism, it is impressive.

It could be found more closely in Zhuangzi or even Lizi. These guys were living in a time when many have been killed for their ideas, and many had strong beliefs. Their solution for survival was to be an empty vase, a useless tool.

A good example is the tree: a straight trunk is the sure path to death for a pine tree, while if you are twisted in a way that makes you useless you survive much longer.

There is also this empty boat story. If a big vessel sees a small boat in her way the captain will shout at the small boat, but let the small boat be empty and the captain will just move around.

Daoism is all about being this empty boat. And it is it's limits: society also need people with strong belief and ready to die for them.

Just take slavery; it is a moral belief and duty to be against slavery. Even if by some rational reasoning slavery was proven a better solution than freedom, we would still have to stand against it, and some have died for this moral belief.

So I think I cannot fully agree here.

Edit: Or to be more precise, there is a limit to the reduction of one's identity. Maybe this limit is just that common identity we all share: humanity.

undoware 1 day ago 1 reply      
Keeping your identity 'small' is really easy when you're rich and don't need to team up to effect change.

Identities are what form motivated groups, and groups -- or parties -- are, for better or for worse, what our form of democracy runs on.

Rich dudes can keep small identities and still make shit happen; poor everyone-else has to form teams, and with a diversity of levels of education, talent, intelligence and common sense, that will invariably mean pandering and WOOOOing a bit. Why? Because not everyone is smart enough to be affected by rhetoric. Ex hypothesis everyone else has already been 'taken', i.e. has considered opinions, so by elimination it's the aggressive, passionate idiots who play kingmaker. Thus explaining US politics.

So, Paul Graham, keep your identity small, but please enlarge your perspective. People are getting irrational because they're getting riled up, and they're getting riled up because riling-up is what gets the Irrational Vote, and that's the only one that's not already either bought or reasoned into passivity.

It's game theory, in other words. Like most human suffering.

Ixiaus 1 day ago 1 reply      
First: notice how we are all expressing our opinions :)

I think what religion and politics have in common is that theybecome part of people's identity, and people can never have afruitful argument about something that's part of theiridentity. By definition they're partisan.

(NOTE: I'm not rigorously defining the word "governance" in thisresponse, I can expand on my meaning further if people areinterested)

Paul Graham is on to something in this essay. I think, however,that Carl Jung pinpointed the exact mechanism with far moreaccuracy.

Politics and Religion (for many people) in Jung's system ofthought are often vehicles of "transferance", or, the transferringof one's spiritual principle or governance principle to a receiver(a priest, or politician, or guru) because people's psyche's arelargely unconscious and rarely question or examine their ownidentity (consciousness, although Jung has a much deeperdefinition of identity). People "transfer" to the closest externalmatch for that which their unsconscious wishes to have integrated.

Paul's statement about it being a part of their identity isinaccurate because it's actually the opposite. If the person inquestion were not transferring their spiritual principle itwould actually be an integrated peice of their identity andconsciousness. There would no longer be an imperative to defendthe vehicle that carries such an important peice of their"self". As people integrate more of their transfers and projections they have less and less need to justify their existence because that existence is self-contained rather than fragmented.

Understanding that the spiritual and governance principles withinthe psyche are actually subjective and not objective experiencesis a sign of someone that has truly identified thosecomponents. I say "truly identified" not because truth is definedby an authority or natural principle but because the person hasidentified the truth of it in relationship to their ownnon-physical (mental/psychological) experience.

dasil003 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like pg's theory here, it's definitely something I try to live by (keeping my identity small), but I think he missed a key observation:

Religion (perhaps moreso historically) and especially politics are mine fields because there are so many inputs and so many outputs. That is to say almost any policy decision will affect a lot of people in a lot of different ways. He touches on this by discussing vague and definite questions, but he doesn't really explore that avenue.

For instance, consider the evaluation of how much a government program is going to cost. It doesn't matter how precisely you can answer that question because it just leads directly to other questions such as where the money will come from and what the results of the program will be. Even if the follow up questions are precise as well, they bloom out into innumerable consequences far and wide. It's not just that the bar of having an opinion is low, it's because these decisions actually affect all these people, and all in different ways. The fact that they may not have the expertise or knowledge to know the true affects and are easily manipulated by identity-appealing propaganda just exacerbates the problem, but it's not the root cause.

The more fundamental problem is that politics is a direct view into the massively interdependent organic ecosystem of large-scale human society. Even if you are the foremost expert on the implications of some political issue and your facts are indisputable, people will still (with good reason) disagree on the merits of those indisputable implications.

sspiff 1 day ago 1 reply      
> There may be some things it's a net win to include in your identity. For example, being a scientist.

I know a lot of people who would consider this wrong, and I've noticed that sometimes, this is correct. I look at things from a scientific point of view, and because of this, I have a hard time understanding and empathizing with people with a religious background in discussion on religion.

I think it would be wrong of us to consider science as a concept above the scrutiny we eagerly apply to religion and politics in this article. Who says us scientists can't be wrong on an important level about certain things?

timinman 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think his 'theory' that discussions have more potential to be divisive when they involve our identity is dead on. His advice to 'keep your identity small', follows on from that premise well. Many people let their identity get polluted by what they do for a living to such an extent that they find it very difficult to cope when that is taken from them.

I have always been opinionated - I'm analytical and I enjoy forming opinions. Since moving to Europe, I have learned not to let political opinions become so ingrained that they become part of my identity. I have seen so many things done differently and still done well.

My question is this: Which things are worth being part of my identity? Values I esteem? Relationships I hold dear? Family roles? I think it is fair to say that belief (or disbelief) in God is a foundational human issue. If you are a believer, I think that belief demands something - it necessarily becomes part of your identity. I am a believer, so I don't know if same is true for non-believers.

alexvr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Your opinion on politics reveals how you think, which is why people tend to be defensive of their opinions: They don't know any better -- anything that directly challenges how they perceive the world is too threatening to be the subject of a rational conversation. If you talk to someone on a similar wavelength who has similar experiences, you can probably have a meaningful conversation. In this case, politics is like music: Not everyone has the same taste or understands/appreciates the same things, so it's hard to explain the virtues of Radiohead to someone who only gets a buzz from the best classical or, forgive my elitism, someone who can't see past Lil Wayne. It's hard for polar opposites to hold meaningful conversations for the same reason it's hard for a super smart person to hold a stimulating conversation with an idiot, or for an old person to do the same with a young person (they're effectively from different worlds). People on significantly different areas of the spectrum perceive the world very differently and have dramatically different experiences to draw on.
lazyjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Should this "identity" definition also include possible (conscious) vested interests in the subjects of these discussions? E.g. when people defend various corporations against their better knowledge, simply because they own a few shares or their business depends on them. I suspect this to be the case frequently when, for example, Google's wrongdoings lead to heated discussions here on HN and elsewhere.
grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
In terms of being rational, identity is just a kind of bias (among many) that needs to be removed.

I think a slightly more accurate generalization of PG's point is that many beliefs and belief systems permit learning (changing the belief) in the face of new evidence or perspective.

The things we most often consider "identity" oriented beliefs are the things that people are unable or unwilling to question (or to consider that they might be wrong about).

So a good way to find you own rationality limiting beliefs is to ask "What am I certain about?".

Politics attempts to solve the coordination problems around use of force, coercion, bribery, money, and infrastructure.

Identity is simply a useful way to rally voters for a political cause, which is why it's used by political and religious charlatans alike.

reedlaw 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminded me of point #2 of a comment I just read [1] on mistakes journalists make:

> "Mention every possible debate on the subject, without attempting to either offer a conclusion or a new set of arguments for any of them."

Keeping your identity small may prevent you from participating in certain arguments but it doesn't make for a good story. I'd rather hear a spirited debate between proponents of radically different ideas than bland statements that scrupulously avoid engaging anyone's identy.

The more I think about it the more ridiculous it sounds to exclude things from one's identity. An exclusive identity is not any smaller than an inclusive one--it's just identified by its exclusions. Identity is who you are and thus can be no larger or smaller than the whole of you.

I think the real argument here is one for skepticism as can been seen in the second footnote:

> "A scientist isn't committed to believing in natural selection in the same way a bibilical literalist is committed to rejecting it."

Really?? First, I don't think biblical literalism requires a rejection of natural selection (unless that's shorthand for a naturalistic origin of life). Secondly, this statement itself seems like a religious argument in the sense that it implies scientists are somehow more detached and objective than biblical literalists.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6171593

arihelgason 1 day ago 0 replies      
This also applies to professional growth. People often have a hard time receiving negative feedback because they experience it as an attack on their identity/ego rather than as an opportunity to learn.

The ability to take feedback constructively is probably one of the most important traits to hire for.

wissler 23 hours ago 0 replies      
He's right that people think they can have an opinion on politics or religion without actually knowing anything, but this is something they are taught to believe in school and church. It's a result of widespread poor upbringing and education, it's not an issue of "keeping your identity small".
fnl 1 day ago 2 replies      
Seems Paul "rediscovered" what Buddhism teaches us: You need to loose your ego to achieve Nirvana. With the difference that the Buddhists also tell you a method for going about this... :)
iancw 1 day ago 1 reply      
> A scientist isn't committed to believing in natural selection in the same way a bibilical literalist is committed to rejecting it. All he's committed to is following the evidence wherever it leads.

At the risk of responding out of identity, but also with the hope of contributing constructively despite having some identity at stake:

A literal interpretation of the bible doesn't preclude accepting natural selection as an ongoing, observable process. It may reject that process as the explanation of our species' origins. Those two are often conflated, contributing to the identity-driven, emotion-filled discussion that PG describes.

Regarding the main premise of the article, I think it's possible to have rational, logical discussions about topics in which identity is involved. They are more challenging than, say, discussing Javascript. But I don't think those discussions work well on the internet. They require trust (that both parties will be heard in good faith) careful check of emotions, motivations, and reasoning. Those are even more challenging without high-bandwidth communication aids like facial expressions and tone of voice.

catwork 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good essay - as all PG's are.

One critique - a scientist's identity can be in science itself (or its latest set of widely-held beliefs), which itself can also result in a essentially political/religious response wrapped up in scientific garb. I am thinking of periods of time leading up to a paradigm shift where there can be significant resistance to "where the facts lead" by those invested in defending the status quo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Rev...).

Certainly, this not the same situation as a purely political or religious issue. It is worth noting though, since everyone works off of a basic set of assumptions that are not provable. Each person has a philosophy - a practical "religion" or "political party" regardless of whether they are officially associated with any public entity or institution.

mcgwiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my opinion, he describes a basic mechanism of survival for cultures. Cultures that inspire such defensive "inability to think clearly" about the subject have increased survivability (social propagability).

But in order to survive, cultures must also change over time. I see the mechanism for this change as the individual's improvement of the culture for oneself, and then attempting to propagate it to insiders and outsiders. Triggers of this modification include conflicting experience, either direct or indirect via dialogue/argumentation with others.

nandemo 1 day ago 0 replies      
A related idea is expressed by philosopher and mystic Paul Brunton's motto:

    Study everything, join nothing.
Discussed here by Bill Vallicella:


DalekBaldwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Where politics really differs from JavaScript is that we are taught from a young age that it is important to hold strong opinions about it even if we know nothing about it. Flaunting one's ignorance is celebrated as civic engagement. Hell, when politics comes up at holiday dinners, my family gets more worked up if I recuse myself from discussion than if I say something that violates their most cherished beliefs.
tsax 1 day ago 0 replies      
Evolutionary history probably plays a role here. Science has given evidence that our faculties of reason are probably meant to persuade and not to reason about the world in an abstract manner. We probably evolved in hunter-gatherer tribes of 150-200 people where voice counted for a lot. You can influence by arguing within a group that small. And losing an argument could mean expulsion from the group leading to a low-chance of survival.

The problem is that this simply doesn't scale. Arguing political questions feels as real to us as it did to our hunter-gatherer ancestors whose lives literally depended on it. But this is just not the case in polities of a few hundred million. Hence it's likely beneficial to reduce political bickering for those not involved with politics.

D9u 1 day ago 0 replies      
Among my drinking buddies we have one inviolable and long standing rule:

No discussions of religion or politics

rokhayakebe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Matters of Fact, vs. Matters of Opinions. I cannot recall which of Socrates' discourses goes into this in detail (I think Symposium), but it was a nice read. It makes you really stop and evaluate whether there is a point in having an argument or not, because when things are matter of opinions you may as well just accept and respect what the other party says.
jerryhuang100 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some observation on HN these days: Many threads about PERL vs Python ... etc, .Net, Java, or whatever programming languages some people really hates are just moving towards polarizations as religion/politics discussions.
virtu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really loved the article, but would go furthermore and say like Mooji find out what you really are, ask the question who is I behind a thought based identity. More on yt:


hugofirth 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't feel the need to add anything to a discussion on an old article, except to say that it was very elegantly and succinctly written.
NanoWar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't seen any forum topic about politics escalate as quickly as one with religious discussions...
stasmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can you achieve greatness without passion? Can you feel passionate about a topic without it creeping into your identity?

I don't claim to know the answers.

bsbechtel 1 day ago 0 replies      
So this raises the question: "How do you coax someone into questioning their own identity, or perhaps questioning whether they should consider themselves an x?"
PavlovsCat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmmmm. I agree that you shouldn't identify with notions and ideas and labels, because that's just dumb and putting the cart before the horse. But generally, and ignoring the sensibilities of HN? No to most of that.

I started to care about politics since I saw corpses being shoved into a mass grave with a caterpillar while switching TV channels when I was a kid, and it hasn't let up since. Why should it? Politics by definition affects everyone, in ways that actually matter. Just take the web; it matters because it allows people to communicate, the people make it matter. Even more so with politics, which doesn't just affect everybody, everybody owns an equal share of it. Most people let theirs rot, but they still own it, and if the circus around it has been made that complex and hidden among many bloated layers of euphemisms and misdirection, to encourage apathy and and facilitate deception, then those layers need to be removed, instead of removing the "uneducated" from the debate. If a simple but adult mind can't understand it, something is fishy. Politics really isn't that complex as some people would love to make it out to be, or at the very least, sophistry is not complexity, and this makes for a huge chunk of political debate and opinions. As Chomsky said in some talk or other.. when he talks with intellectuals they have a hard time understanding even the most basic stuff, while some peasants in South America for example get it right away. I guess their being on the receiving end of it, instead of trying to rationalize the bloodshed their own gloved hand is doling out (or the hand of the uncle in whose lap they're sitting), helps.

Also, it reminds me of this quote:

The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who dont want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who wont take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who dont like to make wavesor enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. Its the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, youll keep it under control. If you dont make any noise, the bogeyman wont find you. But its all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.

-- Sophie Scholl

Safe from what, indeed? From being incorrect? From being inefficient? From raised blood pressure? Why not try to be safe from standing for nothing? I don't mean to be polemic but I truly don't get it. What is a "useful conversation"? Useful for what, exactly? Talking about Javascript is terribly useless when it comes to being a decent person. Talking about being a decent person is terribly useless for debugging Javascript. If it has no potential to make anyone sad, angry or happy, it's likely a gimmick in the bigger scheme of things. Which is fine for HN I guess, but not for general advice on what kind of person one should be. Thanks, but no thanks.

khitchdee 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good analysis!
TausAmmer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Both discussions are fine way to learn. You always learn, even from stack full of "meaningless" comments. Either you accept it or nor, makes no difference, you have learned something.

Learned to not read comments or proceed reading and absorbing other people expressions that you adopt/use willingly/unknowingly.

To decide importance, scale, seriousness or whatnot of discussion, it is up to individual and for his needs.

Some are more defensive of set value and want to preserve idea. Some give up ideas to change perspective and understanding regularly. Diversity makes it all interesting.

My experience at a YC startup techiedudeblog.tumblr.com
200 points by techiedudeblog  2 days ago   138 comments top 46
coffeemug 2 days ago 10 replies      
I don't know the person or the YC company in question, and I realize I'm nitpicking, but these three things stuck out at me.

> I wanted to have a significant impact so I was constantly asking the founders to work on the long-term vision and culture for the company.

Anybody could waste months and months working on the long-term vision and culture. In a startup, that's next to useless as everyone should contribute to the long term vision. It's the day-to-day that's important.

> I also told them that VCs invested in talent and not the idea.

VCs invest in traction. "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

> The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice.

That's what an early startup is -- figuring out product/market fit, largely based on ad-hoc decision making like this. Picking a vision that just works is incredibly rare.

I know dozens of YC founders and in my experience they're really good at what they do, but you can't expect to stumble on Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, or Evan Williams by joining a random YC company. There are probably less then a dozen people of this quality in the entire world, and YC invests in ~60 companies per batch for god's sakes!

EDIT. And also:

> The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do.

Engineers should be told what to do (but hopefully not how to do it). Being good at engineering doesn't in any way qualify you for being good at managing product.


> Then another round of raising Series A started. The nos" started piling up. Our last hope said no" 2 weeks back.

Of course the nos started piling up. Having a few rejections is nothing, we went through ~60 rejections before raising the first round for our company.

Excellence in the absence of pressure wins you no accolades. How you act when the house is burning down is what ultimately defines who you are. It's cool if the guy wanted to leave because this kind of pressure isn't for everyone (and that's fine), but blaming two measly rejections on others is off-putting. It's easy to blame failure on others, much harder to take responsibility for it yourself and help turn a dire situation into a victory.

badclient 2 days ago 3 replies      
Go for post Series-A. VCs have already done the vetting for you.

Seems like you thought the same about YC: that they'd do the vetting for you. And yet you're set on making the same mistake again by relying on someone else to do the vetting.

Almost every start-up is a huge gamble. Naturally, the later stage you join it, the lower the general risk. In that case, why stop at Series A? If risk is all you care about(and it sure sounds like it from your post), why not just join profitable companies that are no longer startups? Much lower risk, promise.

smalter 2 days ago 5 replies      
It sounds like the only thing that YC has to do with this post is that it framed the author's initial perceptions of the company, perhaps in a way that blinded him/her to the truth: every pre-product market fit startup is a mess on the inside.

It's a bit counterintuitive, but that's why I actually do the opposite from most founders who are trying to hire: I tell potential hires everything that's horrible about our company--all the reasons why we suck, why we'll fail, etc.

It turns out that the candidate that's a good fit really values having that conversation and relishes the opportunity to think through what the problems are and how they can help. It's also extremely differentiating from how most companies hire. I say, if you suck, embrace it.

josh2600 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a risk evaluation failure.

When you join a startup, when you think of startup statistics, you should think that the company you're joining has a 90% chance of failing and returning less than $0 (ergo wasting your time in addition to a lack of financial return). With this in mind, joining a startup is not for the faint of heart, and it's also not for those who exemplify hubris.

YCombinator is signal. Investing is signal. Intelligent cofounders are signal. They are not surefire guarantees of a great return on investment. Nothing really ever guarantees a return on investment.

It seems like basic vetting of a startup just didn't happen. Everyone has a linkedin, is it too much to ask that you do some googling to figure out the accomplishments of the people you're about to invest 10 years with? Yes, when you join a startup you should imagine what doing 10 years with that company could be like. If you can't see yourself there in 2 years, don't even bother (90th percentile advice).

Look. I'm all about Venture Capitalism, but you have to ask yourself. If there's no possible way that this business could do what they're trying to do without VC money and they're still on a seed stage, what is your risk? I would argue that your risk is almost incalculable (which is also true of your reward). When you trade security for potential, you can gain or lose liability in exchange for risk. Joining a YC startup is only marginally less likely to fail than joining a regular startup.

In short, every startup is a huge gamble and you have to play the game with that in mind. Your experience at a YC startup is no different than countless friends I've had over the years. Go and talk to anyone who has lived in the Valley for more than 10 years, we all know people exactly like you.

What happens from here on in matters greatly. Will you let the experience cannibalize your ambition or reinforce your drive? You don't need to join a startup to change the world, and you shouldn't let a failure like this destroy your dreams. If anything you've learned a ton of what not to do next time.

In short, be brave, be foolish and do. I applaud the writeup and hope that it becomes fuel for future endeavor.

300bps 2 days ago 2 replies      
dvt 2 days ago 4 replies      
This post seems like a half-truth in itself (with a tinge of sour grapes). Furthermore, there seems to be a lot of self-contradiction. E.g.:

"The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice."


"I wanted to have a significant impact so I was constantly asking the founders to work on the long-term vision and culture for the company. I also told them that VCs invested in talent and not the idea."

Being pulled in many directions at once is characteristic of new companies. Furthermore, you yourself were pulling it in one direction (it would appear). So, then, were you also guilty of this ad-hoc influence? I'm not sure what to take from this apart from "my pulling was good, their pulling was bad."


"The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do."

I think that this is pretty status-quo (you're an engineer, not an idea guy/founder after all). Not only that, but someone needs to hold the reigns. I couldn't imagine being a founder and not telling engineers what to do. Like the other HN'er, I need some clarification here. Were you being micromanaged? (And even that may not be a bad thing..)

Let me make a small aside about culture while I'm at it. I don't really buy into this "company culture" bullshit. It seems (to me at least) that it's mostly self-gratifying mental masturbation. Instead of being so obsessed with "culture" -- it's mentioned two or three times in the essay -- why not bring up more substantial issues up? After all, maybe it just wasn't a good fit (but that has nothing to do with culture). That would be like a girlfriend breaking up with me because of my "person culture." It's a meaningless platitude that's thrown around far too much in startup circles.

kanja 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lying about the numbers is never ok - when you ask people to take on risk for you it's inexcusable to be anything but transparent about what exactly they're taking on. The rest of the issues don't really surprise me, but dishonesty is a doozy.
govindkabra31 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the original text of the article, since it has been taken down now.

My experience at a YC startup

This story needs to be told. I am an engineer turned business guy who recently left a cozy job at a top-tier tech company and joined a YC start-up. Needless to say I took a huge pay cut and a big risk. I talked extensively to one of the co-founders and he/she did an amazing job of selling me the opportunity. I got the sense that VCs were lining up for Series A (it was still early stage) and the company had amazing growth curve (numbers like growing 100% Mom etc.). Once i joined the startup, to my horror, I discovered a few things:

    The company tried to raise Series A earlier and failed.     The numbers that were shared were not entirely true. It was kind of half-truth and part of the marketing pitch to VCs.    The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice.    The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do.     The quality of the people were much lower vs my previous company.
One of the first things I did was steer the company in the right direction from a strategy perspective. I constantly butted head with one of the founders but my strategies were clearly impacting the revenue numbers. For example one of the tactics doubled the weekly revenue. I wanted to have a significant impact so I was constantly asking the founders to work on the long-term vision and culture for the company. I also told them that VCs invested in talent and not the idea.

Then another round of raising Series A started. The nos" started piling up. Our last hope said no" 2 weeks back. And then I was asked to leave last week (though I was already planning to leave). I think they got what they needed out of me and now the first person to go would be the business guy (along with some other engineers and business folks). Actually the team is paying for the incompetence of the founding team.

I would add the disclaimer that my experience may not be reflective of every single YC startup. But I dont want you to make the same mistake so this is my piece of advice before you join an early-stage startup:

    YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.    Talk to as many team members as possible before joining. Try to gauge culture by visiting the office quite often.     Preferably join a startup where you know the people.    If you dont know the people, work part-time for some time before making a decision.    Ignore marketing pitches by founders.    Go for post Series-A. VCs have already done the vetting for you.
I just heard they are planning to raise more money via AngelList or FundersClub (not listed yet). If you are an individual investor, do your due diligence before investing via AngelList or FundersClub - dont invest blindly.

jmtame 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a pretty common early stage startup to me--they look like sure shots from the outside, but internally everything seems like it's imploding. I remember joining my first startup back in 2007, and even after it received funding by some of the best names in SV, it felt exactly like what you described.

If you're looking to join a startup and expect the same experience as a large company, I don't know if you'll find it. It doesn't excuse bad behavior. The CEO at that startup I mentioned was pretty bad (at the time; I'm sure he's better now because he has moved on to bigger and better things) and got fired by the investors a few months after I left.

Early stage startups are probably not going to feel much like a normal job, based on what my friends tell me it's like (Google: you can work 30 minutes during the day and you're basically done).

dylangs1030 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm assuming the author posted this. Thanks for doing so! I love to see inside perspectives on startups, especially Y-Combinator startups.

The tech industry has this bad habit of hero-worship and name dropping (well, I guess it's probably every industry). I think it's good to see that the entire process is not as glamorous as it seems, and that just being associated with a huge pool of talent/success/prestige does not guarantee your own success or future prestige.

Kudos on the experience and the lesson learned, good luck in finding a job :)

mkuhn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Article can still be found here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%...


My experience at a YC startup


This story needs to be told. I am an engineer turned business guy who recently left a cozy job at a top-tier tech company and joined a YC start-up. Needless to say I took a huge pay cut and a big risk. I talked extensively to one of the co-founders and he/she did an amazing job of selling me the opportunity. I got the sense that VCs were lining up for Series A (it was still early stage) and the company had amazing growth curve (numbers like growing 100% Mom etc.). Once i joined the startup, to my horror, I discovered a few things:

- The company tried to raise Series A earlier and failed.

- The numbers that were shared were not entirely true. It was kind of half-truth and part of the marketing pitch to VCs.

- The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice.

- The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do.

- The quality of the people were much lower vs my previous company.

One of the first things I did was steer the company in the right direction from a strategy perspective. I constantly butted head with one of the founders but my strategies were clearly impacting the revenue numbers. For example one of the tactics doubled the weekly revenue. I wanted to have a significant impact so I was constantly asking the founders to work on the long-term vision and culture for the company. I also told them that VCs invested in talent and not the idea.

Then another round of raising Series A started. The nos" started piling up. Our last hope said no" 2 weeks back. And then I was asked to leave last week (though I was already planning to leave). I think they got what they needed out of me and now the first person to go would be the business guy (along with some other engineers and business folks). Actually the team is paying for the incompetence of the founding team.

I would add the disclaimer that my experience may not be reflective of every single YC startup. But I dont want you to make the same mistake so this is my piece of advice before you join an early-stage startup:

- YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.

- Talk to as many team members as possible before joining.

- Try to gauge culture by visiting the office quite often.

- Preferably join a startup where you know the people.

- If you dont know the people, work part-time for some time before making a decision.

- Ignore marketing pitches by founders.

- Go for post Series-A. VCs have already done the vetting for you.

I just heard they are planning to raise more money via AngelList or FundersClub (not listed yet). If you are an individual investor, do your due diligence before investing via AngelList or FundersClub - dont invest blindly.

rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a YC founder, I'm really sorry you had such a bad experience with other YC startups.

I don't think your experience is generally true of YC companies, though. They vary in so many ways, including those unrelated to success.

The biggest problem seems to be communication. None of the things you discovered were inherently enough to make them toxic -- but not learning those things sooner was bad. (I suspect even the best company would have a hard time raising an A in certain markets).

The "VCs doing vetting for you" with a Series A has a big cost -- if you're otherwise the same and going into the same job, you get a lot less equity, and on much less favorable terms, after an A. Assuming you're in a position to take the risk, being one of the first employees is ideal, or being an employee in a later stage company which is already knocking it out of the park (if I had to get a job today, I'd be looking at employee 1-5, or going to a place like Tesla or Apple or CloudFlare or whatever, where success is already apparent, and the team is obviously already awesome.) And, manifestly, VCs fund shitty companies at Series A (and later!), too, so it's not even great vetting.

Once you "satisfice" on hard location, cash, and stability requirements (which, for many people, especially those who want to startups themselves, can be pretty easily met), probably picking for "how awesome are the founders and how much do they like me" is probably the next thing to optimize for. "How much responsibility and room to grow/learn will I personally have", too. Then just make sure "if the company is super successful, I will be super successful too", and then focus on maximizing the odds of the company being super successful.

jonnathanson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why delete the article? More to the point, why post the article here and then delete it? If you're going to blog, and especially if you're going to share your article about YC on a place like HN, then you should be prepared for whatever feedback you receive.

I'm well aware someone has posted a mirror to the original article, and I've read it. I'm just sort of baffled by the deletion in the first place. The article made it to the front page, so clearly a decent number of people liked it. A lot of others didn't, hence, the flurry of critical comments. Either way, the article generated a big response. Was that not the intent?

WestCoastJustin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would be amazed if this was not the norm!

A cozy job at a top-tier tech company != start-up life (YC or otherwise). Larger companies have a culture, well define pathways for information to flow, you get acclimatized to this, etc. Startups typically have none of these, it is like a culture shock, imaging moving to a different country.

ps. no comment on the numbers bit.

david_shaw 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Most startups fail. If that's unacceptable to you, stick with Big Co.

I agree with your point, but would only like to point out that there is a middle ground between "early stage startup" and "huge corporation." I work for a small company that's been around about thirteen years, is profitable, but only has about twenty employees.

I wouldn't want to work for a huge corporation, but there are certainly alternatives to tiny startups and megacorps.

fistofjohnwayne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that so many people are saying, "startups are risky, end of story." What pops out for me is this: "The numbers that were shared were not entirely true. It was kind of half-truth and part of the marketing pitch to VCs."

Just because a company hasn't found product-market fit doesn't mean it's okay to lie when recruiting.

sriramk 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have questions about the OP's motivation for writing this but more on that later.

The real fault lies with both parties for not setting expectations. A lot of the requests from the founders seem very reasonable; I fully expect them to be telling their friends about this bad hire who never executed on the details for them. Neither of you seem to have done the hard work up front of conveying what you needed and expected from the other side. I can see the other side of the data points you show - weekly revenue need not be the right thing for the company, startups need detail often more often than execution and guess what, VCs do care about the actual idea. It also sounds like you were surprised by the risk profile of an early stage startup (and your notion of VC vetting might be in for a harsh reality check).

What I don't understand is this post itself - you seem to blame YC for what seems to be a typical startup experience (not raising funding is the median outcome and even folks like AirBnb struggled with this for a long, long time). I'm wondering whether the way you've constructed this post with an anonymous post on a blog, the callouts to their funding situation, etc is meant to hurt the company's future prospects by making them identifiable (and maybe take a swipe at YC too). I hope that's not the case here.

minimaxir 2 days ago 2 replies      
The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do.

I'm not sure I understand this point. Were the founders micromanaging?

badclient 2 days ago 2 replies      
You never told us the other side of the story. Sure, the other side could, but what do you think the other side would say about you? And why should we believe you over them beyond taking your word?
joelrunyon 2 days ago 0 replies      
> YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.

It sounds like he made the poor assumption that YC = Success = Millions for everyone involved.

newnewnew 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like it or not, this is an extremely common startup story. You have heard that 90% of startups fail, right? Each failed startup goes through some kind of phase like this.

Borderline dishonesty is also common. Every startup is trying to pitch itself in the best light possible, and they all got a hockey stick graph sitting around somewhere no matter how poorly they're doing.

argumentum 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reads like a hit piece on "YC Startups". I'm not saying it was intended to be so, but it sounds like one. Why?

  1. Where is the evidence that any of this is true?  2. You could have named the company in question and given them a chance to respond..   3. Instead your claim aims to hurt the reputation of hundreds of YC startups.
Of course YC startups could fail, whether in raising money or making something people who want. ANY startup could fail. A YC startup may be less likely to fail, but YC doesn't ensure success .. for that matter neither does being a post series-a (webvan, color labs etc) or even being a public company (zynga for example).

dustingetz 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The quality of the people were much lower vs my previous company"

#1 reason to not join an early stage startup. either found one yourself, or go learn from a place that pays top dollar for actual experts so you can learn how to be one.

AYBABTME 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't seem to access the page, a cached version:


siong1987 2 days ago 1 reply      
Most(probably all) early startups are in chaos.

Growth solves all problems. If the startup mentioned in the post had a healthy/steady growth, no one would have complained and the OP would still have stayed with the startup.

If you are looking to join a startup, join one that with explosive growth. "Get on a rocket ship.", Eric Schmidt to Sheryl Sandberg[1], early Google.

1: http://www.businessinsider.com/sheryl-sandbergs-full-hbs-spe...

mattwritescode 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those of you trying the link and unable to find it I have copied the content from the post:

My experience at a YC startup

This story needs to be told. I am an engineer turned business guy who recently left a cozy job at a top-tier tech company and joined a YC start-up. Needless to say I took a huge pay cut and a big risk. I talked extensively to one of the co-founders and he/she did an amazing job of selling me the opportunity. I got the sense that VCs were lining up for Series A (it was still early stage) and the company had amazing growth curve (numbers like growing 100% Mom etc.). Once i joined the startup, to my horror, I discovered a few things:

* The company tried to raise Series A earlier and failed.

* The numbers that were shared were not entirely true. It was kind of half-truth and part of the marketing pitch to VCs.

* The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice.

* The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do.

* The quality of the people were much lower vs my previous company.

One of the first things I did was steer the company in the right direction from a strategy perspective. I constantly butted head with one of the founders but my strategies were clearly impacting the revenue numbers. For example one of the tactics doubled the weekly revenue. I wanted to have a significant impact so I was constantly asking the founders to work on the long-term vision and culture for the company. I also told them that VCs invested in talent and not the idea.

Then another round of raising Series A started. The nos" started piling up. Our last hope said no" 2 weeks back. And then I was asked to leave last week (though I was already planning to leave). I think they got what they needed out of me and now the first person to go would be the business guy (along with some other engineers and business folks). Actually the team is paying for the incompetence of the founding team.

I would add the disclaimer that my experience may not be reflective of every single YC startup. But I dont want you to make the same mistake so this is my piece of advice before you join an early-stage startup:

* YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.

* Talk to as many team members as possible before joining. Try to gauge culture by visiting the office quite often.

* Preferably join a startup where you know the people.

* If you dont know the people, work part-time for some time before making a decision.

* Ignore marketing pitches by founders.

* Go for post Series-A. VCs have already done the vetting for you.

I just heard they are planning to raise more money via AngelList or FundersClub (not listed yet). If you are an individual investor, do your due diligence before investing via AngelList or FundersClub - dont invest blindly.

npalli 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you paraphrase most arguments here, we would end up with a conclusion that a YC-startup is no different from a random startup. There is huge struggle getting product/market fit, things are constantly in motion, rejection by VC's etc. Somehow that doesn't seem right. I'm sure the YC founders would negotiate pretty good terms for themselves (compared to a random startup) just because they are a YC startup. For people who feel the OP is naive etc., what exactly should he have expected (net delta) because it is a YC startup?
chasing 2 days ago 0 replies      
Due diligence. You'd do it if you were investing money. You should do it if your going to invest your time. Especially if you're taking a big pay cut. In which case you're investing both your time and your money.

At least four of the five problems listed near the beginning of the article could've been discovered without leaving the cushy job.

ig1 2 days ago 0 replies      
He misses a key point: References

You should speak to former coworkers, friends, customers and investors before joining an early stage startup. Don't ask the company for references, but rather use your own network to find these people via mutual contacts and talk to them about the founders and the company.

dm8 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The leadership was struggling with the vision of the company. It was pulled in many directions - sometimes ad-hoc based on customer feedback or angel advice.

I wouldn't call it vision problem. Vision is generally very high level. When it comes to actual implementation you need to dig 100 ft deeper into the problem.

Moreover, isn't it the case with most of the early stage startups that are yet to hit product market fit? I run my own startup and I get constant feedback form all the stakeholders. Of course, my team makes decisions based on the feedback and insights. But we are constantly evolving as a company and decision making is very quick.

In fact, from my interactions and readings even successful companies were like that. For example Google -

"Key decisions made in the cafeteria line while a founder is loading his plate with baked organic tofu"[1]

[1] Early Google Employee experience: http://xooglers.blogspot.com/2011/04/so-different-yet-so-ali...

auctiontheory 2 days ago 0 replies      
While your advice at the end is good, what precedes it comes across as "I am perfect and always right, and these guys were a bunch of dishonest incompetents."

I have a hard time believing that view. At the very least, you did not do a good job of evaluating your future employer, and once in there, you did not do a good job of influencing them to follow your lead (without pissing them off).

Plough_Jogger 2 days ago 0 replies      
New Link: http://www.mydogear.com/articles/5201723ff1a81d1b38c0b47f

Edit: Just read the post, here is a tl;dr:

I thought joining a YC backed start-up would lead to easy and guaranteed riches. Boy was I wrong.

mariusz331 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are "doomed" companies in every batch, which is okay. Startup investing is a numbers game.

This is a great time for the company the OP is talking about to reflect on possible mistakes they've made. I take what the OP says with grain of salt, but no startup is perfect. This is the time to think about the culture they created and how they can improve it to stay alive.

Most of the time, it just takes an honest conversation with the team. Lock yourselves in a room and have an open talk about what's going on. Let no feeling go unspoken. Don't make any excuses- just focus on how you guys can be better in the future and make every effort to do that.

proexploit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Off topic, but is there a name for that type of pattern in the header? It looks familiar.
mh- 2 days ago 0 replies      
getting a 404 on this story now.

here's a readability-google-cache version I preserved: https://www.readability.com/articles/zdsdagi click readability)

edit: oops, looks like someone beat me to this by a couple hours.

himal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not found! The page have been deleted.
jonnycombust 1 day ago 0 replies      
Startups are hard and falling apart on the inside. This isn't news.

Also, being post Series-A will in NO WAY eliminate many of the issues he talks about (struggling vision, etc).

Seems like this guy should stick to the corporate world..

michaelochurch 1 day ago 0 replies      
The VC-funded startup scene is full of frauds: fake startups, fake technology (manual work being sold as high-power machine learning), and promises made with no intention of keeping them. It's a shark's world, not for the faint of heart, and not a good place if you're a bad judge of character (unless you're prepared to learn, painfully, in that arena).

I've worked in finance and in the startup world. Ethics in the startup world are a lot worse. Finance has more reach (see 2008) but the people who will completely fuck someone over just to make a nickel are just not as common. Even if you get politically unlucky in finance or otherwise end up being laid off, you'll still get a severance and a decent reference. They'll send you off in a decent way. On the other hand, I've seen startup CEOs ruin peoples' reputations just to do it.

OP's complaints have nothing to do with the company being YC, and certainly nothing to do with it being pre-A. The most unethical people I met in the startup scene were the management team of a well-established post-D startup in New York. (The CEO is from an extremely wealthy family and pulls connections to raise money in spite of his own incompetence and the mediocrity of the leadership; otherwise, the company wouldn't exist, but you knew that.) These people have used extortion to settle severance disputes, hired multiple people into the same exact leadership role as an explicitly intentional recruiting tactic, and were so dishonest with investors that they're known for it in New York, which might be why the Series E seems to be a struggle for them. That is in a company that has passed VC vetting four times.

YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.

Well, fucking duh. No one is a perfect judge of character. No one. You have to make decisions on people based on extremely minimal information that has more to do with someone's charm and social skill than anything deeper. You only know if someone's a good person when they're really tested; you don't see that in a few hours of superficial interaction. On the other hand, if you're not willing to bet on people based on almost no real information, you can't make any deals at all and that's generally considered worse.

Go for post Series-A. VCs have already done the vetting for you.

They're not going to be any better than YC was. Judging character is just fundamentally a hard problem. Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment. A change of context turned normal people into monsters.

Most of these startups do not match the ideal we have of Google's early days: technical to the core, well-managed, etc. The bad news is that about 75% of these VC-funded startups still fail (but you knew that). The ugly news is that at least that percentage deserve to fail. Sorry, man.

So, OP drew a dud. It happens. I've drawn two and I'm still alive.

scottydelta 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only agreeable part is "The culture was bad. Engineers were constantly told what to do."
advertising 2 days ago 2 replies      
Literally read this post and clicked to see what other posts were in his/her blog and it's no longer up.
livestyle 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first impression after reading it was it's a FAKE.
wudf 2 days ago 0 replies      
>YC doesnt necessarily mean sure shot success. Paul Graham is a human and bound to make mistakes.I may be wrong, but I don't think YC aims to only fund companies that will "succeed." Each venture is an exploration into a space. I think "mistake" is a bit presumptuous.
andrewlynch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the link down?
andrewcooke 2 days ago 2 replies      
anyone got a cache?
kirillzubovsky 2 days ago 2 replies      
Get a grip on yourself!

1) This could have been your experience at ANY startup and YC has nothing to do with this (you are just trolling their name).

2) You said you steered the company in the right direction? That's just a matter of perspective.

3) "The first person to go would be the business guy" - maybe they thought that a whiny child, that you are, was impacting their focus and productivity.

DigitalOcean raises $3.2M Seed Round techcrunch.com
197 points by beigeotter  1 day ago   109 comments top 28
nikcub 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite startups. I signed up for a single server some time ago to try them out and was amazed when I saw the control panel, API and the ecosystem that has already built up around the service.

To those of you asking what is so special about DO compared to ExyExtraVps.is running stock WHMCS[1] or whatever over at LEB it is that DO are providing the type of features, flexibility and support that Rackspace, AWS and Azure provide but at prices that are close to what the low-end VPS types offer.

If you imagine a Gartner-style quadrant for hosting with price on one axis and then features/support/flexibility on another most providers today sit somewhere along a very straight line - you either have a bunch of features and flexibility and are expensive or you are very rigid and cheap. DO is right up in high features but low price, and it seems so obvious in hindsight (Linode were almost there).

I now have Vagrant setup with Digital Ocean as a provider[2] so setting up a box is as easy as running 'vagrant up --provider=digital_ocean' and then waiting a minute. There are tons of other tools already built up around their API and the ecosystem is thriving. I have another script setup ready to fire up additional instances of web apps.

I'm moving everything I can and that fits from AWS and recommending DO to clients also where it would fit (staging servers, dev servers, backup servers, etc.) There are still some features they need - like load balancing, multiple IP's etc. but this funding means all of that is going to be built sooner.

There is a reason why they are one of the fastest growing hosts ever[3]. These guys are destined to get really really big.

There is also a great effect wherever digital ocean is mentioned online you find a comment thread with dozens of users saying how awesome they are. You can't buy that type of love.

[1] Not to mention that all of that off-the-shelf VPS software running these sites is an absolute security nightmare. The developers rely on hiding their poor code behind ioncube encoding and this has been exposed recently with some big name hacks.

[2] https://github.com/smdahlen/vagrant-digitalocean

[3] Netcraft: The meteoric rise of Digital Ocean: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2013/06/13/the-meteoric-ri...

edit: forgot to include this earlier, but by way of a disclaimer I introduced Digital Ocean to Crunchfund but don't have a financial stake.

memset 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is really neat. One question: How are these folks able to keep such low prices?

For example, I run several servers on rackspace. Their least expensive option (512MB RAM, 1 core, 20GB disk) is $16.00 per month.

DigitalOcean's is $5.00 per month. On the face of it, they are identical offerings but triple the price.

Rackspace does offer other features (load balancing, cloudfiles, and other useful things which integrate nicely with their servers.) Is that the value proposition of AWS/Rackspace over these other companies, which only give you vanilla servers?

badclient 1 day ago 0 replies      
From DigitalOcean's cofounder on Quora:

We applied to TechStars in NYC first because we were based in NYC and we got in right before the early app deadline. After meeting David Tisch at TechStars 4 A Day he flat out told us he doesn't understand our space so it would be hard for him to pick us, because part of his decision is to determine how he as the program director can help accelerate our growth.

We did become a finalist but weren't selected and he recommended us to TechStars Boulder. So we flew out there for TechStars 4 A Day and went through the process again.

Full post: http://www.quora.com/Startups/If-youre-rejected-from-an-incu...

holdenc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pretty amazing that a company like DigitalOcean can shake-up the market for VP servers prior to even taking funding. Their $5 servers have changed the game for nearly every hosting company that offers virtual servers. And to think they've managed to offer this while bootstrapped, is incredible.
Oculus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Their support is absolutely amazing. I opened a ticket to ask a question, submitted it, and before I could navigate away from their website, the ticket had been answered (i.e. within 5 min).
yapcguy 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about their security? Seem to have been quite a few issues recently.

From just two days ago, here on HN:

"Digitalocean.com has misconfigured their network in a way that allows for anyone to monitor customer network traffic." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6157747

jjoe 1 day ago 3 replies      
Congratluations to DO! Sadly there's so much hard work involved in this space and so little money ($5/server/mo) to be made in "hosting" that founders always eye an early exit. Also a $5/server strategy is proof this isn't sustainable in the long run. Revenue isn't enough to cover capex.

And this kind of growth almost always means founders are looking for an early exit. Yes it's all a happy ending for the founders but what will happen to the end users?

whitehat2k9 1 day ago 8 replies      
I really don't get why DigitalOcean is so special. The $5/month VPS is nothing new, and in many, if not most cases you can do a lot better. I'm currently paying $2/month for a 512MB OpenVZ VPS and $6.50/month for a 1GB Xen VPS.
trekky1700 1 day ago 0 replies      
I started with Digital Ocean after I saw them on here and have been nothing but impressed. Seems like really good value, and it's great to have such cheap dev environments to work/play with. Great for budding full stack devs. I'm glad it seems they're here to stay.
ksec 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great Now they can accelerate their long list of needed improvement.

1. Private Back End Network.2. Auto Provision Droplet/Instance on different hardware by default3. IPv64. DC in Asia5. Something Similar to Amazon Elastic IP.

Things i would likeNode balancerMore Powerful CPUHigher Quality Network ( Although it has gotten a lot better in recent months )

jbarham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anecdotally, I recently moved the primary web server for my DNS hosting service (https://www.slickdns.com) from AWS to Digital Ocean and am getting much better performance at 1/3 of the cost.
dcc1 20 hours ago 1 reply      
No offence but why would I put my data on US hosted servers?

Privacy violations would make liable under the local (a western european country) Data Protection act

no thanks

joeblau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking about using them for my next project. I'm glad to hear the news that they are getting funding. 3.2M is a pretty big seed round though right?
suhailpatel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Congrats to the DigitalOcean team. I moved my personal server from Linode London to DigitalOcean Amsterdam-1 and haven't had any issues at all and latency is only 2-3ms more from London compared to my old Linode box which is completely acceptable for me. Support is also extremely responsive.
bluedino 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are there features holding people back from going to DO from somewhere like Linode? Load balancing, private backend network, etc?
mattmaroon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure seed round means what you think it means.
koa 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have two rails SaaS apps that generate increasingly fulltime income on heroku.

combined costs currently at $140/month each app has 1 free web dyno, 1 worker, starter postgres DB, ssl, plus a few extras

Looking at the new offerings like digital ocean, i'm really tempted to switch over, but a voice in my head keeps telling me it makes no sense as I don't really have strong linux-sysadmin type skills. Even getting rails to work on new macs takes me 1-2 painful days.

Anyone have an eta of what it might take someone with limited sysadmin skills to cut over to something like digital ocean from heroku?

ohashi 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of people keep asking/questioning what makes Digital Ocean special. I can't speak for other people, but I do track what other people say. I've collected ~1,300 opinions on them and people like them more than any other major hosting provider I track (80% positive).

Feel free to read the comments for yourselves: http://reviewsignal.com/webhosting/company/101/digitalocean

They are obviously doing something right and a huge congratulations for their fund raise.

jbrooksuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really well deserved! These guys are awesome, very helpful and friendly, their site is even fun to use.
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 1 reply      
I looked at Digital Ocean for an alternative and really liked the prices, but it seems to be missing some pieces to cover more elaborate use-cases. For instance, you can't scale just storage, and they don't provide a CDN.

I hope they can add more features while staying price-competitive.

Einherji 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been using their services for a while now. Highly recommended, great hardware for the money.
bdz 1 day ago 0 replies      
(Oh how much I hate their ad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHZLCahai4Q
dangerden 18 hours ago 0 replies      
We use DO in our projects as a primary infrastructure. Switched to them from Amazon. Very happy with their service.

BTW, I'm shocked that this round was SEED. What happens when they get Series A. Will they continue to change game rules? I think yes.

tszming 1 day ago 2 replies      
I hope DO would consider have a special add-on like: $5 per month per node for priority support (< 1hr response time), then I think more people would consider moving more production systems to DO.
negamax 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very good. Just last weekend I migrated from AWS to DO. It is working perfectly for my usage at ~25% of the cost.
yaldasoft 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ive only used DO for staging. Via Cloud66 deploying production to AWS and Staging to DO. Works really well.
aforty 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know them, great group of guys. Congrats!
arek2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hacker News Web App for Mobile premii.com
193 points by EtienneK  15 hours ago   131 comments top 61
MatthewPhillips 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Great work! I recommend adding a manifest.webapp file so that Firefox users (and Firefox OS users) can add this as an "app". The manifest file is minimal, and then just a few lines of JavaScript will give you an "install" button. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Apps/Manifest
publicfig 13 hours ago 5 replies      
This is the first website I've ever added to my home screen on iOS, and I was completely unaware that by doing so, I could view the site as if it was a full screen app, not having to deal with the safari interface. I was completely unaware of that, and can now really see the utility in adding web apps to the home screen

Also, this is great. Really a solid interface.

EDIT: I would honestly like to see this scale on desktop, just because it's a pretty great interface for Hacker News.

EDIT 2: Nevermind, realized that it worked by acting as a sidebar on wider monitors. That makes sense.

shanselman 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fast, lovely, and amazing.

But it tries so hard to hide Safari that it makes a few very common use cases impossible.

1. You can't back up if you visit a web page

2. You can't share/email an article as you can in safari.

I will be using this daily, but NOT pinned as a web app in ios7

thekingshorses 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I wrote this client. Never submitted to HN, because I wasn't sure if anyone will like it.

After it reached to the FP, my vps server stop responding. So I moved it to S3. S3 doesn't gzip content. Now it takes twice the time to load the app.

Thanks EtienneK for submitting to HN.

Also forgot to mention that you can download an android app from play store. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.premii.hn

baddox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is excellent. I have used http://hackerwebapp.com/ on my iPhone for a while now, but I will put this in rotation to see how they compare. At first glance, they seem very similar and equally slick. A few comments/suggestions based on my experience on iPhone 5 iOS 6 Safari (presuming that OP is the creator, or the creator is in this thread somewhere):

When I collapse a comment, I think all subcomments should disappear as well. However, I understand that there are valid use cases for both behaviors. Maybe you could work both functionalities into the UI?

I don't think you should be pushing onto the history stack every time I toggle between Article and Comments view. It's weird that if I toggle 5 times, I have to click the back button in the top left 5 times to get back to the main news feed. That back button should probably just always go straight back to the main news feed view.

I encountered bugs trying to highlight text on comments. When I press and hold on a word, the word highlights as expected, but when I then release my touch, it registers a click, which then collapses the entire comment I was trying to highlight. I'm not sure exactly how Safari passes DOM events, but there's probably a way for you to identify "long clicks" and ignore them.

Several of the loading spinners you show over buttons are awkwardly positioned. It looks like you place the spinner precisely on the pixel I clicked. It would be nicer to center it over the button I clicked.

The article view screwed up on a lot of articles, but I'm sure you're aware of that. :)

marknutter 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using this for a while. Great execution all around. The only gripe I have is not being able to collapse an entire thread of comments. Right now you can collapse individual comments but it's not that useful for long threads.

This is a great example where a mobile web app can really shine. Throw this thing into phonegap and you wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a native app. So awesome.

IanChiles 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is by far the best performing web app I've ever used, nothing comes remotely close - it really and truly is amazing. Huge congrats to the creator of this.
petenixey 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Very cool and very fast. One small request is that (on the iPhone) the app's window sizes to the viewport and so you can't scroll the address bar up out of view. On < iPhone5 this means that with both the app's nav bar and the browser's nav bar in play there's very little real estate left.

However... having added it as a desktop icon it's phenomenal (no browser chrome). Very impressed. Would be great if it told you at the start that this was the outcome from adding it :)

napoleoncomplex 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. Readability, speed, interface, just a great job all around. Maybe mobile web apps are the future after all :).
EtienneK 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I take no credit for this. I found the link for this in another Hacker News thread [1] and thought that more people should know about it, so I submitted it.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6177361

grannyg00se 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems well done but the menu bar at the top takes a bunch of screen real estate for little use. Not really sure of the benefit of this website over HN. HN is one of the rare sites that actually renders fine on mobile just the way it is. Everything is there, and it loads quickly.
bookwormAT 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only person using hnsearch to find content on HN? It seems no app developer bothers to implement a search feature in the hacker news apps.Anyway, this is a great app, thank you.
mahyarm 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Well done! Is there a way to see more articles once you reach the bottom? Also what font did you use for the webpage icon?
enduser 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome!

Minor gripe: tapping the top of the screen on iOS does not scroll to the top on the front page.

tjohns 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks just as great on desktop as it does on mobile. Good job.

I really love this trend of having a scrolling ListView as a sidebar in web apps, similar to what many tablet apps are doing. The ones that come to mind: Gmail Offline, Quartz, Feedbin and Evernote (to an extent)

There was also a news aggregator site that was on HN a few weeks ago that did something similar. Sadly, I can't remember the URL for the life of me. Anyone remember it?

nilkn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually really like this as a desktop application as well. I would honestly consider using this over news.ycombinator.com if it were more fully featured (like allowing one to log in and post comments).

If you don't plan on monetizing this, I think a lot of people would love for you to open source it. This is quality work.

meleva 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I use http://ihackernews.com/ on my mobile. The only issue is that sometimes comments are not displayed because the app reach the api requests limit.Any similar issue with your app ?
hugofirth 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks brilliant!

I was using hacker news as an example to espouse the benefits of a decent mobile design the other day... another user tried to tell me that Hacker news was perfect for mobile browsing (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6171701). I present your work as compelling evidence to the contrary.

In all seriousness though - this is the sort of thing I have been meaning to get around to myself - thank you.

georgebonnr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome job on this! My only complaint is there's a bit too much padding in the list to make browsing articles practical on an iPhone5 . The text size option helps a little bit with this, but really if you reduced the padding that would give it just the right balance between readability and practicality. Right now it is pretty, but presents too much of a pain to try to see an entire front page's worth of results.
telecuda 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The link within the thread that breaks out of your mobile web app should open in standard Safari - this way I can easily email or SMS the link to a friend. Nice job.
ladzoppelin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been using this for a while on my Nokia WP 8. It works great and is really fast. Thank you for the effort.
Zircom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
For the default browser on the S3 (on mine at least), the settings menu only shows up if you click it, go to an article/comments, and then back to the main screen.
waraey 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool, but can it render its own site? Click on this article from within the app...

..... No: http://o7.no/11PNaX2

Just shows the menu links and "Loading"

chakalakasp 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I may be suffering from dumb user syndrome, but is there a way to log in to reply to comments?
HPLovecraft 12 hours ago 2 replies      
hi this is awesome, thanks for sharing!

I do have a problem with it on the iphone, it only shows like 2 or 3 items, then below this its blank - however you can click the blank spot and the link works.... anyone else?

captn3m0 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I use this on a daily basis on my iPad. The best part is that it loads articles within the same tab. That doesn't often work for many stuff (chrome experiments, for eg), but for most purposes, it saves me the hassle of shifting tabs and hunting for content.
Kiro 11 hours ago 2 replies      
How do you make the "panning" so smooth?

I really want to know what was done to get this kind of smoothness and performance in a web app.

airtonix 5 hours ago 1 reply      
hitting the system back button on android should go back in the web app. currently it just closes the page.

I recommend you look at how angular handles this.

mbesto 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone know a good library for getting the header menu to stick like that on all mobile devices?
cohort 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Love it! Nice work. Can I suggest you wrap the web app up using trigger.io (or something similar) and place it on the app stores. I'd happily pay a few squid for this!
dombili 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Superb job. You should build an RSS app.

One small nitpick: On Ask HN page you can open the threads only if you click on the comment link. Clicking on thread names doesn't work.

jimbobimbo 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks awesome on Win7/IE10, but doesn't work on WP7.8 :( Gets stuck on the loading animation.
Kiro 11 hours ago 0 replies      
First time I've ever seen a lag free web app on my Galaxy S3 (stock browser).
edgarjs 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Not only useful in mobile. I changed the url in the HNTab[1] to this.


[1]: https://github.com/swerage/hntab

bauerpl 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work! Could you give some tech details about which framework/tools have you used?
hashgowda 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the tech stack used to build this? I see lot of "/x-premii" tags in the source. Did you build any JS framework? what drives the UI - bootstrap? And watz the backend?
booruguru 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish the real HN website would get a facelift...I mean seriously, at this point it's just lazy.
ankitml 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Orange in such big area is blinding.!!
wenbinf 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I built a small app for seeing hourly archived top 10 posts:


nns 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is really great (except for the Orange!). But love the interface. Kudos.

My only gripe with all HN interfaces is that none of them can login and hence are read-only. You cant really comment on anything.

noir_lord 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is better than the stock HN UI.

Nicely done :).

igvadaimon 14 hours ago 1 reply      
How do you parse article text?
coin 12 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a slight delay after pressing the gear. Makes the site feel sluggish.
stevewillows 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If only HN proper looked this good by default.
rcconf 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks so much. I've downloaded a few HN apps and they have not been working very well. This shall replace them.
mumbi 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Link won't load so I'm not sure what it is. I personally like HackerNode on my iPhone, though.

Maybe once it loads I will change my mind.

GrinningFool 9 hours ago 0 replies      
For the legions of people undoubtedly wondering, this also works smoothly on BB10 devices.
tomasien 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Very good! I think kind of old though?
pwnna 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, you should definitely post this to the Firefox OS marketplace! this is what we are missing.
jesalg 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice design and execution. Would love to see this in the Chrome Web Store so I can install it as an app.
scottmagdalein 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Killer. Bookmarked. Thanks!
tpetry 13 hours ago 0 replies      
How did he extract the content of the sites? "Readability" algorithm?
devgutt 13 hours ago 0 replies      
nice works. The first of this type that I liked, but I'd like to see the actual page of the news.
message 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks nice, but i miss infinite scrolling.
stephanerangaya 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome work!
ReedR95 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. Thanks!
wp7user 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks great but unfortunately doesn't work on WP7.5 (gets stuck 'Loading'). I know this isn't a huge demographic of HN readers (possibly just me) but it would be great if it was possible to fix this!
scotthtaylor 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome!
vxcvxc 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to build something similar actually. We'll see if I ever do. :)
rochak100 13 hours ago 1 reply      
awesome work..is this open source? Can someone share the link please

many thks

sigul 14 hours ago 0 replies      
very cool
Pixel-perfect timing attacks with HTML5 contextis.co.uk
190 points by leetreveil  1 day ago   46 comments top 9
jffry 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a fascinating attack. Definitely read the bits on the SVG filter timing attacks. They construct something that allows distinguishing black pixels from white pixels, apply a threshold filter to an iframe, and then read out pixels from the contents of that iframe.

Then they turn this around, set an iframe's src to "view-source:https://example.com/", and read out information from there (in a more efficient manner).

randallu 1 day ago 1 reply      
These same guys had previously used WebGL to suck out text in the same way; unfortunately the demo is no longer at the same URL, but it is what's responsible for the fairly weird implementation of CSS Shaders: http://www.schemehostport.com/2011/12/timing-attacks-on-css-...

It's amazing that the same thing can be observed with the standard SVG software filters, though. I'd imagine that using X-Frame-Deny as they suggest is a much better solution than killing all JS (because you just know some incompetent ad network will manage to flip the switch and break millions of pages with that ability...).

M4v3R 1 day ago 3 replies      
These attacks are getting more and more creative. I begin to think that there is no such thing as perfect security in a world that constantly demands new features.
Someone 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those, like me, wondering why that 'detect visited' hack doesn't simply bolden visited links or changes its font or font size and uses getComputedStyle or getBoundingClientRect [1] to see whether that changes the bounds of the element: that trick has been mitigated three years ago. See http://hacks.mozilla.org/2010/03/privacy-related-changes-com....

[1] not explicitly mentioned there, but I think the solution described intends to plug that hole, too.

tripzilch 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a soft spot for side-channel attacks, they are often a beautiful example of out-of-the-box thinking. This whitepaper is no exception, in particular the second part about (ab)using the SVG filters.

I was thinking, of course it doesn't help much in mitigating this attack, but they calculate average rendering times over several repeats of the same operation. When profiling performance timings, it's usually much more accurate to take the minimum execution time. The constant timing that you want to measure is part of the low-bound on the total time, any random OS process/timing glitch is going to add to that total time, but it will not somehow make the timespan you are interested in randomly run faster. There might be some exceptions to this, though (in which case I'd go for a truncated median or percentile range average or something).

Also had some ideas to improve performance on the pixel-stealing, as well as the OCR-style character reading. With the latter one could use Bayesian probabilities instead of a strict decision tree, that way it'll be more resilient to accidental timing errors so you don't need to repeat as often to ensure that every pixel is correct, just keep reading out high-entropy pixels and adjust the probabilities until there is sufficient "belief" in a particular outcome.

But as I understand from the concluding paragraphs of this paper, these vulnerabilities are already patched or very much on the way to being patched, otherwise I'd love to have a play with this :) :)

zubspace 1 day ago 4 replies      
The paper describes how to prevent the sniffing attack:

Website owners can protect themselves from the pixel reading attacks described in this paper by disallowing framing of their sites. This can be done by setting the following HTTP header:

X-Frame-Options: Deny

This header is primarily intended to prevent clickjacking attacks, but it is effective at mitigating any attack technique that involves a malicious site loading a victim site in an iframe. Any website that allows users to log in, or handles sensitive data should have this header set.

I wonder, why is this option an opt-out and not an opt-in? Shouldn't this be the default?

mistercow 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems to me like a web server ought to be able to send some signal to browsers on either a single page or subdomain basis, which disables JS for those pages. If another page includes such a JS-disabled page in an iframe, then at the very least, all scripts on the parent page should be immediately terminated, and ideally loading of the iframe should fail if any scripts have executed (obviously an exception should be made for, e.g. Chrome extensions).

This should completely nullify a vast number of potential attacks for sites that are particularly sensitive. There's no reason, for example, that the logged-in portion of a banking site should need to use JS. That seems like a reasonable sacrifice for adding significant security to critical websites.

Sephr 1 day ago 0 replies      
To mitigate the new detect visited vectors, browsers could render everything as unvisited and then asynchronously render a 'visited' overlay (in a separate framebuffer) at a later time. SVG filters will have to be processed twice for the visited-sensitive data, so a vendor may just wish to limit SVG filters to only processing the 'unvisited' framebuffer for the sake of performance.
ptolts 1 day ago 0 replies      
That was the most interesting thing I've read in a while.
       cached 9 August 2013 04:11:01 GMT