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Hyperloop spacex.com
2545 points by spikels  5 days ago   953 comments top 133
krschultz 5 days ago 6 replies      
This is very serious first proposal.

As a professional mechanical engineer I have worked on high quality steel tubes (nuclear submarines) before. The immediate thing that sticks out to me in this proposal are the tight mechanical tolerances that have to be maintained. Talking about tens of thousandths of an inch tolerances on a 10' diameter tube is not to be dismissed lightly. That is going to be tough to maintain - especially with welding heat distortion. I would image the tubes will be joined with automated friction stir welding or something similiar, but that will still require a fair amount of post weld machining which has its own pitfalls. Not to mention simple thermal expansion and contraction as the temperature changes could change the circularity and inner diameter.

I would be more interested to see a tolerance stack up of those considerations than an FEA model of the concrete pylons. I can gaurentee that we can build concrete pylons capable of holding up a steel tube, that is done all over the country dozens of different uses cases. But can we build a multi-hundred mile long steel tube to the required tolerances?

I would be inclined to trade off efficiency for manufacturability. I.e. maybe a higher internal pressure or larger diameter to make it less sensitive. There should be plenty of power from the solar panels so it doesn't have to be perfectly efficient.

I'm also surprised that the I-5 plan is cheaper than buying private land. I may be naive here, but the pylons really do take away most of the objections from farmers and installing tubes over farmland has to be a lot cheaper than doing construction above a highway. I just look at boondoggle that was the SkyTrain in NYC (tram running over a highway out to JFK airport) and wonder if that is a great option.

aresant 5 days ago 22 replies      
"In the case of the Hyperloop, Musk started focusing on public transportation after he grew disenchanted with the plans for Californias high-speed rail system."

And who says that big government stifles entrepreneurial innovation?

If ALL Musk does with the Hyperloop announcement is shed more light on the potential debacle that is to be our $70b+ high-speed rail in California, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

PS - Direct link to the Hyperloop plans .PDF http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-201...

goodcanadian 5 days ago 8 replies      
I am intrigued, but not overwhelmed. Many of his reasons why his hyperloop is superior to high speed rail are not specific to the hyperloop. For example, you can put railway tracks up on pylons, too, with very little impact on the ground. It is common to do this in urban areas, but it is rarely done in rural areas because it is flat out cheaper to put it on the ground. I don't believe that an experimental tube is going to be somehow magically cheaper and easier to route and build than train tracks.

Now, I am not trying to defend California's HSR, specifically. I agree with Musk that it appears to be very poorly done. However, the answer, to my mind, is to do it properly rather than propose a wild experiment with hand-wavy arguments as to why it would be politically easier to do. Do you really think the special interests that are making HSR so difficult and expensive would say, "Oh, do whatever you like with your tube."?

Now, in an attempt to end on a positive note, I do like his proposal as a possible next step beyond HSR. Rail can go up to 350km/h currently (perhaps more in the future--why wouldn't California design with this goal in mind?), but Musk's hyperloop is proposed up to ~1000km/hr. It is definitely an idea worth exploring, but I think it falls far short as a serious alternative to the current high speed rail plans.

dkulchenko 5 days ago 7 replies      
That capsule (http://images.bwbx.io/cms/2013-08-12/0812_Hyperloop_605.jpg) looks like a claustrophobic's nightmare.

Otherwise very, very cool.

Osmium 5 days ago 4 replies      
Reading the entire PDF is highly recommended; it contains a surprising amount of answers already (including many to comments below).

I think, if anything, safety aspects haven't been sufficiently explored in the pdf. I'm quite happy to believe it's safer than other modes of transport, but I wouldn't be too quick to overstate it. Also, if anyone can explain what "Tubes located on pylons would limit access to the critical elements of the system." is meant to mean in 4.5.6 I'd be grateful...

lowkey 5 days ago 1 reply      
Adding a compressor fan to actively transfer air from the front to the rear of the pod while simultaneously serving as an air cushion to support the vehicle is simple, elegant and absolutely brilliant!

An ingenious solution appears so obvious in hindsight that it leads you to ask "why didn't I think of that?" While being subtle enough to confound all those who came before.

I have been following the developments of the ET3 Consortium for the past year. I have read virtually all the technical literature available online on the topic of alternative high-speed transportation systems going back as far as the RAND paper and even reading related patents from much earlier.

Looking at the genius of Elon Musk's insight is both inspiring ang greatly humbling - but mostly inspiring. Holy awesome! I would love to see this innovation take root. It could be the perfect elixer to our stagnant economic malaise.

Well done Mr. Musk!

Andrenid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Announcement any minute now according to Elon Musk's twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/366964441159438337

Edit: First article - http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-12/revealed-elo...

Edit2: Site OP linked to is up, but may be cached for you. Try http://www.spacex.com/hyperloop?1

rthomas6 5 days ago 4 replies      
I am skeptical of the proposed cost were someone to actually build this. Sure, the cost of materials, labor, engineering, etc. is probably accurate, but something like this has never been built before. What about the cost of research and testing? Not to mention there doesn't currently exist an industry of contractors to build most of the parts of this system, which is not true in the case of traditional high speed rails. Citing the cost to build something like the Hyperloop as the entire cost of developing it seems a bit disingenuous.

Not that it still wouldn't be comparable to the cost of a high speed rail system.

stevep98 5 days ago 0 replies      
A couple of points I would like to make:

* Structural requirements

The hyperloop has much less structural requirements than a traditional train. The reason is that its cars are separated, so it is 'less dense'. If a train goes over an overpass, the overpass has to be engineered to carry the weight of the rail and the train, whereas the hyperloop only has to handle the weight of the tube (30m between pylons at about 8 tons/m is 240 tons plus the negligible weight of the capsule).

The upshot of this is that the pylons can be much less invasive on the real-estate requirements. This is important because now you have more choices with regards to routes, which leads to less curvature and higher speeds. Looking at it from the reverse angle, High Speed Rail design suffered because the massive real-estate requirements imposed such a burden that route choices were compromised, and thus the projected travel time was lengthened.

* Tube manufacture.

It occurs to me that there already exists expertise in manufacturing elevated, highly reliable large diameter steel tubes hundreds of miles long. Oil pipelines. Moreover, these companies perhaps would be interested in diversifying their business away from oil.

* Development

High Speed Rail has issues, but they are political and financial, not technological. We're really just buying the technology from other countries. Much of the cost and the incredibly lengthy construction time for HSR is coming from building overpasses and the foundations for the rail, so far as I can tell.

But hyperloop is something that requires some development. This is a good thing because investors can sell that technology and get some return. It's difficult to attract private funding for HSR, but I can definitely see someone stepping forward to fund the development of the technology.

Pretty much once someone builds the hyperloop demonstration system, you'll know if you have a winner on your hands, but with HSR, you don't know if you'll be successful until the whole thing is built (and with a 2:30 travel time LA->SF, it's not going to be a slam dunk against air).

There are plenty opposed to HSR, but I see very few alternative solutions being proposed. This might be something those opposed to HSR jump onto, and it might get a lot of support quickly.

pjungwir 5 days ago 6 replies      

    The key advantages of a tube vs. a railway track are that it can be built above    the ground on pylons and it can be built in prefabricated sections that are    dropped in place and joined with an orbital seam welder.
Did anyone else read this and imagine laser beams fired by satellites?

revelation 5 days ago 1 reply      
The aerodynamic power requirements at 700 mph (1,130 kph) is around only 134 hp (100 kW) with a drag force of only 72 lbf (320 N)

Mind blown.

clarkmoody 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love this concept!

My main concern is the air-bearing suspension system. Barring very high flow rates, the fly-height of an air-bearing system is very small. Some systems[1] fly at 5 microns, for instance. That being the case, any sort of particulate or imperfections in the tube will cause the air-bearing to 'land' with a large amount of friction. Perhaps this is alright if you're already going 700mph, but it would reduce the overall coasting efficiency of the system.

The engineer in me sees this as the most important design consideration of the project.

As an aside, I would like to see trade studies done on filling the tube with other gasses whose speed of sound is much higher than air's, allowing the capsules to travel even faster before shocks begin to form.

[1] http://www.newwayairbearings.com/products/flat-rectangular-a...

acqq 4 days ago 0 replies      
High Speed Rail is still better:

        High Speed Rail between downtown LA and downtown SF:        2 hours, 28 minutes        Hyperloop trip between downtown LA and downtown SF:1 hour from LA to Sylmar via Metrolink20 minute transfer35 minutes to Dublin20 minute transfer1 hour 10 minutes from Dublin to SF via BARTTotal: 3 hours 25 minutes

The project also doesn't even attempt to price the connection into LA or SF. That's where the high costs are.

Amusingly enough, the California HSR budget for the Central Valley is under $10 billion. Ie, in the same ball-park as this proposal. The reason the HSR project is going to cost $60 billion is because it has to face an uncomfortable truth; actually getting to LA and SF is expensive. Very expensive.

Is Elon Musk's s mega-announcement really just a last-ditch attempt to sabotage the California High Speed Rail (HSR) project, rather than a serious proposal to revolution travel? Something smells very fishy.

The motive is clearly there.

Matti 5 days ago 2 replies      
"Hyperloop Passenger CapsuleThe maximum width is 4.43 ft (1.35 m) and maximum height is 6.11 ft (1.10 m). With rounded corners, this is equivalent to a 15 ft2 (1.4 m2) frontal area, not including any propulsion or suspension components."

At a first look I didn't get that the proposed passenger capsule would be so small. That's pretty cramped.

Edit: Isn't the the ft to m conversion for the height wrong?

dkrich 5 days ago 5 replies      
The main reason why air travel continues to be the most practical, cost-effective means of high-speed transport is that the politics involved in connecting two points with a transit system are enough to make you lose faith in humanity.

Take for instance, the DC metro system. There is an expansion underway to extend the system west to Dulles Airport, about 30 miles or so from downtown DC. A huge project, no doubt, but it is about ten years behind schedule. What was a seemingly great idea (mass transit to a major airport and outlying regions of DC) was almost ruined by all the fighting.

This is for a project spanning 30 miles. Imagine the politics and fighting that occurs between politicians, contractors, lobbyists, and residents on a public works project that spans hundreds of miles between two of the most populous cities in the world.

A project this ambitious is only well-suited for a small, independent group of like-minded people, which unfortunately will never be possible with all the interests involved.

clebio 5 days ago 4 replies      
> 4.5.6. Human Related IncidentsHyperloop would feature the same high level of security used at airports. However, the regular departure of Hyperloop capsules would result in a steadier and faster flow of passengers through security screening compared to airports.

Ugh. That only seems feasible if back-scatter scanners are the only option (but would you still have to take your belt off and put all metal in a little bowl?).

205guy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, 300 comments in 2 hours--this is reaching the limits of readability. My first thought is that this release of Hyperloop details is like the geek's version of the Breaking Bad season premiere that is being so talked about in the US (didn't see it myself).

First of all, I think it's genius how nobody saw this solution coming, despite all the speculation. Put the air compressor on the pod, and use Tesla's battery technology to power it. Seems evident in hindsight.

My biggest gripe is the non-inherent safety and thus the security issues. The evacuated tube is a real issue in my mind, and saying it will be re-pressurized in case of an accident seems dubious. Yes, like a modern jet, but planes can descend to 15,000 and people live. Also, planes don't fly at 150,000 feet (the pressure equivalent in the tube) and there may be other biological hazards other than breathing. But mainly, the vehicles are subject to the same exterior threats as airplanes, so security will need to be similar. In addition the tubes are also a target of threats, which is less of an issue with trains and not an issue with planes.

venomsnake 5 days ago 1 reply      
(Figure 1). The only system that comes close to matching the low energy requirements of Hyperloop is the fully electric Tesla Model S.

Shameless plug of the day :) So far it does not break too much of the laws of physics and is indeed workable.

jballanc 5 days ago 0 replies      
A country like America in the '60s, '70s, or maybe even '80s would build this in a heartbeat.

A country like America today...who knows?

This plan has the perfect mix of reasonably practical yet slightly unsettlingly new and unfamiliar. It is just the sort of thing that meaningfully evolutionary changes are built on, like airliners or cross-country trains or steam-powered ships. If America builds this, great! If not, watch for which country does and move there post-haste!

jimmcslim 5 days ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to convince Musk to build this on the east coast of Australia; linking Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne. The Sydney-Melbourne air corridor is one of the busiest in the world (6,795,000 passengers in 2007, vs 6,306,638 for LA-SF in 2009 [1]). We recently had a feasibility study into HSR along the east coast (a condition of Greens support of the current Labor minority government) but it suggested that such a project would be ridiculously expensive and take upwards of 30 years to complete (some say the study was doomed to fail and the numbers are wrong).

The geography is probably less favourable for Hyperloop in the eastern Australia context (e.g. Sydney is in a basin bordered by low mountains north, south and west), whereas the route it would follow in California is mostly flat?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_busiest_passenger_air_r...

tomrod 5 days ago 1 reply      
I hate to be a party pooper, but I see some economic issues.

My takeaway is that while the 7 billion fixed costs will be low, the operating costs are going to be huge.

Battery packs and solar cells will need replacement. Large maintenance teams will be needed with immediate response times to fix issues such as complete seal blowouts, etc.

I think the first few years will be great! But in my opinion maintaining this system over the long term will be very, very expensive compared to slower rail.

I'm still optimistic that most of these and other issues will be worked out in the long term.

EDIT: Did he post what this tube will be made out of? How will he prevent solar degradation?

danvoell 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think he should start a ticket pre-sale on kickstarter and see if he can be the first person to reach $6 billion for a project.
linuxhansl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have an anecdote here that is both funny and sad.My friend's mom visited a few years ago from Germany.

After she returned home she said that she really had enjoyed the trip, especially the trip on "the old, historical train".

She was talking about Amtrak.

jacquesm 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'll just leave this here:


Looks like I nailed most of it. So, who is going to build a proof-of-concept scale model of this thing a few kilometers long?

malbs 5 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who gets claustrophobic on planes - I have to fight the panic every time I fly, the dread that fills me at the thought of a service/system malfunction, while halfway between LA and SF, what happens then?

I'm reminded of this water slide at the Gold Coast's Wet and Wild - you end up going upside down - but in order to attain the velocity required to make the loop, you need to be dropped from a particular height, only some people don't make it - so they have a single access point into the tube where people who haven't made it, can get out, but I'm sure it wouldn't be a fun experience, so I opted for not going on that slide, even though my kids were pleading with me to do it. No thanks.

The hyperloop looks amazing, but my heart rate went up reading that document, and it wasn't out of excitement

dudus 5 days ago 3 replies      
In Brazil the building of a new high speed train between So Paulo and Rio was just delayed for the third for for lack of interested companies to build the system. The estimated cost is at US$ 17B.

There are not earthquakes in Brazil and the length should be around 500km. It seems like a better candidate than SF-LA.

just saying,

evan_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought Musk said it wasn't an evacuated tube. Does it not count because it's very low air pressure and not a completely hard vacuum?
Lewton 5 days ago 3 replies      
Holy hell

A 57 page document

I expected mostly fluff.

ehsanu1 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some interesting tidbits:

    The total trip time is approximately half an hour, with capsules     departing as often as every 30 seconds from each terminal and carrying 28    people each. This gives a total of 7.4 million people each way that can be     transported each year on Hyperloop. The total cost of Hyperloop in this     analysis is under $6 billion USD. Amortizing this capital cost over 20 years and     adding daily operational costs gives a total of about $20 USD (in current year     dollars) plus operating costs per one-way ticket on the passenger Hyperloop.    For aerodynamic efficiency, the velocity of a capsule in the Hyperloop is     - typically: 300 mph (480 kph) where local geography necessitates a tube bend radii       < 1.0 mile (1.6 km)    - 760 mph (1,220 kph) where local geography allows a tube bend > 3.0    miles (4.8 km) or where local geography permits a straight tube.

delsarto 5 days ago 6 replies      
No toilet, and no way to get off, or even really stand up? I know some personal jets lack such facilities, but they're not exactly open to the public. At least on BART you can move away from the crazy...
asmithmd1 5 days ago 1 reply      
I see just a little bit of hand-waving with how to deal with the 300 psi and 1000 degree F air.

He says they will cool it with on-board water and storing the steam (I don't see a pressure here)in the vehicle. Given the tight space, will any kind of thermal insulation breakthrough be needed?

shirro 5 days ago 2 replies      
Australia needs to build this between Sydney and Melbourne. Plenty of sunlight to power it. Not much risk of earthquakes.

There is enough traffic to support it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World's_busiest_passenger_air_r...

sethbannon 5 days ago 10 replies      
It's very interesting that this is a SpaceX project. Why not Tesla, or another company entirely?
yid 5 days ago 2 replies      
> Risk of derailment is also not to be taken lightly, as demonstrated by several recent fatal train accidents.

Interesting. No comment on the potential outcome of a passenger-filled capsule being ejected from a burst tube on high pylons at 350mph.

bobzimuta 5 days ago 2 replies      
Cache needs busting http://www.spacex.com/hyperloop?a=b

nm, they fixed it

dmfdmf 5 days ago 0 replies      
Best comment on reddit so far "this is a pipe dream"

* I don't think the Hyperloop is viable and I hope they kill the $100B High Speed Rail (HSR) project before it ruins the SF Peninsula and budgets across the state.

* Setting aside the $100B HSR cost (yes, I know current estimates are $70B but it was sold at $10B and will easily exceed $100B if/when completed) the operating costs will have to be subsidized for every minute of its existence just like every other govt boondoggle. This is a white elephant and, in case you weren't paying attention, California and most cites are or soon will be bankrupt. We can't afford this, cut our losses now.

* If I was made Bay Area/CA public transportation csar (with suitable budget and dictatorial powers) my first step would be to extend BART through San Jose so it actually loops the bay and (finally) complete BART. (I am old enough to recall that that was the original design)

* I do think a high speed rail connection SF/LA is economically viable but would need to do research and crunch numbers while finishing BART. I would move the SJC airport south (with a BART extension) to Morgan Hill/South San Jose and build the connection from there to LA.

* From SJ to LA I would confiscate I5, leave two lanes for truckers and local traffic but build a high speed (300MPH) car/ferry train system so you could be blasted to LA in a little over an hour and have your car there when you arrive. Home by dinner.

* I would build a nuclear plant somewhere halfway between LA and SF on I5 so my trains would not have to use diesel fuel (too smoggy) or solar (too expensive).

Nothing here is any less fanciful than Musk's musings and far, far more practical.

QuantumGood 5 days ago 2 replies      
Most fascinating likely medium-term event: The hyperloop will be built outside the US, most likely in China, after changes and development that help China claim it as primarily Chinese in design.
mesozoic 5 days ago 0 replies      
I like how the head of the project called him to make sure he knows it's not the absolute slowest or most expensive per mile only nearly so.
platz 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Btw, this is not the very latest version. Will post an updated version with several late arriving corrections in a few hours." https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/367028946426019840
robomartin 5 days ago 6 replies      
None of this is to say that Hyperloop is a bad idea. The idea sounds very interesting and I'd rather spend sixty billion building a Hyperloop --even if it fails-- than the ridiculous California high speed rail project.

Cost is probably off by an order of magnitude, if not more. Why? Unions and other groups. Building anything in this country costs massively more (and takes significantly longer) than one could imagine because of our unions are not business symbiotic. The goal of union leadership is to extract as much as they can out of the businesses they infect, even if this means their demise.

A lot of the unions that would be part of such a project have some of the laziest and most problematic people working for them. If you come from the Silicon Valley tech world my words make no sense to you. In fact, you might think I am nuts. All I have to say is: Do a good size trade show exhibit at a few of the unionized convention centers in the US and then see what you think about US unions. Then repeat that experience at various locations in Europe and Japan and see the difference. I have done just that. US labor unions are destroying our country from the inside out.

How many significant new civil engineering projects in the US can you name over the last, say, fifty years. Right.

Hyperloop cost would be way more than this paper seems to predict.

The political factor is grossly underestimated. Our reality is that we live at a time of political deadlock. Nobody can or wants to make a decision and the decisions we do make tend to be suboptimal, sometimes grotesquely so: example, California high speed rail.

Finally, it addresses the wrong market. I am not sure why people insist on applying trains to transporting people in the US. Sorry to resort to reality folks: If you build it they will NOT come. We do not have that culture and you will not inspire it simply by building trains. You'd have to forcefully push people in that direction through legislation that would make it too expensive to not use rail. In other words you'd have to declare war against other methods of transportation through punitive actions.

The right place for high speed rail in the US is cargo, not passenger rail. If we could evolve our cargo rail systems to move at 300 km/hr rather than 50 the consequences would provide economic benefits and development beyond a century.

The final point is related to politics. We have a decision making system that allows anyone to vote. And, while this is commendable, it does create horrible problems. Imagine allowing a random group of, say, ten people deciding whether or not your child should have surgery. I'd be surprised if anyone thought this to be a good idea. No, most people would rather have a group of experts in the field, more than likely MD's in this case, vote for such a decision. The ridiculous California high speed rail project is a result of hordes of low-information, mathematically challenged, technologically ignorant and financially ignorant voters being led by the nose by unions, media and political forces.

How do you move forward when people like that can vote on these issues and their vote has equal value to that of an expert in the relevant fields: a PhD in Physics, an engineer, a financial expert, etc.

Regrettably this is not a technological problem. It is far more complex than that.

yk 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have somewhere read, that large cities are usually the size one can travel in under an hour. So this could have quite interesting effects in effectively joining LA and SF.
prawn 5 days ago 0 replies      
"... each passenger will have access their own personal entertainment system."

Only a small point. Other than to display ghastly advertising, why not a dumb monitor that interfaces with your phone/tablet? It's not like you're going to be able to watch a movie. And if we're seven years into the future on this, I'll be wearing my Oculus Rift 4.0 anyway.

Maybe I'm just too disillusioned by the systems used in aircrafts with their awful interfaces, lag, etc.

featherless 5 days ago 4 replies      
Thought this was amazing: $20 for a one-way, 35 minute trip from SF to LA.
Osmium 5 days ago 1 reply      
Note that the UK's new high speed rail (HS2) is budgeted at 33bn ($51bn) and likely to exceed that[0]. Being mostly straight, and across land already approved for rail use, it seems like an ideal candidate for a hyperloop alternative.

At 120 miles long[1] compared to the SF<->LA ~350 miles, a UK hyperloop would be even cheaper, especially since the major cost is the tube itself. A back of the envelope calculation[2] gives a cost of about 1.9bn ($2.9bn) which is suspiciously, almost absurdly, cheap.

If anyone can find any flaws in this argument (specifically related to e.g. UK-specific issues/laws that I may be unaware of) I'd be very interested to hear them!

[0] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/revealed-hs2s...[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HS2[2] using average cost values from the pdf, not accounting for differences in pylon height/amount of tunnel required etc.

matthewcford 5 days ago 0 replies      
I love the fact that Musk is publishing this publicly preemptively blocking future patent claims on the basis of prior art.
anigbrowl 5 days ago 0 replies      
The total cost of the Hyperloop passenger transportation system as outlined is less than $6 billion USD (Table 8). The passenger plus vehicle version of Hyperloop is including both passenger and cargo capsules and the total cost is outlined as $7.5 billion USD (Table 9).

Love the idea but the cost projections here seem extremely optimistic.

dictum 5 days ago 7 replies      
I'm impressed, but I'm afraid Hyperloop's operation is modeled after airplanes, while the actual use of the system would be closer to a city bus.

>All capsules would have direct radio contact with station operators in case of emergencies, allowing passengers to report any incident, to request help andto receive assistance. In addition, all capsules would be fitted with first aid equipment

>Typical times between an emergency and access to a physician should be shorter than if an incident happened during airplane takeoff. In the case of the airplane, the route would need to be adjusted, other planes rerouted, runways cleared, airplane landed, taxi to a gate, and doors opened. An emergency in a Hyperloop capsule simply requires the system to complete the planned journey and meet emergency personnel at the destination.

What happens if a brawl erupts inside a capsule? What happens if a suicide bomber boards the Hyperloop?

hristov 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry, but I do not believe this will be cheaper than conventional rail. This is essentially a vacuum tunnel. Ok it is not a perfect vacuum but it is still supposed to keep 1/1000th of the earth's pressure.* Keeping such a vacuum over several hundred miles of metal tubing would be very very expensive.

This may work but it will be several times more expensive than the HSR system.

* Oh and by the way, it is completely misleading and annoying for musk to refer to this as merely 1/6th of Mars's pressure. That would be a really relevant statistic if he was building his thing on mars.

_random_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think his vision is based on Futurama: electric cars -> spaceships -> elevated transportation tubes -> hover cars -> robots. I bet if the government still goes with the traditional rail plan, then Elon will build "his own hyperloop", adding "blackjack..." and other stuff.
SuperChihuahua 5 days ago 1 reply      
From the conference call: "I'm tempted to at least make a demonstration prototype, but I think I would have to punt it for a little bit of time, it wouldn't be immediate."

Source: http://live.theverge.com/live-hyperloop-announcement-elon-mu...

thatoneguy 5 days ago 2 replies      
From my skimming of the PDF, it sounds like a pneumatic tube transportation system with a compressor fan on the front of the vehicle that moves high-pressure air from the front to the back maintaining a low-pressure state around the vehicle. Kind of like an Earth-bound Alcubierre drive.
richcollins 5 days ago 1 reply      
Feedback is welcomed on these or any useful aspects of the Hyperloop design. E-mail feedback to hyperloop@spacex.com or hyperloop@teslamotors.com



Geee 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure the first Hyperloop will be built in China.
ChuckMcM 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really curious about turns and switches. The latter more about loading and unloading. If you have a platform to carry 300 people / hr to or from the other city how do you load them and keep them organized.

The failure scenarios are interesting too. Lets say a tube breaks, if the linear motors are spaced out, how do they brake? Turn off the air lift? Does that then destroy the tube they are in? What is the emergency exit like?

scott_karana 5 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting that Charles Alexander's writeup was said by Musk to be the most similar, when the ideas were fairly dissimilar by the end.[1]


rdl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I was expecting it to be something like the UW Ram Accelerator (RAMAC), but he put a fan in front. I was thinking it would have natural gas/detonation for propulsion, using the ram jet principle, and continuous acceleration, but I guess that rapidly gets you to totally absurd speeds (10km/sec+) and wouldn't really be viable, plus humans aren't so into 10G+ acceleration even when mounted laterally.

I would totally ride this. I hope there's a way for California to build it, and more importantly, I hope we can fix our government somehow to allow projects like this to actually happen in multiple fields.

alan_cx 5 days ago 2 replies      
So, a sealed tube from A to Z, passing B through Y. No benefit to B through Y at all. So why do B through Y allow the tube to pass through?

When railways happened, B through Y believed they would see economic benefit, and often did. They got a station. Not so here, correct?

There for, wouldn't this need a government to force it through? How would that happen in the USA?

To me this is where the idea runs in to the buffers, as it were.

guelo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Let the tech workers test it out on their SF-Silicon Valley commutes first. Maybe Elon's musk will help convince all the millionaire tech NIMBYs that own the peninsula.
chrismealy 5 days ago 2 replies      
So, it's a two-lane highway where the cars are 5 miles apart? How many people will be able to use this thing?
jessriedel 5 days ago 1 reply      
OK, so he says it's much cheaper than high-speed rail mostly because pylons require taking much less land through eminent domain. Can anyone explain to me then why high speed rail can't be built on pylons?
Gravityloss 5 days ago 0 replies      
The pressure difference is higher than in a passenger jet. The pressure vessel must be a tubular structure with small well sealed doors. None of this prism with whole fuselage gull wing door stuff.
tankbot 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just finished reading the pdf and now I understand why this is by far the most popular HN post for a long time (ever?). I now post my feeble comment to be lost in a sea of enamored nerd buzz.

Fucking awesome, Elon.

jcromartie 5 days ago 2 replies      
Does anybody else wonder how easily the rotor will slot into the stator at 700 MPH? It looks like pretty small tolerances. Maybe guide rails leading up to it?
uptown 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really interesting proposal. How do you maintain the tube when something needs repair? You need to shut the whole system down, don't you?
swalsh 5 days ago 0 replies      
From a telecommunications stand point, we were just starting to get handovers to work on high speed rail, now we have to get it to work on super sonic transport? come on now :D
paulus99 3 days ago 0 replies      
A wonderful proposal and inspiring: I think the air bearing, partially evacuated tube and axial flow compressor powered by onboard battery are an innovative combination worth exploring, and I am sure with the correct leadership and political will could produce a really useful enhancement of transport infrastruture. However on reading many of the comments bemoaning current state of construction in the US, as well as unions and vested interests; had to provide this quote of Machiavelli's:It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
dllthomas 5 days ago 3 replies      
... could CHSRA just build this? I understand they're in the planning stages, and I don't think it'd be absurd to say "this is a train, just better and cheaper".

Edited to add: My question was primarily legal - if someone were to step up and demonstrate this was feasible could it possibly make a difference?

varworld 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Btw, this is not the very latest version. Will post an updated version with several late arriving corrections in a few hours."https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/367028946426019840
damian2000 5 days ago 0 replies      
Originally I thought it was going to be inside a transparent tube that you could see out of - one of the only downsides to this is that you are inside a steel tube with no view. Technically not important, but may be important for some passengers.
verbin217 5 days ago 1 reply      
Seems like this would be particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks. There is a huge surface area that needs to be protected (tubes/pylons). If there are pods leaving every thirty seconds and traveling at supersonic speeds then taking out one pylon could kill several hundred people and leave the entire train inoperable. In a future where this design was used extensively to connect cities on the coasts it would quickly become a critical piece of transportation infrastructure. Attacking several arcs of the city graph simultaneously would be utterly debilitating. Especially if the system's relative efficiency leads to the displacement of other forms of transportation.
kamjam 5 days ago 0 replies      
Did anybody ever see Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering episode about a possible high speed train from London, UK to NYC, USA?



This reminds me a lot of that, but without the vacuum tunnel... there was a proposal in 1960's apparently... so no so new after all.


Ricapar 5 days ago 1 reply      
So one question that hasn't really been mentioned yet... What happens in the event of a fire?

Do you just keep going? Stop the Fire suppression systems?

Given any worst-case scenario.. how do you escape from the tunnel?

chmars 5 days ago 0 replies      
Could it be that Musk got some of his inspiration from the (stalled) Swissmetro project in Switzerland?


Same idea, different technology. Anyway, implementation is important, not the idea itself.

ars 5 days ago 2 replies      
"by placing solar panels on top of the tube, the Hyperloop can generate far in excess of the energy needed to operate."

He seems to be planning to build this over farmland? Because farmers aren't going to be happy about someone blocking their light.

Light is the limiting factor in plant growth.

If he's going to block the light to farms he'll have to pay them for the lost crops, and then he might as well just buy the land.

ajiang 5 days ago 1 reply      
So who wants to start a company? I'll uh...come up with the business plan.

Seriously though, this would be an incredible project to work on. I wonder, outside of Elon Musk, who would take on the challenge?

GigabyteCoin 5 days ago 1 reply      
I thought it was just a few days ago that elon musk said that he "wished he had never mentioned the hyperloop as he doesn't have enough time to work on it" [sic].

When I heard the news about this announcement on the radio today, I thought that my local news station was just a week behind the times as usual. Apparently they were not?

adriano_f 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just posted a link to the Hyperloop spec, written as a "tree document"... Makes it easier to quickly absorb the main points.


JulianMorrison 5 days ago 0 replies      
Something interesting my friend said: this would make an awfully good roller coaster.

Could that be a path to getting it prototyped, profitably?

j2d3 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why not go ahead and build the Hyperloop, and when CA HSR gets around to actually building the links into downtown LA and SF, design them to connect up to the Hyperloop, which will surely be complete and running by the time HSR is projected to be available. The Hyperloop can even share some rights of way with HSR. Why not have both?

Hyperloop should be an AND proposition to HSR, not an either/or.

liuh 5 days ago 0 replies      
James Bond used Hyperloop prototype, a modified pig, in "Living Daylights" back in 1987. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AzJ5_8Cqdchttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigging
mercurial 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was thinking that a well-timed explosive charge on a support pylon would make for a nice mess, but I suppose it's not any easier to secure a conventional railway.
bsherrill 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like the idea of transporting cars with passengers or just cars/SUVs. That would be ideal. Travel from point a to point b like a ferry. Or extension of our current super highway network. Use your personal transport machine after arrival. In most of the USA when traveling outside the dense urban areas driving a automobile is the preferred form of transportation. It would make the world a smaller place much like how cars and paved roads did 100 years ago. If we could hyper transport our vehicles at large chunks of distances say 300+ mile integers. I could only imagine this future.

Freight shipping would greatly benefit. Build a freight tube only across the US mainland. Amazon Prime? Same day delivery.

mrbill 5 days ago 0 replies      
Made me think of a scifi book I read recently where terrorists attacked the hyper-speed rail system by leaving a bowling ball on the "tracks"...
nell 5 days ago 0 replies      
What is the feasibility to construct one within a metropolitan area, like Greater Boston, Bay area etc. Example: One between South bay and SF in the Bay area?
transfire 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know where he got his stats, but the energy per passenger for a train cannot be right. CSX advertises daily they can move a ton of freight 400 miles for a dollar. A person weighs much less than a ton. Granted there are additional expenses to make a human comfortable, but these are relatively low fixed costs --you know like a chair.
praguebakerr 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think you should improve rail network in overall than work on this crazy idea. Anyway good luck.
bitteralmond 5 days ago 1 reply      
Aside from the whole "will they actually build it" debate, I'm worried that if they do, the capsule ceiling won't be high enough for someone fairly tall (let's say 6'5'' or taller) to sit in comfortably. I'd assume the height of the capsule will have some effect on the drag involved, as well as the necessary size of the tube, so it makes sense to make it as short as possible.

Musk himself stands just below 6', so he may not naturally think of us taller folk. I'd hate to have to slouch for the trip, even if it is only projected to be 35 minutes.

edit: dear tall people who have ridden in one of Tesla's cars: how's the headroom in a Model S?

jared314 5 days ago 2 replies      
> Hyperloop is considered an open source transportation concept.

I'm glad they didn't just let the idea die on a drawing board somewhere because of a lack of time/money. Now, someone has to just develop it faster than someone else can legislate against it.

lnanek2 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's nice that it doesn't have drivers. As someone who visits the SF area a lot, the BART drivers strike way too much and have to be replaced by automated trains. So this is a nice step forward.
lsllc 5 days ago 1 reply      
So ... it's a series of tubes?
niels_olson 5 days ago 0 replies      
My dad has worked on at least one proposal for linear rail in California in the past. Emailed him the whitepaper for comments. Delivery not guaranteed :)
27182818284 5 days ago 2 replies      
I honestly expected better work. I feel like this is something everyday users on Reddit or HN could have put together in a report. I only gave it a look because Elon Musk's name is on it. That says something sad about me when it comes to the Big Imagination projects :-/
greedo 5 days ago 1 reply      
Although Musk has said this idea stems from his frustrations in traveling through California, I wonder if he's contemplating something similar for transportation on Mars?
Symmetry 5 days ago 0 replies      
After reading about the benefits of putting the track on pylons I was strongly reminded of monorails.
untog 5 days ago 3 replies      
A "coming soon" page is at the top of HN?
laxatives 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious how well this thing can "maintain distance between the capsule and tube walls". It seems like this is a much tougher problem than simply levitating the whole thing off the ground where the forces are relatively stationary. It also doesn't look like any of the artist renderings address this, and only consider the airflow lifting the thing off the ground.
rottyguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
A few thoughts:

1) We don't have to hit the ball out of the park on our first time out. I'd be happy to see a hyperloop prototype from, say, Manhattan to JFK built.

2) Which countries might "race" to get something like this sorted out (which may compel a more world-wide movement)? China? Spain? Japan?

MarcScott 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's there now. No longer a holding page
StandardFuture 5 days ago 2 replies      
God damn it, Elon! It looks amazing but the logistics are just not adding up! 2-minute departure time scales? Good luck getting the future Hyperloop TSA to do that.

But, the numbers don't quite crunch for this to be a legitimate business (unless we are talking no returns for 25 years charging customers an average of 1500-3000 dollars per ride .. but the demand is not there for those prices).

Idea is awesome .. yes! Viable ... yes, yes!! A business ... idk. :(

bostonvaulter2 5 days ago 0 replies      
How long would it take to get from San Fran to LA?

Edit: nevermind, it is about 30 minutes

MaysonL 5 days ago 0 replies      
Ah a turboprop tubular-ground-effect vehicle.
capkutay 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if that $70 billion price tag is partly tied to the "I created x many jobs in my time as a politician" rhetoric. I'm just assuming high cost means a higher number of people being paid.
jessaustin 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's interesting to devote so much space in the introduction to hypothetical supersonic air travel. Might this be what Musk actually intends to do next?
abdullahkhalids 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just remember people, the real future of travel is SpaceX, not Hyperloop.

The final frontier is space, not San Fransisco.

(I am wide eyed and crazy about the Hyperloop)

mwein 5 days ago 0 replies      
macinjosh 5 days ago 4 replies      
For all of you whose panties get wet at the sound of Elon Musk's name Hyperloop is essentially just Arotrain in a tube:


This guy isn't really a genius, he's just rich.

dllthomas 5 days ago 0 replies      
If Musk really wants to give this a push, how about a patent grant on Tesla battery patents used for this purpose?
hoffcoder 5 days ago 0 replies      
"In addition, safety emergency exits and pressurization will be added in key locations.."How could anyone predict what 'key' locations an emergency is going to happen at?And how would eviction happen, given the tube's low pressure?
Thiz 5 days ago 2 replies      
Pretty but absurd.

With all that money I rather give a Cessna to 1M people so they can fly anywhere without restriction.

Or make special small airports for direct flight between cities. Much less infrastructure.

Kudos to Elon, I love they guy and his incredibly visionary mind.

tocomment 4 days ago 1 reply      
A thought I just had, could a hyperloop like technology be used to launch ships into orbit? Why or why not?
DonGateley 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great KickStarter project! I'm only half kidding. Public source, why not crowd funding?
karmicthreat 5 days ago 0 replies      
I would dedicate 6-10 years getting something like this off the ground. Unfortunately I don't think anyone without the political and financial connections could pull this off. Musk could probably do it because of Musk Mania. But few others.
dmitrygr 5 days ago 1 reply      
How about some physics about this? Here is some...


ehsanu1 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think you're not seeing the latest updates. Here's a direct link to the pdf: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-201...
smegel 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is that a jet turbine in the nostril?
krallja 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Segway. New Coke. Google Wave. Musk's Hyperloop. Today is histrionic.
huntleydavis 5 days ago 0 replies      
So who's starting the Kickstarter campaign?
huntleydavis 5 days ago 0 replies      
To put the the 7 billion cost in perspective...that's approximately the cost to build the new segment of the Bay Bridge.
wavesounds 5 days ago 0 replies      
Jerry Brown: Build this tube!
amitdugar 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is such a cool concept. I was so hoping he would build this.
lem72 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have never been more excited for a coming soon page.
bttf 5 days ago 0 replies      
One of the few times I've read the word 'pylon' without being concerned with some video game.
designpete 5 days ago 0 replies      
One part that's not getting nearly enough press: you can bring your car with you!

This is the key that will drive massive adoption. Wrote about this here:

"Hyperloop = Warp Speed for Your Car"https://medium.com/hello-hyperloop/82cb2069112f

webbedhands 5 days ago 0 replies      
It might not be built in real life, but somebody should at least build it in a mod for GTA5.
SriniK 5 days ago 0 replies      
My travel nirvana: Supersonic air + Hyperloop + Self Driving Car.
presty 5 days ago 0 replies      
first thing that popped in my mind when I heard about the hyperloop was hank rearden
bsherrill 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why not build a tube around the span of earth? A joint world project.
gnu_fan2 5 days ago 2 replies      
i would say that it is marketing if the guy did not own SpaceX. Still I am skeptical. Every child can draw neat pictures and speak about vacuum.
polarix 5 days ago 0 replies      
rbhatia 5 days ago 0 replies      
its up now
oakaz 5 days ago 0 replies      
Does the government give it a fuck?
wehadfun 5 days ago 3 replies      
Appreciate Elon Musk for this idea. But do you really want a bus sized hunk of w(ever)tf this is made out of zipping by you at 700mph?
People simply empty out lettersofnote.com
686 points by tantaman  2 days ago   454 comments top 41
blackhole 2 days ago 20 replies      
I feel like too many people get sucked into the idea of furthering their career, to the point that they forget to further their own life.

What is the point of existence if we never get around to experiencing it?

"It's not the things we do in life that we regret on our death bed, it is the things we do not." - Randy Pausch

nhangen 1 day ago 7 replies      
I have three things to say about this:

1. Many people are horrified by the thought of not being a simple worker bee. They say they want change, but they don't. They want the security of someone else taking care of them. The reason wealth exists is because there are people that cannot live this way, and thus, make their own way. You cannot fault hard working business owners because their employees put themselves in a place to require said employment in order to sustain a life they consider normal.

2. There will always be wealth. If the US gave up capitalism in favor of socialism, the money would be placed in the hands of the whole, and in this case, the government. At that point, the government has the money and the power. We're screwed.

3. Life is suffering. There is no perfection on this realm. Solve this problem and another will follow. This is a symptom of life in samsara. Bukowski recognized this, which is why he talked of a simple life without possessions. If you truly want to break free of 'the man,' you'll have to life a life defined by something other than money, objects, and achievements. For most of us, this is nearly impossible. Middle ground is an illusion.

enraged_camel 2 days ago 9 replies      
>>You know my old saying, "Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors."

Some people balk at the idea of "wage slavery," primarily because they think it is so different from the traditional slavery that it should not be called that.

But the question is, if you are doing something and the alternative is starvation and death, are you really a free human being? If you think about it for a while, the answer becomes clear: you are not free. Sure, you have the freedom to switch from one slave-owner to another, but at no point in the process do you have real freedom.

tankbot 2 days ago 4 replies      
Can I just say that I love Charles Bukowski? If you've never read him go buy his books now. There's so much humanity in there. Some will think he's a downer or depressing, but I think he's genius. His life reminds me of this quote by Hokusai:

When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before.

Never stop learning, folks.

Casseres 2 days ago 3 replies      
Today, too many people have jobs to support their lifestyles, not their lives. People end up working to continue making monthly payments on houses larger than they need, cars fancier than they need, and they won't be able to fully enjoy those things because they're always working 9-5. Today, we are a lot further along than we were 50 years ago. People aren't working in factories to put bread on the table, people are working in offices to pay for their next new car or big screen TV.

My goal is to make as much money as I can as fast as I can so that instead of trying to become the next billionaire, I can stop working and become the next great thinker. I value knowledge and happiness over money.

revelation 2 days ago 2 replies      
$100 are about $650 in todays money [1].

[1]: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=100%24+from+1969

zoba 2 days ago 1 reply      
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work.

I do love my job, though there is so much more I want to do with my life - so much more I could do that (as far as I can tell) would really help humanity. Unfortunately I'm locked into working because of student loans and overall cost of living. I try to do work in my free time but sadly 3 hours a night does not build a company with enough revenue to grant me freedom.

By the time I've earned enough from my job to afford not having a job I worry I'll have moved on to a different life stage where kids will take up my evenings.

I know I'm not the only talented, driven 20-something in this situation and with student loans recently so high, it is a pity to think that overall out generation will have fewer who are able to make their ideas real because of it. Thanks to YC for offsetting that effect and helping us believe we can "get free".

ececconi 2 days ago 1 reply      
You know, I don't see the career ascent about forgetting my own life. I see it as a way I can do good for this world. If I have people under my span of control, I can impart what I believe to be good in this world as a part of my leadership and management style.

I also want to be a motivational speaker when I 'grow up'. I came from humble beginnings. Some people's talks have really changed my life. In order to give those talks and be invited to speak, yes you have to ascend the established social order.

Am I wasting my life by working a lot? No. The things I work so hard for have real effects in this world. My mom has been working for over 40 years of her life. If I do things right, she'll be able to retire eventually. Do I work harder than other people do for the same, or less, compensation? I'm sure I do. But you know what, you have to make the best of the situation you're in.

I was recently invited to give my first talk. Here is the abridged executive summary:http://www.evernote.com/shard/s34/sh/9a92bf45-27e1-4470-be7e...

wwweston 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been at my current full-time job a bit over a year. The previous six years were a mix of freelance, contract, and startup work -- sometimes full-time, sometimes way-more-than-full-time, and sometimes not at all... but usually part-time.

There are some things I like about the current job, and if I stick around at least another six months, I'll likely play a key role in overhauling the front end of a major automaker's website using state-of-the art. Not a bad feather to stick in a cap.

On the other hand, the chances that I'll do anything else in the meanwhile seem pretty slim. I notice in the last year alone, my energy for original/personal projects is diminished, I feel less creative/thoughtful in general -- and arguably even less interesting than during the aforementioned freelance period. I do feel, as Bukowski put it, somewhat emptied out by my work.

It's possible what I really need is a different full-time gig, since I have been in some full-time situations that felt energizing. But I'm starting to be convinced that when I'm hiring myself out part-time, I stay more personally grounded and sharper as far as my general skills and strength in the field goes.

Unfortunately, steady skilled part-time employment seems to be considerably more difficult to find than full-time.

thinker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Such beautiful words. Love the last line: "To not to have entirely wasted one's life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself."
16s 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm glad he made it out, but that's a sad story. When you stop and think about what he's saying, it's depressing. And, it's true.
djim 2 days ago 3 replies      
i sold my startup about 3 months ago, and immediately starting looking for another job. after a couple months, a couple interesting but-not-exciting offers, and one interview process that ended in me not getting an offer, i finally took a worthy vacation. while on a boat in the caribbean, a couple things occurred to me: (1) i really don't need to work for the next ~10 years (2) in that time, i will likely stumble on another opportunity similar to the previous one, which has afforded me this financial freedom (3) i am way more interested in learning, exploring, and art than a "real" job, even a job like my previous one, that i particularly enjoyed. (4) i am very fortunate to be in this position, and i really don't want to waste it.

so i've been giving this topic some serious thought. to work or not to work? that is the question.

foobarqux 2 days ago 0 replies      
This essay isn't particularly good. "The Abolition of Work" and "Quitting the Paint Factory" are both much better essays on the same topic.



dnautics 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't happen to believe the wage system is slavery (I do happen to believe we have a modern slavery system, but that's another story)

"They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work." But then why don't the slaves leave? Unlike in the past, nobody is holding a gun to their head. One possibility, probably popular among entrepreneurial types, is the slaves don't leave, because they don't think they can leave. It's a problem that is easily solved! All the boring types need is a little bit of education, for them to learn that leaving is possibility.

But maybe, what scares us a little bit, is that maybe the slaves don't want to leave. They value that security that the boring life brings them (that is why they complain "it ain't right" - because they have lost something they really valued). This is the really scary thing, because we don't want to be boring but we could see ourselves making the same choice. At the same time we don't understand the choice of the slaves to not leave, we identify with it at a level that we maybe can't explain. But is it a wrong choice? Who are we to judge others for choosing security over wealth or self-exploration? Maybe we are at a knife edge- a little bit less motivation here, a marginal preference there, a taste of failure here, and we, too, would pick security over wealth (of money, of intellect, of experience). I think that the strange paternalistic attitude of the passage is a result of the fear - the fear of that condition.

20130816 2 days ago 0 replies      
> In 1969, publisher John Martin offered to pay Charles Bukowski $100 each and every month for the rest of his life, on one condition: that he quit his job at the post office and become a writer.

this makes me think of basic income, which might be one approach to ending wage slavery:


stuff4ben 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure the alternative is any better as a startup founder/employee. You're putting in greater amounts of hours, blood, sweat, and tears for less money in a lot of cases. Sometimes it pays off, oftentimes it doesn't. Bear in mind I speak as a corporate wage-slave whose company just announced layoffs after a "record quarter". The answer must be to win the lottery, maybe I should start playing...
trustfundbaby 2 days ago 0 replies      
"A man can never drink his fill by waiting in line for the tap"

That quote motivates me everyday, because it reminds me that the things I want in life will never be achieved by working at a place in any capacity where the choice of my continued employment lies in the hands of any one person.

jusben1369 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was struck by the fact that it was written in 1969 yet is incredibly contemporary. Will we lament the same things in 2060?
taigeair 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's my opinion that people live the life they choose. No one is tricking you into it. Who's to say which way of life is right?

Some people enjoy the pleasures of material things and stability. Some enjoy risk and experiences. People always are a bit jealous of the other side but probably are happier with the road they chose.

alexeisadeski3 2 days ago 0 replies      
"They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work."

I suspect the author is being intentionally misleading regarding the costs of staying alive. It doesn't take $20,000/year. More like $5,000, and even that is being generous.

Early Retirement Extreme and other books cover this in more detail, of course.

I do agree with the overall sentiment of his article, but the concept that the current state of affairs is some kind of intentional conspiracy is incorrect. People like the security of being indebted and forced to work, it seems. They are not forced into such a life.

LekkoscPiwa 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting fact: 100usd in 1969 bought you nearly 3 ounces of gold. Price of gold today is 1350usd. Today's value of 100usd in 1969 would be about $4k. Not bad at all.
hcarvalhoalves 2 days ago 2 replies      
Employment is, by definition, exploitation. If the objective of the company is to profit, it has to pay the employee less than the value he generates. The alternative is profiting out of non-internalized costs (e.g., exploiting natural resources).
brianpgordon 2 days ago 0 replies      
> What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

Hm... abject terror of homelessness.

sspiff 2 days ago 0 replies      
He seems to speak of the supervisor of the packers as someone who is above the working life, but the fact is that he is trapped for life as well, he just happens to be trapped one sport higher on a very long ladder.

I figure this being trapped is a sentiment a lot of people share, although I know of a significant minority of people who enjoy their jobs and lives, even after 30 years of "paycheck slavery".

The whole story reminds me of the song Factory by Bruce Springsteen.

EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
orofino 2 days ago 0 replies      
This goes off the tracks for me about midway through. While for many people the reality described is actually their life, there are many of us (and I'd imagine a huge percentage of those reading this) that aren't slaves. If you're making over 70-80k/year, you have the capacity to save a lot and do the things you want to do before you hit 55, 65, or 75.
morgante 2 days ago 3 replies      
Reminds me how lucky I (we?) are to be free of the monotonous prison of every day life which most Americans are stuck in.
cafard 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the scoutmasters of my troop, 45 years ago, was a warehouseman. I doubt that his job was exciting. I imagine he took some satisfaction in doing it well. I suspect that his true satisfaction came from his family and community.

I have relatives and shirttail relatives who never attended or never finished college and have worked at blue-collar trades. Some are happy, some aren't, I don't know how many would recognize themselves as emptied out. Some rightly would not.

Anthony Trollope spent his working life in the British post office. Having more regular ways than Bukowski, he rose to responsible positions, but he worked steadily. I imagine that the readers of 2113 will mostly rate Trollope higher than Bukowski.

DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 2 replies      
I support and understand what he's saying, but I think too many times we set up this false choice between "pursuing our dreams" and "working for the man"

There's honor -- and authenticity -- in making choices for your life that involve working in the system.

I used to look down on those who worked jobs they hated and would say things like "That's just not for me. I don't know how you can do it." until one day somebody took me aside and pointed out what an insulting and condescending attitude I had. I was being a jerk, a well-paid, able-to-pick-what-I-want-to-do jerk. Other people did not have the same lives or face the same choices as I did. I should respect their uniqueness and decisions -- even if they loudly and publicly complained about them.

I have learned that for myself it is too easy to go off on a wild tangent about how one lifestyle is so much better than another, talking about slavery and such, just like in this letter. Basically I was being a judgmental prick, substituting my values for other people's and then declaring that my choices and values were best for everybody.

I finally realized that the quality of life is something each of us owns through our own personal choices.

So I don't do that anymore.

ojbyrne 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing to realize is that Bukowski always considered his full time job to be being a drunk. He just switched his second job from various menial jobs to writing.
nilved 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What a terrible submission title.
collinvandyck76 1 day ago 0 replies      
The early part of my career was spent chasing everything, and ironically, it was when I had the least amount of money. In 1998 I got my first job and immediately got a nice apartment in which to live and a decent car to get around. Even with these somewhat reasonable purchases I was already butting up against what I could afford. And by afford, I mean how much money I had. Soon enough the credit card debt slipped in and I was trapped. Trapped by my debt and all of the obligations that went with it.

This cycle did not stop until I was making a bit more money and finally got serious about saving and investing. When this happened my other priorities shifted dramatically. I was no longer obsessed about getting the newest / best thing or what have you. I paid off my debts and vowed to from then on always live well beneath my means, which I have.

Since that time Ive never felt trapped. Im disciplined about long term saving and having at least six months of normal living expenses in the bank. Ive quit jobs that I simply did not like and later found other jobs that I did. I only regret that I did not do this sooner.

anactofgod 1 day ago 0 replies      
I enjoy Bukowski's work.

But the insights he shares in this letter are tempered by the fact that he didn't quit his job at the Post Office until after a would-be patron "employed" him to write.

Still... Some people never go crazy...

nickthemagicman 2 days ago 1 reply      
IS even the question of leading a meaningful fulfilling life uniquely modern?

How many cavemen or Egyptians or middle age serfs were running around saying "Boy I need more experiences to give my life meaning"?

Maybe we have amazing lives and because we are human beings we are always looking for more.

ezolotko 1 day ago 0 replies      
Buk, you are great when you are a farmer's son. But then, when you take your first job, then second, and then you start to think about art of yours, and then you drink more, and then you found a firm with the best friends of yours, and then you quit because one of them start to bully you in a pursuit of power, and then you go to Shanghai to earn your salary in response to a generous proposition - you realize - one thing to do is to work hard, another is to rest; it's up to you to choose. I am choosing hard work, no matter for what's purpose. And that is why I love you, Buk.
agsamek 1 day ago 0 replies      
The letter and people here do not get that most people simply want to be told what to do. This gives them main sense of work and accomplishment. This also lays down fundation for creating societies.
rooshdi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sad reality, but one hopes we finally crack the code, so to speak, within our lifetimes.
goggles99 2 days ago 0 replies      
This guy worked at a bunch of "shitty" jobs. I think he would be better served advocating that people get a good education and perhaps end up doing something that they actually enjoy. Sorting mail and packing lighting fixtures sucks...

Don't force your reality on the rest of us Hank.

hnnnnng 2 days ago 1 reply      
So beautifully voices exactly what I've been thinking.
seanconaty 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Never thought Bukowski would make it on HN, let alone this high.
blacksqr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bukowski = automatic upvote
Grasshopper 100m Lateral Divert Test spacex.com
634 points by ash  3 days ago   148 comments top 25
alex-g 3 days ago 3 replies      
September 21, 2012: Grasshopper hops 2m (http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/02/08/grasshopper-takes-its-...)

June 14, 2013: Grasshopper flies 325m straight up and down (http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/06/14/grasshopper-completes-...), which was hellishly impressive

Two months later, this test seems enormously more difficult than the flights without the sideways maneuver. And it's not even a year since it left the ground for the first time.

PhasmaFelis 3 days ago 4 replies      
OMG, is this actually supposed to be single-stage-to-orbit?

Ah, Wikipedia says it's two-stage-to-orbit. That's still impressive, but a ship that can reach orbit in a single piece without having to jettison anything is the Holy Grail of spaceflight.

And watching that blazing titan set down on the landing pad as gently as a butterfly is awe-inspiring in any case.

ash 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's interesting to compare this with DC-X "Swan Dive" test in 1995:


bionerd 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is incredible. Yes, it would be insanely cool to live in 2500s with all that privately affordable faster-than-light travel and everything but still... it's very exciting to see the progress being made by private/commercial space programs. I wish them all luck. It must be an amazing feeling to be a part of all this.

This is actually the only thing that's giving me hope that man could really step a foot on Mars or mine valuable resources on asteroids in a (hopefully) not too distant future.

moocowduckquack 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't help but think of Tintin - Destination Moon, when I see that.
wil421 3 days ago 2 replies      
Glad to see that Space is going to be a commercial business instead of private governments doing everything. This gives me hope that Space will be a place that consumers can enjoy.

That said I think that Elon Musk is doing a lot to make things like Space and Electric cars more accessible to the average person. Even though the costs of Tesla cars are high now for the average Joe to afford, they will hopefully be down in the near future. I hope that the same will happen with Space-X.

chm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent work. Really fine engineering we've witnessed there.
stcredzero 3 days ago 2 replies      
Two Stage to Orbit, with vertical rocket-thrust tail-landing for both stages, eschewing carbon fiber for aerospace aluminum and using friction stir welding, rejecting exotic engine designs for proven ones, and financing from dot-com tycoons:

I'm not affiliated, and the end is kinda corny, especially if you are a typical skeptic/rationalist Silicon Valley type. It's not exactly how it happened with SpaceX, but there are quite a few parallels:


EDIT: In case you are not sure, it's a fiction book. It's interesting because it presages some things SpaceX did later.

johlindenbaum 3 days ago 8 replies      
Few questions. Is Grasshopper intended to be a vehicle that ships a payload into a low earth orbit and return itself back to the launch pad?

With that, a question of descent, once it's reached orbit and released its payload, would it re-enter with a short burn towards its earthly destination, decelerate with, say, parachutes, and then do its final descent onto the pad with the rocket? I can't see it doing its entire descent with a rocket, that would use so much fuel, and require so much extra weight.

joss82 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hello, fellow HNers.

So you love rockets and have plenty of time on your hands?

Here is Kerbal Space Program, enjoy!


kilroy123 3 days ago 0 replies      
Launching a ten story tube into the air, and safely landing it on the ground really is impressive.
kfury 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does SpaceX document all their tests publicly? Or are we just seeing the successful ones? (If they've all been successful ones, will we see unsuccessful ones if they come in the future?)
ARothfusz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Holy crap. Suddenly I feel like it's the 21st Century.
cwkoss 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now I want to see what Kerbal Space Program ships the SpaceX guys are making when they are goofing off.
Gravityloss 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how useful the Lunar Lander Challenge was in being a trailblazer. Here's one of Masten Space's 2009 flights. Rock solid transfer from one pad to another, with a 90 second hover. They had hired a guy from Draper Labs to do the control code and won, snatching the big price from Armadillo. Impressive control. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaXW5TaFwAE
abalone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty cool how the lens flare forms an "X" around the exhaust.
amorphid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Useless speculation: Hyperloop is a red herring meant to distract us from the rocket that will get you from LAX (not Sylmar) to SFO in 15 minutes!
vecinu 3 days ago 6 replies      
I don't mean to stir controversy but I am curious how many countries are thinking 'I want one of these for my military'.

Hear me out, wouldn't this technology allow for more advanced ballistic flight across Earth and perhaps even become more efficient than anti-ballistic missiles, evading any 'danger'?.

ondross 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is also using a fairly new engine, the Merlin 1-D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin_1D#Merlin_1D. It is designed for mass production, using nearly 50% fewer components than the 1-C, and it seems to be flying great! Can't wait for the next launch!
agumonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Each videos is more awesome than the previous one, but one thing remains constant, the incredibly short time between low altitude and stable landing.
ballard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Elon gets that humans need to go to the stars to ensure our survival. That's the big idea. The neat part is writing history along the way.
marshc1 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else seeing the youtube loaded bar as gray? Is this a custom overlay?

see: http://imgur.com/wKOB6jh

iotakodali 2 days ago 0 replies      
this should make space travel more affordable
adamwong246 3 days ago 0 replies      
vpayette 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, amazing
Callbacks as our Generation's Goto Statement tirania.org
592 points by matthewn  2 days ago   274 comments top 66
crazygringo 2 days ago 10 replies      
"Await" is fantastic, and having using it for JavaScript (via TameJS and then IcedCoffeeScript), it makes things a lot easier and clearer.

That being said, I don't think the comparison between callbacks and goto is valid.

"Goto" allows you to create horrible spaghetti-code programs, and getting rid of it forces you to structure your programs better.

"Await", fundamentally, isn't really anything more than syntactic sugar (except for exception handling, which is a good thing). "Await" doesn't change how your program is structured at all, it just changes the visual representation of your code -- from indentations in a non-linear order, to vertical and linear order. It's definitely a nice improvement, and makes code easier to understand (and allows for better exception handling), but it's not actually changing the way your program is fundamentally structured.

And finally, "await" is only applicable when a single callback gets called once at the end. If you're passing a callback that gets used repeatedly (a sorting function, for example), then normal-style callbacks are still necessary, and not harmful at all. Sometimes they can be short lambdas, sometimes they're necessarily much larger.

In sum: "await" is great, but there's nothing inherently harmful about callbacks, the way "goto" is. To the contrary -- callbacks are amazingly useful, and amazingly powerful in languages like JavaScript. "Await" just makes them nicer.

swannodette 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yes a thousand million times. This is the reason why people love golang and why there's a lot of excitement about core.async in the Clojure community, particularly for ClojureScript where we can target the last 11 years of client web browser sans callback hell:


Having spent some time with ClojureScript core.async I believe the CSP model actually has a leg up on task based C# F# style async/await. We can do both Rx style event stream processing and async task coordination under the same conceptual framework.

lambda 2 days ago 4 replies      
You get a similar interface in Python's Twisted using the @inlineCallbacks decorator:

    @inlineCallbacks    def example():        try:            obtain_some_lock()            ui_status("Fetching file...")            result = yield fetch_file_from_server(args)            ui_status("Uploading file...")            yield post_file_to_other_server(result)            ui_status("Done.")        except SomeError as e:            ui_status("Error: %s" % e.msg)        finally:            release_some_lock()
I must say that this style of writing async code is much friendlier than descending into callback hell.

There is work to make a similar async interface native in Python 3, in PEP 3156 http://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-3156/, so this should become more widely available even to those who don't use Twisted.

shadowmint 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not buying the c# async/await kool-aid.

Async, sure, I'm down with that, but I've used the c# async stuff now, and while it makes it the app somewhat faster, it has three major downsides (that I encountered):

- Infects everything; suddenly your whole application has to be async.

- Debugging becomes a massive headache, because you end up in weird situations where the request has completed before some async operation completes, the debugger gets scared and stops working.

- It's really hard to test properly.

The only good reason for using it is that because of the infection-property back fitting async to your application is a major headache; if you might use it, you have to use it from the beginning or you get a huge backlog of refactoring and test fixes to do.

-___- 'I might use this for some performance bottleneck I don't yet know about, so better start using it now...' yeah, that's a thing: premature optimization.

NathanKP 2 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who only recently switched to Node.js from PHP I personally haven't had any difficulty switching over to the callback frame of mind, and I haven't experienced the "callback hell" so many people complain about. At first I was hesitant to start with Node because I saw blog posts by people bemoaning the spaghetti callback code that they ended up with. But I haven't experienced any of that, although I am a relatively newbie Node programmer with only a few months of experience so far. My current project is quite non trivial as well, running into the tens of thousands of lines so far.

The key I've discovered to nicely organizing callbacks is to avoid anonymous callback functions unless absolutely necessary for a particular scope, or unless the function is going to be so trivial and short that it can be read in a single glance. By passing all longer, non trivial callback functions in by name you can break a task up into clear functional components, and then have all the asynchronous flow magic happen in one concise place where it is easy to determine the flow by looking at the async structure and the function names for each callback function.

Another major advantage to a code organization like this is that once you have your code such that each step has it's own discrete function instead of being some inception style anonymous function tucked away inside another function inside another callback it allows you to properly unit test individual functional steps to ensure that not only is your code working and bug free at the top level functions, but also that each of the individual asynchronous steps that may make up some of your more complicated logic are working properly.

Most of the bad examples of callback hell that I see have anonymous callback functions inside anonymous callback functions, often many levels deep. Of course that is going to be a nightmare to maintain and debug. Callbacks are not the problem though. Badly organized and written code is the problem. Callbacks allow you to write nightmarish code, but they also allow you to write some really beautiful and maintainable code if you use them properly.

danenania 2 days ago 0 replies      
I generally agree that there are better ways to handle asynchronous control flow than callbacks, but I think this is exaggerated. As in most posts like this, the callback soup examples are difficult to follow primarily because they are horribly written, not because of callbacks.

As long as you write decent code, the main impediment to asynchronous programming is reasoning asynchronously, not syntax. If you require complex asynchronous logic and don't use an appropriate algorithm, you'll end up in the muck whether you use callbacks or await.

Taking go as an example: while I agree that the go statement is more elegant than a callback approach, I see it as quite a minor win compared to channels. The go statement is convenient syntax, but channels are what make concurrency in go feel so robust, and it's a pattern than can be applied just as well in a language that uses callbacks.

davidhollander 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anonymous Callbacks != Callbacks

Callbacks have been around forever in C using named functions, and are not specific to either the current generation of programming languages or programmers. One can still use a named function instead of a locally constructed lambda to represent a callback in a high level languages.

The primary difference is that when declaring named functions non-locally, one must explicitly share state through the parameter rather than implicitly sharing state through lexical scoping. It seems more accurate to label the problem of nesting lambdas to the point of ambiguity as "Lambda Abuse" or "Lexical Scoping Abuse" rather than "Callback Hell".

danabramov 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is some creative use of C# async/await in this blogpost:


Basically, the author implements a first time walkthrough kind of interface a-la iWork very declaratively by using async:

    async Task ShowTheUserHowToSearch ()    {  await Tutorial.EnterText (searchField, minLength: 3);  await Tutorial.Tap (searchButton);  await Tutorial.Congratulate ("Now you know how to search.");  }

fzzzy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I agree, although I think callbacks are more like COME FROM than goto. You see a function being passed somewhere as a callback, and you know the block is going to execute at some point, but most of the time you have no idea what the codepath that calls you back looks like.

There's nothing more frustrating than trying to debug why a callback isn't being called. Who calls it? How do I set a breakpoint somewhere to see why it isn't being called? etc.

The one thing that is still missing from await and other green thread approaches is cheap global contexts. Isolating every different green thread so they can't implicitly share state is the obvious next step.

cscheid 2 days ago 1 reply      
Holy Baader-Meinhof, just today, in frustration, I wrote something like Haskell's sequence_ for ContT, in Javascript:


informatimago 2 days ago 2 replies      
The problem is simply that those languages are not Lisp.

Once good patterns of use of GOTO were found, it was natural to critisize random uses, and to wrap good uses in a lisp macro. Or in a new while or for "instruction".

But then the next construct is discovered, and its bad uses considered harmful, and its good uses need to be wrapped. In lisp, mere programmers will just write the next macro to abstract away this new construct. Other programming languages need to evolve or have new language invented with new "instructions".

So now it's the callbacks. Yes, in lisp we'd just use closures, but this is only a building block for higher level constructs. If those "callbacks" are needed to represent futures, then we'd implement those futures, as a mere lisp macro.

Yes, in the other languages you're still powerless, and need to wait for the language designers to feel the pressure and implement a new "future" instruction or whatever.

Any language construct can be considered harmful eventually. Concretely, a repeative use is a hint of that: the construct becomes meaningless because it's used all the time, or apparently randomly (just like those GOTOs). But it's not that the construct is bad, it's that its usage is not abstracted away in higher level constructs. And the only way to do that is lisp macros.

So unless you're programming in lisp (a homoiconic programming language that let you write easily macros in the language itself), you will always reach a point where some construct will be able to be considered harmful for lack of a way to abstract its uses away.

ryan-allen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand what the big deal is. Callbacks are OK. They're less cumbersome if the language you're using has smaller function definitions.

Callbacks 'get crazy' when you've got more than one I think, and thankfully someone smart has made a library you can use to manage them!


Saying that, I don't mind the way things look with the whole await/async stuff in C# and etc. However I don't think we should be waving our arms around saying callbacks are like goto, they so completely are not! I have written heaps of stuff with callbacks and it's _not that confusing or unmaintainable_. It's just different.

worldsayshi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Evan Czaplicki (author of Elm lang) made the identical argument (sometime?/years ago), with the same reference to Dijkstra's quote, but with another suggested solution, Functional Reactive Programming, on which his language is oriented:


zzzcpan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anonymous callbacks are very powerful and very important. They will make you feel bad for unnecessary nesting. They will force you to learn how to abstract better, especially state changes. They will show you how nice and reliable code can be if it doesn't have shared states across multiple functions and how easy it is to understand consistent code with explicit continuations and how to write one yourself. They will make you a better programmer.

And "await" can only make it harder to visually distinguish which piece of code is executed in parallel and which is executed sequentially. Nesting makes it explicit.

solistice 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was pleasantly suprised that catoverflow is an actual site.
AndyKelley 2 days ago 1 reply      
iced-coffee-script has a similar solution. http://maxtaco.github.io/coffee-script/
pfraze 2 days ago 0 replies      
ES6 generators combined with promises will bring this to the javascripters: http://taskjs.org/
spiritplumber 2 days ago 1 reply      
Callbacks are basically COME FROM, epecially on a platform like a cell phone where you at least in theory have limited processing resources ($40 android phones need apps, too!). They are the devil.
dantle 2 days ago 1 reply      
(C/OS developer spiel)

I'm sick of these app developers assuming that using "goto" is bad practice. The fact is that "goto" is used plenty in great production code you're probably running right now.[1] I'd like to know a cleaner way to abort a function into its cleanup phase when a function call returns an error. And "goto" statements are extremely simple to handle for even the most naive of compilers.

[1] https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/CodingStyle (see chapter 7)

vidarh 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is all simply sugar to hide behind-the-scenes threading behind very narrow interfaces. Which isn't necessarily bad, but it's fun to see it suddenly in favour again and presented as something new.

E.g. Simula67 had Call and Detach for the basic case, and Activate(object representing async behaviour) and Wait(queue) that would both depending on need often be used for the same purpose (as well as a number of other operations). We had to write code using those methods in Simula67 in my introduction to programming class first semester at university...

adamconroy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why do people insist on analysing things using analogies? Analogies are useful for explaining a concept that might not be obvious. Saying callbacks are like gotos, gotos are bad, therefore callbacks are bad is ridiculous.

And he gives some sample code where the 'problem' is nothing to do with callbacks, its just nested lambdas. In fact I find that code quite easy to read, and would be very interested in seeing the same functionality implemented some other way, bearing in mind it is quite a difficult problem to synchronize multiple async operations and usually requires horrible code using multiple mutex.

tonetheman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yup yup yup. I thought I was the only one who noticed that node had reinvented the Windows 3.1 programming loop.
rogerbinns 2 days ago 2 replies      
I noticed that most of the methods awaited on had an Async suffix in their name. Is that some sort of modern hungarian notation, and is it even necessary? It also looks like you can't pass timeouts to await.
voidr 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can write any article like this about anything, here is the formula:

- pick a language feature

- write an article with the title "<language feature> as our Generation's Goto Statement"

- write an example where you misuse <language feature> and over generalize it

- show a workaround that doesn't really save the trouble of actually thinking before typing

The hard thing about callbacks is that you need to think about asynchronous processes which can be hard, the callbacks are not the problem so replacing them with something else won't help you too much.

btilly 2 days ago 0 replies      

Callbacks are a very limited way to do asynchronous programming. However they are a good way to create interfaces that let you call methods and insert your own functionality in the middle.

So yes. Better async is good. But don't take away callbacks. They have their uses.

lists 1 day ago 0 replies      
Completely OT, but when Dijkstra says:

>My second remark is that our intellectual powers are rather geared to master static relations and that our powers to visualize processes evolving in time are relatively poorly developed. For that reason we should do (as wise programmers aware of our limitations) our utmost to shorten the conceptual gap between the static program and the dynamic process, to make the correspondence between the program (spread out in text space) and the process (spread out in time) as trivial as possible.

He's touching on a crucial point in Immanuel Kant's philosophy. Kant theorized that though humans received their sensations as a constant stream of input in time (which is an internal condition of human beings, not a feature of bare reality), we can't actually do anything with that stream without applying concepts so as to form concrete (or abstract) objects, i.e. chairs, black holes, mothers, etc. But how would our minds know when to apply this concept or the other? Kant's reply was that our minds look for little clues called 'schematisms' which tell us what the most appropriate fundamental concept to apply to a part of the stream is, upon which others could be combined to produce objective representations we can think and act upon.

Almost a hundred years later, Nietzsche will claim (paraphrasing) that a measure of strength in a human being is the extent to which to which they can 'consume' phenomena in time, weakness being how direly one needs to apply a static idea to phenomena (like morals, stereotypes, prejudices, cause and effect, etc).

I'm just noting an interesting entry point into an old philosophical conversation. If it's understandable then I hope someone finds it interesting.

cbrauchli 2 days ago 0 replies      
This definitely is a problem in Obj-C. Using GCD and callbacks is usually easier to understand than delegates and manual thread management, but it's still not great. I would love to see something like async/await in Obj-C. There are some great ideas on how to get something similar in this blogpost, but none that I would use in production code unfortunately:http://overooped.com/post/41803252527/methods-of-concurrency
orp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Akka adds something similar in Scala land (and Java) called Dataflow concurrency.


seanmcdirmid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was expecting to read something about FRP or other naturally reactive programming models that dealt with the semantic complexity of callbacks, not just their syntactic complexity. I don't think async constructs and others that depend on CPS techniques are really going to save us from complex programs that we barely understand.
OldSchool 1 day ago 0 replies      
As soon as you have anything involved that's async to your process or thread, you're going to operate most efficiently with something along the lines of a callback. I don't see them as a Goto at all; they're much more like interrupt handlers or at least event handlers if you want jump ahead a generation from there.
10098 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain to me the difference between this and futures (specifically, futures in c++11)?
eonil 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's right that callback model sucks, and the task model is a way to go.

  Sadly, many developers when they hear the word "C# async"   ...  All of these statements are made by people that have yet  to study C# async or to grasp what it does.
But it's unpleasant to see the author is talking concept of task - lightweight threading, coroutine, or whatever - is like a patent of C# (or F#). And furthermore, treating many developers are not able to understand this concept.

Maybe true for the people around him.

I understand his position as a lead developer and an evangelist of Mono/C#, but this attitude is ridiculous.

tehwalrus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am very happy that my current (PhD) code doesn't require me to deal with blocking calls to things (it's just one massive calculation essentially). I remember this nastiness from when I had a real job, and I'll no doubt have to deal with it again when I escape academia.

This article is very interesting - I enjoy articles which spell out the usefulness of a new language feature. I haven't used C# for a few years, and this is a great advert for coming back to it one day.

RHSeeger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Callbacks are a tool in my toolbox. General event based programming is a tool in my toolbox. Various threading models are a tool in my toolbox. Just because there are situations where a tool is not the best choice does not make the tool bad... it means you use a different tool in that case.
gnufied 2 days ago 0 replies      
How is this different from Fibers in Ruby? One can accomplish same thing with Fibers.
halayli 2 days ago 0 replies      
lthread is a coroutine library that allows you to make blocking calls inside coroutines by surrounding the blocking code with lthread_compute_begin() and lthread_compute_end(). This is equivalent to async calls but without the need to capture variables.


Disclaimer: lthread author

dpweb 2 days ago 0 replies      
JS gives you the tools to cope..

  function sequence(fns){   var fn = fns.pop();    while(fns.length) fn = fns.pop().bind(this, fn);    fn();  }  sequence([    function(k) { funcy(1, k) },    function(k) { funcy(2, k)  },    function(k) { funcy(3, console.log)  }  ]);  function funcy(v, cb){console.log(v);cb(v);  }  // ==> 1 2 3 3

swiil 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually believe that code should be synchronous unless instructed to operate asynchronously - just my .02

Await should not be required - it should be more like...


regularWork(); //im waiting till this thing is done

driveHome();// not executed till thing one is done

background orderStatus = orderPizza();


while(orderStatus == 'not ready') {






Like I said - just my humble opinion that the code written would become more expressive.

kudu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of using callbacks, golang embraces synchronous-style calls and makes them asynchronous by switching between goroutines (lightweight threads). gevent (for Python) does something similar. It's certainly an interesting approach IMO.
kirab 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing Ive encountered in modern day programming which is really as evil as goto is aspect oriented programming (AOP). Maybe there are different implementations of AOP but in the one Ive used you were basically able to hook into every method from everywhere and it was impossible to have any grasp on the flow of the program. That is besides using a debugger.
dap 2 days ago 2 replies      
"I have just delegated the bookkeeping to the compiler."

That's not obviously a good thing. Debugging the compiler (or just figuring out why it did something, even if correct) is far more difficult than debugging application code. Given the choice between implementing behavior with application code (or a library function) or adding semantics to the language, I prefer the former because it's much easier to reason about code written in a simple language than to memorize the semantics of a complex language.

[edited to replace sarcasm]

cpprototypes 2 days ago 0 replies      
ES6 generators will be the solution for callback hell in node.js. Node 0.11 already has generators support hidden behind a flag (--harmony-generators) and eventually it will be enabled by default. Generators + libraries like this


will make node.js code more readable.

rbanffy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the problem is not the callback itself, but the nested inline callback.

In any case, I prefer futures.

etler 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always liked event based systems the most. I find them to be clean and flexible. Sometimes you want to run some more code after you run an async operation, or you want to run multiple operations at once and deal with them out of order. Await seems pretty linear.
Tloewald 2 days ago 1 reply      
The ease with which callbacks can be created leads people to create them carelessly and excessively. While I like what the article has to say, there are ways to write callback heavy code that do not get ugly so fast. Looking at the iOS nested block example from Marco Arment -- the first step is to not do everything inline. Then the code suddenly becomes clear and the argument becomes one of syntax sugar.

Comparing callbacks to goto is a tad unfair. They don't merely solve async issues, but also event handling and dynamic systems to name two common uses. I don't see a better solution on the table. Using callbacks to write deeply async code is the real problem. And while async/await may help with this problem, it still won't tell you why step 3 never finishes, because it's still waiting for a come from.

kbradero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Miguel is always fun/good to read.
robomartin 2 days ago 1 reply      
In the right places and for the right reasons they are fine. A lot of code today devolves into what I've come to call "callback spaghetti" and, well, good luck. The toughest thing sometimes is getting your mind around what is supposed to happen and, more importantly, what is not.

I found that sometimes it helps to build a state machine to effectively run the show and try to limit callbacks to setting flags and/or navigating the state tree. State machines make following code functionality a breeze, even when dealing with really complex logic.

tome 2 days ago 0 replies      
jostylr 2 days ago 0 replies      
To appreciate whether callbacks are Goto and what to do about them, it is probably good to read a good perspective on Goto from back in the day: http://cs.sjsu.edu/~mak/CS185C/KnuthStructuredProgrammingGoT...

When skimming it, I noticed the appeal to events and the precursors to literate programming (Knuth eventually came up with literate programming a few years after this paper was written).

olegp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed, that's why we're using fibers and common-node (https://github.com/olegp/common-node) at https://starthq.com
racketeer 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is what continuations are for.
Tichy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does Await convert those async calls back into synchronous calls, or what does it do? Because that would be kind of defeating the purpose of doing things asynchronously?

And you don't have to nest all those callbacks and write them inline. Rearrange your code a bit.

strictfp 2 days ago 0 replies      
So... This article is basically saying that blocking style programming is a lot easier to read and write, and proceeds with demoing a lib which makes async calls look sync. So instead of doing this in $lang, why not invest time in making blocking style faster on the kernel level? Perhaps introduce actors or tasks in the kernel, so that every lang can benefit.
xedarius 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can see how this could be useful for Javascript and web stuff. But it isn't Async, this is in effect a blocking call.
blacksqr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love it -- another dramatic unveiling in a cutting-edge language of a feature Tcl has had for decades (google "vwait").
sukaka 2 days ago 1 reply      
futures are so nice to use in scala. warping back to my planet..
hderms 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love when Node.js advocates try to convince you that promises are as good a concept as anyone would need to handle asynchronous programming
jheriko 2 days ago 0 replies      
callbacks are like goto in that you can create terrible code by using them badly, but also they are vital to implementing good code. if, for, while and co are all syntactic sugar for correct and standardised use of goto with hints to help the compiler make optimisation.

in both cases though we don't something universally evil or bad - just something that bad programmers can and will abuse.

ilaksh 2 days ago 0 replies      
In ToffeeScript you can just do e, data = readFile! fname

Or take a look at CoffeeScript or IcedCoffeeScript or LiveScript back calls.

ttflee 2 days ago 0 replies      
One instant cure:

Make rules in IDE/editors, for each async/anonymous closure, undo the indent for one level.

javert 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have a basic technical question. I work in C for embedded systems, so I'm a bit "behind the times."

How is "await" any different from a regular blocking system call? A regular system call does exactly what is being described: The system call happens, and then when it is finished, execution resumes where it left off.

(Yes, this makes the thread block... which is why you have multiple threads. I think the answer will have something to do with this, though...)

itengelhardt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having had the pleasure to work with node.js for the past months, I upvoted this submission on title alone.
Murk 2 days ago 1 reply      
await PostPicToServiceAsync(mFile.GetStream (), tagsCtrl.Tags);

Seems to be equivalent to a blocking call of old, or am I missing something?

stupejr 2 days ago 1 reply      
At least for java, when your software library exists in the cloud, I don't see how you could avoid using callbacks.
boopbeep 2 days ago 2 replies      
shenanigans. Pyramids (at least in js) can be easily avoided by simply naming your functions. Treating them like the first class objects they are. Naming the function means you are no longer going to an arbitrary code block, but instead going to a concept whose name, doc string, and (through hoisting) position on the page illuminate its purpose.

Callbacks aren't bad. Pyramids are bad. Stop writing pyramids.

Nodejs also establishes a nice api for callback functions-- in particular, callbacks are defined with an `error` and a `data` argument. You handle the error if it is non-null, otherwise execute `data`.

If you want to avoid callbacks, Node also provides event emitters, and streams. Streams in particular provide a nice api for dealing with event based programming.

coreyja 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think this article misses a main point and that's the fact that all await does it take a function that used to be asynchronous and makes it synchronous. While yes, there are definitely use cases where that is nice, in general I think that if you want to use an await command, why are you making a call that was meant to be async? You are defeating the whole point of async calls.

Yes I know a lot of standard libraries have calls that are async and you may not really need for them to be async but I don't think that this is the case often enough that we should abandon callbacks and the like and go back to an age where all code must be synchronous. I know the author isn't saying it to that extreme necessarily, but his comparing callbacks to gotos is extreme as well.

Googles 20% time, which brought you Gmail and AdSense, is now as good as dead qz.com
546 points by antr  2 days ago   468 comments top 81
donw 2 days ago 12 replies      
Few people remember it, but the same thing happened at HP. It used to be that HP engineers were expressly given Friday afternoons and full access to company resources to just play with new ideas. Among other things, this led to HP owning the printer market.

Then "professional" management came in and killed the proverbial goose. They had to focus more on the "bottom line". To do what was easy to measure and track, rather than what was necessary for the next step of the company, and now HP is a mere shadow of its former glory -- directionless and bleeding.

3M and Corning have largely avoided this fate, but it seems that Google won't. This should make a lot of entrepreneurs happy, as there will continue to be a lot of top-down management-driven products that, if history shows, will continue to be market failures. Yet somehow, I'm incredibly sad, as it seems that too many companies go down this road.

dekhn 2 days ago 6 replies      
I am a Googler. I will only speak to my personal experience, and the experience of people around me: 20% time still exists, and is encouraged as a mechanism to explore exciting new ideas without the complexity and cost of a real product.

My last three years were spent turning my 20% project into a product, and my job now is spent turning another 20% project into a product. There was never any management pressure from any of my managers to not work on 20% projects; my performance reviews were consistent with a productive Googler.

Calling 20% time 120% time is fair. Realistically it's hard to do your day job productively and also build a new project from scratch. You have to be willing to put in hours outside of your normal job to be successful.

What 20% time really means is that you- as a Google eng- have access to, and can use, Google's compute infrastructure to experiment and build new systems. The infrastructure, and the associated software tools, can be leveraged in 20% time to make an eng far more productive than they normally would be. Certainly I, and many other Googlers, are simply super-motivated and willing to use our free time to work on projects that use our infrstructure because we're intrinsically interested in using these things to make new products.

ferdo 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'd point out that Page and Brin predicted the course of their own search engine, and perhaps their own company, in 1998:

The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.

We expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.

Advertising income often provides an incentive to provide poor quality search results.

"Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious. A good example was OpenText, which was reported to be selling companies the right to be listed at the top of the search results for particular queries. This type of bias is much more insidious than advertising, because it is not clear who deserves to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed.

We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.

Search engines have migrated from the academic domain to the commercial. Up until now most search engine development has gone on at companies with little publication of technical details. This causes search engine technology to remain largely a black art and to be advertising oriented. With Google, we have a strong goal to push more development and understanding into the academic realm.

> http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html

pg 1 day ago 1 reply      
The title of this article may unintentionally embody a point about 20% time, because GMail and AdSense have something else in common that Occam's razor implies was more important than Google policies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Buchheit
spankalee 2 days ago 3 replies      
As a Googler, I can confirm that this article is... completely wrong.

I don't have to get approval to take 20% time, and I work with a number of people on their 20% projects.

I can also confirm that many people don't take their 20% time. Whether it's culture change due to new hiring, lack of imagination, pressure to excel on their primary project, I'm not sure, but it is disappointing. Still, in engineering No permission is needed.

g20 2 days ago 5 replies      
20% time isn't dead -- I have been using it at Google consistently for over 7 years, and it has immensely benefited me. You don't need any permission, at least in engineering.

However, I would agree that it is "as good as dead". What killed 20% time? Stack ranking.

Google's perf management is basically an elaborate game where using 20% time is a losing move. In my time there, this has become markedly more the case. I have done many engineering/coding 20% projects and other non-engineering projects, with probably 20-40% producing "real" results (which over 7 years I think has been more than worth it for the company). But these projects are generally not rewarded. Part of the problem is that you actually need 40% time now at Google -- 20% to do stuff, then 20% to tell everyone what you did (sell it).

I am a bit disappointed that relatively few of my peers will consciously make the tradeoff of accepting a slower promotion rate in return for learning new things. Promotion optimizes for depth and not breadth. Breadth -- connecting disparate ideas -- is almost invariably what's needed for groundbreaking innovation.

JamesCRR 2 days ago 4 replies      
"if 20% time has been abandoned at Google, are other companies, which reportedly include Apple, LinkedIn, 3M and a host of others, wise to continue trying to copy it?"

That's incorrect, AFAIK 3M were the first company to pioneer this approach (with 15% of time spent on self-directed projects).

For example see: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1663137/how-3m-gave-everyone-day...

Talking to a friend at 3M (who has been there 20+ years, an engineer with dozens of patents) I am told that while 15% officially still exists, for a long time it's effectively meant working 115% of hours.

Nonetheless the tradition allowing self-directed research continues at 3M - and this might mean using lab resources, or creating prototypes without getting approval.

nostrademons 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just launched a project, which made it to #2 on Hacker News, which was done almost exclusively in 20% time. (Well, also a few nights and weekends, and my manager gave me some time away from my main project to work on it, but it was in all ways a 20% project. Self-conceived, self-directed, and done in addition to my regular job duties.)


graycat 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of good remarks in this thread.

I will try to add a point I haven't seen here yet:

Once I was in a big company with a big, famousresearch lab.

The group I was in, just three of us, was led by aguy who had taken some technical work and publishedsome papers. The journals were peer-reviewed butsemi-popular so reached some ordinary businesscustomers. The papers fit in with a lot of hype atthe time.

So, some of the customers picked up a phone andcalled our group for more information. So, presto,we got contact with real customers otherwiseessentially forbidden in research.

Why forbidden? Because the sales/marketing guyswanted to be the guys who had total control over allcontact with customers.

Eventually our little group broke up, and I wantedto do some research that would lead to products tobe sold to customers. I started to discover that noone in the company wanted that. The big guys inresearch wanted to throttle all contacts outsideresearch and mostly didn't want any. The people insales, marketing, product development, and productproduction didn't want to deal with anything newfrom research. No one wanted a research worker beetalking to real customers.

Next, when research did come up with something thatmight be of interest to real customers, no onewanted to pursue that opportunity. Again, themarketing people wanted to be the source of all newproduct/service initiatives. No one in researchwanted a research worker bee to get credit/blamehaving a product go from research to success/failurein the market.

In the end, research was forced to be essentiallyirrelevant to the business. Finally research wasturned into a patent shop so that lawyers could takethe big patent portfolio, go to companies, claimpatent infringement, and 'license' the patentportfolio.

Point: Generally, a business organization, given anice new product/service to offer their customers,has multiple layers of organizations and people,processes, reasons, etc. why they just do not, notwant to come out with anything new. Period.

Curiously, yes, some of the people at some of thecustomer organizations were eager to work with ourgroup in research as a way to look more innovativewithin their own organizations. Here, of course,they didn't have to work through layers ofmanagers but only had to exercise their ownfreedom to handle their own responsibilities.

So, lesson: Commonly individuals are ready to doand offer new things to others or try new thingsfrom others, but it's the layers of managers whoblock such things.

So, the blockage of these layers of managers is oneof the main reasons and opportunities forentrepreneurship.

Yes, it's dumber than paint, but it's usually theway of the world.

zhyder 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a Googler, and comments here from other Googlers are correct: 20% time still exists and requires no manager approval, but only a minority of engineers take advantage of it. For instance, in my team of 14, only 2 work on 20% projects.

I haven't been at Google long enough, but I doubt there was ever a time when a majority of engineers did 20% work. It's hard: you have to take away not only time, but also focus from your main project (which like all software is probably already taking longer to build than you'd like). Most engineers aren't motivated enough.

api 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Googles 20% time, which allows employees to take one day a week to work on side projects, effectively no longer exists. Thats according to former Google employees, one who spoke to Quartz on the condition of anonymity and others who have said it publicly.

What happened to the companys most famous and most imitated perk? For many employees, it has become too difficult to take time off from their day jobs to work on independent projects.

This is a strategic shift for Google that has implications for how the company stays competitive, yet there has never been an official acknowledgement by Google management that the policy is moribund. Google didnt respond to a request for comment from Quartz."

What I've heard is more nuanced: the policy is not dead, but it's very hard to both satisfy the core demands of your job and maintain 20% time. So it's not dead, but possibly not an actual priority in the culture the way it used to be..?

vijayboyapati 1 day ago 1 reply      
I worked at Google from 2002-2007, and the dirty little secret is that there is no 20% time. It's 120% time. You work a full schedule, and if you want to put in extra hours for a side project go ahead. I explicitly asked to use 20%-time to work on a side project (i.e., literally take 1 day a week to work on it) and was refused.

20% time has always been a great marketing gimmick for Google. I remember interviewing candidates and mentioning it as a bonus to prospective candidates - most employees mentioned it as a bonus because we were inculcated into believing it was actually a bonus. It's much easier to see that it was never a real perk once you're outside the bubble.

btipling 2 days ago 1 reply      
It probably made more sense to have 20% time when Google didn't have tens of thousands of engineers. When you have a few hundred really smart people all working in the same building back in the early 2000's in Mountain View, it was I imagine a different thing than it would be now.
akadien 2 days ago 2 replies      
This means that a lowly engineer with a great idea will leave Google to develop it instead of developing it at Google. Perhaps, this is a good outcome given the way Google keeps killing web services that people find useful but aren't profitable for Google.
hvs 2 days ago 1 reply      
Six months after he took the reins, Page announced that Google would adopt a more wood behind fewer arrows strategy that would put more of Googles resources and employees behind a smaller number of projects.

There's nothing more soul-crushing for an organization than a board of directors.

acqq 2 days ago 1 reply      
The absolutely relevant Dilbert strip:


throwawaykf02 2 days ago 2 replies      
A Google recruiter, while doing his spiel, told me in a light-hearted, offhand manner that some engineers call it "120% time". Having lurked here long enough and read similar sentiments from ex- and current google employees, it wasn't really news to me, but I was pleasantly surprised at his candor.

But do any of the other companies listed do 20% time? AFAIK, they only have infrequent "hack days".

winter_blue 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Six months after he took the reins, Page announced that Google would adopt a more wood behind fewer arrows strategy that would put more of Googles resources and employees behind a smaller number of projects. This meant killing off Google Labs, which had previously been Googles showcase for its experimental projectsmany of them products of employees 20% time.

Guess who advised Larry Page to focus on a small number of projects? Steve Jobs.[1] It seems like Larry's acceptance of Jobs' advice has sabotaged Google. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but one does wonder if this was Jobs' secret intention.

[1] See the second quote in: http://www.edibleapple.com/2011/10/22/steve-jobs-advice-to-l...

kyllo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Businesses don't live and grow forever. They have a lifecycle, and when they get big enough and their business model becomes mature enough, they divert resources away from risky innovation and toward defending the fortune they've amassed, defending their primary cash cow products against competition through anticompetitive practices like patent litigation, and promising steady returns to shareholders. The problem is, this swing toward conservatism tends to fossilize both the product and the organization.

If you fully de-risk your company, it will stagnate. No risk, no reward either. And in Google's quest to kill Microsoft, they are becoming Microsoft.

diminish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually that's good news for startups.

Maybe current Google employees now prefer to develop their ideas in their own startups rather than as part of the 20% program..

jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd better stop working on my 20% project. I just wish I didn't have to hear this from Quartz!
api 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to say one more thing: I've heard some Googlers say this is accurate, and I've heard some say 20% time is alive and well.

Google is gigantic these days. It probably depends a lot on where you are in the company. Two people in different Google divisions or even physical offices are not going to have the same experience.

graeme 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the opposite of Black Swan farming.

With any project like 20% time, you should expect that almost everything produced will be worthless. So what? All you need are 1-2 big hits to justify the entire program.

Letting employees work on what they think will be valuable is a bottom up approach that can reveal knowledge that's inaccessible to managers.

Some comments on here say that the program 'only' created Gmail. That's been a massive success for Google. That + the smaller successes it has led to likely justify all the projects that didn't pan out.

skittles 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's human nature to stop "screwing around" in order to get "real" work done and make your boss happy. The only way to keep 20% time is to force everyone to take it. If others on your team stop doing it, then the competitive balance isn't fair anymore. If your boss can get away with unofficially taking it from you, then she will. Something like 20% time must be in the company policies with punishment for those that discourage it.
notacoward 2 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't seem all that surprising. You get what you measure. If Google has been placing a greater weight on direct short-term contributions than on blue-sky projects, and then putting employees in competition with one another, then of course employees are going to feel under pressure to reallocate that 20% of the time toward the stuff that makes them money. Some persist anyway, because of personal satisfaction or (much less often) sincere belief that what they're working on in their 20% time will eventually win big for both themselves and Google, but employees take those risks and make those deals at every company. The middle managers have no reason to support it as the general case, and most employees don't have the backbone to force the issue. Ultimately it's a bit like working from home. Some do it even at companies that don't have a policy for it, and some companies that do have such a policy don't really make it possible.
smackfu 2 days ago 4 replies      
Honestly, this completely makes sense given how Google has been killing off non-profitable products lately. Why pay engineers to work on projects that will never meet a business case? This isn't the olden days of Google, where they would shovel anything out there and see if it stuck.
jlees 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems odd that nobody is mentioning Google's in-house makerspace, hackathons, and 20% weeks (where engineers without 20% projects, or who prefer time-boxed commitments, take a week once a quarter to work on stuff). I ran a 20% week project last year - or maybe the year before? - and there are several really fantastic people working tirelessly on the Garage and other makerspace stuff to ensure that the 20% mindset is alive and kicking.

I totally understand the "management killing freedom of experimentation" comments, but they are only one side of the story, and a side explicitly pulled from disgruntled Xooglers at that.

The Garage is one of the things I miss most about Google - both the makerspace itself, and what it represents. We hosted several internal hackathons there, both within and outside the intern season and had great success.

null_ptr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Maybe developers smartened up. If you have a solid idea that Google would benefit from and allow you to work on it in your 20% time, why not quit and do something similar on your own? Google is no longer a cutesy company, they're a corporation like all others, and most employees probably woke up and realized they don't owe it a single thing, let alone their brightest ideas.
cLeEOGPw 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Google has a highly developed internal analytics team that constantly measures all employees productivityand the level of productivity that teams are expected to deliver assumes that employees are working on their primary responsibilities 100% of the time."

I know that it is a large company and control is required to manage everything, but this sounds depressing. I'm glad I work in a tiny company and even smaller team.

tokenizer 2 days ago 2 replies      
I curious if they did any cost benefit analysis in regards to declines in hiring quality when they removed such a feature.
hobs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I do not run a multi-billion dollar tech company, but I look at this and feel a bit saf.

Some of the most useful stuff that has come out of google has been due to the labs, and the people who work at google are supposedly some of the people who are at the top of their game, who are now not going to benefit us with their great ideas, just work on the "more wood" approach, which just sounds like the google employees and google consumers are getting the wood.

leoc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wasn't the "all the wood behind one arrow" motto famous for heralding the decline of Sun Microsystems?
jfasi 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone inside Google, this simply doesn't square with reality: just yesterday I spoke to a friend about joining a project he's working on on a twenty percent basis.
petercooper 2 days ago 1 reply      
There was a joke going around recently. "I work at Google and still have 20% time. It's called Saturday."

(Yes, yes, the % isn't correct. It doesn't matter ;-))

So8res 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bullshit. I'm a Googler, and I'm 20%ing today (as soon as I finish breakfast).

There's lots of pressure to focus and do well on your main project, sure. But it's not external pressure, it's internal pressure. Everyone wants their software to be great. It's hard to detach for a day, ignore the influx of bugs and emails, switch gears, and work on something completely different. Most engineers don't want to spend the mental overhead.

But speaking from experience, when you do choose that path you get nothing but support.

argumentum 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like Google is splitting into Google-Page and Google-Brin (X Labs). I'd much rather join the latter, but perhaps it wouldn't exist without the former.
ollysb 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not like there's a shortage of startups to provide innovation so it probably just makes more sense to buy the successful ones than speculatively spend a fifth of their workforce on random ideas.
na85 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty sure this is false. My brother is a google engineer and he was demoing a project for me that he and some other guy had been doing in their 20% time over the last week.

This was yesterday.

freyr 1 day ago 0 replies      
After getting a PhD in (non-CS) engineering and a boring office job, I became somewhat enamored with the idea of Google's 20% time allowance and its apparent spirit of innovation. It led me recently to begin investing my free time in learning the foundations of CS properly. While this effort could lead me down different paths, in the back of my mind, I always thought it would be really cool to land a job at Google. That possibility, whatever its likelihood, has motivated me.

So in some sense, this comes as depressing news.

But not really, because another company will take its place, and I can set my sights there.

noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right along with "anecdotes are not data" should be "long-term success is not made of little bits of short-term success".
levosmetalo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did that 20% time actually bring anything useful at Google, or it's just a myth?

IIRC, both Gmail and AdSense mentioned in the title didn't come to Google as 20% byproducts, but as acquisitions.

Does anyone know of any popular (by Google standards) product that started that way?

cupcake-unicorn 1 day ago 1 reply      
For what it's worth, I had a friend who worked at Google a few years ago and asked her about her 20% time. I was extremely underwhelmed, as it sounded like the exact same project she was working on from day to day. My idea of 20% time was always this really creative unbounded time to pursue ideas and things that are interesting to you, but for her it really just sounded like a logical extension of what she was already doing. It was just weird, given all of the projects in all of Google, with all sorts of interests, why would she just focus on the things she was already doing?

If that was where 20% time was going, I don't think we're missing much.

nappy-doo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, I'm a Googler. I just went to the internal 20%-time page. It's still there. Still looks about the same as last year, and the year before that.

Despite the rumors, I don't think 20%-time is dead.

joshfraser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Larry Page had that chat w/ Steve Jobs where Page asked Jobs for advice. Jobs supposedly told him he had to start cleaning shop if he was to avoid becoming the next Microsoft. Page apparently took Jobs' message to heart as he immediately began unifying services and shutting down anything that didn't fit with the new mission. It's easy to see how 20% time was part of the reason things got so messy and it makes sense why they're scaling it back now.
EnderMB 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know it'd be impossible to know these stats, but it'd be interesting to see how many (recent) ex-Googlers went on to start their own successful startup. With that, it'd also be quite interesting to speculate how many of these business ideas could have benefited by being "within" Google.

In many ways it's a shame, although I think most of us can appreciate that the Google of yesterday is a different beast to the Google of today. One area where I think it could really hurt Google is in recruitment. I imagine the "20% rule" would have been a huge factor in getting the best engineers to work at Google. With this news, I can see some of the magic of Google disappearing in my mind.

at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know a few people who have worked there over the years and they confirmed the same thing - albeit with a huge caveat.

The two people I know said the 20% was a way for their brains to take a break and think creatively. Nothing was too crazy or far fetched not to try out. They said it helped combat the crazy hours and working from dusk till dawn. In short, it helped prevent burnout. I would be willing to bet the turnover rate will start increase as their employees start to work more hours, without any breaks, and nothing to give them something to look forward to and burnout starts to settle in much faster.

Sure, it's not going to make them go bankrupt, but it will have a real world cost to their bottom line.

pm 2 days ago 0 replies      
3M didn't copy 20% from Google. They were doing it well before Google ever decided to do it.
calinet6 2 days ago 0 replies      
/play trombone

Whelp, it's been grand, Google. Who's next?

Someday a company might actually grow correctly and preserve their humanity and agility despite our tendency for social discord as a species, but it's a damn hard problem.

SkyMarshal 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered if one day a week was the optimum use of 20% time, given the need for extended concentration and flow to do really good work in software development.

Google has had some success with it obviously, but I wonder how it would have worked had they done it by Quarter or semi-annually instead.

Say, you meet a certain threshold in your performance review, you get a lump sum of ~20% of the time period that the review covers.

Say for a quarterly review, if you meet the threshold, you get 2.6 weeks. Or semi-annually you get 5.2 weeks, straight. You have to be at the office, but you can work on your own project during that time.

5.2 weeks is some serious hacking time, enabling a great deal of extended focus. Highly productive Google engineers could probably bootstrap a startup MVP in that time, except of course Google would own it.

cygwin98 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does it mean that we reach peak Google now?
thehme 2 days ago 0 replies      
First, I was sort of annoyed that I had to "sign in" in order to read public statements from former employees about the "20% time" being dead at Google. Beyond that, I think few companies exists that just want to make great products and know that eventually the money will come. In the meantime, most companies are there to make money and if the numbers show that people are more productive working 100% of their time on responsibilities rather than innovation, then who can blame them - they want to make money. However, this is Google, a mega company making tons! of money, so I expect them to encourage innovation. In fact, someone I know recently interviewed there and the "20% time" for side projects is something they seem proud to promote, so can it really be dead? I think the issue may be in the managers/company EXPECTING results out of this time investment, rather than seeing it as a way to encouraging innovation that won't necessary lead to a Gmail or Talk.
zafka 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I am saddened by the fact that this is coming to an end, I understand it. I have always wanted to work in a "Bell labs" type of environment. Now that the little fish I was working at got bought by "big Corp" I have been angling to get something like this started at our division. But....while I have the type of mind that does very well pulling in disparate ideas and melding them together, I have found that a lot of the other engineers, even the very smart ones, are not always good at invention. I can imagine that Google, has possibly found a way to identify the best group to allow the extra free time, rather than allowing it to everyone. Ideally, if they gave 75 to 100% freedom to the 1 to 5% that have the "gene" of true creativity, they will be better off.
elliottcarlson 2 days ago 1 reply      
My previous employer had a 10% time in place - which while in theory was a great idea, I found myself always too busy to take advantage of the time. This is in no fault to my employer, or my direct management - but lets face it - at a startup, there is little room to not be working. When you already are coding long hours, trying to make quick changes, implementing new features constantly - there just isn't enough time to do it.
spiritplumber 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's sad.

I remember being in direct competition on a project with a google 20% team, and only beating them by a few weeks. We had fun with that.

I guess that's just the natural life cycle of companies?

test-it 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's very logical. Back in the day G had very few, very bright employes. Nowadays they have a lot more people, who are, on average, less intelligent and have less will power. Which means the majority of G-ers today are incapable of innovation and letting everyone take the Fridays off is a huge waste.
MichaelMoser123 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think that due to new focus on google+ the company is now less able to adopt new projects, if the new idea does not originate from project management. With google+ all features have to be integrated, so simply there is also less incentive/room for innovation; things that stand out of the google+ user experience must be cut for the sake of consistency;

This tendency is self enforcing: If there is less opportunity for the side project to make it then developers will be less inclined to follow through with the idea.

So as an outside observer I can identify a cycle: less room for innovation breeds less incentive for an individual to come up with initiative. Management sees that its liberalism is besides the point, so free room for initiative is scrapped.

Maybe google can still keep on to a culture of innovation in areas of infrastructure and research, but in a wider sense google+ probably did them in.

Maybe that is the right thing to do: they have enough money to buy any start-up if it looks promising. I don't know which one is more cost effective: exploring ideas in-house or buying out start-ups; however if Google looks like any other ordinary shop then it will be less able to attract top talent. I would guess that the free food is not the winning perk that attracts developers.

smutticus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Public companies must focus 100% of their energy and attention on this quarter's earnings. Anything less and the CEO could get fired. Actual investment in long term strategies gets reduced to lip service.
grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are a few other signs that Google is freaking out about wasting money.

- search in Gmail is actually losing functionality.

- hemming and hawing about the NSA scandal (not wanting to risk irritating political leaders)

- ending free google apps tier

- ending google reader

- ending 20% time

eliben 1 day ago 0 replies      
A completely wrong piece of HN-bait.
plywoodtrees 1 day ago 0 replies      
This doesn't match my experience as a Googler. I do 20% projects, and my manager has a 20% project. It helps keep things fresh and interesting and I get exposure to more of the vast ecosystem of Google stuff than I would see in my main job.

I get praise and appreciation, and bonuses from other teams. I think it looks good on a resume, I learned something, and it builds a connection across teams. I know the things I'm doing are helping Google as a whole.

People are always going to have different feelings, and often mixed feelings, about putting time into a side project rather than concentrating on their main thing or doing something away from the computer. For me it comes and goes: some days I want a change and sometimes I feel too busy.

How many of you who have startups would feel OK about taking time from it to spend Friday working on an open source project, even if you don't have a boss that's stopping you?

krob 2 days ago 0 replies      
This always happens when large companies assert more control in the form of analytic analysis on the productivity of virtually everything. When you are building a pipeline which must be efficient, analytic analysis / statistical analysis plays a huge role in improving efficiency, but it's also a stifling factor when it pertains to the creativity of new solutions.

Google previously focused more on the creativity of new better solutions to an array of different verticals. Now they are focusing on the creativity of their own "super-man-team" instead of the "our peoples make crazy stuff, we hire amazing people" and let them go at it in their spare time and build innovative projects.

Maybe this time marks a period in Google's future where they stop innovating in a disruptive fashion.

zerooneinfinity 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can confirm this. When I went on interview at Google and asked various engineers what they did for their 20% time they all said they didn't have time for it.
stormcrowsx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anywhere I've worked that says they do it ends up being more like 100% bottom line and the extra 20% is expected to happen as extra hours. I work on those "extra" projects during regular hours anyway. If I don't get to practice my creativity, programming turns into a drag and I get less done. Most of the time they happily deploy the extra stuff I make and I've never been reprimanded for it even when the extra work was a miss.
morgante 1 day ago 0 replies      
So we can effectively say goodbye to a strong engineering culture at Google. With layers and layers of PMs, the best and brightest have no desire to entire their system. So Google's left with the academically talented individuals who don't have much initiative or drive outside of extremely narrow scopes. (So, innovation was killed by the bottom line.)
tomasien 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't their continued investment in things like Google X sort of the more scalable replacement to 20% time, now that not all of the engineers are brilliant and driven? Just kind of a natural result of scale - find the people that were actually using 20% time and give them 100% time.
mck- 1 day ago 0 replies      
> And whats more, if 20% time has been abandoned at Google, are other companies, which reportedly include Apple, LinkedIn, 3M and a host of others, wise to continue trying to copy it?

I thought it was Google that copied it from 3M, who invented the Scotch Tape during the 20% time?

snorkel 2 days ago 3 replies      
No companies should be offering 20% time anyway because it's a difficult promise to keep between crunch schedules and need to keep work between teams synchronized. Some companies also have creative interpretations of "20% time" as "We offer 20% time: you can spend 20% of your time doing whatever marketing needs you to do" turning the whole notion of 20% time into a disincentive.

Hack Days work much better. Easier to accommodate and more fun.

cpcarey 2 days ago 0 replies      
20% time helps bring in the "entrepreneurial" types of engineers that Google seeks to hire and as it starts to disappear, they might see fewer of those hires and more of those engineers leaving. Perhaps it's simply because Google has grown to the size where it can take on really big innovative projects (Google X) instead of the respectively smaller projects that were created under 20% time. They've found that they can't have both without hurting their bottom line, so they've decided to go after the big projects. It's a significant shift, but in the end, it could be good for all of us because many have the resources to go after the small and medium wins, but only a few can go after the really big wins.
nerfhammer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Killing Reader -- something no engineer would ever do -- was already proof that the engineers are no longer in charge
_pmf_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
> It used to be that HP engineers were expressly given Friday afternoons

What a huge sacrifice HP made thereby. Friday afternoon is otherwise the most productive time of the week.

sebnukem2 1 day ago 0 replies      
And that signals the beginning of the end for Google, when an engineer-lead company is taken over by "managers". It happened and will happen to all companies.
GoldfishCRM 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great news. Even Google that where a startup started are starting with big business bad manners. All of us know that starting a company is much much easier then it was before and defently not like in the 1950 where you needed a lot of money to get going. All of my worries that google will keep a dominated position on the market is gone. So lets go out there and kill it.
cyberzeus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Lots of the discussion below focusses on the merits of MBAs, upper management, etc. - and while that is good discussion, I just want to add that the killing of this policy - if valid - is yet another example of our flawed practice of capitalism. Capitalism was never meant to destroy creativity nor innovation nor people - but our use of it does lead to those inevitability because of our worst human trait - GREED. Gecko was indeed wrong - GREED is not good - drive is - and they are not the same thing. We need to sharply change how we practice capitalism and develop, into all of our financial models, factors both for total cost impact (i.e. environment, people, etc.) as well as innovation. Current economic models in use do not look at these critical aspect of our existence and until they do, we're all screwed. Innovation and drive are what have brought humanity to this most amazing place in history - not cash (especially fiat cash) and not the hoarding of resources.

I dare the management at Google to reverse course and allow their brilliant stable of top talent to keep the 20% perk - let a few Benjamins go for the sake of building awesome shtuff ("h" intended).

INNOVATION RULES - cash - well, it's just dirty paper...

xadxad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mimms, original author, posted a follow-up which incorporates a lot of the comments from here. I've posted it to HN here


Fuxy 1 day ago 0 replies      
And this is why business will never truly innovate and government backed projects that waste tonnes of money will bring the truly revolutionary discoveries.

It is probably not intentional but their inability to manage funding is actually a blessing in disguise for most labs.

Business is just not capable of long term dedication to experimentation planing an innovation.

cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
When did Google first introduce 20% Time? I'm curious how it became an official activity.
rel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just because people aren't "approving" the project doesn't mean it's not going to happen. Chrome started as a 20% project and it wasn't approved until it was way into development.
mcmillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good. Now they just need to spend that extra time fixing bugs in most of their software.
hiby007 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yes because for innovation they have a separate unit namely GOOGLE VENTURES.
mattstocum 2 days ago 7 replies      
And how many failed projects came out of 20% time?
untilHellbanned 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think they are doing ok and will continue to do ok with "side-projects": Google Fiber, Google Glass, Google Cars.
Startup lessons defmacro.org
516 points by coffeemug  4 days ago   161 comments top 39
pg 4 days ago 4 replies      
Wow is this list good. It has the kind of resonance you only get when you're writing from a lot of hard experience.

As I just wrote when I sent this link to the current YC batch, if you see advice here that puzzles you, it may be asign of a painful lesson you're going to learn in the future.

jpatokal 4 days ago 3 replies      
A bit of self-contradiction here:

* Product sense is everything

* Product comes first

* Sales fix everything

* Development speed is everything

* Do everything you can not to attach your self esteem to your startup

I'm reminded of a former CEO who, after careful analysis of a failing business, decided there were nine critical areas of focus for the company. (She was eventually fired.)

crazygringo 4 days ago 2 replies      
> Split the stock between the founding team evenly.

I've heard the exact opposite from VC's -- fact is, the engineer or product founder might be bringing way more value to the table than the business guy. Or sometimes it's vice-versa.

And that "unfairness" in an initial even stock split will come back to haunt the company, since certain founders are not being rewarded justly for their contributions, and will come to resent it later. And that VC investment can be contingent on founders adjusting their ownership stakes beforehand to match the reality of what each founder is actually bringing to the table.

thejerz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree with PG entirely. These lists are thoughtful, but they are 100% subjective. The only rule with startups is there are no rules. There is a time and a place for EVERYTHING. There is no "always," and there is no "never."

I have a funded startup. I can list 5 counter-rules for every rule he lists. For example: "Dont build something that already exists. Customers wont buy it just because its yours." Living Social, anyone?

The phrase, "There is more than one way to skin a cat" comes to mind.

mikeknoop 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is good advise in this list. But I also know counter-examples from "successful" startups for many of the points.

Given that, I'll propose a 58th: be formidable enough to overcome any of the other 57.

jwilliams 4 days ago 1 reply      
"11. If you have to give away more than 15% of the company at any given fundraising round, your company didnt germinate correctly. Its salvageable but not ideal."

I thought the rule of thumb was a lot higher than this. Any good references this one?

liveinoakland 4 days ago 2 replies      
Lesson #58: Don't always believe your own BS.

There is some good stuff in here, but it's not all right all of the time. The part about firing people is interesting. Maybe there is friction because the manager/CEO is doing something wrong and the employee is merely agitating to make things better for the business? The ability to self-evaluate and take criticism/recognize the difference between "difficult" employees and employees who are trying to fix things you are doing wrong seems important and missing from the "people" section.

dcraw 4 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of these resonate with me... to the extent that I already believe them. It's tough to absorb these sorts of generalities though, which is why startups make the same mistakes over and over again... not because they haven't heard the advice, but because it's hard to apply. I'd love to see, over the next 57 weeks, the author take one of these per week and tell a real story about how he learned it. An example: "Your authority as CEO is earned... don't try to use authority you didn't earn." When did you learn this? You certainly didn't think before "I should use authority that I haven't earned." So how did it stand in your head before, and what experience made you rethink it? Overall, I love stories that give me more concretes to absorb into my understanding of cause and effect, and details that I can use to bolster my understanding of the pithy advice. Thanks for sharing your hard-won experience, and I look forward to more posts in the future.
beachstartup 4 days ago 7 replies      
> If it doesnt augment the human condition for a huge number of people in a meaningful way, its not worth doing.

this is the kind of arrogance i find disheartening about these kinds of lists. really - things aren't worth doing unless they clear this impossibly ambitious bar?

should i tell the owner of the corner cafe i stop into after work every other day, and that gives me a huge amount of joy nearly every time, that she should give it up because her business doesn't "augment the human condition for a huge number of people"? how about the guy who wrote the $5 clipboard app that makes my life much easier? i'm sure he has lots of customers but "a huge number" that have "augmented" their humanity because of his clipboards....

and i hate to be an ass, but ... under whose criteria does rethinkdb qualify for this, anyway? how meta do we have to go here? how many degrees of separation are we talking about exactly?

the problem with these kinds of statements is they can be rationalized by smart people into all sorts of justifications for doing and/or not doing a huge number of things.

nandemo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good list. From my point of view, it's also a good source of questions for an employee to ask the founders when interviewing at a startup .

I don't get this, though:

> Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, then do marketing that way. Pick a small set of tasks, do them consistently, and get better every day.

How is that marketing? That's getting good at your craft and improving your product.

I watched the movie, but I'm not sure that Jiro is good at marketing. Apparently he's very good at making sushi, but it seems he became successful (and later world famous) despite being bad at marketing.

Incidentally, his shop's average ratings at Tabelog (one of the biggest Japanese gourmet websites) is only 3.8 out of 5, with quite a few "bad" reviews.

snoonan 4 days ago 0 replies      
This list is amazing. I will offer a counterpoint on the free side of freemium users. Have a plan to cultivate their love and action. Ranking in Google, the app store, etc is a part of your revenue path, so don't ignore your army of likers, linkers, etc. Just don't waste time _disproportionally_ in their favor when you have paying customers to service.
rsingel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know that you get to say that something is wrong if you can't get to Ramen-profitability in 6 to 12 months and then later say to follow the example of Google and build something that touches billions of people's lives. Adwords didn't show up for a long time.
mixmixmix 4 days ago 2 replies      
> #25 Dont build something that already exists. Customers wont buy it just because its yours.

Not a good rule. I know many guys that are making serious money because they improved something that already existed.

the_economist 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would add exercise daily, sleep well, eat a healthy diet, and get some sunlight to the list. You'll be happier.
Patrick_Devine 4 days ago 0 replies      
While I do agree with many of the things which are on this list, most of them have trade offs. They certainly are not as black-and-white as the author has stated it.

I really recommend reading The Founders Dilemmas. It covers many of these issues in detail. Here's a link: http://hbr.org/2008/02/the-founders-dilemma/ar/1

ballard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Read anything by Felix Dennis, and you'll be able to see the meta: it's a mind game and quite fun when you can step back a bit. Also, he's comes off as wickeder than Ben Franklin if that were possible.
Jormundir 4 days ago 1 reply      
My experience has given me a simple litmus for whether a startup is going to fail or not:

Are they trying to build a small idea into a great company, or are they trying to build a giant idea into a giant company?

Sealy 4 days ago 0 replies      
> 2. Split the stock between the founding team evenly.

I can tell that you have all honest intent for writing this, but from experienced accounts I have read (a lot from PG and this forum). Many startup veterans strongly advise against this.

> 33. Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, then do marketing that way. Pick a small set of tasks, do them consistently, and get better every day.

I've seen this and I love it. I love how you tied it in to startups too. That man is an inspirational model of a life long determination to be the best at what you can be.

aptwebapps 4 days ago 1 reply      
30. Learn the difference between people who might buy your product and people who are just commenting. Pay obsessive attention to the former. Ignore the latter.

How do you do the first part?

comatose_kid 4 days ago 0 replies      
This list is so good, I should memorize it to the point when I can look at what I'm doing wrong and shout out one of your numbers! I've made many of these mistakes (#1 in particular).

Here are my top picks by number referring back to the article, for some of the sections (YMMV of course!):




PRODUCTS: 24 (and 27 which to me is a subset of 24)

MARKETING: 32, 31 (I wonder how RethinkDB or companies like it can do 32??)


DEVELOPMENT: 45 (and 46 which is a subset of 45)

ph0rque 3 days ago 0 replies      
Product sense is everything. Learn it as quickly as you can. Being good at engineering has nothing to do with being good at product management.

How do you know if you have it? How do you learn it or improve it?

Noxchi 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Marketing>Product comes first

Marketing should always come first, in terms of what you do.

Don't build a product and see if anyone wants it.See if anyone wants your product and then build it.

Eduard 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Working on the wrong thing for a month is equivalent to not showing up to work for a month at all.I cannot agree to this statement. Even though some venture turns out to be a flop, you did learn a lot while trying to conquer it. And additionally, it's only trying out something to find out that it was the wrong thing - also you learned this about your field of study.
fphilipe 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Split the stock between the founding team evenly.

I worked as the first employee at a now successful start up. They were 5 founders with each 20% of the shares. What I heard from them after several investment rounds is that investors don't like evenly split stock and prefer that one of the founders has the most stock, even if that's just a single stock more than the other founders.

mindcrime 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you cant get to ramen profitability with a team of 2 4 within six months to a year, somethings wrong.

That probably makes perfect sense for some random SaaS app or consumer facing app, but for an enterprise startup, I'll argue that it's off the mark. Just doing market research, a few rounds of customer development interviews, and building the product out to prototype phase could burn up the better part of a year, and enterprise sales cycles are often slloooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.........

Pick the initial team very carefully. Everyone should be pleasant to work with, have at least one skill relevant to the business theyre spectacular at, be extremely effective and pragmatic. Everyone should have product sense and a shared vision for the product and the company.

That's one of those things that is on every one of these lists, and for good reason. But, by the same token, you could spend the rest of your life looking for the "perfect" co-founding team, never build a god-damned thing, and die peacefully in your sleep, of old age, at 97. By the same token that "good is the enemy of great", one has to realize that "perfect is the enemy of good enough".

That said, I worked alone for quite some time before inviting anyone else to join up, because this does matter. But you can't wait indefinitely... in the real world, the environment around you is changing, and windows (of opportunity) come and go. You could easily miss one trying too hard to find the ideal co-founder(s).

wmougayar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Re: "Market to your users. Getting attention from people who wont buy your product is a waste of time and money."

That statement is misleading. It's not an "or" situation. You need to market to both your existing users and your prospects (users or customers). You can't just rely on viral and word of mouth for growth. Yup, good marketing is not easy- you need to figure out your segmentation and reach your prospects cleverly.

edo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I feel as though this list overly generalizes. Don't just blindly follow these; many of them can be proven to be wrong.
thsiao 4 days ago 1 reply      
Marketing after product - totally disagree. Today marketing and product is one in the same, no way to tell when one begins and the other ends. Basically what he should have said is start with deeply understanding your target customer, that's the hard part and people always screw that first step up.
jmngomes 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's refreshing to see someone defending a point that, IMO, should have been obvious all along, instead of encouraging the "lifeless code-drone" style: "Every once in a while, get away (...) It will make you more effective and make the people around you happier."

Today, I'm releasing my product's 3rd alpha version for testers and then leaving for a small break. My main goal will be to read the two books that are waiting for me for a long time and, to the extent possible, NOT think about anything work related. I could do some productive work these 5 days, but in the long run it'll cripple my stamina when things get rough in a few months. So, it's time to restore balance.

derstang 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with "rules" is that they live in an ideal world, not the real world. "Give up only 15% of your company" sure, if you are the next Google, but even then every raise they did wasn't perfect. Let's be honest there is an ideal way you would build a company, but it doesn't exist for anybody. Startups are hard and messy. You do the best you can, but you can't just know in advance you're picking the best idea, the best people and fundraising quickly. It's not like that at all.
captn3m0 4 days ago 1 reply      
I liked the "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" bit. I saw it yesterday, after seeing a lot of recommendations on HN for it. Excellent movie for all of HN. Go watch it.
rdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Point #11 seems different than my understanding of most VC Series A rounds. It tends to be 20-40%, so almost always over 15%
hynahmwxsbyb 3 days ago 0 replies      
A list full of startup platitudes dressed up in pedantic rhetoric. Did you really learn this o'wise oracle, or did you just plagiarize a bunch of wisdom, rewrite it in your own voice, and claim it as your own? Elements of Style you are not because there is no great sense of consistency. And who the hell are you anyways?
marcamillion 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is a wonderful list.

Is RethinkDB a YC company?

sscalia 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article's advice creates the same kind of terrible, derivative "feature" companies that simply exist to get acquired, rather than really breaking new ground.

There's gems in there, but lots of bad, bad advice.

swah 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess another valuable hidden lesson is that Slava is a lisp lover working in a C++ product.
mmaunder 4 days ago 2 replies      
SingleFounderCo 4 days ago 0 replies      
"ramen profitability" - LOVE IT!
dylangs1030 4 days ago 1 reply      
I take issue with a lot of these, but a bunch of other commenters have covered most of them.


>"Assume the market is efficient and valuable ideas will be discovered by multiple teams nearly instantaneously."

That's just irresponsible and unrealistic advice.

Splitting stock evenly and governing yourself as a "final say" CEO seems a bit self-contradictory, to say nothing of whether or not you should be a "final say" CEO in a startup (debatable).

This is also deplorable:

>"If it doesnt augment the human condition for a huge number of people in a meaningful way, its not worth doing."

Yeah, it's wonderful to "augment the human condition...", but don't be a condescending prick about it. Things are perfectly worth doing even if they don't impact a large number of people.

The trouble with this is, Slava inherently claims superiority to his audience when he declares (not suggest, declares) that things are not worth doing just because they aren't up to his self-defined standard of ambition.

Such a statement is not for him to make; it wouldn't sound right coming straight out of one of Paul Graham's essays, so on what authority does he get to make this statement?

Happy 20th birthday Debian debian.org
502 points by fcambus  2 days ago   87 comments top 24
kunai 1 day ago 7 replies      
I recently switched from Ubuntu to Debian, and I keep wondering to myself why I didn't switch much sooner.

The lack of any integration with a specific desktop environment, and having pure GNU and Linux underneath a pure DE is something that is really quite satisfying. It gives you modularity and customizability without having anything break or feel out of place; something that often happened to me while switching DEs in Ubuntu.

It really has been the benchmark for all free software so far. And the Toy-Story themed releases are a nice touch.

Happy birthday, Debian.

aspensmonster 2 days ago 3 replies      
Happy birthday to my first permanent GNU/Linux distribution, from Etch all the way to Jessie. It's --you've, we've-- come a long way. I hope to see the community remain as strong as ever. The Debian forums were always my weapon of last resort when Google didn't have the answer to my problem, and not once was I let down. And best of luck to the new DPL!
fingerprinter 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very glad to see Debian hit 20! Pretty awesome.

Though, I have to admit, I downloaded Wheezy and gave it a go. Holy cow, I'm soooooo glad Ubuntu exists. It's amazing all the small touches that Ubuntu does to make Debian unbelievably usable.

That being said, Ubuntu wouldn't exist without Debian. Way to go, Debian!

leoedin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Debian was my first linux distribution. It took me perhaps a week to download the 7 CDs for Woody (I don't think many of them ever actually got used). I was only 12 and really didn't have a clue what I was doing. My main memories are probably more of frustration than enlightenment... However, as the basis of Knoppix (the first linux distribution that I had much success with) it was a huge pillar in my (and no doubt many others') Linux education. The work put in by the maintainers has had a fantastic knock on effect and provides the basis for so much of the internet infrastructure. It's a brilliant project!
m_ram 2 days ago 0 replies      
Today is also day 6 of DebConf13 [1]. They're live streaming many of the talks. Downloadable videos, slides, and the talk schedule are also linked to from that page.

[1] http://debconf13.debconf.org

buster 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy Birthday, Debian! Operating System of my choice on my desktop and server-side. To another 20 succesful years! :)
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
A little reminder of debian (amongst the big three) legacy https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Gldt1009...
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos. So large, so reliable and for so long. Rare feat.
ctb_mg 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just recently switched to Debian for a server distro. Early in my linux learning, I had been messing around with Gentoo, Fedora, and even Ubuntu. It's taken me so long to understand what Debian is and how important good package management is, but now I'm grateful. Thanks Debian!
dewarrn1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happy birthday, indeed! I love the independent spirit of the Debian project, including such extraordinary measures as wrapping their userland around the FreeBSD kernel in addition to Linux[0]. Recently, I've enjoyed using Crunchbang[1], a slick, simple desktop built on top of Debian. To the next 20 years!

[0] http://www.debian.org/ports/kfreebsd-gnu/[1] http://crunchbang.org/

arc_of_descent 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started using Debian around a year back. Been a Linux user for all my professional life. Started with Red Hat, then Fedora, then ArchLinux. I was always aware of Debian but I got the idea that the installation process was a bit tricky (this was way back).

I finally installed Squeeze and the installation process was painless. The dist-upgrade to Wheezy too was easy. And now I'm really glad to see they have a 1 CD download containing only Xfce, which is my display manager of choice.

Happy Birthday to the Debian project!

jlgaddis 1 day ago 0 replies      
My first experience with Linux came after downloading Slackware's "A" and "N" sets and writing the images to 5.25" floppy disks. Somehow, this complete "n00b" managed to get Linux installed and get the machine connected to the Internet via dial-up (which was quite a chore back then).

A few weeks later, a handful of people I chatted with on IRC encouraged me to get rid of Slackware and install Debian, so I did. It was a huge learning curve and certainly not the best choice of distribution for a new user but I'm glad I stuck with it. I was forced how to do everything from a command prompt and reading TFM wasn't an option at the time, it was a requirement.

In the 17 years since, I have never regretted my decision. There was a short period where the internal politics became overwhelming and I almost switched, but I told myself to hold off. I am glad I did.

I'm a big fan of OS X and I've flirted with other distributions over the years but I always come back to Debian for my personal machines. In a large environment I actually prefer another distribution but Debian will always be my true love.

I extend thanks to anyone who has been involved in the project over the years and helped move it forward. I owe all of you a beer.

Arubis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happy birthday, old steady. I haven't always been faithful, but always end up coming back to Debian--it was the first distro I could stand to use (after attempting floppy-based Slack, net-install FreeBSD before I knew how to netinstall over a dialup connection, a brief experience in learning how awful RPMs were, and then the absolutely fantastic magic that was and still is Apt), and it's the only one I can ever stand to use for more than a few months.
dman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use it on all my home machines since 2004. Provides very pragmatic engineering - by the time changes hit you the noise has been filtered out.
INTPenis 2 days ago 0 replies      
We had cake at the office today in honor of Debians 20th birthday. Of course I had to keep reminding everyone why and what Debian was but it was still nice. :)
davexunit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy birthday to the best OS out there!
helloNSA_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Debian is the center of my linux universe. Happy Birthday and THANKS! to all who contribute to what is the best representation of what computing freedom should be.
acd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy birthday and big thanks to all Debian developers!
spenrose 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you, Debian. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you so very much!
cothomps 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next year we'll take Debian out and get it shitfaced.
ausjke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy Birthday Debian!!!You have been an essential part of my life since 10 years ago. Thank you so much.
stox 1 day ago 0 replies      
OMG! Has it been 20 years already? Time flies when you're having fun!
pboris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even I'm Gentoo fan, I have been used Debian for a long time and it was pure satisfaction. Great Linux distro and I hope it will last forever.Happy B-day debian :)
mumbi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happy Birthday Debian! Best servers I've ever had.
Stack mugiyamamoto.com
490 points by usaphp  1 day ago   82 comments top 25
dictum 1 day ago 3 replies      
Really interesting as an experiment in industrial design and a conversation piece. As a viable product, I have some doubt: anecdotally, when I see people printing documents, they're in something of a hurry, and keeping the pile of paper sheets aligned would be hard. If you slightly knock the printer while using it, the stack of paper may tilt to a side. And having to keep the papers aligned would become an annoyance similar to the PC LOAD LETTER of yore. Handling A4 and Letter sizes at the same time may not be possible. I don't know how being exposed in a pile would affect the humidity of the paper...

I like how it makes me think of printing as a computing process, paper as input and printed page as output, but instead of feeding the machine with input, you "feed" the input with a machine and it gives you the output. If you extend the thought, it's as if the machine disappears, and paper (the input) is processing and then outputting (printed page) itself.

dag11 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is beautiful.

I love the idea of an inverted printer, where instead of paper moving through the printer, it's as if the printer is moving through the paper.

mcrider 1 day ago 1 reply      
At first I thought, and don't see why this couldn't be, a scanner that eats through documents and saves a digital copy of them. This form factor would make digitizing large sets of printed records much more appealing.
eksith 1 day ago 5 replies      
That's a very cool project.

But I wonder how it gets over the initial friction of lifting and pulling the paper through as it goes lower on the stack. Surely there's a limit after which, you'd need to remove the completed sheets off the top?

johnvschmitt 1 day ago 10 replies      
The sooner the printer dies, the better.

Every company or process that makes me print something in 2013 makes me barf. Ever heard of web forms? Docusign? Email?

So, as beautiful as this is, it's solving a problem for 1960-1995.

Now, all I want to see in the printer innovation is some way to kill it off faster.

markkanof 1 day ago 0 replies      
So based on this design concept I have to assume that they expect this printer to run on either batteries or wireless power of some sort. I don't mean to be too down on this as it is an interesting concept, but it annoys me when designers leave out things like power cords to make their mockup look cleaner than it actually is. It seems like a copout.
detharonil 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems as though a more practical (though perhaps more dust-prone, when empty) design would do this partially upside-down. Rather than allowing the printer to move downward though the paper, why not load the paper from the top?

One could set a full stack atop something similar to his current design using the rollers, and the finished pages could exit through the front in order to prevent them from building up below. The final roller could simply be removed and a slit added to the front such that the finished paper could exit the printer cleanly. A solid plastic sheet could then be added to catch the printed paper which folds back atop the body of the printer when it is being transported or simply not in use, perhaps to prevent the aforementioned build-up of dust.

This accomplishes Yamamoto's goal of removing the paper tray and simplifying as well as shrinking the design while avoiding the dangerous consequences of brushing past the printer while it is atop a high stack of paper.

Of course, none of this addresses a central flaw with his design. Even if two models are produced for Letter and A4 paper, there are still many other sizes in use, and there appears to be no easy way to adjust the sizes of the intake and output areas without the dreaded paper tray.

rgovostes 1 day ago 1 reply      
This printer concept is also cool: http://renelee.net/arc/
Zolomon 1 day ago 0 replies      
This has a very "functional programming paradigm" feel around it.
aaron695 1 day ago 0 replies      

Another here's a CGed idea not even close to being implemented? (Which is fine except 99% of the time is because it's not possible/practical)

I know there's a claim there's a real version but not seeing pics of it? Or youtube?

nnutter 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems like it would be easy to make a model that still houses the paper to prevent tipping and would still allow for infrequent loading.
tlongren 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be knocking the thing over all the time I'm afraid. Would probably only use 100 or so sheets at a time, though.
eridius 1 day ago 1 reply      
That looks really cool. But what happens if the user bumps the printer? The entire stack of paper falls over, and the printer falls to the floor.
faddotio 1 day ago 0 replies      
All I see is a target for my stumbling clumsy self!

And a big cleanup job afterward.

zenocon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there a video of it in action?
groundCode 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks fantastic, but I wonder about the tolerance wrt paper alignment. I'm picturing my office where people usually rush up to the printer, grab their printout and bump the printer.
axelf1989 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would it require a perfectly stacked pile? It would seem annoying if you slightly bang in to the pile and have it be off balance.
lukejduncan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome project, cool concept.

I'd imagine the single challenge problem would be wind. If people walk by or the window is open...

oellegaard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see the kickstarter for this :)
curuinor 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recall reading about this idea in the science-fiction role-playing game Shadowrun. It's set in 2060-2080, so technology is better in nearly all ways: including a printer design as described here. Very interesting, in the shadow of the total lack of progress in actual printer technology in the last few decades.
acegopher 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone remember dot-matrix printers? You also didn't need a paper tray: http://imgur.com/4tsSx2W
chm 1 day ago 2 replies      
All I'm thinking is:

What diploma?

mathattack 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this art or a prototype? I just see it on my desk tipping over. :-)
alphonse23 1 day ago 0 replies      
cool idea, but no video -- don't believe it.
This coupon code is a slap in the face justinjackson.ca
415 points by mijustin  5 days ago   245 comments top 57
raldi 5 days ago 3 replies      
Alternate suggestion: Have a textbox that says, "If you don't mind us asking, where did you hear of us?"

Then the radio ad or whatever can say, "Enter DAN SAVAGE as your referrer to receive a free gift!"

ruswick 4 days ago 7 replies      
First, I'd like to point out that his suggestion is fucking absurd. Without codes, there would be no way to discern between methods of customer acquisition (eg. is this ad more effective than that ad), especially on non-web content. Moreover, the efficacy of customer acquisition would decrease tremendously (most people respond to ads because of the promise of a discount). I don't understand how the OP believes that this is financially tenable for most sites. Codes are a fundamental aspect of advertising strategy for many companies.

Second, the notion that this is hostile to the user just bemuses me. I don't understand why this has any detrimental effects on the customer. If they are fine paying full price (as they were when they began checking out), they are free to pay full price. If someone with expendable free time would rather dig through these coupon sites, that is their prerogative. The existence of a coupon code field merely gives the option to seek out a discount. This is similar to most other forms of commerce. If I have free time and want to save money, I can dig through circulars and clip ads, or I can just go to the store and pay full price. Is it offensive to the user that the self checkout also has a slot for placing coupons? No one is forcing anyone to do anything. How is it bad customer service when a user literally isn't forced to do anything other than ignore the field if they so choose? Giving people the option to save money if they are willing to exert some effort is an unequivocal positive aspect of most sites.

This piece is just incoherent to me. I honestly don't understand why this is bad in any way.

joshuahedlund 5 days ago 4 replies      
Has anybody actually done any A/B testing on this sort of thing, or are we just making competing assertions about how slapped in the face we personally feel or not?

Edit: Thanks, some pretty good results out there.

sp332 5 days ago 6 replies      
I dropped my car off for state inspection by my usual mechanic. Then I found a coupon in the local paper for $10 off an inspection at that place. When I went to pay, I showed the coupon but the mechanic told me, "oh I already did that. You're a regular, we take care of you!" I don't think I've ever seen a website that could do that.
brianbreslin 5 days ago 4 replies      
Did no-one learn anything from JCPenney debacle? People LOVE coupons. I've never seen a coupon code field, where I didn't find a coupon and felt like I was getting hoodwinked as this author seems to suggest.

Coupon codes are useful for promos and such. Not every customer pays the same amount, thats how the world works.

ebbv 5 days ago 17 replies      
This is a pretty ridiculous complaint.

First of all, giving everyone a referral URL works great in a web only world but what if you're advertising on a Podcast (or gasp print or radio), is it easier to tell people to type in www.mysite.com/coupon to their browser or is it easier to tell people to enter COUPON at checkout?

Secondly, the amount of people who are going to have this adverse reaction to the mere existence of the coupon code field is vanishingly small. Most customers who don't have a code will just ignore it and move on (and actually many who have been told about a code will not even use it) only a small minority will bother searching for a code to enter when they don't have one.

Whatever web site had a coupon code field that made you this angry probably had at least 20 much worse UI violations they should prioritize above trying to eliminate the coupon field.

fjk 5 days ago 1 reply      
"You get pages of results: mostly garbage, some scams, and a few legitimate coupon sites. Unfortunately, the codes listed on those sites are a year old: you missed your chance."

It frustrates me when I see a coupon code box and cannot find any working codes. Oftentimes the most recent codes for a retailer on RetaiMeNot haven't been active in months or years. On the flip side, when I find a code that saves me anything, even free shipping, I am ecstatic. I feel like I am responsible, thrifty and savvy and I have a proclivity to purchase more items from that retailer later on.

I think these emotions are worth evoking in customers and banning the coupon code box destroys this ability. A referral link doesn't capture as much of the emotional satisfaction as seeing your cart totals drop after typing in a string of characters and clicking "Apply to Cart." Retailers could just hide the coupon code box when there aren't any active coupons. When a coupon is active, the box reappears.

ig1 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've seen cases where having a coupon code actually increased conversions more than just discounting the product for everyone. The people who searched for the (easily found) coupon were far more likely to completely the purchase process because they felt like they were getting a deal.

If you're using voucher codes you shouldn't just use one approach based upon an article like this, rather you should be A/B testing different variants and see what performs for your startup. Your customers aren't the same as everyone else and you shouldn't expect them to behave the same.

Fuzzwah 4 days ago 1 reply      
The real slap in the face is that the coupon code field is how the affiliate marketing scam business works:



javert 4 days ago 3 replies      
Lenovo does this, but they quote all the prices assuming you are going to put in the coupon code, which they display on the entry page into the product you are buying.

If you don't realize you have to jump through this dumb hoop and think you are actually getting the discount automatically, which is quite easy to do (I did, and I'm no dummy), they do not reimburse you the difference if you call on the phone to explain. The guy on the phone specifically explained to me that that is their official policy in this situation.

I mean, I trusted Lenovo (good past experiences), so I wasn't being super duper careful to look for any kind of trick. Imagine that... not looking out for being tricked! What a fool I was.

If you eally want the discount, you have to cancel your order and re-order, which means getting the product later. Lenovo knows very well that many customers won't do this.

tl;dr Lenovo suits have calculated a new way to trick customers, and treat customers in a shitty way. They should be ashamed. Gipped me off for a few hundred bucks.

hownottowrite 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do web apps and retailers do this to their paying customers?

Because it was a pain to manage millions of coupon codes on legacy catalog fulfillment systems. In fact, it's still not particularly easy.

Way back in the day, mail order retailers would send out millions of catalogs to current and prospective customers. To get these people to order, they would include coupons as an incentive. The coupons generally involved a short code indicating the mailing and a number indicating a segment. So, you'd get something like SU95615, which would translate to Spring 1995 segment 615. Segment 615 could be part of your own list or it might be part of a list you were renting. When the orders came in the codes would be used to tie back the promotional mailing spend to the revenue, thus allowing the retailer to score a list or segment.

So why not use individual codes and then roll up? More sophisticated companies did that. In fact, some would even have SKUs that had prefixes tied to the mailing allowing for some very deep analysis. However, most did not and it was primarily due to the fact that their systems were not designed to handle such customization. In fact, some would basically choke on that much data.

When these companies moved online, they took the practice of using coupon codes right along with them. As new companies without the legacy issues came along, they adopted the old ways and the cycle continued.

This is why these companies do this to their customers. Is it right? Of course not, but that's the way it is.

That said, there are better ways to handle this need to promote and track marketing dollars. Lots and lots of ways.

Here are a few I've tried. Each one works pretty well:

1. Using specific links in email promotions with codes already embedded: This is probably the best way to go. Customer get the code applied. No need to show the field at all. This is great for targeted promotions.

2. Using business logic to apply a discount automatically: In this scenario, there is no codebox either. The system figures out the right discount based on the promotion. This is good if you're giving account-based promotions or doing something site wide.

3. Single-use, unique codes: This is a special code that can only be used once (ideally by a specific person). This method has the added benefit of being a marketing tool in and of itself (i.e. you can tell the customer they are special because the code is made special just for them). Great for email and print catalogs.

In each case, there was a measured conversion improvement. In some cases, it was quite significant. However, I would strongly recommend testing. You're at the bottom of the conversion funnel here; caution is advised.

You may discover, as JC Penney did, that your customer base has certain expectations and that changing those learned behaviors is more difficult than you might expect. You may find that removing the coupon field generates more customer service requests (i.e. "Where do I put in my coupon?") You may also discover that your marketing department has no clue about how to tie your ingenious solution back into their demand generation. You may also discover that your systems are not well-suited to carrying so much additional data.

It's complicated but from my experience I'd have to say it's worth the effort to solve. Not only will your customers have a better experience, but you'll have better data about those customers and the sources you're tapping to bring new ones in the door.

Of course, be prepared for lots of complaints from the coupon stackers. Those guys really don't like it when you remove the field.

martingordon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Some sites present the coupon field slightly differently as a Gift Card/Gift Certificate/Coupon Code field which might help that "slapped in the face" feeling.

I noticed this on Zappos and the first Google result for "zappos coupon" is this: http://www.zappos.com/truth-about-zappos-coupons

ohwp 5 days ago 0 replies      
Happened to me: I had the code, but forgot to enter it. So afterward I contacted customer service and they just said: sorry there is nothing we can do for you.

Do you think I will be a returning customer? -no

yanowitz 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've taken to using http://couponfollow.com/checkout the chrome extension). It helpfully colors the coupon code box red if it has a suggested coupon code. Eventually, I suppose, everyone will move to one-time coupon codes. But that will probably take years, so in the meantime, I save money.
enko 4 days ago 4 replies      
> Its the optics that matter.

Oh really? Refraction and reflection of light, the study of same - that's what matters is it?

Of course not. You mean appearances matter. Name-dropping some physics-sounding word does not make you sound smart, it makes you sound confused and wrong. Optics means optics. It doesn't mean whatever you choose it to mean.

Deliberately misusing words doesn't make you sound cool, it makes you sound like a "Sandwich Artist".

tjansen 5 days ago 1 reply      
Simple solution: don't call it coupon, call it gift card.
rthomas6 5 days ago 3 replies      
Everybody here knows about retailmenot.com, right? For the majority of places, you'll find a good repository of coupon codes without having to sift through Google results.
praptak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Coupons are a form of market segmentation, which generally aims to extract surplus money from those customers who will pay more (for whatever reason - don't care, don't know any better) while still extracting some money from those who are price-sensitive.

This comes at a cost though, see this classic by Joel Spolsky: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckie...

The cost is the trust and goodwill of your customers. People will feel cheated if they find out and hopefully leave you for a competitor who doesn't impose on them the additional mental cost of searching for coupons, finding price engine links with lower prices(#) or whatever.

(#) Some shops actually do that - you get a better price from a price comparison engine than if you search from shop's own site. Talk about treating your trusted customers well.

mhb 5 days ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion of someone else's rant about this:


jeremybencken 5 days ago 1 reply      
This may not be rational, but there's some research showing this is a widespread phenomenon. Mostly, it has to do with a sense of fairness. Coupon codes can make consumers feel like the merchant is being unfair, which leads to dissatisfaction.

The solution: don't show the coupon code field or make it extremely easy for consumers to get coupon codes. I've noticed more and more stores put their coupon codes right in the header while you're browsing. So it's impossible NOT to get a coupon.

http://www2.owen.vanderbilt.edu/mike.shor/research/promo/jpb... (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6205769)

mmatants 5 days ago 1 reply      
Honestly, I never noticed myself feeling that way. Is this really losing that many sales when it comes down to metrics?

To me, coupons are always seen as temporary gifts from the company to butter up my loyalty. So paying full price still feels fair.

But again, it's all about metrics. It would be great to see how different audiences respond.

adeaver 5 days ago 0 replies      
From having built a few of these, my solution was to add a string to the end of the URL's in the promo material (ads, email, whatever) that, when clicked on, would trigger the coupon code box on the site for that user only.

Otherwise you didn't see it.

The company I worked at that used this did a lot of targeted and 1-off promotions so it seemed to work pretty well.

DanBlake 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am really late into this thread, but the way I got around this exact issue is I just renamed the field from "coupon code" to "referral code". Users dont mind skipping over it and it does the same thing.
dchest 5 days ago 2 replies      
When launching new order pages a few years ago, I was bothered by the same thing and asked my e-commerce company to add a checkbox, which you have to click in order to show coupon field:


It's not an ideal solution, but I believe this additional step helps a bit.

ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's called retailmenot.com - spend all of 10 seconds to find a discount.

It might also offend you to know people in different countries pay more or less for a product.

ie. Hosting in the USA is far more expensive than Europe for some mysterious reason

nwh 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've had this a lot actually, to the point of absolutely ridiculous coupons that gave me 40%, even 75% off at one point. It's a pain in the ass to have to Google around for a code that lets me pay the same as everybody else.
RobGR 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think these coupon codes produce this reaction because they remind us how non-transparent online commerce can be.

Walmart has a hard time at their brick and mortar store charging more for diapers to the poor person who lives down the street and has no car to get to competitors, and less to the better off person who arrived by car. But a huge amount of "big data" work is spent differentially pricing online commerce -- the travel industry is most famous for it of course.

The general trend of technology tends to be that tools once only available to the big institutions become democratized and more revolutionary as they are. Similarly I think the "big data" and tracking and etc will swing around into a more equitable balance.

That can be hard to believe, but try to imagine this -- you go to buy something online, but you pay with bitcoin, and a browser plugin you have pops up a screen when you are on the final checkout page -- this plugin uses the bitcoin chains and non-anonymity to show you all recent transactions with that bitcoin address. You can then get an instant sense of whether you are overpaying or getting a deal.

Such a system could be gamed and evaded of course.

At one time I discussed making a reverse-Priceline system, where consumers would use a browser plugin that shared what offers were being accepted and rejected on Priceline style reverse auctions.

The sum total such efforts is a lot of infrastructure invested in replecating what a simple open-outcry market would be, if the market were run by disinterested, trusted authority.

throwit1979 5 days ago 1 reply      
Initial customer acquisition costs money. A lot of money. Once you have a happy customer for repeat business, you reward and entice them with discounts, usually via email newsletter.

As a first time customer, you are not being "cheated". You are just a lot more expensive.

ctdonath 5 days ago 0 replies      
How about moving the coupon code field up front? If I have a coupon code, that's probably why I'm on the site now, I want to apply it, and I only want to see what it applies to.

Let me enter the code right away. Show me what it applies to. Make it easy to use it. Don't make me go thru all the contortions of buying something, unsure of whether the code will apply or not - and pissing me off if it doesn't after all that.

thehme 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes when I'm buying online, it does bother me to find that "other" people have a coupon for something I want and that if I REALLY want it, I will need to pay full price. It specially bothers me when I'm a returning costumer and didn't receive any e-mails letting me know of a sale or coupon. This situation applies to other situation as well, for instance, think about the couple (or single person) that signed a contract to rent a place, has been a great tenant, and would like to renew the contract that is now ending soon. However, instead of the landlord saying: "hey! you have been a great tenant, so I will NOT raise your rent (or as much), so I can keep your business for longer", he/she says (thinks): "I know you like it here, so I'm going to stick it to you and raise the price of the rent, while new people who I don't even know, will get a cheaper rate and possibly not be as good a tenant as you are".

Sites should definitely keep track of loyal costumers and offer coupons in this manner and allow one to enter then once logged in, but not trouble visiting costumers with this. Letting people know they could have gotten something for cheaper is usually a discouragement from click the "place order" button. I know have definitely just x-ed out of my tab at that point in several occasions.

jakeludington 2 days ago 0 replies      
Macy's solves the problem of coupon codes in a way that's good for everyone. They have a coupon code box. They also have a link to a page that shows you all available Macy's coupon's. If one applies to your cart, you can use it. If there isn't a coupon for your cart, you might find out something else is on sale and buy that too. If you don't care about coupons, you can check out and ignore the box.

The customer wins. Macy's wins.

free652 5 days ago 1 reply      
Company logic: Because why make a discount for you if you're buying anyway.

Coupons codes are usually part of ad campaigns.

leknarf 5 days ago 1 reply      
Outside of ad campaigns, there's another case where coupon codes are useful. If you have a moderately expensive product and an actual sales team, you can use the coupon field to let the sales team make one-off special deals for individual customers. That's useful for unusually large orders (buy 10 get 1 free) or simply if you need to apologize for some sort of error (we're sorry our site was down, here's $50 off your next order).

Coupon codes are an easily programmable solution to a wide variety of business problems. They're particularly useful for problems that are difficult to predict in advance.

6cxs2hd6 4 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone tried putting a generic coupon code on the checkout form, right next to the input box?

Or even pre-filling the input box with the generic code?

Seems like that way, everyone can feel good, and some can feel even better.

p.s. Oh wait. I should probably file a B.S. patent for this idea. Unless someone has already has.

chmike 5 days ago 0 replies      
In France one of the biggest high tech ware reseller use this coupon promotiona codes. These coupon codes are ditributed through it's own promotional mailing list.

Il you subscribe to their special offer mailing lists you get their coupon codes. Of corse ou get a slap in your face when you see the coupn field box. But this is also where you should say how to get coupon codes.

Propose a subscription to your special coupon offering mailing list where you can also ommunicate about your product. This is opt in advertisement.

kellros 5 days ago 0 replies      
An alternative approach would be to create a 'claim coupon' form and point your couponeers to that so that they may redeem the coupon. The trickier part would be then to keep track of the coupons in a similar fashion to the 'Items in Cart' (either via session based tracking or link it to their account).

This approach would also allow for implementing coupons in different ways (ex. time-based, limited), reduce mental stress by being able to retry codes till you found a valid coupon (some providers allow for coupon codes but no way to verify it's valid) and not distract from the check-out process (it would simply require showing which of the redeemed coupons are applicable to the purchase).

A plus side of this approach is that a coupon is enough to persuade potential buyers to create accounts to keep their coupon (while it's valid - for later use) and thus also reducing friction in the check-out process which should lead to more sales.

I do also now believe the existing 'coupon' implementation is at fault by leaving too much on the table.

JSadowski 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be curious to test something like this:http://jsfiddle.net/CLJYC/

"Do you have a gift card or promotional code?" Y/N, and then only show the field if yes is selected.

drewying 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure it's just me, but I've never felt bad or weird or bad or even cared much about the possibility of paying 20 bucks for something vs 19 bucks with a 5% off coupon code. That one dollar savings doesn't seem worth the hassle of spending 20 minutes on Google. I'd rather spend that 20 minutes billing 100 bucks/hour making a website for someone.

Reading these comments it seems there are a lot of people on Hacker News who seem quite passionate about the idea of getting the best deal they can and not "feeling like a sucker".

Which is fine, but it's definitely a feeling I don't experience. Maybe I'm just weird.

With the topic at hand, having maintained an online shop for a client for several years, I see that they use Coupon Codes as a customer service thing. Didn't like your product? Here's a onetime use 15% off code so you don't hate us. At least that's how they used it. So I always ignore those fields.

Raphmedia 5 days ago 2 replies      
It's quite the opposite if you ask me. After you spent 15 minutes looking online for that coupon AND you find one that gives you that little 10%...

Well, it makes you happy and probably makes it so that you really will proceed with the purchase. "Hey, I spent a looonnng 5 minutes searching AND I got a 10% discount. Why wouldn't I proceed with the purchase?"

chcleaves 5 days ago 0 replies      
If you put forth a little bit of effort you can find any code on the Internet - it sets you apart from the shoppers who don't care and won't take the time to look for one (which is the majority of America) hence why retailers still consistently leak codes out there.
fnordfnordfnord 5 days ago 0 replies      
It annoys me, and if the purchase is for something that I don't need immediately, it always makes me try to find either a coupon code, a cheaper price, or even a cheaper alternative.
illdave 4 days ago 0 replies      
Last year, I gave a talk to a group of online marketers, ecom specialists and site owners. I asked them if they ever - when shopping on sites that weren't their own - opened a new tab and searched Google for "[brand name] voucher code" whenever they hit a checkout page and saw the promo box. Literally everyone put their hand up.

I'm not sure why this thread has so many people saying that it's a complaint that has no merit. Do you open a new tab and search, or do you just ignore it and carry on with the purchase?

shimon_e 4 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously there is a segment of the population that coupon codes are going to help convert into customers and vice versa. Someone really smart would develop some AI for this.
croisillon 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is not always the case, a coupon is not always to get a fraction discount but can be a way to redeem a voucher. Since it's a similar worklfow, websites display it a similar way, leading to this misinterpretation.
username42 5 days ago 0 replies      
Last time I encountered a coupon field, my wife told me that there was a coupon code on the main landing page. Result: I have reread the main landing page, entered the coupon and was happy to spare a couple of bucks.
JimmaDaRustla 5 days ago 0 replies      
Agree, but I love this too much:http://serverbear.com/coupons
mathattack 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's not a slap in the face of the customer. It's the company shooting their own foot. Whenever I see the coupon code box, I search for coupons. Sometimes I fine one. If so, they've lost money.
amirhirsch 4 days ago 0 replies      
olegp 4 days ago 0 replies      
What are the sites where one can find SaaS coupon codes and offers? AppSumo, F6S, TNW Market - any others? We would like to aggregate them at https://starthq.com
ababab 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have no affiliation, but I'll plug this awesome Chrome add-on[1] for finding discount codes at checkout. I'm not one to go actively hunting for discounts, and this has saved me probably tens of dollars since installing.

[1] http://joinhoney.com

oisino 4 days ago 0 replies      
Host Gator gets around this by putting a fake coupon in its signup flow to make you think coupon has been applied https://www.evernote.com/shard/s151/sh/0189a90d-cf03-426e-88...
keikun17 4 days ago 0 replies      
I never thought about it like this. I guess I'll try to do my best to get offended the next time i run into one
EGreg 4 days ago 1 reply      
How about having a blue spot on the page where the promotion says to click, so it doesn't say "COUPON CODE"
pshon 5 days ago 0 replies      
Don't mess w/ coupons, just ask Ron Johnson.


huffman 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is completely off-topic, but you don't have a bold weight of the body font you're using, so the browser is trying to fake it and it looks very fuzzy.
piratebroadcast 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some of the most emo shit I've read in quite some time.
ChrisNorstrom 4 days ago 0 replies      
Although I understand the anger stemming from coupon code forms, a lot of us use them for very different reasons:

- I run http://DayOnePP.com and sell my inventions there.

- When something goes wrong for a customer you can give the customer a coupon code "sorrykarenhurney" which will give them free shipping or 10% off. This is a great way to win back customers who have had trouble. (You can rename the "Coupon Code" field to be "Customer Service Code" if you use it exclusively for this purpose)

- When I advertise my Calendars or Pens on a design blog I tell the owner that I'll give them an exclusive discount to their readers if they mention my product on the front page. I name the coupon code after the website.

- You can email coupon codes to newsletter members as a reward for signing up for your newsletter.

Although the OP has a legitimate concern, he has never run an online store and doesn't see the behind-the-scenes logic in selectively giving customers discounts. It really is a necessity. Brick & Mortar stores use them even more, but no one gets pissed off at them.

NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds washingtonpost.com
394 points by glhaynes  2 days ago   84 comments top 18
zeteo 2 days ago 4 replies      
>James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, has acknowledged that the court found the NSA in breach of the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but the Obama administration has fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit that seeks the opinion.

Are you fucking kidding me? Let's take this incident to the most die-hard scaremonger out there and ask them how the hell is it in the interest of national security to hide it when government institutions are found guilty of breaching the Constitution?

LoganCale 2 days ago 3 replies      
> In one instance, the NSA decided that it need not report the unintended surveillance of Americans. A notable example in 2008 was the interception of a large number of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt

Considering their track record with honesty, why should we believe this was an accident?

rosser 2 days ago 1 reply      
The NSA appears to have mastered the concept of exploiting Outrage Fatigue.
msg 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

We were not paranoid enough. I was not paranoid enough. You were not paranoid enough. Reality outstripped our imaginations. How are we going to recalibrate our expectations? What's next?

uptown 2 days ago 1 reply      
via @AntDerosa:

"To be clear, that was only an audit spanning 12 months, May 2011 to May 2012. There may have been more violations by NSA before and after.

Also, this audit only covers NSAs Fort Meade headquarters and other facilities in the Washington area."

malandrew 2 days ago 1 reply      

    "The most serious incidents included a violation of a     court order and unauthorized use of data about more than     3,000 Americans and green-card holders."
If these were willful acts that wouldn't pass an ethics committee, I sure hope people went to jail over this instead of getting an administrative slap on the wrist. We need to have moral hazard for those at the top pyramid. We've let bankers get away with crimes, I would hope that we aren't doing the same with these people as well. However I doubt anyone ever gets prosecuted for these violations.

    In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,     which has authority over some NSA operations, did not learn about     a new collection method until it had been in operation for many     months. The court ruled it unconstitutional.
Wow. Just wow. You'd imagine that they wouldn't be able to implement any system before it has been deemed Constitutional and authorized by Congress. If there is any question, then they shouldn't even begin to seriously research and implement a new technique without first getting Congressional approval.

0003 2 days ago 0 replies      
NSA statements to The Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-st...

Be sure to read the bottom. Hilarious.

arh68 2 days ago 0 replies      
> the agencys internal definition of data does not cover metadata

If I download terabytes of Wikipedia XML dumps, could I argue to my ISP I never actually downloaded any "data"?

ColinCochrane 2 days ago 1 reply      
> You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day, he said. You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.

I wonder if he realized what that implies.

beedogs 2 days ago 1 reply      
note to mkessy: your account appears to be hellbanned.
qwertzlcoatl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here you can find the classified slides in full : http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/nsa-report-on...
jonlucc 2 days ago 0 replies      
>current operations rely on technology that cannot quickly determine whether a foreign mobile phone has entered the United States

If only this kind of communication could have a known location, like say, its origin tower. Maybe I completely misunderstand the phone protocols, but I thought origin tower was hard to miss.

splrb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The NSA has gone rogue. This can't possibly have anything to do with our safety.
NicoJuicy 2 days ago 0 replies      
If Obama is serious about not violating civilian rights. He should just fire the NSA boss WITHOUT giving him any other job opportunities or compensation!

But be honest, he's never going to do that... Obama is just as involved as the chief of NSA.

mathiasben 1 day ago 0 replies      
New program code word -DISHFIRE - google results bring up interesting open positions.
northwest 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's not get side-tracked. This article is "just" about a some details.

The real issue that must be resolved and is still not being addressed is:

As long as these NSA activities are not dismantled and the People do not have transparency over what the NSA/government does, everyone of us can still be "eliminated" by the push of a few buttons and democracy therefor no longer exists.

Even if its decline happens slowly and behind our backs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog).

jfoutz 2 days ago 0 replies      
While 2500 may seem like a large number, it's actually a very tiny error rate given the millions of gigs of data obtained from server mirroring and phone tracking.
jister 2 days ago 2 replies      
....and most people don't care with what the NSA is doing so let's move on with this NSA thingy and submit more interesting technology news so that we all can be happy, no?
Quickly navigate your filesystem from the command line jeroenjanssens.com
393 points by jeroenjanssens  1 day ago   119 comments top 47
modernerd 1 day ago 3 replies      
I had to modify Jeroen's code to get the `marks` shortcut working under Mac OS 10.8:

    export MARKPATH=$HOME/.marks    function jump {        cd -P $MARKPATH/$1 2> /dev/null || echo "No such mark: $1"    }    function mark {        mkdir -p $MARKPATH; ln -s $(pwd) $MARKPATH/$1    }    function unmark {        rm -i $MARKPATH/$1    }    function marks {        ls -l $MARKPATH | sed 's/  / /g' | cut -d' ' -f9- && echo    }

skrebbel 20 hours ago 7 replies      
For Windows users I have a closely related shameless plug:

cdhere navigates your cmd.exe to wherever the current topmost Explorer window is pointed at.

It's not the same as the OP's trick, of course, but since you're voluntarily using Windows, I'm going to assume you "live" on the command line less than the average UNIX user, and more on GUI tools such as good old Explorer.


networked 1 day ago 4 replies      
You can also use ranger [1] to change directories, especially if you want to explore the directory tree quickly when you don't know exactly where to jump to. Install it and add the following to ~/.bashrc:

     function ranger-cd {       tempfile='/tmp/chosendir'       /usr/bin/ranger --choosedir="$tempfile" "${@:-$(pwd)}"       test -f "$tempfile" &&       if [ "$(cat -- "$tempfile")" != "$(echo -n `pwd`)" ]; then         cd -- "$(cat "$tempfile")"       fi       rm -f -- "$tempfile"     }     # This binds Ctrl-O to ranger-cd:     bind '"\C-o":"ranger-cd\C-m"'
(This script comes from the man page for ranger(1).)

Edit: Modified the above script for use with zsh (and multiple users):

     ranger-cd() {       tempfile=$(mktemp)       ranger --choosedir="$tempfile" "${@:-$(pwd)}" < $TTY       test -f "$tempfile" &&       if [ "$(cat -- "$tempfile")" != "$(echo -n `pwd`)" ]; then         cd -- "$(cat "$tempfile")"       fi       rm -f -- "$tempfile"     }     # This binds Ctrl-O to ranger-cd:     zle -N ranger-cd     bindkey '^o' ranger-cd
[1] http://ranger.nongnu.org/.

microcolonel 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I set my version up with a -f on the unmark rm so that I don't need to be prompted to remove it. Also added some basic completion for both jump and unmark

  export MARKPATH=$HOME/.marks  function jump {       cd -P $MARKPATH/$1 2>/dev/null || echo "No such mark: $1"  }  function mark {       mkdir -p $MARKPATH; ln -s $(pwd) $MARKPATH/$1  }  function unmark {       rm -if $MARKPATH/$1   }  function marks {      ls -l $MARKPATH | sed 's/  / /g' | cut -d' ' -f9- | sed 's/ -/\t-/g' && echo  }  _completemarks() {      local curw=${COMP_WORDS[COMP_CWORD]}      local wordlist=$(find $MARKPATH -type l -printf "%f\n")      COMPREPLY=($(compgen -W '${wordlist[@]}' -- "$curw"))      return 0  }  complete -F _completemarks jump unmark

nkuttler 23 hours ago 2 replies      
To have completion with bash you can use this:

  function _jump {      local cur=${COMP_WORDS[COMP_CWORD]}      local marks=$(find $MARKPATH -type l -printf "%f\n")      COMPREPLY=($(compgen -W '${marks[@]}' -- "$cur"))      return 0  }  complete -o default -o nospace -F _jump jump
Bash completion really needs better docs :-|

lucaspiller 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I have no idea if anyone else does this, but I use tmux a lot for different projects. I usually have vim in one tab, logs in another, and tests in another. However, each tab I open I need to cd into the same directory. As such I came up with this helper for zsh. Every time I change a directory it records it. When I start a new session (new tmux or iTerm tab) it goes straight to that directory:

    # record directory in ~/.lastpwd    record_pwd() {      pwd > ~/.lastpwd    }    chpwd_functions=(record_pwd)        # go to last directory when opening a new shell    if [[ -d `cat ~/.lastpwd` ]]; then      cd `cat ~/.lastpwd`    fi
For other shells that don't have something like chpwd_functions you could just alias cd.

lazerwalker 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using Bashmarks (https://github.com/huyng/bashmarks) for years, which appears to be basically the same thing but with a less verbose interface.
sukaka 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of z, which I use all the time. Anyone else use z? If you have not heard of it, get it now https://github.com/rupa/z.

z is a wonderful complement to cd. After cd into a folders with z set up, a file stores all folders navigated to sorted by frecency, then simply jump to a folder with z [foldernameregex].

skriticos2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"Like many others, I spend most of my day behind a computer."

I tend to spend my time in front of one. Is there an advantage to being behind it?

But jokes aside, I added this to my bashrc, looks useful.

shailesh 21 hours ago 0 replies      

With fish 2.0, the shell stores a list of "cd" commands issued from a specific directory, so mostly just typing "cd" yields an auto-completion hint out of the box.

mynameisfiber 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I found this is a useful addition to his scripts... I can't live without my tab completion!

    _jump()    {        local cur=${COMP_WORDS[COMP_CWORD]}        COMPREPLY=( $(compgen -W "$( ls $MARKPATH )" -- $cur) )    }    complete -F _jump jump

fau 1 day ago 4 replies      
You might want to check out z: https://github.com/rupa/z
tiziano88 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool, simple but very useful!

Bonus: if you want autocompletion for the jump and unmark commands, just add the following lines (in zsh):

    function _marks {      reply=($(ls $MARKPATH))    }    compctl -K _marks jump    compctl -K _marks unmark

jonknee 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed that 'mark' doesn't work if you have spaces in a directory name which you can't avoid on the Mac (I tried to mark an interior folder inside the iPhone Simulator which is inside "~/Library/Application Support/iPhone Simulator/". Wrapping in quotes seems to do the trick:

  function mark {        mkdir -p $MARKPATH; ln -s "$(pwd)" $MARKPATH/$1  }

ChuckMcM 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is how I know I am old I create a symlinks in my home directory to oft used locations and get there with cd ~/linknameHas the added bonus of making my short path be ~/linkname rather than ~/some/very/deep/pocket/in/some/git/repo
franzb 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Here is a fully functional (albeit minimal) Windows version: http://appleseedhq.net/stuff/marks-v1.zip. Tested on Windows 7 (does not require PowerShell).

GitHub: https://github.com/dictoon/marks

Edit: to install, unzip anywhere and add to your path. Then:

  C:\Windows> mark win  C:\Windows> marks  win => C:\Windows  C:\Windows> cd ..  C:\> jump win  C:\Windows> 
Marks will be stored in a marks\ subdirectory (relatively to the mark.bat file).

bakul 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using the following in some form for over 3 decades!(now in zsh)

    alias   .=cd
In /bin/sh "." sources a script. While this can be common in a script, one rarely does this interactively so I usurped . for the most common operation!

    alias   ,=pushd    alias   ,,=popd    alias   ,.=dirs
Think of cd as a goto, pushd as a call, popd as a return and dirs as a stack trace!

    ..() { cd ../$* }    cdpath=(. .. ~/src ~)
Use of cdpath can be confusing so it is best to show part of $PWD in the prompt:

    PS1="%* %5. %h%(#.#.:) "
This ends the prompt with a # if you are running as superuser.

These aliases/functions are enabled in .zshrc (only if run interactively -- that is, they are included below the following test):

    if [[ ! -o interactive ]] ; then return; fi
The "benefit" of Jeroen's mark/unmark is that these paths persist (and can be used from any window running a shell. I have not found much need for that + I can have different $dirs in different windows. Also, given that my shell windows (under screen) persist for a very long time, I don't need symlink's persistence!

Alternatively I define "." to be a function that does arg specific operation (cd if a dir, acroread if .pdf, vi if text etc.).

daGrevis 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great, but I don't see why this is better than autojump.

* Autojump automatically saves marks,

~~~cd Downloads # And you are done.~~~

* You don't have to think about mark names,

~~~cd Projects/Python # It will be called `python`.~~~

* You don't need to remember mark names,

~~~j haskell # If you want `Projects/Haskell`, odds are the mark is auto-named `haskell`.~~~

* You can specify only some part of mark name;

~~~j bar # And you are in `Stuff/foobar`.~~~

Other than that, this is, as I said before, great! Looking forward to go through the source code to learn more about Bash.

anjanb 1 day ago 2 replies      
cool! I'm a command-line junkie as well.So, I've been doing something similar for quite a while.

Here's what I have done :

    function ccb ()    {        FOO=`pwd`;            echo >> ~/shortcuts.sh;            echo alias $1=\'pushd $FOO\' >> ~/shortcuts.sh;            echo >> ~/shortcuts.sh;            . ~/shortcuts.sh        }
simple but quite effective.

Now, all I have to do is type ccb and give a shortcut name to register a shortcut. Then whenever i want to jump to that directory, I just have to type the shortcut.

Eg :

    foo@bar deeply-nested-dir# ccb deepd    foo@bar deeply-nested-dir# cd    foo@bar ~# deepd    foo@bar deeply-nested-dir#
My method lacks the a) delete shortcut and b) list shortcut features that the above solution gives, though.

ttomaino 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a very informative thread for people trying to streamline their daily shell experience. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the utilities mentioned here. I spend a significant amount of time in, and moving between CVS sandboxes. All my sandboxes have the same internal directory structure, but the root of the path changes. To speed up navigation time I created a tool to replace directory names with aliases. The aliases are persistent. They can also be "stacked", which allows you to specify a sandbox as an alias, then reuse your existing aliases to navigate within the sandbox. Auto-completion in the shell is an excellent companion as well. More information on "stacked.aliases", as well as the source can be found here: https://github.com/ttomaino/stacked_aliases/wiki. I include one example to illustrate:

As an example, the following two sandboxes contain the Broadcom Ethernet driver:


Use the add alias command aa <alias name> <directory> to create aliases for the sandboxes:

aa a /build/username/sandbox_aaa b /build/username/sandbox_b

Then create an alias for the Broadcom directory:

aa brcm software/vendors/linux/linux-

To change to the Broadcom directory in sandbox_a, just stack the appropriate aliases using the ua command. Stacking is done by stringing the aliases together with a period delimiter:

ua a.brcm

To change to the Broadcom directory in sandbox_b:

ua b.brcm

sam152 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really neat. I have added it to alias.sh for easy inclusion: http://alias.sh/filesystem-markers-jump
clumsysmurf 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of NCD (Norton Change Directory) which then went on to inspire many tools, like the excellent KCD and WCD. These tools index rather than create symlinks, though.
AlexanderDhoore 1 day ago 1 reply      
A handy alias I use:

    alias ..='cd ..'
Moving up the file tree has never been easier!

georgecalm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a `fish 2` shell version, that works on the Mac.You can add it as `~/.config/fish/functions/mark.fish`:

    set MARKPATH $HOME/.marks    function jump      cd $MARKPATH/$argv; or echo "No such mark: $argv"    end    function mark      mkdir -p $MARKPATH; and ln -s (pwd) $MARKPATH/$argv    end    function unmark      rm -i $MARKPATH/$argv    end    function marks      ls -l $MARKPATH | cut -d' ' -f12-; and echo    end

jeroenjanssens 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you all for your kind words and helpful suggestions! I shall adapt both the post and the code accordingly.


BinRoo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
timtadh 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a similar tool but it also manages shell environment variables, allowing you to jump around and/or switch working projects. You can check it out at: http://github.com/timtadh/swork
kelvie 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I just do this (in zsh):

    setopt autopushd pushdminus pushdsilent pushdtohome pushdignoredups
Which automatically pushes (unique) directories I've visted into $dirstack.

Then I have an alias:

    d () {            local dir            select dir in $dirstack                    echo $dir                    break            done            test "x$dir" != x && cd $dir    }
That gives me a list of directories to jump to in my history:

    ~/src/git/emacs-prelude $ d    1) /home/kelvie/tmp/typhoon          3) /home/kelvie/src/git                  2) /home/kelvie/tmp                  4) /home/kelvie                          ?#
So I just type 1-4 to go back to a directory I've previously been in.

_mc 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool!, I usually want to open a new terminal window and move to the same directory I am working in, I use these handy aliases :

alias here='pwd | pbcopy'

alias there='cd $(pbpaste)'

So now type `here` in current terminal window and type `there` in new terminal window to move to same directory!

[This works on Mac on other OS you could use xcopy or equivalent clipboard copy program]

nkuttler 1 day ago 0 replies      
That looks clever and useful, I wasn't expecting that. I do maintain a few aliases to jump around, but this looks more efficient. Not sure though if I'll like "jump foo" better than simply "foo" that I use now, but maintaining those aliases is a pita.
davejamesmiller 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm too lazy to type "jump" so I've modified it to automatically add a Bash alias for each one as well.


nawitus 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Caps insensitive auto-complete is pretty handy. Add 'set completion-ignore-case on' to '/etc/inputrc'.
xal 1 day ago 0 replies      

    brew install fasd
Thank me later

verbatim 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea. I've the bash built-in "pushd" and "popd" for a long time for similar reasons, but those effectively limit you to treating the history as a stack rather than an arbitrary list.
roob 1 day ago 1 reply      
I also do something similar but slightly different: https://github.com/roobert/dotfiles/blob/master/.zsh/robs/fu...

my method involves storing the bookmarks in a file but loading them into zshs directory hash. This means the directories are tab completable and if you have AUTO_CD set then you can change directory with simply: ~dir_name, otherwise: cd ~dir_name.

gosukiwi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Watching all the comments, I think the author should create a repo so people can fork or contribute instead of comment different versions :p
wvh 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice idea, reminds me of ncd from a far away, foggy past. I suggest some escaping on the directory name parameter though. If you're not careful, you're going to run into trouble with paths that have spaces or risk some nasty security issues with embedded special characters.
jijji 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Not sure if the author knows or not, but there exists a BASH environment variable called CDPATH which does the same thing, and is a lot easier to use.
mariusmg 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I use powershell aliases for this. Works great.
arrowgunz 21 hours ago 0 replies      
srinivasanv 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been looking for a way to make this less annoying, hanks!
ddoolin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I usually just alias directories I frequent in .bashrc...Easy enough, I guess.
jasminaata 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is one that works with zsh: https://github.com/bufordtaylor/swiftcommandline
straphka 1 day ago 0 replies      
This does look very similar to the setup I am using (https://github.com/huyng/bashmarks
th0br0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Or you might just use ZSH (particularly in combination with oh-my-zsh), keep the marks around as zsh vars and skip all the symbolic linkage.
nXqd 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Using Voice to Code Faster than Keyboard ergoemacs.org
393 points by idleworx  5 days ago   131 comments top 33
mechanical_fish 5 days ago 2 replies      
A few months ago I had an RSI problem so bad - able to type only a minute at a time, even sitting with hands on keyboard hurt - that I started down this route. This video was, literally, a life-altering motivator for me, and I was quite obsessed with it.

Ironically, after seeing a physical therapist - which, let me tell you, you should do at the first sign of pain, because while they can't help some people I personally am batting 1.000 with PTs for RSI over my many-year career - my recovery is now so complete that I've totally fallen off the voice-computing path... for now. But I intend to keep going, not just because it is hilarious but because, well, RSI happens and it really pays to vary the routine sooner rather than later. There is nothing like trying to do a ton of emergency scripting on Python and emacs at the lowest possible point of your productivity.

The most important hint I have so far is: do not waste time with Mac OS. You need a PC running the Windows version of Dragon. The Mac version is pretty good for occasional email but lousy for emacs because it doesn't have the Python hook into the event loop that a saint hacked into the PC version years ago before leaving Dragon.

The speechcomputing.com forums are your friend.

Yeah, they say there is an open-source recognition engine that works okay, and time spent improving free recognition engines is time that really improves the world for all kinds of injured people, but here's the problem: when you need a speech system you really need it, and there are a lot of moving parts. Dragon, and Windows, and a super PC to run it on are super cheap compared to your time, especially when your time is in six-minute increments punctuated by pain.

lifeformed 5 days ago 7 replies      
I guess it depends on the type of software you're working on, but input speed has never been close to being the bottleneck with coding for me...

Most of the time I'm trying to figure out what to do or how to implement an algorithm. Rarely do I get those mad-scientist frenzies where I'm typing away frantically trying to get all the words down as they come into my mind in a flash of inspiration.

henrik_w 5 days ago 1 reply      
Tangentially related, but I'll throw it in here, since so many developers aren't taking ergonomics seriously. RSI can happen to you if you are not careful, and it can wreck your career (almost happened to me). Several years ago, I started having aches in my arms. Over half a year it got gradually worse, until it was so bad, I thought I had to give up coding altogether. Fortunately, I managed to get it under control, mostly with the aid of a break program, and an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I'm now completely over it, but I still need to be careful not to get it back. A lot more details in this post: http://henrikwarne.com/2012/02/18/how-i-beat-rsi/
fsck--off 5 days ago 4 replies      
"Emacs pinkie" is a non-issue if you use a keyboard with thumb clusters, e.g a Maltron or a Kinesis model. Investing in a good keyboard is just as crucial as investing in a good chair, especially if you make a living by coding. The time that you spend compensating for a bad input device by hacking your own workarounds can be more costly then spending money on a proper solution.

Once you are an adequate touch typist typing speed is only beneficial if you use a language that requires you to type a lot of boilerplate. Even then, you can use an IDE for auto-completion. I can type at very high speeds as fast as others can input text by using their voice but I can't remember the last time I needed to type for more than a minute at a time. If you use a language that requires you to spend more time thinking about code than it does to actually type it, typing speed really doesn't matter. Code is like speech in that it is judged by the eloquence, not the speed, of its delivery.

ics 5 days ago 2 replies      
I was trying to work something like this out to try about a month ago but had to put it aside for later. Running my speech recognition inside a virtual machine was a dealbreaker, but not all that uncommon for people doing this sort of thing. I really, really wanted to get Julius[1] running in OS X but after a couple tries I couldn't get it to build (problem on my end this is a good reminder to get it sorted out). If you're looking for an alternative to CMU Sphinx that's still FOSS, you really should check Julius out. There are plenty of docs on getting it running with languages other than Japanese. If you're curious about how well it can work, check out this[2] demo (requires Chrome).

[1] http://julius.sourceforge.jp/en_index.php[2] http://www.workinprogress.ca/KIKU/dictation.php

mdaniel 5 days ago 3 replies      
My counter-argument to voice-driven coding has been primarily around the input bandwidth and the fact that you must work from home with that kind of setup.

I guess the presenter conducted the "faster than the keyboard" test under very controlled circumstances (e.g. only working on his own code, so one doesn't have to deal with non-english-word variables/functions).

I don't mean to be a hater, because that was an _amazing_ demo, but I don't believe it's the holy grail the title implies it is.

crazygringo 4 days ago 1 reply      
Where is it backed up that it's faster than the keyboard?

For the couple of minutes I watched of him demoing it... I type waaaay faster than that. In fact, I can't possibly imagine how I could speak faster than I can code on the keyboard.

(Regular English sentences are another story, but code is full of important punctuation, exact cursor positioning, single characters, etc...)

I mean, this is awesome for people with trouble typing (which was my own case a few months back), but I don't think it needs to be over-sold by being "better"...

MarcScott 5 days ago 1 reply      
This reminded me of the guy who tried some Perl scripting using Windows Vista voice recognition.


rossjudson 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I've never been able to adapt to using voice to code, what I have done successfully is use Dragon to document my code. I set up some macros that could move forwards and backwards between methods in Eclipse, added a "start doc" macro...Eclipse does a lot of very smart completion so basic features in Dragon handled it without difficulty.

Dictating your javadoc is pretty damn convenient.

tavisrudd 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi, I'm the guy in the video. You might also be interested in a presentation I gave last Sept at Strangeloop with a much longer demo of coding in Clojure and Elisp: http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Programming-Voice

There's also this lightning talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXvbQQV1ydo from PolyglotConf (warning: crappy audio from a shaky cell phone cam).

I promised to release my duct tape code later this year. I'm a bit behind schedule with that but it should be out in a month or two.

sspiff 5 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever I see posts about voice controlling your computer, I spontaneously think "thank the heavens I don't have to share an office with you." I realize some people work alone, at home or in a sound proof office, but every work environment I've worked in has had a shared acoustic space.

These voice control schemes almost always end up as a cool gimmick, and rarely as a productivity boosting solution.

swayvil 5 days ago 0 replies      
~99% of my time coding is spent working through the stuff in my head

Now if they could optimize that...

charlieflowers 4 days ago 1 reply      
Question (halfway on topic) --

Who makes the best speech recognition software in the world? Regardless of whether it is available to consumers ... who is the best at it?

In particular, how do Apple (Siri) and Google (Google Now) compare to Nuance's stuff? Is Nuance so far ahead of everyone else that they're the clear leader? Or is their codebase "legacy" and vulnerable to better, more accurate software which can be built now due to better algorithms and approaches?

ohwp 5 days ago 1 reply      
What I think is interesting is that a lot can be done to make typing easier and more human when you can type like you speak (and think).

For example: we say/think

  for each item in list
but in a lot of languages you need to type something like

  foreach(item in list) {
A step further: we say/think

  let a be the substring of b from 1 to the end
we need to type

  a = b.substring(1)
Ofcourse the last example is much shorter and even more readable (to the machine for sure) but maybe code could be a little more human.

cbhl 4 days ago 1 reply      
A word of warning -- I started dictating all of my email and Facebook replies on my Android using Google's voice keyboard on my Nexus One a few years ago in response to RSI pain in my hands from overusing my cell phone. Within a month, I started losing my voice.

RSI comes in multiple forms; using your voice exclusively is not going to fix the problem. The trick is to switch things up, which involves having alternatives in the first place.

D9u 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a cool project, as I think a voice interface would be the ultimate in computing, something like in "2001, A Space Odyssey," or "Star Trek."

I remember first playing with voice recognition and voice command on a PPC Mac back in 1994.

That the technology hasn't progressed along the same lines as cell phones and processors is testament to how difficult voice recognition actually is when dealing with a wide variation of dialect within any given language.

I would love to be able to use my voice as my main input to my computers and other devices.

balakk 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's awesome that it works, but that looks totally tiring.
bshanks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an open source Python script i wrote a few years ago that allows you to type with your voice. It's based off of CMU Sphinx. The accuracy is almost certainly not as good as Dragon, and it doesn't have a macro facility, so you cannot code as fast as typing. I haven't improved it much over the past few years because my hands got better and i don't need it anymore.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/voicekey/ tarball, includes language model) https://github.com/bshanks/voicekey (repo, does not include language model)

asgard1024 5 days ago 1 reply      
I like it a lot. I wish there would be solution to tie this with say Google Glass, and be able to go on a walk or sit in the woods and code or make notes with it, hands free. Or while doing cooking or laundry, etc.

It's unfortunate he couldn't get the OSS speech recognition to work, though.

frozenport 5 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if we should also be voice coding in a language drastically different then for example, C++? Maybe a language more syntactically friendly for voice?
speeq 5 days ago 2 replies      
That was a fun talk to watch. Someone should try something similar using some kind of brainwave detecting glass gear to make it possible to code by simply thinking. That'd be awesome.
klancaster1957 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the video he mentions that he wish he had known about the previous talk. Looked it up - http://pyvideo.org/video/1706/plover-thought-to-text-at-240-.... Pretty interesting. They are applying court reporter techniques to coding, cutting down on the keystrokes immensely.
mugenx86 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone else find speaking commands out loud to distract from thought?

"slap... slap... jog... dot... word... chk... slap... snore"

unclesaamm 5 days ago 1 reply      
Okay, here's the million dollar question that isn't on the FAQ and no one in the audience asked.

How the hell did he code it without using his hands? With help?

To his amanuensis: Slap. York. Tork. Jorb. Chomp.

Or maybe he felt his hands going, and he spent the last few months of his pre-RSI existence coding this up.

frakkingcylons 5 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting talk. Naturally it made me think about steps I should take to prevent any kind of RSI. Should I be seriously concerned if I type for about 4-5 hours on average per day? How can I prevent it?
unono 5 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of potential for multimodal gamified programming using tablets. A combination of gesturing, shaking the tablet, face expression, hand drawing, myo sensing, as well speech, in addition to machine learning in the compiler and for regular expression building. Within the next year a whole raft of apps along these lines will be coming online in the app stores. Big opportunity for Indie developers on the app store, you can easily charge $20+ if they're good and disrupt the emacs/vi/eclipse monopoly/monotony.
ChrisAntaki 5 days ago 0 replies      
This would be amazing, especially if it one day supported Linux natively.
quantumpotato_ 5 days ago 1 reply      
Any good machine intelligence integrated with IDE? I'd love some AI autocompleting things.
singularity2001 5 days ago 0 replies      
We need a new programming language optimized for voice:https://github.com/pannous/natural-english-script
dylangs1030 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing!

If you could speak a bit softer with this, maybe throw in some noise-cancelling headphones, I could totally see this being useful even in an office situation.

I could see a potential pseudo-language developing out of this to abstract a lot of the individual characters, functions and common invocations used while coding.

krupan 5 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing, but the cubical farm is noisy enough as it is.
jerogarcia 5 days ago 0 replies      
this is great , even that seems complicated and hard to get used to ... it's a fantastic option when nothing else works.
Groupon sales rep threatens restaurant with negative Yelp reviews facebook.com
355 points by gregman  23 hours ago   165 comments top 33
droithomme 22 hours ago 7 replies      
Isn't this a protection-money racket (extortion) from a legal perspective?



> "Extortion is a criminal offense of unlawfully obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion."

> "In the United States, extortion may also be committed as a federal crime across a computer system, phone, by mail or in using any instrument of interstate commerce."


> "What is Extortion? The use of threats to extract money from people is a crime in the United States..."

> "Which Kinds of Threats are Illegal? One common characteristic of extortion is the use of threats, that is, an express intention to inflict injury, loss, or some other bad consequence on another person. The threat has to be sufficiently plausible and imminent that it could convince a reasonable person to give in to the blackmailers demands. In addition, there has to be some evidence that the threat was actually made for the purpose of obtaining money or property."


> "A person commits the federal offense of extortion if he or she transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any demand or request for ransom or for a reward for the release of a kidnapped person, any threat to kidnap or injure another person, or any threat to injure the property or reputation of another person or to accuse another person of a crime with the intent to extort."

Now that one specifically mentions that threats to injure persons, property or reputation qualify as extortion when done to get money from someone.

Here is the actual federal law:


> "Whoever, with intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or other thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

It seems very clear that that is what has happened here.

But if this form of threat by a Groupon employee to extract money from people is not extortion, what is the subtle difference that would enable such threats to be considered non-criminal?

nwh 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Mirrors for when the original content inexplicably disappears.

Facebook post (OP's link): http://archive.is/lIFF5

Negative reviews left: http://archive.is/js6nY and http://archive.is/hnMmA

The attackers reviews on Yelp: http://archive.is/Itdbw

jasonkester 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This would be better titled "idiot gets himself fired (from Groupon)", since it's unlikely that Groupon has a policy of threatening their customers in writing, or much tolerance of employees who make it appear that they do.

Incidentally, "As a resident of San Francisco for over 25 years" is code for "this is my first job out of college". Hopefully he'll be a little smarter by the time he finds his second.

ChuckMcM 20 hours ago 0 replies      
And this is why there is a high turn over rate in sales, seriously.

The salesguy is clearly over the top aggressive and likely new to the business. He will get let go, if he hasn't been already, and some other person will replace him. If you deal with sales folks you will find the ones who have had the most success in their career seem to push right up to the line and don't cross it. This guy will no doubt re-calibrate and head back in selling windows or something.

I expect it is the nature of sales, you measure someone on their completed sales, period. You don't measure anything else and they will experiment with different ways of maximizing that number, some of them illegal (see the behavior of the Google sales guys in Africa [1] as an example) Businesses fire the ones that generate ill will and keep the ones that don't.

[1] http://memeburn.com/2012/01/mocality-scandal-mortified-googl...

usaphp 22 hours ago 5 replies      
http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=hnH6RaPkJ2Tfw9ZkKMfL... see how many bad reviews he already wrote for Sause! I think his profile should be flagged, you can't trust a person who does this kind of things.

Edit: He just changed his name to West C. what a guy :)

Another Edit: Just look at his reviews date - they all are written on July 29-30 - why would anybody write so many reviews unless you receive a commission to do so?

beedogs 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Groupon is one good class-action lawsuit away from nonexistence. Here's hoping it comes sooner rather than later if this is the kind of tactic their salesmen need to resort to now.
seivan 22 hours ago 3 replies      
On his LinkedIn account:"SpecialtiesTechnology, Local commerce, Social media, SEO, Online marketing, Consumer and retail marketing, Sales, Salesforce, CRM"

How come every other scumbag tend to be everything above? Does it naturally attract these sorts of people?


ultimoo 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't like that this thread is fast turning into a reddit style witch-hunt.
zackmorris 22 hours ago 0 replies      
On a related note, yelp's been criticized for similar practices:


darkchasma 21 hours ago 1 reply      
> "I have a huge network of friends (ages 25-40) that all are extremely active on Yelp"

Apparently, 10 people is a HUGE network.

noonespecial 22 hours ago 2 replies      
There should be a yelp-like service for rating people like this "salesman" so that he doesn't accidentally get hired again.
PeterisP 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Doesn't USA have any DoNotCall rules with some teeth, if, as the owner is saying, he "... asked you twice to remove me from you call list, as I have EVERY time I have been called by a representative from Groupon"?

In my place, this would mean that their customer acquisition costs would skyrocket from fines for such incidents.

jseip 21 hours ago 0 replies      
If Groupon sales management gets wind of this Andy will be terminated immediately. I dealt with issues similar to this at LivingSocial (one rep offered a positive Yelp review in exchange for a deal) and both legal and sales know this is a very big no-no. Andy will have to re-learn business ethics at another company.
jusben1369 21 hours ago 3 replies      
He's not saying "Use Groupon or I'll trash your business" he's saying "You treated me poorly and now I'll get my revenge" This guy's a goofball for putting it in writing but social media has definitely changed how businesses have to treat whacky, unreasonable prospect's and customers. (The Groupon angle is a red herring
ececconi 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder what this guys week will be like starting monday morning?

Is this HN story going to do anything negative to his career?

toble 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like one of those game theory side effects. If you pay and measure people by targets then expect them to use dubious techniques to win the game.
dvhh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
While I agree the guy is a scum and deserve a good kick in the ball, I feel that people here (even me including to some degree) condone what we are criticizing the NSA for.I also agree that this behavior is also destroying not only whatever remains of groupon reputation, but is also hurting Yelp as well (which should detect this kind of abuse but wont , because an inflated number of reviews is more trusted than a few verified ones).
awjr 22 hours ago 3 replies      
The more interesting thing is, has any restaurant had a good experience with Groupon?
pearjuice 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I always thought HN was full of professional people so it ashames me to see a full blown witch hunt going on in this thread. Posting the guy his address, Twitter and so forth? Mirroring his Instagram profile? Really? Has it come to this?
tlogan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't this be Yelp's job?
potatolicious 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Silly Groupon sales rep, everyone knows only Yelp sales reps are allowed to threaten restaurants with bad reviews!
stugs 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think Andy has a bright future in sales
inselkampf 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It appears he lives in Chicago yet he happened to visit TWO Sauce locations in SF on the same day.... this guy is unbelieveable
nperez 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This story has had some interesting developments.. check the bottom of the comments. He has now changed his Yelp name and removed his profile pic. It was unprofessional from the start, but now it's getting really ridiculous.
BlakePetersen 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone who goes to Berkeley and majors in American Studies obviously has never heard 'No' before. Talk about a wasted opportunity. This guy has douche stink all over his various profiles.
mathattack 13 hours ago 0 replies      
All I can say is Wow!

To say something like this on the phone is crazy, and something to get fired over. To put it in writing is a career ender. Any company that does background checks will not hire someone like this. Absolutely amazing.

danso 20 hours ago 0 replies      
On a tangent, how is this situation something that hasnt yet been hammered into Groupon's sales reps as something not to do? Say what you will about their business practices, but it's a savvy enough company with a young enough workforce that'd you would think they would have common sense in this kind of thing. In the day of Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, even a nobody can generate a vicious defense against any company.

Also common sense thing about the Internet: assume that whatever you send in email has the potential to be seen by everyone, for perpetuity. Hope this sales person was listing a Google Voice number

yelp_is_bad_too 20 hours ago 0 replies      

Yelp salespeople have threatened restaurant owners that negative reviews would be more prominent (or could disappear if they "ran a deal" w/ them)

Who knows if company policy, but cowboy/cowgirl sales reps are doing a fantastic job of burning goodwill

npaquin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Andy Johnston II: All your base are belong to the internet.
josteink 16 hours ago 1 reply      
To put this internet witch-hunt in perspective I know about 0 persons who care about either groupon or yelp.

An offer from groupon would be spam to me and an opinion on yelp wouldn't be seen because nobody I know uses it.

SimHacker 19 hours ago 1 reply      

    Andy Johnston II GROUPON GETAWAYS     Area Sales Manager    ajohnston@groupon.com    Desk: 312-462-9495     Cell: 5107033591    Groupon Getaways
Apparently "Groupon Getaways" means that Groupon thinks they can get away with anything they want.

kitcar 22 hours ago 3 replies      
I honestly don't know why this is even on the front page... It shouldn't surprise anyone that companies with thousands of low-paid roles are bound to sometimes end up with people which act unethically - we should be judging these companies based on how they deal with these employees, rather than the mere fact that these employees exist.
Introducing Stripe UK stripe.com
352 points by woodrow  3 days ago   163 comments top 33
davidjgraph 3 days ago 4 replies      
If you mostly export (i.e sell abroad), there are some additional considerations for picking a payment provider (I speak from the point of view of a UK company).

We've been using Shareit for selling software for many, many years and it's basically 4.9% as fees. The first interesting part for me is the currency conversion rate. We operate in GBP and all of our sales last month were in USD. Working out the average rate we got 1.54 USD to 1 GBP. Looking at the exchange rates for July [0] that seems reasonably close to the mid market rate.

I'd be interested to know how Stripe determine their conversion rates. If it's mid-market then we're looking at 4.4% against 4.9%.

The next issue when exporting is whether you have to register formally in the country you're selling to in order to avoid withholding taxes [1]

The countries we've come up against this to date are the USA, Portugal and India. The volume we do with the US justifies registering with the IRS and making a W8-BEN form available to all companies we sell to.

The process for the US is doable and the volume we sell there easily justifies it. The process for Portugal is awful and the process for India comprises about 6-8 weeks of utter bureaucratic bullshit [2]. The sales volume from these countries were not worth going through the process.

If we didn't go through this process and sell directly in these countries the buyer would have to withhold a proportion of the purchase, usually around 20%.

Shareit is an actual reseller, legally. Stripe isn't, AFAIK. So, Shareit can deal with the admin in these countries and pass over the same amount they do as for any country. A few years ago, we hadn't heard of withholding taxes, it's becoming more and more common as countries try to clamp down on tax evasion.

It's more strictly enforced the larger the payment amount gets, but my point is to be aware of the legal differences in payment processing services regarding foreign withholding tax rules.

Edit : There's actually a third issue as well and that's whether your insurance covers you to take card information on your site (up to details regarding the type of SSL certificate you have installed) and, if it does, whether you comply with all the security constraints the policy imposes. You may find that the additional premium is more than the cost savings.

[0] http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=GBP&to=USD&view=1Y

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

[2] http://homepage.ntlworld.com/dallaway/pan-card-uk-company.ht...

aculver 3 days ago 2 replies      
For any Ruby on Rails developers in the UK who may now be jumping into Stripe for the first time because of this, Pete Keen has just released (or is releasing today) a new book called Mastering Modern Payments (http://www.petekeen.net/mastering-modern-payments) which focus on Stripe and Rails.
mrweasel 2 days ago 6 replies      
Could someone people explain the appeal of Stripe? The APIs are nice, but so a most other payment providers.

The fee Stripe charges are pretty high. We would never agree to a percentage of the sale, only a fixed price. The fact that you can't change who process you credit card payments (can you?) excludes you from getting any good deals on fees. If you shop around you can save a lot of money.

Honestly getting a merchant account, if that's the excuse for using Stripe, isn't that hard.

hiddenfeatures 3 days ago 3 replies      
Oh man... I love that Stripe is finally coming to Europe.

BUT seriously (going on a disappointed rant here): Belgium & the Netherlands get into private beta and Germany gets nothing? I mean: Come on. BE + NL together have 27m people - Germany has some 80m AND a world-class economy. I don't want to bash on our neighbors (God knows we've done that one or two times in the past), I just want me some Stripe.

I know that the delay is probably because of some ridiculous red tape in Germany. :-(

tl;dr: Please absolve us from PayMill & the Samwer brother

julesie 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a co-founder at Teddle, one of the companies mentioned in the press release.

When we started Teddle the landscape for payments in the UK looked very very different. At one point PayPal looked like our best option. In reality their product would have killed our business (matching customers with independent house cleaners), with their punitive withholding of funds and lengthy clearing times.

Then Andy and the guys at Stripe UK came along and blew the competition out of the water. They have been doing an outstanding job. The product is ridiculously good, the documentation is awesome and the customer service is human, friendly and reliable. Honestly I can't praise the product enough.

Well done guys!

samwillis 3 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome, congrats guys. We have been using the BETA since the start and its been very good.

If anyone from Stripe is reading, in your announcement you say:

"In addition to keeping the best parts, we've also built multi-currency support: the ability for UK businesses to charge customers around the world in US dollars, British pounds, and Euro. We'll automatically handle all the conversions for you and deposit daily into your bank account."

My understanding was that we would need a USD account in the UK in order to charge customers in USD. Have you now fixed that? I can't find anything in the docs? Or are you saying that we can just charge people GBP no matter where in the world they are?

alan_cx 3 days ago 2 replies      
Forgive my ignorance, but is this the PayPal replacement/alternative I have been waiting years for?

If so, I may experience the rare emotion of "happiness".

bowlofpetunias 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is Stripe so interesting? As far as I can tell, they still only offer one payment method, credit cards.

That makes them quite uncompetitive in most countries where credit cards are just one of the many online payment methods, and completely useless in countries where most only payment has already shifted to direct transfers without the cost and hassle of going through credit card companies.

The movement is now towards harmonizing direct payments and mobile payment. Using credit cards for online payment feels so yesterday to me.

asb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Am I right in thinking that Stripe has no option for a hosted payments page? This makes it much clearer to users that the site they are in does not process their credit card details correctly. I am aware of Stripe Checkout.
helipad 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is good news, and hopefully websites will vote with their feet.

Stripe may work out more expensive than PayPal, but that extra cost is probably offset by the amount spent on heart medication.

Major_Grooves 3 days ago 2 replies      
What is now the difference between using Stripe and Paymill? Any objective benefit to using either?

asking this as an ex-Rocket guy with my own startup that needs payment integration soon. I've started the Paymill process but not sent the docs in yet.

AhtiK 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting that Braintree went to the whole EU at once while Stripe seems to take it country by country.

Not sure if it's related but at around that time Braintree changed the pricing to add Interchange fee that depends on the card used, service offered etc. Making the final pricing somewhat confusing but maybe more affordable as a result.

Does anyone know if Stripe account setup&approval for UK is just as straightforward as for US? With Braintree they ask for financial (turnover & EBIT) and shareholder information when applying as an EU company, no idea if it's also the case for US companies.

jbrooksuk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using their beta for my startup, the API is amazing. I've only tested it with my own cards, but it's worked a treat (my SaaS isn't solid to be released yet).

Love them!

nhangen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really excited about this because Stripe is the most popular gateway for our WordPress plugin and this opens new doors for many of our customers in the UK that don't wan't to use Paypal.

Would love to see them continue spreading East.

noir_lord 3 days ago 0 replies      

Between Stripe and gocardless we finally have a viable zero-friction way of taking payments.

This is brilliant!.

joshdotsmith 3 days ago 1 reply      
Every time I got an email asking to join the beta, I asked the same question. I'm sure I'm getting annoying, but I'll ask again:

When can US customers start charging UK customers?

markokrajnc 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is great! I have been waiting for this for a loooooong time! I hope they will come also to other European countries soon. But at least in UK! This is great!
javindo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Glad to hear they're finally coming over here!

Somewhat unrelated but:


This is my absolute dream job description, unfortunately as a CS undegrad I think I'd find myself somewhat under qualified for it.

lamby 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the cupcakes.
justplay 2 days ago 0 replies      
To Stripe team,

You are doing great and fast. Keep going.

k-mcgrady 3 days ago 1 reply      
One 'feature' that would make a big difference in the UK is better debit card support - specifically for Maestro.
deskpro 3 days ago 1 reply      
We'd love to move to Stripe; the one issue is that you can't send us $USD to our UK based $USD account via a wire transfer (like Amex does for example). Instead, it seems the only option is for you to send us GBP after charging another 2% on top. This is both expensive currency conversion; but we also spend $USD so have to pay to turn our GBP back into $USD!

Fix this, and we'd move in a heartbeat.

jdg1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would love to use this but the pricing is a bit of a problem. The Visa credit price per transaction is only a little bit higher but almost half our transactions are Visa debit which are charged by our existing provider at a flat rate of 34p + 10p for the gateway. The Stripe cost for a 60 transaction would be 1.64. The pricing needs to take into account the higher rate of debit card usage in the UK.
krmmalik 3 days ago 1 reply      
How do I get a job with this company? I hear nothing but great things about their product and the working culture there. I want to be a part of it.

People from Stripe. If you're reading this, I'd like to work for you.

Can we talk?

knes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once they rollout the marketplace feature to UK users, this will truly be the best piece of service around.

GG to the stripe Team

k-mcgrady 3 days ago 0 replies      
Been using it in the beta for a couple of months. Surprised at how simple it was to get running.
1bo1bo1 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does anybody has used GoCardless or Braintree? What advantages there are between Stripe and those other ones?
workhere-io 3 days ago 1 reply      
Will companies located in other EU countries than the UK be able to use this?
woodylondon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just signed up. How crazy easy that was, no sending in a ton of information of waiting. Live account in 2mins. In fact it's cheaper than PayPal Pro! Paypal, Worldpay you are doomed!
lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great. Now I have no excuses not to launch a side project
dodgrile 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adding to the people happy about this - we've been using the beta for a while, took us a couple of hours to integrate it. Really nice to work with with.
matzipan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to europe. Been waiting for you for a long time guys.
duiker101 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's happening!!!
Campaign for a new HTTP Error code: 451 - Blocked for legal reasons 451unavailable.org
344 points by JayEnn  3 days ago   88 comments top 24
edent 2 days ago 0 replies      
Discussion on HN from when the IETF Draft was created https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4099751

My blog post which helped inspire it http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2012/06/there-is-no-http-code-for-ce...

Simultaneously glad and disgusted that there is a campaign around this.

vilya 3 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like a good idea, but the wrong way to achieve it. The right way, as I understand it, would be to write it up as an RFC and submit it to the IETF; and to contribute code for it to some of the popular web servers (apache, nginx, etc). The site doesn't make any mention of either of those things.

Edit: oops, I was wrong. There is an RFC and it's linked from http://www.451unavailable.org/what-is-error-451/

merlincorey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I once worked somewhere where some resources could not be displayed to all clients. We chose to (ab)use HTTP 409 Conflict.

> 10.4.10 409 Conflict

> The request could not be completed due to a conflict with the current state of the resource. This code is only allowed in situations where it is expected that the user might be able to resolve the conflict and resubmit the request. The response body SHOULD include enough

> information for the user to recognize the source of the conflict. Ideally, the response entity would include enough information for the user or user agent to fix the problem; however, that might not be possible and is not required.

> Conflicts are most likely to occur in response to a PUT request. For example, if versioning were being used and the entity being PUT included changes to a resource which conflict with those made by an earlier (third-party) request, the server might use the 409 response to indicate that it can't complete the request. In this case, the response entity would likely contain a list of the differences between the two versions in a format defined by the response Content-Type.

chrisfarms 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is this saying:

"As a web user I want our ISPs/governments to give us a nice error page so we understand what is going on when they DNS block or seize websites"

Or is it saying:

"As a web-master, when have to take down content due to legal proceedings I want a nice HTTP code to return"

They give example of the first (Virgin Media), but that takes down an entire domain, so it's kind of irrelevant if the correct HTTP code is returned, it's not like that is going to be resolved quickly. 503 would be the correct code here.

The second might be useful to spiders (who might want to back-off spidering so often for a while), but then wouldn't you just want to show your users a 404 with a nice reason why the content has gone.

yxhuvud 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't get it? There are already drafts for it, which were created close in time to when Bradbury died.


venus 3 days ago 2 replies      
Well, the cool thing about HTTP error codes is that you don't need a campaign or get permission from the W3C, you can just start using them if you want.
eatitraw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some sites in Russia actually return 451:

curl -I http://lurkmore.to/

mcv 3 days ago 0 replies      
For some reason, this article is blocked from my work due to proxy avoidance.

Somehow seems fitting.

nawitus 3 days ago 1 reply      
Technically speaking 403 can be returned if it's blocked for legal reasons, but obviously it would be nice to know why it is forbidden.
DharmaSoldat 2 days ago 2 replies      
Surprised no one has made any reference to Farenheit 451.

Allow me to be the first.

Thankfully websites are not flammable.

jvdh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bet you they are really happy you submitted this smack in the middle of the holiday of their main employee/volunteer :-).

Messages to their volunteer address get a vacation message that they're away until September 1st.

krajzeg 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is a lot of discussion below on whether 451 is the right error code and how to implement it properly, but I'm missing one thing - what's the benefit of doing it as a status code at all?

If you're going to say that it raises censorship awareness - Internet protocols are intended as useful technical standards for programs to communicate, not vehicles for political goals.

What is the technical benefit of failing with a different error code? Is there need for client software to react differently to a 451 and a 403? The status code is not intended for the human user. If we want to raise awareness, than we already have means to do that - a 403 with a descriptive page citing the reasons. Many websites already do that when complying to DMCA takedowns.

corobo 3 days ago 3 replies      
Surely this should be within the 5xx range of status codes? I get there's a reference to be had using 451 but this is more of a server error than client.
nilved 2 days ago 1 reply      
We should absolutely not be standardizing censorship.
alexchamberlain 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got Access Denied at work...
taopao 2 days ago 0 replies      
452 Blocked for reasons which may or may not be legal but I probably shouldn't say either way
dlitz 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this interact with the effort to encourage the use of HTTPS everywhere?
mrab 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this really necessary? How about 456 - unavailable because someone spilled coffee on our backend server? Or 467 - unavailable because garden gnomes invaded our offices?
javindo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can see some reasoning behind this, but the reasoning is that the emphasis of the problem is "people are angry at the site because something is blocked so let's show an error code reflecting the real reason." Using 451 would take the emphasis away from the site and onto the legal oppressor.

On the other hand, why not inverse all inaccessible content to legal oppressors? Change the default meaning of 403 for example to "Access denied for permissive or legal reasons".

p_papageorgiou 3 days ago 4 replies      
The whole point of this is wrong... The internet is free, content shouldn't be blocked for legal reasons
Inetgate 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, that page return 200 OK.Why does not it return 451 status code?
bugsense 3 days ago 0 replies      
That would be great when you have to block access to OFAC listed countries
aaronkrolik 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tried to open this link at work. Blocked for legal reasons :)
hawleyal 2 days ago 1 reply      
That is a dumb error code.

404 already exists.

Wireless devices go battery-free with new communication technique washington.edu
334 points by Irene  4 days ago   72 comments top 27
beambot 4 days ago 3 replies      
Backscatter is (indeed) phenomenally interesting. We used it to build "cyborg" dragonflies [1] and to build battery-free tags capable of transmitting video and audio [2]. We've demonstrated fully-passive tags (at 915MHz UHF) capable of 100Mbps communications. Using ambient signals as the carrier is a pretty cool extension.

[1] http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/06/dragonfly-backpack...

[2] http://www.travisdeyle.com/publications/pdf/2013_rfid_rich_m...

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool. There was an interesting project at a former employer which used ambient light to power conference room schedule displays, attached to the outside of conference rooms.

Something like that with e-ink would be even nicer (you can save up energy for changing things rather than keeping an LCD on)

There was also some interesting robotics work out of Mark Tilden's lab called BEAM which was primarily solar powered things but it would be really cool to do those things with backscatter powered energy harvesting devices.

Stwerp 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone else interested, the full paper is available here:


JoeAltmaier 4 days ago 6 replies      
What kind of havoc does backscatter/reflection wreak on normal tv/radio signals? Do I want this noise in my house?
revelation 4 days ago 0 replies      
This would be awesome for home automation devices (sensors, actuators and stuff). It's a pain to have a battery for each little button and sensor.
Lagged2Death 4 days ago 1 reply      
There was a time when battery-less electronics might have excited me, but these days dis-connectable batteries/power supplies and real, hardware off switches seem like important, useful features for just about anything.
eksith 4 days ago 0 replies      
I did an experiment a while ago on whether I could use a crystal radio to light up an LED. Short answer, yes. Long answer, only in very short pulses and that still required a fairly strong AM signal. I guess, this absorbs frequencies of a much wider range.
aroman 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a human this fascinates and excites me because of the possibilities for innovation.

As a hacker this fascinates and excites me because of the potential for abuse and, well, hacking.

This is really cool stuff. I can't wait to see what is built with this technology and how it will get broken.

frozenport 4 days ago 1 reply      
Will this destroy signal integrity for everybody in the vicinity?
arjn 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is a very interesting development. Kudos to the UW folks for this great piece of research.

Few questions :-

- Would there be a problem if the devices were inside an enclosed/shielded area (I assume there would be) ?

- Isn't the data rate dependent on the kind of ambient wavelengths available ?

neya 4 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this something like what Tesla proposed earlier? Can someone elaborate how this is different from Tesla's proposition?


leishulang 4 days ago 0 replies      
also harnessing the power from sound: http://www.instructables.com/id/Harnessing-sound-power/

When lose an item in house, shout loudly and it will appear on radar ;)

rentzsch 4 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only concerned that once a few billion of these energy parasites are deployed everyone will have to have to use more energy to broadcast the same signal the same distance?
knieveltech 4 days ago 2 replies      
Would anyone be willing to explain the proposed benefits of an "Internet of Things"?
s_q_b 4 days ago 2 replies      
I remember, as a small child, building a powerless radio that vibrated the speaker using the strength of the radio transmission itself. Is ambient backscatter is the same thing, except across much wider frequencies ranges?
ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, imagine a massive array of those like solar panels that work at night.
j45 4 days ago 0 replies      
This needs to be in any 2013 year in review article. The implications for this with existing and new technologies is unique and doesn't happen often enough, presuming my understanding is correct :)
gavinlynch 4 days ago 1 reply      
Obligatory Tesla Post.
leeoniya 4 days ago 0 replies      
i imagine the signal would have to be reflected in a highly directional manner or at very close distances. it's cool nevertheless, but i think storing some solar power in a capacitor/coil would produce more powerful rf communication bursts at least for outdoors applications.
gcb0 4 days ago 1 reply      
wouldn't deploying this in big numbers work against the solution itself? you would have so much noise in the existing signals that the main signal, as well as the bounced signals, would be useless?

Also, can we just say this is a cat's whisker receiver[1] that instead of powering a speaker/headphone powers another transmitter?

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

csmatt 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are those times when the device you're powering isn't supposed to be visible and would benefit greatly by the reduction in size from shucking the battery.
benjaminva 4 days ago 0 replies      
From my first read it seems that I will not be able to pay with my "backscsatter creditcard" in a Faraday cage or anywhere, where background radiation is strongly shielded. But from a general stand point, I really like the idea.
nkorth 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was just reading the Wikipedia article about crystal radios yesterday. Does this have anything to do with them?
dhughes 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a spark-gap transmitter but without the spark.
zw123456 4 days ago 0 replies      
This non-sense has been posted a number of times and concluded that it is RFID redux.
Google Treks google.com
327 points by ricg  4 days ago   106 comments top 24
nakedrobot2 4 days ago 2 replies      
There are some great images here. I like how Google has been striving to document more beautiful places. The sheer amount of brainpower and processing that Google is putting into Streetview is truly staggering and unprecedented. Nobody else out there is doing it in this way.

On a more hand-made note, my company, http://360cities.net, has been publishing user-generated 360 imagery since 2006. I have built a tour of my own city, Prague, starting in 2004, which was before Google Maps or Streetview. We now have hundreds of thousands of images, (all high-resolution, completely spherical 360 photos) from every country of the world, including some very remarkable places in Antarctica, skydiving from an airplane, underwater, "remote" places such as Havana, Iran, Tibet, Burma, Easter Island, and so on.

Our "editors' picks" are something I'm really proud of. https://www.360cities.net/search/@tags-editorspicks

here is our world map. zoomed out, you should see only "great" stuff: http://www.360cities.net/map

Other services that are similar to 360cities include http://viewat.org, http://roundus.com, http://arounder.com, http://photosynth.net.

Then there are the services for iphone/android 360 app, but these images are far lower in quality overall: http://occipital.com/360/verse and http://dermandar.com/worldmap

edit: made all links clickable

wtvanhest 4 days ago 6 replies      
I can't believe I'm typing this, but after the new Google map changes, it runs so slow on my home and office computer that I was forced to switch to bing. It still works on my mobile, but its just unbearable on the other systems.

I hope they create a more streamlined version soon.

benatkin 4 days ago 10 replies      
Google can't wait to usher in a future where people stay in their rooms and eat Soylent while being entertained and exercised by their VR-enabled computers.
mynegation 4 days ago 2 replies      
Where do I apply and what is the hourly rate? I assume all travel expenses are also paid.

On a serious note, in the footsteps of OpenStreetMap that could be a great next community project: write the software for the infrastructure and the camera gear, open the designs of data collecting hardware (for the 3D printers) and let people upload their treks.

davidw 4 days ago 2 replies      
Great, now when the f* am I going to get terrain back on Maps for Android?! Last summer, my phone provided some information about terrain difficulty for light hikes (serious ones should involve a paper map so that you're not screwed if you lose battery/signal/whatever), bike rides and whatnot. This summer, with a newer, fancier, Nexus 4, that information is gone. The world is flat, indeed.
dmazin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Here's what the non-car-mounted camera machines look like, if anyone's wondering:


Breefield 4 days ago 2 replies      
I have heard Google plans to do street-view of Burning Man, but it has never appeared. Perhaps this will be the venue if/when it finally does.
ohwp 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is a little unrelated but I notice that all Google services are getting very slow. They eat up CPU and memory like it's nothing.

It's nice what can be done with Internet these days but I prefer the old quick Google with almost the same features but less shine.

wooster 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone else confused, as I was, by the Everest trek photos: these were taken with tripods and not with the new Trekker gear.
runn1ng 4 days ago 0 replies      
One less reason to go outside my basement, great!
leviathan 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's mind boggling how bad the arabic translation is at: http://www.google.com/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetvie...

It's like they ran the text in google translate and never bothered to check the results.

bytesmith 4 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they render some of these for the Oculus. Making View, a Norwegian company with similar 360 degree camera technology has released a few Oculus demo clips of people doing amazing things with their cameras. http://makingview.no/makingview.com/?page_id=1691
tocomment 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be amazing if we could put these in the Oculus rift someday. Are there any plans for that?
pistoriusp 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that the page performs so `jaggy` on my computer.
katmasteron 4 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice to try something like this with Oculus Rift and video. Would probably be a cool experience to view the trip down the Amazon Basin in a video and thanks to 360 degree camera / video capture, one would be able to move the head around and get an interactive experience out of it.

I would like to try something like this just to test what kind of "being there" feeling would be achievable with the current tech.

proex 4 days ago 0 replies      
For the times you want to go outside while sitting on your chair in front of your computer ?
Stupendous 4 days ago 0 replies      
Stuff like this makes it really hard to stay angry at Google.. just beautiful.
lenage 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great images here and thanks google did this for the world
dylangs1030 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would do this in a heartbeat, even for a substantially reduced salary. Assuming travel expenses and meals/shelter are paid for (within reason) I'd travel all over the world for an opportunity like this. Awesome. Google's been coming under a lot of fire lately but between this and Google Loon[1] I think Google's cooking up some really innovative, practically useful and genuinely creative toys for the world to play with.

[1]: http://www.google.com/loon/#utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc...

jwheeler79 4 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else see the similarity between the examples and New York Times Snowfall?
alohahacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
They should hook up with a buddy of mine eric! He's currently going to all 194 countries and having some amazing experiences. Seems like the perfect partnership!


INSURGENCYmusic 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to do one on Compton, CA.
apunic 4 days ago 3 replies      
Just because it's from Google it must be special?

Don't want to sound too negative but wondering if Trek would get any attention if done by some startup.

jkl32 4 days ago 1 reply      
What a blatant PR attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

Do not forget who we're dealing with, Google gave the NSA unrestricted access to every system without any legal challenge. No amount of pretty photos will make up for that.

JavaScript right on the hardware technical.io
327 points by chinchang  3 days ago   312 comments top 38
eob 3 days ago 8 replies      
First off, this is cool. It is tremendously exciting to see the bar for hardware hacking getting lower and lower. To the people complaining "Why JS? C is fine!", remember that once the complaint was "Why C? ASM is fine!".

At the same time, I can't help but grin that we on the CS side find a way to erase all the gains in performance and efficiency as soon as the EE guys make them.

There has to be come kind of universal constant: the limit, as technology proceeds into the future, of the execution time of "Hello World" is some fixed number. Because as soon as we get better hardware, we invent an even weightier runtime environment to slap on it. ;)

farnsworth 3 days ago 20 replies      
Forgive me for not being hip but why try so hard to put JS in new places? It seems to be just an unfortunate historical accident that JS is one of the most popular languages in the world - does anyone actually like it compared to other modern scripting languages? Could we invest in CoffeeScript instead, at the very least?
nawitus 3 days ago 5 replies      
From the title I expected the CPU to actually run JavaScript, like a certain decades old computer (of which name I can't recall).
chad_oliver 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is very cool, but I don't see how it can compete with boards like the BeagleBone Black. The BleagleBone Black is $45 for a 1GHz CPU and 512 MB of memory, yet the access to low-level hardware is just as good.
twog 3 days ago 5 replies      
So much negativity in this thread & on HN in general. Not everyone has hardware experience, and this looks great for newcomers.
malandrew 3 days ago 0 replies      
So a lot of people have been complaining: "Why not language X, Y or Z instead of JavaScript?"

This to me makes me think that there is a space out there for a board that has some equivalent to vagrant/docker but for microcontrollers, where you can just flash the device with a image supporting a language of your choice.

Near as I can tell, there is nothing I read on the product launch page that says that JavaScript is supported at the physical hardware level.

kingmanaz 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be interesting to see scheme implemented in hardware, complete with primitives intended to be wired to low-level pointer manipulation functions. Further, it would be interesting to see someone seasoned in low-level C sit down with a copy of Lion's Unix Commentary and the NetBSD sources and attempt to implement a minimal Unix atop the scheme hardware using only said hardware's scheme dialect ("SysScheme"?).
tehwebguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is cool!

If you are a veteran programmer it may seem dumb but there are plenty of people who only know JavaScript (& HTML). Some of those people will be utterly blown away that they can control actual, physical "stuff" with those skills.

proee 3 days ago 3 replies      
Javascript doesn't support integers, so it doesn't seem like a good language for programming low level hardware. What about bit manipulation (XOR, AND, Shifting, etc)? This is critical for a lot of serial data communications and I/O controls.
taurath 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'll take "most terrifying things you could tell an electrical engineer in 2005" for $2000, Alex.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the most elaborate troll i've ever seen. Kudos to the team for creating what is literally the physical embodiment of everything I hate about technology.
jevinskie 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nifty! I presume this is running on a Linux kernel? How much memory does node use? I would think that kernel + JS VM would chew up quite a bit of your 32 MB of RAM.
zdw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious about performance on this, compared to something like the Arduino YUN, which is basically a OpenWRT MIPS system (which uses a Lua UI by default) and an Arduino tacked on the side:


The CPU in particular seems quite underpowered assuming that they're clockspeed comparable, but I'm not familiar enough with the M-series ARM cores to give a proper opinion.

tambourine_man 3 days ago 2 replies      

  180mhz ARM Cortex-M3 LPC1830  32mb SDRAM
I'm amazed that such wimpy hardware can run modern JS satisfactorily.

knodi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Please I don't need more JS in my life, i need less JS in my life.
outside1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone find details (or have an idea) on power consumption?

<selfishPlug>I'm the maintainer of nitrogen (http://github.com/nitrogenjs/service), which is a node.js based project to provide web services and client libraries for devices like this. Check it out if you are interested in devices like this!</selfishPlug>

hardwaresofton 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is very rare that I actually put my email into one of those "sign up for updates" things, this is pretty awesome, can't wait to hear back from you guys
aufreak3 3 days ago 0 replies      
It was both a pleasure and a pain for me to read about this! Pleasure - because a language with closures is finally getting "closer to the metal" (even if it means an abstraction layer sitting in between). Pain - because that language is not a Scheme/LisP!

This would be so much cooler if I could tap into an REPL remotely and blink out a Morse code on the LEDs :)

PS: I have no idea what makes most of us go "cool!" whenever some form of remote control of a hardware device is presented :)

6ren 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, it's not actually JS in silicon (would that add much performance anyway, since JS is so dynamic? at best it would be asm.js-like, I'd guess...), but a supported language for an embedded device. I had a ghastly bizarro moment there: JS strikes me as bash + C syntax (not tsch)... in silicon...
eplanit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Language-specific hardware has been done before, but do these really make sense? I remember excitement at the prospect of "Java CPUs". Did any of them become commercially or even technically important?


mistercow 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, I can see some potential difficulties with making JS work efficiently on that MC. It only has single precision floating point instructions, for one thing, and I can't tell how many cycles those instructions take. I'm guessing they'll just do a variant of JS that uses single precision, but even so, it seems like it would be hard to squeeze any kind of performance out of it.
tn13 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is precisely what I wanted to work with.
ontouchstart 3 days ago 1 reply      
JavaScript is the most deployed dynamic embedded programming language in the world (consider all the web browsers on desktop computers and mobile devices). If we expland this environment to customer hardware, we also expand our view of UI/UX to a different level. We should thank Moore's law.
damian2000 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea and marketing, but I just wish they'd chosen Go - I would have bought one in a second. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the lack of sane, static typing in JS just seems crazy to me when you come to writing low level code.
ulisesrmzroche 3 days ago 1 reply      
I for one am really happy the JS era is here. Finally! Also don't listen to the haters. Ya'll know most of us make web apps so stop fronting. Though, I guess now I can make a battlebot too! JS is shaping up to be a great language and environment as more and more people get on board.
gfwilliams 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working on another embedded JavaScript project - first posted on here almost a year ago, and soon to go on KickStarter: http://www.espruino.com

This is really interesting though. It looks like they've got linux and node.js into 32mb RAM, which is seriously impressive. It seemed as if people were trying and failing on Carambola (but that may have been because it didn't use an ARM CPU...)

mcdougle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting. I feel like I've been seeing a major trend towards Javascript-based-everything the past few months!

I wasn't sure if I should link this here, but this article really sparked a train of thought that brought me to write this:http://blog.mcdougle.net/?p=54

kenster07 3 days ago 0 replies      
There will alway be a need for performance beyond what js can be provide, in time and memory.

So don't worry, js will not take over...completely.

Sealy 3 days ago 0 replies      
That looks very very cool. Im really excited to see how this will change the game.

I just wanted to ask the readers here... anybody notice the sticky tape holding it together in the second picture?

marcamillion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow....this is soo cool. Even though I am no fan of JS, I can't wait for Ruby to be embedded on hardware like this.

Oh the possibilities!

oscargrouch 3 days ago 0 replies      
a good example of hardware hobyism and of the modern days eletronics renaissance..

maybe its not this one.. but the next computer hardware revolution will born like this.. the same way jobs and wozniak did in the 70s .. from pure passion

hope my kids create its own gadgets like we did with legos in our days..

long live to the hacker spirit!

dnautics 3 days ago 0 replies      
will it support asm.js?
K0nserv 3 days ago 0 replies      
As far as I understand not having an Android or iOS device will severely cripple the user? Is this the case, are there any plans for Windows Phone?
smanuel 3 days ago 0 replies      
"the assembly language for the web" just got renamed to... "the assembly language".Very cool.
bcent 3 days ago 0 replies      
Certainly an interesting concept ... and I'm sure that will be some cool things that come out of this project.

I'm not sure I like the idea of a high level language, trying to control low level hardware. (seems almost counter intuitive)... however, if you wanted such a thing ... Node seems to be the way to do it... from both an accessibility and speed perspective.

dpweb 3 days ago 0 replies      
whole world goin JS crazy
SlaterVictoroff 3 days ago 0 replies      
Had the pleasure to try it out last week and I found it incredibly easy to get things up and running. I think it has a lot of potential. Excited to see where this goes.
marssaxman 3 days ago 2 replies      
I feel sorry for the people who need this.
Facebook vulnerability 2013 khalil-sh.blogspot.com
318 points by khalilshr  20 hours ago   162 comments top 37
tshtf 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Note to security response teams everywhere: Not all vulnerability reporters speak perfect English, nor are they all experienced in writing up details on how to exploit issues. It is your responsibility to obtain details from reporters, after the initial report, to avoid situations like this. Facebook should give a bug bounty here, due to their lack of due diligence in following up with the initial responses.
asenna 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The Social Network -

Ad Board Chairwoman: Mr. Zuckerberg, this is an Administrative Board hearing. You're being accused of intentionally breaching security, violating copyrights, violating individual privacy by creating the website, www.facemash.com. You're also charged with being in violation of the University's policy on distribution of digitized images. Before we begin with our questioning you're allowed to make a statement. Would you like to do so?

Mark Zuckerberg: I've...[Mark stands up to make his statement]

Mark Zuckerberg: You know I've already apologized in the Crimson to the ABHW, to Fuerza Latina and to any women at Harvard who may have been insulted as I take it that they were. As for any charges stemming from the breach of security, I believe I deserve some recognition from this Board.

Ad Board Chairwoman: I'm sorry?

Mark Zuckerberg: Yes.

Ad Board Chairwoman: I don't understand.

Mark Zuckerberg: Which part?

Ad Board Chairwoman: You deserve recognition?

Mark Zuckerberg: I believe I pointed out some pretty gaping holes in your system.


The similarity is uncanny.

mkjones 16 hours ago 6 replies      
Hey folks - I work on security at Facebook (though not specifically the Whitehat program) and just wanted to let you know we're looking into this right now.
jeromeparadis 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
I had helped a friend report a security vulnerability to Facebook. It was similar in the sense that it allowed anyone who knew 2 Facebook usernames (easy to do) to post a private message to someone that would appear to come from a friend. You didn't even need to be authenticated on Facebook to do it and could do post it from any machine on the Internet.

At first Facebook was similarly dismissive that it wasn't a bug. My friend pushed a bit to convince them with additional details and examples of how it could be easily used for exploits. They finally saw the light. The bug was fixed and my friend got paid $1K which wasn't much for the bug's seriousness. In any case it got fixed and my friend got acknowledged so it's OK.

It's a bit of a pity, thought, that they didn't see it to be serious at first. I would have expected any mediocre engineer to skip a hearth beat when learning of such a bug in their system.

philliphaydon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So Facebook refuses to pay this guy? So now this white hat hacker will next time, sell the hack and make a lot more money... Way to go Facebook, you've fucked up again.
corresation 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Unfortunate situation, but I suspect that the overwhelming majority of HN would have dismissed this out of hand (though it is perfect hindsight to now say they should have worked harder, etc). It reads like minimal-effort ramblings.
srinivasanv 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Figure out another way to reward this guy (maybe tell him that it's a gesture of goodwill only) and reward him. It doesn't have to be from Facebook, Inc, but he should get something from somewhere.

Otherwise, next time him or any of his friends find a vulnerability, they'd be tempted to share it with the people who would reward them, since they've seen firsthand that their reports to facebook seem to just get ignored. When you consider that his entire region is in turmoil, and that social media is clearly playing an important role in the uprisings across that region [whether you agree with them or not], you'll understand our reasons for insisting that his efforts be rewarded somehow.

Edit 1: Not suggesting that fb intentionally ignores their reports for poor English or any other reason, but that's clearly the impression they're getting.

Edit 2: And while I have no reason to believe that this guy (Khalil) would ever report a vulnerability to some dictator's security forces, others who have seen this story might. And those who have seen this need not be his friends either, since it's on HN, /r/technology, and elsewhere.

Edit 3: As tszming suggested, if you don't want to risk setting a precedent by offering cash, you could perhaps sponsor an all-expenses-paid trip (with no implications of future employment) for him to visit Facebook HQ. Granted I don't know the legal implications of this, but it does give you a chance to buy this guy lunch and tell him in person that you do appreciate his efforts, motivate him to continue reporting any vulnerabilities he finds, and tell him to encourage his friends to do the same. Actions speak louder than words, and there's no question this would have a far bigger impact than the dismissive two-liner he received, even if the intention was the same.

stygiansonic 17 hours ago 4 replies      
After watching the video, it looks like the exploit involves:

1) Getting the target user's userId. This used to be part of a user's profile URL but Facebook allowed people to choose a "vanity URL" quite a while ago, so they're no longer as visible. So, instead, the userId is obtained from a FB Graph API query.

2) The form that makes up the "post to newsfeed" has a bunch of hidden inputs. One of them refers to a "xhpc_targetid" and this is probably where the target userId is injected. It's normally set to the current user's id for a default newsfeed post. These values in the DOM are modified during the exploit using something like Chrome Developer Tools on-the-fly and the form is submitted.

If this is truly the case (and I haven't verified it myself) this means that the server side is not really checking permissions and just blindly trusting the client input. Reminded me of this recent (http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/08/how-ea...) article about trusting client input.

DanBlake 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like if you edit facebook in firebug while you are posting a link to your newsfeed you can change the source userid which is not validated/checked and gets posted even though you dont have the permission to do it
rikacomet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So what does this guy gets for reporting one of the most relevant bugs that could have exploited the privacy of a billion people? PEANUTS!

When the top guys behave like this about rules, it clearly shows a lack of conscience. Rules are made to keep 99.9% of mess at bay.

This guy invaded the privacy of say 1-2 people that too to when the relevant authorities didn't respond in the correct manner, and saved the invasion of privacy of millions at least.

And what privacy? only a relevant post (not a spam) on profile of the company's biggest authority.

Yeah someone probably died of laughter from that post/ breach of privacy... So DUMB!

cupcake-unicorn 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, upvoting this and I really hope it goes viral and FB gets called out for it. Hopefully he can get the bug bounty he deserves. That's incredibly sleazy of FB to treat him this way.
skeletonjelly 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Have to agree with everyone here. The first email gives enough information to base a case on. Enough to simply do a quick search and verify these people aren't friends. I get less information than this from users for a product we support, it's frustrating, but if you don't investigate each lead as a potential you run the risk of having it snowball.

Shame on Facebook for dismissing this guy's reward due to the lazy actions of one employee. It would have taken one question, or one 5 minute validation of the claims to make this a non issue.

gary4gar 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This obviously is cause of language barrier. It seems bug reporter didn't have any evil intentions but was just trying to get attention of facebook so this can be fixed. so I think he should paid. maybe you can ask for an apology for tampering user data as he was wrong on that part but still he did discover a valid flaw in facebook's iron clad security.
Cyph0n 19 hours ago 0 replies      
So they get the exploit and fix it without paying the person who found it. These kinds of actions lead exploit finders to instead pursue rewards through the black market. Very sad indeed.
springishere 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In my opinion good faith should be taken into consideration here. It sounds like he didn't understand the TOS as it was not in his native language. This didn't hurt facebook at all and saved them a lot of trouble. I don't get why they don't just pay up and say thank you. As well as giving him a copy of the TOS in Arabic to avoid future misunderstandings.
orf 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The guy gave more info on his education than the exploit he was reporting. How is he surprised that they didn't take him seriously?
hvass 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course in hindsight they should have been more diligent, but how many reports do they receive per day? But I see no excuse for not paying the guy for finding a serious flaw in their system, especially dismissing it on 'TOS' grounds.
throwawayg99 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I submitted a bug to Facebook's whitehat disclosure 3 or 4 months ago. Got no response whatsoever, except an automated response. The bug still exists. The bug allows users to post as though they are other users on the timeline. I think that is pretty serious, but I guess they do not.
badman_ting 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Ugh, they handled his disclosure like such typical dismissive nerds. Disgraceful.
esailija 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think you guys understand. You can't publicly use the exploit and then back away and use the white hat system after the fact. It clearly shows him spamming some profile before even making the first contact.
gedrap 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If I was this guy, I would rather say screw it than trying to get attention by posting to Mark's wall. Given the recent cases in the USA (e.g. he used wget!!!), Facebook could give a massive slap and sue him. And probably win.
speedyapoc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What a terrible way to report a vulnerability. In no emails did Khalil clearly demonstrate how to reproduce it despite giving "repro steps" which weren't reproduction steps at all. I understand there is a language barrier but that's just pathetic.
callesgg 16 hours ago 0 replies      
My view:If they fixed the "bug"/security hole, credit should be given.

The TOS stuff i think i a bit shity. Partly cause they made him do it(more than necessary)

vxNsr 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Well the good news is that in the end he'll probably get something because of all the ruckus we've made! So good job peeps!
Rygu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
To all the commenters that think Facebook should pay this guy: he became "the guy who hacked Mark Zuckerberg ON Facebook" overnight. I guess that this will probably open some doors for him, and if not, he's still become famous. :)

Maybe Mark should just hire the guy to replace the initial bug responder.

ramigb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Long time ago a friend and me once submitted a whitehat bug that allowed the user to send messages to anyone even if they disabled messages from non-friends, i don't think this option still exists but anyways Facebook told us this wasn't a bug, we didn't even argue, suckers! i now wish i did the Same as Khalil and recorded the bug.
BenjaminN 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Shitty move from facebook, because 1) this is a major security issue, 2) could have done a lot of damages, 3) who coded this in the first place, seriously?

Come on guys, just give him the money.

kbar13 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Just as your disclosure emails provide almost no information whatsoever, your blog post was also pretty devoid of useful explanation.
danso 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The OPs English is not excellent (but way better than my Arabic)...but I'd be interested in hearing the FB responder's rationale for dismissing the initial submission. Language barrier aside, the link and the image provided should speak for themselves.

But perhaps the bug-hotline gets so much spam that the OP came off as junk email to the FB dev team? Just skimming over his email, I'm struck by how much poor punctuation and capitalization triggers my mental spam alert (and that's before even reading the actual contents).

uladzislau 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Blissful ignorance. Next time guy like this will either do a lot of damage or sell the exploit to those who will pay.

Every security report should be taken seriously regardless it comes from a well known expert or just a guy from Palestine.

stack0v3erfl0w 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you provide details on how the exploit works? Even in Arabic as am pretty sure someone will be able to provide a good enough translation for us.
capkutay 9 hours ago 0 replies      
One on of my issues with FB is that its not easy to report a problem or get any kind of support (although its a free service). In one day, I lost over 100 facebook friends with no explanation. Its obviously a little humiliating to have everyone think you defriended them. I hadn't seen the issue before, nor could I report it anywhere..
ivanhoe 17 hours ago 0 replies      
And they expect people to continue reporting bugs to them? Really?
tzury 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I bet posting on Zuck's wall helped awake the WH team as well .. http://rt.com/news/facebook-post-exploit-hacker-zuckerberg-6...
pearjuice 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it harsh of Facebook that without technical leverage they do not pay out bounties.
weakwire 3 hours ago 0 replies      
or hire the guy. "Job : unemployee :/"
loceng 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Did someone post this to Reddit yet? This guy should get the bounty.
Rotating Images datagenetics.com
312 points by deletes  1 day ago   35 comments top 14
pwg 1 day ago 1 reply      
The unmentioned publication behind this method is: "A Fast Algorithm for General Raster Rotation" by Alan W. Paeth. A copy of which can be obtained here:


While most explanations of the algorithm follow this blog post and imply that it is a three pass algorithm, if one carefully reads Paeth's paper, one realizes that the algorithm can be implemented as a one pass algorithm.

bajsejohannes 1 day ago 2 replies      
While the result isn't great, it's a neat algorithm, and it will actually do gamma correction correctly. Sampling and weighing the four pixels will not, unless you specifically code for it. And looking at the history of gamma correction in software, most developers don't care about that.
slig 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice article, this is HN material. My only "complain" is that he isn't using Lena as test images. ;-)
anonymous 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Wouldn't the 3 shears method take a preposterous amount of memory if you rotate by something like 180 degrees? The first shear will take a w.h image and output a w.h.h one!

Why not simply use Bresenham's line drawing algorithm to "draw" a reverse-rotated rectangle over your image, but rather than drawing, you'd read pixels and write them to the destination image. You'll need to only rotate the corners of the image once and everything else is simple integer math.

preposterous for the kind of device where doing it any other way is too slow

Edit: replaced stars with dots for multiplication because stars make italic text

jloughry 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The post reminds me of BYTE article from 1981, in the Smalltalk special issue. It was the first time I had ever seen recursion illustrated graphically, on a bitmap of Mickey Mouse's face [1].

Lots of good articles in that issue, and the whole thing is available on-line at the Internet Archive [2].

[1] Daniel H. H. Ingalls. The Smalltalk Graphics Kernel. BYTE 6(8), August, 1981, pp. 168--94.

[2] http://archive.org/stream/byte-magazine-1981-08/1981_08_BYTE...

bitL 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I would still rather use a simple texture mapping - map the image to a rectangle and then just rotate the 4 corner points. Rest is done naturally by your texture mapper. You can implement a texture mapper easily by finding the top-most rotated corner, take the two edge lines coming out of that corner, linearly interpolate texture coordinates on these lines for each horizontal line they cross and then simply walk linearly between those two texture positions spread across the horizontal line range. Then replace the edge line whose endpoint you reached by the next line until you reach the bottom-most corner. You can add surrounding texels to the mix to get the bilinear or another filtering. Also, Bresenham's line algorithm can be used for each of the line interpolations (though my assembly language experience showed that fixed point ints were actually faster). This is also embarrassingly parallel.
brilee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another popular method of doing this is a variant on the area mapping technique, except that instead of taking the weighted average of the four nearest pixels, it instead creates a 2-D spline across the R/G/B "heights" of the image, and interpolate with the spline.

The reason the triple-sheared images look crappy is because the three shears themselves are subject to pixel aliasing. Still pretty cool.

dsugarman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
a little anti-aliasing would go a long way in these rotated images
Tycho 1 day ago 1 reply      
So when you do a shear, the pixels are only being moved horizontally or vertically in each stage, so therefore no gaps appear. Is that it?
adyus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the onset of Retina-like displays would remove some of the issues with antialiasing when rotating bitmap images. I'm tired of looking at the digital world straight on.
adsr 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Appart from the aliasing issue, isn't there also a way to use complex numbers to do the rotation?
nxpnsv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ok but, 126% is not a good rounding of 1.2956...
logicallee 1 day ago 3 replies      
Um, these results look pretty horrible. Where are the pictures of area mapping that he mentions? (Where the missing holes are filled by doing averaging of four source pixels). Anyone knows what that looks like by comparison?
fnayr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool!
Every important person in BitCoin just got subpoenaed by NY financial regulators forbes.com
307 points by martin_  5 days ago   189 comments top 17
pnathan 5 days ago 12 replies      
Unpopular opinion of the day: bitcoin is real money, and the government will regulate it and control it as such.

In my opinion, the end-game is this: bitcoin addresses are taxable, with occasional tax agents spot-checking large accumulations of bitcoin to determine if said addresses fall within their jurisdiction. Bitcoin has the unusual ability to have a very tight trace on where a given virtual coin goes: that just makes the ability to watch the money easier.

aspensmonster 5 days ago 4 replies      
Well, my own submission just got [dead]ed --no indication as to why-- but I'll paste my comment here as well:

I know very little about Bitcoin or money transmission laws. Unlike other currencies it does not seem to have fundamental dependence on any centralized arbiter, though the practicalities of large exchanges like Mt. Gox seem apparent to me. That lack of dependence on a Fed-like body appears to me like its biggest advantage, above any other potential for anonymous payment and laundering. I'd like to know what exactly is entailed in becoming compliant with money transmitting and laundering regulations and whether Bitcoin in its current form could become effectively compliant. Is that even a meaningful concept, or does the structure of Bitcoin fundamentally preclude coming into effective compliance?

[dead]ed submission: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6201643

stfu 5 days ago 0 replies      
Finally - New York is going after financial criminals! Oh wait a minute...

In related news last Friday the Justice Department had to admit that the success numbers Eric Holder trumpeted on mortgage fraud were massive overstated - by 80 percent. The government restated the statistics because it got caught red-handed by a couple of nosy reporters. Priorities...

[1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-11/eric-holder-owes-th...

pmorici 5 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like this might be the least of BitCoin's government problems. Check out this appropriations bill currently before congress; http://beta.congress.gov/congressional-report/113th-congress... Search for BitCoin in the text and you get the following gem...

"Money laundering.--The Committee understands that Bitcoins and other forms of peer-to-peer digital currency are a potential means for criminal, terrorist or other illegal organizations and individuals to illegally launder and transfer money. News reports indicate that Bitcoins may have been used to help finance the flight and activity of fugitives. The Committee directs the FBI, in consultation with the Department and other Federal partners, to provide a briefing no later 120 days after the enactment of this Act on the nature and scale of the risk posed by such ersatz currency, both in financing illegal enterprises and in undermining financial institutions. The briefing should describe the FBI efforts in the context of a coordinated Federal response to this challenge, and identify staffing and other resources devoted to this effort."

Talk about a prejudiced statement. Time to call your congress person.

ganeumann 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course the government cares about money, and of course it wants to control the money supply. And, as a consequence, the USA will never allow any major currency inside its borders other than the US dollar.

The history of the United States is littered with the fights over who gets to determine what is money and how much of it there is: Hamilton's fight with Jefferson and Madison over the need for a central bank, Jackson during his run for the Presidency denouncing the central bank--and this becoming the main issue in the campaign, the popularity of Williams Jenning Bryan (cf. the famous "Cross of Gold" speech), etc. etc. all the way up to the horrible stagflation of the 1970s ("Whip Inflation Now!") and the recession caused by the ultimately successful efforts by Fed Chairman Paul Volcker's to end it. It is reasonable to believe--and certainly most people in the US government believe--that control of The Money is control of the economy.

Why would any successful government ever voluntarily give up that control?

mintplant 5 days ago 0 replies      
This worries me more about other virtual currencies (eg. "game" money) than it does about Bitcoin. The last time something like this happened because of Bitcoin (FinCEN), Linden Lab forced the closure of all third-party Linden$ exchanges [1] to cover itself legally. Those were very scary times for everyone involved in Second Life.

As someone who does business in Linden$ et al, I (selfishly) wish the media hype around Bitcoin would simmer down, lest my own life become a lot more complicated. The way these government announcements always refer to cracking down on "virtual currencies" in general is very disconcerting, especially when the term is so hazily defined.

[1] http://blog.nalates.net/2013/05/08/end-of-linden-exchanges/

pmorici 5 days ago 2 replies      
"the department says it wants to make sure Bitcoin company customers funds are safe and sound, expressing concern about consumer complaints about how quickly virtual currency transactions are processed."

So, are they saying there are complaints that the transactions are processed too quickly? Because I've never had a BitCoin transaction take more than an hour or so to complete where as my regular bank routinely takes about 3 business days. Makes you wonder what their motivations are.

samstave 5 days ago 0 replies      
Explain why not a single banker has gone to prison from both the fraudulent foreclosure crisis and the 2008 wider banking crisis yet these fools all of a sudden want to regulate BTC?

They can't even regulate the US dollar.

nullc 5 days ago 0 replies      
Good to know that _none_ of the technical people or authors of the software are important as far as NY is concerned! :P
cperciva 5 days ago 1 reply      
Based on the title, I was hoping Satoshi Nakamoto had been subpoenaed.
runarb 5 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like the price of Bitcoins just made a good jump at https://www.mtgox.com/ . Are speculants thinking that if the us government are geting involved it validates Bitcoin further?

Edit: Screenshot of the jump: http://i.imgur.com/G5Dk7Nh.png

saltyknuckles 5 days ago 0 replies      
Other unpopular opinion of the day: Ron Paul was right about competing currencies being infringed on.
marshallford 5 days ago 0 replies      
The issue of bitcoins vs IRS combined with the recent news about the NSA actually scares me. Why does the Gov feel the need to control us?
bpd1069 5 days ago 1 reply      
Was interested to see how many posts were going to discuss the possibility of ban following Thailand. Not One.

Is this not a real and probably outcome?

ducklamp 5 days ago 0 replies      
In the end the Federal reserve will protect their monopoly on money. The more legitimate Bitcoin becomes, the more likely a target of Fed action.
e3pi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Coincidentally today:

Crypto-currency for NSA leaker: Snowden fund accepts Bitcoin

Published time: August 12, 2013 14:51

US fugitive Edward Snowdens defense fund, launched recently by WikiLeaks to raise money for the legal protection of the NSA leaker, has announced it now accepts donations in virtual currency Bitcoin.


eddywebs 5 days ago 0 replies      
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
40 Days Without Booze jdmoyer.com
294 points by stock_toaster  3 days ago   274 comments top 40
bitops 3 days ago 6 replies      
> booze enables workaholism, because of the fast unwind time

I think this is the key insight from the article. I went through a stressful period where I used alcohol to wind down quickly. But in reality it just made things worse because it numbed me up to the real reasons why I was stressed out. Sometimes though, we don't want to look at the deeper issues (emotional/psychological) for why we are unhappy, and booze provides some quick and effective relief.

I've recently gotten much healthier and it's amazing to experience that the old adage about "making a lifestyle change" really is the core of it. All the different parts of your life have to hang together for the positive switch to happen. If you think of exercise and diet as a way to "pay down the debt" you'll never get out from under whatever is holding you down.

jere 3 days ago 8 replies      
I've slipped into the habit of drinking almost every single night over the past few months and I'm currently trying to cut it out. It's harder than I thought it would be.

Like the author said, I've never noticed any physical withdrawal, but I have a strong urge to have a drink every night (sometimes even in the middle of the day). This is one of the most stressful times of my life and it's so hard not to just say "fuck it" and give up. And even when I don't really have that strong of an urge, I'm haunted by rationalizations and second guessing: "just have one," "moderate drinking isn't bad for you," etc. I'm trying to do more self tracking to prove to myself that the last one is BS.

What really sucks is I've noticed that a few beers will cause me problems with dehydration, weight gain, horrible sleep (I'm told I always freak out in the middle of the night after drinking) and yet I've developed such a tolerance that I don't even get buzzed unless I'm on an empty stomach.

reustle 3 days ago 18 replies      
Great writeup. As someone who never drinks, and never has, it continues to sound like a drug to me and I want no part of it. That said, I still get questioned about my decision like I have 2 heads.
nmcfarl 3 days ago 5 replies      
My wife is pregnant and as a show of solidarity Im not drinking around her (which cuts out the majority of my drinking). Which is not quite this experiment, but has shown me one thing where his and my experiences differ: Socializing.

As it turns out I socialize a lot in bars - and I dont like bars at all when not drinking. Mocktails help - but not enough, and basically no bars serve those in Seattle, only fancy restaurants. Which has meant more socializing at fancy restaurant bars

In general its been a mildly interesting change in behavior and a pretty good experience.

Fake beer is just bad. And I dont like sodas. And soda water seems like ostentatious abstinence.


Edit: Thanks for the suggestions! I should clearly have asked the internet before doing this, I could have been doing it much much better :)

ultimoo 3 days ago 2 replies      
>> ...alcoholism is often linked to highly driven, ambitious, over-achieving personality types...

I have come across this point multiple times in the past -- reading or conversing -- but never has a concrete source or study been cited. Not to say I don't agree with it -- anecdotal evidence is not always false.

It is really true though? I consider myself very driven and ambitious and also have a drinking habit, but know a few others who don't.

maurits 3 days ago 2 replies      
I feel that the understated effect is, that doing x or stopping with y for a month gives you the idea (illusion) that you are in full control of your life.
Havoc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Went from drinking way too much (Think black out) to zero recently. It was actually surprisingly easy - weirdly effortless.

What freaks me out though is how difficult it is to hit the sweet spot. i.e. To drink, but low-moderate amounts and only irregularly. That would be ideal in my view - I don't seem to have sufficient willpower for that yet, so its zero drinks for now.

plg 3 days ago 4 replies      
I know a lot of people who are similarly dependent upon (if not outright addicted to) exercise. Typically running although I've seen it with cycling and swimming as well. For these people if they don't get their exercise on schedule, they go absolutely nuts. There are many benefits to exercise but for many there are also big big risks, e.g. joint problems, soft tissue injuries, etc.
akilism 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was a heavy drinker, at some points a 6 pack a night, for well over 10 years and I quit cold turkey and have been sober for going on 5 years now. There was definitely a point where getting to bed was a task but I'm such a changed person emotionally and mentally than I was when drinking. Somethings are just not for everyone. The worst part was definitely seeing who my real friends were and who were just the people who I drank with.
cityzen 3 days ago 2 replies      
I quit drinking six years ago cold turkey. Working for myself it was always easy to find a time/reason to have a drink and I realized it wasn't heading down a good path. My wife and I were also looking to have kids and I decided I didn't want to drink around them. For awhile people either didn't understand it or were amazed that I just quit (I love to party, still do!).

My best friend kept nagging me about having a few beers with him when I visited. Since we both smoked for a short time in high school I suggested that we, instead, buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke a few while we're hanging out. "But I don't smoke anymore." Lightbulb moment.

The biggest thing i realized is that drinking is something to do. You hang out with the same people at the same bars talking about the same crap. Initially it's pretty boring when you quit but I really don't even think about it anymore. I will say that in the time since I quit drinking I had two kids, my business has seen year over year success and I've completed an Ironman triathlon.

peterwwillis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Tips on abstaining:

* Don't keep any alcohol in your house

* Don't go anywhere that drinking is the primary focus, or even secondary focus

* Pick up a regular hobby that makes you happy and do it at least three times a week

* Talk to people you enjoy and join them in activities that don't involve drinking

* Put the amount of money you'd normally have spent on booze into a piggy bank and watch it grow

* Make a list of things that make you happy, and revisit it when you're feeling down (instead of revisiting booze)

* Get a buddy to abstain with you from drinking or smoking for mutual moral support

* Put an 'X' on a calendar for every day you don't drink

* If you find it difficult, give yourself an arbitrary goal date. Once you reach it, try to extend it further

* Make it easier for you to drink healthy things by getting things you need (tea infusers, pitchers, juice concentrate, water bottles, etc)

(I recently did two months, which was much harder for me than I anticipated, but I finally got over the hump and have had very little to drink for weeks. Feels nice to have more productive things to do than burn money and feel run down in the morning, and i'm looking better too!)

tomjen3 3 days ago 13 replies      
(I am reading this after two glasses of wine).

Am I alone in thinking that he sounds like an addict? I mean, sure he didn't have a big issue sticking to his decision, but at the same time the list of changes is pretty significant.

awolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the same vein, I highly recommend people try cutting out grains for 40 days. If you're like me, you may very quickly feel so drastically better that going back to grain-eating would be out of the question.

Don't get me wrong: many people do just fine on grains. But some non-negligible percent of people live with a low-level general malaise without even knowing that it's not normal. I know I did for years.

antitrust 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have learned distrust. I distrust anything that makes me feel good without having achieved something that merits that sensation.

Alcohol is like being wrapped in a comforter. You are warm, the world is soft, and like a child, you trust in everything turning out alright.

This has no relationship to the real world.

While I have enjoyed alcohol many times, and both drunk to excess and been a social drinker, I find that it distracts me. It distracts from what I should be paying attention to, while I'm busy feeling good and safe.

blahbap 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think the whole premise that it should be hard to go 40 days without alcohol is ridiculous. If not drinking for 40 days is an experiment you're already in a minority with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
hammock 3 days ago 3 replies      
>I did find it more difficult to remain polite in the presence of people who were actively annoying me, but I managed to hold my tongue in most cases.

Recently, I did a 42-day voluntary abstention from drinking. And, unlike everyone else I know who has tried this, I didn't cheat. It was inspired by a 21-day abstention a few months prior, which was due to a backpacking trip on which we decided not to bring any booze.

At the end of these periods I felt great, physically and mentally. After starting up again, my alcohol consumption was less than it used to be. Sleep was better than ever, and I wake up feeling refreshed - the better sleep is far and above the most noticeable effect. Generally I just feel healthier.

The social thing is a challenge, but not impossible. I actually forced myself not to go out any less, I still kept every plan with friends to visit bars, clubs, etc. Just drank a club soda. I quoted the above because I had a similar experience: when you are sober, you quickly realize that there are a few or several of your friends who you cannot stand to be around sober. You realize how annoying they are.

It was fun pushing myself for three and then six weeks. It inspired me to follow up with a three-day water fast (that was particularly painful, again I did not cheat). I am interested if any HN readers have suggestions of other self-denial tasks to try out.

pwenzel 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can definitely relate to the workaholism issue.

After getting the kid to bed, I often work late and need to wind down fast so I can hurry up, go to bed myself, hurry up and sleep, and then hurry up and get up in the morning.

I need to work on that.

jakejake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I personally enjoy a tasty beverage on occasion. But if I were to go 40 days without drinking I'm not sure that I would even notice. The OP doesn't sound like he was a particularly heavy drinker, but it always has a slight problematic ring to me when somebody tells me they haven't drank for X number of days. Especially when X is a fairly small number. I always figure that since they're tracking the time so specifically that they must be dying for a drink.
vacri 3 days ago 1 reply      
My old boss told me that her brother spends one month a year not drinking, to prove to himself that he doesn't need the booze... but he always did in in February, because it was the shortest month.
localhost3000 3 days ago 0 replies      
I stopped for a few months several years ago (to study for the GMAT, of all things). Granted, this coincided with me actively practicing puzzles and trick questions (essentially this is what the high end questions are) but I felt noticeably sharper. Like I'd gained 10-20 IQ points. Prior to this I drank quite often over several years (college plus a few post college years). This break (and my awareness of its effects) caused me to really curb my drinking. Now I drink sparsely and mostly to appreciate a nice wine or beer or well made cocktail. I think there's a balance to strike. Enjoyment in life might be worth a marginal IQ point here and there. I dropped out of bschool but learned this lesson getting myself admitted. Thanks bschool! :D
majke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey, I did just that few months ago! It worked well for me. It took some time for my friends to accept that I 'm not drinking. I don't think this experience will affect my life, but it was really satisfying to prove myself.

I think I'll repeat 40 days without drinking next year.

dhughes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I rarely drink maybe one beer a month at my wildest but I live in a province of sport drinkers where weekdays but especially the weekend people drink until the pass out. Most events are attended by people who drank before arriving which is common but I mean they started drinking at 7am and the event is at 10pm.

Currently I a non-drinker have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which sucks because it's insulting for me to have of all things what is considered a disease of heavy drinkers. It hurts, I mean my liver actually hurts and it's frightening to have a problem like this a damaged organ in my body. I'm not even fat my friends all ask how I keep so thin, I mean I'm 5'8" short for a guy and at my peak I was 180 pounds but you'd never know it by looking at me, but all my life up to a few years ago I was a consistent 150 pounds. I'm down to 165 pounds but still my doctor telling my my risk of heart attack and stroke is double due to a fatty liver, and this from a family of people who all die from a stroke or heart attack.

Your liver is precious! I don't think people realize how important it is they hear jokes about their liver when drinking to the point it's a joke or just noise more than advice. Then Tylenol the next day to fix their hangover which damages the liver even more.

You liver is the only organ which can regenerate but I would guess not from systemic damage only physical damage to specific defined areas.

Long live our livers!

justinator 3 days ago 0 replies      
These sorts of stories hit me hard - not that I have my own, "I quit for x number of days", but rather, I don't think there was 40 days total in the last year that I had a drink. It would take a few years to get that number.

I guess I just never developed the taste. Hard to understand the other side of the ritual.

jasey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I went the whole of 2011 without drinking.

The only difference was my wallet was fuller and I probably had a slightly better immune system.

The hard part was being at social events where for the most part I was the only one sober. I found I would analysis everything allot more and found that personality types I didnt like got much worse when they had been drinking. I also realized that some of my friends were really obnoxious and hated seeing them like that. When your also drunk you dont notice these things...

tlarkworthy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I gave up drinking for a year and a half. My conscious really expanded in that time, and my stools were like iron bars!

I started drinking after I moved away from that town, and into a new city knowing nobody. Alcohol helps me socialise faster. Anyway I didn't feel like stopping again after gaining friends, as I had already learnt all I needed to know about being sober endlessly. Now I am much older and I don't really drink that much naturally - due to massive hangovers. The circle of life

jolt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can relate. About three months ago i went from drunk daily to absolutely no alcohol. I too felt like it took a lot longer for me to unwind, but now i use my after-work-momentum to get things done at home which i neglected when i was drunk, like cleaning, doing the dishes and general hygiene. My day is generally better balanced; i run a little slower at work, and a little faster in my personal life. Thanks for sharing.
misiti3780 3 days ago 0 replies      
I quit drinking for three 30 days stints last year (not back to back though). I can relate to most of what he says - I did feel a lot better, I didnt lose that much weight though (oh well). In the end, I think this experiment is really great but one also needs to consider where you live - I live in lower manhattan where I cant walk 5 feet without passing a cool looking bar / happy hour. I am glad I quit drinking for three months last year but am I having more fun drinking now - definitely.
foohbarbaz 3 days ago 0 replies      
No problem for me: one beer either puts me to sleep or gives me sinus headache. Don't understand what people like about alcohol.

It's a pretty primitive drug too. Such a simple and small molecule, might just as well sniff glue, it seems to me.

Tobacco is so much fun in comparison. Quit that cold turkey many years ago. Still like it though.

hawkharris 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish more people would stop drinking for the social benefits as well as the health benefits. In my opinion, alcohol makes people less interesting and articulate even though it makes them feel more sociable.
cnp 3 days ago 0 replies      
My GF and I quit drinking for four months once and it totally changed our lives. All the haziness disappeared, and so did our desire to get senselessly smashed. Everything, literally, improved in our lives --work, school, focus, our relationship: everything.
kvcrawford 3 days ago 0 replies      
> carry on raising pints

I don't think that means you've learned much. The point is personal reflection.

nathanscott 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just a heads up, if you're thinking about what it's like to give the booze a rest for a while there is a community of people who take on a 3 month or 12 month sobriety challenge and blog about their experiences. It makes for super interesting reading, and the passion in the community really reflects how big the drinking issue is in people's lives.


Full disclosure: My team built the tech. But you'll want to get involved for the community.

marincounty 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's some people who drink because they need too.You know who you are. You might be drinking becauseof generalized anxiety, or panic attacks? I know how you feel. Try to keep the drinking to a minimumthough. As you age, the need for alcohol might decrease;it did with me. I never thought I could give up drinking,but I think age played a part? Now, I need to get offprescription drugs? A doctor once told me, every patientis different--that might be the only useful advise heever gave me.
loceng 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yoga is how I broke my workaholism. It took a long time though - but it gave me 90 minutes each time I did it where I "couldn't" leave and/or do work; It started to break the cycle, and that's all I needed to start happening initially.
rdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to do "no X for Y days", vs "no X ever". Seems a lot more attainable.
exabrial 3 days ago 0 replies      
To quote Jack Sparrow: "But where has all the rum gone?"
corylehey 3 days ago 2 replies      
I did the same thing last year, falling asleep was a lot harder. Its like a circus up there in the brain.
c0deporn 3 days ago 0 replies      
" alcoholism is often linked to highly driven, ambitious, over-achieving personality types." gives me a reason to worry.
adrianlmm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have 34 years w/o drinking buzz, the best way to combat an addiction is to never start it.
gadders 3 days ago 3 replies      
When you click on a link here you never know if booze will mean alcohol or some node.js/go framework you've never heard of.
Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements 507movements.com
292 points by mrmaddog  18 hours ago   52 comments top 21
memset 13 hours ago 6 replies      
In a similar vein, here is a video from the US Navy in the 1950s which describes how mechanical computers work (for calculating trajectories of missiles being shot from ships.)

Utterly fascinating to see how very simple mechanical devices, like differing gear ratios, can be used to calculate things like logarithms.


chernevik 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Okay, stupid questions.- To what extent are mechanical engineers using these sorts of things?- Are there texts discussing the design / selection / integration of movements to perform particular tasks?- Are there are texts like that targeting application to Arduino driven robotics? Mindstorms?
emhart 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Back in the early 1900s there were a handful of people making physical models of a number of these movements (and some that went beyond this incredible collection). They occasionally tour, Boston's Museum of Science had a big show of William M. Clark's collection back in 2006, I think. Anyway, Cornell has "The Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library" where they try to keep track of all of these physical models:


tzs 16 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who like printed books, Dover has an inexpensive edition of the underlying book [1].

There are many similar books, such as "A Victorian Handbook of Mechanical Movements" [2], and "1800 Mechanical Movements, Devices and Appliances" [3].

[1] http://www.amazon.com/507-Mechanical-Movements-Mechanisms-De...

[2] http://www.amazon.com/dp/0486498123

[3] http://www.amazon.com/Mechanical-Movements-Devices-Appliance...

iandanforth 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If you like this kind of thing and you haven't run across the Equation of Time cam from the clock of the long now, take a moment and check it out:


lalc 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Really cute mechanism in http://507movements.com/mm_123.html

The little pins hit the V in the center gear and cause it to shift to the other gear. Neat!

ChuckMcM 15 hours ago 0 replies      
FWIW, these are great fun to print out on a 3D printer and play with.
jvehent 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That kind of stuff, is why I've always wanted to be an engineer. In my mind, I visualize arrangements of systems and networks exactly the same way as these.

Building stuff, pressing the "On' button, and seeing it all work is just the best feeling in the world.

trafficlight 16 hours ago 1 reply      
People are so damn clever.
gruseom 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like a wonderful thing. But I can't see any animations! What am I missing?

Edit: ah, only the color diagrams are animated. The top of the page links to a blurb about that.

hfsktr 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Some of these I had to see animated to even grasp what it might do. Even then I couldn't figure out what use it might be.

A couple of them describe stuff that used it but most were just technical details. It would be nice if there was a link to something that used it so you could see why it was ever made (or maybe some of these are just for fun).

I couldn't get through them all but will come back because it's fun to watch. More fun than it should be really.

edit:example of one that has me guessing why it exists:http://507movements.com/mm_115.html

chasing 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm much more excited about watching all of these little mechanical animations on a Saturday night than I ought to be...
dfbrown 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of a recent paper on automatically designing animated mechanical characters. Some of these movements could be used to incorporate different kinds of animations into these characters.


lkbm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a YouTube video that shows some of these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkQ2pXkYjRM
_ZeD_ 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh damnit! Now I miss my lego technic sets!
tinyProton 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any software that would allow one to easily build and simulate these kind of mechanical movements?
alexjeffrey 16 hours ago 0 replies      
this is beautiful; this will definitely come in handy when I start machining...
valtron 16 hours ago 1 reply      
19 - 22: Am I reading this right? Exponential reduction of the power required? I gotta try this.
jpalioto 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Clicked thinking I was going to be introduced to a new startup with a pretty cool name ... actual mechanical movements not bad either, however.
noisy_boy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
franzay 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The animation for http://507movements.com/mm_349.html is actually a bit misleading, since there are two degrees of freedom: the lateral movements of the lower and upper halves are independent.
The limits of Googles openness technet.com
285 points by pablosanchez  2 days ago   294 comments top 43
simonsarris 2 days ago 11 replies      
A summary for those not following along at home:

The Youtube app for Android is developed by Google

The Youtube app for iOS is developed by Google

The Youtube app for Windows Phone is developed by Microsoft, with some reverse engineering, at first not serving ads on purpose.

It is easy to argue that a Youtube app for Windows Phone would be nice for WP users. It is also easy to argue that MSFT writing such an app would be a tad antagonistic, seeing as the first version released contained no ads. One might suspect Microsoft wanted a PR fight more than they wanted a Youtube app, or that they wanted both.

Alas, we can read for clues.

The title of the article is: "The limits of Googles openness"

But the tags are: "marketplace, Windows Phone"

It's not an article about Google now, is it?


The article doesn't help WP users. Instead they get no Youtube app while watching a hissy fit occur if they google (ha) to find out why the app is gone.

I like both these companies, but for however-much of a PR stunt this is, Microsoft does not come out looking good.

munificent 2 days ago 4 replies      
Disclosure: I am a Googler, though not working on anything remotely near YouTube. Obvious caveat: this is just my personal opinion.

> With this backdrop, we temporarily took down our full-featured app when Google objected to it last May

If I remember right, this full-featured app included features like:

1. Allowing users to download videos even when the content provider disallowed that.

2. Allowing users to not view ads even when the content provider specifically required ads to be shown.

3. Using YouTube's branding without permission.

I am but a lowly engineer and the actions of executives confuse me, but I don't see how Microsoft didn't realize the above was batshit crazy. I can only assume this is some sort of weird ploy.

YouTube's entire business model is about getting content providers to put videos up there so that people will watch ads to see them. If you let people take videos off the site, or just skip the ads, that breaks the fundamental business proposition.

This would be like me making an Android app called "Bing from Micrsoft" that let you perform bing searches but then stripped out all of the ads. Microsoft would shut that shit down, with good reason.

> When we first built a YouTube app for Windows Phone, we did so with the understanding that Google claimed to grow its business based on open access to its platforms and content, a point it reiterated last year.

"Open access to content" doesn't mean "ignore the requirements of the people who created that content". People make their livelihoods producing YouTube videos and the only way that money flows to those creators is because of ads. If you make a Windows Phone app that lets you watch Cooking with Dog without the ads, you aren't doing Francis any favors by giving out "open access" to his content.

(Yes, I did just imply that they are the dog's videos. He is the host, after all.)

mjolk 2 days ago 1 reply      
This whole thing is passive aggressive, but the best part is:

>"Google objected on a number of grounds. We took our app down and agreed to work with Google to solve their issues..We enabled Googles advertisements, disabled video downloads and eliminated the ability for users to view reserved videos. We did this all at no cost to Google, which one would think would want a YouTube app on Windows Phone that would only serve to bring Google new users and additional revenue."

"We stopped breaking Google's ToS at _no cost_ to Google"

Cry me a river, Microsoft.

forgotAgain 2 days ago 2 replies      
Apple, Google, Microsoft: they each act like bullies when they have the upper hand and whine when someone else makes them dance.

If you react emotionally to arguments between these companies (unless they pay you to) you should find something worthwhile to be angry about. They're all whores who would screw every customer they have for a dime.

Use them any way you can but don't invest in them emotionally. It's a waste of your time.

jmillikin 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's my understanding that YouTube officially supports access via either a Flash applet or the HTML5 <video> tag. Windows Phone doesn't support Flash[1], so the only option for writing a mobile app using the official API is to use HTML5.

It's not obvious why using the HTML5 API is "impossible". Windows bundles a <video>-capable browser; assuming IE's capable of playing either H.264 or WebM, it should be relatively easy to build a YouTube app on top of it. Maybe there's some internal reason why an app can't easily embed an IE widget.

[1] http://www.winrumors.com/no-flash-for-windows-phone-as-adobe...

quasque 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rather hypocritical of Microsoft to complain. They're doing the same kind of thing to Google Mail users [1,2].

[1] http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/gmail/ILHhp40ze4...

[2] http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windowslive/forum/mail-em...

taylodl 2 days ago 3 replies      
Karma is finally biting Microsoft in the ass. Who else remembers the refrain "it ain't done 'til Lotus won't run!" from Microsoft's earlier years?

Having said that, I would expect the "do no evil" company - directly referring to not being like Microsoft - to do the right thing, if, in fact Microsoft is being fully forthcoming in stating they have complied with all of Google's objections.

In the end, both companies have blemishes and so far I can't determine who's really at fault here. The soap opera will continue, I'm sure.

mratzloff 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some background for people who may not have followed this:

In May, Microsoft released a YouTube app for Windows Phone that didn't show ads and allowed users to download videos. Google said no.

Microsoft removed the download capability but didn't restore the ads. Google said no.

Then the PR comes out that Microsoft and Google are working together on a new app. I'm guessing that was PR from Microsoft's side.

Now Microsoft has tried to release an app that follows the rules but Google looks like they are being petty about it after Microsoft has repeatedly violated their terms of service.

So Microsoft posts a blog article angling for FTC intervention, and here we are.

lnanek2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really annoying Google blocks IMs from other services now as well. Lots of people complain to me they can't IM Google users any more. Apparently Google removed server to server XMPP support, a standard open IM protocol, in favor of their own lock in protocols. Other products are following suit, Chromecast doesn't include support DLNA or other standards for example, but tries to force you to use Google proprietary stuff instead. In many cases this is a worse situation for users and only benefits Google by locking more people in and forcing more people to use services that aren't superior. Many people have their own media center or media server setups that are incompatible for example, like XBMC, a popular media center.
samspenc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like Microsoft disabled comments.

Smart move, look at what happened to the previous one where they DID allow comments :p http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_on_the_issues/archive/2...

outside1234 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another too wordy document on Microsoft's part. The core of the issue is that Google is forcing Microsoft to jump through hoops that it is not forcing iOS devices to jump through.

Its clear this is an anti-competitive action on Google's part and while they have that right (if they aren't a monopoly, which is increasingly unclear), they really can't claim with the other side of their mouth that they are open.

broodbucket 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is just like Google blocking Maps on Windows Phone; there's a video where someone changed the agent from "Windows Phone 8" to "Windows Phne 8" and suddenly maps.google.com actually worked. I'm not a Microsoft fan, but I do rather like my Windows Phone, and I wish they would stop squabbling so I can have a YouTube app and change the search engine from Bing.
Kylekramer 2 days ago 1 reply      
This has always been somewhat true, but this is a definitive sign open has lost all meaning. Now it means you have to allow third parties to use your resources to do what they like?
the_unknown 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd be more inclined to give Google a bit of leeway here if they hadn't already pulled out some petty behaviour against Windows Phone.

This is somewhat similar to Google's blocking of Maps from the Windows Phone web browser. A feature that worked fine originally and once there was uproar from users came back and continued to work fine.

Google is attempting to deny service to Windows Phone users to avoid competition in the handheld market. It isn't pretty and it does make me rethink my daily usage of Google services. Windows Phone users are Google customers too and I couldn't care less about their petty rivalry with some other mega-corp.

jorgecastillo 2 days ago 1 reply      
You can down vote me all you want, but I feel zero sympathy for Microsoft. If their app is being blocked from YouTube is because they deserve it. Google has all the right to choose which third parties can access YouTube. Microsoft is in no positing to criticize the actions of other companies.
cantankerous 2 days ago 0 replies      
This discussion brings up the point about how the usage requirements and restrictions of the API applies to third-parties and not Google itself. If Google, for example, wanted to keep the iOS platforms and Android platforms in an advantageous spot for whatever reason, they could just write the apps for those platforms themselves and say that the terms don't apply.

I'm not saying that's what happened in this case. It sounds like Microsoft's application added features that even Google wouldn't give its own apps. However, the argument that Google is simply allowed to write its own apps, for its own platforms and them impose extra restrictions on third parties who use its APIs is anti-competitive. This is the kinda crap that got Microsoft in trouble in the first place.

Again, I'm only speaking to the argument I see in the threads here, not the reality as it appears in the story. In reality, it appears Microsoft may have overstepped a bit.

erbo 2 days ago 2 replies      
M$: "Google also says that we are not complying with its 'terms and conditions.' What Google really means is that our app is not based on HTML5. The problem with this argument, of course, is that Google is not complying with this condition for Android and iPhone."

Google's T&Cs that M$ is citing, it would seem to me, apply to third-party use of YouTube data. Since Google wrote the Android and iOS YouTube apps, this is not "third-party use." Google makes the rules for YouTube, and can therefore bypass them with impunity. M$ cannot.

Presumably, a Google-written YouTube app for WinPhone would also be allowed to be non-HTML5. However, I'm sure readers here have a pretty good grasp on the chances of that happening.

tnuc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why doesn't Google write a youtube app for the windows phone?Google has written one for the iphone.

Am I missing something with what is going on here?

Disclaimer: I don't have a windows phone and have no intention of getting one.

samarudge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not related to the article but Firefox (23.0) is giving me a mixed-content warning and blocking most of the CSS http://i.imgur.com/CWysR0Y.png
alextingle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like Microsoft is just experiencing Google's normal level of customer "support".
duncan_bayne 2 days ago 0 replies      
Karma is a bitch, isn't it Microsoft? Remember when you were the dominant player back in the mid 90s? Does the term 'Halloween Documents' ring a bell?


> ... Document I suggests that one reason that open source projects have been

> able to enter the market for servers is the use of standardized protocols.

> It then suggests that this can be stopped by "extending these protocols and

> developing new protocols" and "de-commoditize protocols & applications."

> This policy has been nicknamed "embrace, extend, extinguish".

Now all of a sudden Microsoft is the underdog, and you're whinging in public when the dominant player locks you out?

Cry me a river.

(Not that this is a defense of Google, mind you: I think MS is right on the money w.r.t. to their behaviour. Just saying that Google's tactics couldn't be employed against a more deserving target).

umsm 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like Microsoft and Google have switched places. I tend to trust Microsoft more these days.
will118 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author was given the tricky task of padding out 60 or so words to nearly 1000, it's almost prose.

The hypocrisy is truly hilarious, lambasting others for "Antitrust violations". They can still be the victim here though, I'm not ruling that out at all.

Microsoft is truly synonymous with Antitrust in my mind, on an unparalleled level. With regards to Windows/Xbox/anything they can really.

I don't think Google are playing fair here either, but MSFT are hitting new levels of childishness in my mind. If MSFT truly believe it's unfair, why not take them to court in CA for Antitrust? Take a shot at being on the side receiving the settlement for once.

etchalon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, corporate pettiness. Is there no end to the fun you create?
webwanderings 2 days ago 2 replies      
Microsoft, build your own YouTube.
leaffig 2 days ago 2 replies      
Curiously, Windows Phone is pretty much the only 'big' mobile platform where Google search is not the default.
jfoster 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the HTML 5 requirement might be Google trying to use the YouTube app as a bargaining chip when it comes to HTML 5 video codecs. Google & Microsoft have locked horns a bit in that area.

History: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5_video

cad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google's becoming the new Microsoft.
docdendrite 2 days ago 2 replies      
Could this post be designed to provoke a reaction that might lead to (or contribute to pre-existing) FTC anti-trust inquiries about Google's practices?
cygwin98 2 days ago 0 replies      
GOOG is the new bully.
doublestabdards 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow haters gonna hate.. If company names where swapped the cpitchforks would be out long time ago. Stay calssy hn
RivieraKid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps if MS stopped extorting money from Android manufacturers, Google may be more willing to cooperate with the YouTube app.
devx 2 days ago 6 replies      
It seems Google will allow them to build an HTML5 app, even though Microsoft has repeatedly breached their TOS multiple times (like allowing users to download the videos). If Microsoft's WP8 platform is so behind the times, it can't even make an HTML5 web-app possible, that's really Microsoft's problem.

If I'm not mistaken all the other "native" Youtube apps on other platforms are Google's own apps, and it's also their prerogative to choose the platforms they want to make native apps on. For example, they haven't made one for Roku either, and it's the #1 media streaming box right now.

So I don't see the problem here?

EDIT: One other thing. Google told them from the beginning that they'll only allow an HTML5 app. So what does Microsoft do? They make a native app - again. And then Microsoft releases the native app to their store, without Google's approval, even though they were supposedly "collaborating" on this, and then seeds press releases to the media that Google-the-bad-guy blocked them "again" - like it was "completely unexpected" or something.

skc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love Windows Phone, but Google's service, Google's rules.
tn13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Eventually both Google and Microsoft give a damn about openness. They all care about their own profits. "Openness" is just a cute cover. Microsoft's own track record in such things has been very bad (hint: Samba, Wine).
t4nkd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Youtube has had HTML5 opt-in for a while now, and it is certainly a technology used by their product: http://www.youtube.com/html5
Sathi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that Google has a Search app on Windows Phone. If the platform does not have the numbers, then why make the Search app? When Search app is released, why not release Youtube and other apps?
iunk 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, if Microsoft blocks all Google sites and applications that would be fine?
wuliwong 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are only a handful of people who actually know what transpired between these two corporations. I would guess that none of that small group actively comment on hacker news.
maybe 2 days ago 0 replies      
If Microsoft can't make an HTML5 app they are doomed.
lurkinggrue 2 days ago 0 replies      
Given this is Microsoft this feels ironic.
phairoh 2 days ago 0 replies      
What does Google even mean when they say that they want it HTML5? Do they want it as a web app? Running inside a WebBrowser control? Do they just want the video to be an HTML5 video tag? I feel there is some very important piece of information missing from this discussion.
thecodeore 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are people that actually use Windows Phone? Who knew.....
Reshaping New York nytimes.com
282 points by danso  21 hours ago   121 comments top 17
tryitnow 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Pretty good work. My thoughts on the visualization:

Criticisms:1) The moving around over the city skyline is slick and fun, but I doubt it conveys much useful information. I'd rather see the growth of new building over time. In visualization, motion should convey some meaning. Here it doesn't seem to.2) It's important for visualizations to convey both anecdotal information (achieved through the before/after snapshots). But it's also important to convey quantitative information, magnitude and directions of changes. I don't detect anything like that here, even though there is quantitative information embedded in the text (e.g. "Population is up 2,000, but 600 poor people have left"). Numbers are good, visualizations that artfully convey the magnitude and direction of relevant numbers are even better. It's rare to have news narrative that can't be improved by conveying the quantities involved.

Things they did right:1) The before/after snapshots are useful and pack a punch.2) Inclusive. The visualization includes a a variety of changes and doesn't get sucked down a narrowly focused rabbit hole.3) Simplicity. It's not a data dump. The visualization does a decent job of conveying single themes without including unnecessary extra. It may go too far with this though (see criticism #2 above).

Overall, I look forward to more visualizations like this from NYT and other media outlets.

tkiley 18 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting to contrast the evolution of NYC with the (lack of) evolution of SF.

This article cites a net increase of 170,000 housing units from 2000 to 2010. I can't find an exact comparison for SF, but it looks like SF has less than 25k net increase from 2000 to 2012.

Game_Ender 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Another great web piece by the New York Times. The other two I know of are Snow Fall [1] and the Riding the New Silk Road [2].

1 - http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/

2 - http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/07/21/silk-road/

HaloZero 19 hours ago 7 replies      
What are residents of NYC opinion on Bloomberg? Is this reshaping good or worse for the city?

It seems that he won his most recent re-election but barely, from what i know he is a socially liberal, environmentally friendly, fiscal conservative.

pulakm 19 hours ago 1 reply      
New York Times has been killing it with their visualizations. It would have been nice to have 2013 pictures overlaid on the 2003 pictures though, to really understand what the changes were. In some pictures, like Times Square, I had to flip back and forth a couple of times and still wasn't sure what exactly the changes were (can't see any obvious bike lane in that image, which is supposedly what it's representing).
001sky 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Woud be interesting to see the backstory on how they got access to the data/subsamples. The visuals are well done, but the story is sort of interesting in terms of how its edited. It neglects any mention, for example, of the role of Finance in the building boom. And by extension, glosses over the Financial crisis spawned (under his tenure, in new york) by real-estate investment instruments and the general bubble-icous tendencies that follow from "free money". NYC basically skims the profits of wall street both directly (retail&real estate sails subsidized by incomes from the financial sector) and indirectly through double taxation of corporation (financial lagest sector) and city income taxes. So, there are a lot of grandmother's withs withered pensions and decimated savings outside of New York that are basically subsidizing all of this. Just worth thinking about.
sbierwagen 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That sure didn't like my 1200x1920 monitor.

It also appears to depend on a codec that chromium on ubuntu doesn't have.

everyone 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone else find this really buggy/broken + A horribly non-intuitive awkward way of presenting information even if it worked?
shalmanese 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ironically, the mobile view is a MUCH more usable and navigable look at the data. The technical restrictions of mobile reined in a lot of the excess flashiness.
sebkomianos 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I am neither from nor do I live in New York so I can't talk about validity and range but that was a very enjoyable presentation of the city.
ChrisNorstrom 19 hours ago 6 replies      
It's so obvious he is preparing and advertising himself to run for president. And it's about time.

He has something few other presidents have. Success in both Private and Public office.

wallflower 19 hours ago 1 reply      
OT: Kudos to the interactive team. I think it would be an interesting job to work for the NYTimes interactive/mobile/media lab just based on the work they have been producing. I hope that they will continue to push the envelope and start to open source more or blog more about the process (which is the interesting part) of creating.
rorrr2 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Bloomberg bloomberg bloomberg bloomberg.

Sorry, but most of these changes, are the result of private businesses and taxpayers.

Saying "you can now build a skyscraper in area X" is hardly an amazing achievement.

CervezaPorFavor 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does the "Time Square, 2013" picture have markers for Hello Kitty, Elmo, Mario and Spider-man?
sirsar 11 hours ago 1 reply      
How is the camera panning done? It works on Windows Chrome but not Ubuntu or Mint Chromium.
RDeckard 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone count how many times "Mr. Bloomberg" is mentioned across all the slides? I lost count...
o0-0o 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously? Including the Freedom tower in this map is D-I-S-G-R-A-C-E-F-U-L. Shame on the NY Slimes.
The Future of Programming in Node.js groups.google.com
267 points by Yakulu  4 days ago   176 comments top 17
gkoberger 4 days ago 9 replies      
Only tangentially related, but the "rant" by Ryan Dahl (node creator) when he left Node day-to-day is worth a read:


leetrout 4 days ago 4 replies      
> We are done making breaking changes at the Node.js layer. If your

> program runs today, we're doing everything we can to make sure that it

> will run next year, albeit faster and more reliably.

I've yet to devote any significant amount of time to developing on Node but this is a big +1 for more serious consideration.

My memory is fuzzy (this was well over a year ago) but I remember building an app in express and it being completely broken by updates a very short time later (along with a good number of other modules that hadn't been updated either).

Anyone venture out a guess/opinion on how many things in userland will stabilize because of this? (Or perhaps things already have- I don't hear as many complaints about express' api changing lately).

avolcano 4 days ago 1 reply      
> There will be no changes to the module system. None. It's finished. It's been finished for over a year. Any proposed changes must come with a clear reproducible bug that cannot be worked around or addressed with documentation.

This seems short-sighted, with ES6 modules now being used in production (through transpilers) and slowly making its way into SpiderMonkey and, more importantly, V8.

jchrisa 4 days ago 6 replies      
Node's module system is hands down the best module system I've worked with. I wish other new languages would stop trying to innovate and instead just copy what they've done.
camus 4 days ago 8 replies      
> This is not a democracy.

I agree 100%. But still, a lot of people are complaining about some of the Node.js API choices.

They are complaining because it makes programming more difficult , and the truth is , async programming is hard when it relies on callbacks.

asaarinen 4 days ago 2 replies      
I applaud the Node developers for their effort. While recent "competitors" like Go are fascinating and in some ways even arguably better, the fact that every device on earth runs JavaScript makes me bet that Node will prevail.

Computing will need to move fluently between the cloud and the terminal, and JavaScript is the only language which allows you to use a single codebase for both (in the foreseeable future). As developer time will stay the biggest expense when developing software, I am bullish on Node and JavaScript.

zekenie 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is the kind of open-source leadership that made me move from PHP to Node. Node knows what it is.
jenius 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Synchronous child process execution is being added, at long last.

Thank the jesus. This will be nice to have, especially for some command line and filesystem operations.

mark242 4 days ago 3 replies      
I still, still, still don't understand why Node hasn't done in-line server-side Javascript.

Give it a snazzy name. Maybe.. "Livewire".


kailuowang 4 days ago 10 replies      
> Callbacks will remain the de facto way to implement

> asynchrony. Generators and Promises are interesting and

> will remain a userland option. "

I am seeking for a comparable alternative to node (or something on top of node) in which Promises are the de facto way to implement async. Any suggestions?

lelf 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hope that the future of Programming is not in Node.js
dpweb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sound good on all those. Completely dropped PHP for Node, no regrets.. Good because those breaking changes in Express v2-3 were annoying..
_random_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
"TypeScript and CoffeeScript will not be added to core.""As new language features are added to V8, they'll make their way into Node."

Sigh... Let's leave this "future of programming" to the future then. I hope someone needs it.

callmeed 4 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone please explain Node.js's relationship with Joyent? I like what I've seen/done with Node but I've had less-than-stellar experiences with Joyent in the past. I'm hesitant to devote additional time to it if they are very tightly coupled.

Is it similar to Go or Angular @ Google?

One thing I love about Rails is that it exists quite separately from 37signals or any other company. I don't get that feeling with Node/Joyent, but maybe I'm wrong.

pcunite 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm new to web programming but I got the impression that C++ for web work was silly ... use PHP, use Rails, use this, blah, blah, everyone said. Now it seems that Node.js is just C++ style programming in JavaScript, expect that you get "packages" that manage the HTTP headers (and other things of course) for you.

It would be cool if someone makde a Node.C++. I would have less of a learning curve.

DonGateley 4 days ago 0 replies      
My, god. Could they have possibly created any more or any more inscrutable jargon? Must have had whole teams dedicated to doing just that. Keeps out the riff raff I suppose.
bfrog 4 days ago 0 replies      
So callbacks are annoying enough that they have to mention its a non-fixable in the mailing list.


Show HN: Virtual Machines in the Browser grunseid.com
265 points by grun  2 days ago   147 comments top 42
batgaijin 2 days ago 6 replies      
I was hoping it was a finished version of http://bellard.org/jslinux/
Scaevolus 2 days ago 4 replies      
(P)NaCl already solves this problem, without such hacks as transparently spinning up a virtual machine.

I don't trust Virtualbox to be especially resilient to attacks from malicious VMs. Chrome's sandbox is well-audited and (overall) is sound. A virtual machine host has a much larger attack surface, and generally doesn't assume malicious guests.

RivieraKid 2 days ago 5 replies      
Reading the comments here... wow, HN must be a depressing place for people who create things. I feel sorry for the author.
cbhl 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is really cool.

It's completely backwards from my personal usage of the Internet; I get away with browsing online using a Penryn-era Pentium, a ARM-based Chromebook, and/or my Galaxy Nexus precisely because the majority of processing costs are offloaded on "traditional" websites rather than on the browser doing the rendering.

But if this means that application developers won't have to recompile every application under the sun (like, say, ffmpeg or Audacity) to run under asm.js or PNaCl, then I think it could mean that we could skip a decade or two of having to reinvent the wheel.

On the other hand, this feels suspiciously reminiscent of ActiveX, so I suspect you're going to have a hard time convincing people to adopt it if the security diehards warn you of running arbitrary code on your machine (even if it is in a sandbox).

JoshTriplett 2 days ago 0 replies      
On Chrome platforms, this could make use of Native Client to run the VM directly in the browser, rather than requiring the installation of an un-sandboxed browser plugin.
earlz 2 days ago 1 reply      
From an end-user POV, what will using an Arc app entail? Will it be like Flash Player and Java; ie, you download and install Arc once, and then all Arc apps will just work and be super awesome?

I had an idea like this, but instead of a VM, using a client-hosted server. The big concern I couldn't solve was security. If you have, say, Peggo.. What is to prevent other websites from being malicious and connecting to your locally-installed Peggo VM and trashing it or otherwise exploiting it?

beagle3 2 days ago 3 replies      
Security wise, this seems like an awful idea: Unless the host is firewalled from the guest, if Arc-style VMs become popular, than you'll have malicious websites starting VMs to scan your host network for unpatched vulnerabilities, and abuse them.

I try to keep my network secure, but e.g. Cisco/Linksys E3000 hasn't received a firmware update in a long time, and it has known exploitable bugs - right now, the fact that it is only accessible from inside the NAT, and that webpages can't do arbitrary accesses is what keeps all those E3000s from being exploited.

(My E3000 has been running dd-wrt, so it's not vulnerable to those problems; but I had to manually upgrade the dropbear ssh because of vulnerabilities - latest official dd-wrt for it is still vulnerable)

bsaul 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's certainly a great project, but i can't help thinking : so now we're not satisfied anymore with running virtual machines to execute some code, we need the whole OS on top, along with the shell, and the preinstalled programs...

That story reminds me of the last time I tried to compile a blackberry app on my mac a few years ago :Java VM running my code within a blackberry simulator running inside of a windows XP VM on top on my mac OS.

Where will it end ?

csears 2 days ago 1 reply      
Neat concept, but I don't see a VirtualBox-based implementation ever becoming mainstream... not that it needs to be mainstream to be useful.

It seems like full blown x86 PC hardware emulation is overkill for what you're doing. As others mentioned, NaCL isn't really the right abstraction layer either.

Perhaps a stripped-down version of VirtualBox could be turned into a "standard" browser plug-in and paired with something like Docker, so you're just running a minimal container image.

tbirdz 2 days ago 3 replies      
You might want to change the name from Arc to something else. Arc is the name of a lisp dialect written by Paul Graham, and is the language Hacker News is written in. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arc_%28programming_language%29
fka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Title is wrong. Virtual Machines are not in the browser, they are in your computer bridged to the browser.
nine_k 2 days ago 0 replies      
A new, better, richer, open-souce Flash or Silverlight? Well, it could have some uses.

But in my opinion the browser will eventually simply become the OS: you will compile everything to Javascript (or at least asm.js) and use all the interesting APIs from there. Sad but very probable.

acscott314 2 days ago 0 replies      
Desktop client disk space is large enough to have a VM for many sites. In the future, if it increases enough to have a VM for every web application _and_ work offline you have the selling point that the app can work during infrastructure failures. People will buy that. Sandbox the networking so it only can call your site and you have solved some of the security problems mentioned. Trouble is, large amount $$$ is behind tablets and their ilk. So you have to work on this for another 10 years when desktops come back. That will happen when Moore's law returns into existence. Light-based computing or analog-fusion-digital computing comes on the scene. What you have is a homomorphism to just a desktop application. The browser has grown to be a glorified dumb terminal that can display rich interfaces, and so the lines are blurred enough to confuse anyone trying to handle the client/server distinction. Best bet is to turn it into a platform that enterprises can use to solve their existing problems. Niche play. Great work, BTW.
jetti 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hasn't this already been done with Java applets? Would the difference here be that instead of running Java, you could run almost any language?
iuguy 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is a terrible idea. The author needs to stop what they're doing right now, from a security context this is really quite dangerous.

Arc uses a desktop virtualisation tool to run arbitrary code on your system. The manifest provides a set of packages to download and install and a series of commands to execute inside the downloaded Arc VM image. A malicious server could use this to run an app that attacks your network, the host, acts as a bot, anything.

I'm assuming that in order to run native code like this, there's no sandboxing. I've seen no mention of it. There's a reason you can't run native code in the browser without restrictions, and this bypasses all of that.

opcenter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Should have named it red pill. :)

Seriously though, I was more excited when I thought it was about running Linux inside the browser. Personally, I have no interest in installing an extra VM on my system just to make your development easier.

kilroy123 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does one try out this beta? Is this going to be open source?
snikolic 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool. It has always seemed sort of silly to me that I have powerful so many powerful computing devices in my life and yet most of the important applications in my life are inherently centralized and running on someone else's servers in a far away location. Obviously the power of a remote datacenter is necessary for many applications, but for others it seems unnecessary or even like a hindrance.
goldfeld 2 days ago 2 replies      
If I have a VM in the browser can I run.. vim in the browser? My customized instance and all that? Or maybe this wouldn't be too feasible for io-heavy uses?
mej10 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is awesome! I had the thought the other day that perhaps using a VM or the lightweight container technologies (like Jails or Docker) that we should be able to do this. Glad to see someone is already working on it!
azakai 2 days ago 1 reply      
> I want to build apps in Python and C and ship them in the browser. I can't.

Did you try the existing solutions for running those languages in the browser? (pyjamas, emscripten, etc.)

Were there specific limitations that prevented you from using them?

Noxchi 2 days ago 0 replies      
This project is going to die unsuccessful. The sooner you stop working on it, the less you will lose unless you really enjoy building this for no other reason than doing it and having something you can put on your resume.

People who need solutions like peggo needed can use the Java applet a portion of their users already have, or they could use asm.js and convert their binaries into JS that runs in the browser. Months ago, I saw a post here where I ran a Qt desktop GUI in my browser that was nothing but JS.

I don't see any real projects / sites that would use Arc, because it would be a lot of friction / poor UX for their users, and it is simply unnecessary because there are already usable solutions to client-side computing.

BWStearns 2 days ago 0 replies      
I might be off base here but because the processing of data happens on client side is it possible that this could be used to increase privacy through zero knowledge apps?
rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like the idea here, but really wish you'd rename it to something which didn't collide with pg's Arc (which runs Hacker News).

There is a lot of awesome stuff you can do with "local, short-lived VMs". I've thought about how to do this securely (using hardware) -- an awesome end state would be letting a data owner with local data, and a code author in the cloud, both mutually distrustful, allow data owner's data to be processed by code owner in a safe way mutually agreed by each. You could do this with trustworthy computing, or a dedicated trusted third party environment on the net, or maybe with MPC someday.

Not sure if Linux or x86 vm is the right level of abstraction; maybe the "peggo" level where you have a higher level might be better for users. Maybe even something like Docker (but on the client)?

smupp 2 days ago 1 reply      
And what happens to the VM when the user closes their arc app? It seems like you could build really powerful tools that leverage saving the state of the VM between sessions.Suppose I build an arc text editor/image manipulator, something where my workflow is boot program --> load file X --> edit file X --> save file X. In theory I could save states of the entire app between sessions, so the whole workflow becomes boot arc app --> edit file... And I could do this for any app I build in arc... Am I getting this right? Because that would be absolutely incredible for building session persistence without a home-brew backend.
myzerox 2 days ago 0 replies      
cool, looks like the natural extension of client-side programming.why should we be limited to running things in the browser while our local machines remain underutilized? just spin up a sandboxed VM via Arc - brilliant! and - like so often - a seemingly obvious idea in hindsight...

should also be great for downloading torrents in a sandboxed environment.

edsiper2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting, but dependencies are a long-term killer. You should check this project:

It creates a VM in javascript and can boot Linux.

jijji 2 days ago 1 reply      
browsers are essentially virtual machines themselves, so to be highly redundant (i.e. java already does this), why have VM's in the browser, which is already interpreting code on its own. The next guy is going to come along and make a VM inside of a VM inside of a VM and lets see how slow we can make the browser when its 5 levels deep in abstraction.
trumbitta2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems to me as a very good chance to work together with the Vagrant team and win. http://www.vagrantup.com/
samspenc 2 days ago 1 reply      
"$25,000 every month in hosting costs". Wow, is that right?
th0ma5 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sort of maybe at an intersection of what the NaCL hopes to achieve? Mini sort-of-virtualization of x86?
mvip 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Glad to see that you got it out the door, Arthur!
invalid10 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice! Games such as Runescape were built into the browser stored data on users computers to track botting. So many of the first gold farming companies developed technologies like this to implement into Botting clients (which were very sophisticated web browsers).

There was a very interesting tech scene that many don't know about around MMO cheating, especially Runescape.

htilford 2 days ago 1 reply      
The installation failed.

The Installer encountered an error that caused the installation to fail. Contact the software manufacturer for assistance.


lisimia 2 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds a lot like reinventing the wheel (JVM). JVMs lack the power of a full linux core, but do you really need it? you just wanted hardware access + native threds (JVM has these and more)

Also this sounds good for just 1 App, but what happens when you try to run more VMs than you have physical cores? And/Or memory, this would directly affect the host.

snake_plissken 2 days ago 2 replies      
$25,000 a month in hosting costs...on a youtube ripper? :0
gosukiwi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aren't browser plugins like Java and Flash bad?
helloNSA_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
So we use ArcVM (aka VBox--controlled by Oracle) instead of JavaVM(also controlled by Oracle)?

Qemu would seem to be the better choice.

kudu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a nice idea, but you should consider adding support for other backend providers such as Docker.
ashkav 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see this come to fruition.
ibdknox 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the post:

"Arc is only packaged for OS X right now. It will be packaged and available for Ubuntu and Windows soon."

neocodesoftware 2 days ago 0 replies      
it's a 171.5MB app to convert youtube videos to mp3s

I didn't click ok

Maybe 40MBs is ok :D

Meet the Dread Pirate Roberts, the man behind Silk Road forbes.com
263 points by cgi_man  3 days ago   129 comments top 21
dobbsbob 3 days ago 6 replies      
The name Dread Pirate Roberts should've given away the fact the site is supposed to be handed down to different operators if you read/watched Princess Bride.

This guy is making a fatal mistake of talking to the press. History shows all blackmarket admins like Max Vision go down shortly after press articles come out with interviews. Now he went from guy running a drug site to "subverting the US with propaganda" so the NSA can get involved. Note to future outlaws: resist the temptation to make yourself famous by giving interviews. Just look how they amped the Swartz case after he went to the media

Can also now make a pretty good profile of this guy because he talks too much on his own forum and to forbes.

dmix 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those not aware, the Forbes author of this article wrote a book on the history of cypherpunks (including the mailing list) which Dread Pirate Roberts was most likely a part of, or the very least inspired by it's members in some way: http://www.amazon.com/This-Machine-Kills-Secrets-WikiLeakers...

Having interviewed Timothy May, Cryptome founder and Phil Zimmermann is probably how he earned enough reputation to have this interview set up.

citricsquid 3 days ago 1 reply      
This article was announced before hand and there's been some debate about how it will affect the price of BTC. BTC has already been on the up in the last 48 hours so it'll be interesting to see if this compounds that growth.

"I'd like forewarn everyone that in about 5 days an article will be published that is likely to generate a lot of buzz around Silk Road and attract new people to the site. New information about me, the site and many things will be discussed and I have no doubt that it will produce some controversy. I will be available to answer your questions here on the forums, and hopefully we'll have a fruitful discussion."

logn 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure the government is delighted by Silk Road so that they can finally justify searching all physical mail in some very advanced way. HN, you're always asking for startup ideas, why not just get totally evil and invent technology to scan physical mail at scale and hook it into PRISM? You'd stand to make at least millions if you did it right. Oh, and part of doing it right is making sure there's some alternate not-so-evil use case you can demo, like idk, automatically adding grandma's birthday cards to your facebook feed and automatically depositing her checks into your checking account.
chrissnell 3 days ago 8 replies      
The Dread Pirate's curse is that he'll never be able really spend much of this pile of currency that he's accumulated, at least not without drawing attention to himself and getting busted.

History has shown that these guys eventually get busted but rarely for drug dealing; it's usually the IRS that busts them for tax evasion. If you're buying fancy cars, big houses, yachts, or businesses, eventually someone is going to catch on and follow the money trail.

mrb 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting. I have had a theory that DPR is Satoshi (who invented Bitcoin): https://plus.google.com/100577178258662783679/posts/76UcUX4P...

But now DPR claims he inherited the site from someone else. DPR could be trying to disassociate himself from the "Satoshi" identity :)

jere 3 days ago 3 replies      
>If Roberts is paranoid, its because very powerful people really are out to get him.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

stevewillows 3 days ago 2 replies      
Silk Road doesnt really sell drugs. It sells insurance and financial products, says Carnegie Mellon computer engineering professor Nicolas Christin. It doesnt really matter whether youre selling T-shirts or cocaine. The business model is to commoditize security.

I thought this was an interesting look at it. In a sense Silk Road is like the Pirate Bay in that it doesn't hold the items it generates traffic from.

shrikant 3 days ago 2 replies      
The name "Dread Pirate Roberts" is (quite cleverly, IMHO) picked up from the character from The Princess Bride [aside: go watch the film -- it's great fun!].

It is possible that this "person" is much like Satoshi Nakamoto, given that in The Princess Bride, the pirate is not actually one person, but a series of individuals who periodically pass the name and reputation to a chosen successor.


jluxenberg 3 days ago 1 reply      
Contrary to the article, the AMA on Reddit has not been deleted


werid 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Then, last month, the FBI exploited a vulnerability in Tor to capture the alleged administrator of a child pornography site in Ireland.

Freedom hosting now reduced to being simply a child pornography site.

robinhouston 3 days ago 0 replies      
Silk Road is an interesting indicator of whether online privacy can be maintained against a powerful and determined adversary. If its still running in five years time, that will suggest that it may be possible.

I would bet that it wont.

chrischen 3 days ago 2 replies      
Whether it's a victimless crime or not depends on where they source the drugs.

You could argue that aggressive law-enforcement is what causes reprisal violence, but that still wouldn't justify supporting it in another way.

rdl 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised he continues to have a relatively high profile, if he truly is responsible for running silk road. The more linkable things you do, the greater the risk of your pseudonym being compromised.

I understand that he's commercially motivated to promote the site, but having a third party do that would make a lot more sense. As the site's admin, he's both a big legal and technical liability if identified; an independent promoter would not be.

CassiusCook 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are struggling to pin an ideology on an enterprise like the Silk Road, consider ways in which our current rate of technological/scientific progress has been shaped and guided by the responsible use of psychedelics in the 20th century. Check out the relationships that Francis Crick, Kary Mullis, Steve Jobs and Kiyoshi Izumi had with these fascinating compounds to start. From there it is not difficult for one to rationally assert that Silk Road (and Roberts) are critical facilitators - spurring innovation by furnishing those that might conceptualize the future with a powerful means to do so.
swamp40 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was really a fascinating article.
junto 3 days ago 3 replies      
If he setup silkroadlink.com, isn't that a money trail?

WHOIS information for silkroadlink.com:*

[Querying whois.verisign-grs.com][Redirected to whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com][Querying whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com][whois.PublicDomainRegistry.com]Registration Service Provided By: BITDOMAIN.BIZDomain Name: SILKROADLINK.COM Registration Date: 04-Jul-2013 Expiration Date: 04-Jul-2014 Status:LOCKEDNote: This Domain Name is currently Locked.This feature is provided to protect against fraudulent acquisition of the domain name, as in this status the domain name cannot be transferred or modified. Name Servers: ns1.bitdomain.biz ns2.bitdomain.biz ns3.bitdomain.biz ns4.bitdomain.biz

Registrant Contact Details: N/A Link Thompson (linkthompson@tormail.org) Ave. Federico Boyd Edif. Torre, Universal Piso 8 Panama City Panam,74678 PA Tel. +507.2638480 Administrative Contact Details: N/A Link Thompson (linkthompson@tormail.org) Ave. Federico Boyd Edif. Torre, Universal Piso 8 Panama City Panam,74678 PA Tel. +507.2638480 Technical Contact Details: N/A Link Thompson (linkthompson@tormail.org) Ave. Federico Boyd Edif. Torre, Universal Piso 8 Panama City Panam,74678 PA Tel. +507.2638480 Billing Contact Details: N/A Link Thompson (linkthompson@tormail.org) Ave. Federico Boyd Edif. Torre, Universal Piso 8 Panama City Panam,74678 PA Tel. +507.2638480

javert 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Bitcoin-like digital currency system called Liberty Reserve

No, it's really not. That's about analogous to "absinthe-like drink called Coca-Cola."

Can the Bitcoin Foundation sue for defamation?

dwaltrip 3 days ago 1 reply      
Might silk road be the largest working example of agorism to date? Fascinating how they create a network where buyers can comfortably evaluate their options with the help of hundreds of reviews, and then order from the safety of their home.
KSS42 3 days ago 0 replies      
This passage bugged me :

".. was grossing $1.2 million a month in the first half of 2012. Since then the site has doubled its product listings, and revenue now hits an annual run-rate of $30 million to $45 million by FORBES estimate."

I guess 1.2M/month -> (30M - 45M)/yr makes the growth like much higher than :

1.2M/month -> (2.5 - 3.75M)/month14.4M/yr -> (30M - 45M)/yr

Maybe he should have written revenue increasing is from 1.2M/month to 45,000,0000 per year.

marincounty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the author made the whole thing up?
Show HN: noteZilla - Interactive sheet music notezilla.io
262 points by siliconviking  1 day ago   118 comments top 38
crazygringo 1 day ago 1 reply      
First of all: ber-cool.

Minor bug, Beethoven's 5th was off by a measure for me. (Goldberg variation was spot-on).

Also, right/left arrow keys aren't skipping measures (as the keyboard page says), but are skipping whole sets of measures.

But overall, as a musician, I actually found it rather distracting to watch the line try to follow the notes exactly, as the line constantly sped up and slowed down due to rubato, etc. -- indeed, in particularly fluid pieces, it can even be possible that the right and left hands don't match up precisely in actual performance.

It might actually be more clear, and far less distracting, if you followed the time signature for the beat, and simply highlighted all notes in the current beat within a light-pink rectangle overlay, and then that box would instantly disappear, and the next one appear, upon the next beat.

That way, we can focus with our ears on the actual movement in the music, without being distracted by visual movement, but still have a perfect visual indicator of where we are.

But anyways, great work and great idea! Kudos, well-done!

roryokane 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like this. Im not as impressed with it as many others seem to be, since Ive worked with Encore and Sibelius a lot and they have almost this exact feature. That is, they play synthesized audio while moving the bar along with the sheet music. But it is nice to have better-played music to listen to while following along with sheet music.

I do also sometimes pull up some classical sheet music and try to read it along with a recording. So if you get a bigger library that includes pieces I end up being interested in, your site would be useful in that respect. I would enjoy the safety of having the red bar following along to make sure I dont lose my place.

You said on https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6226990 that the left and right arrow keys should move by page, and not by measure, and theyre just mislabeled. I think it would actually be more helpful for the arrow keys to move by measure. Thats what Im used to in other programs, and I would want to do that more often. I often move back a measure or three back to replay a complicated part I just heard. Moving back a whole page is too much, and using the mouse to click the previous measure is less efficient. You could still keep the keyboard page-moving functions, but bind them to Page Up and Page Down instead.

Ive used Transcribe! (http://www.seventhstring.com/xscribe/overview.html) before to manually mark up the measures and beats of pieces. You say you have some JavaScript tool that helps you mark up pieces, and I would love to see it, but you might also want to look at Transcribe! and see if that makes marking up pieces easier. Transcribe! uses a proprietary file format, but its not too hard to extract the beat times by parsing the text of the file.

Another scrolling method you could try to help people keep their place is showing two rows/systems at once. When you get to the end (right side) of one row, move the bar to the left side of the next row, and then scroll the next row up, displaying the row after that below it. Im thinking of the effect in this video, which uses Finale Notepad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxTav4S-4Tk.

nazgulnarsil 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like this and would use it at a concert, but the page turning is very jarring. Having the time sig fixed while the sheet scrolls like some sort of symphony hero would be pleasant.

Hell, you could even color code the instruments subtly with some light shading. Maybe make that a checkbox option.

adrianh 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is very cool! Also check out Soundslice (http://www.soundslice.com/), which does the same thing for YouTube videos and MP3s.

Demo: http://www.soundslice.com/demo/

ra88it 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, that's the best I've felt all day. Truly lost myself in the piece trying to follow the red line and tease the individual notes out of my perception.

Here's the example I was using:http://notezilla.io/p/bach/air-on-the-g-string

[edit: I agree with crazygringo that it can be distracting if you are worried about the red line being slightly off.]

Sujan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Absolutely love it.

Maybe additionally highlight the notes that are currently played. And have you tried scrolling the sheet instead of moving the 'now' indicator? And who are you and why are you doing this? Add an about section.

te_chris 1 day ago 1 reply      
Listening to classical pieces with the score was one of my favourite things to do when I was at music school. One thing that would be cool would be an overlay of the clef, time signature and current (declared hah) key on the left hand side that updated as everything changed. Good for context as you're following along.

Super nice work though.

bcj 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like it. I have a few suggestions (full disclosure: I haven't played music since high school).

It would be nice if the key and time signature could remain onscreen as the sheet scrolls.

I think my preferred solution for scrolling would be to have the position marker move until it hits the center, then have the position stay centered while the sheet scrolls until it hits the end. I'm not sure what the correct way to handle repeats in my scenario would be--perhaps have the sheet stop scrolling when it hits a repeat.

jerf 1 day ago 3 replies      
Despite having a reasonably complete Unicode loadout on this Linux machine (that is, yes I've gone through my distro and binged on the fonts, yum yum yum), I've got a lot of boxes with hex in them. The entire what-I-presume is a control bar at the bottom is hex, and there's two things in the upper right that are hex too. You may want to consider adding a web font for those things, if you can, though I haven't got a great quick way for you to test that that is working.
hnote 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nicely done! Do you consider synchronizing scores with recordings on YouTube?

We've built a similar thing at http://particellissima.net at the Classical Music Hack Day in Vienna.

It's a demo, but you may find some UI ideas interesting, for example synchronization and navigation through a video, flowing score, hiding the instrument parts that are not playing for a while, and assembling a score from small pieces with measure images hosted on multiple subdomains to improve the fetching performance in the browser.

And of course more music would be great!

computer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Site is down for me (Holland)? It was the same 20 minutes ago fwiw.
arnarbi 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great, looking forward to more!

A bug: If it reaches the end, then clicking in the score will move the pointer there and start scrubbing but no sound is played. The play/pause button behavior becomes a bit funky as well.

baddox 1 day ago 1 reply      
I prefer the entrancing visualization done by this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRgXUFnfKIY his YouTube channel has much more). As a semi-trained musicians, I do see value in showing the full score, but purely as an audiovisual experience I think removing some of that information and just using colors for instruments and y-axis for relative pitch is more mesmerizing.
laurentoget 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks prettier than the MuseScore web interface.

Please tell me you will have some way to use this to display a score written in some open format. and/or interface with MuseScore or some other software.

owyn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Check out http://vexflow.com It's got a lot of interesting features and the code is really usable... it has tab support for the guitarists (like me) who can't read music, it's open source, html/svg rendering, and it's got on a pretty interesting text based DSL for authoring music. I even wrote a plugin to integrate VexTab on Mediawiki but I haven't done much with it after the proof of concept. Too busy!
dorfsmay 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe a problem with my browser, but help tips when hovering over buttons would be, well, helpful.
tworats 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great stuff. I know very little about music, but found it very helpful to visually decipher and decompose the sounds.

Would it be possible to isolate each instrument? Turn each one on/off?

zhemao 1 day ago 2 replies      
Have you thought about adding Lilypond import? http://lilypond.org/

That way you could allow users to upload their own songs.

unstable013 1 day ago 1 reply      
That terrifying moment when you think that your project is on the front page [http://notezil.la ] when it's really a completly unrelated website with the same name >.<
chrisd1100 1 day ago 2 replies      
As a guy who is learning the piano but doesn't know how to read sheet music very well, I'm really excited about this as a learning tool. Would it be possible to show the letter notes next to the notes on the sheet music? Also, how easy is it to incorporate new pieces... could I potentially submit sheet music that I have purchased and you could convert it for me for a fee?
sovok 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really nice. Now I know the meaning of those squiggly lines. I also like the sparse full screen layout.

A few minor things: While jumping to time points works, scrubbing does not. Instead, the notes image gets dragged. You could embed the image as a background-image instead of an <img> to prevent that. Or catch the dragstart event on it and return false (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4211909/disable-dragging-...). A custom Rails error page or better error handling would also be nice (http://notezilla.io/bla). And there are a few console.log's left (TIME!!!! :)

Did you match the music to notes by hand?

dola 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked it a lot! Very nice work.

What I was missing is some indicator showing where exactly in the whole piece I currently am. A simple solution would of course be a timeline but maybe something neat like a minimap with a sliding windows of the current view is possible. Like this one could directly navigate through the whole piece by clicking in the minimap.

grobmeier 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic.

I love (classical) music and as a music hobbyist I try to dig more into sheet music for a while. I would also pay for some kind of premium service (maybe great content or listening the sheet music in combination with a famous record).

Anyway, I subscribed to your mailing list, please just keep on rocking.

PS: And yes, I own Logic and could play sheet music in that way. But I do think you folks will prepare something more which a hobbyist can enjoy!

jeffehobbs 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. Great work!
ericHosick 1 day ago 1 reply      
Went to share this and following showed up:

"This website lets users to bla bla bla..." (cause og:description).

Just something to note.

mcmire 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow this is so great. As a musician listening to a classical piece (well and an engineer too) I often think, "How does this work? I hear a clarinet here, is that what it is or something else?" So yeah, very cool.
Madmallard 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here are some other existing open source solutions for music that could use some love.



I have been wanting to work on this idea for quite a while in my spare time, particularly to enable scrolling and keeping the signatures in place while the sheet scrolls.

jzila 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did you enter the pieces/recordings manually or does it automatically analyze the piece and score?

Either way, it would be cool to see a writeup about how you implemented this.

arxpoetica 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this so much! The possibilities of the Internet with art are just endless; this is just one more example. Great work. Looking forward to where this goes from here. I'll be watching! :
jaggederest 1 day ago 3 replies      
Cool, but now make one where I can compose and hear it ;)
canistr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just spent the past two hours playing around with Beethoven's 5th on my violin after having not touched it for 5 years.
normloman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Are you releasing this under an open source license? I teach music lessons, and I'd love to use this to create lessons for my students.
gpsarakis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very nice! A minor bug: it seems to break once you exit fullscreen mode (pentagram goes underneath the instrument labels).
Apane 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very cool idea. Eventually it would be cool if you would allow users to submit music and somehow transform there music intro sheet music like this.

Albeit, either way this is a great idea!

macco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks very nice.

Makes me wonder about the genius of the coposer - very insightful.

CatNess 1 day ago 1 reply      
I agree, this is super cool. Really simple and elegant. For something along the same lines in IOS app form, I found UK developer Touch Press' The Orchestra does something similar but also mixes with a video feed of the Orchestra itself, and a running commentary http://www.touchpress.com/titles/orchestra/

You might of seen it in the Apple ads

it's $13.99, although to try something similar, I got Beethoven's 9th Symphony for free first http://www.touchpress.com/titles/beethovens9thsymphony/

taliesinb 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's the connection with Yandex?
Gepsens 1 day ago 1 reply      
Full of bugs, only canvas draws correctly on mozilla. But I admire how you can get a product online like that and I can't because I'm a perfectionnista.
       cached 18 August 2013 15:11:01 GMT