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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months microsoft.com
1181 points by tomorgan  3 days ago   757 comments top 90
lbarrow 3 days ago  replies      
He'll be remembered as a terrible CEO. Ballmer took over as CEO in 2000. In the 13 years since then, Apple has experienced an unprecedented resurgence. Google and Facebook have gone from being obscure startups to giants. The tech industry went through the bubble, recovered, and today is stronger than ever.

What happened to Microsoft? While the rest of the tech sector exploded and prospered, it stayed still. A MSFT share was worth about $35 dollars when Ballmer took over; it's worth about $35 now. The world moved on, and Microsoft didn't move with it.

kjhughes 3 days ago 18 replies      
What were the key Ballmer era highlights?

== Negatives ==

* Clashes with Gates during CEO transition of power: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121261241035146237.html

* Developer relations / motivational speaking (thanks mathattack): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc

* Employee retention (thanks JonnieCache, Ziomislaw): http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/microsoft-ceo-im-going...

* Windows Phone: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markrogowsky/2013/07/18/if-you-h...

* IPTV platform Microsoft Mediaroom (thanks nixy): http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/03/bt_vision_upgrade/

* Vista (thanks balakk, danieldk)

* Internet Explorer neglect and market share declines.

== Mixed ==

* Failed Yahoo acquisition (thanks michaelpinto, seanmcdirmid, throwaway1979): http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/2008/may08/05-03le...

== Positives ==

* Xbox / games division (thanks benihana)

* Enterprise successes (thanks gregd, facorreia)

* Facebook investment (thanks riffraff)

[edits: updates per reply comment suggestions]

mathattack 3 days ago 6 replies      
Huge news! Let's see what happens to the stock today. It edged up a little at the end of the day, suggesting that perhaps news was getting out. It's up 8% in premarket trading. [1]

One interesting thing to note from that chart is their Beta (a measure of link to market volatility) is less than 1, which is very low for a high tech stock. It basically means that the market views them as less volatile to market conditions than an index fund. Or put another way, more like a utility than a high tech firm.

What does this mean for Microsoft? I think an awful lot will depend on his replacement. I don't think they can get Gates to do another round. Who has the breadth of skills to manage it all? Seems like a complex enough beast that finding an appropriate outsider would be difficult too.

Going to another source [2] I see:

As a member of the succession planning committee, Ill work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO, said Gates. Were fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.

This suggests that he could be gone much sooner if the search goes well. These things don't happen overnight, but it could be by the end of the year or even sooner.

[1] http://finance.yahoo.com/q;_ylt=AsQ2vnc2OVs8WNqk.WdDwM.iuYdG...

[2] http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/08/23/microsoft-ceo-stev...

Delmania 3 days ago 6 replies      
I think Ballmer is an interesting case study in perception versus results. He's commonly portrayed as a poor CEO that has led Microsoft in the direction of irrelevance. And yet, to quote oft critic Gruber, "he knows how to make money" (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/04/19/msft-q3)

I'd love to sit down and talk to him, and see if his vision is a bit more long range than your average industry analyst, similar Paul O'Neill's vision on worker safety and Alcoa in 1987.

sriramk 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who spent five years working at MSFT under Steve as CEO, my first reaction is sadness. Steve spent over three decades working there, it is an end of an exceptional career, regardless of how his run as CEO might have been.
sz4kerto 3 days ago 1 reply      
Paul Thurrot's comment:

"On a personal note, I'll just add that Ballmer was one of the good guys. Though he was relentlessly mocked for his over-the-top public appearances in years past, Ballmer was also relentlessly pro-Microsoft and it's very clear that the troubles of the past decade were at least in part not of his making: Ballmer inherited a Microsoft that had been driven into an antitrust quagmire by Mr. Gates, handicapping its ability to compete effectively or respond to new trends quickly. While many called for his ouster for many years, I never saw a single leader emerge at Microsoft who could fill his shoes or the needs of this lofty position. Looking at the available options today, I still don't."

rrrrtttt 3 days ago 6 replies      
Let me tell you an anecdote why I think Ballmer was incompetent and largely responsible for the sorry state that Microsoft is in at the moment. Yesterday there was a long article in the Israeli newspaper Globes about the success of the Israeli adware companies. Israel has in recent years become a world leader in software that installs unwanted toolbars on your elderly dad and mom's PC and "monetizes" them until they get their son or daughter to come over and fix it.

The list of such companies includes some really big ones, like Babylon and Conduit. These companies are making their profits by degrading Windows users' experience. Not only didn't Ballmer do anything to fight them, Microsoft actually has affiliate agreements with these companies to take a slice of the profits. Screwing your own customers like that cannot end well for Microsoft.

rdl 3 days ago 6 replies      
Since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a huge percentage of its wealth still in MSFT stock, I think Bill Gates can make a case to himself that picking the best possible leader for MSFT will save hundreds of thousands of marginal children.

If I were him, there would be two candidates: Qi Lu (insider, obvious choice), or, for the ultimate in turnaround ballerdom: Ben Horowitz (from a16z). Either would be a vast improvement on Ballmer, but Qi Lu would be the "safe" choice, mostly doubling down on trends within Microsoft. Ben Horowitz would put Microsoft solidly at the core of Silicon Valley, plus it would signify that Microsoft views the next 10 years as "wartime" with a CEO to match.

(The other low-odds pick would be Bill Gates Round 2, but that seems unlikely just due to where he is in life. I could maybe see it as "Interim CEO". He'd do an awesome job I'm sure.)

jusben1369 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm most interested with the "type" of CEO they replace him with. Broad categories:

- Within Tech: They hire an Apple type key executive whose background is all around getting hardware/software/direct sales to work together. They want to move to be a super tight, integrated brand.- Outside of Tech: They hire from a GE type of company. This acknowledges that they're a sprawling behemoth and will stay that way. They need someone who can manage a hugely disparate conglomerate. - Tech vs Sales: Broadly speaking Bill was a product guru with a huge slice of business acumen. Ballmer was all sales and number driven. How we describe the new hire will be interesting. - Mobile vs Cloud. Do we end up with someone really well known for their mobile background? Or someone who is really well thought of for understanding the cloud? For example Apple has generally nailed mobile and struggled in cloud. MSFT has actually done a little better in cloud than they're given credit for. But it will tell us what they think is more important by the hire.

Any other suggestions?

edw519 3 days ago 0 replies      

  +------------------------------------+  |                                    |  | Microsoft has encountered an error |  | and Wall Street is not responding. |  |                                    |  | If you choose to retire the CEO    |  | immediately, you will lose any     |  | unsaved cash cows and reboot the   |  | corporate strategy.                |  |                                    |  |     [ Retire ]      [ Cancel ]     |  |                                    |  +------------------------------------+

rdl 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, this is going to be the best thing for MSFT stock (and probably the company) in the past 10 years. I'm excited about having a real force to counterbalance Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon again.

This, and the other company response to it, might be good for +0.05% GDP growth or something crazy like that.

tmister 3 days ago 0 replies      
People here will argue that he is the worst CEO ever, that's debatable of-course. But I want to say some good things about him. To me he is a guy in a suit who understood software development. He shouted (in)famous "developers, developers, developers"[1], he knew that LOC is not a good measurement of software development[2], he poured loads of money in MSR ignoring the pressure of shareholders. For these reasons only he is a fine guy in my book. So I thank him for his works in Microsoft.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8To-6VIJZRE

[2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWylb_5IOw0&feature=player_de... go to 38:59 time mark)

pmelendez 3 days ago 1 reply      
Funny thing that people tend to prefer Gates' version of Microsoft ( which is full of popular but sub-quality products) rather than Ballmer's version ( with unpopular but more stable products
clarky07 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel bad for ballmer. his legacy is going to be pretty terrible because the stock price was flat from when he took over until now. nobody seems to take into account that he took over in the middle of the tech bubble bursting and msft was hugely overvalued at the time. I think profit has tripled since he took over or something like that. following gates was already going to be one of the hardest tasks possible. getting handed an overvalued company in the middle of a bubble bursting makes it all but impossible.

while i don't actually think he was a good ceo, i think he is much better than he gets credit for. they say he missed mobile, but i think windows phone is pretty good and new take on it. it was just a year or 2 late. xbox has been pretty fantastic overall. windows 7 was good. i think windows 8 has potential. azure is pretty good as far as i can tell. sure vista sucked (though not as badly as everyone says), and there have been other failures (kin anyone?).

People act like other good ceo's don't ever fail. Jobs had plenty of failures. Ping, mobile me, etc... Jobs had the "benefit" of taking over an almost dead company. making it thrive meant stock went crazy and he gets to be awesome. Ballmer just got in on the wrong end of the market. Tim Cook might have this problem as well, but at least Apple wasn't wildly overvalued at the time.

bornhuetter 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good news, this really had to happen. One of Microsoft's biggest problems is one of PR - too many people, particularly in the media have just hated Microsoft for years, and Ballmer is not charismatic enough to ever recover from that position. They need new blood, and to shake off the "old Microsoft" image if they want to win hearts and minds again.
DonnyV 3 days ago 2 replies      
sz4kerto 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think Ballmer was a crap CEO, but because many people think he is, therefore just the fact he leaves is good for the company.
jaxbot 3 days ago 2 replies      
It must really hurt the self-esteem of a CEO when they announce retirement and the stock goes up.

That being said, it's about time. Microsoft has had too much misdirection lately and really needs to either pull it together or drop out of some of its markets.

nicholassmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
'It'll be better without Ballmer' is the 'If Jobs were alive' of the Microsoft world. I don't necessarily think that Microsoft has been doing a swell job, but I didn't think they were when Gates was in charge. Mostly it's a disappointment that they're that big and doing that little progressive.

Still, he's not been an awful CEO, business has been good under Ballmer but progression has been awful.

terhechte 3 days ago 3 replies      
Now the question is, whoever will be next at the helm, will he / she be able to reverse directions and steer Microsoft into more relevant and fruitful territories.

Ballmer's Microsoft was always late to the party, overseeing important technology trends and society transformations out of, I'd call it a mix of ignorance and arrogance; maybe they were also too blended by their previous successes. The way he dismissed iPhones, iPads, the way they developed their OS. Or the Zune, or Bing, there has been much criticism over the years. I don't know which moves would have been better (except for seeing the mobile future and the suckyness that was Windows Mobile 6 in time), but Ballmer was always more of a numbers guy I hear, and less of a visionary. I hope their next big guy is going to have more vision.

This may be a good day to buy their stock, if you like 50/50 games.

wslh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good news, bad news, who knows?

I don't know if current Microsoft issues are in their DNA or not. Personally I was bullish (yes I put my money where my mouth is) of MSFT but I mainly found the following obstacles to be more optimistic:

- The relationship with developers was deteriorating: I am a MSDN customer and tried to upgrade but they don't give me any discount in the first year of upgrade while keeping with my same subscription level I have discounts. In our company we also have issues with getting new keys (or using the existing ones) for their software and we need to talk to someone personally to receive them.

- Windows 8 / Office are in the middle of a transition but not there: I think having a hybrid mobile/desktop OS is a good idea. But I don't like to use my desktop in the way I use a mobile device (i.e: the famous start button) or the reverse. If they want to go mobile they must implement an Office that can be used with a new UI.

- The Microsoft web offerings like Microsoft 365 are slow, difficult to configure, buggy. If they just copy Google/Apple style they would benefit a lot.

Disclaimer: I love Visual Studio and C#.

monsterix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice. Microsoft does some really awesome research work and can easily come out to position themselves as leading the tech space again. Though some would argue they already do, but that's not correct looking at the growth other companies have demonstrated.

MS has had some massive misses, a couple of super bungled opportunities in the past decade only because of the ageing 'bored' (pun intended) that thought marketing is the only thing to drive innovation. I hope they find a replacement that's good and that his/her selection is not too much influenced by the existing board or its psyche.

joshuaellinger 3 days ago 0 replies      
They could buy Yahoo! and put Marissa in charge...
dave1619 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else thinking Bill Gates might be "chosen" to be the next CEO of Microsoft?

It might sound ridiculous but he's been involved with his foundation work now for several years so it should be running well. He could probably leave the foundation to others to run now. So, he could return to Microsoft to try to lead it's resurgence. It's a challenge I wonder if he's up for.

colmvp 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft on June 11, 1980, and became Microsoft's 30th employee, the first business manager hired by Gates.

> Ballmer was initially offered a salary of $50,000 as well as a percentage of ownership of the company. When Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, Ballmer owned 8 percent of the company. In 2003, Ballmer sold 8.3% of his shareholdings, leaving him with a 4% stake in the company

Wow. How common is it for such a late employee to have so much percentage of a company?

outside1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
The question really is: who is the best to run Microsoft?

Its a hard choice: too much enterprise for anyone at Google, have to talk to folks outside of Microsoft (partners, enterprise) so that rules out anyone at Apple. So who then?

davidbrear 3 days ago 2 replies      
Steve Ballmer is the perfect example of why a business person should not run a software company. The opinion that "Steve knows how to make money" is a poor indicator of a successful leader. Microsoft has alienated developers leaving only enterprise developers to create boring interfaces for users causing many personal computer users to find something more aesthetically pleasing (OSX/Ubuntu). A company based solely on making money is like a marriage based solely around sex and benefit to social-status. If you're a .NET developer and this offended you; good. Money != happiness
pdknsk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Stock immediately went up 7% on the news.


bedhead 3 days ago 1 reply      
$24 billion. That's the increase in market value as of 15 minutes before the open. This has to be a record for a CEO announcing he's leaving. I've always wondered how much these types of things bruise the egos of the retiring execs.
bosch 2 days ago 0 replies      

On the off chance anyone at Microsoft reads this, my Microsoft account got deleted by a bug in Live Domains and I haven't been able to successfully contact anyone to report it or fix it. The forums have been useless and now I can't do anything MS related without my account including my phone!

My e-mail is in my profile.

(Apologies for posting this as I know it doesn't add to the discussion but I have no idea how else to contact an MS engineer.)

fsckin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Time to write three letters.
Killah911 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Microsoftians! Hope the future holds better leaders and brighter days...
smackfu 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you think about it, what does the "within 12 months" part even mean? Like, if the deadline hits, they'll just take whoever they can get?
BudVVeezer 3 days ago 1 reply      
In honor of this news: developers, developers, developers, developers...in techno.


ajays 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know the stock price isn't everything, but this is quite telling about Ballmer's reign: http://tinyurl.com/ballmerballmer

I didn't include AAPL, because that would have destroyed the others. And GOOG wasn't around in 2000.

rshlo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think the main problem with it's leadership is that Microsoft lost it's innovative spirit. I think the main reason for that is that Ballmer is a business and marketing guy, and not a tech guy. All the giants today are led by tech people and that's effect the entire culture of all the company.
jeffpersonified 3 days ago 0 replies      
We've hit the Ballmer peak!
tomorgan 3 days ago 1 reply      
This story is Developing, Developing, Developing...
mckoss 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, the roughly 7% increase in MSFT share price due to his retirement announcement, has added nearly $1B to Balmer's net worth.
camus 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hmm , so who will be the new boss ? I think it should have been Sinofsky. He delivered W7 which the best Windows ever period ( and i'm a linux fanboy ). W8 was not that great but i dont think he designed that whole Metro fiasco, Metro came from the top. Anyway good luck MSFT.
rckrd 3 days ago 1 reply      
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft follows a Yahoo like trajectory - and if Apple follows Microsoft's trajectory after a few years of Tim Cook.
Dogamondo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I guess he finally opened the '3rd envelope'
dmourati 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft stifled innovation. For a twenty year period, they held market dominance and used their monopoly power to maintain the status quo. They did a huge disservice to our entire industry. I say good riddance to bad rubbish.
benmorris 3 days ago 1 reply      
Finally, it was time for Ballmer to go.
daigoba66 3 days ago 0 replies      
i wonder if his last day will be as awesome as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1M-IafCor4
anuragramdasan 3 days ago 1 reply      
My biggest hope from all of this would be for Microsoft to enhance its current products. They have been trying to get into too many fields while at the same time forgetting to make their main priority products perfect.

Considering the rising impact Linux has been having over the past few years, I'd only be glad to see Microsoft try to come up with a superior operating system.

nvk 3 days ago 1 reply      
tl,dr; Board of Directors, "Buddy time to go, it's not working out."
leokun 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft isn't going in the opposite direction that it should be going on. Instead of integrating more, it needs to make more software for Android and iOS. If it weren't tying everything into Windows all the time Office and other Microsoft software would be dominating App Store and Google Play, ensuring its success for the next generation.

Instead it's tying everything back into Windows and Windows phone. Those things should stand on their own feet. Microsoft can create great versions of its software for all platforms, but instead it handicaps itself to no great effect. Limiting Office to just its own platform hasn't really made much of an impact.

khawkins 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some people are claiming Balmer deserves some credit for keeping Microsoft profitable/status quo, but it seems like they're forgetting the stranglehold Gates had on computing when he left. It's not hard to keep the gravy train flowing. This is part of Balmer's problem, is that Microsoft thought it could stay current by essentially continuing its model of releasing new, sleeker versions of the same software every few years, ignoring that the fundamental way in which we interact with computers has changed drastically over the part decade. By the time they do innovate, they're too far behind to matter.
wil421 3 days ago 0 replies      
About time. I hope that he picks someone that can take MSFT from the boring and problematic company that we have no choice but to deal with, to a company that is producing products that actually make it easier to use things and more powerful (Windows 8 was a huge step back).

They need someone who will innovate and continue to innovate.

jetpackparakeet 3 days ago 1 reply      
Scott Forstall is available last I heard.
mgirdley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, their CEO search process reflects the bureaucratic nightmare that is today's MSFT. Why not just park Gates in an office and interview the 10 best MSFT senior execs?
devx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Long, long overdue. He should've been fired (ahem - retired) after the Vista failure, which was his failure. It took Sinofsky to turn things around with Windows 7, and deliver on time.

Hopefully this means a lot less "Metro" in Windows 9.

agentsaran 3 days ago 0 replies      
Terrible CEO or not. Under his leadership Microsoft stopped becoming a software leader. They stopped leading and started following. Yes. Great products were launched. Windows Phone 8 (really cool interface), the Surface tablet, the xBox, Azure, various improvements to Bing. But they were outdone by competitors in almost all of these areas. Microsoft has to keep innovating, they have to become the disruptors. Right now, they're just busy playing catchup.
mayhaffs 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft successfully won the battle of the desktop computer. It's amazing how this monument of achievement actually gave Microsoft a long-term disadvantage as desktop computing slowly became irrelevant to laptops and mobile. Failing now promotes success in the future. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years, especially with DIY and web dev on the rise.
davidcollantes 3 days ago 0 replies      
About time. He should have retired earlier.

I would not wait twelve months; just pretend he died, and move on.

npguy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just after piracy hit all time lows. Good timing really.


hkarthik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they find the right leader to take over, and avoid a fate similar to what happened to HP over the past decade.
pcunite 3 days ago 0 replies      
And there was dancing in the streets!
xzrrwe 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, are they getting rid of that company destroying stack ranking at last?

Or did Ballmer got into the 10% stack at last!?

harel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe Bill will make a Steve Jobs style comeback?
smallegan 3 days ago 0 replies      
As of right now the stock is up 6.5% upon the announcement of Balmers departure, that certainly can't feel good. (Other tech stocks appear to be down or holding level today)
digerata 3 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone sees this as anything other than him FINALLY getting canned, then I have a bridge to sell you.
jokoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what is bill gates thinking or planning now. Or what happened between him and ballmer from his nomination.

Just looked after the reasons Bill Gates Stepped down, could not find a lot

tiatia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, Mr. Apotheker, formerly SAP, formerly HP is available.

He could give away the XBox, windows and office for free and migrate Microsoft more to enterprise software.

awsm 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not that it will happen, but I would like to see what Marissa Mayer could do with MSFT.
meerita 3 days ago 0 replies      
bencollier49 3 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft shares up in value in 5,4, oh it's already happened.
ianstallings 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, down at NASDAQ: BUY BUY BUY!
tomorgan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is it too soon to start discussing who is going to replace him? Any thoughts? I'm guessing not Sinofsky...
pelemele 3 days ago 0 replies      
They got awesome ideas but a really awful implementation of them - Tablet PC and Pocket PC devices/mobile phone (MDA anybody?) are two examples...
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
anuragramdasan 3 days ago 1 reply      
From Vista to Surface RT, was it? I am just glad. A much needed change for Microsoft.
puzanop 3 days ago 0 replies      
PeterMartin_IGIt's a bit damning that Microsoft is up 6% after CEO Steve Ballmer announced he's retiring in 12 months. $MSFT
joeldidit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe now they'll stop harassing me.
enupten 3 days ago 0 replies      
All hail the destroyer of Nokia.
kunai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ballmer's Microsoft really did have some intensely great research and development going under the hood, but the management was completely unacceptable for such a large company. There needed to be individual units so each team could work at their best, but unfortunately, the piss-poor management that Ballmer headed didn't allow this, and resulted in the up-down nature of Microsoft's product releases.
telephonetemp 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder: is this bad news or good news for Windows Phone?
snambi 1 day ago 0 replies      
it may be good for microsoft?
dabeeeenster 3 days ago 1 reply      
vbs_redlof 3 days ago 0 replies      
Share price is up ~6.5% haha.
bryang 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's about time....
xedeon 3 days ago 0 replies      
ABOUT time!!
jmaddox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very sad news
umarrana 3 days ago 0 replies      
i hope its not to late
kenshiro_o 3 days ago 0 replies      
MoreConsiderate 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to officially announce my candidacy.
toblender 3 days ago 1 reply      
I predict Marissa Mayer, will take the mantle.
krmmalik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't have a resume that could even begin to get a second look for CEO for a company this size, but boy oh boy would i love to take this position. CEO of Microsoft or CEO of HP is something i'd absolutely love to do! Two companies I think i could really fix - as I'm sure could a million others, but just in case the recruiting firm is reading this and have decided to try a novel approach and try someone with no former Fortune 500 CEO experience. You never know. lol.
Hi Im Hank, and I bought a bus hankboughtabus.com
918 points by frans  3 days ago   196 comments top 50
quaunaut 3 days ago 10 replies      
Holy hell. I'd love to live in that. Sure, I live in a rather cheap apartment right now, but come on. That's beautiful work, cheap, and probably could sell for a hell of a lot more.

The only stipulations coming to my mind that would stop me from rushing out and doing it /right now/, are

* What are the laws like, regarding parking and sleeping this somewhere? Do I have to find campground or something, or just live in Walmart parking lots all the time?

* What's done for cooling/heating? Does this require a pretty temperate environment, or is it relatively well sealed?

* Is all power generated by the bus? If so, does that make traditional tasks on the computer or other places hell, with the shaking, and if not, what generates it and how much can you support?

In general, I LOVE the idea, and the execution. That bus looks as roomie as my(once again, crappy, but still, a real) apartment.

grecy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Traveling around countries, continents, or the world is becoming more and more popular in 4x4s and unimogs converted in this way. See this [1] for a good example of what the back of a Land Cruiser capable of driving around the world can look like.

I drove Alaska->Argentina in 2 years, and now I'm in the planning stages of an around-Africa trip which will flow into a Europe->SE Asia->Australia trip.

For anyone interested, checkout http://wikioverland.org for all the logistical info you'll need, and forums like http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum and http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/ to meet people actually doing it.

[1] http://www.geocruiser.nl/images26/inbouw2-100.jpg

lignuist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of Gabriel. He bought a Firetruck.


codeulike 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is great, but living in vehicles is not a new idea, I'm sure there are thousands of people in the US living in buses/trucks/etc. Hank did a great job on the design though. It reminds me of the interior of a canal boat - they often have the same layout techniques.

Here's a UK couple that converted a double-decker bus:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-18651140

gk1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I designed (but did not build, alas) a yacht in architecture class. Researching and designing the interior cabin was incredibly fun and challenging... I bet Hank had a blast designing this thing.

Ideas for the empty space currently being used as overflow storage:

* Water and/or fuel tanks (more necessary on a boat than on a bus)

* Shower

* Brig

* Pantry

* Rifle stowage

* Server room

(I went on to be a naval architect for a short while but never had a real project as fun as the catamaran design.)

gambiting 3 days ago 4 replies      
Is it true that in the US you could drive this monster with a regular driving licence? In the EU you would need either a C class licence(if it's over 3.5 tonnes) or a D class licence(if it can seat more than 9 people). Both are rather difficult to get if someone is not used to driving large vehicles, and require completing additional 20-30 hours of learning, not to mention the fact that you can't get them until you held a regular(B class) licence for at least 3 years(in most EU countries, exceptions apply).
scrumper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting project, and it looks well executed. I wonder whether Hank took a look at British narrowboats at all? The design constraints are very similar and there's a couple of centuries of experience to draw on:


jonah 3 days ago 2 replies      
Beautifully clean lines.

I sure hope he used Formaldehyde-free plywood though. It would be terribly noxious to live in if he just used the standard stuff.


205guy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't read all the comments, but I did see a few people mentioned boats. I was going to say that there are many, many, many layouts for small, mobile, livable spaces such as RVs, motorboats, and sailboats. Given that many are more creative and better done than this example (straight line), I'm not too impressed. In fact, I don't like the openness--it looks too much like ... a school bus.

I do like some of the details, such as the ceiling lighting and the modular bed/storage. But the kitchen and dining and bathroom areas are uninspired. I much prefer the little U-shaped kitchens in modern sailboats, where everyting is easily reachable. Also, if I had such a project, I wouldn't be constrained by the existing ceiling either: I'm thinking a pop-top loft sleeping area or a roof terrace with interior ladder/staircase access.

Not to be overly negative, but I don't see the connection to architecture here. There are a few tenous links, such as the shape of the ceiling (dictated by the bus) and the thought that went into the bed-storage. But all the rest seems more like rough out interior design (fit and finish of the furniture)--and the unfinished bathroom and kitchen aren't appealing at all. I do think he got a lot done for a short project, but is it architecture?

erikstarck 3 days ago 2 replies      
Imagine this being a self driving car/bus. You could fall asleep in Berlin and wake up in Barcelona.

Now imagine it being electric and solar powered.

Is that the future of cities? On wheels.

bendoidic 3 days ago 0 replies      
This brings back memories of the first school bus conversion I ever saw covered extensively online, from the genius mind of Jake Van Slatt [1]. He took the reuse of discarded materials as his main inspiration, and really turned out something beautiful. His blog is full of all sorts of kooky inventions and reclaimed item builds.

He posted two great summaries of the bus interior and construction on his newer website:http://steampunkworkshop.com/bus2.shtmlhttp://steampunkworkshop.com/bus1.shtml

[1] http://www.vonslatt.com/

awjr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would say that in the EU you would have a nightmare with this bus. You'd be able to drive anywhere, but parking over night would be a major problem.

I did a 6 month stint over winter, in the UK, 'stealth' living in a converted Ford Transit HiTop LWB Van (had bed, cooker, toilet, bank of 3 batteries and a diesel heating system.) It worked well, but primarily it worked because you could pull up anywhere and park for the night without calling attention to yourself.

Showers where provided by whichever local sports centre I could find :)

Oh and this is an exceptional site if you ever want to try this http://www.parkopedia.co.uk/

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice, I was also very inspired by this guy's bus : http://steampunkworkshop.com/bus1.shtml which has a Victorian theme going on.

Converting school busses into RV's is quite a hobby, there are lots of them out there. But more importantly there are lots of good resources for not getting screwed in terms of buying a bus with 3M miles on it that needs a new engine or something. Also "filling up" is not for the faint of heart when you drive a bus.

Things I like about this conversion are the simplicity and ability to re-configure easily. Things that might be a challenge are stuff flying around when you turn corners and what not.

lotsofcows 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice sales pitch. Not so sure about the end result.

It's quite pretty and the bed arrangement is novel although I'm not sure how practical it would be for a couple over time.

The loo is very basic considering what you can rip out of a 15 year old caravan.

I don't like the long central aisle design although it makes everything look bigger. Most boats, vans and caravans tend to use L shapes to break things up a bit.

Still, an interesting part of the USAian dream... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travels_with_Charley:_In_Search...

hoopism 3 days ago 0 replies      
My oldest brother built a bus too. It's a different approach but similar concept. Love these builds. Check out my brothers bus and build log here:


secretdark 3 days ago 2 replies      
I live on a canal boat in London (http://everythinginthesky.com/tagged/boatlyfe) that I'm looking to do up in a similar fashion. It's a long road, though - I installed solar panels and a basic 3G wifi setup, but it's all been delayed while I have it stripped back to bare metal and rebuilt. The nice part about the boat is that the arrangements for moving it / living on it are a bit more formalised than I imagine this is and are part of the lifestyle. Still, this seems like a much more mobile solution. Good post!
jonah 3 days ago 0 replies      
My dad did something similar back in art school. He bought a used postal delivery truck and it was his semester project to convert it into an RV.

Once completed, he'd take weekend trips. Leave SF Friday evening and drive an arbitrary direction until he was tired. He'd find a place to park and in the morning wake up in a new and unknown location to explore for the weekend.

suyash 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's called living in an RV like a modern day Nomad. People have been doing it for years in America, what is new about this?
Raphmedia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, what are the laws on these? (in USA, Canada or UK)

Can you legally sleep in a vehicle?

ballard 3 days ago 0 replies      
As to possible improvements (it's both a house and a vehicle, so there's plenty to keep one busy if that's the choice):

Solar panels are much better these days and a bus has obviously tons of space to put them.

AGM batteries are also the way to go.

If there were an raspberry pi + app to remotely report battery charge level on a mobile, that would be awesomesauce.

ljf 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to some of the more 'rustic' end of the bus conversion world check out http://www.travellerhomes.co.uk - full of interesting traveller bus conversions, mainly from the 80s. My sisters bus is somewhere on the site, though she gave up living in it years and years ago.
cjensen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Beautiful and neat hacks. Wood is a good choice for the project since it's cheap and looks good if you put labor (which he has) into it.

Wood is also extremely heavy, which makes it a terrible choice if you actually plan on driving.

sequoia 3 days ago 0 replies      

Another, slightly more lived-in one, slightly lower-design one.

droidist2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really awesome. About the heating/cooling, maybe you could just drive to a nicer climate, like down to Florida for the winter. Of course, life obligations permitting. Seems like a great setup for retired people. Ultimate snowbird vehicle.
10098 3 days ago 0 replies      
All I can see in my imagination is Hank Hill working on that bus.
perlpimp 3 days ago 1 reply      
What is the milage on the thing by the way? Wonder what part of his monthly budget is allocated to Gas.
andyidsinga 1 day ago 0 replies      
that is sofaking amazing. cheers to Hank!

If he can figure out how to convert it to a serial gas/electric hybrid that would be cool. cover the roof in solar panels - blinds could be solar panels too.

deepGem 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love the morphed school bus. I'd just take this idea to the next level and design a nice Volvo/Scania bus into a mobile living space. Would cost a hell lot more but this design is way way way better than any of the custom Scania/volvo designs that I've seen.
eyeareque 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not to knock his accomplishment, because this is really cool. My first thought was: this thing must creak and squeak like crazy as you head down the road.
slm_HN 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite bus conversion is at http://digitalmastery.com/creativecruiser/?page_id=107 or https://www.facebook.com/CreativeCruiser for more recent updates.

Lots of design and construction pictures.

capex 3 days ago 1 reply      
What are the rules for this in Australia?
nchuhoai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Because there seem to be some people that have seen similar projects: Is there like a website for such cool conversions of vehicles and other places into living spaces?
TezzellEnt 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the shipping container turned relocatable dwelling: http://www.fabprefab.com/fabfiles/containerbay/059MDU-lotek/...

Of course you'd need to rent a truck to drive it around, but it expands similar to some RVs.

fluxon 3 days ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine has a school bus, but it needs a new suspension bladder and those a) aren't cheap and b) are hard to replace. There's nothing more expensive than a cheap (insert noun here).
maxmem 3 days ago 0 replies      
That looks like a very limited conversion. Did you do an electrical system at all or a powered water system?
marincounty 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a big fan of this type of living. We need to provide cheap places to park overnight RV's/buses. We have beenconditioned to believe we need to live in high pricedboxes. If things don't work out for me, it's a boatoff Dunphy Park. It will have a very well designed 12vsolar system.
hayksaakian 3 days ago 5 replies      
Could it be viable to refurbish old busses into mobile homes?
Yuioup 3 days ago 0 replies      
My question is: Do you take turns smoking and driving?
ballard 3 days ago 3 replies      
Probably ~16 mpg, so a donation link for fuel budget would be fair. I think people would help because of the awesomeness.
o0-0o 3 days ago 1 reply      
So much taste. So much style. So much... Coors light? Gosh, Hank. Ick.
basicallydan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bloody hell. I want to do this. Good job, dude!
blufox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wonderful....Great blog and photos..Keep em coming.
pearjuice 3 days ago 0 replies      
>about $6000 in improvements

He could have saved around $2000 if he didn't include the riced Macbook.

burritofanatic 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did a search for the word splinters, and found none in the comments or in the post. Has this issue been addressed?!
ktd 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a refreshingly good post.
HipstaJules 3 days ago 0 replies      
It beautiful, I really like it!
pettycash 3 days ago 0 replies      
awesome. he should sell advertising on side of bus as he tours the country.
debashis23 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great....
ronaldsvilcins 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome!!!
songzme 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its this kind of out the box thinking and guts to follow through with your idea that makes a true difference in this world.
Defeated orenhazi.com
716 points by ohazi  19 hours ago   412 comments top 75
eloisius 15 hours ago 4 replies      
You probably put to much stock in the whole "I've never been through the imaging machines" bit. It's not about remaining opt-out puritan or something. Fight when you can.

I hope op reads this, buried in all the other comments. Please, for the sake of everyone, dust yourself off and opt out again. It doesn't matter if you do it every time.

I opt out every time I can, but there have been plenty of times when I don't. There's been times when I didn't have time to catch my flight, or my stress levels were bordering on unmanageable, or I didn't want to miss that wedding at any cost. One time, I felt like I had to pee too bad to risk waiting for a screening.

So kick off your shoes, empty your pockets, and take the freedom stance on the mat of defiance. Hold your arms out with pride and hope that someone on the other side of the security barrier sees you and decides to opt out as well.

jballanc 17 hours ago 25 replies      
There is an extremely simple solution: leave.

I've not lived in the US for almost two years now. I've only had to travel back twice in that time. Meanwhile, in the same time I've visited France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany multiple times. None of those travel experiences were nearly as unpleasant or stressful as my two trips to the US. Furthermore, the technology communities that are growing up in these places have a vigor and sense of excitement that rivals or even surpasses anything you'll find in Silicon Valley.

ignostic 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I find it odd that a community like HN is reasonable, calm, and science-based on all but a few issues, like the TSA. The problem is not the body scanners. The problem is the TSA and the disregard of the bill of rights.

Health claims:

Passive mm-wave scanners do not produce radiation. The active mm-wave scanners use non-ionizing radiation which has been studied and shown not to cause cancer. One study even suggested it might reduce metastasis:


You'll pick up far more radiation on the flight itself at a fairly low 5 mrem (50 Sv). Even that would only be a significant factor if you're part of the flight crew.



It's true that the machine itself hasn't been studied much, but the type of radiation it emits has been studied extensively. Barring any novel delivery system, that's enough. By analogy, you don't need to study the health effects of every single x-ray machine because we know what x-rays do. You just need to know the machine's dosage and wavelength. The lack of health concern is more than a stab in the dark.

Invasion of privacy:

Yes, the scans are absolutely an invasion of privacy. So is submitting to a pat-down. The problem isn't the scanner - it's the bureaucratic nonsense that makes the security state and the TSA possible.

I believe a business should have the right to search you before coming on board if they want to and you agree, but they shouldn't HAVE TO. Flyers should have an option between airlines that use the security measures the market determines people actually want.

Specifically, the "naked body" invasion:

It does us harm to spout misinformation in our quest for privacy and freedom. The machines no longer store or display images of your body - they store and display images of a generic body with the data received from you.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/01/tsa-abandons-nude-s... the initial announcement)


I dislike the TSA and government paternalism more than almost anyone, but we're getting caught up spreading misinformation and nonsense when we should be thinking about how to get our personal freedom back.

flexie 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Airline security measures is not only a threat to civil liberties, it's also a threat to the airline industry. On short distances (<500 km) I chose cars and trains. Getting to or from airports has always been an issue, but this problem has been minimized in recent decades with more and more subway systems, freeways etc. connecting airports with city centers. The check-in waiting time has been minimized with online check-in, self check-in stations etc. But all these gains have been cancelled out by overreaching security measures, mandatory waiting time etc.

But there are powerful interests that like to keep it this way. Airport owners make money turning airports into shopping malls because travellers are forced to wait there. Governments use airport security as job creation schemes. It's a leech sucking on resources all of us need.

rdl 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I opt out mostly to make it as difficult for the screener as possible, not because I think it's particularly less of a violation of my privacy to get my nuts felt up vs. irradiated with low power mm wave. (if there were a "you can have a copy of your own scan" machine, I'd probably voluntarily go through mm wave for fun).

If people opt out, it 1) ties up a TSA agent 2) makes a TSA agent do something moderately unpleasant 3) serves as an example for others in the screening line 4) makes me feel like I'm doing something. OTOH I mostly just don't fly unless it's >800 miles.

I've always had the TSA people screening me be unfailingly polite, if a bit incompetent (not running me through the magnetometer if they're doing a hand screening actually lowers overall security vs. weapons; it wouldn't be terribly difficult to get a disassembled handgun through the hand screening.)

I used to work on military bases with a much more invasive screening (for vehicles; I was exempt personally but my vehicle wasn't). There, there was mostly a legitimate threat (although the biggest screening was in Kuwait, which had ~no risk; it was just a way to keep their combat zone pay. In Iraq, they just asked me to unload my weapon before walking on base, and in 2003/2004, just being white was enough to get on base, no ID needed.)

eagsalazar2 15 hours ago 3 replies      
"I won't be opting out again"? What? Give me a break.

I fly weekly for work so I know the routine. 99% of the time the TSA agents are perfectly happy to do the pat down. I have had a few that have given me a hard time but then I've also had others come and apologize and emphasize that it is my right to opt-out.

Keep opting out and next time someone gives you a hard time calmly ask for (1) a manager and (2) a comment card. They have both and they are eager not to have you make an official record that there has been a problem. An agent should never express their political opinion to you or try to influence your decision to opt out. Instantly when one of them does this you should ask for a manager and a comment card and refuse to talk to him anymore.

ALSO (jeez) don't send your stuff through until you go through! I have been told this repeatedly so most agents actually know this already but even the ones that won't prompt you to do it won't prevent it either.

Anyway, man don't give up so easily.

rayiner 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I just don't get the deal with the millimeter wave scanners. Did everyone raise a fuss like this when airports had you walk through metal detectors? How is a millimeter wave scanner different than a high-tech metal detector? Aren't we always talking about how the law needs to "catch up to technology?"

Don't get me wrong, I think the TSA is a huge waste of money and I hate being ordered around by flunkies who can't get any other job every time I go to the airport. But I don't see anyone raise a fuss when you have to walk through a metal detector to get into the local Barnes and Noble...

gfodor 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this even allowed? I had the understanding that once you opt-out, you either have to get the pat down, or you have to leave the airport. Altering your decision and going through the scanner I thought was against protocol, much like when you enter the security line you have to go through security or leave the airport.

Either way you should continue to opt-out despite this bad experience. I always opt-out unless I am with my wife and time is tight, I don't want to be responsible for us missing our flight if the trip is important enough to her. (I've gone through only once or twice.)

In general, if all it takes for an American who is obviously already in the outlier group of people who care about civil liberties to be "defeated" is a half hour of (largely unwarranted) stress about a laptop, we are well and truly screwed. I opt-out because it makes the experience just as uncomfortable for the TSA as it is for me, raising awareness, unlike the scan which is only uncomfortable for me. You should too. Nobody is going to steal or damage your laptop, and either way if that's the price you have to pay to maintain little dignity and perform openly visible, public, safe civil disobedience of a horribly unconstitutional policy it's well worth it in my book.

kghose 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Sorry, but I'm going to be the token "sheeple" here. Did you make such a fuss when you had to go through metal detectors? Did you make such a fuss when you were wanded? Did you make a fuss when you were carded (at the bar, or at the airport?)

I think we should protest when the TSA is unprofessional and does not monitor their people and they do unprofessional things, (like circulate photos or make fun of people) but protesting the scanners themselves is like going to a hospital and refusing an MRI because hospital staff may act unprofessional and look into your medical records.

The scanners are a detection technology. They are the next generation metal detectors as are the "sniffers". At some point people will "hack" them, just like metal detectors are useless now and we will need the next thing, but they are just a technology.

flyt 18 hours ago 2 replies      
When you go into the millimeter-wave machine and the TSA employee asks you to raise your arms, tell them that you can't, but don't elaborate (and they usually won't ask why).

Every time I've done this they let me go through the regular metal detector with no argument or subsequent pat downs or screening.

javajosh 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't give up. You lost once. That doesn't mean you have to lose again.
WimLeers 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the exact same experience at SEA several weeks ago: I waited well over 30 minutes, had to remind the TSA officer numerous times that I was still standing there. He was not bothered one bit that I'd been standing there for so long. Which is rude in and of itself.

Then some other TSA officer walked by and started talking to the one in my security line. Just some chit chat. After 5 or so minutes, he started asking why I didn't want to go in the machine. Did I realize this was not an X-ray? Did I realize that this was in fact perfectly healthy?

Then, after letting me wait another few minutes, this same TSA officer took me and performed the search ritual, not hurried one bit, doing everything with the greatest pauses, all the while chewing extravagantly on his chewing gum.

If that's not unprofessional, then what is?

mchanson 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey buddy, I opt out too all the time. It once did not work out for me also. Don't worry about be a hypocrite or being an absolutist. You are still sending a message and slowing the stupid operation down by opting out 99% of the time. Chin up! Live to opt out next time.

BTW I quite enjoy the passive aggressive questions. If they ask if I know the machine is safe I always agree with them that the machine is safe. They find that amusing in SFO and annoying in BOS. I don't fly through LAX so they might be more annoying there.

I find that most of the time the TSA people, if you treat them with a bit of a sense of humor, are usually pretty nice about the whole opt out thing (though they do do the passive agressive stuff). However I'm white middle aged guy with a wedding ring. So perhaps I get, by far, the easiest side of TSA 'attitude'.

mherdeg 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I would write to LAWA about this (even though they will just refer you to the appropriate contact at TSA & you'll get a black hole with no reply). It's not cool to wait >30 min for a "male assist".
ohazi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote this last night as a way to vent some of my frustration and was really floored by the responses I received in the morning. These solo protests are small battles, and It's easy to get discouraged when the victories feel so insignificant. But as many people pointed out, the losses can also be small (especially when compared to some of the truly horrifying TSA stories we come across every now and then).

For me at least, being tired and stressed can really add to the feeling of hopelessness and defeat, but a few words of encouragement from strangers can be immensely empowering. I can't say for certain that I'll be up for another small battle next time, but I'll certainly consider it.

To all who added to the discussion or offered support, your words have not fallen upon deaf ears. Thank you.

kleiba 14 hours ago 0 replies      
They're much further in Australia:

If you are departing Melbourne on an international flight from Monday 10 December, you may be randomly selected for a body scan.

If you are selected to be screened by a body scanner and you refuse you will NOT be allowed to pass through the screening point for 24 hours. This will mean that you are unable to board your flight.


jonnathanson 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a bigger point at play here, which is this: in modern American society, the real enemy of democracy isn't apathy, per se. It's convenience.

TSA lines are already a ridiculous inconvenience, and the prospect of additional stress -- or worse, of missing a flight -- just ads to fuel to the fire. So, faced with the choice between, say, a 30 minute line or a 45-60 minute line, most travelers will just say "fuck it" and submit to the scans.

It's not always practical to opt out, especially in extremely busy airports on extremely busy days. Nor, would I submit, is opting out a scalable solution. We're never going to convince n = enough people to opt out en masse, such that we'll make any real difference.

Instead, the solution is organization. It's protest. It's petitioning. Generally speaking, it's making a national stink of this issue. Not enough of an outcry has been rallied, by not enough people, and not at sufficient volume.

bengrunfeld 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Oren is right. Our rights are being taken away one at a time. As an immigrant to America, I can see how the idea of "Freedom" has been so ingrained into the culture that most people simply refuse to believe that the government is taking it away from them. "But we are the Free Country!", they all yell. While this may have been a free country in the past, and may still carry the echoes of freedom, those echoes are fading quickly.
prawn 17 hours ago 3 replies      
The terrorists have won.

I don't think the terrorists won, they just provided the push. The commercial interests and their lobbyists have won. And by that, I mean they continue to win.

highace 18 hours ago 7 replies      
Can someone please explain what's wrong with going through the machine? If it means not having my balls squeezed, it sounds pretty good to me.
jgeerts 18 hours ago 0 replies      
An episode of South Park comes to mind 'The Entity',

"Despite this unorthodox control mechanism (which is uncomfortable to the citizens of South Park), "IT" is still considered better than the airlines and Garrison is a smashing success".

bluedino 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Isn't being felt up much more of a violation of your rights than going through an x-ray machine?

My nutso-girlfriend refuses to go through them because of OMG CANCER, so instead I end up sitting around for a half hour while they manually search her. It's such a pain in the ass.

wilperkins 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I had a similar experience when traveling to the US with my German girlfriend (I am from the US). What I found even more disappointing is the way that other passengers negatively reacted to her choosing to opt-out and wait for the "pat down of shame".I would be happy to see in the US a better public awareness of the amount of personal rights that we're forfeiting by simply passing through an airport.
raheemm 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Shit will really hit the fan when we have a President or some authority figure who will use all this massive surveillance power to run McCarthyistic campaigns against people. Heck, already NSA employees are spying on their former lovers. The author is correct, this is how freedom and rights are lost, slowly and bit by bit.
krichman 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Please don't give up. We all have to value freedom more than to abandon it after half an hour apart from a laptop if we want to be free.
orblivion 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been through once, because they found some substance on my person and wouldn't let me on my flight otherwise (though they were very polite in my instance). I opted out before that and still have since. They wore you out, just keep wearing them out. Call the ACLU since they made you wait that long. Continue to opt out.

You lost your "never been through the machine" badge. That sucked for me too, well, let's get over it. (At least it wasn't a backscatter, right?) This is really about raising awareness, as it were, right? Having lost one time doesn't really change that. By that measure we already "lose" millions of times because everybody else goes through those machines.

ozh 15 hours ago 1 reply      
As one says: "USA is the country of Liberty. They put a statue where it has been buried!"
utunga 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm that person too I always make sure i have time to opt out and sometimes it gets annoying.

The last time, the TSA person seemed friendly and chatty enough and I remarked towards the end that, "you know why I'm doing this right? I'm doing this for you". He may have been humoring me only but I think not, he seemed to genuinely appreciate my point and almost be grateful.

It is very true that amongst the many things I dislike about those machines the actually technically unsafe exposures that the TSA employees are being exposed to is one thing I really dislike about them.

I feel like by maintaining the protest we increase the chance that they may one day turf the things. So I hope the author of this piece takes heart. Sure, sometimes you get an ungrateful piece of mould for a guard, and they win. But sometimes you get someone who appreciates the bigger picture, and that maybe this is helping them out. So stick with it. I will if you will.

laureny 13 hours ago 3 replies      
> I give up. The terrorists have won.

Or maybe you could recognize that flying is a privilege, not a right, and that you have other options if you want to make a stand in your beliefs, such as picking a different airline, going to your destination by some other means or, you know, not traveling.

These entitled smug conspiracy theorists who act like prima donnas irritate me.

"The terrorists have won" because you had to go through a machine? I think it's time for the OP to step back, take a hard look at their life and wonder if they have their priorities straight. There are much more interesting and worthy things to worry about.

philliphaydon 17 hours ago 3 replies      
IMO This is silly. Yeah I understand why we don't want the NSA looking into all our emails and phonecalls etc...

But its a security check at an airport... This has to be one of the silliest things to get wound up about.

jaydub 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to admit that I had an eerily similar experience at Logan Airport around a month ago where I opted out. I was given a very difficult time, the TSA agent repeated multiple times that I should just go through the machine and that I'd be exposed to more radiation on the airplane etc. They kept calling for a "male assist.

I waited it out for like 25 minutes and finally the guy came and took me through. But it was such an annoying experience that I'd since given up on it.

greendata 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This disheartens me but thank you for your effort. We know the TSA is already on buses and trains. I think more and more areas are going to be deemed "4th amendment free" zones (schools, airports, football games, buses, trains, 100 miles within a border, cars and the internet to some degree).

If we can get even 10% of the people to opt out and waste their time the system will begin to collapse. Keep fighting, keeping being a pain. They can't do a pat down on 10% of the passengers.

siculars 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I always opt-out. And I often exchange some words with the agent. When they ask if I would like to do this in private I say no thanks, I like the public knowing that their tax dollars are at work. The officers usually chuckle and agree. Most of them don't like doing the pat down. One once went on about the lack of union benefits. It's often an interesting experience.
rfatnabayeff 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Eventually they might probably encounter a person, a "troll-terrorist", who's demands would be not money, drugs or "release of brethren from prisons", but "introduction of even stricter TSA procedures". The authorities would be in a loose-loose situation, because if they tighten the measures, that would be the fulfillment of terrorist's demands, while if they won't that would be the ignorance of the terrorist threat. )
DjangoReinhardt 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Non-American here. Can someone point me to what exactly happens if you opt-out of these screenings? What happens on this 'opt-out floor-mat of shame'?

I'm asking out of pure curiosity and prefer not to search those keywords and get added to some list and have an eye-in-the-sky suddenly trained on me. It is completely understandable if you choose not to answer this question.

Thanks for reading, though. :)

karmel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need some motivation, consider: originally, I opted out for the same privacy concerns you cite. However, in the last couple of years, I have started wearing a medical device that has not been rated to pass through the backscatter machines. So now I opt-out because of both choice and necessity. If all the good people choosing to opt-out stop doing so, it will be an even bigger headache every time someone with a medical device is forced to opt-out-- there will be no staff assigned to the screens, no stable protocol, etc. So opt out! If not for your sake or the sake of American values, for the sake of those of us with chronic diseases that don't play nicely with imaging machines!
tippytop 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed on my last trip that the TSA, at all airports involved, were more pushy this time about herding me through the machines, using similar words. I guess there was a new policy memo sent out.
einhverfr 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Please don't give up. Please write the ACLU, the EPIC and ask for legal representation.

We lose our rights by not asserting them and fighting abuses like this in court.

josscrowcroft 18 hours ago 3 replies      
This happened to me at Heathrow in London, except there's no option to "opt-out". You either do it, or you don't fly. It's randomly selected, so although I triggered no safety protocols, I was picked out for backscatter.

I was a hair's width from turning around and flying from Gatwick instead at a few hundred bucks cost (nothing compared to observing my rights) - but the engagement was too important.

progx 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The terrorist won a long time ago. In particular in the US and England.

Other countries (ironically) did not have such problems with terrorists, or how we call this people in germany: "citizens", "taxpayers", "neighbors"... ;)

squozzer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Political defiance is not a blitzkrieg -- if it were everyone would do it. A loss does not dictate surrender.

I'm still pretty new at the political defiance game, but reading a few PDFs at aeinstein.org has opened my eyes a little - thanks to an earlier post I read on HN.

Myself, I avoid air travel whenever possible. The highways have not yet been transformed into a maze of checkpoints.

shousper 18 hours ago 1 reply      
If you weren't alone, maybe things would of been different?
magic5227 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This works both ways, opt out as much as you can, hold up the process and force the TSA to come up with something better.
ccozan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Although I truly simpatize with the person ( and the political subject ), I can only express my wonder towards humans as a species: in order to survive, we adapt by overcoming our fears, then we move on, forgetting what was all about. The next challenge is waiting.

Adapt or die ( figuratively speaking )!

csomar 15 hours ago 0 replies      
These articles made me think that travelling (overall) and security checks are unpleasant.

The first time I travelled was to Doha through Istanbul. I was amazed at how comfortable the security checks are, and how friendly the security stuff were there.

It really frightens me to hear the experience in the US borders is quite different.

eeeeaaii 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I ask them to guard my laptop, which they usually do since I suppose they will get in trouble if it's stolen. Actually maybe the fact that I'm asking them to watch over my laptop expedites the actual patdown, because I never have to wait long.
magikbum 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Can people stop complaining? Every other day the front page is covered with posts on people "giving up" and "this not being the American they love." Since all of these intrusive efforts have started how many attacks have happened?
Simple1234 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I took a flight once and I carried on my coin collection. All that metal set off a red flag so they took me to a private room to examine my collection. The TSA was generally polite, but at one point while shuffling my collection around the table a coin fell on the floor. My favorite coin. It was a commemorative coin for Operation Enduring Freedom that my cousin gave me. Other than pictures, it's the only thing I have left to remember him by. As I picked the coin up from the floor, with newly minted scratches no doubt, I couldn't help but think of the symbolism.
bjourne 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The next time you see a cop, take a photo. You are bound to get in trouble for that pretty soon as the cops don't like it and many don't seem to be aware that it is perfectly legal to do so. I wonder if it would help? You would be harassed a lot but you would prevent photographing cops from becoming de facto illegal.
soheil 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"three or four of them(passengers) had induced mini-panic-attacks by lifting or moving the tray containing my laptop"

when are we going to learn to assume other people are probably somewhat rational beings and not crazy zombies walking around?

speedyrev 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What happens if someone steals your laptop from the table at the end of the conveyor? Does TSA have any liability since the laptop was taken from your possession by them?
pekru 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The worst would be for non-US citizens. My cousin got back to the US after a vacation and she had two of her kids accompanying her. She was asked to go through the scanners and though she protested, she was asked to 'follow the rule'. And thus she complied and the entire bunch went through the scanners only to find some fat slob at the monitor leering at her 12 yr old daughter. She was crying over the phone saying she wanted to get out as soon as possible from that hopeless place.
epsylon 16 hours ago 0 replies      
> that their development and procurement was a particularly depressing example of political corruption

I'd like to hear more about this.

shuri 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the opposite should be done. I think every single person should opt-out.
Tichy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really overly dramatic. Just because they are nice enough to say "use of the machine is optional", you are not losing your rights if eventually you have to pass through. What if they had never put that option on display to begin with. Would you then have decided to never fly again? Are airport checks in general a violation of our rights?

I don't know what measures are effective - apparently a lot of procedures at the airport are not effective. But in general I would say if safe flights require procedure X, it is not a violation of our rights if airports require procedure X.

Just because the government erred in one direction (too much intrusion and security checks), doesn't mean that to oppose it we should demand the complete absence of security checks.

marincounty 18 hours ago 2 replies      
1. My subtle way of fighting back is trying to keep my face off cameras everyplace I go. I stopped going to stores like Home Depot who have you on a cam the minute you walk in.

2. I'm glad you held out as long as you did.

jpalioto 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I had the same experience at LAX recently. It seems they are doing this on purpose to inconvenience people who opt out. When they ask me about the machine and why I don't want to go through, I simply tell them that I worked at a company that made machines like that (true) and I don't want to go through.
robomartin 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> I give up. The terrorists have won. I'm sad and I'm angry, but the perpetual wearing-down works. I won't be opting out again.

Time for "Freedom Flights"?

The airport is one place I can think of where you are presumed guilty and have to prove your innocence through unreasonably search as well as seizure (I've had a couple of nice Swiss Army knives confiscated simply because I forgot them in my laptop bag).

Perhaps it is time to start organizing "Freedom Flights" between major cities. By this I mean that a sizable group of people book seats in a flight, say, from SFO to LAX, and every single member of the group would absolutely refuse to be searched or touched by TSA.

Every single person would be armed (yes, I said armed) with a piece of paper containing language developed by volunteer attorneys. Something in this vein: "My constitutional rights state that you cannot touch or search me and detaining me without cause is unlawful. Please get out of my way."

The idea would be to make a point. Nobody should expect to get on a flight, at least not before a few tries. Conventional and social media channels would be alerted in order to get coverage. I can't think of a better way to raise awareness and make a point.

We are being treated like criminals, all of us. This has to stop. Enough is enough.

tpainton 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Its interesting that there are > 200 comments on how easy it is to run snd not one on stopping the bastards who threw you into fear and retreat. You are _soundly_ defeated. Im not being forced from my homeland by a despot government or a coward with a bomb. Sorry.
sealless 15 hours ago 0 replies      
My wish for you is that this is the worst thing that ever happens to you. And that you move on.
adultSwim 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The ending is a bit hyperbolic.
reaganite 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Just sign up for Global Enrollment (GOES) and you automatically get TSA Pre and don't have to go thru the regular security lines: no Millimeter back scatter scanner, no taking off your shoes or taking your laptop out of your bag. Australia, the Netherlands and Canada have similar programs and at present all recognize each others program enrollees, so it also gets you thru Customs in those countries faster too.


lowglow 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I will continue to opt out. Not a fan of the new machines.
burmask 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Just say you had shoulder surgery and cannot lift your arm(s) and they'll move away from the magnetometer and let you through.
ssalbiz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been allowed to keep my belongings with me when I opt-out in the past. This has helped alleviate the stress of opting out considerably.
yRetsyM 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else find it really hard to read the text in this article? I don't like the contrast...
teresascientist 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a female American. When I traveled through Seattle airport a while ago, I saw that every single person was getting selected to the mm wave scanner. I told the security guard I wanted to opt out...A few minutes later, a large male TSA agent came over for the sole purpose of yelling at me (it was loud!) that I opted out before I had been selected to go through the scan. This continued 5 minutes before my pat down. Thanks, America...Like other people point out, yes it's better here than other places. I am grateful I don't live in Egypt. But, it upsets me to no end how quickly we throw away our constitutional rights or cease to care about corruption and ineffectiveness of mm wave scanners.
jdavid 13 hours ago 0 replies      
To be free, you must first act free.
hingisundhorsa 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Sometimes I feel confused. Are "we" the real terrorists?
ethanazir 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the type of crap that pushes a non-muslim over the edge.
aneth5 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was once a great fighter for freedom, democracy, and civil liberties. I battled the system long and hard. Then one day out of a hundred similar travel days, I had to wait 30 minutes for a TSA pat down, probably because a single TSA manager was not following procedure. I realize some great freedom fighters would at least file an official complaint, but I also realized that if one manager one time can make me wait 30 minutes, the terrorists have already won. I surrendered my principles to the police state.

If I had known how hard this fight would be, that a mere mortal man as me would have to wait 30 minutes for a pat down, might even have to miss a flight or submit to a scan and then file a complaint, I never would have become such a great freedom fighter. Fortunately, my ignorance of such trials allowed me to boldly enter the resistance, even if my warrior days were cut short and I failed to fight past 30 minutes of standing on a mat. 30 minutes - what man could be expected to endure this in the name of human liberty?

aneth5 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A population that believes this strongly in liberties then surrenders after a single 30 minute inconvenience is a greater danger to liberty than the TSA.

Seriously, you have shown you are willing to make zero sacrifice in fighting for your rights. You don't believe in anything. This is the problem with armchair libertarians. You sound tough them surrender at the first sign of difficulty. This does more harm than good.

shloper 16 hours ago 0 replies      
transfire 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Don't fly. Seriously. Aren't you tired of being stripped searched, herded like cattle, squeezed into a tin can like sardines, going 300 miles in the wrong direction to switch plans at a hub, or sitting hours in wait in your three square feet of space on the tarmac?

But what to do instead? Leave a day early. Take a train. Maybe even find a co-rider heading your way and split the cost of a cabin car. Then relax and enjoy your trip. Chat with some other travelers in the lounge car. Have a nice meal in the diner car. If you don't have to be there yesterday and you are not going over an ocean, you can't beat a train.

Of course, in the States, the a$$ holes are winning there too as they won't let us build better trains (cough florida caugh hyperloop cough) and they have forced all passenger rail to go through Chicago when crossing the middle of the country. Honestly, how do they get away with this sh*t?

tzaman 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the second time in a week I have read about people refusing to go through security scanners, and then complaining about being treated differently.

You should really put yourselves into security guards' skins here; What if you were him/her? You'd observe millions of people do the same stuff day in, day out, and out of those million, a small percent would refuse to do what's required of everyone - pass the standard security. If you ask me, I'd be suspicious too. And probably annoyed why there have to be a few of smartasses who can't follow standard procedure.

Now, before I hear you complain about privacy, you really need to wake up. If you leave in a city, you're being recorded on pretty much every step, and you still go to the bank, for example, and drive your car. And use Facebook. Or whatever. If you want real privacy, move to Sibiria. Or Zimbabwe.

And for those who think these machines are medically dangerous, toss away your phone - long term effects of it's use haven't been proven either.

my 2c

Schema migrations merged into Django master github.com
370 points by Spiritus  3 days ago   104 comments top 24
andrewgodwin 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'd like to point out that this is just a first working version, and there's still some work left to do, but I'm very relieved this is finally merged!
falcolas 3 days ago 3 replies      
If any devs read this, for MySQL, you may want to consider using the update method adopted by many larger companies - something like pt-online-schema-change (or make the alter method pluggable so someone else can).

Basically, create a table as a copy of the old table, set up triggers to update the new table as data pours into the old table, alter the new table, and then do a rename.

This buys you some rollback capabilities, but more importantly it limits the impact on production traffic as the alters run. Of course, this is only really an issue on tables with hundreds of thousands of rows, but it's better than the nave approach.

j4mie 3 days ago 1 reply      
gamegoblin 3 days ago 4 replies      
I started coding Django a couple of months ago and was blown away when I attempted to add a field to an existing model only to get yelled at. StackOverflow comments told me that South was the only way to go. I guess I just couldn't believe it wasn't an already existing feature. It seems that adding fields is common enough to be needed early on...

Happy about the news!

jsmeaton 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fantastic work! I've been following the blog posts and it was interesting to understand the decisions you made along the way.

Also, thanks for supporting Oracle straight away. When you first mentioned the kickstarter I noted the possibility that oracle support would either lag or be missed entirely, effectively making oracle support in django a second-class citizen.

I'm starting a new project in a few weeks (on Oracle RAC), so I'll try to test as much as possible.

inglesp 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is exciting for Django, and it's exciting for OSS in general, as it demonstrates the viability of crowdfunding (certain) OSS development.

Congratulations to Andrew and to all involved.

caioariede 3 days ago 1 reply      
A bit OT, but how do you guys handle database changes between multiple branches? Say I added some fields in branch A through multiple apps and then I need to go back to the master to do a fix. How do you revert the changes before checkout master?
defrex 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Migrations specify which other migrations they depend on - including earlier migrations in the same app - in the file, so its possible to detect when theres two new migrations for the same app that arent ordered."

This is a fantastic feature. I've worked on projects that use a South fork that only uses a migration number, eg 0003.py, specifically to cause version control to trigger a merge conflict.

DrJ 2 days ago 0 replies      
People still argue over Flask vs Django.

Django is a working car, the comes with a lot of features, and is more difficult to customize (and you eventually have to start hacking at it for custom features).

Flask is the assembled chassis, engine, steering (no frame, body). It's up to you to build it into a car of your choice.

Eventually though you will have to look at tuning the base system for your special special system.

Ensorceled 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes! My 50.00 was well spent :-)
bb0wn 3 days ago 3 replies      
Finally, but too little too late in my opinion.

I love python, but I would rather use Rails for web stuff at this point. So many 3rd party libraries are needed to do what Rails can do right out of the box.

tocomment 3 days ago 1 reply      
Dumb question here. Instead of keeping all these migration files why can the migration just compare the models to the database directly and make he appropriate changes?
slig 3 days ago 1 reply      
I briefly read the doc in the changeset, but couldn't find if the migration files from South are compatible with this new bultin migrations. Does anyone know that?
Demiurge 3 days ago 1 reply      
So is this slated for 1.7 now? Or is it still on track for 1.6?
nilved 3 days ago 2 replies      
Awesome, Django might be usable out of the box now. :)
gitaarik 3 days ago 1 reply      
So what about data migrations? In the docs I couldn't find something about it. And it's pretty important for a complete migration tool, isn't it?
lectrick 3 days ago 3 replies      
Welcome to Rails circa 5 years ago! :)
workhere-io 3 days ago 2 replies      
Somewhat related: Are there any plans to integrate Alembic into SQLAlchemy?
groundCode 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great news for Django - congratulations to all involved!
est 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now let's get rid of WSGI and make async signals possible!
kdazzle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why wouldn't Django just use South instead of creating ever more dependencies on itself?
ris 3 days ago 0 replies      
But does it work with custom ("initial") sql?

This was one of the failing points of south in my opinion.

Daviey 3 days ago 1 reply      
Neat. Once this hits a stable release, does it mean that South should be considered deprecated for new projects?
ciokan 3 days ago 8 replies      
I absolutely love python and I'm using it daily but Django seems so....outdated?! Biggest web framework needs someone to raise funding via kickstarter to build a schema migration?

2013 and you still can't build a REST application without installing 3rd party code? I mean c'moon there's angularjs, emberjs, knockout, extjs etc etc etc out for years don't you see a light at the end of the tunnel or you're the type of team that build more tunnel?

Sorry to say but news like this just make me sad. Still happy I chose flask + sqlalchemy for my website. Django is somewhere in 2004-2005 still. I lose the admin of course but I hate general things anyway (one size fits all type of thing).

0 to 60 in One Second: Fusing WebGL, CSS 3D and HTML acko.net
356 points by co_pl_te  2 days ago   93 comments top 33
nkoren 2 days ago 9 replies      
This is an astonishing demo -- and I very nearly missed it, because I thought the scrolly graphic at the top was just a fancy animated header, followed by a bunch of text that seemed to be refering to something else. I only discovered the full demo when I accidentally scrolled up, and found it lurking there well above the start-point for the page. I can't help but think that a lot of other viewers must be missing it entirely.

So a note to web-masters: please put any content you want your users to see below the top of the page, not above it.

skue 1 day ago 1 reply      
> I realized it would make a pretty neat demo just by itself, so I built that in too, to the dulcet tones of Selah Suewhose last name I hope is not indicative.

The demo and technology are amazing, and he should be proud of his hard work. But I was a bit surprised by his appropriation of someone else's work to add a soundtrack. Why not try to reach out to the artist and ask permission first?

Now before you hit the downvote icon, here's a thought exercise: What do you think HN's reaction would be if a random musician used this web visualization in a music video without asking permission first? How often do we get irate about design theft, and why is doing the reverse in this case okay?

> The songs are used here entirely for educational purposes of course. Not that it matters, since they're all on YouTube anyway.

This is simply untrue. Although the blog entry has educational value, the music itself serves no purpose other than to provide a soundtrack. It's being used for entertainment value, and if the developer does professional web design and references this work on a resume or contract offerings, then it arguably serves a commercial marketing purpose as well.

And saying that the video is available elsewhere? That's again no different than appropriating images or artwork from elsewhere on the web and reusing them for other purposes.

It's good that he credited the music, and I'm glad he thought about reuse issues. But again, why not ask permission first? And if it can't be obtained, why not find a musician who needs the exposure and would be happy to have their music included?

Roritharr 2 days ago 3 replies      
Now this is something you won't be able to buy with money.True and simple. No agency has talent able AND willing to produce something of that quality and love in the budgets which are normally afforded to marketing campaigns...

It saddens me that i spend most of my professional time working for an agency.

saidajigumi 2 days ago 0 replies      
The header animation is the obvious treat... but the thing that sent me completely over the top is is how we camera-pan past the 3D illustration of the disc-based occlusion model during scrolling. <3 <3 <3 I'm currently making CGI-squee-noises worthy of the glory days of the SGI Magic Bus!
lelandbatey 1 day ago 1 reply      
For everyone who cannot run this demo (old machine or on mobile) I've put up a recording of the main intro demo (there are actually a couple different ones) here:


WayneDB 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the best performing interactive animation I've ever seen done with web technologies.
StandardFuture 2 days ago 1 reply      
This really does put the rest of the web to shame.
SnowProblem 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are so many impressive things going on here. The starting animation. Ambient occlusion. Integrating CSS 3D and WebGL. Even the achievements.

Notice he scales down the resolution when there are several frames dropping below 45 FPS. I've been thinking about how to solve the performance problem in voodoo.js, and this could be it. Good stuff.

anonymous 2 days ago 3 replies      
Well, I don't know what browsers you guys are using, but on my laptop running linux and firefox 22 with an Intel Core2 Duo, my browser became completely unresponsive for some seconds and then only responded extremely jerkily until I closed the tab.

I just hope this practise doesn't spread outside of artsy demos.

RTesla 2 days ago 3 replies      
I haven't been amazed by a website like that in a while.
alipang 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's some seriously funky stuff going on in the console if you look at it in chrome.
aroman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the 3D.
webXL 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome, but this almost drained my macbook battery dry, or at least that's my suspicion. It was in a background tab, but I noticed the name of the playing song had changed, even though my volume was down. Chrome should have some way to prevent a background tab from playing music while the volume is down, and web designers shouldn't expect you to have it turned up! Shouldn't there be an HTML5 hardware API for that??
recuter 2 days ago 8 replies      
Very cool, but note that it requires Chrome Canary. (It seemed to almost work in regular Chrome and I kept reloading)
isaacwaller 2 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't seem to work in IE11.
sstarr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible; it reminds me of the kind of stuff that sometimes used to crop up on Astounding Websites (http://web.archive.org/web/20010203162500/http://astoundingw...)

It feels like there aren't as many people doing interesting things and exploring new ideas on the web anymore but maybe I just don't know where to look.

christiangenco 2 days ago 0 replies      
> at times a mess of ad hoc demo formulas and spaghetti, though robust enough in the parts that count.

The story of my development career.

gnerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
The second I saw the arrow style I thought of Daim and when I scrolled down, sure enough, there was a piece by Daim. Very nicely done. Props.
jonespen 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first thought was "Holy shit, is this guy Daim?", a street artist I had forgot about a long time ago. Very nice homage!
FedericoElles 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing. This is the first WebGL demo running fluently on my system... a 7 year old Athlon Dual Core.
jonahss 2 days ago 2 replies      
Achievement Unlocked: Black Hole Sun

-from mousing-over the play button too many times

That's 2/8 for me and I see a couple others in this thread. Is anyone keeping track somewhere?

mck- 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most impressive posts I've seen on Hackernews in a while -- kudos!
EvanYou 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not working for me in Chrome 29.0 on OS X 10.7 - it seems to assume my setup does not support WebGL (which obviously does)
joeblau 2 days ago 0 replies      
The header of that page blew my mind!
idlewan 2 days ago 0 replies      
The lighting effect is soooo good.
Aqueous 2 days ago 0 replies      
you, sir, are a talented man.
jafaku 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice black screen.
jonahss 2 days ago 0 replies      
Achivement Unlocked: Refresh Prince of Bel Air
frozenport 2 days ago 0 replies      
craah on demand in firefox mobile.
nFFF 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I missing something ? All I see is an article containing text and some images? On iPad 2 safari
mikejholly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing dude! Nice work!
ivanbrussik 2 days ago 0 replies      
next level shit right here
hipaulshi 2 days ago 0 replies      
How far the once-mighty SourceForge has fallen gluster.org
344 points by danparsonson  3 days ago   164 comments top 30
JohnTHaller 3 days ago 5 replies      
The article gets a few things very wrong. First off, there are no drive-by installers. It's an offer-based installer. Meaning that when you run it, you get a single offer of an additional product. Second, it's offering you either trialware (a trial version of a for-sale product that they hope you buy after trying) or adware (like an Ask.com toolbar to ad to your browser). The author of this blog post is either outright lying about it doing drive-by-installers and malware or is clueless about what the terminology actually means.

The last time this was posted on HN, I did a quick writeup on my understanding of it (reposted here):

"For the curious, this is an optional program at SourceForge being offered to developers as a way to monetize their work. The developer needs to specifically request it. SourceForge gets a cut, so does the developer. The installer is their first stab at this process and is using the bundling technology from Ask.com. As offer-based installers go, this one is about as good as it gets. It makes a single offer and has an Accept and Decline button with the user selecting whichever one they want (not a pre-checked box accepting the offer above a Next/Continue button). If accepted, the installer installs the offered software and it gets a standard entry in Windows' Add/Remove Programs that works as expected. If declined, the installer continues. The installer then downloads the originally-requested software.

The two issues with the current installer are that (1) it is served in place of the requested file with no indication that a substitution is made as the user downloads and (2) it requests admin rights before it starts downloading the software, which can be a security issue. Roberto (who posted the article) has stated that they are working on #1 in terms of the text shown on SourceForge as you select to download and download. As for #2, there may be some ways to rework the installer so this is not an issue. I'll mention it to him when I speak to him.

SourceForge has one other revenue-share program with developers where you place the SourceForge-branded download buttons on your own website that link to your downloads on SourceForge and you get a small cut of the ad revenue made from the download page.

If I recall correctly, SourceForge has been losing money for a few years now. Dice Holdings picked up SourceForge and Slashdot while Geek.com kept ThinkGeek.com, so they are now separate entities. These new experiments are attempts to get SourceForge to be self-sustaining/profitable. Ad revenue alone likely won't cut it.

Unfortunately, Google Code, Github and others don't offer the full breadth of services that SourceForge does for open source projects. Google Code, Github, and others have all ditched binary downloads, so SourceForge is one of the only providers to make binary downloads available to Windows and Mac user at no charge. This is why SourceForge is popular for real apps (FileZilla, Pidgin, PortableApps.com, etc) and Github is popular for components (node.js, jquery, rails, etc). The code zips available at other providers are of no use to end users.

As full disclosure, I run PortableApps.com, one of SourceForge's largest projects pushing quite a few TBs of downloads through their mirror network. We make use of the SF-branded download buttons revenue share program but do not make use of nor have any plans to use the "enhanced" installers. Everything I've discussed here is already publicly available, I just thought it would be handy to have in one place."

After that post, it was pointed out to me that Github has added in the ability to host binaries, but I would wager they wouldn't take kindly to the kind of bandwidth that the major SF projects like PortableApps.com push through. I've also been in touch with Roberto who made the mentioned post on SourceForge about some suggestions and options including doing an open source installer that the end-user/sysadmin can verify before installing instead of it being a downloader installer with the offer built in but not the app you want.

RyanMcGreal 3 days ago 2 replies      
How far the gluster server has fallen. Here's the text of the article:


How far the once mighty SourceForge has fallen

[Editor's note: This post is the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Gluster Community]


SourceForge, once a mighty force for the good of Open Source, has fallen far from its previous lofty heights.

Dice, the new owners, bribe strongly encourage the top projects to use a new (closed source only) installer that pushes spyware / adware / malware.

Developers using SourceForge should migrate away from it if they want to keep their integrity. End users using projects hosted on SourceForge should immediately find an alternative.

Full version:

When people download software from SourceForge, or any major repository of Open Source software, they expect the software to be trustworthy. (baring unintentional bugs)

They do not expect the software to be a source of drive by installer style malware, spyware, adware, or any other unrelated/unintended software.

SourceForges new owners, Dice, have consciously and deliberately moved to a model violating this trust.

With their recent changes, users downloading from SourceForge now receive a special closed source installer which attempts to foist unrelated third party software onto them.

For example, when a user clicks on this:

They instead receive this:

This is a drive-by installer, designed to catch less technical users and the unwary, to fill their computers with malware / junk ware / crime ware. As abused by the notorious ask.com toolbar and others:


It gets worse.

When SourceForge introduced this, it bribed encouraged the top projects to participate by giving them a cut of the take. So these co-operating projects are also knowingly selling their users down the river.

Im not against monetisation at all, we all have lives and need to pay our bills. But not through abusing user trust. Not through preying on the unskilled or unwary.

To misquote Marge Simpson; They not only crossed the line, they threw up on it.

If youre a developer or contributor to a SourceForge project, please ask them to move to a new project host (there are several). And cease all further involvement until its complete. Ive already done so with mine.

If youre a user of a SourceForge project, please find and use an alternative project instead.

We should all demonstrate our commitment to user safety and personal integrity around this issue.

haberman 3 days ago 1 reply      
For the youngins out there, 10-15 years ago SourceForge was like GitHub is now. It was extremely popular and reputable for open-source hosting. I remember thinking that one of the first considerations when naming a new project was: is MYPROJECTNAME.sourceforge.net available?

Never expected to see it decline into the spammy sketch-ville that it is now.

ck2 3 days ago 1 reply      
What might be really dangerous is I think they also run rpmforge (aka repoforge) and many people use them on servers for yum updates as they have newer packages sometimes.

If they start messing with the releases for servers, we've got big problems.

Wait, no I might be wrong about this, I really thought they were related but rpmforge might be a completely different project.

Yeah I am probably wrong based on this old page:


They just re-used the "forge" name which fine but confused me and I guess I assumed it was run by sourceforge awhile back.

Sourgeforge however is owned by Slashdot's parent company, of that I am virtually positive.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
Short version; our author objects to how SourceForge has been monetizing their traffic.

I didn't particularly like the tone, it seemed pretty mocking to me. I did not feel like that was called for.

I will suggest that at some point, if you live long enough, you will cross paths with someone you knew as a young person, someone you liked and respected, who was either charged with robbery or who was earning money in a way that you don't condone. I would ask that you judge carefully at that point. It happened to me when I drove by a friend from high school who was in the median strip asking stopped traffic for money.

Living in the world requires things, supplies, water, food, housing. Unless you can make those things on your own, you're stuck trading money for them. And to trade money, you have to get money. The longer you don't have enough money the lower and lower your standards tend to go. Some folks sadly decide to simply stop trying and check out of the system permanently. Life is real.

So when you see a site like SourceForge, you might ask what happened, or perhaps what changed, but it doesn't get you any points for judging them harshly for trying to survive. GitHub is the new hawtness and I love what those folks are doing, but I've not seen the press release that says they are operationally profitable yet, or even cash flow positive. That will change, and when it changes you may see them having to push "partner" software your way, they may have some other plan by then, or they may just sort of evaporate in some giant acqui-hire [1].

[1] Personally I think that Github being bought by, or displaced by, an infrastructure service play like Amazon's AWS is the most likely outcome.

njharman 3 days ago 0 replies      
SourceForge has been a POS and dead to me for many years.

I'm not sure it ever achieved "mightyness". Back when VA failed at what they were trying to do and started SourceForge, it was needed and they deserve praise for trail-blazing / attempting something big. But, I never really felt they carried through successfully.

jacquesm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The mighty gluster blog seems to have fallen as well.

"error establishing database connection"

M4v3R 3 days ago 5 replies      
The sad thing is that strategy works and it works quite well. Most people that are not very technical will just click "Next" and "Agreed" blindly to complete software installation. I've seen numerous PCs plagued with toolbars and crapware for that specific reason. I always try to educate them to always read what's on screen and never agree for the "toolbar thing", but it's mostly a lost fight.
harrytuttle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Agree entirely. SourceForge is unfortunately one of those places that puts me off projects these days. It's a baron land of advertising and poorly maintained products that just add noise.
616c 3 days ago 0 replies      
I cannot access the article as the server is down right now, but saw a summary on a forum. [0] Was this not one of the first major no-no's of computer law in the user, starting with cases like Specht vs. Netscape? [1]

[0] http://inagist.com/all/370801094563467264/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specht_v._Netscape_Communicati....

yogo 3 days ago 0 replies      
> With their recent changes, users downloading from SourceForge now receive a special closed source installer which attempts to foist unrelated third party software onto them.

I think this deserves an obligatory "if you aren't paying for the product, you are the product." It seems to always turn out that way. After all, these projects are popular because they are good, and they are good because the developer or developers commit the time to develop, test, and support these projects. Naturally, there has to be a way to make money in order to keep these projects going, hence the Dice move. I'm not saying I agree with it, but I think it's reasonable. In other words, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

peterwwillis 3 days ago 1 reply      
Okay. So SourceForge is pooping in the fishbowl at it's own party. Instead of picking up and leaving, maybe we could just make a concerted effort to ask Sourceforge to stop doing this? You don't have to demand everyone boycott a useful service like this every time something you don't like happens.
coffeeaddicted 3 days ago 8 replies      
Can you recommend alternatives that offer all their features? We use currently for example sourcecontrol, forums, bugtrackers, a wiki, the image galleries and their website hosting. I'm often unhappy with SF, but it's not quite that easy finding that kind of service elsewhere.
laymil 3 days ago 0 replies      
LWN had a similar feature posted yesterday which has significantly more background information.http://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/564250/0a106d6379c0d741/
joshuahedlund 3 days ago 1 reply      
So SourceForge downloads are becoming as bad as Cnet? Even the once-reputable members of the download hosting industry seem to be heading towards a rather unfortunate Nash equilibrium... Hopefully Github can sustain their model without it.
mratzloff 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Im not against monetisation at all, we all have lives and need to pay our bills.

OK, I'm game. How should SourceForge monetize?

Just about everyone here is running ad blocking software, not that display ads pay much anymore. Not that anyone will tolerate seeing an ad for the free software they're downloading.

Should SourceForge charge a monthly fee to projects? To users? Perhaps SourceForge should arrange licensing deals to make white label SourceForge clones? Maybe they should just start doing consulting on the side?

logn 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was just thinking the other day how much I like sourceforge. Their site has continued to improve. It's much more usable now than it used to be. I'm ok with sf monetizing their site the best they can. They've long been an advocate of open source and I appreciate an alternative to github. It's too bad the shakeup with Dice and split off of ThinkGeek, but it makes sense. Keep in mind, sf was the alternative to sites like Cnet and download.com which were/are far worse. I'm thankful for what they've done for driving FOSS adoption over the years, especially for authors on $0 budgets before the era of abundant cloud computing on the cheap, which we realize now had significant hidden costs, including human rights.
bcraven 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's all gone download.com

- new cockney rhyming slang anyone?

zeruch 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who was once part of the original "Ignition Team" at VA Linux for SF.net, and who is still close friends with two of the original core SF team (the first iteration of SF.net was done by just four people in <120 days IIRC) we're all pretty much in sad agreement that it's just a husk of what it once was.

It's certainly dead to me.

EvaK_de 3 days ago 0 replies      
At least SourceForge still offers a download option for the hosted projects, unlike Google Code...
simula67 3 days ago 0 replies      
The web installer was initially not detecting the proxy at my workplace. Hopefully popular projects like Filezilla will move their download binaries off Sourceforge.
opello 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if it's possible to get the released file out of SourceForge, but my complaint would be (as a user that generally verifies cryptographic checksums) that what I downloaded didn't match what the project advertised.

Looks like some remedy in the case of FileZilla is that they host their own installer as well:


(Which matches the SF.net hosted FileZilla_3.7.3.sha512 list.)


Looks like the original files can be gotten if you make your own direct link, e.g.:


pearjuice 3 days ago 0 replies      
The decline started years ago with the "Wait five seconds and we will redirect you to the real download page" filled with fake download buttons describing "Tired of waiting? DOWNLOAD" et cetera. They never improved their core product (repositories are still hell to navigate through) and only added interface elements and tweaked the UI to get you to.click on ads. A shame, because before that Sourceforge was the go-to place to download homebrew, free alternatives to proprietary software.

Github is great, but as it looks right now they fail to pull in those big legacy software packages. Their main audience seems to be web dev.

lbenes 3 days ago 2 replies      
This article is full of hyperbole and exaggerations. I downloaded the latest filezilla with the offer-installer "malware" and scanned it with Avira free antivirus, and MS Security Essentials. Both of them reported no problem.

I then was able to install filezilla without the offer-installer just by not clicking on the checkmark. After the installation, my VM ran normally, no pop-ups, no changed homepage in firefox or IE.

People that write this drivel make the open source community look like a bunch of nutjob, hippy zealots with no grasp of reality. Ads pay the bills and sadly some open source developers have mouths to feed.

drderidder 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a lot of good software on SourceForge still. How long before SF starts holding it ransom? Sounds like a good time to fork your favourite SF-hosted code to another service as a backup.
Thiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
SourceForge is to github

what myspace is to facebook

what gm is to tesla

and what slashdot is to digg, now to reddit

and so on

voltagex_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I also posted this some time ago.
af3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey guys, do you know an alternative service that provides mailing lists (no Ggle groups please)?
jms703 3 days ago 0 replies      
wait. sourceforge is still around? i doubt those that use it read hacker news.
We're only being dishonest to get your attention. Join us!
333 points by jpadvo  2 days ago   68 comments top 13
leetrout 2 days ago 4 replies      
As a newer HN user I was surprised that there are no comments on job postings. I've also noticed some interesting posts and think there could be some constructive conversation around them.

I can appreciate why there are no comments but also I think it would be interesting to allow direct feedback to job postings.

Anyone else ever thought this, too?

argumentum 2 days ago 3 replies      
It wouldn't have been that bad had they made one simple change .. from (20% of College Students) to (20% of <some big name school>) or (20% of a major public university).

It would have actually been more impressive if they weren't so vague .. now they are probably going to turn off a lot of good prospects.

I say this as a YC alum whose 1st job post was fairly ill-advised (though not dishonest). Believe me, it is quite tempting to play around, so I wouldn't be too hard especially on the smaller teams who haven't been recruiting/employing for too long.

They will learn, soon enough. It's also important to note that many teams consist of 17-22 year olds, and as this app is aimed at college students it seems like it could be one of those teams. So cut them some slack.

pearjuice 2 days ago 2 replies      
YC companies always have the worst link-baiting lines to get you to click on their job offers. Just put them in a standard template so we know who is looking for what before clicking on the link. I propose:

{company} ({yc season}) looking for {role}

Role should be the actual function title and if applicable mentioning the language-stack (i.e. RoR, node) the candidate should master.

joeblau 2 days ago 3 replies      
Thanks for addressing this, I was wondering what was going on with that other post. The content did seem intriguing, but also a little shady at the same time.
lolwutf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hats off to that! Lots of the job postings on HN tend to make outlandish requests/offerings just because 'hey we got HN front page'. Some are downright shameful.

Also, in before the HN cabal muzzles this one.

airnomad 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is really dishonest is not having an option to downvote a job ad.
jmgrosen 2 days ago 0 replies      
The way I saw it was that they only operate at a few universities, and at the ones they do, they have 20% of the student body.

That being said, I agree it was disingenuous at the least and downright misleading at the worst.

p_campbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like they've changed the title and apologized.
porterhaney 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a load off. I thought they were talking about Tumblr.
hydralist 2 days ago 0 replies      
who cares honestly, everyone talks shit when they are recruiting. if an applicant can't figure that out, what gives?
icecreampain 2 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately, dishonesty sells. How did all the large megacorporations get to where they are now?

Not by being great programmers and free thinkers, but by being greedy businessmen and, later, buying tons of lobbyists.

This piece of shit company is ... well... just being a normal company.

csdreamer7 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thankyou for posting this!
thegeneralist 2 days ago 0 replies      
seems like this worked, being at the top of HN and all...
Just Delete Me robblewis.me
328 points by decklin  3 days ago   69 comments top 29
slg 3 days ago 2 replies      
It isn't really feasible for a service like this, but it would be interesting to know what each of these sites do with your data once your account is deleted. Facebook has recently come under fire for their ghost profiles and I can't imagine they are the only company that keeps data on people who aren't official users.
nileshtrivedi 2 days ago 2 replies      
Quora gives me a link to "deactivate" my account but wants me to write a mail to privacy@quora.com for "deleting" my account. Others have reported that the requests sent to this email address are not fulfilled, neither are the mails even replied to.

I want to know the names of assholes in charge of this company so that I can avoid ever working with them.

dictum 2 days ago 2 replies      
>Skype: Contact customer services. Youll need to know 5 contacts from your contacts list, the month you created your account, and your signup email address.

Why do I get the feeling asking Skype to cancel your account immediately puts you into a special watchlist?

cremnob 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can you delete a HN account?
pacifi30 3 days ago 0 replies      
Add all the dating websites as well, they are notorious to not providing an option to delete your account. Here is the list that I complied in my blog, I posted on hacker news yesterday http://nishant.posthaven.com/why-i-cant-delete-my-dating-acc...

eharmony -> only cancel membership

match -> only cancel membership

coffee meet bagel -> only cancel membership

truffle -> delete accounts

okcupid -> will delete account

mthoms 3 days ago 0 replies      
Suggested site to add: nsa.gov
miguelrochefort 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why do people expect data about themselves to magically disappear from the Internet? One should always assume that everything you communicate online (explicitly or not) has the potential to exist forever.
signed0 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a screenshot, the server seems to be overloaded.


AhtiK 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish to see a similar site made for changing passwords.

One use case is when the password storage is compromised but also helps when you grow more paranoid over time and need to rotate and max out the passwords.

ChristianMarks 3 days ago 1 reply      
Topsy appears to offer a data deletion service at accountremoval@topsy.com. Try asking them to delete their online archive of a defunct G+ account. (Defunct means that the G+ account and its content is deleted.) The service autoresponds to your email entreaty, but nothing is deleted. I have been emailing them for two weeks. The reply is the same:

  Re: Please delete my G+ content. I have deleted my G+ account  Topsy Support  |  AUG 18, 2013  |  09:22PM UTC   Thank you for submitting your request. We have received  your request and are working on responding to you as   soon as possible. If you have any additional information  to add to this case, please reply to this email.

liquidcool 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's concerning about companies that don't delete user info is that they don't consider it a liability, or don't believe they can be hacked. If people tell you to delete their PII and you don't, then lose it, isn't that a lawsuit waiting to happen?
ggchappell 3 days ago 1 reply      
One sentence here is curious:

> JustDelete.Me is a directory of urls to delete your account from web services. (Yes, I am aware how terrible that description is. If youve got a better one, let me know).

Sounds like a fine description to me. (It's certainly better than average. I find the descriptions of about half of the "take a look at this site" posts on HN to be incomprehensible; it's nice to be able to read a post like this and immediately know what it is talking about.)

So, is something wrong with this description? If so, can anyone tell me what the problem is?

wodenokoto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given that netflix offers 1 month free subscription, I kinda get why they won't delete accounts completely. Else people could just sign up, delete and sign up again for free netflix.
rmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't wait for that EU data protection law to come in that will require services to have a delete option. Self-regulation, as this list shows, isn't working.
przemoc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good idea! And don't worry about the name and description, because they're spot on.
d0m 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Make it easy to definitely delete your account from web services."
olegp 3 days ago 0 replies      
@rmlewisuk Are you OK with us including this data and a link back to your site in our web app directory at https://starthq.com?

Edit: Also, you should try to collaborate with the TOSDR guys, they have a pretty active IRC channel: #tosdr on Freenode.

rmlewisuk 3 days ago 1 reply      
We're doing everything we can to keep the site up. As said below, the direct link to the site is http://justdelete.me
narcissus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every time I see these sorts of sites, I just pine even more for the return of ioptout.ca...

Either way, good job!

donniezazen 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find it extremely frustrating that services like Gravatar and forums didn't inform me that I won't be able to wipe clean my account. It is not acceptable.
Torn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to find out how to delete a bitstamp account, there's no links on their site.
richardkiss 3 days ago 0 replies      
> JustDelete.Me is a directory of urls to delete your account from web services. (Yes, I am aware how terrible that description is. If youve got a better one, let me know).

How about a variation of "Helping you delete your web accounts"

prajit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Type in the Konami Code and see what happens (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a) - an Easter Egg!
albeertoni 3 days ago 1 reply      
Next step: form letters that make a formal request for the deletion of all information related to you.

Won't work either but, like this, it's a nice start.

webwanderings 2 days ago 0 replies      
No AOL? It is a pain to delete AOL account.
jfoutz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Blizzard is challenging too.
gcatalfamo 3 days ago 0 replies      
nice execution!
cedel2k1 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please cover ICQ here :-)
What would you like to see most in minix? (1991) groups.google.com
326 points by xanth  14 hours ago   163 comments top 35
johnyzee 13 hours ago 6 replies      
Reminds me of this guy writing a small web crawler in Java a couple of years ago:


nraynaud 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I modern Linus-speak, I guess it would be:

"Hi minix fucktards, I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be retarded like gnu) for stupid 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like you to take your stupid feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things), print it on A4 paper, roll it and shove it up your ass.

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something as practical as having to re-compile the kernel to use a new printer within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want so that I can insult a larger audience in less posts. Any suggestions are welcome, as I like to teach Finish swearing."

ck2 12 hours ago 3 replies      
There is something disturbing about people being able to comment on a historical thread like that years later.

Like someone scribbling on a precious museum artifact.

Eh maybe I am being silly.

omegaham 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always been fascinated by "made it big" stories. It doesn't really matter which genre - every story is unique. From a band that goes from playing in dive bars to playing in arenas to a web startup like Facebook, it's interesting. And it's really cool to see things like this because it's history. Maybe it's also a reminder that you don't have to be a corporate team with focus groups and handsome funding to make something that people want.

Even if it's extremely unlikely, it still gives the same feelings that a vintage "Radiohead - playing tonight in Mickey's Beer Cave" poster inspires in a struggling band. They were in your shoes, and they made it big. Maybe you can too if you work hard enough. Sure, there was a lot of luck involved... but it's possible.

tootie 13 hours ago 1 reply      
"Anybody who needs more than 64Mb/task - tough cookies"

The beginning of his verbal abuse seemed so innocent.

jason_tko 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the most enjoyable things about reading this that even in the first 3 usenet messages, Linus states engineering tradeoffs cleanly, simply and un-apologetically.

All qualities that Linus was to become famous (and infamous) for, before Linux was even fully formed.

ics 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm impressed by how well received it was, right off the bat. The first couple responses include actual offers of help! Maybe it's just because there are so many new projects posted here regularly but it seems rare to see that mix of humbleness and enthusiasm present in the thread.
mikeevans 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Linus made a post for the occasion on his G+ page: https://plus.google.com/102150693225130002912/posts/Hy9pzJok...
raverbashing 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, let's see

Won't support non AT-Disks

Not portable, and needs an MMU

Lame :)

mathattack 12 hours ago 2 replies      
"just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu"

Is there a bigger understatement in tech history? It certainly rivals Thomas Watson's alleged quote of the world market being "Approximately 5 computers".

patmcguire 12 hours ago 3 replies      
All the 386-specific stuff seems like an argument in favor of "do things that don't scale."
JonSkeptic 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I have a hard time believing the authenticity of this, I didn't even see one insult or curse word.
jasonlotito 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For those that like reading about these sorts of things, I highly recommend Just For Fun. It's a short book, but one I enjoy going back to every now and then to read.


nrivadeneira 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It'll be interesting to look back on StackOverflow posts one day to find little gems like this where users are trying to get help on what may become the next Google or Facebook.
daigoba66 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine if Linux was built today the same way many contemporary startups are (particularly from a marketing perspective).
bmmayer1 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Excuse my ignorance, but how does a Google Group thread predate Google?
mrt0mat0 13 hours ago 1 reply      
fascinating to look at the beginning of something that has become so huge. millions of phones run on a linux kernel, as well as all those tablets, pcs, and other random devices. i wonder if that email will ever go into a historic museum one day.
genericbrandx 13 hours ago 1 reply      
QOTD - "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu"
oz 13 hours ago 3 replies      
What? I never knew that Linux & I were both born on August 26! (I'm older by a few years, though :)
dpweb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The guy creates Linux and Git. A true hero.
niuzeta 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is like what Caesar's bellum gallicum was to historians...
sirsar 12 hours ago 3 replies      
> just a recompilation of the kernel


Inconceivable now, with out-of-the-box systems e.g. Ubuntu, but this was fairly common relatively recently.

lcasela 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is never gonna take off.

Come back and post when you have a cutesy domain.

zura 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What would [not] happen if Minix was free...
state 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have always thought of this as one of the best ways to start off a project. Be humble, ask for feedback, and share your work.
pmelendez 12 hours ago 1 reply      
That's a very humble first post...
loser777 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That insistence on his operating system being NOT portable put a nice smile on my face.
rozzer 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Here is a timeline of big events in the pasthttp://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html
FrankenPC 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Rack this up in the weird coincidence category. Saturday night me and an old buddy of mine were talking about EXACTLY this. The incarnation of LINUX.
ivanbrussik 9 hours ago 0 replies      
BSD sockets first feature request ever
lcasela 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice find.
felixr 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think we need somebody to update the title every second or so...
hyperbovine 13 hours ago 3 replies      
pearjuice 11 hours ago 4 replies      
What you guys are referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I've recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

Many computer users run a modified version of the GNU system every day, without realizing it. Through a peculiar turn of events, the version of GNU which is widely used today is often called "Linux", and many of its users are not aware that it is basically the GNU system, developed by the GNU Project.

There really is a Linux, and these people are using it, but it is just a part of the system they use. Linux is the kernel: the program in the system that allocates the machine's resources to the other programs that you run. The kernel is an essential part of an operating system, but useless by itself; it can only function in the context of a complete operating system. Linux is normally used in combination with the GNU operating system: the whole system is basically GNU with Linux added, or GNU/Linux. All the so-called "Linux" distributions are really distributions of GNU/Linux.

Calibre version 1.0 released calibre-ebook.com
297 points by kseistrup  1 day ago   117 comments top 16
bowlofpetunias 1 day ago 4 replies      
Calibre (and the plugins to remove DRM) is the only thing that makes e-books worthwhile, despite still being overpriced. I wouldn't be wasting money on e-books if I couldn't use them as freely as physical books.

iPad, Kindle, Nook etcetera, it's all the same incompatible DRM-crippled crap. Without the existence of Calibre it's pretty much impossible to have your own virtual library.

This software should get way more credit and support.Especially from publishers that support DRM-free books, like O'Reilly.

erez 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been using Calibre for several years now. It's managing my ebook library on every machine and I have yet to encounter a bug in any of its features. I use it to sync to my Nook, handle book metadata, convert from format to format, all without a hitch. In any ebook community Calibre has long since become the standard application. Many of the question are simply answered "install Calibre, it has what you need".

Kovid Goyal, the creator of Calibre has been, for me, as much of a poster-child of FOSS as Firefox or Linux. He has a point release every week, and you could just update the software without worry - nothing would break. He's open and frank about the development process - nothing hidden, or "thrown over the wall" no open-core features to abuse the power user, no excuses for stuff that isn't ready to release.

I have no idea why only now he reached 1.0 - it's been feature complete for my needs for a couple of years now. But as it stands, I wish to congratulate him for reaching the milestone and to thank him and everyone who supports the project - by submitting code, patches, bug reports, helping in the forums, donating money, and using the software.

driverdan 1 day ago 5 replies      
I use Calibre and it's great to see how far it has come. That said, let's not pretend it's all kittens and rainbows.

It has all the problems people associate with GUI based FOSS. The UI is pretty terrible. It looks and feels like FOSS from seven years ago. It has about a million prefs / settings buried many layers down in a very confusing series of prefs dialogs. It shouldn't take you 3 hours to configure an ebook reader. It should just come with sane settings out of the box. As someone else remarked the UI often feels slow / sluggish.

The app is 253MB (OS X version)! Is it just me or is that crazy?

hack_edu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now, the real question is whether or not Kovid Goyal (the maintainer) releases his iron grip on development. For years, seemingly any bugs are features, EVERY TIME. Good luck getting a commit accepted! You'll probably get an incredibly passive aggressive reply about why he doesn't see a need for it, no matter how obvious and simple to execute.

Can we get a real UI, autoupdates (and without needing to download the whole giant binary every time), a database that doesn't choke on realistically large libraries? How shaving some time off of the 45 seconds the application takes make an Amazon API call to grab metadata and a tiny cover image? These are just the obvious, major issues that have been present for years now.

Calibre is already that half-assed community project cliche. One that has so much potential at first, but falls apart since no one can see the forest among the trees. Has been for a while now.

kriro 1 day ago 3 replies      
Calibre is pretty awesome, congratulations to the team.

"Unfortunately" most of my books are non-fictional/science/textbooks etc. For the few fiction books I read, I pretty much use ebooks unless it's a comicbook or maybe some fine leather collectors item.

My main problem is that I scribble in, marker (multiple colors), take note, underline and do all kinds of stuff with my non-fiction books. I researched and the options to do all that were pretty underwhelming last time I checked. If any of you know about good "texbook tools" I'd be all ears.

I think for textbooks I'll never get used to ebooks. I also like being able to flip through them quickly, scan the content on a quick flip and so forth. The one major advantage of ebooks for my typical use cases is full text search (and theoretically links to other books on quotes and so forth).

arocks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Calibre is not only great for ebook management but an excellent command-line tool for converting between several ebook formats. It is like the swiss-army knife for managing ebooks.
ebtalley 1 day ago 3 replies      
I have liked Calibre when I have used it a few times, but the GUI is pretty slow compared to most software these days. I attributed it to using python, but maybe thats not the case? has anyone else found some speed hacks that make it easier to use? (or maybe its time for me to upgrade the machine it resides on?)
hnha 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just wish it would not insist on forcing the user to use its library and only its library. Just like my music I prefer to organise my ebook files myself. With calibre that is not possible.
VaucGiaps 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a related note, they now accept bitcoin: http://calibre-ebook.com/donate
b4d 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any way to automatize updates on Mac, every time I open Calibre there is a new version and going on the site, download and manually installing is so 199X? :)
mavhc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't use Calibre to manage my library, I just use the News option, every morning at 7am it downloads rss/websites, parses them into a book, and emails them to amazon, so my kindle downloads them. Does mean I hardly ever get around to reading actual books though.
quangquach 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used Calibre over 5 years. It's being with me from Windows, then Linux, and now OS X, and always one of the first software installed when I setup a new computer. Thanks for your very hard work, Kovid Goyal and other contributors.

Despite its first 1.0 hit, for a long time, the project has been developing too actively for me to update every minor release (every week less or more).

Havoc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Could someone help me understand why there is a x64 version? Naturally thats great, but I don't quite see why its a priority for an ebook tool.
oleganza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Calibre accepts Bitcoin: http://calibre-ebook.com/donate
pdfmnbvcxz 1 day ago 2 replies      
This looks worth a look : https://register.blib.us

It currently only supports PDF books (search/share/...), and is broader than a book library (includes photo album support/openid/...), something related to Calibre.

AbhishekBiswal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seven YEARS! Finally.
Mesh Networks motherjones.com
290 points by dil8  1 day ago   96 comments top 34
shaddi 21 hours ago 6 replies      
It seems like there's been another surge of interest of late in mesh networks. Last time this happened, I wrote up a piece explaining why mesh networks are really a poor solution for circumventing censorship: http://sha.ddih.org/2011/11/26/why-wireless-mesh-networks-wo.... Since then, some of my colleagues and I at Berkeley wrote a more academic version of this blog post. The talk is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doMYDmtzsTQ and you can grab the paper too if you're interested: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~shaddi/papers/foci13.pdf. The short version is mesh networks have fundamental scaling limitations that make them a poor choice for building alternative infrastructures like the ones discussed in this article; for example, a result from 2000 showed that capacity available to each node in a mesh network actually decreases as the mesh grows.

The other thing I'd note is that this article is referring to "mesh networks", when it really means "community networks": networks run by a community, regardless of whether the network is a mesh or not. I don't know about the Athens network in particular, but I know that the Freifunk and Guifi networks are rather hierarchically structured (i.e., are not true mesh networks). This is necessary for building a wireless network with reasonable performance due to the aforementioned fundamental scaling limitations of mesh networks.

I love the enthusiasm of everyone working on mesh networks, but I think it's valuable to keep a critical perspective and not get carried away with that enthusiasm, if for no other reason than to stay honest about the technical challenges involved.

frisco 1 day ago 7 replies      
I saw an article about this a little while ago. If anywhere in the world could support a wide scale mesh network, it would have to be the Bay Area. It would be a really cool experiment to blanket a part of the Valley in mesh wifi: I imagine it would be very doable to raise $100K and send 1,500 mesh routers to people in Palo Alto or SOMA. Open Mesh has some really cool low-cost ($50 - $75) hardware that seems to just work: http://www.open-mesh.com/. Some might be plugged into an upstream link, but if most were only powered on as relays it would still work.
scrollbar 1 day ago 0 replies      
A couple comments mentioned wanting to build this in the Bay Area. I've been wondering for awhile why there's not an active group here.

Let's meet up to discuss more, how about a Google group to organize? https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/sf-meshnet

ck2 21 hours ago 2 replies      
If you wanted to start a mesh network in your town, is there advice on how to protect yourself from legal liability in case someone does something clearly illegal with it?

Do mesh operators have the same "safe harbor" protections?

What if the FBI shows up on your doorstep and says "give us access or go to prison" ?

jurjenh 1 day ago 3 replies      
While this is a great solution for places without easy last-mile connections, it seems to me this would still be vulnerable, as one compromised connection would essentially allow the same kind of snooping that we've got going on now.

Does anyone know whether this is so, or how to protect against snooping, as I would assume there is some implicit level of trust required for a network like this to stay secure.

rwhitman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess it makes sense that the future could be dominated by multiple, parallel internets of varying degrees of freedom. The corporate controlled internet we know today is just the mainstream realm of YouTube and email, while darker DIY internets pop up that are the realm of torrents, bitcoin and various hackery. Kind of seems obvious this would happen eventually
dil8 1 day ago 0 replies      
"To repurpose the famous A.J. Liebling statement, internet freedom is guaranteed only to those who own a connection. "And right now, you and me don't own the internetwe just rent the capacity to access it from the companies that do own it," Wilder says."
daurnimator 1 day ago 4 replies      
Similar thing exists in Melbourne, Australia: http://www.melbournewireless.org.au/
Carltonian 3 hours ago 0 replies      
There's just a lot that has to be rethought for mesh networks to work as "show up with an antenna and you're on the internet/ are the internet". IP layer, I'm looking at you.

I remember being told about research being done on multi-core processing in the 70's, but no headway there could outpace the standard of shrinking the technology and increasing the clock rate. Now we may as well assume n-cores. It's my hope (because mesh networks sound way more democratized and just "seem" like the next logical way of scaling the internet) that antennas become cheaper at a faster rate than wired infrastructure (given the fairly inelastic cost of digging shit up) and mesh networks start to make sense.

sandGorgon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Im quite surprised that noone mentioned AirJaldi - which has to be some of the most pioneering work in this area, over some of the most inhospitable terrain.

It was built to connect the Tibetan community in Dharmsala, India using modified, off the shelf hardware and custom software at some of the hardest mountainous terrain where such equipment can be deployed.


gwu78 11 hours ago 1 reply      

For best UX, set your "Referrer:" header to google.com

Also, I think Cisco paid over a billion for one mesh community network's project. I think a YC cofounder may have been involved in that project. Not sure. Its Cisco brand name is Meraki.

It appears portable autonomous networks (i.e. no telco needed) are useful and valuable for many, diverse reasons. I posit that if you can build your "no telco required" network from affordable parts and can get it to work consistently, then it has value, irrespective of whatever "intended uses" for it you might have in mind.

Of course, I could be wrong.

devx 1 day ago 3 replies      
I hope this becomes a bigger trend, but if we're going to do this again, then I hope we do it right this time, and we make it as secure, as uncontrollable by governments, and as anonymous as possible (if you so make that decision on it).

The US government/NSA is ruining the old Internet, so I hope the new one will be very resistant to such attempts in the future. I would watch out especially for hardware-level backdoors for such an Internet.

If they can't spy on the network directly because it's P2P they will try to force either the OS vendors or the hardware vendors to implement backdoors and keyloggers for them. So at the very least the focus should be on open source operating systems with open source firmware (and possibly even open source hardware in the future). Such hardware should be given extreme preference for the mesh networks.

junto 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Could someone build this into DD-WRT or Tomato and then build this on top of WIFI / WLAN? In a built-up conurbation, you have a high concentration of WIFI routers that have a short range but with such a large concentration, maybe it doesn't matter?
sigil 22 hours ago 0 replies      
If you live in Seattle and you're curious about mesh networking, I highly recommend checking out http://seattlewireless.net/

They've been at it since 2000, have various nodes throughout the city and some impressive long distance directional links. (Seattle's topography provides some interesting challenges.) When I lived there in about 2005 there were regular wireless hack nights. Find Matt Westervelt or Rob Flickenger.

antonios 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I had been a member of the AWMN for some years. You can see a map of the nodes here: http://wind.awmn.net/?page=gmap

I remember AWMN had experienced a boost when the ADSL's were out but very expensive, so many people used to buy one and share it alltogether.

It has come a long way since.

MichaelMoser123 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't worry, if this idea gets adopted then they will quickly label it as a 'terrorist network' ; no problem.
knowaveragejoe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised noone has linked to the FNF before. They seem to be one of the more organized mesh efforts in the US.


mark_l_watson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I live in the mountains (Central Arizona) and I have garnered some interest of other people in my community to set up a local mesh network. Really good in emergencies (e.g., east coast during Hurricane Sandy).
xradionut 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the packet networks that we hams used to build back in the BBS days. Most of the stations went off air with wide spread commercial internet service and operator turn over, but there's a renewed interest with newer, cheaper, radio gear come out.

Also there's many cities with a first responders mesh network.

gboudrias 1 day ago 0 replies      
We've also got the same thing going on in Montreal :) http://wiki.reseaulibre.ca we're trying to figure out how to have a bilingual wiki...
wyclif 1 day ago 0 replies      
synchronise 1 day ago 1 reply      
What backbone protocol is largely used for these projects?I only ask because the range of even 802.11ac would be a limiting factor in these sorts of networks.
mathattack 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems a stretch to say its untouchable. A policeman. An always show up and ask you to attach some hardware to the machine.
freifunk_berlin 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a huge community around wireless community networks in Germany. Checkout http://start.freifunk.net/

Don't miss the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks (http://2013.wirelesssummit.org/).

joshfraser 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone interested in getting a private mesh network set up in Silicon Valley? Seems like it would be a fun and educational project if nothing else.
lifeisstillgood 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What caught me was the localism - stunning
fphhotchips 1 day ago 2 replies      
This seems something like the Serval Project (http://www.servalproject.org/). Difference being that Serval is for mobile telecommunications meshes, rather than fixed(-ish) data connections.
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is excellent! The Internet actually was supposed to be one InterNetwork of many. How is this different than a LAN though?
webmech 1 day ago 2 replies      
We should definitely do this in america, God we need this!
zoom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Meshing has always been the end goal.
yuhong 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Again, the sudden title change of submissions suck.
devx 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I crazy or did the URL of the submission change? I've never seen that done on HN before.
901614 Adopt Tor as a feature in Firefox mozilla.org
288 points by arthuredelstein  22 hours ago   105 comments top 14
tjoff 21 hours ago 15 replies      
This is really dangerous.

Even enthusiasts mix up the anonymity offered with Tor with security.

I can almost guarantee that this will do waaaay more harm than good. People will enable this and think they are safe while they are suddenly routing all their cleartext through an untrusted third party (that is, very often, malicious).

At the very least a lot of passwords will be gathered (alongside email in a lot of cases) in insecure and unencrypted forums etc. And since most people have the same password for unencrypted forums as their email, facebook and twitter...

For this to work it will have to be an option buried deep and before enabling it you'd have to have a huge nag box (the size of a blue screen) that clearly shows the dangers of this. And although many have tried I haven't seen any implementation of such a nag box that actually works (forces the user to think and not just press "OK"/"YES"). And even if it did work people won't understand it, at most they will understand that "okay, this is risky" but they have no way of evaluating that risk since they have no idea what they really are enabling.

That said, Tor inbuilt into firefox would be awesome. I just can't imagine it doing more good than harm.

sargun 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I think that a good, incremental first step would be adding ToR into Firefox with support for the .onion domain. This offsets the problem that there could be potentially dangerous exits sniffing your traffic. Additionally, this makes ToR space much more accessible. The (slight) problem of this is that it'll probably put significantly higher load on the ToR relays, and considering that they're already over capacity, it could hurt ToR badly.

Maybe, the relay code could be bundled into Firefox, and there could be a toggle for "make me into a relay"

brymaster 21 hours ago 5 replies      
This wouldn't work at all for mainline Firefox, or at least wouldn't be 'secure' as users might be thinking.

One at least needs to have JavaScript disabled when on Tor or you'll easily be compromised and Firefox 23 now ships with JavaScript always-on.


oomkiller 21 hours ago 1 reply      
My last experience with Tor was somewhat painful due to the sluggish nature of it. If Firefox added Tor as a feature, making Tor "mainstream", could the existing Tor network handle the extra load?
Yuioup 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I got my wife banned from EsperNet IRC because I was playing around with Tor one evening. Here is their policy:


Our ip-address at home ended up on a blacklist. Eventually the ban was lifted but my wife was not happy for a couple of days ...

I wonder if there are other services (IRC, MMO, etc...) that adopt a NO TOR policy.

marshray 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This would be great in terms of creating the 'egg' to enable the 'chicken', ordinary web sites, to provide their service over Tor hidden services.
Achshar 15 hours ago 0 replies      
How is going to provide the ridiculously large requirement of exit nodes is this hits production? Don't exit nodes cost money in the sense that there is huge risk involved in running one?
willvarfar 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If it only works with secure connections, and there's a general improvement in bandwidth and it prompts some big non-profits-with-profits like Mozilla to actually run exit nodes in countries that don't cooperate with other exit-node countries, then ... yes, it could be a little bit better.
petera 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I really doubt it would become a one-click privacy measure: If you like to participate in an onion-routed, privacy enhancing, anonymity network, why put it in an browser?

A browser accesses that network, it is the weakest and least point in that setup.

Because tor has no gui? Use vidalia (see https://www.torproject.org/projects/vidalia.html.en).

There are so many ways to track an individual, independent of the network, with java-script, extensions, addons, plugins, client-side-caching that even if tor becomes a feature in firefox, the slightest unmitigated problem, even your behavior may compromise your privacy.

rjzzleep 12 hours ago 0 replies      
i feel like an obvious problem is being overlooked. if every firefox bundles tor, mozilla might end up on government blocklists all by itself.
tuananh 17 hours ago 3 replies      
isn't TorBrowser actually Firefox browser with Tor preinstalled?
leokun 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope this doesn't happen. I would uninstall Firefox, and not even test development for our application in Firefox. Maybe I could test some other gecko-based browser, like SeaMonkey, but I don't want anything tor related on my computer.
poolpool 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah yes. Adding a US government owned and operated platform to your product for "anonomity."
DigitalSea 20 hours ago 2 replies      
This seems like a nice idea, but the developers of Firefox have made it more than known they would prefer to argue the inclusion and removal of version numbers as opposed to actual issues. Look how long it took them to fix the memory leaks that plagued the browser since version 2 and were only not long fixed?

It's easy enough to set Tor up with Firefox yourself. Perhaps all that is needed is an easy to understand and access Tor guide. Perhaps the first page you see upon loading Firefox after installing or updating is a, "We recommend you use Tor for a safer browsing experience" and then give some scenarios where Tor should and shouldn't be used.

Im Thinking. Please. Be Quiet. nytimes.com
273 points by clbrook  1 day ago   232 comments top 46
pg 1 day ago 18 replies      
It's so true. I can do routine work with noise, but not the kind that requires insight.

The sad thing is that noise is yet another example of the phenomenon of "the tragedy of the commons." Which means things tend to get noisier and noisier. In fact, what has surprised me most about living in Palo Alto is how noisy it is. You'd think living in the suburbs would at least be quiet. It is on weekends. But the problem with this suburb is that people are too rich: they all have their gardens maintained by gardening services, who use among other things gas-powered leaf blowers and hedge trimmers.

The leaf blowers in particular are unbelievably loud. You can hear a gas-powered leaf blower 3 blocks away. Which means during the day you can almost always hear one. (The city of Palo Alto has outlawed gas powered leaf blowers, but the gardening services all pretend not to know.)

doorhammer 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's an opinion piece, so it's sort of anecdotal and hazy by nature, I guess (ymmv). I'm not going to complain too viscerally about it.

The problem I have, though, is that the entire piece basically says "noise kills productivity" but the only linked research is saying that "exposure to aircraft noise increases morning saliva cortisol levels in women, which could be of relevance for noise-related cardiovascular effects." [0]

So I basically have an article saying "noise is bad for productivity and concentration" and a research article saying "loud noise at night might raise stress levels in women, even if it doesn't wake them up."

To me, the former is meaningless. I wouldn't even start to make an argument about it based on the provided material without bringing other sources to bat. It would just be anecdote v anecdote. However, I find the latter interesting, and makes me want to do a little more reading on that particular subject. I happen to be male, but the idea that extra noise might inherently increase levels of a stress hormone in the human body is just as interesting and important to me as whether or not I'm more or less productive in a quiet room.

tl;dr = The article content is fluffy, but the linked research is kind of interesting (albeit saying something almost totally unrelated)

[0] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2801169/#__ffn_s...

iyulaev 1 day ago 3 replies      
IIRC Peopleware pointed out a study where they compared two groups of programmers, those working in a quiet environment and those working with music. Given identical assignments, both groups completed it in roughly the same (median) amount of time. However, the assignment was such that there was a "shortcut", i.e. if you thought hard enough about the requirements a much easier solution was possible. Only the programmers in the quiet group got this shortcut. Thought this was interesting.
IvyMike 1 day ago 8 replies      
So I can't find an online reference to this anywhere, but years ago I read a relevant anecdote about (I'm pretty sure) Isaac Asimov.

He used to go into the most noisy environments he could find to write; places like a noisy restaurant or cafe. He found that this forced him to focus in a way that a quiet environment did not. For example, in a quiet environment, you occasionally still hear sounds, but it's rare enough that you don't have to keep your focus actively engaged. So when the sounds inevitably do happen, they distract.

Note that I'm not suggesting that this would work for most people. I've tried it, and maybe it's worked for me once or twice. It's an interesting way to try to get of writer's block, if nothing else.

HCIdivision17 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'll bite. From my biased viewpoint, based on who complains most, people prefer the quiet more as they get older. Kids don't seem to care, middle aged prefer some separation, and my elders can be derailed by a greeting. I've always assumed it was the skill to tune out, but perhaps theirs are weightier thoughts.

Personally, I need some mindless noise in the background, but nothing with any meaningful signal. The noise keeps me slightly alert and keeps the bored parts of my mind busy (like reading ingredient labels in the bathroom). The rest of my mind can then concentrate. When I was a kid, I was a walking hazard if I let my mind wander too much, and have walked straight into walls (I'm assuming sight to be an even higher bandwidth signal than hearing, but perhaps it lacks the same interrupts?)

While complete silence is certainly soothing, it won't spin my mind up either. There's strong utility in getting zeroed out in silence, and I bet it pays off, but I have few opportunities for that (work in a plant, ride a motorcycle, and apartment is near train tracks). But the rumble of the Harley and wind is soothing too; that's where I think or decompress usually.

I find airports nearly impossible to sleep in (two terrible childhood overnight stays). But a train is lovely. One had a detached mumbling voice, the other a lulling rumbling with random clacks like rain.

Perhaps there's some way to run a controlled experiment to figure out if it's the quality of the noise that does it?

msluyter 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm extremely sensitive to sound, and I've been hoping that the the powers that be will eventually come to the realization that open seating plans are highly suboptimal (http://www.infoq.com/news/2011/08/open-office-layout, for example).

I've used a decibel meter on occasion and have observed that my current office sometimes averages 75-80 db. Which, were I in a coffee shop, I could tolerate for some reason[1] much better than at the office.

In any event, I'm now highly dependent on noise canceling headphones (these I highly recommend: http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/headphones/n...)

[1] My guesses are a) local conversations at work capture my attention in ways that anonymous ones at a coffee shop don't, b) coffee shops play music and tend to have other noise that create a generalized din that actually works a bit like white noise.

jtreminio 1 day ago 4 replies      
I tell every developer buddy I have that they should get a pair of Fuck Off Headphones [0]. They need to be big enough that people can't try to say, "Oh, I didn't see you had headphones on".

I work from home now, and they work just as well for keeping my family at bay as they did for chatty coworkers when I had to be in an office.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Gaming-Headset-Surro...

jasonkester 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be interesting to plot Distraction vs. Noise Level, because while it's clear that Zero Noise maps nicely to Zero Distraction, I've noticed that Near Constant Noise also maps to Zero Distraction.

I used to live on Plaza del Castillo in Pamplona, backing on to one of the main bar streets in town. Friday and Saturday nights were pretty loud, even after closing time, with random whooping groups wandering past at intervals until nearly daylight. We had a windowless room in the center of the apartment we'd dubbed "The Bombshelter" to sleep in on nights like this.

But during San Fermin, things would kick up a few orders of magnitude. The party would crank up on a Sunday and go non-stop for 8 solid days. There were no more random groups to be identified, just a constant insane roar. I recall seeing three marching bands collide in the midst of a swarm of thousands of people directly under our bedroom balcony, at 3 in the morning on a Wednesday. They were playing but you couldn't really hear them from 20 feet up from all the other noise.

You'd think that week would be impossible, but it wasn't. Quite the opposite. I slept like a baby (even on the nights when I hadn't spent any time down among those crowds yelling and spilling wine). The noise was constant and even. No spikes could penetrate it, so the mind could relax and sleep soundly. It was actually kind of nice.

I notice the same thing on planes, and in loud, crowded coffee shops. There are lots of people talking, but little risk of anybody talking to me, so it's all just background noise. No spikes, so my brain can filter it out. I've done some of my best work in those places.


lars512 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The flip side of noise, distraction and interruption is people. I still find it hard to get this part of my working life just right.

On the one hand, to do really thoughtful work does require quiet and isolation, something that's difficult to get in open-plan spaces. On the other hand, avoiding garden paths and finding better ideas also requires the kind of impromptu chatting that happens with others around. Plus, company is nice.

I feel like my ideal would be an office with two sections, the "library" and the "coffee shop". The library part is dead quiet, by design and by convention, somewhere always available when you need to focus. When your work is more mundane, you need a break or you feel like company, you can emerge and work around others in the more traditional open plan environment (i.e. the coffee shop).

It doesn't seem that many workplaces are able to provide both environments well. Most favour just the latter.

stevenrace 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a problem with spoken words, not 'noise'.

I'm quickly removed from 'The Zone' when my brain starts to unconsciously process speech. Indistinct chatter, environmental noise, loud instrumental music, etc aren't bothersome. In fact my best sessions occur in bars, on public transit, or outside.

zaroth 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Loneliness is killing us, and now noise? What fragile creatures we are, how unfit and utterly unprepared for this world!

While Schopenhauer makes a great anecdote, I think the reality is some people think better with silence, and others think better with background noise. I think recorded music in particular has ushered in an age where productive thinking can even be enhanced through "noise" rather than diminished.

"Every time a siren shrieks on the street, our conscious minds might ignore it, but other brain regions behave as if that siren were a predator barreling straight for us. Given how many sirens city dwellers are subject to over the course of an average day, and the attention-fracturing tension induced by loud sounds of every sort, its easy to see how sensitivity to noise, once an early warning system for approaching threats, has become a threat in itself."

I see this come up over and over in these types of articles, on adrenal response to stimulus, like noise or driving or even conflict in the workplace. I think this is an extremely primitive way of thinking about the human brain. Yes, hearing evolved to be sensitive due to natural selection. Over-reacting to non-threatening stimulus? Hardly. The brain is not static. We are, in fact, highly adaptable to our environment. And I don't see any evidence suggesting a modern din is snuffing out our intellect.

smutticus 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I see lots of strategies for dealing with noise, so here is one of mine. I got a pair of one of those industrial ear protectors, the kind that carpenters or construction workers wear. Then I use simple in-ear buds and listen to ambient music or jazz. Anything without vocals.

I use this setup pretty much anywhere I am around annoying sounds and it's pricelessly quiet. I've tried numerous noise cancellation BS headphones and none of them can come close. On airplanes it's like entering a warm cocoon of sound that allows me to forget I'm there. I can listen to an airplane movie soundtrack at the lowest possible volume and hear nothing else. The only problem is when the captain pipes up and blasts me away with some stupid announcement. So I keep my hand near the socket to remove the plug and when I hear the click of the captain's mike I immediately unplug.

Forget about these overpriced over engineered noise cancellation whatever devices. My low tech solution is way better for concentration and it costs only around $50-$70. I've actually had people ask me what kind of noise cancellation headphones I'm using when wearing my ear-muffs. I even had a guy in a datacenter ask me if they were USB enabled ;)

staunch 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Relevant (and recent) tweet from John Carmack: "I wonder how much of the annoying sound of leaf blowers is fundamental to the high velocity airstream,and how much could be engineered away."https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/369487626035675136
calhoun137 1 day ago 0 replies      
I personally find that I am much more distracted by people who are trying to get my attention than I am by background noise. This article reminds of an anecdote about Poincare that can be found on page 533 of the excellent book "Men of Mathematics"[1]

"...when a distinguished mathematician had come all the way from Finland to Paris to confer with Poincare on scientific matters, Poincare did not leave his study to greet his called when the maid notified him, but continued to pace back and forth - as was his custom when mathematizing - for three solid hours. All this time the diffident caller sat quietly in the adjoining room, barred from the master only by flimsy portieres. At last the drapes parted and Poincare's buffalo head was thrust for an instant into the room. "Vois me derangez beaucoup" (You are disturbing me greatly) the head exploded, and disappeared. The caller departed without an interview..."


nkurz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
They have their issues, but quality ear plugs can be a decent substitute for a quiet working (or sleeping) environment. The key is to find a variety that is comfortable and works well for your ears. I started by ordering a variety pack of 35 different types: http://www.earplugstore.com/unfoamtrialp1.html

From these I ordered a large box of the two that I liked best:

3M E-A-Rsoft FX:http://www.amazon.com/3M-E-A-Rsoft-Uncorded-Conservation-312...

Howard Leight Max Lite:http://www.amazon.com/Howard-Leight-LPF-1-Uncorded-Earplugs/...

The (green) MaxLite are the most comfortable I found and quite effective, and the (yellow) SoftFX are quite comfortable and extremely good at blocking noise. I mostly use the MaxLite for sleeping, and the SoftFX when I want something in the daytime. Since each pair can be reused at least a half-dozen times before they become too soft and start losing their effectiveness, I should be set for another 5 years or so.

If you've tried ear plugs before and felt that they weren't effective enough, it's possible that you weren't wearing them correctly. They need to be inserted quite deeply into the ear canal, and need to be rolled tightly before insertion to make this possible. And then there is the slightly-embarrassing-but-essential "pinna pull": http://www.e-a-r.com/pdf/hearingcons/tipstools.pdf

GigabyteCoin 1 day ago 1 reply      
>...people who are not philosophers lose whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts of sound.

This makes me wonder if the brutish jolts of sound being emitted from the many casinos throughout the world are accomplishing the same task (and emptying people's wallets more easily?)

"I think I should be goi.. >BINGK!< ...go win my money back!"

I can't agree with this article more, however. I should probably read it again so I can better explain myself when asking that somebody not address me while I'm working.

I sometimes listen to white noise in my headphones if surrounded by incessant noise.

aculver 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're the sort of person who thrives in a quiet atmosphere or is really sensitive to sound, I can't recommend Bose QC-15 noise canceling headphones enough. They've totally transformed my life and I still lament for the days of productivity I lost while living in ignorance of their existence.

Even when I'm not listening to music, they take the edge off of the all the sound and noise around me so that even conversations happening within earshot aren't distracting, even though I could tune in and understand what people are saying if I wanted to. It's pretty amazing.

SeanDav 1 day ago 7 replies      
I see a lot of developers using earphones and listening to music while doing their stuff. As someone that prefers relative quiet I have always wondered if this makes them more, or less productive.

This article would tend to indicate the latter but of course there is a big difference (generally) between music and noise.

joeyh 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is massively important to me, and it's why I live and am extremely productive in the middle of nowhere.

Also, since moving from an environment with constant noise pollution, my high blood pressure has gone down to the point that the only reason I'm taking the medication anymore is it would make my MD sibling very unhappy if I went off them. I suspect that chopping wood and carrying water also helped with that, but when I learned of the noise to BP link, it was an aha moment.

Anyway, I'm curious about how different countries seem to have different set levels for acceptable noise. In Honduras, noone seemed to think anything of trucks driving around with loudspeakers blaring various messages. That seems slightly less acceptable in America, but there is still enormous tolerance for more subtle noise pollution here. Are there other countries that are less tolerant?

VLM 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If "paleo" concepts apply to food, why not thinking?

Its very interesting that we've existed as thinking animals for a lot longer than "office jobs" have existed.

From an evolutionary perspective, our best thinking was almost certainly done in near perfect silence or at most calm animal noises. Hmm, we're tracking that yummy large mammal and I'm hungry, whats the next move? So I hear my neighbor chipping away quietly as I think up the best way to whack this rock to make it a better arrowhead. How do I cut this tree down so it doesn't land on my head? So I'm staring at these wheat seeds, thinking about what would happen if I buried them in the dirt and came back later. So looking at the position of the sun / moon / stars, is this the time to plant the wheat seeds?

I don't see an evolutionary example of hard successful thinking in an intentionally noisy distracting environment. In fact if its noisy its because the lion is roaring at us trying to eat us, so deep thinking is probably not advised compared to fight or flight. I guess fight or flight style coding exists at places swirling the drain. Finish this report or we're all on the unemployment line next week. Um, OK, crank up the death metal on the speakers and see ya in twelve hours with a finished product ...

From an evolutionary standpoint we should be able to do our best, deepest thinking/coding on a bench at the zoo by the "food" animals, or perhaps sitting in a cow pasture. In (rare) good weather, I've had decent results with a laptop sitting in a covered (dark-ish) park rain shelter.

jonnathanson 13 hours ago 0 replies      
All the more reason why the "standard layout" of cubicle farms in modern offices really, really sucks for people whose jobs involve continuous, unmolested concentration. Sure, there are benefits to being in close proximity and to collaborating. But sometimes people just need to focus.

While it's not exactly cost effective or feasible to give every programmer, designer, writer, etc., a private office, it should be a priority to have designated quiet spaces. Something as simple as a conference room that you turn into a quiet zone, almost like a small library.

sirgawain33 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting, but plenty of examples of just the opposite.

"Von Neumann ... received complaints for regularly playing extremely loud German marching music on his gramophone, which distracted those in neighbouring offices, including Einstein, from their work. Von Neumann did some of his best work blazingly fast in noisy, chaotic environments, and once admonished his wife for preparing a quiet study for him to work in. He never used it, preferring the couple's living room with its TV playing loudly."


Anechoic 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a related topic: If you're in the Denver area this week, feel free to drop in on a Free Public Workshop on Noise in Communities and Natural areas: http://www.naturalquietworkshop2013.org/ which is being held in conjuction with Noise-Con (an annual conference for noise control engineers). The workshop is mostly geared toward noise in public parks, but it covers a lot of the same concerns in the NYT piece.
stephth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Being sensitive to useless noise, I want to make love to this article.

But most people I know seem uncomfortable with silence, and sleep through any noise. There are exceptions, but that's what they are, exceptions (in my anecdotal experience). If the science mentioned in the article is right, does it mean most people I know are what: either out of touch with themselves, or trying to cope with the fear of the noise by burying it under a stream of constant sound?

jmspring 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can just speak from experience comparing different open offices and working at home. The primary office I work at is all open, however the acoustics are horrible and the place is extremely noisy. Days I am in the office are mostly relegated to meetings with other team members and a marginal amount of coding. Putting in headphones and working at a desk on days we are supposed to be mingling, working with one another, etc is no better than working at home. That said, two other regional offices which I have spent time in that were also open, while not meeting with direct team members, I was more productive without headphones -- things were generally quiet.

When I work at home, I am actually more productive coding than I am in the office due to having more control over both noise and distractions.

I can't speak to research, I just know I prefer environments that are either quiet or the noise is specifically relevant to myself and colleagues over hearing the ramblings of disparate teams in the background.

6ren 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Two words: white noise.

My favourite is the linux SoX (Sound eXchange). sudo apt-get install sox with this command (which varies the sound, rain-like):

  play -t sl -r48000 -c2 - synth -1 pinknoise tremolo .1 40 <  /dev/zero

jmtame 1 day ago 1 reply      
This used to be a problem when I started working at a company in 2009. Lots of office noises and conversations going on, I couldn't focus. Pretty sure I have an oversensitivity to noise too, as mentioned in this article.

The solution for me was buying a (not cheap) pair of Bose QC15 noise-canceling headphones. One of the best decisions I've ever made.

leoh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Noise is a big deal for some people. It's one of the reasons why I dropped out of Columbia a few years ago. Not something I regret, but I can't help but wonder if quiet, still places are a cornerstone of the most innovative societies. A cornerstone of successful lives. Not quiet all the time. Not faccistic silence. Gentle, comfortable, quiet places to come to for a few hours a day to help cultivate peace in the mind. For if we see everything through a filter, as many of us claim, I think noise, disturbance disrupts the milieu our through which our senses travel.
cr4zy 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wear earplugs.http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0033YLEGO?ie=UTF8&ref_=pd_...

At work they're just enough for me to be able to concentrate while still allowing people to get my attention without raising their voice. At which time I take them out and repeat what I heard of their question.

616c 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It is funny because when I was studying a language in college, one professor came into one of my freshmen year courses, and administered a test without noise, and then varying levels of background noise. This obvious experiment led me to believe, given my annoyance and inability to focus, that this must hold true.
strictfp 20 hours ago 0 replies      
While quiet time is good for concentration, it totally discourages collaboration. I end up over-analyzing things and procrastinate due to the fear of breaking the silence and collaborating. In my eyes team productivity actually drops in quiet environments. And all lone wolfs head off in their own direction. In short, a recipe for disaster.
vacri 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Every time a siren shrieks on the street, our conscious minds might ignore it, but other brain regions behave as if that siren were a predator barreling straight for us.

It's worth mentioning that a siren is specifically meant to pull your attention. It's not really the same as a constant background susurrus.

I work in the heart of a city, and there's a constant babble of traffic and pedestrians a few floors below. That's fine and can be tuned out - the noise that's distracting me from concentration is random loud office noise. Noise that can't be filtered out as 'background'.

adamzerner 1 day ago 2 replies      
1) Sound isn't necessarily distracting. Sometimes it could be helpful. Focus@Will (https://www.focusatwill.com/science/science-primer/) is based on this.

2) You can usually find quiet if you want to rather easily.

3) If you're going to argue that society (or parts of society) should be more quiet, you have to be specific about what parts, and about why restricting sound outweighs the costs. The costs of restricting sound weren't addressed at all.

doorhammer 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's a lot of waxing poetic and conjecture in the write up but the most interesting take away for me was the HYENA article which (at first glance of the abstract and conclusions) seems to say that the presence of certain kinds of noise will have underlying physiological impact, raising levels of cortisol, that you're not consciously aware of.

While not every study ever published is automatically granted validity just by putting "abstract" and "conclusion" at the top, I do prefer the part where someone tried to measure something.

As it stands, I think your response and the article are equal parts conjecture based on anecdotal evidence except for the one linked study that the article seems to over generalize. That doesn't make either useless, but it does make me interested in other physiological effects that might be occurring without my conscious ability to recognize them.

bachback 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah, Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer - ber Lrm und Geruschhttp://de.wikisource.org/wiki/Ueber_Lerm_und_Ger%C3%A4usch

Interestingly enough his main ideas were influenced by Hinduism, but there was little known about Buddhism around 1818 in Europe. He later acknowledged that his philosophy was essentially buddhistic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer#Buddhism

John Cage ventured into this arena in a different way. He is famous for his silent piece 4'33. John Cage on silence and sounds:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcHnL7aS64Y

interpol_p 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like background noise when I work, as long as it's nothing that I can focus on.

Just the wind blowing, birds making noises outside, or the clinking and chatter at a cafe. I find that I work about 50% faster in those environments.

When there's dead silence or music I am much slower and more easily distracted. Also far less creative for some reason.

chrismealy 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of those cool deconstructed offices with high ceilings and exposed ductwork are about 80-85 dB. That's about as loud as a bus going by.
benmorris 1 day ago 1 reply      
I coded from essentially an open warehouse for several years with shop noise, sewing machines, various noise generating machines, packing tape noise and people. Talking on the phone was difficult, let alone CODING. I honestly feel like I might have some noise sensitivity complex from working in that environment for so long. Tried not to complain, but my noise cancelling headphones were the only thing that allowed me to be productive. I eventually got an office and that helped considerably. I don't work for that company anymore.

I work from home now and it is the opposite spectrum, I get total piece and quiet, I love it. I can't say enough about a good pair of over the ear noise cancelling headphones though if you find yourself sensitive to noise.

amerika_blog 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Wasn't Schopenhauer the one who noted an inverse relationship between noise tolerance and intelligence?
kaidajekri 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I tend to think better with low level background noise. Or I'll do a completely different task whilst my brain is chewing on something in the background. I find total silence distracting.
JoshTv 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Some people can write with noises but I cannot stand it!I keep on reading the sentence, over and over again.
avalaunch 1 day ago 0 replies      
My takeaway from the article is that you can get just about snything to the top of hacker news on Sunday night.
bachback 19 hours ago 0 replies      
thanks hackernews for deleting my post. I linked to the original source in the article and the post gets delted - what the...?
whiddershins 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand how this can be accurate. Have you ever heard nature? It tends to be quite loud.
tehwalrus 17 hours ago 0 replies      
headphones. white noise.
speeder 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if that is what drives some typical programmer behavior, like coding at night (less noise), or super-star freelancers moving to rural cities.

Currently (office for me and the CEO in a busy area of a 30million people metro region) I am nowhere productive as I was when I lived in a rural area and coded at night. (but I am more productive than when I worked into a open layout office with 40 programmers...)

Linux 3.9 introduced a new way of writing socket servers vhex.net
273 points by aartur  2 days ago   125 comments top 21
rdtsc 2 days ago 6 replies      
> Now the question is why to bother with multiprocess socket servers at all - aren't threads and events better? There's at least one good niche for them - dynamic languages like Python or Ruby, which need multiple OS processes to achieve real concurrency [my emphasis]

That is not true. It is an often repeated misconception. It makes it sound like Python creators were just incompetent and just stuck threads in there even though they are completely useless. In fact Python's threads work well for IO concurrency. I used them and saw great speedup when accepting and handling simultaneous socket connections. Yes you won't get CPU concurrency, but if your server is not CPU bound you might not notice much of a difference.

IO concurrency is real concurrency. In 8 years using Python for fun and professionally I probably wrote more IO concurrent code than CPU concurrent code. Even then for CPU concurrent code I would have had to drop into C using an extension (and there you can release the GIL anyway).

Now, the obvious follow up is that in case of IO concurrency you are often better of using gevent or eventlet. You get lighter weight threads (memory wise) and less chances of synchronizations bugs (since greenlet based green threads will switch only on IO concurrency points, socket reads, sleep and explicit waits on green semaphores and locks).

cperciva 2 days ago 2 replies      
For what it's worth, BSD has had SO_REUSEPORT since BSD 4.4-Lite.
haberman 2 days ago 5 replies      
Interesting. It seems like one potential hazard is that bonafide port conflicts are not detected. If SO_REUSEPORT is preferred for performance reasons, and most/all servers are using it, then starting up a server that uses the same port as an existing service becomes a silent error.

It could even work as expected for a while (since the kernel gets to arbitrarily decide what port to deliver incoming requests to) only to intermittently fail later.

joosters 2 days ago 2 replies      
You never needed to prefork. One process can open a listening socket and share it with an unrelated process via file-descriptor passing.
jkn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Am I right that this makes it trivial to deploy a new version of my server with zero downtime? I can just start the new server to handle new connections and tell the old one to stop accepting connections and quit when existing requests are completed, no need for another layer routing?
audidude 2 days ago 2 replies      
This could be useful for periodic tracing/profiling as well. Simply have a second instance with all debugging symbols and tracing enabled, but only accept() a client every X seconds.
rgarcia 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems very relevant to people using Node, considering it has basically standardized around the "pre-fork" [0] model as a way to use more than one core. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

[0] http://nodejs.org/api/cluster.html

robbles 2 days ago 0 replies      
One detail that doesn't seem to be mentioned here or in the linked article is how the multiplexing of sockets is actually handled at the kernel level.

Does the kernel use some sort of round-robin approach to assigning client sockets to processes waiting on accept()? This is one area where I'd imagine a dedicated master process would be beneficial, as it could implement "smarter" load balancing based on the health and response times of its child processes.

fooyc 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is likely to consume more memory, because of copy on write pages (or lack of thereof).

Implementing the prefork model by spawning unrelated processes (by opposition to forking from a common parent process) is likely to consume more memory: each process is unrelated, and do not share copy on write memory pages with other processes.

gwu78 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is the -T option in W.R. Stevens' sock utility.

See Appendix C to his December 15, 1993 book on TCP/IP.


IgorPartola 1 day ago 1 reply      
So this is inereating, except in the real world your parent process does more than the article implies. The big thing it is in charge of (and the thing that I have seen many of them get wrong) is (a) keeping the child processes running/restating them when they fail and (2) performing graceful config or code reload. The OS has no business doing the latter and would have a very hard time doing the former.

In fact I have seen issues where gunicorn failed miserably simply because it did not handle a bad import in a child process. Tornado as of the latest version I had used (2.0 I think) did not have any ability to check for dead child processes. I am sure there are more examples of this done wrong than right.

This is an interesting option for several use cases but you still need a parent process to monitor things. Perhaps at some point upstart or systemd will get good enough to monitor multiple processes per daemon in real time. Until then, meh.

Edit: actually, one cool thing you can do with this is code reloading. You simply have your parent process start more workers that attach to the same socket, then kill the old ones. That way the idea of code or config reloading doesn't need to be baked into every part of the worker.

zzzcpan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Meh. SO_REUSEPORT doesn't change the way socket servers are written. I was expecting something, like syscall batching for sockets, but not this.
Amadou 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is SO_REUSEPORT really all that much better than a server process that hands off incoming connections to other independent processes via an AF_UNIX socket with sendmsg/recvmsg?

If I understand SO_REUSEPORT right you let the kernel decide everything - access control, receiving process, timing, etc in exchange for not having your own process doing the same thing. Since that simplistic approach is the kind of thing that can be implemented in about 100 lines of user-space code doing file-descriptor sharing with sendmsg/recvmg via AF_UNIX sockets, I don't see the benefit of pushing that complexity into the kernel. Especially since if you want to exercise any greater level of control you'll just have to roll your own AF_UNIX based code anyway.

Refefer 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a bit more worried about the security aspect of it.

Let's say that we are running a server on a port which uses this option to allow multiple processes to bind to it. What's to prevent a rogue process, perhaps with malicious intent, from starting up and siphoning off requests willy nilly? Sounds like a great way to implement a hard to detect MITM attack.

What would be nicer, I think, is if socket reusing was bound not only to the same uid but also to the process listening to it.

fexl 1 day ago 0 replies      
"in the fork model a number of processes can grow uncontrollably."

You can use setrlimit to prevent that. Plus, your application is likely to have direct control over forking anyway.

bborud 2 days ago 2 replies      
Why does the blog posting only mention fork and prefork as options? A very common way to design servers is to do multiplexing IO. The one-connection-per-thread/process isn't the only way.

That being said, this option can simplify things -- removing the necessity of having some moving part to distribute connections across completely independent processes.

buster 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, i didn't know that would be possible with sockets, sounds like a nice option. Although i wonder how efficient it is, but it may be worthwhile to spawn [number of cores] x [node.js | python | ruby] servers which themselves only run asynchronous functions, greenlets, etc. in a single thread..
mrottenkolber 2 days ago 0 replies      
The same model I use in my soon to be released web server. :) Have a thread pool compete for an accept-lock. Performance isn't that bad actually. About the same as thttpd.
halayli 2 days ago 0 replies      
nginx already scales by spawning multiple processes. The worker processes share the listening file descriptors from the parent master process which allows the workers to accept connections on the listening fds.
gargoiler00 2 days ago 3 replies      
why would anyone still be using threads or processes these days? :/ hardly scalable or efficient.
NSA hacked into encrypted UN communications, leaked documents show gigaom.com
271 points by electic  1 day ago   107 comments top 16
scott_w 1 day ago 8 replies      
The major news is stalking love interests, not the UN. It's news like this that gets people riled up, as it's more easy to relate.

I want to know if anyone was sacked, or went to prison, over this. I refuse to believe that nobody abused this power for revenge against an ex or someone who didn't return their affections. UK police officers have been in court for similar things e.g. looking up new partners on the criminal database

tehwalrus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Umm, so this is a concrete breach of international law. When do we see US officials being arrested and tried?

Oh that's right, they don't believe in the rule of law (which is why they've exempted themselves and their entire military from the ICC.)

This makes me furious for the same reason as when criminals are given lenient sentences. I don't understand why it doesn't for other people.

bengrunfeld 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow, the NSA has just become the whipping boy of the media. Well, they deserved it. They reached too far, and now their ability for worldwide surveillance has taken a massive hit.They should have read the tale of Icarus before going flying.
devnetfx 1 day ago 8 replies      
Replace "NSA" by "China" and the whole world would have gone into frenzy.
stefantalpalaru 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is the US trying to start a new cold war, this time with the rest of the world?
njuyhbgtrfvcdew 1 day ago 0 replies      
See also, Der Spiegel article:


cenhyperion 1 day ago 0 replies      
How exactly do they plan to tell us that this is legal to protect us from "terrorists"? It's in direct violation of international law.
greenyoda 1 day ago 0 replies      
The NSA's attacks may have been facilitated by earlier spying on the UN that was carried out by the State Department. I posted the reference in another thread:


skidoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder- was this during or after Obama's stint as chairman of the United Nations Security Council?
brokenmagnet 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article mentions cracked encryption and how the NSA likes to bug. Does anyone know what the details on the cracked encryption are: key size, algorithm, VPN type? Or whether they obtained through one of the less-scary methods: trojan, stolen credentials, a brute-forced weak credentials, etc? Or perhaps it was just a touch of ignorance of Google Translate or the journalist(s)?
bayesianhorse 1 day ago 1 reply      
The NSA is having a really bad year...
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 2 replies      
Er, isn't the NSA supposed to be doing this exact thing? Signals interception to assist in the intelligence efforts of the U.S.?

Did I miss out on something? This is what they're paid for. If they're monitoring diplomatic, political, and military information worldwide, I'm happy about that. Might keep us out of another war. Helps us make better decisions. And so on.

Once again, there's nothing wrong with nations having intelligence agencies. Overall they help keep the peace. It's the monitoring of the civilian population -- which in a democracy is where the real political power is supposed to be -- that's insane.

Questioneer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something I believe that needs to be delineated is if the NSA is doing this work or if one of their contractors is. For an example of a contractor doing such services, Endgame Systems[1].

"Endgame executives will bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems. Endgame weaponry comes customized by regionthe Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and Chinawith manuals, testing software, and demo instructions. There are even target packs for democratic countries in Europe and other U.S. allies."

With news of payments rendered to companies complicit in handing over data under dubious laws, I believe much more attention should be put on the 'plumbers' themselves.[1] http://wiki.echelon2.org/wiki/Endgame_Systems

res0nat0r 1 day ago 1 reply      
So, it sounds like the NSA is doing the job it was chartered for back in 52. Temporary internet outrage at the NSA will die off soon....
gojomo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hard to get worked up over this one. Of course governments try to spy on other governments.
mpchlets 1 day ago 2 replies      
The real surprise is everyone is shocked an agency designed to spy is doing just that. And successfully for a long time. I don't like it, but it is not really news - they compare spying on the UN and loved ones in this article ... is it really related?
Google and the NSA: Whos holding the shit-bag now? thestringer.com.au
266 points by r0h1n  2 days ago   78 comments top 21
guelo 2 days ago 3 replies      
It is creepy how Google Idea's projects all seem to be military type projects. It gives the impression that Google is actively using its social graph to do police work.


nl 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those who aren't aware, this essay isn't really about Google's co-operation (or not) with the NSA regarding wiretaps.

This is about potential Google involvement in political activities outside the US, where Assange claims it is acting as a proxy rather than requiring direct US intelligence involvement. While Assange didn't name them, some specific instances of what he is talking about are the "Color revolutions" in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring.

While this seems preposterous on the surface there is enough evidence to make it worth considering. The Georgian "color revolution" obtained significant funds from a body funded by George Soros[1], so private involvement isn't unprecedented.

It is also well known that Wael Ghonim (who was instrumental in fueling the Egyptian revolution) was employed by Google at the time[2] although he was acting in a private capacity.

OTOH, it isn't at all clear is the US intelligence complex would have wanted the Egyptian revolution to occur at all, and Assange doesn't go deep enough to explain that.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colour_revolution#Soros_foundat...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wael_Ghonim

cromwellian 2 days ago 2 replies      
Google doesn't need the paltry revenue from the NSA for their bottom line, Assange plays guilt by association, but doesn't address motives.

I have no doubt that Google is trying to stay on Congress's good side, after all, Microsoft funded an array of lobbyist organizations trying to get the government to shakedown Google, and their increase in lobbying spending is no doubt a response. It's pretty clear how this game works with regulatory capture, Congress threatens to regulate your business, you in turn, are forced to donate to their re-election campaign for 'protection'.

Less clear is whether playing nice with the State Department buys you anything. Assange makes it sound like Chomsky's conspiracy theories over pipelines, that Google has fruit plantations or oil pipelines abroad that need State Department protection, and somehow the State Department has some quid pro quo. But what can the State Department actually offer Google? They have no control over some of Google's biggest foreign issues: Chinese and Russian markets, foreign taxes. At best, the executive branch could back off investigations or approve mergers. But the evidence is mixed. Obama just veto'ed the Samsung ban on Apple, but allowed Apple's ITC ban on some Motorola devices to continue.

And what to make of the Cohen thing. So, Google is supposedly being contracted by the State Department or CIA to cause foreign uprisings now? Isn't it far more likely that the social, economic, and culture conditions that are fueling these uprisings have been boiling for years and that Google had little to do with them? Google, Facebook, and Twitter basically want users, and to promote digital media, and these uprisings which heavily used their services actually was good PR for social media overall.

I dislike the way many people analyze the motivations of those in other nations so as to remove local agency. Those same people will tell you, how dare you, look down on people in these countries, at the same time, viewing all local politics and local agendas as really being driven by the plans of external actors.

If Cohen was meeting with people in Iran and Azerbaijan, why does it have to be for some ominous CIA purpose. Couldn't it have been for existing projects Google Ideas already had? Google has been going all over the developing world evangelizing use of things like Google Maps for tracking local issues, like human, gun, or drug trafficking, environmental degradation, or even vanishing languages. Cohen's previous job would have given him the right contacts to make foreign connections in foreign governments, and is the perfect reason why Silicon Valley companies would hire people from the State Department who have foreign service experience. How many MBA grads working in Silicon Valley actually have any experience navigating say, foreign government officials in Kenya? For the same reason, the government hires Silicon Valley workers to work on government IT projects, because you go where the experience is. (e.g. data.gov)

None of this disproves anything, but I find the dots being connected here to be very tenuous.

bowlofpetunias 2 days ago 0 replies      
On a positive note: Google's massive lobbying effort to undermine EU privacy protections can now be considered dead in the water.
cageface 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm still willing to be convinced that Google has some kind of special, voluntary co-operation policy with the NSA but this article doesn't seem to offer much proof of such a thing. It seems to consist mostly of accusations of guilt by association and the questionable inference that Google having a large lobbying budget is indicative of being in government's pocket somehow.
_sabe_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."- Benito Mussolini
vignesh_vs_in 2 days ago 3 replies      
All i can view is,

Your access to this site has been limited

Your access to this service has been temporarily limited. Please try again in a few minutes. (HTTP response code 503)

Reason: Access from your area has been temporarily limited for security reasons

Important note for site admins: If you are the administrator of this website note that your access has been limited because you broke one of the Wordfence firewall rules. The reason you access was limited is: "Access from your area has been temporarily limited for security reasons".

Did they block an entire country?

abalone 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know about these new accusations about a Google employee doing covert work for the State Dept., but as far as them getting reimbursed for compliance costs, I don't really see that as scandalous.

The Guardian strongly implies that this contradicts their earlier denials about knowing anything about PRISM. But PRISM could just be the NSA's internal name for the program that collects data obtained from companies via court order. From the companies' perspective, they're just complying with court orders. Theres nothing in the Guardian's reporting that contradicts that, at least as far as I can see.

Assange's implication that getting reimbursed for court costs is some sort of business model for Google ("taking NSA money in exchange for handing over people's data") is absurd. They take advertisers' money for handing over people's data, not the government's.

Guardian's report: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/23/nsa-prism-costs...

hitchhiker999 2 days ago 2 replies      
Most people love Google, they offer useful services. I think they'll be one of the bigger 'disappointments' in this whole scene as it fully unravels. The entire system needs to be decentralised, and quickly.
logn 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those who haven't read them, these posts by Steve Blank bring this all into focus. Spend a couple hours and read this: http://steveblank.com/secret-history/ and then this http://steveblank.com/category/secret-history-of-silicon-val... . History is fascinating when told by a good historian.
psbp 2 days ago 0 replies      
So who from google is going to try to assuage our concerns and tell us that it's all misdirection that they, and thus we, shouldn't fall prey to? Or is anyone from the company not compromised by a candy-coated exterior?
spinchange 2 days ago 0 replies      
Schmidt personally seems to have political-power aspirations and has been practically transparent about using the chairmanship of Google to that end for himself and as a proxy for the company.

The motivation for all this freelance diplomacy doesn't even need to be for specific favors - it can be to raise his and Google's stature with the world's political power machinery.

Consider that, while it doesn't make it any less troubling, they might even have good intentions in what they're doing. I'm not trying to be an apologist for it, just thinking about what would motivate a company like Google -or rather, people at the top- to do stuff like this.

selfexperiments 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ever met someone who gives a great first impression and says all the right words but later betrays your trust? I've mostly had the experience with politicians, but Google is in a position to really hurt people.

People need to get as far away from Google as possible. I think they're going to show a nasty side to their personality soon.

devx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I missed this article at the time by Bruce Schneier and I think a lot more did, too, or didn't pay much attention to it, but according to him, Google already gave NSA a backdoor into Gmail, which is what the Chinese hackers used to hack them then:


mladenkovacevic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like to analyze potential motives that the elites might have for doing whatever it is they do:

Industrial sector elite: control of resources

Intelligence elite: control over people

Google elite: I don't know if they know yet but they are probably trying to find their place in the future. Maybe control of data?

Either way you can see how they all might be able to help each other out.

tn13 2 days ago 1 reply      
Absolutely nothing surprising. Any company can be bullied and all companies have good incentive to crawl when government asks to bend.
anxiousest 2 days ago 0 replies      
None of it is convincing.

There is nothing extraordinary about the government showing interest when even a private citizen is contacting and meeting to interview someone who is wanted by said government on national security grounds.

Google's increased lobbying was dues to their big antirust battle a short while back, these tend to be expensive. Besides this is American and lobbying is a way of life here.

I'm not sure what Cohen was doing in Azerbaijan but is it really strange that he was getting support in a potentially hostile territory.

As for what ostensibly triggered this post, the "revelations" that firms get reimbursed for their troubles enabling surveillance, it's not new, nor is it a money making endeavor, it's basically the only concession by the government made in these wiretap laws, if they are to inconvenience entities with their surveillance they will at least have to pay for it http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/us/nsa-said-to-have-paid-e...Also some targeted surveillance might be necessary the problem is with the dragnet sort, and these revelations don't make a distinction between the two which doesn't automatically mean that it's the worst case scenario.

Assange might not have been pleased with his interview with Schmidt but suggesting that Google started the Arab spring is absurd.

einhverfr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reading this article, one could be pardoned for wondering if Cohen is a NOC agent for some intelligence agency....
yuhong 1 day ago 0 replies      
engrenage 2 days ago 1 reply      
It sounds as if wikileaks has evidence. If they do, they should show it, although I guess it makes sense for them to set the context first so it isn't so easily ignored.

There seem to be a lot of people here determined to argue that google is innocent based on innuendo.

The Poisonous Employee-Ranking System That Helps Explain Microsofts Decline slate.com
263 points by probabilistic  3 days ago   218 comments top 37
bguthrie 3 days ago 5 replies      
The only thing that matters about your coworkersthe only thingis if, after the year's over or the project's done, you'd work with them again. If a team is doing good work and everyone on it enjoys working with each other, do not fuck with it.

Everyone in life has disagreements, petty jealousies, things they struggle with in other people. The beauty of the question, Would you work with her or him again?, is that it specifically doesn't try to disentangle those thingsbecause to a productive team the quality its members' relationships with each other as important as the quality of their work. If one or the other is off, it's not necessarily anyone's fault, and it may not even be cause for termination. But it's as good a metric as you need.

But it's utterly foolish to winnow on a percentage basis. You'll break up good teams and prevent better ones from forming. You'll destroy morale. You'll encourage a leadership culture of cutthroat sociopaths whose success is at best tangentially related to the quality of their work. Do not do it.

tytso 2 days ago 4 replies      
"Stack ranking" as it has been reported to be used at Microsoft, is multiple things conflated together. Some of these things are, by themselves, not necessarily bad. The problem is that people hear the words "stack ranking", and immediately jump to "eeeeevil" and "that's what killed Microsoft", and "Google does stack ranking, it must be doomed / I'd never want to work there", which is sloppy thinking.

Let's taking what people are calling "stack ranking" apart. The first aspect of stack ranking, is simply forcing people to make decisions about what things/object/people are more important/better/etc. than others. This can be a valuable technique. For example, there is a very useful testing instrument I took a while back that took a list of twenty values, e.g., "justice", "loyalty", "honesty", "security", "family", etc., and asked me to force rank sets of five of these values in order of which I thought were most important to least important (i.e., DNI Clapper would rank "honesty" below that of "loyalty" and "security"; others might make different choices --- there were no right answers). By taking twenty or thirty of these different subsets, ranked in the order of which I thought were most valuable, a computer program would allow me to see which values I considered most important, and which I considered least important. This was a valuable thing, and so the technique of doing forced ranking is and of itself a useful thing.

The second technique is that of trying to normalize employee performance review ratings across departments --- whether using a bell curve, or some other technique. Again, in isolation, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some managers might grade their employees more harshly, and some might be soft touches. Within a departmental level, it may be easier for a manager to argue that his team were all stars, but how do you deal with the question of an entire department using a harsher or more lenient grading system? One of the simplest things to do is to use a bell curve --- which may or may not be fair, especially if the company says (and all companies will claim this) that they hire the "best and brightest".

The final component is what do you actually do with this normalized ranking number? If you really believe that everyone you've hired are the "best and the brightest", then firing the lowest scoring 5% is insane. If however you don't have confidence in your hiring mechanisms, such that some duds make it past your hiring screens, then firing the lowest 5% may make a lot of sense; you want to get rid of them before they do (more) damage. (BTW, this is is why I believe a hiring system which tries extremely hard to avoid hiring duds, at the expense of sometimes failing to hire qualified individuals, is extremely important; it has its downsides, but it's very much a necessary evil, because the alternatives are far worse.)

What about using this number as an input to compensation? Here, using a normalized bell curve may make more sense. Certainly if you only have fixed pot of money to use for salary increases and equity refreshes, you want to make sure that your top performances get rewarded.

What about promotions? For junior engineers, if they are growing in their job, presumably they should get promoted as they demonstrate that they are getting better at programming and understanding the company's systems and development environment. Using the performance rating would certainly be one metric, but evaluating that person's proficiency and results should probably be just as important, if not more so.

The point is that just doing a "stack rank", whether as an input to the performance review mechanism (i.e., asking other employees to stack rank their peers, and then having some algorithm to merge those inputs together, and taking into account controversial rankings where multiple colleagues had differing opinions about whether person A was more or less effective than person B) or whether managers are forced to stack rank all of the employees in their department, is not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem comes from what do you _do_ with the stack ranking after you've generated it. It's that which can drive a company's culture, either positively or negatively. So my suggestion to Microsoft employees (other than to consider a career at Google :-), is to not rail against stack ranking per se, but to point out some of the negative effects of some of the things are done with the stack rank after it has been generated. Perhaps, if your HR people are at all competent, they might be more amenable to your suggestions. Or, maybe you'd be better off considering another company altogether, in which case my first suggestion still stands. :-)

beloch 3 days ago 5 replies      
The ideal employee is both brilliant and easy to get along with. Practically no employees are ideal. Sometimes the least productive people are the peace-makers that let the rest of the team tolerate the brilliant assholes. Cogs are great, but it's idiotic to treat oil as though it were mere deadweight. Both are needed in any company.
rayiner 2 days ago 2 replies      
This bit stuck out for me: "For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. And the reviews had real-world consequences: those at the top received bonuses and promotions; those at the bottom usually received no cash or were shown the door."

Individualized bonus/compensation decisions have no place in environments where the work is heavily or totally team-oriented. It forces people into a mode where they focus on getting the most individual credit instead of making the product as successful as possible. That general incentive exists in any team-setting, of course, but when you grade everyone on a curve like that and tie compensation/job retention to it, you really force everyone into playing that game.

By way of contrast, look at how investment banks do bonuses. If you're in IBD, your bonus is usually based on the success of your deal teams. If you're in S&T, your bonus is usually based on the success of your desk. Even further in that direction is how many law firms handle compensation: everyone is paid in strict lock-step. The end-result of these models is that nobody has an incentive, at least a purely monetary incentive, to jockey for credit. The way to make more money is to have the project be successful, and that means doing your best to cooperate with your teammates.

Sometimes you're forced to pay individualized bonuses. It might be the only way of attracting the superstar that would otherwise be able to make a lot more money elsewhere. But Microsoft has very high hiring standards and is rolling in cash. It should not have this problem.

qq66 3 days ago 8 replies      
Well, one more blog post about the "ONE THING THAT KILLED MICROSOFT."

Nothing killed Microsoft. It just exhibited mean regression, as everything eventually does. It found itself on the very top of a mountain in an industry where you have to keep climbing to stay still.

The same thing happened to Apple -- it had an unprecendented string of hits with iPod/iPhone/iPad and it took competitors a few years to catch up.

Sometimes, a basketball player will make ten straight baskets. He'll seem invincible, then he'll make another and the crowd will go wild. But if he's a 60% shooter, at some point he'll miss a basket, and another, and another, and descend back into reality.

That's just how the world is.

rsweeney21 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is exactly why I left Microsoft after 8 years. I worked really hard, had a great year and was expecting a great review. When I got my A-70 I told my manager I would be leaving. They offered me stock, a raise and even gave me a promotion, but I was done. I knew that I'd never be happy working under the Microsoft review system.

I saw many great developers over the years leave for the same reason. This system is poisonous. There is no way to tailor the rewards of the team to the actual performance of the team.

jcheng 3 days ago 3 replies      
I only worked there for about 3.5 years starting in 2006, but from my perspective, dead wood was a bigger problem than the stack rank, and the stack rank was the main force keeping dead wood from being an even bigger problem.

Are there better mechanisms to systematically force managers to make the tough calls to let people go or counsel them out?

DenisM 2 days ago 0 replies      
For the sake of balance let me provide some "defense" of the system. I don't actually like it, but there needs to be some perspective in the discussion.

A senior manager once confided to me that he does not have a shortage of good engineers to tackle even the most complex engineering problems, but he has acute shortage of people who are able to coordinate work of those good engineers. I have then concluded the review system makes sense in the light of this revelation. Hiring and Performance Review policies, however bad they seem, successfully maintain a pool of talented engineers; it's a solved problem. The problem that is not solved is making sure those engineers make coordinated effort towards a worthy goal. It is Microsoft's core belief that such coordination does not emerge naturally and so it must come from a leader or a group of "leaders", and the goal of the review system is to identify and promote such leaders, even if they have to sacrifice some of the good engineers in the process (finding more is a solved problem). The way the find more "leaders" is measure people on "scope of influence", with idea being that top engineer and manager talents will be able to influence more people compared to their peers. A sad byproduct of this approach is that a lot of people expand their visibility just for the sake of expanding their visibility. This produces a lot of sideffects, to the point where they sometimes become major output of the system rather than mere byproducts.

So if you wanted to know why the system works the way it does, above is a possible explanation that makes some sense.

ChristianMarks 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think everybody wants to work in a high-performance culture where we reward people who are doing fantastic work...

This is typical superficial business talk about "culture." Dig what the humanists have to say about it: http://www.fastcolabs.com/3016238/why-your-startups-culture-...

netcan 2 days ago 3 replies      
This sounds like one of those ideas that works well in a one off context but has side effects in a relatively big one.

Using a bell curve might be more technically correct, but the overall idea is too force the person making a judgement to make a judgment. The reality is that some employees are better than others. Getting a manager to rank them will give you better results than getting a manager to rate them. Neither are perfect. One is sensitive to the manager's biases, the other breaks when one team is better than another.

If you went to a one hundred person company with 10 managers and asked them to do this one day, you would probably end up with a fairly accurate view of who is worth what. Most one hundred person companies would be improved by replacing the bottom 5-20 people and damaged by replacing the top 5-20.

If this wasn't about employees, I don't think it would be controversial. Imagine a company with 100 clients ranked them and then decided to give special attention the 10 best while ignoring the 10 worst.

The problem with this (like most compensation schemes) is how they affect employees when they find out. People have strong reactions to being ranked and measured.

semisight 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't imagine working in an environment like this. If the core idea is that all employees fall on a bell curve in their overall value, what about small sample sizes? In what dimension do you measure them--what is "performance" even? And to do this every six months?

Is there something I'm not seeing here? How is this still considered a viable management strategy?

plinkplonk 3 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting that Google also has stack ranking. If stack ranking were such a major factor of MS's decline why isn't it affecting Google the same way?
gametheoretic 3 days ago 2 replies      
Uhhh...decline? Gates stepped down in 2000, when Google was Goofy and the iPod was just an idea. Ballmer could've done worse for himself, to say the least. The very least. XP, Xbox, yes, Vista, but also the extremely impressive full swing, timely as a motherfuck recovery from Vista to launch Win7. (And while we're here, Win8 gets way more trash than deserved. The Start Menu was overloaded. People had like 200 goddamn folders in there. Don't shit on MS for trying something new at a time when something new was needed.) --and I'm not even an MS fanboy at all. This is just bullshit writing.
ballard 3 days ago 2 replies      
The most obvious question: Does Microsoft annually fire the X% lowest "performing" as some other shops do?

But more importantly, there are much bigger problems at Microsoft than gaming performance reviews: product strategy, how people are treated and relations between divisions.

MSFT may need to let go of some legacy in order to move forward faster. (Risk enterprise customer hate, but whatevs.)

sytelus 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is not a problem inherent in stack ranking. Any performance review system that (1) allow unbalanced pay and (2) makes this fact visible to employee, will cause exact same issues. Here unbalanced pay means you want to divide available reward such that higher performing employee gets lions share while those at the tail gets peanuts. Whether you do this through peer reviews or through manager reviews or stack ranking or team level performance or by throwing dice, you will always find some portion of employees feel the system is unjust and they deserve better ratings. Only way to avoid this is by equal bonus pays OR not assigning any ratings at all. For most technology companies at least the option of paying every one equal bonus won't be acceptable. It is known fact that highest performing employees perform 5X-20X than lowest performing employees and it would be hard to retain them if they were paid same bonuses as everyone else.

However not disclosing ratings could certainly be option. Or you can only disclose binary ratings "Stay/Fire" or trinary rating "Green/Yellow/Red" where they don't disclose amount/range of bonus but whether employee performance was sufficient for continuity of employment. People who thought that disclosing bonus indicating ratings was a good idea probably bought on an argument that this will motivate employees to improve themselves to get higher ratings. In reality many aggressive employees actually do work even harder to get back to better ratings however people who have feel lack of opportunity or are rusted eventually settle down with being labeled "average" and pull back on their effort level just to keep employment going.

dkhenry 3 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't a Microsoft thing. If I remember correctly its used at IBM as well as a bunch of other big name companies.


asenna 3 days ago 2 replies      
I just can't believe how or why they are continuing with the system when it is clear this is counter-productive and is hurting the company in many ways. What possible reason can there be? There is no way I would ever want to work in that kind of an environment.

Is there another side of the story? Can someone from Microsoft shed more light on this?

fatjokes 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does Google do this as well?
sprague 3 days ago 1 reply      
Note that at Microsoft, a good manager (i.e. somebody who takes care of his/her people) will spend far more on the stack rank process than on, say, product strategy.
bosch 2 days ago 1 reply      
(Apologies for posting this as I know it doesn't add to the discussion but I have no idea how else to contact an MS engineer.)


On the off chance anyone at Microsoft reads this, my Microsoft account got deleted by a bug in Live Domains and I haven't been able to successfully contact anyone to report it or fix it. The forums have been useless and now I can't do anything MS related without my account including my phone!

My e-mail is in my profile.

chris_wot 2 days ago 0 replies      
The end sentence is absolutely damning of the man:

"It will be interesting to see whether Microsofts next CEO takes more personal responsibility for the companys corporate cultureor leaves it for Lisa Brummel to take up."

kdsudac 2 days ago 1 reply      
The most frustrating thing about these kinds of systems is how they never seem to apply at the top. Was Balmer a top CEO? The market doesn't seem to think so.
Patrick_Devine 2 days ago 1 reply      
I worked at a rather largish virtualisation company which uses the "Nine Box" performance review process. The idea is that you get two scores, your _public_ score which is told to you about your performance, and then a _private_ score which is surreptitiously given by your manager about your potential to get promotions.

Managers are then given a quota of how many people should be put in which box, and get hammered if they give too many people good reviews. The "secret" score is directly tied to your compensation, so basically your manager could be completely screwing you and you would have absolutely no indication.

api 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ranking and selection systems -- fitness functions -- are very very hard to get right.

I did a lot of work with genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation / alife systems a while back, and thus did a lot of work with writing fitness or objective functions. It turns out that it's extremely difficult to write a fitness function that the evolving system will not "game."

To give a specific example: I once wrote an objective function to train an evolving system to classify images, a simple machine learning test. After running it for only an hour or so, the system's performance seemed spectacular, like way up in the 90'th percentile. This made me suspicious. The programs that had evolved did not seem complex enough, and past experiments had shown that it should take a lot longer to get something that showed reasonable performance.

After a lot of analysis I figured out what it was.

I was pulling test images from two different databases. One database had higher latency than the other. The bugs had evolved a timing loop to measure how long it took them to get their data (they were multi-threaded) and were basically executing a side-channel attack against the training supervisor.

In another very similar case, I found that the bugs were cooperating by communicating by way of the operating system's thread/task scheduler. They were using timing loops to kibitz.

Humans are smarter than little evolving computer programs. Subject them to any kind of fixed straightforward fitness function and they are going to game it, plain and simple.

It turns out that in writing machine learning objective functions, one must think very carefully about what the objective function is actually rewarding. If the objective function rewards more than one thing, the ML/EC/whatever system will find the minimum effort or minimum complexity solution and converge there.

In the human case under discussion here, apply this kind of reasoning and it becomes apparent that stack ranking as implemented in MS is rewarding high relative performance vs. your peers in a group, not actual performance and not performance as tied in any way to the company's performance.

There's all kinds of ways to game that: keep inferior people around on purpose to make yourself look good, sabotage your peers, avoid working with good people, intentionally produce inferior work up front in order to skew the curve in later iterations, etc. All those are much easier (less effort, less complexity) than actual performance. A lot of these things are also rather sociopathic in nature. It seems like most ranking systems in the real world end up selecting for sociopathy.

This is the central problem with the whole concept of meritocracy, and also with related ideas like eugenics. It turns out that defining merit and achieving it are of roughly equivalent difficulty. They might actually be the same problem.

michaelwww 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of mandatory minimum sentencing that takes the jail time given away from the discretion of the judge. It seems that Microsoft doesn't trust it's managers to make objective reviews, especially to call out poor performers who are otherwise liked by their coworkers. There must be a middle way.
yuhong 3 days ago 0 replies      
Personally on stack ranking at MS I'd probably settle for ending some of the worst practices. Even Google's stack ranking don't have some of the problems of the one used by MS.
phantomb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I understand Enron tried the same thing. These people are idiots.


epynonymous 2 days ago 1 reply      
this is just the dumbest article i have ever read. there are very few top performers, a types with an appetite for challenges, who would work in a meaningless project just to compete with mediocre talent, that's absurd! number one motivation issue is a bad manager, closely followed are lack of career development where in i mean interesting technical challenges andncompeting against the best and project interest. a types or top performers who take initiative and want to work on the biggest challenges do not shy from challenges, in fact, they want them! the types that shynfrom challenges and curl into meaningless projects are those that seek work life balance and are really your low performers.
dotmanish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Adobe used to have the Stack Ranking System until a couple of years, which they eventually ditched: http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/view/story.jhtml?id=534355695
pkj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Most companies use a variant of stack ranking. If you agree with the core philosophy that more productivity => better pay, then you need to implement some sort of a differential pay algorithm. Having said that the implementation really sucks. It is not natural and continuous, rather people get pigeonholed into discontinuous buckets.

Let me take a concrete example closely mirroring my experience. There are 4 fixed performance buckets. Top 5%, Next 20%, Next 65%, Bottom 10%. They get hikes of 20%, 8%, 4%, 0% respectively. Again, these are fixed numbers. Let us assume there are 4 people A,B,C,D and out of a hypothetical score of 100, score 95, 90, 87, 85 respectively based on various parameters. You would assume that since D differs in ability with A by 10%, he would get 90% of A's hike. But sorry, due to the stack implementation he gets 0%, while A gets 20% ! Let's say if the scores of A, B, C, D were instead 100, 50, 25, 5, the hikes would have make much more sense.

Summary: Discrete curve of benefits works well only when it closely matches the curve of people productivity. This is rare. So it just ends up being unfair and creates an unhealthy rat race.

afhof 3 days ago 2 replies      
It would be a lot more convincing if they could say Microsoft Stack Ranks And No One Else Does. Google, for example is a strictly stack ranked company and hasn't folded (at least in my opinion) into a caustic environment as described in this article.
danbmil99 2 days ago 0 replies      
What I love about the last decade of the Microsoft saga is how Bill left Stevie holding the bag, just when he knew it was going sour.
api 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hasn't Google implemented stack ranking?
hatchoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work with Andersen Consulting/Accenture. We had this ranking thing as well. Had lots of peers who were of the kiss ass type. Fortunately was very technical and stood out while still at the programmer/analyst level. Would have fared poorly at the managerial level though.

Many other companies probably have this too.

icecreampain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can somone please explain to me the attraction of working at a company with such a ranking system? Are [tech] jobs _that_ hard to come by nowadays that one is willing to accept anything to pay the bills?
chatman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Haha, Yahoo does it every 3 months since Mayer came on board! Soon, even Yahoo will crumble like this.
lzman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was a programmer a UK banks for 5 years where they used (and still do use) the bell curve performance rating system. High performing teams match the bell curve distribution, therefore match the employees to the curve and you have high performing teams. It, and a load of shit directly related to it, is why I left.
Javascript Frameworks Are Amazing and Nobody Is Happy wekeroad.com
253 points by EvilTrout  4 days ago   200 comments top 33
fizx 4 days ago 9 replies      
Programming tends to this pattern where people get super-excited when a language gets a feature everyone else has taken for granted forever. It's like a guy getting out of the hospital after shooting himself in the foot. You know what's better? Not shooting yourself.

Congrats Javascript--on almost being as good at data-binding and layout as VB6! Me, I'm going to keep kvetching about javascript frameworks until flexbox is widely supported, the strongly-typed language flavor-of-the week actually is stable, and frameworks like angular don't embrace silent failure modes as a feature.

dvt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think that what the "problem" really is, is that programming has become so accessible. Of course, I don't mean that this is an actual problem, but just that with more people writing code, the community has more people being generally shitty.

Furthermore, the general shittiness of post-y2k developers has seeped into the corporate veins of tech companies everywhere. So this is why you see Go "gunning" for Ruby or Rust "gunning" for Go, or whatever. And I speak from experience. When I was in my late teens (I'm 27 now), I totally thought Javascript sucked; and, in many senses, it's not an ideal language. But I mean, I was really out there with my shitty (and uninformed) opinion that JS sucks.

Fast-forward a couple of years after I forced myself to do a lot of development with many (many) languages -- as opposed to being force-fed X or Y language by Z company -- and I have a different outlook. There are very few languages (or frameworks, for that matter) that suck -- furthermore, saying X sucks is simply insulting the (probably much smarter than you) author of X. This doesn't happen much on HN (people usually have well-thought out opinions) but it's very apparent on SO or the myriad of other forums/newsgroups.

I now love JS. I don't think it's amazing or anything, but I've been having as much fun writing JS as I've had writing C (which is saying a lot -- C is very fun). If I could get a freebie, though, I'd have to say that C++ sucks :P

So I agree with the sentiment of the OP and I think this is more prevalent now rather than 10 or 20 years ago because we have a much larger community of developers. Which, in some ways, is good but in others can be bad.

surrealize 4 days ago 3 replies      
It's a cliche by now that oldsters always think that youngsters are spoiled by having it too easy. "In my day, we had to walk to school uphill two miles in the snow" etc. And, like so many other cliches, it's true!

Things used to really suck, and now they're a lot better. That happens every generation--mankind's physical culture does keep on improving in a lot of ways. Older people are proud of all the progress they've made. And young people take the new and improved stuff for granted and complain.

But that complaining is a good thing! Expectations keep increasing with every generation. If we didn't always have new people coming on scene and getting frustrated with the status quo, then we'd stagnate as a culture.

The kids are all right. It would be nice if they appreciated what they have more. On the other hand, they'll get old and have the same experience too.

ZenoArrow 4 days ago 2 replies      
To me, the issue isn't that modern JavaScript frameworks are sub-optimal, but rather that proficiency in the high number of competing frameworks is a sizeable time sink that shouldn't need to exist. These frameworks are essentially band-aids over the true issues in the core web development tools, and until that core matures to the point where the frameworks are unnecessary then you'll still see people reluctant in investing much time in absorbing knowledge that is likely to rapidly become obsolete.
qntmfred 4 days ago 9 replies      
Along these same lines, I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be a programmer (or any other kind of knowledge worker) before the web. You mean I have this problem and I need to wait 6 months for somebody to write a book about it, and then read the whole thing cover to cover in hopes that he/she wrote about something pertaining to my problem? phfft this is bullshit
pothibo 4 days ago 1 reply      
I believe the problem with _every_ framework out there is that they focus too much on how they solve trivial problems and not enough on how you can use them in complex scenario.

I think people are pissed when they start with a new framework is the lack of ERROR messages.

I wished errors were more verbose. I don't care if the error message takes 5 lines. When I'm used to a framework, i'll know from the second word what is the error.

On the other hand, when I don't know the framework, I have no ideas what is assumed and what isn't. Print all the remotely possible culprit. That will give me an idea how it works.

Errors will help me learn and progress.

gavinlynch 4 days ago 1 reply      
tldr; it's a satirical cross-section of programming and comedy, and is specifically a play on the classic Louis C K cellphones/airplane rant as it pertains to javascript frameworks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpUNA2nutbk
Zigurd 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are two facts about Web apps that few people seem to be able to hold in their heads at the same time:

1. Web apps are incredibly useful and convenient. Web apps are always up to date and pervasive because the Web runtime is everywhere. Some apps only need ever be Web apps.

2. The Web was designed to be a feature-rich hypertext system, not an application runtime and system-wide UI framework. Web apps will never be as good as native apps, something that was rediscovered in mobile devices.

Both are true. Both will be true for a long time to come.

ascendantlogic 4 days ago 5 replies      
As a 35 year old developer who was using CSS and Javascript in the pre-jQuery days, this really strikes a chord with me. Things like Meteor and Angular and Bootstrap BLOW MY MIND. I understand this is the way of technology but truly we live in a gilded age of app development. Sometimes it's nice to take a retrospective and think about how awesome things really are.
oscargrouch 4 days ago 0 replies      
different languages tend to attract different personalitieseg. people from c/c++ are more conservatives and like to know the internals of everything..

Javascript(PHP?) tend to attract people who wants instant reward, without too much work..

to point out that a little more is easy to see that even here at HN.. when a new project come from c/c++/go etc..the tools are more sophisticated and take more planning, labor and research to see the light.. so this kind of projects tend to endure a little bit more

on the other half javascripters launch are more fragmented and you see a lot of iterations over the same problems already solved by previous framework as just because its a matter of tastecombining the technologies one like most..

i cant say this for every developer of course, im sure there are people away from this pattern.. but its a just a feeling from the outside.. i come from other generation i guess.. ut when i was younger pascal, delphy and php were cool and just get things done.. i think its also a question of age.. when you are younger you are more pragmatic, and want everything fast and instant..Javascript is that platform now.. the one who tends to call the younger and people who are starting programming..

this is not a critic, and not a bad thing at all.. its just more a general observation.. so excuse-me if i was unfair in anyway (thats the problem with generalizations though)

Well the problem with pragmatism its just that... people start doing things with a low critical thinking about the tool they are using..they tend to experiment less with other languages and the different solutions those languages may point out..

so the problem pointed out by miguel de icaza over the callbacks.. they were spread all around in the code like if they were the solution for everything.. or just _to get things done_

to be fair this is not _just_ a problem of javascript or another language.. its technology in general and the open source..

people should be more cooperative and less competitive.. why create a new blog engine just because you want to use another template systemand do not try to help the other project by adding the template system you like..

there are much of ego in technology today.. people want to be the new linus torvalds, or the new steve jobs.. but behind all of those big stars, and what they acomplished, there A LOT of people working in the same project, all together.. so its the real spirit of cooperation behind it, even if they dont tkae the medals.. they deserve itthey are also the everyday heros

you can argue that this is may outside of the scope of this post.. but im trying to point what i think are thereal reasons, of why those things are happening.. and its not enough to look just at technology.. we need to take a look at the people behind it and how they move..

just my 2 dollars (because this comment its a little big for 2 cents)

sergiotapia 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've never met people like this before. Almost everybody who I've heard trash-talk a language or framework was either very new to it and felt frustrated, or just a bad programmer.

Having said that, not all JS frameworks are built the same. ;) And you're entitled to have a preference and not be "Louis CK'd" into loving everything under the sky.

javajosh 4 days ago 0 replies      
The best thing about JavaScript is jsfiddle and codepen. There's really no equivalent for any other programming environment.
acv 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sooo, am I the only one on here who thinks this is really funny? Like laugh-out-loud funny? Like, literally right now there are 110 comments on this page about a light-hearted spoof and not one mention of the word funny.

Like I know you're just dying to tell someone their argument is absurd, precisely backward, badly false, from another reality, or some other hyperlogical sounding construction that no human would ever actually use in normal conversation - but chill OUT. Do you really need to immediately jump into a flame war about BASIC?

Can't you just chuckle at the fact that yeah, we are all kinda entitled turds form time to time when it comes to tech, and then like go about your day and build something and go home?

I mean come on -- "It's going to space, give it a sec." -- that's funny.

daemonl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Our customers demand more of us, we demand more of our frameworks.

It wasnt long ago that building a site that worked on a mobile was the most fantastic and impressive thing they had ever seen. Before that, there werent even mobiles to have sites on.

If the demands put on programs were the same as they were 10, 20 years ago, I would have my weeks work done in 5 minutes. But its not amazing any more, its boring and usual and old as soon as it is released. Our customer or boss just saw a new example up on nvd3, so d3s dead now, and you better have already learned nvd3 (thats a pretty old example), oh and it still works on a mobile, and fills my retina display, right? Oh and it doesnt move properly when I scroll on my android tablet. Thats the same as an iPad, right? Oh and John said its broken in IE.

Our demands come from our customers expectation that this stuff is easy now. And hells yeah it is SO much easier than it used to be, but its far from being as easy as they think it is.

We usually only have an hour to get going in a new framework, if its not clear after that, we move on, because something newer (better?) just hit #1 on HN.

But lets remember how exiting all of this is. Programming has changed for the better. Its cool and in demand now. People are paying us to do the cool things we used to dream about, they just might not be giving us quite enough time, so we blame the frameworks.

tn13 4 days ago 1 reply      
I started off as a Rails web developer in 2007 and slowly moved to PHP and Javascript. A little before NodeJS got popular I was a full time JS developer mostly writing client side code.

When I started with NodeJS, I was like a kid in the candy store. Before I blinked there were hundreds of npm modules supporting everything including aws management to controlling robots.

I have tried a lot of nodejs web frameworks. They are all amazing and I wish them success but I have realized that there is nothing great to be gained by using JS at server side compared to using say rails.

pspeter3 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like part of the problem is that there seems to be a weird form of commodity fetishism that happens with front-end frameworks where your choice defines you as a developer. While that's always been true for OS, language and text editor, it seems more inane when applied to front end frameworks. They all have their own use cases and the major three are all impressively written
gtrak 4 days ago 0 replies      
My interpretation: javascript is slowly catching up to the rest of the world. It's reach both makes it a lingua franca and slows it down. Maybe one day it will be suitable for real programming, if people who complain after 10 minutes would stop holding it back.
toddh 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I detect this attitude in myself it's often because I'm thinking of these things as a means to an end instead of a thing in itself. So I get impatient because I WANT TO GET STUFF DONE RIGHT NOW and pick your framework is in my way. This a great reminder to step back, appreciate, and give props to all the hard work people do out there.
mmanfrin 4 days ago 0 replies      
We're also doing a magnitude more with these frameworks than was ever possible before. Tools are better and bigger, but so are roles and responsibilities. There are different sets of problems that now need to be solved.
santoshalper 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe they're annoyed because even though the frameworks are great, they are still stuck programming in shitty JavaScript and they know there are about 1,000 better programming languages.
locusm 3 days ago 0 replies      
"its wasted on the crappiest generation of just spoiled idiots that dont care, because this is what people are like now"

Louis CK sums it up better than I could ever articulate


monokrome 4 days ago 0 replies      
I loved JavaScript during what this calls the "rotary phone" era, and I'll have to say that JavaScript "frameworks" haven't come very far. They just grow as fast as the browsers do.

Browsers have gone far. Browsers are amazing. Frameworks are still boring.

aznjons 4 days ago 0 replies      
The drive of the hacker is to solve problems and find novel or efficient solutions to problems and the tools used to solve those problems.

It's not surprising that this can be taken to the extreme as we strive to continually optimize our tools, which are especially flexible since they are spun out of almost pure abstraction.

A healthy dose of perspective is helpful to reminds us that at the end of the day we solve problems and make cool things.

Though dealing with poorly designed man-made abstractions can be frustrating, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to improve our tools and environments and it's especially incredible how collaborative the effort is (open source) compared to some other industries.

DrewAllyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
The people who complain about how things work are the people who make things better. If everyone was satisfied with jQuery and felt that JS development could stop after that then we wouldn't be where we are today, and if everybody thinks that where we are now is fine then tomorrow will look exactly the same as today. I, for one, want tomorow to look different (and better) regardless of how rosy it looks today, so I will continue complaining. When I can, I will also do something about my complaints, and I do submit patches when I can, but unfortunately thats not always feasible.
teeja 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Wow, Catullus, thanks for the chariot ride ... the last time I had to run for a day and a half and .... Recedite! excreta caballus!"

"Wow, beaming to the surface is so much faster than that goddamn shuttle. And ... hey! This shirt wasn't this shade of blue before! Mother$#)!($&!"

ialex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Haters gona hate. You can't make everybody happy, but there are enough frameworks out there you pick one you like and let everybody do the same
eonil 4 days ago 0 replies      
No. Wrong. They're not happy because it's not amazing. Because they can sensing something you cannot sense.

Well, only for certain type of apps - static input/output forms -, this maybe true. But none of them is amazing for any further type of apps.

You can be happy because you don't know any further.

eponymous 4 days ago 1 reply      
A million thumbs down for the author stealing Louie CK's stand-up routine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpUNA2nutbk) and reapplying it to Javascript in a way that just didn't fit. Also nothing substantial was said. Boo!
dalacv 3 days ago 0 replies      
You should give more credit to the original creator of these ideas. Put the link at the top and at least mention him in your article.
cdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's not forget about the awesome tooling that is available and actively development for JS web development (yes, Yeoman).
f055 4 days ago 0 replies      
People are spoiled easily. And contrary to common belief, programmers are people too.
bobwaycott 4 days ago 0 replies      
> "Well, I can't do any more things now. I can't do any more things."

I just love that. I've encountered that attitude so many times.

ultimatedelman 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredible, and oh so true
Map of America's Racial Segregation wired.com
251 points by Aqua_Geek  16 hours ago   157 comments top 30
spodek 15 hours ago 7 replies      
Here is the actual map, which you can zoom into, scroll, pan, explore your neighborhood, etc. -- http://demographics.coopercenter.org/DotMap/index.html

EDIT: Exploring, I see the island I live on -- Manhattan -- has the four main dot colors well represented, though mainly in blocks. The main mixing is between whites and Asians and between blacks and Hispanics. Notably parts of the Upper West Side, East Village/Lower East Side, and Midtown west show significantly more mixing, at least by eye -- it would be interesting to quantify the data.

Some parts of Queens and Brooklyn show mixing of all four dot colors within the same city block.

Still, on the whole most dot colors remain in blocks with less mixing on the edges. Some dot colors rarely mix with other dot colors.

EDIT TWO: How they made the map is here -- http://www.coopercenter.org/demographics/Racial-Dot-Map -- which describes the data sources and links to the code on Github.

WA 14 hours ago 5 replies      
I watched once a lecture on Coursera about Schelling's model of segregation, which I found extremely insightful.

If you see maps like that with strong segregation, one of the first attempts to explain it is "racism". However, if you divide your neighborhood in 9 blocks such that you are in the center, you have 8 neighbors.

Schelling's model now shows that even in cities where most people say:"I'd like to live next to only 35-40% of people who are similar to me (whatever that means exactly, could be ethnical background, skin color, income, ...) and I'd accept 60% of neighbors who are different from me", you would still get a segregation of 80-90% in the city.

So, the reason for strong segregation is not necessarily that people are racists. People can be very tolerant, but if you try to fulfill the minimum requirement (40% like me), you end up with strong segregation patterns just because there's no other way to fulfill the minimum requirement for most people.

Note: Numbers aren't exact, but pretty close.

Edit: Link to lecture: https://class.coursera.org/modelthinking-003/lecture/16

k2enemy 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Thomas Schelling [0] has shown that even if your most preferred neighborhood is a perfect mix of races, it is a dynamically unstable equilibrium (assuming that if the balance tips one way or the other, you prefer it to tip towards your own race). That is, segregated neighborhoods are not necessarily a sign that people prefer segregation -- it is also a natural outcome when people want to live in a mixed neighborhood. There are many interesting simulations of the phenomenon. [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Schelling[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_XtboyO8jc&noredirect=1

shawnee_ 14 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the interesting things about this map is that it shows not just distribution, but also density. Non-Caucasian ethnicities are not only concentrated in certain "neighborhoods", they also tend to live in households with far more people per square foot than whites.

From the map, overview of the Bay area: http://hackeress.com/ethnic-distribution-bay-area.png

simias 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I feel like you would get a similar result if you did a map of Paris or other big european cities, I'm not sure it's an american thing. I think over here we just don't like/can't compile that kind of racial data.

I would be more interested in counter-examples: cities were the melting pot is the rule.

hedgew 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Is segregation really the appropriate word here? Separation of the races is coded into our genes and happens naturally without any malicious intent too. It's not much different from the fact that all of us prefer to surround ourselves with people who are similar to ourselves, usually in terms of thinking, hobbies, and interests. Physical attributes influence us as well, whether it's bikers and leather jackets or punks and black spiked clothes. In evolutionary biology this is referred to as "kinship".

Not to say that racism isn't worth fighting against, but the more free our societies become the more people on average will follow their natural instincts. A non-racial example of this is Norway, which is likely the most gender equal country in the world, but has also extremely skewed gender distributions in professions such as engineering and nursing; with almost only men in engineering, and women in nursing, despite massive attempts to balance the situation. This could be easily misinterpreted and claimed as evidence that Norway does not respect gender equality, but in fact it's more likely evidence of the opposite! People in Norway are more free to pursue what makes them happy.

When we use terms like "segregation" for cases where it might actually be just "separation", we risk causing unnecessary hatred and overblown illusions of racism - misleading us from what actually matters: freedom and equality.

munificent 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that you can almost always spot the university areas in a city on this map by looking for the cluster of asians.
danso 15 hours ago 1 reply      
HN has a policy against numbers in titles as they come off as link-baity...I wish a similar policy applied to titles with such absolute statements as "the best ever" or "what you never knew about..."

This map is not the "best" map ever of racial segregation, though it may be the most comprehensive. I'd argue that a more effective map would include some kind of time element, to show how formerly integrated areas slowly became segregated.

ozh 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"African American" and "White". This is grotesque. Either say black & white, or african american & caucasian american. Pick one.
ebspelman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
These guys did an amazing job with the interactive element, but a lot of this is borrowed work! Let's give credit where credit is due:

Bill Rankin posted maps in this exact visual style back in 2009. You can see them (and many other amazing maps he's done) at his blog -- http://www.radicalcartography.net/index.html?chicagodots

Eric Fischer picked up Bill's project and ran with it, composing maps for most of the major US cities with census 2010 data. You can see them all on his Flickr page -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/sets/7215762481267496...

I love great maps, but it's a little disheartening that these precursor projects aren't mentioned anywhere in the article/comments.

cjensen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this map, but really hate the implementation. Dots overlaid on white makes dots really hard to see. I'd love to be able to set the background to black or something.

Also, last time this was featured on Fark the map became quickly unusable. Would be nice if they could generate some KML files or something that could be used outside of their website.

nonce42 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking at the Bay Area in this map, I noticed a very dense African-American region near Dublin CA that looked out of place. I investigated what it was and was shocked to discover it was the Santa Rita Jail. The map really made it clear how racially skewed the jail population is.
Pxtl 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh god, I read the comments. I know comments on news sites are awful, but I didn't expect that on Wired.
wahsd 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What I find interesting is that the racial breakdown is still so racist.... White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Other/Multi-racial ??? It's shameful! It's racist because only the White cohort shares any measurable uniformity. Blacks are African-Americans of slave decent, North, East, South, West, and several other groups in between Africans, Asians are even more differentiated. Really??? Tadjiks, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysians are all just Asian?

It's such a degenerate, lazy, white-centric breakdown. It's a disgrace.

Nice map though!

Jgrubb 15 hours ago 2 replies      
That's hilarious, I was wondering if my hometown (ATL) would be broken down, and it's the second one. When I moved back there after college I wanted to do some sort of study of the racial segregation in that city. It's totally along that east-west axis, more precisely at Ponce De Leon Ave. All these upper-class streets that run through the nicest neighborhoods in north Atlanta even change their names as they cross over Ponce.

God, I miss that town every now and then. I'd kill for a hot Krispy Kreme right now.

detcader 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Before this comment forum devolves into the usual level of strife trying to grapple with what race "is," I'd like to offer two articles.

What We Mean When We Say 'Race Is a Social Construct' - http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/what-we-...

The Point Is Not To Interpret Whiteness But To To Abolish It by Noel Ignatiev - http://racetraitor.org/abolishthepoint.html the stuff about "White Studies" (obviously contextual) and Marxist tie-ins are totally optional to understanding the central points, I believe)

guard-of-terra 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Russian here. We won't see a similar map of Moscow for two reasons:

1) Immigrants can't afford any housing.

2) Most rent is private and not reported anywhere; most immigrants are illegal and not accounted anywhere.

Moscow won't segregate because people are awfully un-mobile.

If this changes, we may share the fate of cities in USA/Europe.

The problem is that a lot of immigrants are flowing in (from central asia) and there is no political will to limit their influx / control their quality.

Right now all the immigrants work and only resort to crime in dire situations, but I'm afraid this is bound to change if measures are not taken.

amerika_blog 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Stop trying to force people to like one another. Social engineering is not like other forms of engineering; it depends on values outside a count of interchangeable parts. Many of humanity's worst outcomes have emerged from such well-intentioned but oblivious social engineering.
frogpelt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If there was not hatred (not gonna happen, by the way), would segregation still be a bad thing?

Is there something inherently WRONG with people gravitating toward and feeling most comfortable around people who look like themselves?

humbyvaldes 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hispanic isn't a race
cutie 8 hours ago 0 replies      
After seeing Los Angeles and the map of the west in general, I believe the Latinos are significantly under-counted.

I had anticipated this to some extent in daily life but it was driven home a few years ago. I lived in a very "latino" neighborhood, unusual to see anyone else...

When election time came around, I got in line of perhaps 50-100 people at a very busy polling place. Bored, I looked down the line at each person. Gone were the folks I was used to seeing every day, in fact I was hard-pressed to find any. I counted one or two latinos in the whole line, and they were not from the migrant-worker class... i.e. poorer Mexican or Central American Indians.

It is probable a larger percentage of these folks will submit to the Census bureau than registering to vote, but how much? As a whole they are not well integrated.

ChrisNorstrom 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The Japanese have Japan.

The Jews have Isreal.

The Indians have India.

The Italians have Italy.

The Greeks have Greece.

The Arabs, Bulgarians, Swedish, Danish, German, etc....

It takes a special kind of "brainwashed racialized American" to not understand that "People like to live among their own kind, whether religious, ethnic, cultural, or racial."

I find it sad that so many, and I say this as a independent, liberal extremists think a utopian future consists of every single culture and race living side by side spread out without clumps of one group. I feel like Extreme Equalization is just cultural form of communism.

Living in St. Louis (half black, half white town) I can tell you I've overheard fellow black employees talk about moving, but specifically mention they don't want to move to the white neighborhoods. Their reason, "Not enough black folks, no black community" (aka "I want to be with my own kind") I hope to live a future where one day I can express myself the same way without someone immediately rushing in to call me "racist".

cfesta9 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really cool map! I have a few questions about it though. Racial Segregation are very strong words to use when describing this map. I have lived in Chicago for my whole life. I have heard people say that Chicago is the most segregated city in the US. That line might be true. But when I look at this map it is very hard to draw the assumption that Chicago is incredibly segregated. Looking at this map you could easily say white people live here african american live here and asian / hispanic live here etc... But it is much deeper then the top overview. Chicago has a huge polish , german, irish community. I'm talking about people who have moved from their home country to live in the US. I notice a trend that when polish people move to chicago they move to where polish people live not any old "white" neighborhood they move to a place where they feel comfortable and have common ground. Never in my life have I or the city say white people need to live here and african american live here. There must be a reason that Chinese live on the south side Vietnamese live on the north side and Korean live on the further north side. Latino is the same. I forgot where i was going with this point. But I feel the way we see racial segregation is that some higher power says that we must not live next to each other. When in truth people want to live by their people.
protomyth 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the reservations in the US, it would have been nice to see Native Americans have their own color. It would be a nice touch to compare reservation vs. urban conclaves.
daigoba66 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a similar map that explores other attributes such as income, family size, etc.
jccalhoun 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting project but it seems only useful at all for large cities. I zoomed in on the rural area I live in and there wasn't anything. They mention toggling between color and black and white but there still wasn't anything there.
johnbburg 14 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised they didn't use Washington D.C. as one of the featured images. The contrast is nearly as start as Detroit's.
jebblue 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I ran a check with Google using "define: segregation" and the definition included, "the act of setting". The title uses the term segregation perhaps innocently but incorrectly. People live where they choose. If the government said they had to live somewhere then it would be segregation. So it's really a map of where people tend to settle. HN should not have allowed the title to stand as is. Perhaps HN feels it's necessary to engage in sensationalism like some of the other similar sites I never or rarely go to any more for technical news.
mumbi 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Oregon looks like a nice place to live </sarcasm>

Cool and interesting maps.

karlkatzke 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Dang. I have been looking for a GIS/BigData project, and this was one of my ideas.
NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies theguardian.com
246 points by uptown  3 days ago   73 comments top 17
sage_joch 3 days ago 5 replies      
In related news, DuckDuckGo has seen a huge spike in traffic (https://duckduckgo.com/traffic.html). Even if the NSA has probably circumvented DDG's privacy features, it's still worth using them for trying to preserve user privacy. And in my experience, DDG's search results have improved drastically, to the point that I very rarely have to resort to Google.
mikegioia 3 days ago 3 replies      

    The judgment revealed that the NSA was collecting up to     56,000 wholly US internet communications per year in the     three years until the court intervened. Bates also     rebuked the agency for misrepresenting the true scope of     a major collection program for the third time in three     years.
This "judgement" showed they were only collecting 56,000 emails per year? Give me a break. Even if their system for collecting foreigners' emails was actually trying to only collect foreigners' emails, I would whole-heartedly expect them to nab more than 56k/year accidentally.

I think if you dig in, you'll find it's a few orders of magnitude higher.

belorn 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Im not sure I can say this more clearly: were not in cahoots with the NSA and theres is no government program that Google participates in that allows the kind of access that the media originally reported." - Drummond

One do wonder what NSA paid good money for if not for a government program which Google participated in.

monsterix 3 days ago 3 replies      
I am kind of keen to see numbers on the negative impact this program has had on the (American) cloud and Internet industry. I know a handful of companies in Europe and Asia who moved away from Google and Rackspace lately and set-up/revived their own machines.

My best guess is that the monetary loss due to this whole forceful invasion of privacy would be in order of billions (I am just guessing here; would be great if someone could point me to a thoroughly researched number though). This cost is apart from the bazillion sunk money that the US/UK Government put in to get hold data from the trunk, set up data center of NSA etc. All to just get hold of less than 50 so-called potential murderers (Avoiding the T-word!).

Looking at the cost of the whole thing and the stupidity of the presented picture, I think purpose of PRISM is already lot more than just curbing terrorism.

Spearchucker 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the first of Snowden's revelations in which I see a marginal upside. As a foreigner, this isn't my tax money.
kaonashi 3 days ago 2 replies      
So if they're getting money directly from the NSA, it's hard for them to claim that they were in the dark as far as allowing the NSA direct access to their data.
espeed 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the time has come to resurrect Wave (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Wave) and usurp email by turning Wave into a p2p PFS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_forward_secrecy) communications platform.

See "Perfect Forward Secrecy can block the NSA from secure web pages, but no one uses it" (http://blogs.computerworld.com/encryption/22366/can-nsa-see-...).

Zigurd 3 days ago 2 replies      
"They didn't have 'direct access' to our bank account."
tzs 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting how they aren't focusing on the most important revelation in that story, which is that the NSA went to considerable effort and expense to fix the things that a FISA judge said were unconstitutional.
nawitus 3 days ago 1 reply      
And this money is funneled to startups. Enjoy your "blood money" :).
devx 3 days ago 2 replies      
This why I'm not comfortable with the idea of companies getting paid for this, and actually being profitable for them to do it. If it wasn't sustainable for a company to give so much data to the NSA, they would protest a lot louder about it. Remember how hard Google fought against SOPA, because SOPA would've been very unsustainable for them, and it would've even put Youtube in danger of being shut down.

Being paid, combined with them getting immunity for this sort of stuff just makes the companies a whole lot more complacent about it, and much more likely to agree to giving them all the data they need, knowing that almost nothing can happen to them,as long the process is kept secret - and they probably didn't worry too much about that, because secrecy is NSA's job.

Now, when are we going to create backlash against the ISP's and carriers for allowing NSA to scoop up most of the web's traffic? Almost nobody is mentioning them in these stories, even though they play an even bigger role than the companies listed in PRISM.

berkut 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why are the dates in those excerpts in non-US (day of month first) format?
malandrew 3 days ago 0 replies      
How in the hell is impeachment of POTUS for outright lying to the American people not under consideration? Is this not being considered because none of his statements were made under oath? If that is the case, I get the feeling that we should have a law somewhere that states that everything that POTUS or a White House spokesperson says is always said under oath with penalty of perjury for lying.

Once you've been elected to office, it should be perjury to lie to the citizens that have elected you.

jdhopeunique 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ixquick.com is another search engine which keeps no record of ip addresses and uses ssl. It also serves as a proxy so that you can view webpages through ixquick by clicking on a "proxy" link under each search result.
josephlord 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm torn. If I was running the company I would want to charge the NSA to try and discourage them from overusing the capabilities but I don't want it to become an appealing business for the companies.
ape4 3 days ago 3 replies      
Won't this show up in a balance sheet somewhere for the companies?
pivnicek 3 days ago 0 replies      
In other news, prostitution legalized.
Matt Damon: Edward Snowden did a great thing cnet.com
239 points by vinhnx  17 hours ago   95 comments top 17
spodek 16 hours ago 5 replies      
Though just a role in a movie (though one he co-wrote), his scene about why his character in Good Will Hunting should or shouldn't work for the NSA seems relevant.


EDIT: Here's the text of it (it appears unformatted because it's one long (well-delivered) line of text).

Why shouldn't I work for the NSA? That's a tough one. But I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the NSA, and somebody puts a code on my desk, somethin' no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, cus' I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding... Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, Send in the marines to secure the area" cus' they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, cus' they were off pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie over there takin' shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, cus' he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work. He can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin' cus' every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.

EDIT TWO: Watching that monologue in context made the scene more relevant. The NSA guys try to entice him with the opportunity to work on cool math with brilliant people. He responds with something I can only imagine current NSA smart people haven't done but I hope they are starting to -- to consider the consequences of their actions and their responsibility. Hacker News posted a story -- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6258093 -- about a math professor whom the NSA employed for a couple summers as a math undergrad in Princeton now calling on his colleagues to question their contributions and to speak up.

It raises a timeless question in science and engineering: "I can do this, but should I? ... What are the consequences?"

yuvadam 16 hours ago 4 replies      
As Matt Damon was talking about "civil liberties vs. security" it resonated with essentially every second sentence DIRNSA was saying at his public appearance at BlackHat.

This is a false dichotomy, and definitely not about some sort of tradeoff to protect us from "terrorists amongst us" (which in itself is a dubious claim.)

All these programs are about the creation of a de-facto authoritarian state serving nobody else but the powerful corporations and the decision-makers that said corporations keep in place via their accumulated wealth.

This isn't some democratic debate about civil liberties at conflict. This is a fucking plutocracy.

corin_ 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm not sure how I hadn't already thought of this, so I wonder has everyone else missed this or not. We've all been thinking that not enough people outside the tech. world have been paying enough attention to these revelations - what better way to change this than through celebrity endorsements? Not necessarily of Snowden himself, but endorsements of the message that what is going on is wrong.

Or has this been happening already and I just missed it?

seren 16 hours ago 1 reply      
> "If we're going to trade our civil liberties for our security, then that should be a decision that we collectively make,"

I don't understand how the blog author can relate the use of the word "collectively" to a hint at Communism, East Germany and the Stasi. Is this generally a taboo word in the US ?

kilian 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this in general how reporting on 'celebrity opinions' is done in the USA? Apart from the one or two lines that directly quote Matt Damon, the rest of the article is an abomination.

I do however hope this reaches more people, there's nothing like a celebrity endorsement.

gyardley 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Gee, I didn't have an opinion on Edward Snowden before, but now that I know what Matt Damon thinks...
nicholassmith 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently read an interview with Damon that covered some of his background, which was quite left wing (his family still are) so I'm not surprised this bothers him. I hope he uses his position to try keep the conversation about what's right and fair in terms of surveillance. It's not great that we need celebrities onside to try and remind people that something is awful, but it's not a bad thing.
hannibal5 15 hours ago 3 replies      
>the actor who must know a thing or two about the covert world


>He is being asked what he thinks of Edward Snowden. Astonishingly for someone who has been Jason Bourne and knows the danger of such things, he is answering the question.

WTF. Actor who has been playing Jason Bourne and been in Good Will hunting now is now expert?

frogpelt 13 hours ago 2 replies      
A. Why does Matt Damon think we care what he thinks?


B. Why do we care what Matt Damon thinks?

squozzer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Chris Matyszczyk sounded a bit condescending. But I had to laugh at his last line, "However, can we truly trust ourselves? We are, after all, the bright sparks who voted in the current Congress."

I would extend that line of questioning to include:

1) Can we trust ourselves given that we elected several Presidents who were - a) Obviously oblivious frat boys who were better at campaigning than governing (GW Bush and Clinton 2nd term); b) Ex-CIA (GHW Bush -- actually he was DCI, don't believe he was ever an agent); 3) Someone who campaigned on a progressive platform but quickly abandoned most of it upon election (Obama).

2) Can we trust ourselves given that we find a Matt Damon snark piece on Cnet so damned fascinating?

AliEzer 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Could somebody please find Ja Rule so I can make sense of all this?
jongraehl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Author suggests we should consider Damon an expert on whether someone is acting. That's rather silly. Why aren't we using actors instead of torture, then?
popee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> It is, though, a tempting and charming notion that we could all get together and decide on how much of our civil liberties we really ought to give up or not.

Is this really possible in US? Or is someone just going to explain to him that he is socialist/communist? >:-)

jfe 15 hours ago 0 replies      
worst writing ever.
sigzero 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really? Who cares? His opinion is not any more relevant than anyone else.
cjdrake 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally! I have been waiting in anticipation, not unlike a pre-pubescent girl at a Justin Bieber concert, for Matt Damon to make a statement. Oh thank you, great actor whose day job is to read what other people tell you to say, for telling me what to think. I would be lost without his voice, guiding me like a compass towards the truth.
How Paypal and Reddit faked their way to traction medium.com
239 points by pytrin  2 days ago   64 comments top 17
lifeisstillgood 2 days ago 1 reply      
A few years back the major tv companies in the UK underwent a scandal involving faking tv phone-in competitions - runners on the show called in pretending to be viewers, calls went unregistered. Almost none was intended to gain pecuniary advantage but it was fraud. I think people went to jail.

I fail to see why the same scandal should not be seen here

Edit: Reddit is deception, hard to see fraud. Dating sites with fake profiles are likely to be fraud if its a pay site(AFF sounds outrageous). The odd ball is PayPal - if the eBay supplier got less money from the sale than if they had dealt with a normal user with a credit card the I guess there could be a case for fraud. Be interested in a real lawyers view

dvdhsu 2 days ago 2 replies      
Paypal buying eBay items wasn't actually the primary method for stimulating growth. Initially, Paypal offered new users $20 for opening an account, and $20 for referring somebody to open an account. They then dropped the bonus to $10 for both, then $5, then $0. This allowed them to grow immensely, and they reached 100,000 users in one month. These bonuses weren't "cheap" though: they cost PayPal around 60-70 million.

Here's a reference - an interview between Elon Musk and Salman Khan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDwzmJpI4io&feature=player_de.... It's worth a watch.

liquidcool 2 days ago 4 replies      
Missed a couple big ones from companies they mentioned. Yelp paid professional reviewers to seed cities they wanted to establish themselves in. To my knowledge they were honest reviews, but people were still put off by it.

And the Airbnb spam debacle was left out as well. (http://davegooden.com/2011/05/how-airbnb-became-a-billion-do...)

For the record, I use both services frequently, but those are notable omissions.

Really curious how much PayPal dumped into buying eBay items. Doesn't seem like something you could do for long, so I imagine it had to be highly targeted.

mjburgess 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think we need to distinguish between "faking", "demonstrating" and "supplying". Faking should be reserved for literally providing false data with the intention that it's believed to be true, eg. the dating site example.

Most of those examples were not faking anything. Rentoid actually supplied a serivce, though it wasnt "user-generated". Reddit supplied links their potential users would be interested in.

This is a mixture of demonstrating how the service works, and supplying actual content to potential users.

By way of contrast, what the dating site admins should have actually done, is ask all their single friends to sign up (and any other single people they could get their hands on directly).

It seems a perfectly good and moral business strategy to generate your own content which is representative and useful. I think "faking it" is a bit more questionable.

blairbeckwith 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm usually not bothered by stuff like this, but let's play some role-reversal.

"Dating services know what men want (who doesnt) and seed the network with photos of Latin American models with eclectic interests (not that the latter matters)."

In to...

"Dating services know what women want (who doesn't) and seed the network with wealthy-looking men with genuine personalities (not that the latter matters)."

Dogamondo 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of the tactics the music industry used to use to gain initial traction for their manufactured groups and artists who had never built up an organic following before being signed. Case in point is Lou Pearlman's creation, Backstreet Boys, who's first album and titular single was called "Backstreet's Back", with lyrics that alluded to the fact that they had been around for a while and were making a 'comeback'. Their music video was noted for having a mass of adoring, screaming female fans chasing them down the street and going silly over them. This was before they were even known, but eventually became a reality.
Tossrock 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the meta-story is that that's what medium.com is doing right now, right?
hsuresh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another way of looking at what reddit did, is to think of them as hacking a way to provide value to the initial users. Faking doesn't necessarily have to be about lying, it can be used to provide value, even though the system is designed to work well only when there is a significant userbase.
dfritsch 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that this is an obvious extension of what new businesses have been doing for decades. If you open a storefront, you would do a soft opening to test the idea and then a grand opening to generate traffic.

If I was having a grand opening, I would get every friend there, even if they would never shop at my business, to make the place seem full and busy during the "party".

Obviously this is not on the scale of a start up, but I think the idea of faking initial interest is actually common for any business.

The article hints at how sinister your faking is seems to affect how much backlash you get from it.

cmbaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember years ago, I had a blog entry hit the homepage of Reddit: http://baus.net/rails-wrong-language/ . I think the user that posted it was Linuxer or something like that. But the account had a ton of karma and there was some question if it was just a bot run by Reddit.
leokun 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of bullshit advice you get from (non-pg) mentors at YC and places like 500-startups. Such advice has a few traits:

* It's too general to be of any use to you.

* It's too specific to be of any use to you.

* It's stuff so obvious you've probably already tried it and it obviously hasn't worked for you.

If there was a formula that worked, everyone would do it. There isn't, so general, vague sounding bullshit is the order of the day. They might as well be prescribing hanging garlic from your door. You get a couple of people who have seen success one way or another, usually through being at the right place at the right time with the right idea in a situation of extreme uniqueness, and they are never helpful. At least not strategically. They probably are helpful in terms of the business of startups: management and fundraising etc.

I think the real lesson is to just build your idea as best as you can and if there's traction it'll work, if there's signal follow it, if you don't get anywhere quickly, try harder or try something else. Or give up.

volume 2 days ago 0 replies      
I forget where I read it, but "Pud" of FckedCompany and Adbrite fame explained how he used to run a BBS back in the day and the techniques (similar to the blog post) he used to get traffic carried over into how he got traction for FckedCompany.
khadim 2 days ago 6 replies      
So should every startup fake their way to traction?
nkurz 2 days ago 2 replies      
Judging from the comments so far, I'm guessing I'm in the minority. But from my point of view, all of the practices described are duplicitous and unacceptable. Yes, there is a differentiation between 'faking' and 'fraud', but this is a legal distinction. Morally, they are equally offensive. Unquestionably, lies and deceit can be useful in achieving business success. This does not mean that they should be condoned, much less encouraged.
omegant 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post is perfectly timed for us. We are trying to rise a market place and its really difficult to go beyond the egg and chiken problem. Even more if the model is new and there is no data to support our point.
gcb0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes you wonder if that also worked for Tesla
getglue 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reddit grew b/c of the fall of Digg.
Google Ventures Puts $258M Into Uber, Its Largest Deal Ever techcrunch.com
230 points by linux_devil  4 days ago   172 comments top 32
physcab 4 days ago 4 replies      
Uber makes absurd amounts of money. I've had many conversations with drivers and they claim to be pulling in $35-$45 per hour after uber's 30% cut. I've talked to drivers who have quit their full time jobs and love it. Some have said that because the service is so convenient that people have started using it as a walking replacement, often opting to catch a cab for 5 blocks. Lastly, many companies have enterprise uber accounts and will happily pay their employee's $200 cab rides to the airport or even 45 minute drive home.
w3pm 4 days ago 4 replies      
"Given the scale of the cash injection, the company might not have to raise another series round before going public, though a bridge round isnt inconceivable."

Why does a company need to raise so-much-money before going public? Isn't the whole point of "going public" to raise money?

alariccole 4 days ago 5 replies      
This makes perfect sense, and if I had money to invest in this market, I would. Self-driving cars coupled with such an infrastructure means a very profitable business in the not-too-distant future.

The highest cost for taxis is not the cars, nor the gas, but the drivers. Get rid of them, and it's all gravy.

Something like this is most certainly the "mass" transit of the future. It would be lower cost, more convenient, and would actually pollute less than buses during non-peak times.

yapcguy 4 days ago 9 replies      
> "The $258 million is a 86% chunk of Google Ventures $300 million dollar a year fund, and its unclear as to whether the firm will continue to make such sizable investments."

So a towncar hire service, with an app, is worth over $3bn ? Really?!

Maybe there's one or two other metropolitan cities in the US where the taxi service isn't up to scratch, but where is the growth going to come from?

I doubt whether regulators and taxi unions in London, Tokyo or Hong Kong would sit idly by when some Silicon Valley kool-aid types come knocking.

lpolovets 3 days ago 6 replies      
A lot of people are commenting about Uber + self-driving cars. What's the point of Uber if there are self-driving cars? Doesn't the existence of fully automated, driverless cars kill the value of Uber's driver network while equaling or surpassing Uber's no-hassle experience?

I think what I'm saying is: if Google actually created a fleet of driverless cars, would anyone still use Uber?

perfmode 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those who find this new baffling: Uber operates in the following cities:


greendata 4 days ago 1 reply      
Regulation is the biggest obstacle with Uber. The Taxi services have the city regulators in their pockets. Google, with their influence and money, may help solve Uber's biggest issue.
mistercow 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can't help but wonder if it might have been wise for them to wait until they had widespread approval and adoption of self-driving cars. Completely disrupting mass transit will threaten a very large number of people's bottom lines, and many of those people have the ability to make things difficult for Google. Not least among these are auto manufacturers.
subdane 3 days ago 0 replies      
Live in New York, think Uber is both more expensive and less convenient than just hailing a cab and I never use it. They seem to want to skim money from cabbies. I was also particularly appalled by their jacking up their prices during Hurricane Sandy. Their one killer feature - being able to see your car's arrival status on your phone, will be a commodity soon enough. Company won't exist in 5 years.
onedev 4 days ago 1 reply      
You know what, Uber is awesome. Congrats to those guys and gals.

I think Uber will evolve to become a service that even regular people can use, not just a speciality service for the relatively wealthy tech community (though it is necessary to start out as such; ala Tesla). I also think that taxis aren't the only thing that it will offer in the future. There is a wealth of potential for what they can do. They sometimes do fun one-off Ubers like Helecopters or Ice Cream Trucks which don't quite capture this potential but shows us that they realize that there's much more to experiment with and that they're not afraid to experiment.

Imagine when we have self driving vehicles (which, incidentally Google is helping develop).

qntmfred 4 days ago 1 reply      
self-driving taxis, here we come
cwilson 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is it not weird that Google Ventures also invested in Sidecar? Isn't that a conflict of interest?
flyinglizard 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is an incredible move on Google's part. Uber can be seen as the physical arm of Google in meatspace; imagine having your flight information come up in Google Now with a button to summon an Uber car.

I look into the future and I primarily see "Google".

malandrew 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be awesome if they next look at Lit Motors or a similar safe 1-2 person pod. Lit Motors + ber + Self-driving cars is total win. Once you get rid of the driver all you really need are 1-2 seats for most black car service and taxi rides
dcpdx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love Uber. After using it for over a year, just had my first negative experience this past weekend in SF when the UberX driver had no clue how to get from SOMA to Ocean Beach. I left negative feedback and in a few hours got a response from one of their customer experience folks apologizing for the poor service and refunding my money for the trip. Service like that is why I'll always choose Uber over alternatives like Lyft, Sidecar, etc.
psbp 4 days ago 0 replies      
A big piece of google's continued growth is going to be in mobile commerce. Take offers, maps, search and self-driving cars and put them into an amalgamated new product. Google's future is an ecological approach.
candybar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised not to see anyone mention this but a large taxi service for Google can become a huge competitive advantage if it can be intelligently used to gather real-time traffic/street-view/etc data.
ovoxo 4 days ago 0 replies      
So, you do all realize that this was an investment (of less than 10%) and not an acquisition right? Everyone here is talking about how this plays right into Google's plans - no. With their stake, Google does not have enough leverage to direct what direction Uber should be moving in.
mason240 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at the Uber website, they refer the the Twin Cities as Minneapolis, even though their service area includes St Paul and Minneapolis.

That's a deal killer for me.

benologist 4 days ago 0 replies      
This year will be remembered as the first year TechCrunch failed to break any major stories.
arbuge 3 days ago 0 replies      
Aside: the quality of comments on Techcrunch seems to have really deteriorated with their current comment system.
deegles 3 days ago 0 replies      
The current business models of transportation startups like Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Car2Go are merely a stepping stone to something much greater. It's only a matter of time before self-driving car technology is developed enough to be deployed widely. It seems clear to me that Google's investment in Uber is their way to guarantee access to a large fleet of vehicles and an established brand. The next 10-15 years are going to be very interesting :
logn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will a web-bot be able to automatically order self-driving cars to pick up robots so they can peaceably assemble outside Utah data centers?
cheez0r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else see Google lining up Uber to get bought, so that they can consolidate Uber with their self-driving car to provide an on-demand taxi service?
revorad 3 days ago 0 replies      
Travis Kalanick is the definition of relentless - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QrX5jsiico
jasonmoo 3 days ago 0 replies      

    Step one: buy car service    Step two: replace drivers with computers    Step three: profit, optimize traffic patterns from within the swarm, decrease accidents, increase fuel efficiency, etc.

kailuowang 3 days ago 0 replies      
uber + Tesla + driverless = an environment friendly transportation system as convenient as if you have a private car and driver and as cheap as public bus.
jfornear 3 days ago 0 replies      
fsckin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Should have been 256M for a nice round number.
NN88 3 days ago 0 replies      
Basically Uber-driverless cars?
unz 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is kind of silly. If Google launched it's own uber with the google brand on it, it would easily trump uber. Developing the the uber software would cost way way less than $250 million. These large companies are throwing a lot of money away on stupid acquisitions. (It makes sense in social networking, but not with something like uber which isn't a network effects company).
clamprecht 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, corrupt governments everywhere, kiss your corruption goodbye.
The Science Behind Honeys Eternal Shelf Life smithsonianmag.com
215 points by danso  3 days ago   85 comments top 13
Qworg 3 days ago 8 replies      
Bees really are "magic" as per the article. I've been beekeeping for 3 years now and I love it. Working with such programmable insects is almost like watching automata at work. Via simple inputs, complex behavior. I recommend any one, but programmers especially, try keeping bees.
simonebrunozzi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am 36 years old now; when I was 8, upon returning from school, I told my father: "Dad, the teacher has taught us about bees. I want bees.". He knew how stubborn I was, and in fact 2 months later we had our first beehive.

I've been helping him beekeeping for the next 15 years or so, and have learned A LOT about bees.We harvested several types of honey. "millefiori" (thousand flowers, or "generic" honey), "castagno" (chestnut), "eucalipto" (eucalyptus), and of course "pappa reale" (royal jelly).

In 1999, during my military service, I came back to the barracks from home, bringing chestnut honey, my all time favorite, and "pecorino" cheese. Try to eat them together, and you will understand what flavor really is. Amazing.

Bees are fascinating creatures (I know, I should have said insects). Taking care of them, for months, until the "smielatura" (honey harvest) comes, is an incredible experience for a young kid.

The main thing I've learned from this is respect for nature, for others. (not to claim that I'm a saint of anything, but I'm pretty sure that the "nice" part of me has a lot to do with beekeeping.).It's also an amazing bonding experience for a father and his son.

If you have any chance, I'd suggest you buy a couple of beehives, and start spending time with them. It's relaxing, interesting, challenging sometimes. 100% worth it.

nutmeg 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've told my family that I want to be mummified in honey when I die, similar to mellified man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellified_man
Cherian 3 days ago 1 reply      
Chef Luster wrote a beautiful answer on Quora related to this Why doesnt honey spoil[1]

[1] http://www.quora.com/Why-doesnt-honey-spoil

noonespecial 3 days ago 1 reply      
Be careful of honey cut with corn syrup. It's sadly more common than it should be. This does not have a super long shelf life. To me it looks like it separates out and then eventually spoils.
INTPenis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I want to know if anyone has tried eating the honey in the egyptian tombs, and what it tasted like.
PhantomGremlin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is today's honey safe to eat?

Comments have mentioned "pesticides" and "herbicides". Wouldn't those become concentrated in honey? I assume that bigger objects such as "mites" can be filtered out of the final product, but the chemicals would remain.

Also someone posted a link to Chinese honey being "laundered". It's apparently being dumped at artificially low prices. While that's bad for business, it's not necessarily bad for my health. But is there something in the Chinese honey that's potentially harmful to us? The linked article didn't say.

abecedarius 3 days ago 5 replies      
Any of you use honey medicinally today? E.g. put it on a cut before bandaging? Swallow it to help an unhappy gut? (This is not medical advice; I'm curious.)
bobajett 3 days ago 1 reply      
Your Lord revealed to the bees: "Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men build.Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow."From their bellies issues a drink of varying hues, containing healing for mankind. Indeed in this is a sign for people who think.

from the Koran chapter 16 entitled "The Bee".

dhughes 2 days ago 0 replies      
> But through the process of making honey, the bees play a large part in removing much of this moisture by flapping their wings to literally dry out the nectar.

And if you keep going you get what a man in my province made, dry honey: http://www.honibe.com/

Dogamondo 3 days ago 2 replies      
My girlfriend is apparently allergic to honey. She says it's part of her 'fructose intolerance' that she developed years ago. Can this be true? or is it psychosomatic?
gleenn 3 days ago 0 replies      
God I love honey.
brazzy 3 days ago 6 replies      
So basically the big secret is putting it inside an airtight container?

Wow. That wouldn't work with any other kind of food!

To downvoters: please read the article. all of it

Nimrod: C + Macros + GC nimrod-code.org
202 points by norswap  1 day ago   106 comments top 25
xaa 1 day ago 3 replies      
This reminds me a lot of D. It's low-level, GCed, essentially intended as a nicer C/C++.

But I think it suffers from the same fatal flaw that D does: you have to semi-manually translate C headers that you want to use. Like D, it provides an automated tool to help, but the translated headers will inevitably lag their original counterparts.

As another commenter below noted, the var and proc thing is also redundant and annoying. However, the ability to compile to C (and, as a result, to easily cross-compile) is really nice.

mynegation 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is the closest to my ideal language I've ever seen. Elegant and expressive syntax of Python, statically typed with automatic type inference, compiled to native code, garbage collected, macros, AST manipulation, very comprehensive "batteries included" standard library. Definitely worth a closer look!
lobster_johnson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nimrod looks a lot like someone took Borland's ObjectPascal and removed the begin/end block semantics in favour of whitespace indentation.

For example, they use the "var: type" syntax; the syntax for declaring classes is nearly identical; "case [value] of" is right out of Pascal, as is the "0..2" range syntax. They refer to "procedures" as opposed to functions. They even use naming conventions from ObjectPascal: "T" as a prefix for types (eg., TChannel), "P" for the Nimrod equivalent to pointers (eg., PChannel is a "ref TChannel"), "F" for class members.

I would not be surprised if the author was an old Turbo Pascal/Delphi hand.

ics 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The Nimrod Compiler can also generate C++ or Objective C for easier interfacing.

This really is an inconvenient time for the weekend to be ending.

continuations 1 day ago 3 replies      
This looks good. However according to the web framework benchmark its performance looks pretty underwhelming, below that of Python and Ruby:


Has anyone used this in production?

dom96 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's really amazing about this language is that until only recently it has been developed solely by one person in his spare time no less. It is competing with the likes of Rust and Go which have pretty big companies behind them.
pilif 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Reading the tutorial is indeed very pleasant. I have to say however, that from such a new language I would ask for more correct string handling as opposed to the let-me-sidestep-encoding-issues-and-still-call-it-UTF8 that's going on.

Defining characters as 8 bit is not quite correct (you will get char variables holding a fraction of a character), treating strings as arrays of characters by conversion also isn't (now you have an array of partial characters) and ignoring the encoding (just assuming UTF8) is a sure cause for annoying bugs - something the rest of the language goes great lengths to avoid.

I've only read the tutorial so far. Maybe the library fixes some of the issues - we'll see. The thing is just that if you start adding metadata to your sting types (they do encode the length (in what? Characters? Partial characters? Bytes?)), then why not also at least add an encoding (to help programmers not to mix strings of different encodings)? Why do everything right and then weasel out when you get to strings?

Sorry. I'm totally obsessive what string encodings is concerned :-)

Symmetry 1 day ago 1 reply      
I actually discovered this yesterday and spent Saturday morning learning about it. I really like most of the syntax, especially the "var/const/let" distinction together with "if/when". I'm sort of wish that Rust and Go would just copy that. The semantics seemed to be up to par with this generation of potential C replacements, but not any better than the others.
stesch 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate that this language looks so good. Fast benchmarks, good library, readable code, documentation. I don't want to learn another language! Now I have to
buster 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just when i started reading tutorials about Rust this comes up... Looks nice, but does it also have concurrency built in (Rust tasks, Erlangs processes, message passing, etc.)?
hetman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately the documentation still states that at this point I can choose either threads or a dynamically linked run time library. For an embedded system, static linking isn't much of an option because there are real memory constraints.

It's a shame that a lot of these new languages focus on creating a really great language, but don't seem to give as much time to the practical usage of the language (for example, GHC did not support cross-compilation at all until very recently).

Ironing some of those fundamental issues out before adding some of the fancier features could probably really boost interest in the language and programmer uptake.

jaytaylor 1 day ago 7 replies      
I wonder what other wonderful languages I've never heard of. Really, please share!
JulianMorrison 1 day ago 0 replies      
They ported the Erlang scheduler model to a C based language, nice.
cju 1 day ago 1 reply      
As anyone tried it for embedded code on microcontrollers ?

It looks usable for soft realtime, almost keeping speed and control of C and adding ease (and fun) of coding.

GC is tunable and there are compilation options for embedded systems (http://nimrod-code.org/nimrodc.html#nimrod-for-embedded-syst...).

pekk 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why Nimrod has to mostly look like Python, but then make all kinds of innovations in syntax and formatting which have nothing to do with performance.
atrilumen 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've been tempted by this one several times. I may have to play around with it and SDL2.

One thing that gets me, though, is the var keyword in a statically typed language. Why say "var thing: string" instead of "string thing"?

I think that consistent, explicit declaration of types is much cleaner and easier to read than this recurring mixture of type inference and annotation.

nwg 1 day ago 1 reply      
There was something similar to this about two weeks ago here, with vars and lambdas in c99. It was less of a full blown language and more just functions and preprocessor definitions to be used in C. I am having trouble finding it now. Does anyone remember the name of this other project? I'd like to check these both out.
andrewflnr 1 day ago 1 reply      
On the Clay thread a while back, people liked my list of systems-oriented languages that I've been compiling for a while. I can't go a good copy-paste and edit job on my iPad, so I'll just link to the thread here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6117456 . A bunch of other people came in with updates and other entries for the list. Included were of course Clay, Nimrod, Rust, and D, but also Deca, BitC, ATS, Habit (a Haskell dialect), and others.
ballard 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Ugh, the community is barely alive and it's an unwieldy collection of non-orthogonal constructs. Generics and a few whiz-bang features doesn't paper over the sins upon sins. I see this project cutting back features or dying under the weight of crushing unmaintainability. (sad.)
polskibus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain why is this so much better than c++?
Scramblejams 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now if only it would offer immutability and lightweight threads (like Erlang's processes)...
C1D 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know exactly what I'm going to be doing next week!
dubcanada 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how good this would be as a game engine.
wmobit 1 day ago 2 replies      
Dear everyone, please stop using C as a compile target. Thanks.
sidww2 1 day ago 1 reply      
What would be really killer is if it could have bindings to Java. Then one could take advantage of the JVM being present everywhere w/o having to do a separate compilation for every platform.
UK government now leaking documents about itself theguardian.com
198 points by MarcScott  3 days ago   72 comments top 20
alan_cx 3 days ago 3 replies      
Well, here is my theory. Could well be missing something, or a hell of a lot, but here goes....

First thing is that my impression has been that the Independent has so far been pretty much parroting the Guardian articles. Now, I read this article as a "good spying" article. Its there for the government and GCHQ to show that spying is good, or had a good side. From a British security POV, if we believe the terror threat, this article actually shows spying as useful or worth while, and to Brits, good. Arabs wont like it, but to those who matter to the UK and US, I assume they know, and comply. Well, don't want to be bombed back to the stone age or be invaded, right?

Next, why the Independent, and not the Murdoch Times, Telegraph (Known in the UK as the Torygraph), or one of the tabloids? Well, the story needs the weight of a proper newspaper, so that's the tabloids out. That leaves the broadsheets. Pro conservative papers are too obvious, so that leaves the Independent.

Looks to me like a divide and rule thing. So far, the Independent and Guardian have been in step. Now we have the Guardian pushing "bad spying" and the Independent is the "good spying" advocate. The two step has been split.

I say the Independent has been used and somewhere along the line, we will see what they got for it.

jgrahamc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Richard Aldirch's book on GCHQ lists three locations in the Middle East used by GCHQ/NSA:

1. Masirah Island near Oman

2. Muharraq, Bahrain

3. Mutlah Ridge, Kuwait

Given its location and the layout of cables in that region I'd guess #1.

I'm not quite sure why The Independent published this article though. Surely, it's not news that GCHQ operates bases around the world? Are they going to reveal the location of Diego Garcia next?

nicholassmith 3 days ago 4 replies      
Note very carefully: "contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden".

Now, that doesn't say the documents came from Snowden, only that it was contained in them. They're both likely telling the truth when Snowden says 'it wasn't from me!' and the Indy says they've not been duped. We know that the UK government has just gotten hold of these documents, but we don't know whether there's anyone sympathetic to the cause mixed in there.

There's a lot of facets to this and care is needed from both sides of the fence, but there's no love loss between The Guardian and The Independent. Maybe The Indie has been told one thing off the record that might have a nugget of truth that's been paired down by Chinese whispers, we just don't know. The Guardian is probably sanitising what they publish after what happened with Wikileaks (no one ever took blame, the password was published by them after assurances it was temporary), and would prefer another firefighting exercise.

Upshot is, The Indie revealed another piece of the puzzle in the reach of the surveillance culture that's being built.

mcphilip 3 days ago 3 replies      
Edit: my reading skills suck today. Feel free to ignore/downvote this.

The independent article [1] referred to has an interesting claim:

>The Independent understands that The Guardian agreed to the Governments request not to publish any material contained in the Snowden documents that could damage national security.

>As well as destroying a computer containing one copy of the Snowden files, the papers editor, Alan Rusbridger, agreed to restrict the newspapers reporting of the documents.

From this submission's guardian article:

Greenwald: "Speaking for myself, let me make one thing clear: I'm not aware of, nor subject to, any agreement that imposes any limitations of any kind on the reporting that I am doing on these documents"

It might be helpful if the Guardian explicitly clears this up. What a strange situation...


acqq 3 days ago 1 reply      
Independent's article is really strange: It contains the name of the internal portal from which it claims Snowden downloaded files, it contains the time of Snowden's download and the apparent number of downloaded files. Then it describes the foreign probably military-controlled port which GCHQ uses. Otherwise repeats old information.

Why would anybody want to disclose that new info when the goal of Snowden's leaks was to point to the cases of unconstitutional US acts or broad attacks on liberties?

It definitely doesn't fit. The new information only "incriminates" Snowden more, otherwise doesn't contribute anything. In who's interest is that then?

belorn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Its called a false flag operation, commonly used to implicate a nation rather than an individual.

The Snowden camp is rather well defended at this point. He has received asylum in a country where US forces can't simply collect him from. The leaks are given out carefully, with lessons learned from the events surrounding Wikileaks. The news are given out in pace with readers ability to absorb them.

So what can a government do? Stopping airplanes with national leaders in them only caused more uproar. Trying to strong-arm journalist just created more news articles. Trying to physical destroy copies only resulted in a somewhat burned laptop, and maybe made someone to release an "insurance file". I guess they tried next with a false flag operation, hoping that it could go unnoticed. I wonder the think tanks will think of next.

einhverfr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fascinating. The Independent doesn't seem to say they got the documents from Snowden. They appear instead to be accepting UK intelligence agencies claiming that Snowden had certain information.

Maybe these were documents that the NSA has identified as likely compromised? Or maybe they were found on someone else (Miranda?) but it seems like this is an interesting development.

I am not even sure the Independent is being dishonest about it. However, something pretty odd is going on and the UK government is starting to look pretty incompetent.

beaker52 3 days ago 1 reply      
An unsavoury attempt at demonising Edward Snowden and those associated with him (Glenn Greenwald) based on false information, with a view to achieving public rationalisation of the actions of the government in the destruction of Guardian data and the detention of David Miranda, hence rationalising the reduction of civil liberties, increased surveillance and enforcement of "law" in the name of protecting the public from terrorism.

[Edit: Removed some emotive exaggeration]

brey 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I'm with the tin-foil hat brigade on this whole debacle, I'm not quite sure that 'it wasn't from Snowden' necessarily means 'so it must be misinformation from the Government'.

especially as it would be so easily disproven that Snowden had anything to do with it.

MarcScott 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder whether the Independent would reveal their source, or at least confirm or deny that it came from the UK government.
pivnicek 3 days ago 3 replies      
Does anyone know what kind of encryption was used on those drives that were taken from Miranda at Heathrow? Is it feasible to break that in this little time? That seems to be the angle here, that that info was on those drives. At least that's my wild stab in the dark.
epo 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a propaganda war, take nothing at face value. Is the Government lying (or ill-informed)? The Independent? The Guardian? Snowden? Is there another source of leaks?
jacquesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
One day there will be a movie about all this.
hyperventilator 3 days ago 1 reply      
The claim that the UK gov leaked this appears to be complete conjecture. It may be correct, but there are no facts, even circumstantial, to back this claim.
devx 3 days ago 0 replies      
You know, when I read that story I immediately thought "oh boy, now they're going to say Snowden leaks 'hurt them' because they uncovered military operations", or something along those lines.

So if it's coming straight from the UK government, I could see why they'd want to blame Snowden for that, and make him lose favor with the public. If this is why they did it, I could even see US "advising" them on following the same model to destroy his image, just like they did with Manning and Assange (and where somewhat successful in that, I'd say).

haakon 3 days ago 0 replies      
It figures - this "leak" seemed completely uncharacteristic of Snowden's other leaks.
jacquesm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe the independent should drop the 'in' from it's name.
chiph 3 days ago 3 replies      
There could be a second Snowden.
Fuxy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let the chess games begin. UK on the attack now desperately trying to find an angle to sell to the public.
gargoiler00 3 days ago 2 replies      
I remember when hacker news used to be about hacking, programming, startups etc.

What the hell has this political article got to do with any of the above?

Dear Prime Minister Cameron aftenposten.no
197 points by oyvind  2 days ago   20 comments top 5
robotmay 2 days ago 1 reply      
This will hopefully signal a trend of newspapers other than The Guardian standing up against privacy issues (I've no doubt it's already happening outside the UK, but there's a language barrier for me in reading them). In the UK we're pretty much stuffed: most of our papers are owned by powerful people (i.e. Rupert Murdoch) who pretty much control who stays in power, and they're likely avoiding talking about it so as to gain favours later on. As far as I've seen all the other papers are either ignoring the NSA/GCHQ story or actively attacking The Guardian. I've no doubt that the government will completely ignore this message, but I'm really grateful to see the issue being raised outside the UK.

I'm starting to wonder if our only way out of this mess is via EU intervention. The tories and their supporters will cry foul, but the EU is supposed to stand for a lot of freedoms and it'd be nice to see it being enforced. Whether the EU as an entity would stand up to the USA though, remains to be seen.

parley 2 days ago 4 replies      
I hope this isn't HN karma suicide, but as pleased as I am (as a Swede) that one of our better newspapers is participating in this, I wish they'd spent the time to rid it of spelling errors and grammatical errors. I think I can be excused for mine in a HN comment, but they can't for theirs in a public letter to the British PM. Other than that, good job.
riffraff 1 day ago 1 reply      
for people like me who have no idea what this is about, can't really understand it from TFA, I presume this would be the "events of the last week", please correct me if I'm wrong


wtil 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice way to earn some free publicity I suppose.
OpenStreetMap gets new, easier to use in-browser editor openstreetmap.org
197 points by jboynyc  3 days ago   31 comments top 6
jlgreco 3 days ago 1 reply      
The iD editor is really slick. Glad to see this is becoming the default editor on openstreetmap.org. It deserves it.

For the impatient, here is what it looks like: http://blog.openstreetmap.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/id_...

Pxtl 3 days ago 5 replies      
Since I obviously have some OSM developers in the room, can somebody point me to the right place to query against OSM mapping data? That is, if I want to get all one-way streets and stop-lights within my area, how do I do that? I've tried the various tools that send you a subset of the map (they don't seem to work) and the "download the whole OSM map and play with the XML" seems like a good way to choke on the data... Anybody got pointers?
s-phi-nl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Note that this is partially a result of the Knight Foundation grant to Development Seed that was reported a couple of years ago. http://www.mapbox.com/blog/knight-invests-openstreetmap/

Nice work!

mixmastamyk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. In the older editors, I always had trouble figuring out how to categorize points of interest. For example making a node a restaurant/bank/etc was always a hit or miss operation. Most of them wouldn't stick, if they even had one that made sense. I hope that's been fixed.
sjwright 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it easy to add a roundabout yet? I've wanted to make a whole bunch of improvements to OSM and keep getting stuck when trying to turn an intersection into a roundabout.
Vasili Arkhipov wikipedia.org
189 points by jbevain  2 days ago   53 comments top 17
strlen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting tidbit: when I describe my Soviet and early post-Soviet childhood to Americans, Americans of my age are surprised that their fears of Soviet nuclear attack, civil defense training ("duck and cover"), were not unique. "Whoa, you thought we were going to nuke you?! We thought you were going to nuke us." A popular (not very politically correct by US standards!) Soviet joke of this time conveyed the cynicism around the idea that once a nuclear war began, humanity would have any hope--

Armenian Radio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Yerevan_jokes) was asked: "what do to if a nuclear attack is imminent?"

Armenian Radio responded: "wrap yourself in a linen sheet and slowly, in organized fashion, without creating any panic, crawl to a cemetery."

To paraphrase War Games (a classic which I watched only after coming to the US), the winning move is not to play."

shurcooL 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's a lonely and sad thought that the biggest heroes whose immense sacrifices and contributions to the well being of everyone around them are celebrated by... the blissful ignorance of everyone else.

Except in movies. There, we get to see and experience it all.

Killah911 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame that we have gotten ourselves to a point where we must rely on the level headed decision making of so few people to keep us from annihilation. To say 'saved' may be a bit premature. It's more of a shame that we have created such monstrosities with the gifts of technology and have kept them around and continue to threaten our very own existence with them. Here's to hoping for cooler heads and compassion to always prevail, for all our sakes.
guantes 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is another interesting story about a Russian who may have saved the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov
Shivetya 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VPY2SgyG5w is an hour long documentary about this man and the incident he is famous for
keithpeter 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Three officers on board the submarine [...] were authorized to launch the torpedo if agreeing unanimously in favor of doing so. An argument broke out among the three, in which only Arkhipov was against the launch."

Opportunity for a playwright to write a really tight two scene piece there. Doubt if we could get it up to 50,000 words[1] even if we did the 'follow three scenarios with multiple endings' trick, and even if we had the Bobby Kennedy/LBJ dynamic in the committee going.

Edit: The K-19 'incident' would have made a major psychological impression on anyone, even allowing for the high threshold that I imagine Soviet navy commanders of that era had.[2]

[1] http://nanowrimo.org/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-19

rismay 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was lucky enough to learn about this in high school - Andover. I forget the speakers name but he gave the speech between 2001 - 2005 (I can't remember). It was an incredible speech about Mutually Assured Destruction and how the theory was absurd. The speaker pointed out that no one thought that we would exit the Cold War without a horrible war. And then he asked, "Why did this not happen?" He pointed to Vasili's example as to how one SANE person can make a difference. He talked about several other examples. He ended the speech by repeating, "PEACE. PEACE. PEACE." At the moment I thought it was cheesy... but here I am more than 10 years later and I still remember it.
erbo 1 day ago 0 replies      
An essay in the book What Ifs? of American History (Robert Cowley, ed.) by Robert L. O'Connell, "The Cuban Missile Crisis: Second Holocaust," details what might have happened if Arkhipov had not been successful and the Randolph had in fact been hit by a nuclear torpedo.

In the aftermath, the U.S. military executes air strikes on Cuba followed by an invasion. The Soviet forces obliterate Guantanamo with a nuclear strike, send nuclear cruise missiles at the incoming invasion force,and, most seriously, manage to launch two of the SS-4 missiles...one of which hits Washington D.C. and wipes out the entire National Command Authority. In response, U.S. forces execute the entire SIOP against the Soviet Union, an effort which gives "overkill" a new name.

The aftermath of "The Two Days' War" includes the near-extermination of the Soviet Union, radiation issues in large parts of the world, and a "nuclear twilight" causing worldwide food shortages and famine. Ultimately, the United States was viewed as the aggressor by the rest of the world, compounded by the actions of President Richard Nixon (elected in 1964, replacing Acting President John McCormack). The U.S. stood alone in refusing to join the Geneva Convention for the Abolition of Nuclear Armaments in 1966, and renounced UN membership in 1968, ordering the organization out of New York City. The American public felt Nixon had taken the wrong turn, and elected Eugene McCarthy to succeed him in 1972.

The essay is written as the report of an investigative commission written in 1972 and finally declassified in 2002, in part by the actions of U.S. Archivist Newton Leroy Gingrich (who never went into politics in this timeline) at the New Capital District in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.

snird 2 days ago 0 replies      
austinz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well, I'm glad the worst is over. It's chilling how many near misses there were. How many more near misses might we have endured, had the Cold War gone on, before the one not-any-kind-of-miss that would have destroyed human civilization?
Houshalter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Should we extend Petrov Day to him too? http://lesswrong.com/lw/jq/926_is_petrov_day/
Intimatik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Holly Molly, I live 1 mile far from this guy's last home(which was in Kupavna, Moscow region, a place where Russian air defense command resides)
guard-of-terra 2 days ago 1 reply      
Vice Admiral is hardly "a guy", while I'm not sure he had this rank at the time of incedent.
dredmorbius 1 day ago 1 reply      
, .
packetslave 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh look, another title edit that adds nothing and takes away from the original title that actually told us why we should care about Vasili Arkhipov. Get it together, mods!
mnml_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great story, but not really tech related
D9u 2 days ago 0 replies      
We read about this 7 months ago...


Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying eff.org
188 points by espeed  1 day ago   26 comments top 13
ck2 1 day ago 2 replies      
I love how it starts with this, which is so crystal clear but has obviously been violated on every conceivable level from your local police to the NSA.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,

against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated,

and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,

and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

So what part of "persons" "effects" "unreasonable" and "particular" has every level of government decided to purposely not understand?

tghw 1 day ago 0 replies      
The EFF is doing some great work. I just made my annual donation, a bit early this year. Will likely make another one.


espeed 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing that in hindsight may be related that's not on the timeline is the DoJ losing its lawsuit against Google in January 2006.

"Google Resists U.S. Subpoena of Search Data" (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/20/technology/20google.html?p...)

"Judge tells DoJ 'No' on search queries" (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/judge-tells-doj-no-on...)

According to the slides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prism_slide_5.jpg), the PRISM timeline begins the next year on 9/11/2007, and Google is added on January 14, 2009, almost 3 years to the day after the the DoJ ruling and only a few days before Obama takes office.

In a Q&A after a talk at Stanford in 2006, Marissa Mayer is asked, "How much information does Google share with the Federal Government?"

Here is her answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soYKFWqVVzg#t=1819

Steko 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is 1978 to 2000 blank? Were all the cool kids who added random NSA filter bait to their usenet and email sigs in the 90's just watching too much x-files?

Maybe this is why I lack the same level of outrage as the kids do over Snowden's disclosures: I've pretty much always assumed the NSA has always had pretty much everything (along with the Russians and the Chinese and I guess the Time Warner Corporation and now Google).

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Incredible summary of information.

Not crazy about the random left/right text but okay I can deal with it.

Was the report that Bush ignored, "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike US", a product of the NSA? Should it be on that timeline?

Someone should make this horizontal, I am sure someone will.

codex 1 day ago 0 replies      
This would be more useful if it didn't omit certain key developments in order to further the EFF agenda: for example, missing is the October 2011 ruling in which the FISA court declared some aspects of the NSA's programs unconstitutional. In November 2011 it allowed the programs to continue after required changes were made.

In other words, it omits events where the FISA court was actually doing it's job of regulating the NSA. As the timeline stands, it's hard to take seriously.

forlorn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why does nobody remember the story of 1998 when NSA and Microsoft were caught at including backdoors into Windows?

CNN article (1998) [ http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9807/27/security.idg/ ]

Heise article (1999) [ http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/5/5263/1.html ]

ddoolin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. An amazingly thorough timeline that, while unfortunately reads in a weird format, is definitely chilling the more you read. You can easily see how post-9/11 had changed pretty much everything. It all happened so fast after that.
gyepi 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those of you asking why some related item is excluded:

All of the evidence found in this timeline can also be found in the Summary of Evidence we submitted to the court in Jewel v. National Security Agency (NSA)

There is clearly more information that simply cannot be admitted as evidence in a legal case.

cldwalker 1 day ago 0 replies      
July 14, 2004 "Secret Surveillance Court, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Signs First Order" - The day collecting bulk internet metadata continues without interruption.

Finally, a reference to easily point out the ignorance in those who try to politicize NSA spying. Both sides suck when it comes to this issue - deal with it.

tks2103 1 day ago 0 replies      
I believe I read somewhere that Edward Snowden tried to express his concern over the extent of domestic surveillance to his boss at the NSA, and in response his boss revoked his access to key systems.

I can no longer find anything that indicates that. I also do not see it listed in this timeline.

Does anyone know if Snowden went to his boss at the NSA before leaking to the Guardian?

Also, I heard that Snowden posted a rant to a blog post about his concerns under his internet handle. I cannot find that anymore either.

delinka 1 day ago 2 replies      
Took me a moment: scroll to the bottom if you want to read chronologically.
krstck 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the current state of domestic spying would look like if the 9/11 attacks had never happened or had been thwarted.
       cached 27 August 2013 04:11:01 GMT