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Nokia acquired by Microsoft technet.com
829 points by jasonpbecker  2 days ago   552 comments top 99
rayiner 2 days ago 22 replies      
This is a great move. There is no money in being an Android vendor except if you're Samsung and are totally vertically integrated. With Windows Phone, Nokia and Microsoft at least have some hope of carving out a profitable stake in the market.

Anecdotally, I'm very impressed with some of the new Lumias. I got a 620 to replace my stolen iPhone, and for $200 unlocked its phenomenal phone. The build quality makes a flagship Samsung feel like cheap plastic crap. And Windows Phone flies despite the modest specs. I was disappointed in the 920 I had earlier, but at this price point the shoe is on the other foot.

I hope this is portends a Microsoft phone...

tytso 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing which I haven't seen anyone mention yet. Nokia, like Skype, was a non-US company, which means Microsoft could use cash which is trapped in Europe.

So you have to take the purchase price and discount it by as much as the US Corporate tax rate (which Microsoft would have to pay if the money was going to be repatriated back to the States, as would be needed if that cash was going to be used to pay dividends or to purchase a company based in the US).

throwawaykf02 2 days ago 3 replies      
There was some credible speculation back then that Google bought up Mototorola because its CEO threatened patent warfare with other Android manufacturers, something Google really did not want happening.

Along similar lines, I speculate that Microsoft snapped up Nokia because they threatened starting an Android line of phones.

I think there's a significant business lesson in here somewhere... Something along the lines off "partner with a giant, then become dangerous to it"

Funnily enough, MS also gets a nice patent bonus along with its purchase as Google did with Motorola. However, I think Nokia's patent portfolio is much, much more powerful than Motorola's. This is for three reasons, two publicly evident and one anecdotal:

1) Apple admitted defeat in its patent fight with Nokia, something it hasn't done with anybody else;

2) Nokia has multiple patent lawsuits ongoing, and none of them involve standards essential patents, the one thing most likely to invoke the ire of the antitrust gods;

3) A previous boss of mine knew the head of Nokia R&D in America, and he regaled me with stories of smartphone apps they had working in their labs way back in 2006 that made me go "how the hell do they do that?" Unfortunately, any two-bit app developer can do those things today on any modern smartphone platform using publicly documented API. But I am still curious about what goodies they have hidden away in their labs today.

nl 2 days ago 4 replies      
~$7 Billion for the device & services business and Nokia's patents. Seems like a good price now, but one you wouldn't have ever predicted before 2007 & the launch of the iPhone.

In 2003 Nokia was worth $245 billion[1]

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/22/the-sad-tale-of-nokias-sink...

DominikR 2 days ago 9 replies      
To me, this is borderline criminal behaviour and shows once more that Microsoft is incapable of playing fair.

Installing a trojan horse as Nokias CEO, who then proceeds to destroy any value left in that company so that Microsoft can pick it up for a cheap price.

I'd be amazed if Elop is promoted to MS's CEO position for such deceitful behaviour

blinkingled 2 days ago 5 replies      
So Elop was in fact a Trojan Horse?

Wonder what this does to the already strained MSFT vendor relationships. You could now almost guarantee vendors will start to completely dump Windows on ARM and possibly even look for alternatives to Windows x86.

undoware 2 days ago 5 replies      
Here's my take. Nokia's downfall has literally been the biggest business failure in the history of the planet - see communities-dominate.blogs.com for backstory. (As I mentioned in a previous post; I'm largely summarizing things Tomi proves with hard data.)

My interpretation of this is that the increasingly untenable position of Stephen Elop began to incriminate the whole board, as any toppling of Elop would invite all sorts of questions as to why he wasn't booted yonks ago. The only way that Microsoft had of avoiding another black eye for Windows was to buy Nokia to appease investors (seriously, how many black eyes can one platform get? Is it a potato?)

Consider: Had the headline read, "Microsoft deal destroys World's Leading Manufacturer of Mobile" (which incidentally is the actual, ink-on-paper market position held by Nokia circa Elop's hire, shows Tomi) and it could have destabilized the larger Windows ecosystem too.

If this claim seems histrionic, recall that the ENTIRE PC INDUSTRY is like a tenth the size of mobile. Yes, I love my PC too, but most consumers seem much happier with other devices for a wide range of use cases. Therefore, getting Windows on those devices mattered. Windows Phone mattered. Windows RT mattered. Intel is on its back leg, and ARM is about to make its final assault on the server closet, where Windows Server is melting away faster than ice on a VAX.

And yet I don't think people realize exactly how vulnerable Microsoft is. The one good thing Ballmer did is notice. Way too late, though. It seems strange to me that there are others who are even less clueful than Ballmer. If your business depends in ANY WAY on Microsoft -- and it probably does -- plan accordingly.

joezydeco 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well, at least Qt got warp-core ejected before all of this. God only knows what would have happened in this transaction.
pinaceae 2 days ago 1 reply      
MS paid less for Nokia handset business than for Skype.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Goodbye to the Nokia brand, soon only to be mentioned in rose-tinted lookbacks. Mobile phones, built like a brick, running for days.

sker 2 days ago 2 replies      
That kills my hopes for a Nokia Android phone.

Also, Elop seems like the least interesting character to succeed Ballmer. What does he bring to the table? What has he done? Guy looks like a careerist.


alex_c 2 days ago 2 replies      
Well, this makes all the speculation about Elop succeeding Ballmer that much more interesting.
elorant 2 days ago 2 replies      
So Microsoft just handed the entire Asian manufacturers bunch to the Android ecosystem. Not that theyre not already there but it would be hard for any manufacturer now to invest on Windows when they would think that MS is already giving the edge to Nokia.

Also this comes like an acceptance from MS that they cant penetrate the smartphone market. So they prefer to invest heavily on devices they own. Which is a first in their 30+ years of building software. Could this mean a similar approach in tablets?

The price though is a bargain. Its significant less than what Google paid to buy Motorola and Nokia is in a pretty much better state than Motorola in many aspects.

Nux 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a tragic end to the sad story of Nokia.

It was a long time coming now, but I'm still gobsmacked.

Looking back it's as if Elop and whoever his puppeteer is did all they could to undermine this company.

Sold to Microsoft for bits. Even Motorola sold for twice as much.

Nokia would have made money from Android. The market is massive and still growing.

There is no bright future with Microsoft. People don't buy or recommend Windows phone, not at a rate that matters they don't.

What a sad day. Farewell, Nokia.

tlb 2 days ago 2 replies      
The combined company makes a lot of sense and will be well-positioned to compete in mobile, blah blah.

I'm sad, because Nokia stood for something: something I generally liked even though I didn't own one. As did Microsoft: something I disliked mildly, but that needed to exist.

Now those two brands can't stand for two separate things any more. The combined company will stand for maximizing shareholder value through leveraging synergies, or something.

Meanwhile, the iPhone has lost most of its personality, and Ubuntu phone isn't shipping (and it'll be a watery product anyway).

Can someone please start a smartphone company to make a phone I care about?

altano 2 days ago 0 replies      
The acquisition does NOT include:

  - HERE Maps  - Nokia NSN (Nokia Siemens Networks, its "network infrastructure")  - Advanced Technologies (I couldn't find any info on what this means, given the name)

aaronbrethorst 2 days ago 6 replies      
To everyone speculating about what this means for the possibility of Elop succeeding Ballmer: this means that Elop is succeeding Ballmer. End of story.

edit: I would love to know why this is getting downvoted.

edit2: fair enough.

Two key facts:

1. Microsoft needs a new CEO.

They have a limited pool to choose from. The following are seemingly reasonable candidates:

- Mark Zuckerberg (never going to happen, he wouldn't agree to it)

- Steve Sinofsky (that ship has sailed)

- Tony Bates (seems like a reasonable choice; relative outsider, smart, has a tech background)

- Another member of Steve's SLT (some would be better than others. I think a sizable portion of the company would revolt if KT was chosen).

- Sheryl Sandberg (doubt it, since I think she's gunning for the US Senate)

- Carly Fiorina (MS's board would never agree to it)

- Stephen Elop (reasonably obvious choice: insider, devices experience, has CEO experience, but there's that pesky Nokia thing)

2. Microsoft has a new, relatively large, soon-to-be-on-the-board activist share holder in ValueAct. ValueAct will have a significant amount of authority over yea'ing or nay'ing acquisitions and over who the new CEO will be.

I can't imagine there's any way Elop would agree to working under someone else again. He also seems like a not-unreasonable choice for CEO of Microsoft, outside of the fact that he hasn't exactly made Nokia back into a rip-roaring success, and doesn't represent much of a change from business as usual at Microsoft.

sirkneeland 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a Nokia employee, I can't yet comment on whether this is ultimately good or bad for us and what our dreams were.

I can say that it is a very emotional time for us Nokia employees, and I can only imagine it is even more so for those of us who are also Finns.

lsc 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is a sad day. I have been joking with friends that we should have a funeral in sunnyvale. Probably, though, that would be in poor taste.

On the upside for nokia shareholders, well, when nokia switched to windows phone, it was widely reported that "Microsoft bought Nokia for zero dollars" - now, at least, the Nokia shareholders are getting paid for it.

forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to say that, but I told you so! :-D

More than two or more years ago, I wrote in different places, and probably in HN that when Microsoft partners he is always the winner, and the other is the looser, and that Microsoft was going to buy Nokia at a discount in the future.

History repeats itself.

throwaway1979 2 days ago 1 reply      
<quote>Two turkeys don't make an eagle</quote>
signa11 2 days ago 1 reply      
msft is buying "Nokias Devices & Services". nokia does other things as well, for example, nokia-siemens-network (NSN) is a significant player in the EPC (enhanced-packet-core) market as well...
ghshephard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly Elop agreeing on the acquisition by Microsoft was contingent on Ballmer resigning from Microsoft, Setting Elop up as the next CEO of Microsoft. So, not only was Ballmer fired, his replacement has likely already been chosen.
zmmmmm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Theory: Nokia went to Microsoft and said "we're going Android". This was the (intended) result?
jcrei 2 days ago 0 replies      
The old fat couple in the room had a dance and microsoft just ran out of things to say, so in order to avoid an awkward moment (high end sales are abysmal) he proposed. nokia looked around, didn't want to die alone, and like any scared middle aged woman, said yes.
feniv 2 days ago 5 replies      
Microsoft is becoming more and more of an integrated software and hardware company than a purely software one. Maybe it's time to change the name to something without the "soft".
undoware 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. Some call Tomi.

For copious, copious background on the MS/Nokia debacle, 'burning platform' to present: communities-dominate.blogs.com

(Not affiliated, just an avid fan of this mobile industry analyst-become-blogger who does his own stats. Some of the charts are chilling.)

arkj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ballmer trumps his critics. Well done - Sir.

There is a lot of potential to eat from both iPhone and Android cakes. Android needs a beefy h/w, c'mon guys let's admit it. Windows is way faster even on the low-end lumias. Also don't forget MS Office - the sleeping giant on windows phones.

History likes to repeat itself. First Jobs wouldn't licence MacOS, and Billy rode the wave he created. Then google got the second wave. Why? The same reason, he wouldn't license iOS.

From a user perspective iOS is the best, but the new Lumias makes me think of Apollo as no less great. No matter what google does, lumia will eat big from Android's share. But I waiting to see how big a bite it's gonna be on the apple.

In the enterprise world Office on Phones is gonna pay a big role. This is death toll for blackberry, sorry to say that.

C'mon Cook, partner on. Let others make "cheap" apples. License iOS before it's too late.

shmerl 2 days ago 1 reply      
It was expected all along since Elop ditched Meego which was key to Nokia's success. It won't help Microsoft though, but expect a lot of damage from this. Nokia already attacked VP8 codec with their patents. Now Microsoft will use all Nokia's patents to bring patent trolling to new heights.
rburhum 2 days ago 0 replies      
Among many other things, with this, MS can now compete with Google Maps. Although they already had a partnership with Nokia, having them with a tighter team integration is a different story. I am sure both MS and Google will do drastic innovations with this renewed competition.
milesf 2 days ago 0 replies      
So a has-been has been acquired by another has-been. Together they will unseat the Apple/Google juggernaut by beating IOS/Android.

No, I don't believe it either.

general_failure 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, it's lesser than the price for Skype? Wow. This makes no sense to me though. I mean Nokia has a lot more value than Skype!
emilyst 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do we imagine Elop tanked Nokia on purpose to cheapen the cost of this acquisition (and shutter the patents under one roof)?
plinkplonk 2 days ago 0 replies      
So now the Nokia employees who aren't let go can now experience the pleasures of Microsoft Stack Ranking.
rurounijones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Elop: Mission accomplished
ville 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nowadays I measure acquisitions in Instagrams. At $7.2B Nokia cost Microsoft ~7 Instagrams. That sounds crazy when you think that Instagram had 13 employees, compared to 30000 employees moving to Microsoft from Nokia.
SnowProblem 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like it could be a great move, but it raises some questions. Given Microsoft's perspective, they know they need to increase Windows Phone share. The iPhone is on its way to become a niche device, so I doubt they would look to Apple and try to turn Microsoft+Nokia into the one-stop-shop for Windows Phone devices like I've seen speculated in many places. That's too big of a gamble. Instead, I think they'd model after Android, which now has 80% of the market, and continue strong on the OEM route, with Nokia-based devices just acting as a leader. The way I see it, this aligns much better with what's worked historically for Microsoft and what shareholders expect, especially given the Surface blunder. At least I hope so.

The problem is that Samsung, HTC and LG are all focused on Android, and Microsoft needs to change that. Can the Nokia buy help with that? I wonder. What would stop Microsoft from using Nokia's patents aggressively (rather than defensively) to "motivate" the other phone manufacturers to produce, market and license more Windows Phone devices, or face additional lawsuits against their majority-Android lines? Nokia alone didn't have the incentive to push to increase WP share outside their lines before, and Microsoft appears to already have a strong patent portfolio for mobile (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone_wars). If so, this deal could be especially sweet for Microsoft, and also could benefit Nokia too, since it would retain premium WP status when a true third ecosystem develops. Thoughts?

moron4hire 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually, I'd be really interested to see if Microkia could pull it off, could make an awesome phone that seriously challenged the iOS/Android hegemony. I think they have the resources to be able to do it in a way that Mozilla or Ubuntu or any other strictly software/no experience in hardware company could do. And if Microsoft can reinvent itself and snatch victory out of this, then that means the market is actually wide open. Ultimately, I'd like to see a true, open source, Linux phone, and Microsoft quite ironically could do a lot to prove that one could be successful.

In other words, Microsoft gets to take chances that anyone else gets to learn from. More competition is a good thing.

vineet 2 days ago 2 replies      
What else is part of Nokia other than their 'Nokia Devices & Services'?
i386 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very interesting, since Stephen Elop was tipped to replace Ballmer after his departure.

I think the real coup is the access to the dumb phone market in places like Africa and India where Nokia is strong today but where their growing middle class will want to move to smart phones over the next 10 years.

doe88 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nokia 7.2bn$

Skype 8.5bn$

I think, it is reasonnable to say it seems to be a better move this time.

IanChiles 2 days ago 1 reply      
3 walled gardens is a very, very bad thing. Couple this with what Google's doing with the new Play Services and Motorola and with what Apple's been doing the entire time, and we could be in for a world of hurt when there are no "open" platforms (as in, for OEMs to build for).
rbanffy 2 days ago 0 replies      
... and this is the part I say "I told you so".

Elop never really left Microsoft. All he did at Nokia's helm was to trim down the company to facilitate this acquisition.

dodyg 2 days ago 0 replies      
iPhone destroyed Microsoft, BlackBerry and Nokia high end smartphone products. Android crushed the rest. End of story.
aaronsnoswell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Please correct the title on this post - Microsoft is only acquiring the devices and services branch of Nokia - they do have other departments (e.g. mapping).
marcamillion 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why would MSFT highlight the fact that the cash is coming from overseas in the PR? Is there a tax benefit to doing something like that?


Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokias Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokias patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash. Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction.


ojbyrne 2 days ago 0 replies      
My initial thought was "didn't that already happen?" It's an easy mistake to make.
JoachimS 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great move - for Nokia. Now Nokia has a huge pile of money to take on Huawei, Ericsson and Cisco etc in the mobile network field. Remember, Nokia bought out Siemens from NSN as recent as July this year:


With the money from the MS deal, the headache of a failing mobile phone business while retaining the patents and maps I think Nokia will be in a much better position witch a clearer focus.

wesleyd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gee, we didn't see that coming.
JoachimS 2 days ago 0 replies      
The deal is also very interesting as it clearly points to what the board of MS sees as the future - to truly become a device vendor. They have had success with Xbox, but failed with Zune and first generation Surface.

Can they really transform MS into a prosperous device company while not alienating their partners and affect their core enterprise SW business? I have my doubts and that they don't acquire the patents, just license them makes their position imho much weaker.

Also, the new Nokia feature phone, will it even appear on the market now before being killed?

mcintyre1994 2 days ago 0 replies      
It'll be interesting to see what happens with Windows Phone from here. As far as I know, nobody except Nokia was doing 'better' with WP than Android, and didn't seem to be putting much effort into it really. I imagine they might be further deterred by Microsoft buying the dominant manufacturer too. This seems to put all the momentum of WP with Microsoft, and it seems like the only real place to go from here is competing with the iPhone/iOS head on.
X-Istence 2 days ago 1 reply      
What does this mean for Qt?
tlogan 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems like this will be very interesting fight between Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Samsung in next few years. I assume the first three will do relatively well - the only looser here will be Samsung.
adamwintle 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nokia sold to Microsoft for ~$1.5 billion less than what Skype was sold for
Moto7451 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, interesting timing. I wonder if Elop will end up in the running for CEO of MS as part of this.
AndrewDucker 2 days ago 1 reply      
What does this mean for Nokia's remaining feature-phone business?

I was under the impression that there was still a global market for people wanting cheap, low-function, phones.

kailuowang 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ballmer confirms what we all knew: Elop candidate for Microsoft CEO jobhttp://www.engadget.com/2013/09/03/microlop/
crucialfelix 2 days ago 0 replies      
This also probably means that Nokias very good map technology will now merge into or replace Bing's.
wmt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nokia was not acquired by MS, Nokia sold them their burning platform, their phone department.
test001only 2 days ago 1 reply      
What would this mean for all the Nokia feature phones ? The latest Asha series was very good and selling pretty well atleast in India. How would this figure in MS strategy? Are they going to ditch it? That would be sad, because Nokia still makes phones that can withstand rough use.

On the other side would Nokia start manufacturing Laptop in future. I would really like Nokia design team to come up with a good Windows laptop!

j45 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else see this and think of their Nokian Tyres? Nokia has an interesting history, including owning Nokian which makes some very good winter tires.
vmarsy 1 day ago 1 reply      
All the other comments are too focused on the front-end Nokia Lumia vs iPhone vs Android.

Microsoft buying Nokia is kind of the same as Google buying Motorola for 12 billion $ :

Nokia has 10k patents in the mobile phone world.

So a 10-year license to its patents has its importance

capkutay 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. So he kept nokia stagnant while samsung and apple exploded in the smartphone market and now he gets to be CEO of another company thats been stagnant for years(he was already passed up for being CEO at MSFT before he left to nokia). I guess microsoft's strategy is to keep chasing after the devices market.
hiyou102 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nokia Solutions and Networks still makes plenty for money so they aren't dead quite yet. I think this makes sense for Microsoft seeing as how the redesign of Windows phone hasn't made back the money they put into it. It's becoming unprofitable for windows phones to be made so they are ensuring they have hardware.
RomP 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once more we marvel the prophecy of this designer: http://stocklogos.com/topic/past-and-future-famous-logosFirst he predicted next Microsoft logo, now Nokia. Bravo!
stefek99 1 day ago 0 replies      
ali- 2 days ago 0 replies      
"From January 2008 to September 2010, Elop worked for Microsoft as the head of the Business Division, responsible for the Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics line of products, and as a member of the company's senior leadership team. It was during this time that Microsoft's Business Division released Office 2010.[15]"


Don't believe he'll be the next CEO but certainly a possibility given his previous engagement with MSFT...

dmead 2 days ago 0 replies      
"hi everybody, i'm bill gates. buy this phone and 15 dollars will go to support malaria research".... is what i want to see on tv.
hauget 2 days ago 0 replies      
Always loved #Nokia's design but hated their sw. One of my favorite designed phones EVER will always be the E71 http://bit.ly/14nbnC7 On that note, Microsoft should buy Blackberry too. Nokia design & hardware +WinPhone8 software +Blackberry's customers might be a winning combination.
MichaelMoser123 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Tel Aviv we have the Nokia stadium (that's because Nokia sponsored the reconstruction of the thing); will we now have a Microsoft stadium instead ?
ulfw 2 days ago 0 replies      
7.2 Billion USD for Nokia sounds like a much better deal to me than 12.5 B for Motorola. Kudos to MSFT on finally making that move!
JoachimS 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here is the Microsoft Strategic Rationale presetation:http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.microsoft.c...
ommunist 2 days ago 0 replies      
The fall of giant. A domino effect may result in Samsung buying Microsoft in 3-5 years.
niuzeta 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if it's the last present Ballmer left to whoever succeeds him, or the last spat.
itsbits 2 days ago 1 reply      
PLease microsoft..just make Visual Studio free and you will lead mobile market in no time..
speeder 2 days ago 2 replies      
That was more or less expected...

But I think it is really sad too. I really enjoyed the pre-Microsoft Nokia, I had account in their dev forums, and loved their SDKs, community, Sybian, whatnot.

To me, when they suddenly dropped Sybian while they were still ahead AND expanding in some markets (like Brazil, Russia...) and switched to MS, it was really sad, and I felt like they dropped the ball.

Their Lumia phones DO pull some interesting hardware sometimes, but it was never the same.

Now with MS outright buying them, not only the ball is dropped, but kicked way out of the stadium.

dotcoma 2 days ago 0 replies      
For less money than they spent on Skype.
gpvos 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Nokia Windows Phones the fastest-growing smartphones in the world


jaakl 2 days ago 0 replies      
This title is here more than 50% wrong. Microsoft bought Devices and Services business, and large portion of patents. This is about 50% of Nokia revenues, less than 50% of employees, and about 0% of the profits.
patrikr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The title is wrong. Nokia is not being acquired, it's selling the phone business.
meerita 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you think this gonna bring better phones, with better OSs, you're wrong. Look back into the history of these companies.
snorkel 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why is this not reported in mainstream media yet?
bender80 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone know price per share? I was not able to find it in the press release.
devnetfx 2 days ago 1 reply      
Considering the amount paid for Motorola by Google, isn't it cheap?
caberus 2 days ago 0 replies      
this makes Elop the most dangerous trojan horse of all times
mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Expensive signing bonus to pick up their new CEO?
thspimpolds 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, RIM is now RIP. Microsoft was their last hope
jotm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, it finally happened...
st2p 2 days ago 0 replies      
Misleading title - Microsoft acquired the handset division; Nokia lives on in infrastructure and maps.
fmax30 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was pretty much almost expected.What microsoft did was made nokia very much dependent upon microsoft.Then it buys it, a stroke of genius i tell you.
caberus 2 days ago 0 replies      
maybe it sounds irrelevant, but always i wonder that, why Nokia pays less attention to Linux, a Finnish company and an OS born in Finland? Only a few Nokia devices run some kind of Linux and i think they are not so bad (my favorite is N9, btw).
TerraHertz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now we find out if Failure has a critical mass.
faddotio 2 days ago 0 replies      
CEO reverse acquisition? Elop 4 MS CEO 2014?
cevaris 1 day ago 0 replies      
damn. would have really like to see an Nokia based android phone.
stugs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cue Snake on Windows RT jokes
leaffig 2 days ago 1 reply      
I called this on Friday after looking at the stock market. Too bad I didn't bet too much money on it, but I still made a bunch :)



By the way, this looks like an acquihire for Elop being the next MSFT CEO.

karthikeyahegde 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ohh my GOD... now MS introduces the bugs, not only in OS, it will be in phone HardWare also.
smegel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, stop it, April 1st is like 8 months away!
alxbrun 2 days ago 1 reply      
1 living dead + 1 living dead = ...
Kit Kat's homepage is currently a parody of Android announcement page kitkat.com
698 points by alexlitov  1 day ago   189 comments top 54
nostromo 1 day ago 8 replies      
I was laughing at this parody. Then, I found myself wanting a KitKat.

Perhaps there's something to this presentation style after all!

untog 1 day ago 17 replies      
This honestly makes me wonder: what is the point of web sites for stuff like KitKat? Clearly, they can replace the entire thing for the purposes of a joke so it can't be that high up there.

Who visits those sites? What do they do on them? The Nestle/Hersheys site, sure. Standard corporate stuff. But a site specifically for KitKat?

EDIT: there seems to be some confusion in the replies. I am not talking about this joke web site that was put up today. I am talking about the normal kitkat.com that has been around forever.

kanja 1 day ago 3 replies      
Love the easter egg - try "haveabreak" or "up up down down left right left right b a"


gojomo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Try to bring a standard-formula KitKat to a warm-weather climate, and you'll realize the promises of "Universal Compatibility" and "Unlimited Stand-By Time" are dangerous, messy puffery.

Where's the FTC when we need them?

(KitKat does use a different melt-resistant formula in hot places like Malaysia: http://www.nestleprofessional.com/uk/en/SiteArticles/Pages/F... )

marcamillion 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even the 'small print' at the end is awesome:

Wow this really is small print isn't it? Look how tiny it is. How are you even reading this? Come to think of it, why are you even reading this?? This is no way to spend your break! You've just read all of that stuff about how awesome the KITKAT 4.4 is and you still haven't run out and got one? Wow, tough crowd.As soon as I finish writing this I'm gonna get one from my secret stash and go drink milk through it like a straw. I have to keep my stash secret because my grandmother looks at me all puppy eyed if I don't share it with her. Is it still puppy eyed if it's your gran? I suppose it would be gran eyed? Or granny eyed? Let's go with granny eyed. I feel like we've just coined a new phrase. Where's the 'trademark' symbol on this keyboard? Ah here it is . GrannyEyed. I wonder if that's legally binding? Hey, let's see if we can get it trending! #GrannyEyed. Tweeted. The Internet has it now. It's out of our hands. I feel like we've just started something epic. Ok, well this was a lovely chat. I'm gonna go and grab that KITKAT now. Fancy a break?

drewblaisdell 1 day ago 4 replies      
Great parody.

I suppose this is a relevant article to attach this question. What is the general consensus on using the scroll event to trigger animations/content changes?

I am working on an article that uses animations to help explain scientific processes and triggering these with the scroll position seems to offer many advantages over having the user keep clicking a next button. I know where they are on the page and can display the relevant part of an animation. This style gets a lot of hate on HN, which is why I want to ask: is there a better way?

kbar13 1 day ago 1 reply      
"2 megabites, 4 megabites, or a chunky bites option"

I died.

MiguelHudnandez 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't launch a "specially marked wrapper" without two marketing teams talking to each other for months beforehand, so this shouldn't be a big surprise.

But still, very cute.

jonli1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Their js is not uglified. Here's the easteregg. function initEasterEgg() { var pattern = "72658669656682696575"; //haveabreak var userPattern = "";

        var code = "38384040373937396665";        var userCode = "";        $(document).keydown(function(event) {            var p = pattern.substr(userPattern.length,2);            var c = code.substr(userCode.length,2);            var r = Math.floor((Math.random()*3)+1);            if(event.which == p) {                userPattern += event.which;                if(userPattern === pattern) {                    $( "body" ).append( "<div id='eeDroid'><img src='assets/desktop/images/misc/droid" + r + ".png' /></div>" );                    $('#eeDroid').animate({bottom:'0px'},500).animate({left:'-600px'},2000, function() {                        $(this).remove();                    });                    userPattern = "";                }            } else { userPattern = ""; }            if(event.which == c) {                userCode += event.which;                if(userCode === code) {                    $( "body" ).append( "<div id='eeDroid'><img src='assets/desktop/images/misc/droid" + r + ".png' /></div>" );                    $('#eeDroid').animate({bottom:'0px'},500).animate({left:'-600px'},2000, function() {                        $(this).remove();                    });                    userCode = "";                }            } else { userCode = ""; }        });    }

olalonde 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've always wondered how those companies (Nestle in this case) can measure the effectiveness of such one off advertising campaigns. After all, more people might buy Kit Kats in the following days but since consumers do not buy directly from Kit Kat, it might take some time before retailers realize they should order larger quantities of Kit Kat and due to this delay Nestle might never know which advertising campaign was successful. Does anyone know how this works?
mcv 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is utter genius! Best product tie-in ever. Nice scrolling effects too. Almost enough to make me buy a KitKat.
lquist 1 day ago 1 reply      
The video is clearly a sendup of an Apple product announcement.
voltagex_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great marketing. The corresponding Google page is good, too. http://www.android.com/kitkat/
prawn 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not a parody so much as it's coordinated marketing that has thoroughly bewitched Google's target market. If it were a natural parody, I think I'd be more receptive.
chris_wot 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Don't be evil" and "Nestl", not a combination you see that often.
marcamillion 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow...I am surprised how awesome this is. I genuinely feel like going out and buying a KitKat.

I wonder what the economics of this campaign looks like.

Did Google pay Nestle, vice versa or no money change hands?

This is awesome....I love to see a big company having fun.

fredley 1 day ago 0 replies      
The execution is flawless, I wonder if Google lent them some engineers for this?
dman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Its 2013 and I still cant scroll a webpage smoothly.
lnanek2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, the KitKat page is much better actually. Clouds fly by, candy gets chomped and rotates. An Android peeks down from an edge. Android page was just scrolling through some static images.
methodin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd like to see more clever marketing and partnerships like this. It is certainly more interesting than bland marketing and targeted ads.
kposehn 1 day ago 0 replies      

Brilliant brilliant brilliant.

I'm still chuckling at the "tiny print" at the bottom of the page. I'm going to go check and see if #GrannyEyed is trending now.

RyJones 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do watch the video at the end.
tomelders 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the worlds most evil companies made a funny website.
dsego 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me more of the apple's mac pro page http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/.
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought this was really clever, and interestingly desperate. Maybe I've been around too long but there is always a warning twitch I get when tech companies get too cute. Sort of a "you're really trying too hard here."

I enjoyed the parody, I agree with others here that it was totally planned by the Google team ahead of time, but the shift in pure marketroidness, well it was just kinda "eww."

mortenjorck 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is beautifully executed and quite fun, but it's not riffing on the Android announcement page nearly as much as it is on Apple's Mac Pro announcement page: http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/

The Android page is a brief history of the OS, while the Mac Pro page is an animated product brochure, which is what this really is.

lake99 1 day ago 2 replies      
Looks like Android has done it too: http://www.android.com/kitkat/
tga 1 day ago 9 replies      
Kit Kat's homepage is currently a monstrosity. Scrolling down the page pushes a new history URL every half page, using the back button is then essentially broken (on Firefox at least) and actually getting back to the page that unfortunately sent you there requires something like 20 clicks.

Not so bad joke otherwise, but the history hijacking made it a crappy experience and I couldn't close the tab quickly enough.

eagsalazar2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty good. A couple distracting details though: (1) disgusting closeup of girl's nostril, (2) Nestle is run by f-ing Satan! Associating with them in any way is a bad move for a company that supposedly follows a rule of "don't be evil".
brokenparser 1 day ago 0 replies      
The site is beautifully written using the latest HTML10 standard.
yellow 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just realized how important the number 4 in this whole deal. #classickitkat
kyro 1 day ago 0 replies      
You're a fool if you think Kit Kat isn't also conspiring with the NSA.
programminggeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish this page style would just go away.
shire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kit Kat's rival, http://www.twix.com/. Personally Kit Kat is not even that good, high in sugar or something. I think twix is much tastier, nevertheless I think this is a brilliant design.
bouk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the fine print

The small printWow this really is small print isn't it? Look how tiny it is. How are you even reading this? Come to think of it, why are you even reading this?? This is no way to spend your break! You've just read all of that stuff about how awesome the KITKAT 4.4 is and you still haven't run out and got one? Wow, tough crowd.

As soon as I finish writing this I'm gonna get one from my secret stash and go drink milk through it like a straw. I have to keep my stash secret because my grandmother looks at me all puppy eyed if I don't share it with her. Is it still puppy eyed if it's your gran? I suppose it would be gran eyed? Or granny eyed? Let's go with granny eyed. I feel like we've just coined a new phrase. Where's the 'trademark' symbol on this keyboard? Ah here it is . GrannyEyed. I wonder if that's legally binding? Hey, let's see if we can get it trending! #GrannyEyed. Tweeted. The Internet has it now. It's out of our hands. I feel like we've just started something epic. Ok, well this was a lovely chat. I'm gonna go and grab that KITKAT now. Fancy a break?

HCIdivision17 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today I learned the KitKat bar can be used as a straw and that the wrapper can tear to only expose on finger. If this is true, I may very well stock up for use with my coffee at the office!
lcedp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Android KitKat is the first product placement I remember which doesn't annoy me. In fact I fancy it.
blibble 1 day ago 0 replies      
mehmehshoe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Was I the only one thinking that video at the end was taking a dig at Mark Shuttleworth? Great bit of funny marketing regardless.
Mikeb85 1 day ago 0 replies      
Omg, now I have a craving for Kit Kats. And the webpage is hilarious and fantastic...
triplesec 1 day ago 1 reply      
It still tastes rubbish and is full of sugar. Not food, not cool.
Miserlou57 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dear God do not try to hit "back" on that page having scrolled all the way through...
aram 1 day ago 1 reply      
WTF at the small print at the bottom of the page
r3m6 1 day ago 0 replies      
Parody? This is real: http://www.android.com/kitkat/

(IMHO a bad move for the Android brand, unless teens are their new main target. But let's see...)

rch 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish I could up-vote the page directly. That's quite a lot of fun.
iguana 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a very clever parody of Android phone marketing. Buying a KitKat to test compatibility.
marginalboy 1 day ago 0 replies      
They messed up my "back" button. Party foul.
jbkkd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This crashes the browser on Windows Phone 7.5.Am I not allowed to have a kitkat?
cmircea 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely fucking brilliant. Loved it!
NathanthePie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good gosh. Kudos to Nestle and Android, but I cannot stand that website design.
aniro 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is fascinating to look at the execution of the Google page vs the Nestle page.

Seems like a near perfect real world example of "HOW TO" and "HOW NOT TO" accomplish modern web design.

dutchrapley 1 day ago 0 replies      
100% awesome.
kken 1 day ago 0 replies      
It almost crashed my firefox. wtf.
natemcguire 1 day ago 0 replies      
great marketing campaign.
Android is for startups audobox.com
464 points by willwhitney  20 hours ago   287 comments top 58
zmmmmm 14 hours ago 4 replies      
A lot of people seem to be missing the main point here. I don't think the article is actually advocating developing for Android and NOT iOS. I don't think it is even particularly advocating releasing on Android first. However starting your development on Android - as your first way of prototyping and finding your MVP - gives you a tremendous amount of agility and flexibility. You can create as many APKs as you want, send them to whoever you want without any fuss and they can test them out. You can fix bugs or implement features for just one person and send them the APK the same day. You can integrate your app with the OS and other apps in ways that are impossible on iOS to find what really works and matters to your users. And you can do all this for virtually zero cost on commodity hardware with free tools.

In other words, even if you believe iOS is ultimately going to be your primary platform, there's still a strong argument to do your initial prototyping and development on Android.

benihana 19 hours ago 13 replies      
Another post on the top of Hacker News making the mistake of thinking paying customers give a crap about how easy it is to [write|deploy|test|debug] your app. Even with all the pain associated with the App Store people still write more apps for it than ever. Why? Cause people pay for apps there. They don't on the Play Store.
discostrings 20 hours ago 8 replies      
Being in the process of registering my LLC for an iOS Apple Developer account, I couldn't agree more. It's been over two months now of back-and-forth with Apple and Dun & Bradstreet, and the end is still not in sight. All I'd like them to do is take my $100 and give me the ability to test the free app I'm making on a device and then publish it, but apparently Apple feels a longer-than-two-month turnaround time is acceptable. (And yes, I know I could just register a personal account and then slowly convert it to an LLC account. I shouldn't have to do that. As someone who's somewhat interested in their platform but not dying to develop for it, I'm not going to do that.)
chetanahuja 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Lots of "Android apps are no good" chiming in going on here. I've been an iOS user since the week after the first iPhone came out and still am (due to an iPad mini). But gave up on iOS for my phone because I can't find the following apps on iOS.

1) Alternate Launcher with pretty much infinite flexibility on look and feel.

2) Swype like keyboard options. Typing anything on iOS now feels like I travelled back in time to horse-and-buggy era.

3) Tasker app. Enough said.

4) Google Now. Enough said.

5) This is not an app per se, but the "share with" option for pictures etc that simply let me chose any suitable app on the phone that lets me share that particular object using pretty much any means of sharing out there.

And this is not even counting all the hacker'y goodness of having a full root shell with an almost complete debian environment on my Nexus devices. No "jailbreak" required. Nexus devices are rootable by design.

If you call yourself a hacker (this is hacker news... right?) and have turned your nose up at Android so far, you're simply missing out on the future of portable devices. iOS is catered to non-technical consumers and its feature-set (both for users as well as for developers) is accordingly restricted. The future killer apps are being written for Android today and you're not aware of what a mobile device is (and should be) capable of today and by extension, tomorrow.

[Edit: 1, 2 and 3 in that list above are paid apps btw. Checkout out the install numbers for those three on the play-store. Android developers writing stuff for Android (and not just copying stale iOS material) are making plenty of money]

avolcano 20 hours ago 3 replies      
> But if you build an app on Android thats on par with the design quality youre used to on iOS, your users will love you. The press will love you. Gizmodo will feature your app just so theyll have a nice header image for their Android Apps of the Week post.

That's nice, but will it translate into sales? Probably not, given the horror stories of Android piracy that seem to come out every few weeks (particularly in the gaming market).

Of course, many startups profit in hype instead of dollars, so maybe that's irrelevant.

jcromartie 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I know that Android users are starved for slick apps that look good and work well, because I'm one of them (when using my Nexus 7). But as a developer I know that I can't make money from them.

There is no way forward for (paid) Android apps that can make a living. You need to sell on iOS in order to make any sort of revenue.

So if your startup is built on a free app, then by all means use Android to test your idea. But if you want to make things and sell them for money, then putting up with the App Store model is more than worth the amount of money you can make compared to Android.

badman_ting 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This is such a weird piece. It seems to get why, despite the onerous restrictions Apple puts on devs, iOS has great apps and huge numbers in every direction, but then just says Android is better. Perhaps a better argument would be to understand why the gain is worth the pain, and then move to saying that the gain without the pain would be even sweeter.

I dunno, I make web stuff. I just like watching you guys duke it out.

aufreak3 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Besides, have you tried Android recently? You might be suprised to discover that Android is better.

.. not yet for music apps. Even Google folks admit that [1]. This really can't wait any longer. Where is Garage Band for Android please? ... and to those saying "you can't complain only about music, look at the games, todo lists, blah blah", sorry music IS my domain and that's the only thing I care about.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3kfEeMZ65c

dasil003 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like really forced wishful thinking. Sure Apple makes you jump through a lot of annoying hoops, but it doesn't matter how cynical you are you can't hand-wave away the security benefits, and you certainly can't ignore the revenue differentials. I think Android is moving in the right direction, and actually I've used it as my primary phone for years now (I've owned 2 Nexus phones and the old G1), but waiting 5 days for approval (which is the average I've experienced for 6 submissions over the last 2 months) is not as big of a hurdle as the article paints. There's certainly nothing that requires waterfall development or "waiting months".
wizzard 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Sure, the release process might be easier on Android, but there are other factors involved in app development. Android is becoming a kind of curse word at my current job. Getting a working emulator can be a huge exercise in frustration (like for gMaps v2... forget it). Every and any feature or UI widget can break in unexpected ways on different devices. The tools are very functional but about as unintuitive and finicky as you can get. And I can tell you the documentation is not shorter because it's better.

I have nothing personal against Android, but let's not just skim over the actual DEVELOPMENT process.

venomsnake 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Now ... we tried to register apple dev account in late 2010 for my company. The first thing they required was a lot of documents. We send them. Then came the payment ... they refused to accept our credit card and refused non credit card payment methods. The email we got back from apple was a exercise in absurdity - (this was 2012 already after a lot of back and forth) - they wanted the details of the company credit card send to them BY FAX. In 2012 they wanted for us to send the full details of a credit card written on paper. By fax. So we told them to fuck off. Triple checked - it was not scam or phishing letter.

Then we made a simple single developer account ... personal. It took only a month.

ensmotko 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Another thing that bothers me with development for iOS is that you need apple hardware and software. I can't develop an iOS on my Linux machine (I've tried running OSX in virtualbox, but it's slow and not to mention illegal).

I really wish Apple would make their platform a little more available. Lowering the $100 yearly fee would be a good start...

PStamatiou 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post -- As a newly diehard Android user, I will agree that while Android is definitely getting some amazing and beautiful apps, it's nothing like on the App Store. If you spend the time to design a beautiful app, there is a larger opportunity for you to unseat very popular Android apps. Android users crave great design too. Start building.


brennenHN 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I love the point about iteration here, but I think this post is a little bit disingenuous.

The problem with developing for Android as a startup is that baseline reliability is incredibly resource intensive.

If you want your app to work on the most popular few devices, you will still have to spend a considerable amount of time and money testing the different configurations and fixing bugs that have nothing to do with your core functionality.

If you want broad support to address most of the market, you're going to be spending a huge amount of development time tweaking little details of your code. When you fix a bug for the Galaxy S4, it'll start crashing on the HTC One X, and the Galaxy Note will never look quite right.

Iteration is valuable, but iOS lets you build one product and iterate on it, to build for Android, you have to start by building 15.

domness 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Hmm, I think a lot of people are missing the whole point in this article. I do around 60% Ruby on Rails, 35% iOS and 5% Android dev. The idea around a "lean" startup being, that an MVP, or each new feature, or even testing a change to a previous feature is usually done in quick succession. This being testing with current users over a period of say, a week, and then from the results, changes can be made and the team have learned from the testing.

So really, Android allows for this quick succession of testing features and iterating as quick as possible, with even to a few hours turnaround. Also, that it would cost a lot in development time to get something "just right" for the App Store for it to be accepted, whereas with Android you can keep on iterating and pushing changes without having to spent a huge amount of time making everything look perfect, and be absolute minimal in terms of bugs.

I love iOS development, and yes, I agree with most people on here about the revenue from iOS, the people paying for apps, Apple's process of helping keep out most malware etc. etc., but for the sake of a "lean" startup, spending extra weeks testing apps making sure it's completely bug free and "looking good enough" for iOS, as well as the wait for Apple to accept the application (and then for users to download the update, in the case of iOS 7, this has been solved), Android is a much better dev option for these changes.

Of course, when the team knows that the app is something that people care for, and they have a decent knowledge of what users want, what features they use, and the kind of value that the mobile app brings to them, then they can go ahead and make the best possible iOS app.


Saving time, money and quick iterations, learning from customers and getting quick data for problem validation, is much easier and faster on Android, than the process on iOS. Think Lean Startup.

9999 19 hours ago 3 replies      
The iOS development cycle works the way it does to protect Apple's customers. The people that pay for your application deserve and demand a certain level of quality. They also shouldn't be constantly bothered with updating your hastily developed, poorly tested, 'rapidly iterating' product.

As for Android, Google doesn't care. The person with the Android phone is not their customer, they're the product. Google is in the business of delivering users to advertisers. They are just barely in the business of making devices, and that's really just to feed more users to their advertisers by making a product that's as good as the iPhone and also to hedge against a single Android phone manufacturer from owning too much of the total Android market.

anigbrowl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Design is an easy win on Android, but it's the suck for any kind of audio processing because of the horrendous lag. Like MS before them, Google completely ignored the needs/requests of musicians for years on end, and as a result all the good apps are for iPad. The only two Android audio apps I can think of that are worth looking at are Caustic and FruityLoops, and neither is particularly performance-friendly. I was using a remote control MIDI app for a while called Humatic but the developer said device fragmentation was such a miserable experience that he never wants to develop on Android again.

I've been using Android since Google put out the Nexus One, and I still prefer it for a phone. But for a tablet I have to unwillingly go with an iPad next time, because that's where the good stuff is.

tomasien 19 hours ago 1 reply      
It's perfectly fine to argue the merits of Android development, but arguing that it's hard to run an app on your own device using XCode is dishonest. It handles provisioning profiles automatically, and you can even hit "fix it" if it doesn't find a valid one when you try to run it.

I've been building an app for Android for 2 weeks now, and I still can't get the phone settings on an Android phone to use it for development. This may be MY problem because I'm a terrible developer, but it's still a problem.

robbfitzsimmons 20 hours ago 2 replies      
As a primarily-iOS user / developer who also has an Android tablet (last year's Nexus 7), completely agree with both points made here. [The first being that Android development is better, and the second being that the vast majority Android apps currently suck compared to the iOS equivalent, making for a nice opportunity.]

It's hard enough to peg a real user need and deliver on that need in a satisfying, sticky way. It's at the core of what a startup needs to do to cultivate that product development discipline as a team, and tools that make that harder are insult to injury.

As others have mentioned, though, none of these app startups are launching just for a smooth development experience. And Android just hasn't shown that users will reliably upgrade their OS, much less pay for apps like iOS users do. Until that changes, even if the better dev experience will accelerate a shift, it's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem on app quality.

samspenc 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent write-up. As a mobile developer, this was my experience publishing Android apps to Play store as well.

Also, my theory is that once there are enough quality apps on Android, we will start to see the center of popularity shift to Android from iOS.

gte910h 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a 3rd party iOS developer:

If you want to make money by directly selling something, or need people who constantly use your app => iOS still seems to have higher engagement and higher revenue.

If you want to make money by having a thing you're giving away to tons of people who need to only use your app briefly, android MIGHT be the case for tomorrow and for certain communities, today.

That said, "Android" isn't a monolith. I think Google did a tremendously good thing by incorporating so many new services into the Play Store rather than into the almost-never-updated core OS, and you should be looking at targeting THAT, not years old versions of Android, to get an updated, easy to maintain android target you do aside an iOS target. People will complain, but will also get new phones that have the Google play store with modern services.

With both versions, it's always really important to measure cost per user on a version by version, platform by platform basis.

umsm 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't agree with this.

Basically the author thinks that you can test the market if a particular idea / app is worth making by releasing on Android first. The problem is that the android users will most likely hate the UI and the bugs as it will probably be thrown together.

When releasing an app on iOS, you don't have to include ALL features, you can release an app that is well designed and functions well with limited functionality. Then add features as you need to.

That's what we did when we released our app. We released for iOS first and then for android, but we gradually added features as needed or wanted.

Mikeb85 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There are plenty of apps (including games) on the Play store with 100,000+ purchases (not just free installs), and I know of at least a few that cost $3+ with 500,000 to 1,000,000 purchases, and Minecraft has 1-5 million puchases at ($6,99? - forgot).

This means that the possibility to make 6-7 figures on Android apps is there, if your app is compelling enough. The problem isn't getting users to pay, but making an app compelling enough that users want to pay for it.

habosa 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The speed of pushing to the Play Store can't be overrated for startups. If you release an app that has a critical bug this is what happens:

iOS:Fix it, wait days-weeks for approval, push the update

Android:Fix it, wait 30 seconds, update pushed to everyone

If the bug is big enough, this can be the difference between losing all of your initial users and gaining critical mass.

shinratdr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
What makes it good for startups also makes it good for malware, spam apps, information harvesting and other user unfriendly things.

I'm not arguing against this post, it's true in the sense that it is indisputably easier to iterate on Android vs iOS because of the lack of a review system. But as someone with both Android and iOS devices that they enjoy, it's very easy to see which one is a more user-friendly approach.

Having a broken app or two for a week is a small price to pay for trust. I don't trust the Play Store, I check out each individual app before downloading. On iOS because of the more robust review & permissions model, I can trust that while what I download might not be good, it will in all likelihood be safe.

In addition, I feel like evangelizing to developers like this is pointless. Besides the minority of personal developers driven primarily by morals, their preferred platform or preferred tools, developers go where the users are and the money is. If "Android is for startups" then that should be the case, and a blog post isn't going to make it so. The presence of startups iterating on Android initially makes it so, and that is driven by users + money.

rjvir 19 hours ago 1 reply      
While the 5-10 day approval process to get the App Store is inconvenient for developers, it gets a disproportionate amount of attention. The limiting factor in software development is and will remain to be engineering resources. Building on the Apple ecosystem still takes considerably less time and effort to complete an app than Android, due to consistent and up-to-date hardware & software, common design patterns, a robust developer ecosystem, and generally a more sophisticated development platform.
frozenport 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Android is for judicious, poor foreigners and not the hip kids that would pay 4x for a carwash ordered by phone. I recal the pruce gauging by travel companies who increase airfair by 10% when an Apple brpwser was detected.
trimbo 19 hours ago 3 replies      
VCs all have iPhones. This is the #1 reason to develop for iPhone first.
andrewcamel 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're alright ignoring the far more profitable iOS market, then sure, Android is better. But if you're trying to operate a startup that actually needs to make money, it is not a smart business decision to ignore it. Complain as much as you want, but iOS still provides a better opportunity than Android in the very large majority of cases and because of that, I'm ok dealing with the headaches that come with it.
joshstrange 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you ever tried TestFlight for iOS testing/dev? I'm not saying the Apple process is perfect (I agree it sucks) but TestFlight makes getting test builds out much easier.
grosen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Free apps do well on Android. Paid apps (Outright & Free + In App Purchases) generate more revenue on iOS. Being able to show traction is important for startups but, being able to show increased revenue is equally if not more important.

Until Android on a whole proves to be more lucrative to monetize apps, many developers will continue building iOS first (imho).

x0054 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the difference in development comes in when you need to do some hardware testing. With apple you need to design for 3 different display sizes, with 2 resolutions each. You also have to test your product on (at most) 12 different devices, and that's if you really want to cover the field. On the other hand, with Android, if you want to do it right, you need to design for hundreds of different screen sizes, all kinds of different aspect ratios and resolutions, and hundreds of different hardware devices. Or you can forgo all that, and just assume (incorrectly) that majority of the Android users run the latest and greatest Galaxy hardware.
lukabratos 19 hours ago 1 reply      
"Knock, knock.""Whos there?""Very long pause.""Java."
nathan_long 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Semi-related rant: My sole experience with Apple Developer stuff was being forced to register as one to get some basic command-line tools on my Mac.

They made me complete a questionnaire about exactly which kinds of Apple products I wanted to develop for, and "none" wasn't an option. That's kind of a weird, Apple-centric worldview. "Errrm, I'm doing web development..."

markshepard 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Interestingly the opposite is true in our case. We are a small startup that has apps available both in Apple and Android. But because it is hard to develop and deploy a successful app in iOS than in android, it keeps competition at bay. In Android, lot of half baked apps pollute the store (and the fake ratings and review destroy any sort of app discovery) that it is simply not worth it.

While we have had our share of frusturation with the apple app store process (weird rejections that had to be explained etc), I don't see Android as an alternative to iOS appstore for startups. Once the iOS app is up running, we develop the android (and since we believe android users are used to seeing incomplete apps), we take our time adding functions to the app as well! (Yes I know, it is a cynical view, but we simply match expectation)

alayne 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Why don't they build a web app if they want to iterate faster?
bobbles 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Things that annoy me about buying android apps since I switched to a nexus 4 this week:

No way to in-app upgrade to remove ads. what?? (you have to buy a separate app).

Heaps of games / apps that dont even provide an option to remove the ads.

I feel like a lot of android developers are going to miss out on people moving from iOS to android now that the OS has matured and has improved a lot of the areas that iOS users were worried about. These are people willing to whip out the card and pay because they're accustomed to it on iOS.

If there is no way for me to remove ads from an app I am more likely to uninstall it then use it with ads.

zerop 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes.. developers might prefer android over iOS.. but end of the day iOS apps get you business..IMO...tell me which android apps sell better than their counterpart iOS apps?
jmtame 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Three words: high fidelity prototypes. You can use them irregardless of the process to distribute your application. You should already have customer feedback on your app before you even commit engineering resources to write production quality code, and there's no excuse not to be prototyping and getting customer feedback far before you release it to the app store for the masses.
scrrr 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but this is not a good article.

Instead of telling me what to do based on a small dataset of evidence, I'd much rather read what you have done. What worked for you. I don't think the author knows what he is talking about.

leemhoffman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The IOS Development process is outdated and kind of crappy, but there are simple tacitly accepted solutions that fix virtually all of the issues. Specifically:

- Hockey App For Pre Public Distribution - Auto Updates, One Click Link Install (no need to join a google group)- Enterprise account - no device ids, send the link to anyone

The dev cycle on mobile is slower, and more waterfall, but there is no excuse to not be iterating on anything more than 3-5 day cycles on either android or IOS.

t1m 12 hours ago 1 reply      
>1990 is calling and it wants its product development cycle back.

In the early 1990s, many developers were using an OS called Unix, with esoteric tools like vi, make, sh, and emacs. They wrote software in ancient languages like C, C++, Python, and Objective-C. Their programs communicated over TCP/IP networks using sockets. If you were lucky enough to be working on a military contract, you would be exchanging documents using XML and HTML papa SGML.

Everyone suffered until the major breakthroughs of Javascript and PHP.

Apocryphon 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the most tiresome religious war. While it's interesting to compare and contrast development experiences between Android and iOS, this comment thread seems mostly a lot of outrage between partisans of both platforms. Which makes me wonder where devs who use PhoneGap and other bridge frameworks, or HTML5, feel about all of this.
grbalaffa 18 hours ago 1 reply      
All this talk about process, but not a word about the quality of the SDK itself. Android is quite frankly still very far behind when it comes to really basic things. Here's just one example: iOS has had easy support for custom fonts in native UI elements since the early days, meanwhile here is the situation on Android:


(Yes, the thread was started in 2010, but scroll to the bottom to see more recent comments -- things have scarcely gotten any better.)

Anyone who has actually deployed a non-trivial app on both Android and iOS knows quite well which one is the "better" development environment.

golergka 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> release cycle of the App Store encourages the perfectionist in all of us to make it done

Isn't that exactly the reason for Apple's policies?

mynd 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I think a little barrier to entry is a good thing. App Store is saturated as it is.
chj 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The artificial limitations around iOS are contrary to what developers should believe in -- the freedom to write and distribute software on a platform without approval from some central authority.

Despite the fact that iOS has much better design and comes with much better developer tools, Android is nowadays the better choice.

namenotrequired 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As Paul Graham said... http://paulgraham.com/apple.html
so898 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So every startup group should buy 300+ Android devices to test their application?
eonil 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wrong. Completely wrong. Stop trying this stupid wording fraud.

What the hell the Android means? The users? Or the cartel?Android users are never starving for beautiful apps. The Android cartel does. Android users always starving for free stuffs, not beautiful. What kind of idiot choose Android for beautiful apps instead of iOS which is already-existing and also proven? Android has no beautiful apps because the users don't want it.

Market share? Market share itself doesn't make money. Especially blind market is purely useless. This article is just a mutated clone of crappy meme: "Say market share, and never say how the market share will make money.". Even Google and telecoms are making more money on iOS.

Android is pretty attractive toy for a developer. But for business? No kidding.

dangerboysteve 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Check back in 1-2 years and see how much publishing to Play is any easier than Apple's App store. Google is adopting the Apple playbook more and more every day to ensure quality, security and consistency in the android ecosystem. The only difference is that Apple has had a head start by a few years and they have gone through the growing pains and issues that Google's play is starting to encounter.
luscious 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this article need to exist? Who is this preaching to?
liyanage 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Having to make sure that everything is perfect before you ship

As a user, that sounds pretty good to me...

shmerl 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd say Sailfish is for startups.
zerny 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Android sucks
antidaily 20 hours ago 0 replies      
_______________ is broken.
franklee0987 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I cant believe I just bought an awesome silver Nissan 370Z Coupe from only workin parttime on a computer get redirected here big57.com
moubarak 7 hours ago 0 replies      
i don't have much to say, but i develop camera apps and i also started with Android and then moved to iOS. The transition was swift because of iOS's screen sizes/resolutions were well defined and straight forward, no fragmentation manager was required to handle different screens.

Although i was using a single device for Android, i couldn't help but write a generic manager to handle different screens rather than hardcode my prototype to a single device. On the other hand, iOS screen and camera previews are hardcoded by design, and that saved me a lot of time.

Android being open source helped quite a bit, since i could borrow all that code from the stock camera app, but it was tedious to say the least. When i transitioned to iOS i was surprised how fast i got my basic camera app to work (few hours perhaps).

There are other reasons why i find iOS to be superior for prototyping (i have only touched on the camera preview issue). One other example is the relative documentation. iOS documentation gets you going much faster when working with the camera at least.

Just my 2 cents.

Google is defragging Android arstechnica.com
431 points by abraham  2 days ago   214 comments top 26
engrenage 2 days ago 19 replies      
Notably, Play services is totally closed. So Google has abandoned the open source part of Android and is now developing the operating system as a completely closed product.

Edit: downvotes don't change the truth of the observation. Android is no longer meaningfully open, other than a years old core of basic functions. Just like OSX and Darwin.

lazerwalker 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's worth noting how closely Android's apparent path going forward mirror's Apple's strategy with both OS X and iOS: closed end-user components built on top of an open source core. I guess Google's realized that "openness" isn't a meaningful market differentiator for the average consumer.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting move on Google's part. It is a lot more mature (from the perspective of running a software business) to have this level of control over your destiny. It is also another step away from the engineering driven focus toward the business goals focus. One of the more difficult things to do is have the conversation why something is correct for the business, even if it is an inferior engineering solution. I hope they manage that transition well.

The other part of this story seems to be that if you move to this as your "api" then you can move the underlying OS tech to something else as well. (away from Linux to something perhaps smaller for a budget phone.) Should be easier than it was for Microsoft to move everyone to the WinAPI and off DOS.

spion 2 days ago 2 replies      
As always, everyone forgets to mention the poor, slow and by now outdated Android WebView - which by the way will finally be getting a very important upgrade in the form of WebViewFactory. This may allow using alternative WebViews, such as a chromium-based webview - another important step towards defragmentation.

Some more info is available at http://danosipov.com/?p=572

credo 2 days ago 3 replies      
>>This is how you beat software fragmentation.

This does help defragment Android from a Google (developed) app perspective.

However, it doesn't do anything for 3rd-party developers. It doesn't do anything for regular consumers who wish to upgrade their 2.3.3 phones or 4.1 phones to the latest version of Android. So Google has a long way to go before they really defragment Android.

unicornporn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Only boring updates in 4.3? Have you seen app ops [1] functionality? Hands down the greatest thing to happen to a mobile OS in a long time. I know there's Xprivacy, but having this thing built in is awesome.

[1] http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/25/app-ops-android-4-3s...

myko 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is great for Android as a whole, users will be better served.

It does cut into the openness of Android though. Unless Amazon bends to Google's way of doing things a little bit their platform will stay even further behind, for instance.

morgante 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, the ultimate nail in the coffin for open, fragmented services. If you want to build a good OS, you ultimately have to take almost complete control. (Google is basically following Apple's route.)

The reason I think the Google system is worse is that theoretically any application can achieve this level of control. So while I might trust Google, it seems all too easy to trick users into installing a different process which can take complete control of their phone. With iOS, only Apple is capable of this level of control, thus decreasing the attack vectors.

EDIT: Admittedly it's highly unlikely that Google would ever let such an application into the Play Store, thus limiting its distribution potential.

r00fus 2 days ago 1 reply      
So Rubin departs leadership of Android just before Android becomes "not open". Seems like there's a backstory here that I'd love to hear about.
acjohnson55 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand what the all negativity over these changes is about. Has a significant amount of mainstream Android features being incorporated into play been from the ecosystem, rather than Google? If so, I can see how this could result in a worse end-user experience. But if not, how does providing timely updates and a less fragmented ecosystem such a horrible outcome? Feel free to enlighten me if I'm missing something.
StringyBob 2 days ago 0 replies      
Smart move by google. Potentially they've regained control of their platform past, present and future...

In one fell swoop they can resolve fragmentation, keep everyone up to date on functionality/APIs, bypass OEM/carrier update issues (be it carrier QA, OEM lack of interest, or just crapware). Most importantly google can keep any OEM's (ie samsung) in check and prevent them branching away from android.

The downsides: what happens when google break an entire range of phones/functionality with an update? Are they going to QA every android product in existence?Will older models slow down and become unusable as the baseline resource requirements increase? (I'm looking at you IOS7)...

coolnow 2 days ago 1 reply      
It'd be interesting to see how it pans out for OEMs that don't, for various reasons, bundle Play Framework/Services with their phones. This could be fixed by having the user install a GApps zip through recovery, but it'd be a pain to the average user. Also, are there, or will there be, any manufacturers forbidden to use the Play Store and its framework? It seems for the vast majority of people, this move is great, but for a tiny minority, i'm not so sure.
e12e 2 days ago 1 reply      
"It has its own silent, automatic update mechanism that the user has no control over. In fact, most of the time the user never even knows an update has happened."

Great. So, if it was difficult to trust your phone/tablet/tv before it is now impossible. I'm looking more forward to Ubuntu and FirefoxOS than ever before - I want to be able to control what software runs on my devices!

bsaul 2 days ago 2 replies      
It seems that this article doesn't really separate between user concerns (having the latest google apps) and developper concerns (access to latest APIs).

From what I understand, this means developpers will be able to rely on android "services" being updated more often and more consistently available.

However, what about things like using new UI components ? For this, you still need the latest OS version, right ? If that's the case, then maybe this would mean users caring even LESS about updating their OS, and thus an even worst situation.

i suppose Google thought about it, so there's probably something false in my statement, could anyone confirm ?

pdknsk 2 days ago 2 replies      

  defragmenting  defragging
It's just 3 letters saved. Vote me down if you must.

querulous 2 days ago 2 replies      
i think this will ultimately prove to be a terrible move for google. android's success is largely a function of how attractive it is to device manufacturers and carriers. stripping control from them is going to force them into a corner where forking android or moving to another platform (amazon's fork of android, firefox os, windows phone 8 and ubuntu mobile are all potentially technically competitive even if they are not currently feasible).
teovall 2 days ago 0 replies      
The elephant in the room here is security.

A lot of security updates can be pushed out for the apps and Play Services. However, the underlying OS still needs regular, frequent updates to stay secure, and that's just not happening for the vast majority of Android devices. Who needs 0-day exploits when you have millions of Android devices out there that are vulnerable to exploits that are one, two, or even three years old!?

nomercy400 2 days ago 1 reply      
A closed source app that can update itself without notifying the user, and has full permissions? How is this any different from the 'loss of control' to American institutes, like the Windows 8.1 / TPM 2.0 warning from the German government. Isn't this exactly the same thing?
ZeroGravitas 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google/Android really can't win now that this "fragmentation" frame has stuck.

Google's been updating core parts of the system like this from day one. The Android Market/Play Store, Maps, Youtube and many other things have received massive updates and been pushed out to millions of people. However, the dominant storyline at the time was that "Android devices don't get upgrades, because fragmentation".

Then suddenly, for no obvious reason, the tech bloggers all noticed at once that this was happening (possibly because they had started actually using Android?) and it was portrayed as sudden U-turn by Google. A weapon in their "war" against Samsung (don't get me started on that one).

unono 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hackers need to do something about the big companies abusing the app store system. Google, Apple, Amazon are taking far too much fees from independent developers.

- Apple's store especially needs to be killed fast for innovation to thrive, Apple is turning out to be the new Microsoft, Tim Cook should fear the wrath of developers

- and Google needs to be reminded that it's business could swiftly vanish if it isn't pro-developer and pro-consumer, a 30 percent cut for what amounts to hosting a file is way too much.

newman314 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry but this makes it sound like Google has come up with this magic way of beating fragmentation. It shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Contrast this with iOS upgrade path or what webOS had been doing. Seamless (for the most part) and a great UX.

Google is able to do this; see Chrome. What is strange is why they did not adopt the same strategy for Android as for Chrome.

rarw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aside from fighting over whether Android is closed or not this is an interesting solution to dealing with the inconsistencies present in the Android universe. The freedom everyone wants to love that comes with a fully open source Android platform is, in reality, a real pain when you're trying to develop apps. There is at best a plurality of different operating system versions. Phone manufactureres spontaneously stop supporting devcies, only pushing out updates to the newest of the new. OS improvements are lost on those devices left behind until the users can afford a new device or reach the point where they can upgrade.

Unlike Apple, where the iOS landscape is 100% consistent (minus physical hardware variations) Android is a mess. Before going to town on Google for "closing" the operating system, let's at least look at the problem they are trying to solve and how this attempt - I'm not saying it's correct, or good - addresses those issues.

antrix 2 days ago 1 reply      
The headline made me think Android 4.3's fstrim feature (defragging flash storage) is delivered via Play too!
aboodman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Alas, the system UI (button bar, switching, etc) are not included in the updateable components :(.
gummydude 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some services are totally unreliable, for example the Geocoder service.
zerolinesofcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like Microsoft .net Framework all over again.
How not to check the validity of an email address dellsystem.me
417 points by morgante  1 day ago   229 comments top 40
Glyptodon 1 day ago 6 replies      
Every single legacy application I've ever worked on has had analogous code buried in it somewhere.

An application I've just been "repairing" recently has a spot where it uses two separate queries to pull two full table sized lists of values, then manually joins them with a loop, and then manually re-orders the joined values into groups selectively ignoring some rows, and then embeds the the whole reordered list in a web page. The page takes around 20 seconds to load. Switching it to use a single properly formatted SQL reduced load times to under a second.

Another legacy app I'm employed to "repair" has one single 'template' for every page on the whole site. Its first ~500 lines conveniently consist of a giant and highly nested if/else clause to set the page variables and inline javascript.

Such things are the result of "IT experts," "Software Managers," and "Product Administrators" who've never done real software/web development in their lives hiring random "programmers" who have history or psychology degrees and think they can program because they made a form in PHP.

It only gets lovelier when eventually somebody realizes it's a huge security risk and hires an outside development firm to "secure" it. (Giant eye roll. If they couldn't vet a programmer, you can bet they're great at vetting security consultants and contract developer shops.) Did you know that randomly moving code into folders named "private" and "public" for a few thousand dollars can solve giant architectural and security issues like ridiculously easy XSS and SQL injection?

I don't know what the deal is, but a huge proportion of people writing code are plain incompetent.

At my last company we fired someone who created huge amounts of work for everyone (he thought he could secure page content and alert messages by using base 64 encoding as a stand in for hashing and encryption, for example) and a few months later he was hired as lead developer by a pretty reputable educational business.

... sigh

joshfraser 1 day ago 4 replies      
In college I was hired to build an auction site. I was billing my client $20 / hour and subcontracting out the work to some of my fellow classmates at $10 / hour. I was swamped with other work and didn't have much time to review the code. I just made sure it satisfied the specifications and shipped it. We launched the site and did a few hundred thousands dollars worth of transactions in the first 24 hours. Then something strange happened... all of the bids mysteriously disappeared from our admin panel and users started emailing in asking why their bids weren't showing up anymore. I got a panicked call asking what had happened. I had no clue, but promised to look into it. I started digging through the server logs and noticed that all the bids had been deleted around the time that Google had discovered and crawled the site. Sure enough, my friend had added links to delete bids via the admin panel that were executed via GET requests. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal except the poor guy had used JavaScript for authentication! Google's crawlers had carefully hit every single Delete link and wiped out the site. I fixed the authentication system, refunded everyone's credit cards and relaunched the site with a huge apology for the issues. Needless to say, from that day on I became far more diligent about doing code audits.
Zikes 1 day ago 2 replies      
Clearly they should have optimized this by stripping the @mail.mcgill.ca on the server side before serving the list.
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 3 replies      
Gradebusters / Making the Grade, or something with names like that, used to use a Java applet to "secure" the web site with student grades. You could just download the applet and decompile it to figure out their trivial encoding of the IDs and PINs (which were just params in the HTML).

Or you could figure out just an ID (typically a student ID number, although more than a few were social security numbers, apparently), and use "1066" since they had a backdoor PIN in quite a few releases. Battle of Hastings, eh?

Want to know how users did web security instead of asking their admins for a proper .htaccess/server-level config setup? That's how.

mherdeg 1 day ago 3 replies      
Gosh. For some reason, the "right answer" I expected to see was "do not try to validate the address; just send the e-mail and handle the bounce if it fails".

There is a whole other layer which is very good at handling incorrect or undeliverable addresses.

MichaelApproved 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've had something similar delivered to me on a project I hired out. The most frustrating part was not the code but the developers reaction to why it was so bad. He had no idea what the big deal was and thought I was being nitpicky.

Worse yet, was an initial claim that it was more efficient to do it that way. That was followed up with a claim that doing it differently wasn't possible.

Needless to say, I stopped working with that team of "developers".

pmiller2 1 day ago 2 replies      
Man. Reading posts like these has several effects on me. One is utter shock that anyone could be so stupid. Another is to remind me of how little I know (because I'm sure in the eyes of someone who actually knows anything about security, I'd probably provoke the same reaction). I'm also amazed that some of the people responsible for these things can still find work.

Here's my own personal story. The other day, I had a brain fart regarding my password for my online banking account. So, I got lazy and just clicked the "forgot password" link, answered the security questions, and within seconds, I got an email. It had my old password in it. Yes, my bank stores passwords in clear text. sigh.

BTW, I'm also looking for a new job right now, so if you're after someone with 2 brain cells to rub together who also happens to be a decent Python programmer, shoot me an email. (It's in my profile.)

willvarfar 1 day ago 2 replies      
A timely reminder to everyone:

http://thedailywtf.com/ is still going strong! Be there or be ... competent?

jb17 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who thinks that the repeated attacks on drugs and drug usage are really unnecessary (and not well informed on the topic)?
Sami_Lehtinen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
One coder used framework he didn't completely understand. Originally there wasn't password requirement for users. But when site got more confidential data password feature had to be added. Well how it was done? When user gave login and clicked ok, came page asking for password. But if you changed url at this point, everything worked. When I checked the actual code, the user form logged user in and password form logged user out if password was incorrect. Oh boy, I did praise that guy. Same guy used base64 encryption, so urls would be unguessable. Guess if there's real authentication at all if you modify the url content correctly. - Well, of course there isn't.Btw. Why there aren't negative recommendations at linkedin?
auctiontheory 1 day ago 1 reply      
You know what would be awesome?! If the developer in question happens to frequent HN and responds to this thread, eh?
jrochkind1 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's good to be reminded how many employed programmers don't actually know how to program.

Actually, I'm not quite sure why or whether it's good to be reminded of this. Maybe it's better to try and forget it.

apinstein 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This made my day. After spending the last 6 months turning down developers based on horrible code reviews, I finally feel vindicated for sticking to my instincts and hoping to eventually find someone that doesn't think code like that from TFA is "programming" and subsequently destroying my codebase and crushing my soul.
babuskov 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm sad to see so many smart people wasting their time discussing what some stupid person did. :(

I'm also disappointed I lost a couple of minutes of my life reading about this stupidity as well... just because it got 233 points.

So, I'm looking at YOU 233 who upvoted this. WHY DID YOU DO IT?

eksith 1 day ago 0 replies      
People who write similar code are what I like to call low-hanging fruit factories. I'm counting on them to make things as rubbish as possible, as long as they're not involved in any service I use, so anyone tempted to find vulnerabilities will go there first.
lstamour 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hate to burst people's bubble here on the privacy of email addresses, but it's routine at universities to have open, relatively unprotected LDAP directories or even web listings. That said, under Canadian PIPEDA (privacy laws), email addresses are considered personal information, so this would be a severe breach... As are all the times I get CC'd a bulk email rather than BCC'd.
asdfs 1 day ago 7 replies      
Somewhat unrelated, but out of curiosity, does anyone know of a site that lists for all popular languages various libraries/code snippets/routines which one can use to correctly (according to the RFCs) check the validity of e-mail addresses?

If not I may be compelled to create one.

Buzaga 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was waiting for the part of story where she would describe how the developer had an actual drug habit or something, so much she talked about it. I wonder if she's ever really met someone who 'uses drugs', this mockery seems incredibly infantile.
AYBABTME 1 day ago 4 replies      
I've once come across:

   if (!Boolean.FALSE.equals(aBoolean)) {       // ...   }
I was pretty baffled.

hawkharris 1 day ago 1 reply      
"I stumbled upon this snippet while doing research for my thesis, 'Prolonged drug use and its effect on code quality.'" Lol.
cdcarter 1 day ago 1 reply      
McGill seems to use a LMS branded as "myCourses", apparently the newest label Blackboard is using for it's "Learn" line.
powertower 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I would really like to know the combination and quantities of drugs consumed that resulted in this code. Do you know? Can you hook me up?

Meth. Two week binge. SilkRoad.

I can't imagine opiates did that.

And the only thing you'd do on coke is more coke in combination with hating yourself; not coding shit like this up.

slig 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gee, what a newb. Here's how to do it in O(1):

    return userNamesStr.indexOf(curForwardUserName) >= 0

(I'd love to not have to explain sarcasm, but people have an incredible difficult time understanding it here.)

weichi 1 day ago 0 replies      
In order to truly understand the madness at play here, we really need to know how the list of email addresses was generated.
itengelhardt 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love how she gives away the name of the actual software (desire2learn) in the tag. :-)
plg 1 day ago 0 replies      
there is a huge market (education and higher education) where institutions (sometimes governments) will pay huge money for these sorts of apps, and for whatever reason, the only real players are often of this quality

at my university we use a similar system called OWL, which replaced a system called Web-CT. Both are horrendously slow, with fantastically poorly thought out interfaces.

There is a ton of money to be made here. Low hanging fruit.

Uchikoma 1 day ago 1 reply      
For me it depends on what "validity" means.

1.) Prevent typos etc. Regex or Mailgun or Kicksend is enough.2.) Prevent bounces, prevent wrong signups one needs to do double opt in.

hadem 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly, this looks like something my boss might try to pull off...
aroman 1 day ago 0 replies      
From the article:

> [...] which is not actually called Hot4Learning, but the actual moniker is no less trite or gimmicky so I'll spare you

AMcQuarrie 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Unrelated fact: Desire2Learn likes to employ large quantities of first year CS student interns.
hussfelt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Check out our Eduware startup Coursio http://coursio.com/ for hassle-free education!

I vouch for the code, wrote it myself with some really good advisors around! ;-)

Get in touch with me personally, I'll give you a brief introduction!

w-ll 1 day ago 2 replies      

     if input_email in valid_emails_set:        send_email(input_email, another_param, etc)
Their solution, while isn't wrong, could still be improved. With a somewhat modified 2822 regex with a more strict domain rule. But I would also assume you could just query the db.

kirab 1 day ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks that the amount of flaming is kind of unproductive?
burntsushi 1 day ago 0 replies      
The verbiage is sometimes used to exaggerate the condition of being stupid. I tend to enjoy that sort of flamboyant post on occasion, but others don't have much tolerance for it. YMMV.

[EDIT] Original poster took the "drug usage" vernacular a bit too literally.

kaeruct 1 day ago 1 reply      
this should be submitted to thedailywtf.com...
drderidder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dang, that programmer sure gets around! They did a stint on my team, too.
samirhurshal 1 day ago 0 replies      
This would have been so simple to just make right in the beginning. They should have just hashed each of those user names and put the hash into a dictionary. Whenever someone entered an email check if it is in the dictionary. O(1) time and it wouldn't be a "data leak vulnerability". So close...
jheriko 1 day ago 0 replies      
i wouldn't blame drugs... this is just stupidity, or perhaps even naivete. :)
justinator 1 day ago 0 replies      
VRFY is usually disabled. The only way to verify an address is to send a message to it. If it doesn't bounce back, it... well, probably exists.
nkg 1 day ago 0 replies      
9,866,539 buildings in the Netherlands, shaded according to year of construction waag.org
415 points by pjvds  3 days ago   73 comments top 31
primigenus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Check out all the colours in Rotterdam: http://dev.citysdk.waag.org/buildings/#51.9159,4.4974,14

Kind of gives you an idea of how large parts of it were destroyed during the second World War and then has had multiple levels of reconstruction and changes taking place throughout the decades since.

ilamont 3 days ago 2 replies      
Nederlanders: When was the BAG established, and how was the dataset created? That must have been an incredible collection/standardization/digitization project.
akgerber 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many Americans claim that American cities are difficult to walk or bicycle in because they are all so much newer than European cities. But maps like these demonstrate that a huge proportion of European cities were built in the automobile era, including a great deal post-WWII; the difference in walkabality, mass transit, and bikeability of European cities is not the age of the city center but simply the decisions of what modes of transportation to prioritize in new developments.
jbverschoor 3 days ago 2 replies      
It suffers from a Y2K bug:My house in Amsterdam (and a lot of others) are noted as constructed in: 1005 instead of 1905
mtts 3 days ago 2 replies      
Starting position is Maastricht? You sneaky bastard ;-)

(For non-Dutch people: Maastricht is one of the oldest continuously urban centers in the Netherlands, which makes it nice to show off this kind of technology but it's also very far away from the rest of the country. Nice city though, definitely worth a visit).

ghc 3 days ago 5 replies      
This is really cool, but why don't the color gradations go back further? Is it a matter of how records were kept? I would have loved to see how many buildings survive from each century from, say, 700AD on. Pre-1850 as a category seems like such a waste for a map of the old world.
oscilloscope 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is initially stunning yet rich, data-dense, detailed and simple. I would refer to this when travelling in the Netherlands and especially for looking at apartments and real estate.
icoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome! You can read something from every zoom level. I couldn't find my house though, it seemed to be swallowed by my neighbours, but that may be the result of the max zoomlevel. Any reason that one can not zoom in further?
digitalengineer 3 days ago 1 reply      
You can see the oldest inner cities and each 'ring' of newer buildings around it. Example: Amsterdam: http://dev.citysdk.waag.org/buildings/?utm_source=buffer&utm... Very cool.
Jongseong 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just have to say "Dank u" for choosing a colour scheme that is friendly to those with Colour Vision Deficiency of the red/green variety. A huge number of maps which use gradations of colour to represent data are useless to up to 1 in 10 men because they adopt the rainbow colour scheme with red and green representing opposite ends of the spectrum.
davedx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Our house was built in 1976. It took a while to find it though, could use some overlay options or a search bar. Really interesting and cool though! :)
RKoutnik 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part is here: http://dev.citysdk.waag.org/buildings/#51.9004,4.5486,16

There's a building older than my country sitting right next to one built while I was in college. The casual blend of old and new is one of the things I love about European culture.

I'm sure it's found in many other places on our humble planet, but I've only been to Europe (so far!).

Caged 3 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested, I did this for Portland, Oregon back in June.



Jagat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Here's a building that was built in 1300 https://www.google.com/maps/preview?authuser=0#!q=Keizer+Kar...
dubcanada 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool, but every single move I made on my ipad added a new history. And trying to go back after spending 10 minutes playing around was the most annoying thing I've ever experienced. So annoying I had to close my browser and reopen HN.
frozenport 3 days ago 0 replies      
The website is really messing up my back button. For example I can't press the back button and return to this page.
jaap_w 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow. Even the garage of my parent's house is on it, which isn't finished yet!
bilalq 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is really cool. I'd love to see something like this done for other parts of the world as well. I just wish it wouldn't push to history every time you drag around.
DouweM 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is incredibly cool; looks like my house and office were built in 1978 and 1850 respectively!
namenotrequired 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love finding things on HN that my mom can also appreciate. :)
smoorman1024 1 day ago 0 replies      
You could easily make a similar looking map with the NYC Pluto data. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bytes/applbyte.shtml
vonbladet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty much all my suburb of Groningen was built in the late 70s and early 80s. It is cool that many people live in cooler districts, but the Netherlands has a long history of <i>nieuwbouw</i>.
kylelibra 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would really like to see this for a city like NYC or SF.
isaacb 3 days ago 0 replies      
What a terrible use of the browser history. I was trying to get back to HN and had to trace through every movement I took on the map.
gmapsmania 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google Maps Mania posted about a few similar maps last week.

As well as the Netherlands map there is the Portland map, a map of Ljubljana, Slovenia (similar to the Portland map) and the Brooklyn map.


samstave 3 days ago 0 replies      



>Address:Keizer Karelplein 6 6211TC Maastricht

>Area:3,306 m


Here is the street view:


PaulHoule 3 days ago 0 replies      
contingencies 3 days ago 0 replies      
An excellent example of the techno-fetishism and efficiency/dataset worship surrounding a modern nanny state. To quote some prominent graffiti I walked past this morning in central Rotterdam, one mere hour ago: "Is this freedom?" Clearly, no. Holland's pretty totalitarian these days.
rsgong 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's beautiful.
nodata 3 days ago 1 reply      
9M reads like a brand, I think the title should read "9 M".
English has been my pain for 15 years antirez.com
408 points by derefr  3 days ago   299 comments top 71
doomlaser 3 days ago 7 replies      
The recent frenzy of accent related Hacker News posts seems to reinforce the opinion I saw in a thread discussing the pg controversy:

"Dear Paul,

It's not what you are, it's what you did. At least, I hope.

I suspect this is all coming out of a desire to emphasize that communication is important when you're starting a company. It's never just about solving technical problems. Well, sure, that's true. But as Nitasha has covered rather thoroughly, your "empirical evidence" isn't some blind sample - it's a walking demonstration of confirmation bias.

The larger problem is something you've explained yourself, in your essay on "Investor Herd Dynamics". Another name for this essay might have been, "Venture Capital is a Cargo Cult". In that essay, you lay out several reasons why an investment becomes more attractive when other people are already investing in it. And here's the crux of your argument:

'But frankly the most important reason investors like you more when you've started to raise money is that they're bad at judging startups. Judging startups is hard even for the best investors. The mediocre ones might as well be flipping coins. So when mediocre investors see that lots of other people want to invest in you, they assume there must be a reason.'

Do I need to spell this out? Your bias is a cancer on your industry, because it becomes part of the voodoo nonsense that less astute investors use to pick their horses. Your decisions may seem rational to you but if you talk about how you don't like to back people with strong accents, it becomes less likely that other people will back them as well. You can be better than this.

Look deeper."

DanBC 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a great post.

Here's a BBC Radio Four programme where Stephen Fry talks about spelling reform, and it includes a little bit about pronunciation. The brokenness of English is a problem we know about!


> The fact that people from different English speaking countries have issues communicating is already a big hint about how odd is English phonetically.

It doesn't have to be people from different countries! People in England can have very very different accents. It can be hard to understand some of the stronger accents.

Sometimes people keep a regional difference for some words but not others. I say "bath" with a short a, but "path" with a longer a.

> My advice is that if you are learning English now, start listening as soon as possible to spoken English.

BBC used to have the excellent World Service programming. It had a variety of interesting short documentary, long news reporting, and variety of British culture shows. Now it's just rolling news. Idiots who know the cost of everything but the value of nothing ignored the real "soft power" benefits of the old World Service programmes.

> I always advice people against translation efforts in the topic of technology, since I believe that it is much better to have a common language to document and comment the source code, and actually to obtain the skills needed to understand written technical documentation in English is a simple effort for most people.

I gently disagree with this part.

For creating code I strongly agree, you're right. We do need a common language.

But if I had the money I'd set up a foundation to improve the man pages and documentation for projects, and to then translate these documents into the big languages - Portuguese, Spanish, French, some form of Chinese. Etc. I feel that this is important for poor people in developing nations.

Finally, your written English is good. I knew you're not a native speaker, but I didn't have any trouble understanding what you were saying. Many people speak only one language.

beloch 3 days ago 4 replies      
English isn't just the language of IT, it's become the lingua franca of science and commerce. Very little research worth reading is published in a language other than English these days. I wouldn't be surprised if there are obscure, third-rate English-language scientific journals in China that have never been seen, let alone had articles submitted to by native English speakers!

Over the years, I've worked with a lot of people who are not native English speakers. The one thing that trips me up is when one of them is so utterly brilliant at speaking English that I completely forget they're not a native speaker and start unconsciously throwing in some of the slang and colorful idioms my redneck father has fed me over the years. I always feel bad when I do this because it must sound like I go from perfectly understandable English to complete and utter gibberish in nothing flat! Idioms and slang are really horrible things to inflict upon non-native speakers. I can't imagine what it must be like for a non-native English speaker trying to work with Cockneys or newfies!

decode 3 days ago 3 replies      

  hey guys, you are not understanding us, we are not  understanding what you say as well, and it is hard to find  people that, once your understanding limits are obvious,  will try to slow down the peace of the conversation. Often  even if I say I did not understood, I'll get the same  sentence repeated the same at speed of light.
This is an important point. There are a number of things that native speakers of English can do to be more understandable to non-native speakers. Some things I've found are helpful: speaking more slowly, shifting your pronunciation (especially of vowels) to be more standard, using different words (e.g. if you're talking to a native speaker of a Romance language, prefer words with Latin roots over Germanic ones), and being careful to pronounce all consonants. Things that rarely help: speaking more loudly and repeating the same phrase multiple times.

Making these changes to your speech in real time is a difficult skill that must be cultivated and practiced. I would encourage native speakers to work at this skill, as it can make a big difference. I was once speaking to a couple of Russians and an American from the same region of the US as me. The Russians said they could understand me easily, but had difficulty understanding the other American. The difference was that I was making an effort to speak more clearly for them.

tokenadult 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see that the submitted article, and many of the interesting comments in this busy thread, relate to the issue of the bizarre spelling patterns of English. As a native speaker of General American English (the dialect of English I recommend to foreign learners of English ;) ), I have two perspectives on this.

1) As a parent of English-speaking children, I thought it was VITAL that they learn well the main consistent sound-symbol correspondence rules of English spelling. (This is called "phonics" in the context of teaching reading to native speakers of English.) My favorite book recommendation for this is Let's Read: A Linguistic Approach, by linguist Leonard Bloomfield and lexicographer Clarence Barnhart. All four of my children learned to read well with this book. The book is now in a second edition


prepared by a second generation of the Barnhart family. Learning to read with an approach like this is dialect-friendly (the book is specifically organized to take into account dialect differences, at least within American English) and systematic for understanding what is consistent in English spelling and what is not.

2) As for spelling reform in English, I think it was HN user gnosis who once shared a very interesting link


about English spelling reform by a commentator who knows linguistics well. English spelling reform is often desired by native speakers of the language, but it is a tough problem. See what the link has to say about various proposals for spelling reform.

iandanforth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Concentrated learning for English accents is effective. From personal experience (through acting) I can tell you that sitting down with a professional accent coach 2-3x per week can have you speaking and understanding heavy, hard accents (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZU...) quickly. A month of lessons will get you understanding, and fooling some people who don't have that accent. A few months is required to fool people who have that accent.

From this experience I learned that the process of learning a new accent is totally separate from learning a language as most people do it. You need to master IPA as well as carry a mirror to watch your own lips and have good close-up reference material. As evidenced by all the mediocre accents in movies it's not a foolproof process, but it can certainly get you much closer to your goal.

malandrew 3 days ago 4 replies      
The number one rule I have taught to people who speak English as a second language is to always always always learn polysyllabic words, especially those with 3+ syllables, to learn them back to front and never from front to back, which is the natural way to approach learning long words.

Instead of learning a word like onomatopeia like this:

    on...    ono...    onomat...    onomato...    onomatopei...    onomatopeia
Try saying it out loud this way instead:

    ...a    ...peia    ...topeia    ...matopeia    ...nomatopeia    onomatopeia
This will almost always result in learning to pronounce the word much better. I say almost because there probably are words out there that violate this rule, but I haven't come across any of them yet. The reason this approach works is because the first syllable of almost all polysyllabic words in English is pronounced in a more drawn out fashion than the latter syllables. By learning from back to front, you force yourself to learn to draw out the first syllable and shorten up the last syllable(s).

I have found that this rule is also applicable to almost all Romance languages for English speakers learning, French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.

If you are a speaker of a second language, I strongly urge you to try this out yourself and get feedback from a native speaker on your pronunciation.

dasil003 3 days ago 1 reply      
Coming from almost the opposite background, I agree very strongly with the assertion that accent is almost beside the point. It's true that if your accent is too thick that will harm communication, but below a certain threshold native speakers will attune pretty quickly.

For me, American English is my native language, but I am also half Brazilian and learned Portuguese from childhood trips to Brazil (I didn't properly learn until I was 12). Because I was exposed to Portuguese at a young age I have excellent pronunciation and decent grammar, but I never spent enough time living there to pick up a broad vocabulary. So actually my expressiveness Portuguese is quite weak even though people's first impression might be that it is perfect until we get into a serious conversation and I struggle to come up with the right words and expressions.

I often contrast this with my mother and father who learned the language pairs as adults, but did so in a serious academic setting. I have less of an accent than both of them in their opposing language, but they both have a much stronger overall command. Sometimes I meet someone with a very thick accent that is hard to decipher at first, but they speak very quickly and with excellent grammar and vocabulary.

So it's clear to me that accent and language skills are orthogonal. Many immigrants hit a wall with their accent because it's good enough, and they get more added value from improving their grammar and vocabulary. Clearly I think pg touched on the important point that entrepreneurs generally talk fast about complicated and novel ideas, so an accent is more likely to get in the way as compared to normal interactions. However it's just the tip of the iceberg, and I think the average American lives a more sheltered life in terms of the reality of having to learn another language than any other country.

nasmorn 3 days ago 8 replies      
English is so horrible because it has no discernable orthography. My favorite example is anti thesis -> antithesis. I mean what the fuck, my mothertongue german is the king of combined nouns but this change of pronounciation on concatenation doesnt happen ever. Or phonetical difference based on grammtic use as in the verb read.Horrible. I think it should be handled like the Finns and Koreans did. Throw all the irregularities out so that the language can be read after learning the alphabet. I was always against this in German but then I realized most current spellings are just a snapshot in time, it all used to be spelled differently. So now I am dor either use the original form an pronounciation or go fully local. Computer is fine as it is still english but will and should eventually become Kompjuter. It looks really wrong to me but it is readable as a German word and much better to learn for children.
murrayh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is worth noting that the unintelligible accent issue is context dependent. A native English speaker can be the person with an unintelligible accent, and that person may need to work on their communication skills in order to have influence.

I experienced this phenomenon first hand as a native English speaker with an Australian accent. At my first hostel abroard there was a mixed group of european (non UK) people conversing in English, and I thought I'd try and join in.

me: howrya?

group: blank stares

me: how are you?

group: blank stares

me: how - are - you?

group: look of fear

me: hello?

This first experience was definitely a shock, and it took me some time to realise what it must have been like for the group.

In terms of learning to understand native speakers, travelling in their country for an extended period seems to work. My family has hosted many international guests through exchange programs, including adult guests who had never left their home country (but were taught English at school). Communication was sometimes very difficult, but universally the guests were able to pick up on the Australian accent over time. When exchanges move from blank looks to questions about particular words used, you can start having clunky conversations.

The exchange programs did give our family tips on how to converse with the guests. The only tip I can remember is to try and use different words. Often the longer and fancier word (e.g. gigantic, massive) is easier to understand for the guest than the short and simple word (e.g. big).

blackcat 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some simplifications were made by Noah Webster.

Webster thought that Americans should learn from American books, so he began writing a three volume compendium, A Grammatical Institute of the English Language. The work consisted of a speller (published in 1783), a grammar (published in 1784), and a reader (published in 1785). His goal was to provide a uniquely American approach to training children. His most important improvement, he claimed, was to rescue "our native tongue" from "the clamour of pedantry" that surrounded English grammar and pronunciation. He complained that the English language had been corrupted by the British aristocracy, which set its own standard for proper spelling and pronunciation. Webster rejected the notion that the study of Greek and Latin must precede the study of English grammar. The appropriate standard for the American language, argued Webster, was "the same republican principles as American civil and ecclesiastical constitutions". This meant that the people-at-large must control the language; popular sovereignty in government must be accompanied by popular usage in language.Slowly, edition by edition, Webster changed the spelling of words, making them "Americanized". He chose s over c in words like defense, he changed the re to er in words like center, and he dropped one of the Ls in traveler. At first he kept the u in words like colour or favour but dropped it in later editions. He also changed "tongue" to "tung"an innovation that never caught on.


DasIch 3 days ago 2 replies      
Getting used to and understanding different accents is actually fairly easy, if you watch US and UK tv series regularly.

In any case this post shows perfectly how important it is to learn languages early on. In Germany you start learning English in 3rd grade and even before school there are kindergartens in which multiple languages are spoken. If you go to a Gymnasium and want to graduate with the abitur you need to be able to speak at least one foreign language or two, if you don't want to focus on sciences.

nu23 3 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe, we should have an international language reform to introduce a phonetic spelling system (WYSIWYHear) which would also lead to a somewhat standardized accent. The local ways of pronouncing words, can still continue in each region. There are probably many aesthetic considerations for this. But when two people across different regions speak, they can use this system.

This would require linguists to document the phonemes, and to find a minimal set of alterations of either the spelling or the pronounciation of a word so that you have a phonetic system. There are already variations in spelling (American/British English). This would be another variation which is phonetic.

Of course, even if this this work is done, it would still be yet another standard needing popular adoption. The phonemes would also be more in number than the current letters which means either using diacritic symbols (requiring change in keyboards, slower typing) or mapping a phoneme to multiple letters (longer spellings and possibly some ambiguity in detecting phoneme boundaries in spellings).

robotmay 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd actually say that the English most Europeans learn is very compatible with British English, and I very, very rarely struggle to understand them. However I do quite regularly cause issues when speaking with Americans, as the difference between our dialects is quite large; the British in general have a very diverse array of accents and colloquialisms, and we tend to speak pretty quickly in comparison to the US (personal experience, YMMV). This I suspect also makes us pretty unintelligible to a lot of secondary-English speakers. While at conferences I've found that people from Germanic countries have very little trouble understanding me (we do have a shared heritage, after all) but anyone more eastern or southern definitely have issues when I start wittering about something.

I don't hold it against someone if they can't understand me though; the British can't even understand each other, so I can imagine how difficult it can be for people from elsewhere :)

sker 3 days ago 0 replies      
Spoken English has been the major barrier for me. All these articles from this and last week resonate with me, but this one hits the nail on so many heads.

It's especially discouraging when so many job ads require hyper-ultra-mega-puts-Bill-Clinton-to-shame communication skills for software development positions. I understand the value of communication, but I've successfully done remote gigs for companies where we don't even talk to each other. Just hand me the spec and I'll build it. If I have any doubts I'll write you an email, with the added benefit of having everything in writing and being able to re-read it later.

drtse4 3 days ago 2 replies      
The main issue with the the usual approach of language learning is the focus on grammar, like if doing useless grammar exercises would improve your grasp of grammar and sentence construction rules. It doesn't help much actually.

I've learned more grammar watching tv series than actually studying grammar for years in school, and my pronunciation improved too. Now many things just come naturally.

And i can understand the issues he's having with pronunciation, without a constant reference to how something should be pronounced you tend to ignore the correct pronunciation of words you don't know (but you can deduce the meaning while reading) an build up a collection of words with completely broken pronunciation that you will end up using in actual conversation. With hideous results...

opminion 3 days ago 2 replies      
Antirez is spot on describing the problems of English as a foreign language in Europe (although I don't think it has much to do with PG's remarks and I wouldn't draw any conclusions from it).

My favourite example is the pronunciation of the math symbol Pi in a European meeting in which everyone and their dog would be tempted to say something like "pih" except a native speaker. Or try asking for the nearest Ikea.

d0m 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why people are making such a big fuss about the PG article. He gave only one example of so many red hearing. Obviously being a foreigner with a strong accent doesn't help you when 90% of your time is spent communicating. duh.

What makes me sad is that by being honest and wanting to help founders, PG just got a new shit load of problems from people over-reacting. Do you really think he'll give great, but controversial, feedback in his next interviews/articles?

siong1987 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not just Italian, same applies to Mandarin too.

Mandarin speakers from different regions (Hong Kong, Taiwan, different parts of China, Malaysia, Singapore) speak in different accents but we usually don't have problem understanding each other (yeah, sometimes we make fun of the different accents).

blumentopf 3 days ago 2 replies      
English is a Germanic language and I would argue that it is particularly difficult for Native speakers of Romanic languages to pick it up.

I'm German and my experience has always been that English is a very simple language and yet versatile enough to allow for very nuanced expression.

mbesto 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was born in America, raised learning English, and to this day, my written skills are nowhere near perfect. Nor are my verbal skills. I am constantly writing and rewriting sentences because the intangibles of communications, such as tone, style, prose, format, are extremely important and often overlooked. Not to mention, my grammar after 29 years is still far from perfect.

I've attempted and now partially understand, read, write, and speak Spanish, Swedish, German. Having experienced all of the intricacies of other languages, I don't envy those who are far behind me trying to make it in an English.

That being said, what's the lesson learned, or probably more apt - what's the solution? This is why firms like YC exist, is to provide support to founders that lack all of the acumen (and trust me, there's a lot) that is required for 21st century business leaders. There's often a meta discussion here on HN about the "technical co-founder vs business co-founder". This is one area where having a business co-founder with great communication skills is a great reason to partner up with that person. Unfortunately those who do lack communication skills often find it difficult to understand those who do have good communication skills.

I wish I could help somehow...

brownbat 3 days ago 2 replies      
Most of English's "problems" come from a sort of natural drift that all languages experience all the time. There's no way to freeze a language in its "most useful" form, because a billion different speakers are simultaneously pulling it in different directions. It either ends up as a sort of democratic consensus, or eventually fractures into mutually unintelligible dialects.

1. Shakespearean pronunciation:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPlpphT7n9s

2. Problems that would be caused by simplifying spelling:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_spelling_refo...

3. Power of Babel: http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Babel-Natural-Language/dp/00...

4. Toastmasters speech about "Manglish": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDanVi6byKo Toastmasters has its own version of English, full of over the top gestures. Also recommended, search for Singlish on Youtube.)

coldtea 3 days ago 2 replies      
>So starting from 1998 I slowly learned to fluently read English without making more efforts compared to reading something written in Italian.I even learned to write at the same speed I wrote stuff in Italian, even if I hit a local minima in this regard, as you can see reading this post: basically I learned to write very fast a broken subset of English, that is usually enough to express my thoughts in the field of programming, but it is not good enough to write about general topics. I don't know most of the words needed to refer to objects you find in a kitchen for example, or the grammar constructs needed to formulate complex sentences, hypothetical structures, and so forth.

Well, have you tried to properly study English, as in, with a teacher and a course book? From your description I understand that you merely tried to casually pick up English.

If so, it's not particularly fair to assess the difficulty of English compared to your own language (that, besides, being your native language, you were taught it's grammar and syntax for years on end at school).

I've studied English for several years and have no trouble speaking or reading it -- despite not having had many opportunities to speak it with native english speakers until much later in my life. Reading a lot of books/magazines/etc helps a lot. Reading for like 1-2 hours per day.

I found out I could pick a specialized subject I was interested in, like, say, electronic music production, and just by reading the magazines (Future Music, Electronic Musician, Keyboard etc) for a couple of years I could go from a total newbie to understanding all the specialized vocabulary used (from simple stuff, like "knob", "fader" and "slider" to "dither", "LFO", "frequency cutoff" etc).

Watching movies and tv series without subtitles also helps tremendously. In Italy this is even worse, because they don't just add subtitles, they usually dub the whole thing with Italian actors (ugh).

(OTOH, ho studiato Italiano per tre anni, in un gruppo picolo, e questo e tutto che lo ricordo, ho dimenticato quasi tutti gli parole e la majorita de la "syntax" e gli tempi -- damn, that got bad quickly)

poppingtonic 2 days ago 0 replies      
While pg's comment may have seemed insensitive to some, it has helped bring to light some of the anxieties that foreign-born founders may themselves have (for instance, about the way the local culture they're founding a company in will perceive them due to their accent, not forgetting their ability to communicate anyway).

Posts like this one are a sign that cultural phenomena such as this will be more visible, and won't just disappear into the detritus of forgotten blogs. Do some foreign-born founders struggle with their accents? Yes. Is a strong accent a barrier to communication? Quite likely, yes. Is it worth it for a founder to do what it takes to communicate her message exactly, and nothing else? Absolutely.

Shouldn't the goal be to either: 1) become excellent communicators, or to 2) find excellent communicators, and get them on "our" team?

Now we can focus on, with our characteristic laser-like ability, and talk about why accents may hold somebody back, as a community, and how we can help people succeed anyway.

Some ideas:- Schools to help founders communicate better?- An additional service within accelerator programs to help founders with strong accents become effective anyway? (Maybe YC could just take this and run with it)

Solve that problem and move on to the next one. Isn't that The Rule?

Let me take the opportunity to focus on what, imho, started this whole controversy. While I consider pg's position to be valid, he should probably have explained it better, through his usual channel of the essay form, before talking about it in the media, where his words were much more likely to be taken out of context. He didn't, they were, and we're left picking up the media-transformed pieces of what would have been an otherwise instructive take on what might hold some foreign-born startup founders back. pg seems to have forgotten why he writes essays (explore ideas as fully as possible, while leaving room for improvement), and now he has to pay for that mistake with a (possibly -- I have no way of knowing if he'd prepared an article about this) quickly written piece of damage control, published in the middle of a frenzy of accusations and hurt feelings. The "Founders' Accents" essay is weaker than it would have been if he'd written it before he did the inc.com interview, as the interviewer would have had a more self-contained source to reference, counter-arguments and all.[0]

I must conclude, therefore, that his comment may have done more harm, in the short-term, than good. It remains to be seen whether we can turn this around for the good of all.

We should remember, though, that we're in this together, and pg is not the only one who has a responsibility to make sure the people that matter don't miss out on opportunities because of something that can be fixed. Which is not to say that its trivial. Fifteen years is a long time.

[0] For one, I don't think the discussion surrounding it would have devolved into accusations of racism, though that probably says more about my view of people than about pg's detractors in this case.

dmourati 2 days ago 0 replies      
We all need to practice tolerance and grace. Identifying that there are non-native speakers means we all share a bit of the burden. Antirez mentions slowing down, this is one easy way to make conversations better understood. Also, we should avoid idioms or turns of phrase. These are quite difficult even for some native speakers. Finally, we need to make a genuine effort to make ourselves understood. This is the sign of effective communication.

I think the whole "accent" controversy misses the mark. Having grown up with an immigrant parent, I know how frequently he was mocked for his accent. Of course, I could always understand and act as the mediator. This has served me well in the rest of my life. If only we all had the same benefit.

airesQ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Over the past year I have improved my spoken English immensely, here's how:

- I took about 30 lessons of one-on-one tutoring through Skype. It really helps to have someone who is paid to hear your bad English, and to have the patience to point to you the mistakes that you are making. This costs about 20 per hour, but it is worth it.

- Read out loud. There was a period of about a month where I did this at least one hour per day. I read books, articles, even RFCs. It does wonders.

- Made a good use of the "pronounce feature" that most dictionaries have nowadays.

- Saw youtube videos on pronunciation and common mistakes.

I also wrote a lot, about 2000 words per day (I wrote a AutoHotKey script to count number of times I hit space on any given day). Perhaps 2000 words is too much, and it tends to favor verbosity over succinctness. But you will get a LOT of practice.

It also helps to read/hear good writers/speakers. I don't like movies/tv so much, as they have a low speech to time ratio.

tszyn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think any geek interested in improving their English should check out my website: http://www.antimoon.com especially the "How to learn English" section, which is a guide based on my own experiences and some language acquisition theory.http://www.antimoon.com/how/howtolearn.htm

I've been writing about effective language learning techniques since 2000, with an emphasis on pronunciation (which is an oft-neglected topic in English classrooms). The site is written in simple English, so if you're a native speaker of English, don't be put off by the spartan writing style.

moondowner 3 days ago 0 replies      
"If you don't know English, get a teacher and learn it, if you don't do that you won't succeed."

This is one of the first things one professor said to us at his first lecture when I went to faculty.

darklajid 2 days ago 0 replies      
Regarding the problems to pronounce words easily: These two poems resonate strongly with me and seem to be related to what the author describes:

1: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2007/08/30/ough/

2: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2009/09/19/o-u-g-h/

Yes, english between non-english speakers works quite well. Listening to UK english (especially accents. The TV series Misfits was funny not only because of the weird story..) is hard, following people from the US is easier but still full of traps.

I'm confident that I have a huge number of 'english' words in my vocabulary that I never pronounced right (only read them, trying to pronounce them by guessing. See the poems..) in my whole life.

timthorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Broadcast this morning on BBC Radio 4, and quite pertinent:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b039c5cs
thinkersilver 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author mentions that he spent a lot of time using English without ever listening to it. A big problem is the way English( or languages) are taught or learnt that causes these problems.

One trick/method that I used while perfecting my German accent was shadowing that I found in a lanaguage forum somewhere. I took a book that I understood in the target language, in this case it was Agatha Christie's Murder on the Links; bought the audio book ( Mord auf dem Links), then repeated after the reader at pace without looking at the text. It was tiring mentally sometimes, but it helped greatly in pronunciation and aural comprehension of the target langauge.

I did the same for movies. I remember getting the Matrix in German. Technical writing is different I guess but I hope this helps someone, at the very least, in acquiring an idiomatic proficiency.

nmeofthestate 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have a French colleague with the strangest attitude to his strong accent when speaking English. His accent is strong enough that it makes understanding him a bit tricky sometimes, and when I mentioned it, he said that this accent was part of his identity and he wouldn't be trying to improve it. He was weirdly taken aback when I said something in a 'good' French accent.

This attitude was really surprising to me.

For me, when speaking your non-native language, the aim should be to sound like a native (or with the accent of some subset of the native-speaking population).

I wonder how widespread this "X is my native tongue, so I'm going to speak English in a strong X accent, because otherwise I'd be submerging my identity" attitude is?

ximeng 3 days ago 0 replies      
Offer three days ago for people to improve their accent:


(I'm not affiliated.)

YuriNiyazov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not quite the main point of the article, but this stuck with me: "I don't know most of the words needed to refer to objects you find in a kitchen for example"

I grew up in the Soviet Union; I learned the names of trees, and birds from my grandma, and the names of tools in a shop from my dad. We emigrated to New York; It's been 20 years; I am fluent, I speak with a slight accent, but no one ever claims they can't understand me; yet, only now, barely, have I started to learn things like names of birds, trees and tools. I, of course, don't mean the basic ones like "owl" or "pigeon", or "wrench" and "screwdriver", but things that are slightly more obscure like "bluejay" or "vicegrip" eluded me for a long time.

Jacqued 3 days ago 3 replies      
I think this is especially true for native speakers of languages derived from latin. Why ? Because in classical latin to pronounce a word you just pronounce every letter in the standard way. So you tend to associate the written word strongly with the way it is spoken. However in the real world languages are spoken first, and the way words are written only follows later (or does not always, which can cause a whole lot of problems, like in French).

Now I don't know about Italian, but a non-native speaker who has learned French as spoken in Paris will more than likely not understand a native French speaker from Qubec or Cte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). So I don't think this problem is specific to English.

Although it is true that if you learn English from the Internet, you'll be very surprised the first time you hear an Englishman :)

Quarrelsome 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its worth noting though that the grammar is a piece of piss. It works well as an international language because its easy to learn yet hard to master.

(for the record, I'm trying to learn Icelandic and that language has crazy rules)

If anything we just need to be cautious of judging people who don't have native-level English.

dsego 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ed Rondthaler on English spelling (video) http://vimeo.com/17561068
16s 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope antirez never stops coding to move into management. I first came to know him during the Engine Yard Hamming Distance contest (2009). I've read and followed his work ever since.
Fuxy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know about US English but I know how to speak "TV English" perfectly however when I came to the UK I had a hard time adjusting to the different accents around London for a couple of months.

Scottish, Irish or just about every accent out there sound like weird sounds the first time you hear them and you actually have to focus hard to figure out what the fk that person just said.

Written English may be the same everywhere but spoken English varies greatly from region to region.

dspeyer 2 days ago 1 reply      
So what can we do?

As a native English speaker, I freely admit that our spelling is horrible and our grammar has some sharp edges. Furthermore I freely admit that it's unfair that the burden of making communication work lies so heavily on others and so lightly on people like me.

I could try to learn Italian, but even if a third of English-speakers did, it wouldn't really change Antirez's situation, much less that of his Chinese analogues.

I could try to write more phonetically, but at a cost of ease-of-reading for existing English speakers. And an uncoordinated effort would only produce chaos. Perhaps PG would care to serve as a schelling point?

I could try to learn to understand thick accents better. I don't know where to start. Likewise I could try to learn to read foreign-grammared English better. I actually think I'm pretty good at that.

ajuc 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have the same problem. I've learnt English from programming manuals and old CRPG games pronouncing words in my mind like it was Polish (it has regular phonetics too). It's very hard to undo the damage now.

I watch a lot of English movies without subtitles, so I can understand (at least American English), but I'm afraid of speaking, and I have troubles with pronouncing even basic words.

ludoo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Your English has improved tremendously since I've known you.

You only need to launch another successful project which will in time develop a strong international community like redis, then you'll speak and write English like a native. :)

CurtMonash 2 days ago 0 replies      
PG has been off his game in this discussion. It is important to be fluent both in understanding and in communicating, both in English and in techspeak. I threw together http://www.strategicmessaging.com/fluency/2013/08/30/ to spell that out, and it's the first time ever I've just banged out a post that much improved on what Paul Graham wrote.

antirez adds to the discussion further, by pointing out that there are various different kinds of language fluency. Excellent observations.

justin66 2 days ago 0 replies      
> My long term hope is that soon or later different accents could converge into a standard easy-to-understand one that the English speaking population could use as a lingua franca.

I'm puzzled by this comment. The generic midwest accent that most people on television use would seem like a good, obvious candidate. Even newscasters in Europe seem to target this when using English.

microcolonel 2 days ago 0 replies      
We need a standard technical document describing a subset of the natural language English, which is suitable for increasing clarity of technical documentation and discussion. Maybe evolve it like we do so many software projects(in a revision control mechanism, with an issue tracker).

I know somebody is going to say But there's ASD-STE100!, unfortunately ASD-STE100 is a closed standard, and it's not even exactly clear how one might get a copy(without working for a DoD contractor or some similar).

Revised Report on the natural language English(RRE) maybe. ;)

kneisley 2 days ago 0 replies      
A need that I can see is for a class (or at least a few videos) for native English speakers to effectively communicate with non-native speakers, and a way to practice.

The crux of the issue is that by repeating themselves a little louder and at the same speed, a native speaker is treating the (non-native) listener as a linguistic equal. If my brother doesn't understand what I said, it is almost certainly due to the volume of my speech relative to our listening environment, not my content. To assume otherwise would insult his intelligence. If I'm speaking to a non-native speaker, my natural instinct is to extend the same courtesy. It isn't laziness or a lack of empathy. (You could argue it was lazy to speak that way in the first place, but to rephrase it after the fact would be condescending)

I used to work for a company based in Tokyo and, through practice and frustration, learned how to modulate my idiom-laden, Missouri-accented, high-speed, low-volume drawl into something at least partially intelligible to my Japanese colleagues. It required a lot of effort and still sounds strange out of context. If I spoke to my father the same way, he'd laugh at me.

As an American, I think it would be really helpful if part of our education included speaking (and listening to) English as it is spoken by non-natives. We should have to practice listening to and understanding various common accents (South Asian, Chinese, Nigerian, etc), practice making ourselves understood, and learn how to graciously ask for (or give) re-phrasing or clarification.

walshemj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting point between English and Italian - when I was diagnosed with dyslexia the specialist at great ormand street commented that if was an Italian I would have had much less trouble with writing and grammar as Italian is a very regular language compered to English
pagles 3 days ago 2 replies      
This sentence is so true "My brain is full of associations between written words and funny sounds that really don't exist in the actual language."
nfriedly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a native English speaker, but I sometimes have a problem with pronouncing words that I've read but either not heard spoken, or heard but didn't realize it was the same word. I'll make up a pronunciation in my head and then use that in conversation and confuse whoever I'm talking to.

My wife catches me saying a new one every month or two, and she thinks its hilarious (but she also helps me pronounce it correctly, so I can't complain too much.)

sergeykish 2 days ago 2 replies      
My mother tongue is russian.

At childhood I was astonished by spelling scene in translated american film:

  -   "" # How to spell cat?  -    # C A T
It's quite a dumb question on russian. There is no difference between spelling and pronunciation. Yet repeating word character by character shown as a mark of intelligence.

Later on I've learned english by reading. Direct mapping to known phonemes gives very rough accent. To change it one has to be aware: things are not as they seem. Reading hidden language helps a lot:

  $ curl http://www.i18nguy.com/chaos.html | htmlfmt | espeak --ipa -q  dist kit n kien  std l pnnsen  a wl tit ju n ma vs  sandz lak kps  k  hs  and ws  a wl kip ju  suz  bz  mek j hd w hit  dz  ti n a  j ds wl te  s al a   hi ma pe

stkni 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why would anyone even think about learning 'British' English instead of 'US' English? We Brits do talk a tad funny at times.

Indeed, the OP mentions that US English is somewhat easier to follow and that's what we should be listening to, the Brits are just a distraction.

The key is that I think it's important to know the language in which most publication is done. Which for IT issues is currently US English. So more ABC and less BBC is my advice.

This book by John Honey from 1997 is an interesting read on the subject but it's a long time since I read it so might be a little dated now: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Language-Power-Professor-John-Honey/...

samscully 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Often even if I say I did not understood, I'll get the same sentence repeated the same at speed of light.

I'm a native English speaker and I don't understand why people do this. If you are trying to have a conversation with someone, surely you want to do what is necessary for everyone to be understood as well as possible. It is only a little effort for you to slow down and simplify your speech, but it is impossible for the other person to learn better English on the spot. I lived in Hong Kong for a while and some US/UK people still wouldn't adapt their accent, even though the locals were humouring them by speaking English to them in the first place.

Perhaps it is easier for me to empathise given I have a (now very mild) Yorkshire accent, which was consistently mocked when I moved to London, and is reasonably slow paced anyway.

simonebrunozzi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another hopefully interesting discussion on another HN thread here (Accents, English, Arrogance, Success): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6316826

(disclaimer: I am the author of the original article)

djvv 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of software that does speech to IPA (or any phonetic representation)?

If such a thing exist then it should be possible to write a program which compares the users pronunciation to the official one and gives tips and exercises on getting closer to the proper way of speaking. I can see some difficulties with differences depending on the speakers native language and the target language.

What do you think?

mwcampbell 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if using a screen reader for the blind, with the language set to English, would help non-native speakers learn pronunciation. For example, use VoiceOver on OS X (enabled by pressing Command+F5) to read blogs, HN, etc.
pauloya 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Introvert or extrovert": this is a huge deal when learning and living among foreign speakers. I went through this when I moved to Turkey and I called it an "Identity Crisis", the way other people perceive you is totally different than what you are used to.
zedr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm more intrigued about his statement "in 10 years I'll likely no longer write code professionally".

I wonder if it's a personal choice, or if he thinks that there is age limit for the profession.

Qantourisc 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Belgium you often need 3 languages to operate (depending on the company location, and how big the company is): Dutch, English and French...
iframe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm good reading and listening English but when it comes to talk with somebody it feels like I forget it all I have to think twice before talking and I my pronunciation sucks I've been practicing that .. if there are good sources for improving this please share it , I'm currently using livemocha but I already lost interest on it, I also recommend listening to podcasts.
cliveowen 3 days ago 3 replies      
Last time I expressed my thoughts[1] here about the same thing I was brutally word-raped by the angriest people on earth, now everyone is saying what I was saying all along and it's all well and good.

You need to know English: put in the effort, watch a shitload of movies and read even more books. That's it, you can't just ignore it.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6239371

xr09 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read a lot of technical docs in English, and watch a lot of movies without subtitles to force my brain to catch the words, it worked pretty well so far.

I'm starting to read non-tech literature, is another league but I like it, is cool reading a book in its original language. (Robinson Crusoe right now..)

nairboon 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's the reason they've invented Lojban, a logical language, which is way easier to learn than those natural languages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lojban
olivier1664 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paul Graham talks about the "founders", not of the whole "IT workers" community.
Havoc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Could be worse. Like say German. der/die/das would cause many suicides.
thenerdfiles 2 days ago 0 replies      
"[...] in the attention zone [...]"

Are you serious, dude?

Politics and the English Language.

devgutt 3 days ago 0 replies      
besides, I feel that I'm wasting too much time. I know that is important, but still, it is just a tool. Not even a challenging one. It's just a boring tool to learn.
jgg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Technical comment, ignoring the Paul Graham drama (which seems like a non-controversy to me):

English is definitely phonetically-inconsistent (it's almost funny how many different sounds vowels, diphthongs, etc. can make). I realized this a while ago, and suddenly felt sorry for people learning English.

However, to dismiss the difference between spoken English and "textbook English" as some problem endemic to the English language is superficial. Colloquial versions of languages are almost always different than what is taught in standard coursework.

Further, arrogantly claiming that English is broken because he, a non-native speaker, can't understand UK English is idiotic - I can barely understand a Caribbean Spanish accent, compared to a "textbook" Latin American one, but that doesn't mean Spanish is "broken." I can understand a UK accent pretty well, as can most native speakers.

Most languages have really weird problems and seem completely illogical (just from what I know personally, Russian has a phonology which can get complicated, due to the stress system), and mastering any of them is very difficult and usually sucks. It's been my experience that many people who tout the number of languages they know or claim to be a "polyglot" are actually very unskilled in day-to-day use of the language. No matter what you see in movies, a character who could intuitively speak, read and write 6 diverse languages on a colloquial level would be an exceptional human being.

bluekeybox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Listen to audio books. Problem solved.
mmgutz 3 days ago 0 replies      
English is the QWERTY of languages.
DDR0 2 days ago 0 replies      
English would appear to be the Javascript of spoken languages.
whiddershins 2 days ago 0 replies      
English is to spoken languages what Javascript is to coding.
The Worst Programming Environment in the World? github.com
406 points by jloughry  3 days ago   176 comments top 31
rwmj 3 days ago 10 replies      
Kind of reminds me of MUMPS, which is a real bunch of crazy that I had to use for a time.


Edit: The examples on the wikipedia page make it look less crazy than it is. For example every keyword can be abbreviated to a single letter, and was abbreviated to a single letter in the code I had to read. Also, each variable is connected to a global database which (in 1990) had no ACID properties or staging system, so better hope your undebugged program didn't delete any patient data (or worse, randomly modify it).

jim_lawless 3 days ago 2 replies      
From the write-up:

"BANCStar actually came with a "screen generator" that was supposed to be used to construct applications. But the 5.1c version of the generator was so limited that experienced programmers soon began to pry off the covers and modify directly the intermediate code that the run-time module actually executed."

All of the numbers you're looking at are an object code for a VM that (apparently) allowed for user-defined screens in the BancStar product. Programmers found themselves reverse-engineering the meanings of the different numbers and began to build the text-format object-code by hand.

This doesn't appear to have ever been intended to be a programming environment in this form.

demallien 3 days ago 9 replies      
I Thought I'd repost some of losethos's comment, seeing as he is hell-banned, but the comment was quite relevant.

losethos:Smart American kids my age had C64s and Apple IIs. We all entered 6502 machine code into DATA statements in BASIC programs. Everyone did it. It seems so fantastical and primitive to a monkey, doesn't it.Generally, we used monitor program to disassemble and assemblers, though you had to buy an assembler. Every store had magazines with BASIC programs full of DATA statements with graphic and machine code data. People typed it in. We had xsum bytes on blocks.

jbgreer 3 days ago 1 reply      
And I thought 'EZ-C' was bad. Still, it was the worst I've used. As far as I know, a large retailer still uses the data format and libraries from an awful "4th generation language" called 'EZ-C'.

Fun parts:There were a fixed number of variables.All variables were global.There were two control structures: if/then and goto

Imagine a Point-Of-Sale application written in such. A 100,000+ line Point-of-Sale program. Imagine the fun of chasing down re-use of a variable with no debugger.

EZ-C was supposed to be a simple language with built-in screen handling (via curses) and data file handling (with variant records and multiple indices). The theory was that you wrote code in EZ-C and debugged it, since the simpler syntax would reduce errors. EZ-C came with a program that would comple your source and link against EZ-C libraries. The best of all possible worlds - a nice interpreted language that compiled for blazing fast speed!

That was the theory. In practice, the compiler was broken, and so all programs ran via an interpreter called 'dparse'.

So (and I can hear you saying) I started to do what many of you would do: I started to write my own parser with the idea of building a compiler for the language. And that's when Mike, one of the older developers/admins/jack-of-all-trades/wise elders, stopped me. "Don't do that," he said, "because if you do that, we'll never stop writing in EZ-C."

And so I stopped immediately.

truebosko 3 days ago 3 replies      
This reminds me of one of the things we work with in our company, Amadeus EDIFACTs. I want to buy the person who initially wrote the parsing for it at our workplace a beer.

Example snippet, with fake data (AIR-BLK791;7A;;232;0750058720;1A1216900;007501\r\nAMD 0750068617;1/1;\r\nGW759208;1A1216900\r\nNXC1A4O0ORDT030;0751;XYZC7213P;67502886;XYZC7213P;67502886;XYZC7213P;67502886;XYZC7213P;67502886;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;TA4O0ORDT\r\nA-LACSA;LR 1330\r\nB-TTP/INV/T3/RT\r\nC-7906/1833SEGS-1173LGSU-B-9--\r\nD-127531;121751;121751\r\nG-X;;XYZXYZ;\r\nH-001;002OYYZ; ... continued)

adamnemecek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of this ol' gem.


But yeah, BANCStar still probably takes the cake.

lisper 3 days ago 1 reply      
And these are the people that we trust to handle our money. Sometimes it amazes me that the whole financial system hasn't already collapsed in a smoldering heap.
VLM 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well, lets get crackin' and see if we can reverse engineer this bad boy. I've done a lot of assembly and only a little direct bare machine language coding.

There's no lines without a first column, unlike pretty much all the others. I theorize the first column is opcode. You're running a lot of 3001 so I'm guessing thats "load" and it seems like you're clearing something a lot and occasionally stuffing real values in.

The second to last column looks kind of binary flag-y to me. Like LSB and 2LSB somehow team up to mean "zero flag". In fact I'm guessing opcode 8500 is a conditional skip.

The second column has a strange affinity to 1316 and its neighbor, and occasionally uses totally different class of numbers. So I'm guessing its the equivalent of variable name or more likely memory address.

I have a gut level guess the 11000 series opcodes are some kind of ALU op. Probably add. And you can add a constant, and condition codes in the 2nd to last column do things based on add result.

Another gut level guess... you're using signed ints and the last column is some kind of conditional jump and the OS lives in the upper half of memory which would be a negative number as per the last statement returning to the OS. I think you put your global libraries in the 30000 range and this module or whatever happens to live around reserved range of 22000 ish.

Then again maybe its crystal clear and if you just translate it into octal, you'll see PDP-8 instructions. Probably not, but...

I have this gut level guess this is a practical joke, like I'm supposed to recognize based on pattern matching that its a recursive implementation of a factorial.

hkmurakami 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not too worried about revealing a lot of proprietary information here, as only about ten people in the world can read this code:

and here I thought my friend's quip, "they're only about 500 of us in the world" who can write in the Q programming language (for kx systems, another financial system) was mind-boggling. (Q is also knows for having incredibly terse, nearly unreadable syntax)

qznc 3 days ago 3 replies      
Just write a simple assembler or compiler yourself?
ars 3 days ago 1 reply      
This doesn't seem that bad.

It's basically machine language (i.e. lower level than assembler). I remember programming in machine language on an Apple II - I had no assembler, just a photocopied table of the OP codes, and I calculated them myself and entered the hex numbers and ran it.

I wrote part of a tetris clone that way (although never finished it).

rurounijones 3 days ago 1 reply      
Language? Maybe

Environment? The default Uniface "IDE" (Version 7 when I saw it in action) is a monstrosity that is surely given to programmers sent to hell.

mistercow 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, who's up for writing an LLVM backend?
kalleboo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the scripting system for the custom scenario editor for the computer game "Realmz". You had a list of 8 text fields to enter numeric commands in, and 8 fields for arguments. There was a dropdown to use for reference for what the commands meant. If you needed your script to be longer than 8 commands, you had to create "sub-macros" and call those.

I can't find a screenshot of the macro editing screen, but here's a different screen from the level editor to give you an idea http://rlmz.org/divinityscreens/divinity05.gif

sgt 3 days ago 4 replies      
With COBOL as the obvious alternative (at the time) for financial applications, then I have to ask; why on earth would any sane company choose this programming language?
stesch 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought RPG/400 and XSLT were bad. This is worse.
mrbill 3 days ago 0 replies      
From Wikipedia: "The BANCStar 10.0 release changed the "Screen Code" format to binary, and rearranged the numeric codes into an opcode with a variable number of parameter integers. The 10.0 opcode encoded a bit mapped length value that indicated the length of the command in words."
alextingle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Still better than M4 though, right?
kunil 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am a regular brainf*ck programmer and very interested in esoteric languages but this is beyond my expectations.

Maybe writing some kind of compiler would be a better idea. Or at least add a comment support and character check and more user friendly labels. They probably did that though (I hope they did).

antihero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Out of interest - for languages as horrendous at this, could someone not create an abstraction language, that essentially could compile to it, or be decompiled from it?

I mean, even if it was a simple abstraction that just made it a little more readable. Like ASM vs machine code.

Pxtl 3 days ago 1 reply      
... okay, somebody finally beat ASP.Net webforms.
boomlinde 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why wouldn't you write an intermediate language? Just a preprocessor for keywords and labels would do, I think.
Tomis02 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice try, but emacs already has a command for that.
gothep 3 days ago 0 replies      
While we are on the topic of programming infernos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malbolge
ebbv 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a case of people choosing to do something terrible than someone designing something terrible on purpose, though.
mikesmullin3 3 days ago 0 replies      
it would be trivial to make a some mnemonics and a compiler for the custom machine code.
6d0debc071 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to seem mean or anything. So, please don't take offence ^^; but: why didn't you parse it a more readable format and change it back into goobledigook when you wanted to use it?
rhapsodyv 3 days ago 0 replies      
And I tought I had suffered with c++ builer years ago
anon_indian 3 days ago 0 replies      
The worst for me has been sitting thousands of miles away working on a VDI, watching the screen refresh line by line with every change in code. We spend 8 to 10 hours for 3 hours of productive work. :-(
moriantur 3 days ago 1 reply      
This language should not exist.
Nux 3 days ago 1 reply      
Title slightly misleading for non-programmers.

I imagined soemthing like programming for Al-Qaeda with a pistol pointed at you. :-)

Kindle MatchBook amazon.com
401 points by _pius  1 day ago   180 comments top 30
gdilla 1 day ago 7 replies      
This is awesome for the consumer, absolutely. And it's only made possible by the recent DOJ trial that effectively allowed Amazon to set prices of ebooks (wholesale vs agency model). Recall that agency model, the publisher sets the price (the same as apps on the app store). But now that Amazon can set any price they want for ebooks (and take a loss on them if they want to, which they have done before), Amazon can do cool stuff like this.

Amazon has already started discounting ebooks - some of the bestsellers are now cheaper on amazon in ebook form than on iBooks. That never happened before in Agency model, where price parity was a rule.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Agency model pricing; indeed it has been the norm since mp3s on iTunes 10 years ago. But Amazon competes on price, and Agency was a big wrench in those plans. Now that they can do anything they want with digital pricing, they're applying the stake in all other ebook retailers hearts. Will be fun to watch.

I speculate publishers will hate this. eBooks were one of the last digital media where value hasn't become completely pulvarized (see: Apps, MP3s). Though, its certainly possible physical book sales could be bolstered by this.

lukev 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a phenomenally important move; now, being an "ebook reader" or a "traditional reader" doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.
pdenya 1 day ago 5 replies      
I came away from this confused thinking some Kindle versions of books were now cheaper.

Amazon is horrible at explaining what things are supposed to do. Every product landing page I've seen from them is confusing, especially all of their cloud services.

nsxwolf 1 day ago 4 replies      
I thought it was going to be a really tiny e-reader.
TomAnthony 1 day ago 2 replies      
There are fundamental differences between a paper book and an ebook. I far prefer paper books when I'm using it as a reference, but love the convenience of ebooks when for when I'm reading through something. With technical books it is very common to read initially and reference later, or to read some sections, use others for reference etc.

With that in mind it has often been a tough choice as to whether to buy a paper copy of an electronic copy of a book. This is a very welcome change, and I'd gladly pay a few bucks for the convenience of being able to switch medias.

toddmorey 1 day ago 3 replies      
That's one of the best product names I've come across in a long while.
runn1ng 1 day ago 3 replies      
I should dislike Amazon for closed-source software on Kindle and for its DRM, but... well, they have really nice offers.
Tiktaalik 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's nice, but I really want this at brick and mortar stores. I want the great, curated experience of shopping at my local independent stores, but I also want the convenience of having an ebook version. Record companies already give away MP3 download codes along with records and I find it bizarre that publishers haven't followed along with a similar idea.
apalmer 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am turning on Amazon, it just feels fundamentally unfair that they destroyed the brick and mortar book industry precisely because they operate on the principal of never having to turn a profit. Its almost a monopolist abuse of the market...
doublerebel 1 day ago 3 replies      
Free or discounted ebooks to replace past paper purchases -- with the name Matchbook it rings a bit too Fahrenheit 451.

Was there not a less creepy name available?

arjn 1 day ago 2 replies      
So basically if you bought a book in the past from Amazon, you may be able to get a kindle version for up to $3. Its not a bad deal for customers and additional revenue in Amazon's coffers for a minor service. I think they should make it a flat rate at $0.50 and drop the variable pricing.
dsizzle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice! It always seemed odd that buying the paper version shouldn't also entitle me to the electronic version, or at least a significant discount.
rickr 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was always my biggest hold up in fully adopting a kindle. I really enjoy having books to lend out or flip through - not a very strong suit for an ebook reader. Even with all the e-reader benefits I could never really make the switch because of this.

I wonder how many people felt the same way?

ezequiel-garzon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know if this will allow people outside the US to participate? By now I have bought books from Amazon US, UK, France and Spain. Also, will Amazon make available all the (eligible) titles I have purchased, in all the various international branches?
smackfu 1 day ago 1 reply      
It will be interesting to see if they also offer bundles at purchase time. "Buy the book for $12, or the book + ebook for $14."
fpgeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Barnes and Noble should have gotten here first. Think of the difference "Would you like the ebook with that?" at checkout could have made (in terms of building Nook, incremental store memberships and so on). Instead, they bet on the agency model and focused on the wrong things.
acjohnson55 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most of my Amazon print book purchases are from used book resellers like BetterWorldBooks. I wonder if this offer is available for all book purchases through their marketplace? If so, bravo! Finally, we're starting to get services that begin to match what our technology offers.

I'm a firm believer that people pirate not because "digital=free" in their minds, but because they know that getting sold hobbled products for the same price (even though they cost far less to distribute digitally) is a bum deal. It seems like the media industries are finally starting to recalibrate themselves.

vertr07 1 day ago 2 replies      
It is important to note that this appears to apply to a limited selection of books.
WillyF 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there will be any special treatment for gifts (I'm guessing there won't be). My mom has bought me many books. She probably has no interest in having the Kindle versions of them, but I definitely do.
zhemao 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh hey, that was my intern project this summer! Well, not all of it of course, but I worked on the accounting system that will handle the MatchBook transactions.
wicknicks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't wait for this feature. I am wondering if they would do the opposite: Offer paper books for a lower price to customers who own the kindle?
_pmf_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, I can buy the book I own a second time, but at a low price and in the known low-quality, no-human-ever-even-looked-at-it OCRed version. Great.

I'm buying a lot of Kindle books, but I feel that I shouldn't because peddling such low quality shovelware is not something I feel I should encourage in any way.

Shivetya 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had always wondered when a program similar to DVD tiles would arise, where the product came with a coupon to get the electronic version free. I'll take it either way, I love hard bounds but there are many times where they are not best suited for environments the Kindle thrives in.
benologist 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really hope we see something like this for apps and not having to re-purchase stuff just because your new phone or tablet isn't the same as your old one.
laacz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is similar to what Oreilly is doing. They offer ebook upgrades for any paperback book you (claim to) own for USD 4.99.
Aldo_MX 1 day ago 0 replies      
At first I was excited, then I remembered that these kind of deals are not for non-US citizens :(
alohahacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
As an affiliate marketer, am I the only one that thought OP should of posted a amazon affiliate link and then did a case study on conversions/efficiency of having a link on the front page of HN? lol
dragonfax 1 day ago 1 reply      
Disappointed after reading the thread here.

At first look, I thought it would be more along the lines of, "snapshot a few randomly chosen pages from the book with your mobile camera, to prove that you've bought the book in the past and still own/have it now, and then you automaticaly get the ebook version really cheap as a result."

Thereasione 1 day ago 0 replies      
They have been doing that with music for a while. I bought a cd from Amazon long time ago and last year got an email from them telling me it was available to download for free.
jalada 1 day ago 0 replies      
Took long enough.
Microsoft to acquire Nokia microsoft.com
378 points by SwaroopH  2 days ago   151 comments top 25
kyro 2 days ago 3 replies      
Great move by Microsoft.

This is an acquisition that arguably puts Microsoft mobile capabilities above that of Google's, and closest to Apple's. They're getting industry veterans with great design talent. They're getting a Lumia product that has the best build quality of any non-Apple smart phone. They're acquiring proven channels to access global markets. Both Nokia and Microsoft have been floundering in the mobile space recently; neither have had any real explosive successes. Together they might make some really compelling offerings.

I'm not a fan of their mobile OS, but I am a huge fan of Nokia's latest smartphones, and if Nokia design's talent can figure out how to introduce a better UI, I'd seriously consider getting The Windows Phone as my next smartphone.

simonh 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is the ultimate indictment of Steve Ballmer's "I like our strategy, I like it a lot" statement. This is the final admission that their strategy of licensing a mobile OS to phone manufacturers, just as they licensed desktop Windows to PC makers, has completely failed. This must have been in the works for months, so now finally the other shoe has dropped and we know why he had to leave. There's no way he could save face over something like this.

Just to be clear, the strategy itself wasn't the problem, just look at Android, the problem was that technically their product was technically deficient. They failed to execute the strategy effectively. What I have always wondered is whether this was simply due to hardware limitations of the day, or whether the old Windows Mobile was deliberately held back technically to prevent it competing with Desktop Windows. If the former then Microsoft just suffered from a form of first mover's disadvantage, and a lack of foresight. If the latter then they richly deserve all the failure they've reaped. I'd love to know.

yalogin 2 days ago 4 replies      
Motorola and now Nokia, the last of the previous era big wigs have fallen. 13 years ago Lucent, Motorola, Ericsson, Sun, Nortel were huge. Now they are all gone. Even HP, Dell are no longer leading. That is a really short time span for a company to be on top of the world and disappear. Is this the expected life span of a tech company?
timdellinger 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction."

This is an important aspect of the deal - bringing money earned overseas into the US is often costly (taxes, etc.). As a result, US companies often end up with cash sitting overseas with nothing to spend it on, and are hesitant to take the hit that happens when they bring it to the US... so this is a great way for Microsoft to use that money in an effective way.

According to this article, Microsoft has $60 Billion sitting offshore in order to avoid US taxes:http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2013/08/01/apple...

richardjordan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think this has been expected since the Nokia Windows Phone bet. I suspect that this is not unrelated to the Ballmer departure.

I'm not sure it does either company much good. If anything it looks to me like a panic move of two companies who while from te outside they seem huge and successful to many are actually seeing the writing on the wal and have no real plan for the future.

This won't make Microsoft competitive with Apple where it wants to be despite the hopes of Redmond.

peterjs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Software is eating the world. For real now. And it is eating hardware. This is such a strong force that even old time franchises like Microsoft and Motorola can't do anything about it. And apparently "pure software" companies don't mind venturing into it. They know it's software, for the most part, and believe vertical integration is worth the trouble with the messy hardware parts.

How deep is the integration anyway? Did Google and Microsoft end up owning the manufacturing plants? Apple is known to outsource the manufacturing itself.

anomaly_ 2 days ago 2 replies      
I found this statement interesting - "Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction." I've seen it mentioned quite a few times that tech companies end up with massive overseas cash reserves they can't repatriate for tax reasons. Anyone with better knowledge of finance/tax want to chime in with whether this makes the deal even more attractive for MS?
annnnd 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nokia, rest in peace - we will miss you. Your phones were legendary.
ximeng 2 days ago 0 replies      
Annual cost synergies of 600MM within 18 months - sounds like they plan to kill 3000 jobs.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/download/press/2013/Stra... (page 21)

cpeterso 2 days ago 3 replies      
The press release says Microsoft will acquire Nokias Devices & Services business and license Nokias patents and mapping services. So what happens to the rest of Nokia?
sravfeyn 2 days ago 3 replies      
This news may sound exciting/disappointing to the developed countries, but it is certainly extremely disappointing for people in third-world countries, especially India.

It is not at all hyperbole to say 'Nokia played a key role in India's mobile penetration'. They sell affordable, reliable and rigid phones for rough use in rural places of India. And I think it's true for most other countries like Africa. On the other hand Microsoft mostly makes premium software and hardware. I don't know any affordable tool(w.r.t developing countries) from Microsoft. This may put Microsoft in a better position in terms of smartphone. But in other terms this may be a step towards 'diminishing power of poor people'.

Steko 2 days ago 1 reply      
Speaking of handset makers that missed the revolution, I wonder who will pick up RIM as they circle the drain. Microsoft is probably the favorite right?
IanChiles 2 days ago 3 replies      
And now Microsoft has a hardware division. I can easily see most hardware vendors being ousted by the trio of Google/MS/Apple - all of whom now either make or have been making their own hardware to go along with their software. And so the walled garden grows...
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I can't say I'm completely surprised but still. It is an amazing thing. It has to be pretty scary these days to be a phone maker.
devx 2 days ago 4 replies      
Seems like Elop stayed true to his nickname - of a trojan horse. He never really worked for Nokia. He's been working for Microsoft the whole time, just to sell it for this low price.

How the hell are the shareholders okay with this? I'm shocked it sold for under $10 billion. Nokia's total valuation is about 15 billion, and you'd have to imagine they'd have to pay a 30 percent premium when buying it, so that's $20 billion for the whole. I assume the devices division was worth at least half of that. Didn't Nokia already sell the telecom part?

cicloid 2 days ago 0 replies      
With the apparent growing trend on emerging markets of Windows Phones (the Lumia series produced by Nokia, and pushed by carriers on LATAM like Telcel/America Movil)

This seems like a great move from MS, they have bought more runway.

But come on, the move was telegraphed a couple of years ago.

mindprince 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found Microsoft's strategic rationale for this deal interesting: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/download/press/2013/Stra...
thewarrior 2 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft has destroyed companies before :

See : http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/09/microsoft_destroyed_...

wfunction 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope Ballmer and Gates have a dedicated CEO in mind now that Ballmer's leaving... very few people will be able to lead a company this large, and it will be quite a tragedy if Microsoft's reputation declines and takes down Nokia with it.
josephscott 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this played into Ballmer leaving. Odd to have a massive re-org and massive purchase, only to have the CEO turn around and leave right afterwards.
simula67 2 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off-topic : For hackers outside the USA/EU I think Microsoft succeeding can be a bad thing since Macs are really expensive here and Microsoft silently allowing piracy means that everyone uses Windows. I feel that ISVs better supporting Linux would be a nice thing and one of the important things to happen for that is for Windows to loose its monopoly ( second is of course some sort of agreement between all Linux distros around some standard ). I can't but feel that is to be a distant dream, since Microsoft seems to have infinite pockets and can buy their way out of any trouble for years to come.
test001only 2 days ago 1 reply      
What would this mean for all the Nokia feature phones ? The latest Asha series was very good and selling pretty well at least in India. How would this figure in MS strategy? Are they going to ditch it? That would be sad, because Nokia still makes phones that can withstand rough use.On the other side would Nokia start manufacturing Laptop in future. I would really like Nokia design team to come up with a good Windows laptop!
jcrei 2 days ago 0 replies      
The old fat couple in the room had a dance and #microsoft just ran out of things to say, so in order to avoid an awkward moment (high end sales are abysmal) he proposed. #nokia looked around, didn't want to die alone, and like any scared middle aged woman, said yes.
general_failure 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, is there any Nokia left after all this?
jacques_chester 2 days ago 4 replies      
Samsung has ~5x the revenues, ~5x the assets and ~2x the profit of Google.

Unless Google wants to leverage itself for the next 10 years to acquire a company that does engineering services, shipbuilding, heavy industrial manufacture, life insurance, theme parks, aerospace and oh I guess some mobile devices here and there, I don't see this happening.

Edit: for the interest of passers-by, the deleted comment proposed that Google might buy Samsung. It was possibly a light-hearted remark, but luckily nitpicking folk like yours truly were here to save the thread from inaccuracy. :D

School is a prison and damaging our kids salon.com
357 points by gz5  21 hours ago   341 comments top 41
tokenadult 19 hours ago 12 replies      
Ah, yes, Peter Gray is the author of the article submitted here (which I think was submitted once or twice before, with no comments). I have read part of his recently published book, in which he extends his argument. Education policy is the issue that drew me to participate on Hacker News,[1] and I'm glad to see that so many participants, from the founder on to the new members from the last year or two, enjoy thinking about and checking facts on education issues.

On my part, I chose the trade-offs of time, energy, and expense to homeschool our children so that they would be in a position to learn in freedom[2] and make a lot of decisions about their own education. So far the one child of ours who has grown up to live independently in the outside world (also an occasional participant here) is glad that he had that kind of education. He wrote to me for Father's Day, saying, "That has made it very easy for me to step into a leadership position and feel very comfortable in positions of responsibility."

Some people survive the prison environment of school and go on to great things.[3] That doesn't mean that we have to organize schools as we now do. We should be sensitive to opportunities to organize schools in ways that promote young people having responsibility and freedom to grow while they are still minors.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4728123

[2] http://learninfreedom.org/

[3] http://learninfreedom.org/Nobel_hates_school.html

jstalin 18 hours ago 5 replies      
As a former member of a board of education in a major city, I learned a few things:

1. There is no one-size-fits-all plan that could possibly work for education. Everyone is different (duh);

2. Centralization of primary and secondary education institutions is a very bad thing (think fewer and fewer large school districts);

3. Teachers' Unions are possibly the single biggest barrier to innovation;

4. There is no simple, easy answer to improving education.

Unfortunately, I don't have a prescription for fixing things, but I'm sure that centralizing both administrative bureaucracy and delivery standards is not it.

newbie12 19 hours ago 3 replies      
There is a deliberate effort in academia to downplay, or in the case of this piece, distort and even place blame on the Protestant Christian educational movements of early America. The Great Awakenings that spurred the creation of U.S. colleges and universal public education were fueled by a moral tradition and were an enormous success. That tradition has nothing to do with todays failing public schools. The author also fails to note that the current American home school movement has explicitly Christian roots.
zwieback 18 hours ago 3 replies      
This article is so black and white and elitist to add practically no value to the public school debate.

I have two middle schoolers in an affluent public school district and our experience is very different. There are many motivated teachers constantly tweaking their approach to keep students engaged. If anything, I'd want more structure in our schools.

The much bigger issue is that alternative schooling approaches work only with a high degree of involvement from parents and the community. Do we really thing "Sudbury Valley" schools would work in inner cities or the deep South? I rather think parents are glad to have someone keep their kids out of trouble while they work overtime to scrape by.

Also, self-motivated learning gets you only so far. Without some external pressure I don't think most kids would decide to study calculus or statistics or other dry but important topics.

gkoberger 19 hours ago 0 replies      
One of pg's best articles talks about this:


The relevant part starts with "Teenage kids used to have a more active role in society.", however the whole thing is a great read.

mathattack 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Most schools are awful, and drive any vestige of curiosity out of the students. But... The best teachers I've had have been the ones who knew exactly how hard to push students to master a body of material, and were respected when they told us to suck it up. I couldn't have learned more self directed than I did by those talented taskmasters. But the other 90% of my K-12 (or dare I say K-16?) academic experience? I'm just lucky that I can test well.
the_watcher 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I was a "high achiever" in high school, got into the top public university in my state (top-15-20 overall depending on your rankings), then got into a top 14 law school. By all traditional metrics, school worked for me. However, I now have dropped out of law school and am doing very well professionally in a field entirely unrelated to my undergrad degree, and everything I use at work (it's number and data analysis heavy) are things I learned on my own because I was interested. I wish I'd had time to do this stuff while I was younger.
16s 20 hours ago 3 replies      
If the goal is to teach kids to shut up, sit down and get in line, then it works as expected.
jsnk 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I think great change in public school system we are looking for will only come when the public finally realize who public school system largely serves, teachers, politicians, education administrators and state government bureaucrats. Needs for students and parents are met marginally just to keep them quiet enough to move along.
benaiah 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I think one of the most important takeaways from this article is thatyou can fix this problem, for your own family, now. Homeschooling islegal in all 50 US states and in a number of other countries [1] - Graymentions it in the article as an alternative. It works, and it's notas impossible as you likely think.

Historically, homeschooling is probably the most common form ofeducation - the modern style of compulsory, state-run education tracesback to the Prussian education system of the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies.

Anecdotally, I can attest to its strength: I'm a second-generationhomeschooled student, currently pursuing a BS in Computer Science. Igraduated with a 3.95 GPA, got a 96th percentile SAT score, and madeit to the top level (Finalist) of the National Merit Scholarshipprogram. I'm using a scholarship I got because of that to go throughschool.

Without homeschooling, I doubt I would have got into computers andprogramming. I had the freedom and the time to pursue what I wanted todo - it didn't feel like school, because it wasn't, but it was justas, perhaps more, important than my standard academics. I startedteaching myself programming when I was 12, essentially on my own. Istarted by just creating games, but eventually got bored of that andmoved into programming more general-purpose stuff. I basically taughtmyself, with oversight to make sure I was actually doing it, throughthe middle school - high school level.

The oldest of my brothers will also be graduating soon. He's totallydifferent from me - loves the outdoors and wants to go intosmoke-jumping. He dislikes academics, book-learning, and the technicalside of computers, for the most part. Certainly doesn't pursue thosethings for fun. He was 86th percentile on his SATs.

We were both (along with our six other younger siblings) taught by ourmom, who has very little education beyond a high school diploma (don'tget me wrong - she's very smart, just not academicallywell-credentialed). She taught us alone, while living in a remote partof a remote state. Our social interaction was almost entirely in thechurch or the occasional homeschooling group. I'm a bit introverted,but my brother is an extrovert, and as socially well-adjusted as theycome. Academically, we're both well prepared for life.

I know anecdotes aren't data, but I'm simply trying to make the pointthat it is reasonable and effective to teach your children at home. Itdoesn't take a college degree, teacher training, or a state program(our homeschool was entirely private). It takes love and hard work -but it provides a safe environment, cultures a love of learning, andgives academic excellence: all tasks that the public schools haveproven themselves incapable of in most cases.

[1]: For more info on the legality of homeschooling, seehttp://hslda.com

vacri 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Its no wonder that many of the worlds greatest entrepreneurs and innovators either left school early (like Thomas Edison), or said they hated school and learned despite it, not because of it (like Albert Einstein)

Hrm, I am using the critical thinking skills that I developed in late high school and university, in a teach-and-test environment, to determine that this is both using weasel words ('many') and is an 'appeal to authority' fallacy.

This is an argument where you very much need to present the numbers. Anything else is just an emotive ploy using cherry-picked data points.

eli_gottlieb 20 hours ago 3 replies      
It's not just that I could have told you this. It's that I ranted and screamed this to anyone who would listen at age 14. EDIT: That's ten years ago, folks.

And, strangely enough, once I recovered some sanity, I actually did leave high school, I did a lot better for it, and now my parents basically agree with me.

It's amazing how people always seem to start at the statement "self-discipline has been good for me" and somehow arrive at the conclusion "optimized regimentation is what's best for everyone!".

tbirdz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of the points about children learning naturally by themselves remind me somewhat of Rousseau's "Emile, or On Education" However, I don't know if anyone had been able to actually pull this off in real life. I think one downside could be for things that you have to learn to function well in society but have no natural interest in. If you are left alone to learn for yourself, then you'll learn about things you want to learn.
unimpressive 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Even if this were true, the inertia against it is so great that you'd be better off trying to negate the worst effects of public schools.

Sufficiently advanced collaboration is indistinguishable from cheating. Therefore if you want to 'patch' the public school system, create a well designed network of anonymous collaboration sites that lend themselves well to private groups and avoid outright plagiarism.

rodolphoarruda 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Along with that school mentioned in the article, the Escola da Ponte[1] in Portugal is also a good example of non-traditional education which lead to great results.

[1] http://www.escoladaponte.pt/ponte/projeto ; content in Portuguese, you may need to use a translator.

hawkharris 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I've heard this argument against compulsory education & standardized testing many times, and I'm still not convinced.

Look at the countries ranked highest in education, according to the 2012 Pearson study that is often cited by news networks. [0]

The top 30 nations have widely different attitudes toward compulsory education & testing. Some embrace it much more strongly the United States. Others deemphasize it. For example, juxtapose Finland and Korea.

Before we can categorically dismiss compulsory education & standardized testing, we have to acknowledge that it sometimes produces amazing outcomes some of the world's best.

Some may argue that the rankings focus on standardized testing, which is an inadequate measure of what students know and what they can do. But Pearson's study and similar studies didn't just measure tests; they considered a "wide range of social and economic indicators."

In other words, compulsory schooling & testing isn't always the devil, and I don't think there's any magic bullet for improving the U.S. education system.

Analyzing the United States' approach to education alongside the approaches of other nations in the world rankings, it's clear that there are other factors at play, which may account for U.S. students' poor performance.

debacle 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The current reality, I think, that everyone is ignoring is that time spent in school and money spent per child are not solving the problem.

Teachers, yes, parental involvement is a huge factor, however it should be less of a factor, I think, than you allow it to be.

Parents, yes, teachers need to be properly assessed for results, however if a standardized test isn't the best way to gauge your child's ability, why do you think it's the best way to gauge your child's teacher's ability.

The reality is that we are spending insane amounts of money on students - sometimes upwards of 20 thousand dollars per student - and the outcome of the education system is not what we expect it to be. This is a societal issue, and part of what I would call America's ignorance - there is an upper limit on how much money you can throw at a problem before they money you threw at the problem attracts the wrong kind of actors and makes the problem worse.

I'm not a libertarian, but I like many of the libertarian ideas surrounding education. I also know what "free market" means in my country. I don't like our healthcare situation, and that's all I can picture when I imagine "free market" education.

Teachers unions currently have a regulatory capture on school boards across the country in the US, which is a big problem. School boards, in my experience, are dispassionate, dramatic, and exploitative of residents. There are far too many administrators in schools, and far too many passionate teachers, but how can you be passionate about your job when you have so many eyes on your back, so many hoops to jump through, and so many layers of bureaucracy to report to.

Education is not an easy problem because it has turned into a self-interested Mexican standoff, with people on all sides unwilling to give an inch, and no one wants to act rationally until it is too late.

dccoolgai 17 hours ago 0 replies      
>"The idea that schools might be places for nurturing critical thought, creativity, self-initiative or ability to learn on ones own the kinds of skills most needed for success in todays economy was the furthest thing from their minds. To them, willfulness was sinfulness, to be drilled or beaten out of children, not encouraged."

... Perhaps that's because you can teach discipline, but you can't teach creativity. You need both to be really successful, but to be at least moderately successful, you need at least discipline... No matter what you do, you can't take creativity away from the kids who are really creative...they will be off making things and designing things and writing things and painting things, because that's what they do... you can't stop them, even if you try.

If you teach discipline, you will end up with disciplined creatives and disciplined non-creatives...I can tell you as a person who was kind of a dumbass when I was at school (although a creative dumbass), that I got much more benefit from learning what little discipline they managed to impart than some fruitbat curriculum that tried to "encourage me to be creative"...which I probably would have responded to by intentionally being less creative.

...sometimes the people who designed the things around us are more clever than we give them credit for being...

chollida1 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a big reason why my wife and I just dropped 5 figures to send our oldest daughter to a Montessori school instead of public school.

The larger time outdoors and less strict teacher lecturing to students sitting in desks were the two biggest drivers of the decision.

vacri 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I should also mention that in early high school (grade 7 and 8), I went to a 'community school', where the kids had the freedom to learn at their own pace, and largely what they wanted to learn. Maths and art were self-driven, with teacher direction available. There was cool stuff like classes on massage (very popular!) or aerobics, and a few other things.

School was fun, and the teachers were nice... but this being said, I was one of the group of people (~10% of that year level? fuzzy memory) to choose to leave the school (no parental pressure) and go to a regular high school because "I think I am not learning enough". That was my own, personal motivation, not driven by anything external. And I was a kid who would come home and read the encyclopaedia for fun, cover to cover.

hrjet 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked the approach mentioned here:http://beyondschools2.blogspot.in/2013/05/know-think-do.html

In a nutshell, the idea is to teach basic principles within the structure of a school and then let the pupil explore the higher grade subjects by themselves, with the intermittent guidance of a teacher.

socrates1998 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As a former teacher of ten years, I completely agree that school is a waste of time, money and resources.

School is a baby sitting service that doubles as an "education".

The whole system is flawed. No one wants to be there.

The kids hate it, the teachers can love the job, but usually hate the grind, and the administrators are there to stay out of the classroom and not get blamed for anything.

Kids go to school so parents can go to work. That is the system.

If there is no school, what happens to the kids?

Most adults prefer working to being around their kids all day, just ask a home schooling mom with multiple kids.

She stays home not because it is easy, but because it is good for the kids.

The author of the article completely misses the issue. Kids don't get the best resources in our system. They get bare minimum.

He recommends some special kind of school and way of learning. But, this won't happen because it would require re-training, re-designing, and other costs that people just don't want to spend on other people's kids.

anuraj 2 hours ago 0 replies      
No doubt. But it is the price we pay for our packed lives where we have little time to instruct or even emotionally connect with our kids. So we give it out to the schools to do all the great work - of making schmucks out of potential da Vincis.
jimiray 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Another article, just basically saying everything Maria Montessori proved years ago, without actually mentioning Montessori. Education has advanced, we just have refused to adopt it. Just ask Larry Paige or Sergey Brin. I'm really happy that I'm in a profession where I can afford to send my kids to a Montessori school.
jessaustin 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Many of the people on HN would have done well in a wide variety of different learning environments. Think Abe Lincoln. Most of the others on HN would have done well in a specific subset of learning environments that doesn't happen to include what the USA public education system provides.
tekalon 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm current attend Western Governors University, a self motivated/paced program. The most difficulty I've had is learning how to learn (never learned in school). I'm only now (after 10 years from graduating from high school) how to teach myself something new. I'm figuring out what study method works best for me. Now I was in honors all through public so me saying only now I'm having to learn how to learn is troubling. For my future children, I do plan on homeschooling with a backup plan of charter schools that encourage self directed learning, we'll have to see how that goes. My husband agrees also that public and private schools discouraged creativity. Breaking the habits that schools taught us (conformity, obedience, accepting of authority) is hard to break
AznHisoka 18 hours ago 1 reply      
As an aside, I find it disgusting that public schools are penalizing students who bring their own lunches because it means less subsidization for them when it comes to allocating the budget.
juanre 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"The biggest, most enduring lesson of our system of schooling is that learning is work, to be avoided when possible." Indeed. The antidote for my 13 and 15 years old boys are being Udacity courses. I encourage them to study for school enough to get by, and to spend as much time as possible enjoying what they want to learn online. Udacity's lack of fixed schedules is perfect for them, and the experience is one of challenge and joy.
rumcajz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The interesting thing is that eduacation by play is not a novel idea. It dates back at least to Comenius and was re-iterated over and over again since. Yet, after almost four centuries it's still not widely implemented. One gets a feeling that there are some strong socio-economic forces acting against it.
jheriko 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"...where their freedom is greatly restricted far more restricted than most adults would tolerate in their workplaces"

wtf? which culture have you been living in recently? most people don't work in your workplace, they work in a factory, department store, supermarket, engineering shop, building site etc. and their freedom is suitably restricted i assure you...

atlantic 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think the only alternative to the current system is home schooling. There are schools in which learning is less curricular and more curiosity-driven, and the pupils go on to be very successful in higher education. In Belgium I came across a schooling system called Decroly, and in Germany the Waldorf schools.
bluedino 18 hours ago 3 replies      
>> without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them.

There isn't much debate in reading/writing/arithmetic.

>> Its no wonder that many of the worlds greatest entrepreneurs and innovators either left school early (like Thomas Edison), or said they hated school and learned despite it, not because of it (like Albert Einstein).

We're using a genius and one of the most prolific inventors America ever saw to rationalize the idea that school is bad for kids? Not to mention they were in school so long ago.

>> even the best students (maybe especially them) often report that they are burned out by the schooling process.

I'd imagine being the best is quite a lot of work. I'd be burned out too.

cphuntington97 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I am always astounded at how quickly and ferociously people will rush to the defense of common practice schooling models. "It worked really well for me!" "Children need to learn to shut up and do what they're told!" - as several comments here attest.

I don't think this article is persuasive enough to convince most readers of the benefits of a self-directed learning environment.

All I can say is that for me, I really struggled to cope with common practice schooling. I really think I would have flourished in a self-directed environment. I'm not necessarily sure it's best for everyone, but I wish adults, especially parents, would be open to the idea that their success in life happened in spite of their schooling, rather than because of it.

rnernento 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Prison is a prison and damaging our kids...
hosh 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Really!? Wow! I guess the journalist has read John Taylor Gatto too! (http://johntaylorgatto.com/underground/
totalforge 14 hours ago 0 replies      
When the nations' school system was founded, it had a goal, which was, and is, to product a compliant work force for industry.
quadlock 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The http://threeriversvillageschool.org/ is based upon these principles. A Free(not as in beer) school that is now in it's first few days of classes that got help starting with successful crowdfunding campaign and a lot of hard work by dedicated smart people.
bryan11 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that colleges actively recruit homeschool graduates because they are more likely to succeed. They tend to be more able to learn and study independently. They also tend to be better at working with diverse groups of people.
SquareWave 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess they didn't teach you about hyperbole from whatever prison you were in.
graycat 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here was my solution in grades 1-12:

Too soon in the early grades, get dumpedon by the teachers, just give up, learnenough just without really trying, and depend on social promotion.

When get to the good stuff, math and science in grades 9-12, just sleep inclass, ignore the teachers, refuse tosubmit or admit to doing any homework,have utter contempt for the teachers,study the text largely independently,be one of thebest students in the school on thestate aptitude and achievement tests,end up with Ivy League SAT scores.

In college, do much the same, writea math honors paper, and get good GRE scores.

At workfind a good problem and on an airplaneride get an intuitive solution.

Thenback in school,in graduate school, use material ina great course in the first year to make goodmath out of the intuitive solution,write some illustrative software,submit the work as the Ph.D. dissertation,pass an oral defense, graduate, andbe done with formal education.

So, do something like in the OP butwithin the formal system, with a lotof sleeping in class and ignoring that system.

There were some great times!

(1) In eighth grade general science,the teacher was explaining partialvacuums and applying those to theoperation of a traditional farmhouse lift pump. I glanced at hisdiagram and put my head down to sleep.

He decided to call on me to explainthe pump; yup, looked like he wastrying to stick me for sleeping inclass! So, I just closed my eyes,imagined the pump diagram, and wentthrough the whole pump cycle inexcessive detail, with each pressuredifference and each valve opening andclosing, and he never bothered me again!

(2) In plane geometry, I was totally inlove with the subject and ate the exercises like popcorn by the hand full.

There were some more difficult supplementaryexercises in the back of the book, andone of these I didn't get on Fridayafternoon so continued and finally gotit Sunday evening. I worked 100% of thenon-trivial exercises.

On Monday inclass, the teacher worked an easyexercise with the same figure, andfor the first and last time I raisedmy hand and said that there was anexercise in the back with the samefigure. About 20 minutes laterthe teacher was loudly exhorting theclass "Think, class, think! Thinkabout the given ...."

Since I didn'twant to be accused of ruining the wholeclass, I raised my hand and started"Why don't we ...", and the teacherscreamed "You knew how to do it allalong." Of COURSE I knew how todo it; no way would I haveasked otherwise. Besides, how'd I know that she wasn't also doingall the exercises?

(3) A question on the state testwas how to inscribe a square ina semi-circle. I thought, constructa square, circumscribe the circle,and find the crucial length in thegiven figure by constructing afourth proportional, and after schoolwanted to check my solution sostarted and she said about mysquare "You can't do that".As I later learned, I'd shownher 'similitude', my reinventionof an advanced technique.

Of course the schools are from mostlyuseless down to really destructive,but, still, it's possible, especiallyif ignore the teachers and sleep inclass, to learn fairly well anyway.

Besides, especially here on HN,nearly all of the US software industrydepends on self-learning.

Yes, in time there will be somegood groups for support and guidance for home schoolingwith, often, some occasional smallclasses by really well qualifiedteachers. Then the public K-12system will be regarded as the cheap,low grade, bottom level, last hopealternative for disadvantagedchildren and be much less well fundedthan now because nearly all the good familieswill be using private alternativesand not care about the public system.

Yes, the current public system is a disasterfor education and the children, but,you have to remember, it's reallyexpensive!

Warning: Google Authenticator upgrade loses all accounts
327 points by calvin  1 day ago   165 comments top 52
gmac 1 day ago 4 replies      
Too late for me, but a pleasingly fast and pro-active response from AWS (which rather shows Google up) just received by email:

"If you are an AWS customer who uses Google Authenticator for iOS as a multi-factor authentication device to secure your AWS account via AWS MFA (http://aws.amazon.com/mfa/), please read on. We are writing to inform you that Google has recently released an update to the Google Authenticator App in the iOS Store. We've received reports indicating this update is inadvertently deleting all MFA tokens from the smartphone; this could prevent you from authenticating to your AWS account.

At this point, it is our recommendation that you do not update your Google Authenticator App if you're using an iOS Device. If you have already updated your Google Authenticator app and are no longer able to login successfully you can request assistance from our AWS Customer Service team at:


We have posted this as an announcement to our AWS Developer Forums at https://forums.aws.amazon.com/ann.jspa?annID=2091 and will be posting updates if new information becomes available."

guiambros 1 day ago 5 replies      
Authy (YC W12, [1]) is a nice replacement for the GA app. Besides being more stable, it has also the "benefit" of allowing you to back up your keys, and recover in the case of a lost phone or deleted app.

Thankfully, backing up is entirely optional, and turned off by default. While they claim backups are encrypted with PBKDF2 [3], I still would never ever use something that sends my tokens to a remote server, as it'd defeat the purpose of 2FA in the first place.

Still, I can see the use for casual users that care enough to have 2FA, but not that much to worry about tokens being stolen and decrypted from Authy..

Past discussions on HN here [2], [3], [4].

[1] https://www.authy.com/thefuture[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6133648[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4916983[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4330050

nl 1 day ago 2 replies      
A while ago the Android version was replaced by a new app (instead of just an upgrade), allegedly because the team LOST THE SIGNING KEY FOR THE ORIGINAL APP[1].

If there is one team you'd expect not to lose a signing key I would have thought it would be that one!

Everyone makes mistakes, but it's pretty scary to hear this happening too.

[1] http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/03/22/psa-googles-authenti...

cheald 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aside from the screwup here, this is a good chance to check backup mechanisms for your various 2FA accounts. If your phone is broken or stolen, do you have a recovery plan?

I keep backup codes for each of my 2FA services in a Truecrypt container, which is mirrored on Dropbox. Additionally, I keep a copy printed out and kept in a fire safe. Phone backups for personal accounts have my wife's phone on record, and I try to keep printed copies of the QR codes I used to set up the account.

About a year ago, my phone was shattered while on the road, and while I was able to regain access to those accounts due to existing login sessions on my home computer, I'd have been sunk without them. Make sure you have a plan for what you do if your phone authenticator becomes unavailable.

veidr 1 day ago 2 replies      
What does it mean that it 'loses all accounts'?

I use two factor auth but not this app, so I am not sure why people are going to have such a bad day...

clarkm 1 day ago 4 replies      
For those looking for Google Authenticator alternatives, I recommend either Duo Mobile from Duo Security or Authy. I ditched Google Authenticator a while ago and haven't missed it one bit -- having a single app manage my two-factor tokens / keys is much more convenient.
chime 1 day ago 0 replies      
Every time I upgraded to a new iOS 7 beta, it wiped my Google Authenticator account tokens. It wasn't a big deal with Google or Dropbox because both allow me to move. But I can't log in to my CampBX account anymore. I tried Authy today after another comment here on HN and it's been working so far.
orand 1 day ago 2 replies      
If they had released this two weeks later, iOS 7's auto-update feature would have bricked everyone's accounts.

Google Auth 2.0 redefines two-factor auth: something you know + something you DON'T have. Their entire purpose in life is this second part and they completely and absolutely botched it. I can't believe this passed testing at both Google and Apple. There wasn't even a warning in the release notes.

bdcravens 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use Google Authenticator on the 2 AWS accounts I manage. Fortunately, at least on the first, the master account didn't have 2FA on it, so took about 60 seconds to reset it. (remove device, then readd) However, most wouldn't have the master account (the entire purpose of IAM).

I suspect that Google may have an update that restores accounts. I know when I've restored my phone, losing all apps, when I reinstalled an app months later, the settings were still there. Obviously the settings are stored in a file somewhere, so my hope is that this is how Authenticator works, and this buggy release just failed to properly open that file. Of course, not everyone can wait and have to reset like I did.

mahyarm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why you keep backups of your TOTP authenticator keys. I was really put off by 2 factor until I figured a way to do a backup. Authenticator URLS look like this:


You can save it in some passworded zip archive somewhere or print it out. If you print them I suggest printing them with QR codes to aid in recovery speed. You can easily generate QR codes by putting the text URLs into a QR code generator. If you just have a QR code, use a general QR code scanning app to extract the string.

Also the new google authenticator version has a %100 repo crash bug when you scan two QR codes in a row on iOS 7 phones.

imkevinxu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Quick solution for Google 2-step auth (do it QUICK so you don't lose access to your Gmail)

1) Go to this page https://accounts.google.com/b/0/SmsAuthSettings

2) Click "Move to a different phone"

3) Re-setup your Google Authenticator

Note: the 10 printed one-time access codes and all the application-specific passwords will still work after this "reset". But you still need to reset your other accounts that use the Google Authenticator

noveltyaccount 1 day ago 2 replies      
When I add sites to Authenticator, I take a screenshot of the QR code and tuck it away in an encrypted document (OneNote for the record, which uses uses AES to encrypt).
ibejoeb 1 day ago 1 reply      
To disable auto-update on recent Android:

Play Store -> Search "Authenticator" -> Select "Google Authenticator" -> Press "Menu" -> Deselect "Auto-update"

bound008 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was a perfectly functional app except that it didn't look like google+. I would recommend switching to authy (YC) bc their Bluetooth 4.0 LE implementation is awesome: https://www.authy.com/thefuture#pairing
acheron 1 day ago 0 replies      
I saw Google Authenticator had an update this morning and thought "haha, wouldn't it be awful if it deleted the accounts when I updated!" Well, I guess I'm the goat [1].

I was still signed into Google so that was easy enough to generate a new key, but I believe I'm going to have to use my backup number to get into Dropbox.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck!_Rabbit,_Duck%21

corresation 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related, but when I setup two factor authentication I securely saved the initial TOTP tokens (using barcode scanner to extract it) for exactly this sort of situation (well in my case it was that I switched smartphones enough that having it tied to one was nonsensical).
castis 1 day ago 2 replies      
Man, someone is going to have a really really bad day tomorrow.
robin_reala 1 day ago 0 replies      
The broken update has now been pulled.
MiguelHudnandez 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Shit. I am running the iOS 7 beta with automatic app updates, and I already have the new app.

I am considering wiping my phone and restoring it from a previous backup with the old copy of the app.

Edit: I was still logged in from my browser, and was able to activate the new version without entering a code from the deceased version of the app.

From this, it seems theft of your cookies could let an attacker completely take over your account and two-factor device if they know your account password and you have chosen to trust the victim computer.

gfodor 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not seeing the update in the App Store, nor the app itself. Must be pulled.
calvin 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you offer two-factor authentication for your website, be prepared for a surge in support requests today. When I talked to one of my providers on the phone, they stated they are already getting a surge in calls because of this app update.
icecreampain 1 day ago 3 replies      
I cannot fathom why people still rely on Google for their core business needs.

At my last place of work I built an SMS system to be used as the second factor in the intranet login. I _could_ have used a 3rd party 2FA, but the most _logical_ reason to have our own system was ... well.. we didn't want to rely on anyone except ourselves.

Didn't take me long and the most difficult part was finding enough USB-connected phones to be used as SMS senders.

Guess what? The system still works today, why Google is broken.

DigitalSea 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do Google even test the stuff they put out? This is a pretty severe mistake to make for a company as big as Google. Do they not have teams dedicated to testing this stuff? The small design studio I work at does a better job QA'ing their websites than Google does QA'ing major product upgrades... Disgraceful.
darklajid 1 day ago 2 replies      
Not an iPhone user, but I wonder if you could access the key data manually and restore it afterwards?

On Android that's possible (if you have root....) by accessing the key database (sqlite in that case). I did that to duplicate the keys from my handset to my tablet.

michaelrbock 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't upgrade! I just had this unpleasant experience and warned everyone about 15 minutes ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6325745
bruceboughton 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fuck you, Google. Fuck you.
gbraad 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Luckily got a AWS reminder. And a shameless plug... my own 2FA app on http://gauth.apps.gbraad.nl can be used everywhere you have a webbrowser, offline when your browser supports it and updates without problems when a new version is available. Besides, no updates were needed in months due to good QA. ;-)
tlrobinson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Related: will iOS 7 let you turn off the auto-update feature?
hrjet 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I worry about is a hacker feigning to be another user and claiming that they can't access their google account anymore because of a botched update.

I guess Google support might get too many reset requests to show due diligence in verifying authenticity of the requests.

markwakeford 1 day ago 0 replies      
Use HDE OTP, its a better looking app anyway.
0x0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happened to me as well, fortunately I disabled 2FA on my Dropbox account before the upgrade, thanks to this warning!
PLejeck 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm just gonna point out that the previous update was somewhere around 2 years ago, and it's just now getting retina, so we should be glad there's even this much.
cominatchu 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I recommend using the Authy app instead, it's much better
drewschrauf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used my Pebble watch for TFA. You have to compile the app yourself but it's pretty easy. https://github.com/aaronpk/pebble-authenticator
div 1 day ago 0 replies      
iOS7 beta automatically updated my Google Authenticator. The 'updated app' indicator is taunting me.
web007 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unrelated to this particular snafu but still potentially problematic: if you have your Authenticator account named by its default name (foo@example.com) and you add another account with the same key, it will be blindly overwritten. I found this out the hard way after scanning my Meraki 2FA QR code that was tied to the same email that already had Google 2FA.

ProTip: rename your auth entry to something like "Gmail foo@example" to avoid this problem, whether malicious or accidental.

Achshar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does this affect android? my phone is off and I am not turning it on until I can somehow disable auto update from the play store from web.
tjbiddle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just in time for Github to add 2FA.
dknecht 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Authy app is great and supports Google, Dropbox, CloudFlare, Amazon
devx 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the sort of "nightmare scenario" I'm afraid of, and why I'm still not using 2FA. I'd rather risk having only a weaker password, than risking losing my accounts for good. You can't get back into your accounts if something like this happens, right?
pshc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the heads-up all! Looking forward to actually being able to distinguish Authenticator accounts on iOS 7.
bluesmoon 1 day ago 1 reply      
PLejeck 1 day ago 2 replies      
I actually just switched to Duo Mobile earlier today because of iOS 7 issues with Authenticator; this just cements my decision to switch.

Edit: oddly iOS 7 hasn't autoinstalled this yet.

markstanislav 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't forget that Duo Security's mobile application supports Google Authenticator (and any other TOTP-enabled service). It also has already been working on iOS 7 for weeks.
thrownawaaay 1 day ago 1 reply      
What an absolutely awesome time for iTunes Connect to be down for maintenance.
jbrooksuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm just glad it works full screen on the iPhone 5.
mcleod 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else just happy that the assets will finally be high-res? :P
olive_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
lesson learned : do not upgrade anything unless you read some feedback about it.
arange 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is especially bad for mtgox as it does not have backup codes or cellphone backup.
andreif 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some guys really needed retina support. Now you got it.
victorlin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Damn it... This is stupid, I just upgraded too.
namaserajesh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for letting us know.
Our Newfound Fear of Risk schneier.com
327 points by fejr  2 days ago   188 comments top 20
acabal 1 day ago 7 replies      
I think it's become a cultural thing, unfortunately. I've spent the last few years seeing the world, and the difference in attitudes between the people of many other countries and Americans at home is striking. We've become a fear-based culture.

I have an anecdote from a month or two ago. My girlfriend--she's German--and I were in Boston's central park, where there's a wading pool for children. The place was extremely busy with families and children everywhere--and also crawling with police. As the mother next to us ushered their 9-year-old into the pool, the mother loudly told her, "If anyone touches you, you scream!" My girlfriend laughed out loud at the silliness of it (the child was within eyeshot, in a pool filled with other children and families, in broad daylight, and surrounded by police) and commented to me about how afraid Americans are of everything.

Now that's just an anecdote. But we're seeing bits and pieces of this everywhere. Parents fearful of pedophiles around every corner. TV commercials about new drugs, scaring us into thinking we have some painful disease. ("If you've had chicken pox, the shingles virus is already inside you..."). People like the Free-Range Parenting blogger getting harassed and hounded. The ballooning security and surveillance apparatus. The militarization of our police, and draconian and unfathomable laws and sentencing requirements. The TSA, which is pure theater in service of fear. Bits and pieces.

I find myself increasingly thinking that the fear-based environment in the US is not a place I would want my children to grow up in. It breeds a dangerous us-vs-them (the brown people, the druggies, your neighbor) mentality and leads to suspicion and hatred.

Unfortunately I don't know what to do about it other than move to a different, more emotionally stable country. Culture is hard to change and takes a generation.

zeteo 1 day ago 2 replies      
It was a lot easier to tolerate risk when people had a common Big Picture. This could be provided by religion, ideology etc. Such attitudes still hold in some places, e.g. Amish communities seem more resilient after school shootings [1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amish_school_shooting#Amish_com...

newobj 2 days ago 15 replies      
Related: at the PARK this weekend, and heard all the following utterances in the span of ten minutes from some parents: "NO RUNNING!" "IT'S DANGEROUS HERE" "YOU'RE GONNA GET HURT" "NO RUNNING!"

Talk about instilling fear and creating risk aversion. Sometimes you just have to let a child find out for themselves what's safe and what isn't. What you can get up and dust yourself off from and what you can't.

It's hard to do (I say this as a parent of 5 year old boy), but you have to resist the urge to hover over them and caution or approve their every move.

XorNot 1 day ago 2 replies      
I found this article trite. It's merging 3 disparate concepts which have complex explanations, and deciding instead it's to do with risk.

Militarization of the police force is a big one for example - that has practically nothing to do with risk and everything to do with politics and budgeting. It's "tough on crime" writ large, with people then demanding to see the results of all the money being spent which isn't needed - so enter military surplus and suddenly every small town has an APC and a SWAT team but absolutely no need for one (and usually insufficient training). And once you have those things, every problem starts to look like it needs a SWAT response since you've got to justify having them.

Of course that's just one facet of it, there are others but it's totally disingenuous to pretend its some irrational fear of risk driving any of this.

ywyrd 2 days ago 3 replies      
When you treat adults like children, and children like babies, you get exactly that. And that's why a hundred years ago 14-year olds were captaining their own ships, and today you have 40-year olds who can't do their own laundry or balance a checkbook.
JshWright 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm currently sitting in JFK. I found this article interesting (as I do most of Schneier's writing) and almost read parts of it aloud to my wife who is sitting across from me. It then occurred to me that discussing rational responses to terrorism while sitting in an airport would likely be ill-advised...
twoodfin 2 days ago 7 replies      
Sorry, but there is no remotely possible U.S. political world in which Afghanistan is not invaded after September 11. If avoiding military action after an attack on that scale is your standard for a "smart about risk" society, you'll be waiting a long, long time.
r0h1n 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd wager that our increasing reliance on technology in all walks of life - education, anti-terrorism, policing, medicine, health etc. - also plays a role in fanning our fear of risk.

I _think_ technology tends to offer us two things: (a) an illusion of meaning, as risks are reduced to a discrete set of numbers in excel sheets or databases, and (b) a false sense of control, because we try all sorts of actions (like the ones Schneier mentions) to reduce some of those risks.

Then of course there is the cultural angle.

> Risk tolerance is both cultural and dependent on the environment around us.

I'm from India and our willingness to tolerate or overlook risk is fairly high (I don't mean that in a good way, because most of the times we are fairly blas about our personal/collective safety or about taking preventive actions almost to the extent of devaluing individual lives). But, for what it's worth, we are therefore more willing to tolerate violent risks like the ones Schneier mentions for longer.

Note: 2011 Schneier reference to a research study analysing risk and culture - https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/09/risk_toleranc...

coldcode 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bruce is always the voice of reason. Too bad the people in charge are the voices of insanity.
Aloha 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been talking about risk for a couple years now.

Kids today have no idea what a reasonable risk is because most of them have not be allowed to make any life choices (or for that matter, any choices at all), so when they hit adulthood, they have no real idea whats a reasonable risk or not. I think we will see this effect odd parts of our society more and more as time goes on.

rayj 1 day ago 0 replies      
This new trend of a kinderocracy is troubling to say the least. If we are not able to accurately assess risk, how will society at large manage social norms and not turn into a police state?

One of the main things that parents fail to realize is that most of the child abusers are actually not pedos in the park with slr cameras. "about 60% of perpetrators are non-relative acquaintances, such as a friend of the family, babysitter, or neighbor. About 30% of those who sexually abuse children are relatives of the child, such as fathers, uncles, or cousins. Strangers are perpetrators in only about 10% of child sexual abuse cases." -VA.gov http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/child_sexual_abuse...

My guess why society at large has actively been ignoring the reality of child is abuse is that we as humans and families obviously want to be able to "do something" to protect their children. Saying that non-relative acquaintances are the most likely to be abusers is not going to go over well, but hell I could be wrong.

decasteve 1 day ago 0 replies      
Our fear of risk associated with exploration comes to mind. Why haven't we sent someone to the Moon (again) or Mars?

Compared to early sailors, mountaineers, and polar explorers we seem to have lost the tolerance for dangerous exploration. Otherwise we should have by now sent a person on a (potentially) one-way trip to Mars.

cyanoacry 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently started a job in the aerospace industry, and it's still taking me a little bit of time to get used to the concept of risk, simply because it:

  1) is rarely addressed in education (nowhere in sciences nor humanitites)  2) is an extremely "scary" word  3) is difficult to visualize.
The combination of all three of these factors means that people don't realize that risk is an everyday thing: there are probabilities and outcomes that you need to weigh in order to make the decisions properly. Risk management is big if you're managing multi-million dollar contracts or huge rockets, but it seems to never filter down into the common psyche, which is disturbing. Humans have successfully managed risk to fly planes and go into space, so we have the models to make these decisions, yet we don't seem to be able to properly apply it on the ground.

Is the solution more education? I think so, but in a different light: people need to accept that bad things happen, and that you can model the probabilities and work out for yourself what tradeoffs you're making. Rarely is it all good and bad, and by estimating the expected value, you get the opportunity to say "no, this costs too much" in response to all-out "safety" measures.

dankoss 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- Nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - FDR
jcromartie 1 day ago 1 reply      
My greatest fear is that it will never get better.
ape4 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe people drove after 9/11 to avoid the TSA -- not because they thought planes were riskier.
lazyjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
If risk-aversion is the central issue here, there should be a higher risk involved with a) shooting or otherwise harming civilians when you're law enforcement, and b) taking away liberties when you're the lawmaker. But with a dysfunctional justice system and a voting system that cements the broken 2-party regime, this won't ever be the case.
j_m_b 1 day ago 0 replies      
The pussification of America is not new.
andypiper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm. Read this as "newfound fear of RIAK" - either spent too much time on datastores lately, or need my eyes tested.
daurnimator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone else read this as "Our newfound fear of Riak"?

I got half way through the article until I re-read the title...

Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove Eclipsing N.S.A.s nytimes.com
321 points by danso  3 days ago   104 comments top 21
cantrevealname 3 days ago 1 reply      
Take a look at what happened when the drug dealers were doing the exactsame thing:

In a police raid, Cali cocaine cartel leader Jos Santacruz Londono was foundto have assembled a database that contained both the office and residentialtelephone numbers of U.S. diplomats and agents based in Colombia, along withthe entire call log for the phone company in Cali, which was leaked byemployees of the utility.

A $1.5 million IBM AS400 mainframe was loaded with custom-written data-miningsoftware. It cross-referenced the Cali phone exchange's traffic with thephone numbers of American personnel and Colombian intelligence and lawenforcement officials. The computer was essentially conducting a perpetualinternal mole-hunt of the cartel's organizational chart. Santacruz couldsee if any of his lieutenants were spilling the beans.

They were. A top Colombian narcotics security adviser says the systemfingered at least a dozen informants -- and that they were swiftlyassassinated by the cartel.

Ref: http://www.mail-archive.com/eristocracy@merrymeet.com/msg000...

Longer story here: http://cocaine.org/cokecrime/index.html

downandout 3 days ago 5 replies      
From the document:

Protecting the Hemisphere program is a formidable challenge. We have taken the following steps to try and keep the program under the radar...

The fact that our government creates and then goes to such great lengths to hide programs that it knows the public (and most likely the courts) will vehemently object to shows the level of contempt that government officials and employees have for the very people they were hired to serve. I don't know that it can be fixed, but it is a very serious problem.

greenyoda 3 days ago 6 replies      
The article didn't address the question of why AT&T has phone records going back so many years. I doubt that five year old data about a customer would be useful for marketing, considering that they have the most recent data. Nor is old data useful for billing once the time period for contesting a phone bill has elapsed. Network capacity planning could be done with anonymized or aggregated data. So it would seem that the only reason why they hang on to all this data is because the government asks them to, or because they can make money selling it to the government (or both).

Now, think about what adverse effects such old data could have on justice. For example, let's say a friend of mine from school, who I spent a lot of time talking to on the phone a decade ago, decided this year to become a drug dealer. The government could start investigating me based on this stale data, despite not having any reasonable suspicion that I was involved in any crime.

I think that what we really need is a privacy-oriented phone company built on the model of DuckDuckGo, which doesn't keep any data about customers beyond what's necessary for billing purposes. But maybe the U.S. already has laws that would make such an ethical phone company illegal.

uptown 3 days ago 3 replies      
"The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987."

"Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers."

"Some four billion call records are added to the database every day"

No wonder phone number portability got pushed through.

revelation 3 days ago 0 replies      
This "Protect the Program" stuff sounds like another "Parallel construction" debacle. They are not talking about hiding the program from the public, they are talking about getting the information elsewhere after you used Hemisphere.

Basically, this is a private backyard deal the DEA made with AT&T. Apparently our laws have deteriorated to the point where AT&T lawyers believe they can do this legally.

hawkharris 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you haven't already seen The House I Live In, I recommend watching the documentary online. It will change the way you think about drugs and the United States' prison system. The movie doesn't focus specifically on technology, but it explores the by-any-means-necessary approach to law enforcement that helps facilitate things such as the Hemisphere Project mentioned in the story.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0atL1HSwi8

ganeumann 3 days ago 1 reply      
The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives

If the government pays your salary and you are embedded in the DEA, you are a government employee. Saying these people work for AT&T is patently absurd.

rdl 3 days ago 2 replies      
It seems pretty clear that the mobile operators are the biggest commercial organization threats to personal liberty. Their only real competition is the banks.
rl3 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Unlike the N.S.A. data, the Hemisphere data includes information on the locations of callers."

Unlike the publicly known N.S.A. data.

Also, as if call status matters.

mpyne 3 days ago 0 replies      
David Simon pointed out something like this when PRISM itself was first leaked. The courts and law enforcement have combined for some pretty incredible types of surveillance and investigation possibilities, and have done so for years and years.
D9u 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any doubt as to the fascist nature of the USA now?

Call it "corporate cronyism," or "corporate fascism," but whatever it's called, it's no land of the free anymore.

leokun 3 days ago 2 replies      
It can't just be AT&T, it must be regional bells, the other major carriers, small companies, everyone.
Zigurd 3 days ago 0 replies      
When they say it goies back to at least 1987, I think they are referring to the Daytona database of call detail records (CDRs). That project was active in the 80's, but it goes back much farther, and it may contain most of the CDRs ever created. In it's early stages, punched cards, and later magnetic tapes, were trucked to Bell Labs and subsequently AT&T Labs, where the Daytona system was operated. In it's heyday it was the biggest database on Earth.

There may be a successor to Daytona by now, and "all the CDRs, ever" is not as impressive as it once was, but it is likely that joint telco/government projects like Daytona have been collecting and analyzing call data since there was call data to analyze.

I would not be surprised if they are still using Daytona's query language.

tantalor 3 days ago 1 reply      
The connection to counternarcotics is a distraction from the real story here. Legalizing drugs changes nothing. The article points this program was used in routine law enforcement, e.g., bomb threats.

I'd like to know more about the "administrative subpoena" process. How often are innocent people's phone logs dumped? Why not just install cameras in the TVs and be done with it?

minor_nitwit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another reason to legalize drugs.
ajb 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Crucially, they said, the phone data is stored by AT&T, and not by the government as in the N.S.A. program"

The irony of this, is that it's exactly the tactic used by drug dealers. In order to avoid the risk of possessing illegal substances, they coerce drug addicts to hold their stash. The courts call this 'constructive possession'.

superuser2 2 days ago 1 reply      
HN and the internet community reacted with consistent and vigorous outrage towards Facebook and Google for complying with subpoenas, and over unconfirmed rumors and suspicions that they were selling user data to 3rd parties (not just ad targeting internally). We had boycotts and alternatives to try to move off these services.

Where's the boycott of the PSTN? Why aren't we angry at AT&T for actually embedding staff in the government? Why aren't we encouraging people to switch off their services?

seiji 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another day, another peek behind the veil of large scale (institutional and codified) data abuse.

We don't have to put up with them poking their fingers in our lives for much longer. We can build around them. We can make them irrelevant. It'll take a more concerted effort than building social networks for cats (where you spend four years of your life posturing about "changing the world" and "being successful" then the next day you cash out for big acquihire fake-success bucks).

Stop studying $FAD_OF_THE_WEEK and go back to your math and ML fundamentals. Play around with it. Build good things. Then build bigger good things. Build good things for good people.

coldcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this system has a search capability or it strictly limited to phone # searches. I also wonder if tech to speech works well enough to convert all these calls to text.
Bulkington 2 days ago 0 replies      
Key term: administrative subpoena. Judges, we don't need no stinkin' judges.


For the P. Simon inclined, rather than just pointing to the obvious slope we've slipped down since Nixon:

Whoah God only knows, God makes his plan The information's unavailable to the mortal man We're workin' our jobs, collect our pay Believe we're gliding down the highway, when in fact we're slip sliding away...


frank_boyd 3 days ago 1 reply      
This story alone is reason enough to seriously start working on a program and schedule for:

- legalizing drugs and

- selling them in a controlled environment,

- taxed and

- accompanied by a heavy investment in related education in schools nationwide

...instead of throwing billions at killing our most basic rights.

The example of Portugal: http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-d...

Progressive Enhancement Is Dead tomdale.net
313 points by avolcano  2 days ago   256 comments top 50
glesica 2 days ago 9 replies      
"And most importantly: Dont be ashamed to build 100% JavaScript applications. You may get some incensed priests vituperating you in their blogs. But there will be an army of users (like me) who will fall in love with using your app."

This statement needs a huge, HUGE caveat that you should only be building 100% JavaScript apps in situations where doing so makes sense. For example, I find the new Blogger "web app" infuriating. I shouldn't have to stare at a loading screen to read a half-dozen paragraphs of text, that's just stupid. Just serve the HTML. No one is going to "fall in love" with your app if your app shouldn't exist in the first place because the old-school solution provided a superior experience.

integraton 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sometimes I wonder whether advocates for heavy client-side JavaScript ever bother to test on mobile devices, because it very much seems that in the majority of cases they don't. The vast majority of JavaScript-based "show HN" submissions I've seen don't work on mobile browsers well or at all, to the point where I've been trained not to click them. This submission from a few days ago is an example, and last I checked it caused browser crashes and, even if you managed to load it, was unusable with an iPad: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6270451

Edit: Here is another example from the past few days that's unusable on mobile: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6302825

This is a common problem with media sites. I dread trying to load quartz, usa today, gawker, etc since every thick-client media site is intermittently a bad citizen on mobile browsers (for example, gawker in Chrome on iOS currently perpetually reloads the page). Even when these kinds of sites work, there's often a multi-second delay where where the user has to sit and watch elements fly around as the page is built.

Edit again: just to be clear, if you are a non-technical product manager or CEO type, my comment should not be interpreted in any way as an implication that the web or JavaScript is somehow inherently bad and therefore your developers must build a "native app." My comment's intended audience is developers with a deep, working understanding of these technologies.

Pinckney 2 days ago 4 replies      
I think the point that's overlooked here is that the offenders aren't the clever apps that would be impossible to write without javascript. Go ahead and write those. I'm happy for you, really.

The problem is pages that require javascript to display static content. There are very few good reasons for an article, or an image gallery, or a homepage that could have been displayed just fine a decade ago to now need javascript so it can do some stupid flashy thing that breaks the expected interface behaviour. And frankly, that's most of what I'm seeing in "Sigh, Javascript."

padolsey 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Dont be ashamed to build 100% JavaScript applications. You may get some incensed priests vituperating you in their blogs. But there will be an army of users (like me) who will fall in love with using your app.

We all want wonderful experiences as users. The crux is almost a question of "how we want things to be" and "how we want to get there".

For me, the 100% JS MV movement is wonderful for a specific genre of app: An app that is:

* Behind an intranet

* Behind a paywall

* Behind a login-wall

* Prototypes / Demos / PoCs / etc.

But for the open web -- wikipedia, blogs, discussion forums, journalism (etc.) this movement detracts from the web as a whole, in that it excuses developers from having to worry about degraded and/or non-human consumption of their websites' data.

We have to ask ourselves what we, as humanity, want from the web. Do we really want a web of 100% bespoke JavaScript MV web-apps with no publicly consumable APIs nor semantic representations? If that is the intent and desire of the developers, designers and otherwise educated-concerned web-goers, then fine, let's do that and hope it works out okay...

But there is an alternative that has its roots already planted deep in the web -- the idea and virtue of a web where you can:

* Request an HTTP resource and get back a meaningful and semantically enriched representation

* Access and mash-up each-others' data, so as to better further understanding & enlightenment

* Equally access data and insight via any medium, the latest Chrome or the oldest Nokia

So, please, go ahead and create a 100% JS front-end but, if you are creating something for the open web, consider exposing alternative representations for degraded/non-human consumption. It doesn't have to be progressively enhanced.

Imagine for a moment if Wikipedia was one massive Ember App... And no, Wikipedia is not an exception from the norm -- it is the embodiment of the open web.

crazygringo 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Worrying about browsers without JavaScript is like worrying about whether youre backwards compatible with HTML 3.2 or CSS2. At some point, you have to accept that some things are just part of the platform.

This is the key bit.

It's a pretty popular attitude on HN to dismiss supporting IE, or IE7, or even IE8 or IE9 -- despite having significant user bases. But there's still a strong vocal contingent which argues for webpages to still work fine with without JavaScript, despite it being a miniscule user base. They both seem to come from philosophical standpoints, rather than anything practical. (Granted, SEO is a valid consideration, but that's fundamentally a different conversation.)

kleiba 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are dinosaurs like me who use the web mostly for reading stuff on websites. I also happen to use an old, quite slow computer as my default machine.

It aggrevates me when a site that I try to open because of its textual content takes 30 seconds to render since there's too much Javascript going on. Then I'm typically sitting there thinking: "how hard can it be to display a piece of text?" Because of this, when I see my CPU spike as I try to open a website in a new tab, I very often decide to simply close the tab again and do without the information I originally came there to see. This happens a lot for me with online magazines, such as wired or techcrunch. One trick is to invoke the "Readability" bookmarklet if I can get to it fast enough, i.e., before the JavaScript has frozen my browser completely.

Of course I understand that I am part of a tiny minority. And probably I'm not part of your target group anyway. And the web is so much more in 2013 than pages with text on them.

If you do, however, want someone like me to come to your site, you better remember to keep it dinosaur-friendly.

thezilch 2 days ago 0 replies      
What Ive found, counter-intuitively, is that apps that embrace JavaScript actually end up having less JavaScript. Yeah, I know, its some Zen koan shit. But the numbers speak for themselves.

The author does very little to support his claims. The Boston Globe page also has lot of scripts to support advertising and the advertising itself. As well, entirely different engineering teams and probably cultures. There's not even any research into The Boston Globe's use of progressive JS; it makes ZERO sense why the two homepages could not have the same JS footprint, with The Boston Globe continuing to work and Bustle continuing to not work, while JS is disabled.

I'm all for not supporting progressive JS; Bustle is certainly within their right to not work without JS; the author is just caught in a confirmation-bias bubble. His conclusions don't make sense; our intuitions are right; it doesn't take [much] more JS to progressively enhance a site.

ritchiea 2 days ago 1 reply      
At some point recently, the browser transformed from being an awesome interactive document viewer into being the worlds most advanced, widely-distributed application runtime.

This is the key sentence in the article and this is why I was motivated to become a web developer. Recently someone asked me if I felt like I was missing out by doing most of my programming on the web since desktop apps are "real programming" and I said no because the web is the best environment for writing apps today. I don't have to choose whether I want to write for Mac OS which I use myself, or Windows which most consumers use or Linux which hardcore techies use. I don't have to choose if my mobile app is iOS or Android first. Sure there are still tradeoffs, and sometimes a desktop or native mobile app is still going to be a good choice. But the browser today is an amazing environment that everyone on the web has access to and it's only getting better. And we should be excited about leveraging everything modern browsers can do to make great software.

__alexs 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Friendly reminder that "people with JS disabled" includes those on high-latency networks, bad firewalls, and browsers you don't support." - @jcoglan


shawnz 2 days ago 1 reply      
This author is making an assumption that progressive enhancement exists only so that people who are browsing without Javascript can have a better experience. Of course, this isn't true. Progressive enhancement is a good thing because it encourages you to be as descriptive as possible at every layer of your technology stack.

Why does it matter in practice? Well, there's more than one reason, but consider that not every user agent is a browser with a person sitting in front of it. Your website also should be interpretable by content indexers like search engines, accessibility devices like screen readers, and so on.

Some services don't fit this model and really are better off being designed like desktop applications written in HTML and JS. But in my experience, most services can be modelled more like websites without making the design any more difficult to reason about, and almost all users' experiences are bettered by it.

thecoffman 2 days ago 3 replies      
This post does nothing to address the biggest reason people might have Javascript disabled: security. If I'm browsing through Tor (or whatever), I'm not going to turn on Javascript to use your site. If your site doesn't work without it, you've lost a customer.

Granted, people who disable javascript are obviously vastly outnumbered, but just saying "fuck you" to security conscious (and most likely tech-savvy) users seems like a mistake.

andrenotgiant 2 days ago 1 reply      
Progressive Enhancement is still important for CONTENT SITES

Why? Search Engine accessibility.

It used to be that Googlebot wouldn't find content loaded asynchronously, or links that rely on Javascript. Now it's different - You can confirm that Googlebot discovers a lot of Javascript links using Webmaster Tools: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en

BUT - There's still no way to break from the "Page Paradigm" - Google needs URLs to send searchers to. They don't yet send people to specific states of a page. That's why I still use Progressive Enhancement, it forces me to ensure each piece of content has a URL that points to it.

acjohnson55 2 days ago 0 replies      
... the browser transformed from being an awesome interactive document viewer into being the worlds most advanced, widely-distributed application runtime.

If only that were actually true. In reality, we're designing the interfaces for these applications using a presentation language made basically for desktop publishing. For interactivity, we essentially have one more or less shite language (http://bonsaiden.github.io/JavaScript-Garden/) to choose from. We're still arguing over the very basics on whether we should use callbacks, promises, generators, etc. for simple sequential operations. Hell, we're still trying to figure out how to get a reasonable call stack record to debug when working with any of these options. And God help you if you want to use a modern language that compiles to Javascript and have your debugger too.

But to address the author's original point, I think progressive enhancement is alive and well. While the majority of browsing is done on the desktop, I just think it makes way more sense to think first about presenting your basic content and then enhancing it than how you're going to strip out all the bells and whistles to get your design across on less capable platforms. In the long run, the former will probably save you more time and QA effort. It's just more natural to think about using capabilities when present then working around their absence.

And no one says your baseline should to a screen reader for all possible web apps. Just pick a the baseline that makes sense for what your doing, and enhance from there. At some point, it may make more sense to fork your platform and have separate implementations for different pieces of your interface. It doesn't have to be one monolithic project that magically enhances from mobile phone screen reader all the way up to VR cave.

oelmekki 2 days ago 1 reply      
Edit : actually, I'll make an article out of this, because I came late in the discussion (I'm from european timezone) and the message probably won't be heard.

People that consider app should be usable entirely without javascript certainly miss the point. So do people that consider progressive enhancement is only about supporting people that deactivated javascript.

As author mentioned, the browser is now more an execution environment rather than a document viewer. You know what it means ? It means that developers have no control over the execution environment. With server side, if it works for you, it works for everyone. With client side, you'll never know. You don't know what extensions your user use. You don't know how stable his system is. You don't know how stable his connection is. And you can't ask your users to have a such carefully crafted environment as your servers.

What this should make us concludes is that the most heavily your app rely on javascript, the better it should be at error handling.

How do you handle error in javascript ? If an error occurs in a callback function, clicking that <a href="#"> again and again will simply do nothing, and your user will get frustrated and yell : "it does not work !".

With progressive enhancement and graceful degradation, it suddenly becomes simple. Your link has a real href. You can deactivate all event handlers using the event "window.onerror". That way, clicking a link after a crash will follow it.

You even don't have to implement the feature totally on server side. If your client side feature can be emulated on server side, do it (and your user won't even realize something went wrong) ; if it can't, simply warn your user about it. Anyway, javascript runtime will have been reinitialized.

So, for all of this to work and make sense, we just have to use modern definitions :

* progressive enhancement is ensuring no link / button / whatever would "freeze" if javascript crash

* graceful degradation is ensuring interface get reversed back to an useful state when an error occurs (like, showing again submit button for what was ajax forms). This can easily be done if your page is composed of objects that respond to some kind of destructor method.

If you think client side errors do not happen that much, just put something like that in your code :

    window.onerror = function( error, url, lineno ){      $.post( my_exception_url, error: { error, url: url, lineno: lineno, page_url: window.location.href );    }
This will post all exceptions to a server side url, where you can relay it to your exception management system (I simply raise a system exception using the passed parameters) or store them. You'll be surprised.

Xcelerate 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with all of his points. I think a lot of the counter-arguments are centered around "Yeah, but I see websites that unnecessarily use Javascript when a simple text-based solution will work". That's not a Javascript problem; that's a site-design problem.

I'm sure you could make a dynamic page that has a negligibly different loading time compared to a static page that both display similar (static) content, but it's the way that you do it that matters. Loading a page, that loads a library, that pulls in another library once the page is loaded, that then displays spinning gears while pulling in a bunch of static content is of course the wrong way to do it for a lot of things. But that's a design problem.

ronaldx 2 days ago 0 replies      
I disagree strongly. Concisely:

JS has many potential UI/UX benefits which should be used for the users' benefit: although they can also be used to users' disadvantage.

If your (static?) website shows blank with no-JS, I find it unlikely that you've considered UI/UX at all. I therefore assume that you are more likely to fall on the disadvantageous side.

tlrobinson 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you live somewhere with a decent internet connection and don't travel often you may have forgotten that lots of places still have slow or unreliable internet connections. Most of those people probably have JavaScript enabled too, but every extra request required to use the site is a point of failure.

I'll be the first to advocate requiring JavaScript when doing so significantly increases value, but for content sites please at least include the main content directly in the HTML.

andybak 2 days ago 0 replies      
A great javascript app is wonderful thing but if you fail, you tend to fail hard.

A HTML/CSS page + progressive enhancement tends to involve much less shooting-oneself-in-the-foot.

If you've got the talent, time and budget to do it well (note that is 'AND' not 'OR'. Gawker being a case of 2 out of 3 not being enough) then please go ahead.

However - if you have any doubts about your ability to see the whole thing through to perfection then a half-assed website is much less awful for your audience than a half-assed app.

Joeboy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great, I'm going to be debugging other people's websites in my spare time as well as at work.
josephscott 2 days ago 0 replies      
Stating that one approach or the other is always the right way is the problem. Figure out which one works best for the type of site you are working on.

How your site will be used is often a high level indicator of which approach will provide a better experience for your users. Gmail for example, no public part of the site, not uncommon for users to leave it open in a tab all day. Often great for all Javascript approach.

Twitter on the opposite end. Lots of public facing pages, performance was worse when they required Javascript just to render 140 characters on the screen. This style of site is generally better off with a progressive enhancement approach.

wmt 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tried the Bustle.com, showcased in the article as a good example of a pure Javascript website, on my Android browser, and the Javascript was used to reserve 25 % of my screen to show me a "BUSTLE"-banner that doesn't go away when I scroll down.

Don't expect your users to have a mouse. The share of web users on their mobile phone has grown from 6,5 % to 17,25 % since June 2011. Any bets on what the share will be in a year or two from now? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#Sta...)

toddmorey 2 days ago 1 reply      
I pretty much agree with all of the points in this article. I do wonder, though, why Bustle.com (the example used) is an Ember.js app and why it displays nothing but a blank page if Javascript is turned off. Skylight makes perfect sense as a full JS app. But Bustle, a content site, seems to be more of an "interactive document" (as he mentions).
mynameisme 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's no reasons sites like tumblr shouldn't work without javascript. Period. And while there are some things on the web that are genuine applications (trello, dashboards, etc.), the vast majority of things are content driven, which should never require js.
hcarvalhoalves 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can have your hypermedia on api.<yourdomain> and then your AngularJS or whatever on app.<yourdomain>, consuming your api. Then all you need to do is serve HTML from your api when the User-agent accepts html (bonus points: set a canonical meta tag pointing to your foshizzle app so you don't lose SEO).

Best of both worlds.

PS: All this crazy talk stems from the fact Javascript created an apartheid on the web. We need to make a clear distinction between the HTTP-web and the Javascript-enabled-web. The fact the same software (browser) serves this dual purpose adds to the confusion and allows bad architecture decisions, interwinding content and rich interfaces inside the same hypertext mudball.

mistercow 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there good tools out there for helping to ensure that a JavaScript web app without progressive enhancement is accessible to the disabled (e.g. screen readers can parse it, speech recognition software can interact with it).

I ask because I've recently discovered that Google has massively failed in this department with some of their products, at least as far as speech recognition is concerned. Google Docs is a great example of what I'm talking about. If you try to use it with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, buttons and menu items are often not recognized, text entry is only reliable by using the separate (and inconvenient) Dragon "dictation box", editing is a nightmare, and review comments can only be placed by actually copying from a separate program. Your best bet if you need to collaborate is honestly to just use Microsoft Word, and then either upload and convert, or copy and paste, and then accept the fact that a lot of collaboration tools won't be usable by you or any of your collaborators.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to try to use modern web apps as someone who can't type effectively or read a screen, and it seems like the problem is only going to get worse as people rely more on canvas without taking accessibility into consideration.

mkilling 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of absolute views in this thread.

How about: If it's profitable for your site to offer a non-JS fallback, do it. If it isn't, don't.

asgard1024 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like to save every document I read online (including discussion, if possible, these often contain insightful posts). Maybe it's obsessive, but I do it.

Some documents, especially those using Ajax for loading content or multiple pages, make this difficult. I hate them. (Hacker News, oddly, does it too - when a discussion is archived, it becomes paged, which makes it more complicated to store.)

I wish there would be a standard way to store page offline, including all the JS changes made to its looks, all the external content etc.

dham 2 days ago 0 replies      
First of all you still get html in the end. So whether you get the slightly reduced json payload size and use the users cpu to generate html or just get cached html from the server you still end up with the same thing, and arguably, similar response times.

I find the answer is not one or the other it's both. If a certain page requires interactivity then embrace Javascript and do the interactivity with Angular or Ember. You end up writing less Javascript. If you do it as decorating html using jQuery then you will end up with more javascript. Most pages in web apps don't require this much interactivity on every page though. There may be a few pages here and there. Most of it is just document viewing. In that case just send down cached html. Sure Bustle.com is fast, but so is Basecamp, both take entirely different approaches to display pages.

When I first got into Knockout a few years ago, I was a kid in a candy store. I wanted to do everything with Javascript and Knockout. Soon I grew up and realized you just don't need all that crap to display an f'in table. It's just a table for God's sake. We have been displaying tables since the dawn of web browser. In fact you will pay client CPU cost trying to display a table in Angular when you could just send it over in HTML.

Now if that table requires heavy editing(not filtering, or sorting, that stuff is easy as decoration), then sure bring in Angular.

On the other hand if I need drag and drop, validation, on complex forms, I'll definitely bring in Angular.

Choose the right tool.

EGreg 2 days ago 3 replies      
Javascript is great for making more efficient sites. Here's why:

1) Static resources can be cached on a CDN and composited on the client instead of an overloaded app server

2) You can load data instead of heavy and repetitive HTML over the wire

3) You can cache the data in the client and re-use it later, making for snappier interfaces

That said, you have to watch out for URLs. Just because you can write everything with javascript doesn't mean you should break URLs. And of course, crawlers other than google's crawler will probably not be able to execute your JS.

tambourine_man 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not a single mention of SEO on the article. I guess Google is dead too.
pcunite 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm ready for JavaScript sites ... but notice a very important nugget in the authors post, "web apps need to have good URLs". This cannot be overstated.

1. Stop preventing middle and right clicks on JavaScript enabled links. For left clicks, sure ... control the flow.

2. Respect the fact that this is NOT a desktop environment, therefore my view of your program's "screens" should be on a per URL basis. I actually might want to view a list you generated in my own separate "window" or "screen" with the URL visible, usable, and savable in the browser.

jhh 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I agree that you can assume Javascript being enabled I really think that "conventional" web development has still many advantages over making SPAs.

Business logic on the server, HTML generated on the server, conventional mvc-architecture, use ajax and push state to make it highly interactive.

Fine - you can assume JS being available, but from that it simply does not follow that you have to throw away the traditional (rails style) dev model of the web.

netmute 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is not Javascript per se. Personally, I like a good webapp.

What annoys me is the tendency of Javascript guys to rebuild every damn application there is as a webapp, and rave about it like it's the best thing ever.Javascript has become their hammer, and the whole world looks like it needs a good pounding.

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

cpursley 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, the size of the Ember app vs. Typical webapp + JavaScript is impressive.

Inspecting the Bustle app with the new Chrome Ember Inspector is very cool.

Has Bustle open sourced any of their components or written on how they developed the app?

asdasf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why on earth is he framing it as though it has something to do with time? Like, there was a time when you couldn't rely on browsers having javascript, so progressive enhancement? Progressive enhancement wasn't because browsers didn't have javascript, it was because people turned it off. They still do. And horrible javascript "apps" that just show some text and pictures are only going to make that number get bigger.
dep_b 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well I guess you wouldn't want your monitoring tool indexed by Google anyway, right? As soon as you only have JavaScript as the only way for accessing some data it will be harder to index. There are some solutions provided by Google https://developers.google.com/webmasters/ajax-crawling/ but the situation still is not satisfactory.

For my clients it's usually the case that being found well in Google is a major part of their business case. PE makes sure that a basic crawlable version of your website exists with proper titles and tags.

aufreak3 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the real indicator that progressive enhancement is "dead" was that as I began reading the post, I was left wondering "what the &*%^ is this progressive enhancement that he's declaring as dead?" until, pretty much, when I finished the post.
soljin2000 2 days ago 2 replies      
Only if you never need any referrals from search engines. I know a site that has this awesome locally sourced food delivery/pickup system. Connecting consumers directly with the growers.

Their site is 100% in JS. And if you google for anything even remotely close to what this site sells you simply cannot find them.

Unless you are a members only app site would I say progressive enhancement is dead. Well that is unless you care about the millions of users on slower mobile connections with crappy smart phones.

kenster07 2 days ago 0 replies      
I doubt devs are "ashamed" of making js web apps. The main issue is that it takes more effort to do so than a traditional web app. There are browser specific quirks. Frameworks like rails are so well-integrated with the db layer that it will be difficult to match that productivity with pure JS apps. And finally, a lot of devs don't want to take the time to learn, when the current standard is perfectly acceptable for most use cases.
nraynaud 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, i like to split the world in 2: web pages and web apps. For web apps, i don't hesitate to assume javascript.
crassus 2 days ago 0 replies      
What bugs me about web apps is that I need to download a new copy of it every time I go back to it (or at least send all the AJAX requests again). Load times suck.
KaoruAoiShiho 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has been dead for a while. The people who complain on HN about "I get a white page" are treated like trolls.
pkroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
140 comments in and no mention of TurboLinks? You hit a URL, you get the content. You click a link, it just gets the body and replaces that: no reloading the CSS, or JavaScript, so content gets rendered faster. Search engines get the actual content from the URLs, users get the speed. Issues having to do with making your scripts idempotent are problematic, but it certainly sounds like a good base.
AdrianRossouw 2 days ago 0 replies      
the one thing that i think is still kind of uncovered ground for javascript frameworks is proper i18n and l10n support.
spacecadet 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still teach both "graceful degradation" and "progressive enhancement" to students in my "Web101 - Introduction to Web Development and Design"...
leokun 2 days ago 2 replies      
The websites as applications is correct. I see grumblings from some old time grumpy folk about why does this site need JavaScript. Because it's a runtime now. The web has evolved, and aren't you glad it did because flash is dying.
brokenparser 2 days ago 0 replies      
It ain't dead until Netcraft confirms it.
BobbyBobby 2 days ago 0 replies      
This post doesn't address the main reasons for PE.

- Accessibility- Spiderability by search engines

If you want to say PE is dead please explain how these don't matter to most websites.

Theriac25 2 days ago 0 replies      
Javascript is cancer.
goatslacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
AngularJS Tutorial: Learn to Build Modern Web Apps thinkster.io
285 points by mfrisbie  22 hours ago   81 comments top 33
jmduke 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure if I'm more excited or creeped out. Yesterday, I decided I wanted to learn Angular and I figured making a fantasy football clone would be a fun, interesting way to do it -- something I'm vaguely passionate and vaguely knowledgeable about, something that isn't a Twitter clone, lots of numbers, something I can show to a few friends without having their eyes glaze over.

Then this came out. Super excited for the weekend so I can dive on through. Thanks, Matt -- but stop reading my mind.

(n.b.: I'd be more than willing to pay sticker price if I could get a physical copy instead. I know it's lame, and slightly more effort, but I don't have a monitor setup at the moment so I'd rather leaf through a book than scroll through an alt-tabbed .pdf.)

ericmsimons 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Hey all - we'd love to hear any questions, criticism, or ideas you have.

Also, we have a pdf version of the ebook available for $25 on the site, but we'd like to give all of you on HN a 20% discount. You can go to this URL to get the cheaper price - http://gum.co/SUry/awesomehners

Thanks for all of your support!

otikik 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm still not convinced about Angular's Dependency Injection thing. The problems it allegedly solves don't clearly outweigh the ones it certainly creates.

It claims to provide concern isolation, which facilitates testing and cleanliness. I don't think it helps that much.

But it has a middle-stage learning curve, more callbacks than I'd like, and implicitness of dependencies. For example, i.e. you need to know what $scope-like params are "supposed to contain" on every function that uses them.

Also, I find the naming spotty: "directive", "module", "injector", "compile" etc. lack specificity. They are not as bad as "Manager", "Data", "Info" and "Object", but they are not good.

weavie 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The tutorial recommends starting your server using `node server`.

With MEAN a Grunt file is provided. Running the server with `grunt` will make grunt run the server and then watch the directory for changes - restarting the server and refreshing the page as necessary.

Much easier.

jjsz 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There's also: yearofmoo [0], the AngularJSLearning Index [1], David Mosher [2], tutorialzine [3], and the ng-newsletter. [4] I would like to see the Integration With Other Languages/Frameworks section expanded (D3, PouchDB, etc). Are you guys planning on expanding on that?

[0] http://www.yearofmoo.com/


[2] http://www.youtube.com/user/vidjadavemo/videos

[3] http://tutorialzine.com/2013/08/learn-angularjs-5-examples/

[4] http://www.ng-newsletter.com/posts/beginner2expert-how_to_st...

BlackJack 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This article/book was marked as [dead] for a while, then got unmarked. How exactly does that happen?
davidwparker 19 hours ago 8 replies      
Working with a large Angular app, I've found it much nicer to split away from the "Rails"-style convention of grouping by type (controllers, models, etc) and instead grouping by modules. This plays especially well with Angular where you can group everything within a module together and include a single module which ties all the dependencies together.

Curious if others do something similar and group code together by modules or does everyone group by type?

Geee 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there a demo of the finished app somewhere? I don't want to read or buy the tutorial before I see how good the actual result is.
mmanfrin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks great -- and I really appreciate that the demo site is not a cookie-cutter twitter clone like half the tutorials out there.
metastew 20 hours ago 3 replies      
One advantage of the MEAN stack is that you only need to know javascript to start developing on it, which saves time and brainpower to get started.

That being said, I'm curious if there are other advantages to learn the MEAN stack?

aidos 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like a solid walk through of building an angular app.

OT but the fantasy football twist is great. I only just started playing this year so I've been learning a lot. We're playing the uk version but I guess it's much the same. I've found it interesting how much strategy there is and how much data I can analyse.

We have a startup in the construction industry so wanted to use it as a tool for keeping a sort of weekly offline / banter conversation going on with clients. Turns out that I actually enjoy too!

dodyg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Anytime now some of you will be contacted by recruiters looking for people with 10 years AngularJs experience.
beefsack 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Kind of surprised how in depth the tutorial goes, but only manages to mention the word "test" once and doesn't cover the fantastic testing back end included with the AngularJS seed (https://github.com/angular/angular-seed).

Unless the person learning AngularJS has never done any automated testing before, I can't see any reason why not to be using tests as a tool to further your own learning. I learned Go last year relying heavily on tests, first specifying what I wanted to achieve in a high level test, then learning as I figured out how to make the test pass.

vplex 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great work, looking forward to future parts of this tutorial! Will definitely buy it.
marknutter 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice tutorial. One critique is the use of the "ng" prefix for your app's modules, which I believe is discouraged by the angular core developers since it's supposed to denote core angular functionality.
andyhmltn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome tutorial! I haven't gotten around to reading it all yet however I noticed it provides you with a base to begin coding which is good but is there anyway you can do a short writeup on how exactly that base is created?
WalterSear 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Angular: ad hoc crowd sourced documentation at it's finest.
thomc 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks good, and useful to me, nice work.

Will you be covering security in any detail? Most people seem to miss this and I'm discouraged to see when I download the MEAN project this is based on it has serious security flaws.

For example, if you view the articles list at /#!/articles and make a note of any article ID, then visit /article/<article_id> it will return the article author's hashed password, salt and email address in addition to the article content. This also works while logged out. Kinda scary if people are using this as a template for their own apps.

pmtarantino 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I really like this is not an ebook per se, but an interactive tutorial. The checkbox to save your progress are really great :) Congratulations!
arms 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Heads up - the link[1] where it says "If you need a refresher on Angular services, go through this video" leads to a video on filters, not services.

- [1] http://www.thinkster.io/pick/sFObNwt4rA/angularjs-built-in-f...

elbac 17 hours ago 1 reply      
The best place I have found to learn about Angular is http://egghead.io . The videos are really clear and concise.

Many of the more confusing Angular fundamentals that many tutorials like these don't stress egghead.io has short 2 to 3 minute videos explaining in very clear terms.

PS. I know I sound like a shill, but I have nothing do with egghead.io other then I've found them immensely useful.

martindale 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work! I love how all the individual components are one big scrollspy. We (Coursefork) had a call with Eric yesterday to figure out how to make this kind of material "forkable", but something we didn't talk about was this idea of charging for the "source source code". What exactly does that mean?
rodh257 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Signing in with Twitter wants to post as me and read my tweets, how come?
arms 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks very interesting, thanks for sharing. I especially like that you decided to go with a fantasy football app - can't say I've seen many tutorials do that ;) And last but not least, I like that you chose the MEAN stack, for no reason other than I am unfamiliar with it and have been meaning to look into it.
wavesounds 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Is angular the reason this site scrolls and renders content all weird?
ramenmeal 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm, didn't make it past the first check mark.

"Permission denied (publickey).fatal: Could not read from remote repository." -git

bdickason 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been experimenting with Angular today and have found this super helpful, thanks!!
kurrent 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I love that the example site being built in your tutorial is a fantasy football app, great choice.

Looking forward to the player draft functionality with socket.io

zeppelinnn 17 hours ago 0 replies      
looks like a great guide.. i was working through the original "how to learn angularJS" tutorial, but it got dry through some parts because it was too much material at once without too much of the application behind it in the big picture. I think this tutorial will definitely help with that, good looks!
wavesounds 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does the title say free but the link says $25 to download?
flylib 19 hours ago 0 replies      
great tutorial for anyone looking to get into the MEAN stack, easily the best on the net currently and they seem like there planning on adding a lot more to it also over time
alexross 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Your "Support us!" button has a typo- source source code!
joshux 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks! This is what I am looking for.
Start Using Emacs A Thorough Guide for Beginners braveclojure.com
285 points by nonrecursive  2 days ago   135 comments top 26
Matti 1 day ago 2 replies      
Emacs-related things I have learned recently:

* Sticky modifiers: I don't know why it took me so long for me to activate these. The difference between holding Ctrl while hitting another key or just hitting Ctrl once before the next key makes a huge difference for me. http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/StickyModifiers

* Got an old-styled Thinkpad keyboard with the trackpoint buttons below the spacebar? I mapped the left button to C-x and the right one to M-x. These buttons are PERFECT for this purpose. I would have mapped them system-wide to Ctrl and Alt but didn't find a solution for doing that in Debian (console/tty).

* Helm: Incremental completion and selection narrowing. Makes it a lot easier to find those commands which you sort-of-remember-the-name-of:https://github.com/emacs-helm/helm

* Sunrise Commander: MC-ish file explorer, based on Emacs's Dired:http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/Sunrise_Commander

rickdale 2 days ago 6 replies      
When I was in college I had the privilege to work on a project with a developer that understood emacs as on operating system and used it as a way of life. When we started the project he would yell at me whenever I took my hand off the keyboard and tried to use the mouse. Finally he started to hit my hand with a ruler when I would lift it up.

My emacs skills are still probably only 1% of his, but after working that short time with him I have never been able to fully feel comfortable using textmate or sublime text. I always come back to emacs, even though the learning curve even years later is still there. Just feels like the right tool to me.

jcurbo 1 day ago 2 replies      
I had tinkered with emacs over the years but mostly used vim for programming, until the past year or so when I started writing Haskell and LaTeX for school and put in a determined effort to use Emacs full time. I've found I like a 'regular' text editor more than vi's modes, and that (like rickdale's comment) when I've tried out other editors like Textmate or Sublime Text, they feel like they're missing something compared to the raw extensibility of Emacs. (What that something is I'm not quite sure and - I just feel like if I want an extensible editor, emacs is the best. Strong opinion weakly held I guess)

My advice to new users is to start simple and try to only add in extensions/modifications when you hit pain points. I added some universally useful/specific ones early on like AuCTeX, a solarized theme, turning on syntax highlighting, haskell-mode, and so on, but I've found that piling on a ton of plugins and getting away from the 'default' behavior makes it much harder to create a comfortable workflow. This is also why I'm not a fan of stuff like Prelude or emacs-starter-kit.

__david__ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great intro! I've been using Emacs since 1996 or so and I still learned a new key: M-m, which will go in my lexicon immediately.

BTW, "M-g g" (goto-line) is also bound to "M-g M-g" which I find much easier to type.

Another thing I discovered way too late about Emacs was the "q" key. When you're in a read-only buffer like a diff, a man page, an Emacs help page, or an info page, pressing "q" will bury the buffer and close the window (if it wasn't open before the buffer appeared). I find this tremendously useful.

kenrose 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great work with this tutorial! It's a nice intro guide to Emacs.

One thing I'd recommend adding in the introduction is that even though Emacs can be daunting to learn in the beginning, the effort is worth it because it will eventually become your editor for everything, not just Clojure.

Have to start programming in a different language? Emacs is there for you.Want to write an e-mail message? Emacs is there for you.Want to keep a TODO list or a calendar? Emacs is there for you.

This fact was lost on me when I first started with Emacs many years ago. I had come from using "easier to use" editors like EditPlus and Visual Studio. After trying to use Emacs for a week, I gave up in frustration and didn't touch it for another year. I've been using Emacs for about 11 years since then and I think I wouldn't have dropped it if I had been told "I know it seems hard now, but it's extremely powerful and it can become your one program for everything, on any platform you will ever use".

singular 2 days ago 1 reply      
> There are other options, like Aquamacs, which are supposed to make Emacs more "Mac-like", but they're problematic in the long run because they're set up so differently from standard Emacs that it's difficult to use the Emacs manual or follow along with tutorials.

Having used emacs on linux, windows and now mac I disagree with this - though aquamacs introduces some (annoying, to me) functionality, you can simply turn these off and it works just like emacs in any other environment.

I have found aquamacs works better with ansi-term + with full-screen functionality than vanilla emacs, and I use both these functions enough to not want to go back.

outworlder 1 day ago 2 replies      
Finally an introduction that has screenshots which don't remind you of the 70's.

Fonts and color schemes do matter, specially nowadays with the likes of Sublime and Textmate. Even more so for new users.

sb 1 day ago 0 replies      
I started using emacs about seven years ago after about eight years of exclusively using vim, primarily because I wanted to see what the editor war's were all about (and because I got the blues from work and needed something uplifting...) I agree with the learning curve, and constantly am fine tuning my setup and configuration, but once you've mastered the basics, it truly becomes one of the most powerful editors. Plus it is constantly evolving (e.g., multiple cursors).

Another good emacs guide that I came across recently is:


Additional resources I found helpful:



Plus, check out the videos from Magnar Sveen's emacs rocks:


michaelsbradley 2 days ago 1 reply      
As an Emacs beginner and budding Clojure programmer in early 2012, I benefited greatly from Bozhidar Batsov's Emacs Prelude:


I highly recommend it, and have been very pleased to see it get better and better over the past year+.

mmariani 2 days ago 4 replies      
After about a year developing a love/hate relationship with Vim I've finally had enough. After reading this post I think I'm ready to make the switch. Very good writing. Thanks for posting it.
andrewflnr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Irrespective of the merits of emacs itself, this feels like a nearly perfect introductory tutorial. I've never seriousny used emacs, but this made me want to go try it and made me feel like I would probably succeed. Good show, whoever wrote this.
computer 1 day ago 6 replies      
Question to the Emacs crowd: how do I hit Alt comfortably? My instinct is to use my left ring finger, but have trouble doing that without moving my other fingers much. Could it be because I have very large hands (or because my keyboard sucks)? Is it a good idea to just remap capslock to be the meta key?
codygman 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using vim for 3-4 years now. The plugin system is alright, but it's nothing to brag about. It's an amazing editor, but I think I'm going to try emacs + evil for a bit.

I almost added some other claims but I couldn't put them into words correctly, so I'll just leave it at this :D

asgard1024 1 day ago 3 replies      
I also recently started using Emacs. Not much progress in learning, yet, though.

It would be nice if someone made a nice starting package that would set it up more sanely for all the IDE-oriented people (basically take what modern IDE can do out of the box and setup Emacs that way). Something similar to what Ubuntu did for Linux. I have seen lots of personal configs on Github, and read lots of Emacs Wiki on how to set this and that, but it's still quite a struggle for me. Part of the struggle is that there are too many options sometimes.

Maybe someone will have a good suggestion regarding this.

Edit: Someone mentioned Prelude, didn't know about it. That looks good, like something I wanted.

burgerz 2 days ago 4 replies      
What benefits does Emacs have over something like Sublime? All I can see is you can customize a million key binds so you don't have to use the mouse. Sorry but I'm not racing type to as fast as possible when I write code, I don't mind spending an extra second and using a cursor.
runeks 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Go ahead and undo that change.

How do I do that?

Thanks for the guide by the way!

hogu 1 day ago 1 reply      
The best feature of emacs is running shells in buffers. For interactive work, this is supremely useful because you can easily search your history, grab previous lines/chunks of code, and edit them into future commands. I do this all the time for data exploration with python.
swah 1 day ago 0 replies      
Emacs makes Windows more bearable - thats why I'm thinking of returning.
liyanage 2 days ago 7 replies      
I tried to get into Emacs on OS X a few times, but one of the things I don't like is the awkwardness of not having the Meta key mapped to a direct simple key press.

Activating the "Use option as meta key" isn't a good solution because I sometimes need to type accented characters that require the option key.

How do people deal with this when using Emacs in the OS X Terminal app?

sbuccini 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm learning Emacs for class, and I was wondering: do you use the same hand to hit the command/meta keys? For example, when I'm doing C-n or C-p, I am currently hitting the command key with my left hand, but the identifier with my right. Is this the normal way, or do most people use one hand to execute a command?
donniezazen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am not a developer but am learning programming. I picked up vim and have slowly build memory muscle for it for at least basic commands. I have never use Emacs. It seems to be quite popular. Is it worth learning? Is there a decisive answer to Emacs vs vim?
tux 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have you ever tried Sublime Text ? I find it very powerful. But of course its GUI unlike emacs or vim.
tiatia 2 days ago 4 replies      
Emacs is one of the most powerful and impressive programs I have ever seen. It just lacks a decent editor.
shire 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is it worth learning this over Sublime Text? I love Sublime.
minor_nitwit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or C-h t
mrdraper 1 day ago 1 reply      
CTRL+F "vim"
PayPal Freezes Mailpile Campaign Funds mailpile.is
292 points by capgre  4 hours ago   211 comments top 48
patio11 2 hours ago 12 replies      
Indulge me in a flight of fancy in which we pretend, for the sake of argument, that

a) Paypal is run not by Snidely Whiplash clones butb) by smart geeks working with thin margins in a highly regulated industry where c) customers are at risk essentially never, d) merchants eat 100% of the risk if they stay in business, and e) Paypal eats 100% of the risk if the merchant doesn't.

Why is Paypal very skeptical of pre-sales? Because, if the business fails (as new businesses often do), customers will file chargebacks. Their banks will hear "Internet merchant did not deliver as promised" and sustain the chargeback automatically. Paypal will lose that argument with the bank, 99.999% of the time, and have to seek restitution from the merchant.

Paypal has to do underwriting -- basically, guessing at probable risks and likelihood of partial repayment -- for new merchant accounts. What percentage of sales are at risk of chargeback in a pre-sales business? A Very High Percentage (TM). What is the probable chance of failure of a new business in developing a new product? Fairly high. Given product failure, what assets will be available to Paypal (in the Paypal account or the linked bank account) for automatic recovery from the failed business? Very Little (TM). What is Paypal's margin on this business? A fraction of a percent.

Now we break out the Hadoop cluster and use several billions of dollars of transactional data to construct a model of what the expected loss is, expected recovery given loss, and expected margin in event of non-loss is.

This puts us in an incredibly uncomfortable position as we do not feel that it's remotely in their jurisdiction to ask for a detailed budget of our business, any more than it is within our right to ask for theirs.

This communication is incredibly useful from Paypal's perspective among multiple axes:

1) It signals very strongly "We are not only unwilling to comply with the table stakes of every underwriting process for businesses everywhere, we are so inexperienced at business as to be unaware that this is table stakes, and accordingly you should dramatically revise upwards your estimate of our risk of failure."

2) It provides Paypal a simple, face-saving out for declining this business without having to say, in so many words, that "You seem, oh, 93% likely to ship this year. You get an A! This means, however, you are 7% likely to lose all the money, and we only make .9% margins, so this is going to be a No. We get that you don't like this. We don't like having to decline hundreds of dollars of revenue either, but we have the experience of losing hundreds of millions to fraud and know that some revenue just isn't worth the risk. We respect that you might not agree with this, but don't feel the need to spend additional resources paying for our computer programmers, underwriters, lawyers, and accountants to give you an expensive education in the realities of e-commerce on our nickel."

Let's talk about the difference between Paypal and Indiegogo:

1) You pay Paypal ~3% when their costs are probably approaching ~2%. Indiegogo would charge ~7% for the same thing. One of the luxuries when selling something which is five times as lucrative is that you can self-insure against project failure.

2) Indiegogo believes it has a different business model than Paypal and that they have a uniquely better understanding of the risks of crowdfunding, whereas Paypal has had their filters tuned by too many middle Americans selling Beanie Babies.

3) Paypal has lost hundreds of millions of VC money to fraud and Indiegogo hasn't. Paypal decisionmakers might at this point give Indiegogo the sort of look a school psychologist gives a C student with a drug habit who has just announced that they're taking a semester off to find themselves, man. They know which way this story is going to turn out, which is in its own special way as bad as not knowing how the story is going to turn out.

Are the risks larger because we are successful?

Ask a simple question, get a simple answer: yes! Paypal loses more on a $1,000,000-in-transactions account which goes bad than a $1,000-in-transactions account which goes bad, clearly. You might wonder "Well are we more risky than the same aggregate volume spread over N accounts?", in which case the answer is available to Paypal's Hadoop cluster but plausibly "Yes, with a p value which would make a statistician weep." Accounts which go 0-to-60 in processed transactions are hugely disproportionately likely to be outright fraud (Paypal has had many, many, many encounters with carders smart enough to have invented the suborn-a-botnet and make-a-lot-of-small-donations attack prior to having seen it on Breaking Bad). Additionally, it is quite plausible that Paypal could demonstrate that success is a curse to new businesses and most which blow up proceed to, well, blow up. (Which they would, of course, not love to disclose publicly.)

This dynamic is not unique to pre-sales or crowdfunding. It also explains Paypal's active hostility to many other business models, including money services businesses, third-party payment aggregators, and travel agents. (Most people don't immediately associate travel agents with having a lot of payment industry problems, but they do: they make lots of big-ticket sales but have low working capital, and if a cruise gets canceled or a hotel goes bankrupt or any of the standard vicissitudes of the industry causes them to eat a bunch of chargebacks all at once, they go bankrupt and their payment processor is on the hook for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars as that bankruptcy causes cascading failure to deliver promised goods or services.)

downandout 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't know why, in 2013, people are surprised when they use PayPal and wind up without access to the money for months or years. Paypal apologists will say that this is relatively rare. Even if that is true, since the criteria they use to take these actions are often beyond the control of merchants, using PayPal is an unacceptable risk for any business that doesn't have at least 6 months of working capital.

Always avoid PayPal if you need access to the money. Even if you feel that your business falls squarely within PayPal's AUP, always have a backup implementation with an alternative payment provider coded and ready to go (I recommend using Stripe and skipping PayPal altogether). You don't want to lose new sales on top of the money PayPal decides to hold indefinitely.

mootothemax 4 hours ago 2 replies      
They just don't want to, and we cannot help but wonder why.

The risk of complaints, refunds, and chargebacks for non-delivery would be my guess.

"Please provide an itemized budget and your development goal dates for your project"

This puts us in an incredibly uncomfortable position...

...of having a roadmap for your product's development. It's really not unreasonable, and if you don't have even a vague idea right now, that's a big warning sign.

... we do not feel that it's remotely in their jurisdiction to ask for a detailed budget of our business

Which is unfortunate, as PayPal's business boils down to risk management, and they're asking you to reduce their risk.

bowlofpetunias 4 hours ago 1 reply      
People should start to understand that crowdfunding is not a trivial business from a legal and regulatory perspective.

Yes, PayPal sucks, but you can run into this crap with any bank or payment service provider you don't have clear and direct business dealings with, and who you haven't informed upfront about what you're up to.

Also, it's just plain lazy and irresponsible of IndieGogo to pay out via PayPal, at least not without big fat warning signs. Of all the options available, this is pretty much the worst.

It's very naive to think that you can just accept money in exchange for unverifiable promises and not set off all kinds of alarm bells. Expect frozen assets to start to happen more and more often with crowdfunding, and not just at PayPal.

jusben1369 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What strikes me as really disappointing here is that the person has no idea why PayPal has frozen their account. It's surprising to me that they don't understand the inherent risks to PayPal from a kickstarter program (how dare they ask me for my business plan?!). In this post at least it seems like they just think PayPal doesn't like them and wants to hold their money for a long time. I guess they should have done more reading up around the financial side of a kickstarter.

And PayPal is clearly at fault that this person is so confused and upset too. How hard is it for them to say "In the past, we have seen crowd funding sites/services that never delivered anything. That resulted in a lot of unhappy end users going to their credit card companies and initiating a chargeback which we're on the hook to pay. As you can see, if you took the money from your account and disappeared we'd be on the hook for that entire $X. That's why it's important we understand more about what you're up to"

It would be ideal if this happened pre account/money collecting but I don't know all the details around that (Perhaps this is a long term account used for "normal" credit card processing who then decided, without informing PayPal, to run a Kickstarter. Who knows)

whyleyc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
PayPal is fine for a certain class of limited transactions - usually when they involve selling physical or digital products which actually exist and can be delivered today.

Rightly or wrongly though they have a very[1] long[2] history[3] of freezing the accounts of projects they deem to be remotely 'risky' to them. By definition this would seem to include almost any crowdfunded project where an actual product or service which people are paying for does not yet exist.

Given how well documented this is I can't help but wonder why a company like IndieGoGo would touch PayPal with a bargepole - their interests seem diametrically opposed !

IndieGoGo should be protecting their users by disabling PayPal as a payment option for all projects.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/06/paypal-account-freeze/

[2] http://www.holdtheline.com/threads/paypal-freezes-funds-from...

[3] http://www.siliconbeat.com/2013/08/16/paypal-freezes-then-re...

Uchikoma 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Or you could read the terms of the business relationship with PayPal:

  Am I allowed to presell?  Yes, you are allowed to presell items as long as you follow these guidelines.  Off eBay presale requirements  If you sell items in an online store (not eBay), you must guarantee delivery   within 20 days from the date of purchase and make sure that the customer       knows they are buying a presale item.  [...]  If you are selling goods or services in an online store (not eBay), you may   be allowed to presell items but we may hold your money in a reserve   account or limit what you can do with your account to reduce the higher risks   associated with presale items.
Or as the ruder ones of us said in the 90s on Usenet: RTFM.


timrogers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I work at GoCardless.com, a UK-based payments startup (YC S11), and thus I have a above-average insight into these kinds of issues from my day-to-day work.

From the point of view of fraud protection and risk management, I can see why PayPal take this kind of unilateral action. Payments providers are always at high risk, and since they deal with and indemnify other financial firms further up the chain, they're the ones taking the risk.

Even when you're charging relatively high fees as PayPal does, one case of fraud or even something as simple as a project that doesn't materialise (not that I think that'll happen with Mailpile!) can eat up tonnes of your revenue and make your business unviable.

As such, GoCardless sometimes has to make decisions that account holders won't like. However, the difference between us (as well as, I believe, other providers like Stripe) and PayPal is that we will be (a) reachable and (b) reasonable.

For me, PayPal's failing is in the lack of customer engagement on these issues. Every story like this shows PayPal as cagey, unhelpful and unwilling to have a discussion or reconsider at all. Everyone can, to a degree, understand why PayPal has to make unpopular decisions to protect itself from unacceptable risk (as all businesses will have to do in various ways), but their approach and manner in doing so is what is unacceptable.

eksith 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Two things people need to keep in mind when using PayPal.

1) The company functions as an uninsured bank while essentially skipping the label thereby giving itself a legal loophole to function as it pleases. However, unlike a bank, you can't get to an actual human being in a timely manner unless you're dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions. You're simply not important enough and PayPal is big enough that none of your complaints will really make a dent.

2) PayPal puts a value on risk. Your perception of this risk may be markedly different from PayPal's, however it is still there and if you trip over that threshold, you will be shut down with extreme prejudice. Projects like Mailpile function in a different world than even digital goods of a few years ago. You're not really donating for a product, but the expectation of a service which will, hopefully, come to fruition. The risk threshold set by PayPal is still under the older digital goods model which is an ill fit for Mailpile to begin with.

Those two aren't the only reasons why no one should use PayPal, but keep in mind that nothing you do, show or even consider reasonable matters to them as it's their assessment that ultimately holds sway. You're dealing with a banking megalith with an equivalent responsiveness.

Do not use PayPal.

amirmc 4 hours ago 3 replies      
> "... unless Mailpile provides PayPal with a detailed budgetary breakdown of how we plan to use the donations from our crowd funding campaign they will not release the block on my account for 1 year until we have shipped a 1.0 version of our product."

I'm a little confused by this. What crowd-sourced funds is PayPal withholding, as I thought that went via IndieGoGo? (answer: IndieGoGo uses PayPal)

What on earth does PayPal care about the financial planning of the recipient of the funds? This doesn't seem like it has anything to do with fraud detection.

crocowhile 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You need to get Indiegogo involved and IGG need to take serious measures, such as threatening to completely disable the paypal option from all their future projects.
nhangen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is exactly why our company stopped focusing on our Paypal integration and started focusing on other gateways, such as Stripe and WePay. We had built a really great Braintree gateway, but they to came out with a policy against crowdfunding.

As far as I can tell, you can still get through and/or avoid messes like these by communicating with the gateway up front in order to get permission. Robert Space Industries did this with Amazon and Paypal before launching. They were forced to provide much of this documentation, but in the end, it helped them avoid any major hiccups.

Of course, IndieGoGo should be working with merchants to help them through this. If they are going to be the intermediary between the crowd and the company, they should do the same when dealing with payments. Sadly, all of the major crowdfunding platforms lack in this regard.

If you're thinking about crowdfunding and are nervous about being shut down, I recommend you run either as donations or pre-orders. In the case of the latter, you are best not taking funds until the goal is met or you've reached a certain development milestone.

I do think that this sucks for crowdfunding in general, but perhaps it will curtail the money grab that has been in place for some time.

And of course, if you want to have as many options as possible, check out http://IgnitionDeck.com. A WordPress install and you can have your choice of gateways.

Good luck to the Mailpile guys. I recommend providing this information. It will be good to have in the event that an investor knocks on the door.

crucini 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
> ... freedom to maintain your vision unbeholden to shareholders and 3rd parties.

Aye, there's the rub. Many of us want that freedom, but it's rare. Powerful people are generally quite beholden to third parties.

The president of the US can't do whatever he wants; neither can the CEO of Google.

In order to make our dreams real, we must communicate them in common language to stakeholders, a process which may flatten them and drain their magic.

_ak 4 hours ago 0 replies      
...and that is why you don't use PayPal, no matter how loud people scream that they want to use PayPal.

Seriously, PayPal has screwed over so many individuals, businesses and projects in the past, the obvious conclusion is that PayPal isn't an option when you run a small business (esp. IT/software-related) or a crowdfunding campaign.

kalleboo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> They just don't want to, and we cannot help but wonder why.

> Crowd funding is an adventure.

I don't think PayPal are as enthusiastic in joining you in an "adventure" as you think. Especially if that adventure includes credit card chargebacks.

jamestomasino 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Wow, I'm really surprised by the amount of snark on this thread aimed at mailpile. They are following IndieGoGo's standard process. For PayPal to take exception with them and single out their funds is ridiculous. If PayPal wants to start requiring IndieGoGo campaigns to submit business plans, they should work that out with the site, not an individual campaign, and certainly not after the whole thing is funded. This is not Mailpile's fault for following procedure.
M4v3R 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is not the first time Paypal did that [1] and it most certainly won't be the last time. That's one of the reasons Bitcoin was invented. I hope that events like this will drive its adoption as a safe alternative for crowd funding and online shopping.

[1] http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-04-23-skullgirls-... and probably there's more of this

mootothemax 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I added a "donate" button to a free to use website I run. After its first use, PayPal proceeded to freeze my account because I "recently declared your organisation to be non-profit or started receiving donations".

I was very unimpressed, mostly because there was absolutely no indication that adding a "donate" button would do this

The first Google result for "paypal donate button" gives this page:


It clearly states: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Nonprofits must verify their status to withdraw donations they receive

I think it's unfair to blame a company for enforcing policies which they're completely open about, especially when it's a policy you could read after mere seconds of research.

ollysb 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The problem here is that crowd-funding is a risky business and as things stand paypal has to shoulder that risk. What we need is a type of transaction where the payer/crowdfunder assumes the risk, i.e. chargebacks are not allowed.
duked 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's funny at the same time paypal still let extorsion websites use its services: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6328480
marijn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I feel kind of bad about the fact that they initially didn't enable paypal donations, but enabled them a few hours after I suggested they do. I might be responsible.

My own smaller (16k) indiegogo campaign went completely over paypal without a hitch [1]. Probably the fact that my paypal account has been seeing relatively large transaction volumes for years also helped prevent the alarm algorithm from triggering on it.

[1]: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tern-intelligent-javascrip...

gregd 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Could it be that we've all missed the point entirely? Maybe, just maybe, Paypal was under duress from the Feds to cancel their Paypal account because they're afraid of what Mailpile would have accomplished?
paulgerhardt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Part of the reason we open-sourced Selfstarter was to prevent situations like this happening to other companies. With Selfstarter and by extension Crowdtilt's Crowdhoster [1] if you have a problem like this, it would merely be a setback rather than a crisis.

You manage your relationship with your customers, not someone else. If your payment processor gives you trouble, have your customers re-auth with a friendlier provider like Stripe, WePay or Amazon. If nothing else, even having the option to do so gives you more leverage should you find yourself in this position.

If you need further convincing about the benefits of self-hosting your crowdfunding campaign, please see this earlier comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6261442

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

zamalek 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not the first time I have heard about them freezing funds - the last time was a few years back. From what I remember they were worried that the customers would ask for their money back if the product wasn't completed (explaining why they want to see a budget). This has nothing to do with fraud. They are allowed to do whatever they want with your money because they are not a bank.

It's completely ridiculous because participants in crowd funding are aware of the risks - they may never see their money's worth (even though that isn't the case here).

Either way, I would raise a massive stink if they don't buckle - I see you have a WIRED article, maybe approach them about writing about this encounter with PayPal. That's some pretty bad publicity right there. You may also be able to demand interest if they do continue to illegally with-hold the funds for that long (again, they are not a bank, but that means that this time they are not protected by those very same laws).

kvanderd 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am sorry this happened to you. As a consumer I used to love Paypal, buy anything with one click. After using them as a business owner for online transactions I absolutely hate them.

I won't go into my situation but the horror stories are endless:


As a developer I won't use them anymore. I use Stripe now.

joshdance 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Don't use PayPal for pre-orders.
devinmontgomery 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anyone considering using PayPal as a seller should read Jessica Livingston's "Founders at Work" interview with Max Levchin. PayPal is an anti-fraud company that occasionally processes payments.

It's appealing to customers and established merchants with slow, predictable growth and short lead times, but not for pre-orders. And I don't see them changing this - it's in their DNA.

Kickstarter with Amazon Payments, in contrast and for better or worse, is the most pre-order friendly system imaginable. Tens of thousands to millions of dollars transferred in days with virtually no questions asked. The 14-day holding period they mention is only for first time projects.

stevoski 4 hours ago 0 replies      
And...another group of people new to running a business find that the business side of things can be challenging and time-consuming.
andyhmltn 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Why do people still use PayPal? Their service is just absolutely insane.
andyhmltn 4 hours ago 2 replies      
They will only release the funds when version 1.0 ships? Does PayPal not understand that it costs money to create products? That's the entire reasoning behind crowdfunding! 'Well you see this money you said you needed to make version 1.0 of the product? Well you can have it after you've finished'
transfire 2 hours ago 1 reply      
There is very simple solution to all this!!!!!!

PayPal should have an "AT YOUR OWN RISK" payment option. Pre-sale vendors would be required by the terms of use to use this payment option instead of the normal one unless they first get a pre-sale waiver from PayPal. PayPal can charge an application fee for that process.

All done.

8ig8 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I assume this is to protect against chargebacks. If Mailpile were to empty their PayPal account and then buyers start requesting refunds for non-delivery of the described product, PayPal would be left holding the bag.
Uchikoma 1 hour ago 0 replies      

  Paypal: If you presale we might freeze your account  Merchant does presale  Paypal freezes account  Merchant: Why you did that?

dcuthbertson 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Elon Musk cares at all that a service he created, one that made him incredibly wealthy, is so willfully abusive and corrupt. How about Pierre Omidyar or John Donahue?

PayPal really needs to be investigated by federal governments, and put under strict oversight, regulations and controls.

rip747 1 hour ago 0 replies      
this doesn't surprise me in the least.

reading the comments, this thread is turning into a paypal bashing which it shouldn't. what happened is not paypal's fault or some insider attempt at stopping the project from happening as some laughable comments have suggested.

paypal's top priority is to their customers, not the merchant. if you look at this from their perspective this is the right move as what would happen if the project just took the money and never delivered?

asking them for a detailed list of `itemized budget and your development goal dates for your project` is something that any smart investor would ask for and they should have had this done already so i don't see why this is cause for concern.

mosselman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
So we keep reading this kind of thing on Paypal. Are there any viable alternatives for consumers? As a company you could use Stripe or Paymill (for Europe), but as a consumer the only alternative is to pull out a credit card when I buy games on Steam. I don't want to do this, I want a login for a payment provider that is coupled to my bank account. I don't want to walk around with my credit card as it is too unsafe (something that Americans probably don't understand).
matznerd 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Avoid Paypal as often as you can, simple as that. I am forced to use them for certain transactions, but anytime I can avoid them I do. I hate that they force me to verify my account, they force you to use Paypal credit (if you have it) instead of a CC, etc. I really don't like their one-sided policies...
magoon 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Some things never change - even when a new executive promises.
adamnemecek 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered why this policy is in place. Is it just to screw people over or is there some legitimate use? Are they trying to prevent money laundering?
contextual 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As I read this post, I felt a brief rush of anxiety wondering if I backed this project. I hoped not. These guys come off as rather flippant with other people's money.
andrechile 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
seems like paypal CEO David Marcus is looking in to it.

Whenever there is a high profile case like this that gets a lot of public attention he seems to get involvedhttps://twitter.com/davidmarcus/status/375621484175060993

GeorgeOrr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Paypal doesn't understand that it isn't their money. Every contributor to Mailpile has just had their funds stolen by what was supposed to be a middleman.
hardwaresofton 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Shoulda taken bitcoins.
dcc1 3 hours ago 0 replies      
That's Shitpal for you
devx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I see that nothing has changed, even with the new CEO that promised us Paypal would have more reasonable policies in the future.
GoldfishCRM 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm.. This does not sound good. Hope it will resolve it self. Maybe a founder to founder call is in place.
zokier 4 hours ago 0 replies      
ycombinatorcom 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Mailpile is about encrypted email that NSA may not be able to access. Mailpile also referred to Edward Snowden in their indiegogo campaign. Mailpile also accepts bitcoin payments. Do you need anymore reasons to why this happened ???
Favicon Cheatsheet github.com
283 points by eliot_sykes  2 days ago   53 comments top 17
NelsonMinar 2 days ago 5 replies      
This collection of vendor-specific hacks is an excellent demonstration of the failure of the Web standards process.
TamDenholm 2 days ago 4 replies      
For what its worth i made a tool a while back that takes a big image and makes a bunch of sizes for you as well as the code etc.

I've not touched it in over a year but it still gets used every now and again.


ianstormtaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't you always want your favicon at / regardless because everything that grabs favicons automatically will look there, and not parse your /index.html to figure out what the meta tag is?

Other than that, this seems very handy!

oneeyedpigeon 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Forcing a Favicon Refresh ... For yourself and all site visitors: Append a query string. (TODO: find out if any browsers have problems with this.)"

Don't do this - it prevents the file from being cached by some proxies [1]. Instead, use a filename-based approach to 'cache busting' [2].

[1] http://www.stevesouders.com/blog/2008/08/23/revving-filename...[2] https://github.com/h5bp/server-configs-apache/blob/master/.h...

audreyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, author of the cheatsheet here.

I'm thinking of changing the snippet under "The Basics" to be what's suggested in issue #3 (https://github.com/audreyr/favicon-cheat-sheet/issues/3). Any feedback before I make the change?

sergiotapia 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here's an idea for an app:

1. Upload a large, centered image, and have it spit out all of these different sized, optimized favicon images for me.

The initial image should be large enough to accommodate all lower sizes.

Any takers? :)

marban 2 days ago 0 replies      
I declare 2013 as the year of Favicon Wars.
joeblau 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is also this: http://favicon.io/
lyndonh 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think I'm going to vomit if I see another web page written in the 21st century that condones the use of ICO format.

Please, please, please can we have some kind of multi image PNG format ?

How about multiple PNG images wrapped in a TIFF container ?

With cross browser support, pretty please.

Anything but ICO. ICO format is nasty.

eliot_sykes 2 days ago 1 reply      
Could not believe we should be considering giving so many different favicon sizes from 195px (Opera Speed Dial) down to 16px. Wider SVG support in favicons would be welcome.
HipstaJules 2 days ago 0 replies      
TallboyOne 2 days ago 0 replies      
More favicon goodies: http://pineapple.io/tags/favicons
cgtyoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is so incredibly handy. I've been searching the internets for this page for years now.
benguild 2 days ago 0 replies      
Updated it as follows:64x64 ... Safari Read Later sidebar in HiDPI/Retina
mherkender 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why don't we have mipmapping on the web? I've never heard anyone suggest it before, but it seems like a good solution to this problem and all the other pixel ratio kinds of problems.
aquarin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here is my solution to the "problem".In Nginx config:

location = /favicon.ico { return 204; access_log off; error_log off; }

the1 2 days ago 0 replies      
pollute yo metadata with vendor crap. just like jpeg.
KitKat's new website kitkat.com
281 points by dionyziz  1 day ago   150 comments top 40
jasonkester 1 day ago 11 replies      
Pretty. But do there exist web browsers that display these scroll-to-animate sites correctly? Using either mousewheel or dragging the scrollbar (or worse still, dragging on an iPad), it's never anything but choppy choppiness and I miss important bits of text as they scroll past entirely between the little click stops on my mouse wheel.

Surely it must be possible to actually view these sites, as evidenced by the fact that people keep building them. Is there some web-designer-and-executive-approver-specific build of Chrome that's built specifically for this effect?

RobAley 1 day ago 7 replies      
Nestle is a truly horrible company[1], this hook-up has really re-enforced the notion in my eyes that Google is now just another big multi-national corp in the same vein as the rest. It's sad, because I used to think they could show the world that a big corp didn't have to do things that way. I'm not sure if they changed or if I was just naive.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestl%C3%A9#Controversy_and_cri...

davidjgraph 1 day ago 1 reply      
marcamillion 1 day ago 3 replies      
For those that missed it yesterday, per this[1] BBC article....no money exchanged hands.

[1] - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23926938

adamc 1 day ago 3 replies      
Adding to my history when I _scroll_ is just a terrible decision.
quchen 1 day ago 5 replies      
It's the standard change-background-while-scrolling website that seems to become fashionable. Am I missing something about this post?
gojomo 1 day ago 0 replies      
No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.
klimeryk 1 day ago 1 reply      

  <!-- Thanks for viewing the source -->
You're welcome, always a pleasure :)

biggfoot 1 day ago 2 replies      
Off topic, but did they get an engineer to write the content? "Thanks to its world-renowned, tri-core, wafer thin CPU with full chocolate coverage." If this is intentional sarcasm it is tasteless (pun intended)
marcamillion 1 day ago 2 replies      
How did this make it to the top of HN 2nd day in a row?
sbornia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone noticed how funny it is? Even if it's not perfectly coded? God you guys know how to complain!
willvarfar 1 day ago 1 reply      
they break back :( But otherwise, lovely.

To think its only going to be people like us that 'get it'

ramykhuffash 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still prefer regular scrolling to "parallax scrolling." Maybe I'm just getting old...
omegant 1 day ago 1 reply      
So kitkat bought the new android OS release name for themselves, and released a coordinated marketing campaign. Is there any insider story on how that happened somewhere?. Maybe is a bit too early for that.
Thereasione 1 day ago 2 replies      
There are easter eggs, type "haveabreak" or "up up down down left right left right b a".
alayne 1 day ago 0 replies      
The next version of Android is going to be called Lipitor.
alexlitov 1 day ago 0 replies      
madaxe 1 day ago 1 reply      
They were doing so well until the flash video at the end. :(
hendrik-xdest 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh no, does that mean that meta keywords are relevant for Google search again?

<meta name="keywords" content="Kit Kat, Kit, Kat, ...." />

FajitaNachos 1 day ago 1 reply      
I enjoyed it. It appears I'm in the minority.
eduardoejp 1 day ago 0 replies      
KitKat just re-defined what a "tablet" means for me.
boards2x 1 day ago 4 replies      
Nice looking site. But why associate your product with junk food?
floobynewb 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ugh, read the small print section. Horrible, designed by committee to attempt to sound like their audience. I sometimes find these quite revealing, although irritating. It shows how they perceive the people they are targeting with a product. In this case we are flighty, feckless, caught up in a culture full of meaningless catch phrases. They have mistaken the irreverence and playfulness of the y,z gen for low brow incoherence.
joeblau 1 day ago 1 reply      
One question I have is why Google (If this website is Google's) is hosting their stuff on Amazon?
loceng 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I think along with Tesla's marketing - this is one of the top, ever.
seymores 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope this is not going to be a trend because I find it ridiculous.
NicoJuicy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually, this was just fun to see, didn't expected this when i navigated to their site :P
efnx 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's just a line on my iPad.
Discordian93 1 day ago 1 reply      
No GPU? Not worth buying if I can't play Crysis on it.
dalacv 1 day ago 0 replies      
#GrannyEyed. I'm sure I've heard that before somewhere on the inner net.
mgrouchy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, marketing works it seems.
theandrewbailey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Just wow. It feels like it's my birthday, except it's not.

(My birthday is April 1st.)

arxpoetica 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think there's nearly enough under the hood. This site needs more code.
andyhmltn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sweet site but a loading bar.. REALLY?
mydpy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice page. I wish I didn't need to hit the back button as many times as I did to escape.
lowlevel 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I'll go get a kit kat out of the vending machine...
gmcgraffin 1 day ago 1 reply      
4.4mb downloaded for this 1 page, Some bandwidth being used there!
brokenparser 1 day ago 0 replies      
That sweet 404
okeemokee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Those KitKats are not as tasty as they used to be, but the video at the bottom of the page is really awesome.
jnyx 21 hours ago 0 replies      
i am utterly amazed. 124 comments for a fucking advertisement site? What's wrong with this society?And worst, it doesn't work with lynx.
Developers are the autoworkers of our generation baugues.com
276 points by wslh  3 days ago   205 comments top 47
luu 3 days ago 16 replies      
As usual for HN, all of the most upvoted replies disagree with the article. Let me play devil's advocate and not disagree. Sure, the analogy isn't perfect, but what happens if we take the idea seriously? [1]

Isn't it amazing, the lack of sacrifice necessary to make fat stacks of cash writing software? Even when law school was thought of as a golden ticket, it was a lottery, and to win, you had to sacrifice your personal life for a decade before you made partner. And those hours looked relaxing, compared to medicine and investment banking. Back when auto jobs were a sure thing, they were also sure to use up your body by the time you could retire, and that's if you were lucky enough to avoid a career ending (not to mention crippling) injury.

I just met a kid who graduated with a BA in philosophy who was offered 4x the median U.S. income [2] at a software company. A prop trading firm offered him 50% more, and the software company matched the offer. One reason he turned down the offer at the prop trading firm is because people there regularly worked 50+ hours a week.

The most upvoted article on HN from a couple weeks ago was full of comments debating whether 20% time is really 120% time, at a company where mid-level ("senior") engineers can have total compensation that's something like 8x the median income in the U.S. And was outrage! Outrage!

Last year, coursera ran a course on deep learning from one of the guys who's widely credited with inventing deep learning. The pre-requisites were some basic programming, and, either, google + wikiepdia, or a basics of machine learning course, like the one that's offered on coursera regularly. After taking the course, you'd have enough understanding of deep learning to reproduce papers published that year, on the state of the art in machine learning.

Never have we had a privileged class that's so easy to enter. It's genuinely surprising that this is the case. You don't have to be born into the aristocracy. There's no licensing body limiting the number of developers, and no hazing process that makes requires giving up the best years of your life. The knowledge is available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, and those are cheaper than they've ever been in human history. You might say that there's just not enough "smart" people in software, but, that's part of what's surprising.

Why do so many people who want a career involving intellectual curiosity study philosophy or mechanical engineering, when CS also gives you interesting problems, and happens to pay much better? Why don't people switch? Unlike with ME, CE, etc., you don't have to take the PE and get all sorts of licensing to find work. You just need to be able to pass some interviews. I met folks at Hacker School [3] who switched from econ, ME, OR, and other quantitative fields to CS, because you have more freedom to pursue ideas, can do more without being part of a huge team that makes you a tiny cog in a giant machine. And, by the way, it pays twice as well. But, it's still not common to see people switch.

What's the barrier to entry that's keeping us from being flooded with supply? I'm told that CS enrollments are now at record highs, past even the numbers we saw during the dotcom era; perhaps the answer is that there is no barrier, and we're about to get flooded with supply.

[1] In his notes, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, Rawls talks about how his students eagerly come up with clever refute the propositions of great thinkers. He takes the opposite approach. It's been a long time since I've read this, so I'm very loosely paraphrasing, but it's something like, if you disagree with someone who's clearly very smart, maybe it's worth taking the time to figure out why they hold their opinions rather than just dismissing them.

[2] median personal income in the U.S. is about $30k/yr.

[3] https://www.hackerschool.com/

nohuck13 3 days ago 6 replies      
Hold on a minute. You can't discuss labor markets without discussing productivity. In the heyday of the automotive industry, the best auto worker in the world produced about the same output as the average auto worker. Maybe they messed up less, but being a genius autoworker didn't let you tower head and shoulders above the competition, because car factories are designed with auto workers as interchangeable parts.

We've tried that with developers. If it had worked, all development would be outsourced to India and the Philippines by now, and developers would be forming unions to lobby for higher pay.

The reality is that the market pays for productivity, in the long-run. Maybe having more junior developers coming out of bootcamps puts downward pressure on wages, but as long as development is a meritocracy where the best performers are much better than the worst performers, there's always going to be a premium on people that really know their stuff. Maybe one day we'll live in a world with lots and lots of really good devs. I don't mind living in that world as much, because I can control my fate to a far larger extent that someone who moved to Detriot in 1960 and was unfortunate enough to stake their whole life on a company pension and a single industry.

EDIT: typo

logn 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yes, programmers keep automating their own work. And we keep trying to find ways to bring in new programmers. But software keeps eating the world. I don't see an end to this. The auto-industry was largely reliant on a very specific vertical.

Also, programmers (unlike auto workers) have not locked in long term benefits that hamstring a company. In fact, we've embraced taking on the risks of the company and staying nimble, hopping around and trying new things. If Google's whole workforce were guaranteed some sort of long term compensation for retirement, we might worry, but their long term promises are only via their stock price.

mkr-hn 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Dont get too comfortable. Dont get locked into a language. Dont burn bridges for short term gain. Keep your tools sharp. Learn soft skills. Build an audience. Save some money. Network. Read.

This is great advice. The big issue with the rust belt is that building cars was all car builders knew how to do. Most didn't have the sustained practice with learning new things to adapt to a changing environment. I wouldn't keep it to programming languages and technologies, or even auxiliary skills like marketing and advertising. Keep your mind sharp with as much depth in as many different topics as you can stand.

johnfuller 2 days ago 1 reply      
> When the most frequent complaint you hear is I wish recruiters would stop spamming me with six-figure job offers, lifes gotten pretty good.

As other have said many times here, a six figure job in some places is just enough to possibly be compared to a middle class lifestyle elsewhere in the U.S. Go look at the database of BART salaries, and as big as their pay appears, these guys went on strike.

> WordPress does in fifteen minutes what once kept a freelancer busy for two months.

And yet, you can still easily spend two months plus on a Wordpress project. Compare what people were building then compared to what people are building now. The great thing about web development is that we can continually move up the value chain. As some components get easier, that frees us up to work on something else, always pushing the boundaries outward. As those boundaries move, we are probably creating more work to do, not less.

> Maybe you dont think a total n00b can walk out of a nine-week training program and do your job.

That noob better learn how to learn on his / her own. Really, who learns how to be a developer from a school? I don't have a computer science background, but does a computer science degree even teach this stuff? The bottom line is that it's a relentless grind to continue to learn and build on that knowledge. Not everyone has the drive to do that. It's far easier to pay for someone to feed you knowledge and pretend that you are getting somewhere.

> To upset the labor market, one of two things needs to happen: an increase in supply, or a decrease in demand.

I don't see supply outstripping demand happening anytime soon, if ever. I have been waiting for the hordes to come for years, but this hasn't happened. I would think it would have happened by now. And demand doesn't sit still either. As other markets emerge, they eat up their local talent.Sure, this local talent may work for far less than their U.S. equivalents, but for how long? When you have cost of living in certain regions of developing nations ratcheting up to be as high as any U.S. city and companies like Alibaba hitting huge numbers, then developers in these regions will get paid. They just have a bit of catching up to do, that's why we call them "developing."

> No profession stays on top forever just ask your recently graduated lawyer friends.

Isn't that a crazy comparison though? This article mentions how low the friction is for getting into development, and then makes this comparison with a profession with a relatively huge friction. The development industry looks nothing like law. Part of the problem there is that the law profession built walls up that technology is tearing down. The development industry has no walls.

ufmace 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a few good points in this article, but I don't think it's all that insightful overall. A particular developer can be a lot like an auto worker, or they can be very different. The difference is continuous learning.

The trouble with being an auto worker in the heyday of the industry is that, as far as I know, people generally learned a relatively small set of skills early in their career, and then expected to coast along on those skills for their whole life. All skills have a limited lifetime, and in the modern era, that lifetime can be very short indeed. If you got in and out at the right time and handled lifetime investments well, then you could do all right for yourself. If the timing of your one skill being obsolete doesn't work out well for you and you don't do anything about it, then you could find yourself broke and possessing no marketable skills when you were expecting to hit the peak of your career.

In development, I have worked with people who view their career like this. They learned C++/MFC or some other technology stack that's getting rather long in the tooth decades ago, still work in it now, and show no interest in learning or trying anything new. I think these guys are in the same shape as the autoworkers. I think they'll do all right for the foreseeable future, but there's always the risk that the bottom will fall out of the market for the tech stack they know, and then most employers will see them as useless.

There's no need to be like that, though, especially in a time when getting your hands dirty with new technology is so easy. The developer who can do good work in 2 or 3 tech stacks and is always learning more about his main ones and any others that look interesting will always be employable - if one goes dead, you can get a job working in another one, or learn whatever the new one is yourself.

I'd say it generalizes even more. Anybody who has the drive and intelligence to continuously learn new things will always be able to make money. Anybody who wants to learn one thing and coast on that their whole life will always be at risk of losing it all.

mbesto 3 days ago 0 replies      
autoworkers == un-skilled labor

managers == skilled labor

From Drucker's The Practice of Management:

A scant twenty years ago, it was widely believed that the mass-production technologyyesterdays industrial revolutionthrew people out of work. Today we know that wherever it has been introduced, it has rapidly increased the number of job opportunities in industry. But it is still widely believed that mass production replaces skilled labor by unskilled labor. We know this today to be a fallacy. In the United States, for instance, where mass-production methods have been applied on the broadest scale, the class of employees that has been growing most rapidly in numbers and proportion is that of skilled and trained people. And the truly unskilled laborer of yesterday, who contributed only his brawn, has become the semi-skilled machine operator of todaya man of higher skill and education, producing more wealth, earning a vastly higher standard of living.[1]

I think Drucker would argue that "Developers" are the new class of "Managers".

[1]Drucker, Peter F. (2010-04-02). The Practice of Management (Kindle Locations 490-496). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

shubb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure I recognize this privileged world you describe. Maybe you won't recognize mine.

It's 7pm. About half the team is in the office with me (although all the people managers have gone home). We will be here a while.

No one in the room earns more than 10% more than the UK median salary. The highest paid is a front end guy who sits to my right. The two behind me earn less than the median, and live with parents. They have been writing software for 3 years. On external contracts, the customer pays about double what they get paid, 150 a day. Given that rate also needs to support sales and admin, they could get a little more but not a huge amount. Sales tell me our day rates are too high, and it's costing work.

Other companies in our industry (defence contracting) pay a bit more, but not a huge amount. I got offered about 50% more to work on consumer electronics last month, but that is still 50% more than median, not 800%.

I think what you describe has already happened.

Edit - I think this is overly negative. Programming remains a really nice job. You solve interesting problems, you work in a comfortable office, and the culture is nice (people usually treat eachother well). It's just not paid that well now.

kenster07 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many commenters are too lost in their own egos to speak rationally about this issue.

CS is not a "cool" major in colleges, and programming is not a cool profession among tweens. Until there is a significant cultural shift, which I would bet will not happen any time soon, the labor pool will not be commoditized in the USA.

On top of that, the skill cap for programming is substantially higher than it is in assembly line manufacturing. Programming may be more comparable to engineers who actually design the cars, but those jobs are not commoditized either.

Killah911 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, I don't know if people remember the early 2000s, but it wasn't a terribly great time to be a programmer. All the jobs were going out to India. However, I learned a very important lesson. You have to be competitive. If you were someone who couldn't see past cobol, you did become obsolete. While programmers in India are still relatively less expensive than their counterparts in the US, top programmers are still sought after and make significantly more than the rest.

Sure the barrier to entry is "low", but it isn't that low. I think one of the main problem is, calling someone a programmer is an extremely "broad" term. I know some who can barely string together a few lines of PHP code and other who design and build complex systems which run the world and improve people's lives. If you're a programmer who just "codes" HTML, which you learned over one weekend and haven't take the time to improve your craft, sure you may be working now, but you're likely to get wiped out easily since the barrier to entry into your line of work would be very low.

In a sense the OP is right in that programmers shouldn't be complacent. I know a lot of C coders who have serious BS ego issues and refuse to do anything but C and then complain that they can't find work after being laid off.

BUT, I'm not shivering in my boots due to Stripe and Wordpress. Any programmer knows there's a bunch of crap that's tedious work which can be automated away. The good ones automate them and improve their craft and focus their energies on building better systems. I think that even with Wordpress, Stripe etc, there's a lot of room form improvements in the way we develop.

I recall spending days getting a dialog box UI just right in MFC. I thought it was stupid then and after using C#, never used MFC to build a dialog box ever again. Result wasn't that I'm out of a job. I actually have been able to produce a lot more. Programmers are in ever more demand than before. Sure the field will probably get tapped at some point, but to say it's going to be due to "automation" which has been a staple in our profession since the very beginning is simply inane.

Going with the autoworkers analogy, there are people who turn wrenches and people who figure out six sigma. If you're doing something as simple as turning a wrench, sure, you will get easily replaced by robots. But if you're innovative and competitive, you'll be significantly harder to replace and you can probably find applications for your skills in many more places. There are certain skills you just can't automate away so easily.

I would argue that programmers/developers will have jobs long past even doctors (maybe). Repetitive tasks can easily be automated away, creativity and innovation on the other hand aren't quite as easy. (FYI, the reason all programming jobs aren't just in India is because the US still rocks when it comes to creativity and innovation, based on my own experiences as an employer/manager and in speaking with others in the same position who have programming staff worldwide)

sker 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's already happening. As a freelancer, I often find people who want their "corporate" site built in WordPress for less money than what they would pay to a car mechanic for a similar amount of time worked. Sames goes for Magento and similar platforms.
samatman 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't always seize my means of production.

But when I do, I close it, stick it in a case, and put it in my backpack.

gfodor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Web developers are the COBOL developers of this generation.

Software engineering at its core is a universal skill whose applications will almost certainly have a shelf life of hundreds of years, though the various particular demand curves for specific applications of those skills is sure to vary wildly over time. Now would be an advisable time to start expanding your horizons if your core skill set revolves around creating web applications.

DigitalSea 2 days ago 0 replies      
While it seems many don't agree with the article (as usual) I do. Developers are sitting pretty at the moment because the Internet in the greater scheme of things is brand new. It wasn't really until the early 2000's the Internet exploded in popularity and got a whole lot more complex. There is always some new hot language startups and companies are clamouring to use, every new language or framework seems to create a gold rush of sorts (Rails developers were once white hot property).

But the sad matter of the reality is, more and more people are learning how to create a website. And while little Timmy who knows HTML and a little CSS won't be taking your jobs any time soon, as the supply rises there will always be a plethora of small jobs that Timmy would be able to do leaving the few actual big and complex jobs for the many developers fighting for the job.

I personally think we are a very long way off oversupply in the development sector (especially web). My advice would be to continually learn as many new skills and techniques as possible so if the day ever comes you are at risk of being replaced by a WYSIWYG editor that generates the code for you, you might have a chance of keeping your job.

Software is a lot harder to automate for the moment, but with websites it's at the point where content management systems like Wordpress already make it easy for people from kids to senior adults to make a website without even having to touch a line of HTML, CSS or Javascript. Automated tools can only get you so far, we'll always need designers to design the look and feel of a website, developers with a grasp of modern web technologies and languages to program whatever it is that's creating the website to ensure its output is up-to-date.

I've been preparing myself now for the future. If automation does happen and it will, nothing can truly be 100% automated, but if it does happen, I'll be the guy running the automation stuff, not living out on the street because I was too naive too think it could never happen to a developer like me.

PS. Send some of those recruiters offering six figure salaries my way please...

unono 3 days ago 1 reply      
Programming is fundamentally different from most other occupations. We are actually building factories - automating manual tasks. If developer jobs start to become scarce, we'll be nearing a situation where there are no jobs at all for anyone. So, as a programmer, you're never at risk of falling into poverty.
eliben 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to feel uncomfortable after reading articles like this. But as the years went by, I gained more experience, and understood what programming is really about. I no longer worry. But if you spent a total of 2 months on your programming education and are now gainfully employed copying and pasting answers from Stack Overflow into your editor, perhaps you should.
pearjuice 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it really the golden era of programming in America? In Europe we still get underpaid for what we do yet there is an extreme shortage of good engineers. I have seen a lot of my network move to America and haunt software engineering positions in SV but always thought they were chasing a lottery ticket. People drop out of school here and move to the States because there is so much demand and half of what they learn is not even applicable in real life jobs "In America you can actually get a job if you can prove you can program - without a degree!" is what I hear a lot.

How true is this? Is it a gold rush or are we not even close to the peak? Are they exaggerating? What is the demand like? Is a degree worth it if you are just in it for the paper?

grandalf 2 days ago 0 replies      
One difference is that new kinds of software exist every day and old ones become obsolete. Shopify is only suitable for a fraction of e-commerce sites, and before Shopify there was oscommerce, volusion, yahoo stores, magento, and dozens of other web 1.0 e-commerce platforms.

If you are starting an e-commerce business and have $30 per month, Shopify is a great idea, but if you have a larger budget its limitations start to become impactful.

Skills will definitely become obsolete, but code moves quickly and allows new ideas to become realized. What the author erroneously thinks of as a stable business model (e-commerce) is not, and there will be lots of people trying to improve upon it in ways that existing platform abstractions are insufficient for.

diydsp 2 days ago 0 replies      
A point repeated here has been "keep your skills flexible." A lesson we could learn that would improve upon the auto industry disaster would be to consider the "product line" itself. The auto industry was notoriously monofilamental in its innovation, as its CEOs preferred it. Their conservative operation proved a great long-term investment, with an eventual crumbling down hitting hard in the 1980s and hardly recovering.

Innovation represents hours sweated and is always rewarded. So far the computer science industry has been well-motivated to continue innovation, as computation becomes one of the world's standard utilities. But once it's all up and running _and_standardized, it will only take a smaller number of people to run it, like the power grid, water supply, phone system, etc.

It is all like plumbing, and like plumbers, there are household ones for household needs like web storefront/office/communications desks and industrial plumbers, but most of the unique, research-y plumbers are in a small, elite group who are innovating on their own and sharing their work with the public and are well-compensated. I think that's the effect we'll see, a narrowing or thinning of the industry somewhat, but it definitely won't settle until after use-cases are standardized and we're still a zillion miles from that.

Imagine NASA doing a shuttle lunch with everyone from the control room at home in their backyards cooking BBQ with their family :) Cell phone in one hand, spatula in the other.

mberning 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a few problems with this article.

1. The author points out all of the services which now exist, but says nothing of people and talent it takes to create and support such services. I think the tail for 'software enabled services' is rather longer than factory automation robots.

2. The author seems to have a somewhat narrow view of what developers actually do these days. Yes, it is true that people are not typically employed to roll their own e-commerce or blog sites. Very few people are doing this nowadays. Most of the software getting written for business today is highly specialized. Highly specialized software = no out of the box solution.

3. The author ignores the fact that a major drop in demand for software talent would probably coincide with some revolutionary change in technology. I'm talking about ubiquitous self driving cars and planes, robots that teach themselves, ad-hoc on site manufacturing via 3d printing, software that writes itself, etc. Should any of those things come to pass, having a nice job as a developer will be the least of anybody's worries.

While I do agree that the industry is changing, I really don't see it as being that similar to the auto industry melt down. The differences and flaws in such an analogy are easily spotted.

RougeFemme 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with all of this, but - and this doesn't take away from the key points - autoworkers could get entry-level positions with little to no skill. . .and no specialized education or training (formal or independent). The same is not true of entry-level coders. Some level of skill is necessary, attained through some level of training.
skyebook 3 days ago 1 reply      
One comment on the post goes after the analogy not being fully sound because unions helped to prop up wages.

Whatever you think about unions, I'll be sort of curious to see if some segment of developer jobs do unionize ever. I get the sense that the rugged individualism that seems to be far more prevalent in developer/engineer/hacker sort of circles would be less for it; what about h1b workers who seem to feature quote often in stories about not great companies overworking employees and threatening their jobs (and with that, their legal status in the States)

Yes, a tangential thought to the article but an important part as people continue to evangelize the great opportunities in the tech industry and Hacker School, Code Academy, WikiBooks help them to get up to speed

grumblefoo 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using this metaphor for a couple years now, and I think that it can be taken further. Developers are like the car mechanics because they build the thing. There are an increasing number of tools being created to make developers lives easier, and as such, the bar to entry lowers. This is not the only career in computer science, though. Just like the auto industry, we need research to push the whole field forward (developing a new, more efficient programming language; or a better fuel injection system). We also have mechanics called IT people that help people with day to day problems that they encounter with their computers.

Moral, if you want to stay relevant, make sure you know the things that push research. Learn the lambda and pi calculi. Learn category theory. Web development is an overpaid field, software engineering is not. Enjoy the easy money while it lasts, but know that its days are numbered

scotty79 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why more programmers are no threat to programmers jobs? Because more programmers create more programs and more programs need more programmers (for updates and maintenance).
Aqueous 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are some parallels but the analogy falls apart. Even the most perfect car does only one thing very well: get people from point A to point B.

That is, there is a finite amount of autorepairs and new car manufacturing that is done and will ever be done, and that ceiling is related to how many people own cars or want to own one at any given point in time.

But the potential domains for software automation are unlimited.

The demand for software programmers will keep increasing, continually, until all the work that people do in their lives is automated by software. The time to enjoy being a software developer might be finite, but I don't see the plateau happening any time soon.

kellros 3 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with you that this is the direction in which we are heading, but not that professional developers will become obsolete.

I believe if we ever reach that point where programming is common-skill; the real developers will stay ahead due to demand. I honestly don't see corporates with millions/billions of revenue trusting newcomers with a few weeks of experience to handle core business automation; in the same way as you don't trust a clerk to sort out your legal issues.

Perhaps when the time comes; professional developers will become like the attorneys in the law system; where specialist skills demand even a higher rate and requires less time invested (which might mean the same salary as now but only working 'part time').

I don't have any issues with people wanting to learn to code; I even mentor some myself. It really comes down to hours (or rather years) invested in learning and fine-tuning your skills; which I see the majority of new developers not willing to invest in.

As such, I believe the demand for better developers will increase. Look to the tech companies with open positions looking for 10x/star developers - even though there are developers available, they just don't make the cut.

shuaib 3 days ago 0 replies      
> At this particular moment in history, demand for developers outpaces supply.

I thought it was demand for "good" developers that was outpacing supply. Otherwise there are many developers (even with the professional degrees) that can't pass the Fizz Buzz test (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?FizzBuzzTest).

FurrBall 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are 2 kinds of work.

1. Execution of a process.2. Creation of a process.

Execution can be automated. A factory can be automated with robots. Someone who makes backups can be automated with a script.

But creation (of a process) cannot be automated. Until we have a major breakthrough in AI our jobs are safe. Most programming is the creation of a process, not the rote following of a process. "Programmers" making cookie-cutter-CRUD apps may need to worry!

Our only threats are over supply and under demand. We are currently on the winning side of supply/demand. Competition with low-wage countries has not been able to significantly hurt us they way it has with factory work. We are in a good spot.

MisterBastahrd 2 days ago 0 replies      
An autoworker needs an entire factory around him to do his job, along with a couple hundred other developers. He's nothing more than a cog in a wheel, made to do one specific thing over and over again to bridge the gap when there is a task a machine can't handle.

A developer just needs a computer, a compiler, and some motivation.

ayush_gupta 2 days ago 0 replies      
The comparison isn't even on the demand side. Auto industry is a single vertical. Software development is needed horizontally across most industries.
NKCSS 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad .nl doesn't pay Silicon Valley salaries; the norm here is more like 1/3rd of that.
warcher 2 days ago 1 reply      
The thing about development, and it certainly may slow down eventually, especially as Moore's law staggers to a halt and broadband peaks, is that no matter what I build, everybody always, always, always wants more. Every framework I ever developed or integrated was met with a doubling of people's expectations. Make it better, make it slicker, give me this feature, et cetera. I think we've got between 40 and 50 years before we can even suggest hitting saturation with our current technical capabilities.
jebblue 2 days ago 1 reply      
The points seem all logical on the surface. There's just one thing that makes me disagree with the article as a whole. The software industry doesn't behave like any other industry. The industry changes and fluctuates as often as software gets refactored. It's like a billion springs permeating a billion sponges. It's silly putty for computers. I saw this coming reading articles about software as a kid. The one rule that hasn't changed in the 30+ years I've been writing software as a hobby or for pay is that the software disobeys all the rules of all the other industries. With software and compute power, if you can dream it you can build it and someone, somewhere, will want it.
stephanos2k 3 days ago 0 replies      
A chill went down my spine reading this. That's a good sign.
adw 2 days ago 0 replies      
Generalizing from the Valley to anywhere is insane. The Valley, right now like it or not is the NFL for geeks. (For better and worse.)
johnfuller 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bottom line is that there is an infinite number of things to build and while software won't build these things alone, it's still a big component. Software didn't build the Space X rocket or the Google self driving car, but there is a lot of code which is a big part of making those things possible. All of the things that we can imagine in 50 years needs to have the foundations laid in part by software developers today. A factory worker has limited contribution to this future because of the constraints of the job, but software development is wide open. We may not be able to build the deathstar right now, but we can start working on the code for it.

cd deathstargit init

quaffapint 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not a good time to be a developer as it used to be. That was 10+ years ago, now the pay is much lower than it used to be.

You used to be able to hop jobs and make good jumps, now around here you hold on to those old jobs so you don't end up with a pay cut.

So, it's much more limited, though it encourages more side work I guess, just so you have something interesting to work on.

RossPenman 2 days ago 1 reply      
They are different because if developers were replaced by robots, developers would still be required to create and maintain those robots. The same can't be said for autoworkers.
MichaelMoser123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Autoworkers used to earn a decent salary, now it is programmers; Wow, now you need to have a degree in order to be somebody. And in a hundred years you will absolutely need to have a PhD in order to make ends meet ?

Maybe its all about supply and demand: only rare skills are worth something; if the once valued skills get common then all the advantages go out of the window (tm).

ghostdiver 2 days ago 0 replies      
This article is so true, software dev job market will implode in long run.
rprime 3 days ago 0 replies      
So the baseline is, and this applies to almost all kinds of jobs, stay relevant and be good at what you do.
gdy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone who has experienced "social stigma of being a programmer" share what's it like?
wavesounds 2 days ago 0 replies      
Happy Labor Day!
klepra 2 days ago 0 replies      
Depends on where you live.
BigBalli 2 days ago 2 replies      
Too bad autoworkers never made $100k+/yr even with inflation adjustment.Very far fetched.
stewartjarod 2 days ago 0 replies      
There will be another distinguishing mark on programmers. Those that can write their own code and those that can fumble the pieces of other's code together to create a product.

There will be a lot more of the latter in the future than there has ever been.

cpp900 3 days ago 0 replies      
Load of carp.
Easy Steps to a Complete Understanding of SQL tech.pro
265 points by lukaseder  2 days ago   79 comments top 13
ams6110 2 days ago 3 replies      
SQL JOIN tables should be used rather than comma-separated tables

Having used SQL since long before the ANSI JOIN syntax was well supported (first Sybase, then MS SQL and then Oracle) I resisted it for a long time out of habit, and also because at first the syntax was buggy when used in Oracle.

But I have come around to being in favor of it. The bugs have been fixed, and the main advantages are that: inner and outer joins are more clearly stated than by using '*=', or '(+)' suffixes on one side of a predicate; and the join criteria are clearly separated from the WHERE clause. It makes it much easier to see how the tables are being joined vs. how the results are being limited.

jfb 2 days ago 4 replies      
I thought this was a very good article, unusually so for a blog post about databases. I do take issue, however, with the idea that there's a beauty to SQL. There's a beauty in the conceptual model, but you have to squint sideways to see it through the deeply hostile syntax.
rhizome31 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another thing to understand is how NULLs are handled in different contexts, using either the familiar two-valued logic or the more exotic three-valued logic. It's kind of messy but really worth knowing if you're working with SQL. The wikipedia page actually gives a pretty good account of the issue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_%28SQL%29
zamalek 2 days ago 1 reply      
The way I see SQL in my mind is programming Venn Diagrams ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venn_diagram ) followed by creating a projection that uses one or more of the areas within that diagram (contrasting strongly with imperative languages, i.e. logic programming). Unfortunately it's not straight-forward to do that because SQL is a superset of Venn Diagrams, but that line of thinking is where you need to be.
bsaul 1 day ago 0 replies      
The most beneficial thing you can do when you start with SQL is to NEVER EVER put join clauses in the WHERE section. ALWAYS put the join clauses as close to the table you're joining as possible.

eg : never do SELECT * FROM A JOIN B WHERE A.ID = B.a_id and B.id > 10but always JOIN B ON A.ID = B.a_id AND B.id > 10

the second way of doing "scale" much much better when you add more tables, and start mixing left and right joins.

lysium 2 days ago 4 replies      
Great article! I wish all SQL libraries would adhere to this structure instead of forcing devs to write glorified (string) SQL. Ie., let me

    from(join(table1, table2))    .where(table1.col1 > 10)    .groupBy(col1)    .project(col1, avg(col2))
and only in that order.

saosebastiao 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fantastic article. I clicked on it, hoping to find a way to help some of my less SQL-savvy co-workers to understand SQL a little better. I instead came away with a better understanding of my own.
chris_wot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Be careful with point 6. If you use a subquery through an IN clause and it returns a NULL as one of the rows, nothing will return.
jcampbell1 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think the author has the order wrong. Consider:

    SELECT WEEKDAY(created_at) wkday, COUNT(1)     FROM orders    GROUP BY wkday
The above query works fine, thus GROUP BY, ORDER BY, and HAVING are all aware of SELECT.

mtdewcmu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like SQL. The relational model is often underestimated. All of the complex structure that goes beyond individual rows is orthogonal and is itself first-class data. Contrast with document databases where hierarchies are part of the low-level storage mechanism. By making the structure first-class data, the relational model keeps you from painting yourself into a corner.
harrytuttle 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not a bad article but it needs a step 11:

Know thy database engine for if you do not, your local DBA will be mightily pissed off when you do a cross join across 15 tables and watch his/her IOPS go through the roof...

ExpiredLink 1 day ago 2 replies      
> If a has 3 columns and b has 5 columns, then the "output table" will have 8 (3 + 5) columns. The records contained in this combined table reference are those of the cross product / cartesian product of a x b.

This is where the easy steps become hard for real noobs.

shire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this article very beneficial, I'm learning about Databases at the moment so this definitely comes in handy while learning SQL.
Lanyrd acquired by Eventbrite lanyrd.com
262 points by chrisdinn  2 days ago   46 comments top 25
amirmc 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is exactly the kind of acquisition that can help drive even more adoption of a service since it's obvious to users how the two companies complement each other.

This is also one of the very few acquisitions where I've read "[acquirer's] vision sits well with ours..." and not had to scratch my head and figure out why.

Congrats on a great pairing and sorry that we're losing Simon and Nat to the US.

emhart 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations as all have said, and also some excitement, as this seems like a well-matched pair of services. I am very optimistic for the outcome of this acquisition/collaboration. Best of luck to all involved!
mavroprovato 2 days ago 3 replies      
Side project on their honeymoon??? That must be the geekiest thing that I have ever heard.
djt 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much they paid?
johns 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congrats Simon and team! Great outcome for one of my favorite services. Can't wait to have you in SF.
premasagar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Simon and Natalie, and all the team, congratulations on your continued rise of success. Yours has always felt like one of the most human and utterly useful services out there; long may it be so. Enjoy the new phase.
jedc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations, guys! This seems like a really natural fit. The slidedeck was a thoughtful touch to explain it, too. :)
r4vik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great news for Lanyrd and Eventbrite, hope they can use the Lanyrd team to fix their horrendous platform! So much potential.
Swannie 1 day ago 0 replies      
A successful YCombinator exit. Congrats guys. Will miss you from London. When's the party? ;-)
timruffles 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats! What a shame that you're off to the states :(
taitems 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe we'll finally get an API!
lamby 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats simonw :)
dmitri1981 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations! You will be much missed in London.
sixQuarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
My guess is this is a ~$10 million acquisition. Not too shabby for a 3 year old startup.
nhangen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the team, both on the acquisition and being acquired by a great company.
loceng 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes perfect sense. Congrats.
cbeach 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations Simon and Nat - sorry to lose you from London but SF will be a fantastic move. All the best.
sylvinus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Warm congrats!
niccolop 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Simon and Natalie!
vadivlkumar 1 day ago 0 replies      
A great gift for your next anniversary
ig1 2 days ago 0 replies      
gregdek 1 day ago 0 replies      
congrats simon et al.
manpreetrules 1 day ago 0 replies      
iancarroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that read that as Lavabit?
31reasons 2 days ago 4 replies      
Why founders sell it so early ? If you want to sell it so early why start in the first place ?
Glare from London 'fryscraper' blamed for melting cars yahoo.com
254 points by dsr12  1 day ago   201 comments top 43
willyt 21 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm an Architect and I have worked on large projects in London, although not this one thankfully[0], so I thought people might like to know how the process of designing a building like this works.

A developer hires an international 'starchitect' like Violy to design them an office block because the architects reputation for design helps them to get away with a larger building on the site and therefore get more net lettable area for their investment in land.

I don't know anyone who works for Vinoly, I've no idea what it's like to work for him, but I know other people who have worked in similar 'gesture architecture' practices and this is how it usually plays out:

The big boss will do a nice sketch of how he thinks a walkie talkie shaped skyscraper (or whatever shape is in fashion in the office) will fit on the site and then hand it off to a more junior member of staff to solve all the real problems. Meanwhile, he will have to go back to the international lecture/meet/greet circuit that pulls in the jobs and maintains their reputation for world class architecture.

The project team will then usually have a very tight deadline to produce the initial design, probably mostly drawn up by a team of recent architecture graduates who would be pretty low paid[1], and who will almost always end up working very long hours and weekends unpaid overtime to meet the deadline. Where the lead architectural practice is not based in the UK there will also be a local architect who will advise on local regulations, prepare the submissions for planning permission and generally deal with other regulatory authorities.

There will also be a large consultant team on a project of this scale. Probably consisting of two teams of civil engineers; one for superstructure and one for substructure. A geotechnical expert for the foundation design. A whole spread of HVAC engineers, probably separate mechanical, electrical, drainage and ventilation specialists. A facade engineer who specialises in problems specifically to do with the design of the glass cladding system. A fire engineer to design the fire escape strategy and help negotiate the fire fighting strategy with the local fire brigade. A vertical circulation engineer to design the lift and escalator strategy. A bomb blast engineer to model the effects of various bomb attack scenarios on the cladding and structure. A security consultant to advise on how defendable the building is and to design the cctv, active tramp deterrent systems :-( etc. Finally a quantity surveyor will advise on how much this will all cost.

All of these people will have been consulted briefly, probably mostly by video conference, across a couple of time zones, before the planning permission submission[2]. All their requirements have to be juggled between the different disciplines by the architect. As an architect who has done services coordination on skyscrapers and international airports, I can tell you it's not easy. One of the most frustrating things is that engineers from different disciplines don't talk to each other, even if they are working for the same firm. On top of this, the time allowed to prepare the planning submission will be a few months at most, and a lot of the effort will be spent on optimising the design and more importantly the presentation strategy to get through the planning permission process.

Once the planning permission submission has been approved, the overall shape of the scheme is fixed and hence the parabola shape can no longer be designed out. Therefore, if no-one notices a problem like this until after the planning submission, or perhaps fails to get someone higher up to take it seriously enough to change the concept design, then they will have to remedy it by using special anti glare coatings or just plain hoping it wont be too bad. This is for a couple of reasons: because the developer will be exerting large pressure to speed up construction as they will be paying a large amount of interest on the loan for the cost of the land, because consultancy fees to redo the design would be in the order of millions at this point and because getting planning permission for a scheme like this is very politically controversial so you don't risk doing it twice if you can avoid it.

So, you can probably see how something like this could easily have happened.

[0] Because it's pug ugly, not because of the solar death ray thing, that's quite amusing really.[1] Something like 20k per year in London, which is a crap salary after 6 years in University.[2] In the UK this is a semi-democratic consultation process which occurs at local government level and involves publicly presenting the designs to local councillors to give residents of the area a chance to raise a formal objection.

aqme28 1 day ago 4 replies      
"The developers said the phenomenon was caused by 'the current elevation of the sun in the sky', and that as Britain heads into autumn the problem should disappear."

Thus solving the problem once and for all.

arscan 1 day ago 10 replies      
What I find the most amazing about this whole thing is that it was designed by the same architect as the "death ray" building in Las Vegas. You would think they would have learned from their mistake.


samatman 1 day ago 3 replies      
For Bay Areans who would like to experience this phenomenon for yourselves, head on down to Lake Merrit. At the right time of day, the Cathedral of Sauron[1] will send blinding beams of light right into traffic. Fun times.

Also known as the Cathedral of "Christ, my eyes!"


mhandley 1 day ago 2 replies      
I went over there with the kids this lunchtime - pretty amazing heat focused into the street. Lots of journalists and TV news crews around, including one frying an egg. My youngest son found the heat too much, and ran down the street screaming "I'm burning, I'm burning!", so naturally the press then converged on us...

The funny thing is that the focal point is literally just round the corner from the Monument which indicates where the great fire of London started. What they really need now is a roof of photovoltaic panels along the pavement, and they can really cash in on it.

Here's what it looked like today:https://twitter.com/MarkJHandley/status/375265729060163584/p...

eksith 1 day ago 1 reply      
Did none of the architects, or even construction people, ever stop to consider that they're essentially building two giant, parabolic, solar death rays?

This ties into another pet peeve I have; bloody trees and grass in architectural drawings. It's nice to think you can grow anything at that height and wind, but physics has a tendency not to cooperate with idealized visions.

javajosh 23 hours ago 0 replies      
People get so incensed that they can't see the silver-lining: build some solar panel covering on the side walk, with a charging station where people can charge up their mobile devices. Alternatively, some enterprising street vendor (do they have those in london?) can focus the light further and sell people solar cooked food.
rachelbythebay 1 day ago 1 reply      
55 S. Almaden Blvd in San Jose used to have some nice scorch marks in the grass you could easily see in aerial imagery. Now, you have to get clever with the "45 degree" angle stuff, and swing around to a non-default view, but it looks like you can still see it.

Edit: found the original pic: http://blog.collins.net.pr/2007_08_01_archive.html

biot 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Obviously the designer hasn't read Arthur C. Clarke's "Stroke of the Sun" short story (also known as "A Slight Case of Sunstroke"). It's well worth the five minute read:


belorn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Mythbusters can now finally lay to rest the Archimedes death ray myth and super size the experiment. Aiming is going to be a bit hard through.
adrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apparently someone also predicted this would happen a year ago using a computer model.


pnathan 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is your reminder that buildings and software are not that dissimilar. Remember this news article whenever you hear someone blathering about how building software should be more like civil engineering.
ianstallings 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is bad architecture, plain and simple. They are paid to account for everything because buildings can't be moved or updated easily without major headaches and expense. The idea that it was an oversight is ridiculous. Not accounting for sunlight in architecture? Unbelievable.
undoware 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just sunlight. A building that widens as it goes up will also focus wind. The effects are a bit more 'wave' than 'particle' - no beams, just constructive interference - but the principle is the same.

This reminds me so much of University of Illinois at Chicago. Most of the humanities are housed in this gigantic concrete monolith that widens as it went up, supposedly to represent the 'city of broad shoulders'. But ironically, it better captured the 'windy city' -- we'd fight yard-long patches of gale-force wind that would appear out of nowhere and steal your papers. "The architecture ate my homework" was a not unheard-of excuse -- and one that as a TA I actually honored on one occasion.

moron4hire 1 day ago 7 replies      
Seems to me, if you're building a building primarily out of glass, you'd want to study the impact of the glare. There is a hotel in Las Vegas that has a similar problem. How can these building projects get approved, through so many people, and nobody once stops to think about the glare problem?
mhartl 1 day ago 1 reply      
A similar thing happened at Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles:


They fixed it by lightly sanding the reflective surfaces in question.

mrcharles 1 day ago 1 reply      
My favorite part of these things is that they highlight the odd things that can go wrong, even when they are considered and planned for. I haven't read this book yet, but the NYT summary makes me feel it would have a lot of info about the crazy things that happen with some engineering and unforeseen issues:


corobo 23 hours ago 1 reply      
"In our defence we never thought Britain would get enough sun for it to be a problem"
JonnieCache 1 day ago 1 reply      
While this has been on HN before, there are some alarming new details:

Angry local shopkeepers also say the so-called "death ray" has blistered their paintwork, singed holes in doormats and caused their tiles to smash.

Blimey. Surely britain's ever-enterprising shopkeepers can harness this power though? Solar oven anyone?


They later said a temporary scaffold screen would be erected at street level within 24 hours.

Are they going to have to make that out of some special ceramic or something? Or will it be OK as it will sit far from the focal length of the "lens?"

troymc 1 day ago 1 reply      
One fix would be to replace some of the building's windows with a less-reflective material. That means that they'll absorb more light, which would probably mean higher air conditioning costs inside the building.

Another possible fix would be to keep the same windows but to change their normal vectors into a different pattern (random or artistic). This might even look neat, if they do it right.

retube 1 day ago 0 replies      
The cityam newspaper measured 70C on Eastcheap. Apparently shop doors are burning, carpets spontaneosly combusting and roof tiles exploding.


michaelwww 21 hours ago 0 replies      
My first thought was that the mysterious WIFI outage that the London stock exchange suffers once a day and this building were somehow connected, but they're a mile apart so I don't see how.

Link (I'm not a subscriber)http://www.economist.com/news/international/21582288-satelli...


yaw 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This principle is being used to generate power in Souther Spain. The system is described as a Concentrated Solar Thermal Power plus Molten Salt Storage (CSP+)


MJR 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was a similar story in NC with energy efficient windows melting vinyl siding on homes: http://www.wncn.com/story/22737381/homeowners-frustrated-by-...
jenius 23 hours ago 1 reply      
As a crowd of sweating journalists and photographers gathered outside the skyscraper on Tuesday, a reporter even managed to cook an egg simply by placing the frying pan in direct sunlight.

Brilliant hah

bjz_ 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Sixty symbols has just published a video discussing the physics behind this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ1Hgzi2ElQ
acomjean 1 day ago 0 replies      
My former cube neighbor had a house built into the lot next to hers, really close to her house. The new windows were reflecting the light onto her house and melting the siding. I was skeptical that there was enough energy but it does happen.

The builder ended up replacing some of the windows with somewhat less efficent ones (not Argon Filled).

The windows are designed to reflect heat and UV.http://www.nachi.org/low-e-windows.htm

I can't imagine what a slightly focused light beam would do.

balabaster 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I dunno why they don't just put some solar panels down there in that parking space and use the free energy and stop bitching about it... I mean come on people. If a building has the energy to melt a car... could we not somehow use this somehow?
tallpapab 19 hours ago 0 replies      
So I had this clever little comment worked out. I was going to say that a formula for designing a unique building - and, hence, gaining a star reputation - would be to pick a design that everyone else knows has a fatal flaw. That way no others like it would have been built. But, reading the comments I see that this exact mistake has been made more than once. So much for theory.
cafard 1 day ago 0 replies      
shavenwarthog2 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Steward Brand has a documentary and book on "How Buildings Learn". A building isn't made for architects, it's for people to use, and people over time are going to use their building for different, often very different things. Even such trivial things like "roof shouldn't leak" can be handwaved around.


NAFV_P 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about harnessing the energy from this 'fryscraper';Set up a fast food joint right where those restricted parking spaces are and you don't need an external power source to fry burgers.
otikik 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is clearly fake as the Sun never shines in London.
jcromartie 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We are taking the issue of light reflecting from 20 Fenchurch Street seriously"
ccozan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Same thing happens also for the GSK building near London. ( http://goo.gl/p8UCit )
thoughtsimple 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Where's Elon? Just put a Tesla solar charging station there.
dreen 23 hours ago 0 replies      
All this time I thought that building is going to be The Shard built upside-down.
yashg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't blame the building developers, Tata who own Jaguar might be using parts from Nano in Jaguar :)
joering2 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> The developers said the phenomenon was caused by "the current elevation of the sun in the sky".

Brilliant developer! Blame the sun. But one wonders: if they would have designed this building just like billion other buildings around the world, you know, straight vertical walls, then maybe, maybe the problem wouldn't exist at the first place.

Not sure if I am the only one but buildings designed to show off don't excite me at all.

tehwalrus 23 hours ago 0 replies      
saw the story about the Jag yesterday, "fryscraper" made me chuckle though :)
verandaguy 1 day ago 1 reply      
How long until buildings like this are retrofitted into crowd control weapons?
po84 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two words: Torchwood Tower
orblivion 1 day ago 0 replies      
What are they doing just hanging around frying an egg? They're going to get skin cancer or something.
The New AWS Command-Line Interface aws.typepad.com
250 points by jeffbarr  1 day ago   65 comments top 21
sivers 1 day ago 2 replies      
FWIW, I've been using the aws command-line tool by Tim Kay for over 6 years. It's only Perl and cURL. A single self-contained script with no other dependencies. It's been rock solid in production that whole time:


The syntax looks quite the same, but Amazon's awscli Python installer has loads of dependencies. I'll have to see if it's worth switching.

Anyone already know if Amazon's new CLI thing has any big advantages over Tim Kay's Perl aws?

mafro 1 day ago 1 reply      
This latest release marks a milestone in the transition from the old Java based tools, to the new Python ones.

Mitch Garnaat[1] who built and maintained boto over the years was picked up by Amazon last year and since has been building out botocore[2] - which the aws-cli[3] tools use under the hood.

[1] https://github.com/garnaat[2] https://github.com/boto/botocore[3] https://github.com/aws/aws-cli

vacri 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting - I must have had an older version and not played with it. The version I had did not have 's3 sync', and the help files were a long list of ec2 commands and some boilerplate headings.

Reinstalled and now they have shorter, saner commands and real help pages... and they also changed the pager from 'less' (my default pager) to the crappy 'more'... because (apparently) you never want to go back a page in a help file. More detailed content, but it's harder to review. Odd.

kondro 1 day ago 2 replies      
Whilst this is a much better solution that the existing slow tools Amazon provided, I don't understand why this is being reported as if command-line tools for AWS are a new thing.

Command-line tools used to be your only option for managing AWS and Amazon always create their API and shell tools before the Console.

oblio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, a rant:

* Why does each one of them use different parameters for the same stuff? WHATEVER_URL could be REGION (WHATEVER = EC2, ELB, ETC, ...). One uses a config file for ACCESS_KEY_ID, another one wants a environment variable. Plus they use different names for common stuff.

* Why do are the command line arguments named inconsistently across these tools? --whatever, --what-ever

* Why don't they fail on command error? Right now this only happens if there's a configuration problem - if you send a command and there's a problem (like S3 access denied), it still returns 0.

* Why don't they provide synchronous commands? Right now I have to do the polling myself. Super annoying.

Anyway, I've been using the ones included in Amazon Linux - I hope they were the latest version. If the new version fixes this problem, feel free to correct me :)

727374 1 day ago 1 reply      
The new CLI looks like a massive improvement over the old one, but ironically I will probably still prefer boto + ipython because of the very robust autocompletion.
pkj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just tried it out and it is excellent ! The integration of various aws services is really neat. The help and correction-suggestion are nice too.

Great to hear that this is built on the awesome boto library. Will serve as an useful reference for boto developers.

craigsmitham 1 day ago 0 replies      
Azure has had a node.js CLI for awhile and it's awesome. It's advertised for Mac/Linux, but I use it on Windows all the time.


snagage 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the only thing "new" here is aws-cli hitting version 1.0.0. It's been the recommended aws command line tool for quite a while now. I've personally used it for the last 6 months.
dencold 1 day ago 4 replies      
Long-time user of boto[1] here. It has been the go to library to hook your python code into AWS and has a fairly active following on github[2].

One API point that I've found lacking in boto is a "sync" command for S3. Take a source directory and a target bucket and push up the differences ala rsync, that's the dream. Boto gives you a the ability to push/get S3 resources, but I've had to write my own sync logic.

So, the first thing I went digging into is the S3 interface of the new CLI, and to my surprise, they've put a direct sync command on the interface[3], huzzah! Their implementation is a little wacky though. Instead of using some computed hashes, they are relying on a combination of file modtimes and filesize. Weird.

Anyways, glad to see AWS is investing in a consistent interface to make managing their services easier.

[1] http://boto.readthedocs.org/en/latest/index.html

[2] https://github.com/boto/boto

[3] http://docs.aws.amazon.com/cli/latest/reference/s3/sync.html...

unono 1 day ago 2 replies      
About time.

More startups should realize that they could increase developer adoption of their products if also published shell script interfaces to their product. In fact, your startup should really start off as command line accessible and add the gui after.

kolev 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using a combination of aws-cli and the Java-based tools (as some features are unsupported by aws-cli yet). I've been patiently waiting for CloudFront support - no luck yet! Also, I'm switching my new projects to use botocore, but it lacks any documentation and it's been really painful!
throwaway9848 1 day ago 1 reply      
Okay.. glad to see the effort, but I've been using boto and euca2ools for years. This will have to be good for people to switch.
hendry 1 day ago 2 replies      
aws-cli/0.16.0 gripes:


crap ton of dependencies, making it a pain to install on Arch https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/aws-cli/ Hint: static build ffs

broken help. `aws s3 help` instead of `aws help s3` which is more natural to git users

no glacier support

no s3 progress for downloads or uploads

many jarring UX issues https://github.com/aws/aws-cli/issues/305 https://github.com/aws/aws-cli/issues/304

zeckalpha 1 day ago 0 replies      
This makes a project I was almost done with much easier. Start over, or finish with the way I was previously doing it?
sparkzilla 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a semi-technical small business user of AWS I really wonder why so few resources seem to be put to the AWS GUI. For example, why is autoscaling not part of the GUI/AWS console? It's one of the most basic functions and it beggars belief that in this day and age it is done through the command line only. I'd rather not have to pay extra for Ylastic or some other hack when I'm sure Amazon can throw together even the most basic UI in a few weeks.
akurilin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been using s3cmd for a while now. Am I correctly seeing that the new CLI tools, or at least the s3 portion, are pretty much a replacement for that?
js-py-pl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting, I've been using CloudSigma's built-in tool for quite some time. You just hit ' in their webapp :) See https://autodetect.cloudsigma.com/ui/#/trynow
djrobstep 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anybody is after similar s3 functionality within python, I wrote a small python wrapper around boto a while back that does similar parallel/multipart upload to s3, and a bunch of other AWS stuff: https://github.com/djrobstep/motorboto
ausjke 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I use this for Glacier parallel uploading?
simonebrunozzi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well done!
Android KitKat android.com
248 points by kolistivra  1 day ago   199 comments top 56
jmduke 1 day ago 6 replies      
I don't get why people are extrapolating corporate stuff out of this. Google needed a candy/desert that began with 'K'. KitKats are delicious, and its pretty hard to think of anything else that fits the pattern (I saw 'key lime pie' thrown around a bunch, but I think that's more of a stretch.)
yid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Text from my friend: "The new Android version is apparently named Kitkat. HN is distressed."
msoad 1 day ago 2 replies      
KitKat is very fragmented already! ;) [1]

[1] http://www.buzzfeed.com/lydiah/35-kit-kat-varieties-from-aro...

jamesjguthrie 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Google told the BBC that it had come up with the idea and that neither side was paying the other."


salimmadjd 1 day ago 3 replies      
So I take it Lollipop is then next? That is assuming google follows the alphabetic confectionary nomenclature.
olivercameron 1 day ago 4 replies      
I assume KitKat has a trick up its sleeve to solve the notorious fragmentation issues that plague Android. Why else would they say "available for everybody"?
dowskitest 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ah, product placement. Immediately brought this to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lgLYGBbDNs
drunkenmasta 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was excited to learn about a new Android release but all I got was a transfer to the KitKat candybar site at the bottom and a manipulative "See if you have won!!! aka go buy some kitkats" at the top.
bitwize 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just hope they fix Bluetooth.

I have a very nice Bluetooth keyboard that simply does not work on Nexus devices because 4.3 broke Bluetooth keyboard mappings. It's fixable by rooting and renaming a certain file, but dammit, it should work out of the box.

nemof 1 day ago 5 replies      
Krass as fuck. Really deeply irritated by Google deciding to sully their product by associating with scumbags like Nestle:


Please excuse my sweariness but I am somewhat put out.

Also, KitKats taste like shit.

kalleboo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well this guarantees my sister isn't getting an Android (she's part of the Nestl boycott since they continue to push breast milk replacements on people living in poverty)
boryas 1 day ago 2 replies      
I was sure it was going to be Key Lime Pie
zmmmmm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how comprehensive Google's agreement with Nestle is?

Today's marketing stunt is fun, but this is an OS name - it is going to live on in history for a decade or more, it is going to be checked into the android git repository. There will be reviews calling "KitKat" a smoking turd, people trashing and trolling it all over the internet. Tim Cook will probably get up on stage and lay into it at some point. People will be making icons and fan art based around it, and pulling all kinds of stunts that would normally catch the ire and get a swift cease and desist from a major company like Nestle.

So has Google negotiated with Nestle that they are not going to suddenly get "uncool" with this and go with the flow? If not, fun as it is, I feel like this could be something that ends badly. Proprietary trademarks and open source don't generally mix well, and when they do you need pretty robust agreements in place.

Bjorkbat 1 day ago 2 replies      
KitKats aren't a dessert item, they're a cheap brand of candy people buy at gas stations or at the grocery store checkout line either because they want some no-thrills candy to snack on, or because their kids won't shut up.

If given the choice between a delicious eclair, or the frozen yogurt, and a plain old package of KitKats, I would choose eclair or the froyo. Quite a few people probably would too. This is because KitKats are inferior. Some people will even add crumpled KitKats to their frozen yogurt much in the same way they might add sprinkles.

Anyway, you guys get what I'm saying. I basically think it was a bad idea to name the latest version of android "KitKat". Key Lime Pie is classier.

eranation 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is just a reminder how "hidden scroll" content is such bad UX, how many of you noticed the little triangle / scrolled down and found out there is more? I found out only accidentally.
donbronson 1 day ago 3 replies      
[PUN WARNING] it's a breaking change
sobering 1 day ago 1 reply      
"KitKat's SEO (for the candy bar) just dove into nothingness. Forever." -my boss
inthewind 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those worried about Google coming to blows with Nestle (How we still lament the demise of Rowntrees)...

From Wikipedia 'kit kat':

Use of the name "Kit Kat" or "Kit Cat" for a type of food goes back to the 18th century, when mutton pies known as a Kit-Kat were served at meetings of the political Kit-Cat Club in London.

Now a mutton pie doesn't quite sound as sweet a desert.

likeclockwork 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't tell if this is a joke.
victoriap 1 day ago 1 reply      
it's not Android 5.0 but 4.4. I am curious what functions are still left before we don't need anything new. I mean, with Windows XP, Microsoft had already reached the upper limit of what is enough for anybody. But, somehow I am expecting a surprise on Chrome, ChromeOS, Android integration, but can't guess.
duiker101 1 day ago 5 replies      
well... i didn't know that google was so short on money that needed a sponsored release...
radley 1 day ago 0 replies      
At least it's not Mavericks.
tylerf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I predict that the name "KitKat" was selected not only for cross marketing purposes, but also to serve as a handy metaphor for the key enhancement to Android 4.4. I suspect Google has reengineered Android to allow for modular system-level updates, while leaving user-space modifications, (such as carrier and manufacturer-added software,) untouched, similar to how Canonical has stated Ubuntu Touch updates will work.

We've already seen Google take a more modular approach to adding Android enhancements via individual application updates to the Play Store, GMail, YouTube, etc. This has allowed users running older versions of Android to take advantage of more up-to-date software, despite the lack of manufacturer-provided updates. Given the degree to which the Play Store service can modify the OS in the current version of Android, it seems reasonable to suspect that these modular updates could be extended to include the kernel, system services, and low-level run times. Google may have decided that they will own and update key portions of the operating system, and leave their partners to focus on updates to their device-specific "enhancements."

This prediction is consistent with the tag line associated with Android 4.4 on the linked page: "It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody."

How to explain the value behind such a "behind-the-scenes" feature to the technologically illiterate masses? A KitKat is a modular candy bar. All the fingers are the same. You can swap out a single finger without fundamentally altering the integrity of the whole. Perhaps Eric Schmidt will explain it better on-stage.

tlarkworthy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tech users may scoff, but normal people like KitKats. People don't say Google phone or Android, they say Samsung and iPhone.

This is an attempt to make Android a household name like ... Kitkat

emehrkay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Software gets me more excited for new hardware than the software itself. I can't wait to get a nexus with kitkat. At this rate we would see Android Whatchamacallit by 2022.
NicoJuicy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually, this is a smart move from Google.

They are promoting Google+ with it, as it seems that KitKat is an active user (on G+) and has a lot of members on it.

They are trying to get more bussiness on g+ and refering to the new Android as chocolat. Which probably means they want to create the whole Android experience a lot smoother and unified (judging from the description on http://www.android.com/kitkat/ )

slacka 1 day ago 1 reply      
Android 4.3 was only release a few days ago. I'm surprised they're announcing 4.4 already. Both this link and the BBC article don't have any information about what new features are in this release. Seems pointless to just announce a name.


msoad 1 day ago 1 reply      
> It's our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody.

Android optimized for lower powered devices?

dllthomas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gimme a break.
benatkin 1 day ago 0 replies      
My main gripe about this is that Google is sending the message to consume more toxic junk food to the public, while sending the opposite message to employees. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/google-cru...

This is different from the generic names of sweets. This is a specific product, which isn't sold at Whole Foods, and is cheaper, more unhealthy, and less satisfying than what Googlers are likely to buy.

speeq 1 day ago 2 replies      
Maybe the next release is gonna be called Mars
kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, seems like Nestle bought itself some geek cred.
pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really, dislike this advertising.

Also just realised that "froyo" is not just a made-up name but stands for "frozen yoghurt" [mental process: why's "froyo" got a dish of ice-cream? ah?].

jordanthoms 1 day ago 0 replies      
Clearly Google saw the Microsoft-Nokia headlines, and decided they had to come up with something even crazier than that...
bound008 1 day ago 0 replies      
They do have KitKats in the mini kitchens at google so at least they are not lying about being fans. Although they are on the bottom red shelf for unhealthy snacks.
pitchups 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wonder if the success of this tie-up may start a new marketing/branding trend? That is more companies may start doing cross-brand tie ups among non-competing products.
joshmcmillan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow, looks promising. I might take a break from iOS for this.


Osiris 1 day ago 3 replies      
buttery graphics

Really? What does that even mean? Why is it that the only analogy that people can find for "smooth" is "butter"? I actually find butter kind of gooey and greasy.

VeejayRampay 1 day ago 3 replies      
Posted this in the other thread but I'd really like to know :)

Does anyone know if Kit Kat will be available for the Nexus 4? I ordered one a few days ago and it will be my first smartphone so I have next to no idea how Google deals with providing newer Android releases to "older" phones.

klrr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this serious release or some kind of joke? (not trying to be negative, just wanna be sure if it's serious or not)
pearjuice 1 day ago 1 reply      
How can a FOSS product have a version name which is linked to a closed source recipe?
kbutler 1 day ago 0 replies      
When Android gets to 'T', they have to choose TicTac.
suyash 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much of revenue from the sales of KitKat, Hershy's would be sharing with Google. Nice Marketing/Sales ploy though.
joefarish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the timing of this annoucement is linked to either:

- The Note III launch tomorrow

- The fact that Apple sent out invites for its iPhone event today

theycallmemorty 1 day ago 0 replies      
That awesome landing page literally had me salivating.
arbutus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Still have no intention of going back to Android any time soon but I am craving a Kit Kat now, so I guess the joke is on Google here.
volokoumphetico 1 day ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile at Willy Wonka's...

"Oompa Loompa Stop Whipping Us, He's Not Sleeping He's Overworked"

ricards 1 day ago 0 replies      
The power of open source. Shame on Google.
speeder 1 day ago 1 reply      
That is sad :(

I preferred Key Lime Pie (the fact that this is my favourite dessert is only coincidence ;) )

pauletienney 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is only for Android 4.4 (scroll to the end of the link).
bachback 1 day ago 0 replies      
oh, I thought this about nyan cat :(
vs4vijay 1 day ago 0 replies      
what about Key Lime Pie??
JDSD 1 day ago 0 replies      
Give me a break..
pauletienney 1 day ago 0 replies      
earlyriser 1 day ago 3 replies      
Some years ago "Don't be evil" was Google's motto, however Nestle is far from being a good company, specially KitKat brand.



steeve 1 day ago 1 reply      
And to be able to use it, you'll need to buy the next Nexus phone! Or wait till your OEM releases its crapware loaded version in 6-12 months (or never, actually).

Thanks, but I'll stick with iphone/iOS, at least I can update it. (iPhone 4 from 2010 running iOS 6).

Anxiety over the new Gmail Compose storyblog.io
246 points by onelovelyname  1 day ago   240 comments top 57
ihnorton 1 day ago 14 replies      
Lately I've had a persistent feeling of annoyance with several Google products. Each annoyance is small enough to tolerate individually, but in aggregate it seems to me that Google has really lost something in the attention-to-detail department; this kind of persistent annoyance was the same thing that led me to Google from other services years ago.

Two examples:

- maps: new interface is so terrible that I am actively looking for a replacement. It is painfully slow, search results are no longer displayed on the same page as the map (what?), and in general the minimalism has gone too far: the interface requires too much hunting.

- gmail: Previous/Next-message buttons flake out constantly (grayed out - clicking does nothing). New formatting options are hard to use and obnoxious.

And an old one that I ran in to again today:

- there is no (intuitive) way to copy a URL from google search results without all of the google redirect garbage. This fundamentally degrades the world-wide web. For example, I want to email a link to a pdf. If an in-browser pdf reader is not available, then the link downloads immediately and there is no way to get the de-obfuscated link. I clicked the "share" button in hopes that this might give me the link; but no, it wanted me to share on G+.

dasil003 1 day ago 8 replies      
The self-righteous anger about the irredeemable horror of the new Gmail compose is starting to get a bit old.

First of all, it's not as one-sided as people are making it out. I was also annoyed when it first came out, but there are some clear benefits. Being able to browse email in the background while composing email is a huge win for my email workload (CTO for a 30-person company).

There are some important philosophical reasons behind some of these changes that I strongly agree with:

First, the small window by default encourages short emails which is always good. The OA seems to glorify long-winded CEO screeds, but by definition the vast majority of emails are going to be short (and if they're not I don't want to work with you), so it's correct to optimize for the short case. The two levels of pop-out (the second of which the OA appears to be completely ignorant of) scale up and out quite nicely.

Second, the hidden headers and formatting options are encouraging simplicity in email. Most email should not have formatting, and arguably most emails don't have CCs, BCCs, or edited subjects either. Putting them behind one extra click is really not the huge usability nightmare people make out. It takes a little while to get used to and then you just subconsciously do the double click, it's not really any harder than finding them in a sea of icons, it's just that previously you were used to that sea of options. The optimization for the common case is done correctly.

For me the new design (after turning on compact view) is a moderate improvement that did nothing to dilute the core value of Gmail which are the labels, keyboard shortcuts/navigation, conversation view and search/filters. Running it inside Mailplane makes it even better.

There are definitely annoyances, but nothing that's even close to driving me to something like mutt, and forget about GUI clients, all of them feel like molasses compared to Gmail.

comex 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suppose this comment comes too late to have much visibility, but as for me, I can deal with the fullscreen popup thingy.

The inability to default to replying in plaintext to HTML mails is annoying, but I can deal with that, too.

What I can't deal with is the broken UX for the fake HTML elements, which were previously native controls that worked fine.

The To field is now a magic list of clickable email addresses instead of a regular textbox. Great, but clicking and dragging to select no longer works, typing with a selection active does not delete it, and undo no longer works.

The From field (for use with multiple email addresses), which used to be a native <select>, is now... a HTML reimplementation with no additional functionality. It sort of works from the keyboard - you can press space to bring up the list, up/down to choose an item, and enter to select. But it's not quite the same (as OS X, at any rate): the list starts with no selection rather than the current item, you can't press space again to close the list, and you can't choose an item by typing. In fact, if you try to do a few things in the new compose, including typing on the list, the keystrokes pass through to the greyed-out main window and you perform random email actions.

These interactions are not inherently critical: I could easily learn to live without them in general. But they work for every other like control in the OS, and they used to work here, so naturally I have and will retain muscle memory for them; the result is infuriating.

I'm actually quite surprised nobody has made a user script to fix these and the other issues in the three weeks since my account was forced onto the new compose; Gmail's obfuscation makes this a little more annoying, but not too bad if you stick to modifying elements rather than directly interacting with the JavaScript. I'll probably end up writing one myself.

molecule 1 day ago 4 replies      
To avoid being distracted by the gmail inbox and to have a clean composition interface, I always keep this URL bookmarked, and it still works w/ the new compose:


habosa 1 day ago 1 reply      
What gives me anxiety is complaining about minor UX changes for a class-leading free product on a site that's called "Hacker News". I hate to get all old-fogey but Hacker News has really turned into "the random opinions of people in the startup world". I learn a lot less on this site than I used to.

Sorry to the OP, it's not your fault that you provided content the community likes and I have no personal issue with you.

bane 1 day ago 1 reply      
Something that gets me in a little trouble from time to time, forwarding an email includes the entire previous conversation chain...which isn't normally a problem, but gmail compresses the previous chain into a collapsed [...] box that I sometimes forget is there. So on occasion I forward parts of emails to other parties that probably shouldn't be seeing those other bits.

I have to remember to expand it, then delete all the content I don't want to be included in the forward.

Other comments here have pointed other gui foibles, I agree with all the maps complaints, I'm on the beta for it and switch back to classic almost 70% of the time because I can't get something done in the new one.

And I won't repeat what I had to say about the absolute brokenness of the youtube interface.


Even in search, lots of the nice sidebar utilities I used all the time like the search tools' time range are now buried two clicks deep. Searches give you quick options for web, images, maps, shopping and applications, but one I use several times a day, video, is buried.

gruseom 1 day ago 2 replies      
I agree with this post's use of the word "ruined". That's what the new Compose did. It's a usability train wreck which I'm astonished they put out at all, let alone impose it on users against their will. There are big things wrong with it and there are little things wrong with it and the sum total is frustrating and disconcerting. It's one thing to redesign a website, but email is a huge part of my daily work, and this feels as if renovators just drove a post up through the living room floor.
alexholehouse 1 day ago 0 replies      
The "full screen mode" is like a parody of poor user interface and false promises.

That said, Outlook 365 is also bloody awful in terms of usability. Say I've sent an email to a list of people, there's no way (as far as I can tell, which is all that matters really) to then copy those email addresses. You have to literally click through each one and get the address individually.

thezilch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Clicking the "Full-screen" button on the compose modal shows the following dialogue; perhaps the author just closed the tip?

  Click here to exit full-screen.  (Shift + click to compose in a new window.)  You can set full-screen as your default using  the More menu next to Discard.
Likewise, the tooltip on the "Full-screen" button states Full-screen (Shift for Pop-out). And for someone that spends so much time in email, like a developer and his IDE, it might be time to improve one's efficiency with keyboard coords -- gmail shortcuts (https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6594) -- and use Shift+c (popup) or Shift+d (tab) composition.

notatoad 1 day ago 3 replies      
"My messages are important, god dammit."

no, they aren't. get over it. The new compose does a great job of framing your sent emails in the way your recipients are probably viewing them: quickly, and often from a small screen/window.

colbyh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm actually quite fond of the new compose window and I fall into essentially the same category of email user as you. My anxiety was in fact lessened a bit by the chat-like (and therefore more casual) vibe, thanks to large expanses of white space making me feel like I /must/ fill them with text.

Email anxiety is no fun, maybe a native client would be the best way to ensure your workflow is optimized?

enochroot 1 day ago 1 reply      
For my usage, the new compose has been a major step back. It now takes additional clicks to accomplish basic tasks (e.g. change the subject) and is less clear on what I am doing (e.g. when you cc someone and switch back to the body, the cc-ed names is now in To: line making it appear that you are sending it to them directly.) There are many other examples where the experience has become worse.

I am not clear if Google truly believes the new compose is an improvement or if there is a behind the scenes reason that is making up for the decrease in usability. The new product is so obviously a step back (to me) that I am assuming it's the latter. Has anyone seen a write up that has an explanation other than "improved practicality?"

hobs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I literally wrote dozens of complaints to google about this, obviously they go into a black hole of nobody cares, but I like their feedback feature because it says "What part of the screen is the problem" and I highlight EVERYTHING.The new youtube interface? Garbage. STEAMING GARBAGE.The new gmail interface? Sounds like you want a desktop client BECAUSE GARBAGE.


md224 1 day ago 1 reply      
Umm... powered by Storystrings, but features the Svbtle network's Kudos button (as "cheers")... is there a connection here, or is the former borrowing from the latter?
ww520 1 day ago 0 replies      
The new GMail Compose is a horrible horrible interface. It's bordering unusable. After looking around to disable it without any success, I started looking for alternatives. I ended up installing Thunderbird and couldn't be happier! With IMAP I can run Thunderbird on different machines and got the benefit of moving from machine to machine and still be able to access mail accounts.

Thunderbird is the way to go!

derefr 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling that this new design ("docked floating div" instead of "new regular window"; "modal floating div" instead of "new fullscreen window") is an effect of Windows and OSX, in their latest iterations, pushing apps to fullscreen virtual desktops.

If Gmail is the whole screen, you can't actually open a "new window"; it would open back on the primary desktop, instead of within the app's screen. Maybe Windows+OSX need to refine their "app-desktop" solutions with some limited form of window management, so that every app isn't having to reinvent its own window management just to keep its windows visible...

laureny 1 day ago 4 replies      
My problem with that is people who write emails in full screen windows end up writing poorly formatted emails (very long paragraphs) because they are now composing their emails with 300 columns.

Besides, a CEO that can't focus on writing a message unless they don't have any other distraction on their screen should probably work on their focus skills.

ams6110 1 day ago 2 replies      
Doesn't gmail still offer imap? Use a real mail client, not a web page. Much more fulfilling in almost every way. I like emacs, because I like to be able to write emails using the same editor I use for everything else. But that's a preference. There are many good mail clients to choose from.
AznHisoka 1 day ago 2 replies      
Gmail also seems to shorten the names of people you email to (at least for me). That makes me second-guess whether I'm really emailing the right person at times.
uptown 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why not just hold shift when you click "compose"?
petercooper 1 day ago 1 reply      
https://twitter.com/NewComposeSux collects together a lot of sentiment about how great this new feature is. I kinda feel sorry for Jason Cornwell. He's been blasted with "feedback" on Twitter since it went live.
iak8god 1 day ago 0 replies      
I accidentally deleted an email thread the other day. How? When replying in Gmail, there's a little button below the editing area that has a trash can icon and will discard a draft. There's a button with an identical icon on the same screen, just above the editing area that will delete the email/thread. I don't know much about design, but this strikes me as an extremely poor interface.
DigitalSea 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google have taken quite a few missteps with their UI changes to Gmail and Youtube especially. I'm not a designer, but as a web developer know a thing or two about easy-to-use and decent interfaces. The new Gmail compose popup to me signifies the once predominately engineer led company is turning into a design led one.

While being a design-led company isn't necessarily a completely bad thing, you need those engineers and developers guiding the designers and keeping things in check. Unrestrained creativity can be a dangerous thing.

I feel the same way about the new compose popup. It's intrusive and distracting and I even emailed them about it sometime ago. I got some cookie cutter response about how Google are continually refining their products, blah blah.

I would use a third party email client, but email is crucial for me and if the chances of something going wrong between the connection of the client and Google's servers are higher than that of losing an email composed within the Gmail interface itself.

rattray 1 day ago 0 replies      
One trick I use for composing messages: Add "compose" as a search engine to chrome. I use the url https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&tf=1&su= , which means I type "compose", hit `tab`, and then type the subject line of the email I want to send.

Makes for a nice way to get quickly to a distraction-free compose window.

cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
I sometimes wonder whether Google developers only use giant screens and don't realize how much the "comfortable" whitespace on Gmail and Google+ layouts detracts from the product on smaller screens or laptops.
amerika_blog 1 day ago 1 reply      
The new Gmail compose is 20 years worth of interface design learning, lost in a single poor choice.
canthonytucci 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure it's a good idea to take anyone's opinion of gmail seriously that doesn't use the keyboard shortcuts. If you really are composing so much, hit 'c', not reach all the way over to the mouse like an orangutan.


Pop the window out and maximize it if you don't like the new interface. If you hit d, it will open the compose window in a new tab, _the whole thing_, dedicated to your awesome email that you really need to concentrate on writing.

But as for the "hidden text formatting controls".

Don't use text formatting; send plain text email like a decent human being.

If you need to emphasize or:





that's why we have markdown. No one wants to see your fancy fonts and fuchsia signature. Content, yo.

If it's that much of an issue, why not edit content in your favorite editor then paste it into gmail?

If you're on a mac, you can format to your heart's desire in textedit (full-screen-mode-obviously) then copy it all and paste into gmail and all your stupid font size changes and bold shit will still be there.

EDIT: minor changes, also imagine that the formatted stuff is the raw markdown, because I forgot that this does that.

Edit 2: it's cool to hate - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkRJzErnRmY

RDeckard 1 day ago 1 reply      
I still use the basic HTML client in many circumstances, esp. when tethering off my phone with limited reception:


It approximates the first Ajax/DHTML interface that Gmail introduced when it launched in 2004.

newobj 1 day ago 1 reply      
Holy cow. I'm starting to experience outrage outrage and this post may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
nnethercote 1 day ago 0 replies      
The window size and position is fine; I like being able to easily refer to other emails.

It's what they've done to the editing that bugs me.

- It encourages top-posting. To bottom-post, you have to click the "..." button, and then remove the two blank lines at the top.

- Fast selection of text with shift-Pg{Up,Dn} no longer works.

- Firefox's "It's All Text" add-on, which lets you drop into a real editor to edit a textbox, no longer works with it.

bnejad 1 day ago 2 replies      
Really, anxiety? Use a native/local mail client and I'm sure it will solve your problems.
dhruvbaldawa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google products changes recently have been a pain to use. Damn, its so annoying coping up with these crappy UX changes nowadays

1. First of all the new Gmail inbox with the tabbed interface, it does not show you the number of unread mails in each of the tab, once you have opened a tab, the new mails count vanishes. There should at least be an option for enabling that.

2. Hangouts, it just sucks. Does not work reliably on a data connection, messages are received late. Can't discover online contacts on the UI easily. Makes it easier to chat but harder to find people to chat. I still don't get why did it replace a fully functional chat client with a half-baked piece of crap !?

I don't even want to get started about Google+, the connection model is very good, but the execution is very crappy. Why is Google forcing everyone onto Google+ ?

res0nat0r 1 day ago 1 reply      
Click the "-><-" arrows at the top and you can go back to the old style.

I like the new version and wish they'd used it long ago, I want a large box to type my emails in, not a small rectangle.

billnguyen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I could live with the new Compose... its the hidden/floating "Formatting Options" that really grinds my gears.
dmourati 1 day ago 0 replies      
You know what I like about the new Gmail compose? Nothing.
TallGuyShort 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hated the feature at first as well, but I've found myself multi-tasking recently where I type multiple emails in parallel as I collect my thoughts for each. It's growing on me, but I definitely see the validity of the criticism. I do wish it was easier to get at the advanced features.
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Composing a new message should be a lot more RESTful and first class, not a modal popup. I understand the on-the-fly desire but not at the cost of manipulation.
tghw 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it very hard to have sympathy for someone who says "For better or worse, email takes up a large part of my work life." and then chooses to use a free, ad-supported email service.

If this is such a crucial tool for you, then you should be willing to pay a reasonable price for something you're happy with instead of just complaining about it online.

robryan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally I am a big fan of the new compose, although I can also understand why it isn't right for some people.

My usage would be something like 80% very short emails, 5 lines or under with maybe a copy paste block. Occasionally I will want to add an attachment or a cc.

The speed and the ability to still see the email list works for me. I should also add the majority of my gmail use is done on a 27 inch screen.

niuzeta 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't mind designers and/or developers changing their products. If they think they have something better(disregarding the contrived-ness of the term for now), they're more than welcome to provide me the new stuff.

Just don't take back my old stuff which I'm familiar with. Give us the choice, damn it.

noir_lord 1 day ago 0 replies      
I logged into an old Hotmail account the other day.

The new interface they are using is massively better than Google's, I fell in love straight away, it's actually quite lovely and very fluid to use.

goblin89 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If email is important to you, maybe you should take some time to set up an email client.

I personally am using Gmail from OS X Mail via IMAP for a couple of years now. Once you get used to the software, you can focus on reading and writing the mailthere's no distraction caused by continuous UI evolution.

oulipian 1 day ago 0 replies      
The idiotic modal window is bad enough, but the new Gmail Compose also breaks basic shortcut keys (such as Command+left or right arrow to skip to the end of a line), at least in Firefox on my Mac. And pasting text in "Plain text" mode often adds weird line breaks. Gmail used to be such a pleasure to use and I cringe to click Compose now.
tucosan 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you have shortcuts enabled in gmail settings you can simply hit `d` (instead of `c`) and you get a full dedicated compose window in a new browser window.

So this is simply a non issue!

lnanek2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really hate that thing as well. Although it isn't just supposed to be quick, it is supposed to allow referencing several other emails while you write. Which I don't do so it is terrible for me.
Demiurge 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand, why can't they just have the 'show all options and full screen' mode as well? They had it optional for a while now, what does it cost to maintain the old composer?
airencracken 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If you don't like being subject to changes in your UI, then stop using a webapp that you have no control over. Use a sane client over IMAP and be done with it.
ajanuary 1 day ago 0 replies      
The shortcuts for CC and BCC help a lot with adding recipients.

Obviously that doesn't do much to solve the problem of it squeezing them all onto one line when you focus out if you're paranoid about recipients.

dcc1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whoever approved this change at Google deserves to be fired, its a serious usability fuckup
paul_f 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems there is an easy solution. Just use Thunderbird.
loceng 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just shifted my behaviours to different tools that Compose is no longer suitable for. It was a bit of an annoying shift, though in the end felt more helpful with forcing me to organize.
mebreuer 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're such a heavy gmail user, I'd recommend using keyboard shortcuts for linking, formatting, adding cc/bcc, etc.

Once you enable them, you can easily check if you've forgotten by hitting ?, and within a month you won't have to touch your mouse (or navigate the UI) for anything save for the esoteric features.

frank_boyd 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Anxiety over the new Gmail Compose

Anxiety over some feature?

If your anxiety doesn't come from the fact that you agree to the concept of the surveillance state (by using products like Gmail), then something is clearly wrong.

benjamta 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do quite like the new compose - I get a bit annoyed by the in line editor when you reply though. Feels a little inconsistent.
frozenport 1 day ago 0 replies      
ChrisArchitect 1 day ago 1 reply      
"recently"? October 2012 this started rolling out....geezus.
encoderer 1 day ago 0 replies      
tldr; Somebody moved her cheese.
Two-factor Authentication github.com
243 points by tanoku  1 day ago   85 comments top 19
shmageggy 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'd just like to point out that this is another example of the failure of the overly-rigid submission title policy here. This title tells me almost nothing about the content I'm about to see or whether it's relevant to me. Expecting to see something about 2FA in general or maybe even a library that eases implementation (given the github domain), I was let down when I opened the link and realized I didn't care in the least about this content. I wasted my time browsing, and I wasted even more time writing this rant.
pilif 1 day ago 6 replies      
The issue I have with third-party token applications like the Duo Security one that the github guys are recommending is that due to the way how TOTP works (shared secret), I'm practically giving away my second factor to whoever produces the app.

Google Authenticator has the advantage that it's Open Source, but I can't really control whether the thing I downloaded in the app store is actually built from the public sources. But at least I can build my own if I have a developer account. Apparently people are having issues with GA on iOS7 though (it tends to forget the keys), so now I'm kinda out of luck.

Authy is both closed source and wants my cell phone number, Duo Security is just closed source.

I know it's crazy inconvenient in the long run, but I'd much rather install a github official authenticator app than to trust a third-party app with the github token.

Umofomia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent! Unless I'm missing it, it would be nice if there were a way to enforce a policy that members of an organizational team must have two-factor authentication enabled on their accounts.
obilgic 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am an international student and I literally hate when they don't let me put in 2 different numbers. I get locked out when I travel. For example, twitter
jeremymcanally 1 day ago 2 replies      
GitHub's 2FA just uses the industry standard TOTP like a ton of other places. You can use Google Authenticator, Authy, etc.
mwww 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's great to see another big web service implementing two-factor authentication. Looks like 2FA is going to be a standard option in web apps in the near future.
cheald 1 day ago 0 replies      
This has been needed for a long time. Glad to see it finally materialize!
jcurbo 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's the best hardware TOTP token to get?
jaryd 1 day ago 0 replies      
How long before we see it in Github Enterprise?
jcastro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool, I enabled it but had forgotten to download the recovery codes, next time I visited the site it bothered me to download them just in case, nice touch!
gbraad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug as this is another great use of my webapp http://gauth.apps.gbraad.nl/ http://bit.ly/g2fauth) Just bookmark and use it offline. keys are stored locally.

The Chrome extension was forcibly removed from the Chrome Store as BigG was somehow not happy; you can however still install it from here: http://bit.ly/g2fachrome

aufreak3 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm beginning to wonder whether "support for 2FA" is a way for companies to get your telephone number into their database. Does using an authenticator application also provide the same information to the company?
movingahead 1 day ago 2 replies      
I cannot use an Indian fallback SMS number. Wonder, what is behind that.
buro9 1 day ago 1 reply      
Love it.

But Yubikey support as well please.

nathan_f77 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hooray! Very nice implementation.
markstanislav 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great move by the GitHub team! Glad to see they went with TOTP rather than SMS-only. As they mentioned on their site, Duo Security's mobile application supports TOTP and we'll have an Octocat logo in soon :
ing33k 1 day ago 2 replies      
its very good to see github adding 2FA, but I wish they could also support their Indian users for using it via SMS.

edit : genuinely interested to know why they are not able to support SMS in some countries and mainly India.

eric59 1 day ago 4 replies      
Does anyone have a good way of storing recovery codes? I currently keep them on paper, in my wallet, but with more and more sites using 2fa I'm having to carry more and more recovery codes around.
bitsweet 1 day ago 3 replies      
Nice. Wish it integrated with Authy though
N-gram Analysis of the New York Times Weddings Section rapgenius.com
235 points by lil_tee  23 hours ago   64 comments top 16
rayiner 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Another statistical analysis of the NYT wedding section, looking at the occurrence frequency of certain characteristics in the NYT wedding announcements relative to their occurrence in the general population: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2011/12/odds-ge....

You can clearly see the recent tech boom by searching "Google," "Facebook," "Twitter," and "Apple" http://www.weddingcrunchers.com/?q=facebook%2C%20google%2C%2....

The key takeaway here is Google:

Google has raced ahead of establishment NY law firms: http://www.weddingcrunchers.com/?q=wachtell%2C%20cravath%2C%....

Google has also recently overtaken top investment banks: http://www.weddingcrunchers.com/?q=goldman%20sachs%2C%20morg...

Ditto for consulting: http://www.weddingcrunchers.com/?q=mckinsey%2C%20boston%20co....

When do you think Google will start hosting a debutante ball in Chelsea?

jmduke 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Given how horizontally expansive RapGenius is trying to be (this is the first time I've seen NewsGenius, but I'm familiar with PoetryGenius et al -- there's an annotated Iliad that's pretty cool), I'm wondering if they'd be better off as a layer or a plugin as opposed to a stand-alone site. I'm much less tempted to visit the site for each individual story that pops up than I would be to peruse the annotations as I browse normally.

Either way -- stuff like this is a delight to read.

wonnage 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Not to take an entertaining post too seriously, but when your graph scale ranges from 0 - 0.02% the statistical significance is dubious.
sengstrom 21 hours ago 2 replies      
"This makes it possible to rigorously test our intuitions about trends like."

let me fix that for you

"This makes it possible to put numbers on our preconceived notions and play around with them."

It may be entertaining, but rigorous? I don't think so.

jlgreco 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I am very surprised by the prevalence of "was graduated from". I have only rarely heard that in 'real life', is the NYT's style guide enforcing this usage?
bigtech 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Are all wedding announcements posted, or does The Times have an editorial role in which announcements are printed?
JeremyMorgan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
What they should do is find the divorce stats and throw that in the mix.
rorrr2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Whoever uses two similar shades of blue in a chart should be beaten with a stick until they learn more colors.
misiti3780 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Really interesting - how did you guys downloaded the 60K articles (is there an API i do not know about)? Also - what graphing lib are you using (I see it is not d3)?
photorized 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I was expecting something more interesting, but that's probably because I like N-gram analysis, among other things.

This is how we do it (examples below are not weddings, but random topics):



Alex3917 20 hours ago 0 replies      
rdl 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome -- it's kind of like the older Priceonomics blogs which used quantitive analysis to uncover hidden facts in plain sight.
mrcactu5 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How were they able to collect all the Wedding announcements. Doens't NYT limit the number of articles or what portions of text they can retrieve?
jsnk 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or does anyone else dislike reading articles like this with dark background and light text?
the_watcher 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Was this designed specifically for Katie Baker (she writes summaries of the NYT Wedding Section for Grantland)?
mrcactu5 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is RapGenius interested in this ??
Hacker News comments I'm tired of seeing righto.com
226 points by lispython  3 days ago   218 comments top 65
jasonkester 3 days ago 5 replies      
My personal favorite is "The plural of anecdote is not data".

Correct. The plural of anecdote is conversation, which is exactly the reason we're here.

I think this one comes down to people misunderstanding the reason we're here in the first place. If you start to notice that the discussion here resembles the sort of conversation you'd have around the watercooler, that's probably has to do with the fact that Hacker News is indeed the internet's watercooler.

Complaining that that seems to be the case and asking people to stop having lively conversation is not really helping anybody. As much as some folks want this to be the Royal Society for Correctly And Properly Dismissing The Ideas Of Other People, it's not.

Good thing, too. That place wouldn't be any fun.

zainny 3 days ago 9 replies      
One thing that really annoys me about HN is how damn contrarian everyone always tries to be. Responses typically take the most absolute narrow and unforgiving interpretation of any point you are trying to make and subsequently use that to spin a counterpoint.

Drives me batty.

citricsquid 3 days ago 5 replies      
The biggest problem with Hacker News comments -- actually, make that all comments -- is fundamental: the sort of people that leave comments are (more often than not) people that want something, ANYTHING, to say, not people that have something to say.
moomin 3 days ago 9 replies      
Cliches like this are OK. What really annoys me is that the top rated comment is invariably a straight-forward contradiction of the original article's thesis. Like this comment here.
anigbrowl 3 days ago 4 replies      
[citation needed] - This isn't Wikipedia, so skip the passive-aggressive comments. If you think something's wrong, explain why.

The reason to post this is not so much thinking the comment is necessarily wrong as that it makes an extraordinary or absolutist claim absent any evidence, which if accepted as fact is going to change the shape of the whole discussion...perhaps appropriately, but the onus is on the person making the claim to support it.

A link to a logical fallacy, such as ad hominem or more pretentiously tu quoque - this isn't a debate team and you don't score points for this.

Considering the requests that if one thinks something is wrong, one should explain why, I'd say that identifying errors in reasoning is quite appropriate; though some of them are so frequent that I just downvote rather than pointing them out yet again. Fallacies of composition are astonishingly frequent, for example.

raverbashing 3 days ago 3 replies      
HN sometimes looks like an Asperger's meetup.

I understand this is a place for serious debate and constructive criticism, but sometimes it's more uptight than getting interviewed at a border control.

I visit and get value from it, but this article is spot on. Well, I still think [citation needed] is relevant sometimes, in the case of a legitimate/interesting (or maybe questionable) citation that would produce more value with the citation. (But sometimes it goes like this "The sky is blue"[citation needed])

nekopa 3 days ago 1 reply      

Just because these comments appear quite frequently it doesn't necessarily mean that they are responsible for making your eyes tired, after all, correlation is not causation. Maybe try to adjust the font on your browser or use one of the popular HN chrome extension. Remember that HN is a free site and if you're not paying for it, you're the product, so try to see how you can improve your comments, thereby improving the product.

Even though Pg has a legal duty to maximize shareholder value for YC [citation needed] changing how people comment would be premature optimization - why don't we see how the site shakes out after a couple of years. Saying that this is a place for discussion is at best a leaky abstraction, like Playboy magazine, I come here predominately to read the articles. I feel that I understand most of the technical articles posted here, even though some people say I suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect I feel that is just a needless ad hominem.

You can read more about this in a blog post I wrote:

Is the quality of HN discussion falling?

gilgoomesh 3 days ago 1 reply      
The first 8 points are all totally valid comments and I don't think they can be rejected out-of-hand. The author seems annoyed by a perception that they're thrown into the mix in snarky, passive aggressive or ad hominem ways but that doesn't invalidate their use when they are accurately applied.

Facile, poorly reasoned content is abundant on the internet. Hacker News is a firehose of content both good and bad and commenters aim to filter that by tagging the content through comments.

It is not always a good use of your time to make a reasoned argument against blatant logical fallacies, scientific/engineering ignorance and failure to understand modern tech business practices. If you're spending more time discounting vapid content than its idiot author spent creating it, then the world is suffering a net loss.

regularfry 3 days ago 3 replies      
The HN comment that really bores me is the one that totally denigrates the project described in the link because it's "been done before", "won't work because X" where X is a woolly hypothetical, "doesn't solve Y" where it's blindingly obvious that Y is either incredibly hard or tangential to the point, or "could simply be done with just A, B and C" where A, B and C are some permutation of a raspberry pi, arduino, a kinect, some random combination of open source libraries, emacs and a blender.

There is benefit in new approaches to old problems. Incomplete attempts are still useful. Actually getting a project into a state that more than one person can use it, even if that use is just "Here, read the code. It doesn't work, but you might find it enlightening," is an effort worth respecting.

It's extremely rare that these comments have any worthwhile content in them. They seem to serve to point at the commenter's username and say "Aren't I clever for spotting the problems with your project?" What effect is that supposed to have past your own ego? You can't rewind the universe to a state where the project didn't happen, so why not take 3 minutes instead of 2 and find something positive to highlight rather than a negative to pick on?

lutusp 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately there are too many useful rhetorical devices in the list, devices that serve a purpose. Ironically, the list starts off with "correlation is not causation," an expression that in most cases is raised for very good reasons -- for example, any popular science story that includes the word "linked" but without adequate qualifiers.

If more people were science-literate, these platitudes wouldn't be necessary. But they aren't, so they are.

RivieraKid 3 days ago 1 reply      
100% agree and I'd add other things I hate about HN:

* First comment debunks the article.

* Comments that start with "No." It's worse if the "No." is in its own paragraph.

* Mentioning Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

* General passive-agressivness.

* Lack of humour and light-heartedness.

* People upvote some really shitty stuff. The newest submissions page is sometimes more interesting than the homepage.

* People love to upvote blogposts of some people, e.g daringfireball.net or paulgraham.com, no matter the quality.

bane 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was expecting this to contain the inevitable "why didn't you do this in Haskell?" that seems to come and go in waves. I've come to think that there's a non-trivial percentage of HN users that are simply bots (written in Haskell) that insert this into a random percentage of threads. If they're responded to it then brings in a human to continue the conversation.

More seriously, these aren't just gripes, most of these have some kind of remediation step too. Most of the comments here seem to be missing that.

That being said, most of these are still very valid things to be said here, the problem is not that they're being said, but that they have to be said. People in general are lazy and carry around terribly poor models of the world in the heads. 8 of these are really constant, low pressure attempts to correct this problem with the last one just being a cultural issue that this isn't reddit.

tokenadult 2 days ago 0 replies      
Paul Graham (the site founder) has commented on a type of comment that he thinks is very harmful to the community, but hard to identify by a key phrase: the "middlebrow dismissal." He wrote,

"The problem with the middlebrow dismissal is that it's a magnet for upvotes. The 'U R a fag's get downvoted and end up at the bottom of the page where they cause little trouble. But this sort of comment rises to the top. Things have now gotten to the stage where I flinch slightly as I click on the 'comments' link, bracing myself for the dismissive comment I know will be waiting for me at the top of the page."


As other readers have noticed, my idea of an interesting water cooler conversation with colleagues is referring to verifiable facts about the external world while checking the reasoning of a submitted article. The Internet is, indeed, mostly about sharing unsupported opinions, as the article kindly submitted here suggests, but I enjoy having my opinions examined by comparing them to facts in the real world, and I try to extend the same favor to the friends I meet here.

zalew 3 days ago 0 replies      
> > What comments bother you the most?

"just use bootstrap/heroku/nodejs/techoftheday"

"hn is turning into reddit"

"http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html Anything that good hackers would find interesting."

complaints about: negativity, wrong tone and cursing.

looking for reasons to get offended.

d4nt 3 days ago 0 replies      
Part of the problem here is that any open [web] community will eventually contain more people who've joined after you than people who joined before you. Consequently, stuff you learned long ago is still new and interesting to the majority of the population.

I had a interesting discussion with @ColinWright a few months back about how you might design a forum based separate cohorts for each time period in which people joined, and on scoring each post separately within each cohort - if I had a few months to spare I would love to try building & launching that. Sadly, I don't.

est 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of headline I am tired of seeing.


> If the original title begins with a number or number + gratuitous adjective, we'd appreciate it if you'd crop it.

vermontdevil 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite is the 'most politicians or CEOs are sociopaths'

I think the psychology of sociopath is complicated enough without the need to assume one who made it to the top is a sociopath.

benologist 3 days ago 1 reply      
Random PG quote I've kept on my clipboard for days looking for the right day to paste it. GOD I HOPE HE SEES.

Copying != stealing, because apparently time stopped about 8 years ago. And this is digg.

IE is hard to develop for even though all the problems it had have been solved for approximately 11 thousand years before anyone alive today was even born.

First they came for [whatever we're talking about] and I said nothing ...

Dewie 3 days ago 0 replies      
What grates me is people that use "order of magnitude" for everything. It's fine if you're talking about different kinds of memory access or the acidity of some lake due to acid rain. But writing phrases like "Ever since I started biking to work, I feel an order of magnitude better" just makes you look pretentious, to me.

Of course this is more of an aesthetic gripe rather than a gripe with some rhetorical device.

olalonde 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comments that annoy me most (mostly because they are blatant attempts at fishing for karma):

"I would use this but it's in Javascript, there are better languages like X and Y."

"The web is utterly broken, when are people going to realize this?"

"For all these years I ignored RMS/Assange/etc. but now I know he was right."

Comments with the words "nail" and "hammer".

chris_wot 3 days ago 0 replies      
As the original author of [citation needed], I quite agree. That was designed by myself to originally ensure that Wikipedians sourced their material, not as a way to win arguments!
michaelwww 3 days ago 0 replies      
Telling us how ridiculously little time it took you to build something cool. Most of the time I enjoy what you built, but telling me that you did it "over the weekend" cheapens it for me. Are you bragging, trying to excuse it's shortcomings, or lying? All three most likely. Unless you're a team of people in a weekend competition [1], I'd skip the part about only caring to put a couple days into it before showing it off.

[1] http://garage48.org/blogger/list-of-projects-built-over-week...

sker 3 days ago 2 replies      
I used to dislike the "this is why I love Hacker News" comment. It's not so prevalent anymore, but it was very common 3 or 4 years ago.

And while we're on the subject, I dislike the use of the word sure on nerd sites. I say nerd sites because I haven't seen it (ab)used so much on other sites or movies.

Basically, people say "I'm sure" to mean "I think" and "I'm pretty sure" to mean "I kind of think."

I just went to reddit and the fist thread on my front page had 3 instances of "pretty sure." I'm pretty sure it's the most common phrase and it gets posted thousands of times per day in contexts where the user is not sure at all.

oelmekki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I'm tired of comments complaining about HN commenters (not saying author did so, though, those are helpful and non aggressive recommendations).

HN is by far the place on the internet where I find the most insightful comments.

mryan 3 days ago 0 replies      

For each of these irritants, perhaps someone has just recently discovered them and is keen to appear knowledgable the next time the debate comes up.

If I had my way, a comment that matched something like /^This\./ would result in an immediate hellban. I don't know why this particular habit annoys me so much.

shaggyfrog 3 days ago 2 replies      
> What comments bother you the most?

How about you do one for story submissions? #1 on the list can be ones whose titles are link-baiting "N Xs that Y" types.

stevekinney 3 days ago 0 replies      
My least favoriteand all too popularcomment is the classic "How [or Why] did this make the front page of HN?" I have gotten to the point where I almost expect to see it near the top of every comments thread.

In fairness, the HN guidelines are pretty clear about this one:

Please don't submit comments complaining that a submission is inappropriate for the site. If you think something is spam or offtopic, flag it by going to its page and clicking on the "flag" link. (Not all users will see this; there is a karma threshold.) If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did.

asgard1024 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice to have a sort of an "argument" database, so instead of putting the argument in the comment again, you could just link to the database. Then computers could filter these arguments automatically for the people who already know it. Maybe the arguments could be parametrized, to make the connection to the problem at hand more obvious.

Ah well.. a man can only dream.

gnur 3 days ago 0 replies      
While this is true for long time readers, there are new readers on this website every single day. Perhaps someone hasn't learned about the Dunning-Kruger effect and learns something new. Perhaps the point that he wants to make (I think) doesn't come through, he wants comments to be more then short stubs, comments that really make a point.
dredmorbius 3 days ago 3 replies      
On balance I disagree with most of Ken's observations, though not always or in all cases.

A useful comment is one which moves the conversation forward. A non-useful comment is one which serves NO useful purpose.

Correlation is not causation. This is useful where a naive correlation is shown without causal mechanism. It's not useful when a correlation is shown and there's a strong causal link known. http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=552:_Correla...

If you're not paying for it, you're the product. I disagree that that this is useless, though it's not necessary to point it out without some justification.

"the legal duty to maximize shareholder value" Agree. Companies have numerous stakeholders. The "shareholder value" proposition was birthed by Milton Friedman and given a solid kick into the public eye by Jack Welch, who later called it "the world's dumbest idea": http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2013/06/26/the-orig...

[citation needed] Appropriate when someone makes an extraordinary, unsubstantiated, and difficult-to-source claim. No, this isn't Wikipedia, but it is a high quality, high s/n discussion site. Not appropriate where source is trivially confirmed or when intent is strictly snarky.

Premature optimization Depends on technical context. If substantiated, it's a fair gripe.

Dunning-Kruger effect Sadly, far too often appropriate, IMO.

Betteridge's law of headlines This is most often a meta-commentary: the story posted is vague and poorly conceived, it really shouldn't have made the front page. Increasingly I'm flagging such items (but not the Betteridge comments on them).

Logical fallacies As with "citation needed": the quality of discourse is served when people don't take cheap shots or rhetorical evasions. If you're trying to make a point and you're committing obvious logical fallacies, you deserve to be called on it.

Cue ... FTFY ... Cue: http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/406/282/2b8...

ilyanep 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh no. Is Hacker News going to start down the ever-descending death spiral of angst that made parts of reddit so unbearable to me (until the angst became a self-fulfilling prophecy)?

Many of these classes of comments are fairly reasonable in many cases (as discussed in the rest of the comments here), and I really hope that we're not about to begin the cycle of "I hate this place, it used to be so much better" that seems to start up when Internet communities mature when I just got here.

nikatwork 3 days ago 0 replies      
Comments that focus on a single ambiguous phrasing or definition, then begins a giant chain of people pedantically arguing about technicalities.

Can we please discuss ideas and concepts?

jmadsen 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'll go with people who read your full paragraph, find the not quite 100% perfect analogy in the 5th most important point, and worry it like a terrier with a chew toy

These people should be shot in the face with a double barrel shotgun.

(You may now commence to argue over whether or not both barrels are really necessary )

brador 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you start getting annoyed enough to post about it it's usually a sign to take a break.
DanBC 3 days ago 0 replies      
> "If you're not paying for it, you're the product"

This also sometimes misses the point. EG, when YouTubers complain about being cut off from monetising they're not the customer, nor the product. Google is the customer, choosing whether to buy the product or not.

lostlogin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this really relevant to Hacker News? What does it have to do with hacking?
weego 2 days ago 0 replies      
Razors. Don't made vague references to some obscure razor you looked up on wikipedia and force me to do the same. Use the words in your head to explain what you mean.
basicallydan 3 days ago 1 reply      
What comments am I tired of seeing, you ask?

This one:

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

If you want to argue against surveillance, please do it with your words instead of just going "Well Benjamin Franklin said..."

I'm not saying don't quote him or use his arguments in yours, but simply quoting a man who has been dead for hundreds is not an argument.

hrktb 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be the kind of comment the author hates...but isn't "If you're not paying for it, you're the product" a fallacy as well ? Paying for something is orthogonal to being a part of what's sold to to someone else. For instance newspapers/magazines cost a price but still "sell" their audience to advertisers.

And yes, I love communities nitpicking news items, because it's not as if the internet is in lack of discussion boards, and seeing different approaches on the same items is so interesting.

belorn 3 days ago 0 replies      
The one comment I truly get tired of seeing, is those that bring back the old flame wars over the definition of the word "free", and if one license is "free'er" than the other. Of all the classic flame wars, this one still lurks around and makes noise once every few months, and is equally boring each time.
vor_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of all the cliches, I've hated "This" ever since I started seeing it on other forums years ago.

The only one that bugs me more is "tl;dr". People have become terrified of writing long text, so they apologize beforehand. Either stand by your long text or shorten it so it's not long. I skip every "tl;dr" summary. It adds nothing.

tingletech 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about "this is not redit" or "who changed the title?" (shouldn't someone change this title to just "Hacker News comments I'm tired of seeing"?)
gfodor 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know this is off topic, but is anyone else annoyed that JavaScript is required for this page, or that the text is too small, or that the color scheme clashes, or that it requires Facebook connect, or any other surface level detail that provides a soap box for me to rant about the personal axe I have to grind?
alexchamberlain 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good summary: This article sums up some of the comments that annoy me too, but not because the comments is wrong or inherently annoying, but because the comment is simply incomplete. For example, "Correlation is not causation" is one of my more favourite sayings, but one should explain what was wrong in that case too.

I, also, get annoyed with comments that are far too long for the point being made - go write an article in response if you want. Expletives are also a no go.

jamesjguthrie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely sick of seeing [citation needed]

Sometimes discussion boards need to have opinions on them and not just facts, IMO!

laichzeit0 3 days ago 3 replies      
The comment that gets my anal beads in a knot the most: "Citation please" or "Can you link to a study that.." etc.

Sometimes people (myself included) just like to comment. Fart out a completely subjective opinion without worrying about the little army of pedantic party poopers coming along to spoil the fun.

It's just a discussion board after all. Must everything be quite so serious. all. the. time. ?

islon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wrong. Correlation is premature optimization, this is just a anecdotal strawman hominen Dunning-Kruger headline that needs citation. By the way you should have done it in Go.js on Arduino.
asdashopping 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another thing that annoys me is people citing articles using numbered references beginning with 0 ([0][1]...)

I can maybe understand the point of using numbered references like this (although honestly it barely affects readability having links inline) but you're not a computer. It just comes across as pretentious when you start counting at 0 as though you're referencing an array of references or something. We get that you Know Computers.

Toshio 3 days ago 1 reply      
> "What comments bother you the most?"

Mindless evangelism of proprietary technologies, disguised as an attempt at an insightful comment (microsoft's mvps and evangelists are particularly guilty of this).

chatman 3 days ago 1 reply      
insteadof 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just another example of the overzealous moderation on Stack Overflow to close any and every question ever asked because it in some way managed to be useful to anyone but their narrow minded view of what constitutes a programming question that didn't fit their formula of Q&A.
MichaelMoser123 3 days ago 0 replies      
'Leaky abstractions': I think its the wrong question if an abstraction leaks or not; any abstraction is leaky by definition, an abstraction is created by omitting details that are not relevant to the analysis, with the wish to extract the essence; The right question is if the abstraction is relevant or not.

Wikipedia says:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstraction"Abstraction in mathematics is the process of extracting the underlying essence of a mathematical concept, removing any dependence on real world objects with which it might originally have been connected, and generalizing it so that it has wider applications or matching among other abstract descriptions of equivalent phenomena."

Kiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
I upvoted this because I agree but the tone of the OP is another thing I don't want to see in the comments.
amerika_blog 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm tired of seeing the errors that prompt most of those comments. The comments themselves are often very much legitimate.
erikb 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is not criticism, but just an idea I had while ago while writing similar articles: Maybe only people read this who only consider the gain you get from reading their comment. Probably people who don't care about the other users at all will not read it.
GalacticDomin8r 3 days ago 0 replies      
So we should eliminate any methodolgy which ensures accurate communication and the burden should be placed on anyone who wishes to challenge an assertion? At least it's evident this isn't an academic forum, however any forum can be thought of as a "debate team".

People ought to be held to some standard of rigor if they decide to make an assertion. For me, that standard starts with the original assertion, not with someone who decides to question it.

robomartin 3 days ago 0 replies      
In general terms HN manages to maintain a very high signal to noise ratio. This is a credit to pg, the rules he created as well as active HN participants. If you have spent any time at all on USENET you know exactly what I am talking about.

HN is always interesting to read. You can learn a lot from people posting on a variety of subjects while always tending to return to the core tech mission of the site. I enjoy this aspect a lot. And, yes, things go off in tangents sometimes yet HN has proven to self correct.

I don't really understand the focus on these comments.

amiune 2 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that I really love about HN is how damn contrarian everyone always tries to be. This is always good when you can keep low the number of trolls.

If you don't like other people opinions then you can always do Mathematics. The paradise where other people opinions don't care.

RickyShaww 2 days ago 0 replies      
Explaining a company's actions by "the legal duty to maximize shareholder value" - Since this can be used to explain any action by a company, it explains nothing. Not to mention the validity of statement is controversial.
BetaCygni 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm actually quite happy that the list contains these items. Yes, when overused they are annoying (like everything else) but by itself they are all (except the "general internet comment") valid.
Demiurge 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone rewrite this article in Go?
Fortaymedia 3 days ago 0 replies      
The temptation to reply with one of those was great. But I resisted. Nice Post :)
coherentpony 3 days ago 0 replies      
No need to read this -- just another Buzzfeed post.
DanielBMarkham 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meh. Not so much.

The problem here is the difference between a conversation and a mob of emotional ranters (And I plead guilty to being in the latter category many times). Most of these comments are meant to provide context.

The author seems to forget that it's much better to have a reasonable conversation in context than it is to simply wander far afield on whatever the outrage of the day is. Correlation does not equal context. Companies are there to provide shareholder value. Google doesn't owe you anything. And so on. Yes, these can be throwaway catchphrases (bumper stickers), but hell, I'd rather have the usual half-dozen bumper stickers and then talk reasonably about something that try to un-fuck a conversation built of some bullshit fallacy with somebody talking very emotionally about things about which they aren't fully informed.

We make the mistake over and over again of rewarding emotional content, not useful content. I'd argue this post is a prime example of that. The reason the same phrases come back again and again is that we continue to make the same cognitive mistakes again and again. Ignoring that won't make it go away.

shurcooL 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have _never_ seen the 7 of 9 of those comments here. "FTFY" stuff is from reddit.
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