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Sprite Lamp spritelamp.com
1202 points by cocoflunchy  1 day ago   118 comments top 51
jmduke 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have absolutely no reason to ever use this but I'm absolutely going to throw money at the author because I'm a sucker for pixel art and this looks incredible. (I spent like five minutes staring at the zombie .gif, slackjawed.)
networked 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I need your expert advice on business ethics, HN.

I was impressed when I saw this story yesterday and really liked the idea behind Sprite Lamp, so I figured out the algorithm and wrote a program that replicates its basic functionality of generating normal maps for 2D sprites lit from four directions: http://i.imgur.com/H1H0R8k.png. The program will need some more work before it can be practically used but it's the same basic idea.

I intend to release it as a command line tool under a free license; I do not intend to compete with Sprite Lamp by building an artist-friendly GUI or implementing lots of fine-tuning. The idea has been used in games before and seemingly isn't patented but Snake Hill Games are, as far I can tell, the first to offer this functionality in a stand-alone tool. I would like to see them succeed but I also feel that having a FOSS implementation of this algorithm (mine or otherwise) would be a benefit to the community.

Should I wait until the end of the Kickstarter campaign (edit: or longer) to release it?

aleyan 1 day ago 3 replies      
Preface: I have no experience in 3D graphics.

This is a very cool technique. I have been thinking about how to generate normal maps for traditionally drawn 2D images ever since seeing the normal mapped canvas demo[1]. This seems to be an answer.

Drawing lighting profiles that are coherent however does not seem simple. One of the uses of this technique "Depth maps for stereoscopic 3D" appears much more complicated to me that drawing a depth map by hand in the first place. I drew a depth map for my drawing Starry Venice[2] as a step in making it into a wigglegif. Drawing multiple correct light profiles to generate the depth map for a scene such as Starry Venice seems almost impossible to me. This is far from the base use-case, but still.

It will be interesting to see how forgiving the creation of the normal map will be on imperfect light profile inputs. Also, it will be interesting to see if any artists who are masters of this technique will emerge.

[1] http://29a.ch/2010/3/24/normal-mapping-with-javascript-and-c...[2] http://fooladder.tumblr.com/post/61216111704/starry-venice

bhouston 1 day ago 1 reply      
Whoa cool. This will work well. I implemented a similar dynamic lighting solution for sprites back in 1997. I used 3D models though that were rendered and then the pure colors and Z-buffer were captured for dynamic lighting effects. Mentioned here as "Software Prototype: Real-time 2D Sprite Shader":


6ren 1 day ago 2 replies      
Don't you have to be incredibly skilled to draw lighting from different directions? I'm thinking "yes" - but artists are incredibly skilled.

  The free version will do everything the hobbyist version can do, but without the  ability to export assets [...] needed for game use  however, the user will be able  to export (watermarked) animated gifs showing off their artwork.
Great pricing scheme! I hope it works because I'd like to use this scheme too.

city41 1 day ago 0 replies      
This technique is fairly common in 2d games now. I wrote a blog post on this technique along with a form of ray tracing to also cast shadows in a 2d game: http://mattgreer.org/post/4dynamicLightingShadows
p4bl0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very impressive, very nice post. However I don't really understand the idea of using Kickstarter to build a paid product. If the community pay for it, then it should be free software. I don't mind it being proprietary, but then I don't see why people would put money to kickstart it. Especially since it seems to be working already.
tsaoutourpants 1 day ago 2 replies      
Should have started his Kickstarter today while he's #1 on HN.
32bitkid 1 day ago 1 reply      
Super cool! Confederate Express[1] is using a similar workflow, with great results. It's a really cool idea, and I'm surprised that it hasn't been used in more games up to this point. Seeing projects like this -- and spriter[2] and spine[3], really does make me want to get back into game development.

[1]: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/829559023/confederate-ex...

[2]: http://www.brashmonkey.com/spriter.htm

[3]: http://esotericsoftware.com/

Dinaroozie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Holy moly. I'm the guy that's working on Sprite Lamp, and I just woke up to this thread (and a giant spike in my web traffic). Thanks everyone for the enthusiasm and support! I guess I don't have anything general to say - there are probably too many words on the website as it is - but I'll do my best to answer people's questions here.
colanderman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice. I seem to recall the SNES game Yoshi's Island (1995) doing something like this, but only with the backgrounds. This is the only relevant screenshot I could find: http://playingwithsuperpower.com/super-mario-world-2-yoshis-...
SteroidsLove 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here, read this article about how you can achieve the same effect for real life objects using only 4 photographs - http://zarria.net/nrmphoto/nrmphoto.html
mrhyperpenguin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pretty cool. I hope all goes well for the author.

But I can't help feeling that generating normal maps from full 3D models would be more robust overall.

For instance you could easily make things like a walking animation or calculate ambient occlusion (pretty standard 3ds max work.) Render it into a sprite sheet and you have the pipeline to dramatically reduce the amount of work artists would have to do.

I guess Sprite Lamp would be best geared toward indies/studios without 3D modelers and can't invest in the aforementioned tech.

This is cool nonetheless.

robobenjie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. I had already started the (first, tiny) steps in creating something like this for my game. This is amazing. Take my money! :)
adamwong246 1 day ago 0 replies      

This game totally needs to implement this. It has some similar ideas though. Take a look at this closely: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/assets/000/945/686/c415709a876b...

notice how the wind blowing right to left affects the sprite: his cloak moves with the wind. Now that's attention to detail!

cscheid 1 day ago 0 replies      
And one could use Teddy and the myriad followup papers to automatically get the 3D profiles:


eigenbom 1 day ago 1 reply      
Drawing lighting profiles seems much simpler than drawing normal maps, and more flexible than drawing height-maps. I had access to the Sprite Lamp alpha, and was able to come up with these images [1][2] in a short amount of time. I am enthusiastic about the future of pixel art games that use sprites that have more information encoded in them (lighting, material, physics).

1. http://bp.io/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hospital2.gif2. http://bp.io/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/img_Preview.gif

ronaldx 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can this be used on real world (e.g. still life) objects?Outstanding.
willvarfar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this the technique that I glimpsed on TIGSource Screenshot Saturday the other week?


dyselon 1 day ago 0 replies      
We used an automated version of this to get interesting lighting on Skullgirls, and it's a neat effect. It's really cool to see more people exploring all the cool ways you can leverage your 3D card for better 2D art!
jcromartie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Couldn't it encode the normal map in the RGB channels of a single extra image, instead of 4 extra images?
ThomW 1 day ago 0 replies      
Legend of Dungeon was released a few months ago after a successful Kickstarter using a similar technique for lighting its 2d sprites.


Unity just put up a story about the game yesterday as well: http://unity3d.com/gallery/made-with-unity/profiles/legend-o...

Fauntleroy 1 day ago 3 replies      
So all the examples only use one light... how many lights can you have in a scene? What kinds of lights are supported (omni, spot, etc)? Can you use different colors of lights? If I wanted to use hundreds of lit particles in a scene, how performant would it be?
chadhietala 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have no use for this, but it's awesome.
joshvm 1 day ago 3 replies      
Does anyone have a paper (paywalled is fine, I have institutional access) on the tech behind this? Fascinating!
theboss 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really cool.

My first thought was it is probably just a clever little convolution kernel trick but it seems harder after reading about it.

Jack000 1 day ago 0 replies      
there are also tools like crazybump: http://www.crazybump.com/

that generate normal maps from photos without human intervention.

What sprite lamp needs is integration with a 2d game engine. I'm not totally familiar with 2d engines, but they would have to support dynamic lighting with normal maps to make this work right?

pearjuice 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought kickstarter was supposed to be used for raising funds to develop products? He clearly already has a working product, kickstarter will just be pay-out day.
jscheel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is great work. Long live pixel art!
mkesper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please make this free software (open source).It looks really great!
tlarkworthy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was thinking about the same thing myself. If the lamp can unpack the 3d data from 2d assets in a web browser you could seriously increase the art quality in webapps without hugely increasing download size.
JeffL 1 day ago 0 replies      
It comes out looking a lot like voxel stuff, but it can only be rendered from the front. One cool advantage, though, is that the artist can bake in shadows.
_pmf_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everything that leads to more 2D games is great.
namuol 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Any plans on designing algorithms for automatically generating normal maps, or maybe including tools that make it easier to 'paint' them (along the lines of Z-Brush et al)?
aaronetz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. BTW, there are ways to automatically extract normals from 2D [1]. I wonder if it would be possible to use it for this purpose.

[1] http://make3d.cs.cornell.edu

dradtke 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome and kind of makes me want to get back into game programming. Unfortunately, I have no artistic ability whatsoever, and don't really have the time if I did.
nilkn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suppose for animations you'd need to recreate the light profiles for every frame?
jgalt212 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of the cooler things I've seen in a while.
frozenport 20 hours ago 0 replies      
How does this work with GLSL?
wtvanhest 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have nothing valuable to say, but my jaw dropped when I saw this.
dsugarman 1 day ago 0 replies      
does depth map = bump map here? are you treating each pixel as a depth or each pixel as a quad with its boundary points recorded in a depth map? it seems like the latter might be better because you get the norm of the pixel for stronger lighting calculations.
kin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. I'm no artist but I'm already looking for any excuse to use this.
Joyfield 1 day ago 0 replies      
Instead of painting several "lighting profiles", how about painting a single best effort heightmap/normal map?
pauljm 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is badass. Anything to encourage talented designers and developers to build more old-school platformers. Miss them so much.
AsymetricCom 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember doing stuff like this in VB/asm about 20 years ago. I miss VGA.
gtremper 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks like precomputed radiance transfer but for pixel art, cool.
deanblacc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow this is awesome. Could potentially save hours & hours of time. Count me in.
AbraKdabra 1 day ago 0 replies      
I stared completely amazed for like +20 loops at the first GIF, incredible job.
_random_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it game-engine-agnostic?
talles 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can't wait.
julian37 1 day ago 7 replies      
Completely off-topic, so first off: Sprite Lamp looks really awesome, great job and fingers crossed for a successful Kickstarter!

But, does anybody else use "upvotes vs # of comments" as a useful metric around here? I'm not actually running a tally but I believe this story takes the cake, at least over the last few weeks (months?) with currently 750 upvotes vs only 70 comments.

In short, I find the number of upvotes divided by the number of comments (or perhaps minus the number of comments) a better metric to determine the "interestingness" of a story compared to the number of upvotes alone. It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but I've noticed myself paying more attention to this dividend/sum recently than to the points alone.

I've pondered the thought a little bit over the past few months and of course there are several factors at play here, so there's not one single explanation for the phenomenon. But here is one shot:

When somebody comments on a story, there's an incentive to also upvote it because of the karma system: the more upvotes a story gets that you've commented on, the higher the likelihood that your comment gets upvoted. Perhaps not everybody thinks like that, but I think it's fair to say that a good percentage of commenters might upvote a story for their comment's sake and not necessarily for the story's sake. (Of course that's simplifying things: when you comment on a story, you probably also find the story interesting so you might have upvoted it anyway, karma or not.)

Anyway, from that perspective, the difference between number of upvotes and number of comments could be termed "genuine upvotes": people who really just thought it was a cool story, without any second thoughts regarding their karma balance and without necessarily having a strong opinion on the subject matter.

There are of course other, and perhaps simpler, factors/explanations: the less comments a story gets, the less controversial it is so if a story gets many upvotes and few comments, then perhaps it simply is uncontroversially good.

I've played with the idea of writing an alternate HN interface that uses this metric to weigh stories, but it never got anywhere. And there certainly isn't a simple solution: how to combine age, upvotes and number of comments into a useful ranking is black magic at best.

Again sorry for this offtopic blurb. It's just something I found myself thinking about a bit, and this story seems like a particularly good example.

And now back to 3d-inspired 2d awesomeness. How come I've never thought of this!

Google Security Team Member on NSA: "Fuck These Guys" plus.google.com
1175 points by cdvonstinkpot  4 days ago   396 comments top 50
sinak 3 days ago 14 replies      
I think it's pretty clear that we need both technical and legislative fixes to NSA surveillance. Just one of the two isn't enough: to get be even vaguely confident that surveillance ends, we need both. The technical fixes I can't speak to, but the legislative ones I've been thinking about for a while. In the last week, there have been two prominent bills announced to deal with surveillance:

- Bill 1: The FISA Improvements Act, from Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee. In short it legalizes most of what the NSA has been done.

- Bill 2: The USA FREEDOM ACT, from Sensenbrenner and Leahy, currently being considered by the House/Senate Judiciary committees. It amends 215 of FISA to end bulk phone metadata collection and fixes some of the problems with 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (under which PRISM is run). But it doesn't fix 702 fully, does nothing to end BULLRUN (undermining encryption) nor the surveillance that happens outside FISA (MUSCULAR, for example, and god knows what else).

Obviously the Feinstein bill can't be allowed to pass. But some really big names (ACLU, CDT) have thrown strong support behind the Freedom Act. I'm wondering what we as the Taskforce(.is) should do. It's clear to me that it doesn't go nearly far enough. And there's some chance that if it passes, Congress will view this whole thing as "dealt with" and not revisit the issue for years to come. But unfortunately the Freedom Act barely has the votes to get out of the judiciary committee, and getting it to pass through both houses requires a lot of momentum.

We've been working on a campaign asking folks to call and oppose Feinstein, and potentially to support the Freedom Act. But I'm not sure if that's a right move. Unfortunately, the public doesn't understand why privacy is important, and Americans aren't nearly angry enough for Congress to do anything more substantial than the Freedom Act. We might be able to push for amendments, but it's a long shot.

tl;dr - We've got two bills in Congress. One is terrible, one is mediocre. But we don't have the political momentum to do anything better than the mediocre bill. What do we do? Tech advocate conundrum.

cromwellian 3 days ago 8 replies      
It's ironic that when the Chinese attack against Google occurred, we thought the Chinese government was the most hostile state actor threat to worry about, but it turned out to be the US and UK government.
bowlofpetunias 3 days ago 5 replies      
Oh, the hypocrisy....

> "Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason."

Yes, so is invasion of privacy. Yet Google has no problem breaking the law and violating civil rights for profit.

> "Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people."

Yeah, like tax laws and privacy laws...

If you want to get on this high horse, you shouldn't be working for Google.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 3 replies      
I wondered about that traffic, and getting confirmation from the source that the only way the NSA could have it would be by tapping into the internal network is as quite damning.

Google has the best OpSec team I've ever known, it is my hope that they close this 'loophole' as completely as possible.

lsh123 3 days ago 5 replies      
Lets start from the beginning: the NSA "hack" became possible because Google (and its security team) made bad assumptions about the security of the connection between Google's data centers and did not encrypt the traffic. Basically, this is security 101: protect data at rest and protect data in flight. So, sorry but I think the better subject for discussion would be how badly Google screwed up, not how evil is NSA. Moreover, it is not clear if other governments or criminals also had access to the users' data (e.g. in Google's data centers located outside of the US). So far Google did not produce any public post-mortem thus we have no clue how bad was the problem.

P.S. I am sure I will get smashed in the comments, so let me say right away that NSA actions should be controlled and audited by the public (e.g. through our representatives in Congress). I think that the biggest "evil" here are the members of Congress who either approved NSA actions or failed to do their job and monitor/audit NSA properly. In particular, I would point my finger at Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] who should have been ousted from the office long time ago.

thex86 3 days ago 1 reply      
Appreciate Mike speaking up like this. We need more people within the industry to speak up. Not just hackers.

(People within these companies are also hackers, but they have more effect when they speak because they are part of a company)

SCdF 3 days ago 7 replies      
This has been asked before, but I'd love to hear from a dev (anonymously of course) who actually helped build this NSA madness. Is it like The Cube, where no one really knew what each piece was for? Is it that they are morally pro the NSA's attitude toward personal and corporate privacy, or do they just not care either way?
adamnemecek 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wow, a guy working for Google said "fuck you" to the NSA. All my doubts and worries are gone now.
pvnick 3 days ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind when considering reform by our legislature that any serious efforts on that front will likely be undermined with blackmail made possible by the very surveillance apparatus they are attempting to curtail [1]. I sincerely hope that Snowden's revelations prove or at least strongly hint towards such an assertion because until they do it's still "conspiracy theory." Free society is in deep shit, and for the life of me, even though I've thought about it obsessively for the past couple months now, I have no idea what can be done about it.

[1] http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/tag/russ-tice/

caycep 3 days ago 2 replies      
Here's one potential cultural snafu - my understanding is US intelligence based almost entirely on SIGINT. I'm not sure how great we are at plain old HUMINT, i.e. using people and relationships to get information and an overall picture of the world.

So all the defense community was raised on SIGINT, and anything seen as a curb on this - technical or legal, they will probably view it as some sort of existential threat. They would then fight tooth and nail to block any sort of reform. And the military industrial complex has quite a lot of legislative muscle....

rdl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm personally far more angry with Congress utterly failing in their oversight role, and to some extent with the judiciary for becoming at best a rubber stamp, than with NSA. The President (pretty much from LBJ onward, but even farther back) is also fairly complicit in this, but that part is accelerating.

I would probably be a single-issue voter if a candidate for congress were likely to win and was aligned with me on this issue but opposed on virtually everything else.

One essentially-fantasy is to run for Congress directly. Unfortunately I haven't lived my entire life to my mid-30s in trying to become a viable political candidate, so this would be difficult. Central or Eastern WA is probably the best bet, along with starting a 50-500 person business which employs a lot of local people (manufacturing of some kind) and generally being an engaged local citizen for a decade or more. But that's a long term goal.

bcoates 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is information about disruptions to the US PSTN collected anywhere?

The discussion of cable tapping and the NSA's apparent taste for doing things the expedient way instead of the legal way makes me wonder if the "vandalism" domestic underground fiber cuts in the years after 9/11 form an interesting pattern.

lazyjones 3 days ago 2 replies      
Cussing is all fine and understandable, but I missed the part where the Google opsec team was searching for and plugging the holes the NSA is exploiting, or switching to another carrier, or suing the NSA for illegal wiretapping.
ismail 3 days ago 1 reply      
'Privacy' currently is just a facade, most people have just not realised that. Here is an interesting fact, that joe public do not realise.

If you have a mobile phone, you can be tracked, even if there is no GPS on the device. Besides this if the NSA chooses, they can track practically ANYONE in the world, all they need is a mobile number. I would not be surprised if this is actually one of the tools they have.


Due to the nature of how GSM and mobile operators integrate when roaming. When a mobile operator signs an international roaming agreement, they setup signalling links between their switches and VLR's (Visitor Location Register).

The mobile operator in the visited country needs to authenticate you against your home network, this happens via SS7.

Once this link is established, it is assumed to be trusted, and most operators DO NOT apply any filtering on these commands. So with a carefully crafted SS7 command, you could request the location of a mobile subscriber, even if they have not even attempted to join your network.

Now here is where it gets interesting, get access to send ss7 commands from an operator with many international roaming agreements, and you can get details on practically any subscriber. Get access to 2-4 (i.e AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodaphone) of these massive tier1 operators, and you can get the location of practically everyone with a mobile handset.

LiamMcCalloway 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am surprised this exerpt from Alan Rusbriger's article in the New York Review of Books [1] hasn't made the rounds:

> "But I did have an interesting (unattributable, of course) briefing from someone very senior in one West Coast mega-corporation who conceded that neither he nor the CEO of his company had security clearance to know what arrangements his own organization had reached with the US government. So, its like a company within a company? I asked. He waved his hand dismissively: I know the guy, I trust him.

West Coast mega-corporation does not know what West Coast mega-corporation does.

[1] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/21/snowden...

allochthon 3 days ago 0 replies      
My feeling is that the NSA/GCHQ hack was arguably an unfortunate thing for them to do, although somewhat predictable, once one knows of the existence of the network topology vulnerability that was exploited. But presumably somewhere in Google someone knew about this possibility sometime back. I wonder whether there was an assumption that nobody would be clever enough to figure things out, or whether security engineers were working 24/7 to fill in the gap and just didn't get there in time.

Either way, this is a good stimulus for rolling out deeper encryption.

ynniv 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think that we also forget in this age of reduced crime, that it doesn't matter whether or not something is illegal if you have no means of preventing someone from doing it or holding them responsible when they do. We discovered this situation not by uncovering the intrusion, but from leaked documents. The government has a lot of employees and likes to document its operations, which can lead to whistleblowing... organized crime has few employees, tight lips, and doesn't offer the same protection of whistleblowers. The problem here is not the NSA.
cpeterso 3 days ago 2 replies      
I can understand using unencrypted network within a data center (unless you are doubly paranoid), but why wouldn't they encrypt data between data centers?
w_t_payne 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, this is how it's gonna play out:

Over the next few years it will become more and more common for "in-flight" data to be encrypted. As the "low-hanging fruit" starts to disappear, state-level attackers will increasingly turn their attention from fibre to endpoint; with a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on mobile devices, apps, and embedded systems. This is, to put it mildly, incredibly challenging terrain for passive defence, where complexity all-but-guarantees unknown vulnerabilities and hidden attack vectors.

Now, I am not too sure about the ethics of active defence / networked HIPS, (Too similar by a long shot to the sort of malevolent behaviour it is supposed to defend against) but it might be something that we are going have to have a look at.

poxrud 3 days ago 4 replies      
The NSA must have somebody working on the inside at google. Otherwise it would be extremely difficult to reverse engineer the RPC protocol that was used by google's servers to communicate between each other. Even on an unencrypted network I can image it would be very difficult to reverse engineer the protocol without any help.
josefresco 3 days ago 0 replies      
Global security sure is easy if you're an engineer working for a large tech company. I say that with as much sarcasm as possible.

Day after day I see post after post around the tech web about how horrible the actions are of the NSA but few if any propose a workable solution to balancing both securing and obscuring actions taken to protect a nation, with the public's need for privacy and protection from abuse.

Oversight, oversight, oversight is all we hear yet nothing concrete to describe how the US (or any nation) is supposed to provide security and keep the enemy from monitoring the techniques and actions taken by intelligence services.

Maybe I'm naive but I don't see a way to keep spying (something all nations do and have done for centuries) with the public's need for complete disclosure.

stevenrace 3 days ago 0 replies      
They are likely both complicit in - as well as victims of - fiber tapping given GOOG now owns the building housing one of the largest peering exchanges on the Internet [1].

[1] 111 Eight Ave in NYC (housing Hiberia's trans-Atlantic cable, Equinox, Deutsch Telecom, etc)


davidgerard 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Fuck these people" was Wikipedia's reaction to seeing the puzzle globe on the NSA slide too. First time I've ever seen Jimmy Wales use profanity in a tweet: https://twitter.com/jimmy_wales/status/362626509648834560
acd 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the trends has been like this and history tends to repeat it self but in different forms.1) Main frame - central computing2) PC revolution - decentralized computing3) The cloud - central computing4) ? Hackers invent p2p - decentralized network corporations,government not in control of any communication, information heavily encrypted possibly distributed using erasure codes. Network run by friends who you can trust. Code written by hackers
androtheos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Any data running over a leased or owned fiber between data centers should still be encrypted. Why didn't they have a VPN between the data centers? I don't get it and I personally think it's inexcusable. I believe I would lose my job if I my companies data was stolen and their was something I could have done to prevent it, and rightly so. I personally think that everyone has been far to forgiving of companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook etc... for having done such a poor job of protecting the data we entrust to them.
rurounijones 3 days ago 0 replies      
Given the snippet of traffic involved, can they make an educated guess which links were compromised to get it? (It is DB replication traffic so if you know the source DB and the dest DB then you can work out the route... in theory anyway, with Google Complexity, who knows...)
sschueller 3 days ago 1 reply      
How do we know the Chinese or someone else hasn't hacked into the NSA and is using that data to gain access to secure systems that would otherwise be almost impossible to break into.

Wasn't there a Google break in not so long ago?

ksk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, if you read the Terms of Service that Google (and to be fair - everyone else) makes people agree to - Google is free to sell your data to anyone they want. So I don't know which 'Google user' is expecting their data to be private anyway. Not to beat the 'you are the product' dead horse, but I wonder if they were to actually start selling user data would people be in uproar?
znowi 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's good to see there are still people at Google with integrity and not afraid to speak up. Sadly, they do not run things. In this environment, you either quit or turn to the dark side.
kriro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Where are the startups that disrupt the 1984 surveillance state? I think YC recently ventured into nonprofits, maybe they should consider adding one company that "furthers the cause of freedom" to each batch or something.
badwetter 3 days ago 0 replies      
The judiciary should always have an adversarial relationship with the Intelligence community in order to have checks and balances. I think FISA could work with more and varied members on it's committee.

Feinstein is a joke and obviously isn't well informed on the subject matter she's supposedly overlooking.

cgtyoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the first time I've seen a HN article pass the 1000-point mark. Who doesn't love someone telling the govt to eff off?
vorce 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's time to also highlight the fact that people enabled the NSA to do these things. A lot of them engineers. In some cases I'm sure the ones building the stuff didn't or couldn't see the end goal. But I guess there have been many who HAVE suspected or known about the use-cases of the products/software that they have been a part of making. This scares me, it is time that engineers take some moral responsibility. Maybe some course in ethical decision making wouldn't hurt to include in engineering colleges?

(Note: All fields should take moral responsibility, but engineers seem to be worse than a lot of others.)

tonyplee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just simple big government(s) v.s. big company - happened over and over again in history - remember how powerful Microsoft was in the end of the 90.

Governments don't like challenge to its power. They will find ways to control the Jedi Council.

api 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people."

This is sort of the crux of it. We are degenerating into a true oligarchy and/or gangster state in which there are two different systems of law: one for the politically connected and one for the plebs.

dell1994 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oops. What a Hypocrisy? The moral righteous Google. Little People vs Big People? Please stop. Don't do Evil still works for you guys.. I guess.

You have the resources to defend it, if you want to defend. You choose not to in many ways.

So please dont explode in profanity several times a day.

AsymetricCom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lol a Brit trying to lay into an American corporation for imperialism. I wonder why a system he "worked" on for 1 (or 2) years was so easy to subvert. What a laugh.
w_t_payne 3 days ago 0 replies      
So how long before HN gets shut down for supporting criminality and terrorism?
kgarten 3 days ago 0 replies      
afterwards they will be fu* * * * using FISA court orders ...
puma1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Being that google probably has an unreal security, did they know the NSA got in.. or was it a surprise after learning it from the info leak?
ratsmack 3 days ago 0 replies      
This may put a small kink in their plans, but the NSA and GCHQ have unlimited resources and will find another way in.
__matt 3 days ago 0 replies      
fuck these guys, they stole our business model!
frank_boyd 3 days ago 2 replies      
Well that's ok. But what really needs to happen is this to come from the top management - and most of all, they need to ACT accordingly. Until then, all this "fuck them" exclamations aren't worth a dime.
blparker 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does one "capture" data flowing over a private fiber channel? Does it require a physical tap?
ffrryuu 3 days ago 0 replies      
There comes a time when principles are more important than life itself.
jokoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the few who dares thanking Snowden...
arkj 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is just crap!!! The google guys are no better.
arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
My bet, especially with the rumors of a secret google data ship, is that google is getting ready to make a data power play.

Something along these lines:

"Look at the horrible way NSA treated our customers... We're gonna make sure the NSA can't get our data in the future, and protect everyone's data. Come use our services where we treat you right!"

It was always just a matter of time before a corporation had the ability to compete in the total information awareness arena with the three letters. Google is probably the primary candidate that has the capability, besides MS/Apple.

Of course the three letters win on the data side, but the company wins on the customer side. Win win. For them. Lose for us.

theinterjection 3 days ago 1 reply      
Has it ever occurred to anyone that, just maybe, the whole NSA thing is a cover-up to distract the attention from the fact that it's actually the megacorporations that want to spy on you? This is a good way for Google, Microsoft, etc. to look innocent. Let's not forget that it was us who decided to trust these corporations with all our personal data.
Fix Ubuntu fixubuntu.com
552 points by panarky  1 day ago   286 comments top 49
cs702 1 day ago 5 replies      
Ubuntu provides by default an on/off slider in its privacy settings for disabling the display of online search results in the dash[1], BUT I'm not sure if changing that slider to 'off' will also disable the sharing of searches with Canonical's servers. (The language used by the settings app is ambiguous: "When searching on the dash, include online search results - ON/OFF.")

Moreover, I don't particularly feel like spending time & effort examining Unity Dash source code to figure out if and how my information might be shared with Canonical and/or other third parties. Canonical should make an unambiguous promise not to transmit any data to anyone, right there on the privacy settings screen, whenever that slider is set to the 'off' position. I would trust such an unambiguous promise.

So thank you for submitting this website here -- I've bookmarked it for when I upgrade my desktops from 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS next year.


[1] http://b2b.cbsimg.net/blogs/screenshot-from-2013-03-24-09342...


Edit: Added second paragraph.

zx2c4 1 day ago 11 replies      
Solution: stop using Ubuntu.

There are lots of other very able distributions out there, many of which not only have better privacy features but also are technologically superior in one way or another.

In no particular order, these are all very capable operating systems for a variety of needs:

* https://fedoraproject.org/

* http://www.centos.org/

* http://www.opensuse.org/

* http://www.mageia.org/

* https://www.archlinux.org/

* http://www.gentoo.org/

* http://www.sabayon.org/

* http://www.debian.org/

* http://www.linuxmint.com/

This list is non exhaustive. They are all free. They all work well in different places. There are others too.

We've all had ample indication that Ubuntu was headed for the pits. It's time to move on.

  -- a proud gentoo dev

rlpb 1 day ago 6 replies      
I (still) don't think online searches are a privacy violation.

1) It's a search box. Stuff not typed in the search box never leaves the machine (unless you count things that do by design, such as web browsers and email, obviously).

2) It's plainly obvious the first time you use it that results are coming back from the Internet. No real user is going to be misled into believing that searches are local. This makes it no more a privacy violation than the default Google search box in Firefox.

2b) There is a prominent notice saying so. If you don't think it's prominent enough, see point 2.

3) It's a search box that didn't exist previously. Canonical invented it. I think it's reasonable for Canonical to create a "search the universe" mechanism on the desktop. Fair enough if you don't like it, or don't want to use it. It's trivial to turn it off (there's even a global Privacy Settings dialog) or to use other searches. But that doesn't suddenly make it a privacy violation; nor the results of your search "ads".

Edit: I should have expected the downvotes. I notice, though, that the downvoters are unable to actually respond to my argument.

nisa 1 day ago 6 replies      
My personal fix Ubuntu:

Be careful, this is pretty rude and may break stuff - it is also not complete but some dependencies are too entangled. Only geoclue and indicator-datetime still annoy me. The idea to poll the internet regulary to check for the timezone of the machine is beyond me.

   apt-get purge ubuntuone* # I don't use it   apt-get purge unity-lens-music unity-lens-video unity-lens-photos # I don't need the integration   apt-get purge friends* # I don't use this either   apt-get purge telepathy-logger telepathy-indicator telepathy-salut # pidgin is enough for me   apt-get purge unity-scope-musicstores unity-scope-openclipart # No need for that in Unity   apt-get purge oneconf # I don't want to sync my settings   apt-get purge empathy # pidgin works fine    apt-get purge software-center* # synaptic is enough    apt-get purge evolution-data-server evolution-data-server-goa evolution-calendar-factory # thunderbird and lightning for me   apt-get purge unity-scopes-runner unity-webapps-common xul-ext-unity xul-ext-websites-integration # my browser is enough - no integration for me   apt-get --purge autoremove   apt-get install pidgin synaptic 
Shrinks RSS from 622MB to ~400MB on my system.

Pxtl 1 day ago 12 replies      
All Linux distros should be free charities and their developers should eat catfood and ramen.
Mikeb85 1 day ago 4 replies      
This whining about Ubuntu is ridiculous. Removing the shopping features is easy enough anyway, without devoting a site to it, never mind posting it to HN.

Furthermore, there's plenty of choices out there. The best of which (IMO) are openSUSE, Fedora, and Arch/Manjaro. Mint is terrible - like a buggier version of Ubuntu or unstable Debian...

Furthermore, Canonical puts alot of work into Ubuntu. They deserve to get paid. Maybe consider actually using Amazon through their app as a way of contributing?

NateDad 1 day ago 2 replies      
If people did 30 seconds of searching they'd realize this information is available on the official Stack Exchange site AskUbuntu.com which is directly supported by Canonical's paid staff:


bitwize 1 day ago 1 reply      
panarky 1 day ago 1 reply      
"In case you are either 1) a complete idiot; or 2) a lawyer; or 3) both, please be aware that this site is not affiliated with or approved by Canonical Limited."

"This site criticizes Canonical for certain privacy-invading features of Ubuntu and teaches users how to fix them. So, obviously, the site is not approved by Canonical."

"And our use of the trademarked term Ubuntu is plainly descriptiveit helps the public find this site and understand its message."

ktf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Alternative method: click the big on/off switch for online search results.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not defending Ubuntu. I think it's gross that they include this at all, and extra-gross that it's on by default. But let's not get too carried away with the hyperbole and conspiracy theories.

Just read the source! Or if you don't trust the source, just examine your network traffic. Pretty easy to verify whether the button does what it claims...

EDIT/PSA: Don't copy/paste things from a website directly into your terminal. See http://thejh.net/misc/website-terminal-copy-paste, for example.

jccc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Regarding that "disclaimer" in the corner, here's why it was added:


daniel-levin 1 day ago 3 replies      
I use XMonad, and don't have these problems to fix (in a sense, because XMonad 'fixes' them). For those who are on Linux who've never used XMonad, I suggest you give it a try. It's awesome. I'm on Ubuntu 13.04 and have never been bothered by ads. Also, I find the instantaneous desktop switching and fullscreen windows, resizable tiling invaluable.
wojt_eu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why you shouldn't paste code from websites directly into terminal: http://thejh.net/misc/website-terminal-copy-paste
bowlofpetunias 1 day ago 0 replies      
You misspelled "Fix Unity".

Yes, of course average desktop users don't get the difference between OS and desktop manager, but a) wasn't that one of the issues we were supposed to solve with Linux on the desktop?, and b) those users are never, ever going to follow those instruction.

I'm all in favor of spreading awareness, encouraging people to turn this crap off and putting pressure on Canonical to at the very least make this explicit opt-in.

But this is just jerking off in the dark.

themstheones 1 day ago 1 reply      
I started using Ubuntu in 2005, and fell in love with it almost instantly. It was great for a long time before the slide began. It's sad that this site exists.
facorreia 1 day ago 4 replies      
I fixed it by switching to Mint. I'm liking it so far.
applecore 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you're looking for a simpler OS, you should try Xubuntu:


ansible 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ahhh... Unity.

Shortly after upgrading, I needed to burn a CD. So I go to fire up Gnome's Brasero. I start typing it in, and before I've finished, Unity helpfully provides me with advertisements of bras for women. At work. Yeah, that's helpful.

drill_sarge 1 day ago 3 replies      
People use default Ubuntu with Unity? From what I see, most people use a variant (X/L/K) of it and those are really well put together without (most) of the Canonical crap.
berrypicker 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not whining here, I'm a long-time Ubuntu user and want it to do well and become more popular, but if the 'year of the Linux desktop' is ever to happen, there are greater fixes that Ubuntu needs (Ubuntu is pretty much the only distro that, at this time, has a chance of becoming mainstream i.e. reach at least 5% usage share).

For starters, it needs to work out of the box with the average user in mind. I don't think I've ever had a smooth install that didn't require searching the Ubuntu forums to get basic stuff running. If Ubuntu wants to compete with Windows, it can't ship an operating system that can't wake from a suspend on most laptops and requires using a terminal (which most people don't even know what it's for) to perform basic tasks and configuration. The experience for a novice computer user, however terrible you think Microsoft is, has always been excellent on Windows in that it suits their needs of requiring only little knowledge of how software works.

sbarre 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like the disclaimer in the bottom right. Except for the "idiot" part at the beginning which I feel cheapens the message, it is very well written in clear language.
davidgerard 1 day ago 1 reply      
" I wanted to update/install my nvidia drivers, so I opened the dash and typed "drivers". IT DISPLAYED GOLF CLUBS on sale at Amazon!"


Of course, 14.04 will increase the usability level by automatically charging your credit card, with next day delivery of the golf clubs guaranteed.

davidrudder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pasting code from a website, even with explanations, worries me far more than someone recording my Internet search history.
adrianmalacoda 1 day ago 0 replies      
Proud user of Trisquel[1] since 2010. It's a fork of Ubuntu that adheres to GNU's Guidelines for Free System Distributions[2].

While I'm aware that the general opinion of the free software movement ranges from "extreme" to "considered harmful," it is a nice feeling knowing that the creators of the distro have some ethical guidelines in place to prevent things like this - as it turns out, the free software types also tend to be some of the louder privacy advocate types as well.

Mint is probably a better option unless you know your system does not require proprietary drivers, as GNU/FSF kosher distros use a version of the kernel that lacks those proprietary drivers.

[1] http://trisquel.info/

[2] https://www.gnu.org/distros/free-system-distribution-guideli...

notatoad 1 day ago 0 replies      
why yes, let's encourage people to copy and paste random code snippets from the internet into their terminal.
harel 1 day ago 3 replies      
As a Gnome user all this Unity madness just went over my head - I never had to deal with it. But there are things that keep breaking from one release to the other (for which I blame myself for having twitchy update-trigger fingers). But as a whole I'm a happy user in particular that now Steam is on Linux. My question is - how does Steam work on the Ubuntu derivatives like Xubuntu and Mint? Will it work on Debian?
schmichael 1 day ago 0 replies      
If only this also replaced Mir with Wayland, upstart with systemd, and Unity with Gnome.
jiggy2011 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there isn't an offshoot distro that is exactly identical except has all of these features disabled by default.
MarcusBrutus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get:

    No such schema 'com.canonical.Unity.Lenses'
when running the script, and a few lines below:

   E: Unable to locate package unity-lens-shopping

pacofvf 1 day ago 0 replies      
if you are worried because what you type at the dash is being sent to third parties for advertising then you should stop using google to search anything (yeah including maps), this is the last reason I wouldn't use Unity, I actually don't use it, but I don't use it because of the friggin vertical toolbar and the sluggish performance.
lacion 1 day ago 0 replies      
frankly is canonical is getting money from me typing "gedit" or virtualbox a couple of times them thats ok for me, its not like their scanning every document on your pc and sending information around.

on a side not i would like to know how much people complaining about ubuntu practices still google services.

kclay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been using lubuntu on my laptop ever since I got it
j7 1 day ago 0 replies      
This becomes more relevant every day: http://magnatecha.com/moving-from-ubuntu-to-debian/
mariuolo 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I see a Streisand Effect in the making here.
andyl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just use Xubuntu!
jbeja 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am just using Elementary Os.
vladtaltos 1 day ago 0 replies      
this should give a nice boost to fixubuntu.com page hits. nice work canonical - I knew you secretly wanted people to disable the default security problems... cheers...
alexanderchr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, this made the search a _lot_ faster. Thanks!
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
1) Install ratpoison...
ChrisNorstrom 1 day ago 0 replies      
He should have added the code to install a compiz plugin to move that damn Unity Bar from the left to the bottom of the screen like 90% of normal human beings have wanted it since the beginning.

Let's just be honest, Mark Shuttleworth has Steve Jobs envy, as many creative types do. They want to be the "creative arrogant leader that everyone has to listen to".

lcedp 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just don't use Unity
camedee 1 day ago 0 replies      
s/fix ubuntu/fork ubuntu/g
surge 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just installed 13.10 today, perfect!
Zardoz84 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fine but I simply use KUbuntu.
mergy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Better option >> http://www.crunchbang.org
Sami_Lehtinen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Choose Debian, Mint or Xubuntu.
puppetmaster3 1 day ago 0 replies      
fyi, Arch has the best wiki. that is all.
orionblastar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Canonical is using people and organizations who use Ubuntu:http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/11/canoni...

I had recently made Blastarix:http://blastar.in/linux/

I am now scared that I'll get sued, just because I modified Ubuntu, renamed it to Blastarix, and removed the Amazon search and ads feature with some other tweaks. I do not know how to remove the Ubuntu logo and startup screens and I used uck to make the distro. I also added the 32 bit Steam for Linux client so gamers had it pre-installed and most developers play games on Steam anyway.

OHMYGODUSETHIS 1 day ago 1 reply      
Use Arch. Problem solved. Yes, it takes a bit more work, but you get a much better understanding of your system and learn how to block or eliminate things (like this ad-serving search crap) you don't like.
Co-Founder of Youtube makes his first comment in 8 years youtube.com
494 points by rl12345  1 day ago   255 comments top 55
mcphilip 1 day ago 7 replies      
The longer I use youtube while signed in, the more useless it becomes to me. I have a wide range of interests. If I'm watching the Dead Skeletons - Dead Mantra music video, it's not helpful to have 5 Starcraft 2 VODs in the recommended video list (i.e. I enjoy watching professional Starcraft 2). I'd much prefer recommendations similar to the Dead Skeletons. I've found no way to turn off this recommendation bubble and have since decided youtube is best used without an account if you want to actually explore its content.
cromwellian 1 day ago 5 replies      
Here's a simple way to improve YouTube. Turn off comments.

I have never once, as far as I can remember, read a YouTube comment that was in any way, insightful or provided meaningful information that wasn't better obtained elsewhere. It is a cesspool, and the people who are complaining about needing to login to G+ to leave a comment frankly largely intersect with the set of people who are the problem.

Honestly, if logging into G+ bothers you, you probably are the kind of person who "shoots from the hip" and doesn't put a lot of thought into your comments anyway.

I don't believe the G+ comments on YouTube are about the idea of real identity being a check against racists, assholes, douchebags, and other comment archetypes. That has failed for Facebook comments and so has up/downvoting on YT. Instead, I think it's about filtering based on social network sharing.

Simply put, if someone shares a link to your video somewhere with their circle of followers, the external thread that develops outside of YT, within that community is likely to be more coherent and cogent, and that will be surfaced in the YT comments especially if you have social affinity with that person.

Think about it as a kind of comment federation. What if every YT video that has been linked from HackerNews stories surfaced the HN comments directly under the video on YT if you were in fact, a HackerNews user (had a login). Don't you think the HN comment thread would be higher quality than the general YT audience comments? That kind of federation is technically not possible today, because we don't have a standard spec for comment upstreaming, but because Google owns G+ and YT, they can do this kind of integration.

The reality is, comments from video reshares from people you know, who have small circles of followers, will be higher quality. Someone with 10,000 or 100,000 followers however probably will exhibit the same problems because the probability of bad actors rises with quantity. However, at least you can control this by filtering who you follow.

There's a general purpose derangement going on with respect to G+ that I just don't get. I don't like Facebook, never have, I barely ever log into it. I don't like social networks in general, I like _interest networks_. But I don't throw a hissy fit when most of the sites on the web force me to either create an account, or login with Facebook. I just login with Facebook and go about my business, denying most of the permissions it wants from me. It's really not that big of a deal. I don't use FB, but it is not a burden on me personally to use it as a single sign on service.

The reason why I use G+ is similar to the reason why I use HN or Reddit -- the communities. Simply put, there are more interesting, tightly knit, communities with less annoying, disruptive people on G+ than there is on FB. Maybe that's elitist, but that's the way it is. Perhaps it's the advantage of having less users, less adoption than Facebook. There's merit in being a so-called "Ghost Town", in that anyone willing to live there is more dedicated to the town, and less willing to take a shit on it.

sker 1 day ago 10 replies      
I've pretty much given up. Google has deleted my playlists and favorites countless times. Every time they try to integrate YouTube with one of their services/account management, I end up losing everything.

My only consolation is that Google+ is accumulating a lot of vitriol and hate across the web. It's shaping up to be the most hated "social" product in the entire Internet.

ancarda 1 day ago 5 replies      
A few weeks ago, YouTube started automatically signing me into my Google+ account (which I was forced into getting) rather than my YouTube account -- which has years of favorites and other content. I'm getting sick of it. I only signed up to Google+ because my friend wanted to use Hangouts. Now it's screwed up my YouTube channel and I can't revert it.

The only reason I post on YouTube is to share small clips with people (all my videos are unlisted). Vimeo takes ~40 minutes to encode, whereas YouTube is a lot faster meaning it's far more convenient.

Checking out my Google account, it seems I have Chrome on here. I'm outraged as I never signed in with Google on Chrome. I always clicked "Not Now". What does "Not Now" even mean? Where's the "Never" option?

This is why I hate Google. I probably made the mistake of signing into my YouTube account on Chrome which has been infected with Google+ and that leaked through to Chrome. Apparently that means my bookmarks can be stored without my permission.

The best way is to deal with this issue is to delete my Google Account. Unfortunately, that's very problematic and I've been spending the last few months trying to move to other services. I'm slowly migrating my mail (admittedly to Google Apps but I'll be switching to a different provider soon), once I'm done I'll nuke the account.

That's along with Google Docs/Drive. BitTorrent Sync actually works very well as an alternative.

I can't wait till I get to hit delete on this account. Good fucking riddance.

OoTheNigerian 1 day ago 3 replies      
Although it may not be a popular opinion, here is the reason: there is only one Google (at least for social stuff) and one login system now.

Google plus is the "Google account" you need to use any of their social services.

I am frankly surprised that they allowed the login of their acquisitions to stay fragmented for such a long time.

VikingCoder 1 day ago 8 replies      
Because YouTube comments were completely useless, and now the company is trying to make them useful / interesting.

If I go to a viral video, and I see comments on it from people I actually KNOW, I personally think that would be really cool. That was completely impossible, the old way.

doe88 1 day ago 2 replies      
That way Google+ can claim 1 billion active users and say their service is a huge success, even surpassing their nemesis Facebook.
ringdabell 1 day ago 3 replies      
What happened to "don't be evil"?

The criticism is a bit thick, but the prompts to join G+ are increasingly manipulative and gimmicky, designed almost entirely to _trick_ the user to into signing up + spamming their gmail contacts.

A requirement to have G+ account to make youtube comments is just one part of a greater trend that includes:

1. Requiring a G+ account to review Android apps in the Play store2. Cunningly worded join prompts for first-time Android users when they start up their new Android device(s)

You know G+ is an abysmal failure when the Page & Co has to force it on users of google's other services. C'mon bro, what gives?

The moral superiority narrative that the valley likes to perpetuate vis-a-vis more traditional industries like banking, etc. is increasingly laughable and absurd.

Let's be real tech bros and broesses. Bidness is bidness.

jonknee 1 day ago 1 reply      
Considering that it was nearly impossible to make YouTube's commenting system worse, I'm interested to see if the G+ integration improves things. For whatever reason YouTube has forever had the lowest quality comments of any site I can think of.
verelo 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Because you sold YouTube to Google"

In all serious though, I think this just further opens up the door for competing services like Netflix, Instagram and Vine to dig in. With Netflix for my serious video watching, and Vine / Instagram for cat videos, I find myself visiting YouTube much less. Requiring a G+ account for comments is the little extra effort that makes me not engage.

IMO YouTube on its way to be the MySpace of video.

da_n 1 day ago 3 replies      
Tangentially related, my experience with the YouTube/Google plus social network merge has been pretty awful. I opted-out initially to integrate with Google plus, I couldn't have cared less so I just stuck with my original username/account. It seems even though I opted out, Google created a Google plus YouTube profile for me anyway and now chooses to nag me about it every time I go there. I have to pick every time I go to YouTube which 'profile' I want to use (defaulted to Google plus social network) even though I never wanted this new profile, and I have a big banner telling me I am using YouTube as profile 'x' permanently stuck at the top just to rub it in.

This annoyed me enough that a couple of weeks ago I gave up and tried to integrate it into their social network so I could just have 1 profile. Now it appears I no longer have the option to merge my original profile into Google plus, it just isn't there on the account settings. Because I made one decision to opt-out of their social network it seems I will permanently have 2 profiles from this time forward, the Google plus one has none of my history, subscriptions, likes etc it is a completely useless account.

Kylekramer 1 day ago 2 replies      
YouTube comments have long been reviled as the worst of the worst the internet has to offer. I don't know why people seem to want the status quo.
jiggy2011 1 day ago 4 replies      
Surely it wouldn't be it couldn't be that hard to built a better youtube and seed it with quality content. I'm surprised nobody has succeeded.

Is it just that the costs of serving video require an enormous company or is it that the term youtube is basically synonymous with "internet video".

Mindless2112 1 day ago 0 replies      
Headline is inaccurate, though I can't really blame the submitter. jawed occasionally makes comments on YouTube (example: [1]), but eventually hides everything but YouTube's first video from his channel (presumably so he can "make his first comment in X years" which then gets headlines).

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo&lc=XBr2JHTM1EEDT3...

smanuel 1 day ago 1 reply      
- Google is afraid of Facebook

- Google wants more users in Google+

- People don't care about Google+

- This doesn't change the fact that Google is still afraid of Facebook and wants more people to use G+

- Google will try to do everything it can to drag you into this service which you won't use anyway

What's so strange about this?

zaidf 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a sad, desperate attempt by Google to take on a competitor(facebook). I wish Google showed as much restraint and care in taking on facebook as facebook is showing in taking on google when it comes to search.
jrs99 1 day ago 3 replies      
i hate going to youtube and realizing that i'm signed in and my history is being saved.
jaxomlotus 1 day ago 1 reply      
In answer to his comment: Because you sold it to Google.
rl12345 1 day ago 0 replies      

the screenshot, just in case.

sdfjkl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find the web works much better with fewer logins[1]. In my opinion, the old way of using the web, by URL alone, worked best. Want to share something? Copy the URL to your blog, paste it to IRC/IM or wherever. Those that actually care enough to follow you will comment on it if they really want to (and you want them to). We never needed those moronic sharing buttons, only those who wanted to track us did. And we don't need logins for any of that.

[1] I noticed this since using the Self-destructing cookies addon for Firefox, which deletes all cookies for a site when the last tab on that site is closed (unless whitelisted). I'm whitelisting only a select few sites, and Google/YouTube are not among them.

mlyang 1 day ago 2 replies      
This isn't just to make commenting more social (i.e. pushing friends comments to the top)-- I imagine it's also largely to hold more people accountable for their comments (w/ their reputation) so that there aren't as many nonsense/flame/bigoted comments like there always have been on Youtube, and in turn get higher quality comments (e.g. Quora vs. Yahoo answers analogy)
ktran03 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get annoyed by those n stupid popups on every video now. Do I really have to close 15 * overlays before I can watch a video?? really?

Google, how does this add to the experience? How does it make youtube a better product?

I won't even get started on the asinine recommendation system. Backed by one of the largest companies in the world and the brightest employees in the world. And yet youtube gets crappier every year. Scratching my head on this one.

jamaicahest 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Top comments are about complaining about how people don't like youtube, instead of actually debating the actual issue. Seems this site is becoming more like Reddit every day. I love Reddit, but it's like beer and cola. I love both, but I love them for their different taste and I don't want them to taste the same.
mullingitover 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not at all a G+ fan, and yet I wholeheartedly support Google's decision to require it for YouTube comments. There is no single policy they could've enacted to improve the quality of their comment cespool, and I feel that the people complaining about it the loudest were likely part of the problem.
Shooti 1 day ago 0 replies      
IIRC don't think this comment was actually made today/yesterday. I remember it being linked to a couple a weeks ago when they flipped the switch on G+ comments for the discussion tab and this was his response to that.
peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought the point was to reduce the hate-filled screeds by linking their comments to a real profile of a real person. But with the "nyms" fiasco that's probably impossible now.
mrpotes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the answer not "Because you sold out"? What did he expect to happen when Google snapped them up?
mcintyre1994 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think they've handled the merge well at all, but it happening was both inevitable and sensible. Google+ obviously has much better communication features, and it's ridiculous that Youtube didn't have them for so long.
hardwaresofton 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had a hearty laugh at this. Thanks to everyone who made this possible. Walled gardens forever
pearjuice 1 day ago 0 replies      
So does this increase the quality of comments now that anything you post will turn up in search results with your name?
personlurking 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just tried to comment on a Youtube video and was not asked to sign in to Google+, so not sure what the co-founder is talking about.

I don't have Google+ but I have a Youtube account.

StandardFuture 1 day ago 1 reply      
Uh ... these guys have created their own response to the changes on YouTube lol: http://www.vus.io
ape4 1 day ago 2 replies      
It seems with Google+ people can add you but you have no option to reject them. Anybody know a way?
wil421 1 day ago 0 replies      
I dont want another social media site, and I especially dont want to get forced into using one. I also want to use google's apps such has gmail, youtube, and others without having to sign into google+.
knodi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also WTF does it keep asking me if I want to use my real name. SAVE MY FUCKING PERF!!
rjv 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Internet never ceases to amaze me. Why does everyone act like a child throwing a tantrum when something changes? Are people that incapable of adapting? It's really not that big of a deal.
visualphoenix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Larry Page has his office in the G+ building, and has said a number of times he is committed to seeing G+ be a success.


There is a lot of hate for G+ and/or the service unification stuff... I personally dislike it - but I don't think it's going away anytime soon.

aestetix 1 day ago 0 replies      
At this point it seems like Google's mission is to help make profit for Apple and Facebook.
adem 1 day ago 0 replies      
seems more like a channel status update (or whatever they call it in youtube). i see it as some kind of "what happened to the youtube we built" attitude, which seems appropriate.
harimau 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not only YouTube but everything Google is trying to integrate with G+. When showing a colleague a photo from a trip or looking at a review of something, I don't need to be shown as being available for a "hangout".

I'm not "always available all the time" - I just want to get mundane things done sometimes.

filipedeschamps 1 day ago 0 replies      
Before I clicked the link, I tried to imagine all the possible comments I'd read, but not this one.
Springtime 1 day ago 0 replies      
voorloopnul 1 day ago 0 replies      
Resistance is futile. Google+ is awesome and soon or later you will be assimilated.
ApacheEcho 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why do they insist on shoving Google+ down people's throats. It isn't going to work out. It's going to crumble and die just like Buzz.
thrillgore 1 day ago 0 replies      
slow clap
nclzz 1 day ago 0 replies      
He's a real genius.
mfarid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mischief, thou art afoot !!!
ccash71 1 day ago 0 replies      
check out the CueNotes app for Chrome for YouTube. The CueNotes comment system is much much better, allows you to stay anonymous on YouTube but still get quality comments, follow people, tag stuff by time, etc. really fun.
deeteecee 1 day ago 0 replies      
the inbox is a mysterious thing to find for me nowadays
mankypro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most excellent.
gabrielcb 1 day ago 0 replies      
So hilarious!
pastullo 1 day ago 0 replies      
schlegelrock 1 day ago 1 reply      
Internet you complete me.
joshuaspaulding 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it funny when people complain about shit they get for free.
TWTR google.com
382 points by sc90  2 days ago   336 comments top 33
corford 2 days ago 18 replies      
Can someone with more clue please tell me that the following cynical thought I keep having is wrong and laughably misinformed (and then explain why)?

Twitter's investors (who have plowed hundreds of millions in to a loss making company) decide to sell some of their stock at $26/share (after consulting with banks to arrive at this price). This will make right the losses they've experienced so far and pass the problem down the line. The banks buy at $26 and then immidiately flip for north of $40. This lines their pockets and passes the problem down the line once more to joe public.

End result: investors in loss making company cover their investment and make some profit, banks make some juicy profit for facilitating the game, joe public swallows the hype and makes the whole dance possible by eventually footing the bill.

Edit 1: thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. I guess I can only continue to feel cynical if I believe that the original investors did all of this knowing full well that twitter never has a chance of living up to its valuation i.e. they just wanted to cover their losses, make a nice profit on top and punt the problem down river. The alternative is that the investors do honestly believe in the future profitability of the company and have decided now is the time to take some well earned profit as a reward for taking the financial risks in getting the company to where it is today.

It's going to take me some time to make my mind up as to which of those two scenarios I believe.

Edit 2: still difficult to understand why the banks have managed to come away with doubling their money though.

Edit 3 (final one!): See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6691157 for a nice reply that seems (to my clearly very untrained eye) to make the investors motives a little less cynical.

arjunnarayan 2 days ago 13 replies      
If it stays at $46, that's a gigantic fuck up. They left a billion dollars on the table, and that's borderline breach of fiduciary duty.

Of course, we have to wait and see what it settles at, and it's a little premature to heap scorn just yet. But the initial reaction is it looks like they overreacted to the Facebook IPO debacle (in my book, Facebook did the best thing possible for the company and extracted as much value as possible from the public markets --- and the value buyers didn't get screwed, given that a year later it's trading at ~20% above the IPO price.).

jstalin 2 days ago 3 replies      
Income statements:


About $553 million in revenue in the last year, with spending of $668 million.

dangero 2 days ago 5 replies      
Serious question: Why does the Hacker News crowd seem to be so cynical about big tech IPOs? Considering for most startups this is the dream, why aren't there more congratulatory high fives? Is it just a case of jealousy?

This IPO is going really well. The stock is being well received in the marketplace. I know twitter employees who just got rich are reading this, but can't comment due to SEC rules, so congrats Twitter peeps!

vizzah 2 days ago 2 replies      
What's funny is that anyone with a bit of a forward thinking could have doubled their money today by buying TWTR Inc (which is not Twitter) trading for $0.03 with an identical symbol TWTR, but on another market exchange.

As already happened several weeks before (after it was announced Twitter will be trading as 'TWTR'), the wrong stock exploded due to traders mistakenly placing their buy orders.

It should have been perfectly safe to assume similar would happen on the IPO day. It went from $0.03 yesterday to $0.06 today for a while :)

Just look at this graph over 1 month span:


PhasmaFelis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, I followed the link.

This must be what non-programmers feel like when somebody links them to a GitHub repo.

cft 2 days ago 9 replies      
Can someone advise what's the best way to buy derivatives (etrade,scottstrade, etc): the fastest way to open an account, the best order execution times? I want to invest some money to short this.
nine_k 2 days ago 1 reply      
+70%, $24.67B market cap.

Verily, QE3 is strong in this one!


downandout 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bottom line: this company is extremely overvalued at the moment. It may or may not grow into that valuation, but for the next several years, it will be nothing more than a speculative play. The fact that the company priced itself at a much lower valuation shows how irrational the current market value is.
GrinningFool 2 days ago 0 replies      
A much better link than the 'live blog' covering ... erm.. the stock price.

Congrats to the twitter team. Ridiculous overpricing aside (in the financial/risk management sense), that's a major victory for them. Whether or not this becomes a financially viable business, there's no question that they've built an amazing thing and are now getting well-rewarded for it.

the_watcher 2 days ago 6 replies      
I'm not an expert in the stock market, and the only stock I own is Facebook (which I bought a long time ago), but I am confused as to why Facebook is dropping today while there is so much enthusiasm for Twitter. Buying Twitter is basically betting on mobile advertising, which Facebook is the clear leader of. Is it possibly related to people with Facebook stock selling some to get in on Twitter? Are they entirely unrelated?
stevewilhelm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yahoo! Finance is more up to date.


SCAQTony 2 days ago 1 reply      
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin...Sometimes I think the NASDAQ is looking more like the "Fine Art" auction market rather than an actual stock market.
legohead 2 days ago 3 replies      
I don't know how these things typically work.. it started out at 46, now it's below, ~45, but it says +19.66 (75.62%)? Is that because that's the highest it was today? I would expect the +/- to be against the starting amount at any time...
zaidf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter still hasn't provided any guidance on profitability. My biggest fear is that over the next few quarters, Twitter will undo much of the goodwill for tech stocks generated by Facebook by not being able to match the bar set by Facebook for profitability, revenue and user growth.
conductr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why does it take 1,300* employees to run this company?

* crunchbase

Geee 2 days ago 1 reply      
And... this marks the beginning of the end for Twitter as we know it.
jscheel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meaningless unless you were rich AND lucky enough to get into the actual IPO. All the retail investors that bought as fast as they could at $46 didn't really reap and benefits.
jedberg 2 days ago 3 replies      
I have to admit I was wrong. I assumed it would flatline like FB.

Congrats to the Twitter team!

deathanatos 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this work again?

"Open" is 45.10, but the graph seems to show it as 46.00, the current price is 46.02, which is "+20.02, 77.00%"? I thought the +X (+Y%) was price-open ((price-open)/open %), but it is way not adding up here.

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Twitter now has the same stock worth as the international Kraft Foods corporation.

I am not quite sure how that is possible.

headgasket 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the weeks before the twtr IPO: NFLX off by 2B$. TSLA off by 4B FB of by 10B. It looks like investors reallocation to me; the type of investor that reallocate like this are more of the speculation breed than the buy and hold breed. I would not be surprised if TWTR is under original IPO price(26) by the end of next week, as it fails to inflate.
Xasir 1 day ago 0 replies      
This just a something short term. In couple of month this going to down..Without any solid revenue plan how they will move.. Now investors will ask them question for increasing the revenue same like facebook facing the issue.
pearjuice 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you buy TWTR stock, what are you investing in exactly?
bifrost 2 days ago 0 replies      
All in all, looks like a reasonable IPO. Some delays.Basically trading 45-46, I could see it dropping off some tomorrow.

Mostly I think we'll see shares/profits of SF oriented luxury good companies go up, and possibly a rise in SFBA housing prices.

koiz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I fear the day that the service decreases in quality. Hell bad dreams of Digg v4 flash into my mind when I saw how things went today. I wish twitter all the best but this IPO seems to be pushing their problems down a few years.
philwelch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disappointed they didn't go with TWIT for the stock symbol.
spot 2 days ago 0 replies      
i'm amazed google still uses flash for their stock graphs.
confluence 1 day ago 0 replies      
TWTR might've been good at a $8 billion cap, but at $25 billion+, investors are dreaming. It is unsustainable and entirely driven by artificial scarcity and hype.

Stock markets can't price shit.

pyrrhotech 2 days ago 0 replies      
tech stocks with no profits selling at 15-40x sales are a complete crapshoot. might as well go to the casino
GoldfishCRM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, Maybe I should do one of thouse microblogthingis.
kolev 2 days ago 0 replies      
I still don't get Twitter!
yogo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hmm, they should pick up twtr.com.
Zurb Ink: Responsive HTML Email Framework designinstruct.com
372 points by jggube  2 days ago   97 comments top 24
twakefield 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is great to see and long overdue. We get a lot of customers that ask about how they should create email templates. We don't really want to go down that path, so we'll be happy to direct them here.

Also, +1 on using Litmus for testing rendering across different clients.

There are also other things to consider when designing email templates and email deliverability in general.

- Always use multi-part, with a nice text part. Not having a text part is a spam flag.

- Keep the ratios of images and links to text low. High ratios are spam flags. Also, most of the time images will not be displayed by default.

- Use common sense, avoiding exclamations and referencing spammy words (eg. buy now!).

- Avoid link shorteners (commonly used in phishing emails)

- Use Litmus to test against spam filters to see where common sense fails.

- mail-tester.com is another nice free tool for checking for spam flags.

- There are also some little things that can trip you up, like having malformed message-Ids where the domain in the message-ID does not match the sending domain.

For more thoughts, we have a best practices (http://documentation.mailgun.com/best_practices.html)

Edit: Also, PLEASE only send emails to people that have given you (like on your website) permission and you have validated the email address with a confirmation link (double opt-in) before sending subsequent emails. Always give recipients the conspicuous and easy ability to unsubscribe.

crisnoble 2 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone brave enough to bring a semblance of sanity to the world of HTML emails deserves major kudos. For kids like me who did not grow up making table layouts, coding emails is a nightmare. Oh the <td>'s. I am so glad Zurb is lending their knowledge building of excellent frameworks to this widely underserved market.
mmahemoff 2 days ago 1 reply      
This would go well with Sendy (http://sendy.co/), a pretty awesome self-hosted mailing list tool. Together it's like Mailchimp for hackers.
benched 2 days ago 2 replies      
The word 'responsive' has been sprayed all over these pages. I take it I'm supposed to read that word a certain way in this context, but I don't know how. Does it mean you can click things? Something more? Something else?
dannowatts 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Zurb Foundation for quite some time and I truly enjoy using the framework, I'm sure I'm going to love using Zurb Ink as well.

Everyone should be giving this a shot, congrats (and thanks) to everyone at Zurb!http://zurb.com/ink/

kbar13 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those who want to star/watch the project on GitHub:


jedbrown 2 days ago 5 replies      
HTML email allows an unreasonable level of deception. How does your mail client render this?

    <a href="http://evil.host">http://trustworthy.host</a>
If you can't get your message across in a plain text email, you may want to reconsider whether your intent is to mislead.

AYBABTME 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks very interesting, I wasn't even aware that email sucked that much.

* * *Side tracking:

Is email marketing a good thing? I've never looked at any numbers regarding that. I'm genuinely asking the community here.

My intuition would be that it's not; I really hate receiving any sort of pre-formatted email from any service, unless it's Google Groups or something where I receive a message as a result of a human trying to interact with me, personally.

In that sense, I would believe that more, fancier, mass distributed marketing emails aren't what I'm wishing for in this world. But my intuition could be wrong. I'm also the kind of guy who just automatically recycles all the marketing mail I receive without ever looking at it.

So yeah: how effective is email marketing? On the long term, short term?

splatzone 2 days ago 4 replies      
Lovely framework, but can someone explain why HTML email is so stuck in the past?

Why can't email clients just abide by proper web standards?

rogeriopvl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The framework looks pretty awesome. But the name choice is unfortunate. Ink is already used for this framework: http://ink.sapo.pt
cwilson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Gone are the days of hacking up pre-fab Mailchimp templates! This is wonderful and very timely, I'll be giving this a try for two different projects next week.
jhammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you don't want to sign up for a Litmus subscription, you can use Direct Mail for OS X (http://directmailmac.com) to run design tests on a pay-as-you-go basis. Also inlines your CSS by default (but can be turned off).

Disclaimer: I am a developer on Direct Mail.

pearjuice 1 day ago 0 replies      

Jacob Gube, how is sixrevisions going? It looks like it is really drying out. Have you abandoned it for designinstruct? A shame because it always had really good articles.

mos2 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am super excited about this. I love the fun visuals, extensive documentation, transparency and honesty about issues with email clients. I think there is huge potential here and I can't wait to see where they go with it. A huge use case that no one is talking about is transactional emails from your web or mobile app. Now you can have great looking emails that increase engagement that look great on mobile email and look (both in design and the underlying code) much like foundation based rails apps.
denysonique 2 days ago 1 reply      
There should be an option to email the docs page with examples to one self. In order to preview it in your own mail inbox(s).
gadders 1 day ago 1 reply      
Doesn't support Lotus Notes. Doh!
wil421 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can't see any of the images on my iPad using safari.
chii 1 day ago 0 replies      
haha, i was just working on emails, and now i see this framework. May be it will save me some effort. WOrth checking out.
niteshade 2 days ago 0 replies      
Zurb just became my favourite company in the world.
NKCSS 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been searching for something like this, great timing!
siliconc0w 2 days ago 1 reply      
Kinda random question but does anyone know of a simple email template app for use for something like internal company emails?
denysonique 2 days ago 0 replies      
HTML Email is what sells.
hidamon 2 days ago 2 replies      
doesn't work in iOS 7 Mail.app..
airencracken 2 days ago 3 replies      
No no no no no no no no no no no no no no.


HTML e-mail was and is an awful idea.

My MUA doesn't need to be a browser as well. Stop the madness, please.

Show HN: Hosted Docker-as-a-Service on SSDs for $5 copper.io
360 points by edbyrne  2 days ago   132 comments top 44
shykes 2 days ago 5 replies      
Hi everyone, Docker maintainer here. Here's my list of docker hosting services. Please correct me if I forgot one! I expect this list to get much, much longer in the next couple months.

* http://baremetal.io

* http://digitalocean.com not docker-specific but they have a great docker image)

* http://orchardup.com

* http://rackspace.com (not docker-specific but they have a great docker image)

* http://stackdock.com

EDIT: sorted alphabetically to keep everyone happy :)

_lex 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like you took the best parts of digital ocean and are trying to push it as a platform with docker baked in. I like. It seems like you're also trying to simplify using docker. I like even more.
Angostura 2 days ago 4 replies      
I love the fact that you keep trying to define your own vocubulary 'Deck' etc, but always have to explain it. Best to stick with the more eaily understood term, rather than invent your own, I think.

Unless you're going to try and trademark them all.

panarky 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is truly awesome, nice work!

I configured and launched a machine with redis and node in less than 5 minutes. Very cool.

How will you isolate instances from each other? My instance appears to have 24 GB of RAM and 12 cores, and it looks like I can use all of it in my instance.

terhechte 2 days ago 2 replies      
I like the idea. Really cool. I've been researching docker a lot lately, and did most of my recent development on Core OS. I do have a question that wasn't immediately obvious: Docker maintains that one should make a container out of every application so that instead of having to install apache + mysql + php in one Ubuntu environment, you'd create three docker containers (apache, mysql, memcache) and run them together and define the share settings, etc. Now here's my question: It seems as if on Stardock, every container would be a seperate (at least) $5 instance? So if I want to run apache + mysql + memcached I'd need to cram them all into one docker container in order to have them on one machine? Or is it possible to use a $5 stardock system and run multiple containers on them, like on Core OS?


bfirsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're doing a similar thing called Orchard:


We give you a standard Docker instance in the cloud - all the tools work exactly the same as they do locally. You can even instantly open a remote bash shell, like the now-famous Docker demo!

rmoriz 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Were using dedicated because running virtual containers on virtual instances seems nuts to us.

but a traceroute points to AWS

kmfrk 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Docker-as-a-Service", simple, easy-to-understand pricing. Love it.

This is my favourite Docker offer so far. I've been looking for something to replace dotCloud's deprecated sandbox tier for just playing around, and it looks like this fits the bill.

chubot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Just curious, how are people building Docker images these days? Doesn't it only run on 64-bit Linux? I have a 32 bit Linux desktop and a Mac and haven't gotten around to installing Docker. At work I have a 64 bit Linux desktop and it seemed to be extremely picky about the kernel version so I gave up.

Are people running Linux VMs on their Macs to build containers?

I like the idea of this service. But both the client side and the server side have to be easy. Unless I'm missing something it seems like they made the server side really easy, but the client side is still annoying.

shtylman 2 days ago 0 replies      
What would be even better is to decouple the idea of a drop from the containers running it. What I like about container approaches is having "machines" I can run them on. So let's say I make a "www" drop or several. I should then be able to fire up my containers into particular types of drops and have them started on those without having to think about the specifics. The benefit of this I'd that I only care about my container running and having some basic resource requirements and not so much the specific machine instance it is running on. I could even co-mingle different containers on types of "machines". Also separating out disk resources from CPU and ram would be good. Maybe you do this already buy it wasn't clear to me.
AhtiK 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great initiative! One thing to be aware is that Docker is using LXC for containers and LXC relies on kernel isolation and cgroup limits. The concern is about the vulnerabilities.

It is comforting that Heroku is also using LXC for dynos. Would be interesting to know how much in-house adjustments to the kernel and LXC has been made to ensure the hardening.

antihero 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing that confuses me with Docker is that how do you configure your containers to communicate with each other.

So say I have a fancy Django image, and a fancy Postgres image.

How do I then have the Django one learn of the Postgres one's IP, and then auths (somehow), and then communicates seperately.

Also, the recommended advice for "production" is to mount host directories for the PostgreSQL data directory. Doesn't this rather defeat the point of a container (in that it's self contained), and how does that even work with a DaaS like this? I'm pretty confused. Is there an idiomatic way in which to do this?

Do service registration/discovery things for Docker already exist?

jaegerpicker 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is pretty awesome. An api to automate deployments/management/monitoring would completely rock too.
boyter 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love this idea, and want to try it but I have no experience with Docker (on the todo list).

I wanted to spin up an instance of Sphinx Search but no idea how to go about doing it.

Maybe creating a set of tutorials will help with this. I can think of two advantages. The first being customers like myself will love it. Second, similar to Linode and their tutorials it will drives a lot of traffic and establishes your reputation as docker experts. Will probably build a lot of back-links too as people link to your tutorials.

conradev 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome! I currently have an AWS box for the same purpose, running a few of my docker containers. Will this support the ADD directive, or the ability to add custom files (config files) into containers?
esamatti 2 days ago 1 reply      
The big point of Docker for me is that I can build the container on my machine, run automated tests on it, play with it and then ship it to the production machines when I'm confident that it is working.

If you build the container on a service like this testing it is hard or in some cases even impossible. For example acceptance tests with Selenium.

Gemfile.lock and similar version binding tools help, but prebuild containers bring the deployment stability to whole new level and is the reason why I'm exited about Docker and containers in general.

Do they support prebuild containers?

erichocean 2 days ago 0 replies      
How is private networking handled between Docker containers?

UPDATE: I'd also be interested to hear about Digital Ocean-style "shared" (but non-private) networkingbasically, any network adaptor with a non-Internet routable IP address. ;)

lnanek2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wonder if they have an idle/spin up time. Only their one instance plan is $5, but I know I have to buy more than one on heroku to get no idle/spin up time - that or use hacks like constant pingers, etc.. This is important for when I'm doing experiments/UI tests/alpha tests/submitting apps for reviews before they have any consistent traffic, but I don't want them to occasionally get stuck on 15 second spin up times on requests.
nfm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks cool. Here's what I'd love to see: built-in git deployment (ie. take a Dockerfile, build an image from it, and then after a push add the latest source code to /app and start new instances), and some kind of orchestration so you could run a number of app containers behind a load balancer container.
pbhjpbhj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not being familiar with the subject basically it seems that:

Docker is a simple description of an internet server including the various services required (mysql, httpd, sshd, etc. - the bundle being call a deck).

It seems then you can create a server elsewhere (eg on your localhost), generate the docker description of that and use that description to fire up a server (either a VM or dedicated) using the service in the OP.

Am I close?

Could I use this to do general web hosting?

Edit: and looking at digitalocean.com it appears I can activate and deactivate the "server" at will, so I can have it online for an hour for testing and pay < 1?

Matsta 2 days ago 3 replies      
Hmm StackDock.com is hosted on a server at Hetzner in Germany.

I don't 100% know if the containers themselves are hosted by Hetzner or not, but Hetzner is more of a budget provider than something you host production sites on.

I've heard many mixed review about their network and mostly their support which isn't up to scratch. We'll see what happens but from what I see, if someone decides to abuse the service, Hetzner might just take down the whole server without warning just like OVH do.

http://www.hetzner.de/en/hosting/produkte_rootserver/px120ss... (I'm guessing they are using something similar to this).It's a pretty powerful and cheap server but if you search hard enough you can find something equivalent in the States for around the same price.

dylanz 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool, and I was waiting for something like this to be built out. Are you planning on having a command line tool to control your deployments?
kbar13 2 days ago 1 reply      
IMO Labels/tooltips should be added to the icons for the cards. Some of them, including the leaf (nodejs?) and the tree (nfi what that is) aren't especially obvious.

Otherwise, cool!

arianvanp 2 days ago 1 reply      
I Love the idea! really. I just don't like all the UX yet. Some things feel ... off. It might be something personal. I'm not sure. But I guess it's interesting to discuss. "Drops are distilled Decks" The words feel semantically mismatched for some reason. If I think "Deck"I don't think "Config". If I think "Drop" I don'think "Deployable stuff" and I don't see how a "Distilled deck" is a "drop". Also it feels odd that I can create a "New deck" in the "instances" section.

though adding "cards" to a "deck" sounds intuitive.

I'm trying to come up with better terminology. something with ships and containers...

Touche 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is the pricing for 1 dockerfile or unlimited dockerfiles?
theunixbeard 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started the default instance with sinatra running, but where do you see the IP address to visit it via a web browser?
bionsuba 2 days ago 0 replies      
You should do some A/B tests to confirm, but I but the pricing table at the bottom was a little confusing because the price was not highlighted in any way, and the call to action was round when it is typically a rectangle.
knotty66 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice. Looking forward to seeing how this and all the other Docker based PAAS ecosystems like Flynn, Deis, Tsuru, Shipbuilder, CoreOS etc pan out.
secure 2 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent! Will play around with it soon. Thanks for offering this, and best wishes.
guido4000 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure about the pricing yet as I can run like 5 or 10 docker instances in one DigitalOcean VM costing 5 dollars per month.
tehwebguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks awesome! Anyone know if there are bandwidth / throughput / transfer charges?

Also, forgive my ignorance, but what would it take to be able to "add containers" in the same way that you can add dynos on Heroku?

susi22 2 days ago 1 reply      
Q: Do people have root on the containers?
Geee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is this production-ready and trusted? Who are these guys? I don't want my apps to be hosted on a quick hack.
samtp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool service but your branding makes it look like you are affiliated with Canonical/Ubuntu.
kohanz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks like an awesome service. And the image on the site reminds me of Season 2 of The Wire - even better!
shtylman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can I use a docker image I have already created?
j-b 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just signed up but the site now appears to be down, receiving "We're sorry, but something went wrong."
MilesTeg 2 days ago 0 replies      
The issue with linux containers is (or at least it used to be) that it is possible for a malicious user to 'break out' of the container. Has this problem been solved?
cvburgess 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic!

Does anyone know where DO servers are located?

gregf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Like the idea, but would like to see hourly billing.
aurels 2 days ago 0 replies      
I get a 500 error when logging in, am I the only one ?
madisp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clicking on alpha/deploy leads to 404 :(
matiasb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds great!
jongleberry 2 days ago 0 replies      
where are the servers hosted? AWS? US or EU?
Show HN: I'm working on an open-source Gmail replacement khamidou.github.io
361 points by vorador  3 days ago   179 comments top 33
darklajid 3 days ago 8 replies      
I just put the finishing touches on my ansible playbook for my 'Goodbye Google' server (Mail via dovecot/postfix w/ dkim, dspam, greylist, sieve, Radicale for CardDAV, CalDAV, Prosody for xmpp). Works fine so far.

What I'm lacking right now is a decent webmail client. Roundcube isn't exactly my type of thing, mailpile might be interesting. This seems ambitious and interesting in general, but seems to come with too much strings attached (puppet? No, ansible. Comes with postfix? I already have that). So .. it is more than I'd need.

I do like the idea of ready-made, easy mail server setups though (obviously, given the first paragraph). Perhaps a project like this could integrate well into owncloud or arkos though?

tluyben2 3 days ago 6 replies      
I welcome this as I welcome Mailpile and other efforts like it; I look for another mail solution every few years. Not with the idea of replacing gmail (might/might not do), but to see if anyone did anything useful yet. So far, no. All solutions, even considering the changes to gmail everyone seems to hate (I don't), are nothing compared.

Every time some new frontend/backend comes up, I say the same (and have done on HN before); i'm not a typical user; I had email since '95, I have been a heavy user since then and I took my mail with me since. In 2005 I was looking, like I had been then as well, for a better mail solution and stumbled upon gmail. I wrote an export script for the mail system I was using at the time and imported 10 years of mail into gmail.

I now have over a million mails in my mailbox (i'm not sure what is the total); I have over 50 mail addresses coming to my inbox, I receive 1000s (sometimes 10.000s) of spam messages per day which Google filters well. I guess this is due to the fact I have had/have businesses on those 50 mails since 1995. All clients I tried so far just simply hang when I try them, including outlook (exchange or imap), thunderbird and some free and commercial web versions (yahoo and outlook web/live simply don't work; I cannot even read my mail through the amount of spam and the clients are horrible for productivity imho. Slow as well).

I also need a solid spam solution; spamassassin simply doesn't cut it; not only does it run high processor on my server, it doesn't actually filter stuff like google does. Google almost never goes wrong for me; actually; I have had very few mistakes / missing mails. While with spamassassin, I'll be carefully inspecting 5k mails / day while still getting spam in my inbox.

I think my mailbox is a bit weird now, but it'll be quite normal as it'll be normal for people to have a mailbox since birth and taking it with them till they die. If you run a few businesses along the way, getting to 1 million messages is not hard; spam will find you as well. Media messages are getting common; I make a point of using dropbox/sftp for attachments, but not everyone does that, so I do get videos, huge blah megapixel cameras of birthdays of family etc. This is normal and will only grow; the current mail solutions don't handle it well. If you want to deliver a competitor to gmail, you need to make this work imho and it needs to be a test case.

marijn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Collaboration or integration with Mailpile [1] might be a useful direction to consider. They are doing interesting work on the backend, but as far as I am aware, there isn't much frontend present yet.

[1]: https://github.com/pagekite/Mailpile

jagermo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like it - good work, keep it up. It's a good thing that you guys (you, Mailpile, Roundcube) develop alternatives to gmail.

However, for me to switch (like most here, I am a heavy email user), I need a few things:

- PGP encryption

- Contacts

- Calendar

Have you thought about expanding the developer base? Maybe via Kickstarter/Indiegogo? The alpha already looks good, I'm sure a lot of us would like to contribute to the development.

nakedrobot2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for working on this.

I look forward to the day when it will be easy to set up and configure a mail server at home. By all accounts, it is currently a very painful process that is prone to error and interrupted service.

ozh 3 days ago 3 replies      
How effective would it be to self host your mail regarding spam?

In gmail I guess that once a few peeps click "Report Spam" on a mail that passed filters, similar mails are also flagged as spam in other accounts. I've always found gmail extremely effective at this, and I practically never flag mail as spam myself.

Sure, there are automated spam filters to configure, but overall wouldn't going alone make things much less efficient on that topic?

keyle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do love the attention to detail, with the Nigerian's prince email.

Doing good software is one thing, doing it with a good touch of humor is what makes it stick. +1.

jroseattle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm looking forward to a day when a prominent model will be cloud-based applications storing data in private repositories.
uses 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think we'll see a lot more of this type of software in the near future.

It's easier and cheaper than ever to automate the setup of servers. Imagine being able to click a few buttons, in something like the webmin of yore, and suddenly having a private mail server/file sync node/document editor application, set up at the VPS provider of your choice.

This type of thing will encourage open standards, as the private servers will need to communicate with each other. It also ties in nicely with concerns about the implications of everything being hosted and controlled by major providers.

There are probably business opportunities at many points in this model.

cenhyperion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Very cool. Looks like a really good web interface that would be a pleasure to use.

On a personal note, am I the only one that generally prefers a mail client? The ability to combine all my emails (work, gmail, @mydomain, etc) into one unified inbox is why I prefer it.

plumeria 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice it supported PGP out of the box, I think it would be a strong selling point. Kudos for the initiative.
waterlion 3 days ago 1 reply      
How much of GMail does this do (or intend to do)? Off the top of my head, GMail does this for me (in this order):

- Email server that I can run for my domain.

- Search a large number of messages on the server

- Spam detection on the server

- Automatic labelling / categorisation on the server for incoming mail

- Address book

- Saving of drafts on the server so I can edit and send on several devices

- A webmail interface

Is this intended to be a GMail replacement or another webmail interface?

rattray 3 days ago 2 replies      
Quite a minor point of feedback, and not altogether fair, but attempting to obscure your email (~) gives me a bit of a lack of confidence in the spam filters you're using. I have my gmail up in plaintext on my homepage, and don't experience too many problems.

If nothing else, putting your email in plaintext could help you debug your spam prevention?

babuskov 3 days ago 0 replies      
The main reason I'm using GMail is that it's available everywhere for free - both in money and my time.

However, I like your project and it would be nice to have an alternative if I decide one day that I value my privacy more.

tiatia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Afterlogic has a free lite version

I like it compared to other scripts like SquirrelMail or Horde.


wuschel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Happy to see more alternatives to Gmail. I am still using Gmail with the old HTML interface, as the new one is cluttered with all kinds of stuff I do not need. Stay with KISS, when it comes to functionality and interface, with optional integration of PGP. I wanted to quit using google services for long, but it is only now that I get active in that regard (e.g. duckduckgo as search engine). As such, I am searching an alternative for the

1. web based storage of emails 2. a good web interface.

As for 1., I stil have not found anything really interesting that comes for free.

As for 2., I was once using Mutt and found it quite efficient, and am now thinking to try out sup. However, there is still this feeling that there could be a better client when it comes to usability and ease of installation. Using Mutt on Windows can be really annoying.

Joeboy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great, as far as I know Roundcube is the only decent open source webmail thing, and it could do with some competition.
northisup 3 days ago 0 replies      
check out https://github.com/roundcube/roundcubemail for a mature gmail alternative.
macmac 3 days ago 0 replies      
Search is mentioned as a keep feature a lot in this thread. Would using elasticsearch be a feasible solution? It certainly scales easily.
dinduks 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Distributed Everything blog post encouraged me to leave most of Google' services due to their closed ecosystem and the violation of privacy. I managed to leave everything (GTalk/Hangouts, Agenda, Contacts, Google+, etc.) except Gmail because of how great and useful filters and labels are. In my opinion, these two points are the reason why Gmail cannot be easily replaced. I thus would encourage working on these futures.

Also, I don't want to sound like a troll, but I wish it was build in a more popular language, such as Java (it's not my favorite) to encourage contributions. Good luck!

aioprisan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos! I think the hardest part will come in trying to maintain and scale this from an interoperability perspective. I used to work at an ISP where 80%+ of the work on the mail product was getting our IPs un-blacklisted and other ISPs from not blocking our traffic anymore, as well as pruning out the bad/bot users.
Wingman4l7 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can anyone comment on Spamassassin's efficacy as compared to Google's spam filters?
infocollector 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great Job. Ignore all the other projects that are out there please (If they are not BSD, they are useless for me). This is what I was waiting for. I would recommend developing both mobile / desktop together.
danbmil99 3 days ago 3 replies      
have you seen/heard about mailpile?
cpsaltis 3 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest pain I've experienced with similar web interfaces was mobile. For the desktop there are a few that are decent, but on mobile they generally suck. So do the native email clients for Android and iOS.

Do you plan to stick with a desktop version? Will you always design 'destop first'?

psankar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Support keyboard shortcuts, at the earliest. It is one of the most heavily used features for heavy email users.
hipsters_unite 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a mailing list to track this project? I can't see any way of monitoring updates on the page.
yurikoval 3 days ago 0 replies      
Would be nice to see people get together and finalise a viable alternative. Keep up the good work!Meanwhile, here is another potential solution. https://assemblymade.com/amail
samspenc 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks great. Just curious: Roundcube didn't cut it for you?
s-topper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tried out the demo; it's nice. Keyboard shortcuts and threaded display would be nice to have. Will check out the source for my learning.
fit2rule 3 days ago 1 reply      
rshlo 3 days ago 2 replies      
I appreciate the hard work. Nevertheless, IMHO it would be better if open source projects will bring original ideas to the market, instead of copying an existing product.
hajderr 3 days ago 0 replies      
+1. Would use it.
Kofi Annan: Stop 'war on drugs' cnn.com
340 points by weedow  3 days ago   183 comments top 23
tokenadult 3 days ago 3 replies      
"We called on governments to adopt more humane and effective ways of controlling and regulating drugs. We recommended that the criminalization of drug use should be replaced by a public health approach." So the request here is not to say that everyone should use drugs however they wish without regulation, but rather that use of certain drugs should no longer be subject to criminal penalties. A few years ago, Richard Branson's blog post on drug regulation[1] similarly pointed to reducing criminal penalties without saying that drugs should be entirely unregulated, by looking at the example of Portugal. (How is Portugal doing these days?)

The state I live in in the United States, Minnesota, has a low rate of incarceration in large part because it has a low rate of criminal prosecution of drug offenses, with even the small number of persons convicted of drug offenses being unlikely to do time in prison. But this state has a thriving private industry of drug treatment centers, drawing in people from all over the world who want to become clean, and responses to drug use often include judicially ordered drug treatment. Stopping a war on drugs waged by the police and courts and prisons doesn't have to include giving up on discouraging drug use.

[1] http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/time-to-end-the-war-on...

AFTER EDIT: I'll use the last bit of my edit window to post two more links to news reports about the experience of Portugal. These links are in chronological order, and newer than Richard Branson's blog post.



oh_sigh 3 days ago 6 replies      
I love how whenever a major world leader comes out against the war on drugs, it is always after they are out of office and generally retired from political life.
tokenizer 3 days ago 2 replies      
IMO the battle is won in stages, and the first step in the legalization of Marijuana at the Federal level.

The next step is when we recognize the victims of the War on Drugs, specifically persons who were sent to jail because of Marijuana. You expand the affected to be people who've committed all non-violent crimes, and advocate for reform from that angle.

I don't care what the law really has to say regarding Heroin, as long as victims/addicts get helped instead of aggregated and exploited by a pseudo-warrior class.

pstuart 3 days ago 1 reply      
Part of the problem is too many people have been brainwashed into the "protecting us from dangerous drugs" lie. Your average Jane/Joe will say "legalize pot, but ew, meth is bad!"

The fact that we collectively choose to participate in this madness is, well, maddening.

rodolphoarruda 3 days ago 1 reply      
I believe the results of decriminalization may vary according to your social context. I live in Brazil and I don't think decriminalization would reduce violence around here, it would, at its best, move the focus away from the drug addict to other parts of the society.

Collaborators from large drug organizations (tens of thousands of criminals, running millionaire operations, heavily armed) won't simply boo-hoo, go home and look for real jobs once drugs are decriminalized. They would look for the new weaker link of the chain and then concentrate all their violence on it. Once drugs are legalized and are freely sold on public points of sale (whatever government calls them), criminals would target the "supply chain" and distribution network. All of the sudden drug organizations would find themselves operating wholesale, not retail anymore. They would steal cargo to sell it at poor city areas or in places where official suppliers haven't established POSes yet. Stealing (buying for zero) and selling is much more attractive than "cooking" and selling. It's like outsourcing your production the bad way, keeping the benefit of higher profit margins. Higher margins lead to more competition, thus guns, thus violence among organizations (this is the current scenario in cities like Rio where drug organizations fight for territory dominance[1]). On the bright side, anyone interested in consuming drugs would be spared of this fight. They would be the same people who ever bought drugs, but now with the benefit of new regulations, treatment and care from the government.

[1] This video shows a battle between two drug organizations in Rio that mobilized around 100 members coming from different slums. You can see a great deal of collateral damage in the local population, and this is what my point is all about. Watch from 1:00 onwards (sorry, Portuguese language all the way). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etu6YWC-rT4 Criminals were even able to shot down a police helicopter killing two officers. Drug war at its finest.

mlyang 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like politicians are to their constituents what parents are like to teenage kids with respect to substance use advice/"laws." Parents of teenagers ban their kids from substances even though they themselves definitely did them when they were younger. The hypocrisy is kind of funny to me-- it's like there are two different worlds going on (one public facing, one the reality) that everyone just plays along with for reputation's sake even though we all know we're kidding ourselves -- it's ridiculous that this social play we put on actually seriously affects the lives of those touched by the global drug trade.
knodi 3 days ago 0 replies      
No one in the government cares because this only effects poor people and they don't have the money to make a difference.

If Obama wanted to make a real change he would have stopped the war on drugs already.

Roboprog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Prohibition was great ... for Al Capone.

Cue Homer Simpson sound bite: "I haven't learned a thing"

willvarfar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Slight tangent but I've been reflecting recently on how many people seek out things they know are dangerous to them for the thrill of it. Its an interesting trait.
xacaxulu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Drug usage is a medical problem. Without medical care, it becomes or has the potential to become a criminal problem. In the USA drug usage and mental illness are generally lumped into the criminal category, sending sick and/or mentally ill people into a the criminal justice system without any chance of treatment or remission.
aianus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered: what would drug dealers do if drugs were legalized? Would they throw their hands up and go get jobs at McDonald's? Or would they turn to robbery, kidnapping, etc?

Maybe black markets are useful for providing an income for people that have criminal records and no skills.

hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 1 reply      
This legalization talk is flawed.

Alcohol is legal, and that doesn't stop people, specially teenagers, from abusing it. It's also proven tobacco addiction starts during adolescence. In this case, legalization is just removing responsibility from the people who profit from it, since in practice the law isn't protecting who it's supposed to protect. Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical.

Then, we know legalizing certain drugs will only move traffic to worse drugs. Legalize marijuana and dealers will move more crack, just like the mafia moved from alcohol to cocaine after they lifted the prohibition in the US. Now what, the government will legalize crack too? Make even more unethical businesses operate under the law, knowing these products will be abused by teenagers just like alcohol and tobacco today?

There's no easy solution, and no one is addressing the real issue: that substance abuse is cultural and heavily promoted. You talk to young people, and their concept of having a good time is "getting wasted". Dysfunctional families and poverty only worsen the issue.

jmerton 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's an analogy some may find crazy: I've been collecting data that classifies sugar (cane / corn / etc.) as a drug, rather than a food. Considering that type 2 diabetes is a self induced illness caused by sugar abuse, should we imprison sugar addicts? I know, I know, that may be a bit of a stretch for some persons. Still, think about it.
tlongren 3 days ago 3 replies      
Easy to say, but it'll never happen, especially in the US (at least not in my lifetime, hopefully my daughters). Too many jobs would be unnecessary if the "war on drugs" was over.
duncan_bayne 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of a scene from The Assignment, where two characters are arguing at an official function:

- How about "fuck you, pal"?

- I'd believe it, if it was louder.

In other news, I'm a bit sick of public figures coming out against the War on Drugs after their careers are functionally over.

tiagobraw 3 days ago 0 replies      
The article is co-written by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil.

I didn't like him when he was the president, but I do like very much his approach to legalize/decriminalize drugs... Kudos for them!

api 3 days ago 0 replies      
At this point I think a big reason prohibition is kept alive is to save face. To end it, they'd have to admit they were wrong.
grault 3 days ago 5 replies      
My idea would be: make them legal, tax them high (or make them accessible only after certain educational exams), from that money educate people, help them recovering. Teach them basic game theory and the term what trap is, what is it like to be the frog in the boiling water, etc.

I'm confident I missed many aspects here, although really interested in: What are the problems with this model?

jdimov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, the "mighty" USA is utterly incapable of functioning economically without wars, so this will never happen.
volune 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm tired of these cowards coming out against the war on drugs after they no longer hold a position of power to do anything about it.
arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real issue that needs to be discussed, but no one wants to, is how one particular three letter uses drugs as a source of black ops funding, so that it is beyond congressional oversight. Of course, congress is so compromised they are much less afraid of oversight these days, but until people understand that the drug war is about money more than just in regards to asset forfeiture and other LEA uses, and the very top structures in government benefit from it.
dreamdu5t 3 days ago 3 replies      
Kofi Annan does not have any prerogative to tell me or others what to do with their own bodies. Fuck the UN and Kofi Annan.
Eleutheria 3 days ago 1 reply      
While we're at it, end the war on terror, war on poverty, war on sex, war on religion.

But above all, end the war on liberty.

A culture of beer and overtime jayhuang.org
339 points by jayhuang  2 days ago   201 comments top 45
patio11 2 days ago 7 replies      

It was time to leave, and the HR lady came to me and said I would have to sign a release letter and send it back within 2 work days (the following Monday was a holiday), otherwise I would not get any of the remaining pay

I'm not familiar with the law in Canada, but I rather suspect that it's similar to America, so a bit of advice for the young and impressionable: virtually no threat to not pay an employee wages is worth taking seriously. Don't sign anything. Say you'll run it by your lawyer. You don't even need to have a lawyer when you say that, but the prospect of your lawyer going to the employment commission and saying "My client was denied wages. Do you need me to say anything else or can we just proceed directly to 'He gets them'?" will generally make them back off.

I mean, as one point among many, your lawyer is going to say "You think he was a consultant? We have written representations from you that he was a FTE, and you treated him as a FTE, for example in attempting to control his working hours. It is materially against his interests to be a consultant, because this implies that you haven't been paying employment taxes on him. That's unfortunate, but it's not our problem, and rather than stick him with the bill for $X,000 in back taxes we're just going to tell the tax authorities that he's been maliciously reclassified and that you're delinquent in your obligations. Given that this will likely trigger an audit and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines for you, how about we just agree to give my client what he has coming to him, and you report an inadvertent paperwork screwup to the tax authority when you pay your fair share?"

laughfactory 2 days ago 3 replies      
Dude, I feel ya. And thanks for sharing.

I'm not (yet) a developer (though that is my long game), but I have run into similar situations in data science. I had an idiot boss (boss of my immediate boss) who sat around all day with his feet on his desk, staring off into space, but demanded that we all work 60-ish hours a week. And this was at a bank, where the standard was 40 and they made a lot of noise about their support for work/life balance and having family, etc. Anyway, he was a dick, too. Passive aggressive, the whole nine yards. So I found another job with a rapidly growing tech company and received an excellent offer. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to really take my skill set (in data analytics) to the next level. I'd be the data guy and the role would work directly with the CEO, President, and all the other acronyms at the highest levels. The work I did would directly impact everything. Seemed cool. And for a couple days, it was. I went in early, stayed late, and worked my ass off to learn everything. They had three or four different databases running MySQL and MS SQL, and none of the data was documented. Which is to say that the only ones who knew what a given field was in the database were their 3 developers. When I started they presented me with a list of 114 reports they wanted created for the company. When I left, after having produced a significant number of those reports, the list had grown to 124. From the first day it was a constant struggle to figure out how to pull data from all their various databases, determine which fields were the right fields (i.e., it's called X, is it X? Or is it called X but it is actually Y? Or it is called X, it generally is X, but sometimes it's Y?), and smoosh everything together fast enough for their near-daily meetings. After a week the President called me into his office and told me I wasn't coming up to speed fast enough. I was completely stunned. And I attempted to professionally defend myself against his baseless assertions. I pointed out that I'd only been their a week. That I had a huge amount of data in a number of databases for which there was no data dictionary of any sort to make sense of. That I was making rapid progress in both learning the data and making effective use of it. That he'd be hard-pressed to find anyone else who could do any better than I was. I pointed out that I was doing everything in my power to get up to speed as rapidly as possible: I was coming in early, staying late, and working weekends. In the week I worked there I put in close to 70 hours. And I didn't get to see much of my family (wife and daughter). It sucked. But I thought that it might be worth it.

The clincher came when, in our conversation, I told him that I was rapidly coming up to speed, but that doing so fully would take time. He told me (verbatim), "we don't have time. We need to go faster and faster. I don't have time for you to come up to speed." Then he gave me (implied with a grim smile full of teeth) a week. "We'll see how you're doing in a week..." he said.

But after he blind-sided me like that, I put in a long day, mulling things over. Then I went home and talked to my wife. The conclusion I arrived at was similar to your own. It could've been a great opportunity if the company leadership (namely my boss the President) wasn't completely unrealistic and divorced from reality. To this day I have no idea how they expected anything different than they got from me. Did they truly expect me to come up to speed even faster than I was? Within a week? Or was our weird and painful conversation some perverse sort of pep-talk?

Either way, in talking it out with my wife, when it came down to it we realized that it just simply wasn't worth swimming in the sea of vipers. There was no way I was going to work 70-84 hours a week for the salary I was making ($57,000/yr). Not when it was working for people who clearly had no idea what they were asking of their employees and how to treat people. They just didn't deserve to have my talent, abilities, and work ethic on staff. I wrote a one sentence resignation letter and dropped it at their office the next day. I said "This letter serves as notice of my resignation, effective immediately." I decided that any more long-winded explanation of my reasons for departure would be lost on a person like the President, so I put all those reasons in a Glassdoor review of the place. True to form, I received an email out of the blue from the President a month later. "Abe, saw your Glassdoor review. What gives?"

Also, similar to your experience, I got the impression after a couple days that I wasn't the first data guy they'd tried to bring on board. Though no one would talk about it, I got the impression that they, too, hadn't stayed very long.

Anyway, I share my story by way of commiserating with you. It's shocking to find such horrid work environments somehow persist, even for highly skilled individuals. We expect better treatment, and often get it--which makes it all the harder to take when we don't. Of course, in your case and mine, I wouldn't take that kind of treatment no matter how much the job paid, or how much I liked the work or product.

Thanks again for sharing!

coffeemug 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. I'm a founder of a tech company, and the thought of checking someone's LinkedIn profile or old website to verify degree of commitment would never even occur to me. The fact that someone would not only think of it, but actually act on it is absolutely mind-boggling. I've seen new managers do silly things, but this is seriously new.
vinceguidry 2 days ago 3 replies      
What in the world?

I don't see how anybody tolerates this crap. I wouldn't have lasted a week there. And you better believe there'd be threats of legal action on any withheld pay. It's obvious to me that they're just riding horses into the ground until they get where they want to go.

I also wouldn't have put up with that "You're not 100% committed here," crap. I probably would have laughed in his face. "Look pal, unless you have a specific problem with the job I'm doing, stuff it. Then I'd make a show out of leaving at 5. A company needs to deserve overtime before I'll give it to them. Pulling shit like this is the fastest way of losing it.

It's easy to see the psychological tactic they're pulling, preying on your desire to be part of a team to extract an unreasonable amount of effort out of you. If they're using them on you, then they're probably using them on everybody and working there will be misery. Time to call the other shops and see if they filled their spots yet.

ryan-allen 2 days ago 3 replies      
To me this is less about 'beer and overtime' and more about conformity to pre-existing culture.

It doesn't matter if it's beer or if it's Star Trek or if it's an religious-like attitude to Cucumber Testing or even if it's a tech company or not, the fact is that some potential asshole who's on a slightly higher salary than you can decide to fuck with your livelihood if you don't tow some intangible line that matters to them.

I see it as a byproduct of capitalism, bosses will be bosses, and I've seen people trashed with 'fairness' as often as I have seen them trashed with non-conformity to whatever the ones in charge (or even the ones in the middle) care about.

As long as you have a list of conditions attached to your paycheck, this isn't going to change. It sucks, but it is how it is. You either have to play the game or find some place to work where the game is tolerable to you and your values. It doesn't matter how you cast it, but there's always a game to be played, some will seem more virtuous than others, and that will change from person to person.

duncan_bayne 1 day ago 2 replies      
In business, people will push for all they can get. That includes you, after all, I presume you negotiated a good salary and conditions?

Two examples from my past:

The law here in Victoria changed, and I (as a contractor) became a payroll tax liability to the company that hired me. So their CFO scheduled a meeting with me and informed me that he expected me to lower my rate to take into account the payroll tax.

I said, "no - the legislation clearly states that the liability is incumbent upon the employer."

He said, "yes, that's true" and dropped the matter. I continued there amicably for another year or so before my contract expired.

Another example: I joined a company as a permanent employee (not a contractor) with clearly specified business hours in my employment contract, and no mention whatsoever of on-call work.

Then a few weeks after joining, it was announced that there was a requirement for 24 hour support from the dev team, and we'd all be expected to participate. My response was: I'm happy to keep an eye out for problems if I'm at my computer and not busy, but on-call was never part of the deal, and I'm not doing it.

Nothing bad came from my refusal in either case; in fact, I suspect my dealings with the first company was smoother afterwards, once it became apparent that I was not a push-over.

Some caveats:

- in neither case were the people involved assholes; rather the contrary in fact

- I was in my thirties when both things happened; had I been in my early twenties I almost certainly would have caved to both requests (self-respect and confidence both lacking back then)

- I remained calm and polite at all times

jmspring 2 days ago 2 replies      
There are startups like this. I left one before a pivotal point that might have resulted in me making some money for some of the very same reasons:

1) Commitment was questioned -- in my case, I disappeared for a rainy weekend for my wife's birthday and wasn't online over the weekend.

2) Attitude was questioned -- regular beat the staff meetings in the morning after pulling an all nighter, I tossed the pen to the next guy (a friend) and miss threw and it hit the ceiling. "Why are you being an asshole?" It took a bit to realize that was what was being asked.

3) After a great showing at Demo we launched with no ops/support and engineers with the knowledge (me) were expected to be on call after 80 hour weeks. I got grumbled at due to a support issue as I was returning from a morning at the Legion of Honor and heading down Highway 1 (no signal, peace). Oh, the wife wasn't happy either -- "why are they bugging you on a Saturday morning?"

That said, the overall product we built was one of the more fun and diverse I was involved in. It was very hard to make the decision, but sometimes you know it is just right to walk away.

There are startups that are like that. Sometimes, like the post above, the signs are there early. Sometimes, they don't show themselves until much later.

A couple of years later when the company had an exit, of the 35+ people that were there when I left, only four that I new (including the two founders) actually remained.

georgemcbay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Im not saying you should be working 80 hours a week, but 70 is not ridiculous to ask, and if you were committed you would do more.

My response would be: So I'll of course be getting a 1.75x raise over my current salary, right?

To be clear, I'm not against really giving it your all for your work, but I lament how across much of the tech industry putting in insane hours is considered just the baseline. If I've got real equity in a company and I'm really a "stakeholder" (a term that gets thrown around to a ridiculous degree), sure, I'll work my ass off. If you're paying me approximately market rates and a piddling amount of common shares that are bound to be diluted away to nothing, sorry but you're going to have to do much better than that if you expect me to negatively impact my overall quality of life to any degree.

kamaal 1 day ago 0 replies      
>>Im not saying you should be working 80 hours a week, but 70 is not ridiculous to ask, and if you were committed you would do more.

From when did working 30+ additional extra hours just became a sign of being merely committed? The way I see these are just mind games played to extract tons of work for free.

I see this pretty standard these days. The Google 20% time policy is a standard in many companies to get free innovation out, while your grinding your bones to dust(sold to you as 'chasing your passion' , 'developers like to code during late night and weekends', 'world changing problems' etc) working whole nights to get some thing done, a VP some where is sleeping through his job. What happens at the end of it is the VP gets a fat bonus and a promotion for 'driving the innovation' while you are at the very best known to be just 'committed' and given a certification, which isn't even worth the paper its printed on.

Almost any time you hear some senior guy glorifying long working hours, demanding free innovation and depicting heroic contribution as just doing bare minimum job. Know one thing for sure, this guy is going to leech you till the last drop of blood in your body.

mkramlich 2 days ago 3 replies      
before he even got to the first "red flag" I started to see red flag patterns. a team that small with its own PM and copywriter, detached executives (plural, and again, with an overall team/copmany size that small, etc.)

disadvantages to getting older, but one advantage is accumulating a set of observed good patterns and bad patterns you can start doing pattern matching against. there's a reason some companies specifically going after 20-somethings, folks. because y'all are more likely to fall for the anti-patterns, not see the warning signs early enough until its too late.

fleitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Call a lawyer, this sounds super fishy if the location is in Vancouver.

Did they ever deduct taxes from you? Did you give them a GST number? Did you submit invoices to them?

If they made deductions and you didn't give them a GST number they are likely in big trouble.

If a judge smells employment he will classify you as such as make sure you get your due.

avenger123 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know what it is about people that are in our field. We seem to be too trusting and too honest.

I followed this along and there are so many signs that the person should have realized, "hey, I'm being screwed here or about to be screwed, do something about it". Instead, he kept going based on what he was told even though his own intuition told him otherwise.

One thing I have learned is that strong, aggressive and manipulative people size you up instantly by throwing something at you that puts your own strength on the line. This could be a request they make of you, a statement or something else.

If you at that moment don't show that you are just as strong and aggressive as they can be but choose not to be, then they know they have you and will step all over you all the time.

Standing up for yourself and calling out the project manager for making you looking like you were fired instead of quitting is not a question of being professional or not. The obvious question will be "Why didn't you speak up? You were already being let go?" The project manager would not dare to do such a thing if the right boundaries were setup initially.

furyg3 1 day ago 0 replies      
70 hours a week is just crazy. Working 14 hour days for even a week sprint is a really awful week, and represents serious bad planning, bad management, or a massive resource shortage. Expecting that kind of workload on a sustained basis is not just a bad organizational culture, it's borderline unethical.

On our team, if these kinds of workloads start popping up before a product launch, there is a serious discussion about it. It means that someone over promised, and that person needs to be taken to task.

cbryan 2 days ago 4 replies      
What are good questions to ask during an interview to avoid situations like these? How are other people weeding out employers like this one? This sounds like a bad situation that I'm sure we'd all like to avoid.
weixiyen 1 day ago 3 replies      
At one of my first jobs, I resigned after about a year because I found a job that offered 2x as much in terms of salary.

Director: "How much is the new place offering? We can match."

I told him the number.

Immediately his tone changed, and said I should take the other offer.

I wanted to give a 2 week notice, which I thought was the norm, but he asked me to leave immediately and use up my remaining days as vacation days as my last few days at the company.

At that time I did not realize that I was entitled to my pay for the remaining vacation days, so I agreed to it without much thought. Part of it was because I could not imagine this guy doing anything shady in my previous interactions with him, as he always seemed like a stand up guy.

By forcing me to use my vacation hours, the company saved a few hundred dollars, which would have been a lot for me at the time as I only had a few hundred dollars in my bank account.

But looking back in retrospect and reading many similar stories, it seems common, almost expected, for younger kids to be screwed over like this in the workplace, especially when departing a company.

tempestn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Was anyone else reminded of this? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/magazine/dave-eggers-ficti...

"Denises smile was pained. But then theres your absence at most of the weekend and evening events, all of which are of course totally optional, and your corresponding PartiRank, which is surprisingly low for a newbie."

"Optional" beer party anyone?

notacoward 2 days ago 1 reply      
At my very first programming job a long time ago, I was criticized for not putting in enough overtime leading up to a milestone. When the next milestone was near, I worked back to back all-nighters, careful to leave copious documentation of everything I'd done and when. When the boss who had criticized me finally rolled in, I just said "where the hell were you?" and went home to get some sleep. I didn't hear any crap about not working hard enough after that.
Domenic_S 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm starting a new policy of not reading posts like this unless they say who the offending company is.
vertis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm all for putting in the occasional overtime, and working on stuff at home if you're still engaged.

But an expectation that you will work more than the 40 hours a week that they're paying you for, blows my mind.

dfrey 2 days ago 7 replies      
The project manager sounds like a dick, but the author also sounds like a push-over. The author had a chance to out the manager as a huge asshole, but based on the post, it seems like he just left silently.
will_work4tears 2 days ago 4 replies      
Having no experience with startups, I gotta say that I have some sympathy and it sounds horrible, however, what does this have to do with beer? I read the whole story and you had one friday night, after hours, with beer, and you didn't partake as you are a teetotaler. That's fine. I didn't see any other references to that fact, so I'm confused how it has anything to do with the story. It doesn't sound like they have beer there every day and you were let go because you didn't drink. Just one instance where you were questioned about a single party (which is none of their business, IMO).
throwmeaway2525 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love leaving companies like that one. You should celebrate, with a beer, perhaps? (Kidding)

When you took the job, did you sign an offer letter that outlined your employment status and role with the company?

Just curious. I would think an offer letter would resolve any questions about that, should it become necessary.

jmgtan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I encountered the same criticism (not doing overtime) when I was working for a Japanese company even though I'm the only one who is doing 5 projects at the same time and all ahead of schedule with no major issues. I was actually passed over for a promotion because of it. This post brings back bad memories :
smileysteve 2 days ago 3 replies      
You Were Fired.

When you have contractor status, are brought into a meeting where they say you are underperforming, not committed, and turn deaf ears on however you try to justify yourself... and you end up leaving the company... you may have been fired.

The biggest mistakes you made was a) still being a contractor b) not asking for severance if you would opt of of claiming unemployment on them.

rfnslyr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love reading stories like this. If I see assholes like these being founders, and I'm not that asshole, it makes me feel every bit capable of being a founder one day. Sorry you had a bad experience OP, but you sound like a good guy and I'm sure you'll have loads of awesome gigs await you in the future.

Personally I would have snapped and handled that situation extremely poorly haha.

pekk 2 days ago 0 replies      
My interpretation is that you were fired for reasons which would be embarrassing or illegal to admit, e.g. because you were embarrassing the team with their XSS bugs.
jrockway 2 days ago 0 replies      
The part where they expected him to sign something in order for them to release his own money to him that he already earned was hilarious.
hoopism 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whether you consumer beer or alcohol or not it's usually enlightening to attend these events. I've gotten more insight into the companies and dept I work for by socializing after hours than all the "regular" work hours.

I hear people often complain about communication... they rarely attend these functions. It's not their fault I guess... but it's a reality.

ztnewman 2 days ago 4 replies      
I don't understand what beer culture has to do with the majority of the post
Maven911 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing your story.I am going through a pretty tough hiring process where the decision makers in corporate made the decision to hire me, but the local people in the current office seem to hate me and doubt I am up for the job, along with local HR joining the bandwagon and complaining about my hiring.So you sharing your problems gives me a feeling of belonging that I am not alone in being stuck in bad situations.
jamin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I fail to see how a few beers in the office one Friday night is a culture of beer...?

Did you have conversations about this with anyone other than the PM?

slaunchwise 1 day ago 0 replies      
Two things jumped out at me. The first is that the PM had no substantive complaint and was basically being a bully. Some people do that. Since you had been really interested in this job, you might have done the second thing, which is to take your complaint upstairs. I would have told the story to someone above the bully before resigning. They might have backed up the bully, to their discredit. But they might decided they can't afford the kind of turnover this a-hole creates. If this feels like going outside of channels, it is, but tech isn't big on channels in my experience. You might have saved an interesting job. At the least, it would have been an entertaining thing to do.
beachstartup 2 days ago 2 replies      
> One would mean I would be moving to Palo Alto, California, where I would be joining a well-known, highly successful, technology company. The pay was great, and working there would make any future job hunts virtually non-existent.

in my humble opinion, the only time you should pass up an offer like that is to work on your own startup. after all did you not apply, and interview, and compete fo, and WANT the job? i don't get it.

sorry, it's just too good of an opportunity. jeez. at least someone else got a shot because this guy passed it up.

thejosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you were listed as a contractor, isn't that grounds to sue? Here if you are fulltime you have different employee protections compared to contractor.
kubiiii 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some managers are unable to assess employees efficiency, so they measure working time and are only happy when everyone is working 70 + hours per week.They also measure commitment by how hard you laugh at their jokes. Even though it is infinitely more precious to have someone productive working around 40 hrs a week (i.e. with around 30 extra potential hours to work when there is a rush) who finds critical software vulnerabilities like you did.Their loss.
digitalzombie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happened to me, total clustered fuck from the start... But I knew half way I was going to get shafted. So I ask tons of questions and try to learn as much as I can from my senior peers.
pcurve 2 days ago 0 replies      
makes me wonder if the PM is part of the mgmt team and this is just his tactic of extracting cheap labor without diluting founders' shares.
ilbe 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a horror story, I've been at a company with red flags, and left due to that fact, but have not seen anything to this extent. I will keep it in mind as a warning. Sounds like the PM has a psychological disorder.
michaelochurch 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was time to leave, and the HR lady came to me and said I would have to sign a release letter and send it back within 2 work days (the following Monday was a holiday), otherwise I would not get any of the remaining pay, including my stock options. Apparently instead of full-time as stated in my offer letter, I was a Contractor and that the agreement was terminated. I guess thats to protect them somehow. And the stock options that she said I would be paid amounted to $0 (as expected).*

That shit is highly illegal. Get a lawyer. Even now, after the fact, there are things an attorney can do for you, like negotiate a settlement. (If they pressured you into signing a release or non-disparagement agreement, they're afraid). The release should be voided by the threat of withholding wages. This reversion to consultant status is fishy, too. It seems like they're afraid of a constructive dismissal claim (essentially, the argument that the PM's horrible behavior constitutes wrongful termination).

I'm not saying that you should sue them. That's not my decision to make, and for a 9-week job it's rarely worth it. Given that they already broke the law, you don't much to lose, and there is something to gain, by getting an attorney involved. If nothing else, it'll make that horrible PM look bad to his superiors, and that's a small win.

You won't get stock options, of course. Typical vesting is 4/1, meaning you get zero if you leave in the first year. I don't know why they even mentioned that. Almost no one gets stock options (for obvious, legitimate reasons) who worked at a place for 9 weeks.

guangnan 1 day ago 0 replies      
"You are not 100% committed."

Added to my big-picture_manager RubyGem.


brianmtully 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Beer Party"?
anoncow 1 day ago 1 reply      
You still haven't updated your LinkedIn.
lignuist 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was a sect, not a company.
6d0debc071 1 day ago 0 replies      
> You are not 100% committed.

I can't remember quite how I responded to that the first time I got it but it went something very much along these lines:

"To gain big you have to gamble big, if big gains were simple everyone would be doing them. There is always the possibility of failure, of losing everything you bring to the table, and being a hundred percent committed to anything, bringing everything you have to the table, is a bad gambling strategy. We can work together for our mutual benefit, but if you expect me to throw my entire life, and potentially all my future options, behind something that may or may not work out... well, I can see how that's to your benefit but I don't see how it's to my likely long-term good. The average lifespan of a company is thirty years, and significantly less in the startup space. I'm afraid that if you want me to sacrifice my interests for yours you either need to be paying me a lot more to justify the added risk you're asking me to take on, or we've reached a parting of the ways."

People like that are, I feel, just looking to take advantage of you. Loyalty is won by laying the best hearth, not demanded.

Django 1.6 released djangoproject.com
337 points by philippbosch  3 days ago   101 comments top 21
jroseattle 3 days ago 3 replies      
Django is one of my favorite open-source projects. I owe the project a lot.

Years ago, when I was a Microsoft-only shill (yeah, I'll say it), I knew how to build almost anything as long as something from Microsoft was under the covers. I was proud of my abilities, and in spite of the anti-MS crowd, I stood up for my platform and was a good developer.

In 2006, I had a short two-week break from my startup job, and my wife & kids were traveling to their grandparents' house at the same time. I had 336 consecutive hours to spend as I wanted, something I hadn't been able to do in many years. I decided I wanted to work on a little side project, something I could complete within those two weeks.

I made a decision to break out of my comfort zone. I knew a little about Linux, nothing about Apache, zero about Python, and had never worked with Mysql. I came up with an idea for a simple little CRUD application, just a utility site. It was something I knew I could build in maybe two or three days using Microsoft tools.

So, I searched around and found Django. I downloaded v0.9x (it was sometime in the summer, can't recall what it was specifically. I know it was pre-v1.)

And I started from the beginning, purely a newb. It was a position I wasn't accustomed to, so I immediately felt a lack of boundaries and sense of control. But the Django documentation was really good, and I soon gained an understanding of everything I needed to learn -- Python, running Apache, configuring Django, wiring up Mysql. I stayed focused and in one week, I had written my ridiculously simple CRUD app.

But the value I got out of it was how well the project pulled me in to becoming productive on a platform that I'd never used. Not only that, there was the help in the discussion groups from the community. It was a lot of fun, and I could recognize myself becoming a better developer.

The biggest realization came when I compared my Django project to an equivalent built on Microsoft tools. It wasn't a comparison of one-week vs. two-days, but rather one-week coming from square 1. All this led me to rethink my thoughts around my Microsoft background. I didn't become a convert per se, but it made me realize there are so many other ways of solving problems and other systems on which to build applications. And, after feeling productive, it made it easier for me to explore other (non-Microsoft) technologies. The feeling of being productive in multiple environments was so empowering.

I'm not sentimental about software, but the Django project is kind of that kid who can do no wrong in my eyes, due to my formative experience with it.

ubernostrum 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like somebody jumped the gun when they saw the commits and uploads happening; the official release announcement went up only a few minutes ago, and is here:


The release notes are here:


Also: if you downloaded the package in the period between the parent link going up, and now, you might want to grab it again. The first roll of the 1.6 package (which wasn't announced, so we could do final checks first) failed to update our trove classifier, so the package was regenerated, which changed its signature and checksums.

EliAndrewC 3 days ago 1 reply      
The release notes can be found at https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.6/releases/1.6/

Personally, I'm happy that Python 3 is now officially supported, though in practice I haven't had an issues with using Django 1.5 with Python 3.

fletchowns 3 days ago 0 replies      
The dedication to Malcolm Tredinnick was a very nice thing for the Django team to do. I didn't know of Malcolm or his passing before reading the release notes, but he seemed like a wonderful person who will be missed by many. Very sad that somebody like that is no longer with us. Reading his tweets I get the sense he was a really cool guy.

Really nice piece about Malcolm from his former boss: https://plus.google.com/+errazudinishak/posts/6j6iAMhNfnb

Congrats to the Django team on releasing 1.6, I'm looking forward to upgrading soon!

jtchang 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the reasons I like Django so much is because of the community. This might seem rather meta but the comments in this thread are generally positive. Most Django users I know are well aware of its limitations and don't try to sugarcoat it if Django is not the right tool for the job. But overall I've found the community (and that of Python) pretty receptive.
craigkerstiens 3 days ago 0 replies      
The persistent connections that now exist within Django should give a quite but great performance boost for the vast majority of Django applications, which are not already running a connection pooler (http://www.craigkerstiens.com/2013/03/07/Fixing-django-db-co...). This alone can be reason enough to upgrade in addition to all the other improvements.
euroclydon 3 days ago 4 replies      
If you were starting a new project today, would you use development version 1.7 in order to get Django Migrations instead of using South?
d0m 3 days ago 10 replies      
For those who works with designers or html people who don't use the command line, how do you collaborate with them with Django?

For me it's a perpetual issue to get them up and running, commit/push with git, etc etc. Is there an easier solution? Basically, I'd like them to get started and be able to tweak the templates and css as effortless as possible.

It's kind of very hard to have people working directly in templates/css and others updating html/css and them diff the changes, integrate them, etc..

andybak 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yay. Major usability wart fixed: "ModelAdmin now preserves filters on the list view after creating, editing or deleting an object."
lunchbox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dumb question: What does it mean that autocommit is now turned on? I no longer have to call mymodel.save()?


andybak 3 days ago 5 replies      
django-vanilla-views in core for 1.7 please. ;-)
magnusgraviti 2 days ago 0 replies      
1.7 release will be very interesting. Instead of South there will be migrations support. At DjangoCon EU Andrew Godwin told about his vision of it. i.e. if you have 200 migrations you'll be able to merge them into 1.

Form fields will get extended support like input[type="email"]

Django comments are now deprecated.

Congratulations to everyone using Django!

daGrevis 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's a small change yet I'm really happy with it.

> BooleanField no longer defaults to False

It caused quite a few headaches. Boolean can't have default.

anderspetersson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for another great release! Also big thumbs up for a shorter release cycle than usual.
eliben 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is it only me or it's not easy to discover what's new / changed / release notes from this page? Is there a secret link I'm missing?
smaili 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's amazing to see how far along Django has come. Anyone remember when Django first came out? Good times :)
Walkman 3 days ago 0 replies      
A lot of small but very nice improvements, yay! https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.6/releases/1.6/#minor-fe...
anan0s 3 days ago 1 reply      
are there any particular performance improvements over the previous versions ?

I was thinking basically of transaction management, especially the autocommit behavior.

I browsed through the docs and saw that the default python database API requires autocommit to be turned off... but then again django overrides this behavior.

any comments on this ? (or am I completely lost ?)...

adamlj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really need this update! Other than the good stuff already mentioned, The DecimalField finally supports a comma as the separator.
mukgupta 2 days ago 0 replies      
No database migrations in 1.6 .Disappointed
Why Cruise Ships are My Favorite Remote Work Location tynan.com
334 points by bradly  1 day ago   299 comments top 52
ssharp 1 day ago 7 replies      
Having been of a few cruises, I'd like to point out a few things:

1) Listed prices generally DO NOT include gratuities. Low level cruise employees like the cleaning crew, cabin stewards, waiters, cooks, etc. are paid ridiculously low wages, because cruise ships are registered to countries like Panama and the companies do not need to adhere to U.S. standards. I don't recall offhand, but for a 7-day cruise the "automatic" gratuity is, I believe, around $100 or so per person, so take that into consideration. You can remove the charge if you want to, but you'd have to be a pretty big asshole to do that :) Also, prices are based on double-occupancy, so if you go by yourself, double the fares.

2) Internet is expensive, slow, and charges by the minute). However, if you do this a lot, some cruise loyalty programs will give you free internet. I know Princess does this. Also, you're cell phone my work in certain locations. I'm a U.S. AT&T subscriber and I have full service in U.S. ports like San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you can tether your phone, you'll get much faster and cheaper service that way than on the boat internet.

3) Don't get sick / injured. My wife stepped on broken glass while wearing open-toed shoes and got cut up pretty bad. The doctor on board used strips instead of stitches, and the cut reopened in two days, by which time we were already off the ship. The crew handled the incident terribly. The problem with the glass was not resolved quickly, my wife had to wait a fair amount of time for someone to show up with a wheelchair to take her to the doctor and the crew went into "don't get sued" mode really quickly. They gave us pushback when we refused to sign a liability waiver before getting treatment and we had some security guy who kept insisting to come into our room to photograph the shoes my wife was wearing at the time. When we complained the next day about the process, a nice woman sat down with us to hear out our complaint, but never really did anything. We were adamant about NOT paying for the care and it never showed up on our bill, so we let well enough alone. Three months later, they sent us a bill for $300 for the care. After we sent their HQ a letter in response, they ended up waiving the fee and giving us $100 credit towards our next cruise. Nice, but it was ridiculous in the first place since.

4) In regards to the above, had something worse happened, or they had refused to waive the fee, good luck fighting the cruise company in court. You're not only bound by typical consumer-crushing stuff like forced arbitration, but you're also getting into international legal difficulties. For big cases like the cruise that tipped over, it's worth the hassle, but for smaller claims, you're pretty limited in what you can realistically do.

All that said, I think this is a pretty cool idea and had always thought about how cruises could be a cool little work/vacation thing.

AlexMuir 1 day ago 6 replies      
I too work from a lot of different places, but I find that I absolutely need internet to be productive. Pulling a Gem for instance, or checking Stack Overflow.

My favourite places to work are all-inclusive holiday resorts. Lanzarote and the Algarve most recently. Being all inclusive means there is no thought process in eating or drinking. Nor any need to shop, clean, cook.

The most difficult thing is finding out what the internet situation is in hotels - but this has vastly improved even in the last year. I generally call up reception, and travel with an ethernet cable.

Incidentally for an individual or a couple, Airbnb is generally far more expensive than a reasonable half-board hotel. I've only ever found Airbnb type stuff useful in capital cities.

I've been at my most productive working in:

- Wetherspoons in Slough

- An apartment in Cairo

- A bungalow in Lanzarote

- The lobby of the Apex hotel in Dundee (current)

Downsides are seeing a laptop screen in the sun (wear a dark shirt) and being surrounded by happy couples while on one's own.

(I'm back to Lanzarote for a week at the start of December if anyone fancies a coffee)

mjn 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of the academic conferences in my field has been on a cruise on and off [1], for some of these reasons. One of the main things people like about it is that it keeps everyone together: everyone eats in the same dining room, drinks at the same bars, and it's easy to meet up and split off into impromptu discussing/working groups somewhere. Whereas in a big city people tend to diffuse, partly by income (well-paid people go to different restaurants than grad students), partly by interest, partly by what part of the city they found a hotel in. Many people also like no-internet. No temptation to respond to work emails or check Facebook during talks! And finally, it means everyone has to come for the whole conference or none of it: no showing up for half the conference, or just for your keynote.

The cost is also surprisingly low, typically coming out less in total than a typical "big hotel" conference does: when you add up conference-room rental, catering for coffee breaks and lunch, cost of hotel rooms, restaurants for dinner, etc., the cruise ship's all-in group pricing typically ends up cheaper per person, sometimes substantially so.

The downsides:

1. It looks bad externally, like academics wasting taxpayer money on a boondoggle. Even if it's cheaper, the image is too luxurious. It looks better to have a conference at a Marriott in Chicago, even if that costs the taxpayers more. It looks bad enough that some people won't come, because their source of funds won't approve the trip.

2. Flipside of the community tightness aspect is that it can feel claustrophobic to be essentially stuck at the conference, literally unable to leave the floating conference hotel.

3. No internet means certain kinds of demos won't work, or need added preparation. Although this is good practice anyway, because conference-room internet is often flaky even on land.

4. Not being able to come for only part of the conference can also be a disadvantage, since the schedule is inflexible. If you have a hard conflict anywhere in the conference, you have to skip it, since there is no way to arrive half a day late, or leave even 2 hours early.

Last year we experimented with having it in a medium-sized town with a compact city center, in a lower-cost-of-living location [2], to try to get some of the advantages without the disadvantages. I think this worked fairly well, and I personally liked it more than the cruise ship. But there is an added travel disadvantage, because there are few compact towns that also have good international airports.

[1] http://www.fdg2014.org/

[2] Chania, Crete: http://www.fdg2013.org/attendees/

simonsquiff 1 day ago 2 replies      
Cruise ships are also an amazing alternative to nursing homes.

I did some work for p&o cruises, on a ship that focused on round the world trips. These was one old lady there in her 80s who had swapped a nursing home for the ship - and had been there for 3 years or so. The food was incredible, she had diffent company every night due to other guests coming and going, was treated like royalty by the crew (unlike normal nursing home residents), and had an onboard doctor and nurse when needed. And all this was cheaper than any nursing home. Inspired idea.

chrissnell 1 day ago 1 reply      
OP touched on another great remote work idea: the RV. Find a smaller model in good condition and outfit it with a Verizon mobile AP and you're in business. Sadly, I didn't move into remote work until after I got married and started a family but if I was 22 again, this is how I'd do it. I'd spend my winters in South Texas, around San Antonio and Port Aransas. In the springtime, I'd head up to Southern Utah, places like Escalante and Moab where I could mountain bike and go canyoneering. In the summer, I'd head for the mountain towns: Telluride, Colorado...Aspen...Park City, Utah...Idaho...for more mountain biking and hiking. In the fall, I'd head south again and start it all over.

All of these places have easily available wifi, good food, great people, and lots to do after work. If you're smart about it, there are even nice places just outside of these towns where you can camp (< 14 days) for free and still have 4G cell service.

slg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Like others here, my major concern would be access to the technical resources that are freely available on the internet like StackOverflow. I was curious and consulted the StackExchange API and license. They seem to indicate it would not only possible to pull down the site's entire contents but it also would be allowed under the CC license that is used. Although judging by the various throttles in place, it would take you roughly 11 days to grab all the data. So who wants to take the plunge, write up the scripts, pull the data, and then share it with everyone else?
xradionut 1 day ago 5 replies      
In my humble opinion, this is a shitty idea. There are other quiet places with decent enough bandwidth that don't have the costs or risks of a cruise ship. My favorite one is the study section of the local library. I've also gone out to a cabin in the woods that only had a satellite link. My neighbor has soundproof walk-in closet.

As for the risks of a cruise ship, if something goes wrong, your options are limited. I say this as a navy veteran that's had to deal with multiple things that go wrong on a ocean vessel. (Fire, flooding, engine failure, etc...) As a civilian, I'm very wary of cruises.

MattBearman 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wow, I don't think this would have ever occurred to me, but it's genius!

I can go from London to San Juan in 14 days, for about 32 / day. That's cheaper than life at home.

Think I'm gonna book myself a cruise soon

Edit: Just exploring this guy's blog, and it turns out he's Herbal from "The Game" - an excellent book if you've not read it.

mdip 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was an interesting read. His arguments for why he likes working on a cruise ship are very much my arguments for why I prefer to vacation on a cruise ship:

(1) Internet access is "limited". I'll stick with "limited" because it's a mixed bag. It's been 5 years since I cruised, though not Mediterranean and was able to find flat rate per-day, however, the one day I broke down and purchased access I found it to be very unreliable (single shared satellite connection for the entire ship). This is the same for phone service. The last ship I was on had a ship-board cell "tower" that showed up as international and I can imagine even T-Mobile doesn't cover that in their zero roaming considering ship to shore calls were $9.00/minute from the suite. This also encourages my coworkers to think long and hard about whether or not to call me in an emergency.

(2) Everything is taken care of, including entertainment. I find it difficult to relax, even on vacation -- it's an exercise of planning what to eat, when to eat, what to see, what to do and when to do it. When "at sea", the cruise director provides a menu of what you can do and when. You pick. Very little energy is expelled in enjoying myself.

(3) When in port, same rules apply. You don't have enough time to plan some grand excursion, so you pick one or two things to do and head back. I always opt for a room with a window and have found that if the ship is oriented with me facing the shore, I can pick up free Wi-Fi from restaurants at shore for a fix (even when the ship is too big and has to be anchored at sea). This provides for a quick fix of internet and stretching.

Because there are many times of the day where there is literally nothing else to do, I find it's the only thing that slows my mind down. By day 7 or so I'm ready to be home again, and the weeks that follow my vacation are usually amazing. The time spent being forced to be alone with my thoughts results in me returning with new ideas, new ways to solve old problems and just a generally more positive outlook. It's the only vacation I take where I truly get the idea of taking time out to decompress.

rdl 1 day ago 0 replies      
My personal preference is 5 day stays in cat I to IV Starwood hotels in interesting places, during lower occupancy periods, with top tier status -- ends up costing $20-100/day all-in by gaming the points system.

I tend to go full Howard Hughes (not leaving my 2-3 room suite) for a few days, do some limited local exploration, etc. I feel a lot better having a separate bedroom and office. Free breakfast and lounge means effectively unlimited food, although local restaurants, room service, etc are options.

This week I've been at the Le Meridien Bangkok, probably my favorite hotel in town, for 5000 points/night, net, which is essentially $50/night in foregone cash back on credit card purchases, or about $100/night at retail. It cost me $50 to fly here from Singapore, where I couch surfed with friends for a few days, after 10 days in Bali with the girlfriend.

Less risk of fire, norovirus, my hotel is mainly full of nice Japanese people instead of either obnoxious partier spring break types or old dying people, 50M Internet, etc.

spindritf 1 day ago 3 replies      
I had no idea cruises were so cheap. I though they're ~$100/day. This is what it costs to get a cabin on a cargo ship.
melindajb 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is an insanely great idea. Cruise ships are incredibly quiet places. the lack of internet/expensive internet is a forcing function. Great way for co founders to spend time together if they're normally in different locations. We might just do this for a big push. Transatlantic cruises are very, very cheap and not crowded; and since it's not incredibly warm outside there's an added incentive to work. :)

Another benefit: take your spouses/partners; so long as they are able to let you work during the day while they hit the gym/spa/bingo etc. Everyone wins.

Only danger I see is eating too much.

noarchy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Posts like this seem self-congratulatory, to me. Working in this field, we're well-compensated, and in a position of relative privilege based on that alone. Add to that the flexibility (when we have it) to not be tied down to a daily commute or an office/cube-farm, and we're living in another world entirely. We shouldn't forget this.
peteforde 1 day ago 1 reply      
Earlier this year I wrote about how shrinking my business size down to one (me) allows me to work from trains. Specifically, I wrote that post while on board VIA Rail's The Canadian, which goes to/from Toronto to Vancouver in four days. It was awesome, and if you know where to look, these trips are always 50% off.


plainOldText 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case someone didn't get to the bottom of the article, the author also built Cruise Sheet, which helps you find the cheapest cruises http://cruisesheet.com/.
theorique 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perspective from David Foster Wallace - "Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise". Also known as "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".

[pdf] http://harpers.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/HarpersMagazin...

However, I don't think this (somewhat critical) article should deter any would-be cruise goers, especially if you have work to engage you during the time.

arbuge 1 day ago 3 replies      
OK, I have to be that guy. Barcelona to Casablanca is not a "transatlantic cruise".

Anyway, interesting idea if you can live without internet. Technically speaking, if you're in international waters (and not a US citizen, which is a long story), you won't even owe taxes on the work you do aboard.

bfe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now imagine how much undistracted work you could get done on a six-month trip to Mars.
joelgrus 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can see how the lack of Internet is awesome for preventing you from checking Facebook / Twitter / HN all day. At the same time, I'm not sure how productive I could be without near-constant access to StackOverflow. :)
pastylegs 1 day ago 3 replies      
"Frankly, if you're not into bingo and ballroom dancing, you may find there's not much for you to do on the ship other than work or read."

What is happening to people? When you are insulating yourself from nearly every aspect of day-to-day normality just to be able to concentrate without distraction there is a problem and it's likely you are working to much. I'm all up for travelling but this just seems like an easy way to remove yourself from the world to get more done. Why not just check into a mental health clinic with a wifi dongle - you won't have to cook or clean and they'll be perfectly equipped to deal with you once the monumental burnout hits.

invalidOrTaken 1 day ago 1 reply      
Prediction: This will be a trend. People are less likely to be married now than they used to be. People increasingly feel loyalty to a culture rather than a country. Internet access on cruise ships will become cheaper.
wiggle_bar 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Tynan would be as gung ho about working on cruise ships if he didn't happen to be launching a cruise deal aggregator site
jscheel 1 day ago 1 reply      
This guys is enjoying life while making money and seeing the world. Who am I to argue :) I'm not sure what I would do without internet for that long (especially since I listen to internet radio all the time), but if you can get past that, more power to you.
reustle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great work on the article and CruiseSheet.com. Could you update the "From" dropdown to combine "New York, New York" and "New York, NY"?
WalterBright 1 day ago 0 replies      
> or to get caught up in the dreaded Reddit -> Hacker News -> Reddit cycle.


wehadfun 1 day ago 0 replies      
This could be somewhat bad for the cruise industry. I think cruises sell at a loss and hope to make there money back through alcohol spas, gambling or things someone working folks will not do.
eli 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm, I wonder if I could publish a dd-wrt fork that requires you to pay me $0.20 to $0.70 per minute for internet access.
VikingCoder 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can't wait for a Google Driverless Car to essentially be the same thing for me.

I order one with my cell phone, it shows up, I hop in, type my destination, and then I can ignore the world while I'm getting stuff done. Or sleeping.

I get to see interesting places, but get stuff done.

driverdan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find Las Vegas is a great place to get work done, assuming you don't have a gambling addiction and don't mind working from hotel rooms. Hotels are super cheap, food is reasonable (if you're careful where you eat), and you can usually find cheap flights.

Downsides: You'll need a wireless hotspot since hotels charge too much for internet access (ones without resort fees). Starbucks is overpriced and there aren't many other coffee shops on the strip.

feverishaaron 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to his site, the daily rate is actually cheaper to take a cruise than to pay rent on a 3 bdr house in much of the bay area.
graeme 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had this same experience working in Cuba for a month. I was writing, so I didn't need internet. They don't have it there, except for occasional slow access in certain access points, where I went to handle correspondence once a week.

I stayed in a family's house. They cooked, cleaned and made coffee. I had zero responsibilities. Results:

I wrote 50% more than usual. I read 7 novels, including Moby Dick. I socialized more than usual. I exercised and went for long walks every day. I studied for the GMAT.

Not having internet was very helpful, but outsourcing all domestic tasks made a huge difference.

kayoone 1 day ago 0 replies      
As much as id like to work from different places alot, i just cant stand the fact of being hunched over a laptop all day. Most of these places that are not an office, just arent very ergonomic.
drum 1 day ago 0 replies      
The idea of being able to travel around the world with just a laptop reminds me of being a 21st century writer. Take the notepad to a remote beach and just write. I love the idea of working on a cruise ship but I imagine it would get kind of hard to code without internet. Is that something you face?
bane 1 day ago 1 reply      
Folks who are interested in this in terms of lack of distractions might also want to consider doing commercial freighter cruises.
gmays 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great post. Being new in my entrepreneurial career I'm just learning the pleasures of working from anywhere.

I live in San Diego, but a few weeks ago I drove up to NorCal to visit the parents. While there I attended Startup School in the bay area. The next week I flew to Boston and stayed with a friend in Cambridge and attended WordCamp Boston. I attended the Business of Software conference next and stayed at the Seaport Hotel. At the end of the conference I took the short ride to Cape Cod and stayed there for a week or so with some family. It was a little chilly this time of year, but with everyone gone during the day and the tourist season over I could really enjoy the beauty and eat at all of the great restaurants. It's incredibly peaceful. I even spent some time at the Chatham Bars Inn and worked from there...absolutely incredible.

By staying with friends and family and managing costs the whole few weeks probably cost around $1,000 including plane tickets. The most expensive thing was the three nights at the Seaport Hotel, which cost around $500 even though I split the room with someone. It would have been a lot more if my wife was with me since we would have wanted to do more.

So now I'm back in NorCal staying with my parents. I'll probably stay here through Thanksgiving then head back home to San Diego for the winter.

This lifestyle really is incredible. It'll be interesting to see how it works out when my wife and I have kids, I assume it'll be a pain in the ass. I can't believe I had a 'real' job for so long. Sure I work about 2x as much, but I love it. Besides, it's really only work if you'd rather be doing something else.

ufmace 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting idea, but the lack of internet to look things up easily could be a headache. I suppose it would help if you already have expert-level knowledge in the tech stack that you're working in, and/or you can download local copies of lots of documentation.
himperdunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
If somebody is blogging about their lifestyle you have to question it. Creative geniuses seem to vary in their response to distractions. Leonhard Euler claimed that he did important work with baby on knee. The inventor of the shape sorter (I forget his name) used to head off to a place of absolute quiet and stillness to conceive his inventions. John von Neumann turned the TV volume up in order to work. Go figure
gurkendoktor 1 day ago 0 replies      
That sounds like a great idea. I've tried programming on a trans-siberian train ride, but it was SO HARD to get any exercise at all - feels unhealthy. Plus you end up thinking about food a lot (missing good food, mostly).
archagon 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a pretty great idea. I'm trying to travel and work on a few projects right now, and my average is turning out to be around $75-$100 per day for the US. $50 per day sounds like a fun, cheap way to get some work done, assuming you can get access to the internet at least in some capacity.
mrjatx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went on my first cruise last year, 4 days, and it was one of the worst vacation experiences of my life. Don't go when school is out unless you're planning on bringing your asshole children and letting them roam free with the other kids.
antonius 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like the simplicity of the UI of your cruise deal website. As someone who is currently looking to book a cruise trip, this helps.
fcoury 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am currently on a trip to Miami where I am actively working every day. For me the worst part about being away from home is finding a decent workspace where I can really concentrate and get in the zone to program.

The chairs are usually terrible and anything more than a few hours seated makes me want to move somewhere else. Even when working standing (using a kitchen counter for instance) is bad: the height is sub optimal.

I would love to hear suggestions if anyone has insights or good tips for what you do in cases like this.

benhebert 1 day ago 0 replies      
I took a cruise earlier this year with my girlfriend and we paid $600 combined. After tips and a lot of boozing, we ended up spending around $1000 combined an average of $100 per day. You can do it for a lot cheaper as well, plus we weren't using the internet.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat and work if there was a steady internet connection.

taternuts 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered about this, the relative price of cruises make it a cool place to do the work from home thing. I lived in Costa Rica for 6 months while working from home, and it was a great experience. I was wondering about the internet connection, and I guess if you don't have to maintain visibility via some chat program then I guess you wouldn't really need it that often.
mixmastamyk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lot's of choices on the West Coast as well, looks like you can go up to Alaska and down to Santiago, or over to Hawaii.

Interesting idea, although it's going to be a really tough sell to go without the family. :/

benmorris 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the reasons I enjoy cruises so much. So easy to disconnect from the rest of the world, but you still have access if you really need it. I bought an hour of internet on the last cruise we took to ration for the week, mostly to check email once a day. I used RDP on the way to Puerto Rico from my cabin to fix a quick server issue also. Connection was useable, but very laggy (as expected).
ThinkBeat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I the only person left who enjoys having a nice comfy office, a nice beefy desktop, some books and a nice little sound system?

Even some co-workers who you can bounce ideas off of.

I find working for long periods on nothing but a laptop challenging.

triplesec 1 day ago 1 reply      
So yes please: what are those tricks for getting cruises cheaply?
rholdy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great idea. Pretty sure I wouldn't get much done with limited internet access though. Maybe I'll try to simulate limited connectivity for a while a see how it goes...
macspoofing 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whatever works for you.
bujatt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Airport trips I like the most for the same reason, but they never take 9+ days. Tynan made a good point.
guiomie 1 day ago 1 reply      
I fuckin love this guy.
Fourier Transforms The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpsons Face nautil.us
334 points by aatish  3 days ago   99 comments top 37
0x09 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a bit of a mischaracterization of the way 2 dimensional Fourier transforms operate on images in this post. The 2D DFT (or DCT rather) doesn't deal with anything as complex as tracing shapes on a 2D plane like seen in the video. What it does is treat each 1 dimensional line of the image as a signal/waveform, with the pixel intensity as amplitude. Fourier-family transforms are separable, so the 2D (and ND) case is equivalent to the transform of each line followed by a transform along the resulting columns. So the actual representation that arises from this looks like so, with each image representing the corresponding cosine component: http://0x09.net/img/dct32.png here grey is 0)

Visually most of the sinusoidal components here are zero or nearly so. However if we scale them logarithmically, we'll see that it's actually not so: http://0x09.net/img/dct32log.png

What transform coders like JPEG do is reduce the precision of these components, causing many of them to become zero. Which is good for the entropy coder, and mostly imperceptible to us. Of course JPEG operates on 8x8 blocks only * rather than a whole image like here.

It's hard to imagine this as an image, so here's a progressive sum starting from the second term, which essentially demonstrates an inverse DCT: http://0x09.net/img/idct32.png

mind that 0 is adjusted to grey in this rendering, and the brightness of the result is not an artifact of the transform.

It's easier to understand what goes on with these transforms if you can visualize things in terms of the basis functions. Which in the case of a 32x32 image like above would be http://0x09.net/img/basis.png (warning: eye strain).

All the examples above pertain to the DCT, partly because of JPEG and partly so I could avoid getting phase involved, but the principles apply equally to the other transforms in the family.

* although recent versions of libjpeg can use other sizes

aliston 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is a great post, but it's a little bit misleading when talking about MP3s and lossy compression and conflates analog fourier analysis with discrete analysis.

When you're talking about a digital signal, it is the sample rate that determines the maximum frequency you can represent. It's not MP3s that "throw out the really high notes" -- it's any digital signal. A discrete fourier transform actually is lossless, but it is bandwidth limited.

The reason audiophiles prefer Flac to MP3s, for instance, is because MP3s do more than just "throw out the high notes." Both are bandwidth limited, but MP3s also throw out other information based on psychoacoustic principles.

Dn_Ab 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ah such a shame. Tried to resist but I can't help pointing out you missed a chance to explain how when Fourier discovered the expansion, it really was an example of "one weird trick all the Mathematical Physicists will hate him for".

It was during his time in Grenoble that Fourier did his important mathematical work on the theory of heat. His work on the topic began around 1804 and by 1807 he had completed his important memoir On the Propagation of Heat in Solid Bodies. The memoir was read to the Paris Institute on 21 December 1807 and a committee consisting of Lagrange, Laplace, Monge and Lacroix was set up to report on the work. Now this memoir is very highly regarded but at the time it caused controversy.

There were two reasons for the committee to feel unhappy with the work. The first objection, made by Lagrange and Laplace in 1808, was to Fourier's expansions of functions as trigonometrical series, what we now call Fourier series. Further clarification by Fourier still failed to convince them. As is pointed out in [4]:-

"All these are written with such exemplary clarity - from a logical as opposed to calligraphic point of view - that their inability to persuade Laplace and Lagrange ... provides a good index of the originality of Fourier's views"


hobb0001 2 days ago 0 replies      
These rotating circles that are referenced by the article will forever remain a cautionary tale for me:http://blog.matthen.com/post/42112703604/the-smooth-motion-o...

In pre-Copernican astronomy, where the Earth was considered the center of the cosmos, the erratic orbits of the other planets relative to us were explained away as epicycles within perfect circles. Later, closer examination of the orbits required modeling the orbits as epicycles within epicycles, exactly as depicted in the rotating circles above. In the end, it turned out that there aren't epicycles in the orbits, they were just creating a Fourier transform to explain the orbital paths. We now know that you can create a Fourier transform to generate any arbitrary path.

I sometimes wonder how many of our modern physics models, such as the standard model, differential geometry, and M-theory, are just highly sophisticated versions of the Fourier transform.

sharpneli 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is also an extremely important property that would be worth an article of it's own. Namely the fact that pointwise multiplication of 2 fourier transformed functions is the same as convolution of the functions themselves.

What does this mean in practice? Let's take a simple gaussian blur for images. A single output pixel is formed by overlapping the gaussian kernel on top of the image, multiplying then pointwise, then summing the result. Repeat for every pixels. What you can also do is take FFT of the gaussian kernel and multiply it with the FFT of the image and inverse transform and you will get the same result as actually calculating it for every point separately. Is this faster than doing it point by point? Depends on the blur radius.

You can do awesome things with this blazingly fast. As an example a simple water wave simulation can be made by simply taking a fourier transform, multiplying it with the dispersion relation of the water waves and then doing an inverse transformation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTUztfD2pg0 Just like what is done here. Normally this convolution would take O(N^2) amount of operations where N is amount of vertices but with FFT it's O(N log N).

FFT is for convolution what quicksort is for sorting. Imagine how limited would you be if all your sorts would take O(N^2) time. The examples I gave are quite limited in scope, going trough all the applications of convolution would take textbooks. It's probably one of the most important concepts in electrical engineering.

Oh yeah, convolution is just like cross correlation except in another case the function is reversed. So you can imagine the applications in data mining etc.

All in all Fourier Transform, and related ones, is an extremely huge and massively important concept, it's hard to overstate it's usefulness.

Personally I can say that I've used filter design tools to make a really smooth accelerometer data processing function. It does not jump around like a raw signal does nor does it lag a lot just like the standard exponential smoothing does.

quasque 3 days ago 2 replies      
ImageMagick has a nice tutorial on the use of Fourier transforms in image processing, if you want to get a more intuitive feel on the subject: http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/fourier/
zenbowman 3 days ago 1 reply      
They really are a beautiful thing, it is unfortunate that most computer science majors don't get at least a basic introduction to signal processing as part of their standard curriculum. Especially because in my experience, the best way to understand a Fourier transform is to implement it in a program, feed in different signals, and wait for the light in your mind to go off.

Images and audio signals provide a particularly stunning insight.

zwieback 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to note that Fourier wasn't trying to any of the things that the Fourier Transform is commonly used for today, namely signal processing. He was trying to solve heat transfer equations when he came up with the Fourier series. I'm not even sure if he was that interested in the Transform as such, e.g. looking at a signal in frequency space and then efficiently applying filters before transforming back to time domain.

My dad remembers his professor, sometime in the 40s, posing the question of calculating when a worm buried in the ground would experience the same temperature we'd experience at Christmas (Erdwuermchen's Weihnachten) and the solution had to be calculated with Fourier's heat transfer equations.

nilkn 3 days ago 4 replies      
> You could just tell them a handful of numbersthe sizes of the different circles in the picture above.

Maybe I'm crazy and just missing something, but this feels a little too good to be true. This would put the set of smooth curves in 1-1 correspondence with the set of finite sets (since each curve is being specified completely by a finite set of numbers). But the set of finite sets is countably infinite since it's a countable union (this may require the axiom of choice) and the set of smooth curves is uncountably infinite, a contradiction.

(Disclaimer: I know nothing about Fourier analysis.)

neltnerb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would add to your list of reasons why Fourier Transforms are awesome.

By complete coincidence, Bragg's law, used to do everything from X-Ray Diffraction to particle scattering, just happens to be a fourier transform. Every time we bombard a tiny thing with light or radiation in order to understand the structure, what we literally get out of it is emission dots that correspond to the periodicity of the lattice -- literally the 2D fourier transform of the scattering cross section. When I heard that in Quantum III, it blew my mind. It's straight out of quantum scattering theory.

doctoboggan 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in audio fingerprinting using the FFT check out my IPython notebook that explores this idea in more detail. I used a spectrogram and image processing tools to identify what a given audio sample is. You should be able to download the notebook and run all the examples.


thearn4 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another cool thing is that orthonormal bases are not unique - there are many other basis functions that you can choose beyond just sine and cosine to decompose a function (or digital signal). Though they are a natural choice if you are specifically looking to analyze periodicities.

One direction to go in for further study:


aatish 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hi Hacker News - I'm the author of the piece, also on twitter @aatishb. Look forward to hearing your thoughts. I encourage you to share your thoughts and insights with other readers by leaving a comment on the post, particularly if you know of other interesting applications about the Fourier transform. Cheers!
sillysaurus2 3 days ago 2 replies      
EDIT: I mixed up high vs low frequencies, as the reply pointed out, so I've edited this to be correct now.

The reason we can get away with throwing away low frequencies in JPEG is because humans are prone to notice significant details rather than tiny details.

High frequencies of a Fourier transform of an image == tiny detail (like being able to distinguish individual hairs)

Low frequencies of a Fourier transform of an image == huge details (like someone's face).

So you transform, set part of the result to zeroes, and compress. To display it you uncompress, transform back, and display it. The zeroes manifest themselves as an almost-imperceptible blur.

susi22 3 days ago 0 replies      
aatish, since you seem interested, I'll throw another fun-fact at you that I found very interesting even after years of working with Fourier transforms:

You can view the Fourier transform as a fitting problem. Yes, you fit the data to a function. Ie you take the data points and fit it to a sum of exponential functions. There is actually a much more general approach called "Prony method" that extends the concept and adds a dampening factor into the function to fit:


You can take it further and use matrix pencil methods and eventually you'll see connections to ESPRIT algorithm and even least squares algorithm. It's really interesting how they're all actually connected.


Sheepshow 3 days ago 0 replies      
The newer JPEG algorithm JPEG2000 uses Wavelet Transforms which is kind of similar to the Fourier. The Fourier applies a finite window then decomposes into a sum of infinite waveforms. The Wavelet on the other hand applies no windowing function, and directly decomposes the signal into a sum of _finite_ waveforms.

The Fourier has the disadvantage that you can't arrange the components into a time hierarchy; that is, no component occurs "before" any other.

The Wavelet transform _does_ have a natural time hierarchy. This makes it much better for streaming compression like voice calls.

The Fourier perfectly describes signals of infinite duration (think tone or color) while the Wavelet perfectly describes the position of things within a signal (think rhythm or space).

With the Fourier filtering is really easy. You can do hard, hard cutoffs -- literally no contributions within a certain frequency band -- just by removing components of the decomposition. Similarly, you can accurately apply any arbitrary mathematical filtering function.

The disadvantage of the Wavelet is that, well, the only meaningful transformation you can apply to it is compression -- dropping the shorter timescale components. If you want to filter, it's not enough to trim off timescale components because the wavelet itself can contain any frequency components. There's also nothing like a simple mathematical function you can apply to the coefficients to get a smooth filter.


arb99 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find this kind of stuff fascinating.

Are there any decent books (kindle or proper books) with this kind of content? I've got no background in Maths (other than some (UK) A-level maths at school), but always love reading these sort of posts.

X-Istence 3 days ago 3 replies      
I would love to know more about FT's, along with FFT's and how they help with for example signal processing or finding a signal when looking at a sample or multiple samples of a SDR.

Are there any good books/papers/web articles on this topic that are accessible? I often find myself reading papers where some of the math goes over my head.

Something with examples/code (code makes me understand math so much easier!) would be fantastic!

anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you would like a rigorous but equally enthusiastic and readable treatment of Fourier transforms, then you can't do better than the (free!) book The Scientist's and Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Procesing: http://www.dspguide.com/
cowsandmilk 2 days ago 0 replies      
What you call a "squarish" looking wave is what I call an unfortunate failure of the Fourier transform, that it takes infinite bandwidth to represent a square wave.
frozenport 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to kill the next person I who writes a Fourier Transform article and doesn't talk about the phase data. Its complex in complex out, if you input is real you still get complex out!!!
revelation 3 days ago 0 replies      
Theres a nice approach to this through linear algebra and the discrete cosine transform (DCT), as just another base.
fat0wl 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Shazam algorithm -- I don't want to be all cynical and dumpy because it's not like I remember exactly how it works either (it's proprietary, after all... and even the explanation I was given was not definitive) but one of my Music Information Retrieval professors once described his anecdotal knowledge of it. It was based on some features derived from FFT for sure but didn't seemed very concerned with note identification, if at all. There are a ton of features that can be post-processed from FFTs that can't be equated to "pitch". Beware misleading analogies... the frequency domain (& quefrency, etc. etc.) is a difficult space to conceptualize.

And when you get into machine learning, some of the operations performed by neural networks and the like don't really represent super linear, human-understandable transformations. It's important to understand feature extraction, but more important in the grand scheme of these things is to understand how to dig data that is useful and how it can be used.

mailshanx 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those of you seeking an intuitive understanding of the Fourier transform, checkout http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-...

For more details, check out Steven Smith's Digital Signal Processing. The entire book is available to read online, and has an excellent treatment of DSP algorithms.

kevin_rubyhouse 3 days ago 1 reply      
Coincidentally, I just had a talk with one of our principle developers about Fourier transforms. He's an audio expert and was trying to explain re-sampling and aliasing to me. I understand the high level steps, but the math is all a blur to me. Recently I've been trying to become much stronger in math, as I eventually want to study aerodynamics and astrophysics. So I've been studying calculus (textbook) and dynamics (edx) lately.
AsymetricCom 3 days ago 1 reply      
If your into software and you don't know a out fourior transform, your not into software. this is something programmers without math will discover, along with Pythagorean theorem and basic trig. Otherwise, you are an over-hyped semantic duck-taper.
mpclark 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an amazing article.

It has tied together a bunch of seemingly separate ideas that I've often wondered about, and I feel measurably more intelligent having read it.

Cyph0n 3 days ago 0 replies      
When we first covered the FS (Fourier Series) and FT (Fourier Transform) and the relation between the two in our Signals and Systems course in EE, I was amazed. It was the greatest thing I've ever learned, and I think it'll be hard to top.

Once you understand the FT, you basically understand how a signal is structured. By converting (or transforming) a time signal to the frequency domain, one can clearly see what frequency components (or harmonics) contribute to said signal. If one were to try the same in the time domain, it would be much more difficult to visualize.

mistercow 2 days ago 0 replies      
>The really high notes arent so important (our ears can barely hear them), so MP3s throw them out,

Quantization is not the same thing as "throwing out".

xylem 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is the phase not even mentioned in the article?
smrtinsert 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an excellent article. I wish every teacher had the ability to be so clear and concise and most importantly interesting in their work.
new_test 3 days ago 0 replies      
"One weird trick that made pure mathematicians hate him"
xarien 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another family for those interested in FTs are Discrete Cosign Transforms (DCTs). Also widely used.
data-cat 3 days ago 3 replies      
This article was interesting but didn't really tell me anything I don't already know. Does anyone know where I can find a good article that actually explains the mathematics of performing a Fourier transformation? I thought that is what this article was going to be about.
itengelhardt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like how you make it sound so incredibly easy - especially thinking back to how much I struggled with the math behind this :-) (To be very clear: There's nothing wrong with explaining things in a simple way and leaving out the scary parts)

Great post.

arunc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Elegantly explained. Does anyone know of similar posts on other transforms like Z, etc?
Fourier Toy toxicdump.org
332 points by alxndr  3 days ago   70 comments top 21
hcarvalhoalves 3 days ago 4 replies      
Try the Fibonacci sequence:

0.01, 0.01, 0.02, 0.03, 0.05, 0.08, 0.13, 0.21

It generates a beautiful wave [1].

There's also this interesting property that you can use any part of the sequence, and it will be the same wave [2].

[1] https://www.dropbox.com/s/89fg14dvsi3wuox/Captura%20de%20tel...

[2] https://www.dropbox.com/s/yu05xs10tauumgu/Captura%20de%20tel...

wting 3 days ago 1 reply      
This article and related commentary are relevant:



In fact, it looks like Lucas Viera may have used that blog post as inspiration.

205guy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Right-click the page for some pre-defined wave patterns (pulse, sawtooth, triangle, etc.)--at least it worked for me in FF.
fit2rule 2 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful .. has my 6 year old entranced. You know what he said, though? "This thing needs sound." I'm proud of him. :
TheMakeA 3 days ago 0 replies      
These guys are one of the reasons I love mathematics.

Check this out too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuU2YCwHjw

Edit: Didn't realize that this was also linked to in another thread on the front page as well.

jmpe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I learned about Fourier this way from an old "American Scientist" book. The writer had a very powerful remark at the end. He explained how Ptolemeus first used epicycles as a base model to explain planetary motion [edit: their paths]. The criticism that led to the demise of this model was basically "yeah, well, you can make planets have square paths this way". If someone connected the dots at that point we could have had Fourier transform a couple of hundred years earlier. Maybe we did, but the documents disappeared.
zoba 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is very cool and reminds me of something I've wanted for a long time: a tool like this that is used to make sound. The synthesizers I've used seem predisposed to making a certain type of sound, however, something like but which gives you complete control of the wave form, should give you complete freedom when creating sounds. Maybe I've been looking at the wrong synths... Neat though :)
ryanthejuggler 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. First thing I did was try a sawtooth wave by entering sequential powers of 0.5... this had the intended effect of creating a sawtooth wave, but also the circle diagram was tracing an almost perfect circle in 2D. Really cool for discovering things like that!
stared 2 days ago 1 reply      
Such Fourier decomposition for an interactive quantum simulation:


(A rare piece of software not getting older with time; and in general, other Falstad's simulations are great, especially Ripple Tank for optical interference and electric circuits.)

joshguthrie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anybody got the sequence to draw Homer's head?

Reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuU2YCwHjw

mw67 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just read that he was an orphan at age 9 and then made governor of lower Egypt at age 30 by Napoleon, what a life!


backprojection 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really nice demo, but note that it's not the full Fourier series. This is only the 'sine' contribution. I'm not sure how you could expand the animation to include cosine as well.
zackkitzmiller 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very much reminds me of the Spirograph I had when I was a young.


gshubert17 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'd like to be able to make a triangle wave, but I think the program needs to be able to input negative values for the components.

Nicely done.

benched 3 days ago 1 reply      
What determines the time/speed of each circle?
oftenwrong 3 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't work in Shumway yet.
Fingel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice overview of fourier transforms: http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-...
rjgray 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! So cool. I love the connection between the waveform and the trochoid curve on the left.
Serow225 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be cool if someone created the inverse of this, where you could input a signal (audio) and have it show the fft decomposition circles moving around in real time :)
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love this as an OS boot time animation.
DonGateley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant! But where's the algebra of complex numbers. :-)
Hey developers, stop forcing me to login to unsubscribe
312 points by andrewhillman  5 hours ago   97 comments top 43
morganb180 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Edit: I missed the transactional part here. Transactional emails are excluded from CAN-SPAM. There's a test to figure out which is which: http://www.the-dma.org/press/PrimaryPurposeFactSheet.pdf

It's shitty UX regardless of whether it's a violation of law, IMO.

Original: It's a violation of CAN-SPAM law to put unsubscribe behind a login process. Asking for a password violates the requirement that no additional PII except for the email be required to process the opt-out.

From the FTC:

Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipients opt-out request within 10 business days. You cant charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request.


sker 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Companies like LinkedIn are training users (at least me) to report as spam instead of unsubscribing because it's an exercise in futility to try to opt-out of their spam.
tokenizer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone that works in email disseminations for large public companies across the globe, it's really bad idea to not have one click unsubscribes, due to the actual weight large email services weighting the act of a user marking an email as spam.

It's a crappy process to deal with, and can affect you for a critical day or two. An example being that one of clients collected email in a greasy was, and increased their email blasts from 25,000 to 75,000.

I'm sure they wanted to reach more people, but yahoo and a few others marked ALL of the messages as spam due to massive increase in volume from this client.

Advice: Do things in a non greasy way, and while you may grow slower because of it, your users, and their email providers, will like you more for it.

overshard 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I have given up trying to unsub from many places, sometimes unsubing doesn't do anything, I generally just mark it as spam now days.
bobwatson 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I share a name with dozens of people who all seem to have a common issue - they can't spell their own email address, so they use mine.

This means it's impossible for me to unsubscribe from all sorts of things, since 'forgot my password' with a lot of places requires a birthday, access to the phone that's on the account, answers to security questions, etc. etc.

If I click 'unsubscribe' and get asked to log in? I just go back and click 'Report Spam'.

ruswick 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a deal-breaker for me, and I immediately delete my account on any service that attempts this type of bullshit.

If a service makes me log in to unsubscribe from their spam, they can be assured that it will be the last time I ever log into their service.

chilldream 1 hour ago 2 replies      

This happens to me about twice a year (not a firstname.lastname, but a commonword.commonword. It's like a stupidity-driven dictionary attack). The worst companies I've had to deal with:

Steam - took me multiple emails over the course of weeks, and they actually made me send them screenshots to prove the account was mine. I only went to this much trouble because I have a legit Steam account. Especially funny since I casually told them that I was a hair trigger away from just resetting the idiot's password and hijacking his account.

AT&T - Flat-out refused to unsub me from someone else's phone bills. After several calls to AT&T I finally gave up and called the customer. An AT&T rep actually had the balls to tell me that making me do this was for the customer's protection.

camus2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Easy for me , no direct "unsubscribing" => spam box. If you provide a newsletter the last thing you want is to be flagged as spam, so think about it.
koudi 5 hours ago 3 replies      
This is really annoying. What I find more annoying is response like "We will process your request within 30 business days." (and after that period receive another spam). What could possibly take 30 business days to unsubscribe email? This is evil.

I would also like to see some sort of standard - like email header with link, that would unsubscribe you. Outlook/thunderbird/etc could just show button (probably next to "mark as spam" :)) and you couldjust click and be done. I think google tried something like this, but I've never heard of anyone else.

joeblau 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
I mark those messages as spam. If enough people do that, Google will permanently allocate them where they belong.
Cyranix 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Hear, hear. If you're worried about legit customers getting unsubscribed against their will (because that is TOTALLY a significant occurrence...), you can have a dual approach. Unsubscribing without authentication sends one final message which has an undo link; unsubscribing while authenticated shows a confirmation on the site instead of the inbox.

I know, the "Here's an email to confirm that you hate our emails" message isn't anyone's favorite... but if it helps companies improve their unsubscription mechanisms, I can let it slide.

Satoshietal 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Especially when your email address has been signed up to dozens of mailing lists as some sort of perverted revenge via spam. I can't log in because I didn't create the account. The developer is doubly at fault for allowing an account to be created without confirming the email address.

My revenge is training Gmail that email from such senders is Junk and Spam. Eventually Gmail dumps them automatically, hopefully for everyone.

daveid 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree, the most annoying thing is when the unsubscribe link leads you to a 404 page (or an "Untrusted SSL certificate" warning).
dreese 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes. Especially when someone else mistyped their email address, you did not ask for confirmation, and now I get endless emails without the ability to sign out. So I just mark everything as spam, which I know isn't what you were hoping for. :)
DHowett 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I was recently bitten by the Freelancer/vWorker acquisition in this regard! I became "vw9916640" and hadto my knowledgeno password. This did not stop their unsubscribe form from prompting for the aforementioned unknown/nonexistent password.

I'm still getting e-mails from them to this day.

bryanh 3 hours ago 1 reply      
At Zapier, we jumped through a lot of extra hoops to make sure that emails are categorized and you can easily opt-out with a single click (no matter if you are logged in or not). Some emails cannot be opted out of (the only two right now are payment transactions and forgotten/reset password) but everything else can be.

We have a lot of other cool stuff in emails like single click logins, viewing pixels with custom payloads, our open source drip campaign mailer for Django, and much more. If there is any interest, I'd be happy to go into deeper detail.

evadne 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh, easy, I just mark all emails as spam.
ryanbrunner 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The one thing that you do need to consider with a complete one-click unsubscribe is whether your e-mail could be forwarded - if a user forwards an e-mail, it's possible that whoever recieved the message could unsubscribe on their behalf.

Probably the best thing to do, IMO, is a simple two click unsubscribe - take them to a page with their e-mail address already filled in, and just require them to click "OK" to confirm which address is being unsubscribed.

apr 3 hours ago 0 replies      

I never log in in such circumstances, I just hit the 'spam' button and that's that. I trust the email service to categorize the further emails accordingly and that's what usually happens.

FiloSottile 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"If your newsletter doesn't have a single-click unsubscribe link, GMail surely has a single-click spam button"
delroth 5 hours ago 1 reply      
If a sender does not let me unsubscribe without logging in, I usually end up (after 3 or 4 times clicking the unsubscribe link, getting frustrated, and deleting the email) adding a filter to automatically mark their emails as spam.
allochthon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm inclined to think requiring the login is an intentional choice in most cases rather than an oversight; it raises a barrier to unsubscribing, and can even make it impossible, if you never set up an account in the first place. It's sort of like saying you can unsubscribe if you like, without actually providing the option; it offers plausible deniability.

I just click on "Spam" and, if it continues, set up a filter to /dev/null.

vinitool76 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Twitter does it the right way! Kudos!
j-s-f 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If your unsubscribe isn't one click, or you don't have an unsubscribe, and I don't like your emails, the message gets marked as spam.
quellhorst 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If I have to login to unsubscribe, I block the sender and report the emails as spam.
eof 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A more aggressive version of this I posted 1019 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2139617
jackmaney 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It's also a violation of the CAN-SPAM act: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-complia...

If I try to unsubscribe from an email list and am presented with a login prompt, I report the sender as spam without an instant of hesitation or regret.

bilalq 5 hours ago 2 replies      
On one hand, I do agree that it is very annoying. However, I can kind of understand.

There may be a way around this, but if no session was required, then couldn't someone just make a bunch of GET requests to the unsubscribe url for each user id and unsubscribe the entire user base?

judk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Just press the SPAM button in your mealreader. Problem solved.
dmak 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I usually just resort to the report spam button if I have to login.
hangonhn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh man! If I could vote you up more, I would.

A while back a forum spammer decided to use my Gmail address to spam forum sign-ups. I got Gmail to filter most of them into the trash (the spammer used a variation of my email address I don't use. Gmail allows variations in email addresses). Afterwards I wanted to clean things up and a lot of the senders require that I log in first to unsubscribe. That they would sign me up without verification is bad enough but requiring that I login to unsubscribe made it just too difficult. So now I just filter everything that was sent to that variation of my email and mark them all as spam.

Lose-lose for everyone.

rhizome 5 hours ago 0 replies      
LinkedIn does it, why shouldn't they? LI is a successful, IPO'ed company, surely they wouldn't be doing anything detrimental.
scosman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminder: some updates are needed regardless of unsubscribe state (such as change of TOS and changes to pricing). These are allowed under CAN-SPAM.

If you are still a user (you unsubscribed but didn't delete your account), expect much less mail, but not quite zero.

phillips1012 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I always simply mark it as spam repeatedly until gmail auto-generated a filter to auto-spam it. It is spam and should be treated as such.
Demeno 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone used my email on several children's games websites, and some of them started sending me emails without verifying, so I couldn't even unsubscribe at all because I wasn't the one that registered to that site... At least emailing their support got me out of that mailing list...
flippyhead 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I usually try to hit unsubscribe first. If I'm not immediately unsubscribed, I just mark them as spam and move on.
drewhouston2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I always mark mails as spam if it takes more than one click to unsubscribe.
dcoupl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nitpick, but the person(s) who wrote the code are probably not the one(s) who make these sorts of decisions about how the product or service will handle un/subscription. More likely its the product manager(s) or other business person types.
ktran03 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Agreed, that's very annoying. I'm still subscribed to a few emails I don't want, only because they make it so difficult to unsubscribe.
parham 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of the most annoying things I've experienced! You can nuke all these emails if you add the "Unsubscribe" keyword to your filters.
tomasien 5 hours ago 0 replies      
rothsa 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Making it difficult to unsubscribe will also make it difficult for your mail to continue to deliver to inbox. It encourages people to report your mail as spam.
tyilo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
this x 10
Presto: Interacting with petabytes of data at Facebook facebook.com
298 points by ternaryoperator  3 days ago   97 comments top 14
pvnick 3 days ago 0 replies      
>As mentioned above, development on Presto started in Fall 2012. We had our first production system up and running in early 2013. It was fully rolled out to the entire company by Spring 2013.

Wow. As somebody who skimmed through the original Google Dremel paper and thought for a while about how one would go about implementing such an interactive system, that strikes me as an amazingly impressive timeline.

dude_abides 3 days ago 8 replies      
Will be very interesting if someone does a benchmark comparison of Presto with Cloudera Impala, Amazon RedShift and Apache Drill.

Also, very curious to know (from any Googlers browsing HN) if Dremel is still the state-of-the-art within Google, or if there is already a newer replacement.

electrum 3 days ago 14 replies      
Hi, I work on Presto at Facebook and would be happy to answer any questions about it.
cakeface 3 days ago 0 replies      
> (In a later post, we will share some tips and tricks for writing high-performance Java system code and the lessons learned while building Presto.)

I'm waiting in anticipation for that article!

wehadfun 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm curious what these 1000s of queries by facebook employees are for. What data / information does facebook mine for daily?
tszming 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope one day Google can follow Facebook to opensource some of their core infrastructure technologies (even the legacy one, e.g. 1st generation of GFS etc) to the opensource community :)
monokrome 3 days ago 1 reply      
Rounding down is not a good solution to the rounding problem. As a software engineer, I also used rounding in my contracts when I was working as a contractor - and here's why:

If I have 5 clients at a time, and each one has a concept/idea every day that takes 20 seconds to explain to me (and isn't on the current iteration) then they are distracting me by not managing their time properly and calling me a dozen times a day to tell me about their thoughts. If it is a change to the current iteration, then it should have been discussed when we agreed on the current iteration's feature set. Either way, the call is not a result of well thought out time management.

As much as I like hearing new concepts and ideas, I also have to take attention away from a project that I'm working on in order to provide my full attention to the client calling me.

After the call is done, I also have to come back to the project at hand and hopefully I'm not working on something that requires that I retain a super complicated thought chain which may or may not have been lost in discussion with another client - especially in consideration that I'm not going to bill on other client project for the time that I've spent having been sidetracked and/or getting back to where I was before the call was made.

So, charging in $15 increments causes the client to actually manage their time with the same effectiveness that they would hope that I am managing mine.

Rounding down makes this more of a problem for me, not less of one. Now a 90 second call is at no charge, and I can get more than one of those in one hour - still at no charge - based on the suggested agreement.

RyanZAG 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting use of optimizing sql query plans down to JVM byte code. I don't think anybody has done that before - but it sounds like it would work really well. Would be really interesting to hear more on that as it might be applicable to a lot of other areas as well.
hatred 3 days ago 1 reply      
It will be extremely kind if someone can explain the major differences or features that Presto offers that are different then Impala or other similar products.
gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really nice to see posts like that from Facebook.
leadgen 2 days ago 0 replies      
How can I install and use this on Win 2012 server with SQL server ?
knodi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Java -_-
pswenson 3 days ago 1 reply      
what is the data format FB stores? (xml/json/?)
teddyh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Beautiful. Unethical. Dangerous.

Lucius Fox, The Dark Knight

Pyret: A new programming language from the creators of Racket pyret.org
294 points by sergimansilla  14 hours ago   197 comments top 24
gizmo 13 hours ago 10 replies      
Pyret looks like a there's a lot going on, based on the examples. It has implicit returns, special purpose syntax for data structures, iterators, assertions, refinements, etc. Having support for more stuff makes it less suitable as a teaching language, not more. Pyret looks like a has the good bits of Python plus a whole bunch of other cool stuff. But the language is pretty complex as a result.

Cool? Yup! Good for teaching? Probably not.

Take a look at the grammar and judge for yourself: https://github.com/brownplt/pyret-lang/blob/master/src/lang/...

terhechte 14 hours ago 12 replies      
"""Pyret makes testing a natural part of the programming process. Functions can end in a where: clause that holds unit tests for the function. These assertions are checked dynamically."""

Fantastic idea! I'll keep that in mind, should be fairly easy to extend Lisps or other AST-Macro enabled languages (Elixir, Julia, Python) with such a functionality. I really like that. It makes it easy to work on a function and code tests down without switching contexts (files, workspaces, etc)

tbenst 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I took CS019 with Shriram a few years back and immediately guessed the authors based on paradigms like making testing a natural part of the language and the encouragement to use annotations. In the class, we were taught a design process for Racket that will work very well for Pyret:

1. Identify the data - create data definitions (You are gixen x and expected to produce y)

2. Write concrete examples of the data (This is hard and takes time)

3. Write contract, purpose, header for functions (contract and header are annotations in Pyret, purpose should be a commented statement)

4. Write concrete examples of the function (This is hard and takes time. This means test cases!)

5. Write the template (This may only apply to recursion in Racket, but the idea is if you're dealing with a cons, you always have the same structure of checking if a cons? or empty? and must recur)

6. Fill in the template (ie, complete the function)

tinco 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Why the superfluous syntax? I think remembering syntax like this is orthogonal to the goal of being easy to learn.

The syntax is basically Ruby + Python + Haskell. Each of those languages has a lighter, more intuitive and memorable syntax.

Why would the syntax be:

    data BinTree:      | leaf      | node(value, left, right)    end
Instead of just

    data BinTree = leaf | node(value, left, right)
The whole colon thing in Python is a mistake, it should have never been in Python, and it definitely not be repeated in other languages..

zem 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I really love the surface design decisions taken here. Particularly

* ML-like syntax for algebraic datatypes and matching. ML got it right; it always seems a bit off when languages try to make ADTs look like some other syntactic construct

* the cyclic and graph declarations

* accessing datatype variants using an OO-like syntax. simply brilliant.

* non-significant whitespace. for all the pros and cons, autoindenting is something i hate to give up.

jdnier 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> Most scripting languages don't support annotations for checking parameters and return values

PEP 3107 introduced function annotations to Python 3. The following syntax is valid:

    >>> def square(n: int) -> int:    ...     return n * n    ...    >>> square(3)    9
Nothing is done with annotations by default. Here's an article discussing this "unused feature": http://ceronman.com/2013/03/12/a-powerful-unused-feature-of-...

kazagistar 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Somehow, it looks a lot more like lua with a bunch of type-checks and tests added then like python. No named parameters, no generators, no comprehensions that I can see, no focus on iteration in general, no significant indentation, etc.

Instead: "end" syntax, unified number type, all blocks produce new scopes (not just functions), local variables are explicit instead of default, etc.

tel 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Python-like syntax with pattern matching and recursive ADTs!? What a great idea!
takikawa 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Pyret has lots of nice ideas, looking forward to see it evolve.

That said, the title of this post is a bit misleading so I wanted to correct it. The group of people who develop Racket and Pyret are mostly disjoint. I'm not trying to diminish Pyret at all, but wanted to make sure the right people get the credit. You can find out who develops Pyret here: http://www.pyret.org/crew/

klrr 13 hours ago 4 replies      
This project seems really promising, but I got one concern. Lisp's syntax have been one of its strength for beginners. Easy to learn, easy to solve common errors. I don't see the point of having Python-like syntax really, the user could learn other syntax after they've understood programming.
b6fan 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The Ruby examples are unfair.

Ruby intentionally makes parenthesis optional. So `do_something` is `do_something()`.

For the first example,

  - method_as_fun = o.my-method  - method_as_fun(5) # not reached  + method_as_fun = o.method(:my_method)  + method_as_fun.call(5) # or method_as_fun[5]
And for the lexical scope thing,

  def f(x)    g = ->y {x + y}    g[2]  end  f(2)
Or, explicitly use class variables,

  def f(x)    @x = x    def g(y); @x + y; end    g(2)  end  f(2)

jimktrains2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Mostly OT: I've been working on the spec for a lang I'd like to implement at some point and would like feed back if anyone cares to give any?


JulianMorrison 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks like it could be useful as a way to prototype a real program.
mageofmath 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I also like the fact that you can put unit tests for helper functions that are inside of other functions. This means you can use the inputs to your outer function as part of the tests for an inner function, which has been hard to do in the past.
garysweaver 12 hours ago 1 reply      
> Most scripting languages don't support annotations for checking parameters and return values

I coded in Java for many years and Ruby for the last several, the lack of explicit type checking in method signatures or via annotations built into Ruby has not gotten in the way enough where I felt I needed to add something to decorate methods to do some generic form of type checking in Ruby. When I really need to check the type of an object sent into a method, it is typically a method that can handle different types, and in that case, I'll use respond_to?(...) to see that an object passed in as an argument responds to a method, use a case statement, is_a?(...), etc. but that is certainly not on every method- probably more like 1 in 20-30 methods.

Also, in the comparison section of the doc, OCaml and Python were represented, but not Ruby. As of late 2013, there are more jobs containing "Ruby" in the job description than "OCaml": http://www.indeed.com/jobtrends?q=ocaml%2C+ruby&l= So, imo it should give Ruby some love with a comparison.

kolev 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I lot more Ruby-like than Python. Not sure why it both has ":" and "end" and the "|" is kinda ugly the way it's used.
yashodhan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
dashes in function names! I'm in love.
pcmonk 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how well this integrates with Racket? I see that it's built with Racket, but I'd be curious if I could mix and match this with all my Racket code.
kerryritter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't seem like it would be easy for novices to grasp, though it looks like a solid language. For teaching, I think Quorum (http://www.quorumlanguage.com) seems like a stronger alternative (disclosure, I am a member of a CS senior project team building their web system).
pekk 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks more like Ruby than Python, why the comparison to Python?
dragonbonheur 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Those "new" languages keep looking more and more like BASIC.
mrcactu5 12 hours ago 1 reply      
it sounds great to blend Python and Lisp!
kudu 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> end


k_bx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Python-inspired syntax for functions

> fun to-celsius(f):

> (f * (5 / 9)) - 32

> end

Wait a minute..

Silk Road 2.0 Launches forbes.com
295 points by teawithcarl  3 days ago   225 comments top 23
andrewljohnson 3 days ago 8 replies      
I'd never buy heroin from a website, but I see the Silk Road as cyber-civil-disobedience, and I hope the persona of DPR and the site itself are as unsinkable as they claim.

The drug war is a ghastly thing, and the number of people we lock up in the US is more shameful than our foreign policy. You can begrudge the first DPR his lame security, shady murder contracts, and ill-gotten fortune, but he's the product of our system, and his shame is our shame.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not unexpected of course, the demand for narcotics and other services is still out there. I can't help but wonder if this isn't a bit like becoming the new head of some terrorist organization, the target is now painted day-glo orange and we know that it is not only on the 'radar' of law enforcement, its a priority target. The clock starts, and a number of resources are now tasked with taking you out.

Of course the genius of the Princess Bride with respect to the DPR character is that the character cannot be killed or captured or prosecuted, because it isn't really a person, it is an idea. And that was wonderfully illustrated in the book, film, and now in world around us.

swalsh 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yesterday my cousin was found dead. He had committed suicide. It was the end of a long battle he had been waging against himself. Drugs have destroyed this small part of my family, but i'm really glad to see something like the silk road revitalized.

I think the sooner we realize how fleeting a battle it is to fight them, the sooner we can place the money where it belongs.

My cousin is dead now, but I think my tax money would be better spent helping him kick his habit, than locking him up.

oscilloscope 3 days ago 2 replies      
Senator Tom Carper's statement on the launch:

This new website launched barely a month after Federal agents shut down the original Silk Road -- underscores the inescapable reality that technology is dynamic and ever-evolving and that government policy needs to adapt accordingly. Rather than play whack-a-mole with the latest website, currency, or other method criminals are using in an effort to evade the law, we need to develop thoughtful, nimble and sensible federal policies that protect the public without stifling innovation and economic growth. Our committee intends to have that conversation among others - at our hearing this month on virtual currency.


ihsw 3 days ago 7 replies      
I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a honeypot. Just a hunch.
thex86 3 days ago 12 replies      
A serious question: while I have nothing against Silk Road (the drug war is a waste of money anyways), aren't people afraid of putting stuff in their body that they had an anonymous person send to them? I mean, unless the seller has a reputation, isn't there is a substantial risk of using that drug?

Are my fears unfound? On one hand, the idea of buying drugs online is probably more safe than doing it on the streets, but the anonymity this offers has a potential downside like the one I mentioned above.

lelf 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is cool interesting feature two factor auth. But not your usual one.It ask you to decrypt random string encrypted with your public GPG key (you provide it in prefs).
the_watcher 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is just an example of the massive waste of resources used up by the drug war (assuming this is what it claims to be, point stands regardless). So the Silk Road was shut down, but all that did was reduce the available supply of the drugs. It did nothing to address the demand side of drugs, which is really what drives everything. All attacking the supply does is make it more lucrative for those who are able to evade law enforcement.

There is some role for law enforcement to play in discouraging the supply of drugs (if the society we live in remains one where drug use is considered negative). However, the vast majority of resources should go towards addressing the demand (making people want them less, treatment, etc., I don't mean just arrest all the buyers).

Spittie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully it won't be another "Project: Black Flag", http://buttcoin.org/silk-road-replacement-project-black-flag...
hack_edu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Never, ever, ever trust anyone or anything that suddenly reappears after a major bust by the authorities. NEVER.

Move on.

mkramlich 3 days ago 1 reply      
The interesting thing to me is that, in theory, the same kinds of extreme privacy-protecting, anonymity-maximizing measures which can be used to host any kind of Silk Road, or to visit it and use it, can ALSO be used by... wait for it... wait for it... yes the law enforcement folks. In other words, how can you be sure that this new Silk Road 2.0 is not a sting honey pot setup by the FBI itself?

I don't buy stuff like that and never will. But if I did, I wouldn't go near anything using the Silk Road name after a seizure/arrest has been publicly documented.

Remember, on the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog. Or a teenager living in your mom's basement in Russia. Or an FBI agent munching on donuts in Washington DC. Etc.

girvo 3 days ago 2 replies      
The sudden rise of terribly programmed, horribly insecure marketplaces as hidden services since SR went down has been absolutely fascinating.
spang 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite bit is Forbes' publishing software automatically linking the handle "Steve Jobs" to their profile of the real Steve Jobs. Classy!
shocks 3 days ago 1 reply      
Well, that was inevitable.
conductr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a place he could run this from and be safe? Like a country without extradition where it would be difficult for US gov to come in and arrest you anyway.

The single dumbest thing the last DPR did was continue living in the US

lettergram 3 days ago 0 replies      
They claimed to have caught the Dread Pirate Roberts... but then again who's to say?
siphor 3 days ago 0 replies      
As I've never heard of the site before it was seized, the DEA gave it some good advertising. They probably will have grown the site much quicker by trying to stop it.
SteveDeFacto 2 days ago 0 replies      
So how do we know that this is not the FBI waiting for people to place orders/post listings so they can arrest them?
yeukhon 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am serious here too: I don't support the website's initiative. I endorse the technical aspect of it as a way to test whether the design is optimal and achievable, but in no way would I ever support drug dealers.
xacaxulu 3 days ago 0 replies      
khax 3 days ago 0 replies      
pretty sure its a honeypot.
bkurtz13 3 days ago 0 replies      
Domain registered by FBI
Diary of a programmer with no clue about marketing neat.io
292 points by basil  3 days ago   144 comments top 48
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 7 replies      
Nice. So one of the things that happened to me when I came to the Bay Area was I was working at Intel and I had to talk to a lot of marketing folks (who were talking to 'the public' about Intel's chips). I realized I didn't have a clue what they did.

I set out to correct that before I started my own company and looked for a job that would let me work closely with marketing but still be engineering based. I found one at Sun which was effectively a 'technical marketing engineer' although at the time I joined the marketing folks just needed an engineer to translate what the competition was doing into something they could argue about. I too was amazed at how much more complex it was than my simplistic assumptions had been. I moved over into the kernel group later (they too had offered me a spot when I had interviewed) and have been pure engineering ever since but never forgot the lessons of that time.

Things I learned,

1) Marketing is not sales - Sales is the process by which you convince someone with money to give it to you in exchange for a good or service. Marketing is the thing that happens before that which informs you why you might want to talk to a sales guy. A guy marketing a car will tell you that the car has the highest safety rating ever, the guy selling the car will tell you if you write a check right now he will take an additional $1,500 off the sticker price.

2) Marketing is about perception, and perception is personal. The job of a marketeer is to communicate an idea so that you can see it and perceive it the same way the marketeer does. That requires that you first discover the perceptual language of the target, then translate the message into that perceptual language, communicate it, and then test again for understanding. Marketing a car that smells like bacon to a vegetarian just doesn't work. If the biggest chunk of car buyers are vegetarians, and your car consistently smells of bacon, you need to translate that into something positive somehow. Not simple :-).

3) Marketing is ubiquitous - one of the interesting conversations with my daughter as a teen about what to wear, your clothes give others an impression of you, you cannot prevent that, all you can do is control it. People are constantly taking these bits of information in and reasoning about them consciously and unconsciously. To be successful you have to have influence over as many of those information channels as possible. Getting that influence can be tricky.

Basically, it isn't as easy as it looks like it should be was my conclusion.

austenallred 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is exactly why I've been writing "The Hacker's Guide to User Acquisition" (first chapter: http://www.austenallred.com/the-hackers-guide-to-the-first-1..., next chapter will be about getting press). I would point out a few things.

1. The notion that you "build a better mousetrap" and people will beat their way to your door is true maybe 1% of the time. Many more companies have had to fight a little to become successful than just said, "This is so awesome that everyone loves it." That being said, no amount of marketing can make up for a crappy product.

2. Marketing should be baked into the product itself. If you're figuring out "now how do I get this out to people" after everything is finished, except in some rare circumstances it's too late. Explosive growth almost never happens by virtue of a product being so good that everybody shares it and it goes viral. Yours might, but you can't count on that happening. So how can you leverage your existing user base to create more users?

3. Getting press is more than emailing a couple of bloggers. And emailing bloggers has to be done in a very specific way to get their attention. It's difficult, because you only have one shot: Think about having to run some code and if there are any errors it all falls to pieces. That's what emailing bloggers feels like. But when it works, it works. And when one place picks you up, the others jump on board really quickly (they're kind of like investors in that way).

4. A lot of the "marketers" you've talked to might suck. It's a lot easier to pretend to be a marketer than it would be to pretend to be a programmer. And just as a non-technical person would have a difficult time trying to figure out if a programmer is any good, it will be hard for you to tell the difference between a good marketer and someone who has no idea what they're doing

5. You need a critical mass of users to determine if your product sucks. When I started marketing my first product, I couldn't pay people to use it. It wasn't that people were saying, "I don't like this," but I couldn't get anyone to try it to say whether they liked it or not. Then after months of grinding and trying to figure things out, we found the sweet spot. Thousands of users per day jumped on board, to the point that our biggest problem became scaling. (A good problem to have, but certainly a problem). If I had given up one day earlier I would have thought that no one cared, but really there was no one to care. There's a difference.

6. 99.99% of the time doing marketing is spent figuring out what works. Once you know (and it's different for each client/customer/app), it's really easy. Don't discount it when someone says "Oh you just do this and this, and boom, users." The same as you wouldn't look at a designer and say "Well you just designed that really simple logo, that can't be hard," you can't just look at the work they're doing -- you have to consider the work they have done. And getting to simple is hard.

So the moral of the story: Don't give up yet. It's too early to know if anyone will care about what you built; you have to get it out to more people.

And the next time I hear someone say, "You don't need a marketer, it's all about the quality of the product," I'll point them to this post. Thank you for your honesty, and best of luck to you.

trustfundbaby 3 days ago 3 replies      
"So now after years of neglecting anything to do with marketing. I get it. Marketing is hard. So crushingly hard.Also I was incredibly naive in thinking that the product was so good that the marketing would just snowball itself into action"

This right here ... a 1000 times. I've been a developer for years now and I always held onto the same fantasy of launching something so good that marketing would take care of itself. After building a couple of products and being involved in a startup or two I've found that getting software built is not usually as hard as marketing it successfully

wwwong 3 days ago 3 replies      
Nice! Great to read your experience from creating a product to launching it. Also glad to win over another developer to not thinking that all marketing is BS ;-)

Some tips from a marketer:

+Get analytics set up! I see that you've only mentioned the top of the funnel (traffic) and the bottom of the funnel (downloads). I'm assuming you don't have tracking for the full flow (traffic > install > activation > day 1-30 retention > Sales). Get this set up pronto. It's crucial to understand where the bottlenecks are and to also segment traffic to know which efforts are working.

+Marketing starts before you launch. You'll get a far stronger reaction from blogs, sites, and other people when you contact them 2-3 weeks before launch. Creates a sense of exclusivity and plus gives you some momentum to develop an installed base from Day 1. In light of this, perhaps you should call the current app an 'alpha' and re-launch to get some buzz :-)

+Major sources for you to consider: Organic: SEO Referral: Blogs, 3rd Party App Stores, Tech Sites, Forums, Quora, Stack Overflow, and where ever people who have the problem you're trying to solve is asking for help. Partner: App stores, resellers, etc... Paid: Facebook, AdWords, LinkedIn, GDN (I advise you to do thorough research before starting. It's easy to launch poorly designed campaigns and get the misinformed idea that these channels don't work) Viral: Add any social sharing anywhere you can.

+App Review sites review 100s of requests each day. I ran FreeiPadApps.net for 2-years and received 20+ app review requests/day. Mostly from indie developers, agencies, and bots. Try instead to reach out directly to an editor or writer by email/twitter/linkedin.

+SEO: Get up to best practice (title tags, headings, kw research and mapping to content), but don't bank on it. The gold rush for SEO growth circa 2007 is largely over :-(

+Look heavily into any type of 3rd party app stores for free promotion.

+Not sure of JIRA/Github has any 3rd party app pages. Worthwhile to look into this and seeing if you can get included.

With all that said, doing everything above will get you on par with what everyone else is doing. To separate yourself from the pack, the awesomeness of the product needs to take over :-)

Best of luck!

gk1 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is the second or third post I'm seeing today where a dev person could use some help with marketing their product. This is what I consult in, so I'd be happy to try and answer any questions you or anyone wishes to ask. Fire away!

If the answer requires more information then I'll ask you to email me instead.

tunesmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hrm... random impressions I had:

1) The above the fold stuff sort of showed me what it describes itself as, but not what it really is. A looping animation or video would have been really helpful.

2) The below the fold stuff originally came across as separate products. Like I thought it was your catch-all page for a few other products you've made. So maybe you could make it clearer that they are all components of Bee.

3) Just my own reaction that I noticed - when you demonstrate compatibility with several outside services, there might be a weird disincentive to try it out if the potential customer doesn't use all of those services. Like I immediately had a suspicion that since I use Jira but not Github or Fogbugz, that the other focuses of the tool would get in the way or make it feel unwieldy. (I didn't download it to disprove that feeling.)

4) Time/task tracking is a REALLY crowded space, and I imagine it is really difficult to convince someone to try out a new tool, partly because of switching costs. For instance, for me, I use Quickbooks on the Mac, and I'm pretty married to Intuit's "My Time" since it's the only tool I know of on the Mac that will automatically transfer time records to Quickbooks, which I then use to make invoices. And then if someone asks me why I create my invoices from time records in Quickbooks, then... heck, I dunno, I made the decision at one point and it works for me. I could do a whole first-principles analysis I guess that might lead me to a completely different way of working that might lead me to being able to using a different time-tracking app like Bee, but... I don't like going that low on my e-Maslow's hierarchy very often.

5) No obvious mention of price on the front page... no obvious indicator of what clicking the "Buy" button will do or where it will take me. I moused over it, looked for an info tip, and didn't click. (I'm one to just buy rather than deal with download/try/maybe-buy.)

kposehn 3 days ago 0 replies      
You don't need AdWords right now.

This comes from an AdWords guy. Seriously, work on marketing to the community and with content, not with paid ads. Paid ads come in when you've identified a market, medium to reach them and what your message is. Have that nailed before you spend a dime :)

vertis 3 days ago 2 replies      
This looks like something I could actually use. I've just downloaded it.

My take from the website, there is no price on the main page. I have to click 'Buy Now' with no idea whether I want to actually purchase. Which is a commitment (in my head) that I'm not prepared to make without knowing the price.

imron 3 days ago 1 reply      
Your website is a perfect demonstration of your title.

A nice funky starfield with a pretty logo taking up half of the page, and a partial screen shot taking up to the rest of my screen space (1920x1080).

Nothing about what it does instantly pops out. Then I realise there's more, so I scroll - Something, something, JIRA, GitHUB, FogBUGZ, something something.

Hmm, ok, based on that probably not something I'd need. Close the page (before even getting to any of the other stuff).

Come here to read the comments, and buried away here, I found this comment by you https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6686624, which says:

"I work on contract iOS jobs and I need to track my time to invoice my clients. It sucks using my web browser to start and stop the timer. "

And I think, this, yes, a thousand times yes, and am now downloading it to try it out.

The takeaway from all this, I shouldn't have to find out about that from a comment tucked away on HN, but your website is not arranged in a way that makes it immediately obvious that I want this product.

markbao 3 days ago 6 replies      
Nice work. I've also recently released my first Mac app [0] and I'm working on getting the word out about it by making it free, the idea being that if it's known by people, it can be spread through word-of-mouth, especially if it becomes indispensable. GitHub's API currently reports 600 users, and I'm working on increasing that to 1000 before making it a paid app and marketing it.

Nice to see both approaches here; I wonder which truly works better in the long run.

[0]: http://issuepostapp.com/

kybernetyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Are people waiting for the trial to run out (14 day trial) ...?

People who buy your software usually do so during the first few days of a trial. Only a small percentage of those who let the trial go to the end will buy.

Source: My (and fellow [m]ISV's) experience over the years.

/edit:Oh, btw: A search in the mac app store for "github issue tracker" (and other similar terms) won't show your app.

brandoncarl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Basil - beautiful aesthetic. A few thoughts for you:

1. You are currently marketing the features of your application. Consider instead marketing the problem that you're solving. Demonstrate that you understand the problem and then show why Bee is the solution to it.

2. Which value proposition are you competing on? Clayton Christensen suggests that often markets move through functionality, reliability, convenience, and price. For software professionals, that probably looks like functionality, usability, reliability, convenience, and price.

3. As a gut reaction, your price to feature set seems off. How did you originally come up with the price? It's one of the hardest and most difficult things. If I were you, I'd set up an intro price of $19 while you're on HN front page, and advertise that right on the landing page.

segphault 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm one of those people who downloaded the trial, ran it for a few days, and then deleted it. I liked a lot of things about the app, but there were a few bits that I found unintuitiveparticularly around managing multiple projects from different sources.

I decided to pass, but I bookmarked it so that I'll be able to find it again in the future if I ever find that I really need a quick way to access my Jira issues from the desktop.

The $49 price is entirely reasonable considering the breadth of the feature set and the target audience, but it does put it outside the impulse purchase comfort zone. It might have been helpful to put it on sale at launch with a discounted price in order to build some traction and lower the barrier to adoption for people who are on the fence.

gojomo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats on your launch!

Be careful about your plan to "keep pushing out updates to the app to fill out the feature requests existing users have". It's easy to fall back to strengths adding fun features, responding to tangible requests from existing customers. But clearly your priority should be getting the word out.

Maybe commit to yourself: no new features unless you're certain they will close new sales?

programminggeek 3 days ago 0 replies      
Start collecting emails using autoresponder courses. Think of collecting emails as asking a girl for their number. If you want a date, you're going to call them, talk to them, get to know them, and ask them out. If you want a sale, you need to develop a relationship with a customer.

Collect email from potential users on a landing page. Then, send them email to let them get to know you and you know them. After a few emails, say 5-7, you could say "hey I have this great product that makes doing X way easier!". A number of potential users who get to say the 5th or 7th email will then trial or purchase your product if you ask them to. That's like getting the first date. Your product ultimately still has to be good for it to be a long term relationship.

Pretty much any email newsletter software worth anything supports some kind of autoresponder series functionality.

bcbrown 3 days ago 1 reply      
One small tip - your page links to the app page, but doesn't otherwise say anything about what it does, just calling it "this thing". That diary page is marketing too, include a summary of what it does there!
mattm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recently read the book "Cashvertising". It's very good at breaking down how to sell in print. I recommend you read it. For example, your headline "Better task tracking on your Mac" offers no real benefit. What is good about task tracking? What is the benefit it offers? Make that answer your headline.

Read the book. It helped me immensely.

pbnjay 2 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like a great tool, but like others have mentioned, I just can't justify a $50 price point in my head. I don't really "need" a new app to update my issue tracker, I've already got the browser open which I'm using for other concurrent tasks (and a browser tab with a familiar HTML interface > learning a new tool and remembering to keep it open).

However, if you could pull out the "flight path" feature ONLY into a separate app at say a $10 price point, I would probably jump. Something unobtrusive in the menu bar that tracks my time on task AND automatically pulls up what I should work on next, quickly and easily, would be great.

stu_k 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Bee for the past week to avoid interacting with Jira's slow interface and it's been absolutely excellent. It's a polished app, and the one bug I encountered was fixed within a day. Just waiting for the trial to finish.
GuerraEarth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just sent you an email with wording "marketing" that can help. I'm interested to see that good things don't languish and I am a strong writer--happy to give.
bstar77 3 days ago 0 replies      
I want this, it looks awesome, but I can't justify $50 on it. A shame.
robotys 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reason dev-ing a software is not that hard = computer is consistent and feedback is instantaneous.

Reason marketing is effing hard (for us programmers) = human is fickle and feedback is sporadic.

Geee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Downloaded, installed, tried. Created a new task and drag'n'dropped it inside the another one. Couldn't drag it out again. Closed the app. Seems very nice though, I'll give it another try after a while.
joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
Try hitting up Reddit. The Reddit community is one of the most active and engaging communities out there. The only challenge is that they are brutally honest so only use Reddit if you're ready to hear the truth.

You could also try getting a promotion from apple in the App Store.

Another thing you should do is incorporate some sort of analytics in your app. Most users wont tell you ANYTHING about your app. I'm running Google Analaytics and I can tell that the average user spends ~7 minutes in my game which lets me know that each session is pretty engaging. That's also 7 minutes that they are getting hit with iAd's if they didn't upgrade. Metrics are key, so add something to track app usage.

Your application is niche so you need to target spaces where people that use your the services that your app integrates with hang out.

jorde 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bee seems awesome and while Basil might not get marketing, he gets it now: after a week of resultless marketing efforts he writes a blog post about it, posts to HN and scores the #1 position. Kudos.
pnathan 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. I'm almost at the beta point with my own side project, and I'm realizing it's time to do some marketing (virtual pet game for FireFoxOS/browsers - goal is to be interesting to smart people). I'm realizing I simply don't know how to do this marketing thing (yeah, emails, landing page, etc, but those only work when people get there.)
mczepiel_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Coincidentally just the other week I got stuck using Jira and it's abysmally slow/buggy interface.

FWIW I was very excited to see Bee but haven't done the work to setup a password for my account on our Jira ondemand instance.

I wonder if some of the slower adoption for you has been people like me using a google account to log into Jira and simply not having a real Jira credentials.

I'll get around to it but I suspect I'm not the only one that didn't feel like mucking around in the Jira account settings to setup credentials for Bee to connect with.

I assume there's no way to access the Jira API otherwise?

manmal 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that's the first non-crappy Mac app with JIRA support that I've heard of. While I'm really glad that I found out about Bee now, you should really dig into this pain point, IMO. JIRA is terribly slow, and in times of faster tools like Trello or Blossom people are really getting fed up with that. I imagine that marketing it mainly as JIRA client could work well.
Void_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
There you go - your article doesn't really provide any value to us, yet you are on the frontpage of HN. Nailed it, now do the same thing over and over again.
mladenkovacevic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't just "try AdWords", "try social", "try inbound marketing" or any of those things you think you're just supposed to do for some reason. Think of a strategy and then come up with an offer that presents a compelling value proposition. How will you show your product to your customers before they decide to buy? Who are you customers anyways? Come up with a few customer profiles.

One you figure these things out, creating campaigns that accomplish your marketing objectives will be more natural and less like a stab in the dark.

sarreph 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of my biggest takeaways from WWDC, as a student, was that even really great products don't launch themselves; they need an immense PR effort to get them off the ground however, this doesn't mean a big budget.

In my opinion (of limited authority), a lot of 'spin' can be spun, mostly for free, that can generate a great buzz pre-launch.

It's something I'm going to invest a lot of time and effort in next time I do a launch.

spacecowboy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Came across an insightful video and presentation given at the Konsoll 2013 conference on "marketing indie games on a $0 budget" that might be of interest to folks. It was given within the context of indie game development but its really addressing a common problem.

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkEQtMP2CuAslides: http://www.indiegamegirl.com/konsoll-2013/

joeblau 3 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone knows some good iOS game marketing techniques/tips, please drop me a line--My email is in my profile. I'm trying to market: http://appstore.com/xo9
pteredactyl 3 days ago 1 reply      
For your web design, which is part of marketing - namely perception and eye-grabbery - there's too much white space. Too much white space, to me, equals yawn.

I'd make the starfield extend further down the page, past the first screenshot. Then I would somehow frame the other sections of the page. Maybe by adding an interior border or some sort of texture.

Marketing is a cousin of visual design.

woodylondon 2 days ago 0 replies      
First impressions are good, the main additional thing I would have done is to create a "video" overview. Most people just don't have the time to download, install, work out what is going on, etc etc. I do have 5mins to watch a quick video to see if this is for me. You can just do a screencast, voice it yourself. Keep it simple.
strikespeed 2 days ago 0 replies      
What most programmers/writers/innovators often forget is that unless they spend time/effort and money on getting the word out about their products, the world will never see it. It surprises me how often I come across people that believe their product "will sell itself" and totally ignore marketing. Computers world wide are filled with great projects that not more then a handful of people will see. Whatever your idea is, make sure to spend as much time as you spend creating it, thinking and planning out your marketing of same product. Without it, your idea will still be "the best in the world" but nobody will ever know about it.
holgersindbaek 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd love to follow your journey of marketing your product.

If you intend to go hard on marketing this app and exploring ways to do that, can you put up an email form, so I know when your next blog post is?!

Elizer0x0309 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shortfalls:1. Didn't implement metrics to detect delete, trial to get that feedback.

2. Giving up and ranting too early! Marketing is perception, so make sure you make whatever N users happy then tell them to share (it's as simple as this), rinse and repeat. After a ~100 happy users, you'll have a good sample of customer base and it should steadily grow to market potential from there.

3. First release is just the beginning. Your idea is but a hypothesis. As long as they're is still legitimate feedback to work on, the product is still not reaching it's potential (again, ranting too early!).

RobSpectre 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm with you dude. This shit is hard.
codecrusade 2 days ago 0 replies      
Getting to the top of HN should fix a lot of your user issues. I like your UI Style, but maybe the product is not very clear to me. Im not a pro perhaps, but you could still work a lot on your product site, make it more concise and easy for an idiot like me to understand too? Are you on the Mac App store?If I were you and If I had a product half as good as this, Id relentlessly blog about it with gorgeous screenshots till around 500 people bought this-Takes patience.Marketing ooutput = Intensity* Focus
skulquake 3 days ago 0 replies      
I for one will thank you for your admittance that marketing a product or service to a prospective target audience is indeed hard, and for along time here on HN, many would say oh your just the marketing guy what do you have to offer or bring to the table if it's not marketing and programming then why do I need you on the team? I'm just glad that both sides of the table are seeing that we should all work cohesively to our strengths to reach the end goal of a particular project or startup.
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
What I would like to read is why the OP put his time into building a task app. Not because the world doesn't need another one (I'm not being sarcastic here...)...but if you don't have much talent or time for marketing, then something must have been guiding you, right? I would think that without any other external guidance, it's the programmer himself who finds the product useful and uses it everyday as he develops it.

So, did the OP find his own product useful?

codecrusade 2 days ago 0 replies      

1. Use Cases- If your product aint selling, you need to illustrate use cases for your product. If you manage to showcase a very contextually relevant use case, it could literally explode. Like Youtube instant- Its a relatively unused but incredibly useful feature that got its share of sun because it came quick on the heels of Google Instant.

jaunkst 3 days ago 0 replies      
Have you tried using google news api to find articles in your market? You can turk out compiling a authors contact list and prepare a press release package for the few hundred writers to publish. Some will not respond but some my write for established sources or even many. This will help get attention and increase your ranking.
ahunt09 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else have their display get corrupted by opening this site, opening Chrome dev tools, and closing chrome dev tools? My screen started putting up random squares of color and other artifacts and I lost keyboard control.
azio_m 3 days ago 0 replies      
Don't forget to update us with the results of getting to Hacker News Front Page!
CrashOverride17 3 days ago 0 replies      
People do not want to know who made it but they just think how they enjoy it.In this world, there is no second place or second champ, the world is a kind of binary system, 0 or 1, we just choose death or life."quote on Hackers 3 [2011]
salilpa 2 days ago 0 replies      
so if nothing work out. blog about it and submit it to HN about your failure and hurray you are a success :)
Rotate the world jasondavies.com
291 points by pjan  1 day ago   71 comments top 21
BitMastro 1 day ago 6 replies      
This is just my personal preference, but I believe the naive implementation is miles ahead of the improved ones.

The improved version needs at least two movements to go to the other side of the world, doesn't follow the rotation if the cursor is too fast and worse than all, performs a gamma rotation for each non-equatorial point of the sphere.

Since we have two degrees of freedom on the screen, I expect to use them to drive the two most used rotations, and maybe have another control for the roll. In addition, we are used to have maps with North pointing up (and sometimes pointing South), so the roll is almost never used.

Trufa 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic, but I was so surprised how steep the Axial tilt is (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_tilt) I had always known that it was 23 but never actually visualized it.

Try putting =23 in the Euler angles and rotate the earth with .

0x0 1 day ago 3 replies      
Isn't this also called "Arcball rotation"? The biggest advantage over the nave implementation is no un-intuitive "sideways" rotation after a few sequences of rotation.
Aardwolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is like 100 times faster in Chromium than in Firefox (on Linux). Any idea why? Is JS in FF really that much slower?
djrobstep 1 day ago 5 replies      
Firefox you're breaking my heart. This performs terribly in FF, fine in Chrome.
valtron 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another way of doing this (without versors):

Let u and v be the unit vectors of the initial and final click location. We want an R s.t. Ru = v. Create an orthonormal basis ON(u) and ON(v) (you can use the QR decomposition for the vector concatenated with I).

R = ON(v) ON(u)^-1 = ON(v) ON(u)^T

SeanDav 1 day ago 4 replies      
Unless I missed it, where does one get the continent shapes and country outlines?
sz4kerto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, that's _exactly_ what I needed yesterday. Thanks a lot.

.. however, some more explanation for how the improved rotation works would have been useful.

dalyons 1 day ago 1 reply      
As an experiment I used this D3 geo stuff to visualize my last year or so across the globe:


Works much better on chrome than FF unfortunately.

I thought it turned out pretty cool, as a practical example of what you can use this stuff for. It was super fun to build, D3 is pretty awesome.

You can also load your own photos from FB if you want to see your own track, its just static html/js, i dont store anything anywhere.

fijal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please Please Please include "show the shortest path between points A and B".
willvarfar 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have a couple of questions, and I'm unfamiliar with the Javascript frameworks so I struggle a bit to find the answers in the source:

Are the globes drawn with perspective?

And can it suffer from gimbal lock?

edoloughlin 1 day ago 4 replies      
Anyone else tried this on Linux? On Mint 15 and Ubuntu 13.04 FF25 is has >1 second lag. Chrome 30 is fine.
kosma 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been writing accelerometer coordinate system rotation code for the whole day. Almost melted my brain; trying to imagine 3D rotation is hard, especially when you lack the proper tools and have very little experience with it. Finally got the thing working; decided to have one last look at HN before going to bed. It was then when I saw "Rotate the world" and thought to myself: "well this better not be about Euler angles!"

Yup. Thanks pjan, you made my day brighter :)

deletes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rotating maxed out my cpu in both chrome and firefox but only chrome didn't stutter.
sddhrthrt 1 day ago 0 replies      
India is distorted - Kashmir and all. You better be careful about the borders that are under dispute. I took into consideration that it's a low-res border, even then it's way off.

I dont know if the details of map itself are important or not, because I understand it's an exhibition of the interface itself. Just my opinion.

cLeEOGPw 1 day ago 2 replies      
Are the scale of continents right? Because Australia looks almost bigger than Europe, and Africa looks many times bigger than Europe.
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's more useful when you keep the north at north.
ananth99 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant stuff! Would've been better if it had the names of the places. Kinda like a virtual globe. ;)
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Man oh man, do I hate Euler angles...
bebop 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great work! This is a really nice use of d3 and a great visualization tool.
How Can the New York Times Endorse an Agreement the Public Can't Read? eff.org
285 points by sinak  2 days ago   123 comments top 16
justsee 2 days ago 1 reply      
What stunning misdirection in this thread by anigbrowl. In a way it reflects the NY Times opinion piece, which tries to simply characterise the TPP as a 'trade deal'.

Any reasonable, honest observer would halt the discussion immediately at the point they realise the TPP is being negotiated in secret (with the public and even political representatives kept in the dark over TPP contents over the many years it has been negotiated).

That corporate interests have unfettered access to the text and negotiations and democratic citizens do not is evidence enough of exactly whose interests are being negotiated.

That the text and all associated material must remain secret for four years after the negotiations have ended (whether successful or not) shows the level of trust negotiators have in engaging with an informed democracy.

It gets to the heart of the sickness of secrecy that has infected whole swaths of our democratic institutions. Trying to guide discussion towards whether people are 'pro or anti trade' is risable misdirection or wilful ignorance at best.

The TPP is a full-frontal assault on democracy and national sovereignty from what we have learnt through leaked draft texts, and its contents are highly likely to represent a backdoor check-mate across internet censorship, DRM, copyright, and many other issues this community cares about.

guimarin 2 days ago 6 replies      
It's simple. the NYT is and has been for some time, a mouthpiece for the sitting administration in Washington. They were under Bush, they are under Obama. The administrations trade 'towing the line' for access. Don't toe the line, no access. I hate to say it but there are few if any large news organizations which do the kind of Journalism we're taught about in school.
bendoernberg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to contact Margaret Sullivan, the Times' Public Editor, and ask her to write about why the paper is endorsing something they haven't seen. If enough folks join me, she might weigh in. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/opinion/thepubliceditor/


anigbrowl 2 days ago 6 replies      
This is complete and total bullshit. The NYT did not endorse anything. The editorial in question is here (following the link from the EFF page, lest I be accused of misdirecting people): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/opinion/a-pacific-trade-de...

It discusses the fact of the ongoing negotiations, mentions a variety of potential difficulties, and concludes by defining what it (the NYT board) considers to be the elements of a good agreement.

I'm generally a fan of the EFF but this article is ludicrous scaremongering. How the EFF spun this into an uncritical endorsement and thought it was appropriate to throw around insinuations of 'extraordinary cowardice' absent any evidence whatsoever. Essentially, the EFF is attacking the idea that there even could be such a thing as a good trade deal, equating the NYT's effort to articulate what that would be with an uncritical endorsement. It's fundamentally dishonest and has seriously lowered my opinion of the EFF.

ISL 2 days ago 2 replies      
It would appear that such an international agreement would comprise a "treaty" under the Constitution, requiring Senate approval.

In general, the Senate doesn't like being bypassed.

Is there an end-run here I don't know about?

forgotAgain 2 days ago 1 reply      
Original NYT editorial


To summarize: a good trade pact would be good.

aric 2 days ago 0 replies      
They can endorse it the same way they endorsed the hysteria of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" and helped pound the drumbeat to war. It's the New York Times. EFF is being rhetorical, of course. May they continue to push this into the light.
limsup 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems to me the NYT editorial doesn't specifically endorse anything... it just says what elements would make up an acceptable treaty:

> A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks.

What part of the editorial is endorsing a specific secret text or giving blanket approval to any deal?

insickness 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry but there's no endorsement of something unread here by the New York Times. You can interpret the Times's positive spin on the potential agreement as a de facto endorsement, but it is not an endorsement. It's as if the Times said that it's good a new Avengers movie is coming out and the EFF said that the NYTimes gave the movie a positive review without seeing it. Disagree with what the New York Times said, but they don't claim to have seen the agreement.
coldcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to have to trust the government on this one. Clearly they have the people's best interests in mind. In fact why should they ever let us see anything in the future, it makes us angry and leads to silly arguments. Instead they can simply tell us when the business is complete - signed, a North Korean.
homosaur 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just so ya'll know, the main crux of this deal for the US is that they're going to be a major natural gas supplier to the United States of Europe to cut off Russia from it. This is part of the reason Russia has probably been to supportive of Snowden, which would normally be a bad idea politically, because they're trying to mess up the US/EU relationship. Natural gas is going to unfortunately be the way forward for awhile in all the post-Fukushima paranoia/propaganda cycle.
linuxhansl 2 days ago 3 replies      
While this story might be sensational, does anybody know the rationale behind keeping treaties like this secret.

I could come up with all kinds of explanations like our leader being fearful of criticism, but I would like to know if there an actual practical reason.

samspenc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sorry, but I must be missing something - what/where is the actual endorsement? Did they run an article about this?
infra178 1 day ago 0 replies      
Because the Obama administration told them to.
kapad 1 day ago 0 replies      
For political leverage
marze 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just their way of saying, most everyone in the country is an idiot and we recognize that.
Hstore development for 9.4 release obartunov.livejournal.com
281 points by andreypopp  2 days ago   85 comments top 18
twic 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is wonderful work, and it is the foundation for yet more wonderful work in the future. However, as much as i am a huge PostgreSQL fanboy and a dedicated MongoDB peanut-thrower, i worry that the caption applied to this post is misleading.

Once this work is released, PostgreSQL will be faster than current versions of MongoDB at carrying out queries for documents which look for a given value at a given path (or perhaps more generally, values satisfying a given predicate at paths satisfying a given predicate).

But that has never been one of MongoDB's important strengths, has it? The operations for which MongoDB is optimised are inserting documents, retrieving document by ID, and conducting map-reduces across the whole database. Yes, it has the ability to query by values in leaves, and it can use indices to make that faster, but that's a bit of a second-tier, bag-on-the-side feature, isn't it? If that was the main thing you needed to do, you wouldn't have chosen MongoDB, right?

integraton 2 days ago 0 replies      
See also the PostgreSQL as a Schemaless Database slides (includes several benchmarks vs MongoDB): http://thebuild.com/presentations/pg-as-nosql-pgday-fosdem-2...
andreypopp 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is impressive but not really surprising given the quality of PostgreSQL database. Quote:

"We added performance comparison with MongoDB. MongoDB is very slow on loading data (slide 59) - 8 minutes vs 76s,seqscan speed is the same - about 1s, index scan is very fast - 1ms vs 17 ms with GIN fast-scan patch. But we managed to create new opclass (slides 61-62) for hstore using hashing of full-paths concatenated with values and got 0.6ms, which is faster than mongodb !"

jeffdavis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Great work and research; horrible submission headline.

The news here is that, in addition to the huge market for traditional DBs, postgres is going to compete in a serious way on MongoDB's home turf. As that becomes more apparent, it will validate postgres's flexability/adaptability and cast doubt over special-purpose database systems and NoSQL.

MongoDB still has a story around clustering, of course. But that story is somewhat mixed (as all DB clustering stories are); and postgres is not standing still on that front, either.

(Disclaimer: I'm a member of the postgres community.)

gibybo 2 days ago 5 replies      
Can I index fields within a JSON document in PostreSQL? Can I query them?

I.e. can I do something like SELECT json_field FROM data WHERE json_field.age > 15 ?

craigkerstiens 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to find more of the detail and background around this which came from a talk by the author of the blog post then you check out his slides at http://www.sai.msu.su/~megera/postgres/talks/hstore-dublin-2.... One of the key things not in the blog post but addressed in the slides is that there will be a new index type that really pushes the performance gains even further.
andyl 2 days ago 3 replies      
Postgres Array/Hstore/JSON datatypes have made my Rails apps way simpler. Great combination.
desireco42 2 days ago 1 reply      
Which is not surprising, as this is 'real' database. I read review of MongoDB internals and it sounded not very positive. While you can create NoSQL quickly, to do it well with any db, it takes time which PostgreSQL definitely has.

Just to be clear, MongoDB is fine db for certain scenarios and I am using it in production.

eksith 2 days ago 0 replies      
Implementing our doc store on Postgres a while ago in lieu of switching to MongoDB suddenly seems like a very good call.

We had nothing against Mongo (frankly haven't gone into deep analysis of how it would turn out). It was simply the db we already had at hand and we knew it well and trusted it.

tete 2 days ago 1 reply      
We actually use both of them in our system.

I really wish PostgreSQL wasn't such an enormous challenge to scale horizontally.

pstuart 2 days ago 0 replies      
According to the roadmap page, 9.4 is due out in the 3rd quarter of 2014.
gosukiwi 2 days ago 3 replies      
Postgres is quite scary, I feel that if I use it I'll miss 90% of the features @_@
willvarfar 2 days ago 0 replies      
It would be great if they could run these benchmarks with mongodb using TokuMX.

I think tokutek's fractal trees would make an exciting data store for postgresql, but benchmarks are difficult to find... Who is perceived to be faster these days generally? Mysql+innodb, mysql+tokudb or postgresql?

lucisferre 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now if I could only get Mongoid to work with Postgres instead of Mongo I would be happy.
andrewcooke 2 days ago 0 replies      
roncohen 2 days ago 0 replies      

No mention of arrays in the post, but in the slides: you can use {1, 2} syntax for arrays and hstore now eats it \o/

joshguthrie 2 days ago 0 replies      

    $ brew remove mongodb
Okay guys, now we're talking!

dkhenry 2 days ago 0 replies      
So a database developer is saying that his database is faster then a competitors database. Shocking.....
From a Model S owner in Tennessee teslamotors.com
277 points by bcn  7 hours ago   226 comments top 28
mcphilip 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm glad the driver is safe. However, I'm not sure what posting this letter is supposed to accomplish other than show that the driver is still a Tesla supporter. The remainder of the letter seems to be (potentially) counterproductive in that it describes that the car being on fire wasn't as dangerous as it sounds. Tesla isn't going to be able to tackle a perception problem by promoting safety features of the car when in flames.
blahedo 6 hours ago 5 replies      
We're reading this on Tesla's site, and they obviously wouldn't have posted it if it weren't at least somewhat flattering, so we have that lens to view it through.

But, the letter does raise the important idea that before we decry how awful the failure mode is ("the car caught on fire!"), it's worth considering what the alternative would be---what happens in similar situations in combustion engines?

ot 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder, if Tesla were to harden the protective shield of the battery pack and issue a recall for the existing vehicles, they could just deploy the new battery packs through the automatic battery swapping facilities in the supercharging stations.

The costs would probably be much lower than normal car recalls, and it would also be an interesting value proposition for the owners: "zero downtime, you get for free a safer car and a fresh battery".

Anyway, the more I hear about Model S the more it looks like an exceptional engineering feat.

neya 1 hour ago 3 replies      
As much as I appreciate the safety features provided by Tesla, I think I will wait till the battery technology matures to an extent when it becomes relatively safer than it is now, instead.

The way I see it now - Anything metallic that goes under your electric car, is very likely to result in a fire if it scrapes the bottom. This means I need to be extremely cautious about stuff not entering beneath my car. Though this looks like an easy job for most, in most countries it's more than difficult when you're driving on the highway at high speeds and sometimes you run over stuff like empty coke tins without a choice (braking is not an option because you're driving at very high speeds).

Another personal experience:

My parents met with an accident in a diesel car - A Suzuki swift. They were driving at approximately 160 Km/hr on a highway and it was raining heavily. It was around 3 AM in the morning. When my dad tried to overtake another car, he had to go a little closer to the median, which had more water clogged than the sides of the road. This suddenly lead to the steering pulling towards the right side (unexpectedly) and thus the right wheel hit the median first.

Then, once the right wheel hit the median, the steering started to wobble so hard, that the steering rod that connects the steering wheel got disconnected. At this point, with no steering, my dad tried to hit the brakes, but sadly, there were only 3 wheels with brakes connected to them at that point - Front left, and rear wheels. As a result of this breaking, the car ran over the median, thus grinding the bottom of the car (this is one of the main points), disconnecting the left front wheel from the engine, and also hitting it hard, thus leaving the car with no brakes at front. This car is particularly a front wheel drive, with a heavy engine. As a result control to the only wheels which had traction were lost, leaving the car with no option to control it. After a few seconds, the car went over the median and hit a lamp-post and finally came to a halt. Almost the whole car was damaged.

Some observations:

# The fuel tank was behind the car, so no damage/leakage was encountered.

# The engine portion was the one with the most damage. Though the engine itself didn't receive ANY damage, the radiators, the rest of the stuff suffered severe damage and there was considerable amount of fuel mixed with other coolants leaking on the road.

# Despite this terrible accident, the car did NOT catch fire. My parents inside were unhurt. Not even a single scratch. The cabin didn't receive any damage as well.

# Cars following my car came to a halt, they took out a cellphone and started recording videos to upload on Youtube, but none of them offered my parents a ride, not even till the next train station / bus stop.

Comparison with an electric car in my car's scenario:

# This is a case of an accident where despite the Tesla system warning you, you don't have time to pull over safely.

# I assume the battery packs would have caught fire the moment the median ground the base of the car.

# The chassis design on my diesel car was really good. Not all diesel/gasoline cars are designed this way. Tesla's is excellent as well.

My personal Advise and my thoughts:

# First, let me make it clear. I am a huge fan of Tesla. Both Nikola Tesla and Tesla motors. I love electric cars in general. And I hate the oil corporation controversies.

# Electric cars are mature at this point, but the battery technology isn't. Maybe a decade from now, we will have lighter, slimmer and safer batteries.

# When choosing a gasoline car/ diesel car, always look for ratings on the chassis design. Ex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg-SLOkdqJk

# Every car you drive is full of compromises. No car is perfect and ever will be. Understand that there is very limited real-estate available to design everything perfectly within the limited geometrical area.

# Understand that you should always expect the worse case scenario when considering buying a car. In Tesla's case, you should always assume that you would run over some kind of metallic debris that can damage your car's underskin. For a gasoline car, check the Safety ratings from collision tests. And ask yourself if the car will be worth it.

As much as I love Tesla, understand that no car is perfect. Just because a driver got out safe from a fire doesn't mean you will too. Though that's what they'd like you to think. The same thing goes for gasoline cars too. Maybe my accident example doesn't mean you can escape from the same situation alive. Just assume the worst case, always and make wiser choices. That's all I want to convey.

Bonus: Photos from my accident:




jusben1369 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a big Tesla fan. I'd like to buy one. I like that they're changing our dependency upon gasoline vehicles. I like that they're taking big chances. Having said that, I find their communication style at times to be very disappointing. I hate the weird inference of "Thank God I was in my Tesla and only caught on fire. It would have been much worse in another car" Why do they have to do that? What proof do they have? They've had 3 car fires in the last 5 weeks out of 19,000 units on the road. Stop trying to turn a negative into some sort of positive. We get it's new technology. There probably will be things that need straightened out. The way they positioned their lease was cheesy. This is now cheesy II. Just say

"We take this VERY seriously. We don't think there is any structural issues here but we will continue to investigate. Rest assured if the data points to any possible issues we'll be fully transparent and make any adjustments necessary to ensure the safety of our customers." Not some hack rah rah piece on their blog.

nonchalance 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Amusing how positive stories about tesla take the top spot on HN while news of the fire was quickly flagged off the front page.

Not to question what was said here, but:

> Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm.

How is that the case? There are cars that are higher off the ground than a Tesla (where it wouldn't have a chance to punch through the floor) and most cars have material in the undercarriage to protect against small blows like this ...

coloneltcb 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I love Teslas. If I had the disposable money (and the need of a fulltime car) I'd buy a Model S without hesitation. I think Elon Musk is a brilliant entrepreneur.

But this is tripe. I can smell PR and sanitized wordsmithing when I see it--and this post reeks. If that wasn't obvious by the medium of this post--The Official Tesla Blog.

Gee, how did it get up there? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, at some point in time the author was in contact with Tesla's PR department? And do you think Tesla PR decided to let someone post something with no oversight whatsoever? And this post just happened to be perfectly on message with the talking points Tesla PR had drafted up?

For all we know, every word of this is true, but in this format (a very defensive post on the Tesla Blog giving a 100% pro-Tesla version of the events), Tesla has no credibility. Why not have this person write about this in the user forums and then link to it from the official blog with a foreword from Elon?

underwater 6 hours ago 4 replies      
He hit something at freeway speeds that lifted his car into the air yet continued driving, even after he was alerted the collision had caused significant damage to his car?
stcredzero 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I mentioned this in another thread about this incident. I was driving a mid 80's Volvo 850 in the early 2000's, and while turning around, I managed to run over a wheel stop and impale my car's oil pan on a piece of rebar sticking out from the top of the wheel stop. From what I remember, the oil pan on that particular year of Volvo station wagon was made out of aluminum of about the same thickness as the battery casing.

If an aluminum wall vessel like that is going to encounter a pointy piece of steel with all of the car's momentum behind it, the steel is going through! No getting around it. No designing around it. It's just physics.

There was no fire, but this resulted in all of the oil leaving my car's engine. All of the oil. No fire, but it created a situation where I could have wrecked the car and needed to pull over and stop the engine immediately, which I did only because I spotted the trail of oil in the rear view mirror. I never got a warning. In contrast, the Tesla told the driver something was up. IMO, the Tesla system was in better control of its incident and provided clearer and better information.

ruswick 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how this is supposed to bolster Tesla's image.

The fact that the car alerted him to the fact that it was going to combust does not mean that it is OK that the car combusted.

Lagged2Death 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I am thankful to God that I was totally uninjured in any way from this impact. Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm.

Oh really now, isn't this laying it on just a tad thick? How often does this happen? There's junk like this on the road all the time - how often are drivers and passengers actually shish-kabobed by any of it?

Tesla's damage-control, image-wise, is surely the envy of industry everywhere, though.

Diederich 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The other discussions about comparing and contrasting the energy densities and relative safeties of fuel versus high-density batteries are interesting and relevant to safety considerations.

The car, at this early stage of its evolution, handling the situation as elegantly as it did is just amazing.

However the various safety-related tradeoffs play out, it's obvious that the Model S is seriously and well engineered at every level.

I imagine the good folks in Palo Alto are already folding updates into the system. "Shit's on fire, yo! Pull over."

trothoun 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This does make me wonder if the shape of the Tesla's underbody (very flat [1]) is such that debris is more likely to make a direct rather than glancing impact. Perhaps Tesla should take a leaf out medieval armor design and add more contour to the bottom of their car so that it can shed impacts more successfully.

[1] http://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/non-make/fe/fe_9171228_600...

lumberjack 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is this the sort of thing that the guy ran over?


rch 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My first car was an early 80's Jeep Grand Cherokee that had been 'modified' by a previous owner. Whoever it was had ripped off anything that might have been EPA mandated, and had then pounded bolts into the vacant holes left in the exhaust manifold. It took months for my father, grandfather, and I to figure out where all the vacuum hoses should go, in order to get it to pass inspection. Even after extensive repairs, well beyond I've described here, the thing would bleed quart after quart of oil as it went down the road.

It still did alright for a while, but eventually caught on fire. It happened spontaneously and without warning, while driving home in the snow. No impacts or anything, the thing just overheated and went up in flames.

The reporting on these Tesla events make the vehicle sound like my $1 anti-EPA Jeep, but I think it is pretty clear there are a few differences.

teslathrowaway 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> Had I not been in a Tesla, that object could have punched through the floor and caused me serious harm.

Clever misdirection.

skybrian 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Just wondering, how does the ground clearance in a Tesla S compare to other cars?
justinph 4 hours ago 0 replies      
These cars can raise and lower the suspension, right?

Might be useful to have it use scanning LiDAR and detect debris in the road, raise the vehicle when appropriate. They're working on a self-driving model, why not build that in.

Aardwolf 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what actually cought fire? Can batteries catch fire due to being struck like that? If so, why did it take 5 minutes and how did the car electronics know about it beforehand?
gfodor 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there literally any reason to believe that Tesla's are more predisposed to catching on fire? Surely hundreds of cars burn and some explode in the U.S. every day. Where are the apologies from their manufacturers?
rdl 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the Teslas should have explosive bolts to drop the battery pack if they detect a fire, then move the car away from it.
hristov 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So the moral of the story is that first I have to get a personal assistant and then I get a Tesla.
headgasket 6 hours ago 3 replies      
You are holding it wrong, don't drive it over large metal objects at high speed.

I love the boldness of the Tesla, I'm truly impressed by the PR skill of Mr Musk and his team. Let's hope they have enough data now to diagnose.

gandalfu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I ask the engineers here, how can the fires be prevented/mitigated?

- A different armor plate (titanium? kevlar?)- An automatic fire extinguishing system, perhaps piping grid inside the battery compartment that can feed a cooling agent to the damaged cell?

Is price the only constrain? Cost benefit?

ck2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty sure I'd be dead and my car destroyed if I hit something like that at highway speeds.
adestefan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
These are usually the stories where people point out the submarine term.
derleth 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much Tesla paid the author to write this.
robomartin 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Water? On an electrical fire? Caused by Lithium-based chemistry? Not smart?

Tesla's make up less than 0.008% of the US passenger car fleet. Perhaps emergency workers are simply not aware of how to properly deal with electric vehicle accidents? Formula 1 had to deal with this as KERS starter to be introduced. I would be nowhere near a 375 Volt DC battery pack playing with water.

Wikipedia Zero wikimediafoundation.org
277 points by _pius  2 days ago   81 comments top 16
itcmcgrath 2 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't looked at the details, but at initial glance - I love the direction.

While Wikipedia my not be the shining-light of data accuracy, it definitely fits the bill for achieving good: "Perfect is the enemy of good" [1]

I believe removing barriers to knowledge access for everyone is a step in the right direction. This tries to solve a single barrier. We still have a long way to go.

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

rsync 2 days ago 13 replies      
I want to love this idea. I want to love wikipedia.

But before I can do that, I need to be able to use wikipedia. And by use, I don't mean consume - I mean, be a full participant in a collective online encyclopedia.

This is currently not possible.

Rather than explain or give examples, let me challenge you to start any new article, or make any decent sized edit to any article, and let's assume for the discussion that your facts, grammar, form, and adherence to wikipedia style are perfect.

Come back and let us know how that goes.

tmcb 2 days ago 4 replies      
I can't help pondering about the implications this move could consequently bring to the perceptions of net neutrality.

Not that I see this project as something inherently bad, it is just the contrary, but it can give rise to some bad moral precedents.

smn 2 days ago 1 reply      
We built the SMS & USSD connectivity for last week's launch in Kenya with Airtel [1] using http://github.com/praekelt/vumi. Happy to answer any questions about this, USSD isn't used as much and as such largely unknown outside of the majority world.

[1]: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/10/25/wikimedia-foundatio...

TrainedMonkey 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is very important step. If this works, then we will have real data to argue about providing free basic internet connectivity (Enough for text for example) for entire world population.

This would allow for text only MOOC's accessible by everyone at the very least.

nakedrobot2 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is dangerous. The first reaction to such an endeavor is that it is GOOD. Not just good, but GOOD :-)

But also, this is almost the textbook definition of "the thin end of the wedge". I didn't really start thinking about this until I started reading the comments here on HN (awesome!)

So wikipedia should be free. What else should be free? Who should pay? Someone needs to pay. Who should? Let's start grouping content on one side or another.

This is a very, very bad idea.

The answer, of course, is that it should all be free. Internet access should be a basic human right. It should be, it will be, it is only a matter of time.

But until it is, an endeavor like this is subverting net neutrality, disguised as something good, and that is just a terrible idea.

0x0 2 days ago 2 replies      
So a bit like http://0.facebook.com then :)
jlgreco 2 days ago 1 reply      
> "Some partner billing systems restrict the possibility of zero-rating all Wikipedia languages"

What? Their billing systems can't handle a wildcard subdomain? Even so, it isn't exactly difficult to enumerate all of the wikipedias. There are less than 300 total, and only 121 with 1000+ articles.

nullc 2 days ago 0 replies      
So much for net neutrality. :(
srollyson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I remember hearing about the WikiReader [1] a few years back and thinking it would be great for this sort of use. It's basically a cheap handheld device with an LCD display and a local Wikipedia text-only cache that runs off of AAA batteries. Might be useful for delivering Wikipedia content to places where there's no cell phone infrastructure.

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

e12e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love this idea, but will it be plagued with problems stemming from the gratis-ness of the initiative? Building a wikipediafs that stores (optionally encrypted) binary data in uuencoded wikipedia articles?

Because read-only access won't be nearly as useful as allowing people to commit. I suppose setting a reasonable limit to uploads might help a lot (say 10mb a day -- that's a lot of text, after all).

stigi 2 days ago 0 replies      
rohit6223 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great initiative.. I am glad to India as blue in the map :)
cupcake-unicorn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't Amazon's Whispernet already do this?
emilymainzer 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is even better and i like the concept.
jmerton 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm spare you the details, but some pages have 'Page Meisters" that you must get by to add to the content.
Lifestyle programming successfulsoftware.net
271 points by FollowSteph3  3 days ago   51 comments top 13
yesimahuman 3 days ago 3 replies      
Strange that this dropped off the page so quickly, I think it's an interesting post.

I'd like to add that it's quite possible to have a high growth company that does not take on institutional investment. My company is neither a Lifestyle business (I also hate that term, I think it's an awesome thing) or a VC-backed startup, but we have lots of users and are making really nice revenue.

The costs have gone down so much, that I think the reason people still think fundraising is required is because they can't afford to live or hire in SF without it, and there is a lot of pressure by successful investors for young founders to make the "big" bets.

My goal is to have an id software, 37signals, MailChimp, Atlassian, GitHub, Campaign Monitor, etc. kind of company. Now those companies are/were fucking cool. Plus, they've actually stuck around for more than a few years!

dbecker 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those interested in this path, it's worth checking out Rob Walling's book "Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup."

I found this book especially insightful.

michaelochurch 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's utterly missing in the current environment is an avenue for the mid-risk/mid-growth businesses to get financing. Low-risk/low-growth companies can get bank loans, and high-risk companies have VC, but nothing's in the middle.

Something that reliably grows 25% per year isn't slow, ineffective, or useless. Most people would be thrilled to see 25% annual income growth (or even 10%). It is, after all, exponential growth. But that's a space that no one will finance. These companies are too risky for bank loans or personal funds (for most people) but VCs aren't interested in 20-40 percent per year. What I'd like to see out of the crowdfunding trend is a viable method of financing the mid-growth/mid-risk space.

This space is a natural fit for top programmers, most of whom succeed by continuously growing their capability (measured in value-add potential) by 20 to 40 percent per year-- not being goofy and trendy and hoping to be noticed by Sequoia or TechCrunch, which will probably never happen.

Here are some earlier thoughts I had on this issue: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/gervais-macle...

gdonelli 3 days ago 0 replies      
AMEN: A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do. Bob Dylan
Symbol 3 days ago 4 replies      
Are there places where "birds of a feather" congregate? Forums, lists, etc? I'm excited to tap the wisdom of others as I get my business off the ground.
disdev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice write up.

I wonder if this is something that's more common with certain life circumstances.

For example... I'm married and have 2 kids. I had a corporate job for the first 10 years of my marriage. I traveled a ton and completely missed out on their lives. When I changed jobs, it was a bit of a shock for all of us.

Now, we recognize that it's not what we want anymore. I work for a small software company that is ridiculously low-stress, but even now I wish I could spend more time with my family and be a little more free to take off and go camping with the kids if we felt like it.

pcunite 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, there are other people like me? I've been doing this for ten years full time. We should all get together or something. Maybe help each other out. I'll be making a move to a different type of programming or going back into the work force because my software is pirated so much these days.
CmonDev 3 days ago 2 replies      
"But really, how much money do you need? Is money going to make you happy? How many meals can you eat in a day? How many cars can you drive?"

House and decent education for kids is a major expense.

clauschr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Totally agree - it's a great lifestyle. +1: It works for me too - have been doing it for 7 years now.
exo_duz 3 days ago 0 replies      
So true. Reading posts like these makes me believe more and more what I decided to do by leaving a full time job and working for myself and what makes me happy the right decision.

I have only just started and am about to release my first startup so I'm not at that level yet. I'm hoping to get there someday though.

th3byrdm4n 3 days ago 0 replies      
Working from home my employer's work has been drying up and I've been bouncing between building my own software or getting a "real job"... Your article (and software) has inspired me to do my own thing.

At least until the next article convinces me to learn more under someone else's time ;)

kvinnako 3 days ago 2 replies      
I also like this idea but it just seems difficult to get the business started and making enough money to compensate yourself. Just to be sure, I don't mean working from home for elance comes under lifestyle business.
QuasiAlon 3 days ago 1 reply      
All the power to you brother.

Do you miss the human interaction one gets at the office?

The Surveillance State Puts U.S. Elections at Risk of Manipulation theatlantic.com
265 points by r0h1n  1 day ago   94 comments top 22
spoiledtechie 1 day ago 8 replies      
As much as you might think this is out there, I have a hunch, however stupid it might be that leaks about candidates could in fact come out this way.

it might not even be Obamas team leaking. Lets sat a partisan person who works for the NSA wants to destroy a candidate. They could in fact do all the research themselves rather than anyone even close to Obama.

I look at one direct example of Herman Cain. How did the press ever get ahold of the fact that he was paying women out? Literally, you could say the women spoke up, but with the NSA, you could say someone who works at the NSA leaked the information just because they didn't like Herman Cain to begin with.

Now that's scary. Someone's reputation could be destroyed just by a rogue NSA agent.

001sky 1 day ago 3 replies      
I worry more about people high up inside the national-security state using their insider knowledge to help take down a politician. Is part of the deference they enjoy due to politicians worrying about that too?

There is an argument[1] that this may have been what took out General Patreaus. It was no coincedence he was removed from the Army and put into the CIA post just prior to catching Bin Laden [2,3]. Patreus would have received all of the credit, not Obama. But we know that the prep work for Bin Laden involved building a replicate of the abbatobad compound in the US, etc. so was well underway under the leadership of Patreus, not Panetta. Obama was very wary of Patreus entereing the 2012 elections, and would have been a much more credible candidate than any republican. In the end, Patreus was of course done in by someone snooping through his gmail. Wether or not he was also the victim of a parallel construction, in how that came about, we'll never know.

[1] ie, Informal line of resoning or logic. In this case, circumstantial.

[2] edit: The move was orchestrated and announced earlier in the spring. viz: On April 28, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that he had nominated Petraeus to become the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[3] Bin Laden: Died May 2, 2011 (aged 54)Abbottabad, Pakistan 34109N 731433E

ojbyrne 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Did the Obama Administration ever spy on Mitt Romney during the recent presidential contest?"

It's interesting, in hindsight, that probably the seminal event in Mitt Romney's loss was via an unidentified person making an unapproved recording:


There was no real need for top down NSA surveillance here. All you needed was someone sympathetic to your cause ("an operative") who could infiltrate the oppositions meetings, with a cell phone.

Amadou 1 day ago 0 replies      
Julian Sanchez identified this precise problem back in 2008 (and I'm sure he wasn't the first either).

Sanchez cites examples of Truman using an FBI wiretap on a potential supreme court nominee and Johnson wiretapping Martin Luther King and indirectly wiretapping presidential candidate Richard Nixon (ironic given how crazy Nixon went with wiretapping once he got into office).


yummyfajitas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Incidentally, the prospect of government agencies messing with US elections has already happened. It was just the IRS, not the NSA.


So this isn't hypothetical.

MRSallee 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why is the author so sure this hasn't already happened? He gives the current (and past) administration a lot of benefit-of-the-doubt.

"To be clear, I don't think it's happened yet.""Obama was probably as surprised as we were.""But what about a future, less scrupulous president?"


ianstormtaylor 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is extremely scary, and it also seems like a better way of phrasing the argument for the general populace to realize what mass surveillance is capable of. I don't think most people would argue in favor of Watergate type spying, evidenced by how Nixon resigned shortly after it was revealed. Hopefully this kind of tack will be used more and more to get these stories to resonate with the average non-techie person and get them worked up enough to care.
ksherlock 1 day ago 0 replies      
Previous NSA whistle blower Russ Tice [1] has stated that the NSA targeted Barack Obama (in 2004), Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, David Petraeus, Colin Powell, and Supreme Court nominees.

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

ck2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Superpacs are far more dangerous.

Not just out of state but out of country sources can pour millions into any campaign, no matter how big or small, and there will be zero paper trail.

Yet no-one seems to care. It's mind-boggling.

pvnick 1 day ago 0 replies      
I liked the point about "Bizarro Edward Snowden" acting on conscience to spy on and take down nsa threats as a sort of lone gunman of information. Don't get me wrong, I'm one of those conspiracy theorists who believes there's a piece of bureaucracy somewhere that's a little more formal which serves that purpose, but the idea certainly makes the whole conspiracy a little more approachable.
codex 1 day ago 0 replies      
Abuse of state apparatus has been a risk throughout history. The Internet has now joined the informant, undercover agent, letter, telegram, phone, microphone and video camera as technologies of surveillance. The state has had these older options available for a long, long time and democracy has survived so far. In fact, technology allows us to implement safeguards which are more infallible than a mere human. A blacklist of current and candidate politicians, for example, would be easy to implement in software. However, the main defense against abuse has always been a system of checks and balances combined with the rule of law.
w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
These allegations are very dangerous: they undermine confidence in the democratic system. What will happen next? Will they start calling for violent revolution? We must stop these irresponsible journalists before it is too late.
walshemj 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is far more risk from local machines and blatant gerrymandering of districts and selective targeting of minorities to deny them the vote.
phryk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's fix this before it causes a scandal even bigger than Watergateor permits behavior more scandalous than Watergate that is never uncovered, rectified or punished.

What does he think he is, some sort of time-traveler?

w_t_payne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can insights gained from surveillance lead to increased effectiveness of lobbying activities due to better targeting of persuasion techniques?

I suspect that the preponderance of the evidence leans a rational decision maker towards an answer to that question with affirmative qualities.

joeshevland 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me its bloody frustrating to look at a problem, and see it wallow around in all its greedy and obese glory. Its really frustrating to think the mechanisms for changing the problem are co-opted. Makes you feel a bit impotent. This overreach, and the general military-industrial complex, to me, are sickening. I don't understand how it survives the light of day.
transfire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Puts them at risk? If you were really paying attention you would know they are already being manipulated.
frank_boyd 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Let's fix this before it causes a scandal even bigger than Watergateor permits behavior more scandalous than Watergate that is never uncovered, rectified or punished.

That's the thing. It can not be "fixed", it will not (although our representatives will offer all kinds of PR actions/"legislations" to try to calm us down and "accept it"). This kind of power is already strong enough to defend itself. Rather, it's going to become stronger (also because it is being attacked). It will take some sort of serious revolution for this sort of cancer to be undone. And for that to happen, we're going to have to feel some serious pain, first. That's our nature.

zarify 1 day ago 0 replies      
To be honest I don't know how much scarier this is than the current overt clout wielded by entities like the gun lobby.
Desposible 1 day ago 0 replies      
Monitoring sub-atomic particles for science, sure.
AsymetricCom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hahaha, that's a good one. Lets just upload our votes to the net. Then we can outsource our voting machines to Diebold and neglect any sort of actual engineering for hardware tamper resistance. At this point, I'm wondering who hasn't cheated voters yet.

What a fucking stupid article.

shitlord 1 day ago 4 replies      
The government probably watches over everyone in a position of power, regardless of their political opinions. It wants to make sure that the people in power aren't corrupt and aren't being manipulated. I'm pretty sure President Obama explicitly mentioned that in one of his statements.

I think this "theory" of election manipulation is tenuous at best. Pull off election manipulation would take a lot of balls, a lot of secrecy, and a lot of collaboration... three things an organization as diverse as the government does not have.

I'm not saying it's impossible to pull off, but the risk (potential political blowback) would certainly outweigh the reward.

Google Apps drop support for IE9 googlesystem.blogspot.com
244 points by ritchiea  3 days ago   179 comments top 26
davidjgraph 3 days ago 9 replies      
"The policy is not useful for Internet Explorer, which doesn't update automatically and has limited OS support."

First point is wrong, from IE 11 the default is automatic updates.

The second point is an unusual way to phrase it...

On the overall topic, I find this strange. Google Docs seems to make efforts to target Microsoft Office users by writing importers for what are very complex formats. It then pretty much cuts itself off from most medium and larger Microsoft based companies, very few of which, in my experience, are up to IE 10.

I wonder if this says something about them really targeting the small, but fastest growing companies and anything really big is nice, but not the priority.

DigitalSea 3 days ago 2 replies      
The only way the web can move forward is if we stop supporting archaic browsers that can't support half the features CSS3 and HTML5 have to offer. Google are the only company game enough to make such a move, they should be praised for this. They've consistently helped push the web forward, IE10 is exciting and a decent version of Internet Explorer, I can't wait until I can build for IE10+

Websockets, HTML5 File API, FileReader API, XMLHttpRequest 2, Web Workers, IndexedDB, requestAnimationFrame, JS Typed Arrays, PageVisibility and a whole list of other awesome things that IE10+ supports. I'm drooling thinking of all of these new API's I soon will be able to use in my web applications without needing shims.

freehunter 3 days ago 9 replies      
I wonder if Google will ever end up in legal trouble for such a policy. While I don't support the notion that any company or person should have to support any version of OS or browser, knowing the massive effect that Google has on the web market and the fact that they have their own browser, if there is any attempt to specifically lock out older competing browsers, the FTC or EU might have questions about that. If you're pushing to be number one in a massive market, you have to play by different rules (as Microsoft found out in the 90's).

Google hasn't been playing nice with Microsoft for a while (see how many Google apps are in the Windows Phone store, the issue where they locked out IE Mobile from viewing Google Maps, or how they treat Windows Phone trying to interface with YouTube). In a way it's nice to see Microsoft reaping what they've sown so long ago, but in another way it's incredibly frustrating from an end user perspective to be someone who likes Microsoft software (such as Windows Phone) and also enjoy using Google services like Maps and Youtube.

Google should be careful with how much they're pushing against Microsoft, especially with Microsoft's new market position versus Google. Microsoft is hardly the monopoly anymore.

zmmmmm 3 days ago 2 replies      
> We support the latest version of Google Chrome (which automatically updates whenever it detects that a new version of the browser is available) as well as the current and prior major release of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis

This policy seems kind of broken since browser versioning went crazy. There is no longer any particular link between a "major" version of a browser and the actual technical changes under the hood that came with it. Chrome has a new "major" version what, monthly? FireFox nearly the same? MS sat on IE6 for 5 years and then iterated nearly a major version every year since, but now seems to be correlating them to new (major or minor) versions of Windows. Tying a support policy to something that is so different between browsers, and mostly a marketing device, seems pretty weird to me.

csmuk 3 days ago 2 replies      
This really doesn't make sense apart from for the sake of pushing Chrome, which is using the same bait and switch tactics that Microsoft used in the late 90's and early 00's. Don't be evil eh?

If you look at the FULL chart they reference[1], there are considerably more IE8 users than any Apple device for example and there are more IE8 and IE9 users combined than IE10.

IE8 users are likely on Windows XP as that's the last supported browser version on that. Bye bye XP users unless you install Chrome.

IE9 users are likely on Windows Vista as that's the last supported browser version on that. Bye bye Vista users unless you install Chrome.

This appears to be Google just being a dick, seeing an opportunity and forcing Chrome on people.

To be honest, and I really hate saying this, Microsoft are the only damn company left that has a reasonable support lifecycle these days. Literally everyone else makes a whooshing sound.

[1] http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-monthly-201310... stats are all bullshit on this anyway TBH).

Footnote: I'm posting this from Firefox on OpenBSD before I get accused of being a shill...

acjohnson55 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google's not abandoning these people. Microsoft abandoned them long ago. When I hear from QA that something isn't working on IE8, it ruins my entire day. Even IE10 is dreadful to work with. Good riddance!
mratzloff 3 days ago 3 replies      
For some reason this article resists drawing the obvious conclusion, which is that this is just an effort to turn Google Docs users into Chrome users.
l0c0b0x 3 days ago 1 reply      
- First, Google extends support for Chrome on XP for a few more years- Second, Google ends support for IE8/9.

Sweet move Google/Chrome.

dshep 3 days ago 5 replies      
This is the most interesting part for me:

"Android has a much bigger fragmentation problem than Internet Explorer. Supporting only the latest 2 Android releases (4.3 and 4.4) would mean targeting less than 3% of the Android devices."

Must be accurate coming from Google.

Touche 3 days ago 1 reply      
I love this. Very reasonable position. The last 2 versions is very reasonable in my opinion. This is common on the mobile app side, developers only supporting the last couple of major OS versions.

And because this is Google they have the weight to make Microsoft think hard about their policies of abandoning their own customers.

hbharadwaj 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are reasons for MS not auto updating IE and leaving update settings to system admins. SAP in my company works only for IE9. One cannot simply drop whatever it is and start working on bug fixes for IE10/11, Firefox and Chrome, irrespective of whose fault it is. Google is being Google in this matter.
andyl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why the heck doesn't MS auto-update its browsers? Chrome and FF have been doing it for years.
com2kid 3 days ago 7 replies      
Because HP never upgraded my graphics card drivers on my laptop, I cannot upgrade past IE9 on my Windows 7 machine. (For whatever reason IE10 takes a dependency upon some point release of DirectX that requires driver revisions).

So, umm, gee thanks Google? Ugh.

laichzeit0 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who has psychological scars from having to create and maintain IE6 compatible webapps I can't help but have absolutely no sympathy for the web experience of any IE user.

Google could very well go "We don't support IE. If it happens to render or work at all on your browser, count yourself lucky." and I wouldn't care a damn.

c23gooey 3 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if Google are shooting themselves in the foot a little bit here. The corporate world doesnt move that fast, many companies still use IE7 for instance.

If corporate users cant use gmail etc its going to force them to things like hotmail which im sure will work fine in any version of IE7+

filipedeschamps 3 days ago 0 replies      
God bless Google for pushing the internet forward.
outside1234 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bet there were cheers in the Office 365 team when they heard this - that is an enterprise non-starter.
Aldo_MX 3 days ago 0 replies      
That was fast... but I'm really glad as a developer, the less old versions to support the better.
quaffapint 3 days ago 2 replies      
My mega-size company is still in the process of moving from XP to Windows 7. So, our 'new' browser is IE9.
JEVLON 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even though Chrome automatically updates on people's personal computers, bureaucracies like my university still use a version that is more than a year old (could be over 2 yrs). I hope Google finds a way to force such luddite organisations to update regularly.
GnarfGnarf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Kaspersky AV flags the link as "phishing URL".
beauzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
This could actually lead to more Windows 8/8.1 and PC sales. Don't underestimate the stupidity of the public.
zobzu 2 days ago 0 replies      
that stats counter graph looks pretty flawed
xacaxulu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Forced extinction of a horrible browser. Sounds alright to me.
so898 3 days ago 1 reply      
So next time Google will drop Windows or Mac OSX to introduce their brand new OS system? I hope it will not be the Chrome OS or Android.
ffrryuu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good news for everyone.
Why I won't get a Google+ Custom URL vrypan.net
239 points by vrypan  1 day ago   159 comments top 60
davidjgraph 1 day ago 6 replies      
Here's how it works. The techies create something. The legals come along and say, OK, to release that in the wild it needs some T&Cs that cover our arses for everything and then some, because people keep sueing us.

In practice, would Google ever dare invoke this on a large scale? No, you know that. Yes, there should be some transparent process that is undertaken if yours were revoked, but Google only like stuff that scales, manual processes like that don't.

And really, if the ability to revoke your URL at any time wasn't in the T&Cs, do you really think it would make any difference to the revoke rate?

Sure, nobody in their right mind would depend on such a URL sticking around, but this post isn't "Why I won't get a Google+ Custom URL", it's "Why I won't use a Google+ Custom URL as the primary mechanism to link to myself online". I don't see much argument against just claiming one, if you're already a g+ user.

Ensorceled 1 day ago 4 replies      
Why I won't get a Custom URL:

> Many people have the same name. Add a few extra letters or numbers to this URL to get one that is unique for you.

Why would I want yet another "MyName<randomcrap>" identifier? How does that help friends and family remember or identify me? What purpose does it serve?

I'm yet another person with a nickname that identifies me all over and has for years, I too own the domain. But Google+ keeps insisting I have my "real name" ... except it's not my real name because I have to add random crap to be unique.

I have no idea why they cling to this.

kibwen 1 day ago 3 replies      
I noticed the same clause in the TOS last week and was taken aback. Ideally I'd love to be able to distribute my Google+ URL with the same confidence as I distribute my email address: namely, if you send a message to this address, you can guarantee that I'm the one who receives it. The fear here is that, should Google start charging for this "service" in the future, and should I decline to play along, someone else could squat on my former URL and intercept any traffic intended for my page. Please, Google, for my own peace of mind, either make this a paid service up-front, or pledge that a given URL will always alias to the same individual.

(Though perhaps the email analogy is a bad one, since IIRC both Yahoo and MSN periodically release long-dormant addresses back into the eligible pool. Though still unsettling, it's a more reasonable approach than "we may force you to start paying us an unknown amount at some unknown future date".)

Ultimately, I was about to go through with it anyway until I realized that doing so would require me to register a phone number with my Google account, which I have so far avoided. That requirement was the final straw.

chestnut-tree 1 day ago 4 replies      
How did Google not realise when they launched Google+ that URLs that end in ridiculously long strings of numbers (107350252619396782277) was a poor idea? Now it feels like they're adding a sticking plaster to fix their initial design decision.

Google+ on the whole seems quite poorly designed from a UX perspective. Most people seem to use Google+ like a blog, but the two column card layout on the desktop (three columns on some Google+ sites) makes it impossible to read posts in chronological order. This is so blazingly obvious, one can only wonder why Google went ahead with this pattern. If the site is optimised for mobile (which seems to be the case), why do they push the same design to desktop?

The way comments open up in a small scrollable panel also makes for a pretty miserable experience on the desktop. As does clicking a tag and having to explore everying from within the constricted space of a card (again why do they push this pattern to desktop users if it's intended for mobile users?)

Can you actually add titles for Google+ posts? It doesn't seem so. This means you redundantly repeat the name of the blog author as the title of every single card/post.

And what's with the bizarre gigantic image at the top of the page that only reveals itself when you scroll to the top? Was this meant to be a delightful surprise feature? It just feels odd.

Finally, there is a button on the left-hand side of the page in the header. It looks like a button, it's shaped like a button. But when you move your mouse pointer over the button, a menu appears automatically (on rollover). If it's meant to be a rollover drop-down menu, then don't make it look like a clickable button. As always with Google and their UX, it's one step forward, two steps back (IMO).

saurik 1 day ago 0 replies      
They authorized "JayFreemansaurik" and "JaysaurikFreeman" (both of which are highly confusing to even parse) for me, and the form won't even let me try to request "saurik" so I also gave up and am just a number.

FWIW, I was totally OK in a world without usernames. The problem with usernames is that people figure out how to take them from you, and they get burned forever. What happens when we all die? I respected the numbers.

When they added the username mechanism that seemed to be selling out on that wonderful principal. The result also is clearly suboptimal: cocacola has a username, but pepsi is just a number (as their trademark is too short).

edent 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also worth noting is that you cannot change the url once assigned. So, better hope you don't get married - or that a serial killer has the same name as you. http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2013/10/googles-broken-name-policy-a...
cloudwalking 1 day ago 2 replies      
Honest question: are these terms of service significantly different than other services? Do Twitter / Github / etc have similar terms?
devindotcom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I almost claimed a custom URL yesterday when I was writing up the YouTube comment change and in the process updating my G+ profile. They wanted my number to claim it, which I believe they already have for 2-factor on Gmail. In the end the whole process with YouTube was so galling that I just deleted my whole account. As OP notes, it's not like Google+ was the first place people would look for me, and it's not a useful resource for me, so why have it at all?
declan 1 day ago 0 replies      
<vrypan> is upset that Google+'s TOU for custom URLs gives the company too much unfettered discretion.

In reality, Google+'s overall TOU for the service also gives the company plenty of discretion. As do similar ones from Twitter and Facebook. (Gasp! Bulk-delete your accounts now!) The overall Google+ TOU says, for instance, "Google reserves the right to restrict the content on your Google+ Page at its discretion."

Facebook says you can't create "more than one personal account" or provide any "false personal information," which probably half of the folks on HN have done at some time or another. Facebook can "remove any content or information you post on Facebook" if, in its own discretion, the company feels like it violates the TOU.

Twitter's TOU says it can "create limits on use and storage at our sole discretion at any time without prior notice to you." The company can delete tweets "at our sole discretion." And so on.

In reality, as <davidjgraph> says, Google (and Facebook and Twitter) would not invoke this on a large scale. There would be a reputational impact. The language does come from the lawyers, but largely because of the plaintiff's bar, not because SV GCs enjoy adding this language to TOUs.

tl;dr: If you're going to assume the worst from every company, you might as well never create any account or log in anywhere.

josteink 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have a name which is 100% unique in the world. There are no other people with my combination of first name and last name. Not in my country. Not on the planet. None. Not making this up. It's a unique one. Certifiably.

And Google has the balls to ask me to create a Google+ URL with lots of numbers and gibberish added? What? They can just seriously fuck off.

macspoofing 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is this really any different then the T&C that governs your cryptic https://plus.google.com/107350252619396782277/ url?

Whatever the current T&Cs says, google can certainly reclaim or start charging for your current plus url, and heck even your google account. Google can do whatever the heck they want, and you really have no recourse.

louthy 1 day ago 1 reply      
The reason I won't get a custom URL is because after getting the "Click here to get your custom URL" email, I was informed I had to give them my mobile number before this process was achievable.

It seems Google is on an absolute mission to get my mobile number, they've been relentlessly hinting that it's essential that I give it to them for what feels like forever.

No Google, you cannot have it. Please, stop asking.

usaphp 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the author is making it a bigger deal than it really is, nothing stops google from bringing down the google plus or any other service he might be using(just like google reader or wave) so according to his logic (printed on business card etc...) you can't even have a long unfriendly URL because google can shut down google plus any day they want to or just start charging people.
brm 1 day ago 0 replies      
When you read this, think about how many words an otherwise smart man wrote about something that's completely inconsequential. Down-vote me all you want but please consider how you're spending your brain power.
suryamp 1 day ago 4 replies      
Alright you guys, I'm gonna blow your minds.

Try this kind of link: profiles.google.com/[YOUR USER NAME HERE]

For example, vrypan's custom link would be: http://profiles.google.com/vrypan

pearjuice 1 day ago 0 replies      
PROTIP: Just redirect vrypan.com/plus to your G+ page.

Bonus: Use vrypan.com/+

uladzislau 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why the phone verification is required to claim a custom URL? Custom URL is a poor incentive to provide Google your phone number.
ensmotko 1 day ago 2 replies      
My custom Google+ URL is http://google.com/+AnePear even though typing letters with diacritics is nearly impossible on 99% of the keyboards out there. I should have kept the random numbers...
vonskippy 1 day ago 0 replies      
His reasoning can be applied to all free social media, which is a valid reason, and why smart people should avoid the step back in time to a central AOL-esque media hub. He has his own domain, what more does he need? Why feed the social media black hole (all things enter - nothing escapes)?
ivanbrussik 23 hours ago 2 replies      
facebook - choose whatever username you want

HN - choose whatever username you want

twitter - choose whatever username you want

reddit - choose whatever username you want

tumblr - choose whatever username you want

Google+ - we choose it for you, you can't change it, we might charge you for it, and we might also take it away at some point

also - why does G+ need to insert the /u/0 after the domain name? twitter, facebook and the rest you can simply type domain.com/username but G+ just needs to make it so much less user friendly.

archagon 1 day ago 1 reply      
At this point, I'm not even sure how my identity is split up on Google's servers between my original Google account, my Google Plus account, and my legacy YouTube account. Sometimes I feel like I'm logged into three different things at once. And now I can't even use my original username as my Google Plus URL? Does that mean that my legacy YouTube account is no longer active? Or has it been merged with my Google Plus profile without my consent, despite consistently clicking on "no thanks" every time the window popped up?

This sort of quagmire causes me to unconsciously stop using the services causing it. Already, I've found myself much less interested in liking and favoriting YouTube videos.

slowdown 1 day ago 0 replies      
One more important thing about these custom URLs:

1) Your Google+ profile is publicly indexable by searh engines.

2) Having a custom URL means anyone searching for your name on Google is going to find out your Google+ profile easily. Basically, your identity is now even more easier to discover. (When contrasted to the ordinary Google+ URL of random numbers)

3) If you are using the same profile picture on Google+ as your Facebook, people can track your Facebook profile, too. This is bad if you have a fairly active social life, but wanting a bit of a privacy.

gesman 1 day ago 2 replies      
For this exact reason I registered my own 1-letter URL shortener domain and use it to create my own custom redirects whenever I want without submitting to someone's BS TOS.

It's better to promote your own brand than someone else's.

Send me email at: g@c.gg :)

ye 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why they call it "custom". More like "assigned".
atmosx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't ALL free services have he same sort of clause?

I'm missing what's new compared to using... put here any the non-paid service online?


Here are Gmail Terms of Service[1]:---Modifying and Terminating our Services

We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features, and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether.---

What happens if they suddenly suspend their service? NOTHING! :-) we all hope and have many reasons to believe that they wont do that, anytime soon.

[1]: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/update/

a3_nm 21 hours ago 0 replies      
At least the TOS are honest and transparent. Even if Google did not warn specifically that they can kick people out or start asking for money, they would of course be free to do so. So, is it worse if Google reminds you that you have no guarantees whatsoever? ...
kolev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google's decision is stupid: they make one person happy and a gazillion others with the same name - pissed off. I'm not sure if any business wants to be in this position. I'm boycotting it as I have the proper username with Twitte, Facebook, LinkedIn - you name it. Why would I want to be something that doesn't represent me on Google+? Sorry, but we have choices and only a small portion of my friends use Google+ anyway. Poor choice, Google - if you started in the beginning, it would have been a good choice, but it's a bit too late for such nonsense. I still have not been offered a vanity name anyway and a bunch of people with a couple of friends were. You either do at for all at once or you don't at all. People take it as fair if somebody was first to register it. People think it's unfair when Google decides.
mxuribe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I firmly believe that using uncontrolled urls - such as facebook, g+, etc. - on business cards, print material, or even as your established "online home" is unwise. I think its better to maintain/publish urls originating from a domain name that YOU control...And then create links (with underlying associated metadata "rel=me" style links) or setup redirects...Such as: YourDomain.com/gplus or YourDomain.com/linkedin...etc...

This leaves YOU in control. Can be done on the really cheap. And if google, fbook, linkedin, or any of these services changes things around such as urls, or UI, or ToC, or anything YOU don't agree with, then you kill the redirection/links. Quick, easy and from one central point.

Granted their sites will have a little more SEO juice up front...And, maybe I'm being idealistic, but eventually all search engines will begin to see that YOUR domain is the authoritative point on the web for YOU...and that the start point is YOUR domain not the myriad of social networks.

espadrine 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember having been similarly surprised by the TOS.

However, the only annoyance and consequence of it, to me, is that I cannot share the link anymore than I used to. So I switched, and I'll switch back if they ask me to pay.

I am much more worried about them discontinuing Gmail. Since Reader, I have no idea what they are ready to kill.

reidrac 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is weird. I could suggest a custom URL typing it myself. The form said that it would be reviewed but it got approved straight away.

May be is because I just used Google's suggestion but removing the accent in my surname (I don't like them in an URL, and besides is the same thing I use in LinkedIn).

That was 9 days ago.

shurcooL 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried to get a Google+ custom URL and couldn't. They require a phone number to send you a confirmation SMS. I no longer have this protocol (due to an abundance of more technically advanced, and free to use alternatives).
wnevets 1 day ago 0 replies      
Doesnt twitter and facebook have the same type of ToS?
pkrumins 21 hours ago 1 reply      
You all already have a nice looking google+ url, you just don't know about it. It's:

For example, my email is peteris.krumins@gmail.com, and my google+ url is:


echeese 1 day ago 1 reply      
What I did before I got mine, was redirected mydomain.com/+ to my Google+ profile, it's shorter, and more importantly, I control it.
leepowers 1 day ago 0 replies      
> A URL is an identifier. I'll use it to identify myself on this service. I'll link to it from my website. I may print it on a business card. Like Google said in their email, I'll use it to "point folks to my profile". But they can take it away for any reason or decide to charge me a (yet unknown) amount of money in the future? No way. I'll stay with my current, unfriendly one, https://plus.google.com/107350252619396782277/

Uh, what makes you think that Google doesn't have the right to take away the numeric URL or charge money for the numeric URL? (Or simply change the URL structure/scheme for Google+ at any point in the future.) Whether you use a numeric URL or personalized URL is irrelevant: Any service/server you don't control can change at any time for any reason. You should always direct people to a domain you own and control, even if all that domain does is auto-redirect to your current Google/Facebook/Github/whatever profile.

goldenkey 17 hours ago 0 replies      
An example of such shenanigans is WeWorkRemotely.com. It was posted to HN recently, and was totally free. Less than a week later and they want $200 for a listing. Egregious behavior, especially for something put on by 37 signals.
anoncow 1 day ago 0 replies      
While choosing a unique url you also give Google the right to (almost) publicly list your mobile number (Helping a user find you if they know your number). I can see websites, which store all possible number combinations to drive page views, trying to get username, email and other details from this Google feature. Soon everyone who gives Google their mobile number will have their name, G+ profile and possibly email id made public.
lyricalpolymath 19 hours ago 0 replies      
We hacked this nonsense by creating a simple redirect on our website: http://eyevel.com/G+ ;)You can too! It's a simple htaccess line or a router on your app

put this into the .htaccess of your host and change where appropriate(yourdomain, extension and G+ long userID)

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourDomain\.com$ [OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.yourDomain\.com$

RewriteRule ^B\@G\+$ "https\:\/\/plus\.google\.com\/103815970554408703928\/posts" [R=301,L]

iamleppert 1 day ago 0 replies      
In other news, Google can do whatever they want with URLs they own & control. To think that your long number URL is any less safe is equally as amusing as thinking just because they give you a vanity URL, it's yours forever.

Google will do what they like with any Google-owned property.

lemcoe9 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I will soon make a post: "Why I don't care that you won't change your Google+ Custom URL."
sarreph 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, there is likely [please correct me if I'm wrong] a similarly-worded array of clauses in the contracts for many of their other services (or even g+ itself), that if taken seriously (i.e. not in a legalese manner), would likely cause a similar level of unjust alarm.
ultimatedelman 1 day ago 0 replies      
i thought this article was going to be about how the "verify your phone number" system doesn't actually send you a text message to verify your phone, thus making it impossible to actually claim said custom URL....
kuahyeow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Got the +Custom Url in the end, despite the unchangeability. Does this matter much, if one has their own domain name, anyway ? Btw, the long form url still works
Guillaumeish 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about a workaround?

I'm /guillaumeish pretty much everywhere, and using my "real name" it's against my religion. I can't do it.

I got no time to test it atm (and I don't remember the G+ policies on name changes) but couldn't you just change your name to "Vry Pan", refresh and claim the VryPan handle... than change your name back to whatever it was before? They have a time restriction like facebook?

cuillevel3 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The argument makes no sense. URLs are not meant to point to the same resource forever. They are not 'permanent'.

And Google won't just start billing his credit card without consent...

ez77 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know if Google plans to allow claiming a deleted account... ever? I'm hoping that since I was granted +MyName in G+ I will be allowed to recover (long story) MyName@gmail.com... (It was MyName@googlemail.com and I wasn't happy... and let it expire...
carrot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, I didn't know that. I got the same e-mail and went all the way through with this exact same processor for one of my "pages". When I think about it, I don't really care as much about that G+ page as the other related social networking profiles, but this would still affect me if it were enforced at some point in the future. Well, I made the change, unlike you. Score one for actually reading the TOS.
math0ne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the exact same things apply to the current unfriendly url you are using now.
privasectech 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote about this over a week ago, also they demand your cell phone number and apparently don't allow you to change it.


torbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
There like domain names. No surprised at all. I'm surprised twitter hasn't charged yet.
joeblau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got mine! The only place that I didn't get my name exactly the way I want it is on Twitter.
GalacticDomin8r 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why I won't read articles that begin with "Why I"
sblawrie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Panayotis, you spelled the word "intellectual" wrong on your homepage.
INIT_6 1 day ago 1 reply      
Gplus.<mydomain>.com I fixed this problem a while ago.
amakaruk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is based on inductive reasoning:

This process is heading toward a time when your online identity corresponds directly to your personal ID. This will create a debate between at least two sides:

1. Privacy rights activists will argue that tech companies are complicit with the NSA and that we should fear totalitarianism and a police state's repression.

2. Others will argue that this verisimilitude between the online self and the material self provides for security and convenience.

On the one hand you have those that value freedom and on the other hand you have those that value convenience.

gcb1 22 hours ago 0 replies      
im pretty sure those 3 points are true of any service, anywhere.
benmarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait, you read the T&C's?
ywyrd 1 day ago 0 replies      
That's why I never agree to anyone's terms and conditions online.
yuletide666 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait, people still use Google+?
keeblus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tl;dr I like to whine.
Mythbusting India's Mars Mission marsdaily.com
225 points by denzil_correa  2 days ago   145 comments top 25
jlgreco 2 days ago 10 replies      
One thing that space exploration detractors seem to have a difficult thing comprehending is exactly what happens to money spent on a space program. Seemingly, they are under the delusion that all that money gets stuffed into a rocket and blasted into space, never to be seen again.

Of course the material cost of the rocket stages and probes/satellites is quite small, the vast majority of money spent on space exploration is spent on earth. Paying earth engineers earth dollars that they will in turn spend on earth. That 25 Billion USD Apollo program? That money didn't get sent to the Moon, damn near all of that money was spent in America.

Hell, think of it this way: India needs satellites, so they can either dump money into another country that will build and launch those satellites for India, or they can dump that money back into India and develop those capabilities themselves. How could you possibly fault India for keeping their space money domestic?

thex86 2 days ago 4 replies      
Someone commented on Reddit that space programs bring us (the human race) closer. The reaction I am seeing in the international press to India's mars mission is quite the opposite - instead of praising India or just reporting the news, all I see is "BUT THEY ARE SO POOR!" and skepticism. I don't want to say this, but I felt journalists were being almost "jealous" that India achieved this.
narrator 2 days ago 6 replies      
As long as we're talking money and priorities: The budget for the film Gravity was $100 million dollars. Sending this Indian probe to Mars cost $69 million dollars.
justanother 2 days ago 0 replies      
One caravel and four carracks, carrying 270 men? A westward route to Asia? Senhor Magellan, why should we waste the Crown's treasury, when so many suffer?
jccooper 2 days ago 1 reply      
If anyone is interested in the off-hand claim made in the article about ISRO being one of the few organizations to return a satellite to Earth:


SRE-1 was launched and landed in Jan 2007. It was a small sat with aeroshell and parachute for reentry, with water splashdown.

Reentry has been done by: NASA, ESA, Russia, India, China, Japan, and SpaceX. Reentry is mostly for manned spaceflight, which was the driver behind the SRE mission. ISRO has ambitions in this direction, though the manned program seems to be on the back burner now.

(There are other uses for re-entry: planetary exploration and sample return, mostly. But getting to other planets or getting samples from somewhere interesting tends to be pretty hard. Older spy sats used to re-enter their data payloads, but that's not needed anymore.)

misnome 2 days ago 1 reply      
Clearly the money could be better spent working out new ways to kill people remotely from an armchair on the other side of the planet.

I'm sure once they have eliminated all poverty in their country, like the US, and then worked out the whole remote killing thing, they can continue on trying to do "Science" and "Advancing the state of human knowledge".

velodrome 2 days ago 0 replies      
Space exploration is in the interest of mankind. The more people who know the subject the better. Setting up shop on the moon and other planets gives humans (and other Earthly organisms) redundancy from an ELE (Extinction Level Event).
yalogin 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculous. I saw hundreds of comments denouncing all the negative things about India's space program but have yet to see one actual negative comment about the program. Every one seems to be praising it and then there are these articles and comments (even on HN) some how defending the space program and their mars probe launch. Too much karma whoring going on.
hetman 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's ironic seeing so much criticism from citizens of countries such as the USA which hasn't exactly solved its own poverty issues from the perspective of plenty of other countries. So where do you draw that arbitrary line?

Also, it seems incredibly short sighted not to see how development of a sophisticated space programme won't benefit the people of a nation (certainly if the engineers and policy makers were prescient they could just invest their time building only the space devices that would directly benefit their people but the real world of engineering is too complex for things to work that way).

It's fortunate HN is full of people that mostly see the benefits, but it's clear a lot of people elsewhere aren't that thrilled. I for one am glad India made this step. If a bunch of people are going to demonstrate what can only be described as overt jealousy, maybe it will spurn their own nations into greater efforts in the space arena.

hawkharris 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an American, I greatly admire India's achievements in science and engineering as well as the public education system that powers them.

I hope that the United States will learn from and one day catch up to India in terms of higher education.

tod222 2 days ago 0 replies      
For example, I was a little surprised when I was talking to a friend who was going to go on the radio. He does work on cosmology and astronomy, and he wondered how he would explain what the applications of his work were. "Well," I said, "there aren't any." He said, "Yes, but then we won't get support for more research of this kind." I think that's kind of dishonest. If you're representing yourself as a scientist, then you should explain to the layman what you're doingand if they don't support you under those circumstances, then that's their decision.

-Richard Feynman, Cargo Cult Science


speeder 2 days ago 0 replies      
This remembers me of the sad incident of Brazillian Sattelite Launcher explosion (that killed 21 engineers and flattened the launch pad)

Lots of people around the world (including inside brazil) went: "Oh, brazil cannot do that stuff anyway, also why it is expending money in that shit instead of building x, or y"

It made me very sad, for example I bet most of these people don't know Brazil relies heavily on sattelites to control forest fires, find illegal logging, mining and farming, find uncontacted native americans that need protection, and so on...

In a country that is just huge, specially in relation to government resources and population, it is essential to use cheap tools to manage it, and sattelites are quite cheap in that regard (or people really think it is cheaper to fly up and down every square inch of forest with helicopters?)

kamaal 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how authentic this is. But I saw this on Quora and it explains well how money spent of Space programs helps mankind.


Read the first comment. I can't post the whole thing as HN has a limit on the comment length.

shenoybr 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my view, this money is well spent. It auguments and helps space research and exploration and puts India - a developing country - out there with the developed nations to boast of a successful space program. Skeptics will never die. Money can always be spent on something else. But for India, as a country, demonstrates that the country has a lot of potential and that it has smart people to pull the job off.
rikacomet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Indeed a good article. Right on the spot on mostly all things.

Just to add, that investment in Space ventures is not profitable today, and hardly few people see it as a race at the moment, but if you look at what Deep Space Industries is doing in the US, you can say that this is a race itself. Which will turn highly profitable, when you can harvest resources in the future from places beyond our earth.

Additionally, Scientific discovery is not your "buy in the store" thing, that one nation can just expect technologies to pop out of thin air, if they pay the price. Its a hit and miss, since ages. During renaissance, multiple scientist lost their whole empires of wealth, for what appeared to be only small advances back then. It took 1000 failures, and cost of those failures in time and money to build a bulb. And look today. Where we are.

Well its a good thing that these critics are powerless to stop science, else India would have been still living on the preached ideals of these critics like " food to mouth" ideology.

EXAMPLE: Imagine you have certain amount of money, and you have two choices: Buy Seeds or Buy food. Yes if you are about to die, you wouldn't even wait to have this question, but, otherwise when you are just hungry constantly, you would invest your money partly in seeds as well that is, if you are aware, that constructive measures like growing crop has its risks, takes time, and has no immediate return. So, if you can just hold on until the harvest even on a shoe string budget, like ISRO has over here, the seed that grew into the grain will surely fill you beyond your current means!

May I even need to requote this? This is the best to describe space exploration to, such critics.

"One small step for man, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND"

avisk 2 days ago 0 replies      
More than the economic and scientific returns, the inspiration provided by these missions to millions of young children to pursue science and the interest it generates is priceless.
nutanc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, India does not have Hollywood to glamorize the space program. Well, it does have Bollywood, but they have other things to show :-)

Just a sample for reference which was told somewhere else, the budget for the movie Gravity was more than the budget for the Mars mission by my country.

A very good critique and explanation of why we need this mission is presented here,http://balajiviswanathan.quora.com/Indian-Space-Mission-Pove...

linux_devil 2 days ago 0 replies      
India as a nation is not poor , its the political class and public administration which is involved in corruption is poor. Here is the list of scams : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scandals_in_India . Coal scam is over $25 billion , CWG scam is worth $29 billion.

Now I wonder if international media would have criticized such administration and if this amount of money which is equivalent to GDP of few nations would have been used to eradicate poverty.

>"India's Mars program promises to return useful engineering and scientific data for a price that puts other space agencies to shame!" Even after so many scams and corruptions around , Indian scientists are able to launch this mission at such a low cost, it's really appreciable.

hrjet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Consider another perspective. When a new land is made habitable, how do you allocate it? If Mars or Antartica were to become habitable tomorrow, which parties would be able to purchase how much land and from whom?

I think early explorers will have a stake in it, unless it comes down to a show of power, or something unlikely such as equal distribution of the new land to all citizens of all countries.

djsampath 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is more of an opinion piece. Not a lot of facts but I have to admit that I found myself agreeing with the author more than once.


xerophtye 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't get it. A country that spends millions (if not billions) of dollars on Cricket and Movies every year, is being criticized for spending on space exploration with "there's so much poverty there! Build schools!". Where are these critics during the Indian Premier League?
bcRIPster 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh this argument in here is ridiculous. Sure the U.S. space program was expensive but the amount of bi-products of that program has far since justified the cost.


user901 2 days ago 0 replies      
An alternate critical view of the Mars Mission. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/why-mars-/1190937/0

It does not talk about where else the money could have been spent, but what other types of missions ISRO should focus on.

arunc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mission to Mars at $72M or just about 12/KM which is cheaper then my commute at 14.25/KM
InclinedPlane 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's difficult to do better than xkcd in bursting these sorts of arguments so succinctly: http://xkcd.com/1232/

The fact is that the tradeoffs between important endeavors (like feeding the hungry and exploring the universe) are not as simple as people make out. To a certain extent there is a justification to do "useless" things even at the cost of "critical necessities". Should people stop pursuing art, music, philosophy, etc. in times of crisis? Certainly there are extremely hard times when you absolutely can't afford to do anything but concentrate on survival, but such times are rare. The world is never going to be perfect, but we can't let that stop us from making the world better, in every way. By pursuing science and art, and so on.

Moreover, by investing in R&D and by advancing technology we frequently gain more than we spend. Consider, for example, the invention of the automobile. Originally a toy for the rich, today they help vastly increase the yield and efficiency of crops, and help to feed the poor.

Imagine where we'd be if in the year 1200 the entire world had decided that it could not in good conscience pursue advancements in science or the arts until everyone in the world was no longer in danger of going hungry. We would still be in the middle ages, and there would be very much fewer people who were well fed.

In the specific case of India, their investment in spaceflight technology is likely to bring them returns far in excess of the cost of this mission. Both in improvements to their industrial/technological base as well as in bringing new business for their growing aerospace industry.

Google's Shell Style Guide googlecode.com
218 points by shawndumas  3 days ago   184 comments top 19
zobzu 2 days ago 13 replies      
"Indent 2 spaces. No tabs."Well fuck it.

Thats the only coding style that remotely makes sense to me:https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/CodingStyle

While I'm at it, half the justifications Google gives for the shell guide are inaccurate. Looks like a "overall people are used to this style so we're using it and we'll try to justify it without knowing why"

This is a much better guide:


Example: Gentoo's [[ ]] explanation actually makes sense.

js2 2 days ago 2 replies      
Re: long pipelines, the guide suggests:

  # Long commands  command1 \    | command2 \    | command3 \    | command4
However, by ending each line with the pipe the continuation is implicit and the backslashes may be omitted:

  # Long commands  command1 |    command2 |    command3 |    command4

bcoates 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised there isn't more commentary on when and how to use external but standard or common commands like grep, sed, awk, perl, join, find, tar, parallel, etc.

It's one thing to use bash consistently everywhere but as a heavy multi-machine shell user I've been bitten by incompatible or missing external utilities more often than I care to admit. You might be surprised how many systems aren't using the GNU utilities, have them running in a weird mode or are using ancient versions of them.

Maybe Google is religious about keeping all their environments identical?

rurounijones 2 days ago 2 replies      
"It should be possible for someone else to learn how to use your program or to use a function in your library by reading the comments (and self-help, if provided) without reading the code."

I know a few "Use the source, Luke" people who will rage at that.

MichaelMoser123 2 days ago 2 replies      
I almost always use set -e with my bash scripts;this way you will always notice if an invoked command failed or not; your script will not report that everything is OK if part of the process actually failed.


Also: set -x is the best debugger in the world; really.

emmelaich 2 days ago 0 replies      
The most important point:

    Shell should only be used for small    utilities or simple wrapper scripts

eriksank 2 days ago 2 replies      
These rules look like they came from the low-intelligence paper belt. We do not write rules like that. They must simply be part of the tool. Otherwise, they do not count. What they now did, was to create an opportunity for someone who knows that he is incompetent, to invent a new job for himself, that is, "checking up" with his more competent colleagues, who contrary to him are productive in writing code, on this style guide. Rule number one: Anybody who wants to "enforce" this kind of rules must demonstrate that he is capable of writing a parser that can apply them. It is simply bad practice to create that kind of opportunities. It is bad practice to create that kind of jobs. Therefore, this kind of documents must be rejected.
pirateking 2 days ago 0 replies      
Style guides are the worst to me. Taking some of the small joys left in programming away, while making you feel like a cog at the same time. Especially since many are outdated or just plain wrong, and very difficult to change once established.

Tools that take the AST and output standardized code for peer review and documentation sounds a little better. It would not deal well with the only human problem really worth having a style guide for - naming things. But at least humans aren't forced to jump through hoops. And the naming thing possibly can be settled with an interface that asks something like - "what do you want everyone to call the 'BitWarper' symbol?", for all named symbols.

But well written software is no place to express individuality - we just want it to work and not make our eyes bleed when we have to fix it! Even better then, just have machines generate and test all the code based on systems of higher order rules and style guides in situations where factory manufactured code is necessary. The outputs should be reasonable if the requirements are well specified (NASA style). Humans can come in after and do the real fun work in optimizing and finding clever hacks (if environment is not mission critical and such liberty can be safely taken).

Having humans program character by character, with their bare hands, while also suppressing creativity, is unnecessary in this Post-Industrial Age.

AYBABTME 2 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for `go fmt`.
dredmorbius 2 days ago 3 replies      
Some things I don't particularly care for (2 space indent? SRSLY?!!), but it warms the cockles of my heart to see an 80 character line limit.

Yes, it matters.

frozenport 2 days ago 6 replies      
Whats wrong with tabs?
txutxu 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen many scripts wrapping steps inside a main() function and calling it just after declaration.

If the justification is to localize variables which should be global, and still will look like "global" to the rest of the program, it's ok.

But this is mainly used without sense, by personal tastes, and usually only makes sense to the author and does not have any real benefice.

I prefer the concept "consistency is to not read unuseful steps", instead of "add unuseful steps for consistency". That's how I think when I read code.

rat87 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately firefox 24(on windows) has problems with rendering the style of the xsl stylesheet and gives crap putput(Basically the full text content with no line breaks). It seems to work on firefox 21/linux though. Also ie8/windows and chrome 30/windows chromium 25/linux work.
rainhacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Under the section 'When to use Shell', why does the style guide say 'If performance matters, use something other than shell' ?I was under impression that since shell script is low level it should have superior performance.
txutxu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Other one from the summaries:

I don't see how

    $((${X} + ${Y}))
... is more recommendable than ...

     $(( X + Y ))
for example.

But well, guide styles are a good thing, and this one can help to many people "not used" to deal with shell scripts to follow some basics.

Edit: and help to people used to it, on working in a team.

jebblue 2 days ago 0 replies      
i'm going to have to bookmark this site, I'm no Bash expert but with some Bash and Java and a bit of Python here and there, sometimes I feel like I could save the world.
andrewkreid 2 days ago 2 replies      
>> ...One example of this is Solaris SVR4 packages...

I wonder what Google are using Solaris for, and if it's just legacy stuff.

hacker789 2 days ago 6 replies      

> It is not necessary to know what language a program is written in when executing it and shell doesn't require an extension so we prefer not to use one for executables.

I disagree with their recommendation against using file extensions for executables, and I'd love to have my mind changed about this.

Using an extension gives you automatic syntax highlighting. It also lets you quickly glean the type of a file when exploring a directory for the first time, which is more helpful than simply knowing whether the file can be executed.

Why does a lack of necessity override those two benefits?

       cached 10 November 2013 05:11:01 GMT